Saturday, January 31, 2009


My sister needed to spend hours on the computer doing the family bookkeeping today and asked me to handle dinner alone. I was eager. I hoped to repeat Thursday's success of getting through the prep, serving and cleanup without botching anything. I almost made it. I was preparing to load the dishwasher after dinner when I had to go get a tissue to block a sneeze. While walking back with the tissue held to my nose, I was thinking about the jar of tarter sauce I'd just put in the fridge and how low it was and decided that I should go tell my sister that the next time we had fish we would need to make up a new batch. She probably had already noted that. Even if not, it could have waited. But she had just left the kitchen to return to the office and I wanted to catch her before she got re-focused on her work. And of course I forgot I had already lowered the dishwasher door. This time I banged into it with BOTH shins.

And of course it hit my left shin right on top of the old healing bruise from the New Year's Eve incident.

And to top it off I cussed. In my mother's devout Christian home! :|

Well at least I wasn't moving as fast as the last time when I was attempting to answer the wrong door and was all but running. This time I was just walking and you could say I was meandering.

So I spent the evening with my leg elevated and started up the icepack regimen again, hoping to preempt a repeat of the fallout from last time when improper care in the first 48 hours landed me in ER with celluitus six days later. Better two days now than ten days later.

And I was back up to forty to sixty minute workouts on the tramp this week! I suppose I'll have to stay off it for a few days now.



Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Fitting It In

I haven't written any actual fiction scenes this week but I did start fiddling with my story files. That is often the first step. I think part of my mood issues earlier this week were coming to terms with the fact that my visit here at my Mom's must reamain open ended for the foreseeable future. I left Phoenix OR with the concept that I would be here until the end of January at which time we would reassess the situation with Mom. It became clear last weekend that it would be several more weeks before Mom could be safely left home alone. Thus my sister could not easily do without my presence.

This led me to more realizations. Among them: that it would also be weeks before I could expect to return to the loose schedule I kept at home that allowed me to devote large blocks of time to any project I chose. Which meant that the only thing I needed to make time for fiction writing was will and discipline. The will to apply myself to the task and the discipline to stay on task. Here it is impossible to find large blocks of time to use that way. So, if I am to remain committed to my fiction work without letting down my family, I must find creative ways to fit the work in. So several times this week, I had a thought about one of my stories while away from my laptop and at the earliest moment possible returned to it and made a note in the appropriate WhizFolder*:

This usually stimulated new thoughts that also needed noting. Sometime I had enough time to make several notes before something or someone else needed my attention. The main positive effect has been that my thoughts are being drawn to the stories and the desire to tend to them is being strengthened which leads to my choosing to use odd moments to do small tasks. I'm hoping that soon one of those small tasks will be an actual paragraph or two of story. I am attempting to train myself to stop this automatic thought each time an idea related to one of my stories enters my mind: I will note that [write that, research that, diagram that...] at my next work session. Where work session equals several hours. I have to de-link the idea that having time for doing this work necessarily means hours and cannot mean minutes.

I'm seriously considering wearing a fanny pack or an apron or vest with pockets so I can carry around a notebook and pencil for those times when getting back to the laptop before I loose the thought is iffy. This would be handy especially while working in the kitchen or out on the tramp.

It is interesting that this challenge has come my way at this time. Last fall I was contemplating the fact that several of the blogging writers I had been visiting frequently were managing to fit their fiction writing passion into lives that were jam packed full of duties that could not be neglected whereas I felt myself struggling to keep it together even though I had no day job, no children and no household to run. I wondered if could maintain my committment to my fiction writing if confronted with any of those or the equivalent obligations. Now I am going to find out I guess. Its put up or shut up time again.

*WhizFolders is the application I use for writing and research and info organizing. Each file has its own window and can be subdivided into indefinite number of nested topics. Topics inside files can be linked as can topics between files. Each of my novels has its own file and my two major story worlds have their own workbook files containing timelines, character faqs, and any other info common to all the stories set in it. The workbooks are interlinked with the story files. Graphics and spreadsheets are among the objects that can be embedded in a topic.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

...and Try Again

My mood seems to have lifted. When I woke up today the sun was shining and my mind very nearly so. Makes me wonder how much the barometer had to do with my pissy mood. It wouldn't be the first time I'd noticed a correlation between my mood and a storm moving through.

Well, whatever it was, I'm grateful. It made it possible for me to accomplish several things and be a true help to my sister today. Her son had an orthodontist appointment in Portland OR and she needed to do their Costco shopping afterward. The combined outing was six hours and she needed me to tend to our Mom's needs and monitor the beans she had started in the crock pot. I managed this plus more. I also loaded the breakfast and lunch dishes into the dishwasher, added the soup ingredients to the beans when the time came, mixed the cornbread and baked it and pulled it out of the hot oven and served Mom dinner at six on the dot as she is used to. I swear her stomach has a timer.

Not only all of that but while Mom was napping I also broke out the bags containing my sewing projects and supplies that I went to all the trouble of packing and bringing with me and sorted them and thus was able to start stitching on my dolphin cross stitch project for awhile after dinner.

I did it all without any disasters. No kicking into the dishwasher as I did on New Year's Eve. No catching the oven mitts on fire as I did on my honeymoon. Well, it was the dishtowel I used as a hot pad that I caught on fire in our honeymoon hotel room but it was an oven mitt I caught on fire the first time Mom allowed me to pull a pan of cookies out of the oven when I was about twelve. I've been afraid of the oven every since--long before visual impairment compounded the anxiety. Yes, did I ever mention that I'm the daughter of a home economics teacher?

I have yet to take a decent picture of this project with my camera. This is in two parts because I scanned it when I was here before Xmas 2007 a couple weeks before I got my digital camera. I could only get half of it on the scanner bed at once and couldn't close the lid and even though I used something else to block the light there was still leakage of light that makes it look faded. The last time I worked on this must have been the last time I was here because when I unpacked the bag it was in, I found some items my sister gave me when I was here last year.

Speaking of the camera. I still haven't uploaded to the computer the pictures I took of Mount Jumble, the sorting and packing mess I made the night before I left Phoenix. Since then I've added many more pics I've intended to add to some of the previous posts. Like the front porch where I use my mini-tramp. The dishwasher door I kicked into. The clip-on reading glasses I misplaced New Year's eve and spent the last five hours of 2008 searching for and which my nephew found in the dishwasher when he unloaded it the following evening after my sister had spent another two hours that afternoon re-searching the same territory I had with her better eyes.

If my mood stays stable getting those pictures prepared for posting will be high on my to do list. Along with getting started on scanning the family pictures into my computer--a project I began on my last visit here which has been held up this visit partly by the need to keep my leg elevated as much as possible until just the last few days and partly by not having a good place to set up the project. We think we have that figured out now. Once I start scanning them again, I'll probably post some as I did last time.

Tomorrow afternoon I'm going to be here alone with Mom for several hours again as my sister and her son go to a homeschooling event. I hope it goes as well.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Try. Fail.

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Am still in a funk. Am on the verge of tears every moment. I'm not sure how much the news of Dizzy's death has to do with it. Maybe it was just a catalyst for the stew of emotion already simmering.

Maybe I'm also a bit stir-crazy. I've not been out of my Mom's house (except out to the porch to bounce on the tramp) since my ER visit on the 6th. Since my sister and I can't both leave at the same time and she is the only driver in the family it is hard to arrange for me to go anywhere. I've not asked to either. It hadn't even crossed my mind til this moment.

Maybe I'm just in the inevitable crash off last week's euphoria.

Maybe I'm just a selfish jerk having a private pity party.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sleepin on it

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Finally finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. My head and heart are roiling with thoughts and emotions looking for words. Or wordless howls. I think I need to wallow in the emotions before I start trying to think coherently about it.


Monday, January 26, 2009


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Not having a good day. Did not finish The Story of Edgar Sawtelle in time to participate in the webcast with the author this evening. I wore my eyes out trying, reading over two hundred pages in the last twenty-four hours, but I still had over 100 to go when it was time to log in to the webcast. I logged in anyway but never put the earbuds in my ears to listen in. I sat beside my silenced laptop and continued to read, glancing up at the screen every now and then to see the visuals of the intense discussion going on.

I'll get to see in once they put it in archives later this week. Or at least I'm assuming they will do that again as they have with previous webcasts. But it won't be qiute the same as being part of the live event. Even though I'm always just a lurker--just listening and watching--it still feels so powerful to know you are participating in a discussion with thousands of people in dozens of countries around the world--everyone of whom has been profoundly impacted by the same story. It won't be the same watching the recording but at the last minute I decided that maintaining the integrity of the experience of reading the story to the end without the spoilers and the outside influence on my own reaction to the story was more important.

Part of what is bumming me today is having had to face the limitations of my vision issues as I pushed beyond the comfort zone into the distress zone and realized that this is probably the best I can hope for seeing how motivated I was and how hard I was trying and then comparing my results with what I used to do and with my current ambitions. I sat up reading all night last night from eleven Sunday night to eight Monday morning. The last hour or so I had been using the visor magnifier that I use for fine needlework and it was making me motion sick.

There are other things adding to my mood. I think I'm homesick. Missing Ed and Merlin. Missing my routine. Missing my large tracks of time for contemplation, research, daydreaming and writing. I've no place to be alone here without fear of interruption except in the bathroom and out on my mini-tramp. Which all wouldn't be so bad if I felt that I was actually being useful. But I'm feeling like I'm not contributing enough to compensate for the extra work my being here adds to my sister's agenda.

It probably didn't help that I didn't go out on the tramp today. I procrastinated too long and it got dark and the evening family routines kicked in--helping with dinner prep and cleanup is one of the things I contribute. A tramp workout might have helped alleviate my mood but I didn't think of it that way at the time I was just feeling lethargic about it. Unmotivated.

Then there was the bad news I got from home when I talked to Ed Sunday afternoon. Dizzy the kitten that adopted the family there last summer, hiding under the porch until Merlin coaxed her out, and then winning our hearts with her antics, was found dead under the rose bushes Saturday afternoon. Not a mark on her.

For more about Dizzy and the joy she brought us click the photo or her name.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Serenity #111

Last Thursday in my post Wallow Your Bliss I confessed how much I love snow even though I know what a hassle it is for most people--those who have lives. It was on my mind because weather reports were predicting a possibility of more snow for SW Washingtion which had been hit by that major snow storm just before Christmas. The same snow storm that delayed my trip from Southern Oregon for ten days. By the time I got here the snow was gone.

Anyway, the predicted snow did not arrive this week. So I decided to collect some images of snow for my Sunday Serenity post to illustrate what I love about snow. Which is essentially what it is about it that induces feelings of joy and serenity and hope in me. While I was uploading the images to this post, my sister looked out the window and said, "Hey, it's snowing." And then mentioned that she forgot to tell me that I'd missed the dusting on the ground this morning that had melted before I woke up.

I think I may have found a clue as to where my love of snow came from. The image at the head of this post of the lone wolf on a snowy hillside hung on the wall at my Grandparents. A print, not the original painting of course. When I came across it on a little while ago, an infusion of 'warm fuzzy' overcame me. Hmmm.

All the pictures are linked to the page I found them. All but two are from The other two are from

The above is a picture of Multnomah waterfall on the Columbia River Gorge outside of Portland, Oregon, not forty miles from where I sit. Our family and our Church youth groups made a number of visits to it in Spring and Summer throughout my childhood. I never saw it like this. Tho in November 1978 a couple weeks before our wedding, Ed and I went there to make the climb to the top only to find the bridge and the path leading up from it coated with ice. The waterfall itself was an ice sculpture with very little falling water visible.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Consumed by Story

I'm still reading David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and just as this time last week, I'm anticipating joining in on the webcast with the author. Last week I had got my dates confused and thought the webcast was to be last Monday evening and then when Monday evening came around finding me still short of the half-way point in the novel, I decided to pass on the live webcast to avoid spoilers.

Then Monday night I discovered my mistake and that I had a reprieve. A whole week more. Seven days. So did I tuck into the story and finish with plenty of time to contemplate it and compose questions for the author? Ha. I promptly fell into the rabbit hole of Inauguration week, watching news on TV and online, reading blogs. All my spare time here at my Mom's went there Tuesday through Friday. I can't bemoan it too much though because it was a major historical event and also entwined in the theme and plot of my WIP and recent NaNo novel, Mobile Hopes. So it was the responsible thing to do as well as the thing my heart and soul was drawn to.

So today with three days left, I returned wholeheartedly to the novel. It wasn't that I hadn't picked it up at all since last Monday but I didn't get to read more than a page or two at a time and thus could not fall into the story. Today I fell back in and had to struggle back to the surface every time 'real' life intruded--meals, family interaction, chores, my mini-tramp workout and shower.

In fact I took the book outside with me for my tramp workout and read during the gentle warm up and cool down minutes. That worked so well--because of the peace and quiet and feeling safe from interruptions out on the porch--that I actually worked out longer than I have since the 6th when the ER nurse told me to stay off it until the swelling and all signs of infection were gone. I started up again last Saturday with one three minute gentle swaying session and today I almost made a full hour with multiple cool down periods bracketing multiple vigorous ones. And I know it was a good workout because I am feeling it now ten hours later from neck to ankles.

Want to know what all the hoopla is? Watch these two interviews with the author:

And if you've read the book and already know why it is so special, join in the webcast Monday:


Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Research

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Well, unlike the previous two, this past week wasn't a complete bust for my Mobile Hopes WIP. I took a lot of notes throughout the Inauguration 2009 week from lead up through this evening. It was thanks to the immersion in inauguration week news that I began dabbling fingers and toes into Mobile Hopes again.

I'm thinking that my self-imposed moratorium on news reading and watching contributed to my loosing connection with my story world. Because immersing myself in news coverage stimulated thoughts about my characters observing or learning the same things and how each of them might react in thought or deed. Picturing Gerta's reaction to the Obama family moving into the White House was especially entertaining--though disturbing. Click on Gerta's name to see a snippet and an explaination of how the novel's theme and plot is entwined with the current events of 2008-- especially the election and economic news.

So, I guess it wasn't such a good idea to cut myself off from the news cycle entirely. But returning to the five or more hours per day of reading and watching news that was typical before I came to stay with my Mom and sister to help in Mom's post-surgery care, is not an option. But neither is complete abstinence. Must find a balance.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wallow Your Bliss

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They're saying SW Washingtion has a chance for more snow in the next day or so. I know that most western Washingtonians have had their fill of snow for one winter. I know that the inconvenience, even misery, it inflicts on so many makes it something I shouldn't wish for. Yet. I find myself wistfully hoping for it to snow. I missed all the hullabaloo around the pre Xmas snow storms here. In fact my trip was delayed over ten days due to the snow between here and southern Oregon and it was all but gone by the time I got here. It did snow once after my arrival but not for long and after dark and it had melted by the time I woke up the next morning. I don't understand why but falling snow is a source of joy for me. And snow-covered ground, trees, houses, streets, sidewalks, etc. At least for the first hours after a snowfall before foot and auto traffic plow it to grey slush. There is just something about it that calls to me.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


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Got a one tracked mind still today. Spent all my free time scoping out news of the inauguration and the day after via my online sources. My thoughts and emotions are too scrambled to write about. But the thumbs up Obama got from his youngest daughter about sums it up.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration 2009

Obama's Oath and Inaugural Address

If I'm dreaming, I donn't want to wake up.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Gotta Go Read

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I'm still reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle so I didn't join in on the Oprah webcast with the author David Wroblewski tonight. I hated missing out on joining with thousands of others sharing their reactions to a story in real time, not to mention hearing the author's own insights. But in spite of how special that could be, I knew it would spoil the experience of reading the rest of the story. Confidence that the video would be available in the archives at later helped me decide to wait.

I can remember a time when I could devour a book this size (nearly 600 pages) in a single day. Those days are long gone I suppose but I do wish I could regluarly finish a book that size in a single week. Now that has more to do with priorities than my vision issues so I should be able to make it happen. Sigh. So what will have to give?

Update: silly me. Oprah's webinar with the author is NEXT Monday evening!!! I have received how many emails from referencing it? I would blame it on my eyes since I do often mistake 6 for 0 when fonts are small. But that doesn't explain how I misstook it in the many announcements she has made on her show since Thanksgiving. So I have another week to finish the book and still get to participate live.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Serenity #110

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Oh, My Shameless Cheating Heart

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I'm pushing hard to finish The Story of Edgar Sawtelle before the webinar with the author on Monday evening. But the chances are slim seeing as how I've got more than 300 pages to go and I'm reading less now that I'm back on my feet almost normally and thus able and willing to help my sister and Mom which is why I came to spend the month with them in the first place.

So I'm going to read for awhile now that everyone else has gone to bed and if I am still reading with no sign of sleep or eyestrain at 3AM I think I'm going to keep right on reading and not lay down at all until Sunday night. Because now that I'm up and about I also need to get my hours swung around to be more compatible with my sister and mom's needs. They slid back to the graveyard shift like hours I keep at home after the ER visit on the 6th. I've been trying to flip them by setting the alarm for 10AM no matter what time I lay down all week. But it isn't working. Either I fall back to sleep or I am groggy and useless for several hours anyway. Skipping sleep entirely for a day has been a tried and true method in the past for switching my sleep hours.

One way or another I simply MUST be awake Tuesday morning to watch Obama's inaugeration ceremony in DC and the celebrations following it. I will probably be watching online without fanfare as I am not among those who share my enthusiasm. (There's my cheating heart again.) I so wish I could go to one of the parties being thrown on Tuesday. And that is saying a lot. Anyone who knows me knows that social gatherings are not my thing. Given a choice I would prefer going to the ER than to a party or a potluck. But for this year's inaguration I think I would be delighted to be in a crowd of like-minded where I could freely laugh and cheer and cry happy tears and dance for joy and sing kumbaya and halleluiah and hug my six nearest neigbors.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

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For the second week in a row I must confess in this accountability post, that I've given zero attention to the files of my stories for the entire week. Yes there have been extenuating circumstance--the trip to my Mom's where I was helping in her post surgery care and on the third day banged my shin which led six days later to a trip to the ER that was followed by eight days of mobility restrictions and an antibiotic regime that mothballed my brain. Yes, it can be said, Life happens. Priorities shift by necessity. And I should be flexible and not beat myself up when I fail to perform to my expectations. But then it seems that life has been happening to me for the last thirty years and my stories seem to be the first things that get put on hold while I wait for life to settle back into a groove.

It could be another month even more before I am settled back at home with most of each day's hours belonging to me alone. And even then it's not like life is free of surpries and chaos there. It is already feeling as if my stories are floating away or trying to. Like helium balloons on strings that are slipping through my fingers. I feel my connections to Mobile Hopes and Crystal's story fading and that saddens me like the loss of a loved one.

A few years ago I had my sights fixed on aquireing a laptop, putting all my hopes and expectations of being able to have 24/7 access to my files right at my fingertips wherever I might be; to take themw ith me when I traveled whether that was out of the room, out of the house, out of the trailer park, out of town or out of state. For three years I have seldom be out of arms reach of them for more than a handfull of hours. And still, in terms of finished stories, I've little to show for it except more unfinished stories.

I have seen on my travels about the blogosphere that there are those whose lives are more chaotic and more filled to the brim with commitments than mine and yet they have found a way to finish stories and novels even, in some cases, to get published. So it follows that there is something deficient in my own commitment to what I claim is my dream and my bliss.

No more excuses. I must re-engage before the strings slip out of my fingers and entirely out of reach.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

And U Sez Uz a Kitteh Purrson?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Book Giveaway: Sunday at Tiffany's

I've been authorized to give away up to five copies. Please read the rules below carefully.

Sundays at Tiffany's
by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
336 pages

Jane Margaux is a lonely little girl. Her mother, the powerful head of a New York theater company, makes time for her only once a week, for their Sunday trip to admire jewelry at Tiffany's. Jane has only one friend: a handsome, comforting, funny man named Michael. He's perfect. But only she can see him. Michael can't stay forever, though. On Jane's eighth birthday he leaves, promising that she'll forget him soon. He was there to help her until she was old enough to manage on her own, and now there are other children who need his help.

Years later, in her thirties, Jane is just as alone as she was as a child. And despite her own success as a playwright, she is even more trapped by her overbearing mother. Then she meets Michael again--as handsome, smart and perfect as she remembers him to be. But not even Michael knows the reason they've really been reunited.

Sundays at Tiffany's is a heart-wrenching love story that surpasses all expectations of why these people have been brought together. With the breathtaking momentum and gripping emotional twists that have made James Patterson a bestseller all over the world, Sundays at Tiffany's takes an altogether fresh look at the timeless and transforming power of love.


  • Read this carefully. I am sad when I have to disqualify an entry but I do it anyway. Each rule (except for the last one which is Hachette's requirement) is there to assure that the day of the drawing does not consume ten plus hours of my day in chasing down contact info as my first one last summer did.
  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing. This is the entry.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry comment. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me to link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST Saturday February 14, 2009. (Valentine's Day seems appropriate for a romance, right?) I will select the winners with a random number generator using
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. No PO Boxes.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Perfect on Paper by Maria Murnane

Perfect on Paper: The (Mis)adventures of Waverly Bryson
by Maria Murnane
(c) 2008
Publisher: Winks Ink

genre: chick lit; romantic comedy

This charming story was just the thing to take the sting out of the first several days of a doctor ordered mobility restriction. When I was told to stay off my left leg as much as possible and keep it elevated last week, I was really discouraged and tempted to be blue but that mood could not be sustained under the force of the witty dialogue and hilarious, sometimes slapstick shenanigans of Waverly Bryson the protagonist of Maria Murnane's romantic comedy.

Waverly is in her late twenties, has a high-power job in PR for the sports industry the envy of many for the close collaboration with celebrity athletes it entails. She has a rent-controlled apartment in a swanky San Francisco neighborhood near the Golden Gate Bridge. She's about to be married to Aaron Vaughn III, the scion of an affluent local family who, having followed his parents into corporate law, already had two homes of his own and lived a lifestyle as far removed from the trailer park of her childhood as Cinderella's home had been from that of her Prince. And she had two loyal, close friends with whom to gush over how perfect it all was. Perfect...on paper.

Those two loyal friends, McKenna and Andie, are there to catch her when it all starts unraveling two weeks before the wedding when Aaron backs out, supporting her through months of mourning and gently encouraging her to get back in the dating scene. When she does finally venture out on dates again, they are there to commiserate with her over the many fiascos that ensue. The three of them laugh til they cry over the many social faux pas of these guys. They are there to help with every crisis from fashion to fractured ankle.

Waverly is a bit of a klutz and that tendency is enhanced whenever a certain Jake McIntyre, one of the ball players she encountered through her job, is near. The first time they met she was choking on a Milky Way. Another time she ended up wearing a whole tray of sports arena snack food and beer, having been keeping her eyes on the field where he stood instead of the steps she was climbing to the nose-bleed section. In the middle of their first slow dance she had to rush to the restroom for a 'consultation' with the toilet of the up close and personal kind.

One of the scenes that had me choking on my own snickers was the one when she found herself trapped in a restroom stall two minutes before a very, very important interview. I will say no more. You must read it for yourself.

Meanwhile, all is not so perfect at work either. Office politics is not her forte and she finds herself passed over for an account she thought sure would be hers. Nor is her relationship with her father anywhere near perfect, with him coming up with a new scheme for making money every few months and needing her to 'invest' in it.

Waverly has a little hobby of jotting down observations about her life and life in general in a quirky little question/answer format that she imagines could be a line of greeting cards for single women. She calls them Honey Notes. They are scattered throughout the novel and also head every chapter. I found myself really looking forward to them. Here are a couple of examples:

Looking forward to a fresh start with the New Year?
Honey, I'm with you but I can't seem to leave behind my behind.

Have a tendency to put your foot in your mouth?
Honey, at least it is less fattening than putting ice cream in your mouth.

Life has its ups and downs, right?
Honey, if you're talking about my weight and my bank account, the unfortunate answer is yes, in that order.

Oh, I could so see this as a movie. Either a big screen or a Hallmark or Lifetime made-for-TV. It would be perfect for the screen as so much of the story is in the witty dialogue and the sight gags and slapstick. Since I had been watching Hallmark's Nanny Express with my Mom and sister around the time I started this book, I ended up seeing Waverly as Vanessa Marcil who played Kate.

One of the things about this book that has me the most intrigued is the fact that, after being turned down by several publishing houses and agents, Maria Murnane chose the self-publish route and seems to be making a go of it. I'm seriously considering this route for myself if I ever get a book length story completed. So I've been keeping my eye on that trend.

Get more info about the book and where to buy it on her webpage here. Or go straight to


Monday, January 12, 2009

Can't You Just Feel It?

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I am picturing the moment I get the go ahead to use my left leg normally again.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Serenity #109

Gazing at this calms me. Don't know why. Sometimes questioning a boon is counterproductive.


Saturday, January 10, 2009


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That something is me. Every time I start trying to read the screen my eyes cross and my eyelids droop until I find myself reading off the back of my lids words that were made in a blender with alphabet soup.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Unmeetable Expectatios

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These Friday posts are supposed to be either a snippet of my own fiction or observations on aspects of writing fiction. I've got nothing for this week other than the observation that sometimes one has to just give oneself a break. Or at least I'm trying to convince myself that that observation is not just a weasel out of a commitment, a lazy cop out, yet another betrayal of my dream, and more proof that I must not want it bad enough or I'd find a way.

Not only do I not have anything of substance prepared for this post but in the accompanying weekly check-in regarding my progress (or lack thereof) with my NaNo novel Mobile Hopes which I committed to stay engaged with through July 09 right here in a Friday Forays post as NaNo was finishing up--I have to confess having dropped that ball entirely for a full two weeks. Not that I have stopped thinking, planning and dreaming the story but that I haven't touched the story's files since the Friday after Christmas.

I am trying really hard not to flaggelate myself raw over this. I do have a tendancy to set my expectations of myself too high and then punish myself for not meeting them. The judge, jury and executioner in my mind hold court continuously, showing ample proof of my undeservedness of mercy. I think I may loose track of the line between fiction and non-fiction when I am establishing my expectations.

I know there are extenuating circumstances--the trip prep and the travel, the settling in at my Mom's, the emotional stress accompanying all of that, the disruption of routine, the sleep deprivation. All of which contibutied to the moment I kicked the dishwasher door on New Years Eve--the first time my sister took a few hours off to hang with a friend, leaving me in charge--and landed myself in the neigboring recliner six days later because I had not bothered to properly care for my severely burised shin.

But I also know my propensity to never again pick up a ball that I've dropped. When my attention shifts off it whether by force of events or pull of other attractions, it is extremely hard to get refocused. Two weeks is a long time to be away from a story's files even if the story is still haunting my mind. And even though the story's attraction is still strong I know I can't depend on that to hold in the face of the drama and chaos of this household without a focused effort to carve a space for it.

So I simply can't let another week go by with zero engagement with the files of Mobile Hopes. But neither can I take my eyes off other crucial balls. Somewhere there is a balance. Isn't there?


Thursday, January 08, 2009

When Your Editor Works For Kibbles...

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

xcuz mai lazyness mai brayz r stewz n aunty by auticx. leg iz bettr but now i feelz sic all overz.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Flooding in My Home Town Area

By hometown I mean the town I grew up in, Longview, Washington. And though I currently live near Phoenix, Oregon, I'm visiting my Mom this month in Longview. The following pictures are from this slideshow of pics on The Longview Daily News web site. There is another slideshow here of pics submitted to The Longview Daily News by readers. Both slideshows contain pictures from all over the flood and mudslide affected areas of Washington state. Some of the shots are mind-blowing.

A Department of Corrections sandbagging crew shores up the Coweeman River dike at the Grade Street sewage pump station Wednesday. Bill Wagner / The Daily News

The swollen Coweeman River churns and glistens as it passes beneath the Grade Street Bridge in Kelso as sandbagging crews shore up the South Kelso dike under floodlights Wednesday night. Bill Wagner / The Daily News

Kelso High School security officer Tara Garcia-Fromdahl looks at a car in high water in front of the school Wednesday morning. The parent was able to get out of the car safely earlier when the water was even higher. Pumps were working to remove the high water. Greg Ebersole / The Daily News

Kelso and Longview are sometimes called The Twin Cities. They are on either side of the Cowlitz river as it meets the Colombia River. The Coweeman River flows into the Cowlitz on the other side of Kelso. The local mall, The Three Rivers Mall is beside the Coweeman and was evacuated this afternoon.

Castle Rock swift water rescue team members Stu Hodnot, left, and Maria Schuh, rear, use a kayak to bring Stacy Burnett, 28, out of the flooded Westover Drive neighborhood near Nevada Drive on Wednesday afternoon. Greg Ebersole / The Daily News

I'm pretty sure the Nevada Drive they are talking about is here in Longview and if so it is not far from us in the part of town that is north of Ocean Beach Highway and west of Lake Sacajewea.

Phil Ranta of the Cowlitz County Road Department walks through flooded Pacific Way in the 4200 block Wednesday. Greg Ebersole / The Daily News

We're on the 2000 block of Pacific Way so this is practically in the neighborhood.

Martin's Dock at Lake Sacajewea was submerged Wednesday afternoon. Greg Ebersole / The Daily News

The north end of this lake is about three blocks from us. This dock is at about the midpoint of the length of the lake. This is the area where the audience sits for concerts and July 4rth fireworks.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Here we go...

i'm going to have to got to ER to have my leg checked. The bruise on my shin from banging into the dishwasher New Year's Eve has spread down into my ankles and sole of my foot and has a red itchy halo. So I came to help with my Mom's recovery from hip surgery and minor stroke and now i'm gonna be a patient too? That's my life for you.

update: it's celluitus sp? an infection. I had no idea infections could start in a bruise when the skin didn't even break. i should have been staying off my feet that first day or two and using ice packs. Now i've got to stay off my feet and keep my left foot elevated for two to three days and take antibiotics for a week. And i can't do my mini-tramp workout until the swelling and redness are completely gone which might take a week. and i was just getting back to where i could lift my knees even with my hips in a kind of marching step without holding onto the porch rail.

and now my sister has to wait on me as much or more than she has to wait on Mom for the next two days and I can't continue with the meal prep help and after meal KP for at least that long. I'm feeling worse than useless right at this moment. I spend my life at home cooped up in a bedroom all but two or three hours each day trying to stay out of the way. Which is why I was glad to agree to come help my sister care for our mother for four to six weeks. and now this.

at least the thing i feared the most turned out not to be an issue: there is no sign of blood clots. if it hadn't been my fear of a blood clot I wouldn't have agreed to go have it checked out. infection hadn't crossed my mind really but i guess that is as serious in its own way as blood clots.

i took picutures of my leg and foot so I could show Ed when I get home or maybe email them sooner. i'm thinking of posting them would that be tacky? TMI?

Ah. I was just about to post this update when my sister came back upstairs just over an hour after she had gone down to bed. She tells me that she and her son just spent the last hour mopping up water down in the laundry room and the hallway outside it. She had just been dozing off when she heard a not normal sound from the laundry room. She almost slipped in the water on her way to check on it. The hose that drains the washer tub each cycle had popped off its bracket that holds it to the edge of the deep sink it drains into and the hose had flailed out over the floor. Poor sis is feeling picked on too.

Well it is a blessing that she did NOT slip in that water and break something herself.

Speaking of blessings: the ladies of my sister's church are going to be bringing meals to us for the next several days or so. They brought the first one this evening while I was at the ER with my cousin who drove me.

Well, i think my leg needs the icepack again and i'm going to go get it myself since I have to get up anyway.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Monday Poetry Train #67

The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini

This is not a review exactly. I just finished this story not an hour ago and even if it weren't too soon to write a coherent review, I'd have to pry one eyelid open while typing one-handed. Let's just say it is so good I gave up my night computer session in order to finish it. Now I must sleep or be useless to my sister and mother tomorrow.

The reason I am featuring it on Poetry Train is that the story is like a poem in its use of image and metaphor and the nesting of symbols inside symbols. The themes of friendship, betrayal, redemption and courage could so easily become cliche in inept hands but Hosseni is deft with language and plot, with character and setting, weaving a glowing tapestry that unrolls like a prayer rug across continents, across time, across the spaces between hearts and across the space within a single heart.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sunday Serenity #108


Saturday, January 03, 2009


Today was my Mom's 77th birthday and it was the first time in years that I got to be with her on her birthday. We just had a quiet day together--Mom, myself, my sister and her son. She asked for a chocolate coconut cream pie which my sister made for her.

The photo below was taken a couple years ago and the one below that was taken around the time she graduated from college in Sacramento CA in the early 1950s.
I totally forgot to get a picture with my camera today.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Journaling

At a Journal Workshop: Writing to Access the Power of the Unconscious and Evoke Creative Ability

I first worked with Ira Progroff's process journaling method in the late eighties and early nineties. I owned my own copies of his At a Journal Workshop and Process Meditation which was a companion volume then but has now been folded into the latest edition of At a Journal Workshop.

I wish the blurbs at Amazon and elsewhere had been clearer because I did not understand that Process Meditation had been folded into At a Journal Workshop and I wanted them both together again so when I ordered Workshop I tracked down a used copy of Meditation at the same time.

Anyway. What has this to do with fiction writing which is ostensibly the topic of these Friday Foray posts? Well, Progroff's Process Jouraling is designed to stimulate the creative aspects of our own mental processes. I found it helpful before in addressing a variety of areas of my life in a more creative way: social, personal, physical, phychological, spiritual, as well as writing.

One of the things about process journaling that serves to stimulate creativity is the unique feedback effect that it uses. This feedback between the multiple sections in the journal is the primary thing that works to stimulate creativity as it helps you see patterns and make connections that aren't at first obvious.

The section provided for carrying on dialogues with different aspects of your life was the one that first had an impact on my writing as it includes a subsection for dialoguing with our works those activities in our lives towards which we direct energy. Which would include though not necessarily be limited to projects like novels, paintings, fine needlework.

In spite of the success Progoff's Process Journaling provided me in my creative writing and many other things, I dropped the practice in the early nineties. I kept meaning to return but I lost the books in our 2001 move. Ever since I got the WhizFolders Pro last February and saw how it was possible to color-code with highlight, window color, text color and so forth, I realized how ideal that would be for doing Process Jouraling and itched to get my hands on the books again. Now I have them and Wednesday night I set up a WhizFolder for the workbook. This is going to beat a ringed binder all to pieces.

Above is a screen shot of my Process Journal. Below is the complete list of section and subsection titles for the workbook. You can see the list and how I've color-coded it in the image of its WhizFolder above. That image also shows how I've given the topic windows of each section the same color as its title in the sidebar list. The Progoff workbook binders have colored tabs for the section dividers. The idea for making the window the color of its section was mine. I find that having the whole window I'm typing in be the color of its section helps me keep track of where I am, what I am doing, and also to engage more quickly with each task I turn to in the workbook.



This week's update on my continuing work with Mobile Hopes my NaNo novel:

I must admit that I've done little with Mobile Hopes this past week except think and daydream a great deal about it as the time was consumed with the prep for my trip north to my Mom's and then getting settled in. But the project of setting up the Process Journal in Whiz was as much for the sake of Mobile Hopes as anything else.


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