Monday, December 1, 2008

Na No Wri Mo

I only wrote 5,081 words for Na No but that was about 1/10 of the amount we were supposed to write lol. How did our other competitors do? I have bronchitis wonder what would have happened if I hadn't gotten sick. Just felt so yuck this month. :-p Oh well next year.

Southern Heat

Elizabeth and I were notified today that we are finalists in the ETC RWA Southern Heat contest. Good luck Elizabeth may you win the gold. We will find out more at the end of Jan 2009. What a way to start a new year and end an old one. I'm doing a happy dance for us . :-)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


NaNoWriMo progress so far on a new story 1068 words and 5 pages. It is in rough draft so far and I was in the middle of something else when this story appeared in my mind. I am working on a fantasy paranormal story that I am literally writing it as it comes to me. I started it off another story I had started that fell into limbo. When I was getting ready for work I was thinking how can I do this what would be a good way for it go from here and these lines began. Now I have five pages of writing. I don't know if I will make 50,000 words by the end of November. I think sometimes if work would not interfere I could have more time to write. I just need to find the time frame that works for me is all. Sometimes it is before work others it is after work. Today my husband , Jim, his mom and I are joining some old and good friends for an early Thanksgiving Dinner. This will be fun we haven't seen these folks since July and Jim's 60th birthday party. Before that it had been several years. Now they live in the area and we are renewing our friendship. So my writing will be later today, but surely it counts to have it on your mind and thinking when you are not actually putting the words down but saving them for later? Kathy


Kylee Emeryl Weaver arrived at 1:56 am Central Standard Time 8:56 am Central German Time Sunday November 16, 2008. She weighed in at 7 pounds 8 ounces and measured 20,5 inches long with a head full of dark hair and dark blue eyes. Mother Jennifer Weaver and daugher Kylee are doing fine. Hoping to see pictures soon.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A week of Extremes

Whoo! The first week of November has been a rollercoaster ride (yes, i know cliche --too tired for anything else).

First, I celebrated Barak Obama's win. Danced to the tune of hope, reveled in being part of a historic moment, and joined hands and swayed in an All-American celebration.

Then Michael Crichton died and I grieved. With Tony Hillerman and him dying, now we've lost two wonderful creative spirits. I loved reading both of their stories and will greatly miss them. I truly regret never making it to Hillerman's writing conference in New Mexico when I had the chance.

My NaNo-attempt faltered. I came in at 3,125 words for the entire week. I guess that's better than no pages, but still not as much as I hoped for.

However, my WIP revisions progressed full-speed ahead. I actually got through 100 pages. WooHoo!

I ended the week by finding fall Color in Texas -- pretty rare and extreme for most of the state. But I took the time to search and I was rewarded. Here's my favorites picture from Lost Maples State Park. Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Yes, two of the Texas Typos --Elizabeth and Moi-- are NaNo-virgins this year. So keep your fingers crossed for us!

I'll try to do weekly posts regarding our progress. If I'm not too busy typing. ;P

First Update: Kathy C, another TX Typos is also NaNoing. Yeehaw! The Texas typos ride again....

Discovering A New Author: Devon Monk

Earlier this year, I made it to my first Con –Conestoga 12 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A number of my favorite kick-ass authors from the Fangs, Fur & Fey site were part of the program. I just had to attend. Now, I have to admit I was nervous and had many questions. Could I wear normal clothes or did I have to dress up as an elf or werewolf? Did they really have wild parties?

So the first night, I show up at the bar area for a happy hour/mingling, find a spot and end up in a great discussion about vampires, faeries, writing and books with a wonderful bunch of ladies. Among them, was Devon Monk.

The next morning, while attending a writing panel, I realized she's an agented author with her debut novel MAGIC TO THE BONE coming out. Also, she’d sold over fifty short stories to fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, and young adult magazines and anthologies. Her stories have been published in five countries and included in a Year's Best Fantasy collection.

Yeah, I can be clueless at times and drinking wine doesn’t exactly help.

She handed me her first chapter to read on the plane ride home. And I was hooked. Here’s a blurb from MAGIC TO THE BONE, see how you like it:

Everything has a cost. And every act of magic exacts a price from its user--maybe a two-day migraine, or losing the memory of your first kiss. But some people want to use magic without paying, and they offload the cost onto an innocent. When that happens, it falls to a Hound to identify the spell's caster--and Allison Beckstrom's the best there is.

Daughter of a prominent Portland businessman, Allie would rather moonlight as a Hound than accept the family fortune--and the many strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magical offload that has her father's signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into the high-stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic.

In bookstores November 4, 2008. To learn more about Devon, check out her site:

The Texas Typos had a slew of questions for Devon, which she generously offered to answer:

1. How long did it take you to write the book from concept to agent-ready?

I was invited to submit a short story to an anthology. It probably took two weeks to come up with an idea for the short story and a week to write it. That ended up being the first chapter of the novel.

I wrote the novel (except for the first chapter, which, actually, I had to rewrite) in a little over a month.

2. How do you know when a book is agent-ready?

When it is as good as I can make it with my current skills. I love rewriting, but there comes a time when I must let go of a book so I can move on to the next book, the next challenge, the next thing that will help me grow as an author. In the most basic terms I draft, rewrite, send to first readers, rewrite, and send to agent.

3. How long did it take you to find an agent and how many did you query? How did she target her agent(s)?

It took me five years and four different books to sign my current agent. I don't know how many I queried in the end. At first, I only queried the one or two agents I was familiar with. Then my goal became researching as many agents as I could (via Publisher's Marketplace, Agent Query, websites, blogs, conferences, chats, etc.) and submitting to as many I thought were viable every month.

4. From 'the call' to print: what's your favorite part of the process? Why?

I love hearing from readers who have enjoyed reading the book. That is after all, my ultimate goal--to write something others can enjoy and escape into. As for the writing process, I think my favorite part is rewriting after the first draft because that is when I feel I have finally unpacked the story and discovered what it truly can be. I also love seeing the cover art for the first time.

5. How many times did you want to give up and if more than two or three what kept you going? If less, what drugs were you on?

I gave up once a year for fifteen years. Seriously. What kept me going was that I love writing. Even when it's really, really hard, and there is no time for it in my life, and no one wants to buy my stuff, I love writing.

6. What is your message to pre-published authors hoping to see their books in print?

Remember writing is a job and you are responsible for your career. That means showing up at the keyboard every day and working (writing) to climb the mountain. The most important tool a writer can put in their toolbox is determination. Talent and inspiration are great, but determination will get the words down, will lead you to strive to improve, and will send out the novel/short story/article again and again, rejection after rejection, until it is sold.

7. If you knew what you know now starting out, what would you've done different?

I probably wouldn't have listened to the people who told me the only way to sell a novel was to learn to write short fiction. I also would have dared to be bad more often, trusted more in my voice, and tried to write more and faster, every day.

8. Do you have any strange -okay, let's call it unique-writing practices?

I don't think so. I just sit down, roll up my sleeves and sweat and cuss and despair. Isn't that how everyone does it? Wait, I just thought of something that might be strange--sometimes I plot my scenes/chapters/books in the shower. There's something about the warm water and time away from the rest of the world that really helps me think.

9. What do you do for stress relief?

I knit, do yoga, and take walks. Knitting isn't always great on my fingers and wrists, but I love it. Yoga has done wonders for my typing-cramped shoulders and keeps my mind more alert. Walking is just plain fun.

10. Did you use a critique partner or group, or did your previous experience mean you didn't need to?

I'm assuming you're asking if I used a critique group for MAGIC TO THE BONE. No. I'd been a part of critique groups for fifteen years. All of them focused on short fiction. There wasn't a group in my area that critiqued novels. So I found a few trusty first readers and asked if they would take a look at the book. One of my first readers is a wonderful writer and the other two are wonderful (and voracious) readers. They all gave me invaluable feedback on how to make the book more satisfying.

11. How do you find a trustworthy beta reader? What are the qualifications of a beta reader?

This one's tricky. It takes knowing what you expect a beta reader to do and being clear about asking for that. If you're looking for someone to tell you what you did right, ask for that upfront: "I'd love it if you read my book and just told me the things that you like about it."

If you're looking for someone to tell you what didn't work in the book, be specific, i.e, ask, "When did you get bored and put it down? Was the scene in the warehouse confusing? Do you like the main character? Why not? Who was your favorite character? Why? Did (blank) make sense?"

I guess my advice is to just keep trying people--at critique groups, conferences, classes, online--until you've found someone who is willing to build a relationship of trust and (sometimes brutal) honesty. Then listen to them and apply the suggestions that make the most sense to your vision of the story.

12. What's the biggest difference in writing magazines, anthologies, short stories and novels?

The writing process is still the same (sit at keyboard, roll sleeves, sweat, cuss, despair) but the format and length of each form calls for a different approach in plotting.

Short stories need tight, brilliant little plots with every word doing triple the work. Novels need tight brilliant big plots with every word doing double the work.

Magazines and anthologies are different in that anthologies are often identified by themes and magazines are usually identified by genre. In many cases anthologies have a longer shelf life than magazines--simply due to the format.

I believe every form of story calls for deep characterization, rockin' plots, exciting world building, and a lasting sense of wonder.

13. How do you draw the line between fantasy and science fiction?

I don't. That's up to marketing/publishers/book sellers. There's a lot of blending between the two genres anyway, and I like it when things cross-pollinate.

I know there are purists who will argue the point, but as a reader I basically classify fantasy as stories with strong magical elements and science fiction as stories with strong technological elements.

14. You span a number of genres, what's your ultimate favorite to write?

All of it! I love a good story that will whisk me away and let me spend time with unusual/engaging people who are doing cool things.

15. What elements are a must in a good book?

I like books that have strong, engaging characters and plots, great dialog, interesting settings, emotionally fulfilling outcomes, and pacing that makes the whole thing sing.

16. Give us your top five reason why a reader should pick MAGIC TO THE BONE when browsing a bookstore shelf.

I get all kinds of shy doing that sort of thing. How about I just quote five people who have read it instead?

"...clever and compulsively readable...brilliantly and tightly written...a multifaceted character who will surprise, amuse, amaze and absorb readers." --Publishers Weekly Starred review

"With style and a magical world that is quite fresh, Monk explodes on the scene and makes a few waves!"
--Romantic Times top pick 4 1/2 stars

"Loved it. Fiendishly original and a stay-up-all-night read."
--Patricia Briggs, NYT Bestselling Author

"Monk's writing is addictive and the only cure is more, more, more."
--Rachel Vincent, NYT Bestselling Author

"The characters in Magic to the Bone are anything but stereotypical. They defy expectations and truly come alive on the page. The use of magic in here is new and fantastically riveting. The plot is complex and wonderful, with excellent twists and turns. The not-particularly-explicit (in fact, they’re teasingly abstract in some ways) sex scenes are searingly hot in an unusually “real” kind of way, and the emotions are incredibly poignant."
--Errant Dreams Review

17. State three ways you're similar to your heroine, Allie, and three ways you're different.

Oh boy, here we go!

Similar: I go out of my way to help others in need, I have a sarcastic inner monologue, I'm willing to risk it all for those I love.

Different: I get along with my family, I'm not a loner, I'm not in over my head burdened with magic in a world where dangerous secrets and dangerous people are around every corner.

Thanks a bunch Devon and best of luck with MAGIC TO THE BONE. May you have rock-rockin’ sales! Keep writing,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Computer Scare

Yesterday, I almost cried. I teetered on the edge of throwing myself on the floor, kicking and crying. I had the latest version of my WIP --the one I've been working on for a couple of years now--on a zip drive. Well, when I plugged it in yesterday, my file --only my WIP file and none other--is corrupted.

I tried all kinds of things to recover a version with most of my changes. Nada.

I called in favors, drove to the state university computer people and begged. Nada.

Finally, got referred to this tiny computer shop --The Computer Stop -- hidden in a shopping strip of burgers, salons and laundromat and pub. Left my baby with them for an agonizing hour. And the staff retrieved most of it. I don't think I've ever been so happy to write out a check!

Moral of the story: Backup, backup, backup. On a weekly basis.

Accidents can happen, files get corrupted, zips get lost. You don't want all your hard work to vanish in an instant.

Okay, I'm breathing again and writing too! :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Patting Myself on the Back

I'm celebrating a major accomplishment. On Friday, I sent two contest entries winging off into cyberspace. Woo~Hoo! Let the Cyber Champagne flow, the Cyber chocolate makes its rounds. And, of course, send in the Cyber cowboys!

Yes, I know I haven't WON any contest. Merely entered. However, every time I attempt to enter contests there's major hurdles to overcome.

1) Self-Doubt: Suddenly my wonderful story doesn't seem that wonderful anymore. I obsess over every word choice until the last minute. I can't believe I wrote this drivel. I want to call up all my writing friends and seek reassurance. But I like having friends, so I don't.

2)When upset or nervous, I cook or bake. So I spend precious writing time in the kitchen. This time, it was a Pumpkin Spice Bread, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pudding. I'm really getting into October here.

3)My computer sabotages me. Really. I'm not making this up. Whenever I'm on contest deadline, my computer acts up: the word processor refuses to do the requested formatting, the e-mail goes down etc. etc. What? Operator difficulties, you say? Nope. It's the computer's fault.

So win or lose, just entering contests is a major accomplishment. And I'm celebrating!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dangerous Typos

Hey y'all came across this post about how a typo resulted in some very sick people. For a reminder that typos can be serious business check this article out:

Okay, technophobe here doesn't know how to make the link, cut and paste it into your search engine or google "nutmeg typos" if you want to read the article.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Nicholas Sparks and writing good info

Hey Y'all I was surfing the web talking to my aunt when she mentioned Nicholas Sparks and a movie with Richard Gere being out. I called up the man's page and look what is there, things about writing. If you are interested here is the link: Kathy, an asprining author, maybe some day lol.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

We have a brand new baby girl!

Today my family added an great niece. Well her grandmothe is my sister, so she has brand new granddaughter. But this is my brand new great niece . This is my sister's daughter's baby girl. There will be another one born next month. Her oldest two sons have girls also. The oldest has a 6 almost 7 (on Monday October 6) and the youngest one is 4. They are named Evelyn and Katie. The second oldest son has a daughter named Cinnamin who was 5 in July on the 8th. She lives with her mom but she sees her daddy and his second wife on a regular basis they all live in Germany where the first ones are at Fort Hood/Killeen Texas area. Now this son and his second wife are having a baby in November. But here is our newest aby born today. Please welcome Lillian Rose Maldonado, born at 2:00 pm central daylight time. She weighed 8 pound 6 ounces (a chunky monkey) and was 20.5 inches long. Lillian's mother says she has her daddy's hair and that she is hungry, tired, and hurting after the birth.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The use of apostrophes in Texas

Okay I had to share this, since we are the TXTypos!

I recently got this question:

I have a friend in Alabama who's trying to tell me the difference between "you all" and "ya'll." But I'm still unclear. I thought "ya'll" was for addressing one person (you) and "all ya'll" was for more than one (you guys).

Is that right?

Followed by:

Okay, disregard. LOL. After reading my friend's e-mail THREE times through, I finally figured out what she was trying to say. She was trying to correct my placement of the apostrophe. Hence, "y'all" vs. "ya'll." Apparently, she sees that error all the time in books, and it drives her crazy.

My response:

Yes the apostrophe placement is very important in Texas as in y'all and fixin' to.

Such as Y'all are fixin' to get into a heck of trouble for misusing the apostrophe! :P

Monday, September 29, 2008

It is done. Let the waiting begin.

I did it. Got my cover letter and synopsis and first three chapters in the mail to Steeple Hill.

Of course - the editor that said change these things and send it back has moved on... I sent it to the new person but doubt if I will hear anything positive. I hope I hear something though, fairly soon, so I can scratch them off my list and send elsewhere. I have this fear it will hit the slush pile and I'll be waiting until Christmas. "Elsewhere" doesn't like simultaneous subs so I have to get the official rejection before I can do anything else.

Of course, standing in line at the post office I thought of better things to say and things I should have changed or added, but resisted the urge to yank it back out of the clerk's hands and let the envelope go on its way. Sigh. With the other editor I thought I might have a good shot at a request for the full.

Never mind.

Writing Again

Slowly, but surely, I'm recovering from September.

I've finally managed to catch up with my e-mail and tame the beast. Yay me!

I've also returned to my WIP and am trying to plot. Until now, I've been an out and out pantser. But discovered I'd write chapter after chapter, only to change directions and not be able to use many of them. Aaargh!

So yes, instead of sitting down writing, I sat down and took a couple of on-line plotting classes --one with Angie Fox and one with Tracy Montoya. Uber helpful and I've been spending time in trying to chart my book.

Yeah, it's almost as hard as cramming your book into a perky logline. Anyhoo, at least working on the plotting has got me thinking about my story again and is helping me slip into writing mode. Yay me!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Golden Heart

Go ahead everyone, get your GH entries in now! You can enter on-line. Actual entry has to be in their hands by December 2nd (I think).

I got my inspie entered which means I need to finish it. Which I needed to do anyway. I'd hoped to have more than one entry but - oh well. The stuff that happened wasn't all writing.

At least I have been writing, trying to make up for lost time. Which means I'm missing out on sleep but can't have everything!

Three hours yesterday and one so far today. And some of this was REAL writing and not editing and rewriting the stuff I'd already written!

Tiny FrogsWow! This is really awesome!...Some Tiny FrogsOnce upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs....who arranged a running competition.
The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower.A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants....The race began....Honestly: No one in the crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower.You heard statements such as:'Oh, WAY too difficult!!''They will NEVER make it to the top.'or:'Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!'The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one....Except for those, who in a fresh tempo, were climbing higher and higher..The crowd continued to yell, 'It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!'More tiny frogs got tired and gave up....But ONE continued higher and higher and higher....This one wouldn't give up!
At the end everyone else had given up climbing the tower.

Except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!THEN all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it?
A contestant asked the tiny frog how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal?It turned out .... that the winner was DEAF!!!!
The wisdom of this story is: Never listen to other people's tendencies to be negative or pessimistic....because they take your most wonderful dreams and wishes away from you -- the ones you have in your heart!Always think of the power words have. (There's life and death in the power of the tongue - Proverbs 18:21.)Because everything you hear and read will affect your actions!Therefore: ALWAYS be .... POSITIVE!
And above all: Be DEAF when people tell YOU that you cannot fulfill your dreams!Always think: God and I can do this!Pass this message on to 5 'tiny frogs'you care aboutGive them some motivation!!!Most people walk in and out of your life......but FRIENDS leave footprints in your heart

Monday, September 22, 2008

Writing your book in the future- sort of

I am currently reading Sandra Brown’s book ENVY. It has a copyright of 2001. It supposedly takes place in 2002. Through almost half of the book, there has been no mention of 9/11/2001. Now my point in this ramble is, if it is taking place in 2002 how she cannot know about 9/11. Of course, she didn’t know about 9/11 when she wrote the book most likely in 2000. It just makes one think when they are writing how quick you can date your writing. Mention a VCR and most people look at you as if you were from another world. It is all DVD now. If you can remember for those of us past those years, not that long ago, maybe 30 years ago, cassettes were the popular form of music to listen to. I personally still have record albums lol. So how do we go about keeping our work current without it being out of date?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

They've gone - whew!

And for those of you that think I'm heartless... I had six extra people staying with me.

My poor m-i-l, bless her soul, is old, feeble, and borderline Alzheimers. A couple of examples. She thinks the power is off in her home because f-i-l didn't pay the light bill. Also that he is giving her the wrong medication to try and kill her. He says fine, just die then. She has sweet, sweet moments then tantrums because the family is keeping her from her home against her will. Stress #1 - 3

f-i-l is great and still laughs at my jokes. But hasn't quite accepted that his health isn't what it should be, and eats food that upsets his stomach and makes us think he needs an ambulance. And feels helpless that he can't do more. He wants to help me with the three meals a day (for 10) plus dishes but seriously, it is easier if I do it myself. Stress #4

b-i-l #1 (50+ and has never been married / left home) gets concerned that he missed a meal and thinks I'll do his laundry. ROFLMAO! I showed him what HOT, WARM, etc. meant on the washing machine and how to measure the detergent. Stress #5 - 7

Two nieces and nephew (ages 11 - 14) are awesome and from single parents (hubby's siblings) that dropped them off and left (that's okay).

Three of my husband's siblings (he's one of six) in the area had power but did not seem to want the parents or see how they were doing. Hmm. Stress #8

And hubby has found a lot of "outside" things to do the last few days. Stress #9

m-i-l and f-i-l can't go upstairs so they had our bed and hubby and I slept on recliners. Sort of as the kids were loud until I sent "be quiet or die" text messages to my daughter. Note I'm not saying dh right now and "hubby" is stretching it... Stress #10

Turns out b-i-l #2 had a generator so f-i-l guilted him into setting up at their house. Just as well as I have to go back to work in the morning and my daughter starts school. Of course b-i-l #1's truck broke down on the way home and dh (!!) had to go take them water for their radiator. I thought they might be back and hit the chocolate. But they managed to make it home.

Excuse the venting . . . therapy!!

AND I got to write for an hour this evening and feel GREAT!! Tired, yes, but great.

Perhaps next week I can talk about something more fun!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

East Texas Chapter Romance Writers of America Expert Expose

My day had an interesting beginning I had to buy a new battery and then debate the merits of two trips to Tyler approximately 125 miles round trip. I get mad, mouth about spending money on cigarettes for somebody else in the household. AKA the other half. Then decide I am going anyway. So I get ready and head to Tyler arriving in lots of time. As I am always running late this is a biggie for me, plus I had never been to this place. I looked on map quest and memorized the street where it was and how to get there.

I arrived at the Oxford Street Restaurant in Tyler, Texas to find it had a sign on the door that stated "CLOSED". I was on the phone asking other half to find my yahoo group for the chapter in case they had changed something. Another member pulls in, whew, never mind other half. After the two of us discuss what to do next I mention the other sign on the door that says something about a singles Dinner Out meeting at Fat Catz, a nearby place. I race over to see if they have room to seat a part of ten around 7:30 pm it's now pushing 7:00 pm at least maybe a bit after. They say sure we can do that. Everyone arrives to a noise filled restaurant. We can't hear each other, or our thoughts. Then they add a live band to the mix. They all ate a great meal of sea food(yours truly had a simple cheap cheeseburger-not big on seafood). The agent is really a super nice lady really cool, Nephele Tempest is her name she is there in the black top and dark hair. ( I took the picture with my phone.) After dinner we adjourned across the town so to speak to a more quiet environment of Starbucks. I was needing Diet Coke not coffee. Alas I sat and enjoyed sans coke the people in our group and Nephele.
All in all our Friday night disaster turned into a fun thing even with the inability to hear or think in the restaurant. I will post more on our great day today.

The problem with having power when others don't

The in-laws are back. 'Nuff said. With six extra people in my house I'm now a short-order cook, dishwasher, nursemaid, and keeper of the peace.

I'll let you know when I'm out of therapy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What is, is.

Today my dad asked how my writing was going and I had to tell him my writing is on hiatus. This earned me a lecture on how I should write religiously.

Well, this wasn't a planned hiatus. I am participating in my local community's 11 Days of Global Unity events and it's taking up more time, energy and brain cells than I realized. While writing is very important to me, world peace seemed a bit more important.

Today I learned about Taoism. The speaker was a shy and soft spoken woman, but her message was powerful. What is, is.

So, that's what I'm trying to do. Instead of fretting about the book not being written, I'm concentrating on learning as much as I can from these Peace events and making new friends.

The book that's meant to be written will be written, after September.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ike - Day 6

The good stuff:
Nice weather. McDonald’s open. More stations with gas. Stores open longer hours. Dairy and other perishables starting to reappear in small quantities. Curfews with shorter hours. People helping each other. Meeting friends and being happy they are safe. Seeing our local officials do a great job. No one is perfect but they are trying so hard and you know they are spending time away from their homes and families to take care of others. POD’s and COW’s. The absolute and total coverage being given by the local news and radio stations. Stores like HEB and Kroger that are being so generous. The mood is good around here but I think the glorious weather has a lot to do with it. Extended deadlines for dog shows and other things.

The not so good stuff:
Being ashamed to admit you have power when there are still a million and a half without. Everyone complaining about the smell of mildew and all the bugs in their homes. The amount of destruction seen by driving around the neighborhood. Your insurance company telling you there is a $6,000 deductible for wind damage. Not knowing when everything will be back to “normal.” The fact that we get a bare mention on national news and it hasn’t even been a week. The scary thought that there is still 2 ½ months of hurricane season left.

I finally started writing again although did move the refrigerator, clean the kitchen, do more laundry and go shopping as well! I’m taking four online classes and have fallen behind on homework so must decide which I can catch up on and which to lurk and read later.

It is still hard to get a data connection unless late at night. As more people are coming back from their evacuation the cell service is bad during the day. Also I think a lot of the towers are simply running out of juice.

It was amazing to walk into Wal-Mart. All their dairy / produce etc. shelves are empty. I got pictures. Kroger’s has a little cheese, a little meat, a few eggs, etc. Not much but some.

Downtown Houston is still a mess. Yay Shell for only requiring essential employees to report to work until Monday. I thought I was going to have to burn some vacation time. They are good to their people.

I have fifteen pages on my hurricane story which is going to involve arrests and curfews and mandatory evacuations and government officials and all sorts of neat stuff. Oh yeah, and a little romance too. I must remember the POD’s and COW’s!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Wet carpet has been torn up, contents of refrigerator and freezer discarded, and air fresheners strategically placed. After two hours, 60% of scattered shingles have been picked up.

Power is ON and yours truly finally got to take a shower.

Internet not back yet and cell phone coverage too taxed for datacard until late. But it could have been so much worse!

Until next time,

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ike-us Interrupt-us

I typed this yesterday but then couldn't get a good enough datacard connection to get online!

Several years ago, my husband asked if I would like to go catping. My response: “Not sure. How big is the RV?”

So “roughing it” after Ike is tedious, to say the least. It is now Sunday, September 14 and almost 9 pm. I’ve been surviving the lack of power and lack of water and lack of everything else with the comfort of my laptop and cell phone. My mini-van is nicely equipped with a power outlet so we pull out into the driveway a couple of hours a day, run the engine, enjoy the a/c, and watch TV. I also plug in my laptop and data card and share “air” time with my daughter. For any Apollo 13 fans it is our Lunar Module.

Not today. Cell service has got weaker and weaker and I now can’t connect. I thought I’d make some notes for when that changes.

I think Centerpoint restored power to a whopping hundred thousand people over the last twelve hours. Only 1.9 million to go! Of course, a couple of major transmission lines are down and many rows of light poles are tilted at alarming angles. Trucks are running around all over the place and the “up” folks are creeping in closer. I think they are doing the best they can but we are never satisfied! The temperatures have dropped and supposedly the humidity will go down tomorrow which will help out. The house is smelly so we tore up the areas of wet carpet in the four rooms affected. The hole in the roof is at the very top and even the man-lift we rented to put up plywood (and couldn’t return because the store closed early) couldn’t reach it. The rain is supposed to be over but we still have a couple of buckets in the front hallway.

Today we drove forty or so miles to Rosenberg. We’d been told we could find gas, water, and ice there. We found gas in Needville (or about halfway) and the lines were manageable. A huge stream of traffic came the other way, RV’s and livestock trailers with people coming home.
Things in Rosenberg were civilized. There were a couple of restaurants open and McDonald’s boasted a “hurricane” menu of burgers and nuggets. We even found cash on our fourth ATM stop, we still had plenty but wanted to stockpile. Bottled water was fairly plentiful and we got about fifty gallons.

The area we traveled was littered with twisted metal, downed signs and traffic lights, and tarp-covered roofs. Power was non-existent for the first fifteen miles, then spotty, then mostly on. People pulled into powerless but open gas stations and just hung around and chatted. Humanity is so social!

Of course, everyone is complaining. Where is the ice and the water and the MRE’s and the gas? Well – I’m sure it will be here. Less than two days has passed since the worst of the hurricane left our area and help could congregate. I don’t think anyone anticipated so many people being without power.

I’m so tired of living “rough” but it only shows how spoiled I am. I applaud the stores that are opening so we can go in and buy baby wipes, chips, peanuts, and warm cans of soda. The folks behind the counter are working via calculator and it is cash-only, but they were a welcome sight and we didn’t encounter any gouging. We got a lot of batteries, flashlights, water, food, and candles before this started. Not enough. Especially not enough water because our 4-H chicks go through six or seven gallons a day. Having run out of usable rainwater they are now on bottled so I hope they appreciate it! We learned a lot when we evacuated for Rita but that missed our house. So many things we will do differently next time there is a chance we may lose power.

Seems like the various agencies are finding out the things they could do better too.

I am thankful that I thought to do every scrap of laundry on Friday although spotted a couple of packed but open laundromats in Rosenberg.

Grateful we have nothing we can’t recover from.

Not looking forward to another dark night.

Greatly anticipating the time when we get power or find a motel room and I can shower again!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Let there be light. Please

So we made it through the storm without killing each other. It was close, people got a little cranky. Stress? Nothing like the wind screaming while the candles flicker and water drips through the ceiling and under the refrigerator. Make that pours. We mopped up five gallons that was somehow coming in through the side of the house. At least we had something to flush the toilets with! But it was scary. You'd hear things rattling against the side of the house and not know what would hit hard enough to break through. Then you'd think the wall or roof was about to peel away.

Anyway - did you know you can get blisters from wringing out towels? Try doing it for two hours. At least it was cool on the kitchen floor sitting in a puddle of water. And it took my mind of that claustrophobic feeling... Or perhaps it was the bottle of wine. One or the other.

Power went out early, 9 pm. Out of 2.2 million Centerpoint customers, 2.1 million are without power. All together it is 22 percent of the ENTIRE state of Texas. That's a lot of folks, y'all. Up to a month to bring it all back. Hopefully ours will only be a few days as we aren't in the flooded area and this is the only time I'm happy we don't have a lot of trees. For us no power = no water.

Then the eye passed and the wind changed and the water came in through the study instead. Carpet in there is soaked. Oh well. After seeing the rest of the damage we got off lightly. Our barn is short a roof and a couple of walls, but the livestock survived (haven't seen all the chickens yet but haven't really looked). And thirty percent of my shingles are scattered on the floor but nothing that can't be fixed.

I'm sitting in my van, parked in the driveway, with dh and daughter watching TV in the back. I have a full tank of gas, a/c, and a power outlet. We may camp out here tonight! I said it was our Lunar Module a la Apollo 13.

Inside it is dark. We took down a few strips of plywood but the sun is down. I still walk into rooms and forget I'll be blind.

In-laws left and son went to stay with a friend as he has to work and really needs a shower. (We all do but still.) So it is just the three of us and a mountain of animals. But we have flashlights and a few candles, water and iPods. Tomorrow I think stores thirty or forty minutes away will be open and hopefully trucks with ice and water will arrive.

And who knows what the next few days will bring. If there's anything else brewing in the tropic please don't tell me...

Okay - daughter is whining for the data card.

Take care everyone!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The hurricane's coming and so are the in-laws

Just a few of the in-laws...

Two b-i-l's, f-i-l, niece, and nephew.

M-i-l went with s-i-l and her family to niece in College Station.

We have enough soup to start a kitchen but my pizza’s about gone. This was a last minute decision for most (they live north of Galveston and we live west) of them but never mind, the other kids are keeping my daughter’s mind at ease.

The plywood’s up and so is the wind. Debris is being cornered and I’ve moved crates so I can bring the dogs that live in a small kennel building into my utility room.

For those that don’t know – I have 21 dogs… Don’t ask.One is already driving me crazy with yapping so he just got two Benadryl. Another one is a storm freak so he’s going to share a crate with his sister.

The mom with one pup in my bathroom is another storm freak but she can hang out in the bedroom with me while I’m hiding from dh’s family. Did I say that?

It’s gonna be a long night!

Oh well, back to work!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Waiting for [I don't like] IKE

Well it was coming here. Then it wasn’t. Now it is again.

*rolls eyes, big sigh*

A huge cloud of complacency covered southeast Texas yesterday (Tuesday). On Monday everyone was on high alert then they said “never mind, it’s going to Brownsville.” Red flagswere lowered and evacuations held off until the last minute.

But THEN the forecast changed. Instead of the well-planned evac by zip code it is: “Brazoria County, y’all get out now.”

Not that everyone’s leaving yet. There were fifteen pickups in the plywood line at Home Depot, (I'm glad we already had ours) and fifteen people in the prescription pickup line at Walgreen’s! Wal-Mart was surprisingly empty but I think a lot of people had supplies left from the Gustav episode last week. Or they were still at Home Depot.

Galveston County has been advised to shelter in place. I hope they all have a second story. Supposed to be a huge storm surge with this thing, and Jim Cantore is hanging out there. It's always bad when he shows up!

Well – I’m not going. I’d leave the livestock - sorry all you animal lovers but none of mine qualify as “high dollar,” which is really all they want you to take. What I have is too many dogs. I could stick them all in the van and drive, hoping to stay out of traffic, hoping to find somewhere to go. Made that mistake with Rita and don’t want to do it again.

I’m thirty miles, plus or minus, from the coast. The plywood’s going up as I type, and we have forty-eight hours to pray for the thing to do a Rita and go north sooner than expected. Or it can go west. Or east. I’d love it to go east. Anywhere not as densely populated.

Meanwhile I’m going to stay home, do laundry, and continue to stock up.

Watching, wondering, waiting.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A view of contests

Contests. Love ‘em or hate ‘em they have their place. I’ve been entering them for almost a year and have crawled from the dregs to making the finals (not with everything!) although it is still a game of chance. Or - contests are like a box of chocolates!

Judge’s feedback makes you laugh, makes you happy, makes you cry. Sometimes you wonder what they were reading because they will say “Who is Pattie?” when one paragraph above you clearly introduced Ms. Peppermint. They will give you radical ideas for your story that make you want to give up writing all together. They will constructively point out all your problems and give wonderful ideas on how to fix them. They will tell you how much fun they had reading your work and absolutely make your day.

The best contests – my opinion only – are as follows:
1. Wide range of categories. Who wants to put their inspirational in competition with a sensual contemporary or their romantic suspense in with a paranormal?
2. Electronic entries, including payment. Folks like me have trouble finding the post office.
3. Closing dates on Sundays or holidays with the time zone stated.
4. Fantastic coordinators that immediately respond (almost immediately anyway) and say yes they did receive your entry and yes it did open okay.
5. At least fifteen MS pages and at least three synopsis pages. The more the better though.
6. Three judges or two judges and a discrepancy judge if needed. There is nothing more “fun” than receiving a contest entry that got 95 from one judge and 64 from another. A third judge could have also given a low score, yes, but maybe not!
7. Timely results and notification if the results are delayed. It is nice when the results are available on a wide group of lists, as well as the contest-holding-chapter's home page.

Synopsis vs. no synopsis.
Sometimes the first few pages (like the Gotcha! Contest) are great to try out a new idea. More pages, more of the story in front of the reader. I used to hate doing a synopsis and avoided every contest that mentioned it. Then an editor saw my work and thought “something” happened when “something” didn’t really happen. She said I could never have “something” happen in a romance novel and I didn’t! If there had been a synopsis involved then she would have known that “something” wasn’t anything at all!

Final Judges
I never used to look at these. I’d never make the finals. Then I did, oops. SO – now I look. And while I don’t care about who it is if they haven’t seen my stuff, I will avoid the editor above (unless there is a synopsis) at all costs. I think if someone sees your work, doesn’t like, but comments then you can fix it. If they don’t like it the second time then save your money!

There are a LOT of contests. My fave site to check them out is She has a perpetual rolling list which is very useful.

My favorite "all about contests" group is CONTESTALERT (Yahoo).

Gotta go now, need to get my contest entries in!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's official - Kathy C has gone overboard!

Note from Kathy Crouch:

"I hope to raise $500 and write 30,000 words.

And this would be in ONE month, sheesh!
Good luck, Kathy!

Good luck, Kathy!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Meeting Rashda

The e-mail said she was going to be in Houston and would I like to meet for coffee? Of course!

Of course we'd never met before so came to some decisions on what we would be wearing to narrow it down. Blue shirt and jeans, she told me, pink shirt and jeans, I told her.

Of course, by the time I got to Borders there was someone there. Blue shirt. Capris. We looked at each other as we scoured the bargain shelves outside the store. Could it be? No. JUST IN CASE I was in the wrong place I walked back to my vehicle to drive around the shopping center.

Rashda calls, all apologies, she's running late. Is that okay? Well DUH! I'm at a book store and could spend all day waiting without complaint!

By the time she got there I'd only bought five books but had gone through several sets of shelves looking for my favorite authors. She calls. I start walking. See some woman on the phone, staring in my direction. I point.

"You're pointing at me," she says. Uh-huh!

Then she thinks I'm supposed to wear a blue shirt too!!

ANYWAY - the coffee bar inside was full so we sat outside with a drink (juice, folks) and chatted for two hours. Rashda decided if we'd sat inside we would have been thrown out. Talk about LOUD!

But a good time was had by all. Who else is coming to Houston??

How it all began

Writing binge, anyone? Such was Rashda's brilliant idea. Get Kathy Crouch and myself involved in a 2-hours-a-day-or-bust adventure.

Soon we had a fourth, Kathy Wyland, and a fifth, Susan Young. They both hail from far (FAR) West Texas, i.e. California! But us Texans are friendly folk, y'all. And they fit right in!