Monthly Archives: December 2008

Happy New Year Everyone!

My wishes for the New Year are:

  1. Dear Hubby’s health stabilizes.
  2. We all find our bliss.
  3. You and yours have a healthy year.
  4. We all stay out of the poorhouse.
  5. I finish my books and my agent sells them in short order.
  6. We hit the lottery.
  7. Karma catches up with those who deserve it.
  8. The new administration actually does something to make this country great again and it wasn’t only election rhetoric.
  9. An end to world hunger.
  10. World peace.

Love and hugs to my dear Aunties, Cousins, and friends.

Ten seconds to hook a reader

     Yes, it’s true.  That is the approximate length of the time that it takes for someone to decide whether to purchase your book or not. 

     Did the above title hook you into reading more of this?  Did it make you pause? 

     What does a person look at in those ten seconds?  I will read the blurb on the back and look at the opening line.  If I like that, I’ll read the first paragraph.  Get me that far, make me want to read more, and I’ll most likely purchase the book.

     Are you now thinking of your novel’s opening line, first sentence, and first paragraph?

     Do they need punching up?  What are you waiting for?  Go do it.

     **I have a page set aside for comments on my books.  Let me know, do they hook you or not?**

     If you want ideas on how to hook your readers, many books are available that will help.  I’ve listed a couple below.

     Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages.  A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile published by Simon and Shuster in 2000.  I suggest that if you haven’t read it or added it to your writing library, go forth, and do so.

     Hallie Ephron’s Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel, how to knock ’em DEAD with style.  Not just for mystery writers this book is great for all fiction writers.

Pumping up your writing

     Do you tend to overwrite and lean to the flowery?  Do your metaphors and similes ramble along for pages?  That’s okay if you’re writing for style, not so much, if you are writing a mystery, suspense, or horror novel.  You don’t want to bore your reader to death.  It is best to put the brakes on overdoing the stylishness.  I know many a reader who will skip over those long segments of description to get to the meat of the story.

     I am guilty of not doing enough description.  My writing is sparse and tight-too tight, it seems.  My critique group tells me, “show me more, I want to see where you protagonist is.”  I groan and make notes of where they beg for more description.  Then I struggle to give them more.  After all that’s why I go to the critique group.  They see my weaknesses and help me to correct them.

     In each chapter I toil to raise the odds, end them with cliffhangers that drive a reader to go on to read the next one.  I’m getting better at cranking up the tension in small ways too. 

     I’m still learning.  I never want to stop.

Don’t get me hooked on a game

     A friend of mine got me hooked on an online game.  This is not a good thing for me I really don’t need something else begging for my time.  My browser isn’t fond of it.  It locked up my computer for quite a while tonight. 

     Once I finally was able to get back online a friend I’d been instant messaging was gone.  So I went back to try the game again-not a smart idea.  I got hooked on it and wasn’t going to let it beat me.  I made it through all the levels they gave you only to find out if I wanted to play more of it I had to buy it.

     I’ve decided that although the game was fun I erased the link after spending too much time on it and I refuse to buy it to play more.

Pups and pop corn

     “Do you want some p-o-p-c-o-r-n?”  Dear Hubby asked.

     Two sets of ears perked up.  Gavin’s head tilted to the right and Patty’s head tilted to left. 

     “Uh oh, I think they’ve learned to spell that,” I said. 

     “You keep them out here and I’ll start it.”  (Fat chance of doing that.)  Gavin beat him to the kitchen and Patty was on his heels.  “Not for you.  For us,” He told them.

     From the living room, I told Dear Hubby, “Yeah right.  Say that all you want they’ll still mooch some.”

     Dear Hubby got so he didn’t like microwaved pop corn so we recently bought a hot air popper-cost a whole fifteen dollars.  We had one many years ago when we were first married.  At the time, we also had a German shepherd and as soon as we’d turn on the popper, he’d be right by the counter to catch any strays that popped out of the bowl and landed on floor.

     I’m not surprised that these two English Bull Terriers have already figured out the same thing.  Both were happily playing the outfield while the bowl filled.

     While we munched they mooched.  Patty is very good at catching pop flies.  Gavin prefers grounders I think he has trouble focusing on small moving objects.

Dust bunnies from hell

     Okay, I admit it.  I didn’t clean the house for Christmas.  I didn’t even give the floors a lick and a promise with a dust mop.  Why?  We had no company coming to visit.  We two, and the pups were all who was to be here.  Why fuss and clean like a maniac when there was no need?  

     Today I noticed a fuzzy bit sticking out from under my desk.  When I reached to pick it up there came a great gnashing of teeth and slashing of claws-I’d grabbed the tail of a killer dust bunny from hell.  It was only one of many.  The dogs retreated to their crates to hide from the vicious creatures. 

     I seized the mighty and magical vacuum, unleashed the awful power, and waged battle upon the creatures of fuzz and dust.  I emerged victorious.  The dirty fiends will grow, multiply, and before too long a new battle will begin. 

     Tomorrow, I shall wage war on the muddy paw print monsters, they are the sneaky invisible creatures that slink into the house and finger-paint on my floors trying to get the pups into trouble.

The chair shark

     Gavin loves to sit in my lounge chair with me.  He’ll stretch out alongside me and chew his favorite Nylabone on the footrest.  He’s contented, he’s happy, but he’s bait for the chair shark.

     Patty is the resident chair shark.  She will stalk Gavin for his bone.  She will circle behind my chair and hide under Dear Hubby’s footrest.  She will crawl under mine and from underneath will POKE Gavin with her nose a few times.  Patty waits and watches for a paw to flop over the edge of the chair.  She nips at the dangling appendage.  Gavin leans over the edge and nips back.  The two jaw wrestle for a bit until she retreats under DH’s footrest.

     Gavin goes back to chewing his bone.  The chair shark begins to circle her prey again.  She doesn’t want any of the bones in their toy box she wants what Gavin has.  She MUST have it.

     Gavin stops chewing his bone, sighs, and rests his chin on my shins.  The chair shark pounces, steals the bone, and leaps for her lair, the couch.  She does her victory dance, shaking the Nylabone, and bouncing back and forth on the couch.  Buried behind the seat cushions you can scarcely see the three other bones she stole from Gavin today.

Christmas Eve

     Rain has poured down on us all day and yet the icy snow remains in the yard.  Last night’s freezing rain coated everything in a thin sheet of ice.  I stepped out on the porch to look at the neighborhood Christmas lights reflected from every surface our block.  It was a festive sight.

     I’m happy to be snug at home this Christmas.  I spent too many of them in the past far from my home.  Where I was, I didn’t feel all that welcome and I missed Dear Hubby something terrible.  A couple times, I was stuck in some distant airport waiting for a flight home.

     So tonight, I’ll count my blessings while I snuggle with DH and the pups and we enjoy our movie marathon and pop corn.

     A younger sister who was the strongest person I ever knew blessed me with her love every day of her short life. 

     A father who was loving, kind, and compassionate blessed me.

     A mother who understood and always told me to be myself and be proud of who I am blessed me.

     I will always love and miss them.

     My Dear Hubby is a blessing to me every day.

     My wonderful aunties and cousins are truly a blessing.

     My dear friends old and new are always a blessing.

     Have a wonderful Holiday dear readers for you too are a blessing to me.

Cookies, friends, and comfort

     My closest friend stopped by today to schmooze and bring us a container of Christmas cookies.  She does this every year.  I stopped baking my usual ton of cookies several years ago.  (I limit us to a few pies, brownies, and fancy loaf breads most of which I give away.)  Dear Hubby and I don’t need too many baked goods around and our dear neighbor’s kindly treat is just enough.

     Tomorrow I’ll bake my traditional pecan pie for Thursday’s dinner.  If it hadn’t been for another dear friend, I wouldn’t be doing that. 

     Christmas Eve DH and I will snuggle in with the pups and treat ourselves to a couple of new DVDs, eggnog, and pop corn.  The pups will go through their repertoire of tricks to try to beg some pop corn off us.  They’ll get some, but they’re not spoiled or anything.

     Christmas day we will sleep in late and then enjoy some fresh coffee and sweet rolls.  We don’t do gifts.  Each day we have together is gift enough for us.  The pups will get their new Nylabones, they like presents, and we wouldn’t think of depriving them.

     I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday.

Always check for uninvited guests

     Many years ago, when we still put up a Christmas tree, we’d go to a local tree farm and cut down our own.  Getting a tree at a Christmas tree farm guarantees that you get a fresh one.  However, every now and then, you might bring home some uninvited guests.

     Almost everyone remembers National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  One of my favorite scenes is when Chevy Chase tangles with the squirrel that had stowed away in the Christmas tree.  We didn’t have a crazed squirrel but we did find some uninvited guests in our tree one year.

     While hanging the lights on the tree I came across two odd looking things stuck to two of the branches.  I showed them to Dear Hubby and he knew what they were.  He clipped the twigs off, took them outside, and tied them onto a couple of hedge branches.  “People pay for those egg casings,” he told me when he came in.

     “They what?”

     “Those were Praying Mantis eggs.”

     “Oh, neat!”

     Had those objects stayed in the warm house, several thousand, tiny Praying Mantis would have hatched out of them.  It’s definitely not as dramatic as a wild and crazy squirrel stowed away in your tree. 

     I’m glad we didn’t have thousands of teensy bugs running around the house for Christmas.

The procrastinator’s tree

     A conversation I overheard this evening while I had the dogs outside made me wonder how many other Christmas tree procrastinators are out there.

     The smallest of three children asked, “We’re getting our tree tomorrow aren’t we Dad?”

     “The wind chill is going to drop the temperature to zero degrees tomorrow and there’ll be wind gusts of forty miles per hour.  I’m not taking you kids out in that for a tree.”  The father tugged on his dog’s leash and dragged it away from a telephone pole.

     His wife shrugged.  “We can better put it off for another day it’s supposed to be nicer on Tuesday.”

     “But, you promised we’d go TOMORROW.  All my friends have their trees up already.”  The eldest of the three children whined and kicked at a chunk of ice.

     “Oh, yeah sure.  We’re going to go hunting for a tree in that kind of weather.  No way.  The tree can wait another day.  I don’t intend to be found frozen to some pine tree, ax in hand, at the tree farm.”

     The middle child said, “But MOOOOM, tell him Christmas Eve is Wednesday.” 

     The mother said, “Why don’t we go buy a fake tree tomorrow?  Then you won’t need to go chop down a tree and the kids will happy.”

     The man wrapped his arm around her shoulders.  “But it’s a tradition.  I’ve done it since I was a kid.  I want them to have the same traditions.”

A day without sunshine is, um, night?

     When I woke up today, thick clouds covered the sky and it was dark enough to make me take a second look at my alarm clock.  It didn’t get any lighter as the afternoon wore on.  I expected it to storm any minute-it didn’t.  The sky brooded all day.

     There wasn’t much difference in the light when the sun (what sun?) went down.  It’s after two a.m. now and the clouds are still there-thick, heavy clouds.  The forecast says we could get as much as six inches of snow.  That’s okay.  I cleaned all that icy junk off my car and Dear Hubby’s truck today, so I’m ready for the next snow dump.

     The pups would be happier with a snow covering over that icy stuff in the yard.  Both of them could make do with some doggie snow cleats-do they make them?  The next question would be how funny would that look? 

     Patty manages fine but poor Gavin reminds me of Bambi in the ice skating scene with Thumper.  He scrabbles his way out a few feet and back.  The relief of making it to the steps is quite evident on his face.  Yes, we could do with a bit of a snow coating over the ice if only to give the poor dog some traction.