Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Christmas or Halloween?

I just got back from picking up the kidlets from school. On the drive over, I hit one my preset buttons and heard, Do they know it's Christmas Time. A Christmas song playing on Halloween? I wondered if I'd stepped through some space/time continuum worm hole or something. I checked the station, a local contemporary Christian song called The Fish. I knew I wasn't dreaming because I did not have a nap scheduled for today.

After the song played, a listener thanked the dj and station for playing Christmas music on Halloween. Huge sigh of relief. I hadn't suddenly time-traveled leaving no one to pick up my children from school or finish writing my book (okay, maybe having someone else deal with the book wouldn't be such a bad thing!). Instead the radio station decided to celebrate Jesus' birth and play Christmas Carols rather than acknowledge Halloween. That's one way to handle it.

The kids got in the minivan after school. I still had the radio on. You should have seen their faces when they heard Do You Hear What I Hear playing. It was so funny. A "Merry Christmas from Fish 104.1" message came on next.

My oldest looked at me very confused. "What is going on, Mommy? It's not Christmas."

I explained why Christmas carols were being played on October 31st. We then sang along with the next carol until we got home. It definitely put me in the mood to finish my scene that takes place at the mall two days before Christmas. I just hope the station doesn't start playing Christmas Carols for real until the day after Thanksgiving. I still remember the year two local stations started playing carols in early November. One station full-time. The other on weekends as a holiday teaser promotion. I thought both ideas were stupid. Luckily the next year, they didn't do that. Sure hope that's the case this year again!

Okay, I must go make sure I have three saints costumes laid out for church and then the three trick or treat costumes for later.

Merry Christmas. Oops. I mean Happy Halloween!

Halloween Thriller

Here are a few videos to celebrate Halloween Thriller style.

The first doesn't allow embedding so here's the link to the original Michael Jackson Thriller video. Vincent Price sure had the perfect voice for horror movies. Did anyone else learn the steps to the dance when this came out? I was laughing so hard during the movie 13 Going on 30 when Jennifer Garner danced the steps!

Here's a group of guys who learned the dance, too. Guess they had the time to really get the steps down!

And I don't even want to think about the time and work that went into making this version of Thriller. It's pretty clever though. Enjoy!

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween! We'll be at our church for the All Hallows Eve vigil and trunk or treating (people give out candy to the kids from the back of their cars) then back home to take the kidlets trick or treating in our neighborhood.

Do you have any big plans? If you're out driving later, be mindful and watch out for those little Power Rangers, Hannah Montanas and princesses who will be trick or treating.

Have a fun and not-so-scary day and night!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Women Who Rock

Monday night was the final session of my women's clinic at Portland Rock Gym. Unfortunately, two of the women didn't make the last class, but here's a picture of four of us and our fearless leader, Caroline. She is an awesome instructor and helped us improve our climbing technique over the four weeks. I'm really sad the class is over. It was a great group of women to climb with and plus I learned so much! I want to sign up the next time they offer the clinic.

Today I'm going gym climbing again. That makes three days in a row! Yesterday was my good friend Tiffany's birthday and today we're celebrating. That's the reason for my shopping yesterday afternoon! Care to guess what I got her? We are going to climb then have lunch at one of Tiffany's fave restaurants Mother's in downtown Portland. It should be a fun day!

Oh, and before I forget. Here's this morning's Crossfit workout. I'm a little sore but nothing like last Thursday.

Warm-up - 10 lb D ball throws and run, Inch worms across floor, spider stretches

Workout of the day (WOD):

Jump rope 50-40-30
Goblet squats (10 lb) 15-12-9
Ring rows 15-12-9
Push press (7.5 lbs) 15-12-9

Time: 12:35

Hope you are having a relaxing Tuesday! I know I'm looking forward to a little down time this afternoon so I can write and maybe nap.

It's a Mad, Mad Monday

I hate starting the week out already feeling like I'm running behind. Unfortunately, that's each and every Monday for me. I'll blog later when I can actually think straight and not be watching every second tick off the clock.

Hope you're having a relaxing day!

Update at 3:10 p.m.: I was hoping to blog, but I have nothing to say. The class I taught today was a lot like last night's. It must be something in the air because these are normally great kids, but once again the hour and a half has left me exhausted and brain dead. I have a couple of hours until my final climbing technique clinic so I need to figure out whether I should:

1) Attempt to write
2) Take a nap
3) Go shopping for my friend's birthday present
4) Eat some chocolate

What would you do if you were me?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A new book winner!

Thanks for all your comments. They are much appreciated! Okay, here's the details for this week's contest winner.

Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2007-10-28 19:45:49 UTC

This week's free book winner is Marianne (finally!!!!) who commented on my post On the Floor. Marianne, please pick a book off the list here and email me your choice and snail address. Thanks!

Last week's winner, Nathalie, chose Late Night Talking by Leslie Schnur. It looks like a cute story. Let us know what you think of the book when you're finished reading it, Nathalie.

The feis went great yesterday. Placements in the solo dances and lots of trophies, too! All three kids danced in a costume reel. They dressed as Dorothy, the Scarecrow and Toto. Two of my daughter's classmates joined in as the Tin Man and the Lion. They were way too cute. The tied for fifth! Not bad when their were over sixty-some entries. Care to guess which kidlet dressed as what?

I was so tired from getting all the costumes done that I crashed when I got home. This morning, I was still tired, but went to Mass and then met my friend from my Monday night women's technique clinic at the rock gym for a climbing. The kidlets have a practice swim meet to prepare for the first meet next weekend so I'm taking advantage of the quiet and getting some writing done.

Hope you're having a nice Sunday!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Running late

The two oldest kidlets have an Irish dance competition. I'll post tonight. No time right now.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Healthy Chocolate

If you read yesterday's comments, I mentioned wanting to find the healthiest chocolate to eat when I start the final crunch to get the book done. Brandy mentioned dark chocolate so I did a little googling.

Here's an article from WebMD and another from NPR on the health benefits of dark chocolate. Another on the health benefits of chocolate. To be fair and balanced, this one debunks some of the various chocolate studies. And finally this article summarizes what you need to know about chocolate, but also tells you how to choose healthy chocolate and savour it!

The key, as mentioned in most articles above, is moderation. Too much of anything isn't a good thing. Even chocolate!

What is your favorite chocolate? Anything you suggest I try to help me survive deadline time?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

On the floor

My Crossfit instructor Nichole told me she had planned a really "fun" workout for me this morning. All I could think as I went, okay struggled, through the workout was if I died while doing this could it possibly be deemed premeditated murder since these exercises had been planned ahead of time.

I thought my earlier workouts had been hard. They were. But today I entered into another round of hardness. I never knew just how good it felt to sit on the ground nor how difficult it could be to get up off the floor until this morning.

For my warm-up, I did arm circles, shoulder thingys (no idea what they are called, but it hurt), kicks, 10 lb D Ball throws for distance outside with a little running to get the ball and then 10 lb D Ball throws for height.

This was my workout of the day (three rounds of the following):

5 D Ball Slams (10 lbs)
5 Kettlebell Swings (20 lbs)
150 m row
5 DB Thrusters (10 lbs first round, 7.5 lbs second, third)
5 Jumping Pull ups (not a real pull up, which I can't do. For these, you stand on a box and jump up so your chin is above the bar)
150 m row
5 P Press (7.5 lbs first round, 5 lbs second, third)
5 Push Ups

Time: 16 minutes 12 seconds

Nichole lowered two of the weights during the second round. The sad thing is a lot of people do those exercises with lots more weight, percentages of their body weights, yet I'm struggling with a measly 10 pounds. Guess you gotta start somewhere.

Luckily there was no blood. A good thing. I also managed to walk to the minivan rather than crawl. Another good thing. And finally I didn't meet Mr. Pukie. Huge sigh of relief there. Of course, I signed up for two more sessions next week, too. Who knows what "fun" Nichole will have in store for me?

I have to admit all this exercising might make me tired, but I'm already seeing benefits.

I feel as though my head is clearer, and I'm able to do more mentally. Especially writing wise. On Tuesday, I napped then rewrote a scene that had been giving me fits for two days. My cp couldn't believe the difference when she read it yesterday. Neither could I.

I went gym climbing yesterday. My climbing partner said she noticed a big improvement in my climbing in the two weeks since we'd climbed together! I noticed it, too. Don't know how much of that is the climbing clinic or how much is Crossfit, but I'm guessing a combo of the two.

The biggest benefit has been more energy. Sure I'm sore and might need a nap on workout days, but I don't feel as tired. With all I have going on, this is a very good thing. Especially as I head into November and the deadline dementia/hell that will hit as I approach the December 1st deadline.

What about you? Do you feel better when you work out? What benefits have you seen?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All Hallows Eve

October 31st is a week away. It's a date I've set as a deadline. Halloween is when I wanted to have the rough draft of the book done and when the kids' costumes must be ready to wear.

The book is not going to be done even though I've been plugging away at it as much as I can. The costumes will be ready because I can't let the kids down. Though I must admit it's getting old having to put together two costumes each year-a saints costume for our church's All Hallows Eve Vigil and one for trick or treating around the neighborhood. It would be easier if they'd just wear the saints costumes for both, but they don't want to do that. Maybe when their older St. George will hold the same appeal as Darth Vader. Who knows?

I realized I still have a few things left to do to get ready for Halloween. We have no candy to pass out yet. I need to figure out when we'll carve our pumpkins. And the pumpkin lights still aren't on the house though the icicle ones are.

I saw this quiz and thought it fit the Halloween theme of today's post. Of course, I don't agree at all with my results. Me, scared?

You Aren't Scary, You're Scared

Probably even scared to see how this quiz came out!

What can I say? I don't like to make people cry (unless it's during a scene in one of my books). I like to stay home and pass out candy. And I like the color pink (though red is my fave color, just not blood red!)

How scary are you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

An Empty House

I left the house this morning at 6:30 am with Angus in tow. He attended my Crossfit session at Everyday Athlete and was his adorable self. I had to go outside for the running portion of my workout. When I returned he was sitting up and waiting for me to return. He wasn't even alone. Another person, Xi, was working out. And my instructor, Nicole, was there, too. Anyway, Angus' excitement to see me really warmed my heart.

Here's what I did this morning:

Arm circles and leg kicks

Warm up:
Four rounds of Agility Ladder and 8-5 Kettlebell swings (15 lbs)

WOD (3 rounds):
200 m run (I don't run. At least I haven't run since the early 90's so this was interesting.)
8 Shrug drops (8 lb medicine ball)
5 D ball slams (6 lb)

Time: 9 minutes 23 seconds

I was so tired. (Still am tired!) After I loaded Angus into the minivan, I just sat there a few minutes. I had some water, then started driving south toward my old neighborhood, First Addition in Lake Oswego.

I called the Climbing Cutie. The first thing I said to him, "Does it ever get easier?"

As usual, Cutie was supportive and encouraging. Talking took too much energy though so we didn't chat long. I arrived at Angus' house and my wonderful friend, Tiffany, greeted me with fresh baked banana muffins and a glass of ice water. Exactly what I needed.

Tiffany had run a half-marathon in San Francisco so I wanted to hear all about her weekend. We ended up walking her son to school and then talking Angus on a walk through the neighborhood. Yep, more exercise!

I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo since Tiffany is doing it. Not sure what I'm going to do yet. At this point, and unless inspiration or madness strikes, I will probably just be finishing up my book and revising it for the 50K.

After the walk, I made the what-seemed-like-a-very-long drive home. I walked in the house and it seemed empty. Sure all our stuff was still there, but Angus wasn't. I missed hearing his paws tapping on the hardwood floors. I missed his running into my legs to greet me.

I sure hope Tiffany has another trip planned soon. I want my surrogate dog back!

How is your Tuesday going?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Angus Returns

The adorable soft-coated Wheaten Terrier named Angus has returned to the McClone household until Tuesday. We're all having a lot of fun with him. This pic was taken last night after dinner. Angus wanted attention so he hopped up on the couch next to me and wiggled until he'd found a comfortable spot. Of course, I got a few kisses before he settled down.

Once he'd rested a few minutes, Angus wanted to play! He raced around the house, sliding on the hardwood floors when he went to make a sharp turn. The kids erupted into laughter which just seemed to make Angus run faster! It was very cute.

Right now he's lying next to me on the couch again. Nap time for Angus! Shower time for me!

It's my busy day, but I'm still hoping to squeeze in some writing time once I get my lesson plan prep done. Enjoy your Monday!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Book winner!

Sunday's here. The end of one contest and the start of another. Thanks for all the comments! You don't know how much it means when I get a little message flag on my mail box and I see a new comment has been posted. It gives me a nice little break from my writing.

Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2007-10-21 19:26:11 UTC

This week's free book winner is Nathalie who commented on my Crossfit post. Nathalie, please pick a book off the list here and email me your choice and snail address. Thanks!

I never heard from last week's winner, AnneD. Remember to check back to see if you won. I don't contact the winners, only announce them here on the blog.

Sleeping in didn't happen this morning. The kids were up at seven. Oh, well. At least Angus, the most adorable dog in the world we're dog sitting again, had someone to keep him company.

I went climbing with a woman from my climbing course and another of our classmates joined us later. It was so much fun. I made it up a climb I didn't know if I could. I fell off a couple of times, would go back lower than where I fell and try again, and finally reached the top. Not the least bit graceful, but the techniques we're learning are helping. I then tried a much harder climb and flailed. I know how far I made it up that route and will work on getting higher next time!

I have to teach tonight, but until then I hope to get tons of writing done! Of course, if the dry weather holds for another hour or so I may have to run off to the pumpkin patch with the kidlets! That's something hubby usually does with them, but I don't want to miss all the fun!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Night Out

Last night we attended a dinner party at the same house where we'd gone to the Titanic dinner party back in April. Once again this was an auction dinner we'd bid on and won (church auction though, not school.) The prize--dinner cooked by our parish priest. Two of the couples brought appetizers. We brought dessert. The final couple, who were hosting the dinner, prepared two meat dishes.

When we arrived, Father was busy in the kitchen making dinner. Pots were on the stove and he was assembling our salads. He'd studied in Rome before being ordained so no one was surprised when we found out we'd be eating Italian food. None of us had any idea though that their would be so much yummy food.

Here's what we ate last night:

Appetizers: Bacon wrapped water chestnuts, pesto dip with red peppers, celery and shrimp

First course: Bresaola, arugula, shaved Parmesan cheese with lemon and olive oil

Second course: Farfalle pasta with chorizo sausage and rustic bread

Third course: Penne pasta with a red sauce

Fourth course: Chicken and/or beef with mushroom gravy

Dessert: Banana Fudge Cake (really moist and tasty if I saw so myself!)

It was a fun evening with delicious food, good red wine and great company. We didn't get home until two in the morning! I'm still tired! We're going to church tonight because I want to sleep in tomorrow!

What are your plans for this weekend?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Google Alerts

If you've ever wondered how writers know to suddenly show up on your blog or website when you've posted a review or mentioned them on a post, the answer is Google Alerts. You put in key words such as your name or book title or a subject you're researching for a story and the gogglebot will search the Internet for them. If it finds one of your keywords, you get a nifty email giving you a link to see what's being said.

Sometimes this is a good thing. One of my Google Alerts is Portland Mountain Rescue. I received two emails about an upcoming story in the November issue of Esquire titled These Men Might Save Your Life. Think search and rescue guys decked out in designer clothing with Mount Hood as the setting. You can probably imagine the smile on my face when I read this. I emailed my SAR expert about it because he's total model material, and yes, it's true, but he hasn't seen the layout yet.

Talk about perfect timing and inspiration. Guess what I'll be savoring while finishing up my book that's due December 1st!

The next Google Alert I received this morning wasn't quite as good. Let's just say someone is having a good time making fun of romance titles and one of mine is on their list. I'll be the first to admit that some romance book titles could be improved. Still you'd think people would have better things to do. Whatever. Snarkiness seems to have been reached its heyday via the Internet. The title wasn't one I came up with, but it does fit the book. I'm guessing the person poking "fun" won't take the time to read it and find out. I just feel bad for those authors who with titles on the list who haven't developed quite as thick a skin as me. Especially if it's their first book.

Stuff like this happens when you write romances. Whether on the Internet or in the media. I know writers who send off letters to editors every time a negative article comes out about the genre or would post a comment on the above thread if it had been one of their titles. Not me. Every time I hear the battle cry and a call to action to defend romance, I'm reminded of the following quote from Hamlet.

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

I love what I write. I proudly call myself a romance writer. I love what I read. I proudly call myself a romance reader. But not everyone is going to love romances the way I do. Often in our defense of the genre, we come off looking well, too defensive. And that can bring even more negative publicity.

Let's face it, most of the romance detractors have never read a romance novel. Or at least one published in the last few years. Many still think romance novels are the same as the ones being published decades ago. A letter touting the appeal of romance complete with statistics on the amount sold each year or a post saying why a book has a specific title isn't going to change those people's opinion. The only thing that might do that is a well-written romance novel. A good book is our best defense. Which is why instead of posting a comment about my book title, I'll be working on my manuscript instead.

Do you use Google Alerts? If so, what are some of your key words you're following?

Hope you're having a happy Friday?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ear Worms

This morning on my way to Everyday Athlete for another Crossfit workout, I was listening to the radio. Usually when I'm in the minivan I have one or more of the kidlets with me so Radio Disney is the station of choice since most everything else is inappropriate for young ears, but since I was on my own I got to listen to whatever I wanted. This morning it was 105.1 The Buzz.

The morning DJs were talking about ear worms. I had never heard the term and was disturbed to hear we all have them. All of us. Yes, even you have ear worms.

What's an ear worm?

An earworm is a song (think one-hit wonder, a kids' tune or just a tune you've heard many times) that gets stuck in your head and you can't stop thinking about it. Even WebMD has an article about earworms.

The DJs played several examples of earworms that I won't repeat for fear of giving one to you, but I will say a certain Disney tune from a ride in Fantasyland full of dolls dressed in a variety of nationalities has been stuck in my head since 7:15 am.

Luckily, there is a cure for earworms. All you have to do is sing the lyrics out loud (saying them won't work!)

Have you ever had an earworm? What song couldn't you get out of your head?

Crossfit Update
This morning was my third session with Nicole and my hardest workout yet. I did a rowing, thrusters and SDHP. That last thing might have the wrong order of initials (I'm too tired to remember) but the S stands for Sumo, and I was very intimidated by that. I made it through the workout, but barely. I had to keep telling myself. One more. Just one more to make it through. I was dead. Remember that pic of climbing cutie on the floor in this post? That's exactly how I felt.

Of course, I signed up for more sessions next week before I left. Masochists R Us. But I gotta admit I love it. I'm doing stuff I never thought I could do and must admit that's empowering. I sat in the car a few minutes before starting the drive home. Then I called the Climbing Cutie. I told him what I'd done and that I was shaking. He said I did a great job, but just wait until I meet Mr. Pukie. That's one introduction I hope to skip. We'll see. Right now I just want to grab a hot shower.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Villains are people too!

Last night, I read a friend's manuscript. We normally don't critique, but when we're in a pinch or need a fresh eye on something that's been giving us trouble, we'll read for each other. Her problem...not enough words and she was looking for places to beef up the story.

There are usually places a writer can expand or deepen a story, but the amount of words she needed was significant. When that's the case, you can only add so much until it feels, well, like fluff or a research dump. What's really needed is a new thread or subplot with a secondary character.

This particular story is a romantic suspense. The hero, heroine and their inner circle were wonderful, three dimensional characters, but the villain, along with anyone else from his world, seemed to come straight out of Mobster Casting 101.

The scenes from the villain's point of view (POV) were so stereotypical, I cringed. I've never seen The Sopranos, but my first thought was the writer should rent it along with The Godfather movies. And reread Debra Dixon's brilliant GMC book. But I knew where my friend could beef up her manuscript. Taking the villain's characterization deeper would get her the pages she needed. Plus make the story a more interesting read, too.

Maybe it's just me, but I love a well-crafted villain. Key word...well-crafted. Nothing annoys me more than a cardboard stock bad guy, especially when a writer goes into their POV. Use that opportunity to show us who this person is. What drove them to where they are now? What keeps them on this dark path? It will be easy to show us what they hate, but what do they love? And what about their family?

Imagine the following scene: A man has his three year old son on his lap and is reading him a story. Another man enters the room. He quietly approaches and whispers something into the father's ear. The father nods once, then returns to the story. The other man walks out of the room with his cellphone in his hand. The boy drifts off to sleep and his father carries him to his room. As the father tenderly tucks his son into bed, making the sign of the cross on the boy's forehead and kissing him, a man is killed walking out of a restaurant several miles away, taken out by a mob hit.

Okay, a quick and dirty example, but I think the mobster dad would be more interesting to read about in a novel than some mafia boss you only see surrounded by goons and lackeys. What about you?

Do you have a fave author who writes really good villains? Who are some of your favorite villains?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I had an early morning session at Everyday Athlete with Nicole, an amazing, supportive instructor who doesn't make a person (i.e. me) feel uncomfortable in this strange new world of Crossfit.

For a warm-up, she had me do the exercises I'd learned last week, but added a walk across the room with weights pressed overhead. I was a little sore starting out after my climbing class last night, but the warm-up felt good. I still need to work on a few things like getting my squats lower, but I could correct myself when I started doing something wrong. She then showed me four new exercises. There was a jump box, a push up (using a bench for my hands), a kettlebell swing (really fun) and, gulp, ring dips.

Using gymnastic rings.

My heart dropped to my tennis shoes when she wanted me to try the rings. Anything gymnastics related and I do not get along. It all goes back to my high school days. I might have lettered in tennis, but there was one sport I could not do. At all.


Sure I mastered the sommersault when I was a kid, but that was about the extent of my gymnastics ability. I never could (and still can't) do a cartwheel. But suddenly our PE teacher, whose name I've blocked from my memory because it was such a tramatic experience, told us we had to do the balance beam and the vault and...cartwheels. I ended up with a B in PE. My only consolation is that the B in PE did not keep me from getting into Stanford and Yale. I've always wondered, however, if it played into my rejection from Princeton. Darn cartwheels.

Anyway, I sucked up my fear and loathing for anything G-related and decided to give the rings a go. Nicole told me me to jump and try to hold my weight, emphasis on try, while she spotted. I did, okay tried, this a few times. For the workout, she told me to go up on my tiptoes and press down on the rings. This I could do, but my arms were still shaky.

All through the warmup, we talked about diet ( I've been starving lately) and the need for protein. Nicole gave me a rundown on what I should be eating which is a lot different than the Eat To Live diet I started this summer. On Sunday, my priest who does Crossfit said the Eat to Live diet (which he used) will not work with Crossfit because you will always be hungry in a starving-to-death kind of way. That's for sure. He's been eating Paleo. No idea what that is. Climbing Cutie had already mentioned The Zone diet to me.

By the time I'd completed the warm-up and learned these new things, I'd already felt like I'd done a complete work out. But nope, Nicole had planned a WOD (workout of the day) for me that was written on a white board. It said (minus what's in the parentheses):

3 rounds:
15 Box Jumps/Box Step Ups (7 jumps, 8 step ups)
10 Push Ups
15 KB Swings (15 lbs)
10 Jump to ring dips (ended up doing them on tiptoes)

I had to take a break after 5 of the push-ups on the first round. Those things are hard! I couldn't believe how I felt after the first round. I thought wow, what a workout, but it felt so good. I still couldn't believe I had to do it two more times. But I kept going and going and going. I took a bit of a break before the third round and I did the push-ups 4-4-2 that final time, but I managed to the workout.

My time: 9 minutes 40 seconds

No idea what this time means, but I can compare it to the next time I do this workout and see if I improve.

After the WOD, we still had a few minutes of our session left. Nicole asked if I wanted to work on a pull-up (she called it something else that I'm too tired to remember now.) I said no. So she brought out these tube things that sat low to the ground. She had me put my legs out in front of me. Using my arms (and keeping my core on), I held myself up. Then she pulled out the timer again. Except this time she wanted me to hold there for a certain amount of time. I was sure it was at least a minute. Maybe longer. Turned out to be 15 seconds.

Now I'm home. Tired. Sweaty. Swore. At least I'm not hungry. Hubby scrambled a couple of eggs for me and sliced half a grapefruit for me. Time for a shower. And maybe, a nap.

What do you have going on today? Chores, work, fun?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Manic Monday

I used to complain about my Wednesday schedule being out of control. I'd planned to spread things about a bit so one day wouldn't be so full that I got nothing else done but driving from place to place. In spite of my planning, everything got dumped on Monday. Want to know what my Monday is like:

7:45 am - leave home to drive kids to school
8:30 am - leave home to drive to Pilates Studio
9 - 10 - Pilates Mat Class
10 - 10:30 - drive home
10:30 - 11:15 - prepare for class
11:30 - 12:30 - pickup youngest, grab lunch, drive to NE PDX
12:30 - 2 - teach class
2:00 - 2:45 - clean up and drive home
3:00 - pick up older kids and drive to Beaverton
4 - 4:45 - speech therapy for son
4:45 - ? - drive home in rush hour traffic (and stop by CSA farm every other Monday to pick up harvest share)
5:45 - 7:15 - climbing clinic in PDX

Not a lot of down time. I just managed to squeeze in a quick shower today. Forget about writing time. I haven't written a word yet. Just like my Wednesdays used to be.

But today, I'm lucky. Because of the climbing clinic, hubby is taking care of pick-up and speech for the month of October. I will actually have a block of time to write. I better get to it!

Hope you're having a great Monday and it's not so manic. Do you have one day of the week that's jam-packed schedule wise?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Another Winner!

Another Sunday, you know what that means. Another free book winner.

A big welcome to everyone who posted a comment for the first time! And thanks to everyone else for posting comments so I'm not so all alone during the day!

Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2007-10-15 02:34:02 UTC

This week's free book winner is AnneD who posted a belated, but winning comment on my Snack Time post. Anne, please pick a book off the list here and email me your choice and snail address. Thanks!

Last week's winner, Lily, chose Make Me A Match by Diana Holquist. I sat next to Diana during one of the lunches at RWA National Conference in Dallas. She's a really fun person. I hope you like the book. She was generous enough to autograph a copy for me that's in my TBR stack and one for me to give away here on the blog.

Sorry for the late posting. I was a very good writer and spent the day hard at work with only a few short breaks. One for Mass, another to set up my classroom after lunch and a third to teach my class tonight. After dinner, I'll write some more. The words are flowing and it feels great!

So I didn't mention that I actually hurt myself in Pilates class Friday. Rug burned knee, twisted ankle, bruises galore and a huge goose egg on the back of the head. I'm actually lucky since I crashed into a mirror and it didn't shatter, cutting me to shreds. We were doing jumps and stuff on a row of Bosu balls and got going very fast. My foot slipped and I went flying. Literally. My co-teacher tonight saw my bruised and raw knees and said she wished someone had been videotaping it because it would have been hilarious to watch. Gotta love someone who tells it like it is.

But she's probably right. It must have been spectacular looking because the studio owner just called to check up on me. Yes, this could only happen to me. Might as well share it with my closet friends and a bunch of strangers googling "naked bottoms", "Melissa naked" and a whole bunch of other weird stuff. All I could think about as I was lying on the studio floor was what Climbing Cutie had told me once. He said, "Friends don't let friends do Pilates." Cutie may be onto something.

Hope you had a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Movie Night

With the kidlets at my parents, hubby and I took advantage of the freedom and had a date night. We ate dinner at my fave Thai place then headed home to watch movies. I'd stopped by Hollywood Video on Thursday night and picked up three that I thought would appeal to hubby: Bourne Identity, Little Miss Sunshine and Stranger Than Fiction.

I settled down on the couch with my iBook, figuring I'd watch and write at the same time. Not the best plan since once I get caught up in a story, the only other things I can do is drink and eat. Hubby picked Bourne Identity. No surprise there. I enjoyed it more than hubby. Again, not a surprise since he's not really a movie guy. He wondered if the book would be better.

Something I liked a lot about the movie were the assassins. They didn't really look like assassins which I guess was the point. I remember when the movie was first coming out no one could imagine Matt Damon in the role. After seeing the movie, I couldn't imagine anyone else. He is a perfect Jason Bourne.

There were a couple of things I didn't get about the plot though, either I missed them or they weren't there. What was the deal about his being a $30 million dollar killing machine? I realize this was a black project, but did his training cost that much or was that the operations budget? And what about the dying assassin mentioning Threadsquare or something like that? The headache references implied they had implants or chips in their head, but that wasn't really explained. Is this something dealt wiht in further stories? Or do you have to read Robert Ludlum's book to find out?

Hubby picked Stranger Than Fiction for the second feature. We both enjoyed the movie. The best part for me was Emma Thompson, who played the writer. My characters have taken over a story many times doing the exact opposite of what I wanted them to do, but none have shown up at my front door. I was laughing out loud at the various ways of her getting inspired and her research! Imagining herself in a situation to see how it would feel, sitting in the rain, visiting places for atmosphere...been there, done that.

When my closest friends found out I was climbing, they all asked if it was for a book. They wonder whether I will continue climbing once this book is done. I will because I love it. I cannot imagine not climbing. Of course, they are all wondering what I will be writing about next! Hubby's pulling for a character who is a chef.

When the writer was in the hospital asking the nurse where the dying people were, I shifted uncomfortably on the couch. It was awkward and hit a little too close to home. And the scene when she watched the apple roll down the street and suddenly everything crystallized was brilliant. And true.

It will be weeks or months before hubby and I watch another movie together, but that's okay. I do need to finish the book. What about you? Do you ever have movie nights at home? What are your favorite kind to watch?

And in sticking with today's movie theme, here's a little quiz for you! If your life was a movie, what genre would it be?

The Movie Of Your Life Is A Cult Classic

Quirky, offbeat, and even a little campy - your life appeals to a select few.
But if someone's obsessed with you, look out! Your fans are downright freaky.

Your best movie matches: Office Space, Showgirls, The Big Lebowski

Friday, October 12, 2007

Confessions of an Irish Dance Mom

A few things to begin with… I'm not Irish. My last name might be McClone, but that's because of hubby. He's the one with Irish ancestry. Until I saw Riverdance in London in 1996, I had no idea Irish dance even existed.

When my oldest turned five, we enrolled her in a summer Irish dance camp. That led to classes in the fall. In the spring, we were told she would be ready to compete in a feis (Irish dance competition) and to register her. We arrived the day of the feis only to discover I was supposed to register as a pre-beginner. No one had told me this. Luckily two other moms from our school had done the same thing so our girls were all competing together.

Sitting at that first feis and seeing the older dancers in their sparkling (and very expensive) dresses with curly wigs, diamond tiaras and makeup was a big jolt. I mean, I'd spent two hours putting curlers in my daughter's hair and she wore a little plaid skirt and one of her school uniform shirts. These girls looked like they were ready for a Vegas show or, gulp, a beauty pageant. What had we gotten ourselves into?

When one of the newer moms started talking about teacher certification and all these different things regarding levels and moving up, I had no idea what she was talking about. I realized it was time to educate myself.

I discovered a world wide web full of MAIDs (Mothers Addicted to Irish Dance.) These women knew everything from stuffing socks under wigs for added height to using vodka to get rid of body odor from dresses. They studied the trends from Ireland and knew words I had no idea how to pronounce. I read their posts on the various forums and tried to soak in all the information I could.

But some of it was disturbing to me. I remember when someone posted a new rule about no makeup on dancers under the age of ten. Shouldn't that have been a given? Tanning before a big competition seemed to be the norm which I didn't understand. And the dresses! The posts about solo dresses boggled my mind. Who would spend $1500 to $3000 on an Irish dance dress? That's more than my wedding dress cost. Yet these MAIDs made it seemed like that's what you had to do to compete at the higher levels. Maybe their daughters, but not mine.

I finally started figuring out stuff like dance levels. In case you're interested, here's a brief rundown on what they are and how (at least in the new school we transferred to almost two years ago that thankfully tells parents how things work) you move to the next level.

If it's a dancer's first time competing, they dance in the pre-beginner/first feis dances. They have special solo dances and trophy dances for them. If they win, they don't change levels, but it's a nice intro to competition. The dance levels are as follows (for the Western Region that is, these can be called different things in different regions):

• Beginner/Beginner 1 (must place 1, 2 or 3 in a dance with at least five competitors to move up)
• Advanced Beginner/Beginner 2 (must place 1 or 2 in a dance with at least five competitors to move up)
• Novice (must place 1st in a dance with at least five competitors to move up)
• Prizewinner (must place 1st, twice in each dance with at least five competitors to move up)
• Preliminary Champion (must win 2 championships with at least five competitors to move up)
• Open Champion

There are solo competitions for the levels up to and including Prizewinner: Reel, Light Jig, Slip Jig (girls only), Single Jig, Treble Jig, Hornpipe, St. Patricks/Traditional Set.

There are also special trophy dances. If you win or place, you can't move up in your level, but you do get a nice trophy to take home. I've seen the following trophy dances: Reel, Light Jig, Slip Jig, Hornpipe and Treble Reel (my fave to watch!)

In the championship levels, the dancers perform a soft shoe, a hard shoe and another hard shoe dance called a traditional set. Each of the three dances has a winner and then there is an overall Champion of the competition.

People with the initials ADCRG after their names judge the dancers. It's a special certification that enables them to call themselves adjudicators, but really just seems to make them targets of criticism after major competitions (such as Nationals, Great Britain, All-Ireland, Worlds) when the Internet boards are full of posts complaining and gossiping about favoritism and fixes.

Most dancers wear a class dress (each school has their own design) until they reach a certain level. Then they can get a solo dress to wear (if they choose.) Some dancers wear solo dresses in Novice. Others wait until Prizewinner. Some wait until they reach Champion level.

We told Mackenna that she wouldn't get a solo dress until all her dances were Prizewinner, but there was a dress we'd seen on a dancer at our school that we loved. I asked my friend Alison, who is also the school dressmaker and had designed the solo dress we liked, to tell the family to call us if they ever want to sell the dress. Imagine my surprise when they called a month or so later.

Mackenna tried on the dress and looked beautiful in it. She wanted it so badly. I wanted her to have it even though it cost as much as my wedding dress. Unfortunately the dress fit her perfectly. That wasn't going to work. She still had novice dances and really didn't need a solo dress right then so her friend bought the dress instead.

I started paying attention to the number of class dresses vs. solo dresses in Mackenna's competitions. The novice level dancers wore mainly class dresses, but prizewinner dancers were almost all wearing solo dresses. I mentioned this to hubby. "It shouldn't matter what she wears because it's about the dancing," was his reply. Still I started asking moms with daughters in Prizewinner how much they had planned or were planning to spend on a first solo dress. Of course what people wanted to pay and ended up paying varied.

I'm not sure if it was the money we'd be spending or the time to find a dress that intimidated more when I snuck down to the award room alone and saw she'd received the first place she needed to be all Prizewinner. Probably a combination of both with emphasis on the time aspect due to the book deadline. I knew we'd be buying used, not new. But that would take searching the Internet, ebay, dress racks at feis. Imagine me in a panic.

I went straight to the dress consignment room next door and looked at the used dresses for sale. I noticed a pink one for sale by one of the families at our school. The price seemed reasonable $350 and the dress looked as if it might fit Mackenna. Alison happened to be nearby so I asked if she'd look at the dress. She did and pointed out another dress for sale by the same family. It was more expensive, but gorgeous. Alison said it would be worth trying because it was a great price for a dress of that quality. All I saw was two chances to be done with my dress shopping ASAP. I was ready to dance a jig!

I found the person with the dresses for sale. Unfortunately she was going to be leaving before Mackenna finished dancing. I asked if she would bring the two dresses to the dance studio on Tuesday. Then I told hubby about the dresses. I won't tell you his response. Needless to say, when it came time to decide who would stay with the girls at Irish dance and who would pick up son and drive him to First Reconciliation class on Tuesday, I chose the dance.

Luckily for me, Alison was at the studio that night. I put Mackenna into the pink dress first. She looked so cute, but the skirt was too big with no easy way to alter it due to the embroidery on the panels. Mackenna wasn't upset. You could tell by the way she kept eyeing the more expensive dress she liked it better.

Alison helped her into the second dress. It was big on her, but the color combination looked good. The seams had been let out and a ruffle of pleats added on the bottom because the dancer had grown. Alison told me the skirt was the perfect size for Mackenna. She could take off the ruffle, move up the waist and take in the seams on the bodice. I was sold.

We showed Mackenna's teacher. The first thing she said was, "It's too big." My heart dropped to my feet. I saw endless ebay auctions and visits to in my future. I explained how Alison could take it in. The teacher had a few other things to say, but when I told her the price (they'd just marked down the dress) she said okay. I wasn't sure who to thank first. The teacher, Alison or the mom selling the dress.

As I wrote a check, I was so relieved. Money aside, I couldn't believe finding a solo dress could be that easy. Several moms were sitting around the table with me. One hated to see the dress go for such a low price. I asked if I was a horrible person because I didn't feel guilty for getting the dress at a bargain. They all said no, that the bottom had dropped out of the used Irish dress market and it was a buyer's market.

Of course I still had to tell hubby what I'd bought. Who knew how I'd feel after that? He didn't look happy when he saw the dress. I explained Mackenna loved the dress, looked beautiful and the price was great. I quickly put her into the dress before hubby could say a word. He took one look at her and his eyes softened. The cost might have still bugged him, but he agreed. It was the dress for her.

I called my best friend from college, Debbie, and told her about the dress. Her response: "You know that's double what I paid for my wedding dress."

True, but it's less than I paid for mine, so no worries on my part. Not an ounce of buyer's remorse, either. Hmmm. Maybe I'm more of a MAID than I thought. But I'm still saying no to the makeup and the tanner!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


There's a song that's been playing on Radio Disney that my kids love. It's GNO by Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana.) It's a total pop song about Girl's Night Out. Today, Rose and I decided to have a GMO, Girl's Morning Out. ( I always love one-on-one time with the kids. I wish I could do it more often.) We dropped off the two older kidlets at school, filled up the minivan with gas and hit the road.

Our first stop (once we made it through the mess of traffic on the freeway) was Southeast Portland where we were meeting Rose's godmother, Patricia, for breakfast. We arrived at Zell's American Cafe a little early so we sat on the bench along the window and read books. After Patricia arrived and we were seated at the table, we ate yummy scones and caught up with what's been going on since the last time we'd gotten together which was back in August if I remember correctly. Rose's Aunt Patricia came bearing gifts including a talking pop-up Halloween book.

After breakfast we headed to Costco. I was hoping to dash in and out and continue on with our morning, but those plans got changed when Rose recited her own shopping list: dresses, toys, candy. I told her those things weren't on my list. She still wanted to see them. So change of plans, we went down each and every aisle. In case you're wondering how long that took with a four year old, who wanted to stop and look at well, everything...two hours.

The latest Barbie DVD (Island Princess) drew the biggest oohs and aahs as did several of the girly toys, namely a pink electronic guitar and keyboard set with headphone microphone. She also told me she wanted to trade in her blue kitchen for the pink Retro set they had there. She kept pointing and saying I want that and that. Oh, I want this and this. Santa's sled wouldn't be able to get off the ground if she got everything she pointed to this morning.

Speaking of Santa, even though I'm in the midst of writing a Christmas story, I still find it hard to believe that it's not even Halloween and all the Christmas stuff is already out on the shelves. And people were buying it! I saw many carts full of gift tag packages and spools of ribbons. Granted, I have already bought some presents, but I haven't started buying the paper and bows yet. I just have these rules, call it a Christmas code.

Shopping for presents all year long is okay, but I don't buy Christmas themed stuff (paper, cards, tags, decorations) until after Halloween. And no Christmas carols until after Thanksgiving. (I'm breaking that rule right now, but I'm exempt because of the book.)

There was one really cool Christmas yard decor item that caught Rose's attention and I have to admit was pretty neat. It was a set of three white Christmas trees with ball lights on them. Christmas carols played from a speaker on one of the trees and the lights were synchronized to come on with the music. We listened and watched Carol of the Bells. I couldn't drag her away from that display.

We finally made it home in time for a quick lunch. Now it's nap time. I'm sore from the workout yesterday and all the walking around in my boots this morning didn't help. I need to write, but I might crawl in bed with Rose and grab a cat nap first. That sounds like the perfect way to end our GMO.

Hope you're having a great day!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Book Songs

These are the songs I've found for the soundtrack to my work in progress, Christmas on the Mountain. I listen to them when I'm writing and also before I write to put me into the story.

Where Are You Christmas by Faith Hill

First Time by Lifehouse

Bubbly by Colbie Caillat

Wherever You Go by The Calling

Keep Holding On by Avril Lavigne

I have my first Crossfit session this morning. I'm a little nervous. Crossfit is the workout the Climbing Cutie does, and he's also become an instructor. I'm going to a different gym though. His seems a bit intense to me. Newbies wear camo T-shirts that say RECRUIT on them. I'd be into a pink camo pattern T-shirt, but drab olive does nothing for me. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Bug says again...

The guy from the climbing forum, Bug, gave me this quote:

If you convince a man that you are right, he will likely believe that he is wrong. -Anandar Coomaraswamy

But will a man who believes he's wrong admit to being wrong? That's what I want to know.

Some men have no problem admitting they are wrong. Others no way. Women have a problem with this, too, so it's not gender-specific. What about you? Do you admit when you're wrong or not? I have no problem telling the kidlets that "Mommy was wrong" because I think it's important for them to learn to admit when they are wrong.

If you've read any of my books, there usually comes a point in the story when the hero realizes he's been wrong and admits to being one or more of the following:
1) a hypocrite
2) an idiot
3) a jerk
4) mistaken
5) misguided

Does this make my heroes girly men? No way. At least not when it comes to saying they were wrong. (I'm working on all other occasional hero girly lapses in regards to internalization and dialogue!) It's a way to show character growth. I have the heroine admit to one of the above, too, in case you were wondering.

Characters are flawed individuals. Otherwise they'd be boring to read about. They must overcome their flaws (and in my books admit them) to find the love waiting for them. A character who can't admit they are wrong isn't going to leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy about the future of their relationship when I type The End. And I always want to imagine my hero and heroine living their happily ever after in some utopian fictionland where romance reigns supreme.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Manic Monday

I'm rushing out the door in about three minutes! I have Pilates and then after lunch the first day of the religious education class I teach in NE Portland. Of course, I have a lot still to do to get ready for that.

The Irish dance feis went great yesterday. My oldest needed to place first in one dance in order to have all her dances at the same level. She worked so hard this week, attending a private lesson, practicing, etc. I'd never seen her so nervous before a dance. And...she did it! She totally nailed the slip jig steps and looked graceful doing it! She screamed when we went to the results room afterwards. I was very proud of her, and I hope she will remember how hard she worked the next time she wants to achieve something, whether in dance or life.

She placed in all her solo dances and won a trophy. A very good feis for her. My son received a first place medal and a trophy! He was happy about his results, too.

As I mentioned in the comment section, I was so busy with the kids I got no writing done. I'm going to have to raise my daily page quota from 5 pages to, gulp, 7. Sleeps overrated, right?

Hope you have a great Monday!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

We have a winner!

Another Sunday, another contest winner! Thanks for all your comments! And it was great to see new people posting comments. The more the merrier.

Thanks to the good folks at Long and Short Reviews for the contest plug. At least two new commenters came from that site and/or mentioned LASR by name so Marianne gets two extra entries this week. Remember if anyone says they commented because you told them about the contest, you get an extra entry for the week. Or if you post a review of one of my books somewhere on the web, like Dru did, you get an automatic entry each week. These type of extra entries are counted first in case you want to see how close you were to winning this week.

Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2007-10-07 14:44:26 UTC

This week's winner is Lily, one of the new faces around her. She won with her comment on the Portland Ice Festival Recap post!

Lily, please pick a book off the list here and email me your choice and snail address. Thanks!

Last week's winner, Brandy, choose Linda Lael Miller's, McKettrick's Luck. The week before last, Tori choose Sandra Hill's Pink Jinxed.

We're off to an Irish Dance feis. The two oldest kidlets are competing. I'm taking my alphie with in hopes of writing! We'll be there all day long with lots of waiting between dances so I'd better get something done.

Have a good Sunday!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Saturday Sloth

Between Pilates and gym climbing, I got quite the workout yesterday. Considering I've been totally lazy and hadn't really done much this past month except to rehabilitate my ankle and my Pilates sessions, I'm sore today. But it's a good sore.

I haven't just been lazy about working out. September wasn't a good month for my writing. Getting used to hubby's traveling and the bouts of strep and colds really impacted my work. Which means now I need to crank it up about five notches. Will see how I do this weekend.

I was wondering just how lazy I was so I took this quiz.

Your Sloth Quotient: 35%

You're a little lazy, but normally you're a very energetic and motivated person.
Don't beat yourself up over a little laziness every now and then. You do need your downtime!

Not as much of a sloth as I thought I would be! Maybe there's still hope I can finish the rough draft by Halloween. What about you? How much of a sloth are you?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

This and that

I can't complain about yesterday. No fires to put out or smoke to get rid of. No injuries except a paper cut to my youngest's finger during piano lessons. No bills in the mailbox.

It was a really good day.

My new Victoria's Secret Angel credit card with a $10 Angel reward card arrived. Time to go shopping for some pretty lacy things. My wonderful hubby made me falafel for dinner and baked brownies for dessert. Then the five of us played a fun game of Scrabble.

I heard from the Climbing Cutie. Drumroll, please. He has started his own blog. You should check it out. The blog is Crossfit centered, something I'll be trying next week for the first and maybe last time.

I received an email from my webmistress, Barb, telling me that the changes I'd given her for my website had been done. Everything except the News and Fun Stuff page has been updated. (I still haven't given her the changes for that one.) An excerpt for Win, Lose or...Wed! is now available if anyone is interested in getting a sneak peak at the story.

I also heard from one of you, my beloved blog readers, who wants more than an excerpt. This blog reader wanted a copy of my upcoming release and even offered me...can you believe this...a bribe.

So... no amount of bribery would work? chocolate? climbing ropes? A promise to review the book at ? :-)

Hmmm. I must admit those bribes are right up my alley. I do love chocolate. And I really do need a rope (60 m, non-dry, 10.2-10.5 mm in case Santa is reading this.) And getting a book reviewed is always good. Even if they don't like the book it's still good publicity. But after giving copies to all who helped me with research and sending five off to the RITA contest (and other contests if I decide to enter) plus keeping five copies tucked away on the million-to-one-better-off-buying-a-lottery-ticket chance I make the RITA finals doesn't leave many to just give away.

What do you think? How much is an advanced copy worth?

Snack Time

The kidlets had early release from school yesterday due to parent-teacher conferences. After a bit of running around and lunch and playtime, I needed to write. I put the youngest down for her nap. I told the older two they could have a snack and watch a show (limited to the Disney Channel or on-demand PBS/Sprout). I left them downstairs and retreated into my cave. My son ran upstairs and asked if they could use the microwave. I said no, that there was plenty of food in the pantry that didn't need to be heated.

As I read what I'd written last night, I found myself making a few changes. Still I was happy with how my hottie SAR hero was coming across and wanted to finish the scene. I got to work. I'm not sure how much time had passed. It didn't seem that long, but the door swung open.

Finn jumped up and down.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"The kitchen's on fire."

I bolted off the bed. "How could it have caught fire?"

"Mackenna was using the microwave."

Halfway down the stairs, thick, noxious smelling smoke hit me. The entire downstairs was covered in a gray cloud. My first thought was why isn't the smoke detector going off. I didn't see any flames so I opened the back door. The smoke poured out.

I found a smoking, burning plastic plate with what looked like a fist sized somewhat charred human brain sitting on it.

"What were you doing?" I asked. I'll let you imagine the tone and the volume level as I put it in the sink and turned on the water.

"M-making a snack," Mackenna said.

I turned on the oven fan. "I said not to use the microwave."

Mackenna's lips quivered. "He said I could."

Finn raised his chin. "I said you couldn't."

"No, you said--"

"Upstairs." I pointed to the stairs about to totally lose it. "To your rooms."

Tears fell from Mackenna eyes. "I'm--"

"Go." Before I give you something to really cry about. "Now."

As they trudged their way upstairs, I picked up charred paper towels from the floor. What had happened? Strands of melted plastic hung from the sink, across the stainless steel dishwasher to the hardwood floor. I kept staring at the brain like snack. It looked like a science experiment gone horribly wrong.

What could it? The mass sort of resembled bread, but the only bread we had in the house were mini-bagels and whole wheat sandwich bread.

Meanwhile, I opened more doors and windows since the smoke was taking a long time to clear. I also called the hubby to tell him what his daughter had done. Even when the smoke dissipated, the smell lingered. I can still smell it this morning.

Once apologies were given and accepted, I found out what had really happened. Mackenna decided she wanted bread for a snack so she decided to make it herself. Her dough recipe consisted of flour and water. She then placed the ball onto a plastic plate and placed it in the microwave oven. On high. For five minutes.

I explained that making bread was a little more complicated than that. Hubby offered to make a loaf with her this weekend. We then talked about disobedience and stressed there was no cooking allowed if an adult wasn't present.

Once the kids were in bed and I trying to get caught up on the writing time I'd lost earlier, hubby removed the plate and the "bread" from the trash and took some pics of his daughter's snack. The only thing we still need to figure out is why the smoke alarm didn't go off. I know it works after burning a grilled cheese sandwich, but the smoke yesterday was much worse than that time!

Moms joke about not being disturbed unless there is blood or flames involved. I dealt with the blood back in August 2005 and now I've had this smoke incident. I gotta admit the next time they run because they need me now I hope it's because one of them was Sharpay and the Gabriella and they were singing during the wrong parts of the song.

Have you or your kids ever had any smoke or fire mishaps in the kitchen?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

UPS Delivery

Yesterday I heard a knock. As I opened the door, I saw the familiar brown truck pulling away from the curb. I hadn't ordered anything and no one's birthday is coming up so I was a little surprised that UPS had delivered something. I looked down and saw two boxes with the Harlequin pattern on them. My December release (available on December 4th) had arrived!

I never saw a copy of the cover until it went up on Amazon so the faces staring up at me weren't a surprise. Still I felt a twinge of disappointment. The cover seems really generic to me and tells nothing about the story or the characters. I'll have to go back and see what I wrote on my AFS form. My only guess is since it's a December release and not a Christmas story (though there is a Santa scene set in Lapland!) they figured something generic was the best approach.

The back cover copy, however, rocks. A big thank you and hug to whoever wrote the teaser. Here's what it says:

This would be the most amazing and romantic race of the lives!

After being dumped so publicly, Millie Kincaid never wanted to see Jace Westfall or be on reality TV ever again. But she finds herself on Cash Around the Globe-with Jace! Although she doesn't trust him, to win they must work as a team.

They race around the world, tested to their limits, and everything is captured on camera-including their stolen kisses! Can they determine what is real and what is just for TV? And, with the finish line in sight, will they win the one thing that money can't buy?

In case you haven't guessed, this is my book that pays homage to my favorite reality television show, The Amazing Race. I was inspired by other reality TV shows, too. The kernel of this idea actually began during one of the seasons of The Bachelor. Thanks to a friend who worked with the roommate of a contestant, I got a peek into what went on behind the scenes, and I knew I wanted to use that in a book someday.

Do you watch any reality television? What are your favorite reality TV shows?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Portland Ice Festival Recap

Saturday night was the 2nd Annual Portland Ice Festival at Portland Rock Gym. Hubby and I decided to make a date night out of the evening.

We ate dinner at Doug Fir, a trendy restaurant suggested by the Climbing Cutie. The atmosphere has a definite hispter feel and it seems you must have a certain cool factor (plus body piercings, tattoos or bold hair) to work there. We were there early enough that our lack of coolness didn't matter.

We ordered the Tempura onion rings for an appetizer. Don't know about you, but Tempura conjures up images of light batter to me. These onion rings, however, were more like donuts with an onion inside. We nicknamed them o-nuts though there was plenty of dough to be had. Not that they weren't tasty, they were, though a tad heavy on the salt.

I ordered the Hawthorne Pasta and hubby ordered the Meat Loaf. Both were yummy, but the salt from the onion rings seemed to have made everything we ate too salty. We bumped into one of my climbing forum buds and his wife on the way out. They ordered the trout and the chicken special and loved them. Not salty.

After dinner we walked up the street to the Portland Rock Gym. The preliminary dry ice climbing competition was underway. See the picture if you have no idea what I'm talking about. I'd never seen anything like this. Using ice axes instead of your hands, you climb up a wall. It requires a tremendous amount of upper body strength, a lot more than regular climbing.

People sat around watching the competitors. I was hoping to meet climbers from the forum I belong to so started walking around in the crowd asking if they belonged to the website. I got a few puzzled looks, but did find a few people. It was fun putting faces with names and taking their picture. I saw a couple of the people I'd climbed with at Rocky Butte. This picture is me with one of them. I also bumped into a couple guys I'd met at a get together in the spring. They remembered me, or maybe what they really remembered was the picture taking soccer mom. Either way, it was nice to see them again.

Besides climbing, a few manufactures like Petzl and Black Diamond had brought equipment to look at. Hubby checked out the ice axes and boots. He also came home with a couple of catalogs. Hmmm, wonder if he's planning to use them to write his Christmas list. A local climbing store Climb Max gave demos on how to dry ice climb. I wanted to try it, but didn't want to do anything to mess up my ankle any more. Next year!

After the prelims, Mark Westman presented an awesome slide show on two climbs he did in Alaska. His slides and his narration were mesmerizing. It was fascinating to see this kind of hardcore alpine climbing and hear about all the stuff they faced and the fun they had. I introduced myself and of course, asked if he (and his wife) would mind talking to me about a few things for my book. He said yes!

The hubby and Climbing Cutie finally got to meet. Cutie apologized to hubby for getting me into climbing! Wasn't that sweet?

After the slide show, they raffled off some really great prizes in between the final rounds of the dry ice climbing competition. When the money was totaled (raffle, matching funds from Montana and donations), the total raised for Hyalite Canyon was approximately $2000! A big thank you and congrats to all who were involved in putting on such a great event!

Monday, October 01, 2007

What Famous Pinup Are You?

This quiz is from Marianne. I had a good laugh over the result.

You are Maryiln Monroe

A classic tortured beauty
You're the dream girl of many men
Yet they never seem to treat you right

The Princess Quiz

This was supposed to be Saturday's blog, but I was so busy I wasn't on-line much.

I got this meme/quiz from Tori. I got a good laugh over this especially when read in light of my post about friends on Wednesday. Guess you can sometimes trust things you find on the Internet!

The Disney Heroine Quiz

You are Jasmine. Princess Jasmine is a girl who only a few special people can get close to. She has a pet tiger named Raja who will obey only her. Jasmine is smart, and fun, and beautiful, according to Aladdin. You have Jasmine's fiery spirit, and you probably have a few close friends as opposed to many acquaintances. You are admirable, for you stand up not only for yourself, but for your beliefs, friends, and whosoever is being picked on. You have a very strong character and you know exactly what you want.
Take this quiz!