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Showing posts from January, 2009

A Black and White World

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I’m not going to whine about the weather today. I’m letting my pictures do all the whining for me. No, these are not black and white photographs. They simply show the complete dearth of color in my world right now.

It’s snowing. Again. This is my view from my bedroom window.


And this is my view from my kitchen window. This is what I see as I wash dishes.


This is a tighter shot, showing my bird feeder. I’ll have you know, THESE cardinals are Pittsburgh Steelers fans.


In this one, I’m standing on my front porch, looking out across the snow-covered road.


This is what is known as good writing weather.

Snow Days and Work Days

While the snow and the ice this winter are making me borderline insane, I must admit I’ve been making good use of the many cancellations.

The snow and ice storm that hit yesterday forced me to cancel my yoga class. But instead of taking a “snow day” to sit back with a cup of hot cocoa and read, I worked on the Pennwriters Conference. For six solid hours, I worked on it. And by the end of the day, I have to admit, it’s beginning to look like a conference. All the random notes and memos and odds and ends are coming together. We have a wonderful line-up of speakers and a full contingent of workshops. I’m making arrangements to get the brochure printed and mailed.

All yesterday morning and part of the afternoon, my Internet service was out (ice encrusted satellite dish), so I spent the time printing and packaging bundles of flyers to mail to local libraries. One more item to check off the to-do list.

I’m breathing a little easier today. I’m caught up. The to-do list is still a mile long and …

Are We There Yet?

It’s become clichéd, that plaintive query uttered on many a road trip, regardless of length.

As I matured, I learned that it was more about the journey than the destination. Stop and smell the roses. Live every moment. A whole new list of clichés.

Well, I’m sorry. Right now I’m sick of this cold, bleak journey to spring. Winter started way too early and refuses to release its gray, icy grip. Invitations are only accepted with the caveat, “weather permitting.” Making plans almost guarantees a snow storm for that date.

I’ve recently noticed a phenomenon of the weather forecasting industry. At some point during the weather forecast, they offer a glimpse of the 14-day weather forecast or “trend.” On the thirteenth day of the bar graph, there is a spike in the temperature. Since currently our thermometer rarely tops the mid twenties, the spike is usually for the high forties. To our collective, frozen souls, this sounds like an excuse to break out the shorts and tank tops. Ah, if we can just …

A Whirlwind Winter

My life has become a whirlwind. I keep a legal pad in front of me on my desk with my to-do list scrawled all over. Each page contains one week. I’ve taken to labeling each task with a time frame. “Work on Short Story” appears each day from 6:30AM to 7:00AM.

The amazing part is that it’s been working. I have worked on that short story every single day. It’s almost done. It’s also way too long. But I’m writing fiction and it keeps me sane. In another week or so, I’ll begin to slash much of what I’ve written to make it meet the word limit. I already know some of what will get cut. Some of it is pretty damned good. I think I’ll create a “cut file” for it, copying the slashed paragraphs into a new document rather than simply hitting DELETE and watching it disappear into cyberspace. It’s less painful that way.

“Conference” also gets a time allotment each day. But instead of a half hour, it gets more like two or three hours. On occasion, it gets four hours or more. Thankfully, I’m not playing …

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm writing about yesterday's inauguration over at Working Stiffs today. Come on over and share your thoughts.

Super Bowl Bound

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I love the Pittsburgh Steelers, but I’d be the first to admit that there were moments this season when I’d have laughed hysterically at the notion of this team going to the Super Bowl. Fast Willie Parker wasn’t able to get up a good head of steam. Big Ben spent an awful lot of time on his back after being sacked for the umpteenth time. Yeah, our defense was incredible, but there were just too many squeaky wins in the last minutes of the game.

And what Steelers fan can forget the horror of seeing Ben being driven off Heinz Field on a stretcher. The “thumbs up” he gave as he disappeared into the tunnel helped, but how much abuse can one guy take?

In the case of Ben Roethlisberger, apparently a lot. The game against the Chargers was a thing of beauty. It was also the game where I finally thought, Super Bowl? Hmm. Maybe. Just maybe…

The Steelers finally seemed to be clicking on all cylinders. EVERYONE looked good all at the same time. Maybe we were peaking at the precise moment we needed to.

Snow

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Weathermen lie. They should get jobs as fiction writers. They do their research and then tell a story that is most likely not true. Sounds a lot like how I spend my days.

However, on rare occasions, they get it right. They said it was going to snow and then get cold. Well, DUH. It’s January in southwestern Pennsylvania. At some point, that prediction is bound to come true.

On Wednesday afternoon, we had snow. More of the stuff than we’ve been getting. Usually, the weathermen claim we’re going to get more snow than we’ve had in years. Folks panic and rush to the store to buy toilet paper and milk. As if PennDOT doesn’t own a snow plow. I wasn’t in the store before this particular storm, but I was in my driveway the next morning, shoveling.



Ordinarily, I prefer snow to ice. As a rule, snow is less tricky to drive in and doesn’t pull down trees and power lines.

On the other hand, I don’t have to shovel ice.

The only redeeming feature this cold, snowy morning had going for it was the sunshine.…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm sick of winter.

Apparently, I'm not alone. Over at Working Stiffs, we're sharing our fantasy vacations and getaways. Come on over and join us as we dream of warmer days.

Turn Back Time

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Friday night my friend Doris Dumrauf and I ventured through a southwestern Pennsylvania snow storm (the kind that makes folks rush to the grocery stores to stock up on toilet paper) to attend a workshop by Hallie Ephron presented by my Sisters in Crime chapter. I admit some guilt on not helping out enough with preparations for the workshop, but after spending eight-hour days preparing for the Pennwriters Conference, I was drained of any event-planning brain cells. My only sense of redemption comes from the fact that I did use my Pennwriters mailing lists to promote the workshop.

Hallie and the majority of the registrants made it to the Chatham University campus and the workshop was fabulous. I’d heard Hallie teach before and knew the evening would be worth the voyage. I was right. She gave me much food for thought regarding my current work in progress.

Why is it that you can hear the same criticism and advice on your work and completely ignore it until you hear it put a specific way fro…

Reading and Writing

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My New Year’s Goal/Resolution of writing first has been going rather well. I admit I skipped one day when I thought I’d have time to write later in the day. Of course, that didn’t happen, so I went back to writing first thing in the morning. Before email, before blogs. Before coffee.

My muse prefers to sleep in. As a result, much of what I’ve written sucks swamp water. But words are filling pages little by little. And it’s always easier to come back and slash and polish than it is to fill the blank page.

This morning, an odd thing happened. While I was lying in bed contemplating dragging myself out of my nice, warm cocoon, my muse started nagging at me. He (hey, if the old men’s club of writing can have female muses, I can have a male one) whispered in my ear. Mostly he was telling me what was wrong with my story. He pointed out items I’d neglected to include. He made suggestions about motive.

In other words, my muse finally decided to show up. He had a lovely vacation in Tahiti over the…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

On Sunday, Hubby and I made our yearly trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland (Pittsburgh).

I have a love/hate relationship with that part of the city. It's a really cool place, but I find it much cooler if someone ELSE is driving.

Anyhow, I am blogging about the museum and its dinosaur exhibit (complete with photos) over at Working Stiffs today. Come on over.

Monday Musings on Tuesday

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Part of the problem with my new motto of WRITING FIRST is that other stuff doesn’t get done. Like a new blog yesterday. But I did get a few new pages written on the short story.

I admit, I haven’t worked on it yet this morning. But the coffee isn’t ready yet and my brain has yet to kick into gear.

Plus my plans for today (a critique group meeting) have been cancelled, so I have received the gift of several additional hours…in fact, a whole day…at home, to write and work on the conference. In that order.

Last Friday night, I attended a publication party for my friend, local writer Lila Shaara, whose new book The Fortune Teller’s Daughter is on sale NOW. I loved her first book Every Secret Thing and anticipate loving this one, too. If you missed her guest blog on Working Stiffs last week in which she tells about some of the inspiration for this book, click here now to read it.

Publication parties at Mystery Lovers Bookshop are wonderful things. Of course, I love the store and any excuse to …

...and Looking Ahead

2009

Wow.

Okay, this is one year when I doubt that I have any problems writing the date on my checks. I’ve been working on and promoting the 2009 Pennwriters Conference for almost a year now, so 2009 has been at the front of my consciousness. But now it’s officially here.

New Years is always full of promise and potential. Anything can happen. It’s like a newly bought lottery ticket…aren’t they all winners until the number is drawn?

We look ahead with hope. Maybe THIS will be the year our dreams will come true. Maybe THIS is the year my manuscript finds a publisher. Maybe…

My primary goal (resolution if you prefer) was to make money with my writing. At least, more money than I did in 2007. And I succeeded. It still isn’t paying the bills. And the bulk of my writing income came from teaching rather than selling articles. But I didn’t specify WHERE the money came from, so I’m okay with it.

I think I’ll hang onto that goal for another year. I want my writing income to grow. Of course that means…