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Showing posts from February, 2009

Over Booked

Seventy-nine days until my duties as conference coordinator are over.

As I look at my appointment book for next week, it occurs to me that the first week of March 2009 may very well be one of the most hectic of the year. I have managed, once again, to completely overbook myself.

For starters, it’s my last week teaching at the yoga studio and, in my terror over loss of income, I agreed to sub for an extra class this week. Plus I have a couple of my own private classes to teach. For someone who claims to be cutting her teaching schedule to the bone, I’m teaching a damned lot of yoga next week.

My critique group has not met in months due to weather and assorted illnesses and—okay—my overloaded schedule. But we’re all desperate for a day out, so Monday we’re meeting. All I have for them is my short story, which has already been submitted. But we can polish it up in case it gets rejected and must go on to the next market on my list.

Then I have a Sisters in Crime meeting on Monday night. Somet…

This Old House Makeover

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Combine a long, cold winter with an afternoon of This Old House and what do you get?

In my case, you get a field trip to the big fancy lumber yards with dreams of transforming MY old house into something from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Every year we undertake one major home improvement project. Sometimes it’s as simple as new furniture. Sometimes, like last year, it’s as involved and expensive as a new furnace and heat pump. This year, we have two projects we’ve been saving for. Well, three actually, but the third one is much higher on Hubby’s priority list than mine, so I’m digging in my heels a bit.

First up, a new bathroom. I’m insistent that this is on the top of the list with a red flag because we have mold growing in the corners around the bathtub and no amount of Lysol or Clorox will kill the darned stuff. Every time I hear a news story about toxic mold, I cringe. So, we’re gutting the bathroom, tiling the walls and replacing the bathtub and the toilet. The fixture replacemen…

Pennwriters Conference Updates

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My duties as Pennwriters Conference Coordinator have kept me on my toes this week. (Last week. The week before. Last month. You get the idea.) The brochure has been at the top of my priority list for over a month and it finally hit mailboxes this week. I sat there and looked at my copy, thinking, “This is real. It really IS a conference. It really IS going to happen.”

So of course, now that the schedule is in print and in the hands of potential registrants, changes happen. We have a new editor added to the line-up. If this is something that interests you, sorry. You have to wait until next week before I make the announcement. I need my committee to get up to speed before I climb on the roof to shout the good news.

I’m also adding Mary Jo Rulnick to the line-up of speakers. So the schedule that I’ve worked so tirelessly on is about to be revised.

Hey, I’m not complaining. I love ADDING people to the list of presenters. After spending a large part of the past year having agents and editors…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

My car is desperately in need of a good cleaning, outside and in. I've taken inventory of the mess inside and have decided it's a thumbnail of my life. I'm blogging about it over at Working Stiffs today. Come on over and compare car clutter with us.

A Waiting Game

It’s a little quiet around here. We’re firmly in the middle of nothing. All of the holidays are over. Even Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day are history. St. Patrick’s Day is still a month away. Easter even further. The weather (at least today) is in a holding pattern. Chilly, but sunny. Nothing to write home about, yet nothing to complain about either.

We may not have spring fever, but we want to. We want an excuse to think that any second the buds will pop out on the trees, the daffodils will poke their noses up out of the earth, and the robins will begin to serenade.

Trust me. There ain’t any of that out there. I just took a walk around the yard. I stared long and hard at the corner of my dead flower bed where the Snowdrops first appear. There isn’t even an inkling of green. I checked the neighbor’s herd of Angus cattle. No babies yet.

Maybe that darned groundhog was right.

Oh, and in case you’re interested, I did succeed in cutting the 9,000 word short story down to 4,000 words. It ha…

Inside Information

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I spent this morning (and part of the early afternoon) at a Pennwriters Pittsburgh East Writers meeting where agent Uwe Stender gave a wonderful talk followed by an extensive Q & A. (That's group leader, Ellen Spain introducing Dr. Stender in the photo) I can’t say that I learned anything new. But I had much of what I do know confirmed by a professional. Example: whether or not your query is rejected or pages requested sometimes depend on the agent’s (or editor’s) mood at the moment they read it. And don’t pitch a novel until it’s FINISHED.

Basically, while the publishing industry is a dark and uninviting place right now, the best way to get published is to write the best you can and then rewrite and then polish, and then rewrite again. There are no tricks. No shortcuts. Just determination and a lot of hard work.

So I’m on the right track.

I asked Dr. Stender if having a body of short story work might help with getting a novel accepted and he said YES. That was one question I’ve …

A New Path

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For ten years, I have taught yoga at the yoga studio in Houston, PA. I've loved almost every minute of it. I adore my students and I think I'm a pretty fair teacher. However for the last few years, I've felt more and more like I had one foot in one world (yoga) and another foot in a different world (mystery writer) and the crevice between the two was gradually drifting apart. I couldn't give either career my full attention.



Today, over at Working Stiffs I talk about the decision I've reached to become a full time writer. It's not been an easy choice and I didn't make it lightly. Come on over and join the disscussion of choices and changes.

The Long and the Short of It

I primarily think of myself as a novelist. The freelance, nonfiction stuff is an easier sell and provides some income on occasion. Markets for short fiction are shrinking by the day, but I’ve had some success there, too. I’ve had two short stories published online and a third one is scheduled to be included in the spring issue of Mysterical-e. They are fiction credits and while they don’t pay much if anything, they do get my name out there and build a readership.

However, if you think writing short fiction is easier than writing a novel, think again.

Months ago, I agreed to submit a short mystery for an anthology the Guppies are putting out.

Guppies? Great Un Published.

It’s an online chapter of Sisters in Crime and I’m proud to be a member.

Back in early January, I made a goal to write every morning before I did anything else. My first project using the early-morning words-on-page philosophy was this short story. Monday through Friday, I wrote for a half hour or more. By the end of the mo…

100 Days and Counting

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Today, the countdown has reached 100 days. Which countdown? you ask. The countdown until my duties as conference coordinator are OVER. So that’s not 100 days until the conference. It’s 100 days until the END of the conference.

I started keeping track back in mid December. There was so much to do. At first it seemed like I’d never reach the end. Then my thinking shifted. Okay. There were a lot of days left as conference coordinator, but that simply meant I had a lot of time to do everything that needed done.

And I’ve accomplished quite a bit. The brochure should be in the mail within the week. Workshops are set, speakers have been lined up. Disasters have come and gone.

One hundred days seems like a nice round number. The end is in sight, but there’s still time to take care of what remains on my to-do list. Plus, I’ve recently crossed off some big items on that list and am nearly ready to cross off one more major task.

Perhaps I should celebrate this milestone. Nah. As soon as I start thin…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

Last week, a con artist talked his way into my mom's house claiming to be with the water company. I'm sharing this cautionary tale of being scammed over at Working Stiffs today.

You Can't Go Home Again

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Sunday, I went for a walk. The purpose was two-fold. One: Get some much needed exercise and outdoor time after a long spell of being snowed in and couped up. Second: Get some photographs for yesterday's Working Stiffs blog about Groundhog Day. I hadn't expected the local groundhogs to be awake yet. They aren't that stupid. And they didn't disappoint me. Where I knew there were holes, at this time of year there were merely indentations in the snow.

While I was strolling with my camera, I took some additional pictures around the old farm. This is the farm my grandparents and great grandparents owned. I spent a large part of my childhood in this house.


It seemed bigger back then. And in better repair.

Same with the barn. I loved this barn.


What is even sadder is the fact that I live right across the road from this farm. I have to look at these buildings every day. It's better in the summer when the trees are in leaf. I can't see as much of it then.

Groundhogs and Working Stiffs

I'm blogging at Working Stiffs twice this week and since I hope to get some writing done OTHER than blogging, I'm just going to tell you to click here to read my take on the tradition of Groundhog Day.