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Showing posts from 2011

Working Stiffs Wednesday...again

Okay, yes. I'm painfully aware that lately, the only time I post here is to announce that I'm blogging at Working Stiffs. But I'm doing it again. I've posted pictures over there from the Pennwriters and Sisters in Crime Christmas parties.

Just so you know, though, I'll be back here in a more regular fashion SOON. My excuse for not blogging is a good one. I'm driving to finish the rewrite of HORSE OF A DIFFERENT KILLER so I can send it off to the agent I've been working with by early January. My plan is to finish this draft (#546) by Friday so I can take the holiday weekend off. Then print it out and give it another quick pass between Christmas and New Years. THEN send it off to my beta readers so they can catch the stuff I've missed. And THEN (drumroll, please) send it to the agent by the middle of the month.

At which point, I will collapse for a day or two before picking myself up and starting in on all the stuff I've been neglecting. Like my house…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm still up to my eyeballs in my revisions, but I'm coming up for air today to get a haircut. And to blog at Working Stiffs. So in the spirit of multitasking, I'm blogging about getting a haircut. Bangs, or no bangs, that is the question.

December's Goals

Nanowrimo is over for another year. However my revision version marches on. I met my goal for November. In fact, I beat it by 17 pages! With that kind of momentum going, now is not the time to sit back and bask in the satisfaction. Now is the time to keep going.So, I've reset my writing clock. Instead of slacking off, I’m determined to maintain the pace. Thirty pages a week. At that rate, I should be done by Christmas. “Done” being a highly relative term. Let’s rephrase that. I should have a revised draft by Christmas. Of course, I’ll still need to read through it to catch the mistakes I made in the rewrite. My critique buddies have already pointed out that I duplicated a scene. Oops. I hate when that happens.Today’s goal? Six pages. Reasonable. Do-able.I’d rather think I could manage 10 pages, but I have to take a break at some point and prepare veggies. Tomorrow is my first Christmas party of the season and I’m taking brussel sprouts and cauliflower roasted with rosemary and gar…

Nanowrimo: Day 25

I just hit page 230 of my rewrite. That means I only have ten more pages to write before the end of the month to meet my Nanowrimo Revision Version goal. Yeah, I think I’ll make it. Especially since my hubby is leaving tomorrow morning for five days at his family’s hunting camp. During those five days, the only thing I have planned outside the house is a trip to the grocery store. And I’m putting that off as long as possible. I hate going shopping this time of year. Here’s my idea: stores should block off one morning a week for regular shoppers only. No Christmas shoppers allowed. “Regular” shoppers would not be permitted to sneak any gift buying in on their allotted time. I mean, that’s only fair, right? But those of us who have to buy milk and eggs and toilet paper (not to mention cat food) shouldn’t have to deal with the frantic holiday crowds and the parking lots just to purchase our essentials.Yeah, I know. Ain’t gonna happen. But a girl can dream.Okay, back to writing. After I m…

Life is Tough...

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...for Skye. Ho hum.

Progress?

Yesterday morning, when the world here in “farm country” was quiet, I kept hearing a motor running. I imagine in the city, no one pays attention to such things, since there are always cars and trucks bustling along the streets. Even here, there’s a lot of truck traffic. Not to mention we’re relatively close to the PittsburghAirport and are under one of the flight paths. But this was different somehow. Like a car idling outside my window. Only there weren’t any vehicles with engines running.I stepped out on my porch. The sound was there, but I still couldn’t locate it. A steady monotonous rumble. I mentioned it to Hubby, but he didn’t have any answers for me.Until today. He spotted the source on his way home from errands. It’s begun.If you’ve followed me here for any length of time, you know that I’ve been waiting for the onslaught of Marcellus Shale drilling to occur. We leased our gas rights over a year ago and rumors have been flying about when and if they would ever drill here. I k…

Diversions

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Diversions. Another form of procrastination. And in case anyone didn’t know, I am the Queen of Procrastination. Saturday, I took a day off my revision version of Nano to proctor the written exam for Pittsburgh police recruits. I’d done this a couple of years ago and found it interesting, so I agreed to do it again.I arrived at the convention center at 8:30 in the morning and joined other bleary-eyed proctors setting up the room for the testing. I was assigned to section G and pretty much knew from past experience that my section wouldn’t fill up. But we still had to go through the motions. Label the tablecloth with section-row-seat numbers. Lay out cardstock, answer sheets, test booklets, and pencils. Other important tasks involved stuff like locating the restroom. Always a vital piece of information.We had our orientation at 9:30. And at 10:00, we positioned ourselves by our assigned tables and the doors opened to the recruits.Roughly one thousand aspiring police officers promenaded …

Nanowrimo: Day 5

The Dashofy Revision Version of Nanowrimo is going quite well. I only need three more pages to make my first week’s goal. It won’t happen today because I’m spending the morning proctoring the police recruits testing for the city of Pittsburgh. I’ve done this before. It’s an odd combination of interesting and mind-numbing boredom. All the interesting stuff happens in the first hour: setting up the testing area, orientation, watching the shiny-faced eager recruits enter the room and be seated. The rest of the time is spent walking around the same table, making sure no one cheats. That’s the boring part. But it’s a way of giving back for the Citizen’s PoliceAcademy experience. Later, I’m heading to my friend Jessi’s house for a Breeders Cup party. The Breeders Cup, in case you don’t know, is the richest day in horse racing. And it isn’t aired on network TV, which is all I have. So for the second year, I’m hanging out with Jessi and her family and watching it there. It’s fun. I’ve printed…

Nanowrimo: Day 2

I not only met my goal for yesterday, I surpassed it. Eight pages!
Today will be a bit more difficult. I have an Avon order to invoice and a yoga class to teach before I can get to my writing. So I think I'll set today's goal at 5 pages and be happy with 3.

...GO!

I’ll be offline all day today. That seems to be the only way I can get any serious writing done. And I intend to get some serious writing done today. Annette Dashofy’s Revision Version of Nanowrimo begins!That name is way too long. ADRVN?No.Oh, well. I can’t waste precious writing time trying to come up with something better.Anyone out there care to join me? This is an unofficial, make-it-up-as-we-go-along version of Nanowrimo. Set your own goals. Feel free to post them here if you want me to nag/cajole/encourage you to meet them. You can do the same right back at me.My goal for today is 6 pages. I’m tempted to say 7, but I’m a wuss. I hate to fail on the first day.

Get Ready, Get Set...

Happy Halloween. We get zilch in the way of trick-or-treaters around here. In fact, the only time we EVER had trick-or-treaters was when my cousin lived next door and her kids were little. Often, though, I’ve purchased candy JUST IN CASE. Which means I have to eat it all myself. Darn. But not this year. Lately, writing time battles with treadmill time, and the writing time is winning. So no bag of miniature Reese’s Cups for me.Instead of focusing on Halloween, I’m thinking of this as Nanowrimo Eve. Originally, I’d planned to spend it getting a jump-start on my page count. And since I’m doing my own revision version of Nano, and since I’m making up my own rules for it, starting early would not be deemed cheating.However, I’ve decided NOT to cheat anyway. Instead, I intend to spend the day cleaning house.Boy, do I know how to have fun or what?Seriously, the house needs it. I’ve been letting things pile up (literally) for months now while using the revisions excuse. “I have to get these …

Nanowrimo

November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as Nanowrimo. The idea is to pound out an entire 50,000 word novel in one month. I’ve never participated. I do too much editing as I go along to put out those kinds of numbers. But I’m always in awe of those writers who do take part, whether they succeed or not.This year, while I still don’t plan to sign up for the official version, I do think I’m going to do my own adaptation of the challenge.I’m currently on page 120 of my revised manuscript. I’ve decided to set a goal of 30 pages a week for the month of November. That would give me double what I have now and put me within 100 pages of being finished. Do I think I’ll meet that goal? Probably not. But I’ll give it my best shot.Honestly, it’s well within my capabilities to write that much. But as soon as I make any high-minded plans, I fully expect life to get in the way. At least if I set an outrageous goal, I’ll accomplish more than if I don’t push myself at all. I’ll keep yo…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

We survived the retreat without a major weather event, but that's not to say we got through it without a good story or two. I'm blogging about it over at Working Stiffs today where I ask the question: How many women crime writers does it take to break into a house?

Sisters in Crime 2011 Retreat

We’re trying it again. Our local Sisters in Crime chapter seems to have a reputation for not being in Mother Nature’s good graces. We had a blizzard the day Hallie Ephron came to town to present a workshop for us. Our Christmas party was cancelled one year because of a major ice storm. And our last writing retreat in the spring of 2010 will forever be known as The Great Flood and Writers’ Retreat.But ever undaunted, we’re taking another stab at it. This weekend, we’re heading back to Confluence, although we’re staying in a different place this time. The scariest part for me is the fact that I've somehow become the sole presenter. I never intended it that way. It just happened.And we only have one other attendee who is a Great Flood survivor. The rest are all newbies, eager to find out what natural disaster will befall us this time.Frankly, I’m afraid the natural disaster will be me, boring them all to tears. Yes, my insecurities are showing.At least I got a nice boost credential-w…

Vacation from Responsibilites

Pennwriters board of directors, of which I’ve been a member for more years than I care to count, holds three meetings a year. In February, we have a teleconference meeting. In May we have a short evening meeting the Thursday before our annual conference. And in October, we have the big mega meeting that lasts all day, and during which, we hammer out the bulk of the year’s business.That meeting was this past Saturday in DuBois, PA.This is a new location for us, and frankly, it was a huge improvement. In past years, we met at a “rustic” motel that shall remain nameless to protect the not-so-innocent. I liked their meeting room and the food, but the guest rooms? No internet. No heat. No hot water. Seriously. Cold showers. It could be that the guest rooms were on a hillside above the restaurant and meeting rooms, and the hot water tank was down there and the hot water just never made it up the hill. And it could be that they hadn’t turned the heat on for the season yet. But I froze!Anothe…

I'm baaa-aack

Betcha thought I dropped off the face of the earth. No such luck. I’m still here. I’ve just been busy writing. I’ve had a bit of an epiphany about writing. Namely, it’s hard work. I used to write for me. It was an escape. A way of putting myself into a different world and letting my characters do stuff I’d never do in a million years. It was fun.Now that I’m “on the cusp” of being ready for publication (That’s not my phrase. Three different people have told me I’m “on the cusp.” Whatever that means.) I have to think more about my potential readers and what THEY want. Apparently, in today’s market, it’s not necessarily the same thing.But my goal is to make some money at this writing gig. I’m realistic. I’m not expecting riches. I’m not even expecting a self-supporting living wage. Just some money. And to do that, I have to give the reader more consideration than I give my own corny tastes.So I’m working. Really, really hard.Which is why I haven’t been blogging as much as I should.The o…

Working Stiffs Friday

My friend Ramona Long and I have teamed up for today's blog post over at Working Stiffs to talk about the Outlaws of Love...our name for those illiterate and grammar-challenged guys on Facebook who keep propositioning us.

Ten Years Later

Like everyone else, I’ve spent the last couple of days thinking back ten years. Not only about September 11, 2001, but about September 10, 2001. About how different our world was on the 10th when compared to the 11th. And every day since. The United States lost its innocence on that Tuesday morning ten years ago.
I was blissfully unaware of the events as they unfolded. I was in the basement of the MilsopCommunity Center in Weirton, West Virginia, teaching my regular yoga class. When class ended at 10AM, I stopped at the front desk on my way out and the lady behind the counter told me a plane had hit the WorldTradeCenter. I grinned stupidly at her, waiting for the punch line to what I was certain was a very bad joke. Even when I realized it was true, I believed it was a horrible accident. Until I was told a second plane had hit the other tower.
I listened to the events unfold on my radio as I drove home. I don’t have a true sense of the order of things happening because the reportin…

Grandpap's House

Yesterday morning as I walked home from a visit with my mom, I heard pounding from across the road. The reason this got my attention is the only things across the road are empty fields and my grandfather’s long-vacant farmhouse.
The pounding was followed by a crash, which helped me locate the source of the sound. Someone was on the roof, tearing off the sheeting, and tossing it to the ground below.
I grew up in that house. I’ve written about it here before. My grandparents have been dead for over 30 years and the house has gone through several owners since it passed out of the family’s hands. The current owner let it fall into such a state of disrepair that it’s now hopeless. The roof was already half gone, thanks to windstorms. The foundation is collapsing. Most of the windows are broken, their shutters hanging askew. The back door stands open. The front porch has crumbled to a heap.
I used to dread the day that the place finally met its end. Now, since I have to look at it out m…

Happy Anniversary!

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This is a celebratory week for our family of fur kids. Yesterday, marked one year since Kensi moved into our house. She was so tiny then. She’s still small, but that’s okay. With her high-energy antics, if she were any bigger, she’d wreck our house. Camping is torture for her. The camper is too small to contain her. No place to run. So she spends her time either watching wildlife outside the window or digging in the litter box. Not necessarily USING the litter box. Just digging in it. Then digging at the throw rugs. And digging at my shoes. We get up in the morning to find my slipper in her water bowl and the rugs in crumpled heaps. Busy, busy, busy.Here’s a camping shot of her as she contemplates my manuscript. Everyone’s a critic.On top of Kensi’s one-year anniversary with us, TODAY marks four years since Skye became part of our family. She’s such a love bug. And she’s very much MY cat. Kensi is Daddy’s girl. Skye will let Hubby rub her ears or scratch her chin for a moment, but the…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm taking a day off from my regular rotation at Working Stiffs. In my place is an interview with my friend, Kathleen George. Check it out. Then run out and buy her new book. She's one of my favorite authors as well as one of my favorite people.

Friends

I've been tearing apart and reconstructing my first three chapters for more than a month now and I'm feeling dizzy. At some point a writer loses focus. I'm there. I don't know if I'm improving the darned thing or just babbling different words and making it all sound like crap.
Excuse my French.
So this morning, I packed it up and sent it off to my favorite critique partner, Donnell Bell, whose debut novel The Past Came Hunting will be released in less than a month. (I've read it. It's fabulous. Put it on your must buy list.) Anyhow, Donnell will be able to tell me where I've gone astray.
While I'm waiting to hear back from her, I've been thinking about how blessed I am. My life is full of wonderful, supportive friends who also happen to be published (or soon-to-be-published) authors.
Nancy Martin, for one. She led that awesome boot camp I recently completed. And she continues to email me, nagging and heckling me to get to work. (I will! Honest! A…

Patient for a Day

Yes, I’m still up to my eyeballs in revisions, which explains my absence. However, I crawled out of my cave yesterday for some “research.” Sort of.I received an email a few weeks ago, sent to all members of the Pittsburgh Citizen’s PoliceAcademy, seeking volunteers to help out in the first responder training for the new police recruits.I’ve many times taken part in these kinds of things from the other side. When I was in EMT training, we had to practice on pretend patients. And while I worked on the ambulance service we’d have mock disasters and training drills to hone our skills. So this seemed like a chance to give back.I arrived at the police training academy with thoughts of being covered in fake blood, having practiced my agonized moaning and shrieks of pain. Instead, I was assigned the role of a woman with a history of congestive heart failure presenting with shortness of breath. So much for the blood and the screams.Rich, the EMSI observer, gave me a script of sorts. The medica…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm at Working Stiffs today after wrapping up our critique boot camp. Bruised, but not bloodied.

West Virginia Derby Day

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Last weekend was a big one for me. Sunday, we held our final boot camp critique meeting. You can read about it tomorrow at Working Stiffs. But Saturday was West Virginia Derby Day at Mountaineer. Let me just say, if you’re a writer and you don’t like research, you’re writing the wrong stuff. Because researching the world of Thoroughbred racing is a blast. And it helps to have a good friend like Jessi Pizzurro to hang out with and show you the ropes.I have to be honest, though. It was hot. I mean fry-an-egg-on-the-pavement hot. In past years, we’ve spent Derby Day at the edge of the track, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the other horse racing enthusiasts. Then we’d dash back to the paddock between races to watch the horses parade and be saddled. This year we huddled in the grandstand where it was only 85 degrees instead of 95. (I don’t really know how hot it was. No thermometer. It FELT like 105, but I’ve become an AC addict, so anything over 78 degrees is sweltering to me.) We had…

Boot Camp Home Stretch

I’m conflicted. Okay, any writer worth their salt includes a lot of conflict in their work. But my conflict right now is ABOUT my work. We’re in the home stretch of our critique boot camp. It’s been an incredible experience. I know it’s raised the level of my writing. It’s also completely worn me out. Part of me can’t wait for it to be over. The other part dreads seeing it come to an end. Like I said, I’ve learned a lot. My fellow boot campers have provided such insightful commentary on my first four chapters I hate to think of going it alone for the rest of the rewrite. Sigh.I’m working on our final assignment: the dreaded synopsis. After many long hours, I’ve completed (sort of) my outline. Okay, so there are some holes that still need to be plugged. But essentially, it’s done. Now I have to distill it down to a few pages. This is the part I really hate. But that’s okay. Because my fellow boot campers are in this same boat with me. And when we meet on Sunday, we’ll all work on plugg…

This Morning's Entertainment Courtesy of West Penn

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I think I’ve been spending too much time holed up in my cave with my computer. This morning I learned that the power company was going to maneuver one of its massive trucks into our yard, around behind our old barn, and back into the yard on the other side (all to avoid potentially crushing our leech bed—thank you West Penn) so they could work on the electric pole just across the property line. In order to successfully pull this off, Hubby had to take down a small section of fence and remove one fence post. The fence was no problem. We haven’t owned any livestock in over a decade. Hurricane Ivan took out the bulk of our fence back in 2004. This was just a little piece that had survived and served no good purpose except to hold up the poison ivy vines.Note to self: add calamine lotion and Benadryl to the grocery list.
The massive truck arrived. Hubby made them use it to pull the fence post. Or, to be more accurate, to snap it off at its rotted base.Meanwhile, having been cooped up in my…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm at Working Stiffs today inviting everyone to join me in a round of the What If game. Don't know what that is? Come on over and find out.

Climbing Boot Camp Mountain

For the last four weeks, all I’ve been doing is A.) writing like mad and B.) driving back and forth to our camp in Confluence. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m taking part in a critique boot camp. We’re three weeks into it, and the experience has been amazing. What I THOUGHT was a nearly ready-to-go manuscript has undergone a huge transformation.Week #1 was what I’d call “the rude awakening.” Like me, all of the participants went in thinking we didn’t have all that much work to do. Ha! WRONG.Week #2, we presented our attempts at correcting the problems we’d found out about in week #1. Let’s just say, I stopped at the store on the way home to buy some conciliatory chocolate.Afterwards, I had something of an epiphany… a way to possibly fix the pesky problems that just weren’t going away. It was one of those head-slap moments. Why didn’t I think of that before? Like six years ago???Week #3 found some of us still scratching for a toe hold, while others were succeeding in climbing the mountai…

Too Close For Comfort

I usually love to retreat to my cave away from home, our camp in Confluence. On most of our trips, I get a lot of work done. And the cats enjoy looking out the windows at the rabbits, squirrels, wrens, moles, and chipmunks that frequent the underbrush behind our trailer. However, the last two times we’ve been here, my peaceful work environment has been shattered by—NEIGHBORS.Part of my problem with people living in close proximity is the fact that I grew up on a farm. Our neighbors were cows. The human variety lived at a comfortable distance. I could walk to visit my friends. But they couldn’t look in my kitchen window.Even now, at home I only have human neighbors on one side of our house, and they’re as reclusive as I am. We wave at each other when we’re out in our yards. But that’s about it. My mom lives nearby. I can walk there in under two minutes. But I can’t hear her talking to her lady friends on her phone.Here in Confluence, we’re squeezed in between two other camps. On one si…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

Yes, I've been AWOL around here quite a bit lately. And it will probably continue for a few more weeks. I'm doing revisions. But not just revisions. Revisions on steroids. It's called critique boot camp and I'm blogging about it over at Working Stiffs today.

Finding Friends Wherever She Can

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I've been holed up in my cave working on revisions to my Thoroughbred racetrack mystery. There is very little interesting about this part of the writer's life. Sitting at a computer for long hours while the rest of the world goes on around you doesn't produce much fodder for a blog. So I'll simply post this photo of Kensi, who takes comfort in her other "friends" while her mom is busy writing.

The End of a Story

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But it wasn’t supposed to end like this.

After ten days of forced confinement, followed by four more days of simply choosing to stay in the basement, Moochie finally decided to return to the great outdoors. He returned the next day and snoozed in the shade of my front porch.The last time I saw him, he was curled up in the wicker chair next to the door.Sometime between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, he was hit by a car and killed as he crossed the road near our house.After all he and I went through recently—the bite, the rabies scare, the confinement—I’d become attached to the ol’ guy. He’d finally started using the litter box, so he wasn’t such a bad houseguest there at the last.But he was, in his heart and soul, an outdoor cat. A free spirit with a touch of wanderlust.Did he simply run out of his supply of nine lives? Did being a pampered indoor cat for two weeks weaken his survival skills or his road smarts? I don’t know. But I’m glad I was able to spend those last two weeks…

Superman For Sale

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I'm back to working on my racetrack mystery. After being away from it for a while, it's like coming home and spending time with old friends.
Another benefit is the research. I HAVE to hang out at the track. Dang.
That's sarcasm, in case you're wondering. Any excuse to spend time with horses is a good thing in my book.
I took my camera and got some shots of this guy: Mr. Superman.



FYI, he's for sale! Click here for more info, more pictures, and some video of him moving.

Cat Television

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Kensi wasn’t all together certain she liked this camping stuff at first. She spent most of our two initial trips to the camp in Confluence hiding in the closet. During the day. She made up for it at night by exploring every nook and cranny and getting into stuff that I didn’t even know we had. However, she’s now a seasoned camping kitty. She and Skye actually get along, sitting side-by-side on the table, looking out at the world. You’ll have to take my word for it, because I didn’t get a picture of them together. For cats, windows are like television. Windows with screens add the extra dimension of smell-o-vision.
Our windows have some pretty good programming in Confluence. There was a family of wrens who liked to sit on my bicycle and scold the cats. There were also moles, chipmunks, and a pine squirrel. Hubby tells me pine squirrels are the Pit Bulls of the squirrel population. I say they’re more like Chihuahuas. Small, but they have no inkling of their diminutive stature. And they’…

Closing a Chapter

This morning, the rabies-threat chapter of my life story came to a close. Yesterday, the lady from the department of health phoned to check on me and announced she was closing the case. This morning the fellow from animal control came to take a look at Moochie. I opened the basement door. Mooch ambled out of his nest and yawned. The animal control guy said, “Good enough for me.”Moochie is free. But he’s still in the basement. His prison has turned into a bed and breakfast. I opened the door to let him out and he looked at me as if to say, “Surely you can’t be serious.”So for the time being, we have a basement cat. He’s finally learned to use the litter box. It only took nine of his ten days confinement to figure it out. Guess he decided if his status as house guest was going to continue beyond what was mandatory, he’d better get with the program.I have no idea what to do with him. Skye and Kensi have found a common cause. Neither one of them want another cat. Besides, his tendency to …

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm at Working Stiffs today, putting last week into some kind of writerly perspective and figuring out how to make use of my "experiences."

For the Sake of Research

It’s been a rough week. Or a wonderful week if you count all the fodder for my writing. Life started getting interesting on Wednesday when I was doing the dreaded prep for my first (and if I can help it—LAST) colonscopy. I realize how important this test is and how many lives it’s saved, but let me just say, if they can put men on the moon, they should be able to come up with a prep that doesn’t taste quite so dreadful.But I lived through it, and as I’d been told, the test itself was a piece of cake. I slept through it. Although I made many mental notes about the hospital experience for use in a future story.The weird complication came when I woke up and announced, through a drug-induced fog, that my eye hurt. Somehow, I’d managed to scratch my cornea. Recovery room staff hustled to bring me eye ointment. The thing hurt like the dickens and my vision was seriously blurred for the rest of the day.By Friday morning, my eye and my vision were improved. However, the universe wasn’t done w…

Guest Blogging

Today, I'm guest blogging at Five Scribes talking about stuff to do while waiting for "the Call."

Everything New is Old Again

Our camp in Confluence has always been my own personal writing retreat. After a week of missed writing opportunities, I look forward to a couple of days away to boost the old word count.Such was this past weekend. We arrived at the campgrounds by 10AM and settled in. After a short bike ride to loosen up after the drive (and to check the river conditions for my fly fishing hubby) and some lunch, Hubby headed for one of his favorite fishing spots, and I unpacked my laptop.Which is when I had one of those slap-myself-upside-the-head moments.I’d forgotten to pack the power cord. Yes, I said a few choice bad words. Followed by a few more. I hadn't even fully charged the battery. So I had very limited computer time for the next few days.But once I calmed down, I found a bright spot in my gloom. Instead of staring at the computer screen trying to conjure up words, I turned the gadget off and pulled out my notebook and purple pen. (I love funky colored inks!) For the next two days, I brai…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm at Working Stiffs today trying to find reasons (make excuses) for my shoddy daily word count.

Kensi and Skye Update

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Considering that Skye refused to be in the same room with Kensi when we first brought the new baby into the house, the fact that she's sharing desk space with her now is a major victory. Oh, they still fight on occasion. Okay, daily. But Skye no longer retreats in a snit. She's put the pesky little sister in her place and is back to being the Queen, while Kensi claims the title of Princess.
And, no, I haven't found the memory card yet. This was taken with Hubby's little camera.

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Memory Card

The sun has finally come out. My rhododendron is in full bloom. The locust tree across the road is dripping with blooms. Photo ops abound. This morning, I lugged my beloved Nikon to Mountaineer Racetrack bright and early because my friend Jessi had a horse in an 8:30AM schooling race. I found myself in prime photo op territory, perched right next to the starting gate. I pulled out my camera, giddy at the thought of the great pictures I’d make. But to my dismay, the window on the top of the camera read –E-That means EMPTY. As in no memory card.And that means no photos. I said some bad words. Shoved the Nikon back in its case. And tried to shake off my state of total annoyance in time to at least enjoy being there.Jessi’s colt broke well and the exercise rider was pleased with his performance.But I have no photos.I spent the next hour or so pondering the location of the missing memory card and decided it certainly must still be stuck in the slot of my laptop at home. The last photos I s…

The Times They Are A-Changing

Late last year I wrote about my farmer neighbor who was in the process of selling off his cattle herd. I’ve missed watching those cows and steers from my office window.

At some point in the last several months, the neighbor on the other side of us sold his herd as well. I didn’t miss them right away since they generally spent the winter months on the far side of the pasture where the farmer kept their hay and feed. But as spring approached, I started looking for the annual crop of calves only to discover there were none. In fact there were no cows at all.

After living in cow country my entire life, I find myself surrounded by empty pasture. It’s kind of lonely.

But I have a feeling I should appreciate the quiet while it lasts. As the farming business is dying off in my corner of the world, a new industry is taking its place.

Drilling for gas.

I’ve known for several years that we’re living on what amounts to the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. Marcellus shale is the hot button topic in southwe…

Anthologies R Us

I forgot to mention that I was posting more memories of the Pennwriters Conference at Working Stiffs yesterday. If you missed it, you can still see it here.

Last night I attended the launch party for Pittsburgh Noir at Mystery Lovers Bookshop. I had so much fun catching up with old friends, I didn't think to take any photos. You'll have to take my word for it. It was fun. And the book is great. But you don't have to take my word for that. You can order a signed copy here.

Since I'm plugging anthologies, and in case you haven't bought it yet, Mystery Lovers also still has signed (by me, Beth Groundwater, and Daryl Wood Gerber at least) copies of Fish Tales in stock.

More on the Conference at Working Stiffs

I'm at Working Stiffs today with more on the conference and a bunch of photos.

Conference Flattery

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Another Pennwriters Conference has come and gone. Almost two years’ worth of planning goes into the weekend event that’s over in a blink of an eye. Having been the coordinator two years ago, I know all too well what’s involved. It makes me appreciate it all the more.
Julie Long and Meredith Cohen did a fabulous job. FABulous. I’m saving the bulk of my report on it for this Wednesday’s Working Stiffs (hey, I’m just too lazy to try to think of another topic!), but I’ll share a
few highlights here.
First, there was the bellhop who lugged my stuff to my room Thursday afternoon and asked if I was in town to run the Pittsburgh Marathon, because (he said) I looked like I was in good enough shape for it. Okay, yes. I’m a sucker for a compliment. I gave the guy a really good tip. Which was probably
his goal all along.
Then there was the guy who told me I looked like Susan Sarandon. HA! THAT fellow needs glasses. Seriously. But I told him he was my new favorite person. Near sightedness and all.
All…

Back-to-Conference Shopping

Tomorrow, the 2011 Pennwriters Conference gets underway with the Thursday Intensives. I didn’t sign up for one this year in an attempt to save some pennies. But I know I should have. These workshops are fabulous.

Instead, I’ll head to the hotel in plenty of time for the Board of Directors meeting. I’m now Vice President of Pennwriters, which sounds like a bigger deal than my old Area 3 Rep title, but in fact is much less work.

And, NO, I have no intension of stepping into the president’s position next. Ain’t gonna happen, folks. Don’t even joke about it.

Anyhow, the conference itself gets underway bright and early Friday morning. I’ll be helping with the Twitter for Twits workshop at 10:30AM led by the incredible Tamara Girardi.

There are sooo many workshops that I want to see. It’s overwhelming. And wonderful. Meredith Cohen and Julie Long have done a phenomenal job putting this thing together.

But before I get there, I have to handle one important bit of preparation.

What to pack?

When I w…

Not According to Plan

As I mentioned earlier, I had grand plans for the weekend. What I didn’t mention is that the “cave” I was crawling into was our camp in Confluence. I usually get lots of work done there.

The first sign of things going awry was the news on Friday that my Kentucky Derby pick, Uncle Mo, had been scratched. But writing-wise, I was on a roll. Hubby was off doing his fly fishing thing. Both cats were napping. Life was good.

Then Hubby came back to camp complaining about his shoulder. By Saturday morning, he was totally miserable. He hadn’t been able to sleep. And when I asked him if he wanted to go home early, he said, “Yes.” Not the answer I expected, so I knew he was in serious pain.

So my writing plans went up in smoke, and we headed home.

My consolation prize was getting to watch the Kentucky Derby on TV instead of online. By post time, I’d finally made my picks: Soldat, Dialed In, and ArchArchArch. Typical of my weekend, none of them finished in the money.

I thought, well, maybe I’d get som…

Bugging Out

It’s been a busy week…for everything except writing. So I’ve decided to bug out for a few days. I’m not exactly going “unplugged,” but I’m avoiding such distractions as the Internet and phone. Basically, I’m crawling into my cave and hanging out the DO NOT DISTURB sign.

My goal is one chapter by Monday morning. The only distraction I’m allowing myself is a bike ride each day. Plotting on wheels. So even that distraction counts toward production.

Okay, I will come out of exile on Saturday afternoon for a little thing called the Kentucky Derby.

Generally, when I make predictions about who will win, the wisest thing to do is bet on any other horse. However, I’m still going to be cheering for Uncle Mo. I picked him for the Breeders Cup Juvie last year and he won. Hopefully, he’ll do it again. Yes, I know there are lots of unanswered questions about him. Is he recovered from the ailment that plagued him in the Wood? Can he handle the extra distance? Can he overcome his post position (18)?

Only…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

Today at Working Stiffs, I'm sharing my experience and photos from Monday's Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA. What a blast!

Monday News

I had a post all drafted out about our weekend camping, but with the news this morning, it seemed too trivial. So I’ll save it for another day.

Instead, let me say GO USA. Thanks to all our armed forces all over the world. You rock!

Okay, I do have to add this: if you’re going to be in the Pittsburgh area this afternoon, come to the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont. I’ll be there with two of my anthology mates signing copies of Fish Tales.

Scene Under Construction

The last couple of scenes I’ve written in my WIP (Work In Progress) have been construction projects. No, I’m not writing about buildings. But I am building a scene, and there are similarities to building a house.

The scenes in question are what I call “technical” scenes. In the story there has been a shooting. My protagonist is a paramedic and my second main character is a cop. The first scene involves the medical response. Granted, I used to be an EMT, but procedures, laws, and technology have changed since I rode on an ambulance crew. So I have to do research.

For me, research equals a blueprint.

From there, I start to write. Using the research/blueprint, I lay out the technical layer of the story. It’s mostly dialogue and who does what. Details, details, details. The result reads like a textbook. A dry textbook. But this is only the beginning. The walls of the house are up, but are nothing more than two-by-fours. Maybe some plumbing and wiring. Necessary, but nothing great to look at.

Working Stiffs Wednesday

It feels like ages since I've blogged at Working Stiffs, but I'm back. Today, I tell about finally getting my hands on a real copy of Fish Tales and my first time signing it. Oh, and my friend Lisa Scottoline was in town, too!

Kensi's First Camping Trip

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As I mentioned last week, Confluence beckoned. And we responded. We spent the last two days at our camp.

It wasn’t a vacation. It was more of a test—seeing how certain new components worked out. Hubby had torn out our old lumpy, mushy bed and redid the thing. New plywood. New mattress. New covering. It worked out pretty well. I think it’ll be much better for our backs and sleep in general.

I say “I think” because I couldn’t swear by it. Not this weekend. There was no sleep for me regardless of the new bed…because of the other new component.

Kensi.

If you followed this blog at all over the last couple of years, you already know that Skye is a wonderful camping kitty. She loves it. Travels well. No fuss, no muss, no bother.

We went and messed up our lovely, drama-free camping home by adding one small cat to the mix.

Kensi meowed the entire two-hour drive to Confluence. Also, the entire two-hour drive home. In between, she explored. In less than two days, she found nooks and crannies and h…

Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron

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Spring sprung yesterday. And just in time. Last time Hallie Ephron came to town, we had a blizzard!

But the sun came out along with temperatures in the 80s for her visit to Mystery Lovers Bookshop yesterday.

I’ve been a huge fan for years, and Hallie’s new suspense novel, Come and Find Me, sounds incredible. I can’t wait to dig in. It’s about a computer security expert and reformed hacker, who hasn’t ventured out of her home in over a year, following a devastating personal tragedy. However, she still functions quite well from her home in her pajamas, taking care of business courtesy of the Internet and a virtual world. That is until her sister goes missing, forcing her back into the real world to face her personal demons.

As a wannabe computer geek (who is, in reality, very far from it), I’m already hooked.

Me, Hallie, and Mary Alice Gorman of Mystery Lovers Bookshop

Preparing for Spring--Weather Permitting

It snowed yesterday. This is hardly news. Winter roared in here December 1st and has refused to budge an inch. For months, all plans come with the disclaimer “weather permitting.”

This morning I took a long hard look at the calendar. It’s April for heaven’s sake!

Something clicked in my brain. It was audible. CLICK. It’s spring. Snow be damned.

Okay, I’m also the person who, on day two of a head cold, is convinced I’ll be completely better by day four. Never. Happens.

But today I’m in that kind of mindset where spring is concerned. I’m making plans to head to my beloved camp in Confluence…next week.

I’ve decided the weather will be better by then. Just like day four of a head cold.

The weather isn’t the only obstacle, however. We currently have no bed at the camp. And we tore the plumbing apart before we left last October.

The bed has long been a source of pain and annoyance for us. Neither Hubby nor I have the best backs in the world. We both had too much fun in our younger days. (Who …