Dec 27, 2012

Friday funnies - New Year's edition

The final funnies of 2012 - did this year go by fast or what?

If you've seen The Hobbit, do check out this quite amusing parody by one of my fave authors, Ms. Sarah Rees Brennan.

The gingerbread house I wish I'd made:

The librarian I wish I was:

Les Mis, as it should be titled:

An evil New Year's resolution:

How to Wrap a Cat 101:

Happy New Year!

Dec 23, 2012

Mark your calendars for IndieReCon

I wanted to pass on this cool opportunity for those of you weighing your publishing options: IndieRecon, modeled after WriteOnCon, will be held Feb. 19-21. There'll be editors, guests and workshops all about independant publishing. Check out the site for more info.

Dec 21, 2012

Friday funnies - the apocalypse edition

In case you want to be prepared the next time:

This could also be my husband as a child:

And finally, a wee giggle at feline expense:

It's Christmas break! Expect a Monday post from me next week (if I'm not all hopped up on eggnog, that is.)
Have a great weekend,

Dec 9, 2012

Going on sabbatical

Before my parents retired, they were college professors. And every seven years, they applied for a half-to-year-long sabbatical from teaching to travel and do research.

If you're familiar at all with the politics of upper-level academia, you'll have heard the term "publish-or-perish" and what that means is that if you want to keep advancing up the academic pay scale (assistant to associate to full professor) you have to publish original research in a peer reviewed journal periodically.

In other words, you have to get out of the classroom, study something interesting and then write about it. (One year my dad spent in Halifax,  Nova Scotia studying the territorial impulses of a certain kind of sand snail. Which doesn't sound mainstream interesting but he's a biologist and weird that way.)

The whole idea behind this expectation is that interesting lives make for interesting teachers. And the same goes for writers.

The muse I have..
This past semester I've been plugging along on various WIPs. I revised a finished MS twice, completed a WIP and started another despite the fact my writing time shrank to one hour a week at best. And I've been teaching two additional classes without any advance time to plan... in other words, pantsing each class. This takes a lot of thinking time to accomplish - thinking time I had spent on writing. 

And here's what I've discovered: my stores of creativity - aka, my bipolar muse -  are not limitless. They are finite and specific and not into multi-tasking. Also they are slow to refill. I'm an introvert, someone who needs LOTS of down time to refuel. In the middle of the school year, what downtime I have is filled with laundry, cooking, shopping, hockey/volleyball games, volunteering, etc.... the drill of a working mom.

So my Christmas gift to myself this year is to relax. No more internal pressure to just write already. I'm going to concentrate on LIFE - both inside and out of the classroom. Next year I'll be traveling, doing projects with my students and starting the college search with my son.  Oh, and reading a ton. I'm hoping that creativity - as well as enthusiasm and energy and that sneaky/bipolar muse of mine -  will creep back as soon as I stop constantly draining that tank dry. *crosses fingers*

I will continue to post Friday Funnies but Monday Manuscripts will be dependant on something writerly to share.

The muses I want...

How about you? How are you coping with middle-of-the-schoolyear-stress?

Dec 2, 2012

And you are...? bloghop

The wonderful Emily King and Tammy Theriault are hosting this fun hop, in which we all compete to win prizes from none other than Mrs. Claus!!

Which makes me SO EXCITED. I'm Mrs Claus around our house and honestly, it'd be nice if someone else shouldered the whole present-load occasionally. Hopefully one of the prizes is my own set of elves because I could use them right now.

These are the "And You Are...?" questions:

1. How many speeding tickets have you gotten?

Actually gotten? One. It resulted in a warrant for my arrest in the state of Missouri....which makes me an "authentic" Alaskan.

2. Can you pitch a tent?

Of course. I can also build my own campfire and wrassle alligators. *spits*

3. What was your worst vacation ever?

The vacation where, three hours after we'd arrived, my son opened our camper door and my 18-mo. old daughter fell head first onto the concrete camper pad. Her forehead swelled alarmingly, we spent six hours in the ER and then all night calming her down so that, when it was time to cut our losses and leave the campground, she was still screaming in the morning. We packed up at 5 a.m. while she cried inconsolably. When I asked her to "please quiet down, Gracie" our poor tent camping neighbors called out: "Yes, Gracie, please QUIET DOWN!" *burning red with remembered shame* She cried on and off the entire twelve hour trip home where we discovered she was cutting four teeth in addition to having an enormous headache. o.O

4. What was the last thing you bought over $100?

A hockey stick for my son.

5. We're handing you the keys to what?

A spaceship. With light speed, please. Or Wonder Woman's invisible plane. Either one works.

6. What was the last meal you cooked that made even you sick?

A chicken rice soup where the rice blew up and looked like tiny maggots.

7. Fill in the blank: Oh my gosh! Becky, look at her butt! It is so big. She looks like ____?

A spaceship. With light speed.

8. What was your first car?

A 1989 Dodge Horizon.

9. Your best friend falls and gets hurt. Do you ask if he/she's okay or laugh first?

Ask if she's okay. Unless of course her falling involves a wet butt or poo.

10. What's the worst song ever?
Ice, ice, baby.

Nov 30, 2012

Friday funnies - Nov. 30

In honor of the last day of NaNoWriMo, here's NaNoMusical:

And this Australian train safety video "Dumb Ways to Die" has been making the rounds lately. The first time I watched it, I thought of suicidal jelly beans...

Have a great weekend!

Nov 25, 2012

A pre-Christmas query

Do you still send Christmas/holiday cards?
When my husband and I were married twenty years ago, each Christmas we were inundated with cards - photo cards, traditional cards, cards with Christmas newsletters, cards designed on the computer.

I have a card wreath I hang them all on and each year, that wreath has gotten a little thinner. It's clear the idea of sending Christmas greetings through the mail is fading.

Which makes me a little sad. I LOVE getting those cards and updates on friends who live around the world. I put those photos on my refrigerator and think about them often...sometimes pray for them while I'm making lunch for my kids before school each morning.

But I understand the trend. Twenty years ago, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no form of social media. The Internet was just a rumor. We didn't even have cell phones. (Horrors!) So sending a yearly card was an important way we all kept in touch.

Now we do that almost every day. We see photos of each other's kids as the event happens, whether it be a birth or a graduation or a wedding. It's really cool...

...and not surprising that the cost of this connectedness means fewer of us send Christmas cards. For the past few years, I've sent a photo card of the kids with a link to our annual newsletter. I stopped sending the actual newsletter (along with an actual card) a while ago.

This year, I'm just posting a note on our family blog. No specialized card or postage. No paper going out. Just an image and an email with the link to my family and friends.

And I'm curious - what do YOU send out for Christmas? *looks right* Take a peek at my Christmas card poll and click on it, pretty please!! I'll post the results next week to see if my hunch is right and we're all going the way of the Grinch when it comes to holiday cards.

Have a great week!

Nov 18, 2012

The winter people

We moved to Alaska eight winters ago, partly in search of a place where snow wouldn't melt irritatingly frequently, and partly to get away from the crowds in the Lower 48.

At Reflection Lake

It didn't take long to discover that most of us up here thought the same thing. We LOVE winter. We're not too fond of...well, lots of people. Or most people. Some of us don't like people at all, which is fine. There's lots of room to be by yourself.

There's lots of room to BE yourself. One example is the guy who stands at the main intersection of my town, holding a hand written sign that reads: LAROUCHE SAYS: IMPEACH OBAMA. Obama's face has a Hitler moustache on it. On the guy's camper is written: don't feed the old hippies! (No idea what that means.)

During hunting season, it's not uncommon to pass a pick up truck pulling a trailer of snow machines with gun racks and a blood-stained game bag containing a dismembered moose. When it's mushing season, you can park next to a dog wagon full of racing dogs at Walmart. In the summer, people stop to buy fish eggs wearing waders, boots and camoflage because it's too much work to take it all off on the way to the river to fish.

It's not propaganda to say that Alaska is a home for rugged individualists. It's also a breeding ground for conflicted idealism, a lot of hype, a few crazies and a little hypocrisy. But as far as the land is the home for winter people. And it is so beautiful, you'll have trouble believing it's real.

I just finished my MS, RUNNING WITH WOLVES. It is set in Alaska, which is also a huge character in the novel. The more time I spent writing it and considering what and who to include in the plot, the more I fell in love with my adopted home state. It is an unusual, spectacular, frustrating place to live and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I live here because I choose to. And this Thanksgiving week, one of the many blessings I'm thankful for is being an Alaskan.

How about you? Did you choose where you live, or did you fall into it? And how does that impact your sense of place in your writing?

In Juneau on the Inside Passage

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Nov 15, 2012

Friday funnies - Nov. 16

At first I was like...huh? Then I realized who Jules was and laughed out loud.  The way Poe squints all suspiciously in the last frame is awesome.

Story structure fairy land. guess which novel this is...

And a little teacher humor here:

Have a great weekend!

Nov 11, 2012

How to support a writer in submission hell

1. Don't ask me if the book has sold. Trust me, if it had you would know. Right away. Probably even before my husband.

2. DO send me chocolate to ease my angst. Or better yet, a chocolate colored kitten that looks like this:

3. Don't call me if you have a 212 area code. I will freak out thinking it's my agent and then be depressed all day when it's not.

4. DO send me photos of funny cats. I could use the distraction.

5. Don't google my name. (This is a tough one, I know.) My fevered brain will assume the googler is an interested editor and make up all kinds of pointless/impossible fantasies involving cups of tea, immediate bonding and walks in Central Park.

6. DO send me free books or ARCs. If I'm not laughing at cats, I'd love to lose myself in someone else's (successful) story.

7. Don't send me links to other authors out on sub who have sold in two minutes, or taken two years....or never sold...*bites nails*

8.  DO host a contest that features either a) funny cats or b) free books/ARCs. I will enter it. Heck, I may even co-host it! And do all the work required!

9. Don't ask me to beta and then be surprised when all you get back is gobbeldy-gook because my fevered brain is, well, fevered. Give me a few weeks to get over myself. Then beta-ing will be a good idea.

10. DO say a prayer, commit to a 24-hour fast or send good thoughts up to the God of Literary Devices on my behalf. I promise to do the same for you. Lord really knows, I can use whatever help He's willing to provide.

Nov 9, 2012

Friday funnies - Nov. 9

Because this still makes me laugh...

I cannot WAIT!!! Only five more weeks, people! *dons hairy feet*

Have a great weekend!


Nov 4, 2012

In over my head

Life as a teacher is a bit like juggling a progressively higher number of firesticks each week.

Each fire stick represents: writing the curriculum, giving the lessons, training for expectations, keeping up a web site, attending professional development, going to meetings, etc., etc.

Add in grading/planning and suddenly, I'm juggling as fast as I can to keep from getting burned...not to mention running ahead of a blizzard of grading each weekend.

My writing time? Yeah, it's shot, unless you count 1-hour intervals once a week (sometimes). That's the bad news.

The good news? I FINISHED my last revision...which means we can go out on sub soon. Whew. So I can turn my attention to my YA mystery, which is with its final beta.  I'm also very close to finishing my latest WIP. Last year, I finished a WIP every three months. This year, I'm clocking in at six and it's still not done because I have no time.

My next opportunity to do any sustained writing will be over Christmas break.  That's when my school gets to move into our new addition so I'll probably be spending that time organizing and moving stuff out of my classroom, rather than doing much writing.

 How's your writing going? Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

Nov 1, 2012

Friday funnies - Nov. 2

Epic rap battles: Shakespeare vs. Dr. Seuss


Happy NaNoWriMo!!

Me, in 20 years...

Have a great weekend!

Oct 28, 2012

When faith and culture collide

This year I've been reading the Bible through. Each night I read a portion of the Old Testament, the prophets and then the New Testament.

A while ago my mother gave me a book that dissected the Bible's treatment of women so I already knew portions of the Old Testament were hair-raising. Seriously. There's one story where the entire nation of Israel puts aside wives who were foreign born...and all their an effort to "cleanse" the nation. So picture hundreds of families torn apart, women and children cast aside, so the men could be pure. Where did all those people go? The book doesn't say.

So I'm very interested in Rachel Held Evan's newest book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, which comes out today. Like the title states, Rachel spent a year attempting to comply with as many of the Old Testament rules for women as possible...including living in a tent during her period, covering her head during worship, and calling her husband "master". She's a Christian so this wasn't an attempt to satirize faith, but to examine the myth of Christian womanhood and discover what was really required of Hebrew women.  Of course, some in the Christian evangelical camp are already up in arms - with one notable bookstore refusing to carry it - but many are already using the opportunity to reexamine what the Bible actually is vs. what they want it to be. Rachel's book sounds like a thought-provoking read.

What books have made you think lately?

Oct 25, 2012

Friday funnies - Oct. 26

Fancy a gross out before satisfying your sweet tooth? Visit here to get an eyeful of some tasty treats. My favorite are the STD cupcakes, courtesy of London's repulsive cake shop.

And if you've yet to check out the Tumblr site, Title to Come, go there now. Here's a sample:

When I'm critiquing a manuscript, 
and the plot goes off the deep end

Have a great weekend!