Monthly Archives: July 2008

Off to San Francisco

It’s about 90 degrees today (32.2 C), and–as usual, on a small island–about 900 percent humidity. (Okay, okay, probably only 90%, but it FEELS like 900%…) Which means it’s freakin’ hot outside. It has been this hot since–oh, March, or so. Okay–maybe just since May. But a long time. Hot. Really hot. And muggy.

Tomorrow, I am flying to San Francisco. When I checked the weather online, to make sure I was packing the right stuff–because you know, it just seems really freaky to break out the long sleeves and sweaters–I saw that the HIGH temperature over the next 4 or 5 days, while I am in San Francisco, is going to be 60 degrees. SIXTYfreakin’degrees!!! (This is 15.5 degrees in dog-years–er, the-rest-of-the-world temps)

I’m not sure it gets that cold here in the dead of winter. And if it does, that was a long time ago. It’s been really hot for a long time. I’m used to the heat. I am going to Freeze to Death.

Or half to death, anyway. Nonetheless, I have packed long sleeves and sweaters and jackets. I have my leather jacket out to wear. I am taking socks, and my black walking shoes. (AKA, the Adidas) I am also taking silver sparkly sandals and fancy dresses for the fancy activities. I figure the leather jacket can go on top of the fancy dress for the things that require me to leave the building.

I am going to the Romance Writers of America conference and I’m going to do a little sight seeing, if I can work it. I’ve never been to San Francisco before, and I’m ‘cited about going. I have my airport shuttle reservation. I have my boarding passes. I’m sorta packed. (Should I put in another skirt? What will put me over the top on luggage weight? How many suitcases can I have, anyway? Without paying extra, I mean.)

I don’t have a laptop, so I won’t be blogging from conference. I’ll try to remember to do a quick drive-by blog when I get back–but no guarantees when I’ll get to it. I can’t wait! This is going to be fun!

100 Books –A Meme

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. (Not sure who “The Big Read” is, but thought this was interesting.)

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love.

Hmm. Of the top 10, I’ve read 8. That right there puts me at “above average.” I’ve read 45 of these books all the way through. I’ve read at least half of three more, and I have 10 “intend to” reads. Yeah. I’m a bookaholic…

Anybody else want to play?

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (I think I have 2 copies of it…somewhere…)
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible (Or the vast majority of it, anyway)
7 Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte (didn’t like it much, not nearly as much as Jane Eyre)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (many, but not all)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks (I don’t think I’ve even heard of this one)
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger (I’ve tried really hard to avoid it)
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot (I’ve read one Eliot, and it wasn’t this one)
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (got about halfway through it)
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame (Pieces of it)
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (most of it, anyway)
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis (LW&W shouldn’t also be on this list if the Chronicles are)
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden (does watching the movie count?)
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy (saw the movie and liked it)
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (but I didn’t like it–still I read all of it)
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding (didn’t like this one either)
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan (I think I want to, anyway)
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel (Didn’t much like this one either)
52 Dune – Frank Herbert (liked this one, tho.)
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen (liked the movie)
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens (This and G.E are my only two Dickens novels. Liked this one a lot better.)
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon (this is the one about the boy with autism, right?)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck (this is the only Steinbeck I’ve read that I didn’t utterly HATE)
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold (I think I want to read it, anyway)
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas (most of Dumas’ work, except for 20 Years After)
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding (may have read this one, but don’t remember)
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville (don’t think I got much past “Call me Ishmael.”)
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker (not a big vampire fan)
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker (maybe)
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (All of them, I’m fairly sure)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (SO not reading it)
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo (got stuck at the endless description of the after-battle Waterloo scene–need the abridged version, I guess…)

Aching Knees

So, the grandboys are visiting. And Hurricane Dolly (not named after the granddog) is coming ashore about 400 miles to the south near the mouth of the Rio Grande. What that means for us is slightly higher tides, brisk winds, some rain (we sure could use more), and heavy surf. Usually the surf here is on the pathetic side, but right now it’s roaring in with lots of energy. And I took the boys (ages 7 (today) and 4) out to the beach with their new boogie boards. (Their granddaddy was generous.) Fortunately the boards are covered styrofoam with leashes (I’m sure there’s another name for that), so the wind couldn’t blow them too far away, and when it caught the boards and blew them into the boys’ heads it didn’t hurt too much. Except when the wind bonked the board into the older one’s head, and the board bonked his head into the stair railing. That hurt. So Gigi got to carry the boards down to the beach and back to the car.

But it was a great swim. They could ride a long way on their boards, and mostly they stayed on. I could trust the little guy to stay in the shallow water so I could go chase his big brother when he went out too far–which he kept doing. So I was standing in hip-deep water, trying to keep my footing and watch both boys. It really was fun, but my knees are really hurting from the strain of holding on against the strong surf. I tried sitting down in the shallow surf for a little while. The surf was rough enough to knock me over and roll me three or four times on the way to the shore. I got tired of being knocked over, so I stood up again and dug my toes in. I’d like to go back when I can share the watching-little-boys duty and take a turn riding one of the boards. The surf probably won’t settle down for a little while.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing this week. Working a little. Playing with little boys. (We went to see Wall E Monday night.) The fella baked a birthday cake with them this morning, so we can celebrate the birthday tonight. I need to pull my proposal together, to get it ready to mail to the editor. But I’m practically brain dead. My knees ache, and I’m really tired. Oh, and that sunburn I didn’t get when I took a teen group to the local water park– I got it at the beach yesterday. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s red. I know. Dumb.

Next week is San Francisco. I’m getting excited. Trying to get my schedule worked out and such. Ought to be fun. Need to get back to work–but doubt it will happen till after RWA Conference.

Crazy Season

Crazy season is here, and doesn’t look to be leaving any time soon. I considered running away from home, but any place I could run, the craziness would just follow me. Or else those places are where the craziness is coming from. And I actually don’t mind the craziness…I like doing all this stuff. It’s just nearly impossible to catch my breath between times.

Like, the Texas grandboys came to visit over the weekend. They got here Thursday night at around midnight, which gave them an extra day at Gigi and Granddaddy’s. We were tickled to have them–but I’m whipped. We went to the beach to swim two days in a row. And went out to ride one of the surrey bicycles on the seawall Saturday evening. It was a lot easier than the last time I went out, years and years ago–except when the older boy stood on the pedals. That was just like a brake on the wheels, the stinker. They ate all the cereal, drank all the milk, and I haven’t had time to run to the grocery store since they left, because we’re still short one car. I’d have gone yesterday, but I gave the boy my car so I wouldn’t have to leave work early to take him to work. He has it today, but has to come get me early so I can go to my RWA chapter meeting across the causeway. And the fella’s leaving town sometime this week, which will put us down to one car unless we get the boy’s car back from the shop, and I’m not so sure that’s happening.

Today, I’m working all day so I can take our youth group to the local water park tomorrow. I know–we’re at the beach, why is there a water park? Why go? Well, the beach doesn’t have slides. Because we can. I am making plans on how to avoid sunburn. (Take long sleeves. And a hat. And sunscreen for re-applications. And sit in the shade. And…) We usually don’t go out all day, and wait to go out till late in the day when the sun’s not so harsh, so I have only been burned the once this summer. Wish me luck.

Enough whining. I got my synopsis finished! (Yayy!!! I know how the story will end, and how it’s going to be different from the previous finish.) I sent it to my cp, and will get it off to the editor next week, I hope.

The little boys are coming back to spend next week, all week. The fella’s taking off most of the week–except Tuesday–and my work hours are during the hottest part of the day when they’ll be having siesta (probably not sleeping, but staying in out of the sun and heat), so I won’t miss much. I’m looking forward to it. Won’t get much writing done, but I’ll have lots of fun.

Post-Holiday Rush

Last weekend was a holiday weekend. After running like a crazy person all of last week, the weekend arrived and I had a chance to relax. Somewhat. I did a little bit of running to get downtown to the parade, because the fella was going to be in it. It was kind of a short parade, and I forgot to put on sunscreen ahead of time, and the shady places weren’t the best parade-watching places, but it was a nice parade. I saw him glide by in the Mustang convertible, but was too far away to wave. And then we wandered around the Railroad Museum and looked at the model trains and listened to a few of the speeches, and went home again.

The boy’s girlfriend came down for the weekend, which was fun. He’d asked for days off, but he had to go in and report before he could officially get off–though he did every time. And that was nice too. Friday the Fourth, we were very lazy. After the parade, we “rested” until time to go watch the fireworks off the 37th Street jetty. It’s nice that they can shoot fireworks over the water, because it really cuts back on the fire hazard worry. And they were some spectacular fireworks, about a 30 minute show. I enjoyed it a lot. Then we drove home and grilled steaks. Yum.

Saturday, we went to see “Get Smart.” I actually liked it better than the TV show, because Max had some smarts. The fella and the boy had already seen it, but the girlfriend and I hadn’t. So we made them take us. There are still a few movies I want to see. I’m hoping the grandboys haven’t seen Wall-E yet, since they’re coming for the weekend. It would be fun to take them.

This week hasn’t quite been as wild and woolly, but it has been busy. The boy’s vehicle isn’t repaired yet, so we’re having to take each other to work, depending on who has to work longer hours. I got the car today. He gets it tomorrow.

I’m trying to get a synopsis written so I can send a partial off before I go to San Francisco for the RWA National Conference. And once again, I know some things that will happen, but I don’t know exactly how or why they will happen. I’ll figure it out when I get there. I got most of the plot events figured out, right up to the finale, and then Pthfthffftttttpbthpt. Nothing.

I know that the hero and heroine will essentially rescue each other. Or team up to rescue themselves and beat the bad guy. But I have no clue exactly how they’ll do it. I’m not entirely sure just how far their teaming up will go. I don’t want it to happen like it does in New Blood, but … Hmm. Well, usually, if I leave it alone and let things bubble in the swamp where my stories come from, something will bubble up from the primordial goo. And I think the fermentation is already making wine…or something. So that’s where the writing is.

Oh. I walked yesterday. So I’m one more mile towards Rivendell. That makes–um–7? (Yeah, I didn’t walk far. But I walked.)

Life in All its Confusion

Yeah, I know. Haven’t been here in a while.

So. ApolloCon was lots of fun. Saw my friends Rosemary Clement-Moore (of the Prom Dates From Hell books) and Shanna Swendson (of the Enchanted, Inc. series), and Chuck Emerson of Houston Bay Area RWA, and made some new friends. I met A. Lee Martinez who also writes some cool books, and his girlfriend Sally who is very cute and funny, and Rie Sheridan and Martha Wells, and I even got to meet Allen Steele who was the Guest of Honor–except Every One of my panels was opposite Every Single guest of honor. I did manage to get to be on a panel with Steele, who is a very nice man, and with Steven Brust, who has an amazing leather akubra-ish hat, and reminds me of Kinky Friedman, only without the cigar and Jewish cowboy-ness. Listened to some amazing music. Bought some art.

I bought some new books –Martha Wells’s The Wizard Hunters, and Shanna’s new Enchanted book, Don’t Hex With Texas, and Rosemary’s Prom Dates. And yes, I’ve already read them all. Now I need to get the next book in Martha’s series, and I need to get another book I wanted, but I don’t remember the title, and I don’t remember the author’s last name–I just remember it was a fantasy, and it had horses in it, and an alternate world. Drat. Now I’m going to have to try to figure it out. Ha! Patrice Sarath (See, I can find these things if I am sufficiently motivated) and the book is Gordath Wood from Ace fantasy. Yay! There may have been one or two others I need–yep, the new Jack Campbell is out. Okay, need to buy more books. (Okay, I don’t NEED to, but…)

And then, on Sunday, when the con was over, I headed out for the hospital in Austin. My mom was supposed to have minor, in-and-out day surgery last Wednesday, but when they looked inside, turned out they needed to do more than they’d thought, so it turned into major surgery. I was really worried she’d be going home from the hospital with nobody to look after her and Daddy (he’s only slightly less forgetful than she is), since the sister who lives next door was out of town at a wedding. Since my dad can barely take care of himself, I wasn’t sure how he’d do with taking care of Mama too, right out of the hospital. Fortunately, they kept her in the hospital through Sunday, (and Daddy stayed in the room with her the whole time, so he had some looking-after too), and I was able to get there and take them home on Monday and stay a couple of days. The surgery went well, she’s healing really well, the tumor they found hadn’t spread so she won’t have to have any further treatments, and my sister comes home today.

I think I’ve convinced them that when they’re hungry, they ought to eat, so they don’t lose any more weight. Daddy’s looking awfully thin, I think because when he starts a meal, he gets up to do something in the middle of it, and forgets he’s still eating. But one day, he seemed to forget he’d already eaten and made himself another sandwich and ate a second lunch, so hopefully, he’ll make up for it. Several small meals during the day is probably better for them anyway.

And now I’m home again, and still have a synopsis to write. And I’m kind of brain dead. The boy’s girl is coming down for the weekend, so we’ll play over the holiday, and maybe my brain will come home again.

No writing. Not much exercise. I walked to the mail box and back with Mama, and halfway around the house, and back and forth across the hospital three or four times–but I don’t think that got me very far toward Rivendell. But, ya know? Sometimes life throws you a few fastballs, with curves. I’m still here.