Monday, December 31, 2007

keeping track

After I graduated from college, I wound up dating a guy who went on to break my heart. One thing I did after this breakup, being that it happened right after the first of the year, was to recap everything I accomplished the prior year and set goals for the new year. I filled a page, folded it and kept it in my wallet. Every so often I'd pull that paper out and check to see how I was doing. The main goal for the year after I got dumped: learn how to ride a horse. I'd always wanted to do it so I called a riding stable and took lessons for two years.

By the time my hubby and I married, I had three of those sheets stuck in my wallet. Unfortunately, my wallet was stolen at the downtown main library one night when I was studying in the genealogy room. After that episode I got out of the habit.

I'm also a calendar saver. I have some wall calendars saved from when I was in grade school. Of course, those were special Hobbit or Lord of the Rings calendars. I've also saved my purse calendars and have a stack of IU alumni ones in my closet.

Yesterday I sat down and transferred all the important info from the 2007 family kitchen calendar to my new 2008 one, picked it up at church last major benefit of being in Indiana for Christmas. Those parishes still do a church calendar...can't beat 'em.

My somewhat rambling point, give me a break, I've only had one cup of coffee this morning, is that we all keep track of stuff. For me, it sometimes becomes a bit of a ritual. It helps me remember where I've been and where I want to go next. It keeps me on track.

We're on the verge of a new year and I may revisit my old habit of keeping a goal sheet in my wallet. I'm going to be 43 this spring. I have a lot that I want to do not just for myself, but for my kids and hubby. Putting it down on paper, writing it out longhand, is one way to 'own' it. Tomorrow while the ham is in the oven, I may do just that.

Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

jiggity jig

Home again. We bypassed our weekend in Chicago to cap off our trip north as the middle kid came down with a sinus infection. Spent three hours in a Med Point with her followed up by an hour at the pharmacy. So, Friday morning saw us packing up and heading south. We did experience a bit of the snow that moved into Chicago-land, but by the time we were midway down the Land of Lincoln, it turned to rain and then sunshine. I missed the sun, reaffirmed for me why I don't miss living in Indiana. The sun didn't shine the entire time we were there. Bleh, argh.....

Christmas 2007 has come and gone. I'm glad to be on the other side. Gift giving/receiving with the hubby's side of the family can be a bit of a challenge. My sister-in-law is the queen of the re- gift. I could fill pages with the assortment of ego bruising items foisted on me in the name of holiday cheer. You'd think that after 16 years of marriage to my hubby, his family would figure out that a gift card to Barnes and Noble would send me cartwheeling in ecstasy. No, instead I get used baskets, candlesticks and department store freebies. Ah well, after 16 years I've learned to not expect.

Today the hubby and I are headed to Costco for the major after Christmas shop. On the list are a flat screen TV and a laptop. Yep, we are going to splurge and treat ourselves. Of course this means that I really need to finish the edits on Maddy Blue. I can now work on that WIP in the van. Wahooo.

The house is still and quiet. Everyone is enjoying sleeping in their own beds...good lord I missed my electric mattress pad:) So good to be home, have that first cup of coffee alone and read the paper without having to make small talk. The little things in life are the best gifts of all.

Monday, December 24, 2007


We arrived in northern Indiana in good shape, even though the majority of Illinois was covered in fog. The kids are delighted it has snowed the last two days....they are happy with the flurries and not bummed over the fact it isn't sticking because the winds are so strong it blows away.

Had a fabulous time visiting some friends we haven't seen in 5 years. Way too long to wait for a visit. Cruised by the old house, it looks good. The big gathering with family and friends went well, no major drama. At mass yesterday we saw several families from our years here. That was such a treat.

So, we are sliding into Christmas in fine form. Merry Christmas Eve to all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

the Tea

Take a tall 40 something Yankee, a tray of cucumber sandwiches and a house built in 1877. Mix them all together and you get the Christmas Tea I attended yesterday. The house was amazing. Fireplaces in every room, stained glass windows, original hardwood floors and bead board ceilings, it was just beautiful even before you added the antique furniture. The tea was way too yummy, never thought I'd be a fan of little fussy cucumber sandwiches, but these rocked. The average age of attendees had to be 70; lots of gray hair, gold shoes and holiday sweaters. I did learn that this club only admits new members when one of the existing members passes away and the club has been around since 1936. They were the driving force behind establishing a town library back in 1956. Pretty dynamic group of women and living examples of the phrase 'steel magnolias.' Think a houseful of Miss Julia's....which reminds me, I really need to finish reading that series.

We leave tomorrow for parts north. I've almost finished packing and instructing the daughters on how/what to pack. Today I hand my bookstore keys off to the Friends treasurer for the duration of my absence.

Enjoy the weekend and if I don't get to log in before Christmas, hope you have a very Merry one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Beware, this post is going to be a hodgepodge of random stuff.

To update, the kid earned a 99 on her research paper. She got dinged a few points for one section being a bit too short, the teacher deducted one point from everyone for their historical verification section (because something could always be made better), but then she earned a few points for her incredible cover art.

The latest bookstore update is we sold a s&*tload of movies and books on cassette Saturday to the tune of $1600. Incredible. The store itself is still averaging about $100 a day in sales.

I'm off to a Christmas Tea tomorrow....this is a major event as it entailed being invited to attend a very 'native' social club. Not sure why this is thrilling me so much, but getting an invitation from these ladies is just a treat. I'm sure I'll be the youngest there, probably by a good 25-30 years. A Yankee youngster in their midst.....just hope I don't spill my tea or show up with a run in my hose.

No reading, editing, writing etc this week. I'm in the process of readying the family for the jaunt to snowy climes for Christmas. I hope to blog from there...if my fingers aren't frozen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

how to wield the red pen

The oldest kid is working on her first 'research' paper. I've helped a bit with this project, but only when asked. The teacher has done a fine job of keeping the kids on a schedule by using their rough drafts as quiz grades. The finished product is due on Thursday and now the kid is looking to dear old mom to help polish the paper.

I've restrained my tweaking to this point and have verbally issued warnings to check the punctuation, the tense, the spelling etc. She has caught a few things, but others slid past her radar. The teacher didn't do a hard edit on the rough drafts and instead wrote general comments similar to what I verbally issued.

Do I get out the red pen at this point or do I let her attempt this on her own? I'm not sure if I'm taking this problem more seriously than some because of my background. My daughter has told me stories of how much other parents are helping on this project....basically it sounds like some are doing all the writing or they are doing some major editing.

And I thought the science fair was bad.

Monday, December 10, 2007

finished Follett

After a very busy weekend full of standardized tests, band competitions and the mall, I plopped on the bed and plowed through the last 300 pages of Follett's latest.

The appeal of huge books is the author can really delve into his characters. By the time you finish, you know those folks better than the majority of your relatives. Follett doesn't let you down in that regard. Caris, Merthin and crew are very real to me now and given the chance I'd read more about them. He included a nice twist at the end and although that plot point wasn't explored often during the book, he visited it enough to keep it relevant when crunch time came. I enjoyed the story and the few elements that struck me as 'awkward' aren't really worth mentioning as the good far outweighs the bad.

To tie back in to my lead in, the middle kid took the ACT for the first time. Just a hoot to watch those big old high schoolers glare in total shock at my very petite 7th grader....we should get the results in the typical 3-7 weeks.

The oldest kicked some major band booty at the regional competition and earned fifth chair...our of 85 players. Woot!!

And of course, my Hoosiers won in a trounce over Kentucky.....GO IU.

I survived the mall and the purchasing of the new outfit for Junior Beta induction....anyone who has shopped with a middle schooler will realize the magnificent accomplishment this is.

Didn't open Maddy this weekend. I seldom have the chance to do any writing when everyone is home. Plan for today may be scrapped, but I'm hopeful to carve out a few hours this afternoon and start back into the edits on chapter six.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I'm still laughing

If you have a moment, watch this one.....if you have kids, you may watch it more than once.

friday recap

I have to start my recap with the major announcement that I edited Maddy Blue this week. That is the most important thing I did for myself the past seven days.

Other highlights: Having Starbucks with Kim. Falling prey to the creeping crud that has infiltrated my house/family. Reading 1/4 of the Follett book (cut me a break, the sucker is over 1,000 pages). Wrapping the Christmas gifts.

That is about it folks.....a busy week in many ways, but most of it involves the kids and the minivan.

I'm sure I will be editing again today as the calendar is rather clear except for dinner plans with the hubby and another couple.

Enjoy the weekend:)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

the big book

Word limit my foot....have you seen Ken Follett's latest massive contribution to the book world? I reserved "World Without End" last week and was able to pick it up from the library yesterday morning while I was in to stock the bookstore. I read "Pillars of the Earth" years ago when it first came out. I have a major soft spot in my heart for the mega sized historical novel. I blame my mother for this. She gave me Michener's "The Source" to read one summer when I complained I had nothing to do.

I crawled into bed last night, after I'd turned on the mattress heating pad, (if you don't have one run now and get one) with the book and a big mug of friendship tea. The darn book is so big that it is hard to lay in bed, read and sip without constant adjusting. The book ended up on the nightstand because the hubby got home from his work session and started to chat about the day's events and what we have going on for the rest of the week.

The first seven pages were great......Gwenda captured me from the first paragraph, but it would take a cold soul not to like a little girl who has to pickpockets to keep her family fed.

I'll keep you posted on how this sequel to Oprah's current book pick unfolds.

On other fronts, I worked on Maddy Blue yesterday....I actually edited, folks. Did you feel the earth tremble?? It was a momentous event.

Monday, December 3, 2007

themes for all things

Had a marvy few hours at B&N yesterday with my crit bud, Kim. We scoured the shelves and analyzed book covers for a while. Beyond the obvious pastel or bright colors versus the dark color difference in genre books, the layout is critical. Sort of like my critical fascination with fonts. A good font can rescue a bad day.

I firmly came down in the camp where I like a banner at the top. Such banner should say whether or not this is a series. For example: A Maddy Blue Demon Slayer Mystery. Below the banner is some sort of cartoonish graphic. At the bottom of the graphic is the title and the author's name. On the spine I like a thumbnail of the cover graphic.

So, why did Kim and I spend time looking over these things yet again? Because now she will have a book coming out in a year's time. She's moved from the fantasy to the reality, after years of hard work, networking and rejection. Her short stories will appear over the next year in Mouthfull of Bullets and Enspiren Press, out of Canada, has offered her a contract for her Shannon Wallace mystery. The girl is doing it!

Hat off yet again to you Ms. inspire me:)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

sophomore slump

"Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy" is the second book in Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series. Our intrepid heroine, Cammie Morgan, is a legacy at the exclusive all girls school The Gallagher Academy, a secret CIA training facility. When boys descend upon Gallagher's hallowed halls, the emotions and hormones run high. Toss in some good old boy-girl competition, a possible theft of highly classified information and the inevitable run in with the old boyfriend and you've got a 240 page book.

I really liked Carter's first book,"I'd tell you I loved you, but then I'd have to kill you." My girls loved it......anyone I gave it to at the library loved it....I think the waiting list to check it out was a half dozen deep at one point.

This book will be just as successful because it does 'enough' to keep the reader engaged. I didn't feel, however, that the plot and new character development were strong enough to ward off the dreaded sophomore slump some series fall victim to.

It was a fun, quick read but it wasn't the 'get excited' read that the first book delivered. Carter does do a few things very well. Cammie and her buddies are smart, daring, loyal and not afraid to show it....even to the boys. I'd still recommend this book, but the grownups may feel a bit let down. I'm anxious to see what my two girls think of it.