Sunday, September 30, 2007

DC Blog - Part 2

One of the benefits of going to DC to do school visits was that I was able to spend some time taking in the sights. And there are more things to see in DC then a person could see during a year. I know this for a fact because I lived in Silver Spring, Maryland when I was in fifth grade, and my family did indeed spend every weekend sight seeing. I was dragged to every Revolutionary and Civil War battleground in existence. If some early American pilgrim had nailed together a shack somewhere, I saw it. And no, I didn’t appreciate it at the time. But now I wish I could move back east for a year just so I could drag my kids to all the same places.

Anyway, here are a few of the highlights from the trip.

Here is Janette at the Smithsonian gem collection touching amethysts and coincidentally developing a craving for new jewelry.

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Oooooh, something like this would be nice.

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Here is Janette by the capital building, and no, she doesn't actually lean to the left.

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Here is a picture of Janette’s husband by one of those statues from Easter Island.

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The placard told us about how the people there spent all of this time and effort to erect statues of their important ancestors. This had some meaning for them, though we’re not sure what. Probably some primitive ritual. What simple-minded folk they must have been—then we went off to visit statues of Jefferson and Lincoln. Quite impressive, eh?
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I just had to include this picture. We will list it among the silly signs we’ve seen in our lives.

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I visited five different schools during my trip Roberto Clemente Junior High, Chester Middle School, Herndon Elementary, Herndon Junior high, and Candlewood Elementary. They were all exceptional. I have to say I’m really impressed with the librarians and kids I’ve met.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

School visits in D.C., part 1

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I’ve just come back from an amazing week in DC area. So amazing, that I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to fit it into one blog. I might have to put it up here in installments just like Dickens novels. (But with a lot less description and shorter sentences.)

The first thing: Virginia and Maryland are filled with big beautiful trees. They are everywhere. If you picked a spot and walked 100 yards in any direction, you would run into trees. As we were driving down the freeway, my husband—who grew up in Virginia—kept pointing out spots to me. “That’s the area where my scout troop camped out one year.”

I looked and saw what I’d seen along the highway for the last hour—trees.

In Arizona the only thing along the highway is rocks. Sometimes the highway people get creative and then there will be decorative rocks. I know of one place where there are colored rocks that form the shape of a lizard. There is also the occasional bush or small tree, but these were also placed there for decoration and have a drip system attached to give them water. I’m pretty sure I’ll never see any boy scouts camping along the highway while driving in Arizona.

Because of the lush vegetation back east, there is a large assortment of darling wildlife roaming around. While I was staying with my sister in Herndon, Virginia there were deer grazing in her back yard. I saw blue jays and fluffy tailed squirrels frolicking around. Even the road kill was cute—raccoons and foxes. Arizona is quite lacking in the cute wildlife category. We have lizards and scorpions. Trust me; it just isn’t the same to see these in your yard.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ex-boyfrined stories are up!

Since I’ve been running a "dish dirt on your Ex" contest, it only seems fitting that I tell some stories about the lucky (and unlucky) guys from my past. Really, as I sit here thinking about it, I realize that most of my exes were truly nice guys. I suppose this comes from trying to date nice guys in the first place. (I only went for the bad-boy type once, and then ended that relationship pretty quickly. I wanted to spend my time with guys who inspired me, not ones I had to reform.)

Still there were a few memorable guys.

The worst: David K, who broke up with me right before I went off to college. Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I spent my first night at college crying myself to sleep and wondering what was wrong with me. What a great way to start your adulthood and impress your roommates. Which is why he wins the Supreme Jerk award from my past. Hadn’t he ever heard the idea of letting long distance relationships die an easy, natural death?

Runner up: Ben C who acted like he was totally into me and then after we’d been dating a couple of weeks asked out my roommate. That’s class for you. Luckily neither I nor my roommate liked him too much (All brawn and no brain) so at least we both learned quickly what type of guy he was.

The Good Ex-boyfriend: Hmmm, it’s really hard to choose one since as I said before so many of the guys I dated were really nice. There was Eric Brown who liked me even though I met him under false pretenses. A friend of mine and I were pretending to be twins at a dance (because so many people had previously told us we looked alike—this is the sort of thing you do when you’re 16 and your names are Jeane and Janette).
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But then after concocting this tale for an entire week, I realized I liked the guy, wanted to have a relationship with him, and had to come clean and tell him the truth. (And you people wonder where I get my plot ideas from.)

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There was John Stucki who so miraculously popped into my life when I was a sophomore—and was so teenage-girl-dream-perfect that his presence alone convinced me that God loved me. One day I’ll have to write an entire essay about him. His story is definitely the stuff fiction is made of. I don’t have a picture of him. I used to have one in my wallet, but when I went to college someone stole it out of my purse. That was how good looking he was.

There was Stuart Hirschfeld, who I completely absolve of asking Jessie Lipe to prom instead of me, because after I moved away from Washington he wrote me faithfully—more faithfully than any of my girlfriends, I might add—all the way up until I got married. In an odd twist of fate, about a year ago he found my website, we caught up on old times, and I sent him all of his letters. So many were journal entries really, that they belonged with him.
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And lastly there was Devon Felsted—who took me to prom that year when Stuart went with Jessie. He still lives in my home town of Pullman, Washington and so for Revenge of the Cheerleaders, which is set there, he was my contact for all things Pullman. I was constantly besieging him with important questions like: Is the Baskin Robbins still there? How many pep-assemblies do the students have during a year? He even read the completed manuscript for accuracy. How many ex-boyfriends would go to all that work for you?
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Didn’t I tell you they were nice?

So now that I’ve gone strolling down memory lane (and thought of many more stories I’ll have to tell at some later, more extensive time period) check out some other people’s Ex stories on my website.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Advice for the rejected author

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A friend of mine from a writing list just had her manuscript accepted by her editor and then rejected by the editor's boss. She asked how the rest of us handled these sort of emotional setbacks. This was my advice:

I go for lots of chocolate. (Does that surprise anybody?) Then I think about the movie, Happy Feet. Apparently somebody okayed that movie--which in case you haven't seen it, and I don't know anyone who saw it and liked it--is about a tap dancing penguin who is ostracized because he can't sing, and tap dancing is weird. (Well you can't blame the penguins for thinking that actually.)

So he goes off in search of aliens to find out the reason why the fish population is decreasing, he's captured and put in a zoo, then released when the general public finds out he can tap dance (as opposed to selling him to the circus which is what would really happen.)

He teaches the rest of the penguin population to dance and this somehow means that people get the message to stop fishing and leave more food for the penguins. They didn't really go into the logistics as to how people deduced the meaning of this message. (Maybe they saw the penguins and thought, "Ugh! Massive tap dancing! Somehow I just lost my appetite for eating fish!")

After thinking about Happy Feet for a few minutes, it makes me realize that perhaps those Big Wigs upstairs okaying and vetoing stories really don't know what they're doing.

So don't worry about it. Someone else will love your story.

Janette, who hardly ever eats fish so can't be held responsible for starving penguins.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Worst first line contest winner--yes!

In the same spirit as the 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, one of my oldest and dearest writing friends, Kerry Blair, sponsored her own worst first line contest. The prize, besides a vintage copy of Bulwer-Lytton’s most famous work: The Last Days of Pompeii, was a fabulous six-figure cash award. (The figure is – you guessed it – $000,000!)

I am bursting with pride (sort of) to tell you all that I won. Or as my husband put it, “So this proves without a doubt that you can write badly?”

Yes, it does.

If I never receive another writing accolade (and to tell you the truth the accolade shelf in my den is pretty empty except for those World’s Best Mom pictures the kids occasionally draw me) this one will make me happy.

Here is my winning entry along with some pretty good runner’s uppers. (Or however one phrases that.)

Alicia's lips were bright red--the exact color of that little button on turkey timers that pops up when the turkey is done--only Alicia never knew that, because she was a strict vegan and just made tofu turkey on Thanksgiving, which of course doesn't have an actual little turkey timer button, but everyone else who saw her thought, "Ahh, the turkey is done."

He was in love with her, loved her like he loved lasagna, not just any lasagna, especially not the vegetarian kind, but the meaty juicy savory kind with extra cheese, and he could tell by the way her face flushed like steaming marinara sauce underneath a thick layer of melted ricotta that she must feel the same way; he only hoped that their love didn’t end like his love with lasagna always ended, filled with excruciating pain on the toilet.

Lucy’s brown eyes were like two chocolate chip cookies, only burnt and made with mint chocolate chips used rather than milk chocolate, making swirls of dirtied-green in her dark and stormy glare for only a moment ago she had received the heartbreak of her teenage life; “CHAD IZ N LUV W BRT-NY” came the ominous text from her best friend followed by an obligatory “R U OK?” Lucy was sure she would never love again.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Revisions are coming

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My editor told me that he is finishing up his revision notes for The Last Wish and will send them off to me today. He said they won't be extensive, but hmmmm, if that were the case, would it really have taken him four months to get them to me? I mean, I wrote the novel in less time.

I guess we'll see. Lucky for the Fed Ex guy, he's not required to stick around while I open the package. (And you always wondered why they rang your doorbell and then fled the scene. They're used to delivering revision notes to authors.)

Here's another thought (one that's much more cheerful); The good folks over at Reader's Digest Magazine who are always offering handy dieting tips say this: Nuts have healthy fat. Always keep a few in your pocket to stave off hunger.

So true. I like to keep my nuts wrapped in chocolate. It works every time.