Friday, March 30, 2012

Lynnie's Lost Days in LaLa Land

Subject: Re: subjectless
It was a bleak and drab day.  The ticking of the clock wore heavy in the idle room.  The rains had passed and a term of uneventfulness had set upon us.  He was tired, long hours and little sleep were sketching their mark upon him like an elephant traversing across a muddy field.  Not sure what to do, another day of the mail, coming and going, and still no sign of their efile forms.  He sat in stilled silence as the clock, unaware of his dilemma, continued on its thoughtless course...
His mind shifted to those who hadn’t even sent their info yet...

I received that email about a week ago from my CPA, who just happens to be my brother. He does my taxes. He also does my daughter's taxes, so he cc'd her rather than send a separate message.

At the time I received his email, I was exhausted, defeated, and not up to communicating on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or emails. But my brother, funny guy that he is, cracked me up. Lifted my spirits by poking fun at his sister, the writer. I embraced my lunacy and typed a reply:

And she, a thousand miles away, read his weary mind as its reverberations skittered to and fro, bouncing upon radio waves, invisible to the common eye...ZONKERS! Nailed 'er straight through one ear and out the other. Her head throbbed, along with her disabled back, injured with a stabbing twinge a fore night afore while desperately attacking another species of the cardboard clan, squarified with top flaps bulging, so crammed to the hilt. 
Her search for aforementioned info all in vane, for said important scrolls which surely would yield loot a plenty eluded her. Dreadness and darkened thoughts shot through the sorry wench's haggard being as she sought slumber to ease the gnarling aches, the seething pains, the torment that said search twas all fer naught. "Screw it!" she cried out, her very existence tottering on the edge of sanity. "On the morrow I shall search once more." But on the morrow, 'er achin' back screamed for stillness till she yielded and declared, "Dang it. Might have to call Jeff about filing an extension." 

Stay tuned for the next uneventful episode in Lynnie's Lost Days in LaLa Land...

In the meantime, my daughter had written her own reply. She hadn't read mine, but the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and she couldn't resist joining in the fun:

It was late. After a tired and long day filled with the usual household chores, running of errands, and tending to her adorable baby, she plopped down on the sofa, laptop in one hand and cozy blanket in the other. It dawned on her that it had been quite some time since she had checked her email. The gem of her inbox was a clever and well-written message which gave her quite the chuckle. Empathy soon crept in. 

That drab day. That tired man. Now she can only wonder...had the efile forms ever arrived...?

My daughter received a reply the following day:

Subject: Re: subjectless-less

The question echoed in his eyes, screaming from the monitor.  Had the efile forms ever arrived?  The normal follow up of the weary procrastinator, the inane droning bore down upon him.  Seemingly endless tasks before him, yet here he sat.  She had married a man with a fairly odd name.  He had trouble remembering it, so he thought up whimsical words so he wouldn’t forget it.  That guy Bryan, why’s he always cryin’?  Such an odd name.  And spelled with a “y”?  Why?  Y?  Per her email he had just crept in?  Empathy, the name certainly suited him better than Bryan.  The clock the only constant in the room...tic tic tic...its hands manipulated his day.
Should be deposited in a few days, received and accepted.  Love you too.
Unc J

Isn't that more fun than being seriously serious? 

One final note: My brother is a master at April Fool's jokes, but I won't be the butt of his gags this year.
Uh-uh, I'z on high alert!

Do you love to play April Fool's jokes? Have you ever been the butt of a really good one? 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme - May Duh Odds Be Ever in Yer Favor!

I loved to play tag as a kid. Did you? Now I get to play a different kind of tag. The Lucky 7 Meme game is a fun version just for writers, and I got tagged by Ginger Calem and Ruth Schiffman (cuz they can run faster than me). Once tagged, the taggee must post a tiny snippet of their current WIP (work in progress) and then tag other writers to do the same–all based on the number 7.  

To quote Ginger: "How cool is this thing?  I mean, you can get a glimpse and tease of all these novels in progress!  Love that!"

Me, too, Ginger! Thank you for the tag. And thank you, Ruth.

Be sure to go to Ruth's post at Out on a Limb. Her excerpt makes me want to find out what the heck is up with that mean girl. And Granville, is he the heart throb? I want to know what's going on with them.

Also, don't miss Ginger's post at I Am Blogger...Hear Me Tweet and read an excerpt from her young adult novel. It's good. Really good (just like her blog), but...she leaves us hanging with a page turner, only we don't get to turn the page until it's published! No fair, I say, but dah rules is dah rules, and here they are, the Rules of the Lucky 7 Meme:
1. Go to page 77 of your current manuscript/WIP. 
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 authors, and let them know.

This is an excerpt from my YA novel. Leslie reflects on her lousy day. I'll need to revise this many times before it's ready to publish, but here goes:

              All I wanted was to see the love of my life, and I woke up with the zit from hell, ended up in this filthy dump, and found Tina sleeping next to Anchovie. He whisked me into a car with his reckless brother, who insulted me and drove like a maniac.
It was pure torture meeting Anchovie’s rude mother and sister, and I wanted to die when I gagged on the hair in my spaghetti. I sweated like a pig waiting for the Pink Bus, then got dunked in icy waves, only to surface and find Anchovie gaping at my shriveled, naked chest. And why'd Chuck make me haul butt to help out with Tina? She just wanted to kill me. Then Dee jumped all over me like it was my fault Tina lost her marbles.
            Oh my God, my God, I'm losin' it. What should I do? RUN! a voice inside me screamed. So I did. I bolted out of that dung heap as fast as I could. 

I think this is more fun than playing the Lucky 7 slot machines that seldom pay off! Finding a snippet of a blogger's WIP is like discovering hidden treasure! We are lucky to get a peek at the gold nuggets  they're mining. 
My Lucky 7 picks are:
Are you as excited as I am to uncover those pieces of eightseven treasures they're going to share with us? I hope so.

After we finish playing tag, is anyone up for a game of Red Rover, Red Rover? How about Duck, Duck, Goose?  


Monday, March 26, 2012

No Ifs, Ands, or Head Butts - Parenting Plights & Delights

I recently posted this comment on my Facebook page:

"Today a grandmother got headbutted twice by her grandson. Then he grabbed a chunk of skin on her neck and pinched her and spit in her face and laughed his head off. 

"That grandmother is me and it was my six-month-old grandbaby...."

Did you know that a ten-pound baby's headbutt has enough force to break your nose? Yep, it's true. I bet many of you have some good headbutt stories to share!

Punkin was falling asleep at my birthday dinner. 
You'd never guess he can be such a feisty little guy.

I asked my friends if they had any experience in the headbutting department and got some good responses:

Tami Cubillas said: "Oh yeah! Shane headbutted me backwards when he was little and now I have a deviated septum... Not fun nor nice!"
Here's Tami with Shane on his 16th birthday. 
Those head butt days are long gone.

Delores Cervera said: "Lynn, yours and my granddaughter gave us many star-seeing headbutts that brought tears to your eye. And when she'd grab your face with both hands and her mouth open, you didn't know if she wanted to kiss you or bite you...Babies are the most wonderful things that God could ever give you."
Delores and her granddaughter, now two years old. 
(She's my darling granddaughter, too.) 
Little Twinkle Eyes looks perfectly harmless to me!

Ashlee Craig said: "Hawk is like a pin ball machine. He goes side to side trying to knock his brother, sister, dad and I out. He laughs the whole time. At first it was funny but now we all have headaches."
The Craig family
Baby Hawk loves to play head games!

My sister-in-law, Debbie, said: "The hardest thing EVER to watch is when these little ones are doing their 'tummy-time' and headbutt the floor! I have laminate flooring and, of course, use a double layer of comforters but still: so hard to see this happen."

My brother, Jeff, came up with an easy solution: "Just duct tape a pair of socks to their foreheads and let them do their thing." 

I'd like to see that idea put into practice. Not! :)
Debbie with her two grandchildren,
(my great-nephew and great-niece).

So far I've done pretty good dodging Punkin's headbutts. The two he gave me weren't full force. I can't afford to have a tooth knocked out or my jaw broken, so I'm super careful. I learned the hard way years ago when my middle daughter was two and headbutted me. I was lying on the couch and she was standing on the floor in front of me. I was dozing off and then, BAM! It felt like a stick of dynamite ignited on my left eye. 
She had thrown herself backwards (just for fun) and nailed me with the back of her head. I screamed and scared the heck out of her. She ran upstairs and hid in her room while I continued to freak out. In this photo, the black eye is almost gone. It took three days for it to even show up - a deep blue and purple, as I remember. 

The ironic part is that back then I did volunteer work a couple hours a week at a home for battered women. When Sister Clare, the director, saw my black eye, she frowned and asked what happened.

I explained how my two-year-old headbutted me. Sister Clare didn't believe me. I knew she thought my husband was abusive. She questioned me further, and I told her that I sat my daughter on my lap and had my husband take a picture to put in her baby book. Sister believed me at last. 

My daughter is 26 now. My left eye often throbs if I have a sinus headache. It's been extra sensitive ever since that injury. 

Have you ever been on the wrong end of a head butt?

Do you have a parenting or grandparenting memory
or another story you'd like to share? 
If you're not a parent, memories from your own childhood count, too! 

Warning: I might feature your story in a future post. 
(Names can be changed to protect the guilty!)

I'd like to thank all those who have shared their stories. 
These posts wouldn't be the same without your input.

If you don't want to leave a comment but would rather contact me by email, 
here's my address: lynkelwoohoo at yahoo dot com.

Friday, March 23, 2012

It Never Snows in California, Does It?

Tuesday welcomed the first day of spring, a favorite season for many who live in harsh climates. They breathe a sigh of relief when the thaw begins.  

Many people hate shoveling snow and driving in it so much that they've moved to Southern California where you can go all year without seeing a single flake, unless you take a drive to the mountains.  

Below, my Monster Moon co-authors Kathy Sant and Maria Toth join the kids at Valadez Middle School Academy in Placentia, California for some flaky fun on a warm October day in 2010 at the Read for the Record event. Students at schools across the country read A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.
Artificial snow machines kicked on and sprinkled them 
with white flakes floating out of the blue California sky! 

Actually, it was bubble machines up on the roof, and the flakes weren't even cold. Some of the kids had never experienced real snow and wouldn't know the difference. However, there was one patch of actual snow on the school grounds that had been trucked in. The small mound was high enough for a short sled ride. Just enough for the kids to get the drift of what the frozen white stuff's all about.

There's something about those delicate icy flakes that seem magical.
About 25 years ago, Highland, California was treated to a little sprinkle.
It barely started snowing, but our kids bundled up and ran outside to play in it. 
See the tiny white specks? They melted right after they hit the ground! 

In 2007 most of Southern California got a good layer of the real deal. Newsclips showed families in Malibu building snowmen and making angel imprints. It wasn't heavy enough to snow anyone in, but many established trees and plants throughout the southland couldn't tolerate the cold snap and died.

In December 2008, our third year living in the High Desert of Southern California, we got snowed in. The cities don't have snow plows. Puck couldn't get to work, so he went in the jacuzzi with his dad and had a brewski.

Look at that pathetic snowman in the background!

"Snowmen fall from heaven... unassembled."  ~Author Unknown

Our dogs had never seen snow before. They were happier under the patio cover, where it was dry and they didn't freeze their paws off.


Trivia question:  How big were the largest snowflakes recorded in the USA?
Answer: Fifteen inches in diameter in the state of Montana.

Although I live in a mild climate, I'm happy to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring. It's my favorite time of year, with its gentle breezes, warm sunny days, and new growth. How about you? What's your favorite season and why?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

GPS - Get Punked System

Many people think GPS stands for Global Positioning System, but if you've been misguided or lead off the beaten highway by your GPS, you know as well as I do it really stands for Get Punked System!
A GPS can drive you crazy!

My sense of direction sucks big time. I'll exit a restaurant rest room and turn the wrong way to get back to my table. It's easy enough to backtrack on foot, but not so much when driving.  I thought my traveling woes were over the day hubby bought me a GPS. I named it Beverly.

Here it is a year later and I believe GPS gadgets are programmed by practical jokers. Actually, I'm convinced of it. Here's a common scenario when I'm trying to follow Beverly's directions:

About a minute into my set destination, Beverly announces: Lost satellite reception.

Of course you did, Beverly.

I find the freeway, no thanks to Beverly, and I know I'm headed the right way when she picks up reception again and instructs me to turn left on Blah Blah Street.

Uh, hello, Beverly, I'm already on the freeway. 

Turn right on West Avenue.

Earth to Beverly, I said I'm already on the freeway.


Good idea, Beverly.

You are headed the wrong direction. You need to make a U-turn.

I don't think so. What the heck?

Lost satellite reception.

What a surprise.

Isn't my GPS a gem? What a sucker!

My brother told me about one time when he and his wife were traveling in an unfamiliar city. Their GPS instructed them to exit the freeway, navigated them a few miles away, turning here and there, then guided them back onto the freeway in the same area it had them exit. How bizarre.

I've learned I can't depend on Beverly. She'll punk me for sure, so I look up directions ahead of time whenever possible just to have an idea of where I'm going.

It's wise to have a paper map as a backup. That way, you can avoid the mistake three young Japanese tourists made a few days ago. They were visiting Australia and trusted their GPS to guide them from the mainland to North Stradbroke Island.

Things looked fine and dandy in low tide, so they continued straight ahead as the voice instructed. Even when the water got deeper and muddier, the voice announced, "Continue driving ahead." They did and became stuck in the Pacific Ocean. The GPS failed to notify them of the nine miles of mud and water between their location on the mainland and their island destination. Here's a video clip from ABC:

The clip also mentions the funny GPS mishap in an episode of The Office and some real life GPS disasters:

  • A woman headed to a hotel in Washington state, who ended up in a swamp
  • A 12-foot-high bus that was lead into a nine-foot-high bridge
  • A UK man who almost drove off a cliff thanks to his GPS directions
  • A wrecking crew in Georgia that demolished a house at the wrong address, thanks to a GPS

Do you have a GPS? Did you give yours a name? What name? Do you talk to your GPS? Have you had any bad experiences you'd like to share? I love to hear from you!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Haley Whitehall - Historical Fiction Author

I'm pleased and honored to have Haley Whitehall guest posting today. Haley has wonderful news to share with us, but first she's going to tell us a little about herself.
Okay, take it away, Haley:

Why Historical Fiction?

Many people have asked me why I write historical fiction. The simple answer is because I love history and historical fiction is a natural fit. But, there is more to it than that. I want to do more than entertain with my stories; I want to teach.

I think historical fiction is one of the most misunderstood genres. Historical fiction is not the same thing as the dry history textbook you read in high school. Historical fiction is more than just the facts. That is where the fiction comes in ;)

Many people fell asleep in history class. Ever watched the Jaywalking segment on the Tonight Show? It is amazing how little some people know about history. Okay it is more than amazing; it is downright scary.

I hope historical fiction can help fill in the holes! I want to put my B.A in history to work.

Writing historical fiction, I can bring history to life. I happen to be drawn to the nineteenth century U.S. The Civil War, Pony Express, Oregon Trail, cowboys on the Chrisom Trail… I love it all. I love imagining the landscape dry, dusty, and dreary or bright, beautiful and blossoming. I have the power to bring the terrible troubles of a war torn country to life or the triumphs of a nation celebrating peace and prosperity.

I throw my fictional characters into true historical conflicts. Each character has a set of traits: strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, habits. I watch my characters struggle and grow in this historical setting. Perhaps, I’m a little bit like a mad scientist.

I base my fictional characters on a combination of real people, although most are unknown in popular history. Some historical fiction writers choose to write fictional events in the life of famous authentic historical people, but I like to tell the story of the common man. I like to expose untold or little known historical stories or events. It is like one of those Dateline stories that uncover the truth. I dig deep for my stories.

My debut novel Living Half Free follows the life of a mulatto slave, who falls in love with a Cherokee woman, and passes as white. But, he must find his voice, and the courage to stand up for his beliefs or else lose everyone he loves forever.

Because I write historical fiction to teach history, I am careful at what I embellish. I pay close attention to manner of speech, dress, work, personal behaviors, settings, and interactions with other characters. I try to make them authentic for the time period as much as possible. Historical fiction is not easy. Every detail can be scrutinized by the reader which makes research time consuming and important.

I not only write historical fiction, I continue to read it too. (Every Monday I review a historical fiction book on my blog.) There are many periods of history I am not particularly interested in -- the Dust Bowl for instance. If I am going to learn about this sad time, the first place I will turn is a historical fiction novel. It is a lot more fun than Wikipedia!

Have you read historical fiction to learn about history? Have you learned history from a historical novel without even knowing it? If you write historical fiction, why did you choose that genre?

            HALEY WHITEHALL has been studying the Civil War era since the 5th grade. Her writing 
style is Mark Twain with a little more faith. She likes to write out of the box stories that feature an underdog. LIVING HALF FREE is her debut novel. Released February 29, the ebook can be found at AmazonB&N, and SmashwordsFind out more about Haley through her website or connect with her on Twitter @HaleyWhitehall or Facebook.

Congratulations on your debut novel, Haley! *Bells and whistles! Champagne corks popping!* Please join us in celebrating this exciting milestone in her career. LIVING HALF FREE is only $2.99. Buy it now! Seriously, her writing rocks. And she's always willing to help fellow writers, so check out her blog and connect with her on Twitter. 
She started the Twitter hashtag #lightonhistory, so if you want to hang out with other historical writers (fiction and nonfiction), be sure to use #lightonhistory. Such a helpful bunch of tweeps!