Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Heather Kelly wanted to know if it was a direct line to the President, and J.E.M. wondered if it contacted Batman. That's the look we were going for! :) However, the phone is really part of the intercom system my husband installed in the house. The phones all call each other -- you just dial the extension for the room you want.
Here is the phone in Gina's room.
And there's even another Red Phone inside the Playhouse under the basement steps. (Ooh, remind me to tell you sometime how the Playhouse became the Murder House during the reign of Maui the Rabbit Killer ...)
I have a phone, too, but it's not very fancy. Bob is on the lookout for a more stylish, steampunk model.
Anyway, that's the story behind the phones. It's awesome to have such a creative husband! He's always coming up with some clever thing to make our home more interesting.
Monday, August 29, 2011
There were raffles of books and swag.
There was a goldmine of donated books for PA librarians to take (free of charge!) back to their libraries.
And of course, there were lots of YA authors signing their books. I enjoyed seeing April Lindner and Josh Berk again. (We met at the Drexel University event back in May.) There were authors back from last year, like Shannon Delany. And I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Shaw, Leah Clifford, Charlotte Bennardo, and Natalie Zaman – plus K.M. Walton whose book Cracked comes out in January of 2012. (She and I had only met electronically before!)
I walked away with signed copies of Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman and The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk. (But there are plenty more titles in my head I plan to check out on my Kindle.)
By the time I left the event, it was raining – but just a normal kind of rain. Plenty of time to get home, kick back with one of my new books, and wait for the storm to roll in!
As for Irene, her destruction was minimal in our area of southeastern Pennsylvania. No trees down in my yard, nothing broken or damaged. The power went out around 4am and was out for about 9 hours. We had a generator to power our refrigerators, so we viewed it mostly as an inconvenience and didn't have to worry about our food.
The scariest moment of the whole storm for me was when I walked outside the basement door into our sheltered patio by the goldfish pond and nearly stepped on a 6 inch black snake. I know he was just a little fellow sheltering from the storm, but I screamed and nearly climbed straight up a brick wall! *shudder*
Hope all my friends in the Bloggerverse survived the storm as well as I did.
Friday, August 26, 2011
I DID NOT take a before picture. I would have been ashamed to show you.
But here are the AFTER pictures! "The Lounge" is now a room where the girls can hang out and read, write, or chat ...
... have a jam session with their friends ...
... and I'm happy to report that all the "little girl" stuff is not entirely gone.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Can anyone identify this species of fish?
About three years ago, approximately 2 dozen of these fish appeared suddenly in our pond. They were about ½ inch long when we first spotted them, and in the past 3 years, they’ve grown to 7-9 inches. Before anyone asks, our pond is a closed system with an upper pond …
… and a lower pond joined by a pump.
These fish look nothing like any other fish we have, so they weren’t babies of our existing fish. It’s as if they just dropped from the sky (or outer space). Now, my friend Kelley Crist did admit to sneaking into our yard when we weren’t home one year and depositing a bucket of frogs in our pond (No, I don’t know why, either. Ask her.), but she adamantly denies delivering these fish.
They are all dark-green to black in color. Some of them have a silver streak along their backs at the base of the top fin. (Military rank?) We wanted to catch one of those to photograph, but they were too quick. Our regular goldfish are dumb enough to be caught by a net again and again, but not these mystery fish and especially the striped ones. (It’s as if their mother ship warned them about this.)
Now, brace yourself for the weirdest part of this story. In the fall of the year they first appeared, we decided to drain the upper pond and clear out the algae. As the water level dropped, we discovered another of these fish – living all by himself, upstream, in the upper pond. He was twice as big as the others (because he was their leader).
One more interesting point: When our pond was robbed of all the largest fish this spring (by a heron, a juvenile delinquent, or the Fish Rapture – don’t know which), these fish all escaped harm. They are all still here.
If anyone can tell me what kind of fish this is – or make up a
plausible interesting story about how they got in my pond – I’d love to hear from you!
Friday, August 19, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
When I first saw Google+ hitting the news and started getting invitations to join, I groaned. Facebook, yes. Twitter, I’m there. But ANOTHER ONE? I didn’t think I could do it. So, I deleted all the invitations and said, “The social networks stop here.”
But then, Tina Laurel Lee suggested a Google+ Hangout for our TPR group. If you’re not familiar with TPR (The Practice Room), check it out here. The brainchild of Tina Laurel Lee, TPR is basically a way to write in the company of other writers, separately but together, in a designated 1-hour session of concentration (no phones, TV’s, or internet allowed) and chat about it afterwards.
Google+ Hangout gives TPR a way to meet (occasionally) in a visual chat for a writing session. Imagine the Brady Bunch heads in their little square boxes, only everybody is busy writing in their boxes – taking a break every 25 minutes to chat, throw out a question, share a breakthrough or a frustration – and then returning to another writing session. People arrive and leave as suits their schedule. One of our Hangouts lasted for 2 hours of writing, with designated "water cooler" breaks to share.
So far, we’ve done this twice, and we’re planning another session for this Friday, August 19 at 2pm EST. (This is a change of date since my original posting -- We wanted to avoid conflicting with Write On Con.) If you’re interested in attending, contact me or Heather Kelly (Tina’s on vacation) for an invitation. Since this is my last week of summer vacation (quiet sob), I hope to set up some evening Hangouts once the school year begins, for those of us unable to make the afternoon EST times.
Okay, so I broke down and joined Google+, but the Hangout is the only thing I’ve done with it. Tell me, blogging friends, what else is it good for? I’d love to know what (if anything) you’ve done with it!
Friday, August 12, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
“Will,” a voice spoke softly, breaking the silence that had only moments before surrounded his thoughts.
Looking up, a small yet noticeable yawn escaping from his lips, the young man quickly found himself greeted by a familiar face.
“Is there anything I can get for you?” the flight stewardess asked, flashing a large smile.
It was the same smile from before.
Straightening up from his slouched position, he shook his head, “Thank you, but it’s alright. I’m fine.”
"Are you sure?" she said eyeing him, "There aren't many your age who can handle flying alone so easily."
"Yes," he nodded, flashing back a timid smile of his own, "Quite sure."
“Okay, but remember, if you should need anything, anything at all, I’m only a wave away,” she winked.
He gave another nod.
As the woman continued to move down the aisle of the plane, passing his seat and the vacant one behind, he let his eyes gradually follow after her. She had been the first person to greet him when he and the other passengers had boarded. Being as nervous as he was, he had blurted out his own name immediately upon seeing her. With a laugh she had welcomed him and politely replied with her own.
“Susan…” he whispered to no one in particular.
She was from Britain, the same as himself.
Yorkshire, to be exact.
Turning his head back to the window, he continued to stare out at the alien view that lay beyond the pane of glass.
“We should be approaching the Almaza Airport very soon,” spoke one of the flight attendants after peaking her head inside the pilot’s cockpit.
‘Cairo,’ he thought with a mix of anxious and nervous heart beats.
My first thought is that I’d like to visualize the setting a little more clearly, since I know it's historical. Although I’m sure the year will become clear once Will disembarks in Cairo, there could still be some hints here. For example, Will might see propellers on the wings of the plane out a window, feel the throb of the engines, or even straighten his tie and suit coat when he wakes up, (I imagine that is what he might be wearing in the 1940’s). These details will give us the sense right from the start of the time period. It will also explain the solicitousness of the stewardess, for Will is obviously not a small child needing her attention.
It might also be nice to have a more intimate glimpse of his thoughts, if only the tiniest hint of why he’s traveling to Cairo on his own – or excitement about the flight itself if this is his first time. (Is he sorry to have slept through part of it?) I want to like this polite young man, flying without any family with Egypt, and giving me a peek inside his head will help me connect with him right away.
In editing notes, “peaking” should be “peeking” and I would drop the word “gradually” from “let his eyes gradually follow after her” because I think it reads more smoothly without it.
Overall, the combination of World War II, Cairo, this young man, and the designation of the novel as “fantasy” pique my curiosity about the story! Thanks, Matt, for sharing your work with us. Readers, please check out Marcy’s critique on Mainewords – as well as Matt’s website. You can also find him on Twitter.
Friday, August 5, 2011
So now I cling to the east stone wall of the Lebanese embassy in DC with a diplomatic document pouch hanging from my belt.
I am overly conscious of the two security cameras aimed at my back, despite the full-body black catsuit with matching ski-mask that Draconic Intelligence Command (or, as I liked to call it, DIC) requires me to wear. Sirens blare, telling me security already knows we are here, but I still can’t let them see my face. And, more importantly, I can’t let them see me change.
Beside me, Wallace scrabbles, then loses his balance and falls twenty feet to the ground, hitting the wall at least twice in the process. Rookie. His breath comes fast, but he is uninjured. He could probably fall from three times that height without a scratch.
“Kitty." Even his whisper has a British accent. He lies sprawled on the immaculate lawn of the Embassy and slowly makes his way to his feet. “I can’t make it without changing.”
“No!” I yell, then catch myself and lower my voice to something more like a hiss. “Absolutely not. Do you have any idea how many cameras are on you right now?”
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Must keep running. Have to get out of here. Have to get out of here.