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Less than two months ago, I got this note:
April, I can't begin to explain how much of a role model you are to me. I love all of your books; especially Girl, Stolen:) Recently, my dad passed away and my house burned down. And I look to your books and you inspire me to finish and accomplish a book I have been working on. I have been writing a kidnapping novel hence you are my favorite. I never thought i would see myself as a writer, and you have showed me that you can do anything and accomplish my dreams. One day I hope to have my book published and I would LOVE to send a copy to you and get your approval. I can't begin to explain again about how much you mean to me and how skilled you are.
I sent her back a box of all my books, signed. But I wanted to do more. Maybe a Skype visit? But her librarian, Jessie McGaffin, had other plans, as you can read about here: http://nevadaiowajournal.com/news/bestselling-author-visits-nms.html
Thank you so much
Your #1 fan, Carlie
When I wrote back, I found out that Carlie was only 13, and that just a month earlier her dad had set their house on fire and then killed himself. This girl had lost so much, yet she was sending love to me.
April in a nutshell:
*Tea to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday, complete with fancy hats, delectables and the host's delightful collection of royal memorabilia.
*More stitching/painting in between deadlines. I'm planning a shop update next month (more, later).
* A trip to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
with friends. Despite the relative proximity, I never make it down to Boston (confession: I'm terrified of city driving). But thanks to the commuter rail out of Newburyport, the Green Line and traveling companions with a better navigational sense than my own, the trip was all smooth sailing.
* New episodes of Grantchester
* And a visit from a brand new nephew. Which makes all in all for a pretty solid thirty days.
Wow! Meet Isabelle Varga, the model pictured on the cover of The Body in the Woods. She recently contacted me to let me know that she is not only on the cover, she is also a fan. So of course I asked her a bunch of questions.
Q. How did you get into modeling?
A. I started modeling right before I turned 15. I was competing for Miss New Jersey Teen USA and a photographer who was doing my headshot for the pageant called an agency and I was signed as a model.
Q. Are you still in school?
A. I go to high school and take off when I get called to work. It was hard at first to balance modeling and school but I learned to do all of my homework in the car or on set at lunch break. I also learned to get ahead of assignments on weekends if I knew I was booked for a job that following week. My time management skills are really good from working.
Q. Do you have to be accompanied by an adult?
A. My mom always came with me to the shoots. Now that I am almost 19 I drive myself to most shoots. I am fortunate to work with the same clients so I know the team very well.
Q. How much did you know about the book before you did the shoot?
A. When I was called to shoot for your book cover I didn't know much until I got to the studio. The photographer, Jonathan Barkat, was shooting several different covers at once. I was told the name of the book at the shoot. I was not allowed to take any pictures since it was not going to be released for several months.
Q. How much of what you see on the cover is real and how much was done in Photoshop?
A. It was an awesome shoot....the dirt and ferns were real and they were piled around me and on me as I lay on the floor. They did several different poses until they found the one they liked best. The eyeshadow was real and it was super cool to see the images on the computer. I did not see the final image until it came out.
Q. How long did it take?
A. The shoot took about 7 hours because several covers for other books were shot simultaneously. Your cover probably took about 2-3 hours. It was a lot of putting the dirt and ferns on me then taking them off to move positions then covering me again.
Q. Do you like modeling? What do you plan to do after you graduate high school?
A. I absolutely love modeling. It has been an amazing experience to work with some of the best photographers and makeup artists in the world. I absolutely loved shooting your cover. The first time I saw it in Barnes and Noble was incredibly fun. All of my friends texted me when it came out. I also loved shooting a Canon commercial which aired in Tokyo. I am very fortunate to have been exposed to different cultures and amazing adults who have helped shaped me into the person I am today. I have a very strong work ethic which started when I began modeling. I was just accepted into college and I will attend Bentley University in MA in Sept. I am going to study Marketing and Media and Culture in college with a minor in management. I hope to work for a major fashion company one day in their marketing department. I also plan to compete in more pageants and hope to be Miss USA one day.
Do you need a round rock today? I found this one while I was running.
When I was a toddler, my folks were having hard times. My dad was working at an all-news radio station that was going down the tubes (and would soon fire all the reporters and become an all-rock-and-roll station). He had chased jobs across four states, and my parents were so broke they couldn't even afford a stroller.
My grandmother came to visit and later went for a walk. She bounded back into the house, calling, "Nora, guess what?" She was so excited that my mom thought she must have figured out some way to solve their problems. Instead, she handed my mom a rock, exclaiming in amazement over how round it was.
After she left, my mom laughed until she cried (or maybe it was cried until she laughed). She carried that rock in her purse for years, and there were times there was no money in the purse, just the rock. But she always said, if all else failed, she had a round rock.
In my family, it's an honor to go through hard times and earn your round rock. So if you're in need of a round rock today, think of this one as yours.
हॉरर धारावाहिक, हमारी जिंदगी और मृत्यु का रहस्य Tv पर चाहे खबरों हो, बहस हो या चैनल पर आने वाले धारावाहिक हो हर तरफ हॉरर ही हॉरर है .. देख कर डर ही लग जाता है… इसलिए सोचा कि थोडी देर मणि से मिल आती हूं… मणि अपने पडोस के घर से अभी लौटी थी. […]
The post हॉरर धारावाहिक, हमारी जिंदगी और मृत्यु का रहस्य appeared first on Monica Gupta.
By: Mayra Calvani
Blog: Mayra's Secret Bookcase
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Genre: Tween Fiction (Middle Grade Fiction) Publisher: Blue Dragon Publishing The debut release in Dawn Brotherton’s Lady Tigers series, Trish’s Team is a terrific new young adult tale featuring Trish Murphy. A member of the Blue Birds, a recreational fastpitch softball team for 11 and 12 year old girls, Trish Murphy longs to be a member of the Lady Tigers, the elite travel team comprised of the best of the best players in the area. When she is presented with the opportunity to try out for the team, Trish jumps at the chance. There’s just one small problem—it seems Trish’s parents don’t understand her love of the game. Chances are they’ll be even less understanding and when they find out that team practice conflicts with Trish’s orchestra practice… But being part of the Lady Tigers—and nurturing newfound friendships with the other team members—is Trish’s top priority. When she tries to pull a fast one to get what she wants without considering the consequences, Trish puts everything in jeopardy. Trish’s decision could ultimately affect more than just the game: it could affect her friends. Along the way, Trish discovers that being a part of the Lady Tigers is about much more than playing fastpitch softball: it’s about being a part of a team. But Trish may have to learn a painful lesson. After all, it really isn’t if you win or lose, but it’s how you play the game. Trish Murphy stood in center field and brushed her brown bangs off her forehead with the back of her right hand. Frowning in concentration, she waited for the next pitch. In front of her, Ashley stepped onto the pitcher’s mound, hesitated only briefly, and then spun her right arm in a clockwise motion to deliver a good-looking pitch. Smack. The ball sailed toward center field. Racing forward, Trish got under it, just like the coach had shown her. Plop. It landed snugly in her glove for an easy out. “Nice catch, Trish!” Coach Tim called from the dugout. She smiled and threw the ball to the infield. It was a beautiful throw, yet it bounced out of the second baseman’s glove and rolled to the pitcher. Rolling her eyes in frustration, Trish hurried back to her spot in the outfield. Trish watched as, on the mound, Ashley took the signal from the catcher. Nodding, Ashley positioned the ball inside her glove, stood tall on her wind up, and fired the ball to the exact low-inside location the catcher had indicated. “Strike one,” the umpire called. Shifting her stance to the right slightly so she could look around the pitcher’s back, Trish waited to see where the next pitch would cross the plate. She was betting it would be low and outside this time. “Strike two!” she heard across the plush grass that lay before her. Yep, low and outside, she thought, grinning. Ashley was a pretty good pitcher, and with Alisha catching for her, they were a great team. Trish knew the next pitch would be a change-up, high and inside. She smiled as the batter was caught off guard, swinging before the ball had even reached the plate. “Strike three! Batter’s out!” the ump called. “Yes!” the team cheered as they raced for the dugout. Coach Tim met them as they ran off the field, holding his hand out for high-fives. “Come on, girls, gather around. Nice catch out there, Trish. Beautiful strike-outs, Ashley. We’re behind by one run. Let’s swing some sticks.” The Blue Birds was a recreational fast-pitch softball team for 11- and 12-year-old girls that only played 10 games a summer. The coaches were volunteers and mostly dads of the girls on the team. Trish felt lucky that she was on Coach Tim’s team. Some of the dads didn’t even know how to play softball, let alone teach the girls to play. Coach Tim was different. He had played baseball in college, so at least he knew the game. Trish glanced around the softball complex hoping her mom might be there. She didn’t really expect to see her, but she was disappointed anyway. She heard a loud cheer come from the field behind where the Blue Birds were playing. She saw the orange and black uniforms of the Lady Tigers. Trish sighed. She would love to play for the Tigers. The coaches only picked the best-of-the-best players for the travel softball team. They played ball almost every weekend in long tournaments. “Head in the game, Trish,” Coach Tim said, refocusing her attention on her own team. “Come on, Becky, you can do it!” Trish yelled to the leadoff batter. Trish turned to read the lineup hanging on the fence. It was the top of the line-up. Trish grabbed her helmet and bat. She was batting fourth. Hearing the crack of the bat, she looked up in time to see Becky hit a short pop-up to the third baseman. The player tried to catch it, but the ball dropped in front of her, and Becky beat out the throw to first. “Batter up!” The umpire seemed in a hurry to keep the game moving. Clara quickly stepped inside the chalk-outlined rectangle of the batter’s box. The pitch came quickly on the inside corner. “Strike one.” Clara stepped out and took a few practice swings. She settled into the box again. It turned into a long wait as the pitcher threw four balls in a row. Clara jogged to first; Becky went to second. Trish watched in anticipation as Samantha moved toward home plate for her turn at bat. Trish put on a helmet and stepped out of the dugout to take a few practice swings, getting her timing down for the pitches. Samantha stepped into the box. She was tall so the outfielders backed up, anticipating that she would hit the ball far. Crack. The ball flew over the third baseman’s head, landing in the grass. The left fielder raced in and scooped up the ball, preventing the runners from scoring. Bases loaded. No outs. Trish stepped into the box. She knew she didn’t look very impressive. At only four-foot-six, she hadn’t reached her full height by a long shot. Her legs were long, slender, and solid muscle. She was used to people underestimating her, but she liked it that way. It usually worked to her advantage. Trish settled in as the pitcher began her wind up. The pitch came in. Way inside. Trish leaped out of the way. The next pitch was outside, and the catcher missed it. Becky raced past Trish to cross the plate as the fans cheered. “Just a base hit, Trish,” her coach called. “You can do it, Trish!” The fans were all cheering her on. She kept her concentration on the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand. The pitch was coming in perfect, right down the middle, ideal height. It was slow, so Trish looked at it again. It had a weird spin. She didn’t swing. Right before the plate, it dropped. “Ball three.” Trish was thankful for the many hours of extra batting practice Coach Tim had spent with her. He had shown her how to truly watch the ball. The next pitch was almost the same, but it didn’t appear to be spinning. Smack. It went over the second baseman, missing the right fielder’s glove and rolled all the way to the fence for a triple. Clara and Samantha scored as Trish rounded the bases. The fans were cheering. The score now read, “Blue Birds: 9; Redhawks: 7.” “Nice hit, Trish,” Coach Tim said, smiling broadly. Trish’s grin lit up her face. She clapped her hands and cheered on the next batter from third base. Alisha hit a nice single to left center field that allowed Trish to score. The girls lined up to high-five her as she came into the dugout. Ashley hit a fly ball to right field that cost them an out, but moved Alisha to third. Amber grounded out on a hit to second base, leaving Alisha in place. Ton-Lou flew out to left field to end the inning. The girls were in high spirits because they were winning, and the other team only had one more chance to bat. “Good inning, ladies; let’s hit the field. Hold them for three more outs,” the coach said. The first Redhawk hit the ball to Lexi on second base who easily picked it up and threw her out at first. Trish was a little nervous when the other team’s number four batter stepped to the plate. She was tall for a 12-year-old and had already hit it to the fence once this game. She took a few steps back and angled toward left field. Ashley delivered the pitch low and inside. The batter got under the ball, and it went high into foul territory on the left field side. Much to Trish’s surprise, Ashley put the next pitch in the same place. This time the batter swung and missed. Trish smiled. She knew the coaches called the pitches from the dugout. She would have to ask Coach Tim why he called two in a row the same way. That wasn’t very common. She liked to learn as much as she could about the strategy of softball, not just the technique. The third and final pitch stayed low but to the outside corner. The batter swung but didn’t even come close. Two outs. The number five batter had hit the ball to center field twice already in previous innings so Trish was ready. The batter let the first pitch go by but got ahold of the second. It was a long fly ball to deep center field. Trish immediately turned her body and began to run toward the fence. She ran full out, praying her left fielder would be there to back her up if she missed it. At the last possible second, Trish dove at where she predicted the ball would be, capturing it in her glove as she hit the ground. That ended the game; final score was 10-7, Blue Birds. The girls cheered enthusiastically. Trish couldn’t stop smiling as the coach and other girls clapped her on the back as they lined up to shake hands with the Redhawks. Even some of the opposing team members congratulated her on such a great catch. It felt wonderful!
She looked around at the crowd waiting outside the fence, but there was no sign of her parents. Trish wished that they had been there to witness her final catch.
February so far, in a pictorial nutshell.
My first diary was a Peter Rabbit journal with a lock and key that I kept in first grade. I think I only managed to fill up about 15 pages of the 365 available. Flipping through it a few months ago I was appalled at my, shall we say, "creative spelling." But entries about the Tooth Fairy and staying the night at my grandparents still hold up.
As a teenager, I became a more regimented diarist, detailing each day's events in cramped, school-girl script. When I went away to college, I shifted from keeping a diary to writing daily emails home, a way to combat homesickness. And then there was the first awkward attempt at blogging my senior year, a Microsoft Frontpage document (cringe) that I updated daily and is mercifully no longer available on the internet. I remember vaguely writing about miniature marshmallows in cocoa and CD purchases that I will not now publicly admit.
It seems on a weekly basis that articles about THE DEATH OF BLOGGING pop up -- insert disaster sound effects. And while wonderful alternate forms of communication do rise to the surface, there's something about blogging that still seems comforting. I guess in a way, it doesn't feel so very different from that Peter Rabbit diary at the end of the day. Except I'm not reviewing episodes of "Jem and the Holograms." Or should I?
Question from a reader
I am an aspiring author (I checked out your FAQ page so don't worry about me asking you to read something of mine). I loved Girl, Stolen! I wanted to ask how you wrote about Cheyenne being blind? I was wondering if you knew someone who was blind, if you did extensive research, or if you just trusted your gut and thought about how you would feel? I was reading something from another author who said you should only write about things you've experienced, but as a pretty sheltered 16 year old there isn't a lot I've experienced. I was wondering if you followed the same rule.
You don’t have to write only what you know. I’ve heard “write what you want to know” and I think that’s more true.
Years ago, before I was published, I started writing a book from the POV of two middle-aged male Southerners who are identical twins, one of whom is paralyzed. (Not sure I had even been to the South - and I was younger, female, and not paralyzed. Oh, and not a twin.) That wasn’t the best idea. I think I thought it was more “writerly” to write a character I totally had to make up.
I am not blind and at the time I started writing Girl, Stolen, I did not know anyone who was. But I had just seen a news story that was basically the first few minutes of Girl, Stolen (the real girl was let go after 10 minutes) and I knew it would make a great book.
I think if you are going to write about someone who is not like you (especially someone who is in the minority), you should try really hard to get it right. So while I could walk around my house with eyes closed and think about what it would be like to be blind, I knew that wasn’t enough. So:
- I read books by people who had gone blind. (And I was lucky, because there are a LOT! Understandably, it’s a dramatic thing)
- I interviewed blind people and asked them to read the book when it was done.
- I got a white cane and learned basic caning technique.
- I went to the guide dog school for the blind and spent a day there.
And I also trusted my gut and thought about how I would feel.
I think it’s good to experience something yourself if you can. I have fired a gun, I have been handcuffed, and I have learned how to pick my way out of handcuffs with a bobby pin. When a copyeditor questioned whether the killer could really put a body under the kitchen sink, I pulled out everything and climbed in and took a selfie.
So you can combine trusting your gut, thinking about it logically, doing research, interviewing people, and having real life experiences. If you are writing fantasy, it is likely you are never going to experience what it is like to be a were-dragon or cast spells or whatever. So that’s going to be more thinking about it and trusting your gut.
I was a pretty sheltered 16 year old myself. Nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to become a serial killer to write about them (or do you…?). (Nope, pretty sure you don’t.)
Our only child got sideswiped by a truck on the freeway Saturday night. If you believe in string theory and alternate universes, there are so many where something much worse happened.
Reminds me to appreciate every day where all my family and friends are fine.
I'm a native Oregonian. In the early 1980s, my dad, a county commissioner in Southern Oregon, received death threats from a group called Posse Comitatus. At one point, the police advised my dad to leave town and go into hiding. And my father, who was the most mild mannered man I've ever met, actually thought about whether he should get a gun.
A lot of their philosophy lives on in the armed extremists - pretty much of all of them from out of state - who have taken over Oregon's Malheur Wildlife Refuge. And you can trace the Posse Comitatus back to the Silver Shirts, a group modeled after Hitler's Brown Shirts.
Plus I love the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. It's a beautiful spot with a cool little museum.
Ammon Bundy and his crew of armed occupiers who have taken it over the scare me. A lot.
Learn about historical linkages to earlier groups, like Posse Comitatus.
Learn about how one of the main occupiers believes "slavery never really happened."
Learn about how one of original occupiers, and a close confidant of Bundy, made up his military service - and another one has claimed to have been in the Marines.
Learn about an occupier who is a convicted murderer.
Learn about the occupier and spokesman who has threatened to shoot Hilary Clinton in the vagina.
Learn about the main occupier who makes a living off his foster kids - who he admits were his main source of income.
Now they have their own "jury" that they created to "try" public officials, and it's quite possible they will put liens on public officials' personal property. It's what the Posse Comitatus did in Southern Oregon.
I am so sick of these folks. And when I posted something on my Facebook page, I was accused of being a paid goverment shill.
Wow I did not get a lot of blogging done in 2015.
Instead I got a lot done everywhere else.
|The cover illustration of KOOKY CRUMBS in progress|
|With a posse of illustrators at the Midsouth |
SCBWI Picture Book Dummy Retreat at Pickwick Landing State Park
|Meeting Dan Santat and Michelle Knudson |
at the National SCBWI conference in LA
and especially here
|My launch for THE LITTLE KIDS' TABLE !! On September 11th, the day |
after my 43rd birthday. This is probably my favorite picture from all of 2015.
All the ladies in this picture are accomplished artists as well as amazing friends.
|Dulce Desserts provided this amazing cake!|
|Reading my book at Parnassus during the launch. |
I was so happy I didn't have to use a microphone.
|And this is the my other favorite picture from 2015. |
After the party was over the very last picture
was taken with me, Jim Dear, Fry and Sprout
There were also some pretty awesome vacations in the mix:
|Then two weeks after that we boarded the Disney Wonder |
for some much needed relaxation from Vancouver to San Diego.
as well as some very awesome book parties for many of my talented friends:
|Launching POPPY'S BEST PAPER by Susan Eaddy|
|Launching DUNCAN THE STORY DRAGON by Amanda Driscoll. Also|
pictured is Jessica Young who launched SPY GUY and FINLEY FLOWERS
So while a tiny little part of me missed writing in my blog the truth is the time has come for me to realize that the time I spend blogging is time I could be spending doing a lot of other things. Which leads me to my personal goal for 2016: CRAFT
Illustrating and writing require a constant, lifelong commitment to get better. Over the course of my blog I've posted my weekly sketches. I've posted about critiques and workshops and conferences. These are all important to do and to attend but now I plan to spend the better part of 2016 focusing all my creative energy on my craft. Writing and rewriting, drawing, and redrawing. The time that I could be spending putting together a blog post is now going to be spent doing the work that improves my craft. And when I'm not doing THAT I'll be continuing to keep my resolutions from 2015
. Or hanging out with Jim Dear, The Fry, and Sprout who are growing up at a much more rapid rate than they have a right to.
Not that I won't ever post as Fabulous Illustrator again but Facebook and Twitter give me the opportunity to natter about ordinary life. I do have some other posts planned but for 2016 I'll save my blog for really special occasions…. like this:
|KOOKY CRUMBS arrived on my doorstep on January 11th, 2016!|
Happy 2016 patient readers
I think my word for 2015 will be
Because it all is. My time, my energy and attention, my health, my family, my friends.
I want to act like it. To remember that everying is fleeting.
Thanks for the memories, 2015! I'm plunking down with a cup of coffee and my laptop for a minute, to stop and meander through the past twelve months. Every January I have a battle plan in my head, a roadmap of the new year ahead. And invariably by December, I've taken highways and byways unintended, but eventually appreciated. I think Dirk Gently (a.k.a, Douglas Adams) put it best when he said, "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."
I started 2015 flying into Washington, D.C, on New Year's Day. San Antonio this past Spring was splendid and ditto for a night spent on an island off the coast of New Hampshire
this past August. And a trip to Los Angeles in September was swell.
I began work on Finding Wild
amidst the most punishing winter I can remember and sent in final artwork just as the leaves started to unfurl. My sister and I launched a graphic novel in weekly installments
-- eight months in and I feel like we're really getting to the good parts. And I experimented, making lots and lots of artwork, trying to get closer to the things I want and need to make.
I'm still mulling over 2016, how to map out the next twelve months. But for now, I'm going to have a glass of champagne, a slice of this cake
and binge on the Twilight Zone marathon. Happy New Year and here's wishing you all the best in the months ahead!
Instead of coming up with a dozen resolutions for 2015, I decided to have just a single word.
Risk turned out to be a great word. It helped nudge me to do some things I wouldn't have normally done, including:
- Attending Urban Escape and Evasion - a slightly crazy three-day class in LA where I learned how to get out of duct tape, rope,and zip ties, how to pick locks, and how to pick and shim handcuffs. All the books I wrote this year have featured handcuffs. Coincidence? I think not.
- Taking BJJ classes at strange schools where I was ususally the only woman on the floor and older than everyone else by twenty plys years.
- Telling an instructor I did not know well that I found one of his "funny" voices offensive. It swooped up and down and included a lisp and a limp wrist. The conversation went differently than I expected, but I was so scared to speak up - and so glad i did.
- Trying to summit Mt. St. Helens (an active volcano) when my husband's friend couldn't go. That was the most challenging thing I've ever done. Physically it was exhausting, and mentally I realized I am so AFRAID of heights. We did not summit (although my husband could have). By the time we finally got off the boulder field (which took hours clambering over extremely steep, sometimes shifting rocks without even a trail), I was on the verge of losing it. But hey, I tried!
- Saying yes to events I was nervous to do - and having the best time.
So what is my word for 2016?
I think it will be:Flexible
That works for my hips. That works for my relationships. That works for my approach to my work and my schedule. (I like schedules a little too much).
What are your resolutions for 2016?
Our first real vacation in 8 years
In November, we went to New Zealand, Fiji (for 24 hours) and Kauai. (I've been travelling so much we were able to do airfare with miles!) New Zealand is truly as beautiful as they say. For me, the two most memorable experiences were spending the night on a boat in Milford Sound (and seeing penguins, seals and even a humpback whale), and taking a helicopter to the top of a glacier.
School visits in Virginia
I've been doing a ton of school visits. This school year I will spend about six weeks doing visits talking to thousands of kids. So far, I have been in Washington state, Washington DC, Oregon, Iowa, and Virginia. The new year will bring more Oregon visits, as well as two trips to Texas, and visits to Illinois, Nebraska and Missouri. There's even going to be a tour for my new book, The Girl I Used to Be, in May.
On Friday, I got home from spening two weeks in the Virignia area. I gave versions of the same talk 26 times, plus taught eight writers' workshops. The last time I spoke, I think I actually had a mini panic attack. The mike was heavy and I started worrying that I was repeating myself, then that I would faint, which made me worry even more about fainting, which made me feel fainter....
Near-faint aside, I had an amazing time. I felt like a rock star (which isn't necessarily a good thing). I ate lunch with students at nearly ever school, and one librarian told me that a girl was worried that her lunch wouldn't be "sophisticated enough." Two different times girls broke into tears when they met me, which made me feel honored and also slightly discombobulated. I got asked to sign books, pieces of paper, and phone cases.
I thought of all the years I wrote when only my mom read my books. All the times I worried my career was over. I'm resolved to enjoy this while it lasts.
Everything since mid-November has been a bit of a blur, but I think that's true for most of the general public at present. I haven't even managed to haul out the Christmas ornaments, but am hoping to rectify that situation this weekend. Aside from that, what's what?
* I'm finishing up a free holiday gift tag downloadable. I'll have that up here next week.
* I'm completely obsessed with the Limetown
podcast and literally squealed with delight when I realized Serial
launched its second season yesterday.
* I have a Christmas card downloadable
in the shop. Speaking of the shop, I'll have calendar tea towels up tomorrow, Saturday. And the Cyrillic alphabet illustration above is a print I finished up ages ago, but forgot to show here. Head desk.
And that seems to be it, so back to the drafting table. If this was the year 2100 I'd offer you virtual egg nog and sugar cookies, but technology hasn't caught up with my internet dreams yet. Someday.
Life lately has included illustrating book covers, a Tweed Ride, a whole lot of The Great British Baking Show
(see above) and rose tea. So that's that.
Also, goodbye foliage. You outdid yourself, Mother Nature. Fist bump.
Kevin has become a hoarder.
Okay. No he hasn’t, but it sure feels like he has and if you look closely, it sure FEELS like he has.
Kevin and Roy haunt yard sales every weekend. Every. Weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, without fail. And to be perfectly honest, it’s sort of amazing how much
junk stuff they have found that has actually been pretty useful.
Washer/Dryer $75 for the washing machine – they paid Kevin/Roy to take the dryer and they fixed the dryer for $12.
Pressure Washer: $30 – retail $275
Lights on stands: $10 for both – retail $35 for both
Hedger: $5 – retail $75
Dresser: $20 – retail $150
Six/Seven pairs of sneakers for Roy: $4 – retail: $60 (one was a pair of Nike Jordans)
Leather Cowboy boots: $5 – retail $150
Coats/Jackets for Roy, Kevin and the boys: $3-5 – retail: $40 average
Two ceiling fans w/ lights for Roy: $3 – retail: $75
Two ceilings fans for our house: one for $3, one for $.50: retail $75 each
56 inch TV (works perfectly) for $15 – retail: $200
Antique cabinet $20 – retail $100
Nightstand $5 – retail: $35
Two gamer chairs $2 / $5: retail $80
Two brand-new pairs of jeans $10: retail $35
Air mattresses for the pool $1: retail $5
Painting over our sofa $8: retail $30
IBM Thinkpad $1 (and it works like brand new!): retail $150
Countless DVD’s and XBox games: $.50 a piece.
StarWars DVD set $3: retail $80 (!)
TV FREE: retail $150
25 lb weights $12 total: retail $20 each
20 lb weights $10 total: retail $17 each
Free toolbox (it’s a red toolbox on wheels): retail $30
Shelves $5 each: retail $30
Powerstrips $1: retail $5
Laser printer $5: retail $150 (yes – it works great)
That’s what really surprises me about all of the stuff he’s gotten at these sales – they were all in new, or like new, condition. Whenever I think of garage sales, I think JUNK. And not just JUNK – JUNKJUNK. Like broken, missing parts, dings, scrapes, nicks JUNK. But honestly, God was watching out for Kevin and Roy. And here’s why I think that… Remember, Roy moved into the house with virtually nothing. NOTHING. And not a lot of money. He gets a monthly paycheck from the government every month and that’s it. And because our government welfare system is so messed us, he HAS to spend all of his money every month – he is not allowed to save any of it. And if he gets a job, he can’t work over a certain number of hours or he will lose his benefits.
Tell me that’s not asinine.
But I digress.
So, he has enough money to pay rent and buy food. He doesn’t have a lot left over for any extras. And remember, he’s not allowed to save his money so you can see our challenge – he’s on his own, doesn’t have a lot of things he needs and doesn’t have the money, or the permission, to save for said need.
Kevin and Roy started garage sale hopping. And it would ASTOUND me becasue not only were they able to find everything on their list and the things that Roy needed, but that the items they found were not only dirt cheap, they were in good shape. I think that’s a pretty big testament to Kevin and Roy’s faith. What are the odds that they found exactly what they needed, and it was in great shape, for dirt cheap?
No. I have not gone with them when they hunt for their goodies. Garage sales have left a bitter, BITTER taste in my mouth. I have nothing against garage sales, per se, but I grew up on garage sale stuff and hand-me-downs. Now mom, don’t take offense, you did what you had to do to feed and clothe three children. And might I add, you did a DAMN good job of it. Though I knew the stuff I had was used, second hand, I never wanted for anything, not really.
But when I left my family home to make a life for myself, I was DETERMINED I was not going to live on other people’s hand-me-downs. I wanted my own stuff, call it a pride thing, I guess.
So it seems almost like I’ve come full circle now that Kevin has been bringing home things from garage sales. And though I’m not entirely thrilled that he’s doing this, I have to admit, I’m impressed. It takes a lot of patience to go to ten garage sales every weekend just to keep an eye out for specific things. And he must be doing something right because he’s bringing home some pretty good stuff.
For example, the ceiling fan in our bedroom and the spare bedroom (Brandon’s old room) are from garage sales. He bought the one in our bedroom for $3 bucks. THREE BUCKS. And it’s brand-spanking new. And I like it. And it looks nice. And Kevin says every time he looks at it, he gets a thrill because he remembers stumbling across it at the sale and immediately knew it was a good deal and where he wanted to put it. If we had bought that ceiling fan from someplace like Lowe’s, it would easily be $70 bucks.
But I am concerned. He is wracking up quite a few things and though he finds places for these things, and a lot of times we need these things, we’re getting to the point that he’s having to be creative on where he’s placing these things. He’s talking about opening up an eBay store and running it with Roy which I’m okay with, but the problem with Kevin is, he gets attached to things. I mean REALLY attached to things. He has trouble letting anything go.
Hence my concern.
Kevin says he feels like a rich man because of all of the deals he’s found these past months. And now, every time we go shopping, I hear, “there’s no way I’m paying that much for that item when I can find it for a quarter at a garage sale.”
(Sound familiar, mom?? HA!)
I’ve married the male version of my mother. HAHA!
Filed under: Life
Me, a year ago (left) and me now (right)
A year ago, a reader at an event asked to take a picture with me and posted it on Facebook. When I saw it, I didn’t look at our happy faces. I focused on the roll of fat around my waist.
I hadn’t been happy with my weight for a long time, but that really struck home.
Things I had tried to lose weight
- Weight Watchers. This actually mostly worked, but I was always hungry and I got tired of constantly counting points. Due to some quirks of the time period I attended, I cooked atrocious things like Black Bean Brownies (just because they are the same color doesn’t mean they taste like brownies - but WW used to give you lots of credit for fiber). Once at a family reunion we all got food poisoning and took turns hurrying to the bathroom. But the next day I had my lowest weigh-in ever at WW, so food poisoning FTW!
- Being mindful of every bite, taste, sensation. I actually think this is a good thing, but I usually read when I eat, so my concentration is fragmented.
- Eating 35 grams of carbs a day, two days a week. I remember sitting with my friend Amy every Thursday for 17 weeks when she did her chemo treatment and glumly regarding my turkey breast and hard boiled eggs. It turns out all kinds of high protein or high fat things have some carbs in them - and they add up fast.
- Living on 600 calories two days a week. A friend did this and lost eight pounds. I would pour over the menus and wonder how I could possibly do it since I am so active.
And that’s the thing. Even though writing is a sedentary occupation, I have always been otherwise active. I was fit AND fat, or mostly fit and fat. Last fall I had had to switch to walking instead of running, after having been diagnosed with moderate to severe arthritis in both knees. I asked my doctor if I could run again if I lost 20 pounds. You could practically see the thought bubble over his head: Like that will ever happen
. Despite my knees, I was still active: walking, jiujitsu, kung fu, and weight lifting. However, study after study
will tell you that you can’t lose weight through exercise.
I had heard of friends of friends who lost a lot of weight once they started using a treadmill desk. And last fall I unexpectedly got some German money for Shock Point
, which nearly ten years later still sells well over there.
So I bought a LIfeSpan treadmill desk
, found an old computer (from 2008, but still runs what I need) and started using it when I wrote (and sometimes when I watched Netflix). I wear a Fitbit and went from putting in 12K steps a day to 25—30K. In the first eleven weeks, I lost eight pounds.
The pace has slowed now, but I’m still losing a pound every couple of weeks. Not that much different from Weight Watchers, but I am eating whatever I want! (Caveat: I mostly eat healthy.) I’m running again, and my knees feel fine. Every pound less is 3-4 pounds less on the knees.
And this morning I was down 22 pounds!How to replicate this yourself
- Get a Lifespan desk
- Or try making one yourself (google DIY Treadmill Desk)
- Or try housewalking.
By: Hannah Paget,
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Did you learn about Mrs Gren at school? She was a useful person to know when you wanted to remember that Movement, Respiration, Sensation, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, and Nutrition were the defining signs of life. But did you ever wonder how accurate this classroom mnemonic really is, or where it comes from?
The post What is life? appeared first on OUPblog.
I spent the past weekend on Star Island
for Gatsby on the Isles
. A 1920's themed shindig, it's a real delight full of top notch company, sharp dressing and hot jazz. I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked, but here's a few snaps that I did manage. The top two are of the Oceanic Hotel (as well as a few revelers) and the bottom is Sunday's sunrise.
I wrote this for the Oregonian back in 2006. Nearly 10 years later, it's all still pretty true. Sadly the Oregonian is a shadow of its former self.
I'm a mystery writer and now I have a clue.
I used to imagine what my life would be like when I was finally a published writer. I envisioned fancy book parties. Standing-room only crowds at signings. Seeing piles of my book at Costco. But I didn't really understand the true pros and cons.
Pro: I will no longer get up to the blaring of my alarm.
Con: I get up to the blaring of my husband's alarm.
Pro: Good riddance to co-workers. No more hearing one clip his fingernails in his open-air cubicle, or being forced to look at another's endless vacation photos.
Con: It's lonely, being by yourself. You can't ask someone which word sounds better. You can't discuss bad reality-TV shows. When you start work on Monday, no one asks about your weekend because no one else is there. About all you can do is blog. And talk to the UPS guy every now and then.
Pro: No boring meetings! No buzz words! No pretending to care about the latest branding strategy!
Con: That's all true. But I sure used to get a lot of writing done in those meetings. I furrowed my brow and looked like I was taking detailed notes. But in my notoriously bad handwriting, I was really scribbling things like "Poison? What's untraceable?" You can write a lot of murder scenes in meetings. Some meetings even inspire them.
Pro: Everything is material. Writing a book opens you up to the world. In search of information about characters and plot possibilities, you'll read stuff you wouldn't have read in a million years. For example, because of Torched I learned how to build a pipe bomb. I cried about something the other day and I actually remember wanting to take notes about how my nose burned right before I started crying.
Con: Everything is material. When bad things happen to you, everyone says, "Just think of what great material this is --you'll be able to put it in a book someday!" People say this after my car breaks down hundreds of miles from home, or we end up sheltering a neighbor when her husband turns out to be an abusive nut case. Then they smile as if this silver lining completely negates the cloud that has just rained all over me.
Pro: You'll be a mini-celebrity. When we bought a new sideboard, the salesman asked me my name. "You're the April Henry? The author?" A fan in the furniture store! And he even waived the delivery fee. Now if only I were really famous - he might have given me the sideboard!
Con: You're more mini than celebrity. When my first book showed up on the paperback rack at Fred Meyer, I felt like I had truly arrived. An employee was kneeling on the floor, stocking packs of gum. "That's my book!" I crowed. "I wrote that!" She looked up at me and shrugged. " I don't read," she said, matter-of-factly. It was clear that she could read, but didn't want to.
Pro: You can recognize others. There's a tradition in the mystery community of naming characters after real people. These opportunities are often raffled off at one of the mystery conventions as part of a literacy fundraiser. Mary Mason, who also goes by Maggie Mason, a bookseller in San Diego, has shown up in probably a dozen mysteries I've read. She's been a hospice patient, a murder victim, and in my favorite instance, she made an appearance in a Robert Crais mystery. Her alter ego was actually two --identical twin 6-foot hookers with dragon tattoos --one named Maggie Mason and the other named Mary Mason.
Con: Others will recognize themselves. Stick to your guns, no matter what anyone asks. You write fiction. You make stuff up. If anyone thinks a character resembles someone in real life: deny, deny, deny. It's simply a coincidence that the bad guy looks remarkably like your old boss, or that a whiny character uses the same annoying catchphrase that your old boyfriend used to use. The only thing I admit to: The characters in "Circles of Confusion" had the same last names as kids in my first-grade class.
Pro: You will have fans. It used to be hard to connect with authors. I know, because I used to write actual letters on paper to authors in care of their publishers. And usually, after many months, I would get a note back. That's why I have a postcard from Roald Dahl I got when I was 12, as well as letters from Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, David Brim and Elinor Lipman. Now it's easy to get in touch with writers. Almost everyone has a Web site, and quite a few have a blog or a MySpace or a Facebook. (I have all four.) You can drop your favorite author a note and usually get a reply in a day or two. Every author enjoys hearing that you liked his or her book.
Con: Some of your fans will be crazy. I've known authors with stalkers, including one woman who wrote thrillers and actually ended up carrying a concealed weapon because she feared her fan turned stalker had threatened to kill her. Mostly I run into people with oddball questions at readings ("Compare and contrast your character to one of the singers on 'American Idol' "),
Once, though, a gentleman at a Borders genuinely did scare me. At that time, women's bodies were turning up in Forest Park, dumped there by a serial killer. The guy seemed to think one of my main characters was a real person. He kept asking me, "Does Claire like to run in Forest Park?" Even when I told him that Claire was made up, he kept repeating the question, until finally I stammered, "Yes, sure, if Claire were real I'm sure she would like to run in Forest Park." The event coordinator ended up walking me to my car. Just to be safe.
And my favorite pro: You could be hot!
Most mystery writers and readers are on the far side of 50, sometimes the very far side. My first book was published when I was 39, when I felt like my salad days were long behind me. But when I showed up at my first mystery conference, guys hit on me (granted, mystery writers in their 50s). Women thought I was skinny and cute and young! I didn't feel like any of these things, but I wasn't about to dissuade anyone.
By: Hannah Paget,
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News broke in July 2015 that the Rosetta mission’s Philae lander had discovered 16 ‘carbon and nitrogen-rich’ organic compounds on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The news sparked renewed debates about whether the ‘prebiotic’ chemicals required for producing amino acids and nucleotides – the essential building blocks of all life forms – may have been delivered to Earth by cometary impacts.
The post How did life on earth begin? appeared first on OUPblog.
Here and there, this and that. I've been working on two book covers lately, staying busy with that. In the meantime, here's what's occupied the spaces in between.
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Hi folks, I'm writing my series called Chicken by Chicken. I spend this month writing the real, especially my challenges. This is a difficult post to write. My life hasn't been normal. It has been defined by panic. Panic attacks. I don't remember my first attack, maybe I was 5 or 6. I estimate I have had more than a thousand panic attacks in my life. It is strange, even writing about panic attacks makes a nervous feeling in my chest, but I'm going to press on.
For years I didn't know what was going on. It was clear to me early on that a few specific thing send me into panic. I 'd lose my glasses, or go to the dentist, or be picked on at school. I also had panic attacks about lost keys, missed school assignments, and bank errors. Sometimes I have had random attacks about speaking in public and entering new situations. Some of my panic triggers make sense to me. Some do not.
In my worst seasons, I had panic attacks that happened once or twice a day for months. I have multiple panic attacks in a day. The first mega attack day was in the third grade. I had 10 panic attacks in a row. I lost my glasses and I started a new school. I still remember the waves of panic crashing over me. I sat at my desk and struggled with attack after attack for the whole school day. I was moved into a special ed classroom. These mega attacks have hit me through the years. It's always if I'm hit with many triggers.
I've seen things turn into panic triggers. Here is my worst: I sought help in my early twenties, but unfortunately, my mental health provider did something human and stupid by having an affair with a guy 25 years younger than her. The guy was being torn apart by the relationship. The guy was also a very close friend of mine. My mental health provider stopped my sessions, informing me that she was having the affair with my friend. I was dropped and left without care. Yeah, and then speaking to a mental health provider became one of my triggers. Dang.
Here is reality of my panic attacks. They hit like a tornado. The shortness of breath. Hyperventilation. My heart races. Trembles shake my body. Cold sweats and goosebumps follow. I often throw up. Uncontrollable sobbing. Dizziness. Wailing. It doesn't make sense. It's terrifying to those around me. It's terrifying to me.
To know me is to know my panic. Most of my attacks last about 20 to 30 minutes. It's taken years to build strategies to survive and to find drugs that actually help. I sometimes think it is beyond ridiculous to think I'm going to be a writer. What if a panic attack blindsides me? People who love me understand. Everyone else is not so forgiving.
I wish I could say I got the health care I needed for this right off and it has been all good. That is not my story. It took time to get help because mental health workers cause me to panic. This is the first time in life I've ever had the moxie to even speak of this. I do have healthcare now. I do have good medication. I can still have a panic attack now and then, but it is down to maybe two a year and never multiple attacks.
I have solid ways to deal with panic. When it comes, I recognize I'm having attack. I speak my mantra: "This is a panic attack. It is a problem that is not the problem. It cannot hurt me. It cannot stop me. It just chemicals poured into my body. My fight of flight system is messed up. The chemicals will dissipate and then I can deal with the real problem." I breathe slowly, repeating the mantra, until the panic ends.
I am a person with a rare gift for words, but I'm also this broken person, who has been broken for most of my life by panic. I hope that my struggle helps you to be brave and face whatever you are facing. I hope that you say what you need to.
I will be back next week with more of Chicken by Chicken.
Here is a doodle. Girl in the Moon.
Here is a quote for your pocket.
Listen to God with a broken heart. He is not only the doctor who mends it, but also the father who wipes away the tears. Crissi Jami