Tuesday, April 29, 2008

First off, BIG 2k8 news. It's Marissa Doyle's launch week. She's written a terrific historical YA, Bewitching Season. I'm reading it right now. Marissa's one of those people who writes well, knows a ton, is super fascinating, and you just know you'll click with in real life. I've really enjoyed getting to know her online. Anyway, here's a link to the Class of 2k8 blog where Marissa's posting all week long.

Second, I've been tagged by JaneyV at Whittering On. First meme, and quite possibly the last, I've ever done. I couldn't say no to Janey because she's so delightful and I love her blog. She tells it like it is. Plus, she's got a wicked sense of humor. I think I was also tagged for this meme ages ago by my good friend Maureen McGowan who is an excellent writer and does fab film reviews too. And lives two blocks from one of my sisters. Which is very weird considering Maureen and I met online and don't even live in the same country.

Anyway, here goes. Six random things about myself. (At least, they're not asking for six INTERESTING random things. I'd be up all night, racking my brains!)

1. If allowed, I will eat licorice until sick.
2. I don't like tea bags with strings.
3. I will never ever go whale watching on a boat again.
4. I'm not the least bit athletic, but my children are. Very.
5. I'm negligent about opening mail. This is not good for bill paying. Just ask San Diego Gas & Electric.
5. I'm going to Canada this summer for a long time. But it won't be long enough.

Okey dokey. That was less painful than I was expecting. Now for the fun part.

Rubbing hands gleefully, I tag:

the mystery starts here
Deborah Dale
just another day
Nancy Viau

And, last, but certainly not least, I tag Brian-Ohio, who said mean mean things on his blog about my chameleons. (I really do forgive you, Brian.)

Here are the meme rules:

a. Link to the person who tagged you.
b. Post the rules on your blog.
c. Write six random things about yourself.
d. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
e. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment at their blog.
f. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

I know how busy life can get, so meme if you have time, peeps. Except Brian because this is his penance. :)

In other news, today marks the release of two books I'll definitely pick up: Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr and One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Town Monday: Gold Mine, Julian, CA

If you're up in the mountain town of Julian, CA (located about 60 miles northeast of San Diego), the Eagle and High Peak Mine is a must-visit. The mine is at the end of C Street. I'd definitely phone ahead for the hours of operation (760-765-0036).

The Eagle and High Peak Mine offers hour-long tours through the tunnels where the guide will regale you with facts about gold mining and stories of days gone by. The tour isn't too expensive (about $10/adult and $5/child). And it's really, really interesting. By the end, you'll be tossing around terms like sluice box and rockers and stamps and placer gold. Our guide was bitten by the gold bug several years ago and actually pans on her days off. Sometimes successfully.

When you've finished the tour, you can pan for gold yourself, then shop at the Company Store.

And, now, a little history for you. A.E. Coleman discovered gold in Coleman's Creek in 1869 and started a mining camp which later became Julian. Julian is named for Mike Julian, an ex-confederate soldier from Georgia who came to find his fortune in the California mine fields after the Civil War. $5 million in gold was taken from the Julian environs between 1870 and 1880. Albert Robinson, a freed Missouri slave and the first black man to serve on a jury in San Diego County, built the Julian Gold Rush Hotel in 1897. It's the oldest operating hotel in Southern California. (www.desertusa.com, www.glitter.com, www.julianhotel.com)

This isn't history, but it is a fun bit of trivia: Each October, 10,000 apple pies are baked here!

So, while you're waiting for the night sky and star gazing at the Observer's Inn planetarium, go visit the gold mine. You won't be sorry.

Thanks, once again, to Travis Erwin for hosting My Town Monday. For Travis' entry and links to the other participants, check Travis' blog.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Guess what I did today??

Gave my very first ever talk as a published author!

Yup, I spoke to a bunch of freshmen at our local high school. I thought I'd be a nervous wreck, but, uh, no, it turns out I like all that undivided attention. Who knew??

I mean, those students were trapped in a room with nothing to do other than listen to me talk about one of my fave subjects, writing. The students were attentive and polite AND they all had a marvelous sense of humor (or is that marvelous senses of humor?). Anyway, how do I know about the sense of humor thing? They laughed at my jokes!

Hello! I will let you in on a well-kept secret. Public speaking is easier than parenting. And easier than writing. Don't worry Child #1, #2, #3, #4, Agent Rachel and Editor Wendy, I won't be quitting my day jobs. Yet... (Joke)

So, a heartfelt thank you to Mrs. Bagg-Rizzo who forced me to be a part of Career Day. You were right; it wasn't nearly as far outside my comfort zone as I thought. And a heartfelt thanks to the Santana freshmen (including Child #2) at my presentation. You made my day!

And now I'm off to the coffee shop. I'll bring my speech cards. I'll bring my props. Just in case, I get the chance to perform again...

P.S. Someone did take pictures. I'll post them when I get them. Assuming I look young, thin and cute.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Class of 2k8

Debut young adult author, Debbie Reed Fischer, is celebrating her launch week over at the Class of 2k8's blog with some interesting posts. Her novel: Braless in Wonderland. If you've got a sec, hop on over and tell her congrats!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Town Monday Night Sky Gazing, Julian, California

Julian, California is a mountain town located about sixty miles northeast of San Diego. It has a population of about 1600. Among other things, it's well known for apple pies, tours of a real gold mine and beefalo burgers. Julian also has an amazing used book store--the Julian Book House.

And, surprise, surprise, there is an awesome private planetarium located in Julian. It's The Observer's Inn. You can choose to stay there (we didn't) or just reserve time in the evening to stare at the heavens through their powerful telescopes (we did). These "sky tours" conducted by Mike Leigh are a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Leigh, an astronomy afficionado for years, built his observatory at an elevation of about 4300 feet, high up enough that he can take advantage of the clear night sky. Then he got a few high-end telescopes. We're talking truly research grade here. As in, at least one is a telescope fit for a small country. This telescope is so good, you can make out details on spy satellites. Which has earned Mr. Leigh a couple of chats with the FBI. (from the San Francisco Chronicle)

Each sky tour is different. Each sky tour comes with Mike's wonderful commentary. And what might you see? Various planets, constellations, stars, double stars, comets, other galaxies. It's truly incredible. And there aren't many places in the world that give you this kind of a show. For about $20 a person. Observer's Inn is actually internationally known.

We went a couple of winters ago. Not to sound corny, but for my little family, it was an out-of-this-world experience.

(And, besides the magical sights from the telescopes, my kids didn't think the little room with hot chocolate and cookies was too shabby!)

My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Click on his site to read his post about Charles Goodnight and find links to the other participants.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Need rental movie titles!

I have taken three long unfit weeks off from the gym.

Next week, with shrunken, atrophied muscles, I'm heading back to my early-morning routine. Yes, you can expect some whining.

Please, please, please. I need DVD titles for my iPod. To fake me out on the Elliptical time. So I don't realize how long I've been stepping. (I never claimed brilliance!)

I'm looking for humorous and/or fast-paced. No dramas as they inhibit my endorphins.

Here are a few movies that have worked: Love Actually, The Shawshank Redemption, Grosse Pointe Blank

Movies that have not worked: How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Pieces of April, Last Dance Drama, Purple Violets

Also, does anyone know of a decent program that converts DVDs to iPod format?

So, to summarize this extremely important-to-my-health post:

1. Please suggest humorous and/or fast-paced movies for gym viewing.

2. Please suggest a software program that converts DVDs to an iPod format.

I'm begging ya....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Book #2 is ....

done. And turned in.


I have to say, though, clicking on that button to send her to off to meet her editor was tough. It took me about an hour to actually press down.

Like watching your child walk into the classroom on the first day of kindergarten.

Anyway, the manuscript really is gone. Temporarily. She's spending time with the very loving and capable Editor Wendy. After that, there'll be a revision letter. And then she'll come back home and we'll hang out again together until about August.

And what did I do on this first day of empty nest syndrome?

I had a very very excellent cup of Typhoo tea (thanks to one of my sisters). And settled in to begin reading the following books:

The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman
A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz
A Thousand Sons by Khaled Hosseini

Tomorrow, I'll catch up on my blog reading, meet a good friend for coffee and take a much deserved nap.

An aside: There's an interesting post up today on the class of 2k8's blog about MP Barker's characters for A Difficult Boy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Holy Interviewing Toledo! And Parenting

And in exciting writing news...

I had my very first interview ever! We're talking first ever. Online, offline, in outer space....

The delightful Becky Levine did an interview with me for a very cool online kidlit journal, the Edge of the Forest. Here's the interview.

And here's the link to Becky's entertaining blog. Entertaining AND full of good advice. I'm referring to when she tells everyone to run out in December to buy I So Don't Do Mysteries. :)

And now back to the previous blog. Here's the deal. I didn't take the homework up to school. I didn't save Child #3. Yikes.

And here's what happened:

-Child #3 arrives home from school. He is displeased his mother didn't deliver his homework.
-He is, however, pleased to find homemade banana bread.
-After his snack, Child #3 organizes his binder. He, then, completes his homework for the next day and carefully packs it.

Okay. I still don't know whether or not I should have saved this wonderful, delightful, awesome child of mine. It does seem as though maybe I've been doing a little too much saving lately. Anyway, we've moved on. And today's chatter was mostly about swim team and the word "postdate."

Who knows? Maybe this was a teeny tiny slice of a life lesson?

For both of us.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

On motherhood...

So, I'm sitting in the living room with a box of Kleenex (I still can't believe I have a cold), a decent cup of tea and a warm slice of homemade banana bread.

On the kitchen counter lies a good portion of Child #3's homework. It's completed. He's very good at that. But, somehow, this little stack didn't make it into his backpack. I don't think he realizes yet. He did remember to take his math, and that's what they'll be correcting now. But in an hour or so, he'll go to pull out his Language Arts papers and have a little panicky moment while he digs through all his stuff. Then, a little light bulb will go on, and he'll think of the counter and know what happened.

There's a part of me that wants to jump up and rush to the school and give him his homework before his name goes on the board for missing assignments.

I want to save him. Because he's 12. And I can still save him. Because he's 12, and he'll still let me save him.

Motherhood is not for sissies...

Monday, April 7, 2008

My Town Monday: Chandler, Arizona

Well, I'm totally s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g the My Town Monday idea by posting about Chandler, AZ.

However, I was just in Chandler, AZ for the weekend, and I did take some pictures. And, hey, I'll be back to San Diego posts next week. Deal?

From Wikepedia, Chandler is named after Dr. John Alexander Chandler, the first vet in the Arizona Territory. He settled in the area around 1891. At first, Chandler's economy was based on growing stuff like cotton and alfalfa. But in the 1910s, ostrich farms started popping up to supply ostrich plumes for women's hats.

And, now Chandler has an Annual Ostrich Festival. It's usually held in early March, and this year was no exception despite the fact that my trip was planned for April.

The AOF (sorry, but I'm getting a cold and must conserve energy) looks fun with a parade and bands and food and rides and face painting and EXOTIC ANIMAL RACES, including camels, zebras and "our frisky ostriches"!!! (quotation from the Chandler Chamber of Commerce)

Even though I totally missed the AOF, there were still all sorts of life-sized artsy ostriches hanging around on sidewalks and in store windows.

Here are a couple of them. Please remember I previously mentioned that my camera is lousy (Pentx Optio E10--don't buy one). Plus the photographer isn't all that skilled. (Just ignore the wrong date. I don't even remember changing it! Which rogue button did I push? I may have thought I was answering my cell phone!)

Dreamin In Style
by Cheryl Fecht

Eat Fresh Buy Local
by Ruth Knowles

So....does an ostrich really bury his head in the sand? Whaddya think?

Travis Erwin is the mastermind behind the My Town Monday posts. Click over to his blog for a list of participants.

I will blog later this week about getting together with Rachel Vater. It was FANTABULOUS.

And speaking of fantabulous, we have a new book launch over at the Class of 2k8's blog. Please click over and congratulate Zu Vincent on the release of her debut young adult The Lucky Place.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Child #3, Upcoming Trip

In honor of National Poetry Month, Child #3 has a poem up on the Class of 2k8's blog!!

Please pop over and see his brilliance!

In other news, I'm packing my bags. I'm headed to Phoenix for a writers' conference this weekend. It'll be a terrific time for several reasons:

1. I get to meet my agent, the amazing and wonderful Rachel Vater, for THE VERY FIRST TIME EVER!

2. I'll be doing some writing research at a real-live (pun intended) cemetery, middle school and a couple of other Phoenix locations. So, if you're in the area and spot a cute (Hertz has assured me) little rental car with a Garmin stuck on the windshield and a woman with beautiful hair (I got new highlights yesterday) at the wheel, honk and wave!

3. I have a room all to myself in a swanky hotel.

4. I'll get some decent uninterrupted writing time. (The revisions on book #2 are coming along swimmingly, BTW. Don't fret, Uncle B., I'll be done on time.)

5. Writers' conferences are always fun!

6. I'll be hanging out with RACHEL VATER, THE BRILLIANT AGENT WHO HELPED MAKE MY DREAMS COME TRUE! (Yes, I know this is very similar to #1, but I'M SO EXCITED!)

Should I take pictures for you guys? I could, although my cheap digital camera isn't always kind to her subjects...

In the throes of all this excitement, I'm throwing caution to the winds and heading to Target without a list!

I've missed you, dear blogging friends. I've been so busy with revisions that I haven't been bopping around to all your blogs as usual. Bear with me, please. Once the book is in, I'll catch up!

And thank you Laura of Catholic Teacher Musings for including me in your poem. What an honor!