Sunday, October 3, 2010

Well, oops

What happened here? Or, precisely, what DIDN'T happen here?

It's been about 2 months since I've blogged.

It's not like I haven't had something to say. You know me. I *always* have something to say. I've been busy, with a lot of this and that--a heap of this and a pile of that.

So here, in a bloggerly nutshell, it's what I would have said if I'd been more diligent:

* I tried new hair. I will probably go back to old hair. (See? Important stuff here.)

* Books, books, and more books. Some I write, some I order, and some I read.

* I still wear a cat on my head (or my lap) when I write, mainly because I sit when I write, and that's prime cat-on-Janet time.

* The monkey glass still exists for those days when I need my wine in a monkey glass. You know. Everyone has those days. My monkey glass is my treasure.

*The conference has come and gone, and I survived. Look for digital info next year. Yes, we are on Facebook and Twitter, thanks to someone younger and hipper than I. (Hard to believe, I know, but there is such a young woman.)

* I have Great Plans in the works for 2011. Ssssh, though. It's a secret, so it's just between us, okay?

Now, back to typing faster than I can think. It's a skill all writers should develop.

I promise I won't be so non-bloggery any more.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In which I wrangle a turkey....

I seem to have issues in getting the turkey from the wrapper to the table. Remember? I blogged about the merriment of it all...




Today, I decided to pop a turkey in the oven and let it take care of itself because I have edits due on the Book of Great Wonderfulness, aka my next novel.

Let's just stop on the word "pop." That didn't happen. This was the slitheriest turkey I've ever had the pleasure to wrangle. Rinsing it off was a freak show in and of itself.

First I had to do the body cavity invasion that, now let's be honest, is just gross. I got rid of all the surprise packages except for one which would not come out (and let me tell you, you do not know what fun really is until you've tried to pull some unidentifiable body part out of a turkey carcass). I tugged and I twisted and I wrenched and it wouldn't move. I left it in.

Plus I was aided by a cat who thought (well, I might be giving her too much credit on the thinking thing) that since I was in the kitchen, I was undoubtedly trying to find something for her to eat. I've never done that, but I guess hope springs eternal in her little feline mind.

She wrapped herself around my ankles and began to coil in an endless furry loop. I needed to move the turkey from the sink, where the rinsing wasn't going at all well, to the pan, which I'd left on the stove.

Under the best of circumstances, it's a drip-drip-drip across the floor and the turkey's plopped into the pan and shoved in the oven to finish.

These were not the best of circumstances. I turned, the cat didn't, and the next thing I knew, I was horrified to find that I was clutching this wet turkey to my chest!

I'll leave time for everyone to shudder.

Bearing in mind that I'm 95% vegetarian (the spare 5% is for bacon), this is nightmarish. Do you understand how awful this was? I was hugging a wet dead turkey!!!

I suppose it's better than hugging a dry live turkey, but in a perfect world, I wouldn't be hugging ANY turkeys.

I guess you could say that my cooking is close to my heart. Like about an inch away. Literally.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hey, you! Remember me?

As you all know, I feel very fortunate to have married Mr. Spaeth and not the other fellows who came in and out of my life. And it's quite okay for me to be snarky about the Boys of Yesteryear, but now the majorest of the Boys of Yesteryear has posted something on HIS blog about the Girls of Yesteryear--and HE DID NOT MENTION ME! Not at all! HEY! YOU! We were engaged! As in going to be married!

We were totally smitten with each other for about a year. But then we were separated by college, where I met Mr. Spaeth, and, as luck would have it, at his college the Boy of Yesteryear met his Ms Future Wife, and that was that.

Things turned out the way they should have in the marriage department. I am perfectly okay with not spending my life with the BoY (cute acronym, isn't it?) and he is, I understand through my nefarious snooping skills, blissfully happy with his wife. That's good.

Still...ahem...WHY AREN'T I IN THE BLOG POST??? HUH???

I am stunned that I was omitted, but I've figured this out. He was so blasted by my breaking up with him that he suffered a dreadful bout of amnesia! (We writers like amnesia plot devices. Also secret babies, but trust me, if there were any babies in this, they were a secret from me, too.)

It works.

And, as we say in fiction circles, that's my story.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Saying something nice

Yesterday I had the chance to say THANK YOU to two people who had really helped me out. One was a woman who had shaped my life--thanks to her, I found a love of children's and YA books and libraries, all of which made me a reader, a writer, and a librarian. She and her family became my family, and I love her and her family dearly.

The other was a woman who had helped me through my recent surgery. I could have done it myself (well, not the surgery! HA!) but it would have been a frustrating, worrisome process. Thanks to her, it was smooth sailing through paperwork and phone calls. She encouraged me, and I am grateful for her support.

It felt extremely good to say, "Thank you," to these wonderful women. And I hope it made them feel good too.

When I lived in Albuquerque, I had a poster that said something along the lines of: "Not only to love, but to be told that I am loved. The realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave." The poster didn't make it through many moves (it was beautiful though--a true hippie poster) but I still carry it in my heart.

Monday, June 14, 2010

If you can't say something nice

My mom used to say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

That's not the reason I haven't posted for a month. Blame a book deadline and a second round of orthoscopy for that.

No, my mom was probably right. In the way of all moms, she usually was.

BUT--here's the deal.

We're talking about ME. I talk. A lot. And if something really cranks my cord, I'll say something to someone. My problem is that I tend not to tell the person who has me upset.

I'm nonconfrontational. Always have been. I'm a pacificist. A vegetarian (for the most part). A nod-and-smiler. If you disagree with me, I might state my case and move on, because I have never found that arguments in a bar or a living room or at work have produced effective change.

Yeah. In other words, I'm a wuss.

But I will talk to someone else about it. My poor friends, they've heard it all. One in particular has been getting emails from me, probably 10 a day, regarding something that has my knickers in a knot. It has nothing to do with her, mind you, except that she's my friend and, as such, is forced to listen to me.

So I try to keep it entertaining. I figure I owe it to her. And I've found that the angrier I am, the more hurt I am, the more frustrated I am, the funnier I am.

Who knew? Yes, out of these negative emotions come the redeeming quality of FUNNY. And she gets into it too, so that our emails are, honestly, going to be in a book of their own one day. She and I together are snort-your-white-zin-out-your-nose funny.

It heals, laughter does. It eases the fact that someone has dug in and injured your soul in a way that is desperately painful. It takes those slights and makes them slight. It forces ignorance and rudeness out into the light and pokes them with a stick.

If you can't say something nice, say something funny.

Go figure, huh, Mom?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Whack-a-mole editing

I got the manuscript done! Of course, right at the end, the worrywart part of my mind (which is actually a HUGE part of my mind) kicked in, and editing became whack-a-mole. You know what I mean, don't you?

Example: I was in the shower yesterday morning, feeling quite confident and good about the book, when this stray thought popped into this mess of chaos I call my brain: Wouldn't he have known she was a widow from her job application?

See? Simple little thing, right?

Oh, of course it wasn't. For one thing, I was in the shower. No computer in the shower (it's kind of bad for them). And I was in there because I was getting ready for work, and that's an uninterruptable process. So I had to wait until the afternoon to investigate.

So I asked a co-worker, who is a writer herself and understands odd manuscript questions, and she said, Sure. Then, Oh, maybe not.

She thought, and I thought, and together we put together a couple of brain cells, and then she said, That's one of those questions you're not supposed to ask--it's marital status.

Okay. Whew. But it led to another question: Wouldn't he have wondered, though? And Karlene looked up from her cross-stitch and said, Yup.

Now, bear in mind she had no idea what my story was about, but she understands whack-a-mole editing.

My heroine's marital status wasn't the mole: it was HIS knowledge of it. So, I had to whack that mole! And then all sorts of other little associated moles popped up, one in this chapter, one in that chapter, and I spent the evening doing whack-a-mole on that whole character line.

I was way over my word limit so I deleted an entire section, and you know what that meant. I had to play whack-a-mole on every piece of that thread leading up to and following it.

Whack. Whack. Whack.

Finally, I emailed the manuscript.

And then, just as I was falling asleep, guess what popped up. Yup, another mole. This one was: If you deleted that entire thread, then does this other thread have any support?

Well, oops. I'll email my editor and tell her I'm aware that on line edits I'll have to include some of that back in.

It goes like that in whack-a-mole editing. Luckily I have a team of editors to work with me who make me write the best book I am capable of. I can honestly say that by the time we're through, there is very little I'd change.

My book credits should read: By Janet, JoAnne, Rachel, and Margie...and a whole lot of moles.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Reader mail!

I'm back on my publisher's blog where a reader comment was posted. And it's a really good, humbling one!

Click on over to read it, and leave a comment yourself!

Now, back to writing another book that will be loved by someone--I hope!

(And Happy Mother's Day!)

Monday, May 3, 2010

I'm on Editcafe!

I'm talking about my Minnesota series on my publisher's blog, Editcafe. Stop by and say hello!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ME! Guest blogging!

I'm the guest this week at the Heartsong blog. Stop by, leave a comment, win a book! What could be easier??? Well, sitting where you are and watching "As the World Turns" would be easier, but do it anyway!

See you at...

Later this week I share insights into the deep, dark recesses of my mind and how I mine those same recesses to create my characters.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lessons from the Grocery Cart

I have been grocery shopping. I went at 5:30 pm.

I can feel your sympathy.

But it wasn't all for naught. Listen, O Grasshopper. Learn my lessons.

Lesson 1: If you go to the grocery store and you haven't brushed your hair or put on make-up and you are wearing a shirt with a peace sign and enough cat hair to create a new kitten, HE will also be shopping. And he will see you--unless you are quick enough to duck behind the display of Froot Loops in time. Note: You will look stalkerish if someone sees you doing that, so dart with care. Oh, try not to knock the display over either.

Lesson 2: If you should happen to be standing in front of the toilet paper, trying to remember if your family loves Charmin and hates Northern, or if it's the other way round, avoid having a conversation with yourself about it because you never know who's right behind you. I barely escaped that last week. I don't *think* he heard me. I actually one time got caught standing in front of the tea and talking to it. Not loudly, mind you. I was simply wondering which ones were black tea, because I don't understand things like green tea and herbal tea, which are not teas at all in my mind--they're brewed lawn clippings. But I turned around and the Most Gorgeous Man I have ever seen was watching me, smiling. Why didn't I strike up a conversation? Well, see Lesson 1.

Lesson 3: No matter how many times you go to the store, no matter how many stores you go to, no matter how many times you have it on a list, no matter how many times you check that list, you will forget the item you came for. I am typing this in very faint light. I might have forgotten light bulbs.

Lesson 4: The shopping crowd at 5:30 pm on a holiday weekend is made of People With Missions. Do not mess with them. Nobody goes to the grocery store at 5:30 any night, especially a holiday weekend night, because they want to see if Dr. Pepper just happens to have a new flavor. No, they're there because they have A Mission. They have no choice. They've been working all day and they're tacking this onto the end of the day. Or they're making dinner and realize they're fresh out of cardamom. Or a tiny little somebody in the family is freaking out because there is NO MILK and how can we possibly eat without MILK?

This last lesson is quite important. I saw it in action this evening. Imagine, if you will....

A middle-aged woman is striding toward the grocery store with her Mission clearly in mind. She is walking so purposely that she looks like the QE II parting the waters. A driver cuts a bit too closely to her, and she says, without moving her eyes or breaking her pace:

"That was a stop sign, you a$$."

He says something to her and she replies, still looking straight ahead and gliding through the parking lot:

"Back at ya."

I wanted to ask for her autograph, I was so impressed, but she sailed into the store, ready to tackle her Mission.

Thus endeth today's lesson. Learn well, Grasshopper.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daylight Crazy Time

One of my favorite songs from my youth was "Does Anybody Really Knows What Time It Is?" (by Chicago). And today--the first day of DST--anybody's guess is as good as mine. How many people showed up at church just as the benediction was being pronounced? Arrived an hour late for work? Or, like me, are just off-kilter today?

I suppose that there *are* people in the world who merrily spring forward (I think that's what we were supposed to do) but I'm not one of them. And here's why:

1. I don't spring anywhere. I'm having knee surgery again, though, and hopefully that will aid my springability.
2. I don't know about spring forward/backward and fall forward/backward. First off, I have to decide which we're doing. I can get the spring/fall business just fine, but the forward/backward stuff? Could we a bit more helpful, please? I have fallen forward (see knee surgery above) and I have definitely sprung backwards (hello, little mouse last year!).

Plus I don't do this merrily at all. I'm a bit cranky today because I had to find all the clocks that don't automatically reset themselves, and ignore the ones that do reset themselves, and hope that I haven't forgotten any of them. It's like "Sleeping Beauty" but instead of forgetting a spindle and making the castle sleep for a hundred years, forgetting one clock can make you an hour late for everything.

And if you do the wrong thing with the clock, you can be TWO hours off. For instance, if today at noon I moved the hands backward one hour, I might think it was 11 instead of 1, when actually it's 12, but 12 is now 1.

Oh, the pressure!

Plus I simply don't get why we do this. We don't save *any* daylight. Daylight is daylight, and days come and go despite how you plead for them to slow down or to be brighter or sunnier or whatever.

This just messes up our carefully calibrated Circadian cycles. Today I read an article that says DST contributes to heart attacks when we move the clocks forward...5% increase in the first days of DST!

Someone, please try to convince me that there is some good reason for this. And hurry--I have to change the clock in my car which requires getting out the manual, trying to figure out what it actually means (the manual is, like so many car manuals, apparently written by monkeys), and pushing buttons until the radio is stuck on a grunge station, the heater is on at Vulcan blast level, and the windshield wipers are whipping full tilt. Then I'll give up and call in my teenaged son who will, with a sigh and a 30-second investment of his time, fix it all for me.

You'll have to excuse me if I'm not in the DST fan club.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The thrilling days of yesteryear???

A long time ago I had boyfriends. That was, of course, before I became Mrs. Spaeth, which ended all that kind of stuff. (There are a lot of benefits to marriage. Not having to deal with any more boyfriends is right at the top of that list.)

The other evening some friends and I were indulging in reminiscing about old boyfriends. Interestingly, we'd all given the heave-ho to guys who'd gone on to great wealth (and, in one case, fame). What this says about us, I don't know, but it's interesting. Well, it was to me.


We had a great time, drinking wine and talking about The Boys We Left Behind. Oh dear ex-boyfriends, wouldn't you like to hear that we miss you? That we made a horrendous error in judgment when we said it was over? That our lives have been sad, sodden messes without you?

Ain't gonna happen.

No, we all said, "Whew! Dodged *that* bullet!"

And then we went on to talk about something that was much more compelling. Thanks to the internet and idle curiosity (rarely a good combination but it has its moments), we'd located the Ex-Bs. So we wondered: Should we contact them? Why? What would we say? A HUGE part of us wanted to say something very mature and adult, you know, along the lines of, "Neener, neener, neener! Look at me now!"

I don't know. I have no interest in beginning a new--what would it be? friendship?--with my ex-fiance. He's got a family. So do I. And luckily they're not the same. (Did I just say that?) (Was it too mean?) (Nah.) He's 180 degrees from me politically and religously, things I take very seriously.

Plus he wasn't the rich guy. (Okay, that was snarky.)

So the question du jour for you, precious reader, is this: Have you ever looked up an old boyfriend online? Did you contact him? And how did it all end?

Inquiring (and snoopy) minds want to know.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I like Valentine's Day a lot. The colors are perfect for the last holiday of winter: cherry red and strawberry pink and bright vanilla white. They're the opposite of the colors that ushered winter in--the fall palette of butterscotch and pumpkin and caramel (okay, I am teeny bit hungry).

This holiday celebrates love, and I like that. It's important. The more that we struggle against people who just can't get along--whether it's war or bullying or a simple argument--the more we need the solid glow of love to keep us on an even keel.

How are you celebrating Valentine's Day? Remember the four kinds of love: Eros, Philia, Storge, and Agape. It's not necessary (though nice, very very nice) to have a snuggle-bunny on February 14th and celebrate Eros. You could call a parent or a sibling or your children, and revel in Storge love. Tell your friends how much they enrich your life in honor of Philia. Perhaps you'll celebrate Agape love, and donate to the Red Cross so that those in Haiti might know a better tomorrow.

It's not a bad idea, you know.

The Beatles said it so well: The love you take is equal to the love you make.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In 2010 I would like to....

Now that I've bought mustard (see previous two blog entries), I can move on with 2010.

Here's my wishlist for 2010:

*Remodel my house. Each and every room.

*I'm interested in this website: A money fast. I like the idea! I think I'll declare one day a week to do this thing.

*Be efficient in getting the next two books in for my editor.

*Finish editing the mystery that another charming editor would like to see.

*Write two short stories that are in my mind but not on paper.

*Finish writing one of the YA novels that won't leave my brain alone.

*Refresh my feeble memory of French. And read those books (in French) that I bought when I was in Paris.

*Have a humongo garage sale and make a gazillion dollars.

*Lose some weight. (What would a list like this be like without that?)

*Christmas cards. I've tried for years and haven't managed. This year I WILL!

*Be kinder to everyone, including myself.

*Snuggle my cat a lot more and give her turkey every single day. (My cat suggested that.)

I think I can manage that, don't you?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Onward with 2010!

I am *absolutely* delighted to tell you that I remembered to buy mustard! Of course, I forgot the cat litter, but you can't have everything. Tell that to my cat, who's only marginally okay with that omission on my part. I gave her a can of tuna and she's forgiven me. Sort of. You know how cats are.

Anyway, sure enough, that was all it took, this thing of mustard. $1.07 out of my pocket and we're well on our way into 2010.

I'm tackling the chaos that is my house. Not being able to bend my knee without hissing pain means that everything I'd have to kneel to get is pretty much still there. But necessity is the mother of invention, and I've figured out a way to get down to the floor level and crawl around. I think I look like a short, chubby giraffe when I go through the process to kneel though, so I never do it when anyone is around. The last thing I need is me on YouTube being giraffe-like. And, in keeping with the animal motif, I should also note that I look somewhat like a crab with a leg cramp when I edge my way across the floor. It's lovely. Just stunning.

And I have two more books to write this year! My lovely editor emailed me and I emailed her and she emailed me and I emailed her, and that's how it all works!

I feel like this calls for a veggie burger--WITH MUSTARD!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy New Year, or how mustard destroyed 2010

I usually do a nice plan for the new year but I haven't managed it yet. It's already the second week of the year and my plan hasn't progressed much past: Buy mustard.

Yes, that's it. Buy mustard.

I can't quite seem to remember to buy it, no matter how many times I go to the grocery store. It's hanging out there, the last little undone thing from 2009 that, no matter how I try, I can't quite deal with.

But isn't that the way it always goes? You can come up with the greatest set of goals--be kinder, clean those closets, find that store of patience (which might be at the back of the closets--who knows what's hidden there?), learn a new language, travel, spend less and save more--but the fact is that until you've bought the mustard that's been on the shopping list for months, you'll be stalled.

I do have a vague cloud of thoughts that at some point I will put into a year's plan, but let's face it, until I get that mustard, I'll be stopped.

If it weren't 800 degrees below zero at the moment, I'd go get it now. But I'm cocooned in my mustardless house, and the mustard--and the year's plan--can wait. I'm cozy and warm and sleepy, and tomorrow is soon enough.