Saturday, March 08, 2008

Who Steals a Garbage Can, Anyway??

"There's nothing wrong with the younger generation that becoming taxpayers won't cure." ~Dan Bennett

Part 1

Friday is garbage and recycling day around here. Thursday night hubby and I always take down our enormous garbage can - standard size required by the trash company, even though we only fill it up about halfway each week, with the 2 of us - and 2 small plastic recycling bins.

Yesterday morning, I leave the house to go to work, drive down to the road (it's a long, sloping driveway, maybe 50 yards from house to road). 2 recycling bins sit on one side, waiting for pickup. No garbage can anywhere. I pick up my cell phone and call hubby, who's still up in the house, getting ready to leave.

"Sweetie? Did you bring the garbage can down last night?"

Pause. "What are you talking about?"

"Did you bring the garbage can down last night?"

"You saw me. "

"'s not here."

"What do you mean, it's not there?"

"Our garbage can is missing."

"Is anyone else's there?"

"Everyone else's is here!"

"Are you sure it isn't in the ditch?"

Allie looks around for an over-sized gray can she may have missed lying on its side somewhere close by. "Yeah, I'm sure."

"Someone stole our garbage can? With the garbage in it?"

I just started to laugh. I mean, who steals a garbage can, anyway? Either someone who really can't afford to go out and buy one, or a bunch of kids playing a prank. Either way, I had to laugh. It was before 7 am and it was just too funny.

Hubby called the trash company, and the local cops, and they both said the same thing: "Yeah, that's been happening a lot around that area lately."


Part 2

Last night we went out to dinner, tried a new restaurant in a nearby town. It was about 6 or so when we left, and pouring rain. About a mile down the road, in front of a little historic farmhouse, sits a garbage can.

Now, no one's lived in that farmhouse for, let's say 100 years, and the local historic society uses it only a few times a year for Step-Back-inTime Open Houses. Hubby and I both look at each other.

"You think that's our garbage can?" More laughter.

On our way back, we stopped (still pouring rain, by the way) and checked. We'd left a bunch of black electrical tape around the handle, and lo and behold, this can had the same sort of tape wrapped around the handle! Even better, no garbage inside! Hey, thanks to whomever dumped it for us, anyway. (Note to anyone who might be worried about them going through and getting personal info: we burn everything paper, which means the only thing inside was some nasty food products and used plastic wrap, I think).

So we have our garbage can back, a little beat up and worse for wear (I think they dragged it down the road for a while). And I guess that means it was kids, screwing around. While theft doesn't thrill me, I suppose if the worst thing the local teens are doing is taking garbage cans and dropping them off a mile down the road, I can live with it.

You've gotta laugh, right?

Friday, March 07, 2008


"The best style is the style you don't notice." ~Somerset Maugham

I'm so glad it's Friday!

Some good news to report: I wrote a whopping 4ooo words on One Night in Napa yesterday and am really liking the direction it's going, so far. The hero and heroine have met and sparks are flying - not the good kind, though. More like they can't stand the sight of one another. She thinks he's too good-looking and arrogant, and he thinks she's over-reacting and snooty. Of course, I guess I can't make them *so* opposite and contradictory that they have no desire to ever get together :)

Do any other writers out there have a hard time getting feedback from their beta readers? I'm still so nervous whenever I get an email that says "So I've finished reading the first half of the story, and..." No matter how times I've posted on a writers' board, or how many times I've read a chapter out loud at critique, or sent it on with crossed fingers to another person for a fresh look, I always wait with a churning stomach to hear what they will say. I guess it's like your baby, sent out into the big bad world, and of course you want people to fall in love with it, and think it's adorable and coo and say it's the best thing you've ever created...

But you know, in the March Romance Writers Report, there's a really good article on rejection, and how it prepares you for the rough world of publishing and marketing. Those authors who sell their first manuscript with ease sometimes run into difficulty down the road, when their 2nd or 3rd isn't as well-received. I think feedback works the same way: you have to be able to take it, to look at it objectively and make your work better because of it. So to all my beta readers out there who also read this blog, I do appreciate much!!

I'm off to my local RWA chapter meeting tomorrow, which I'm looking forward to since I missed the last one. I may even read the first chapter of Napa for critique, if I'm feeling particularly brave. :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Spring Showers and American Idol

First, a quick promo mention: Samhain and Coffee Time Romance are sponsoring a terrific "Spring Showers" Event that will last nearly a month...excerpts by Samhain authors and chances to win prizes! Yes, I'm participating, and even better: you'll get to see some excerpts from One Night in Memphis, my novel that's releasing with them in July. It doesn't start until next week, but mark your calendars...and I'll remind you as well...


Well, I tried it again this year. I tried to watch American Idol. I will admit that I watched, enraptured, for the first 4 seasons. After that it seemed to get *so* staged, and so overly dramatic, that I lost interest. I'm also quite suspicious that as much as they claim "America votes" and picks the winner, really, the producers of the show decide who the winner will be.

Anyway, I gave it a shot and watched both the Top 10 Men (Tuesday night) and the Top 10 Women (last night). My thoughts? Without having seen anything else of the hype leading up to it, I thought the men overall were better - and more notable. The women seemed to be mostly carbon copies, either of each other or of other singers. There were also some really rough notes for many of the women. (Hubby walked through the room at one point and said, "Is someone strangling cats in here??")

If I had to pick, I'd say David Cook singing "Hello" (in a very cool modern version) and Jason Castro singing "Hallelujah" were the best of the men, and Amanda Overmyer singing "Hate Myself for Loving You" and Brooke White singing "Love is a Battlefield" were the best of the women. But who knows? It's so much about popularity and the sad story behind the face, and who AI producers think they need this year.

Anyone else watching it this season? Anyone else have an opinion?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with E.J. Vance

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm chatting with E.J. Vance, poet and novelist. He's the author of The Revelations of Minister Skyddz, which he describes as a "version of the Bible that will appeal to bikers, prostitutes, and college students." It's due out in January 2009, so keep an eye out when next winter rolls around. Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy...

Hi E.J., and thanks for joining me today! So when did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment inyour life that triggered your desire to write?

I began writing 'poetry' for local bands, with an idea toward forming a band as the lead singer/songwriter. I was 15 or-so, and thought it would be easy. Except I was scared of performing onstage. It didn't work out well.

Can you tell us about your latest writing project or published title?

I have several projects I'm working on currently. Mostly, it's poetry. But, I'm also (among other things) writing the sequel to my first book, The Revelations of Minister Skyddz, which is estimated to be released in January, 2009, with Swimming Kangaroo Books. I expect to do a series of 4-6, based on my own religious beliefs, but, from a (hopefully) humorousperspective. The Revelations of Minister Skyddz is an Alternate Creation Theory, which casts God and the Archangels, more or less as bikers/rock musicians. In the first book, God is suddenly up for re-election, and, the opponent is The Infidel.

Wow, sounds very interesting. So how do you go about developing your characters?

I shape my characters after people I know, or people I have a strong impression of.

What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I generally read fantasy/science fiction, or horror. I guess my favorite author is either Tad Williams, or Stephen King.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

Mostly, the difficulties I have are inner: finding exactly the right word!

Ah, I can appreciate that! Well, what do you like to do when you're not writing?

I like to draw. I love music; I'm a bassist in a band, which is creating a new genre. I also like to play horseshoes.

Sounds like you find time to relax and enjoy life - always important. Do you have a favorite movie? Did it inspire your writing in any way?

Blazing Saddles, and, Young Frankenstein. I wouldn't say that the movies inspired me. But Mel Brooks inspires me a helluva lot!

E.J. thanks so much for being here today - best of luck with your novel and with all your future writing!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Teaching is Like That

"Teachers affect eternity. They never know where their influence ends." ~Anonymous

Every so often, amid the piles of paperwork on my desk, and the zeroes in the gradebook for work not done, and the incessant number of times I have to tell my students to stop talking and get to work, a day happens that reminds me how much fun it is to be a teacher.

Like yesterday, when Mike stopped by my room between classes to talk about last week's episode of "Lost." And when Dee wanted to show me her brand new S-with-an-arrow-through-it tattoo, because after all we're both Sagittarians and that makes me cool in her eyes. And when Jill asked me if I was coming to her high school graduation, three months from now. And when Alex, my stutterer with the attitude, volunteered to read the part of Iago in English class, even though he had the most lines, because it's the coolest character in the play. And when Nick the football player arrived early for class so he could sit in my office and read the paper and tell me he was having a five-star day, according to his horoscope.

It's that time of year when we actually become people to each other, rather than just teacher and student, when you can see that you've built a relationship there, after days and weeks of trying to set down rules and trying to show them to care about words and writing. It's a very cool thing, and it always takes me by surprise.

It also reminds me of the power we have, as individuals. Not just teachers (though I often think of that: what a strange, giddy honor it is, to be entrusted with shaping someone else's child...) but people in general. You never know the influence you can have on someone else. The person in the store that you let ahead in line. The child whose family you sponsor on the angel tree during the holidays. The struggling author whose blog you visit every day. The person you smile at on the train. The neighbor you wave to.

I think that's why writing is so cool too. People you don't know and will never meet can potentially pick up your books and be changed by them. A stranger from the other side of the world can email and say "I loved your story and it made me smile." Just think of the people you can touch. It's a crazy concept...

Monday, March 03, 2008

What Happens when the Well Runs Dry?

"Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all." ~Abraham Lincoln

OK, I'd like to know how many writers out there have ever felt the same way: there is a finite number of stories we can create.

I read an author interview recently where the woman said that at any given time, she had at least 50 story ideas running through her head. Whoa. That scares me.

Because I don't even know if I have more than 5. Seriously. I mean, I do have this file of possible story ideas that I add to whenever inspiration hits me, but I don't think there are more than 10 or so in there. And I really can't imagine being the kind of person who has all these fabulous, complex plotlines coming at her from every direction. I do worry that there will come a time when I have nothing left to write.

I mean, no story is original anyway, right? Everything's been done before; you just have to figure out a way to do it and be new about it. But sometimes the challenge of doing that, of really creating a new and different angle on a storyline, is rather daunting.

I shouldn't worry now. I'm quite pleased with my characters and my plot for One Night in Napa. And yesterday I got some wonderful feedback from one of my dear critique partners about Summer's Song.

Still, every once in a while that sneaky little doubter in my conscience creeps in and whispers, "Oh, yeah? But what next? What happens when you finish this one? What's next if you're lucky enough to sell this one? That story idea is passe, and that one's already been done a hundred times, and that one's too predictable, and..."

So tell me: how do you come up with new and interesting and original ideas to keep the words flowing? And how do you keep the doubt away?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

"Lord! when you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book." ~Christopher Morley

Just a quick blog today, since yesterday I spent the entire day running a bake sale and helping out at an adoption event for the animal shelter I volunteer was a good day, but that means that today's my only one to do all that catch-up weekend stuff before I go back to work again!

I wanted to mention the May 17-18 Philadelphia Book Festival, which has a tremendous program this year, with all kinds of authors and publishers featuring their work, as well as shows and events for kids and adults alike. Samhain will have a table there, and I'll be handing out promo stuff Saturday and possibly Sunday as well...if anyone's in the area, stop by! The whole day is free.

And I also wanted to put in a plug for The Long and the Short of It's St. Patrick's Day Contest. Look what you can win:

*All Romance Ebooks donated - One Free Download
*Black Lyon Ebooks donated - One Free Download
*Linden Bay Romance donated - One Free Download
*Tease Publishing donated - $10 worth of free books
*The Wild Rose Press donated - Two (2) $5 Gift Certificates
*Writer's Exchange donated - $10 Gift Certificate
*The Long and the Short of It donated - a $10 Gift Certificate from Amazon.

Two (2) Second Place Prizes
Donated by The Long and the Short of It:
$5 Gift Certificate from
$5 Gift Certificate from Samhain Publishing
$5 Gift Certificate from Fictionwise

Go on over and take a look!