Monday, October 30, 2006

The Carnival of Christian Writers

You can catch me over there today, along with a lot of other cool writer types. So . . . what are you waiting for?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Calvin as a Photog?

I went to download pictures off my digital camera the other day in preparation for the trip to see the Blue Angels. I wanted to make sure I had as much space as possible. I really need to get a memory card for that thing. Anyhow, I was surprised to find 17 pictures on it since I only remembered taking a few. It was still sitting in the dock, recharging.

I pressed the button to transfer the pictures. And was quite surprised to find these.

Somehow “Calvin” figured out how to 1) take the camera off the dock, 2) turn it on, and 3) take pictures with it. Pretty good for a five year old. A lot of adults can’t get that far.

Given the unique composition and his approach to the subject matter, I’m thinking he might have a future as a photojournalist. Certainly this looks like an abstract painting, the colors bold and slightly out of focus, yet not hiding the power of the dinosaur. And the material is unique, showing his out-of-the box creativity: it's one of his shirts.

Here I think he's saying something about scale. Buzz is a space ranger, so clearly his powers exceed that of a mere helicopter.

And this one. Certainly he's making a statement about his desire to learn to read so the "light" will go on. Or maybe we've sung "This Little Light of Mine" one too many times. Or maybe he just likes anything that looks like fire.

Again with the perspective. Maybe he wants to feel bigger than a car?

Of course all of this presupposes he lives to see six. He and his sister were trying to lower each other over the wall from the loft to the stairwell using a jump rope. Luckily, they were trying to pull UP and neither was strong enough. However, there are now rope burns on the wall. So, maybe a rappelling photo journalist?

One other thing. If you’re curious about what kind of purses different writers would carry, check out Jenny’s blog. Can you guess the genre by the purse?

Back yard update: The work has begun, so more on that later.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Leslie and Russell at Scenes and Beans

If you’re a Russell Fink fan (and, really, who isn’t?) hop over to Scenes and Beans, and see how he and Leslie meet up. Leave a comment if you’re so inclined.

The fun thing about this post was that Mike and I actually got to write it together in Dallas instead of e-mailing copies back and forth. It’s always interesting writing with a partner. Everyone has his or her own way of coming up with ideas and putting them down on paper, so even though we’ve been crit partners for a year, I wasn’t sure how that would translate into actually writing together.

I should have known. We only disagreed on one point (which I let him win) and had way too much fun writing together . . . and honestly, I had no idea what to expect when he e-mailed me the final file after I got home. We were getting pretty silly at the end. But it turned out so much better than anything we would have written separately.

And guess what? Apparently you can say dog poop in the CBA.

. . .

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Blue Angels and Balloons

We went to see the Blue Angels Friday. They haven’t been in the Valley since 2001. We’ve seen the Thunderbirds twice out at Luke AFB since we’ve been here, but the Blue Angels always feel a little bit like home. In Orange County we lived near the now-shuttered El Toro MCAS and the Blue Angels would come to the air show there every year. For three days we could stand on our back patio and watch the whole show.

I haven’t seen the Blue Angels in nearly ten years, but earlier this year on the Military Channel, they did a documentary on them, following them through their training and show circuit. What always amazes me is the small or nonexistent margin for error. You space out for a second or have an off day and you can take yourself and your fellow pilots into eternity in an instant. Not exactly like writing where you get multiple chances to get it right.

The great thing about this air show was that it was a smaller, private airfield. We went on Friday, the practice day, so it wasn’t crowded at all, and we were close to the centerline on the airfield. Which meant that, at points, they were only 50 feet above our heads.

When I watch them, for just a minute, I forget there’s such a thing as gravity.

The other cool thing was the after-dark show. A plane danced across the sky with pyrotechnics coming off the wings and shooting flares. I’ve never seen anything like it. Then the hot air balloons lined up on the flight line, and began inflating. It was cool to see that happen, these giant balloons swaying in the evening breeze like giant Japanese lanterns.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Not Really News

I'm sure this isn't news to any of you, and I am woefully late getting it posted, but I still wanted to take the opportunity to brag on my awesome friend and crit partner, Mike Snyder. In case a few of you hadn't heard the news yet. Mike was selected as the editor's choice in fiction for the new literary journal, Relief for his short story "All Healed Up". I've read the story, and it's my personal favorite . . .

Subscribe to Relief to get Mike's story and all the other selections of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Also, Relief is looking for submissions, so if you have something to submit, send it in. And go check out Relief's website. Mike's bio is the most entertaining.

Also, Robin Cynclair has good news. Her romantic suspense, Bayou Burning was contracted by Steeple Hill. Yay Robin!

Anyone else have any writing news to share?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Blog Tour with Alison Strobel

Between here and the past, there lies a place……a place of longing for what has been rather than hoping for what could be.

A true artist, Violette is passionate and emotional. Climbing back into life after suffering a loss, she teeters on the precipice of a new relationship with Christian, a psychologist who not only understands her struggles but offers safety and his heart. As Violette and Christian begin to feel something they both thought impossible, tragedy strikes again. Violette becomes trapped in a place of past memories–and she finds that she may not want to come back.

What would it be like to choose a place between the past and the present?

This is the dilemma facing Violette in Violette Between, Alison Strobel's latest book that is on blog tour this week.

I really enjoyed this book. If you like Lisa Samson and Susan Meissner, there's a good chance you'll like Alison Strobel. Her use of language and her ability to look at honest emotions in nontypical ways make this book refreshing. And if I weren't so tired, I could probably say something even more descriptive about it.

And here's an interesting fact: Alison and I also lived in the same condo complex in Orange County at the same time for about a year. Although we didn't know it at the time. So, if that's not reason enough to go out and buy the book, I don't know what is.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Our House

We're officially in our new house now. It's been an interesting experience. First of all, my poor cat, Duchess, has been through more moves than she has lives. Poor thing. One time when Peter and I moved into married student housing at UCI we couldn't find her for the longest time. Until I opened up the kitchen drawer. It stuck. I pulled harder. It opened to reveal black striped fur. I screamed and jumped back before I realized it was her. She had climbed up inside it from a cupboard and was hiding. At least is wasn't a giant mouse. We had plenty of the little ones there, which kept Duchess busy.

I'd like to think that after all the moves she's adapted. But this time around, we moved with a dog, something she hadn't experienced before. She got to ride in the middle seat between the kids in her carrier while Charlie was in the back drooling on her. She stayed very quiet the whole trip instead of meowing pitieously as usual.

Here, almost everyone is in one of the building trades, plus there's a sheriff's deputy and a Navy guy. And about 15 kids on our cul-de-sac. Should be great for the kids.

But one of the best things for me was driving out here among the sheep and the cows and seeing the stars. We can see stars. Now we could see stars at our old house. Never could in California. But here, there's zero light pollution. Very, very cool.

And I've included a few pictures of our new neighbors.

And last, but not least, Arizona snow, AKA cotton.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I'll Be Back Soon . . . Promise

I know I need to blog about something, and I have some ideas, but I'm a little distracted right now with moving and other things . . .

But later this week I'll have an interview with Alison Strobel, author of Violette Between and Worlds Collide. She and I have an interesting connection, but you'll have to read the interview to find out.

So until then, feel free to make up random comments. Probably will be more interesting than anything I could come up with right now anyway.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Our New Backyard

We got the drawings from the landscape designer this week for the backyard on our new house. I was pretty amazed. Considering Peter and I designed and put in the whole landscaping at our current house, it was such a relief to have someone else do all the heavy lifting of the design work and physical labor. The fact that the builder was throwing this package in was a major factor in selling us on the house. The backyard is a quarter of an acre, about twice the size of what we have right now, and I can't imagine doing all that work myself.

Unlike the first landscaper we worked with (and subsequently got fired), this guy was amazing. It was so much fun to sit down with him with the prelimary sketch I'd made and have him refine it and make suggestions that made the backyard exactly what I wanted. Reminded me a lot of the critique/editing process in writing. Two large grass areas and a play area surround the central patio with a built-in barbeque and bar. The trees are situated to block the neighbors' houses but not our view of the mountains. And the plants were specificially chosen to be rolling palette of color.

It may seem like I'm putting a lot of importance on the backyard. One of the reasons we moved to Arizona was to have a yard. In California, we never would have been able to afford a house with an actual yard. But with two kids who have a LOT of energy and gorgeous weather nine months out of the year here, the backyard is an extension of our house. It's where we'll spend most of our time. And if the kids are happy out there running around, I can sit on my porch swing and get some writing done. Of course as Malia will probably tell you, Charlie, the dumb dog, thinks he belongs on the porch swing. I really don't like dog hair in my laptop.

Come Thanksgiving, the whole yard should be done. I can't wait.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I Thought I Left That in California

This was the interesting sight outside my back window today.

When we moved out here from California, I thought we’d gotten away from brushfires. But last night, someone set the field behind us on fire. Now it’s an alfalfa field, so there’s not a lot to burn. But it’d been recently harvested and plowed over, and with our near-zero humidity, the plants were drying out. So it caught fire and burned pretty good for about an hour and then smoldered for another ten. It closed one of only two exits for us out of our subdivision and the lack of a breeze last night caused the smoke to hang over us like dirty fog. This morning our garage smelled like someone had a campfire in it.

So today I’m out front putting new plants in the planter when I hear the fire trucks. They get closer. I hear them come up the street behind us where the field is. I figure last night’s fire has flared back up, so I go upstairs to the playroom to look out.

There are flames directly behind our house. I’m not overly worried. We have a landscaped yard and a tile roof. These flames are only a couple of feet high, nothing like the twenty-foot monsters in Southern California that create their own deadly weather by sucking oxygen out of the air.

The fire department got this one put out quickly. Unlike in Southern California, there are a lot of people on our street that stay home during the day. Our neighbor had seen the flames and called 911. He talked to the police and firemen. Apparently, they’re investigating it as arson. And there’s still more stuff out there to burn. So you can bet I’ll be checking back there every so often to see if someone’s going to go for a third time.

Funny thing. The book I’m supposed to be working on right now, the second in the series, is about, you guessed it, a fireman. You know, I’m all for research, but this might be a little too close to home.

And, Michelle, see, there are trees in Arizona. :)

. . .