Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween is 'pooky

I'm feeling more scared than normal on this fine Halloween morning, but it's not because of what you think. Yes, there will be a few parties tonight that I still don't have a costume for, but that's not why I'm scared.

Last night I sent The Other Side to my two friends who promised to read and critique it over the next month or so. Aside from the first couple pages, no one has read any of it and I'm anxious to hear what they think. I like the story and I believe it has potential, but it's difficult to judge the quality of your own writing.

Meanwhile, NaNo begins in fourteen hours and I still need to work on my outline. I have about 500 words of notes, plus a paragraph summarizing each of the first five chapters, but I need a bit more substance if I plan to make it through this. One weird coincidence - last night I was reading the Self magazine my friend brought for me and there's a section where they give you tips to make small changes in your life in three, five, or ten minutes. The three-minute tip for November is:

Start Writing a Novel.

(Pardon the laughter. I thought writing a novel in a month was a feat, but three minutes? But I know what they mean.)

The article goes on to explain NaNoWriMo and gives three tips from published NaNo veterans:

• Find a Personal Storyline (write what you know)

• Turn Off That Critic in Your Head (allow yourself to write crap)

• Stay Motivated (write with friends!)

All good advice, and I'd like to pass that along to all my writing friends, whether you're doing NaNo or not.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I know some people take offense to celebrities getting political, but this is non-partisan. The message speaks for itself.

A Little Panicky

I preparation for NaNo, last night I went through the calendar on my computer and figured out where my word count needs to be each day. I set it up so that I can enter what the actual word count is, followed by a slash and the goal number. Right now they look like this: #/1667. That's day one.

I started freaking out at day seven: #/11,669.

Then day fourteen (halfway mark): #/23,338.

I knew day thirty is 50,000 - that's the whole point of the competition - but when I wrote it out like that, it suddenly struck me how much competitors are expected to write. To give a little perspective, my current wip is stuck at 45,000 words and I started that last MARCH. Granted I wasn't very focused and took week-long breaks several times, but holy cow.

I fixed the plot hole in my other wip yesterday so now I have a couple days to focus on my outline and character building. I'm wrapping up a freelance project this morning so hopefully I can split my time evenly between writing and web design.

If you're doing NaNo, do you already have an outline? Are you ready to go?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hacked Email

My hotmail account was apparently hacked. The email's subject is "Hey, What's Up". I sent a notice to hotmail along with the offending email, and I apologize to any of you who received it. Ibis had this happen last week and another friend the week before, so maybe you too will have this happen soon.


Busy Week Before a Busy Month

My girlfriend flew home yesterday (we had a WONDERFUL time), then last night we had drinks with a friend from high school that I haven't seen in at least ten years. He's here on his honeymoon so we interrupted the romance for a little get-together. After four days of relaxing and not thinking about anything but what to eat next, I have a lot to do!

As most of you know, NaNo starts this Saturday and I'll have to write 1667 words every day of November. In the next few days I need to put together an outline so that once I start writing I can just concentrate on the story. I don't want to waste time trying to think of what happens next if I can get it organized now. I also have a few more details to wrap up with The Other Side (that's on the schedule for today) before sending it to my readers on the 1st.

In addition, Ibis' boss wants me to design and launch a new website for the hotel by December 1st. I'm excited to do it and figure multiple projects for November will keep me focused, but I still have a minor detail - I need to learn the program. I started over the summer but haven't gone back to the tutorials since August, so it looks like I need to start managing my time better. :)

I'm also working on a site for my dad and the family, so that will fall into place along with the hotel site. AND, my one client here is ready to send an outstanding project to the printer. I'm happy to get that wrapped up, but it's amazing how everything happens at once!

Thanks to my friend who visited, I have a little help. Presents!

(ETA: there's a description of the Writer's Toolbox in the comments.)

She also delivered the 2009 Writer's Market so I can get started with freelance writing. Looks like 2009 will be a busy year for me. :)

(I can't get it to turn, sorry for the sideways picture)


Finally, Colby put together a HILARIOUS video in honor of my blog.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Year Later

It's my first blogging anniversary AND my brother's birthday. Happy birthday Brian. :)

Looking back over this past year, I suppose the best thing is I'm still writing. When I first decided to write my memoir last summer I had no idea if I'd finish the manuscript, let alone keep writing and finish another story. My novel isn't as long as I'd like but it IS a complete story. And now I'm getting ready to start my NEXT novel.

Personally I don't think I've changed at all in the past year. Our lives are sadly stagnant and we're still waiting for news from the DHS. We recently found out it might be another couple months longer than we thought, and we may not get an answer until next spring. I think writing has helped me through the past year and I'm thankful that it's found its way back into my life.

How about you? Where are you compared to this time last year? Do you feel like you're spinning your wheels or have you grown, either in your writing or personal lives?

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Friend Arrives in Three Hours!

Yay! My best friend is on her way here. I think right at this second she's at the Houston airport, but she lands here at 2pm and I am so excited!

I probably won't post much while she's here but Sunday IS the one-year anniversary from when I started this blog, so I might break my new "Silent Sundays" and post something. Maybe a haiku, lol.

I'm feeling a little loopy from the humidity and a headache, so I'll spare you the mental meanderings today. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Research & Plot Holes

While I said I finished my first round of edits the other day, there's still a lot to do. I spent a good part of the afternoon yesterday researching the area where my novel takes place - looking at pictures to make sure the setting is accurate and reading articles about illegal activity there.

I found several disturbing articles - including this, which happened near where my conclusion takes place - and a 5-minute video called The Other Side (d'oh!) about illegals crossing with a coyote.

I also needed to look into a couple small town that I've literally picked off a map. I needed to find out a little more about the topography and how the highways come through - all easy enough online. I know I can take creative license, but if it's mountainous and I have it flat, that's a big difference. A few well placed words and my story is more accurate.

My biggest problem arose when I found pictures of the actual border crossing. In my story, the MC and eight other men are hiding in the trunks of several cars, all of which approach the border together. They are stopped by the border patrol and my MC escapes with another man and runs into the desert.

Here's an excerpt:

Light flooded into the trunk. Two men in sunglasses and dark green uniforms looked into Mateo's eyes. Their bullet-proof vests screamed that running was not the best idea.

"Go!" Alejandro shoved him forward.

Mateo jumped but his foot caught on Alejandro's leg and he fell into the officers. His shins slammed into the edge of the car and he landed in a heap on the officers' feet.



(snip) Alejandro tackled the second officer into the first, then looked past Mateo, the fear plain on his face. Mateo glanced over his shoulder and across the line of cars to the border. More officers were running at them, guns drawn. They raced away from the car.

Shouts followed them as they reached the edge of the road.

"Don't stop." Alejandro was breathing heavily.

Mateo looked back as he ran. The trunks of the other cars were open and groups of men surrounded each one. Some were still in the trunks, but Rico was out and fighting several officers.

Why were there so many? Mateo had never been to the border, at least not one with a checkpoint, but it seemed like there were way too many police for such an insignificant crossing.

Four trucks pulled up to the small outpost, blocking the cars from going any further. Men poured out of them with much larger guns drawn. POLICIA FEDERAL was emblazoned across the sides of the vehicles and the backs of their black uniforms.

One took aim at Mateo and he dove to the ground.

Bullets hit the dirt near him, sending dust flying and exploding a cactus near his head. Pedro dove in front of him, his arms stretched out above his head. Mateo crawled to his side. "We have to keep going. Don't stop." He pushed his shoulder and recoiled. His hand was covered in blood. Pedro's blood.

Pedro gasped for breath. "Help me. Please." His shirt was quickly turning red, staining the ground beneath him. More bullets whizzed inches above their heads.

Mateo looked into Pedro's eyes. "I'm sorry." Pedro's wheezing faded as Mateo scrambled on his hands and knees after Alejandro.

"That bastard! He's getting away!"

Mateo looked back to see Rico pointing at him.

"Mateo, come on!"

(snip) They were several hundred yards from the road, but there was little to protect them. Scrub brush and cholla cactus didn't stop bullets. Small boulders littered the ground but they did nothing but serve as obstacles as they ran.

(snip) Alejandro was leading him towards a ridge of mountains in the distance. Or more accurately, the gap in the mountains. "There's a road just past that opening. If we can get across, we're halfway there."

Now this is what the border actually looks like:

Don't they look happy?

I can fix this by having them get stopped prior to getting to the border. They get into the cars at a ranch in the desert and are on a desolate road, and that setting will work with what I've already written. Just goes to show why we have to research!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Happy Wednesday

Today is a big day!

First, my aunt Karen is being roasted over at Book Roast. If you've never heard of Book Roast, one week each month they "roast" five authors with new novels, asking silly questions about the book and the author is there to answer questions. I believe there are even prizes! I've already posted and one of the questions involves a haiku with several word prompts.

Second, Ibis has today off and he's promised to install our new toilet paper holder. This may seem like a minor thing but it's amazing how trained your brain becomes about where certain things are, and how long it can take to untrain them. I'd love to have it there before my friend arrives on Friday. :)

Third (and really most important because three is my lucky number), I finished my edits yesterday! I've been averaging about ten pages per day but forced myself to get through twenty-two. Several things tried to distract me, like a huge lightning storm (during which time I turned off the computer) and a huge fire on the hill across from our house (exciting!), but I did it. This leaves me time to do one final run-through before sending it off to my readers in time for NaNo.

Anything exciting happening today?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Crabs & Squatters

Ibis had yesterday off and we spent the afternoon driving around town and just hanging out. He works so many hours that it's been almost a year since we had an afternoon to just be with each other. After one little errand (our toilet paper holder fell apart a couple days ago) we drove to Ixtapa to get ice cream. Then we walked out to the beach.

Zihuatanejo has a bay, but Ixtapa is a straight beach and gets pounded by bigger waves. I'd say they were between 8-10 feet high, so we stuck to the shore. While standing there we noticed little crabs popping out of their holes and scurrying around in the sand. They disappear amazingly fast, but before I could stop him, Ibis tore after a particularly large one. I looked around, wondering where my grown husband went. All I saw was a ten-year old boy chasing crabs.

He managed to catch one - it didn't pinch him, even when he started playing with its eyes - and we got an up close look at yet another local creature. After a few minutes he put the crab back in the sand, then chased it all over again. I crouched down to watch the sand because every few minutes at least ten crabs would spring to the surface, scramble around, then vanish back into their holes. Very cool.

Next we drove to the opposite end of town, towards the airport, for dinner. Along the way we passed almost 100 cars parked along the highway. They were on both sides of the road, and there were also several police trucks. My first thought was they were searching for a missing person, but then we noticed a lot of them had shovels and long pieces of wood.

"They're squatters," Ibis declared.

My knowledge of squatters is they move into abandoned buildings and claim them for their own. Parking along the side of the highway didn't fit into that equation. But he went on to explain that occasionally people get together, and as a group, pick out a piece of government land to claim for their own. They offer a small amount of money (we're talking a couple hundred dollars), then set up their homes.

It all seemed very organized - the police were mainly keeping people on the shoulder of the road since they were on the HIGHWAY. I'm curious to see what the papers report and if they actually got to take the land.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Next Story

I finally have an idea for my NaNo novel, and I love it! I want to start now! I've been getting more and more frustrated with myself that I couldn't come up with a decent idea. I keep reading my writing friends' blogs and they talk about how the ideas just overflow, how they have notebooks full of ideas and they can't decide which to concentrate on. Me? I don't have that problem.

[eta: as soon as I posted this I read my cousin Jenna's blog and she talks about her many ideas. I'm so jealous!]

Since I started writing in the summer of '07 I've had a total of three ideas for books, two of which I wrote. The third is an idea based on what could have been my life if we never moved here, Ibis stayed illegal, and was one day deported, but I don't want to be that writer. The one who has one topic and keeps rehashing it over and over. What intrigued me about it was the idea of a family who on the surface appeared just like everyone else, but had a little secret. When that secret emerges, the community turns on them, and they are forced to not only deal with the trauma of the husband/father being deported but also being alienated from their friends. Everything about their lives has changed.

But I don't want to write that story.

Yesterday I forced myself to sit down with a book called Telling True Stories. It's a collaborative piece with 2-3 page articles advising writers how to do everything from interview subjects, to turning your notes into stories, to writing a narrative non-fiction book. The writers use a lot of specific examples so with each one, I wrote down a short paragraph of whatever popped into my head. Once I got my brain going, the ideas came a little faster. I had two pages of notes when I suddenly remembered a news piece I read a couple weeks ago. Here's an excerpt:

A man who woke to the screams of his daughter found a naked intruder in his home. He subdued the intruder after a prolonged struggle, while his wife called police. When the police arrived and the father released the invader, he was unresponsive.

The intruder, wearing only a mask and latex gloves, carried rope, a knife, condoms, and a gag into the house with him. When the mask was pulled off, both the father and the daughter recognized the man immediately.

The home is owned by the invader's uncle and he was an acquaintance of the family he victimized. The case will be sent to the county prosecutor's office but it is unlikely that charges will be filed.

That story stuck with me since I first read it, and I realized I could take it one step further - what if it wasn't just an acquaintance, but a close friend of the family and next door neighbor? Think of the ramifications of one man killing another in defense of his daughter, and how that affects both families. Also, this story has all the social alienation I was drawn to with my deportation story.

So, this is it. I'm very excited and can't wait to get started. I have under forty pages left to edit on my novel, then I can get working!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Silent Sundays

I've decided to skip blogging on Sundays. I hate posting things that are complete nonsense (unless they crack me up, of course - see Saturday's post) and rather than kill myself to come up with something worthy, I choose to give it a rest one day a week.

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Battleground for Your Heart

I couldn't decide what to post about today. I finished The First Five Pages and while it was helpful, it didn't fill me with the same inspiration Donald Maass did. Certainly not enough to write an entire post.

I feel a need to keep posting about politics but I know everyone is getting weary of the constant back and forth that's all over the internet. I've seen plenty of videos over the past couple weeks but have refrained from sharing. Until now.

Fellow blogger AC has posted several election videos, all of which are very entertaining. This morning I found this:

It's the perfect Saturday post! Politics and boy bands!

Have a great weekend and go check out AC's blog.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Trees & Tourists

The other day Erica asked what makes our town unique and I mentioned that the trees in Zihua are trimmed to accommodate people 5'5" and shorter. Yesterday I took pictures on my way downtown, and please note that I did not go out of my way to find these trees, this was just along my normal path.

And now, a song:

Do your trees hang low?

Do they hit you when it blows?

Do they force you off the sidewalk?

Do they smack you in the nose?

Do you get a crick in your shoulder when you're walking around town?

Then your trees hang low.


Next up, tourists! Amy made a joking (I think) request to see tourists the other day and as luck would have it, there was also a cruise ship yesterday.

First, the ship from the roof of our building.

Next, the tourists preparing for a walking tour of Zihuatanejo. This was especially funny to me because downtown Zihua - the area tourists would be interested in - is about six square blocks. To each his own.

My friend and I went to a new place for breakfast that's a block from the beach and in the middle of what's known as the pedestrian walkway. Cars aren't supposed to go through and it's a nice place to hang out. While we were eating, the tour groups started passing.

You can't really tell here, but the person in the lead in the first photo is carrying a red flag above his head so everyone can see him. They were moving so slowly that one younger couple stopped to talk to us for several minutes while the group trudged by.

A few minutes later, a second group passed.

And finally, a picture of the cruise ship from Ibis' work.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Finally Get It

We've all heard it. Show, don't tell. There's too much telling. I don't want you to tell me, you need to show me. Well that's all fine and good, but huh?

I've gone back and forth over the past year trying to wrap my mind around this concept. At its core it makes sense. Sure, we're telling a story but a good writer shows what's going on, allowing the reader to visualize the scenario.

I'm reading The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and had an a-ha moment last night. The chapter titled "Showing Versus Telling" opens with the following:

Don't tell me you love me. Show me.

A-ha! I can certainly relate to that. How many of you have said that (or at least thought it) to a loved one? I don't mean to alienate the male readers, but typically this is something women say to men. We complain that your actions don't show the love you say you feel. We don't want words, we insist, we want action.

Mmm-hmmm. Show, don't tell.

Lukeman goes on to say:

Another problem with telling is that it makes a text read more like a synopsis than a work of art. With this type of writing, you often walk away feeling as if you've read an outline of a story, a description of what's supposed to happen, of what characters are supposed to be like, but you don't feel as if you've experienced any of it, as if you've walked in the characters' shoes, cried or dodged bullets with them.

After reading the chapter I think I've done a fairly good job of catching myself when I'm about to tell. There are several scenes where I start by saying "Mateo watched as the woman crossed the room." By dropping "Mateo watched," it turns into showing. "The woman walked across the room." I've already established that the story is told from Mateo's perspective; I don't need to keep reminding the reader.

I hope this helps those of you struggling with showing vs. telling.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mixing Things Up

Editing is going pretty well so far. I'm finding that my brain needs a break after about ten pages, but I'm making steady progress. I'll need to really push over the next week if I want to get through this draft before my friend arrives, but I think I can do it.

Aside from shuffling phrases and dumping -ing words, I've had to do a bit of research. I wrote the first draft without worrying about little things, including the name of the town where a large chunk of the story takes place, so now I need to figure that out. My friend Turkey Lurkey (yes, that's an alias) gave me some incredible information about the location that will bring an authenticity to another level. That, combined with the notes I took while we were near the border last spring, should make the story believable.

Another issue I've had to tackle is my characters' names. My story is mostly populated with Mexican men and I named them after people we know. The personalities didn't necessarily match up with the people whose names I used - they were merely placeholders - and I knew I'd have to change them at some point. One in particular is I have a gay bartender named after one of Ibis' good friends, and I didn't think he'd appreciate that too much. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

So yesterday I found a baby name website that has an option for Spanish male names and went to town. Problem is I changed so many names that I can't keep anyone straight! Before you ask, yes I have them all written down, but I think I'll need to put a sticky on my monitor so I don't have to keep looking in my notebook.

How about you? Any funny editing stories to share?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Alarm Clock

This is what I wake up to every morning. I've been meaning to share for a while but bringing the camera to bed is not always first on my mind.

This is the actual view when I'm lying down.

And, I repainted the kitchen wall yesterday! It had taken a beating with all the concrete, etc, so I picked a more vibrant color. It's not as dark as I'd hoped but I still like it. Today I'm going to repaint a small wall near the bathroom that was the same gross orangey color. Then I'll try to get back to editing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

More Inspiration

This is my desktop picture. I believe it's in the desert, and if you look closely, you'll see there are mountains, and in the distance a small town. My novel, The Other Side, takes place in a setting almost identical to this (minus the lightning). I found this picture in my computer's preset desktop images. I was looking for a dark background so we could watch the debates (CNN's viewer doesn't go full screen on Macs) and froze when I came across this one. It's almost EXACTLY how I've pictured the scene in my head.

In my story, the distant lights are the first city on the other side of the border and Mateo can see them while he struggles in the desert. They are his beacon, a source of hope and inspiration. At first he thinks he'll be able to run across the road that divides the two countries and be on his way, but border patrol and corrupt military officers make the crossing nearly impossible. Even when he almost gives up, those lights continue to shine.

Now they shine for me as well. I've caught myself staring at this picture when I get stuck on a detail and so far it's always worked itself out. And of course I'm picturing this as the cover. :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

If This Keeps Up I'll Be Able to Wash My Hair

Thanks everyone for the well wishes yesterday. There were a couple hours of really heavy rain - I had towels draped on the windows and had to wring them out every ten minutes - but otherwise it was business as usual. The temperature dropped to the low 70s and I wore a long sleeve shirt for the third time since we've lived here. Better yet, we slept without a fan! What a nice change from the scorching heat.

Today the sun is back out and the clouds are fluffy white. I don't think this is the last of the hard rain, but for now I'm taking advantage of the nice weather. Since our washing machine is on the deck, it's a little challenging to do laundry during a storm, and I have to jump on it when the sun peeks out.

One other thing I plan to do today? Wash my hair. I think I've mentioned that we don't have hot water. Instead the water temperature is dependent on the amount of sun during the day. It's stored in large black containers on the roof called tanakas and when it's sunny we have hot water. On the flip side, when it's stormy and gloomy, we have freezing cold water. On days like yesterday I try to jump around before my shower so I work up a sweat, but it just wasn't happening. The water was so cold my breath caught as soon as I stepped in and I made the quick decision to skip washing my hair. I typically lather, rinse, repeat every other day but due to the storms I think today is Day #4 sans shampoo. Aren't you glad I'm thousands of miles away? ;)

I only edited three pages yesterday. It's hard to concentrate when you have to wring out towels and mop EVERY ten minutes. I'm hoping today will be a little more productive since my self-imposed deadline is in less than two weeks. Then my BFF will be here, and as soon as she leaves - NaNo!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Surrounded by Hurricanes

I'm sure most of you have heard about the hurricane that hit landfall in Mexico on the Gulf side a couple days ago. We've had a bit more rain than normal so I commented to Ibis that it must be from the hurricane.

"Yeah," he said, pointing at his computer. "Look at this. It's supposed to rain for the next five days."

Fabulous. Apparently Hurricane Norbet is about to hit the Baja Peninsula, while Hurricane Odile is just off the coast of Acapulco. For you geography buffs (or non-buffs, since the buffs would already know) we're pretty far south of the Baja, but only three hours north of Acapulco. So Odile is coming our way! Here's a satellite picture to give you an idea of what we're in for.

Our TV satellite - and sometimes the internet - stop working when we have a lot of rain, so it looks like I'll be getting lots of editing done. :)

ETA: The TV is down, the phone is out, and water is determined to come through my windows. Am I supposed to edit during this?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Advice, Please?

If you've read my blog for any length of time then you're aware of my eternal battle with the ants. I won't post all the links here, but there's an "ant" tag on the side if you care to refresh your memory.

[ETA: I lied. The link says animals.]

During my trip to the states last month, the ants quadrupled their population AND moved beyond the kitchen. The most perplexing: my desk. I cannot even tell you how many ants I've had crawling on my arms, my legs, my face... but that's not what I need help with.

My bigger problem is they've started hanging out inside my computer. A couple nights ago I noticed a little brown ant crawling on my monitor. I flicked it as I do all the ants (I also squish them but didn't want to do that on the screen) but it didn't move. I looked closer and realized it was IN the computer. I don't know much about the mechanics of a flat-screen iMac, but it was behind the outermost panel (the clear screen) and running around right behind it. I had my very own live version of that bug video people like to put in their signatures. Very cute.

Shortly after that I discovered ants on my keyboard. I flicked them off but soon noticed something much more disturbing: they were coming from inside the keyboard. Now, I just bought a new keyboard and it's very flat - we're talking 1/4" - so there's not a lot of room to set up shop. Nonetheless, over the past three days I've killed about thirty ants that insist on hanging out in there.

You can imagine the fun. It's not easy to smoosh something on your keyboard without hitting the actual keys, and I've discovered some interesting things online in my attempt to destroy them. I do eat at my desk but I'm very careful not to spill (thanks Jeff), so I don't know why they're there.

Tapping on the keyboard seems to draw them out, and I've sprayed condensed air to scare them away, but they keep coming back. Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Anyone Have 20K Words to Spare?

I did it! I forced myself to actually TURN OFF the internet and I finished my wip. I wrote about 2000 words yesterday, which didn't add nearly as many as I need, but it's all there. The loose ends are tied up, a couple people die, and I still feel really good about it.

I have two friends lined up to read/critique it for me so I hope to get through it a couple more times between now and the end of this month. During that time I'd also like to get working on an outline for my new idea so I've got plenty to keep me busy. Thanks again for all the suggestions the other day - you've really got my mind churning (in a good way).

I'm not feeling too well today so I'm going to keep this short, but I have to share one final thing. This morning while I was on the path near the ocean I saw a sting ray! A really big one (3-4 feet across) with spots. I know a man who snorkels in that area and he sees them all the time, but that was a first for me. As I watched it flip around in the shallow water I looked up and saw a cruise ship turning into the bay. Not a bad way to start the morning. :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Duck, Duck...

(I apologize in advance to my Republican readers. This is all in good fun.)

I think I've figured out why McCain picked Palin as his running mate.

I don't know how I didn't make this connection before, but while reading Colby's blog post about snakes, the word maverick kept coming up. I realize that on the surface the two don't have much in common, but read her post and it'll all make sense. Anyway, as far as I know, no one has made the connection to the most famous maverick of all.

Pete Mitchell.

Iceman's wing man.

Um, Top Gun anyone?

Despite my current views on Mr. Cruise, he is the original Maverick.

Now that we're all on the same page, let's discuss his sidekick. Goose. Do you see where I'm going with this? You can't have a Maverick without a Goose, so...

Let's compare for a moment. She's most comfortable outdoors, her feathers are easily ruffled, and her honking - while cute at first - grates on your nerves after a few minutes. Personally, I'd much prefer she be in the kitchen (because her kitchen is in Alaska & far away from the rest of the US) than flying all over the country, squawking at people and leaving a trail of... er, excrement.

The good news is it's about time for the Canadian* geese to migrate, so she should be out of our hair soon.

* I know she's not Canadian, but it's right there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

You Make the Call!

I need some advice. NaNo starts November 1st and my task this month is to come up with an idea for my novel. We aren't allowed to write anything ahead of time, but you can outline, so that's what I need to do. A week or so ago I got a spark of an idea and wrote about 100 words. Yes, I realize that technically that goes against the rules, but I'll set my bar at 50,100 and call it even.

Following is the passage I wrote, but I'm stuck from that point on and can't decide where it should go. It's possible this is nothing and will never go anywhere, but I'm excited to try writing something completely different - a non-Mexican story, if you will.

What I'm hoping to get from you, my loving readers, is some input on where it could go. I'm thinking a conspiracy of some sort (the clue is the key) but I've never attempted anything like this and I know I'll need an outline to guide me. So please let me know what you think. And have I mentioned how beautiful and/or handsome you look today?


Michael watched the blood run down Ashley's face. Over her eyes that he'd just kissed last night, around her nose that crinkled when she laughed. The blood dripped off her lips, those soft full lips that would haunt him in his dreams.

The hole was tiny. A nine millimeter. With all the blood you almost couldn't see it.

She lay slumped against the wall. Her eyes were glazing over. The splatter was higher up, a dark stain on the white concrete, then streaked along the path where she fell. She still held the key, but her grip loosened as the minutes passed.

Michael rubbed his hand over his face, then turned and looked over his shoulder. "What the hell did you do that for?"


This could use tweaking, I know, but in the spirit on NaNo I don't want to write any more. I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

Monday, October 6, 2008

One Thing Off My List

I just signed a two-month lease for an apartment for my dad. He's going to stay here in Zihua this winter and asked us, oh... about five months ago, to find him something. Last week I found a small place right in the middle of town and today I paid in full.

Most business transactions here take several steps, and this was no different. Thursday I found the place, then Friday we saw it. We knew we'd have to pay right away if we liked it (similar to renting places in high-demand cities like Chicago and New York) so I ran to the ATM to get the cash. But, ATMs only allow a certain amount each day, and this amount equaled 500 pesos less than the cost of the apartment. So we agreed I would return Saturday to pay for the second month.

Saturday I went downtown and took out another maximum amount from the ATM, then stopped by Ibis' bank because I needed the extra 500 pesos. I arrived at the apartment and was told the guy wasn't there. I went home.

Yesterday we tried calling but the number on his card didn't work. In Mexico, when you call a cell phone you have to dial 044 before the 10-digit number, but the card said 045. Finally today I decided maybe the card was misprinted and dialed 044. Voila. He was there and we made an appointment. Keep in mind that the entire time I knew I needed to call I was panicking because I hate talking on the phone in Spanish. I do much better in person.

An hour and a half letter I had a contract in my hand, but it doesn't end there. We have until mid-November to finalize the exact dates, to account for flights and all that, but I told him the exact date today. Nonetheless, the contract says I need to tell him by December the exact exact dates he'll check in. *sigh*

At least we're paid and my dad has someplace to stay. He can stay with us, too, but two months is an awfully long time to have three people in a 600 square foot condo. My mom can stay with him when she comes for a week, and now I hear my brother might come for a week as well. Yay!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Life Without the Internet

Our internet died Friday afternoon and we finally got it working this morning. Thankfully TelMex works seven days a week, and I even remembered to write down all the steps so we should be able to fix it ourselves next time.

So, two days without the internet, what does one do? Well, besides finishing typing all my handwritten words for my wip, I went through tons of photo cds that have been sitting on our shelves, most of the which are from our wedding. Friends who took pictures thoughtfully sent us copies, so it was like discovering a whole other side to our big day.

Our friend Jennie took tons of pictures while we danced at the reception, including at least thirty of one salsa dance.

I love how my dress is swirling in this picture. We love to salsa dance but my dress was so heavy it threatened to knock Ibis over and nearly took me with it. So, not too many salsa dances that night.

Then there's this one.

I think this is either our attempt at flamenco or paso doble, neither of which we actually know how to dance. What kills me is how seriously we're taking it. I about died laughing when I found it.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Free-for-All

Good morning. I've been meaning to catch you all up on a few things going on around here, but with all the fun videos and offensive marketing campaigns to talk about, I keep getting sidetracked. So today, a few observations.


Did you all watch the debate? Palin did a much better job than I expected, and I'm happy to see there are a few things she knows about and can speak clearly on (energy). I was having a really hard time wrapping my head around her as a VP choice so at least now I sort of feel like the Republicans aren't completely off their rockers. Doesn't sway my opinion, I'm just saying.


My best friend is coming to visit in a couple weeks. I mentioned this while talking to my parents last night and they had no idea. I don't know how but I somehow forgot to share this fabulous news with the internet - that's really not like me, I mean, who but the internet cares more about my social life? - but here you go. She'll be here for four days at the end of this month.

And, I recently reconnected with a high school friend through, you guessed it, Facebook, and he's coming here for his honeymoon! Double friends! They'll be here at the same time as my other friend, but seeing as it's his honeymoon I don't imagine I'll see them for more than a drink or two. :)


We're no longer getting a puppy. I'm very very sad about this but it was never a smart decision to begin with. I'm allergic to animals that shed so if I want a dog it needs to be one that doesn't shed, ie, one that gets haircuts. I grew up with Miniature Schnauzers and have always wanted one of my own, so it looks like we'll have to wait until we're back in a normal climate to get one.

I thought I could get away with a Chihuahua because they're so tiny - and really, how much hair can a little dog have? - but after several experiments with my friend's dogs (rubbing them in my face) my eyes started watering & itching and the puppy plan was put on hold. Sad.


My dad is planning to spend a couple months here this winter and today Ibis and I are going to look at a possible apartment for him. If we like it we'll pay right then because it's in an incredible location, right in the middle of everything. My mom plans to visit for a week while he's here and now they're talking about bringing my sister along. Yes, she's a grown adult but has never traveled here on her own and it'd be fun for everyone if she came at the same time. She doesn't usually read this, but if you're out there... COME VISIT ME!


And now a question for you: any big plans this weekend? A little BB&B? Maybe Home Depot if there's time?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Judging a Book By Its Cover

While waiting in the doctor's office the other day I saw this:

It says "If you are a REBEL..." Because you know, a tattoo equals rebel. (Robin, I don't mean you, lol.)

Then the inside says "...then you need to know about contraceptives."

Good point, sure, and it's important to teach today's teenagers about safe sex, especially considering "in Mexico, it's very elevated the number of pregnancies in adolescents age 15 to 20 years old." (sorry for the literal translation.)

This advertisement is for a monthly injection that is:

• Effective
• Safe
• Discreet
• Rebellious

Excuse me?

I have a problem with all the stereotypes going on here. I admit, I've seen a lot of pregnant teenagers but none wearing school uniforms, so perhaps this is effective with the target audience. But implying that if you get a tattoo or belly piercing you are a slut and will have lots of sex just pisses me off. I don't know, maybe I'm reading too into this and should just be glad someone is advertising contraception for younger girls.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Freezing Point Launch Party

It's here! It's here! My aunt Karen's debut novel Freezing Point is on sale. AND, you're invited to her online launch party with famous authors David Morrell, Lee Child, John Lescroart, and more.

If you step out to the bookstore, this is what you should look for:

If you go online, well, you know what to do (click my link on the sidebar there). It's also available on Kindle, but it'd be great if you got there through the Freezing Point link on this page.

Please go forth and spread the news!


A Web 2.0 Book Launch

An innovative thriller author throws a new kind of party

In a YouTube world, it’s becoming ever more difficult for authors to grab and hold readers’ attention. To a Web 2.0 generation accustomed to tag clouds, wikis and widgets, authors’ static text-and-images-only websites are as outdated as Fred Flintstone’s writing tablets.

“Authors naturally think in terms of words,” says Karen Dionne, whose debut thriller Freezing Point about an environmental disaster in Antarctica releases October 2 from Berkley. “But on the Internet, we’re not limited to text. Today’s Internet is very visual, very interactive.”

Savvy authors are taking a page from the digital age and posting book trailers to their websites. Dionne is going them one better. With help from renowned thriller authors David Morrell, Lee Child, James Rollins, Gayle Lynds, Douglas Preston, and John Lescroart, Dionne is throwing an online book launch party where family, friends, and fans can mingle and win prizes – and catch the buzz about her new novel in the process.

As co-founder of Backspace, an Internet-based writers organization with hundreds of members in a dozen countries, Dionne knew only a handful of friends would be able to attend her book launch no matter where it was held. So she set out to recreate the traditional launch party experience on the Web.

Entertainment for the October 1 - 3 event includes video welcomes from bestselling thriller authors, a reading by a professional voice actress who’s also a New York Times author, standup comedy from one of her author friends – even testimony from a medical doctor regarding the science behind the story’s premise. There are door prizes: a boxed set of the BBC’s “Planet Earth” series on DVD, bottles of genuine iceberg water, and Penguin Gear from her publisher. And because a book launch party wouldn’t be complete without, well, books, two independent booksellers are making signed copies available.

“Writers shouldn’t be afraid of the Internet,” says Dionne. “We’re creative people. We can figure out how to use the Internet to spread the word about our books in new and exciting ways.”

Compared to a real-world book launch, Dionne says her online party has definite advantages. “Where else but on the Internet could my mom hang out with Lee Child?” There’s no limit to the guest list, work schedules and time zones don’t even factor, and perhaps best of all, Dionne’s guests can attend wearing their pajamas.

Visit Karen Dionne’s book launch party at