Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Guest Blogger - Leaking

I finished my article; all that remains is a quick fact check (Thanks, Cindi) and polish before sending it off.

So.... Instead of telling you all about it (because I don't want to hear anymore about it right now), I figured I'd have some fun.

PK is an old friend; we have much in common and I'm very grateful for the internet because without it I can be an uncommunicative azzhole; I'm very glad staying in touch is as easy as punching a few keys.
I think it's relevant to point out that PK is 50-something with a few chronic medical conditions to which she refuses to surrender. She's tough; that's why I like her. I'll let you see for yourself. Here's an email she sent me last week:

"The leak...


"Okay, so I'm sitting here feeling like poor pitiful me and that I can't budge the big honkin' side by side refrig.without hurting my back. Then it hits me, I didn't even try. Where did that whimpy attitude come from? So, I tried it and could pull it out. Yipee. Discovered there is a leak inside the wall where the water connection is for the icemaker. The sheetrock is wet. Turned the water off at the wall but that won't stop the water spewing inside the wall.

"Called J to brag. But still felt a victim. So, I'm thinking the water to the house doesn't need to be on at least overnight. So, I decide I'm gonna suit up and go outside in subfreezing weather to turn off the water to the house. I can't remember what type of apparatus that faucet is. But first, I'll take a hot bubble bath. Which I did.

"Allowed the water heater to refill and warm and ran pitchers of drinking water. Put on wool longjohn's, double socks, heavy work coat, gloves, & tobaggon cos it's like 17 degrees. Filled pockets with hammer, screw driver and wrench and flashlight. Get out there and it's a simple lever to just pull up. Bingo! I'm a freakin' handyman.

"So, will call a plumber tomorrow. Yeah, right on Sunday. But at least further damage won't be done. I'm feeling pretty damn tough right down! Got my groove back."


See what I mean?

Okay, back to work...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Babbling (mostly) and referral to my review of Daryl Davis' lecture

I know I need to update here, but I'm standing next to a magazine deadline and I get all weird: My mind takes the article subject and rolls it around and won't let go; I'd liken it to the clothes dryer, but it's more like a washing machine with a very tough spin cycle. Or maybe one of those old wringer washers that Grandma had.
Anyway, as usual, I have plenty of material to finish the article, both collected and written, but I'm still trying to spit it back out on paper and make it sound not only coherent, but intelligent.

I'll tell you more about it later. After I get it finished and sent off to the editor...

Anyway, if you're jonesing for more material (I wish), you can find my most recent publication here.

I plan to beat the deadline by several days (I always have good intentions), but in case I don't: The deadline is next Friday. I've never missed a deadline, so I'll definitely be done and back to blogging by then.

Look for updates.

Friday, January 18, 2008

"Vultures" - Is it finished?

This seemed an appropriate blog post for today. It's in response to an interested reader (I love interested readers):

Yes, it is. "Vultures" started in 2004. It took two years and 8,432 revisions (I'm not exaggerating much) to come close to being finished. In early 2006 I stuck a printed copy on the bookshelf where it did a great job of collecting dust. I knew it still had some problems, but I was so close to it I couldn't tell what they were (I couldn't see the forest for the trees).
I queried literary agents a couple of times, but never got anybody to look at it. When I saw this contest come up last October I signed up right away; the rules gave me seven days to submit. I spent those seven days reading and revising. I realized that the problems I had with the manuscript were minor chronology issues that were easily fixed (I was relieved). I'm sure there are some minor typos, too, since I was the last person to look at it, but generally I was happy and sent it off.
I won't post links here (not doing so well with that;)), but if you're interested you can go over to my blog and look at October's Archives to read about some of that process. There's one entry over there, "Plot Threads," that talks a little bit about the planning process for "Vultures" and for another novel that I was doing prep work on.
I'm very glad to hear that you liked what you read so far (the excerpt on amazon is 5,000 words). I won't say much more, but I will add that if you like it so far, you won't be disappointed in the rest of the book (about 50,000 words). The plot is tight and the ending does not disappoint.
I'm excited to have made it this far in the contest. There are some other good books over there, too. I started to read a few with the intention of reviewing before I realized that I have no hope of being objective. Even though I'm an avid reader, I am too emotionally vested in my entry to provide fair and rational feedback for a competitor.

As for Amazon reviews: I was just informed last night by a friend that unless you have made a purchase at in the past, then you cannot write a review. At first I was disappointed, but then I realized that might actually be a good thing: It just tightens up the reviewers. If you’ve made book purchases from amazon, it’s a good bet that you’re a reader and just by that virtue, you’re vested in an honest review.
So, if you ARE an amazon customer, please write a review. If not, please know that I appreciate your cheers and encouragement. I appreciate (need) every bit of feedback that I get.
Writing is an effort of isolation. Most of the time, that’s okay with me. Sometimes, it’s hard to maintain the necessary momentum. Occasionally, feedback is the kick in the azz that I need to keep plugging. Taking “Vultures” to the semi-finals (so far) has served as much needed validation for the work that I’ve done. And continue to do.
Thank you very much for the feedback. I'd be interested to hear detailed reactions, too. If you want to, you can post it here or you can email me. Hearing others talk about my writing helps me to improve (so, yes, I want positive as well as negative).

I think I’ll go post this over on my blog for today’s post…..

Thank you for your interest!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Judge Me for Publication!

Vultures is a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest!

(Go here now to Read & Review Vultures. Click on the Download button for a 5,000 word excerpt.)

What does that mean, exactly?

Back in October I submitted a manuscript to the contest. (You can read about that here.)
By October 15th, I received confirmation of submission and on November 12th I got an email to accept the entry as valid (simply meaning I was one of the first 5,000 entrants and that my manuscript met the guideline rules).
Yesterday I received this:

"Thank you for participating in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. We received thousands of submissions and were impressed by the incredible talent and creativity seen in the entries. We are happy to inform you that you have been selected as a semi-finalist." (See the end of this post for the full letter - there are potential prizes for reviewers, too, so read on.)

The most exciting thing about advancing to the semi-finals is the fact that all the semi-finalists were chosen based on the merits of their work. That is much appreciated validation.

Now I need your help.

Ultimately the winner will be chosen based on the strength of their work (this is very important to me). However, not all semi-final entries will be reviewed equally! The manuscripts that receive the most positive reviews -both quality and quantity- will be chosen by the publisher for final review (go here and scroll down a bit for "What Makes a Good Review?").

This means that I need you to write a review of my book!

If you've been following along here at my blog, you'll have already read Chapter 2. And here is my official Amazon Entry page. Use the download button on the right-hand side of the screen to get the pdf file of Chapter 1, 2, & the opening of Chapter 3 (5,000 words). I think you can also link to it directly here, but you have to go back to the main page to submit you review (scroll down a bit to click on the "Create your own review" button).

Please take the time to read my excerpt and write a review. I value your honesty. If you find yourself at the end of the excerpt and want to read more, please pass this information on to your friends and family.
The winner will be awarded a publishing contract!
Essentially, by reviewing the semi-final entries, you are choosing a book for publication. There are 836(?) total entries in 5 genres; search through some of the other entries to read and review work from other aspiring authors.
I rarely (never) send out mass emails, but this is an exceptional opportunity; I am grateful for word-spreading and review-writing.

Go here now to Read and Review Vultures.

Thank you!

As promised, the entire text of the semi-finalist email. If choosing a book for publication isn't exciting enough, check out the final paragraph for reviewer prizes:

Thank you for participating in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. We received thousands of submissions and were impressed by the incredible talent and creativity seen in the entries. We are happy to inform you that you have been selected as a semi-finalist.
You can find your entry on via the following link:, and access the main contest page where all entries are located at
Please note that we are continuing to update semi-finalist detail pages with any custom cover images that were submitted, editorial reviews, and other minor changes. These changes will appear online in the next few days.
Now that you're a semi-finalist, feel free to encourage friends and family to review yours and others' entries. The three customers who provide the most high quality reviews will be qualified to win one of three customer prizes, including an Amazon kindle reader, $2000 in Amazon gift card value, and an HP photo printer. Learn more at
Good luck!
ABNA Admin Team

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Amazon Novel Contest

Vultures made the cut.
I am a semi-finalist.
I will post details tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jack Lalanne

I love Jack Lalanne.
In 2007 (he turned 93 in September) he had a full schedule of interviews and public speaking engagements!
Here's a clue how he does it:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Mind Boggling Diet Shit

Have you noticed that all the current store circulars and advertisements are focusing on organization and fitness/weight loss?

I know that a lot of psychology goes into marketing/advertisement, but this is very blatant:
You made a New Year's Resolution to get off your ass, get fit, and lose weight?
Great! Buy our products -spend lots of money! The more you spend the easier it will be to fit into a size 2! You WILL be smarter and healthier and more beautiful in 2008 if you buy this! and this! and this! Just buy! buy! buy! No matter that you've made the same damn resolutions for the last 17 years - THIS IS THE YEAR! Believe it! Buy it! Be it!


Okay, don't get me wrong. I'm all about self-analysis and improvement, but I don't think making an impulse buy of some ridiculous piece of workout equipment is going to get me to where I want to go. Besides, that new 'Magic Leg' machine will most likely function best as a coat hanger and dust collector. And you need another clothes rack, right?

Here's something else I have to make fun of (I can't help myself):

The Diet Fork. And yes, it uses (a nifty little domain name, huh?). And for the tab description it uses 'The Fitness Diet Fork.' I'm just learning about some of these online 'pings' and other such mysteries of internet marketing, but it seems to me that 'Fitness' got thrown in there with 'Diet,' so that it would have double the hit power with search engines (somebody correct me if I'm wrong, or if you understand how all this crap works maybe you can explain it better than I can?).
The website proclaims: "America's First Diet Fork" and "Make Dieting Fun" (which I originally misread as 'Make Fun of Dieting' to which I immediately thought, "I can do that!").
And here's a great quote:

"New York , NY (PRWEB) - June 10, 2007. - A new diet weapon is launched, the Diet Fork. By eliminating over-indulgence, and creating a "chewing fitness" dieters can now assist in metabolism by chewing more, less portions, and taking longer to eat."

Disregarding the grammatical problems, do we really need a 'diet weapon?' What are you gonna do, shoot the food? Or just stab it? Just think, this nifty little tool can eliminate over-indulgence (really?) and create "chewing fitness." What the hell is chewing fitness?

And apparently, one of the 'Key Factors' of this amazing new product is an

  • "Uncomfortable grip compelling user to put fork down between bites, slowing the user's eating speed."

What the hell? Turn your eating experience into a torture session and maybe you can finally shrink your fat ass! But, really, I wonder what that means (there is no real picture of the product, just a stylized silhouette of a fork)? Is the handle covered in tiny little spikes? If you get too into shoveling food in your mouth will you end up with blood oozing out of a bunch of little holes?

And, finally:

The website's homepage has both of the required pictures for any real diet:

  1. a girl in a bikini
  2. large piles of food

What a bunch of assholes.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Got Excuses?


Thanks to Sister Skinny for this video. I liked it so much, I posted it over here, too.
I can use all the inspiration I can get.

Speaking of inspiration, Heather is looking for kickass tunes to fuel the workouts. I'll be following along, as I could use some new stimulation on the MP3 player, too.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Snowy Pictures

My camera uses 'AA' batteries, but my camera is on the fritz. I'm using PC's and the battery is a little box thing slightly bigger than the memory card that you take out and put into a niche in it's charge box that plugs into the wall. Complicated. But at least it works. And I suppose there is much to be said for rechargeable batteries.

Anyway, the battery is charged and here are the pictures -as promised, starting with scenery:

Of course, Maisie came with me:

The wind just about cleaned this hill:

Maisie being her regular goofy, frolicking self:

The temperature barely made it into the 20s today, but the forecast is saying 40 degrees tomorrow and 50 by Sunday. I'm sure the kitchen floor will progress nicely from wading pool to mud bog.

The end of the stomach bug, snow days, messy kitchen, pictures, exercise, the hazards of dieting, and other such ramblings

We made it through the stomach bug; I'll spare you more details.

The kiddies have not gotten back to school yet. We got quite a bit of snow and they called off school for our county -and most surrounding counties- yesterday and today. The kids are ecstatic! The only thing that would make them any happier is if I'd let them stay out all day. But, no, too cold for that. I call them in after half an hour and (they make it in about the 45 minute mark) have them spread out their gloves, hats, coats, boots, snow pants, and scarves to dry. I try to control the sprawl, but no such luck: the kitchen looks like a bombed closet (or like Grunt's room, but that's another post) when they're in and a wading pool by the time they go out again.
I went out after lunch, but they were all in lounge-mode and didn't join me. I dutifully -at PK's request- took pictures while tromping up the mountain and laughing at the dog. I think she may be even happier than the kids. By the time I came back in, all three of them were getting dressed again. I was just in time to help adjust gloves, tuck sleeves, zip coats, and wrap scarves.
Now it's quiet in here (at least for the next 25-30 minutes) and the camera battery is dead. You'll have to wait on the pictures until it's charged.

Changes are happening over at The 123. Progress. Good.

I've not been to the gym since last week, but all is well on the exercise front. I've been doing Turbulence Training and long walks with the dog. The Turbulence Training (I found it through Skwigg. You can get a 4week TT body weight routine over at her site, too.) is surprisingly tough, even the body-weight stuff. I've been doing some pretty heavy-duty lifting and it's STILL tough. Tough=sore=results=good :).
Okay, I was just over at there copying links and here's Skwigg's post for today on the insanity of dieting.
Argh. I have a lot to say about all the diet bullshit, but I'm still working out what I feel comfortable posting on here and what I don't. I suppose if this were a completely anonymous blog, I'd spill it all. But it's not. On the other side of the anonymity discussion, though, I find that the longer I keep this blog and the more feedback I get, the more I'm willing to put myself out there. Remind me I said that when I start getting snarky comments and hate mail.

Stay tuned. I have more to say.
And I'm getting braver.

Pictures to come, too....

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's Contagious

Whatever the nasty little bug is, it's spreading.

More puke.