Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Things I do I never let my kids do

I am sitting in front of my computer eating orange sherbet out of the carton.

I never let my kids do that. I do a lot to things now I didn't let them do. Like let the bed go unmade until bedtime, and why bother at that point? I leave my shoes under my chair in the living room and stumble around looking for them the next morning.

 Way back in the Dark Ages a woman went to college to earn her Mrs. Over half my class was engaged or married before we graduated. Unfortunately (for me), during those four years there was a paradigm shift, and women were now expected to Get a Job.

So I got married and got a job, both during the summer after graduation. But, I tried to keep a foot in both worlds. I bore and raised three sons, worked, and insisted that my house reflect the standards of a stay-at-home housewife.

My boys were swept into my delusion. They had to keep their rooms neat, were assigned chores (just as my  mother assigned weekend chores to my sister and me), and were regularly screamed at when things got out of place -- which happened often when they were teenagers.

My apologies to them here. And to my daughters-in-law, you are welcome. Some of it rubbed off and the boys turned out to be pretty decent partners, cooking meals and doing the laundry without beings asked. Even changing diapers.
 As for me, my interests have expanded beyond housekeeping and I don't have the time or inclination to have my floor so spotless you can eat off it. Who wants to eat off a floor, anyway?

I just hope the next time one of my sons visits, he won't say, "Mom, you can write your name  in the dust on this coffee table."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Books and wine and dragons, oh my!

I  know summer isn't over until mid-September, but it feels like autumn to me. The trees are dropping their leaves, the flowers looked more bedraggled than riotous, the cicadas are in chorus, and the hummingbirds are in a feeding frenzy, stoking up for their annual migration.

For many of us, fall is the start of the new year, not January 1. I think it's because of school starting then. For 12 years (or 16, or more) we consider each September a fresh start. New clothes, new books, new beginnings.

I'm looking forward to September after a long, lazy stay-at-home summer. I'm going to the AJC Decatur Book Festival. This is the biggest independent book sellers' festival in the country. I will have a really difficult time going over the schedule and selecting the presentations and workshops I want to attend.

That same weekend is the annual Dragon Con. My grandson has gone the last two years (that's him above as Dr. Who) and since his Dad has to sign him in, I will tag along and we will stay for the parade. It will be noisy, crowded and fun -- an experience for sure.

Later in September my sister and I plan to do another tour through North Carolina wine country. We did this last year and had such a great time we decided to repeat it, visiting old favorites and some new sites. A side tour to Seagrove to check out the pottery is also on the schedule.

So, my goal is to finish the Riverbend revision before September so I can gallivant with a free conscience.

Have any of you been to Dragon Con or the book festival? I'd love to hear what you think. Comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer Bounty

Summer is not the best time to write. There are too many distractions, most of them out of doors. If you are a gardener, you know what I mean.

We didn't put in a garden this year. We planted flowers instead. But that doesn't mean we don't have a harvest. I've been picking and freezing blueberries for two weeks now. The freezer is full; I'm sick of picking. I surrendered yesterday and called some friends to come get the rest.

You can eat only so many blueberries. However, I have discovered they make wonderful smoothies. I mix the juice with some plain yogurt, a little sweetener and a dash of orange juice. I have a lot of blueberry juice as we canned it last year.

Now I'm working on the figs. For some reason, our tree has decided this is the year to produce. There are so many I am able to keep ahead of the rascals who grab them as soon as they're ripe. The rascals are wasps, birds, maybe opossums, maybe raccoons, maybe deer, I don't know. Never caught 'em in the act. I have been eating figs like candy and this morning I made some fake strawberry jam using mashed figs and strawberry gelatin.

I also have a recipe for fig preserves. I tried making them one year, turned my back on the pot for one second (I swear!) and they burned. Had to throw the whole mess out, including the pot. The trick is to stir while boiling. Have you ever noticed how long ten minutes is when you are standing over a hot stove stirring a spoon through hot, sticky fruit?

And the crab apple tree is loaded, also. I have made crab apple jelly before and plan to again. It's the best jelly for toast or biscuits, and also makes a darn good glaze for ham or pork chops.

So right now, I am gathering my harvest and preserving it for winter.

At which time, I will stay indoors and write.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A big thank you and you know who you are!

I am facing a pile of work, now that my allergy-induced hiatus is over. My editor friend, after painstakingly going over Riverbend sentence by sentence, has sent me his edits.

I appreciate his efforts more than he knows.

Now to take his comments, questions, and notes and apply them to the manuscript. This will be my fourth re-write or maybe the sixth or seventh. I've lost count.

Why is editing important, and why is it important to ask a professional to do it? I mean, I have published two books (five if you count the self-published ones), so I ought to know what I'm doing, right?

Wrong. For one thing, a writer doesn't always see her own errors. I look at the edited copy and wonder , "How in the world did I miss that? It's so obvious." But it wasn't to me. My eye skimmed right over the typo or misspelling or whatever.

And the story has been lingering in my mind for so long that I am positive I explained how the heroine got from A to B, or what happened here while this was going on there, or the little detail in her background that explains her reaction.

A good editor points out that no, the scene may be in your mind, but you failed to put it in the book.

My beta readers are also sending feedback. So far it has been positive, with few questions or comments. When they do mention a doubt, I take them seriously. One thing they like is for a character to act -- well, in character. The most frequent comment I get is, "I don't think he would do that." Or, "say that."

I don't know about you, but when I contemplate downloading a book (even if it's free) I check the reviews. If more than one person writes that the story was good, but she was turned off by the poor grammar, the typos or the formatting, I take a pass.

I don't want that to happen to me. If I send it to a publisher, I don't want to be rejected because of errors. And if I decide to self-publish, I need to be doubly certain that the book contains as few problem areas as possible.

So thanks to my editor friend and to my readers.

And now, to work.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Not on vacation

I know it's a rule (although I don't know who proposed it or who voted it into existence) that you need to blog a minimum of once a week.

I am two weeks and two days behind, and it isn't because I was on vacation.

Nope. I suffer from pride. I boasted a few weeks ago on Facebook that I had taken over mowing the front yard. For one thing, it helps Jim out -- we have BIG yard! -- and secondly, I discovered that mowing burns many calories.

What I forgot was a long-ago diagnosis that I am allergic to grass and mold.

The first time didn't bother me. the second time, I felt a little stuffy. The third time (and isn't that always the charm?) I was in full-blown allergic reaction.

After two weeks of sniffling, coughing sneezing and feeling generally miserable, I finally called the doctor and made an appointment. Her opinion was that with all the rain, mold was growing like -- a weed? -- and she had seen a number of patients with my symptoms.

Double whammy. Grass and mold. Who knew?

So that's why I haven't been doing any writing. Whatsoever.

It's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.