Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The White Lady

I found out something interesting yesterday while I was having my manicure-pedicure. I've been going to this one salon for about a year now. The owners and employees are Vietnamese. They told me that they call me "The White Lady" because of my skin, because it's "so white" (I'm fair-skinned.) They said that's very desirable in their country.

If you Google "The White Lady," you'll run across the urban legends about her. You know, probably every state and/or city has one. In Dallas, it's The White Lady of White Rock Lake. Here's one from Utah.

Then there are various Castles of The White Lady. Here's The White Lady's Castle in the Czech Republic.

My favorite "White Lady" is, of course, Tolkien's Galadriel.

I could not, however, find The White Lady of The Nail Salon. Probably just an oversight.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

Come on in, grab a party hat, and help yourself to some birthday cake!

We have lots of carrot cakes (my favorite) and chocolate cakes (Tomcat's favorite)
If you look around, I'm sure you'll find the beverage of your choice, too.

Whoa - look at all the candles on that carrot cake! What a coincidence - somebody else must be having a birthday today, too ... somebody who also loves carrot cake ...

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Got this one over at Dawn-Marie's Dreamscape:
(I'm guessing it's called the "Four Things" meme.)

Four jobs you've had in your life
Interviewing customers at the new-fangled "fast-food" restaurant, McDonald's
Legal secretary
Domestic goddess (current job)

Four movies you could watch over and over (and I have)
Princess Bride
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Bram Stoker's Dracula

Four places you've lived
Ft. Hood, TX
Ft. Worth, TX
Dallas, TX

Four tv shows you love to watch
Book of Daniel (until the wimps at NBC cancel it)
Boston Legal
West Wing (until the wimps at NCB cancel it)

Four places you've been on vacation
Corpus Christi, TX
Ixtapa, Mexico
North Carolina

Four blogs you visit daily
Oh dear. I'm afraid I don't always visit
any blog on my blogroll daily. I'll do
better, I promise!

Four of your favorite foods
Bacon, eggs, and toast
Shrimp scampi
Blue Bell vanilla ice cream
Coffee (well, it comes from beans, doesn't it?)

Four places you'd rather be
(All together now:)

Four authors you can't live without
Frank Herbert
Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
Diana Gabaldon
Ann Rule

Four vehicles you've owned
Can I change this one? Thanks.

Four people I most admire
Bishop Gene Robinson
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. Stephen Hawking

Haven't been tagged with this one yet?
You're It!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Made it!

The NILTOY goal for January (due today) is 10,000 words. I'm up to 10,867!
The timetable is 2,500 words a week (10,000 per month.) So, you'll have the first draft of a 100-000 word novel in October.

I wasn't sure at first if this would actually work for me, but it has. It's a good thing. Thanks to Pooks for finding it!


In other news, someone made an offer on Maxwell House. They had until 5PM today to respond to our counter-offer. This morning they want a little more time. Of course they did. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


What a productive day! I got 3,105 words written today on my mystery novel, and I've sketched out 17 more scenes on my improvised storyboard. I'm using a Moleskine notebook and sticky notes, an idea borrowed from my friend Pooks, a screenwriter, which I've adapted for novel writing.

This system is working extremely well for me. Because they're written on sticky notes, I can rearrange scenes within chapters, or put them in different chapters, or change whole chapters around. Then, I can flip through the pages and see what's happening where and when.

Another idea from a book that Pooks uses called Save the Cat, is to put the conflict, indicated by this: >< and the emotional arc of the scene, indicated like this: -/+ This way, you can see the pacing and tension of the story at a glance. If you have too many scenes in a row with minus signs, for example, you'll know that you need to add a scene or two with a plus sign, to ratchet up the emotion.

My NILTOY target for January is 10,000 words. So far I'm at 8,177. The NILTOY weeks end on Saturdays -- they had to pick a day for consistent weekly reporting, so that means to meet my target, I'll need to get to 10,000 words by this Saturday! I think I'll make it...


Tuesday, January 24, 2006


There I was again, looking cool at the Barnes & Noble cafe, sipping a latte and working on my mystery novel, when this tall, elegant redhead and entourage came in and sat at the table right next to mine. They're yapping away, and I think oh great, I won't be able to hear myself think, let alone try to write.

Then I glance over, and the beautiful woman is autographing her book. Of course, I ask to see a copy. It's the newly-released paperback edition of The Glass Castle, and I see by the cover that it's a New York Times bestseller by Jeannette Walls. I ask her what it's about, and she tells me it is a memoir about her childhood with an abusive, alcoholic father and a spaced-out, neglectful mother.

We talked a little while about our "exciting" childhoods and the fact that when we were growing up, we thought we were having normal lives because no one talked about child abuse back then. We also kept it secret throughout our early adulthood. It is only now that we're older that we can talk about it. She said she's amazed by the number of people who have told her that they had similar backgrounds.

I asked her if writing it all down was cathartic, and she said definitely! The more she wrote, the more she remembered and was able to process. I told her my therapist had recommended that I keep a journal for the same reason.

Naturally, I bought a copy of the book, and she wrote in it: "To Candace, a kindred spirit."

Well, I didn't want to monopolize her time, so I went back to what I was doing and she went back to autographing books and chatting with her publicist and the Barnes & Nobel representative. (Notice I say "chatting" now, not "yapping.")

Jeannette is a warm, upbeat person. And the book is riveting!

Just look at this review by the Chicago Tribune:

"On the eighth day, when God was handing out whining privileges, he came upon Jeannette Walls and said, 'For you, an unlimited lifetime supply.' Apparently, Walls declined His kind offer."

And this, by Dominick Dunne:

"Just read the first pages of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and I defy you not to go on. It's funny and sad and quirky and loving. I was incredibly touched by it."

In case you're wondering, no, I was not crass enough to say, oh, I'm working on my own book, would you like to read it? I can just imagine how many times the woman must have run up against that!

But I did give her my blogspot address. :)

Have a great day, bloggers!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Too Cute!

Image hosting by Photobucket

This is from Cute Overload, which I've added to my Links.  There's a wildlife preserve in Texas near Glen Rose called Fossil Rim.  Tomcat and I have been down there a couple of times.  My favorite part is seeing the giraffes.  They come right up to the car.  You just haven't lived until you've experienced this REALLY TALL animal swooping its head down, down, down, right into your car window to eat out of your hand!  They have the LONGEST eyelashes.  And their babies are so adorable! 

Saturday, January 21, 2006


That Tomcat is so smart!

Here I was going to Barnes & Noble and paying $ to hook up to their wireless service, Freedom Link. He downloaded it to our laptops for TWO BUCKS A MONTH! So we went to the B&N for a test drive, and sure enough, we could both log on at the same time while having brunch and looking cool!

Now he's off looking at books, and I've ordered my second latte.

Very cool.

Except ... the other places where we could log on besides B&N?
McDonald's and UPS stores. UPS stores??? Not so cool.
But for two bucks a month, way cool.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Mystery Solved

Okay, so I was up to Chapter 5 of Paradise Parkway. The body was discovered and the police came to question Gino Gibaldi in their initial canvass of the neighborhood. Then what? I had no idea.

What was I thinking? I'd never written a mystery! So yesterday it was off to the bookstore. I returned with "Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel (how to knock 'em DEAD with style)" by Hallie Ephron. I got halfway through it and now I know what I'm doing and why. This book is an amazing guide.

First, you decide what kind of mystery you want to do. Did you know there are at least ten subgenres in mystery fiction? I didn't! This one's going to be a "cozy" or "cosy" because it's humorous, the setting is a small community, the protagonist is an amateur sleuth, and the violence is off stage.

Then, it has worksheets to help you build your characters, their world, define the killer's motive(s), set up the innocent suspects and their secrets and lies, and plot your story. By the end of the book, if you've done all the worksheets, you'll be ready to start writing.

Of course, it leaves room for those wonderful creative moments when characters have better ideas than you did when you started out. That happened while I was doing the worksheets, and the identity of the killer changed. I'm keeping it a secret, so don't ask!


Remember, everyone: Book of Daniel is on tonight!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I Don't Get It

Dawn Marie commented on my last post that she doesn't get 24 or why it's called that. (Each season, there are 24 episodes. Each episode is one hour of a 24-hour period. This means that every season, Jack Baur has a really bad day.)

Here are some things I don't get:

Jazz. I've never understood why people like it so much. One piece sounds pretty much the same as another, at least to my ear. I guess I'm just totally uncool.

Poetry. What can't they just say it? Just spit it out? Why do we have to guess what they mean?

Why we're not in North Carolina yet.

Anyone else have something they just don't get?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I Can't Keep My National Disasters Straight

I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted from watching the first four hours of 24. This season looks like the best yet. There's a dumb-ass President in office while the terrorists are still running amok... no, wait -- that's real life.

We had to tape the first two hours on Sunday night because it ran opposite West Wing and Desperate Housewives. Then we watched them yesterday prior to the next two hours which aired last night.

In the middle of the third hour, Tomcat said, "Well, there must be something even worse coming up because the whole 24 hours can't just be this airport thing."

I said, "Yes, it's the nuclear reactor accident in California, remember from the previews? It's on the San Andreas faultline."

And he said, "No, darling, that's West Wing."

Oh. Okay.

Nuclear meltdown on the San Andreas = West Wing.

Nerve gas might be released in L.A. = 24.

Got it.

Meanwhile, Desperate Housewife Gabrielle's husband has violated his parole, and Tom and Lynette may be headed for divorce.

And the dumb-ass President is still in office.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Happy MLK Day?

I'm old enough to remember Dr. King. I saw him on television and read about him in the newspaper. I heard my parents and others around me talk about him. Sometimes what I saw and read and heard was ugly. I knew those people were wrong about him. Having heard and read his words, I knew in my heart that this was a good man.

He was assassinated in 1968. He was only 39. My friends and I mourned for days.

Now, 38 years later, there are parades and most people get a day off work. The message of this good man is buried under feel-good hype about "how far we've come" in race relations in this country. Dr. King was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. He went to India to study methods of peaceful, non-violent resistance. He said it was our moral duty to disobey unjust laws. He was an anti-war activist.

The President of the United States is wiretapping citizens without a warrant, violating the civil rights of every American. None of the so-called justifications for the war in Iraq has passed the smell test. Violent gangs have taken over the poorest parts of our major cities. Four white teenagers in South Carolina just copped a plea deal for beating and attempting to lynch a Black teenager. The Federal hate-crime law was not invoked.

Why are we celebrating? What are we celebrating?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Behinder I Was, The Further I Went

Finished Week 2 of Novel In Less Than One Year (NILTOY) yesterday with the week's word count at 2,810. Rut-roh. The weekly goal was 3,500, so I was 690 words short. With the big shiny "L" on my forehead, I posted the week's results.

But then they told me that the weekly goal is only 2,500 words, not 3,500. It's 500 words a day, but only five days a week, not seven, so I was 310 words ahead! Dig me and all my verbage!

I finished reading No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo. They write a novel in 30 days. Okay. Those people? Nuts (and I oughta know). :)

Today I'm starting Al Franken's new one, The Truth, with Jokes, a Christmas gift from my in-laws.

Let's see, if I carry over the extra 310 words to this week, then I'll only have to write 2,190 between now and next Saturday ...

Friday, January 13, 2006

This n That

I couldn't post a pic of the pile of twigs because Tomcat didn't take it on the digital. I want him to also take a picture of the eight huge bags of leaves waiting in our courtyard for bulky trash week, plus pictures of all the cars parked on the curbs during the day. Oh yeah, we're gonna be ready for this.

Meanwhile, neighbor to the right has called two TV stations and they may be out today. He's pointing out that four years ago the City tore up our alley and told us that trash would "temporarily" have to be picked up in the front. I hope there won't be any retaliation against him. There was a story on the news a couple of weeks ago about a citizen who complained about the chickens and pigs living nearby. He had called and written letters to his representative on the Council. When he received no responses, he called in the press. The Council representative said she never received any letters from this citizen. The next day, the man received a citation for having a junk car on the curb. He called the press again, and they showed him getting into the car and the engine starting right up. As he pointed out, this would never happen in Madam Mayor's neighborhood.

Hey, I just heard myself on the radio! My friend Grace, the artist, and I went to SuperSuppers the other day and a guy was there doing a story about the place. Pooks (who is also Gabrielle, the writer) emailed me this morning and said she'd heard my interview and told me when it would be repeated. How cool is that? Speaking of Grace and Gabrielle, the Geez and I are getting together for lunch today.

Yesterday morning I wrote another 1,000 words on Paradise Parkway. I tell you, this NILTOY thing is really working for me! The impetus of commiting to 500 words a day PLUS having to report your progress at the end of the week is very effective. My characters are having lots of fun. I'm never sure what they're going to do when I sit down to write. One thing, though. They LOVE to talk. It's page after page of dialogue. And most of it's funny. Like I said, they're having fun.

Yesterday afternoon was my second appointment with my new therapist. I haven't been in therapy for decades because I'd had so much of it, and I figured that I was so well couch-broken, what would be the point. Wrong-o. This gal is good. We're taking a look at my dissociative disorder, and I'm learning some things I'd never considered before. It's exciting and scary at the same time. It's necessary (I was just hospitalized, twice, so yeah, it's necessary). But it isn't easy. Let's just say that on the way home, I stopped by the liquor store. :)

Everybody: Don't forget that tonight Book of Daniel is on NBC, 9:00 CST.

Have a great day, Bloggers!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm Talkin' Trash Today

Yesterday we got cited for having a pile of twigs out on the curb. Bulky trash pickup is next week. The fine? Two hundred and twenty-five dollars. You may be thinking to yourself, oh sure, I bet it was more than a "pile of twigs" out there; it was probably a big honking forest. No. It. was. a. pile. of. twigs. Tomcat took a picture of it last night. I'll see if I can upload it for ya tonight when he gets home.

The pile of twigs was out there because the City failed to pick it up during last month's trash pickup week. This happens from time to time because people park on the curb and block the access. We're across the street from a school, so people often park out there all day.

The neighbors on both sides of us were also cited. Neighbor to the left has a box on the curb. There's a car parked in front of it. Neighbor to the right has a TV out there. A TV someone else put there.

Tomcat's going to the hearing in March, and he will request (demand) that the inspector be there. If he can't get the fine dismissed, then he's going to request (demand) a jury trial. Heh.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Book of Daniel

We loved it. The writing was brilliant. The acting was great, especially the three kids -- they just sparkled. Yeah, there were lots and lots of plot twists, but it will be a hoot to watch them all play out. It's a comedy, after all (but of course there are lots of layers to it, so some very serious things were going on, too.) Today one or the other of us will start giggling, and we know that it's because one of us had remembered another funny line from the program, then we share it and giggle together, and then remember another one, and another... not many shows have that kind of impact, so I definitely think this one's going to be a hit.

There were many priceless moments, like the kid falling from the window and landing on the JAG (of COURSE it was a Jag), and prior to that, when he was in bed with the girl, his elbow kept squishing one of her stuffed animals, making it squeek (oh, the layers to THAT one!), and he said it was like making love on Sesame Street, which SHE liked! And what about "Super Priest" in the anime script, and the daughter asks her Community Service partner, "Do you think that's offensive?"

This is one big dysfunctional family, which makes sense because a family gets dysfunctional in the first place because these behaviours get passed down through the generations. It's rare that an entire generation will get well; usually it's only one or two per generation, if that.

I'm eternally grateful to the Funda-Mentals for protesting this thing; otherwise, we might never have heard of it. One thing that bugged me was that Jesus was way too Gentile-looking. I'm not sure, but I think he even had blue eyes. What's up with that?

Friday, January 06, 2006

From the "Are They Serious?" File:

This morning while sitting at a stoplight, I noticed that the blue van in front of me had an elaborate airbrushed painting on its rear doors. There was a foot-high Virgin of Guadalupe surrounded by golden light hovering over a mountainous landscape with an ocean view. She was gazing down upon a blue van parked in a clearing. There was a white chalked circle on the ground in front of the van, and inside that circle were two roosters facing off for a fight. (Aren't virgins supposed to stay away from cocks?)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Tomcat Throws Caution to the Wind

Whirrrrrrrrr.... Whirrrrrrrrr.... Whirrrrrrrr! I awaken to this sound. WTF? Tomcat tells me it's the shredder.

"I'm purging," he says.

"Oh? Purging what?"


How can this be? Tomcat saves everything. In case it's needed. You know. Sometime.

"But what if you need 1987?" I ask.

"Well, this pile over here? That's the stuff I'm going to scan and put on disc just in case. The rest of it can be thrown out."

Whirrrrrrrrr.... Whirrrrrrrrr.... Whirrrrrrrr! (Oh, the carnage.)

Later in the day, as he's taking out the third bag of shredded 1987, he says, "You must remind me to do this more than once every few decades."

Umkay. It took about six hours to purge 1987, not counting the scanning time. He wants to purge everything up to 1998. Let's see, that's about 60 hours of shredding, plus scanning time. I figure this will take at least another decade for him to get around to finishing that, at which time it will be time to remind him to do this again.

1998? You're safe for a good long while.