Wednesday, April 23, 2008

As promised: Prom pics









Ok ya! Here are the pics of the kids getting ready to go out on Prom night. They look pretty good don't they? And more group shots, one of their friends and one with me in it. I don't look so good- must walk MORE! LOL..

Monday, April 14, 2008

Prom is expensive





You see the pics of my two teens here? This was from the December ROTC military winter ball. My daughter's dress was bought by her dad and stepmom. My son's military outfit thankfully was from his ROTC class. Just wanted you to see the smiles on their faces as they have nothing to worry about then. (They look cute, don't they?)

Anyways, now, in April-it's Jr/Sr Prom time! Ka-ching, Ka-ching!! And both my teenagers were going. Keifer, as a senior, and Kayla who was invited by her beau Chris, who is a junior.

Lordy, Lordy- I went so broke these past two weeks preparing for this big event, which fell on Saturday, April 12th. Not only that, I also had to add the expense of buying gifts for a combined birthday party for my son-in-law Chris, who turned 31, and my granddaughter Mariah, whose birthday actually fell on March 29th.


Can you say, 'get a loan' just to survive the weekend?? LOL.

Let's tally all the expenses, shall we:

Kayla had to have a new pair of shoes to go with her new dress. She didn't want the tried and true black shoes she used for the past two military balls-no siree, they had to be NEW. Lucky for me, she settled for a decent pair of toeless sandles from Payless Shoes. Good price, for about $12.99. Ka-ching.

The dress I found marked down from $189 on sale at $129 plus tax two weekends ago at Penny's. However, I had to charge the tax part of it onto my mom's credit card as I only had a $100 on me. Thank goodness for Grandmas, right? The dress is absolutely beautiful, white with an overlay of black flowers, similar to roses. I promise to post pics of it sometime in the future. Thank goodness Kayla's hair has been cut short recently. She wore it down, straightened by a flat iron-not all phoo-phooed up with curls and such.

Then we had to do something with her toes. They were like monkey toes, scaled down, some long, some uneven. It looked like she had traisped through an African jungle land chasing after monkeys. We just had them cleaned, polished, and painted up to look like she obtained a pedicure-not the whole she bang, so that cost $10. The fingernails were manicured and tipped. Cost $25. They did an excellent job, by the way. The first part of transforming my tomboy into a young lady. Hmm, there's hope for her yet!

Also, we had to get my son a tux. It had to match somewhat with what his date wore, which he thought was black and silver. It was all silver, actually. So his cost just to rent this came to $129.

Can you hear me hyperventilate over here?? Get me a brown bag will ya- and put something strong inside, like rum.

Then you add the cost of prom tickets- $16 a piece, which he couldn't buy until he paid for a library fine ($10) and the price of a lost scientific calculator from last semester ($100, but the school let us pay it out, so we wound up with a $20 downpayment) More Ka-ching! Kayla's date bought for them, thank goodness.

Then you add the cost of a boutineer for Kayla's date ($12) and a wrist corsage for my son's date, $25 and also the price of dinner before prom (for my son & his date) $60 plus an added $20 for possible pictures at the prom. Ka-ching-Ka-ching!

Oh, well, Keifer's the senior this year so I guess I must splurge on him, as well as my daughter , who is the baby in the house. What was that dinosaur show that said "Gotta love the baby." Uh, I told baby that she has to get a job! She's 16 now, so why not???

We had the two couples, along with one other who were best friends, line up in my front yard to be stars, as moms/grandmas/ dads look on at them dressed up so wonderfully and snapped lots of pics. Sniff, sniff- ah to be young again. They went off into the night to enjoy their prom- and such is the stuff that good memories are made from. I just hope that years from now, as they prepare their children for the same event, they will appreciate the costs we undertook to make those memories in the first place.

Still, we do what we can to make them all happy, right? Now, let me count what pennies I have left. Perhaps I'll have enough to buy a soda.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Twisted Templates

I found a fellow blogger who is talented with templates. I think they look terrific.

Twisted Templates

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The "was" that shouldn't have been




When you first think of writing a novel, usually you sit down and jot down all of the ideas. The ideas become sentences; the sentences paragraphs. The next thing you know, you are connecting everything and streamlining the entire thing. Walla! A novel is born. I wish now, in hindsight, that someone had come along to help me improve each sentence as I produced them. With a novel completed, I turned to friends to help read the product, but they became so engrossed in the story line that they stopped looking for the wrong verbs or typos along the way. Not a good thing.

I live in a small community and the closest writing group seemed to be a senior citizen group that met at noon, once a week, at a local activities center in another town. Not convenient when I worked a full time job. So I tried sending my chapters in one at a time through a couple of on-line critique sites, which helped somewhat. Some of the well meaning writers there seemed to point out more of the flaws of the flow, or POV errors, and a few grammatical mistakes. Some pointed out that I tended to tell a story and not show. I worked really hard to grasp what that meant, but I still made mistakes.

Now my manuscript is being self-published and I am receiving my galley back to look over for errors before final production. It's in its second go-round. I've also joined a couple of new yahoo writer groups, to network and to help improve upon this craft called writing. There, I've met a few novice writers through emails and they have shared some of their excerpts to look over. The most common theme I have found right of the bat, and not that I'm an expert now, but we seem to share writing sentences with the words "was" in them. I now know that using these frequently make your sentences passive, and not active. You have to really think of the word "was" as words that shouldn't have been used at all. They detract from the punch you can use to make your point.

For example, you write: Mary was an advocate for volunteer work, as she helped with the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and many other projects in her community.

Why not change to: Mary, an advocate for volunteer work, helped at the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and many other projects in her community.

See it doesn't take much to tweak a sentence and it makes it sound a lot better.


A few here and there, I think you can get away with, but using "was" all over the place just lets your material lose steam. I am very guilty of this in my first manuscript as well. It's not too late for me to change them, but it would now cost time and money, since my manuscript is being self-published. I can allow my mistakes in production to go forth- this time. To err is human, and everyone knows this is my first book. You learn from your mistakes and by listening to others who know better.

Hopefully in my next manuscript, I now know what to watch out for overall. So learn from my message if you are a new writer. Pick up those self-editing books to help you understand about showing, rather than telling, being active and not passive. There are alot of great examples there, but you have to look for them. Ask questions if you still have problems grasping this concept. Amazon has a lot of great books listed on their website and reviews for guidance.

Here is an excerpt from my book that has 'was" sprinkled all over the place. It's the first kiss scene between Tara and Danny (he's a Navy man and older man compared to Tara and Ross) In reading this through again, I wish I could have changed my sentences overall, but this is what I created. I just hope the impact of everything else going on detracts from the "was" misuse.


excerpt:

The more Tara saw him, Danny proved himself an interesting man, especially when he conversed on a whim. Many times speaking with Ross, one to one, he would spill out what was deep in his heart.

“In the service, I’ve visited many places in our world. Things are not what they seem in some countries. It’s really quite lopsided, with religious beliefs and the distribution of wealth and rights. Women in some cultures are not even considered a person. If there husband dies, they can’t keep their lands or vote about the welfare of their family. They have no say in the matter. That’s so sad. Sometimes they find it difficult to thrive in the realm of military chaos and poverty. I’ve seen places with no fresh running water or good land to cultivate crops.”

“I never realized that some people had it so hard,” Ross leaned forward, listening closely. Sometimes Danny spouted off facts like his old history teacher, but he learned a lot. One day, Ross wanted to see these places that Danny visited.

“Yes, they do have it rough. I wish I can help them all, but I am just one man. I try to offer something of myself, something to lift up their spirits or pay their way for food or medicine. There are too many sick and starving children who need a better life through education. Those are the ones that touch my heart. I wish the world would wake up and pay attention- to give a damn for their plight. It’s just so sad to witness these things as I travel abroad.”

His stories always fascinated Ross, but there was something more underneath what Danny spoke about. Something Tara admired easily. He always revealed a huge heart. She remembered his generosity with the waitress. He didn’t even bat an eye about giving away the money. She needed a good man like that, someone with a big heart who understood her own chaos and who allowed her to speak her mind.

It wasn’t fair to ask Ross to fend for her future, when he could barely support himself. However, to say yes to Danny’s proposal would mean leaving him behind. That bothered her, but she had to think about her future.

Every time that Danny stopped by, he’d gazed into her eyes at some point, seeking her response. It made her feel strange. He was older and a man, not a boy, although sometimes he could be silly like one. He was one that seemed assured about most things, except for how to behave around a woman. He seemed to need encouragement. So, out of the blue one cold afternoon, she gave him an inkling of hope.

Ross happened to run out his door to catch the landlord on the stairwell about the furnace. It was acting up again. Danny sat oblivious to her on the couch, tuning his guitar. She stood in the kitchen, stirring canned soup in a pot. It was now or never, so Tara went over to plop down beside him, catching Danny by surprise. They only had a few seconds as Tara could hear Ross’s voice getting closer in the hallway.

“I just wanted to tell you…” she began

“Yes?” he responded

“….we should see each other secretly. It might upset Ross if… if… ”

“What? If I should kiss you?” Danny’s eyes went wide and he placed his guitar to one side. He turned to face her.

“No,” Tara said and he instantly frowned. She had something else in mind. Since Ross was nearer to the door, she had to act now. With all her courage mustered up, she grasped his shoulders to pull him forward into a fiery kiss. When she released him, she finished her sentence, “No… if I kissed you.”

Then she jumped up and ran to the kitchen just as Ross entered the room, unaware of their actions.

Danny looked at his feet suddenly. He didn’t want Ross to notice his shock or the desire written all over his face for the girl. This was wonderful news. He was thrilled that she conceded. What was there to lose?

After that, he dropped by every chance, just to find a moment alone with her. In jest, he made the intent known to Ross, who repeatedly refuted it. Danny was headstrong.

“Consider yourself forewarned, my friend. That girl stirs up the coals in my furnace. My name is in the hat to win her over,” Danny admitted openly as they watched smoke come out of the oven. Tara was a terrible cook.

“Well, Danny, only time will tell and it’s sadly running out,” Ross laughed and walked over to open up a window. His mind spun with glee. What outrageous statements? From what he observed whenever they were all together, Tara displayed no open interest in Danny at all. As they played cards or dominos after dinner, she kept to herself. If anything was happening, it was all one sided on Danny’s part. There was nothing to worry about.

One day, Danny took Tara downtown to file for a passport.

“Along with state identification card and a copy of your birth certificate, you’ll need this to travel abroad. I don’t want any delays if you agree to my proposal,” he insisted, looking into her eyes. Compliantly, she went inside. If she didn’t, he would talk on about it for days, worrying needlessly. She couldn’t bear that. The man got on her nerves being so organized. At least he behaved as a gentleman. To this she was simply grateful.

Later, they went to the corner market. She took her time shopping, much to his annoyance. When they returned to the apartment, she stuffed items into the cabinet randomly, “Here, let me do that,” he said after a moment of observing. It was amusing how he liked to group certain items together, such as the spices or all of the soup cans.

Occasionally, he showed up with chocolates or small bouquets of assorted flowers, which she seemed to like best, instead of roses. It was difficult courting a girl who didn’t’ say much about preferences, but by the keen expression on her face, he could tell whether he done well or not. It was nice just sitting in her presence sometimes, in that small kitchen area, whenever she was quiet and thinking. They would sip tea and she would stare off dreamily into space, with a face that was so beautifully expressive. How could he not fall in love with that?

One late February evening, he watched as long wayward bangs fell across her brow. It was hard not to reach up to push them out of her eyes. He stared intently, wanting to kiss her, but was glued to his spot. As she stared up with such sultry eyes, his mind went to another galaxy, so he took her hand and tried again to entice her into marriage, “Please, Tara. My family will support you. They are loyal people. You will like them. Marry me, and you will be surrounded with love too.”

Tara stared into his eyes for a second and then squeezed his hand at the moment he looked at the table, thinking that he failed again.

“I never had a family to show love. All right, Danny. Let’s do it. I will marry you.”

With this response, it was time to reveal everything to Ross.

"After a lot of preparations, we are getting married tomorrow," Danny announced at the bar one afternoon as they played darts. Ross exposed chaffed, calloused hands and aimed steadily at the board nearby.

"Yeah, sure you are -and the mayor will give the bride away. When will this all take place?" Ross was totally clueless. All he knew was that Danny liked to brag about the absurd.

"This is for real chap!" Danny grabbed the remaining darts. He turned Ross to look directly into his eyes, "Ross, it’s the right thing to do. Everything is arranged. It’s just a small wedding with a few of my naval friends and acquaintances I know from the Trade Center. I want you to be my best man. It will calm Tara’s nerves.”

“Danny, stop! You are making this up!”

Ross froze as Danny pulled out official documents from his jacket.

“I managed to pull a few strings at the consulate. Tara has a passport in record time. Within a few days, we will depart home by a transatlantic cruise liner."

Ross took the documents to read over. Deep realization sank in and he slumped into a chair. Danny handed over a glass of water. The young man looked pretty pale.

"We have to be prepared for when she delivers. I can provide adequately. You know that’s important. As her best friend, she is agonizing to leave you behind. We are friends too, so I can relate to her pain,” Danny placed a hand upon his shoulder, "If only you possessed a passport.”

“I do,” Ross revealed, staring up into Danny’s eyes. Would it make a difference? He didn’t want to see them go either, “My boss made me get one, incase I ever traveled abroad for the company. That opportunity never came up.”

“Ross! This is terrific news,” Danny’s eyes lit up, being very overjoyed, “You can join us. I will make the arrangements. Once we are in England, Michael will find you work at a reputable firm. Then we can continue with our music at some point at leisure. All you have to do is go with us.”

Danny's instant plans made Ross feel dizzy. Still, he was happy to be included and not shut out.

"Alright, Danny. I will. I’ll let the landlord know about the apartment. It’s really all I am responsible for here," Ross responded. He didn’t know what else to say. He was so stunned.

"That’s great! Why live in such a dump? You deserve better and any work in London will be twice as better than what you do now,” Danny offered a handshake and Ross took it, "There will be no regrets, my friend. You will learn to love England like I do. You will like my family. You will see."

Ross felt misgivings. This adventure to Danny’s home territory would definitely be a new experience.

Added music to website

Recently, on the MySpace website that my youngest daughter helped to create for me, I looked around at other member pages for ideas. I'm so new to all this technological stuff, but my 16 year old has no problems zipping along to create glittery pictures or words or make the layouts look really outstanding compared to something I would do. But honestly, I felt a bit intimidated by her knowledge. So on my own the other night, I figured out how to place a player list onto it. How fortunate it seemed that I could also place it on my blogger. Hence, you hear the soaring soprano as you bring my site up.

The music is by this Dutch group called Within Temptation. They've been around, apparently for awhile, but I just recently learned of their music. The first two songs, Angels and Jillian (I'd give my heart), were so wonderful that they sparked ideas into my mind while igniting my soul. I just love their music and some of the words really hit home to what my characters go through in my book. When I created my book trailer, (on Windows Movie maker that my son taught me to use), I had to use Jillian as the theme song for my book. If this should ever reach national success and someone approaches to make this into a movie (which I do see REAL possibilites if a director felt adventuresome enough) then I certainly would ask to use this band's music in it. Anyways, that's my thinking on it.

As always, sure could use more feedback about the trailer. Please link to it to watch below. Be sure to turn off the playlist player before watching or you'll hear the music from both sections.

In the meantime, I know it's frustrating to wait for a finished product, but the galley is going under minor corrections for the 2nd time, and should be available within 15 days. That's a long time to be patient, but these were minor glitches in spacing and typos by the publisher that needed to be done. Believe me, I'm chomping at the bit to have a finished product to actually sell, but it's getting there. I'll post notification to everyone for sure.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Writers' League of Texas 2008 Conference Info




For registration info, go to: www.writersleague.org

Each registrant receives a 10-minute face-to-face pitch session with an agent or editor of his or her choice. The $309 registration fee ($354 non-members) gives registrants access to all conference activities, including panels and lectures, exhibition hall, luncheon, cocktail parties, and keynote address. For more information, including a list of participating agents and editors, please visit their website.