I’ve been wondering about that myself . . .

(Jane’s World is the brainchild of the awesomely talented Paige Braddock)

I can daydream all day, chewing on pencils, playing endless games of Winter Whirl,* while my characters dance through my head, conceptualizing their feelings and events and shootings and smooches.

But that doesn’t get stuff written down.  Eventually, if I want to have a novel written, I will have to make new marks on paper or throw new pixels up on a screen.**

That’s a pretty basic concept right there, and it’s amazing how many excuses I can counter-conceptualize for not actually doing this.

The only cure is to get something down—even a single sentence about what I want to happen next.  And then another sentence, expanding on the idea a little . . . and another so it’s a full paragraph (according to Janie’s teacher, three sentences make a paragraph, and who am I to argue?) . . . and a fourth that makes the adverbs in the second moot . . . and then the clock strikes eleven and there are four pages here that didn’t exist before that one small sentence was written.

I’m not knocking daydreaming—it’s not a waste of time, until it is, and without conceptualizing, you get alphabet soup in three-sentence groups.  But there comes a time when the only way to call yourself a writer . . . is to write something.

Ideas are only as valuable as their execution.

Suck it up and get it down.

Butt in seat.  Hands on keyboard.



*You shoot colored snowflake balls at a great whirling structure of colored snowflake balls, trying to match at least three so they’ll fall off.  It’s like structured transcendental meditation with poingy sounds.

** Supplying, one can safely assume, my own poingy sounds.

Jane’s World is the brainchild of the awesomely talented  Paige Braddock


Goodbye, Aunt Vernice

My Dad called me a little while ago to tell me my godmother died yesterday. 

She’s been in hospice for a few weeks, but took a turn for the worse while my parents were up here visiting—they didn’t check their e-mail or phone messages until this afternoon, after Father Bailey had already told them she’d passed.

Aunt Vernice was a wonderful woman, and an integral part of my childhood.  When I was four, we moved to a new neighborhood.  I don’t remember whether we met her before or during our first visit to the nearby Episcopalian church—she may have been the reason we went in the first place, since we certainly weren’t Episcopalians at the time.  Regardless, Aunt Vernice adopted us on the spot and when I was baptized, she was named my godmother.

 She babysat us kids every Monday for years while my mother taught her evening class.  We always had mock shepherd’s pie—with green beans and hamburger—which was permanently dubbed Monday Night Casserole, a name I’ve taught my own kids to use, even if we have it on a Thursday.

I have a silver charm bracelet in my jewelry box—far too small for my adult wrist—with a little green apple, a mushroom, a button, and many other little memories given to me by Aunt Vernice on birthdays and Christmases until that last tiny diploma was attached to the last empty silver link.  I explain the story behind each  to Janie whenever she asks and she’s desperate to wear it. . . but  even though I know each charm is soldered permanently, I’ve never let her do more than try it on.  Someday, maybe, but I’m not ready to see my life on someone else’s wrist just yet.

Aunt Vernice taught me so many things, including kindness, patience, and how to pin quilting squares together without stabbing myself.  She taught me the importance of keeping busy and that family can be chosen.  She taught me that “Hey!” is for horses and that popcorn is better popped in oil with melted butter drizzled over.  

 But eventually I was old enough to sit myself on Mondays.  I graduated high school, went to college, got married, moved away, moved farther away.  Touch was kept through Christmas letters and photographs . . . but mostly though my parents, who kept everyone updated.

I sent flowers when Uncle Bill died.  When I came back for a visit a while later, I was stunned by how short and frail Aunt Vernice seemed.  I could look her in the eye when I hugged her and my arms enfolded her completely.  Janie met her once or twice, but I don’t think Sunny ever did. 

Janie calls Aunt Vernice, “Mom’s Grandma Kathy,” which is true—we were lucky enough to be adopted by a woman just like the one who adopted my family thirty-six years ago, and she is Sunny’s godmother. She feeds the kids lasagna on days when we need a sitter and is showing them how to be kind and thoughtful and extremely busy.  And also how to count in Greek and Italian and that dry LuckyCharms make an awesome snack.

Isn’t it a wonderful world, to have such special people in it?  I don’t know as I would have truly appreciated the gift that is Grandma Kathy without being loved by an Aunt Vernice for so many years.

Goodbye, Aunt Vernice.  I love you.

I bow to the Master and retire . . .

 Making Light is a remarkably sane and brilliant blog community moderated by Patrick Hayden Nielsen and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, remarkably sane and brilliant editors for Tor Books.

I lurk there often, hoping someday to find something clever enough to say—possibly in Latin, Elvish, or Klingon—to warrant a seat at the Cool Kids table.

Today’s ML post showcases the best piece of spontaneous flash fiction I’ve read in a long while. 

As Patrick says, “One can see the rough emerging outlines of Eloi and Morlocks—but not which is which.”

And with that, I’m packing it in for the day.

Family Visit Random Recap, now in 3D!

My parents are leaving early tomorrow to trek back to Ohio—if they figure out where the kids and I hid their car keys.  Here are just a few highlights of the holiday week:

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth is a clueless child . . .

Mom and Dad arrived Tuesday night and it took a long time for the kids to settle down enough to sleep.  Unfortunately, Janie and I both had to get up at our usual time on Wednesday to go to our respective half days of school or work.  Janie griped and sniped through the morning until everyone lost patience and I finally got her loaded into the car with her Grandparent Day props, homework, and Angel Shoe Tree gift.

I belted myself in and calmly informed her that she was going to have to remember that other people didn’t know how sleepy she was and that she was going to have to be very careful not to lose her temper and try to be aware of what was going on today.  Her grandparents had come a long way to see her in her skit and she needed to make it a good day for them.  I extracted an agreement, opened the garage door, put the car in reverse and promptly backed into Mom’s car.  Wham.

I drove into the garage, made sure Janie was okay, checked for car damage (there was none*) and went inside.  “Could someone please move the car that I just backed into so Janie and I can leave?”  Because, you know, it wasn’t my fault I hadn’t used the rearview mirror to see if Mom’s bright metallic orange Element was lurking out there.

Mom leapt for her keys, ran out in her slippers, without a coat, and backed her car into the street along the curb.  I backed out, waved in thanks, and left . . . not realizing that I’d automatically closed the garage door as I pulled away.  To get back inside, Mom had to walk all the way around the house to the front door and ring the bell.

Did I mention it was 28°F ?

Thanksgiving Dinner

Garlic turkey with roasted garlic cloves, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, scalloped pearl onions (thanks, Grace), homemade bread, salad, corn pudding, pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting, cinnamon and pumpkin ice creams, and what I’m told was a very nice Zinfandel rose from a local winery (thanks again, Grace!).

And turkey soup tonight, which will kill all the leftovers.   Boo-yah.

The Arts & Crafts Show

The day after Thanksgiving, my family heads over to the local Expo Center where we wander from vendor to vendor gazing at all the handmade gifts made by other people’s hands.

The kids were allowed to choose an outfit for one of their dolls and persuaded me to buy them each a scented candle for their rooms—Janie picked birthday cake and Sunny chose peppermint.  I bought one that was labeled snickerdoodle, but smells more like pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting—though I might be projecting, there.

And in one booth, I found this little guy:

Yes, it’s a snowman made of Minnesota fieldstone and iron.**   Just look at that little face!

I adopted him on the spot—and then left him on that spot to pick up later, since he weighs about 30 pounds.  Dad ended up carrying him to the car, since I had Sunny, who was being knocked off her feet by the wind.   I think Dad got the better deal—my armful sneezed in my ear.  Twice.

My mother-in-law says he looks like a pile of ugly potatoes, but I love him and will never take him for granite . . .

The Virus Strikes Again, or a Tangled web

We were going to add to the family tradition by taking the kids to a movie after lunch the day after Thanksgiving.  The kids have been begging at least twice a day each to see Tangled since the first preview hit Youtube and I said, “Oh, wow!  You guys have to see this!”  That was . . . five months and a lot of begging ago.  Rookie mistake.

But I want to see it, too, and it’s the kind of movie we all love.  And it sounded like a good alternative to our usual naps.

Except the virus we all had last week finally hit my mother-in-law Thanksgiving afternoon, so she decided to skip both the holiday dinner and the movie.  And then my Dad started feeling icky the next morning . . and Janie started looking green at the restaurant.

I wasn’t sure if the green was caused by Dad trying to ease his queasy stomach by eating baby calamari,*** her overlarge serving of stir fried mushroom noodles, or the virus . . . until she refused dessert and asked me if we could go to the movie next week.  My little instant gratification junkie doesn’t do next week, so we sped her home with a plastic carsick bag in her hand (I’m not an actual rookie) and put her to bed with the bucket.

And then we all took naps.

Guess you can’t beat tradition.


*Probably because we both have Hondas.  Say what you want about Honda—they don’t screw around when it comes to bumpers.  I was once rear-ended by a full-sized Buick.  The impact threw my Honda Civic Wagon all the way across the intersection, which luckily had no cross traffic at the time.  I drove away with a chip in my right tail light.  The Buick had to be towed.

**Francis Metal Works usually makes remarkably graceful waterfowl in various sizes—two baby geese came home with us, too—but they make special holiday items as well.

*** . . . Yeah.  I know.