Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to Cruise I go . . .

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I hate traveling.  I like being places, but getting there, for me, is never half the fun, especially if it involves airports.

disney-cruises-logoBut Mom and Dad wanted to take the kids on a Disney cruise and invited my husband and I along for the ride—and I may be a travel curmudgeon with a serious hate-on for how certain airlines treat their passengers, but I’m not passing up a free week on a floating amusement park that exists solely to take over the entertainment needs of my high maintenance offspring.

So on Thursday, we’re driving the seven hours to my parent’s house, then flying out to Port Canaveral the next day,  to catch the boat the day after that.  Nice and easy—and plenty of time for Plan B, C, and even D, in case cars break down and planes are missed and luggage is lost.

So this time, the big problem is getting ready to get there.

Since my only experience with an ocean cruise thus far has been reruns of The Love Boat (I love me some Bernie Kopell), I’ve been spending the last few days spinning in panicked circles wondering what to pack and what  not to pack, reminding myself that the Disney Fantasy c. 2015 is not the Pacific Princess c. 1979,* reading every article about Disney cruises I can, all of which have differing ideas of what to pack and what not to pack.

But I’ve made a list of things to take (Sunscreen, extra contacts, Jane’s inhaler, manuscript, PASSPORTS), and another of things that need to get done before we go.  It’s not that bad, really; all I have to do is pack for me, assemble boredom bags for the car ride, clean the whole house, pack for the kids (one of whom wants to take everything and the other of whom has a decidedly minimalist/grunge approach), get Jane’s hair trimmed, write out instructions for pet care, get to the bank, sort out my purse, buy toothbrushes and sunscreen, and return that butt-ugly dress I bought in a panic over “formal dress night”.  And maybe a few other things . . .

WiFi may or may not be affordable, so you may not hear much from me for a week or two, until I come back with a sunburn and pics—and maybe even a manageable sleep deficit.

Disney is supposed to be all about making dreams come true, right?


Ever taken a Disney Cruise?  Any advice?

Who was YOUR favorite Love Boat crew member?


* I will not, for example, be meeting Isaac, however much I might need him, nor will I be on the prowl for anything other than an empty lounge chair and a nap.


Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Changes)

We WriWa bannerHave a WIP, an EIP, an MS, or a published work you want to share on your blog, eight to ten sentences at a time?

Want to sample other people’s WIPs, EIPs, MSs, or published works, eight to ten sentences at a time?

Be a Weekend Writing Warrior!

Rules are here!

List of participants is here!


Or if you’re a fellow Facebook addict (we can quit any time we want to, right?),
why not check out the offerings of the Snippet Sunday gang?


Last week, Lowell Rhombeck, the leader of the Talbot City werewolf pack, asked Tom (our fearless wereduck hero) to talk Bryan (Tom’s AWOL werewolf brother) into taking over as packleader.

When Tom asked why, Susan, Lowell’s human PA, told him it was because Rhombeck was being stupid.  Okay, she said, “Because he’s being stupid”, but the next few sentences make it clear that she’s referring to Rhombeck.

Rhombeck thinks he’s being perfectly reasonable.

Susan, who is the voice of reason and therefore isn’t buying it, speaks first this week:


 “Lowell, nothing needs to change.”

“Everything has changed,” he said, his eyes intent on her face. He snagged her wrist and pulled her to the couch to sit next to him. “I won’t pretend that it hasn’t; I’m glad it has.” He rubbed the side of his head against the top of hers.

I hadn’t figured Rhombeck for a PDA guy, but it wasn’t much of a stretch to see them as a couple outside of the office—unless you factored in his other job.

“Is this a secret marriage kind of thing?” I asked.

“No,” Susan said, patiently waiting for Rhombeck to finish. “it’s an unplanned pregnancy kind of thing.”

“Congratulations?” I said.

“Yes,” Rhombeck said, “thank you.”


Just in case it’s not clear from this selection, Rhombeck’s “other job” is being packleader (you could say, he’s moonlighting–hey?  Anyone?  Crickets?).

In this book, there’s still some Old Skool were-human miscegenation bigotry to deal with, stemming from Rhombeck’s position as pack leader.   The fact that any children he has with Susan wouldn’t be able to shift* is also an issue.

In other news:  My family and I are leaving on a Disney cruise in a few days, and while I love you guys, I don’t know if I can swing the WiFi and/or roaming rates—or operate my phone with sufficient competency while battling sunburn and carsickness on the way home—to participate over the next two Sundays.

If I can, I will. If I can’t, I’ll see you next month!


* If Susan had any werewolf ancestors—she doesn’t because I say so—there’s a fifty percent chance the child couldn’t shift.  Depending on how recent those ancestors were, there’s also a chance the child could be a full werewolf . . . or a genetic mess. Luckily, this is set in our time, and were-geneticists are totally a thing (Yes, they can shift into scientists whenever they want . . . though most of ’em don’t bother turning back).

This kind of thing happens when you’re describing your idea for a wereduck character and someone says, “Cool.  But how does he make more of himself?”  And you say, “Oh, $#!%, he doesn’t have any teeth, does he . . .”  And then you stare at that picture of Mendel’s peapods for way too long.

“Prelude to Axanar”: The Stardate of Something Amazing

I’m a fan of Star Trek from way back, as was my mother before me.  She allowed me to watch as many episodes as I wanted in syndication—she’d already seen them when they first aired—and helped me to establish a decent collection of novels that are still on my shelves.

I’ve seen all the movies—occasionally to my regret—and while I’m not the kind of detail-oriented person who knows every episode and historical plot point by stardate—or knows all the canon-twisting reasons why Klingons changed their facial appearances as often as Starfleet redesigned their uniforms—I’m comfortable in the universe and get most of the in-jokes (I think).

So when my husband told me about a short, fan-made, Hollywood-filmed Star Trek video called”Prelude to Axanar”, which is based on a RPG sourcebook that outlines a (non-series canon) “Four Years War” between a young United Federation of Planets and the invading Klingon Empire, I thought it sounded interesting. So I gave it a try.

It blew my mind.

Written by Alec Peters, directed by Chris Gossett, created by a crew of magicians, and performed by professional actors you may (should) recognize, this mini-movie is a brilliant, documentary-style teaser that the creators hope will generate funds for a feature-length film.

My librarian’s heart was captured within the first twenty-two seconds. After ten, I had goosebumps.  And when it was done, I went to my husband and said, “Is it too late to give them all our money?  We could take out a second mortgage.”

See for yourself:

Even if you don’t know who Kelvar Garth was* or didn’t recognize Vulcan Ambassador Soval from Star Trek: Enterprise** or you aren’t even that into Star Trek at all, this is compelling stuff.  Heck, I’d gladly pitch in for the rest of the documentary, let alone a movie that puts us in the middle of the action.

I checked the Axanar website and, luckily for our financial stability and the kids’ college funds, they don’t need that much more money to reach their present goal.***  In fact, Anaxar (or at least the first act) is scheduled to be released in 2016.

This is going to be something to behold.  I can’t wait!



*I’ll admit, I’d forgotten that episode until I looked him up.  I do hope he fares better in this timeline.

**I had that one covered; I’ve been in fanlove with Gary Graham for years.

***Not that I didn’t donate, but I toned it down somewhat.  No kidneys were donated towards the making of this movie.  Not my kidneys, anyway . . .



Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Picture Perfect)

We WriWa bannerHave a WIP, an EIP, an MS, or a published work you want to share on your blog, eight to ten sentences at a time?

Want to sample other people’s WIPs, EIPs, MSs, or published works, eight to ten sentences at a time?

Be a Weekend Writing Warrior!

Rules are here!

List of participants is here!


Or if you’re a fellow Facebook addict (we can quit any time we want to, right?),
why not check out the offerings of the Snippet Sunday gang?


The house that Tom entered last week belongs to Susan, the human assistant of Lowell Rhombeck, who is not only the CEO of the Nubilus Corporation but the leader of the Talbot City werewolf pack.

Tom isn’t surprised that Rhombeck would use Susan’s living room as a safe place to talk—but he does look awfully at home there . . .


I noticed a framed photo on the mantel of Susan, in winter gear, with her arms around a familiar-looking wolf. Both were smiling.

I’ll bet some of her human guests thought he was a husky.

Rhombeck cleared his throat and leaned forward. “I need you to do something for me,” he said.

“Tell me,” I said.

“I need you to convince Bryan to step in as my replacement.”

Not what I was expecting.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because he’s being stupid,” Susan said from the doorway.


Yes, Susan is telling her boss the powerful werewolf that he’s making a mistake.  It’s possible Susan is the scariest person in this story, with the possible exception of Merrock, who may have a tad too much cultural respect for Rhombeck’s position in the pack to be quite that blunt.

 I like Susan.

Following Mr. Leonard to the Starting Line

I have fun writing. I don’t make it a chore. I don’t have to struggle with it.

I haven’t been writing much lately.  It’s not a block, so much as a pervasive lassitude verging on WIP-triggered narcolepsy.

I’ve managed a paragraph here, an edited description there, but even my awareness of my own mortality hasn’t been enough to achieve escape velocity.

But the other day, a book appeared on the New Shelves at my library: Charlie Martz and Other Stories: The Unpublished Stories by Elmore Leonard.

Leonard UnpublishedThere’s something comforting about reading the early work of one of your favorite authors, especially the stuff  that didn’t quite make the grade.

Mostly because it exists.

For some of us, it’s a revelation to remember that Mr. Leonard, for all his talent and genius, didn’t follow his Ten Rules* from the beginning. In his early stories, he may have forced a description or two. He used a variety of dialogue tags. He got in his own way with clever bits. He (gasp) adverbed.

In other words, he didn’t write pure gold from the get-go.

But he did eventually become the kind of revered writer whose early stories are collected and published and studied as comfort and encouragement to the rest of us.

So, how did he go from a writer of not-quite-right-for-prime-time stories to the Elmore Leonard we know?  Part of the answer is offered by his son, Peter Leonard, in the introduction of this collection.

His kids remember him writing all the time when he was at home.  Writing came in a close second to his family and he’d sit in the living room working away with pen and paper, while the kids watched TV or played, grabbing every spare minute he could.  He got up at five every morning and wrote at least two pages, before leaving for his full-time advertising job.  He didn’t even make coffee until the end of the first page, which sounded like powerful motivation to me.

And as I read along, fascinated, it occurred to me that all this sounded oddly familiar—or could, anyway, if I wanted it enough.

I used to write on my laptop in the dining room, where I was within eye- and earshot of the family.  There were interruptions, but these were infrequent and generally involve hugs or the occasional squabble over the remote—they could see I was typing away at something important.  These days, I write in the back bedroom . . . if by writing, one means playing time management games and reading and browsing through the spectrum of buzzfeed channels . . . while the family frequently checks on me to make sure I’m still alive and hangs around asking if they can watch videos with me—for some reason, they don’t believe me when I tell them I’m working.

And I get up at five every morning, too, ostensibly to write . . .  but lately, my routine has devolved into immediate coffee, e-mail, reading other people’s work, and carefully ignoring my project files until I have to wake the kids.

This is all far less productive than I’d originally intended.

So this morning, I tried something different.  I still got up at five and fired up the coffeemaker, but I ignored my phone and laptop in favor of a legal pad and a working pen.  I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote a page before pouring my first cup of caffeine.  Then I continued writing, until I noticed the time, and reluctantly finished a sentence.  Okay—a paragraph. Or two.  I was on a roll.

Felt pretty good.

I didn’t pass the two page mark by much and there were a lot of scribbled out words that narrowed the margin, but now I can legitimately call my WIP a WIP again.

Maybe I’ll take my pen and pad to the couch after dinner tonight and see if I can get the wordflow going around my kids’ favorite shows.  If that doesn’t work the way I hoped, I can always jot down some notes and go back to the  computer after bedtime.

Either way, I’ll find some comfort in knowing that even Elmore Leonard didn’t start out knowing exactly what worked for him.

But he knew how to find out—and he did.

I don’t believe in writer’s block or waiting for inspiration. If you’re a writer, you sit down and write.

Worth a try, wouldn’t you say?

*I think he makes it clear that his rules were created by him for him and not as the One True Way.  As he said, “Everyone has his own sound.  I’m not going to presume to tell anybody how to write.”