Friday, November 28, 2008

This is why...

...I'm so happily married. Check out Scott's Thanksgiving post. Cracked me up. Who could not love this guy?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Light It Up!

Before I go to the kitchen and deal with the twenty-four pound creature awaiting a sage butter massage and a good roasting, I’m going to express my blog thanks. The blogosphere has allowed me to keep my hermetic writing life intact but still have a nice connection with people throughout the day. My blog acts as a writing prompt, allowing me to get the brain cells pumping before turning my attention to the manuscript. Having people read it is a bonus that I am very grateful for. So thanks, dear readers.

Tomorrow is my favorite day in Ashland: The Festival of Lights. After sundown there’s a light parade and then everything goes quiet and dark. The whole town starts a countdown and when our collective voice gets to “one” the switch is flipped and downtown is ablaze in fairy lights. It’s magical. Right after that, my writing partner Marcia and I are going to zip up to the cabin for a weekend writing intensive so I can deliver my manuscript to my editor on Monday. All in all, a good four days ahead!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Please Pass the Luv

After cherishing the “I Love You This Much” award for the fully allotted twenty four hours, I must now pass it on. Hmm, whom to choose? So many blogs entertain and captivate me, but there’s one in particular that always makes me laugh: Graeme Stone's Publishing Quest.

Graeme is one of the funniest people to ever walk the planet, and that’s all you need to win my heart. So my apple-cheeked friend, I bestow upon your blog the “I Love You This Much” award that came to me from Katie and SarahFrances. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lock Me Up

It gives me a small measure of comfort to know that if I ever went to prison, eating would not be an issue. Since we’re all friends here, I’ll admit it: I love Institutional Food.

Today is the Thanksgiving Feast at elementary school, the crown jewel of Institutional Meals! As the other moms gripe about the consistency of the gravy or the lack of Tofurkey, I’ll be in line with my partitioned tray winking at the Lunch Lady to get a wee bit more stuffing.

It’s not that I don’t have a sophisticated palate; I just have a broad palate. I’m very inclusive when it comes to food—I like it all, from liverwurst to foie gras. So yeah, I’m not above admitting to liking po’ white trash fare. And this will come in handy, you know, if there’s any prison time in my future… Happy Institutional Feast Day!


Does it seem like a lovefest around here sometimes? Well, it is. I seriously love the amazing children’s book writers I meet at conferences and workshops. I dare you to go to a general writer’s conference and then go to a children’s book writers conference and see the difference. Night and day! It’s like everyone in this genre was hand-picked as someone I would enjoy. I’m a cynic at heart, so I was surprised to find a genuine feeling of encouragement and support among writers instead of the underlying feeling of envy and competition that emanates from writers of other genres.

Two people I met at the SCBWI conference and instantly loved were Katie and Sarah Frances of the blog Plot This. They have just awarded me the I Love You This Much award, which really made my day. As if the Institutional Feast were not enough! Thanks so much Katie and SF... Let the lovefest continue!

Monday, November 24, 2008

More than the sum of its parts.

Has dust, plasma, and hydrogen ever been so beautiful? Some days you just really need to look at a nebula...

Friday, November 21, 2008

What's Your Type? Myers-Briggs For Your Blog!

Oh, fellow bloggers, have I got a treat for you! Today the lovely Anna Vollers (she of best custom-blog-header-art ever) has a link to a Myers Briggs personality test for your BLOG!

While others turned to the fashion or relationship sections of Cosmo and Seventeen, I always went straight for the horoscope and “Are you a __or an__?” quiz. I’m an eternal qizzer, looking for that one test that will, at last, explain who I am. Myers-Briggs is as close as it gets.

Okay, here’s the weird part: My blog is the OPPOSITE of my self. Ready for this? My blog is an ESFP - The Performer! My husband and oldest friends Julie and Davis will no doubt do a spit-take while reading this; I am so terrified of performing that’s it’s difficult for me to even watch theater productions. I make Julie read my writing at our critique group because even just reading aloud feels like performing. Seriously, I had to pop beta blockers at the Big Sur Writers Conference just to be able to read my stuff. (PS – They work great!)

In real life I’m a devoted, dedicated, card-carrying INTP: “Analytical individuals who don't mind spending long periods of time on their own, working through problems and forming solutions. They are very curious about systems and how things work. INTPs tend to be less at ease in social situations and the "caring professions." They also tend to be impatient with the bureaucracy, rigid hierarchies, and politics prevalent in many professions. INTPs can demonstrate remarkable skill in explaining complex ideas to others in simple terms, especially in writing. Their extroverted intuition often gives them a quick wit, especially with language, and they can defuse the tension in gatherings by comical observations and references.”

Anyone who knows me well will agree most heartily with this morsel: INTP’s are “less at ease in social situations and the ‘caring professions’.” (Recently I mentioned to an old friend that if fiction writing doesn’t work out I might think about becoming a nurse; she burst out laughing and said, “You would be the worst nurse ever! You loathe the ‘public’ and you’re not all that nurturing.” Ouch. Only a friend could through the crap like that. Though I still think I’d be a good nurse if I had a specialty position that allowed me access to gross things but not much human interaction, like Nurse of Boil Lancing Only or some such…)

Another cool thing about is that it shows you a picture of what part of your brain you’re using when you are blogging. Interesting to see that what I write about my life uses the exact opposite part of my brain that I use when I actually LIVE my life, which probably makes me a pathological liar.

Anyone else an INTP in real life and an ESFP In blog life?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You're Going Down,

As soon as I get things organized here I’ll be moving to Central Sulawesi. This just in:

“Mouse-sized primates called pygmy tarsiers, not seen alive in 85 years, have come out of hiding from a mountaintop in a cloud forest in Indonesia.”

Tarsius pumilus fulfills all my dream qualities:
Absurd – check
Cute – check
Fluffy – check
Miniature – check
Big-eyed – check check

I'm planning on starting an All Pygmy Tarsier All The Time website, which will surely eclipse the reigning Cute Overload in the absurd fluffy miniature big-eyed cuteness website department.

Who's with me, people? Anyone? Let me allow the tarsiers to speak for themselves:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Illuminating Words

Yesterday Editorial Ass had a great post about Toni Morrison; Toni changed 17 words in her new novel, A Grace, and called it a major rewrite.

How much power is there in just a few words? Let’s find out. Grab the book nearest you, turn to page 88 and read the eighth sentence. Then post it in the comments section here. Writers: bonus points if you use material from your own manuscript!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Plague upon the House of Ra(edeke)

Between conference days and holidays, there are only 28 days of school in October and November—the very two months I have to revise my manuscript based on the editorial comments from Flux.

Because of the alltogether too much kidness, I’ve been looking so forward to this week - four consecutive days to write! - that I forgot to propitiate the gods. And now I’ve been smote. Or is it smited? Smoted? How about all of the above.

A disgusting virus has hit the Raedeke children. I’m not even going to say the common name because
1) I love any excuse to use medical terminology and
2) the common name is very close to that of a barnyard disease and you will think I am raising cloven-hoofed (or is it hooved? I’m clearly unable to work out the complexities of the English language today.) children.

We’ve been cursed with Coxsackievirus A16.

The cruelest part of the smiting (smotation?) is this nugget: “There is no specific treatment for Coxsackievirus A16 except time. It takes 5-7 days to run its course.”

There goes the week.

Think of me as you writers write, free of constraints. I’ll be here in my plagued house pureeing food, steeping lots of tea, and working out a propitiation system so I never again forget to appease Seshat, goddess of writing, lady of the house of books.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Memory Bank: The Case For Facebook Being More Than Just A Massive Timesuck

Out of necessity I've become an excellent online stalker. I'm the one people come to when they want to profile an ex-or-potential boyfriend/husband, see what an old college rival is up to these days, or find dirt on a snooty mom who snubbed them at school while dropping off kids. I've had to hone my skills because, until recently, there was no Facebook. Now I can retire from virtual PI work and focus my attention wholly on my craft, with short breaks for the results of stalking that Facebook does in my stead.

Facebook was made for people like me who love/need to know what's going on in everyone's lives but are not that keen on actually communicating to get that info. In Facebook you make initial contact and then sit back and voyeuristically enjoy the ride, peeking in on people's lives whenever you feel the need (read: hourly). It's entirely justifiable, though because I find Facebook is flooding my subconscious with memories, which are key for a writer. Grade school, high school, college; my own spotty memories get fleshed out with every new friend request and accompanying one-inch photo that pops up on my screen.

Becasue of a recent Facebook friend request, this morning instead of waking up with the conundrum of bittersweet chocolate vis a vis peppermint ice cream, I woke up thinking about 1987-88, my senior year in college. I'd moved out of the Kappa house and into a rental, dubbed The Kasbah, with friends Pam and Wendy. It was an old house that had been remodeled and it had super-shiny hardwood floors that we thought were incredibly posh. We named it The Kasbah (the K made it krazy!) because of the Clash song—no one would ever come off campus and visit unless they thought a party might break out, so we gave the house a name that engendered the feeling that it could really Rock At Any Moment. Parties never did break out though, because while other girls in other houses were filling garbage cans full of Spodi Punch with 151-proof rum in halter tops and mini skirts, we sat around in our nightgowns—remember the long, nun-like Lanz brand that had what looked like a lace-trimmed bib?—and played How Much, a game that dominated our social lives that year.

How Much was a simple game; one person came up with a rude, crude, or simply unsanitary dare and then the lowest bidder would do the deed. For example, I’d ask How Much to lick the mop after I’ve cleaned the bathroom floor. Wendy would say ten bucks. Pam would say three bucks because she never really grasped the nuances of the game, like underbidding to maximizing her payout; if this were Wendy or me we would have bid nine dollars and ninety-nine cents. So then, I would mop the bathroom floor and she would lick the mop and collect three bucks.

Pam always won at the foul-bordering-on-deadly deeds (things like chewing on raw chicken skin for 25 seconds), Wendy always won at the public humiliation deeds, and I always won when it came to eating large amounts of things that grossed other people out but I secretly liked. Just between you and me, you wouldn’t even have to pay me to eat a whole jar of mayo, but apparently this was gross enough to be valued at around twelve bucks. Ten bucks just to eat a whole cube of cream cheese? Bring it on.

Wendy always slept late; although she was enrolled in the University, you would never know it. Pam and I actually got up, dressed, and made our way to campus everyday, if only for a cup of coffee. Wendy preferred to sleep in, enjoy coffee and breakfast in her robe, and then get down to cross-stitching. She was a Leisure Studies major—there really is such a thing—so she could get away with this most of the time. She wanted to be a stewardess so she could cross-stitch all over the world.

While we had scrapped together real furniture for the living spaces, we lived at ground level in the bedrooms. If you had walked into my room with, say, one of those cones that dogs have to wear after surgery to keep them from licking wounds, and you could only look side to side, you would think the room was empty. I had a mattress on the floor, a wooden box for a nightstand, and milk crates to hold clothes and books. Nothing in the room was taller than two feet. When I sat on my bed it seemed like a rich life. We had hardwood floors, didn’t we?

Thanks for the memories, Facebook. I heart you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why Electric Blankets Are Evil

As I was falling asleep last night I had a ten-minute revelation about a key scene my shelved work-in-progress needed. Dialog, a new character, some nice sensory detail – it had it all. But because I had turned the heat way, way down as I love to do and the electric blanket way, way up as I love to do, I wasn’t too keen on getting out of bed to jot down some reminders. So I etched it into my brain, sure this was too good to forget.

I think you know where I’m going with this. Yep, when I woke up this morning the only thing on my mind was whether bittersweet chocolate chunks would improve or ruin the miracle that is homemade peppermint ice cream.

Seriously, I can’t even remember where in the novel this fabulous scene was supposed to fit, let alone any detail of it other than that it was the ultimate key to any chance of success I had in this lifetime.

That WIP shall remain shelved for now.

Damn you, cold wood floors!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jump in to the stygian darkness...

There are a handful of moments in my life that seem to stay illuminated. Flash-frozen in my mind, when I think back on them I am able to remember every sensory detail. One of those moments was in the library at Ashland Junior High, the first time I’d ever read about a Mexican centote. I remember exactly where I was sitting in the library, I remember the smell of books comingling with scent of yeast rolls baking in the school cafeteria, I remember the yellow linen fabric covering the slightly oversized book, and I remember the black-ink line drawing of a cross section of a cenote - a bottomless hole in the ground filled with water. The thought of a bottomless pit in which ancient Mayan relics had been found both thrilled and terrified me.

Though I did not go on to be a diver or an archaeologist, this moment in time has had a profound impact on where I am today, thirty years later. I find myself surrounded by things that bring me back to that moment: an extensive collection of books about the Maya, a deal with Flux for two adventure novels that involve the Maya, and an obsession with Mexico – last year I went three different times and visited six states and nearly ten ancient Mayan cities.

My generous mother treated me to a trip anywhere in the world and I chose – surprise! – Mexico. We landed in Cancun, rented a car, and zigzagged all over the states of Yucatan and Quinata Roo. We stayed at amazing resorts while descending into steamy limestone caves, exploring the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, Coba Ha, and Tulum, and floating in the Caribbean Sea. But the most profound moment for me was jumping into a cenote, that ghastly bottomless sinkhole that had enthralled me so many years ago.

We were the first ones to arrive at the fabled Ik Kil Cenote, early in the morning after a torrential tropical rainstorm. As we walked down the hundreds of stairs that led us to the black pool some 80 feet below the earth’s surface, I had to consciously calm myself down to lower my heart rate. I stood on the platform from which you dive, the water roiling from waterfalls that poured the previous night’s rain into the pool, and I thought alright, I’m good. Just seeing it is enough.

And then I remembered the yellow linen book, the words and pictures on a page that had driven me to be there at that moment. Here was where kings and courtesans from the magnificent city of Chichen Itza came to meditate and take their sacred dips, and here I was. Would there ever be another chance?

I jumped into the pool, trying to keep my legs up as close to my body as I could. Tiny black catfish nibbled at my skin. I forced myself to swim over to a waterfall and let the water pound on my head, I forced myself to work through the fear of being, at last, in that bottomless pool. You can barely make out my head, bobbing in this photo.

Today there’s an AP story about an archeologist who has discovered something utterly amazing, through reading 450-year old records of the of the Inquisition trials the Spaniards held against Indian "heretics" in Mexico. When questioned/tortured for information about where they held their sacred ceremonies, the Maya mentioned the same places but the recorded names changed over the centuries or were forgotten. Until now. Guillermo de Anda has pieced together the information and found, by diving down through Tzibichen Cenote, something magnificent.

Here’s an excerpt by the reporter who was taken down to this ceremonial center: “There, in the stygian darkness, a scene unfolded that was eerily reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie - tottering ancient temple platforms, slippery staircases and tortuous paths that skirted underground lakes littered with Mayan pottery and ancient skulls. The group explored walled-off sacred chambers that can only be entered by crawling along a floor populated by spiders, scorpions and toads. Among De Anda's discoveries are a broad, perfectly paved, 100-yard underground road, a submerged temple, walled-off stone rooms and the ‘confusing crossroads’ of the legends.”

What can I say? This stuff just gives me the chills.

Today is my mother's birthday. Happy Birthday Mom! And thanks for the trip of a lifetime!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

In a Parallel Universe, What Would Be On Your Business Card?

For the first book I’m publishing with Flux, I needed a phrase translated into Latin. In the original draft I used some free online Latin translation site just to have something to work with. As I revise I’m trying to tie up all lose ends, so my friend Blue hooked me up with a friend who is a professor of Classics. He responded today with two elegant options, neither of which was even close to my hacked up guess, and my first reaction was, “I want to be him.”

So, I can add Professor of Classics to my list of things I’d like to be in a parallel universe. Others on the list are architect, Elle McPherson, food and travel writer a la M.F.K. Fisher, Tibetan Hermit, and archaeologist (specifically the archaeologist who discovered what the Antikythera device really did).

So, if you could snap your fingers and be ANYTHING else, what would you be?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Words Washed Over Me...

It was so refreshing to hear Barack Obama speak as our President Elect! After eight years of listening to President Bush fumble with basic English, Barack Obama sounded like some kind of genius--not just because of the content of his speech but because of his facility with language.

I'm so glad I won't break out in hives anymore from hearing our Commander in Chief, leader of one of the world's largest military forces, say nucular.

Be Safe!

Who in their right mind would let Michelle Obama make her first appearance to the world as First Lady elect in a black dress with a red hourglass shape on the front? There is only one species in the world with that marking and I'm not even going to write it down here for fear of the worst. The absolute worst.

I have been a serious student of Traditional Chinese Feng Shui under Dr. Shan Tung Hsu for more than 12 years now and have learned so much about how symbols (information) manifest action (energy). Malcom Gladwell talks about it in Blink; in a state of rapid cognition your brain makes associations you have no control over in the first two seconds of seeing something. Whether you realize it or not or believe it or not, in those first seconds of seeing Michelle Obama last night your brain probably made the association between her dress and the name of that spider.

Whether it's Gladwell's description of "rapid cognition" or it's the feng shui principal of energy manifesting on the information level first, this was an extremely dangerous choice for her first impression as First Lady elect.

May the world keep them safe.

Welcome to the 21st century...

As a resident of a state that has joined the Vote-By-Mail revolution, the sight of people waiting for hours outside rainy polling stations seems antique. I received my ballot and all of the candidate/issue information a few weeks ago, which afforded me the luxury of spending a good amount of time filling it out at home in my pajamas with research/information at hand, then posting it the next day. Why isn't every state using this method? The upside:

* No waiting for hours in line

* No polling place intimidation

* No confusion about where to go to vote

* No need to make arrangements for childcare or time off

* No malfunctioning voting equipment

* No need to hire and train poll workers

* Increased election process integrity through signature verification

* Lower election administration costs

* Increased voter turnout

Seriously, people, this polling station stuff is absurd! For more information about increasing the number of Vote-By-Mail states, visit: http

Sunday, November 2, 2008


The Oregon Shakespeare Festival here in Ashland employs more than 500 people and all of them like to dress up. Combine that with the students at Southern Oregon University, the drama-loving freaks that move to Ashland for the theater, and the local school kids and you have one hell of a Halloween.

The police block off Main Street and anyone and everyone is encouraged to walk in the parade through downtown. It’s a madhouse, but the kids love it. Juliet went as the Goddess Demeter and Hank went as the Grim Reaper (though the mask only lasted minutes as he found it really slowed down his candy consumption).