Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Kids Are Part Alien

My kids are part alien.  My six year-old son does a great impression of a "Star Trek" horta, the intelligent being that tunnels through solid rock with ease and ressembles a large rock.  When he's not making like a rock, he tends to perch like a gargoyle.  Whether on a tree branch, small piece of wood railing, or a saw horse, he takes a two-inch toe hold ad balances on it like a pro, just chilling, relaxing, as if he was born to be there.  It's really kind of wild.

The twelve year-old is less alien-like and more Alpha, as in a person with special abilities as seen in Alphas, except that he seems to sense directions.  Really, he can find anything. When he was two, he started giving me directions, correct directions, to where ever we were going, from the back seat.  More amazingly though, he seems to sense directions, as in North, South, East, and West.  At home, as an infant, he would sleep in his crib oriented East-West.  When we went anywhere, regardless of what direction we put him in bed, where the blankets were, or the directional orientation of the crib, he would always wake up in the morning with his body aligned East-West.

All the kids have amazing memories.  It's one of my absolute pet peeves when people think that they can get out of doing something EVER by telling kids, especially, my kids, we'll do it in an hour, or we'll do it later, or tomorrow, or next year, because maybe other kids forget, but mine never do. 

We were at a bird exhibit recently where you can get peanut butter on sticks dipped in birdseed to feed the parakeets.  The parakeets fly around in this huge cage that people can walk into.  Usually, if you are patient enough and wait long enough, birds will come over and eat from the stick while you are holding it.  When it was time to leave, my eight year-old daughter didn't want to go and was quite vocal about it.  The lady working there wanted to talk to her, so I say it was okay. Then this lady proceeded to tell her that she could come back "later" after she'd gone and seen everything else.  The lady then whispers to me, "She'll forget all about it."  Yeah, right.  I was furious. Of course my kid didn't forget. 

Heck, if I tell my kids we'll do something six months from now, then they'll quit asking me about it now and I won't here a word until five months and twenty-nine days from now, at which point they'll ask about whatever they were supposed to get to do--really.  Yep, my kids have a super memory. They have to be part alien or part Alpha, or something, right?  Thus ends my rant.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Making Time to Write

Writing--it's my passion, my escape, my means for traveling even when the bank account says otherwise. But how do I find time to do it?  Honestly, I don't find nearly as much time as I'd like.  I have six kids, five at home ages 12 and under.  I homeschool.  I'm a Brownie Girl Scout leader.  I make and sell "ugly" Christmas sweaters. I'm an avid couponer.  I'm in charge of the youth group at church.  I'm organizing and directing Vacation Bible School this year. To save money, pretty much all of our family meals are cooked from scratch.  So how then, do I find time to write?

Well, it's not easy.  I never get stuff written as quickly as I'd like.  If I can carve out an hour a day to write, I'm doing well.  I've published one children's picture book, "Dragon at the Cabin."  It's a rhyming book about stranger safety, and I have four more that are currently with an illustrator. It's my hope to have them for sale sometime this summer.  I've written two novels, one of which is published, the other of which is being polished and proofed.

When I write, I'm whisked off to another world.  It's this world that I want to carry my readers to.

What about the housework you say?  Well, I'm no star housekeeper.  I'm not Martha Stewart for sure, but I do my best.  We do crazy scrambled housekeeping when we know people are coming, and when someone shows up at the last minute, well, we just hope that they love us enough not to care too much about the house.

Cleaning with a large family is a bit like shoveling snow during a blizzard--a lost cause.  When I write, however, if I write 1,000 words in a hour (typical for me) then at the end of the day, no matter what, I've accomplished something.  The house will be messy again shortly after I clean it, but my writing will still be there, and to me, that's rewarding. That's how I get my writing done.  I make it a priority.  I know I'll feel a sense of accomplishment, so I try my best to remove obstacles to that all-important hour of writing.  And I never regret it when I do.

The Making of a Book Trailer Video

I got so wrapped up in ideas of what I wanted to do to bring "Destined Love Immortal" to life as a book video trailer yesterday that I completely forgot to blog.  Yes, I get tunnel vision.

For months now I've been trying to figure out what I can do with a whopping budget of $0 while living in Missouri which doesn't exactly resemble Belgium.  I got lucky.  Someone who read my book generously took a photo of a castle in Europe for me, so I have that to add to my musical photo montage.  Other than that though, I was still stuck.  Then, thanks to some questions asked by another author (thanks Dragon) the light in my brain came back on.  I think I just needed a little nudge.

Yesterday I was so busy out at the castle ruins here (yes, there are some in Missouri--I was surprised too) that I forgot about all else.  Do my models look like my book characters?  Not particularly, so it's a good thing I'm creative.  Are my swords all relevant to the geography and era of the book?  No, only one is.  The others just look cool, but it takes at least two swords to stage a fight, so I used what I have, and I'm pleased with the results.

I really believe that saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention."  At least for me, it holds true.  I am at my most creative when I need to get something accomplished and have no money to do it with. 

With some inventive staging and camera angles, I think I've captured some sword fight elements that are in my book quite well, and the pictures haven't even been through Photoshop yet.  In other words, they'll only get better.

I've also found that I have to look at my surroundings differently than I normally would. At least, in my mind, it's kind of like this home decorating episode that I saw a couple of years back where they decorated a dorm room with only items from a one-dollar store.  To do this, they had to look at small stuff and imagine a lot of the items put together and used in a manner for which they weren't intended to give a "decorative feel" to the room.  What I'm doing in my book video is essentially the reverse.  I can look at a whole building and recognize that in its entirety it looks nothing like what you'd see in Europe, but if I take a close-up of a small portion of the building, some detail may very much look like it's in another country.  I've found this technique to be extremely helpful.

I still have a lot of work to do before I release a book video trailer, but at this point, I'm clearly making progress, exciting progress.  I'll be sure to let the world know when it's released!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lunch with Superfoot

In 2003, I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Bill "Superfoot" Wallace.  How I came to this even was less fortunate, but nonetheless, getting to take him out to eat made it worth it.

As a second degree martial arts black belt, I wasn't going to miss the chance to attend a seminar where the legendary kick boxer would be instructing, especially since it was so close to home.  I arranged for childcare for my young son, as my husband was working the weekend, and off I went, despite being four months pregnant with my second child.

It started off great.  I owned a martial arts school at the time, so training was no big deal.  Heck, I'd been five months pregnant with my first kid when I opened the martial arts school.  Luck, however, was against me, or for me, depending how you look at it.  Only a few hours into the two-day event, I managed to fracture my left foot.  I spent an insanely long wait time in the local emergency room to find this out, and of course, I had the kind of fracture that I wasn't supposed to put any weight on whatsoever. 

I was bummed.  Though I was pretty broke at the time, I'd come up with the money to attend the seminar and I wasn't about to go home without getting something out of it.  While icing my foot, before deciding I really did need a doctor, I'd had plenty of time to observe those around me.  Mr. Wallace was a guest instructor at the seminar, and as such, wasn't really hanging out with the people who ran it.  This, gave me an idea.

The next morning, I hobbled in on crutches, enviously watched everyone else training, and waited for lunchtime.  Without missing a beat, I asked Mr. Wallace if I could take him to lunch.  At this point I looked like quite the sympathy case so, being a gracious person, he said yes.

I spent the next forty-five minutes at Wendy's with the martial arts legend eating burgers.  He'd been friends with Elvis, acted in movies, and won countless titles.  Had my brain functioned as I wish it had, I would have asked him about these things.  Did I though?  No, I didn't.  I got nervous.  You know how in movies you see girls get all weird with the movie star walks in?  Well, that seems to be what happens to my brain.  Every cell goes temporarily dormant. I didn't manage to say one intelligent thing or think of a single decent question.  Instead, I babbled nonstop, out of nervousness. 

While I wish I'd sounded more intelligent, the lunch was one I'll never forget, and an experience I'd gladly repeat.  Mr. Wallace is a really nice guy, and I'm glad I had the pleasure of meeting him.  So, I didn't appear to be very smart.  I'm sure it's not the first time someone has gotten star struck around him.  I'm just glad I had the opportunity. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Birthday Post

I'm having an incredible day already, and it's not even 8:00 a.m. yet!  Yes, today is my birthday, and I feel very, very loved.

My kids and husband brought me eggs benedict, coffee, and chocolate chip waffles for breakfast in bed.  My step-son texted me from literally the middle of nowhere to tell me to have a great birthday.  Someone in Vienna wrote and posted a magical story about me on a dragon going to Paris, and my favorite star tweeted me happy birthday at 12:01 a.m. his time.  It really doesn't get better than this.  I don't know what the day has in store, but I can't wait to find out!

I won't tell you my age.  Quite a while back, I decided 27 was a good year and I've been celebrating it ever since.  My friend and hairdresser told me earlier this week I should be proud of my age, and that no one would believe it. I'm going with that.

My husband just walked in and gave my an incredible gift--a new stereo for my car.  This one has a jack so I can plug my phone or ipod directly into it.  Now I'll be able to listen to Pandora while I drive--how cool is that?!?!  I wasn't expecting anything sizeable, and this is really, really amazing.

I digress--back to the age thing.  I find that each year I care a little less what other people think and am a bit more sure of myself, both of which are good things.  Life is best when the opinions of others are less important.  I'm in good health and alive and kicking, so I'm going to celebrate with all my heart, each and every year.  Age is just a number, meaningless in and of itself.  If I start to feel old, I'll just head to Walmart to try and buy wine.  They card each and every time, always leaving me smiling.

Have an awesome day everyone!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Impractical Allure of High Heels

Okay, I admit it.  I gave in.  I was out at yard sales getting supplies for my "ugly Christmas sweater" decorating when I saw them, and I just HAD to have them.  What were they?  These gorgeous silver sandals, covered with rhinestones, with 3" spike heels--just one little size too big for my feet (which are a petite size 5 or 35 for those of you in Europe.)

At the bargain price of 2 pairs for $1, they were just too good to pass up.  I gave in.  They are on my nightstand, and I can't wait to put them on.  With my feet being somewhat wide, with a high instep, I don't think that the one size too large will be problematic, however, the height of the shoe is likely to be.

You see, until my foot fracture of 2003, high heels weren't a problem, and in fact, I wore them frequently.  Then, not realizing how loose ligaments get during pregnancy, I went to a martial arts seminar, landed a fall every so slightly incorrectly, and soon I had a brand new fashion accessory, a purple cast, up to the knee. 

I healed completely, but ever since then, I seem to have problems with heels.  In fact my son was looking at me as I was getting these shoes and he was like, "I don't know mom..."  He was, of course, right, but practicality was not on my mind. 

With the 3" heels, I'll be a towering 5'3", a giant, an Amazon...well,  not quite.  But I'll certainly feel like a princess.  That is, if I can make it from point A to point B without wiping out.  Images of Sandra Bullock when she played the FBI agent who went undercover as a beauty queen are going through my head right now because yes, that's me. 

Still, I spent my fifty cents, got the awesome, beautiful shoes, and am hoping for a miracle that I'll suddenly become graceful and sure-footed when wearing them.  So, if you see me hobbling around on crutches in the near future, you'll know what happened.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"Lost Girl" Fae Brownies--I Need One

My favorite episode of "Lost Girl" was the one in which the Fae Brownie cleaned Kenzie and Bo's place.  It was hilarious, and as a mom of six (five of which are ages 12 and under and live at home) I could certainly use some supernatural housekeeping assistance.

My kids have friends coming over today and I'm trying my best not to stress about the mess. I work hard, but it's kind of like shoveling snow during a blizzard.  Or in other words, a total lost cause. 

So, I have this MOUNTAIN of clean laundry, and I'll be putting it in the luggage.  It's a great place to hide it.  No one ever asks where you're going.  They just accept that luggage is sitting in the hall.

I taught my 12 year-old how to unclog the vacuum himself, which is a very important skill around here.  Be it dog hair or legos, something is always clogging it and you can't get half the floor cleaned before you have to stop and remove what's stuck in it this time.

A fae brownie is the answer to my problems.  He'd fit right in eating crunchy sugar cereal with the kids and his cheerful demeanor would be a wonderful addition to the household.  So can someone give him a first class ticket to Missouri?  Just let me know what time he lands and I'll be waiting at the airport.  But if he's not available, we'd be happy to welcome Merlin to our home as well.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Nostalgic for Paris

It’s rainy, overcast, and downright yucky outside.  The damp air chills you to the bone.  In short, it reminds me of Paris.

Paris—how I long to walk the streets of the Latin Quarter.  I can here Italians singing opera in the background as I take a leisurely stroll in the chilling drizzle under an umbrella, from the Luxembourg Gardens to the Eiffel Tower.  And no, that’s no short walk.  I fact, it’s quite a distance that takes hours, but with Guido and Ricardo (yes, the names are real) singing as we walked, and the breathtaking architecture surrounding me, the time flew.  That was a long time ago, but I long to walk those streets again, and one day I will, with a chocolate-filled croissant in one hand and a steaming coffee in the other. 

I suppose that’s the good thing about today’s miserable weather.  It reminds me of something I love.  Paris is breathtaking, from the blue rooftops and white sculpted buildings to the statues and fountains everywhere.  The food is incredible, and once you get to know them, the French are a wonderful people with a rich culture.

So, I can’t hop a plane to France today, but I can pour myself a steaming coffee, close my eyes, and travel there in my memories, and maybe even chat with a friend over there on Facebook, if I time it just right.  One day I’ll return, but for now, that will have to do J

Monday, April 22, 2013

I Told My Favorite Actor I Want To Adopt Him

I told my favorite actor I want to adopt him.  So, I’m a little goofy.  I’m okay with that. Goofy makes life a bit more fun and a heck of a lot more interesting.  Call me crazy.  I’m alright with that.  Really, I am.  I got over the whole not-fitting-in-thing a couple of decades ago. 

I’m a writer, mom, martial artist, and scifi nerd.  Last New Year’s Eve my husband and I celebrated the coming of the New Year with an earlier time zone, as did many of my friends on Facebook.  And a scifi nerd—let’s just say that I’ve been to a convention in costume, alone, while my parents watched my crew of kids and my husband had to work, and I spent eight hours walking around dressed like a member of a starship and had the time of my life!

I digress...back to the title of this blog post.  Google tells me my favorite actor is “all grown up,” but he’s so convincing in the young roles that he plays that he could have fooled me.  In addition to my five biological kids, I have a grown stepson, age 24, in the U.S. Navy.  I couldn’t be prouder, but you won’t read much about him here for security reasons. My favorite actor, well, even in Scifi’s Alphas, he didn’t look older than that.

He states on his twitter page, “I like poop jokes and think that the PS3 is the reason I am not a Physicist. I act and stuff instead.”  With all the times over the years that I’ve had to tell my kids stuff like, “Poop is not body paint,” and “Don’t wash your hair in the toilet,” I kind of think he’d fit right in at my house.  Granted, he’s not three and doesn’t have problems with that stuff, but I can envision him laughing his head off at the weird stuff that happens around here, if only he were a fly on the wall, or another grown kid at the dinner table.

What else is it about him that would possess me to say such a strange thing?  Well, he’s got to be the nicest, most considerate actor on the planet.  Usually his tweets make me laugh, and occasionally they gross me out, but that’s okay.  I’m pretty sure I’m not the target audience for the latter J  But always, he’s really, really nice.

I’d pick him to play the lead in my novel too, if I could make my novel into a movie.  (Yes, this is a self-promo moment, read the novel—“Destined Love is Immortal.”) It’s available in paperback for those of you who prefer to read old-school style.)  He’d be perfect as the war god, Camulos, swinging a sword around, rescuing the damsel in distress, and dealing with complex relationship issues.  I can see it clear as day in my head.

No, I haven’t forgotten that I haven’t yet told you who my favorite actor is, it’s Steve Byers, from Scifi’s “Alphas,” “Immortals,” “The L.A. Complex,” and a lot more stuff. He’s awesome.  Check out his web page  and like him on Facebook.  I hope to see a lot more of him on TV and in the movies in the years to come, and I always enjoy the way his tweets make me laugh.

So, am I crazy for telling him I want to adopt him? Probably, but hey, I’m enjoying life. I still wish I could jump into the TV and throw a blanket over him and give him a cup of hot chocolate when I watch him in “Falcon Beach.”  Apparently he got snowed on while wake boarding some during filming.  With all the fun he looked like he was having on screen, he should get an “acting in adverse conditions” award or something.  He’s amazing.  But don’t take my word for it—check out his stuff.  You won’t be disappointed.

Low Rise Jean Designers Should Get 50 Lashes with a Wet Noodle

I can't be the only person on the planet who would get great joy from watching the designers of low-rise jeans get 50 lashes with a wet noodle.  Really, what a ridiculous invention.  I mean, I don't want my butt to show, and most women don't.  I should be able to air up the tires on my SUV while wearing jeans without being worried about indecent exposure.  I should, but I can't.

"Fine, then don't buy them," you say.  Well, if it were only that easy. It's pretty much the only thing in every store.

"Go vintage!" I've hear.  I'd love to, but after giving birth to five kids, the only thing that really fits me well in jeans is the stretch denim kind, and even at thrift stores, the only jeans made of that material are low-rise.  I should know--I'm the thrift store queen.

And even worse, who came up with the ridiculous concept of low-rise jeans for little girls?  I've had so much trouble with jeans for my 8 year-old (who is quite small for her age I might add) that I've gone to the point of sewing hearts and flowers onto her older brother's hand-me-downs.  At least those jeans fit right.

For all these reasons, I want to see the designers of low-rise jeans get 50 lashes with a wet noodle.  I'm sure it would have a huge media draw.  Dish Network could make a killing selling the event on pay-per-view!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Finding Bigfoot & Family Bonding

Some families watch movies or play sports for family bonding time.  We're a little different.  Our most frequent "family bonding" experiences consist of wandering around the forest or beach in the snow or the sun, perfecting our Bigfoot calls and looking for signs of the elusive creatures.

Do I actually expect to find anything? No, but our reenactments of the popular television series make an otherwise moderately entertaining walk in the woods into an action-packed adventure!

Everyone, from my four year-old to my husband, looks for "clues" to the existence of these mysterious creatures and the whole experience becomes quite interactive as we wail, trying to get a response from the brush surrounding us.

When a road trip gets to monotonous, we roll down the window and call towards the woods. Cows are no longer just cattle, but "food sources for Bigfoot." Horses, deer, and large birds fall into the same category.

Do we look crazy to anyone we come across as we walk or drive? Sure.  Do we care?  Absolutely not!  A vivid imagination combined with a bit of nutty behavior make for a fun afternoon.

So, the next time you see the windows down on an SUV and hear people wailing towards the countryside, you know you've spotted my family.

Don't Pet the Fish

"Don't pet the fish!"

This may sound a bit weird to your ears, but until relatively recently it was a rather common saying around my house.  With five kids at home, we have two ten-gallon tanks.  One of them had been devoid of fish for quite some time.  Why?  It's simple. Kids wanted to pet the fish.  Obviously this didn't end well.

Where did they get this bizarre idea?  When my now 12 year-old was two, we had friends who had oscars that would, of all things, come to the top of the tank for their snouts to be petted gently.  I don't think this is common of the breed, and in fact, I've never seen it since, but I suspect that this is where this idea of "petting fish" got it's roots in my house.

My kids have minds like steel traps. If I tell them not now, but in 6 months, then in 5 months and 29 days they ask me about it.  The same intelligence has, I believe caused the "fish petting" problem.  The first kid wanted to pet fish.  He's only 16 months older than the second kid, so he passed down this idea, and so on.  Of course, he didn't have to get too old to realize that if you catch fish and take them out of water, they die.  Unfortunately, there was always someone littler waiting to try it. 

I'm hoping that now that the youngest is 4, we are past the "fish petting" years.  It won't be too long before I find out if I'm wrong.  Yesterday we went to the local pet store and purchased four goldfish.  Hopefully no one will go fishing in the tank (this too, has happened) and no one will take the fish out to pet them. 

Maybe, just maybe, fish will now be the calming, beautiful creature in our tanks that they were meant to be.  Only time will tell..

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I Awoke Wishing for Telekinesis

My first thoughts this morning was, "Hooray! I woke up before my kids." 

My second was, "Crud, I need telekinesis for this to do me any good."

You see, I have six kids, five of which are at home, ages 12 and under.  From the warm cocoon of blankets I'd rolled myself in, I could hear the shuffle of little feet, still in their rooms, contemplating facing the world, or more exactly, contemplating running downstairs for Saturday morning cartoons.

There's no point in my trying to accomplish anything in the wee hours of the morning.  My kids can sense when I've stepped one foot out of bed, or rolled over, for that matter.

So, why did I need telekinesis so desperately?  Simple, I'm in the middle of a really good book.  I was afraid to so much as scoot away from my husband to the edge of the bed where I could reach it, lest my preschooler hear signs of "life" and decide to seek me out.  She's quick that way. 

Telekinesis would enable me to get my book to read it in the early morning light without alerting the "little people" that I was up and about.  It'd be the perfect solution to many of my morning issues. I'd have "alone time" and R&R without someone popping their head in for chocolate milk, cereal, or the latest cartoon emergency. 

As it is, I rolled over, grabbed my book, and read all of three pages before my preschooler, used her mom-radar and zeroed in on me as "awake."  Sure, she would have left her room and looked for me soon anyway, or called for me, but if I only had telekinesis, maybe I'd have been able to make it through half a chapter uninterrupted.

Instead I'm writing on my blog and wishing I had some Nutella in the house :)

To read more about my dreams, see them through the eyes of the "Invisible Dragon," Peter Maxian at http://www.thedragonadventures.com/2013/03/tropical-dreams.html

Friday, April 19, 2013

Escaping Reality, Writing, Belgium, & Eating Great Food

I write as an escape.  I travel vicariously through my characters, returning to places I've once been and want to see again.  For that matter, I eat vicariously through my characters too.  When I read the initial draft of my novel, "Destined Love is Immortal," for the first time, I was shocked to find that while I'd been dieting and getting in shape, I'd overfed the heroine of my novel.  I must have cut twenty meal scenes out of the book because she was always eating one elaborate meal or another.  Needless to say, I love a good meal.

There's a lot of me in my main character, Shawna.  She's uncertain of herself and extremely insecure, but she rises above these feelings to accomplish great things.  Even though she's afraid at many times, she finds the courage to do heroic things. 

"Destined Love is Immortal" takes place in Belgium, a beautiful little country I fell in love with when I lived and worked there for a summer years ago.  The Belgian people are extremely warm, welcoming, and generous.  I couldn't believe how much they went out of their way to make me feel welcome.

For those who don't like e-readers, a paperback version of "Destined Love is Immortal" is also available. 

Warp Drive & Children

I know it's time to get worried when my six year-old is quiet and out of my range of sight.  He just isn't a quiet kid.  No, it means he's up to something.  Usually something big.  In fact, the other morning I fully expected to find a warp drive attached to my house.  He's always building things with no lack of creativity, so I wouldn't be shocked to look out the window and find we'd flown past Mars or Jupiter and had boldly gone to a galaxy far away.