Monday Madness in Mack World

The new routine begins today.  My kitchen was clean before 7 am.  Yeah!  Got my work out in at the Y, yeah!

Worked on my writing most of the rest of the day and had a lunch date with my sister, yeah!  It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, since her surgery actually.   We talked , caught up on things going on in each of our lives.  It’s sad really  that she lives less than ten miles away and we haven’t seen each other since March.

I miss family gatherings.  I came from a large family and after my mother’s death there have been fractures that have never healed.   There has been some improvements as time passed but there are some hard feelings that I fear may never mend.  I hate that.

Regardless of the water under the bridge there is a connection to family that is always there.  It’s like the friend you haven’t seen in ages, yet when you get together it’s like there was never any  time apart.  There are people  that I’ve instantly connected with.  There’s a spark of some sort.  Sometimes it starts from a common interest, but sometimes it’s more.  There are just people who you click with.  People that become important in your life;  people who become the inner circle.

I am very grateful to my inner circle, and y’all know who you are.  I’m not going to get all mushy here.  Friends that I chat with on a regular basis; sometimes it’s just a little chat about writing,  other times we share personal information about what’s going on in our lives.  Some conversations can get deep, sharing details that not everyone is privilege to.

On the flip side of that, however I’ve shared some personal stuff over on Bruce Blake’s blog in an interview.  Need a good laugh?  Go check out the Mack Attack! Tomorrow I will be hosting Joseph Eastwood again.  This time I get to interview him.  This should be fun!

Write on my friends, write on!

I want everyone to be happy and some people are just determined to not be happy.

The Friday Before

First of all I have to give a huge shout out to my followers.  You guys rock!  I commented on my Facebook page about how excited I get when I get an email notice that I have a new follower.  I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but it really makes my day.  I love checking my notices and seeing comments, and likes.  The family doesn’t understand my obsession with it, they threatened to take away my phone.  I think I made a sound akin to a hiss at them, clutching my phone as I fled the room.

I check my stats, and ashamed to admit that I allow the rollercoaster ride affect my moods.  If I don’t get any hits I feel like I am a hack.  If I get a large number of hits I’m ecstatic.  Strange isn’t it?  There are many bloggers that can relate to this self-inflicted roller coaster ride we put ourselves through.  Writer’s are a weird lot.

Here we are on the last Friday before the girls go back to school.  It’s a bitter-sweet day.  We’d like to do something, but we just got back from Florida and there are things that need to be done around here.  Friends are coming over for a mini birthday celebration.  I’m making cake!  Any excuse for a chocolate fix, right?  Technically we are also mourning the end of summer.

Senior year for my oldest daughter, she’s stoked.  the back to school business has already began.  As she is often lamenting, it’s her last summer to have fun.  She is young, you’ll have to forgive her.  I’m not sure what it is she imagines past this point but I still manage to have fun and I’m way past high school.  Thing will change that’s for sure.  There is life beyond high school. I feel sorry for those friends of mine that are still stuck in their high school glory days. Even the ones that are stuck in the college glory.  College was a blast for me, far more enjoyable than my high school years but life has moved beyond that.

I’m so proud of my kids.  They are smart, sensible, and I’m confident that they will do well.  Isn’t that a parent’s goals after all?  To raise our children to be responsible people who will go out and make a positive difference in their generation.  It’s always a little scary when one chapter of our lives comes to an end, and we have no idea what lies in the next.  We try to ‘party like it’s 1999’, to borrow a phrase from that purple crazed artist.  Yet, we go forward with fear and trepidation, taking a deep breath.  Sometimes we fall but that’s ok.  I’m excited for her, wonderful adventures await her.

Of course, adventures are still in my future as well.  It’s good to remember the good times as long as we don’t get stuck there.  I’ll leave you with this video, because it’s been on my mind all day with her latest Last Summer lamentation.

Write on my friends, write on!




Shrek Super Slam

Hey there hi there ho there!  It’s good to be back.  It was so good to get away and have a holiday with the family.  To all who are still following – thank you!  For those that left, sorry to see you go.

Ever notice how a little time off helps you clear your head?  I took work things with me.  I took books I needed to read, notebooks to write in and a selection of my favorite pens to satisfy that weird obsession I have with pens.  I mostly stayed offline, it was hard.  I have become an FB junkie, twitter addict, and yes – I checked frequently to see who stuck around while I was away from my blog.  I fully intended to automate, and publish posts each and every day while I was away.  As you can see it didn’t happen.  Forget to click one little box and nothing gets published, and I was too flustered to figure it out from my cell phone.

I know, you’ve got to be smarter than your smart phone.  LOL.  Amazing how a 3 X 4 piece of electronics can be so humbling.  On the bright side though, I took a ton of pictures and videos.  Ahem, more on the videos later.  About now you’re looking back at the title and scratching your head aren’t you?  Go ahead, admit it.  What strange journey am I on now that this is going to somehow tie into THAT title?  It’s a mystery world don’t you know!

First a bit of recap, the vacation was awesome!  Parasailing is something everyone should experience, as is swimming with the dolphins.  We took a sunset cruise in the gulf, and a moonlit stroll on the beach during the full moon.  I saw one of the most romantic things ever.  A couple waded out into the surf.  He kissed her then dropped to his knees and proposed.  By her reaction I’m assuming the answer was yes.  (We weren’t staring, we were walking in their direction, so we couldn’t help but see.)  On the walk back from the tour they were laying on their blanket making out – ok really tried not to look at them at that point!  But isn’t that romantic?

We celebrated our anniversary on this vacation, and it made my romance writer brain go into high gear.  Wondering about the couple, wondering where they were from.  How long had they dated?  Where would they be 25 years down the road?  When we were newly married, we took our honeymoon in Florida, at Orlando.  We went to Bradenton Beach. We were the only ones on the beach, turns out it was a retirement community.  this trip was in Panama City Beach. It was awesome!

Still scratching your head?  Patience my dears, patience.  We’ll get there. We haven’t had rain in the midwest all summer.  You may have noticed on the news drought conditions and record temperatures.  It was actually cooler in Florida than in St. Louis.  We arrive in Panama City Beach to a severe thunder-storm.  Seriously?  The flags on the beach were red,  wonderful. the next day more storms and had to cancel our plans.

The following day however was awesome.  We went parasailing, drove around sightseeing, and played on the beach.  Our hotel was right on the beach as most of them down there are.  I have to be honest, I’m not used to relaxing and not doing anything.  It goes against my upbringing and instilled work ethic.  It felt good.

On Thursday we had to cancel our plans again due to the weather – bummer.  but you know, when the boat captain says it’s too dangerous I’m not going to argue.  Our lives are worth more than a few shells and snorkeling.  Later though we went out and saw more dolphins, stingrays, a shark, and even cannonball jellyfish.  Weird creatures those!

Hmmm, still no super slam. Wait, it’s coming.  Get home, get the mail sorted, ready to start in refreshed and ready to go.  Had a meeting Monday night for the class I teach in the fall.  I was excited and anxious to start on a new semester.  This is one of my passions.  I’ve poured my heart and soul into the class.  I  spend a lot of time on the course manual, a lot of hours preparing lessons, and time researching better ways to present to students.

SHREK SUPER SLAM!!!! Administration cancelled my class.  It was deemed nonessential.   OUCH!  I held it together during the meeting, refused to take the mike until it was shoved in my face.  I tried to be professional but I felt like I’d been mortally wounded.  This was one of my deep wells; a course on recovering from abuse and picking up the pieces of a shattered life.  It took me a lifetime to develop, to be able to pay it forward to others who’ve been victimized.  Typically, there were 60 to 100 people per class.  I’d say it was a well received class.  In one decision by the board – gone.

I had fully intended to post yesterday, but just couldn’t muster it.  It’s like a part of me has died.  I know there will be other things, but it’s hard to let go of the things we value.  I guess I”m not as good at handling change as I thought, when it’s something I hold dear.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

So back to the video; remember when I got nominated for the Leibster award and I carefully evaded the question about my blonde moment(s)?  Yeah, well while on vaca – I had a truly epic blond moment.  Seriously, dye my hair and call me Blondie!  I was going to share the video so you could all get a good laugh, but having technical problems with my computer.  Operator error more than likely.  Ah, perhaps tomorrow.


Write on my friends, write on!

Liebster Blog Award!

The Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning: sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

Huge Thanks  to Allison Bruning for nominating me!  Also, I want to give a shout out to Linda Bowers Bolton, who also nominated me!  You ladies rock!

This is all about the fun so if you don’t like fun, well  . . .what are you doing on my blog anyway?  Hmmm??  Don’t you know I’m the Fun Princess??  Nothing serious here today, but you might just find out something you didn’t know.

My questions were:

1) What is the craziest thing you have ever blogged about?

As I tend to be rather random anyway, that’s a tough one.  I’ve blogged about skunks, but I think the most random one would be Stirring the Pot(ter). It starts as a rebuttal to responses made from a previous post where I admitted to not having never read Harry Potter, (GASP!) and missing the entire Phenomenon it has become.  It progresses into random references from various movies and books in a humorous venting.  Pure nonsense, that’s what it is!

2) How and why did you get into blogging?

I used to write an opinion column in the local paper, and I missed it when the paper went out of business.  A friend suggested that I start blogging.  I went for it and in one day just jumped in with both feet.   It’s a blast and if no one else ever read it, I’d still have a blast.  Having readers respond and leave comments has been encouraging,  exciting, and somewhat unexpected!
3) What is one thing most people don’t know about you and would find surprising to learn?

That I’m prematurely gray and if I don’t dye it, it’s nearly completely white!  My sisters objected when I let it go natural as everyone knows I’m the youngest which meant they were older than a grey hair sister.  EEK!  I’m not ready to be white-haired, so it’s the color of the month club for me! The current dye job is medium golden brown with purple highlights.  It’s also grown out past shoulder length again.  I refuse to act my age, why?  It’s boring!


4) Favorite genre and why? Romance!  Because I love the rollercoaster of emotions , the falling in love feelings by proxy, without having to experience the personal pain and heartache. Plus, they always have super hot guys in them.
5) Favorite type of candy? Why?

York peppermint patties!  Love mint and dark chocolate.  They are cool and refreshing.  Junior Mints are also acceptable. MIni Yorks and the newest bite sized york pieces – No, I can’t buy those I’d eat the whole bag.
6) What is one piece of advice you would give to a new blogger?

Prepare blogs ahead of time, and manage your time!  If you read mine you can probably tell I write on the fly most of the time!  ROFL – funny, so funny!  No seriously my biggest problems are with time management, therefore it’s an important thing.

7) How long have you been blogging?

since January 17, 2012!  I was feling very sad that I don’t have more followers, but a couple people put it into perspective as it’s only been since the beginning of this year, so relax!  I”m having a blast with it, so what difference does it make right?

8) What is one thing on the internet you couldn’t live without and why?

Google – I’d be lost if I couldn’t google things.  Even with Google I get lost!
9) If you could go travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

You want the full list or the short version? Hmm, I think I better give you the short list as it would take hours to go over all the places I want to travel.

1. Scotland,  because it’s Scotland!  Have you seen pictures?  Talk about a beautiful rugged landscape! Plus men in kilts – swoon! Culloden, Loch Ness, Inverness, Glengarry, Isle of Skye Ben Nevis  . . . I want to see all of it!

2. UK – including Scotland  I want to spend an entire summer visiting different spots throughout the UK, touring every castle and ruin. Popping over to Ireland for a couple of weeks, then staying in London for a couple more.

3. Paris, France – It is the city of romance and I write romance.  What woman doesn’t want to go to Paris?

4. Cancun – because it’s ocean, tropical, sun and fun!

5. Punta Cana –  Tropical Caribbean waters, ocean, fun and sun!

6. St. Thomas, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, – Island paradise.  Caribbean waters, tropical – you get the idea.

7. Nova Scotia – I want to ride a tidal bore; go whale watching, and delve into the heritage centers there.

8. Hawaii – Try surfing, walk on black sand beaches; a helicopter tour of islands, and active volcanoes!  Plus the Arizona memorial.

9. Alaska – whale watching, the glaciers, one of the few cruises I would consider.

10. Israel – I want to tour the Holy Lands!

That’s the short list, for a full list get out an almanac and look at every country that has a) beautiful landscapes, b)beaches, or c) interesting landmarks.  If you’re paying attention that leaves out Antarctica; and the deserts.  I’ve seen sand; would rather it be on a beach.  Everywhere else is fair game!  OH except for Petra in Jordan, and the Pyramids at Giza . . . ok I”ll stop now.
10) Ever had that infamous blonde moment? If so what’s the dumbest thing you have ever done?

Ummm, no never!  I’m not blond.  I was for a couple of years but my dark roots showed too much.  NO, I swear I never have.  (Sneaks away quietly turning ten shades of red – like I could pick just one!)
11) What the best movie you ever saw and why?

OK, true dorkness showing here.  My all-time favorite movie is Excalibur.  The tale of King Arthur, Merlin and the legendary Excalibur.  Aside from Arthurian legend, the cinematography was awesome, it was fun and still remains my favorite movie!  I also like Fifth Element – quirky but fun.

Share 11 random facts about yourself:

  1. I’m the baby of the family, youngest of five.
  2. I like to go fishing but I don’t touch worms.  Yuck!  Minnows and crickets are ok – no worms.
  3. My perfume of choice is Vanilla Fields.
  4. I’ve saved two lives. Once as a lifeguard, and the second time a victim of an auto-pedestrian accident that I saw happen, ran to them and immediately applied pressure to wounds and gave CPR.
  5. My first car was a vette; a Chevette!  (Pond scum green, 4 cylinder econo-box that got great gas mileage up and down the highway, went through six starters and alternators; stick shift, no AC!)
  6. I can be very OCD about certain things like hand washing and teeth brushing.
  7. Octopus freak me out! Don’t even get me started on parasites – shiver!
  8. I took classes to be a forensic scientist for a while – until the third autopsy, then I decided I’d do better in a more social environment not a room of dead people.
  9. I’m taller than most of the women in my family.  Coming from a French heritage on my dad’s side, most are short French people.  Many of the women barely reach 5 ft.  At 5’5″, I’m nearly a giant. Well, until my daughters stand next to me.
  10. I was into bodybuilding in my twenties.  Never competed, but that was my goal for a while, until the 12 hour work shifts during desert storm ended my four hour sessions in the gym.
  11. I was a Miss Missouri contestant when I was 17. (Won Miss Congeniality but wasn’t even close to winning title!)

I hereby nominate the following eleven bloggers to receive the Liebster Award!

  1. Sian Young
  2. Anjie Harrte
  3. Penelope Price
  4. Cathy Brockman
  5. Linda Bowers Bolton
  6. DeAnne Troup
  7. Joe McCoubrey
  8. Tasha Turner
  9. Toledo Boogz
  10. Dana Ellington Myles
  11. Ed Griffin

My questions forthese 11 people are:

  1. What genres do you read and write?  Why?
  2. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
  3. Is there a writer that inspires you, perhaps got you interested in writing in the first place?
  4. If you could talk to any three people dead or alive who would they be?
  5. Describe your work space.
  6. Who is your favorite author?
  7. If  your book were made into a movie, who would play your main character?
  8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  9. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
  10. What  foods coax your muse into productivity?
  11. Coffee or tea?  What’s your favorite, how do you like it, and in what quantity?

The rules are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who presented you with the award. Add the award logo to your blog.
2. Answer the eleven questions posted for the nominees.
3. Share eleven random facts about yourself.
4. Write eleven questions for your nominees and then…
5. Nominate eleven worthy blogs and contact those bloggers so they know about it! (No tag backs.)

Time Management Tips

I’ve admitted it before, and I’m revisiting it again!  I, Ellie Mack am an habitual time waster.  I was clean for about six weeks.  My last time-wasting spell was at 7 a.m. this morning.  It was only supposed to be for ten minutes while the computer came up and ran systems scan.  I thought I could handle it, just a couple of rounds of Bejeweled.  I could so beat my last high score!  *SIGH*

Two hours later, my work hadn’t even been started, nor had I written a word on my books or even this blog.  Apparently, I”m not the only one that suffers from time management problems.  Check out this article:  The Top 10 Time Wasters .  It’s epidemic!

Of the ten listed in this article, I would have to say the first one is my worst problem. Lack of planning, prioritising and focus.  I work from home in my day job, and of course for my writing as well.  It allows a latitude of freedom that is great, yet for the undisciplined (guilty here) it can be a mine field.

If I don’t make a plan, prioritize my list, and focus on what I”m doing I will get nothing accomplished.  Working in that frantic pace of “hurry up so I can mark at least one thing off my list before 6 p.m.” gets the adrenaline flowing, but it’s not a good way to work all the time.

My friend Cathy Brockman asked me to help her with time management, because I’m a list maker, and a prioritizing person, planning my projects.  Lean in real close here and I’ll tell you a secret. *Glances left and right, to see who’s listening*   The reason I do those things is because I SUCK at time management!

NO, seriously I do!  My undisciplined creative nature is like a child running wild in a candy store wanting more and more sugar to feed the monster!  Sometimes creative can be code for lazy, don’t wanna do it!

All you creatives   out there, I know the lies you tell yourselves. (Yes RCGale, I’m borrowing your term, ’cause it’s good!)  The justifications you make for hours on Facebook for “research” purposes or connecting , and building relations because I do it too.  Watching a ‘Game of Thrones’ Marathon isn’t research any more than 6 hours of Red Dwarf or Doctor Who.  It’s entertainment to sooth our creative side into thinking we need to think about that next scene or chapter.

Face it, we’re just being lazy and procrastinating!  Number 2 on the list by the way!  Not only could I teach y’all a thing or two about procrastination, I married the King of procrastination.  Even I get impatient with his procrastinating!

While masterfully avoiding responsibilities, and  procrastinating the work part of my work, there are these little surprises that I’ve learned to account for called interruptions.  (Right, number 3 on the list!)  Here’s the thing, when you waste your time through the first and second on the list and number 3 pops up, it’s easy to go into panic mode!  The built-in ease in the schedule has been consumed my reading every blog that every one of your friends post, playing Facebook games because you get points if you play every day, playing other games because you’re addicted to games, and using research time for entertaining yourself, an interruption can become a true crisis.

Jump to number 6, crisis management, and fire fighting.  Danger Will Rogers!  Panic mode because you’re having to spend your time putting out the unforeseen disaster:  power is out, unexpected visitors, family emergencies, and countless other crisis moments.  It’s one thing to have a “close to deadline” crunch time, it’s quite another to operate in panic mode.  It’s like trying to fix that leaky faucet and suddenly the faucet breaks spraying water everywhere at 75 lbs of pressure, flooding the bathroom, soaking through the floor and dripping through to the basement below, which happens to be right on top of the home theatre system, which shorts out all your electronics and starts an electrical fire.  Now you have to call the plumber and the firemen and the electrician!

Sound extreme?  It was!  King procrastinator was kicking himself for not addressing the small leak earlier when his electronics were lost!  A little planning and preventative maintenance can avoid true disasters.

Then of course you throw in the next one – lack of delegation. (We’re back up to number 4 keep up!)  I’m a writer, who am I going to delegate anything to, hmm?  Of course when I try to delegate household responsibility to the teens, it meets with complete resistance. ( I really think they should learn the Borg’s mantra “resistance is futile”. ) They will be assimilated into the collective hive of my order!

5 and 7 I think you can see the points in those for yourself.  Number 8: Not saying NO!  Yeah, um . . as much as I’d like to just skip this one it’s a big problem for me.  I’ve voiced my frustrations in the view others seem to have that all I do is sit at home and play games (Yes, I feel guilty when I do!) and eat bon-bons.  I’ve yet to have a bon-bon!  They think since I don’t go out of the house to a ‘real job’, then I am available to do their stuff!

Although I resent that attitude, it really comes down to me.  People will treat you like you allow them to treat you.  Also, if they can get you to do their stuff, their stuff gets finished and they feel good.  Meanwhile, you get further behind and frustrated because you haven’t completed your own stuff. They are delegating by getting you to do stuff for them, so you can either say NO or be caught in the loop of unfinished personal goals forever.

Practice with me now : NO!  Now didn’t that feel good? Practice it some more, maybe even in the mirror.  Before too long you’ll actually be able to say it to your spouse, the significant other, your children (it’s good for them to hear it sometimes) and eventually your BFF.

Number 9, we’ll address completely in future posts.  I happen to have a difference of opinion here.  A certain amount of “mess” is good.  A sterile environment is inhibiting, but there’s also a point where you can’t do your work without shuffling stacks of paper.  Really, look for further exposition on this in The Perfect Mess”, a future post.  (shaking head, shuffling papers off desk to get to screen.)

And finally number 10, Not taking enough time for yourself.  I have issues with this.  I have issues with my husbands view on this.  A trip to see his grandmother, taken with his mother, spending half our time in a nursing home is NOT a family vacation.  Time off from work spent doing household repairs because you’ve put them off until it’s a must do crisis is NOT a vacation.  Attending a seminar for 3 days,  staying in a hotel does NOT make a vacation.

Saving up all your vacation days to roll over the maximum amount in the event of layoff may provide a decent lump sum upon separation, but really is it worth the cost of strained relations within your family?  Count the cost always!

Spending every second inside the theme park until closing time when everyone is obviously tired, hot, and frustrated because they just want some down time, and a dip in the pool is NOT a vacation and borders on justification for torture.

A little time off once in a while, some down time is a needed rest.  God himself ordained one day of rest every seven days, who am I to argue with that?  Besides, time off becomes incentive to manage your time effectively the other six days.  It gives you a goal to work towards. I could get into the whole reward/punishment thing here, but I think you are intelligent enough to figure out your own personal balance.

What about you?  Do you struggle with time management?  Are you trying to fit ten days worth of work into six days, then beating yourself up because ‘the list’ is never completed?  Do you allow yourself downtime and vacations?  Are you able to form the word NO with your mouth?  Remember all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy!  Or a scary one.

I would recommend these articles as well. Time Management For Working Mothers,   Efficient Time Management,   and Take A Reality Check On Time.

Write on my friends, write on!


Family Values

It’s June already, how did this happen?  Is  anyone else overwhelmed with how fast this year is going?

I’m changing things up for summer. There will be guest posts, featured authors, and shorter condensed posts. As part of the TTC Virtual Blog tour, you will be introduced to writers and authors like my first guest, Joe McCoubrey.  Most of my posts are going to be shorter, similar to my former column.  I had to condense my thoughts into a 500 word article, and I think that a shorter format over the summer would be best.  Plus, y’all got other things to do than read tomes on the internet!

I’m amazed at how fast my kids are growing, and  I’m certain all you moms out there can relate.  It seems like just a short time ago they were babies, and now my oldest is going to be a senior in high school.  Only one more year to teach, impart life skills, and spend quality time with before she’s off to college.  My youngest will be a sophomore, so there’s only three more years there.  How did this happen?

I would do anything for my kids.  The old adage ‘hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn’ is multiplied when that woman becomes a mother.  Actually,  I think it’s more like exponentially multiplied as in the case of the young man who treated my beautiful daughter poorly, and broke her heart.  (I know who you are Trevor, and there’s no place on this earth you can hide!)  Some people do NOT get second chances!

Family is very important to me.  I mentioned before the boot camp plan for our summer.  We’ve all gotten a little soft over the winter, and it’s going to be beneficial for our health and fitness. It also allows us time together.  On the flip side of that, my ‘Party Princess’ side demands FUN.  We are going to do fun stuff over the summer as well.  I want to build good memories, so they don’t remember me as some horrible task master.  (Trust me, I can be.) I have many day trips planned over the next 90 days.  It won’t be every week, but at least three a month. In that light, I will highlight some of the areas where we are going to visit. Which also allows you to see some potential attractions to the area if you decide to travel to the St. Louis area. (Missouri tourist board should be giving me a cut of the revenue, don’t you think?)

Today, June 1st I am taking my girls to the St. Louis Zoo. St. Louis Zoo is one of the few in the nation that is still free. Don’t for a minute think the day is free just because there is no entrance fee!  There are certain family traditions that have to be honored.  The purchase of frozen cokes is mandatory.  This is like a coke slushy, and they are the bomb! (Coca Cola, not the other kind!)

Pictures in front of the main lake are mandatory!  I have many, from when my girls were in a double stroller, spanning the years.  We haven’t been in two years, so this one is crucial!  My daughter has a collection of zoo maps for every visit.  It’s interesting to see how they’ve changed over the years.  There’s also the mandatory picture by the bronzed statue of Phil the Gorilla.  Google it!  He’s legendary!  When I was a child, Phil was a main attraction at the St. Louis Zoo!  I was terrified of the silver back that threw his poo, and YES he did!  There were open bar cages then, it wasn’t pretty.

So, here are a few fun facts about the zoo. Do something fun for yourself and/or your family over the summer.  Care to share what you consider fun?

Zoo Fun Facts

  • The City of St. Louis purchased the 1904 World’s Fair Flight Cage for $3,500.
  • In 1917, 299,100 people visited the Zoo. In 2009, the Zoo broke an all-time record with 3,101,830 visitors.
  • Phil the gorilla’s fame was such that he was once featured in Life magazine as “an up and coming gorilla”.
  • School children donated their pennies to purchase Miss Jim the elephant in 1916.
  • Marlin Perkins, host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom television show, was director of the Saint Louis Zoo from 1962-1970.
  • Siegfried the walrus was one of the Zoo’s most popular animals in the 1960s, particularly because he would let visitors tickle his chin.
  • Raja was the first elephant born at the Zoo in 1992. (By the way Raja just became a father.)

See more fun facts in the new book Animals Always – 100 Years at the Saint Louis Zoo.

The 90 Day Challenge begins today! (OK, I’ve gotten a bit of jump on it myself.)

Write On my friends, write On!




Reality Check

Summer is fast approaching.  I know that.  The end of school is rapidly approaching – I knew that too.

However, reality slapped me square in the face like a brick wall.  My kids only have 4 1/2 days of school left then they will be here full-time.  We’re still hoping for a summer job for the oldest, but so far no success. This is sooooo going to put a cramp in my writing schedule.

Yay for them, but this means that I will have to change my routine – yet again.  The oldest has no concept of time.  She plans to lounge in bed till ten or so, get up at her leisure, spend an hour writing her fan fiction, go with me to work out for an hour, eat lunch, then go to the pool in the afternoon.  I don’t know about you, but if you count from 10 am, to 5 pm which is when I start preparing dinner, there’s no way to get all of that in.  Reality is going to hit her hard in about 7 days.  First of all, our exercise blitz will start earlier in the day so that we’re not in the heat of the day.

Last night the family had some major issues with my writing.  I was working on my blog when the kids got home from school.  I didn’t give them my full undivided attention as I was trying to finish.  When I got the laptop out to write some after clearing the table from dinner, the hubs complained. You know it’s nice to be in demand, sometimes.  My kids are teenagers. Aren’t they suppose to want more independence?  Anyway, they were having issues over my writing.  Not the content as they never read anything I write.  I have a feeling that when my summer blog share for Storytime Trysts begins next Tuesday (May 22, 2012), it’s probably a good thing the hubs doesn’t read my stuff.  Talk about sizzle!  The introductory chapter is mild enough, but from Day 1 on her trip, Stephanie is on a no holds barred adventure.

She’s braver than me,  I was blushing while writing it!

I’m pretty stoked about this blog share project, as well as the one on RCGale’s blog.  In addition to that, I’m getting closer to the end of Kiss of the Dragon (copyright 2012 Ellie Mack).  The story is written more or less, but remember when I said I write myself big notes with capital letters about INSERT LOVE SCENE HERE?  There are several actually.  At the meeting of the dragon lords, I left a big WHAT DO MEN FIGHT ABOUT ANYWAY? that sparked conversations with the husband and a couple of online male friends.   The general consensus was: pride, ego and women.  In a section where Zane discovers the truth about dragon law and how his father handled it, I put a big note:  RESEARCH NOTES: CHRONICLES; KINGS; CONSEQUENCES.  That may not make sense to you, but it’s clear as Swarovski crystal to me.

I’m currently working on the final battle scene.  It’s all there except a few minor details, but as we know the devil is in the details.  My perfectly clear note to myself at this point to explain the past-present-future-present conundrum was: ???????????   I’m brilliant aren’t I?  I should have thought this out, but during NaNoWriMo I was writing as fast as I could get it down.  All of my other notes have research files, information, the direction I want to develop, or  perhaps just something to make the scene more believable.

For instance, in the dragon lord meeting; have you ever been in a board meeting with a bunch of men?  Oh my!  And they say women can’t stay on track.  In one particular meeting while working for the DOD, we were discussing targets for Desert Storm.  The media had published images of one of our targets being blown up – a 6 foot square power pylon.  Now think about the logistics of that and your faith in our military should be increased.  From a height of 35000 ft, we drop a bomb to take out the power pylon successfully that is only 6 ft square at the base.  You don’t need to know calculus here, just admit it’s amazing.   OK, well maybe not as amazing as dropping one down the elevator shaft of a ten story building.  That was just freaking awesome!

At this meeting they showed the footage from tv.  We were given “patent” responses to say to any media personnel regarding US targeting.  Five minutes later the guys were fervently debating which football team’s cheerleaders were hotter.  Yep; pride, ego and women.  Great strategists derailed by a shiny, especially if the shiny happens to be on a woman prancing around in a short sequined outfit.

Dragons are very carnal creatures that can become violent over their women folk.  Nations have gone to war over women throughout history.  Dragons are intense creatures with strong convictions.  Sometimes fate can override the strongest convictions in a split second, forever changing the course of time.  Knowing the consequences of jumping through time and how it affects the future, which was Isabelle’s present – well, it gets confusing if the details aren’t ironed out just exactly so.

I was hoping to have all of this completed, and begin editing for grammatical errors before school let out. As I’m untangling a knot that I’ve made, time is slipping away from me.  I don’t know if 4 1/2 days are enough to get it ironed out to my satisfaction.

I might mention here that I stopped by the store after leaving the Y from my aqua class, and stocked up on coffee.  I bought 6 cans of french roast, yeah the big cans.  that might last through the summer if the hubs wants any.  Now it’s down to crunch time, pushing myself for this self-imposed deadline.  (It’s usually self-imposed as a writer.)

I have plans for the summer with the writing, which I’ve shared. Fitness goals, household goals, and fun time goals. There are several movies coming out this summer that the girls and I would like to see.  I’ve set up some potential rewards for achieving certain goals, one of which will be going to the matinée.

It’s all about time management really.  It’s an area I struggle with.  I’ve added a few more irons to my fire, and time management is becoming an increasingly important aspect.  We don’t have a family vacation planned. but I have several day trips, and fun outings planned for me and  my girls.  My oldest daughter will be a senior in high school in the fall, then off to college.  I want it to be an enjoyable summer, but there’s work to be done as well.  I still have to do the day job, and plan to continue the writing as well.

As I tweak my schedule yet again, I am feeling very optimistic for this upcoming summer.  I’ll let you know next Thursday if I’ve met my goal or not.

Write ON!



Freaky Friday

Not the movie,  It has been my day.  First thing this morning storms moving through the area.  Exciting thing driving through hail.  Storm chasers were staying at the hotel next to the gym, and two of the guys were talking about it what they suspected the storms were going to do.  Way to  set a tone of apprehension for the day guys – thanks for that!

Electricity was off when I returned home so no computer – nice.  Starting to panic about not having my seminar notes printed, and my power point is still incomplete.   My phone was nearly dead from listening to my music on the phone instead of mp3 player, and everything I thought I would do to take my mind off the panic rising within me required the use of electricity.

The storm passed, with another on its heels to arrive within a couple of hours.  Great!  I can get in a couple of hours work and wrap this up before it arrives.  Isn’t it funny how things never quite work how you plan?  Distractions just seem to jump out sometimes and even though they may be opportunities, I was on a tight schedule here.  Never the less, I succumbed to the distraction.

Did I mention before that I’m speaking on getting control over your emotions as part of my presentation?  Yeah, well I got excited about an opportunity to travel to France.  A beautiful Chateau, very reasonably priced, a paradise waiting for me.  I started calculating –  we could so do this!  What a wonderful vacation to give our girls before they head off to college.  Then I started adding the other travel expenses like airfare.  OUCH!  I had been at the pinnacle of the rollercoaster, you know that peak of the  climb where you seem to just hang in stillness for a few seconds?

Well, the plunging ride down that slope to the crash at the bottom knocked the breath out of me.  I hit rock bottom and I hit hard.  maybe it’s the intensity I’ve been working at this for the last few days, or even the months I’ve put into the planning but I crashed and burned.  My elation was replaced by a pit of despair as I ran the numbers in my head, and ran through the necessary expenses, and the practical things we should spend that kind of money on instead of being frivolous.  I heard my husband’s voice of reason and got angry with him because I knew what he would say and what his reaction would be.

MInd you, this was a one person rollercoaster ride.  It was a complete debate, argument, reasoning session within my own head.  Strange maybe but I’d be willing to bet that everyone has done this on more than one occasion.  HIs irrational imagined response made me furious, because I knew after so many years of marriage exactly what he would say.  How else do you make a good case to present such an opportunity in the first place?

Finally with a feeling of hopelessness, I gave up on the vacation idea and resumed working on my presentation.  I had to go over it just one more time to be prepared.  I had to laugh at my own reactions.  Here I was going to speak on managing your emotions and I was a perfect example of what NOT to do.  Oh brother!  I hung my head in my hands, wondering what on earth ever possessed me to think I could have something worthwhile to say to anyone. There was no getting out of this now – unless the tornado came through.

I became suddenly aware of the time that I had wasted and the fact that it was time to get the kids from school  My daughter has her permit, and I let her drive.  Trust me when I tell you that facing an audience feeling unprepared is nothing  compared to the terror of my daughter behind the wheel. IN a distance of 10 miles, we had 4 near misses.

She said “I like it better when Daddy rides with me, he doesn’t yell at me.”

Maybe not, but he’s not stressed about speaking at a seminar!  He’s also an easy-going kind of guy.  I wanted to kiss the ground when I got out of the car.

We unloaded body parts from the car and carried them into the house.  the mannequin was unassembled and I had to figure out how she went together and find some clothes for her.  Lusty wench only wore a banket around her when I retrieved her, not to mention where her detached hand was when I collected her parts.  At least Sir Rustalot was a gentleman and kept his armour on!

The storms are dissipating so there’s no help from that front – no pun intended.  Looks like I’m going to have to go through with this thing after all.  I decided I better print out my notes before I forget  aaaaannnnnnnddddd – we’re out of ink – lovely!

The rest of my evening will be running into town for an ink cartridge, returning home to load a knight and his, um I use the term lady loosely here, into the car, dig out the flame thrower, find those black cloths, and somewhere in there manage to prepare dinner for my family.  I’m sure I will be up late stressing over the printed notes searching for errors, and places where I can cut and add, continually editing.  Who knows what will actually come out tomorrow!

Someone said they may record the seminar.  I may have to get a copy just to find out what I said myself.  If nothing else maybe they’ll like my jokes.  If not, I’m wearing my New Balance shoes so I can run really fast!