Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Music v. The Environment

Tonight on NPR, they described a Justice Department raid on the Gibson guitar factory for illegal use of endangered woods, specifically ebony and rosewood from Madagascar. Protecting the world’s rainforests is of critical importance. On the other hand, these guitars must look beautiful and sound wonderful. I wish I knew more about the type of wood used to make guitars. Apparently, some of these same laws apply to vintage instruments that were made before environmental laws were passed. In the early 1970s, I played an ebony clarinet and have no idea where the wood came from. It’s an interesting controversy.

I was positive the lead-out music would be Norwegian Wood by the Beatles. Nope. It was My Guitar Gently Weeps. If you’ve never heard that song on ukulele, click here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011


It’s been a month since the crit group retreat, and I’ve done almost no writing. Yeah, I did some research for a new project until I got stumped with a logical conundrum in the plot. I also submitted a manuscript (SSA) to The Whole NovelWorkshop put on by the Highlights Foundation. To my surprise, it was accepted. I’m excited to be spending a week in Honesdale and looking forward to expert mentorship on my project.

The last month has been a busy time. We traveled to Washington DC then Vancouver for family weddings. I’ve been helping Jeremy with his college applications, and outfitting Sam’s new college apartment. My volunteer responsibilities for the band and choir have been huge. However, this is my last year as a high school mom.

Today I started revising SSA one more time before I have to send it to Carolyn Coman or Stephen Roxburgh for the Whole Novel Workshop. Next week, I must clear several more hours and finish this draft.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Overheard #160

"You could always eat the inner bark of trees."

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I went to the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art and photographed spider webs. It had rained earlier.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Overheard #159

"When times are bad, prepare for when they're good."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Spy Museum

I had a great time at The Spy Museum in Washington DC! I studied each display and read every plaque, but have no photographs because cameras are not allowed inside. The tour starts with basic surveillance techniques, like dead drops and spotting hidden cameras. There is an excellent video on how to pick a lock, and a wonderful display of recording devices. Micro-technology has certainly improved over the years.

The section on codes is well-done, and I got to see an Enigma machine. I would have liked to see a diagram of the scrambling circuitry, but perhaps that is too technical for the target audience. The historical rooms are fascinating, and I’m eager to read more about the spies of the American Revolution and Civil War. The story of the tunnel under the Berlin Wall is also something that I’ll have to investigate further.

Even though I spent four hours at the museum, I could easily go back and learn more. After some internal debate, I decided not to buy a SPY GIRL T-shirt. It would blow my cover.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I love them not.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Overheard #158

"They call me mellow death metal."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Company We Keep

The Company We Keep: a husband-and-wife true-life spy story

by Robert Baer and Dayna Baer

Crown Publishers, 2011

If you want to know how CIA operatives spend their days, read this book.

I have more spy stuff coming. Several more espionage-related books are on my to-read list. On Friday, I’ll visit the Spy Museum in Washington DC.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


At last, some nature photos

  a white-faced meadowhawk with sun on his wings

They seem to like to arch their wings forward.

I tried to consider negative space when I cropped these pictures. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Overheard #157

"There are only three ways to really get to know a person: marry them, spy on them, or play Scrabble with them."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Writing Retreat and Band Camp

The World’s Greatest Critique Group spent four days at a retreat center in Saugatuck. When I left home, I was unsure what I would work on. I started with a sequel to SSA, but my plan for this book didn’t fit well with the novel format I learned from Martha Alderson’s Blockbuster Plot series, so I put it aside for now. I switched to a new project and didn’t expect to get far, but ideas came, and I ended up with a plot plan, twelve chapters outlined and one chapter written.

On Monday morning, I headed out to band camp. For incoming freshmen, band camp is their first high school experience. Watching the transition from the middle school to the high school mind set is fascinating, and the reason why I’ve written a couple manuscripts with 14-year-old protagonists. I’ve also written novels with 17-year-old protagonists. Perhaps that’s because some of the seniors enjoy being at the top of the heap while others are ready to move on.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Photographic Evidence of Our Writing Retreat

The retreat was terrific. I'll write more about it when I finish my volunteer duty at Band Camp.