Monday, December 31, 2012

Writing Goals

2012 was a tough writing year. After being advised to scramble my work-in-progress, I ended up with such a mess that I stopped writing for several months. This was, admittedly, a cowardly approach, and since then, I’ve pulled up my socks.

Looking ahead to 2013, I could set several minor goals, like polishing the first 20 pages of my work-in-progress and writing a synopsis for a January 27 conference deadline, or bringing submissions to critique group more often, but I’m going to stick to the big ticket items.

Ann’s Writing Goals for 2013
  1. Finish the first draft of the fantasy novel.
  2. Continue to seek gainful employment.
  3. Get back on the horse.
Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012


ice and water patterns along the Red Cedar River

Friday, December 28, 2012

Overheard #234

"Santa has a fuel-efficient ride."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Santa's Helper

My mother spent many years confined to a wheelchair, living alone in a house that 17 stairs leading to the front door. For most of this time, she was helped by a wonderful woman named Maud. One Christmas, Maud was concerned that her granddaughters who lived with her would find their presents before Christmas morning, so Maud asked my mom if she could hide the presents at her house. What a gift that was! My mom got to see the toys, witness the wrapping, be a co-conspirator in the Santa scheming and imagine two little girls’ joy at opening their presents on Christmas morning.

What are your favorite Christmas memories?

Sunday, December 23, 2012


These were taken by the Red Cedar River.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Overheard #223

"I don't really test them on whether they're clever. I test them on whether they've studied."

Saturday, December 15, 2012


"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world." -- Mister Rogers 

Whether the need is enormous or tiny, the majority of us want to help. 

Decades ago, shortly after my mother had a stroke, my family traveled to California to visit her. Mom was confined to a wheelchair and lived in a house with many stairs, so as an antidote to cabin fever, she asked me to take her to the grocery store. I remember crossing the parking lot while holding Jeremy in his infant car seat under one arm and pushing the wheelchair with my other hand.  Sam (age 3) helped steer the wheelchair. People actually ran across the parking lot to offer assistance. 

In times like these of horror and sadness, I have to believe that most people want to be a positive force. 

Here is a link to Kris Remenar's post about When the Moon Came Down on Milk Street by Jean Gralley. This book was inspired by Fred Rogers' quote. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Overheard #222

“The best you can do is be yourself.”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Travels with Jeremy

Tomorrow Jeremy and I leave for Boston for his first audition. Fingers crossed! We’ll come home long enough to do homework and laundry, respectively, then then head to St. Paul for audition number two. These are exciting times. 

Blog posts may be sparse for the next couple weeks. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

by Elizabeth Wein

Hyperion, 2012

This is easily the most extraordinary book I’ve read this year. And yet it’s difficult to write about it without giving the story away, and I want everyone to experience it as I did, fresh and without bias.

Code Name Verity is the story of two young women during WWII. One was a pilot, the other a spy, and they were best friends. The spy was captured by the Gestapo. While this book is not overly graphic, it does not pull punches. The Nazis are sadistic torturers and yet they are fully developed characters with secret weaknesses, love for their children and personal dreams. The first half of the book is told by Verity, the spy, and Kitty Hawk, the pilot, tells the remainder. These characters remain in my thoughts.

This is a book for anyone with an interest in Scheherazade, Peter Pan, unreliable narrators or simply fine writing.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I used the flash on this picture, then darkened the exposure. The effect is a little strange.

braided vines

The palette in Michigan is brown and gray.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Overheard #221

"You never want to swear in a biker bar."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Jeremy received this work of art at a music lesson.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Spy Pigeon

Even though my spy novel is dead in the water, I still enjoy reading books and articles about espionage. During World War II, the Allies used pigeons to take aerial photographs (miniature aluminum cameras were strapped to the birds’ chests) and to carry messages. Pigeons fly home, so each bird could only be used for one-way transmission. Pigeons in cages equipped with small parachutes were dropped behind enemy lines where resistance fighters tied messages to their legs and sent them back.

Recently, the skeleton of a pigeon was found in an unused chimney in Britain. Apparently this tiny agent had stopped to rest and was overcome by fumes. The tube containing the encoded message is still intact and has been sent to Bletchley Park for deciphering. I hope they figure out what it says.   

More Spy Stuff:

I’m currently reading Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, and have marveled at it so far. I may write more about this book when I finish. 

For spies gone bad, Spying In America by Michael J. Sulick sounds like a well-researched and interesting non-fiction work.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Overheard #220

"Rock and roll is about having a good time."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


It’s November, and several of my writing friends have been reporting word counts for NaNoWriMo on facebook and logging their progress online. As much as I applaud their efforts, this year, like every year, I just said no to NaNo. Somehow NaNoWriMo never fits with my writing schedule. Plus, I worry that if I tried to achieve 1667 words each day, I’d end up with nothing useful.

Last week, I cut 8,000 words (4 chapters) from my manuscript. It had to be done. The novel had veered in the wrong direction and become foundered in meaningless details. Now, it can be finished. One of my facebook friends suggested the term NaNoCutMo. That’s for me. Sometimes the closest exit is behind you.