Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Retreat Report

The fifth annual retreat for the World’s Greatest Critique Group is done. I managed to solve some major issues with my manuscript, but I still came home with mixed feelings. It is always wonderful to spend time with my writing pals, yet I found it difficult to write all day. Perhaps I’m not hopeful about the potential success of this project, or perhaps I prefer marathon revising sessions to marathon writing sessions. Next time, I’ll bring more than one project to work on.  

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Lisianthus are my favorite flowers at the farmers' market.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Overheard #205

"Hacky sacks exist at the intersection of a couple of subcultures."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Fifth Annual Writing Retreat

On Thursday, the World’s Greatest Critique Group embarks for a long weekend of writing and camaraderie. While I always look forward to spending time with my friends, I’m feeling some trepidation about the writing part. I haven’t written anything in a couple months, apart from making a list of all the things that are wrong with my Work In Progress. My attempts to brainstorm solutions to these problems have so far fallen short. Way short.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Good Vibrations

We didn’t own a piano when I was growing up. Instead, my parents bought an electric Hammond organ, and my mother used to play after my brother and I went to bed. My room was close to the living room, and the floor would vibrate as my mother played “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” or “Georgia on My Mind.” I loved falling asleep to that gentle oscillation.

My floor still vibrates, but to different beats. When Chaotic Paradise rehearses in our basement, the house shakes. Jeremy’s personal practicing is somewhat quieter, but the vibration can still be detected. And since the drum kit for Jeremy’s band is here, the drummer often comes over to work on solos. I doubt my mother would appreciate Jeremy’s metal music, but she’d be happy to know that people I love still rock my world.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My First Ladies

My First Ladies: Twenty-five Years as the White House Chief Floral Designer

Nancy Clarke was chief floral designer at the White House and worked with First Ladies, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.  I enjoy nonfiction that teaches me something. From this book, I learned that the Christmas decorations at the White House have a different theme every year, and the staff starts planning at least nine months in advance. I didn’t know that the First Family’s residence and offices always have fresh flowers. The most surprising thing was that even today, the First Lady is still the hostess and makes the decisions about the details for every major event with help from the White House florist, chef, pastry chef and usher, and the First Lady’s personal secretary and designer. Some First Ladies were more involved than others. When Hillary Clinton was working on health care reform and when Michelle Obama was settling her girls into the White House, they delegated some of these responsibilities.

Sadly, I first heard of My First Ladies in a news item about the author’s death. It took me a while to track down a copy, but it was worth the search.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Overheard #204

"They’ll give you a Grammy after you’re dead, but not a Nobel Prize."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Sandy Carlson just created Appreciate Your Critique Group Week. I couldn’t have said it any better. So here’s a shout out to the World’s Greatest Critique Group (that’s our name) for being such fantastic, supportive and brilliant people.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Today I was playing with my old point-and-shoot camera because it has a good macro lens. Apparently, I've forgotten how to use it, because all my pictures of daisies were blurry. I'll keep working on that, and in the mean time, here's a dragonfly from my archives.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Overheard #203

"I work for myself and I have staff problems."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Facebook Reprise

I couldn’t resist reposting this facebook dialog.

Me: I miss having a Sousaphone in the living room this summer.
Kim: Did I tell you that Claire is playing mellophone in marching band now?   She's making the transition from clarinet. It's a lot louder...
Me: Wish Claire the best from me. You don't know loud until a metal band rehearses in your basement.
Gina: That's a different kind of heavy metal.

(Jeremy’s fiberglass Sousaphone weighed 35 pounds. The brass ones are heavier.)

Sunday, July 8, 2012


More pictures from the wild animal park.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Recording Studio

I had the opportunity earlier this week to visit a real, live recording studio. Jeremy’s band wants to record an EP, and my husband and I went along to help ask questions.

A recording studio could make a vivid setting. The studio was built with double walls, or “rooms within rooms” to minimize sound bleeding. The walls were modified with curtains, squares of fabric, strips of wood or hanging pillows to control echoes and enhance the blending of sound. There were microphones, computers, mixers and amplifiers. The lexicon included bass traps, equalizing, leveling, compressing, overdubbing and mastering.

One of my abandoned manuscripts, GEEK AND CAPTAIN BONZO STEEL, involves a recording studio, and I have to say, my depiction didn’t get enough things right. Computer research is fine, but it can’t beat actually seeing the place.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Overheard #202

"One purpose of a novel is to take you from where you are to somewhere else."

Sunday, July 1, 2012


We visited a wild animal park in Texas, and I took a million photos. Here are a few faces I liked.