Wednesday, December 27, 2006

End of Year (sort of) musings

I was reading some friends' blogs recently and was reminded that the end of the year is indeed here. I have finished a complete novel, 55,000+ words - pretty right on for a YA/middle grade story - and have been very busy with work. Over the Christmas weekend holiday, it seemed no one was working. Our work has gotten backed up and it will be a miracle if we get to Christmas day or the day after Christmas by the end of Sunday night. So you know what I will be doing on New Year's Day? - Working as I did on Christmas Day and the day before Christmas and the several days before and after Christmas (even traveling to my parents house and spending some time with family, and traveling home, I worked). Do you think I will see a bonus for not skipping out on the holiday weekend and taking advantage of it being a holiday? Probably not, although it would be nice since my supervisor even admitted that not many people worked the weekend or even Christmas day. And it shows. We have reports right now that are 100 hours out of turn around (what that means is that we are still working on dictation that was done on the 22nd of December and everything has a base standard of 24 hours turn around, so once it hits that 24 hours, it goes out of turn around and thereby is considered late. So now we are working on items dictated more than five days ago and tomorrow, they will be 115 hours late (because all the while we are clearing dictations, the facility is dumping more work on us. Not that I am complaining because lord only knows I need the work and need to get my lines up to over 10,000 every pay period (I'd like to hit a few 11,000 and 12,000 pay periods but so far in six months I have hit only one 12,500+ pay period) I am hoping this will be another (but of course this goes on the new year since this pay period ends the 10th of January).

Okay enough about my musings on work. The holidays are almost over, a new year is upon us and we will soon be given a chance to make new resolutions or set new goals (as I like to see it).

So before I forget to write my resolutions down for the upcoming year, I will share them with you all:

1. Lose weight/start exercising a bit - walking or joining Curves are my two choices. I don't do well by myself so exercising within a structured environment would benefit me.
2. Write more often, not just when the urge hits me. Maybe start a "wild diary" as a friend calls it so that I write something every day, even if only for 5 minutes a day.
3. Post more often on my blog with updates on everything. Share my family's doings with you all.

As you can see, I don't have too many resolutions/goals but they are doable and reasonable - the losing weight/exercising one will be my toughest so it is my number 1 goal. --

Hope you all have a blessed and wonderful year. Hope all my writing friends and buddies have prosperous and profittable years and that contracts for publishing are only a few days away for you all. Signing off for the year - see you all in the postings - E :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas favorite movies

Okay, now my all time favorite movie is "The Sound of Music". The reason this one holds up for me is that it is the first movie I ever saw in a theater and I saw it with my mother and grandmother. It was awesome to be only about 7 or so and see this movie in a theater. I had never been and to be sitting with my mom and grandmother was unbelievable. My grandmother loved the theater, whether it be a movie theater or an opera house or live performance theater - she loved to go.

I can remember seeing an interview with the real Maria Von Trapp several years after first seeing the movie and it was pretty cool to go - wow - what trials and tribulations she went through. She worked very closely with Julie Andrews to perform the part and get everything correct, lol. But I have to say, Julie Andrews is pretty awesome in and of her own right.

So no matter what, I try every year to catch The Sound of Music on TV when it runs in December (although this year I have a feeling I have already missed it and so may end up watching it at my parents this weekend sometime - if they have the DVD or if it is playing - I need to check the listings soon).

If you've not seen the movie in a while, watch it - you will get some true family values from it; you will get some laughs and some tears but you will definitely walk away from it feeling good about yourself.

So ends my journey on the virtual advent calendar - sharing memories, favorites, food and such - see you all in the postings - E :)

Christmas food/recipes

Now I'm not one to cook but I love to eat (and it shows, unfortunately). In our house when we were all coming together for the holidays, my mother always made lots of things. One of my favorite things she used to make was those dessert bars - the layered ones with the graham cracker crust, the chocolate chips, coconut, Eagle's Brand Sweetened Condensed milk, and usually pecans. My mother would do two batches some years, some with butterscotch, some with chocolate - so we had a variety.

Well as I've gotten older, guess what, I can't eat those bars any more - seems I've developed some food allergies and yup, you guessed it - nuts are big on the list. And those bars are not any good without the nuts for some reason - lol - but alas, if someone makes them without the nuts, I'll eat them.

another thing we do foodwise is ham - we always have ham on Christmas and Easter and turkey only on Thanskgiving - we never have turkey on Christmas which is good because I'm not a turkey fan. So we have all the fixings that go with ham and lots of them.

But as with everything, food should be taken in moderation - because in the end it will haunt you - I know - over the years, I've enjoyed too many good meals that my parents have fixed and now am in a world of hurt - bad knees, bad back, achy shoulders - you know all the things that come from being overweight - probably have some other health issues that I don't know about yet - oh well, hopefully soon, it will change -

So enjoy the food, family, and merriment but please do so in moderation - see you all in the postings - E :)

Christmas Traditions

Being that we moved a lot during my formative years, we didn't really develop too many traditions in my family. We always had to wait until my father was up before we could open presents and we couldn't wake my parents if only one of us was up. Kind of silly, I know but my father was in the military and was always up before we were most of the time. He worked different jobs while in the service so that dictated the types of shifts he worked. But he was always around for the holidays, no matter what - I don't remember him being at work on Christmas or anytime during the few days before or after. Maybe it was because he was on odd shifts and I didn't realize he was gone.

I tried this tradition with my own kids when they were younger, but that flew out the window. They couldn't go into the area where the tree was until everyone was up and they couldn't wake mama and daddy before a certain time (but kids have a way of not being able to tell time - lol). So now, we have no waiting until everyone is up, it happens if one child is up, then everyone soon follows.

Christmas happens very quickly now and it is a shame - Used to be that we would open gifts, have a nice breakfast and then go play with our new toys. Now, unfortunately in this fast paced world we live in, we open gifts and then just go on our way and forget all the traditions and fun and amazement we once knew.

see you all in the postings - E :)

Christmas Memories

Here we are less than a week away from Christmas day and I have not done any shopping per se, just a few little things. I am participating in this Virtual Advent Calendar, which I think is a cool idea and hope I can do this justice.

Being that my father was in the military and we traveled a lot, I was born in Japan, and we have lived in several of the East Coast States as well as Texas and Germany, I can say that Christmas had always been an adventure. One of my earliest memories, although it is more a Thanksgiving/Christmas combined one, is the year my father told us he was going to war; he was supposed to go to Vietnam at the time (I was like 7 and didn't really know all these big names or places). He had already explained to us that this was all bad and that he may not come home for a long time, if at all, and we had said all our goodbyes.

Thanksgiving day, he steps off the plane in Germany (I think he was supposed to rest and switch planes in the area) and was handed new orders. He was to spend time in Germany and the family would be joining withn the next few weeks.

My mom, my two brothers and me had just sat down to Thanksgiving dinner; my mother had already said the blessing and was about to carve the bird (yeah, I was hungry), when the phone rang. It was my father but I wouldn't believe it since he had already told us we may not hear from him for a while. I had a mini argument with him on the phone about him not being my father. My mother finally took the phone from me and when she hung up she was crying. I was mad at tihs man who had made my mother cry. Little did I realize at the time that she was crying happy tears.

So we sit back down to the table and she says the blessing again - I was not wanting this, I wanted to eat. Anyway, after we ate, she explained to us that we were moving to be with my father soon.

Now mind you, we had just moved from West Point, NY to Columbia, SC and still had boxes everywhere. We didn't even get a chance to really unpack before leaving for Germany. We left as soon as the winter break hit and were overseas in time for Christmas.

Germany was an okay place to live - even living on an army base. It was cool because we were pretty self-contained - like a city within a city - we had our grocery store, theater, schools, housing, fresh bread (a local man and his wife brought bread and candies in their station wagon every day), and everything was within walking distance.

Back then, parents trusted us kids to do things on our own, even 7 or 8 year olds. We were allowed to walk anywhere on the base as long as we let our parents or whoever was in charge of us at the time where we were going.

I just remember being thankful that my father didn't have to go Vietnam and that was one of the best Christmases we had.

See you all in the posts - E :)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Second week of December already

Before you know it, Christmas Day will be upon us and then a new year. I am hoping to finish my NaNo story this week but may not. Since work has been low and all, I'm hoping to get quite a few words in the next day or so to really bump up my count and have the story completed by Friday (that is the goal) but then again, work could pick up and we will be swamped and not have a break - lol

When the story is completed, I am exchanging with another Nanoer to do some commenting/editing/thoughts on so I can revise. I'm possibly thinking of going with PublishAmerica for publishing this one but will just have to see.

On another writing note, Echelon Press is doing a Fast & Feastive contest and that is due by Saturday. I'm thinking of entering that one if I can come up with something. Also, the South Carolina Fiction Project is due the middle of January and I'm going to try again on that one -

If I don't get any postings before Christmas - blessed be all of you and hope you have a joyous and merry Christmas; happy channuka, kwanza or whatever you celebrate during this holiday season. If nothing by the new year, hope you have a chance to spend it with loved ones and that your resolutions are keepable, no shooting for the moon, just something attainable. May have to post some New Year's Writing Resolutions right after the new year - I hope whatever you do, that you are safe and prosperous in the new year. See you all in the postings - E :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

WIP - some other updates and the like

Okay, NaNo officially ended Thursday night at 11:59:59 (according to the site) your time - so at 11:59:59 EST (my time) I had posted 40,220 words - I am enjoying the story and hope to hit 55,000 to 60,000 words by the middle of December - that hopefully will wrap the book up but then again, if the girls decide to take some more twists and have some more surprises, it could go on longer, but I think that 60,000 is a good goal to shoot for. Yesterday, I wrote almost 3000 words on the story - so go figure, the story just keeps having these little surprises pop up and the girls can't explain them. Some things they are finding out are helping get to the goal but right nothing has been settled.

Band stuff is officially over until next year and then I will have two in the marching band (if band fees don't go up so high I can't afford it) so until the spring concert, the only band stuff I have to worry about is getting the kids to practice at home like they should.- haha - easier said than done with teenagers

As for the new look - I really don't like it but it got me a blog that I could actually put links to the side and not in the postings. I'm not impressed with the new beta blogging - as I have to log in every time I open a blog to post a comment. I only had to log in once and windows and the blog site would remember me and my passwords, et cetera. This logging in every time I open a new blog post or my dashboard, or someone else's blog to post a comment is ridiculous. Yes, I've made a mention to the guys in support and what they sent me back hasn't helped. So I guess I'm stuck having to log in a gazillion times a day.

Last week our Sisters in Crime group did a combined November/December dinner and mystery theater production. It was fun. I got play a part in the production and then we had to email our guesses for whodunit to the president. I was one of three persons who guessed correctly so they are going to do a drawing for the prize - which is an autographed book of an author who had come to speak to our group last year. If you have never participated in a mystery theater production or seen one, I highly recommend it. They are loads of fun and really bring out the actor in everyone, even those with no acting experience at all - The group really enjoyed our small production - and even the audience members (those with no parts) helped out.

This month is semi busy but nothing like November - so until next time, - see you all in the postings - E :)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Another friend's site

If you have small children around and are looking for some good books to give during this holiday time, please check out my friend's store front at - Link is posted to the side under Jeanne Marlene - they are very cute books - E :)

I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth yet!!!

I guess it seems I've not done much updating since band stuff was over but I've been busy.

As soon as band competitions ended, NaNoWriMo began and for those of you not familiar with this - it is a writing frenzy. National Novel Writing Month starts November 1 and ends November 30. The object of this is to write 50,000 words of a Novel in 30 days. I was challenged to do this and to write a novel or novella or whatever it came out to be since all I really have done have been short stories and haven't really felt that I had a novel in me. Well, I have hit the 33,000 word mark and am probably half way finished with my story, probably a middle grade book, which now that I've gotten a few twists and turns going on in my head, I'm excited about getting this story finished. Needless to say, I won't hit the 50,000 this month but will keep working on it until it is finished. I went into this with no idea what I was writing, so my challenge was to rewrite my mystery as a young adult story - and I had started a YA before but wasn't really pleased with how it was going. So what happened was that Lana told me to find a story prompt and write a story. I found one that said - two friends enter a house. In the house there is a 100-year-old mirror that has never been broken - write a story about what happens.

Well since my fascination has always been this "house on a hill" that got me writing my very first novella (it is completed, just not edited and is kind of dull), I started a story about the mirror. Then when I started NaNo, I decided to keep the house and the mirror and work with those, as well as two girls exploring the house. Now the story has taken on a bit of magick and involves witches and that sort of thing - I hope the girls will enjoy it - With my busy schedule this week, I will be pleased as punch if I hit the 40,000 word mark. I must work today and then attend my kids' band concert this evening and upon returning from that, I will be writing some more tonight. Tomorrow after work, I'll add some more. Slow and steady - if I do about 2500 words the next three days, I should hit the 40,000 word mark by the end of Thursday (but do have the town parade to attend as well as a meeting - so may have to do some power writing tonight and tomorrow so I can accomplish what I need to do on Thursday - fingers crossed I hit the 40,000 mark, although I must say, I never really thought I would get a story that was this long or longer - I figured my story would end at 30,000 or 35,000 but it's not ending - the girls are just now going into the house -

Okay - now you know where I've been - hope to see you all on the postings - E :)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

still behind on band info

The band made the top six, placing 5th this year in over all the state - so we say congrats to our band -- I can't find my daughter on the picture on the front page but I know she is in the group.

We had a great time and now that band season is over, we are moving on to other things (she's thinking if the doctor will let her to do winterguard) so we I'll just keep you posted on that aspect -

Check out how they all look - following the links on the front page to marching band to photos and you will see pictures of the upper state competition first and some other performance and practice pictures and then the bottom set is the state competition - the one picture with all the drum majors lined up I believe is the beginning of the state pictures. Best one of the group is when they are in their show shirts at upper state in the stands and standing at attention - you can see everyone's face for the most part (although we do have some very short band members but they are there) - Take a peek and let me know what you think of a great group of kids - see you all on the field, or in the pages - E :)

Newsletter for magazine for which I am an editor

It may not be much - but every little bit helps and we are still taking submissions - so please if you are interested in writing a story for the magazine, check out our submissions page and just write and submit.

Diary of a Novel

Diary of a Novel

Pretty cool site - maybe if I keep blogging my friends, the hits on my site will go up as well as the comments and their sites will get lots of hits -

Kimberli is pretty cool and a NaNo fanatic - she hasn't posted much this month but she has been working on her novel in a very dedicated manner - please visit her traveling blog to see some of her adventures - pictures of places she has been, fall colors, et cetera - pretty cool stuff - E :)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Yep I'm behind on the good news for the school

Since the previous posting, we had another competition on the 14th and took 2nd place, which was a miracle in and of itself since we didn't capture any of the outstanding awards, so the program and visual effect and music stood on their own to score the band high enough to take 2nd place.

This past weekend was upperstate in our class (we are a 3A school and 3A band) and we had to compete against 17 other bands. The top 6 bands from upper state and top 6 from lower state go to state to compete for the overall grand championship. Well check out the website - we placed 2nd in upper state and we only lost by a little over 1 point (we scored a 90.6 and the winning band scored a 91.75) - so needless to say that we are totally excited.

On the front page pictures, my daughter is in the middle back with her arm around her friend and she is whispering something to her (her head is turned so can't see her face) but on the next picture down, same spot, she has her face towards the camera - Her birthday is Thursday and she will be 14. On the pictures below the schedule information - the group with the red shirts all in the stands - my daughter is on the end of the second row right in front of the black girl and behind the really short girl. She is the red headed girl on the far right as you are looking at the picture, near the other band that got caught in our picture - lol -

Since the previous posting, my oldest has turned 21 and my youngest is now a preteen (well he actually had turned 12 a couple of weeks prior to that posting but since I am mentioning ages, I figured I should put him in too -

During the competition before they gave the awards, I had picked our band as third and the band that received third, I had them as second. I had fourth to a band that didn't even place and had between 5th and 6th to one of the two bands that actually took 5th, 6th (the one that took 6th, I didn't have placed either but the last band that performed, taking 4th place, I had as between 5th or 6th - I think I had the last band that performed as 6th and the third from the bottom as 5th. So only two of my guesses were correct but I'm glad since that put us as 2nd place instead of 3rd where I had us -

So congrats to the marching band that has worked super hard to come this far and hopefully next week we will be in the top 3 to receive a plaque or award or medal - whatever is given to the top 3 bands - more then - see you on the field - E :)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Some really good news for the marching band

The marching band (at present known as the Bear Brigrade, but that name is supposed to be changing) had two competitions this past weekend and so were on the road a good bit. I got to the second competition right as the last AA class band was performing; which is great, because the AAA and AAAA bands were to follow (we performed in AAAA at the second competition).

Upon arriving, we got to see the awards for the A and AA bands - cool looking costumes on one of the groups and it has inspired a short story for a contest -

After that, we watched all the AAA and AAAA bands perform, we were the last performing group before the exhibition band (school sponsoring the competition) and the awards. Our band placed 3rd out of 4 teams competing with the difference between first and third only being 0.95 points - we scored (I think) a 90.3 and the first place band was 91.25 - so not much room to make too much difference on the scores. We also took best drumline and best color guard (or front line as it is called sometimes)

So we had to wait around until the first competition's awards and had a person phone us to tell us the results - and (drumroll please) - we took best drumline, best colorguard, and best hornline and first place. We also took Silver Grand Champions in classes 1 - 4A bands - first time in our school's history of taking the Grand Champion at a competition -

Last week at our first competition, we also took best drumline and 3rd place with the difference between first and third only being 1.85 points - we scored an 88.9, second place scored an 89.3 and first place was a 90.75 - so as you can see these scores are very close and the bands are high quality in competitions

So congrats to our school for achieving a first - almost sweeping the categories of extra trophies and doing a great job performing twice in the same day - E :)

Monday, September 25, 2006

WOW - some very good news for me

I saw this listing for a call for several editors and so I joined the discussion group and put my two cents in for some story ideas for the upcoming new magazine that is going to run next year and I got one of the editor positions - how cool is that?

I am looking forward to posting my call for submission for my particular storyline and hope to see you all submitting your stories - not only to me but to the other editors too - the more the merrier.

Be on the lookout for the calls - come visit the site and see whats happening - E :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Literary Agency's blog

BookEnds, LLC — A Literary Agency

I've actually met Jacky from this company and have had contact with several authors that they represent - lots of interesting posts regarding the publishing world as well as the agent world (all have been editors for publishing companies and now are agents - so know both sides of it) -

I have posted all blog links under the links section on my blog - thanks - E :)

Another friend's blog

People I'd Like To Be - Again - please see the links to access the blog - E :)

Chai's Blog

I have posted the links to my friends' blogs under the Links section - so please visit some interesting blog sites I have accumulated and would like to share with you - E :)

Monday, September 04, 2006


Here it is labor day and I'm slaving away at work (there is plenty there) and trying to concentrate on only work to build up my lines but it isn't happening. Again, thinking of a ton of different things I could be doing, but I must persevere with the work, need to build up the funds to hopefully move from this wretched house - the one full of snakes, mice, and other critters that tend to not show face but make up for it in all the noises they make.

I have started a new story and goal is to do 35,000 words by the end of the month and yet I have no direction on the story, had a prompt from the Writer's Digest site that a friend was a good idea and so I went with it. I have an opening scene, some backstory a little bit and nothing else - pizzazz and flat - good combination. Hopefully something will come.

I don't have a home for it yet but maybe that will come along and inspire me to really write the thing - I think doing it this way makes me think differently on the story; having a home first, makes me want to write the story and all kinds of ideas flow; not having the home first, just makes it more like work - oh well - Maybe tonight I'll look for a contest to put it with so i can write, edit, revise, et cetera on a timely schedule -

Well back to work - ya'll have productive days - see you soon - E :)

Thursday, August 10, 2006


It seems that school was just out yesterday and here we are already back in August and school going full force. Daughter is in the marching band again this year; her picture was in the local paper last week - she is playing the tuba which she hates. Son is taking up the sax for band and wants to do marching band next year - so I'll have both of them in at the same time next summer (oy!!!) -- Oldest son is taking a break from classes this semester but still plugging on with his arts and creativity.

Work is going well, trudging along as long as the computers don't explode any more (I've been with this company now a month and a few days and since beginning I've had four computers and an extra power supply (making 5 total) die/crash/burn up on me - apparently it was a wiring problem in my house with the hot and neutral wires being interchanged) and I keep getting good lines and reports - not that I've had any bad ones so far because there are no foreign doctors.

Writing wise, I've fallen way behind in that as I have had no desire, no interest, nothing to drive forth any stories whatsoever. I did enter another one of the 24-hour contests in July but then again, it was very short and I probably could have expanded on the story some and made it better so I'm not holding my breath on winning anything on that. The next one is September 23, and I'll probably enter that one too (anyone want to join me, the website is - -- hope to see you all then -

happy writing, keep on doing the things you do - E :)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Sorry ya'll - I've been through heck and back or so it seems, not been inspired to write much, haven't even posted on other people's blogs until tonight - so figured I should update mine as well.

Wish I could add a counter on my blog site but not sure how - would love to see how many are reading anything online - lol - only kidding - not a big following of anyone on my blog site but there are plenty out there that do have big followings

So let's see - writing wise - I checked out the SC Fiction Project on the 30th of June since the statement was that all winners would be notified and posted by the first of July - and none of the three from the local writing group I belong to who entered a story in the project won - kind of disappointing but someone from the upstate did get picked - so that was enlightening - the majority of the winners seemed to be from Charleston or Columbia, even though it is a statewide project for all writers - makes you wonder where the published writers live in this state - lol - the beach, the capital or the inspirational areas - not upstate (not true because I do know several published authors from the upstate area)

Working on a mini mystery - flash fiction contest thing - so may get that fixed up and submitted by the end of the month. I've been challenged to do 35,000 words by the end of the month and I should utilize my down time (work computer power supply died after a week of use, so awaiting a new power supply - hopefully tomorrow it will be here) to write on this story I started last weekend - maybe get it up to to 30,000 or something by the end of the month - not sure what I'll do with it - just have to see -

So, keep writing, keep doing what you do best - back next month - E :)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Not a winner, not even a grab bag winner

Well the 24-hour contest winners were posted last week and I must say, I'm a bit disappointed that the winning story didn't even seem to follow the topic at all. The other two stories didn't seem that well written or really on the topic either. It was a fun contest though and I plan on entering the next 24-hour contest in July. For a $5 entry fee, it was worth it, just to do a complete story in 24 hours, write, edit and submit is a serious rush.

For anyone interested in reading the winning stories go to:

Anyone interested in entering the contest the following link will lead you there. You can sign up right until the day before or even the day of the contest (only take 500 entries though) - check it out and if interested have fun and write away -

Good luck, have fun and happy writing - E :)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Why is this month dragging by?

Well, here it is the 22nd of May and the kids are on half days at school until tomorrow, I've lost my job and am bored. I think this month is the longest for me so far this year. I have submitted to several contests and and just waiting to hear. Hopefully, by this weekend, the 24-hour contest will announce the winners.

There doesn't seem to be much going on right now. Everything seems slow. As soon as baseball/softball season is over, I can get back to my writing and other meetings, which I've missed this month.

Well, maybe next week or so I'll have more news to report but for now, just sitting here bored and wanted something to do - E :)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Since I'm involved in some online classes, I decided I should post my second story (sort of a thought of how I want to do my 50 states stories) for everyone to read - This picks up where Train of Clues left off. Any suggestions or comments are muchly appreciated on this - E :)


Now, don't get the wrong idea about Matt, me, Len and Jo, and us doing schoolwork over the summer. This was a fun assignment and I learned a lot. Mr. Brady isn't like other teachers; his assignments are pretty cool.

Mr. Brady gave us a task over the summer and it wasn't easy to find what he was asking for. I actually had to use brain cells I didn't know I had. Go figure! Today's trip, which was Matt's birthday, wasn't really classwork but it was a start to exploring the states. The train trip was actually a scavenger hunt, finding items and clues that led us to Mount Rushmore. It was an awesome experience and I'm sure it will be the talk of the town for the rest of the summer.

For the actual work, we don't get to board a train or a plane nor do we get to travel by car or bus. Nope, this time, we have to use our imaginations and come up with a report for each state that we have to find from all the clues in the packets Mr. Brady sends us.

It was pretty strange walking into the house and finding an envelope addressed to me. Mom made sure I didn't miss it, but I've got to tell you, I don't get mail so this was a bit weird for me. I picked up the envelope and read the label:

  • Mr. Guy Landrum
    123 West Brook Street
    Creighton, SD 57790

Yes siree, it was definitely my name on this package and all I could make out from the return address was that it was from the school. I hadn't failed any classes and wasn't supposed to be in summer school. I hadn't enrolled to be in any school activities for the summer. I wasn't in the marching band. Usually anything from the school addressed directly to a student was bad news. I was tired and really didn't want to open it but Mom insisted.

"That envelope has been driving me crazy all day, while you have been on your fun trip. Go on, open it. Let's see what kind of trouble you are in now," she said

She didn't leave me any choice; I had to tear into the official school material to find out what was inside.

I pulled the folded papers from the envelope and read what I thought would be bad news. It was actually not as bad as I had imagined. The first page was a letter from Mr. Brady.

"Well, come on now, tell me what it says," Mother prodded.

"Okay, it's really nothing bad. I'm not in trouble or anything. Mr. Brady wants us to do some work over the summer to get a jump on the upcoming school year when we have to take his social studies class."

"Okay, so what does it say?"

Dear Guy, Matt, Jolene, and Leonard:

You are about to embark on the adventure of the school year. You will be traveling, in your imaginations, throughout the United States, using the clues I have provided. Each packet will lead you to the state and two landmarks. Some will also include a specific destination or town. You will work as a team over the summer and in the upcoming school year. The winning team each week will be awarded a prize.

You will have to write an essay on your findings and present them to the class when school starts. You will do this for the next ten weeks and once school starts, we will continue the adventure in a different format. Your social studies grade for the year will be based primarily on your work for the fifty states. I hope you enjoy this little game.

Happy Hunting,

Mr. Brady
Social Studies Teacher
Creighton Middle School

I tucked the papers back into the envelope and headed for bed, leaving Mom standing in the hall wanting to know more. I would worry about calling Matt in the morning. This meant more time with Jolene, what a summer this was going to be. Believe it or not, I was excited when I turned in for the night.

After lunch with Grandma the next day, I called Matt but could barely get a word in edgewise.

"Yeah, dude," he said. "How about we meet at the town library about nine o'clock in the morning and the four of us just jump in there and start this project. Who knows, maybe we can knock it out and free up the rest of the week."

"What do you have against sleeping in some?" I asked him.

"Man, I got other things to do in the evenings. I can't waste my whole day waiting for you to get out of bed. So, nine o'clock at the library. See you there. Okay?"

"Yeah, sure, nine o'clock." I grumbled, hanging up the phone.

I was the last to arrive because I had overslept. As I was locking my bike up in the rack, I got the feeling I was being overtaken. I looked up and there stood Jo, Len, Matt and Mary Beth, who always tags along wherever Matt goes. I'm sure Matt's mother had something to do with this though. "Yeah, I'm late. That's nothing new. You all know me by now and you know I'm rarely on time."

"Well, listen, the library closes for lunch at one, so we need to get started and accomplish as much as we can before then," Jo stated in her bossy voice.

"Okay, let's go." I shot back at her.

Mary Beth went over to the mystery section and found a book to read while we were on the computer, sitting far enough away to not be in our way but close enough to hear our discussions. After the librarian logged us on to one of the available computers, we sat down and read the information Mr. Brady had sent us. Here's what it said:

As this is the first state, I will give you all the clues and information you need. Your job is to figure out the state and the two landmarks. In addition, you will also need to find a particular destination from the clues given. The clues are as follows:

State clues:
1) The second oldest city in the nation is located in this state.
2) Five other states share a border with this state.
3) This state is named after a British King.
4) The Girl Scouts were founded in this state in nineteen hundred and twelve.

Wacky facts:
1) Paradise Gardens, an eccentric "art house", built by Howard Finster, defies description, convention and gravity.
2) Oliver Hardy, half of the famous Laurel and Hardy vaudeville act, was born in this state.

1) Billed as the biggest swamp in North America, this natural wonder can be navigated by canoe or boat tour, or you can get directions for driving at the visitors' center in Folkston.
2) Take a train or ride a skylift to see the largest high-relief sculpture in the world, the Confederate Memorial Carving depicting Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Entertainment and shopping options abound at the 3,200-acre park.

Destination clues:
1) The first gold rush was actually in this town, occurring around eighteen hundred and twenty eight.
2) The original name of this town was Licklog.
3) One of the United States first gold mints was in this town.
4) This town has evidence of inhabitation prior to the Cherokee, believed to have been somewhere around 1000 b.c.
5) This town is holding its third annual literary festival in February, on the weekend closest to President's weekend.

Jo took the initiative, even though Len was more of a computer geek than the rest of us. She typed in some keywords and the search was on. Jo must have used ten or fifteen different combinations to figure out the state, but we finally came up with it.

"Come on, Jo," Len prodded. "I can move faster than this."

"Yeah, but I'm used to doing this. I've done a lot of research."

"So? I'm the computer expert," Len stated.

"Go ahead if you think you can find anything faster. I'm pretty quick and know what I'm doing."

Len pushed Jo out of the seat and starting putting in what he could. He didn't have any luck finding any answers. Jo just umphed him and moved him out of the way so she could continue her Internet search. She Googled Girl Scouts and found out they were started by Juliette Low. The movement had been started based on the guidelines of the Boy Scouts but Juliette Gordon Low started it in America in one of the most famous cities in the state.

Matt not wanting to be outdone put his two cents worth in. "You guys, listen. I say we just find the destination. We already know the state. We can find the landmarks later. Don't you all think so?"

"Well, actually no." Jo answered. "I think we need to find the landmarks before we get to the destination. It would be pretty easy to get to the town with these clues but why not just find everything in order - the state, the landmarks and then the town?"

"I have other things to do today, so I'd like to be out of here before lunch if we can," Matt informed us.

"Well personally, I don't care what we do. I think we just need to get this done so I can go home and sleep some more." I added.

"Like you didn't sleep enough as it is. You were the last one here, Guy. Surely a few hours of your time isn't going to kill you." Len shot me a strange look.

Jo kept on searching, trying to ignore us. The computer timer had to be reset while we were looking up the landmarks. The librarian kindly re-signed us on and went back to shelving the new stock of books.

"Okay guys, I think I have come up with one of the landmarks," Jo said.

"Yeah, which one?" I asked.

"Well, part of the clue is that this is a swamp and I'm coming up with only swamp that is mentioned online. I put in the state name plus swamps and came up with this." Jo showed us the link she found.

"Then, I'd say we found one landmark. I always thought that was a made up place," I said.

"Well, now we know it's not a made up place," Matt chimed in.

"Yeah, you know how someone always tries to pull the wool over your eyes and tells you they have some land in this swamp to sell you. I thought it was either a made up swamp or in another state for some reason."

"Okay, one landmark down. Let's move on to the next one so we can find the town and get out of here." Matt said.

Jo typed in some more trying to find the second landmark.

"Jo, look up theme parks in the state and see if that doesn't lead us to the landmark," Len told her.

Jo typed in state theme parks and there it was, the listing of all the theme parks in the state. We moved on to finding the town. The easiest place to find, a town in the state considered to be the first "gold rush" center and housing one of the nation's first mints.

So where did we end up?

Clues leading to the state should lead you to Georgia. The landmarks are a little more difficult unless you are familiar with them but they are The Okefenokee Swamp and Stone Mountain. Our destination town ended up being Dahlonega.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Story update/Good news

Just posting an update - My April Fool's day themed story won second place on the contest - posted on - here is the winning story for all you fans of mine (few that I have - lol)

The Proposal

Ribbit. Ribbit.
Stella looked around but couldn't locate the sound. Henry suppressed a chuckle.
Henry had made reservations at the fanciest restaurant in town. Stella sat there all dressed up, about to burst at the seams from what promised to be the best birthday ever. Not her usual joke-filled day. The evening was supposed to be romantic but the frogs were ruining that. Why couldn't Stella have a normal, romantic birthday with the love of her life?
Henry was the most straight-laced person she had known in her life, although a bit gullible and on the receiving end of a prank. Stella was thankful for this because having a birthday on April Fools' Day meant Stella had received every practical joke ever thought of as a gift; none from Henry over the years as his gifts were the most sincere. This year, though, Stella was hoping for a simple, romantic dinner. This was a special birthday for her - her twenty-fifth. Henry had gone through lots of planning to mark a quarter of a century for Stella.
After five years of being together as a couple, Stella just knew this nice, quiet evening would be special.
Ribbit. Ribbit. The frogs kept going, like the Energizer Bunny.
"Aren't you going to order something?" Henry asked.
"I've not much of an appetite. These frogs are driving me crazy. You do hear them, don't you?"
Henry shook his head. Stella looked at him as if he had just slapped her. "Henry, surely you hear them croaking every few minutes during the music. It's like the restaurant has piped in the frogs just for me. Let's go somewhere else."
"No, it's okay. Maybe you are the only one hearing them because it's your birthday."
"Not a chance. I'm going to ask the maitre'd to turn off the music. Surely, there are other people here who hear those silly frogs too."
Stella motioned for the maitre'd. "Please sir, tell me you hear the frogs over the music."
"No, Mademoiselle. I only hear the wonderful music that plays every night," he replied in his French accent, which matched the ambience of the restaurant.
"Will you please just turn off the music then? I'm hearing frogs and I don't like them. It's ruining my night."
"If we turn off the music for you, then all the other patrons will not enjoy the atmosphere and romance we provide."
"Fine. Just give me some frog legs for an appetizer." Maybe that'll shut them up.
Henry held Stella's hand, trying to calm her down. "Stella, hon. Let's calm down about the frogs. Try not to think of them. Remember we're here celebrating your birthday, not the jokes you usually get. Besides, I've something to ask you."
"I'll try to put those frogs out of my mind but they're aggravating. And you know how much I dislike them. But for you, I will try."
Ribbit. Ribbit.
Henry pulled a small box from his pocket. "Stella, we've been together a while now. I want to ask you something important."
Stella gulped.
"Stel, hon. I really love you and think we are meant to be together. Oh, wait. I'm supposed to be down on one knee when I ask you." Henry came around to Stella and kneeled, taking her hand. "Will you marry me?"
Stella nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, yes, yes. I've waited so long for this." Stella opened the engagement ring box only to find a piece of paper rolled up in the slot where the ring should have been. She unrolled it and read what Henry had neatly printed on the front, "NOT". What is this? He asks me to marry him and then says NOT. "Um, Henry, is this some kind of joke?"
"Did you read the back of it?"
Stella turned the paper over and read "April Fools'" and looked very confused. "So does this mean that the proposal was a joke or that just not having the ring is the joke?" Stella was about in tears, feeling rejected. She continued seething silently, turned to Henry and said, "I can't believe you have been involved in any practical jokes today, since you've not participated before."
"Actually, the empty box was the joke. Your mother helped me plan that part. I really do want you to marry me. Here's the ring for real."
Stella gazed at the ring. It was beautiful. Oh, how she wanted to trust Henry right now, but after his little joke, Stella found it hard to believe him. The ring could be fake, too. "So, they say that the less real a ring is the more beautiful it is. True? I'm not sure I should accept this ring now, knowing my mother's in on the jokes tonight. You know she's the queen of jokes around our house. Every year, she bests herself . No one can beat her jokes."
Ribbit. Ribbit.
"The only joke this time was the note in the box. The ring is real and I don't know anything about other jokes. The note joke was to get you a little flabbergasted."
"Just a little? Those damned frogs are still driving me nuts. And then the ring. Yep, flabbergasted is about right."
After dinner, Stella and Henry stared into each other's eyes. The waiters and waitresses started the restaurant's version of "Happy Birthday" from the kitchen. Stella thought the singing was too far away to be geared toward her. She sighed in relief until the cake with the many candles ended up in front of her. Stella's cheeks burned from being the center of attention. As the song ended, she blew out the candles. Several times. The candles wouldn't go out. She must have blown ten times before everyone said "Happy April Fools' Birthday" to her. She laughed and pulled all the candles from the cake, dunking them in her water to put them out.
"So, whose idea was this, yours or my mother's?" Stella glared at Henry.
Ribbit. Ribbit.
"Honestly, Stel, hon. I had nothing to do with the candles. I did, however, inform the maitre'd when I made our reservations that it was your birthday and that I wanted you to have a special cake since you have the worst day for a birthday. Maybe it was the chef's idea to do this."
"Not likely. They don't know me and this smells rotten. Smells of my mom, like when she put some dye in my shampoo. That was a nightmare. Picture day. And I had to go to school with purple hair." Stella shook her long, curly, auburn hair.
Henry smiled. "True. I haven't been a joker but your mother made this so much fun and knowing I was proposing to you, she had to get you somehow. It's been great so far not being the butt of everyone else's practical jokes."
"So, is this it? Everything that is meant to be played on me? I mean, this seems to be the most jokes I've had on me at once. Three by the same person. So anything else I should know about?"
Henry shrugged.
"Well, since the cake and ring are done, I say let's get out of here before anything else happens that would totally embarrass me."
"Okay. Hope you aren't too upset about the jokes we played on you."
"No, I'm not upset. It's expected, especially knowing my mother is involved. These were mild compared to some of the things she's done in the past, like the year we went to dinner and she had the cook add some gummy worms to my hamburger. That was gross and disgusting, having the whole restaurant staring at me and laughing."
The maitre'd whispered to Stella as they reached the door, "By the way, we piped the frogs in just for you. Your mother called and said you loved frogs sooo much. Hope you enjoyed your April Fools' birthday gift from the restaurant."
Stella laughed. Now she knew it was a joke set up just for her. "So how did you keep the other patrons from complaining?"
"We let them know when they were seated to just ignore the frogs during the music since it was a special treat for a special customer."
Stella nodded. Another joke by her mother, knowing how much she detested frogs which was in part due to high school biology class and Johnny Jones. After the group had dissected the frog, Johnny decided to put the frog down Stella's shirt. Yep, another birthday joke. Stella shuddered.
Henry guided Stella out the door, steering her toward the car. Stella stepped back seeing a flash of white coming toward her. "Is that Martina Navratilova? No way. Can't be. Martina here?"
Henry nodded and continued advancing toward the car.
"Evening, Stella." Martina greeted her. "I've been told in order to marry Henry, you have to beat me in a game of tennis."
"What? I don't know how to play tennis. No way can I beat you." Stella turned toward Henry, begging with her eyes to end the madness. Henry wasn't there.
Stella ran to the car, jumping in as fast as she could. "Come on, Henry. Let's get out of here. This day just keeps getting weirder."
Henry cranked the car and drove Stella home. Stella embarked on a new joke with Henry's help.

"Hello, Mother. We're home."
"Great. How was dinner?"
"You probably know dinner was a bust with all the jokes. I can't even believe you got Henry to partake in them. You had me pretty upset tonight."
"Jokes aside, did you have a nice dinner?"
"I didn't even get to eat dinner. What with those stupid frogs croaking during the time we were in the restaurant and the empty engagement ring box. I guess it's not meant to be for me to have a nice, quiet birthday as long as you're around."
"Stel, hon. You know I love you very much. I'm only trying to bring joy to you, a few smiles along the way."
"Fine. Just so you know, I turned Henry's proposal down. I couldn't accept due to the fact that I wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't."
Stella's mom stood there, unable to speak.
"What's the matter, Mom? Cat got your tongue?"
"No, no. That's not right. You aren't saying no to Henry because of me, are you?"
"Not at all. I just didn't think I should marry Henry since I'm not in love with him. I've been seeing the new garbage man lately and feel I should at least give him a chance. So, Henry is out of here for now. Bye-bye. Gone."
"Stella, you've got to be kidding. No way are you throwing away five years as well as a good man. Come on, dear. Let's talk about this and make sure you aren't throwing away something you've wanted for a long time."
"Mom, it's over. There isn't anything to talk about." Stella turned away from Henry who was still standing in the doorway. "Oh, by the way, April Fools'. I got you good. You should've seen your face."

hope you enjoy - E :)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Not quite the end of the month - but what the heck - might as well post something

I was just sitting here reading some other friends' blogs and decided to update you all on where I am with my writing and other things in my life.

Let's see - this month I've only worked on one contest entry and sort of working on a nonfiction entry. I have submitted my April Fools story to for the upcoming contest. I thought my story was pretty good with the revisions and all but apparently the writing group ( wasn't too fond of the story. I write short, fun things that tend to be simple. The group didn't like the repetition in the story but being an April Fools day theme, how can you not have repetition -- but enough said - the story has been revised, ending changed and submitted for the contest. The winners will be informed around April 15th - a chance to win 4 books (first place) or 1 book (first runner up and second runner up) and be published on their website until the next contest --- I have fun and that's what counts

My nonfiction piece is for Creative Nonfiction - the magazine - - it has to do with the medical field and that is my field of expertise being a medical transcriptionist.

The middle of the month had me flying to Jersey for a new job, training in the office and then having my computer transported back home to start working. The job is basically similar to what I was doing before but it uses a different platform and getting used to the New York accents is the tough part. That was a plane trip from hell really - and I won't do that again - I'll drive it or fly big airplanes if I have to go up that way again. I was on an express jet which was probably no bigger than a volkswagen bug and a half on the inside - tight seating and only 50 people on the plane. - not for me ever again.

As soon as my nonfiction is finished and submitted, I'll be starting on my children's stories/series - so be on the lookout for that - and my revisions on my mini-mystery - So for now, it looks as if things are looking up for me and that I'm moving right along - see you all next month - E :)

Friday, March 03, 2006

what's that saying - March comes in like a lion, April showers, May flowers?

Yep, sure enough it is March. So since the last posting - here is what has happened in the little corner of the world that is my world:

The weekend of February 17-19, the kids and I helped out at the Dahlonega Literary Festival, very low keyed but overall a good experience. We got to monitor the "Scholastic Book Fair" part of the whole thing, with my daughter dressing up like Clifford the Big Red Dog and enjoying herself. On Saturday evening, we headed over to the Holly Theater for a talk about "Haunted Holly" and it was very interesting to learn the local hauntings of the theater. Poor Amy giving her speech and telling us all about the ghosts there which she had researched for her book "Dahlonega Hauntings" - now I don't know about you all but I'm firm believer in ghosts and other beings and even though not everyone could see him, there was one on stage kind of mocking Amy while she was speaking. Of course, her reply to being told that several persons saw him was "Why can't I see them?" - so you never know when you may come across the next inspiration for a story.

The weekend of February 24-26, I headed down to Columbia, South Carolina, for the South Carolina Book Festival and enjoyed my stay for the weekend. It was totally exhausting Saturday all day but well worth the time and effort as a volunteer. You never know who you will run into at something like that - and yep, I ran into a self-published author, who was an ex-co-worker of mine about 10 years ago. So needless to say, I had contact with a friend.

My whole idea for these 2 weekends is to do some volunteer work with your local book festivals and get your foot in the door with editors, publishers, other authors and you just never know when your big break will come along.

About to submit an April Fool's Day story and once I know if it has placed or anything, I will post here.

Working on a nonfiction story/essay type thing and hopefully in a couple of months, will know about that (okay a few months, not a couple because I have a couple of months before it is ready for submission.)

Any readers want to post any stories or links - please feel free to do so - every bit helps others and you never know - the one thing you have may be the big break for someone else -

Hopefully March will be a good month for everyone and the winter weather will move on (fingers crossed and wishful thinking) - E :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Is it for real, 1 month gone already?

2006 - has come in fairly quickly and already it's been a weird month. Here it is the end of the month and everything has moved so quickly.

A quick update - the two contests I entered didn't place but congrats to a friend of mine for placing 2nd runner up (again a shared second place) on the Christmas contest we both entered for the site. The Dahlonega literary festival ( judges only picked the top 8 stories due to the rest not meeting their harsh scores (but that's okay) and the South Carolina Book Festival ( is coming up. I have volunteered to help at both book festivals and am looking forward to meeting more authors and publishers and other writing related persons.

I have entered a short story in the South Carolina Fiction Project (selectees will be notified the 1st of July), so fingers crossed on that. I am rewriting my mystery as a "contemporary young adult fiction" story to be submitted later this year for a Random House (Delacourt) contest. Also a call for submission for Creative Nonfiction, the magazine, in conjunction with Southern Methodist University's Sports in America edition, Anatomy of Baseball, has been done.

Armchair Interviews is running yet another contest (an April Fool's one this time) and I will probably submit for that one as well. There is another call for submission on Creative Nonfiction for medical essays and I will work on that.

Reviews - they are trickling in - reviewed Nicci French's book catch me when I fall and it is posted on (under armchairinterviews as the author) as well on the main site. Have just finished Paul Levine's The Deep Blue Alibi (due to be released today) and will post a review on the Armchair site shortly -

Guess this is as good as it gets right now - more postings later - hopefully good news further down the line - E :)