Friday, December 26, 2008


We had a LOVELY Christmas, thanks to the snow.

We decided Tuesday that we were unlikely to be able to make it out for the long drive to visit grandparents on Christmas Day because of a threatening storm, so, for the first time since we've been married, we stayed home.

Don't worry. We didn't neglect grandparents. We went to see them on Christmas Eve instead, had nice visits with each, met some friends for a Christmas Eve dinner, went home before the storm hit, and had a lovely, lazy Christmas Day watching movies and playing games. We didn't even go out to get the newspaper. We never even unlocked the front door.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Happy

Christmas Happy started last year at our house.

Basically we had a housefull of grumps in the days before Christmas--part PMS, part seasonal blues, part the lack of good snow (which resolved itself in spades and spades and spades over the next several weeks. See?

So I, being the perpetually non-grumpy one these days, finally had had enough of it. I threatened physical harm to anyone who didn't put on a happy face and figure out how to be Christmas Happy! Contradictory, I know. But it worked. Grimaces turned to laughter, complaints turned to singing. We had one of the best, happiest Christmases ever--all because we made a conscious effort to change the way we thought, the way we felt, the way we acted.

So this year, all I've had to do to bring smiles to my family's faces is ask, "Are you Christmas Happy?"

And they chime back with, "I'm Christmas Happy!"

Santa, Santa tell me, please,
How many days 'til Christmas!
Six more days and six more nights,
Then it will be Christmas!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Messiah and Orson Scott Card

So, Tonight I took my family to a local Messiah sing-in.

I'll get the complaining over with first. Three of the four soloists left a great deal to be desired. The soprano is the same soprano as it always is. She is, from what I understand, a sponsor of the event, so they let her sing the soprano solo part. The woman teaches voice at the local university, but her musical diction is atrocious. She sounds like a country hick trying to sing like an opera star. She can't sing the short 'e' sound to save her life. It comes off sounding like a short 'i'. So instead of "...thEm that sleep..." it's "...ThIm that sleep..." Ugh. The alto soloist simply lacked dynamic variety and imaginative interpretation, the tenor solo got better as the evening progressed, but at first his diction was awful. The bass was the best of the group. His diction could use some improvement, but you have to give the guy BOOKOO brownie points for being blind and having the entire thing memorized!

BUT, it was SO much fun singing the choruses with a couple hundred other people! I haven't sung much in the past few months, so my voice had gotten rusty. I'm singing in church the Sunday before Christmas, and have been giving the vocal chords something of a workout. It was nice to test out the pipes a week before the performance in a venue that would cover up for me if I totally blew that high A--which I didn't. Thanks goodness!

Anyway, every time I sing the Messiah, my mind goes back to Orson Scott Card's Literary Boot Camp 2005.

An amazing experience for a writer, by the way.

In talking, OSC and I found we had a mutual love of all-things-Messiah (as in Handel's Messiah). He actually collects recorded versions of the famous Oratorio. He told me of one in which a Southern gospel choir sings it in true Southern gospel choir fashion. Sounds amazing! That's a recording I have yet to look up, but have meant to ever since.

But that conversation with OSC was one of those that I will always look back on with some regret. It was a low time for me. I was in the beginning stages of major depression and experiencing the physical effects of it already, including slow memory recall and sluggish thoughts.

So we were talking Messiah, and I told him I had recently sung a solo part in our church's presentation of portions of the Messiah. He asked me which ones, and I COULD NOT THINK OF THE TITLES OR THE TUNES!!! He must have thought I was lying just to impress him, or a complete idiot, or both.

So, for the record, now that my brain works like it should:

"There Were Shepherds Abiding in the Fields"
"And the Angel Said Unto Them"
"And Suddenly There Was With the Angel"

(Another soloist sang "And Lo, The Angel of the Lord Came Upon Them" which would come second in this quartet of little solos leading into the amazing chorus, "Glory to God.")

I hit the high A that day, too.

So next Sunday I'm singing an arrangement of French carols, including "Then Hurry Shepherds," "He is Born, the Divine Christ Child," and "Angels We Have Heard on High," all accompanied by piano, cello, and my daughter on her viola. We had our first practice yesterday. It's going to be a WOW!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

How Well Do You Know Your Civics?

My sister sent me this link to a civics quiz, placed on the internet by a group that seeks to increase America's civics knowledge:

Take the quiz. See how you do. Let me know. Then when you get your results be sure to take a look at the link that takes you to a comparison of scores based on whether the quiz-taker is or has been an elected official.

To me, I'm afraid, the results are not unexpected.

I'll leave my score in the comments so you can take a look after you've gotten yours.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas is Coming!!

Two things about this Christmas:

First, we're reading Glenn Beck's book, The Christmas Sweater, as a family. I read a chapter a night. I have high hopes that this book will help us feel the true meaning of Christmas in spades this year.

Second, it is a tradition in our family to spend the Christmas season reading together. We select a story every night (or, for the first 16 nights, a chapter of Beck's book) and me or hubby reads while the children listen. I actually got around to spending some time updating my Christmas Book. The Book is three books now. It began with a binder that we got from one of hubby's sisters many years ago. The binder held stories and poems--24 of them, one for each night of December leading up to Christmas. I have since added stories--so many that the original binder has hemorrhaged into three as I've added songs, recipes, activities, pictures, etc. This year I've collected 6 or 7 pages of quotes, about 10 new stories (including 2 or 3 of mine that I hadn't added before, and an mini-play adaptation of A Christmas Carol.), and 5 or 6 new songs. In addition to the binder, I have a healthy collection of Christmas books from which to choose as well.

I need to buy more page protectors. I don't have NEARLY enough to get them all into the book.

Some of our favorites are:
The Christmas Miracle of Johnathon Toomey
Auntie Claus
Santa Calls
The Gift of the Magi
The Other Wise Man
Helen Steiner Rice's The Christmas Lesson
Longfellow's The Three Kings

And the Christmas quote of the day:

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."
-Roy L. Smith

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Movies and Books

So I have this friend who loves movies and books as much as I do. Every once in awhile I'll get an email: "Suzanne, you'll love this book/movie!" And every once in awhile I send her a similar email.

So she blogged yesterday about seeing Hancock over the weekend and that it was, well, not worth the viewing. At any rate, she got me thinking about movies, so I thought, just for the heck of it, I'd list a few really great movies I've seen over the past few months:

Iron Man--Robert Downey Jr. played this role excellently.
Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead--Odd. That's all. Odd. One of those movies that you find yourself scratching your head all the way through, but feel, sorta-kinda, satisfied that you spent the time watching it.
Without A Clue--Remember that one? Ben Kingsley as Watson--the real brains behind the detective duo--and Michael Caine as the hired front man Holmes? Fun.
Saint Ralph--a 14-year-old kid believes with all his heart that if he can win the Boston Marathon his mother will awaken from her coma. Really funny, amazing, touching story.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything--If you've never watched a Veggie Tales movie, you should. Even if you don't have kids. Especially if you don't have kids. You can enjoy them so much more if you don't have kids around to make you feel strange for loving kids movies. They are my child-inside-me-vice.
The Muppet Show--any season. I hope I don't have to qualify myself here. I mean, it's the Muppet Show!
Outsourced--a sweet little Independent film about a guy who is sent to India to train his own replacement in a mail-order call center. We loved it.
The Cowboys--one of John Wayne's later films, The Cowboys is SO much more than a Western. It's about courage and growing up, as well as growing old. Wonderful film if you've never seen it.
Be Kind Rewind--a quirky film with Jack Black as a paranoid conspiracy theorist who helps his buddy, played by the very talented Mos Def, attempt to save a WAY-behind-the-times video store from demolition. Funny and sweet.
Schultze Gets the Blues--a sweet little film about a retired German salt-mine worker who takes his accordion all the way to America for a German festival, but finds Zydeco instead. Very endearing film. Highly recommended.
A Trip to Bountiful--Lovely film. If I remember correctly, Geraldine Page won an Academy Award for her performance (one of her last) in this film. A wonderful story (keep your hanky nearby) of an old woman's journey home.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Fat Lady's Marathon

A 5K, that's what it is.

Hubby and I ran one on Thanksgiving Day--him with his 10 or 15 pounds of excess, me with my 50 or 60. We've been training. We've been running now for about 2 1/2 years. This was our 4th 5K and our best time so far.

But it was HARD!

First, the elevation killed us. The course was a thousand feet or so above our regular stomping grounds; my lungs felt like they were burning. Then the course went up a hill. Not a huge hill, but a long one, the kind that relentlessly saps your energy as you go.

In the end, we managed to cut a couple of minutes off our best time so far.

And to think it all started with me huffing and puffing, my legs aching, my throat constricting, my heart hammering in my chest to make it half a block.

I've come a LONG way, Baby. I sure love my hubby, who runs slower than he could so he can run with me.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Do you own a 14-year-old boy?


Want one?

I'll sell him cheap.

He's driving me crazy!!

(But, as my Dad would say, "That's not a drive. It's a short putt.)


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Editorial Roulette

There goes the roulette wheel, there goes the little white marble. Where will it land? Odd? Even? Anywhere.

Roulette, as finding a market for a story, is a game of chance with different levels of risk.

A bettor can place money on a single number, radically decreasing his odds, but making for a huge payoff, or he can wager on any odd number, giving him 50-50 odds, but a drastically lower payoff.

In submitting a piece of literary work to a market, we play a similar game, hoping, hoping, that our little marble will be spun around the wheel at the just the right time, the right velocity, fall at just the right angle, so that it will land on our number.

We might try for the big payoff by submitting to the professional markets. The odds of acceptance are drastically reduced. Or we can go for the low payoff by submitting to non-paying markets in which our only remuneration is knowing that someone is reading our work.

In any case, we can better our odds. Every writer should know exactly how this is done. But many don't. Some of these methods seem to make perfect sense to sensical people, but it is shocking how many writers don't heed them.

SPELLING and GRAMMER--How hard is it, really, to check spelling and grammar these days? Even WITH spell-checker on our word processors, every writer should carefully scan their works for errors the word processors might miss--like 'it's' instead of 'its,' or 'form' instead of 'from.' If your spelling and grammar aren't up to snuff, find a linguistic genius who is willing to do a quick copy edit for you.

FONTS--No. Don't. I don't know who told you it was a clever idea. I don't care. But don't. Don't submit your work in some cutesie or elegant font. Just pick something clear and easy on editor's eyes. The industry standards are Times New Roman and one of several forms of Courier, like Courier New. And while I'm at it DO NOT print hard copy submissions on colored paper. Just white. Good old bright white. Remember that science experiment from elementary school, in which you stared at a black, green, and orange picture of the American flag, then looked at a white paper and saw the flag in its glorious red, white, and blue? Just don't. White. Please.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES--Most markets have quite specific submission guidelines, some psychotically so. Read them carefully. Follow them. Please. But I'll give you another hint: If a market's guidelines seem psychotically specific, do them anyway, unless that market doesn't pay for the trouble. In that case, they're SO not worth it. Go on to another market. If they do pay, and pay well, jump through flaming hoops and record it for posterity if they ask it.

STANDARD SUBMISSION FORMAT--This is the secret the pros ALL know about, and the editors too. If you want editors to know that you know something about writing, submit your work in standard submission format. Don't have a clue what that is? Google it. You'll find it. There's a good description at the SFWA website, and one at the Canadian Writer's Journal. Keep in mind that standard submission format is often different for submissions made through an online form. Again, read the market's submission guidelines to be sure. Most will tell you exactly how they want the work formatted, and often provide links to formatting guidelines.

KNOW HOW TO WRITE--Seems obvious, but I've heard a lot of writers say that they like to push the boundaries, break all the 'rules' of writing. Most of them don't know the rules well enough to be breaking them with any kind of authority, and it shows. Oh, yes. It shows. If you think of yourself as a writer or author or whatever tag you like to place behind your name on your business card, then you had better know the craft. Study, study, study. Read at least 10 good books on writing that are recommended by other writers. Be humble, and humbly ask for and accept critiques from other writers. Read the work of others and consciously analyze them for the elements of writing that you have been learning about in your quest to become published.

SUBMIT TO APPROPRIATE MARKETS--So you have the MOST AWESOME Sci-fi adventure story ever written! GREAT!! But don't submit it to Glimmer Train. They're not interested. Don't send your Western to AlienSkin, or your Erotic Romance to Cicada Children's Literature, or your Vampire story to Catholic Quarterly. Research your market thoroughly and be sure you know you're sending them something they might be remotely interested in. Not sure? Read their magazine. Still not sure? Submit anyway. The worst they can do is say 'no.'

If anyone reading this has some nuggets of wisdom to add, please, add away.

Following these hints will lower your odds considerably in any market. But your odds will never be high enough to guarantee publication--at least as long as you're a relative unknown. In reality, I can name only a very few writers--even the most revered of pros--who I would publish a story for sight-unseen.

Beyond skill and professionalism, finding a market for your story is complete luck. It's a matter of getting the right story to the right editor at the right time. Let's say you have an extraordinary story about the bittersweet witnessing of a loved-one's death. Let's say the magazine to which you've submitted has just contracted with another writer for a story about the bittersweet witnessing of a loved-one's death. Guess what. No sale. Let's say you have an amazing story about a boy and his dog. The editor who first reads it doesn't have much tolerance for stories about children and/or animals. No sale. BUT, let's say your story just happens to land on the desk of an editor who LOVES children/animal stories, AND it's well-written, AND there are no spelling or grammar errors, AND you've sent it in an acceptable font, in standard submission format, AND you've carefully followed their submission guidelines, AND the story is appropriate for the market...



It's still Roulette.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Liar, Liar

Feeling a bit better today. Typing is the most strenuous thing I'm going to do today so MAYBE tonight we can go out Christmas Shopping.

Do NOT get the stomach flu!

On to writing.

The Lying Writer:

I think I've written before about having read WAY too many horror stories in which, SUPRISE! the main character is actually a vampire!! And we only find this out, or even have any acceptable clues, in the last paragraph, sentence, or words.

The Surprise Ending, that ill-conceived attempt at building suspense, isn't exclusive to horror. Bad mystery writers use it. Bad fantasy writers use it. Bad science fiction writers use it. So what ever gave these writers the idea that it's a good idea? That it's clever? That it satisfies the reader in any way?

It's crucial at this point to distinguish between a "plot twist" and a "surprise ending." First, "plot twist" GOOD! "Surprise ending" BAD!

A plot twist is an often unexpected, but internally supported change in story direction. We'll take some examples from a fairly ancient piece of literature, to show that even a thousand years ago or more good writers knew the difference. "The Tale of the Three Apples" from the Tales of the Arabian Knights begins with a poor fisherman complaining to the Caliph that he hasn't been able to catch anything to feed his family with, let alone make any extra money to live on. The Caliph takes him to a different part of the river and tells him to cast in his line, and that whatever the old fisherman brings up, the Caliph will buy from him. The fisherman casts, and drags in a chest.

The Caliph pays the fisherman and sends him on his way. Then the chest is opened:

"Ja'afar and Masrur then broke it open and found therein a basket of palm leaves corded with red worsted. This they cut open and saw within it a piece of carpet, which they lifted out, and under it was a woman's mantilla folded in four, which they pulled out, and at the bottom of the chest they came upon a young lady, fair as a silver ingot, slain and cut into nineteen pieces."

Wow! That's quite the surprise. But is it unsupported? Of course not. When someone finds a heavy chest, anything could be inside. And the writer further leads you to a well-supported twist by taking you through the layers of basket, rug, and fabric before revealing the body.

Wow! It's cut up into nineteen pieces! That's quite the surprise, too. But equally supported--by the fact that it's a body stuffed in a trunk--an obvious victim of murder most foul. (You didn't know the Tale of Arabian Knights included murder mysteries, did you.)

To be quite short, this story is full of twists and surprises, every one of them supported, every one of them explained. At the end of the story we say, "AH! Of course! Yes, justice has been done."

(Well, not exactly. The murderer never actually pays for the crime in this story. Ja'afar goes on to tell the next tale in the sequence to buy the life of the real murderer. Read it here: )

So when is a plot twist a "SURPRISE!" ending?

When you, as the reader, engage in one of two reactions:
1. Huh?!? No way! The writer never gave me any clues whatsoever to make this a plausible solution!

Example: A murder mystery, told through the point of view of the detective. He follows trails, collects clues, interviews witnesses and potential suspects, makes accusations. Readers are intentionally led to suspect certain characters, left guessing all along (which a murder mystery SHOULD do). Then, on the very last page, SURPRISE!! we find out that the murderer is---the detective!

In this example, the reader has been misled, cheated, lied to all along. A well-written murder mystery never lies. It is full of liars and unreliable witnesses, but never once do we consider them fully truthful. The narrator never lies without us KNOWING that he is a liar. We are constantly skeptical of everyone's motivations and testimony except the one person in the murder mystery who carries us through the story. Usually this is the detective (Hercule Poirot) or meddling town busybody (Miss Marple). We don't know the solution because the detective doesn't know the solution. We figure it out when the detective figures it out. As it should be.


2. *roll of the eyes* Whatever! Give me a break! That was SO lame!

Example: A character in a story is struggling with a dark assailant. She is tied up. The reader feels for her struggle, fears for her safety, roots for her, wants her to be strong enough to free herself. Then, in the last line of the story, SURPRISE!! we discover that the assailant is a spider, the victim a fly.

Seems clever on the surface, but it is a lie. Readers don't like to be lied to, unless they can, in some way, surmise that they are being lied to.

Let me tell you what happens inside a reader's brain while they read:

A reader, using the clues and descriptions the writer gives them, creates a mental image of the scenery, the characters, the circumstances of the story. The reader's imagination becomes engaged--and when that happens, the writer has succeeded in making the reader PART of the story. Once the reader has become imaginatively engaged, it is the writer's responsibility NEVER (and I mean NEVER) to counter the reader's mental image.

If a story misleads the reader to form one mental image, then the writer provides a disparate written detail, the reader's mind must stop, rethink, readjust and go on. Every time the reader must stop (at any time, for any reason) the likelihood of him not continuing increases. If the writer creates a mental image, then counters it in the last line of the story, the reader feels cheated, cheated, cheated. He will throw the book or story down in disgust and curse the writer's name and rue the time he spent reading the story at all. If too many writers try to cheat the readers, we'll all have fewer readers. That's bad for us all. It's like politics. If we keep electing liars and cheats based on their misleading politicking, we'll eventually stop voting at all.

Writers have the heavy responsibility NEVER to waste the reader's time by misleading them.

So how might the above examples be successfully fixed?

The detective story should probably be told from the point of view of another character--perhaps an assistant detective or a victim's relative. This way the reader is never inside the mind of the detective. The writer should also plant some little tidbits of information that cast doubt on the character of the detective. Maybe some character flaws, or a relationship with the victim, some doubt as to the detective's alibi.

In the spider/fly story... I don't know. As a reader I'm not much interested in the struggle between a spider and a fly. I really don't want to be inside the mind of fly, or a cat or a hamster. I'm a human. I understand what it is to be human. If a writer wants me to sympathize with the poor fly, then help me relate to it through human experience, rather than through the fly's. For instance, a woman watches a fly struggling in a web and relates it to how she felt when she was assaulted--though I really can't stomach reading yet another rape/incest/sexual abuse story right now. Ugh. OK, so a more positive example--the story of Robert Bruce watching the spider and learning from its persistence and eventual success. We the reader, relate to both Bruce and gain some understanding for the spider.

Wow. Long post. Enough for today, I think. Next time...

Editorial Roullette.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Stomach Flu.

'Nuf said.

I'm on my way to the bathroom.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Enough About Politics

I'm a writer, for crap's sake, and this is a writer's blog, so I should talk about writing.

I'm reading a couple of short story collections right now:

Flash Fiction


Stephen King's The Year's Best Short Fiction 2007.

The first has been disappointing. Hardly a 'story' in it that is a 'story.' Most are vignette pieces. What's the challenge in that? I know it's popular in the literary circles to write 1000 words or so of random drivel, but I prefer flash fiction to be an actual, complete, total, conflict-resolution STORY!! I wish they'd call their short-short vignettes something different. Like flash-boring. I mean, it's like listening to teenage girls bounce randomly from subject to subject.

The second, I've liked quite a lot, with a few exceptions. I prefer stories in which I can become attached to the characters, at least relate to them. But there are a few of King's choices in which that just doesn't happen. I can cite one example specifically--an older couple, retired, decide to go to a local toga party, realize they're too old and outmoded to live anymore, so they go home and kill themselves. How depressing! How ridiculous!

I do have to say, while the writing is excellent in every story, and the stories are well-told, there have really only been a few that have stuck with me in that profound way that I really LOVE stories to stick with me. If you're a writer you probably know exactly what I'm talking about when I say that I really love the kind of story that made me want to be a writer when I grew up, to want to cause that kind of deep thought and longing that I felt in the hearts and minds of others.

You'll have to read King's collection yourself to see what the stories do for you.

It is a truth that we drag our lives with us everywhere we go, and what is meaningful to one person may be vapid to another.

Friday, November 7, 2008


So I'm Mormon. Everybody got that?

In our church we believe that before this world was there was a battle between the followers of God the Father and the followers of his rebellious son, Lucifer.

You see, Lucifer wanted to give us a gift--guaranteed salvation. But he wanted to give us that gift by way of taking away the one thing that the Father viewed as most precious above all things--choice. Lucifer was using the promise of guaranteed salvation as a bribe to gain votes for his side. But what did he really want? He wanted power and control over the minds and wills of mankind.

Lucifer lost, and man came to earth with the freedom to choose for himself, by the way he lived, whether he would gain salvation and return to live with God.

So why do I bring this up?

Because of that speech that I provided the link to in my last post--The Proper Role of Government.

You see, as citizens of this United States, we have a duty to support our government in a few things. A very few things. Those are listed quite nicely in the preamble to the constitution.

Now the preamble says, "...promote the general welfare..." Promote, not provide. Promote and provide do not mean the same thing. Promote means to encourage the environment that makes it possible. Provide means to actually produce and distribute. Yet those four little words have been used to justify burdening the American people with an enormous welfare system and thousands of other entitlement programs.

What's wrong with that?

Choice. That's what's wrong with it.

YOU may not have a problem with the government deciding for you how to distribute your money. But what if your neighbor does? Is it right to take away his power to choose for himself what will be done with his money?

You see, I believe in God. I believe that God has certain expectations of us, and one of those expectations is that we will take care of our neighbors when they fall into trouble. If we choose, of our own free will, not to do so, we risk condemnation. If, by our own free will, we choose TO do so, we will be rewarded and blessed. But that's between me and God, not between me and government. So, I suppose those who are OK with the government giving their money to the poor FOR them will be blessed for their intentions, but how much more might you be blessed if you make a conscious and personal effort to help someone in need? You know what they say about the road to hell. Actions = golden paving stones. Intentions = brimstone.

And what about the person who would rather choose for himself how, or whether, he will help his neighbor, but who is compelled by law to do it the government's way? Is he equally blessed? I don't know. I just don't know. Forced service feels too much like forced servitude to me.

Another problem with handing over these matters to government is that it becomes too impersonal, and when it becomes impersonal there is no motivation to feel any personal responsibility for the help received. We see this every day in the millions of Americans who spend their entire lives needlessly living off welfare with no thought to where that help is coming from, or who might be effected by it.

So, what if the guy who wants food stamps has to actually get up off his couch and go begging to his neighbor for them? Has to actually look the person in the eye, has to actually see the kids he's trying to feed, has to actually see that he works 50 or 60 hours a week to pay the mortgage?


One thing that is true is that Americans are the most generous people in the world, despite and on top of the scads of money that we, by compulsion, pump into welfare programs that don't work very well and are continually abused.

Just imagine, if we are already that generous, how much more generous might we be if we had our own money to give as we wished? And how much more efficient might the recipients of our charity be if they had to prove to US individually BEFORE they received our money, how well they use the money we give?


Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Experiment

Off we go into a new age of experimenting with the governance of humankind.

I would like to make a few points:

1. It has now been better than 100 years since the grand experiment of the founding fathers has been left to run its course unfettered by government interference in the liberties of its citizenry.

2. No one side--liberals or conservatives--has had a fighting chance to let their policies run their course to see exactly whether they work or not. We flip-flop between the more left-leaning Democrat party and the more right-leaning Republican party and give them a few years to try to accomplish something. They accomplish next to nothing (surprise, surprise--like we expect anything more from politicians) and we, being impatient and flippant ourselves, and incorrectly expecting government to solve our many woes, boot them out to try the other side.

3. It is a cold hard truth that Americans have discovered that they can dip into the government kitty, and have been trained since the days of FDR's New Deal and before, that we are entitled to do so. This being true, we expect too much of government. We expect to receive without giving, and expect to give to something that none of us truly believe works, but that we continue to hope will do so, because we're too butt lazy to do it ourselves.

4. That being said, we are angered when liberals raise taxes, but happy that they are able to reduce the debt and provide more costly government entitlement programs. On the converse, we are overjoyed when conservatives cut taxes, but angered that they can't reduce the debt, (but we're damned if we're going to let them cut government programs--even those NOT supported by the constitution--to accomplish that)

5. The Grand Experiment of small government endured little more than 100 years. After that, government began to grow beyond the limits enumerated in the Constitution. This expansion of government has continued, taking enormous leaps with FDR's New Deal and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Before the expansion of government, the nation enjoyed unparalleled literacy, unparalleled opportunity, unparalleled prosperity, unparalleled liberty when compared with the rest of the world. SINCE the beginning of the growth of government, all these aspects of American Society have slowly declined.

6. I believe that the philosophical difference between a Democrat and a Republican these days is comparable to the difference between a green apple and a ripe one. They're both apples. One is just closer to being rotten than the other.

7. I believe that America is on the cusp of a societal revolution--a division along philosophical lines between those who want to restore America to its Constitutional foundations and those who would sacrifice liberty and America's Constitutional framework for an engineered, government-controlled society. Maybe such a division would prove, once and for all, which side has it right. But see, I thought the founders already did that a couple of hundred years ago, when they formed a nation that became the absolute envy of the world--even before it became something they would hardly recognize were they to rise from their graves today.

8. I love the Constitution. I believe it was formed by a group of brilliant, forward-thinking, open-minded men who were in the right place at the right time in the history of our planet, who were inspired by our Creator to give us, as a gift of greatest value, liberty beyond compare anywhere in the world, and anyTIME in the world for that matter. I believe that, as God is unchangeable, so it he Constitution. I believe that government has a proper role, and that this proper role is the role given in the Constitution.

Below is a link to a speech, "The Proper Role of Government," by Ezra Taft Benson, then-Secretary of Agriculture for President DD Eisenhower, and a brilliant man who loved this country more deeply than anyone I have ever encountered.

For some reason, the link didn't work last time. If it doesn't work again, the link is

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Movie (Or is it a Play?) Recommendation

My family and I sat down tonight and watched "The Reduced Shakespeare Company: The Compleate Works of Wlm. Shakespeare, Abridged."

If you haven't seen this production live (which I have), you can now get it on DVD, and it's JUST as entertaining.

Our whole family had plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and learned a lot about Shakespeare. My daughter even remarked that watching this production made her want to read more Shakespeare.

Granted, it's probably not a film you're going to find readily at your local Blockbuster Video. So I'm going to recommend Netflix while I'm here.

We've been using Netflix for around 6 months now, and are supremely impressed. Their selection of films is HUGE! I've never looked up a movie (even obscure ones) and not had a successful search. They even have educational videos, PBS videos, documentaries, foreign films, independent films. They're all there. They have an automatic recommendation system based on your ratings of films you've already seen. Their customer service is absolutely TOP NOTCH! And the price is easily competetive with any plan the local video stores offer. Their turnaround time is impressively swift. We mail our movies in on Wednesday and we almost always have our next batch of movies back for our Friday family movie night. Movies are easily searchable by genre, title, starring actors, etc.

We pay $18 a month which allows us to have three movies at home, plus unlimited access to Netflix's fairly extensive library of Watch Instantly movies that includes a whole lot of classic films, and a good number of more recent ones. My kids will sit at the computer and watch Pink Panther cartoons, or old musicals. I've watched "Empire of the Sun" and "Murder by Death." My youngest fell in love with "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers."

Good times!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I don't like Barack Obama, and it has to do with freedom.

I look at what he stands for, and what I love about America. To me those two things seem opposed to one another.

I am a lover of history. I look back to the accomplishments of our founding fathers and can feel nothing but honor for the grand experiment they undertook. And this was no trivial thing. All had studied the successes and failures of the past. All were determined to regain liberties lost to tyrrany. All found themselves--somewhat reluctantly for no small number of them--on the verge of changing the world for the better.

And what started all this? This Revolution? In large part, two things that I think Americans take so very for granted that some are ready to hand them over to a man who wants to quash them--the sister-rights to property and self-determination.

To make things clear, I should say that:
*I believe, as the founders did, that human beings are endowed with certain inalienable rights, as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution;
*I believe that the men responsible for those documents, in writing those documents, were inspired by the very God who wishes all his children to attain those rights;
*I believe, as they did, in man's right to choose for himself, as long as those choices do no harm to anyone else, and that when we are free to choose for ourselves we are also free to enjoy or suffer the consequences of our choices;
*I believe, as they did, that this right to choose--agency--should be extended to a person's property and how he or she chooses to manage it.

So why do I stand in opposition to Barack Obama?

If you don't know you don't know enough about him to make an educated and informed vote--which is your duty as a citizen of this nation.

Obama wants to take away, to a greater degree than his predecessors anyway, my right to decide how I want my property used. He calls it 'sharing the wealth.' Some might call it charity. But I believe that when we stand before the bar of God, charity will only be counted in our favor if we have given by force of our own free will, not by force of government compulsion. And no, it doesn't matter if YOU are OK with it. Because for every person who is OK with it, there is at least one other person who is NOT OK with it. And THAT person is being forced to charity. THAT person has had his/her freedom to choose stripped from him.

Besides, if you want to get right down the nuts and bolts of it, who REALLY believes the government--that lumbering monstrosity of organization and management principles--is the best solution to the nation's problems? I suppose if what you want is a flood of red tape, mismanagement, gluttonous spending practices, dirty-handed dealing, then SURE! By all means. Let's make it bigger, more encompassing, give it more control over our lives and livelihoods. Cause, gee, I'm so POSITIVE that Obama will make it super-efficient. Obama will end the practice of adding pork to every spending bill that comes down the pike. Obama will convince every employer in this nation that he will not only want to give more of his earnings to the government but that he'll be grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Wow! Barack's our man!

(You DO know sarcasm when you read it. Right?)

Me, I'd really rather take care of myself, thanks just the same Mr. Obama.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Kind of Politics

I'm a conservative, so there.

I do not affiliate with any party. I find party politics distasteful and self-serving.

I believe in small government, TINY government, and the protection of our right to self-determination wherever that self-determination does no harm to anyone else.

I received an email from my dad yesterday. As is so common in emails that travel the circuit, it was attributed to someone who probably didn't actually ever say it or write it, but I liked the email anyway. It said this:

* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

* You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

* You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.

* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

* You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence.

* You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

I agree strongly with these statements, whoever said them. My question, for myself mostly, is, which candidates most likely agree with these statements and will work to make them a reality in the administration of our government--both local and national?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Strange Love" Where Did THAT Come From?!?

I'll tell you.

I once participated in an online critique group. We'd 'meet' once a week, exchange manuscripts, then meet back a week later to give our critiques.

In between we'd talk about this and that. Mostly writerly things. On one occasion, we were talking about some aspect of the writing craft. I don't even remember what. Mind you, this was probably three years ago or more. At any rate, I just started writing, slapping words onto an email, and out came this THING! It was like that scene in Men In Black where the alien woman gives birth to the squid baby--something kinda cute, kinda ugly, kinda very unexpected worming its way out of the dark recesses of my mind.

In reality, I'm a fairly ordinary person.

OK. Maybe not ORDINARY, per se.

But, heck! If the odd sells, maybe I should write more of it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


First, the band is ON A ROLL!!

Another first place--this time by a spread of only 7 points!

There were some tense moments for the band when they watched three of the four caption (or section) awards go to another school, but apparently their scores were close enough, and their music score high enough, that they beat the other school out and took the day!

YAY! Go Tigers!!!

Second, I just listened to "Strange Love" on the Drabblecast as performed by actor Steve Anderson. It was WONDERFUL!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What a DAY!!

The band saga continues: Another tournament, another SWEEP of the awards!


I just heard from Norm at Drabblecast. My story, "Strange Love" will be up on the site as an audio cast Tuesday night or Wednesday of this week! The site address is:
Those of you who still think I'm a mild-mannered Mormon girl (still proudly Mormon, but hardly mild-mannered and WAY beyond being a girl), I hope you won't think less of me after listening. ;-)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


We have a sweep!

Ogden High School's Marching Tigers took a clean sweep of Tuesday's Davis Cup Band Tournament, taking all four section awards plus first place in their division!

That's my boy at the back of that formation. (In marching band lingo, it's called a pod.)


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rich Band, Poor Band

My son is a member of the local high school's marching band.

They had their first competition Saturday and nearly swept the awards.

In marching band competitions at the high school level, bands compete against other bands from similar sized schools in five divisions, the smallest schools being in the 1A division, the largest in 5A. We're a 2A school.

In each division, seven awards are given--four specific and 3 overall.

Specific awards include:
Music--how does the band sound?
Drum Line--how awesome is the percussion section?
Color Guard--you know those chicks with the flags that dance around?
Appearance--how precise are their drills, spiffy their uniforms, etc.

Then your typical overalls:
Third place
Second place
First place

Our little band (49 members) won drum line, color guard, tied for appearance and took first place overall in our division.

Pretty cool, eh?

But here's the behind the scenes look at this great band.

There were a lot of bands there. Five in our division. More in some of the other divisions. Bands ranged in size from around 40 kids, to over 100. Some of the bigger bands had funding out the earlobes, stands full of enthusiastic supporters, band-supporter t-shirts, gleaming instruments, polished shoes, new uniforms, etc. etc. etc.

Other bands looked somewhat thrown together. Our band looks a little more on the thrown together side. Our band IS a little thrown together.

My son's tenor sax (a school rental) lost a pad just before a review a few days before. He was able to get it to stick back on with some help from his teacher, but the instrument is pretty beat up. It simply doesn't play the highest or lowest notes. When the band arrived at the competition, they found that one of the tuba's had cracked. The timpanies are badly in need of repair. All the instruments could use maintenance. We get the kids there in a school bus, while a parent in his pickup hauls a small trailer for the percussion 'pit' equipment, the kids rent many-times-reused uniforms from the school. Many, probably most of the kids in the band come from middle to low income families. They can't afford to buy their own instruments. Despite a bunch of dedicated kids and a great track record for winning competitions, the school provides a pittance of funding. Many of the other schools at that competition seemed to be working in similar cicumstances.

Contrast that with some of the other schools in attendance, who rode in on chartered buses, had their equipment hauled in with semi trucks, wore sparkly uniforms, played new sparkly instruments.

I'm not disparaging those schools their good fortune. Truth be told, all that shiny stuff didn't win anyone any awards. It came down to hard work, dedication, skill, perseverence.

I only wish the kids in our band felt like their efforts were worth something--to their community, to their school. Sure, they have trophies, but trophies aren't going to buy a new tuba.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


So, I'm LDS, and I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I'm a gardener, and I sometimes do homey kinds of domestic sorts of things.

Like canning and freezing food.

I have a friend on Long Island who is interested in survival techniques. He once started a book about what would happen were there a meltdown of the power grid along the eastern seaboard. Unfortunately, he experienced a health meltdown and hasn't written much since then.

But he's interested in storing food up for just such a possibility, and I taught him how to can tomatoes. Over email. At midnight.

That's neither here nor there. The thing is, I look at myself, and who I am, and what I do, and I can't get a mental picture of myself being the kind who would DO something like that. I mean, I get this image of Edna Mae Hoggit carrying her little basket of prize-winning jams and jellies over her arm--the perfectly coifed old lady do, the knee-length button down the front dress, the low heels, the hat with fruit and flowers on the band. THAT'S what I think of when I think of a woman who puts up peaches and beans and tomatoes and such.

That is SO not me. Not to mention it's dangerous--hell on the body, I tell you.

But I do. With help, of course. My wonderful hubby does more than I do, most of the time. I use him for his bulging muscles, you see. And his ability to put in late nights on ocassion without becoming completely useless--unlike me. Because sometimes it takes late nights waiting for the jars to process in the hot water bath.

It's hard work! Your feet and back are cramped with pain by the time you've spent 8 or 9 hours bending over a sink, scalding and peeling nectarines, or shoving tomatoes into bottles, lifting heavy pots of water for processing, etc.

But we do it. I don't particularly enjoy it, but I sure do enjoy the results.

Anyway, we froze nectarines today. We got about 4 bushels off our tree. We gave some away to neighbors. The rest we're chopping up, putting in bags, and freezing. I got, oh, 1/3 of them done today. I don't know when I'm going to have time to do the rest. Maybe a few tomorrow, a few the next day. We're also drying them.

Last week we did 50 or so quarts of tomatoes, and we'll probably put up a few more as our garden starts winding down. We froze a few beans, bottled elderberry jelly and syrup. We still have concord grapes to bottle, and we'll probably end up freezing squash, beets, and chard. Some neighbors give us Italian plums every year. I want to dry a bunch of those and make some jam, and my daughter wants to make plum cake. She NEEDS to make plum cake. It's her single most important goal for the year.

No pickles or salsa this year. We have enough pickles to last us another year or so, and our salsa supply should hold us through until next fall.

It's nice to have all that done--the bottles gleaming and colorful on the shelf, the anticipation of tasting the fruits of summer in the midst of winter. But the thought of what I still have to do is somewhat daunting.

Sometime or other I need to see the chiropractor--all that lifting and bending has done my lower back in. I told you it was dangerous.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Sale, A Win, and a We're Still Considering

Just heard from Haruah: Breath of Heaven. They do indeed want to buy "Hummingbird" after I sent it to them with the requested edits.


I'm also the winner in this week's Flash Challenge over at Liberty Hall with a little story about a boy who buys a lemon of a horse from a sleazy used horse salesman. It's called "Bait."

I also heard from EveryDayFiction. They've had my story "The Cleansing" (a historical psychological piece about the last man left alive on a plague ship that speaks to him) since July. They sent me a note to say that they're 'delaying' a decision due to staff vacations. I'm taking this to mean that they're considering it, rather than simply that they haven't read it yet. I could be wrong. But they HAVE had it for almost two months, and generally guarantee a 2 month turnover on responses.

We'll see.

But I seem to be on a roll, no?

Monday, September 15, 2008


I flashed this weekend.

Those of you who aren't writers are scratching your heads right now, thinking, what in the heck is she talking about?

Those of you who are writers might have some inkling, but still might be wondering at the definition of the word 'flashed' as the verb in that sentence.

Those of you who are familiar with Liberty Hall Writers and the weekly flash challenge, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Voting isn't through quite yet, so I can't reveal anything about the story here, where people might be able find out whose story is whose. But I felt it was a pretty good story, with a few little holes that it shouldn't take long to plug.

But back to explaining.

"I flashed..." means that I wrote a flash fiction story in less than 90 minutes as part of Mike Munsil's weekly flash challenge over at Liberty Hall Writers. You can find a link over there. No, on the left. Down there in the "Links for Writers" section. To fully participate at Liberty Hall, you have to be accepted as a member. If you're a writer who is serious about refining your craft and who is interested in having a rollicking good time once a week or once a month or once in a while, Liberty Hall and its flash challenges are just the thing for you.

Give it a try. It's exhilerating!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Highly Recommended Book

It's called Carter Beats the Devil and this is what I said about it at Goodreads:

Carter Beats the Devil Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Marvelously woven tale with a happy ending and endearing characters, with just enough excitement to make it a thrill ride as well. And clean to boot!

I LOVED this book!

View all my reviews.

It's a tale that interweaves the stories of 1920s magician Charles Carter, TV inventor Philo T. Farnsworth, and the death of President Warren G. Harding. I haven't read a book I enjoyed so much in a long time.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Quilts and Old Folks

I'm at my brother-in-laws 50th birthday right now. He and his siblings are hovering around their parents' dinner table reminiscing. It's fun to listen in.

His darling wife gave him a phenomenal gift--a tied quilt made with quilt squares that bear photos of him throughout his life. Baby pictures, school pictures, wedding pictures, the children as they came along.

She took photos to a print shop where they converted them to black and white and printed them on iron-on transfer paper. She and her daughter and a friend pieced it and quilted it in the course of just a few days. One picture actually was taken just three days ago.

Kinda cool.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


SOLD! I'm sold!

I sold a VERY ODD story called "Strange Love" to Drabblecast!

It's SO odd I haven't let my family read it. They might think, well, I'M odd. Which I am, I guess.

At any rate, it's probably the LAST story of those on the market I thought would sell. I guess the market is as warped as I am.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

B&N and School

I have to admit to being one of the fussiest frugal people in the world.

I went to B&N and, surprising myself and everyone else, actually bought a book at full price! But only one book. I tend to like to get the most out of my money and I only had $50 or so dollars to spend.

As most of you probably know, $50 doesn't go very far at Barnes and Nobles.

The book I bought for full price was:
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization
It seems a light-hearted conservative approach to history to counterbalance the overabundance of historical drivel that's out there.

I think the line that sold me the book was this:

(In describing a book he recommends) "As such, it is sure to offend many--a sure sign that it's right on target."


The rest of the books were 'bargain' books!

Such as a guide to home remedies called The Guide to Remedies--a nice little easy to use book that gives uses for many homeophathic, herbal and essential oil treatments. It missed one, though. Ladies, take note--lavender essential oil works wonders for monthly cramps! Wonders! Use it straight from the bottle and rub some on your lower abdomen and on the muscles that run down either side of your spine, at about elbow height. Cramps GONE in 30 seconds! I'm living proof it works. After 27 years of taking perscription and OTC medication for cramps, I haven't taken ANY in eight months.

Next book, a collection of short horror stories called 100 Hair-raising Little Horror Stories. The book is only 450 pages long or so, so most of the stories are flash length. Unfortunately for me, my son has absconded with it and I haven't seen it since I bought it. *sigh*

My last selection was What the Bible Didn't Say, by J. Stephen Lang. My daughter has been reading that one, and enjoying it. I think it's the first time she's read a book on religion (she reads voraciously, but seldom any non-fiction) that has some ideas counter to our own religious beliefs. It's been fun seeing the cogs in her head whirling and her mind opening. I really love that about homeschool.

Public school rarely opens minds. It automates them.

So, on to school.

We're now done with the first half of the first week of "full" school. Last week the two older kids started with band and orchestra over at the high school, but we only started our home study curriculm yesterday. Now that they're into it, I think they're excited. They're learning some new and fascinating things. It's nice to have all of us actively engaged in similar pursuits. We actually schooled until almost 4:00 today with no complaints--just busy kids learning.

So nice.

I suppose I can't begrudge summer for wanting to move on.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Remember how I said we have four of the five classes of vertebrates living at our house?

We don't anymore.

Now we have ALL FIVE!!!

I finally made it to Barnes & Nobles today--had SUCH a good time perusing book stacks. While I was there, hubby and the kids went on a little exploratory adventure and ended up at a local pond that was literally swarming with frogs. So many frogs they found a few neatly flattened frogs in the parking lot. No spilling guts, just a flat frog on the pavement.

They made quick work of catching five of them. (The live ones.) FIVE! We're not naming them. We can't tell them apart well enough. Maybe we will. Maybe we'll start to notice endearing little personality differences and...

What am I saying?!? They're FROGS! People disect them in science class (which the kids have already forbidden, despite the fact that it would be immensely educational)!

At any rate, we spent an hour or more arranged a frog-tat for them, complete with plants, rocks, house, swimming pool, patio...


So now we have:
1 dog & 2 rabbits (mammals)
2 parakeets (birds)
1 guppy & 1 siamese fighting fish (er, fish)
3 garter snakes (reptiles)
5 frogs (amphibians)

TOTAL: Fifteen!

We humans are now outnumbered 3 to 1.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Homeschool Readiness

We're starting school next week.

The kids are not exactly pumped about this. Quite frankly, neither am I. I want summer to last another, oh, 15 years or so. But that's just me. I'm a summer addict.

Truthfully, I'm always excited to learn, and I learn as the kids do. We explore science and history together (this year we start with the Byzantine Empire and should make it through the Middle Ages). We also do group art projects for which I found a fun new book that explores 2 dimensional art media through a series of projects. Last year we explored drawing, paying attention to shape and line, paying attention to light and shadow. Now we'll have fun learning about art supplies and their uses--paint and crayons, pastels and papers, pencils and ink pens.

Monday I put our makeshift schoolroom together. We live in a very small house--only 1250 square feet. To give you some perspective: The house is so small there isn't room for a separate laundry room. The washer and dryer are in the bathroom; the bedrooms are so small there isn't enough room for both a queen sized bed and a dresser in the master bedroom. The dresser is in the family room with the TV on top of it. And it just so happens that the family room has to double as the schoolroom.

Now I'm a person who tends to like to shake things up once in a while. I want more than anything to do something different with the family room/schoolroom. I usually want this every year.

The last major change was purchasing some tables which made it possible to move the schoolroom into the larger family room. Before, we were using the kitchen for double duty, storing crates of school stuff under the kitchen benches and pulling out what we needed as we needed it. Ugh. We had to clean up school to make lunch, then get it all out again. On top of that some of our school supplies were getting damaged by kitchen spills.

So I made scale drawings of the family/school room and the furniture and spent hours arranging and rearranging--all to no avail. It's pretty much exactly the way we've had it for a couple of years now.

But I really needed something to be different.

In the end, all I could manage was turning one of the tables in a different direction, but it's a change.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rejections and Revisions and Editing

Got a "not quite what I'm looking for but hope you will submit again," from Ann VanderMeer at Weird Tales on "Jack of Stones." Sigh. At 9300 words, "Jack" is a hard one to find a market for.

I also got a request for a revision from Haruah: Breath of Heaven on "Hummingbird." I did the revisions and sent it back toot-sweet.

This week I read a whole ton of slush--53 stories. 13 of those I sent on to my slush team, which is a bit over my 15-20% target. Part of that is that Jake tends to like sending Pro submissions on through to the slush team, passable or not, just to see what they have to say. I had quite a few pro submissions this week, which fluffed my numbers some.

I think the thing that surprises me the most about reading 'unfiltered' slush (ie. slush that comes right out of the proverbial mailroom) is how little of it is just plain not-ready-for-publication awful. All these years I have submitted with the expectation that my stories are within the top 90% or so simply because my grammar and spelling are correct, that I've copy-edited carefully, that I write coherent sentences, etc. From what I'm seeing, that number is closer to 20%. Of the remainder, most of the stories I'm rejecting suffer from deficient story construction and characterization. They simply leave me not caring very much about what happens in the story.

Make me care, people. Make me care.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Barnes & Noble, Here I Come!

So now I have $55 to spend at B&N.

My son has been all day at band camp this whole week and my daughter has been taking a veg week before school starts, but one of my son's lawn-mowing customers still needed his lawn done, so I did it.

I need the exercise. Believe me. Hubby and I usually jog, but band camp has thrown a wrench in our usual schedule, so we haven't gone running at all this week. So I mowed and earned $15. That plus my $40 gift certificate from the wonderful and crazy ladies who helped me organize and run Young Women's Camp in July.

So what should I buy?

Bookstores and office supply stores are two of my favorite places, but I can spend hours searching and yearning and second-guessing and changing my mind and searching for bargains--and $55 can go FAST in a bookstore. I'm also a bit odd in that I like to make sure I'm buying something that I'll be happy with forever. So my most recent bookstore purchases--aside from schoolbooks for the kids--have been classics, collections, some of my favorite books that I like to read again and again (that's a VERY short list, by the way), and nonfiction books about cool and interesting subjects.

I could use new copies of Dandelion Wine and Enchanted. Both are pretty hashed. I also wouldn't mind buying a few more Patricia McKillip books. One thing I do NOT want to do is buy books for anyone but me. Deservedly selfish of me, I think.

At any rate, I'll probably end up taking an afternoon and driving there myself so I don't have kids nagging at me to just hurry up and pick something and let's GO!

Watch out, B&N. I'll be there soon!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Team Leader: ME!

I got a promotion! If you can call it that. More a job change made because I was able and willing. But then, isn't that why most promotions are made?

Jake Frievald at Flash Fiction Online is restructuring his editorial board. With the growth of the magazine and the steady increase in submissions, as well as changes in Jake's time constraints, he is losing ground on time to handle slush the way he has been.

So now I'm to be an editorial team leader--a first-line slush reader who will pull the the top 10 to 20 % of the slush for team reading and send out rejection notices for the rest. Those that pass muster with the team go back to a winnowing phase in which the whole editorial board discusses and votes on favorites, then Jake makes the final picks.

I'm very excited about it, and looking forward to working with my team.

Yay, Team!

Monday, August 11, 2008

What to Read

The trouble with studying the craft of writing is that you inevitable get to the point that you can see all the flaws in the writing of others.

That's not such a bad thing when you're an editor or a critiquer. You want to point out the flaws that you see to help that writer improve.

But when you're looking for a good book to read, it can be a pain.

There's been a lot of hubbub lately over Stephanie Meyers' Twilight series. Dozens of people have told me that I just HAVE to read them, that they're SO GOOD! But none of those people are writers. I had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago to actually browse through on of her books. I just opened it, randomly glanced, and read the first line my eye fell on.

I have to say, it was one of the worst lines of writing I had ever read.

To be fair, I haven't even attempted to read any of the books further than that, so I can't give them a fair shake at a review of any kind, but that one sentence put a bad taste in my mouth because it sent my internal editor into a frenzy. One day I still may read the books. We'll see.

As another example, I read the first four Harry Potter books before I began my serious study of the writing craft. I very much enjoyed them all. After that I could hardly stomach them. I'm not absolutely positive that the change was in me. I think the first four books had much stronger storylines than the last three, and I don't think my opinion there would have changed. Even us writers tend to forgive a lot of craft weaknesses when the story is brilliantly engaging. But Rowling's writing foibles in the later books stood out to me in a way they never would have before.

Now, looking for a book to read is so much more of a crapshoot than it ever was before--and before it was a pretty high-stakes crapshoot.

So, here I sit with $40 to spend at Barnes & Nobles and no idea how to spend it. Anybody want to help?

What is your favorite book of all time, or a book that you absolutely loved?

I'm looking for a book that leaves the reader if not uplifted then changed, effected. I want a story with heart, with unforgettable characters.

I like most genres, but tend to gravitate toward urban fantasy, slipstream, historical fiction. I like books with excellent quality writing, leaning more toward the literary in nature. I also tend toward authors; ie. I find an author whose work I really like and I read everything of his/hers I can get my hands on.

To give you an idea, my favorite author of all time is Ray Bradbury, mostly for his writing style. I also enjoy the way Orson Scott Card makes his characters come alive in the heart and mind of his reader and the way Neil Gaiman tells an engaging and entertaining story.

Unfortunately, one of my favorite recent authors doesn't have a book out yet--brand spankin' new Campbell Award for Best New Writer winner Mary Robinette Kowal. Come on Mary! Get on the stick! ;-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Keep Moving Forward

Got three rejections this past month--all within a few days of each other.

But I'll be darned if I didn't turn around and send them right back out again! Plus a couple!

So now, my sub queue is as follows:
"Hummingbird" at Haruah
"Nightingale" at Coyote Wild (with a shorter opening)
"The Cleansing" at Every Day Fiction
"Jack of Stones" at Weird Tales (still)
"Strange Love" at The Town Drunk (still)
"Lover's Knot" at Ideomancer

Monday, July 7, 2008

A New Me!

Two years ago I experienced a nervous breakdown.

Let me first say, that after that experience I will never trust an MD again unless I need a bone mended or bleeding stopped.

But that's not what I wanted to ramble about.

I wanted to ramble about the new me, the one that is organizing a camp for 150 girls and their leaders without so much as a twitch of stress. OK, maybe just a little twitch when one of our male leaders asked if it was OK if he didn't come up until a day later, and only a week before camp. I ALMOST went ballistic over that. But justifiably so since I've had an extremely hard time keeping my schedule of male protection filled in. It looks like a freaking jigsaw puzzle--Joe Blow staying for one night here, Harry Stu staying for a couple of nights there, when I'm required to have at least two men in camp at all times.

Other than that, with things falling apart around me, with holes that need filling, with worrying about things I'm forgetting, with leaders waiting until the last minute to tell me about problems that should have been addressed weeks ago, I'm just fine. I'm relaxed, confident, strong, optimistic and excited to spend a week with more female bundles of hormones than you can shake a stick at!

What happened? It's a very long story. Maybe I'll write a book about it someday.

But, the new me doesn't seem to be much of a writer. I wrote some of my best stuff so far when I was on my way down into the pit. Now that I've climbed out, I almost have too much energy to sit at a computer and write for any good stretch of time. I'm also interested in so many other things, writing is taking a back seat to them. The whole dynamic of my family has changed, which leaves me more interested in them than in writing.

It has definitely been a rewarding and interesting year, and I am grateful to be alive and living it!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'm a 1930s Wife!

So I found this little survey.

It took maybe 5 minutes.

Turns out I'm a VERY SUPERIOR 1930s Wife.

Now, some people might look over that survey and call me a prude, but I'm proud of my "Very Superior" rating. It means I'm a kind, compassionate, loving, involved wife and mother. Why is that bad? Why is that not a valid choice in our society anymore? I'm not oppressed. I'm not a pawn under my husband's thumb--actually nothing could be further from the truth. If what this survey tells you about being a wife in the 1930s is accurate, then what happened between 1930 and 1960 to make women believe their lives were seen as inferior to men's?

Apparently, the 1930s wife is thrifty, a good conversationalist, active in church and social organizations, active in the education of her children, a tender, loving mother, courteous, clean, attentive, self-reliant, maintains a loving and considerate relationship with her husband, enjoys "marital congress," (I liked that one. I VERY much enjoy "marital congress."), modest, avoids bad habits, etc.

Maybe it's my highly conservative upbringing, or the strength of my belief that a mother's greatest work is done in the home in raising and teaching her own children, or perhaps I'm spoiled by the extraordinary power of the relationship I share with my husband, or maybe I'm a sheep, blindly following the tenets of my religion (and if you believe that of me, you don't know me well enough to comment).

Whatever. I'm proud to be a 1930s wife!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Review!

I got a review today!

It's only a paragraph in a rather long review of Flash Fiction Online, but of the 30 some stories that have been published on FFO, the reviewer made mention of his favorites. Here's what he said of mine:

"From December, I enjoyed Suzanne Vincent’s “I Speak the Master’s Will.” It’s a story recounting the fate of damned souls from an apparently Hindu perspective. Ms. Vincent, who later joined FFO’s staff, is a most competent and erudite writer of an apparently philosophical bent. “I Speak…” is a first-person piece recounted by a most unusual character with an equally unusual perspective."

You can find the whole review here:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Story, a Story

I actually started and finished a story today. First time in a long time!

It started out as an exercise in writing fantasy flash fiction. That was the intention.

But you know how it is with stories. You get an idea or start working on story generation and the end result is seldom what you had in mind from the beginning.

It still turned out to be flash length. That part is easy. You simply control the number of characters, conflicts, and scenes and you can't hardly go wrong.

It ended up at around 970 words and MIGHT be considered fantasy, but was probably more along the lines of mainstream as the magic isn't necessarily really there, depending on how you look at it. So my fantasy ended up being a story inspired by the recent events at that FLDS ranch in Texas.

I think I'll post it at Hatrack to see what kind of feedback I get there, then see what happens.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

To my Hunny

I big HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to my main squeeze!

I just happen to be one of those extremely lucky girls who snagged the right guy the first time out. He's the kind of guy other girls wish they had. He and I are a team, through and through. We think alike, enjoy the same things, enjoy each other, and are absolute best friends. I couldn't ask for a better example to my children of a man, a father, a husband.

I love you, Mein Man!

Friday, June 6, 2008


Just received a stats update from Jake, my boss at FlashFictionOnline. Check this out!!

"In May, people read stories 3051 times (2568 HTML, 483 PDF).
2373 of these (78%) were new stories, while 678 (22%) were Classic Flashes.
Interestingly, only 1759 of the stories (58%) were from this month's issue; the rest were from previous months. The most-read stories were, not surprisingly, from the name-brand writers: Carl Frederick got 154, Jim Van Pelt 84, Eric Garcia 78.
Suzanne Vincent is rookie of the month with an anomalous (but happy) 126 reads, beating out pros Bruce Holland Rogers and Dave Hoing. ("Master's Will" has been read about 580 times since it was published, not counting March, for which there are data errors. If we normalize March to be the average of the other months, it's probably around 660.) The rookie behind her was Rod Santos with 69."

So then I Googled "I Speak the Master's Will" and got this:

From Christopher Kastensmidt's (a talented writer I met at Zoetrope) website From his LISTS page, under Speculative Short Fiction, with the byline, "Here are some of my favorite speculative short fiction writers."
"Suzanne Vincent - Stories filled with emotion. One to look for: "I Speak the Master's Will""

Thanks Chris!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I have not written regularly in a very long time.

I tell myself that I'm busy. I tell myself that I don't have the opportunity. I let myself get distracted.

All of these are valid. I am busy. It's hard to find the opportunity to write when the only place for your only computer in your tiny house is in the family room where distractions never cease. And I do let myself get distracted by the many other activities that I enjoy and need to do.

I wonder what happened to that drive that got me writing in the first place and how I can get it back again. Do I want it back again?

I don't know.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Difficult Subject

Yesterday I helped a friend with something I have experienced myself.

Dare I say the word? There is such a huge stigma associated with it. Friendships and marriages end over it. Credibility can be destroyed by it. Families can be scarred by it. And not just by the problem itself--but by the stigma associated with it.

Here it is: Depression.

The bulk of the American medical community will tell you depression is a disease that must be treated with perscription medication.

Millions of Americans believe it's the only solution.

I didn't, and I am grateful EVERY DAY OF MY WONDERFUL LIFE that I did not.

The truth about depression is that it is NOT a disease. It's a symptom.

The truth is that study after study proves that medication has little to no success in treating depression in any kind of profound way.

The truth is that the means are available to conquer this monster, if those who suffer are willing to fight it. I fear most aren't. I fear most are looking for a quick and easy solution, and they will not find it.

So, going back to my friend; she is suffering from mild depression right now, brought on by sleep deprivation. She's the mother of three children--4, 2, and 5 months old. The baby isn't sleeping well at night and this friend is caught in a depressive loop of poor sleep, poor health, and the need to take care of her children. She can't NOT take care of her children, you know? So she was on a down cycle last night and her husband called and asked if I might be willing to, basically, put one of their children in time out while they took the others and went to do something fun.

Odd question. I told him no. I told him that it's not my job to be the ogre to his children. That's his and his wife's job. He then proceeded to explain somewhat what was going on, and I told him that he didn't need to take the kids out to do something fun. He needed to hire a freaking babysitter and take his wife out on a date, which, to his enormous young-inexperienced-husband credit, he did. They hired my daughter.

When they came to pick her up for the sitting job, my friend was sitting out in the car crying. I went out to her and hugged her and talked to her for a while, found out more details, and wrote her a 'perscription' to get her back on her emotional feet.

Most of that perscription involves making some changes in her lifestyle. It usually doesn't take much, and you can generally take it slowly. I'm a firm believer that taking baby steps toward a lifestyle change works more lastingly than trying to affect a complete reversal in your habits.

Anyway, right NOW, she is to begin:
*getting a little exercise EVERY DAY!!! I cannot stress enough how crucial exercise is to conquering depression. Sorry you fatties out there (like me, by the way), but if you don't want to spend the rest of your life in the misery that is your life, you have to get up off the couch and get your heart pumping. My friend's husband will take the kids off her hands when he gets home from work while she goes walking.
*getting rest whenever she can. I taught her the concept of 'power naps.' I've taken a lot of those in the last few years. Fewer as I've recovered from the physical effects of the depression-inducing stress and the depression itself.
*a regimen of supplements designed to heal her brain and invigorate her body. I had to use some caution on that list, as she is a breastfeeding mom. After a LOT of personal research and self-trial, I recommend a good multi-vitamin, a B vitamin that includes ALL the Bs for metabolism support, extra vitamin C, Omega 3 and Gingko Biloba to support and enhance blood circulation to the endorphin-starved brain. In addition to these, I take a low dose of St. John's Wort in the mornings to get me going and feeling good in the mornings, but St. John's is not recommended for nursing moms. She also needs to limit the amount of vitamin C she takes, as mega-doses can actually lead to scurvy in infants after they stop nursing on mom's vitamin C rich milk, even if they are receiving adequate amounts of the vitamin. I take an extra 2000 mg. a day. She'll take 500.
*relying on her support system more, including her husband. I reminded her that our wonderful husbands simply don't know what we need unless we tell them. So we sit around getting annoyed that they can't read our minds, and they sit around feeling helpless because we don't tell them what's on our minds. Just tell him what to do and he'll do it. He wants to do it. He wants to help you feel better and be happier, he just (REALLY, girls) doesn't know how.
*removing as much stress as possible. She'll spend some time in the next week or so looking at every aspect of her life. She'll learn to tell people 'no' when they ask her to do something that will only end up adding to her stress level. She'll learn that there are some things that just don't matter very much in the big picture, and that can wait, that she can set aside for now while she's dealing with this. If that includes switching the baby to a bottle earlier than she would like, that's what it means.
*taking the baby to bed with her to enable her to get as much night sleep as possible. Some will frown on this kind of thing, but if it saves her, it's well worth it.

Depression is a complex and awful thing, but it's not a death sentence. It's not even a LIFE sentence. It's a symptom, usually of stress--from short term acute stress, to long term chronic stress. And stress comes from MANY sources--emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual. Depression is a symptom of myriad diseases, because the physical stress of the disease--even if you don't know you have it--can lead to depressive symptoms. Depression causes other symptoms because the whole body becomes depressed and doesn't function as well as it could. Addressing the whole person, the body, the soul, the intellect, is the key to conquering it.

I recommend:
The Chemistry of Joy by Dr. Henry Emmons. You can find a preview of the book here:,


The Depression Learning Path at Just skip over all the ads and junk at the top of the pages. Scroll down to get to the meat and bones of this really excellent tutorial on depression.

Both sources give a good objective persepective on depression and its complexity, and treats the issue of medicating for depression a fair explanation without touting it as necessary. The Depression Learning Path gives an excellent and simple explanation of the different kinds of available therapy and what works best, as well as how to choose a good therapist. After reading Dr. Emmons' book, I realized that, because of the nature of my depression, medication would not have worked for me.

Here's to healing and to LIFE!!! Smile, everyone!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Comings and Goings


I plan on finishing up early, then spending the rest of the morning in the garden where I will plant beans, squash, second plantings of chard and spinach.

We found some funky peppers at the nursery today. Black, brown, and purple. Can't wait for them to come on. We also planted blue potatoes again. We couldn't find the starts at all last year, but loved them when we had them two years ago. They're not the prettiest cooked, but they're unusual. My son also planted giant pumpkins. We should get pumpkins that top 100 lbs.

Went to the library today. Picked up a volume of short stories and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I just finished M is for Magic, a collection of Gaiman's shorts targeted toward young people. I'm reading a historical fiction entitled Crusader by Michael Alexander Eisner. So far it's quite compelling.

Only 10 more days until our vacation. I think I have everything arranged for the care of our managerie. I'm most worried about the dog. She's a bit geriatric these days, and doesn't get around quite like she used to. I'm sure she'll be fine. She's staying with a dear friend of ours.

Got a sunburn mowing the lawn and (finally) planting my tomatoes.

Friday, May 23, 2008

School and Slush

School is almost out! I'm excited beyond words!

The kids are too, of course.

It means freedom for all of us. The only glitch is that now we'll be fighting over the computer. I REALLY have to sell some stories so I can afford to buy me a laptop!

The closer the end of school comes, the more anxious I am for it to be OVER. It's like pulling teeth to get the kids--and myself--to do any schooling.

Then, what should happen, but my inbox this morning was full of slush. What to do? Read them, of course. I LOVE reading slush--both the good and the bad. I also love critiquing stories, so I find it hard to send back a simple 'reject' or 'accept.' I find myself compulsively including comments about almost every story.

But slush and school make a bad combination. If I have slush in my inbox, we might as well not try to school at all until I get it all read and returned.

That's done.

The weekend is here.

I hope (sort of) I don't get any more slush until after school is done.

NOTE: For those following the snake saga, we're in the midst of a shedding cycle. One's done, another's coming very soon, the third is a ways off yet. Also, Garter snakes don't seem to be particularly keen on crickets.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Not On The Test

For those of you who are new to my blog, I homeschool--which is why, right now, I have little time for writing.

Anyway, my sister sent me the link to this marvelous video that nicely explains one reason (and our reasons are NUMEROUS!) why we homeschool:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Waiting Game

I have three stories that have been in an editor's slush pile for two months now.

At this point I start to get antsy.

However, often (but not always) a long wait means it has passed through the first round of slush reading and is under consideration.

That's good. I think.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tomato Love

I enjoy gardening.

One of my particular favorites is tomatoes. I LOVE them. I even love the smell of the plant.

I've grown my own tomatoes from seed that I collected from my own tomatoes for about ten years now. It's an interesting hobby that I've been tinkering with for some time--different combinations of soils, fertilizers, lighting, planting time, tomato varieties.

This year I've ALMOST got it.

I've settled on a few varieties of heirloom tomatoes that I particularly like--Porter, Eva Purple Ball, and Sweet 100. There are others I like, but these three are my standbys.

The plants are doing very well. They're still inside under lights. I put them out to 'harden off' for the first time today, hoping the weather will hold for me to plant them in a couple of weeks--I live in a zone 4 1/2 or so; we've had killing frosts as late as the first week of June. But did I plant them too early? Or have I not given them quite enough light? Or have I fertilized them too much? I don't know. They're getting very tall and fairly leggy. I had to plant them deeper today to keep them from snapping off in the wind. I used a box lined with plastic and just put the peat pots in the bottom of it, then filled the box to the brim with new soil. That should hold them until I can get them into the ground.

But I just haven't quite figured out how the greenhouses get those short, leafy, thick-stemmed plants. I'm beginning to suspect they grow plants that look like mine, then cut them off at the knees and plant the tops in a growing compound. Cheaters.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Restructing a Short Story into a Novel

Good news--I have not received any rejections recently, BUT I'm still waiting for word on three stories. Waiting, waiting, waiting. *Sigh*

I've already written about my very long story, "Nightingale," that I cut down to make it more saleable.

It's going to Interzone next. Oh, nevermind. I just checked things out at Ralan's. Interzone is NOT open to email subs in May as their website promises, and I'm not going to pay to ship it all the way to the UK. There are plenty of US markets to consider. BUT, it would help if Interzone would update their own 'website,' which isn't very helpful even at its best. I mean, really. Why should I have to get such news from a secondary source?

Anyway, I want to turn it into a novel. Right now it's in the rumination stage, filling in the details needed to fatten it into a longer work. Certainly I have room for more background, room for more character development, room for broader scenes.

But I had a bit of a breakthrough this week, partly as a result of the post just previous to this one--Nightingales.

I originally titled the story "Nightingale" because the girl in the story is turned into a nightingale. But what if my MC/hero is his own kind of nightingale? I had originally seen him as having at least a couple of extraordinary characteristics, but what if he's really quite plain, simple, unextraordinary? It's only through the resolution of the conflict that something amazing comes out in him. Not magic, though. HE can't be magic. He'll be aided by someone else's magic, earth magic, but he, himself, won't have any kind of extraordinary power--except that greater power given him by his devotion alone.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Why the Nightingale?

It's because the bird is not what it appears to be, because its outward appearance does not reflect what comes from inside. And isn't that often where some of the best stories are found? In something unexpected.

As you can see from the picture over there <---- the nightingale isn't the loveliest of birds. It's just a common brown bird. Even its feet and beak are brown. But to hear it sing! Listen here: (scroll down to the scientific names Luscinia luscinia and Luscinia megarhyncos)

I first became enchanted with the nightingale in the form of a children's story, in which the nightingale is jealous of all the other birds for their beautiful plumage, their speed, strength, magnificence, but learning in the end that what he has to offer the world--his song--is at least as good and beautiful and strong and magnificent as all of these.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Instrument Central

My children love music.

I've never been the kind of mom that pushes them into five million things to constantly keep them, and me, busy. I've been a "Hey, you're interested in that? Well why don't we try it out for awhile and see how it goes," kind of mom. And when they lose interest (after talking things over first, of course) I back off and let them find something different, and in the meantime do what I can to encourage without being pushy, to keep their level of excitement high, and to get the family involved for moral support.

With me being a piano teacher, music is a fixture in our home and the older children learned early to enjoy good music and to see how enjoyable it is (except when I'm having a hard time mastering a piece and take my frustration out on the poor piano). My oldest wanted to learn piano when she was about five. I let her goof around on the piano as much as she wanted, but as a teacher I generally don't encourage beginning children too early--their ability can quickly outstrip their physical readiness if you do. But when she turned eight--or nearly eight--I started teaching her.

She didn't like it so well. Neither did I.

My son later took a turn at the piano with similar results.

He also took a turn at baseball for a couple of seasons.

After that it was the violin for my oldest daughter. She had a chance to take some introductory lessons through her school and fell in love with the strings. In middle school she switched to viola and fell even more deeply in love with the richer tones and mellower sound of that instrument. Once she proved herself dedicated we purchased an inexpensive beginning instrument and got her going on lessons.

*A word to the wise at this point--when it comes to instruments, for the most part, you get what you pay for. Our inexpensive instrument became considerably more expensive after a couple hundred dollars worth of adjustments to make it playable. Also find a good teacher who you can actually work with. Her first was awful.*

Then my son took up the clarinet and the bagpipes. We bought him a good used clarinet at a pawn shop and a bagpipe chanter on ebay. No bagpipes yet. We'll get to those in a couple of years hopefully, expecting to pay upwards of $1000 for a good set.

Now my son has become interested in the tenor sax so he can play with the school's jazz band. Has he given up the other instruments? Nope. He wouldn't dare be so easy on us. With him we can get by with 2 teachers as the clarinet and tenor sax are almost identical in fingering. BUT that means he could use a tenor sax. The one he currently has is a rental with option to buy. We just may end up doing that. The disadvantage to rent-to-own is that you end up paying more for the instrument than it's worth. The advantage is that it's still owned by the shop, so maintenance is free until it's paid off.

Now my youngest, of course, wants to follow suit. She wants to play guitar and mandolin. Fortunately I can get a pretty good guitar for under $200. A mandolin is another matter entirely, but the fingering is pretty much the same as on a guitar, so she learns one she can learn them both.

On top of all that my kids are interested in other minor instruments as well, and all three are (again) taking piano lessons.

So, in my house right now we have:
1 piano
2 violas
1 violin
1 clarinet
1 tenor saxophone
1 bagpipe chanter
2 penny whistles
1 bodhran (Celtic drum)
1 lap harp
1 dulcimer

AND my daughter wants to buy an electric violin. I'm all for it. She can plug the dang thing into headphones and play for ears only.**

**NOTE: She's actually very good, but the noise level at my house, as you might imagine, can sometimes drive one to distraction.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Never Get Distracted When There Are SNAKES on the Line!

So my oldest daughter has been a little stressed lately. And in a moment of stress she, kinda, sorta, maybe, you know, left the lid off the snake tank.

Now snakes are pretty much mindless hunting machines, but they're smart enough to know freedom when they see it.

Who'da thunk? They just lie there on the sand all day long. We only know they've moved because we come in a couple hours later and they're curled up in a different part of the tank than they were before. But leave the lid off the tank and they suddenly become all full of energy.

We discovered this because someone--my son, I think--saw something moving on the floor where something should NOT have been moving on the floor. I mean, things move on our floor a lot. We have parakeets that are semi-free to fall to the ground and waddle around on the carpet. We have a dog who is sometimes moving (about as often as the snakes) and lies on the floor a WHOLE lot. We have children who are ALWAYS moving, but not often on the floor.

As a family, on our family fun night, we spent a good hour scouring under beds, dressers, in closets, behind bookcases, for snakes.

That's just the littlest bit harrowing. Spying and reaching into dark corners looking for something that might consider your warm wiggly finger prey?

But find them we did.

Oh, and the twice bitten/regurgitated goldfish died. Poor little fella, again.