Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Broken Barrier

Update on the bone breaker: My husband did not break his ankle. I guess that nurse practitioner knew what he was talking about. So my hubby is now up and walking around. Woohoo! I’m glad he doesn’t have to wear yet another cast, and thrilled that I won’t be the one doing all the plowing this winter on Bobo (our son named the tractor). The word is still out on the wrist, though. We shall know for sure on Friday…hopefully. You never know with these things. You think you can just go and get the problem fixed but they reroute you and have you go to three different places before somebody can do something for you. It’s crazy, I tell you. I just got a recorded phone call a moment ago telling me we have to fetch the x-rays, too, before the appointment. Being inherently lazy, I’d just as soon not make another trip. But I shall do it because I am running for sainthood.

Which leads me to my next item of news.

I went to give blood today. This is my third time. The sad thing is that this outing was a social event for me (typically I only get out to go to the library or grocery shopping). I even dressed up for the occasion. Put on my new shoes. Combed my hair. I was stepping out, my friends. It might have been fun. Unfortunately, I tend to get dizzy after giving blood. Most people don’t seem to be affected by the process. They pump out their pint, roll down their sleeve, and leave the building without looking back. I, on the other hand, nearly pass out.

The nurse told me I shouldn’t do it anymore. Then she told me to come back when I’d gained some weight. A couple years ago, after having my first child, the doctor told me I could stand to lose a few pounds. I had gained 40 pounds during the pregnancy, you see. I was eating for two…elephants, that is. So I can’t seem to win. I’ll tell you a secret, though. I’d rather have to gain weight than lose it. It’s more fun and much easier. So here I am, trying to cut out the junk food (being a stay at home means I’m able to get up and get something to eat at any time) and exercising to stay in shape, and I’m told to put on a few. I guess I’ll just be flattered.

On Tuesday night my husband came upstairs to fetch me. "Come and look!" he shouted, urging me to follow him. "You’re under 60,000!"

What am I talking about? Well, if you order books through, you can look in the book information and see where the book ranks in sales on Amazon. The number changes daily. I can’t help myself…I have to look at it every once in a while to see where I’m at. There are books that are over 1 million, down to Harry Potter, which is probably #1. I have been ranging from the 200,000s to the 8 or 900,000s, depending on the day. These last couple days I actually dipped under 200,000. And then, on Tuesday night at 10:49, I went down to about 55,000. I shall remember this moment for a long time because I’m sure the number’s back up again. And really, I should not watch it. But I can’t help myself (I think I’ve said that already). It’s like finding out your kids’ weight and height percentiles. When they first start out in life, it’s all you’ve got to talk about. Otherwise, they’re just a potato with arms and legs.

I know it’s not about the numbers. Well, I try to know that. But it sure felt good to finally surpass The Mating Habits of the African Shrew - A Love Story.

Even if it was just for "one brief shining moment…"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One Book At A Time

I did my book signing today. My first ever. I signed and sold three books! Considering that I was not expecting to sell any, I am thrilled! If you are a local to the Northwood, NH area you might have heard of the shop, Beginning of Time. That’s where I had the book signing and plan on doing more there in December. It’s on Route 4, on a corner, and sells the neatest crafts! There was only one slight problem… I actually ended up spending all my profit, and then some, when I was there.

The best part of the day for me was that someone saw the ad about my book signing in the local newspaper and came with the sole purpose of checking out my book. The next best part is that they actually bought the book once they saw it. I am so psyched about that!

It went well, in my opinion. But, of course, my life cannot be without adventure, so I’ll tell you what happened the night before…

I ended up driving my husband to the emergency room. He had hurt his ankle that morning, knocking against wooden steps as he was climbing the stairs. There was a scrape, but no swelling or anything, so I thought he was fine. That evening he comes hobbling up the stairs (his computer is in the basement) and I demanded that he show me his foot because I couldn’t believe that a simple scrape was causing him that much agony. Naturally, it was all swollen up. I called my mom. She strongly advised that we go into the emergency room that night instead of waiting another day. Why? Because my husband is a breaker of bones.

Unfortunately, he had something wrong with his wrist, too.

He had already had an x-ray on the wrist, which has been bothering him for a month and a half, but the x-ray technician, who was new on the job, didn’t actually x-ray the right side of the wrist. So, while we were in the emergency room for his ankle, we had them x-ray his wrist. So far they are saying that they don’t see anything broken. Big relief, right? Unfortunately, x-rays can’t see cartilage. The attending nurse practitioner thought that there might be broken cartilage. The ankle is supposedly only bruised. I won’t believe that until my husband sees a specialist. I had a niece who was told she didn’t have a broken wrist by the emergency room physician, but since she’d had broken bones before she was pretty sure her bone was broken. The specialist took one look at it and told her it was broken - before he even examined the x-rays. So excuse me if I’m a little skeptical, nothing against the nurse practitioner - he seemed like a nice guy.

I am hoping against there being anything broken, not only for my poor husband, but because I would be the one who would have to plow the driveway with our new tractor that I nearly killed myself with.

That just wouldn’t be cool…

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

I have been a busy little beaver these last several days. Thanksgiving is looking very attractive right about now. I can’t wait to eat and eat and eat, then sink into a food-induced coma. My wonderful mom is making the pies. Her specialty is French Chocolate Pie. It’s got eggs, whip cream, chocolate and butter, and you put it into a graham cracker crust. Ahhh, yes. The good life. My poor son, however, got a stomach virus last year, on the day of Thanksgiving, and now cannot stand the sight of turkey or French chocolate pie. The mother in me says, poor kid! The glutton in my says, "Yes! More for me!"

Okay, so first this weekend. I nearly died. I was driving our new tractor for the second time - I have never driven a tractor before this - and I wanted to scoop up some leaves that were in a ditch along our driveway - get in some practice before the big snows came. Well, needless to say, the whole thing got a little wobbly trying to navigate the incline and almost tipped over. Ever the survivalist, I nearly abandoned ship, readying myself to jump. Well, the tractor somehow managed to hang on and keep going, so I nonchalantly put my hands back on the steering wheel and my feet on the clutch and brake, hoping nobody noticed. My husband told me afterward that I couldn’t have picked a more difficult place to learn how to drive a tractor. I told him he could have told me that before I started to drive into the ditch. He’s also threatened to delete this blog, stating that I didn’t almost die and was being melodramatic. I told him: I am not being melodramatic; I’m being interesting.

I told him that if he deletes this blog, I will delete him.

On Monday night, I attended a Selectman’s meeting. They are actually rather interesting. I got to see all the people who are hoping to build a house. I got to hear about how the town workers are getting stiffed in their pay (the committee is looking to rectify that situation) and then I got to hear people talk and talk and talk about things I knew nothing about. I really only went to support the library and ask that their purchasing budget not be decreased by $3000. I was there from 6:30 until 11:00, and I never did get to say anything. As it turned out, nobody on the board wanted to second the motion to cut the money. Hurray! I felt power; I felt joy; I felt pain. My butt was sore. So maybe my being there made a difference. Who knows? I’d like to believe it did because the library is very important to me. Go Democracy!

Today I went into my son’s school and did a book reading and workshop for his class and then, later, for another 3rd grade class. Those kids rock. They are so bright and ready to learn. It makes me sad to see kids as teenagers lose all interest in learning. I think if more people in the community went into the schools and talked about real life stuff, I think we’d save more kids. Anyway, I had a lot of fun and hope to do more (possibly the other 3rd grades classes. Maybe the 4th graders will have me, too. Then the middle school. And after that, maybe the world!).

What did I learn from all these experiences? Don’t drive tractors in ditches on only your second attempt at driving one. My husband has no respect for my near-death experience. Getting involved may actually make a difference. And the women and men who teach are incredibly brave and should be awarded accordingly. Of course, they typically get next to nothing and are blamed when our kids don’t behave. But to somehow manage 25 kids for an entire day for 5 days a week is amazing.

Have a Happy Turkey Day, my friends!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Workshop Workout

Well, I ran my writer’s workshop on Wednesday. I spent the whole day running errands so I wouldn’t have time to get anxious about it. At lunchtime I drank a diet coke, which I don’t normally do because caffeine gives me the shakes–like I need more of that. I told myself that drinking it 6 and 1/2 hours prior to the workshop should keep me perky and alert without the whole body convulsions that can happen when I’m nervous and have caffeine in my system. When I got home, I went to visit the neighbors for a little while, hoping to keep my mind off my upcoming ‘performance.’ While I was there, I thought that time seemed to be moving awfully slowly. This is great, I thought. For once I don’t have to rush!

Then I realized my watch had stopped.

Aggghhh! Realizing my error, there was a mad dash for home. I had just enough time to get supper on the table and to change into nicer, cleaner clothes. Then off to the workshop I went.

Being a good little girl, I came prepared. I had my papers to hand out, my little exercises for demonstrating an important point I wanted to make about the idea of flow, extra pens, tape, name tags, and my book to show off. I was good to go. Unfortunately, I drank too much water at suppertime. But I managed all right in the end (i.e., I didn’t pee my pants).

Four people showed up and I was very grateful to see them. You can run a workshop and get nobody–that has happened to me before. And I cried. Well, I didn’t, but I might have wanted to.

Of course, half of the attendees who showed up were related to me.

But we had fun. The workshop went well (according to my relatives, anyway). I was able to keep things on track, for the most part, and conversation flowed. Everybody participated and contributed. I even learned some things myself. They say that when the teacher can learn from the pupil, then the pupil is ready. Ready for what I’m not entirely sure about, but my workshop attendees are ready for something now!

It seemed that the biggest issue that came up for the writers who came had to do with getting motivated (or not being able to, that is). I see that a lot with writing. When I first started out, I thought to myself, this is a LOT of work! But I kept at it, and kept at it, and kept at it. And now, I can’t imagine going a day without writing. It has become a passion for me. What has helped, however, is that writing has gotten easier. You pick up a lot of tricks along the way. That’s why I did the workshop. I thought I could pass along what I’d learned the hard way and maybe make it easier for people struggling with the process now. I could have been evil and kept all my secrets to myself, but I wasn’t. I was full of love for my fellow human beings. Though you’ll notice that I didn’t bring any donuts to the workshop.

While my workshop focused mainly on the editing process (something I realized as I was presenting it), editing is not something you should worry about when you first start writing. If you do, you will never get past page one. I ended up redoing my first Anaedor book many, many times–especially that all-important first chapter. So when you first start out writing, just go for it. Get stuff on paper. You can fix things later.

However, typing over and over again, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" doesn’t count.

We also discussed fantasizing about your story before you start writing it down. Put yourself into the story and imagine how it would all play out. You’ll be surprised at what happens, what twists and turns come in that you hadn’t even thought of, what characters show up and demand to be included. It’s a fun and wonderful process…So don’t forget that!

Make Jack a fun boy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Tractor Makes a Comeback

We are now ready for snow. The tractor has started! As my 3-year-old tells us when we are not being enthusiastic enough about his accomplishments, "Say, Hurray!" Okay, I say hurray! Our neighbor helped us with his handy-dandy battery charger that probably could jump start the space shuttle, it’s that big. He had to bring it over in his truck. We got the tractor going, but according to him, it started ‘hard’ so we might need to tighten the belt. I notched mine one tighter, but that didn’t seem to help. Ha, ha. Anyway, when we tried it again the next morning, our lovely orange beast started right up, belching smoke and everything. So all it needed was a nice, juiced-up battery. A little coffee might help, too, when the time comes. For the moment, however, it’s resting in our yard covered in a brown tarp.

It looks strangely like Snuffleupagus.

On a side note, I have to say that I feel sorry for anyone searching the internet for information on tractors. They’re going to find my site, and it will be useless to them. But maybe they’ll see my book and think, well, I guess there are reasons for everything in life because this exactly what I was looking for to make my life complete. Of course, I still can’t get my tractor running, but who cares? I’m getting my own copy of The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies by Kristina Schram (I have to put that in my blogs once in a while to help out those internet spiders - I don’t like spiders, but these are the good kind, like daddy long legs).

Can you tell that it’s getting late in the day?

Tomorrow I am presenting my first writer’s workshop at the local library. It’s on how to make your writing flow. I am looking forward to doing it, but I’m worried that I might not be very awake at the time. During the day, I have a doctor’s appointment and shopping to do with my youngest (I can’t stand the idea of wasting gas so every trip I make has to involve more than one errand). I think I can pull it off, though. I used to teach classes from 6-8 when I was in graduate school and not once did I get egged. My main goal is not to end up sounding like the adults in the Charlie Brown shows. You know how they talk… "Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah…" Egad. Maybe I should do the entire workshop in mime. That could be fun. Of course, then I might finally end up getting egged.

I have also scored a book signing at a local store on Thanksgiving Saturday. I imagine I will be overrun with excited patrons, hoping to buy a signed copy. It won’t be easy, I’m sure, but I will try to keep my strength and courage up throughout the onslaught. Ha. If I’m smart, I will bring something to do, like macrame or origami (more confusion for web searchers looking up macrame and origami).

So wish me luck, or not. I’ll let you know how the workshop goes. Or you could come, maybe fly in from California or wherever, for the hour and a half. It could be worth your time. Especially if I get egged. So be sure to bring some paper, a writing utensil and a dozen or so eggs!

Talk at ya later!

Added later… Um, strike that part about my workshop coming up since I’m publishing this the day after the workshop (I like to publish on Mondays and Thursdays, you see). Anywho, I just got back from it. Sorry, but I kinda lost track of the time/space continuum for a while there. Please find it in your heart to forgive me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Moving to the Country

Well, we’ve gone and done it… We have bought a tractor! I’m so excited! Our sno-blower gave out at the end of last winter and we needed something other than shovels to clear our long driveway. I’m too cheap to hire someone to do it so we started looking at Craig’s list for possible sno-blowers. Then we decided, why not just go for it? We’ve wanted a tractor for a while, why not get one now? Sure we don’t have anywhere to store it, but that’s just a detail, right?

You see, eventually we want to move to a farm-one with a big barn. Our goal is to be self-sufficient, growing our own fruits and vegetables, raising chickens, and canning our food. I want to have a windmill and solar panels and get as green as I can get. And part of having that kind of farm is owning your own tractor. Its going to be great…

Unfortunately, we can’t get the dang thing started.

Apparently, diesel tractors need to have a fully charged battery to start well. Unfortunately, we went about starting the thing up like you would a car that doesn’t want to start–we pumped the gas. Bad idea. That runs down the battery. Then, we did a big no-no and accidentally left the battery connected. Not only does it drain the battery, but if the kids were to climb on the tractor and push the start button, off they’d go!

And of course, it’s freezing out. It’s dark and we can’t see because the cheap flashlight we bought (one that you shake to charge) produces very little light. If you know anything about charging a battery, you know that you have to put the red on the positive and the black on the negative. We had it backwards…because we couldn’t see. Good thing we didn’t electrocute ourselves.

At this very moment, we are charging the beast up and hoping for the best. The guy who sold it to us is being very helpful and told us where we went wrong (I’m sure he was chuckling at us farmer wannabes the whole time he wrote his email). The sad thing is that my husband grew up on a farm. But it’s been almost twenty years since he’s had anything to do with that kind of stuff, so he’s a little rusty. He keeps asking me if I think what he’s suggesting is right. Why would I know? My dad never even let us near his machines, much less taught us about how to work them.

Anyway, so far, so good. The little indicator is actually going up. I was worried I didn’t get it on right. As long as I don’t manage to blow things up, we should be okay.

Old MacDonald, look out!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm a Mac Girl Now

Here’s a little update on my computer problems, because I’m sure you’ve been waiting with bated breath to find out. Current Status: All is well with the world. My husband was able to save all my documents and I only lost a little bit of work. Unfortunately, my computer was hosed (not completely, my husband is using it to put Linux on…or is it Linus? One of those Charlie Brown characters…). As a replacement, I have now inherited his old Mac, which is actually not that old (2 years - ancient to a techie). And I am loving it!


Mac computers are so clean and pretty and aesthetically pleasing to me. Plus, they don’t have the virus and spyware problems PCs do (or at least not nearly as many). I can change desktops with the click of my mouse - I love how the whole desktop spins around. Weeee! I can make all my documents small so that I can figure out which layer I’m working on (you know when you open up a bunch of stuff, then need to get back to the first thing you opened, but can’t find it? Well, this helps a lot!). The Mac is just plain easier for me to figure out. I need that in my life…simplicity.

My husband told me that he’s never seen a problem where a person can bring down the entire operating system and he’s seen a lot of problems and crashes and whatnot in the computer world. So I guess I have something I can be proud of. The thing is, I was hoping to add to the world through creativity. Unfortunately, it appears that I’m better at destruction.

I shall try to resist the lure of the dark side, though. As soon as I destroy the world, that is! Bah ha ha ha ha!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Scream Heard Round The World

So I was working away, editing book two of the Chronicles of Anaedor series when my computer ate my document.

Then, without so much as a by your leave, the stupid thing shut down. I stared at the blank screen for a minute. As I watched in glaze-eyed fear, the computer then kicked back on and proceeded to start up again. Okay! Things were working. I could get back to editing my book! Whew! So, when everything was fully loaded on the desktop, I double-clicked my little bookmark icon and my computer promptly went black again, shutting down, then starting up again. This happened several times (I couldn’t seem to make my mind comprehend that doing the same thing over and over again wasn’t going to make a difference).

What the heck was happening to my computer? Would I ever see my document again? Oh, the humanity!

The scary thing is that this has happened to me before. Like my mother, I’m very good at finding the bugs in software. One time I managed to freeze a video game I used to play back in graduate school 3 different times, right before I was almost to the end (once you reached a certain stage you couldn’t save, so if it crashed you had to start over again - ah, yes, the good old days). I don’t know how I did it. This time, all I did was try to undo a caps drop and my computer freaked out. Maybe I should have given it a little warning, or asked for permission, speaking softly and calmly. Little did I know that such a simple procedure would send my computer into a hissy fit.

Now, like I said, this same thing has happened to me before. Each time, my husband was able to retrieve my documents by transferring them to his Apple computer (mine’s a PC). Some kind of magical hoo-doo voodoo process happened on his Apple, and there was my stuff back again, right as rain. I’m hoping and praying that he’s able to work his magic again. I do have my stuff backed up on a disk, but I did that a week ago. I’ve made a lot of changes in that week. I do not want to lose those changes.

If you hear someone screaming in the night, you will know that I did lose those changes.

In the meantime, I am sitting here writing this blog, hoping to relieve some anxiety. I didn’t know what else to do. I even spent some time making banana bread for supper. But, until my husband comes home from his techie job and fixes this problem (he’d better be able to fix it), I have to find something productive to do. I might even clean the house.

Oh, dear Lord, now I know I’ve really flipped.

Strangely enough, I do love my computer. Can you imagine hand writing an entire novel? I can’t even comprehend it. But I pay a price for the ease in my life. Unless your house burns down, your handwritten copy is pretty safe. If it your computer eats your document, you may never see it again.

Ever. So pray for me, please, or send good vibes. We don’t need another insane writer in the world.