Thursday, December 17, 2009

Camels Are Cool

It's funny how animals, especially farm animals and zoo animals make even grown ups giddy. Even ordinary animals in unusual places can do that, like puppies in purses. On our way home from one of our homeschooling groups we saw this illusive camel. We've spotted him once before, but we actually had a chance to experience him up close. The girls even got to pet him.

There was quite a crowd gathered on the side of the road and this is not a crowd-gathering friendly road. It's a fast road with little shoulder. It's littered with broken glass and lined with a barbed-wire fence. The crowd was mainly grown ups with no kids and they were going gaga over the camel. Fantastic! No wise men to be seen, but I guess they'll be around after Christmas. Epiphany is on January 6th, I believe. ;)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weird Snow

Okay, for some, snow is no big deal, but where I live, it's weird. We just don't get snow. Once in a while, in the winter we might get a bit on the mountain, but today all we had to do was go to the park near my sister's house. It was bizarre and wonderful!

The girls said it was because one of them wished for it. I'm inclined to believe them. I've lived here nearly my entire life and I've not seen anything like it until now. They didn't play long. We didn't have what you'd call, snow gear- just a couple of pair of socks each, tights, and sweat pants. Dumb San Francisco Bay Area kids.

10 Honest Things

Karen at I'm Always Write nominated me for the Honest Scrap Award. So, I'm supposed to tell 10 honest things about myself. I don't think I can top hers. Go take a look at what she said about bunny rabbits. You won't believe it. LOL

1. I'm not going to nominate anyone else because the last time I nominated other bloggers only about two of them did it and one of them is already on Karen's list and I have a deep seated fear of blogger rejection.

2. Though I've read about a gigazillion books and hold a B.A. in literature (with honors) I'll have to run a spell check because I can't spell worth a guinea pig's tail.

3. Yes, I had to look up how to spell guinea pig.

4. I eat my m&m's in three bites.

5. I've stopped counting agent rejection letters.

6. I've slept inside the trunk of a hollow tree.

7. When I was little my nose turned red when I was cold and when I cried and sometimes my sister and our cousins called me Rudolf. I cried harder.

8. My nose still turns red.

9. Sometimes I wish some of my characters were real.

10. I enjoy wearing cute hats and pretending I actually look cute in them.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Miwoks, Old Movies, and Other Things That Aren't Zombies

I've been hiking with the kids, took them to Jr. Rangers where we learned about the local Native Americans who once lived here, reorganized the bookshelves, made a care package for one of my step daughters, am organizing a craft/tea party for my sister and all the young ladies in our lives, volunteered to do Thanksgiving here, introduced the twins to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair and countless other things that aren't related to writing my NaNoWriMo novel. Can anyone say "procrastination?"

Oh yeah, not to mention Facebook and writing this blog post.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Planned Parenthood Director Quits

Planned Parenthood Director Quits After Watching Abortion On Ultrasound

Abby Johnson is my new hero! How many people are willing to admit they've had a change of heart and are willing to make a MAJOR life change? Most of us walk around with a nagging conscience eating away at us for years. Not Abby. She quit her job when she realized it was wrong.

Not only did she realize that abortion was cruel to an unborn baby, but she saw that abortion is big business, not just some politically correct amorphous banner.

From its beginning, Planned Parenthood was not a business to be admired. Its founder, Margaret Sanger was a racist beyond measure. Even today, the statistics are horrible. Though only 14% of the women in the U.S. are African American, over 35% of all abortions are performed on African American women. That is a tragedy. Every abortion is a tragedy- for the baby, for the mother, for the father.

Here are some links if you need some help and/or healing:
Healing After Abortion
Birthright International if you're in a crisis pregnancy.
Rachel's Vineyard post abortion retreats. (They have them for men too.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Insert Witty Comment Here

I caught my cat, Avery, on top of the bird cage a few times. The cockatiels were only mildly annoyed. I don't think they fully understand what a cat is.

I couldn't come up with a witty title for this post. Maybe one of you can. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Winged Kittens

I had a mythical moment today while reading the Pennysaver ads. There was an advert for a grey and white winged kitten. Now I've seen winged ginger tabbies, but grey and white?!?!


We thought it must be a typo or perhaps that was a particular pattern type. I did a search and found that some cats do indeed have "wings" either from matted hair or a skin condition that causes extra flaps of skin to grow. There was one case where the owner claimed the wing growth was due to stress because too many females were hot to mate with him.


You know, that could start a new trend- men wearing prosthetic wings under their muscle shirts claiming to be stressed by too many female admirers. They'll be photoshopping wings onto their MySpace pics.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Update on Screwtape

A fellow writer (though compared to Jack I'm a mongrel beside a purebred because he's really published, I mean like people buy these books and his name's actually on them because, well, he wrote it.) You can see it here: The Confederate War Bonnet. Plus he wrote the fifty word story just above my one liner.
Anyway, he reminded me that I never said how The Screwtape Letters play was.

It was wonderful!
It's basically Uncle Screwtape monologuing in a wickedly fiery and satirical humor compelling the audience to hang on his every word. The script sticks to C.S. Lewis's book. It's not dumbed down, watered down, or otherwise marred. His personal secretary, a quirky creature with a strangely compelling stage presence, scrambles around taking dictation and supporting the story with pantomime when needed.

In the audience (it was sold out, by the way) there were teens, elderly, and everything in between, various races, and a variety of clothing style- from formal to casual, plus some pretty cute artsy outfits. I guess C.S. Lewis fans can not be stereotyped.

Oh, and I love how Uncle Screwtape says his name- ScrewwwwtaPe! (with a satisfying pop at the end).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Published! Well, a little bit.

Brag! Brag! Brag!

50 to 1 posted my "first line" here. 50 to 1
Mine is the second entry down, I think. You'll see my name- Amanda.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thanks to Nik at Chapters for nominating me.

Seven things about me:

1. I wrote a novel.
2. I used to be a volunteer breastfeeding counselor.
3. I have five kids: three by birth and two by marriage.
4. My singing is slightly worse than my dancing.
5. When I dance, I look like an octopus on roller skates.
6. I love coffee.
7. I'm addicted to post-it notes.

I nominate:

1. A Karabu Creation
2. The Sci Fi Catholic
3. Observations
4. The Big Litowski
5. The Blue Boar
6. The Ironic Catholic
7. I'm Always Write

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Truth About Chastity Belts and Iron Maidens plus a C.S. Lewis Play and a Bathroom Mirror

I just read some interesting history about chastity belts and iron maidens. You may want to check out author Jeri Westerson's guest entry on Lori Devoti's blog.

In other news, I'll be going to a production of C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters which is one of the best books ever written, in my oh so humble opinion. I can't imagine how they'll perform it, as it is an epistolary novel written as a series of letters.

When I received an advert. card in the mail, I taped it to the bathroom mirror hoping to convey a subtle hint to my dear husband. The darling told me to go ahead and go, but that I should bring a female friend,(I suppose he had to add the stipulation because I of course have dozens of men hanging around me. LOL)because he had no interest in C.S. Lewis and satirical plays about demons. He gets bookoo (sp?) points but doesn't actually have to shell out the dough because his lovely boss offered to pay for the tickets after my husband mentioned it to him. So, in October my sister will be off to see Uncle Screwtape himself. Woo-Hoo!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why is Harry Potter like Jane Eyre and Mina (from Dracula)?
How is Snape like Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)?
In Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures, John Granger explores the various genres through which the Harry Potter series scampers.

Granger shows how Harry Potter is a boarding-school-gothic-horror-postmodern epic, among many other things. His book is a comprehensive literary critique that would make for a fun springboard text for a literature class that just begs for an insanely varied course book list including titles such as- Pilgrim's Progress, Plato's Republic, The Divine Comedy, Sense and Sensibility, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The list would go on and on.

I picked up Harry Potter's Bookshelf for a bit of light reading, but found a treasure. While it won't create the elixer of life, it's become dear to the reader, the writer, and the Harry Potter fan in me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Moon

Our homeschooling advisor just turned us on to this site: My Moon Visually fun and full of dohinkies to click, it's worth a look.

I've researched various aspects of lunar study since beginning my manuscript. The moon is a pivotal "character" in the story. The lives of the villains revolve around moon phases. Their title, "Fir Na Gealei" is Irish Gaelic for "Men of The Moon."

In moonlight of that fact, I'll post a lunar quiz.

1. Does the moon rotate on its axis?

2. How long is the moon's synodic month?

3. If your brain weighs 3 pounds on Earth, how much will it weigh on the moon?

4. How big is the moon?

5. What's the word for an alignment of the sun, Earth, and either the moon or a planet?

6. On the day of which blogger's birth was Apollo 13 supposed to land on the moon?

1. Yes
2. about 29.53 days
3. .49 pounds
4. about 2,000 miles across
5. syzygy
6. mine! April 13, 1970 (does that make me bad luck?)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Zombie Ants and Virtual Pillows

Zombie Ants?
Curiouser and curiouser...

Here's a great idea for a horror story. Mysterious fungus invades the bodies of ants and controls their behavior. But it's no fiction. See story here: Zombie Ants What next? Pigs controlled by the truffles they dig up? Zombie pigs- now there's an idea. How about bread that springs to life after growing moldy? Ick!

I joined Facebook after being prodded by several people. I'm sorry, maybe I'm not doing it right, but I still don't see the point. Maybe if I was famous people would care what I eat for breakfast or want to know when I drink a cup of coffee, but I'm an ordinary woman in an ordinary world. I threw virtual pillows at several people, giving me a sort of sick virtual pleasure.

Is it just me, or is Facebook confusing? I feel like I randomly poke around and occasionally see something interesting, then I never run across it again. For instance, I think I joined a couple of virtual clubs, but I'm uncertain. Having no resident teenager at the moment, I'm like an Astyanax fasciatus out of water.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Making Friends With Butterflies

This summer my girls made friends with some caterpillars. In the world of my twin eight-year-olds you can make friends just as easily with hummingbirds, butterflies, and moths as you can with other kids and cats.

The girls found these spiky caterpillars on our passion flower vine. The little guys consumed not only the leaves, but much of the outer green part of the stems. I've no idea if the vine will survive. It's still a small plant

The caterpillars eventually made their chrysalises and eventually emerged as pretty orange butterflies called "Gulf Fritillaries," or "Passion Butterflies," as the girls like to call them.

Those butterflies didn't mess around but went right to the task of mating. My goodness, they go at it. They even fly while bonded together.

One butterfly didn't make it. It must have been weak because it couldn't extract itself all the way out of its chrysalis and its wings never fully uncrinkled.

We've seen them flitting about the yard and right up to the sliding glass window. The girls tell me it's because they remember how kind we were to them.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Time For Another Title Change


A new urban fantasy program on the BBC is called Being Human. It sounds awesome and features a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost sharing an apartment. I'd watch that. Sounds a bit like the start of a joke. Well, the point is, my urban fantasy wannabepleasepleaseplease-novel is...was called To Be Human.

Damn you, BBC! Will you never stop swiping my ideas?

Well, to be fair, they couldn't have known my title, being that it hasn't been published yet. But it's awfully suspicious that they also used my idea to write a show about a time traveling doctor in a police box. (Never mind that it was created in the 60's and I wasn't born until 1970.)

All I'm saying is that I need a new title or it'll look like I'm the copy-cat.

Of Mice and Stem Cells

What do mice skin cells and chameleons have in common?
They can both change.

There's a new study using stem cells derived from the skin cells of mice. See this link--> mice . It turns out they are quite versatile. That's good news for science and humanity. It's been long known that adult stem cells derived from bone marrow, umbilical cord et al. are useful in medical treatments. For one thing, if you use the patient's own cells, there's not chance of rejection. Here's a link to a fact sheet in a PDF stem cell treatments .

So, I was thinking of a new comic book series called "Mouse Cells" featuring two cells with super powers living in a petri dish in a lab. They'll be like Pinky and the Brain only smaller... and less cute.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Postcard Story

Hey, I'm published! Well... sort of. They publish nearly everything they get. It's a fun site. Come see mine as well as the stories of others. Maybe even publish your own. :) I took advantage of the postcard layout and wrote a note based on the Orpheus stories (which I simply adore). Most people just write very short stories.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How Dumb Am I?

Now we're going to play the game called, "How Dumb Am I?"

It's easy, really. We just count the number of mistakes Amanda made today.

One: Forgot to put a fork in my husband's lunch box. *cost = a teasing chuckle from husband~

Two: Let a library book go past due. *cost = twent-five cents~

Three: Sent out a query letter to a literary agent with the word "sole" when I meant "soul." *Priceless~

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Science Fiction

Woo Hoo! My friend went to a science fiction museum in Washington state and got me these cool things. I'm a happy space traveler. :)

My next post will be about something deep and meaningful. I promise. Until then, "Don't panic, Luke. The force is with you and the answer is 42."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Vatican and Harry Potter

Hey, it seems the Vatican got to see Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince before me. You can see the article with this link.

Vatican paper finds good and bad in new Harry Potter movie

I'm looking forward to seeing it, in spite of the fact that every time I see the movies I feel compelled to say, "It's not like the book." Duh, lady. Did ya expect it to be? Well, I look at it as another opportunity to watch Brendan Gleeson play Mad Eye Moody. ;-) Just kidding. I just watch them for the sake of the kids....really.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

An Explosive Ten Year Anniversary

Yesterday was our ten year wedding anniversary and we're still as happy as can be! :) We took a motorcycle ride, went out to lunch, went to the shooting range. That was my first time shooting a real pistol. I actually hit the target a couple of times. We watched a movie at home, then met my sister's family (who had our twins for the day) at the park and there we watched fireworks.

Here's a picture of Peter on our bike.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Walk to Lime Ridge

We've no idea what these flowers are. They look like giant morning glories.
Here's the view from the ridge.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Computer Viruses and a Stolen Guitar

Yay, I battled a nasty computer virus and won! Seriously, this thing was not going anywhere. It's called Skynet (Yes, it's named after the fictitious organization in Terminator.) It would sit on everything we opened and sloooowwwwitdownnnnn. Plus it kept inviting it's annoying friend viruses over to mess up the place. We bought and downloaded Spyware Doctor, which we read can get rid of this particular menace. No luck. I tried working with one of their online helping geek guys. We read all kinds of posts about getting rid of this thing. Finally, I went to the Microsoft website and used their Windows Live One Care Safety Scanner and it took care of it. (knock-on-wood)

My wayward daughter popped in unexpectedly with her boyfriend whom I call Bane. She said they were just picking up a few things. Well, one of the things they picked up was MY GUITAR! Jeez! They swiped my guitar. What's up with that?!?!

Okay, back to rewriting (aka- jabbing, poking, beating the heck out of) chapter 37.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I gots me first rejection letter today. I expect I'll get one for every query I send out, if I'm lucky. Apparently not all agents send them. They just toss your letter (or email) into the rubbish bin and get on with their day.

Even though it was expected, it's hard not to take it personally. It's not unlike watching your kid left out of the game the other kids are playing. My characters have been hanging around in my brain for almost a year now and now they've been officially rejected.

A while back I read an article about every basement needing a first novel. I don't have a basement, but I suppose a garage will do.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Query, Hubris, and Humility

I sent two query emails to two separate agents. Then I said to myself, "Now just sit back and wait 'til the rejections come in. Then you'll be a real writer." :p

Then I got a reply from one of them. My heart practically beat itself right out of my chest. Visions of an ecstatic agent flashed before my eyes eager to read my ms.

I clicked on it and guess what. Just a form note sent automatically saying she can't wait to read it and she may or may not get back to me within six weeks.

Plunk! My heart dropped to my knees.
Guess I have a bit of hubris on my nose that needs scraping off.

So, I decided it's time to read the Litany of Humility .

Lime Ridge Walk

The girls and I went up to Lime Ridge this morning. Golly, it grew hot early. Here are a few of the pictures we took. Someday somebody will have to teach me how to lay the photos out in my blog more artistically. They seem to just plop hither, thither, and yon.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


My friend Randy brought an article to my attention:
Why Fantasy and Why Now by R. Scott Bakker

We commented back and forth a bit on my last post, but I had a lot to say on the subject (surprise surprise) so I thought I'd take it to a new post.

Mr. Bakker seems to be mainly talking about fantasy written since the Enlightenment period, but there's been fantasy prior to that. But I do agree with his comment about wish fulfillment in a modern scientific society and defining good and evil. Science can't do that.
While science can tell us the "what" about nature (meaning life, the universe, and everything), it doesn't tell us the "why."

I don't agree that fantasy is a rival or even a companion of religion, at least not in the sense he means. Fantasy, I think, comments about human nature, human culture, and how to rise above those things. It allows us to stand apart from our real world (by substituting a fantasy world) so that we can see and evaluate as an outsider. The struggles depicted in fantasy stories are basically the same struggles in real life, but they are filled with symbols or archetypes that stand for real things.

You can view a fantasy novel as a model for a real struggle. You can study it, learn from it, be inspired by it and take that experience into your real life. And because it's all symbolic, it's a model that can work for many people who lead vastly different lives. This is the reason myths and legends are so readily passed down through time and from place to place.

For more on this topic, I recommend Tolkien's essay "On Fairy Stories" and Joseph Campbell's "The Hero With A Thousand Faces."

Monday, June 8, 2009

My sister gave me Madeleine L'Engle's Walking on Water. I can't say I dived right into the book, favoring escapism rather than philosophy lately. But I did fall in one day and I've not been able to claw my way out. It's now joined the precious troop of books who bare the marks of my devotion. That is, it's full of pencil scribblings.

Yes, dear friends, I write in books. I underline, write brief comments, list favorite page numbers with notes in the back. I should be an index writer. (Indiceographer?)

But back to Walking on Water- It's about writing (as well as other art forms) and about Christianity. She seems to see all art as Christian art. I get where she's coming from. God is the author of all things, therefore He is reflected in all things. I am reminded of From Achilles to Christ: Why Christians Should Read the Pagan Classics by Louis Markos. He writes that "pre-Christians and non-Christian pagans are capable of perceiving, at least in embryonic form, some of the truths revealed in Christ."

Or is it merely a matter of the eye of the beholder? When I was a Lit. major I could pull symbolism off the ingredient list on the back of a cereal box. Now that I'm writing a novel, I see parallels to my story all around me. (I've also spotted more than one of my characters on the street. It's true. I'm not crazy.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why a Fortnight of Mustard?

For reasons I will not mention, I'm relocating to a new blog. I hope it won't be bombarded by insults from a certain bane that recently entered my sanctuary. I cross my fingers that certain somebodies won't even be aware of the existence of A Fortnight of Mustard.

Why "A Fortnight of Mustard"?
It's merely a random pairing of words within eye-shot of my computer, but it's adopted a meaning. Or perhaps I've discovered the meaning. Faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain. (I don't recall the verbatim Bible quote.)

Then my sister gave me a ball of mustard-colored yarn. "Knit a prayer," she said. And so I begin. Perhaps it'll take a fortnight to come to fruition.
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