Monday, April 30, 2007

Writing Today

Every day, I go to Borders, order some tea, select a few "friends" (novels) to keep me company, and I sit down and write.

I usually order this yummy white tea flavored with berries that smells like homemade blueberry muffins. Yum! It’s this golden, clear tea color--very pretty.

They have new pots and glasses which are also clear, so you can study the way the sunlight shines through the tea.

When you drizzle honey into the tea (also a pretty, clear, golden color), you can see it settle to the bottom in pretty little ripples. On the bottom of the cup, it winds in a mass of curls, even more golden than the tea.

What’s weird is, when I stir the honey, the tea suddenly takes on this milky, pale gold.

Clear tea + clear honey = milky tea.


That about sums up my writing day today. How I managed an excruciating 500 words, is beyond me. It’s at that point, where I’m feeling a little lost. I need to organize all the words, outline, and then keep going.

I prefer that to happen around 15 - 20,000 word mark. Probably not a good sign it’s happening at the 10,000 word mark.

Boring writing day, boring blog post. Ugh. On to more interesting matters:

How’s your writing going? Your reading? Your day?


Sunday, April 29, 2007

An author signing!

I met an author out authoring yesterday! (Hee-hee.) I’m at my local Borders six days a week, but either I miss all the visiting authors, or we don’t have that many.

Of course, I’ve met authors before. But it’s always been in a "non-authoring" context. (Click the link for Mark Terry’s post about the "authoring" jobs one has to do.)

I’ve never been to a signing, save one. The one was years ago, before I joined RWA, and the author and I stared at each other, both too shy to speak. It was pitiful. At that point, I was really young then.

So anyway, here’s another signing, and the guy was way friendly and talkative--a regular, outgoing nice guy. He said he sold a big pile of books about ’yay high’ (which made me inexplicably proud of our town), and he was really quite fascinating.

To top it off, he was selling a spy thriller--that’s Robert Spirko’s The Palestine Conspiracy. How cool is that?

He told me about this book and the next. I didn’t tell him that I’ve been not finishing a spy novel for four months now, and I’ve not been blogging about spies for almost a year. :-) His next one sounds fascinating: all about Anastasia.

Romanov, you know?

One thing for future, lucky self to remember: bookmarks may not sell books, but they DO help an interested reader remember the guy’s name and his book’s name when you get home! If I weren’t going to blog about it, I think I would’ve given up! I can’t buy it until May.

What do you think of signings? Ever done one? Been to one?


Saturday, April 28, 2007

How to Become a Better Writer

You don’t hear published authors say what follows that often. It’s hard to say "buy my book; it’s good!" at the same time as saying "I have more to learn."

But here’s an author brave enough to say it: Ann Christopher guest-blogged on AuthorMBA Friday. Here’s the not-to-miss post on how to become a better writer. I think it’s the best advice I’ve heard!

But that’s the ideal, isn’t it? Of all the blurbs from reviewers I’ve seen, I dream about that quote about Nora, which says she keeps getting better and better.

In thirty years, I’ll be that little old lady at the back of the room, still attending all the classes as RWA conferences.


Those Thinking Blogger Awards

Okay, I forgot to warn you. Spring is a crazy time of year for me. Did I mention that? Aside from taking a wonderful course at Author MBA, it’s the time I go nuts worrying about my students and their performances. It’s also the time of year that I can’t wait until Summer and fresh starts, LOL!

So if I disappear for days at a time, please forgive me. I’m teaching.

All of which makes me feel so very unworthy for the Thinking Blogger Award from Therese Fowler. (How sweet! Thank you!) Now for my favorite part: I get to pick 5 bloggers who make me think! If these blogs aren’t in your reader (or your daily visit habit), then check them out; I bet you’ll love them!

{For those blogs awarded with the Thinking Blogger Award, if you feel so inclined, please do the following:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ’Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.}


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Marcus Sakey's The Blade Itself

imgI fell in love with The Blade Itself the instant I read the first page. It was one of those books whose writing was so vivid, that I actually memorized a sentence instantly, and never forgot it!

You can read an excerpt here, and I did a "Learning Writer’s Review" of The Blade Itself a couple months ago, after reading only the first chapter. (Yes, I was that blown away by one chapter!)


Thirteen Snippets that Prove Marcus Sakey Kicks Ass as a Writer

  1. About a dirty cop, Terry: "Danny pictured Terry, that weasel mustache, the moist stink of a habitual farter." (2) I just love that line!
  2. Love how this detail makes the book feel real: "Personally, he’d always found the bristles of a street sweeper made the best lock picks, hard but flexible." (5)
  3. Perspective of a man released from hard time, seeing the world as a free man: "Every faded billboard and dying tree looked fresh and clean." (20)
  4. Love this description: "In front of him, five skeletal stories of structural steel rose to cut the sky in neat rectangles. A yard hand strode across a beam forty feet in the air, his orange jacket stark against swirling gray clouds." (23)
  5. Great Chapter Title: "Chapter Six: Sky Burned Blue" (37) Is that vivid, or what? It’s like poetry!
  6. I can see it: "... his boss seemed suddenly embarrassed to see him, though he covered with a salesman’s smile wide as it was fake." (39)
  7. "I guess I’m just getting scared after the fact. You know, the way your mom used to get when she’d find out you’d done something stupid years ago." (105)
  8. Remember those holy-sh-t-what-would-you-do questions? "His brakes were gone. The roads were icy, and there were a lot of cars. He could have tried to move to the right, off the road, hoped that everyone would get out of his way. But if it didn’t work, he might have crashed into another car. Maybe a family."
    He turned to look at her. "So instead of risking other people, he jerked the whell to the left. They were widening the road, and there was a concrete construction barrier on that side. The cop said he was going fifty or sixty miles an hour. Dad didn’t have a chance, and he knew it." (226)
  9. So true: "You didn’t have to do terrible things to have guilt. Not preventing terrible things from happening would work, too." (304)
  10. "Nothing but the quiet echo of snowflakes and all the time in the world." (306) The sound of snow if my very favorite sound!
  11. "He didn’t realize he was crying until he felt a tear turn to ice on his cheek." (307)
  12. Great ending: "Everything that had been there when he’d come in--the faded skyline, the dingy town houses, the tired winter grass--had disappeared beneath a clean coat of white." (307)

Join in the Thursday Thirteen fun!


Diana Gabaldon's Writing Process

I’ve just discovered YouTube, can you tell? Diana Gabaldon is working on a how-to-write book. Here’s a video with some great advice:


Tears Again ...

I swear it’s not that time of month. Do you know that the Canadian government says it’s humane to BLUDGEON baby ... BABY seals to DEATH with a CLUB?????? Oh. My. God. How can you not cry?


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Your Influences, Your Favorites

Do you know who, which authors, have influenced your writing? Which authors does your writing most closely resemble?

I wish I knew.

I’ve been studying up a storm, writing up half a storm. I’m entering the busiest four weeks of the year. I’ve got that set-jaw feeling, like I know it’s going to be hell, but it’ll be over so fast and then it’s easy-going for awhile. I feel that panic-attack-y feeling in my chest, though, held at bay only by my determination to be a sane person, LOL.

Anyway, as I said, studying. What is your favorite thriller? Which thriller is plotted so well, you feel like you’re reading Bach?

As you can tell, the theme of this next bit is plot. :-)


Reading and Giving a Critique

I had three students in a competition last weekend, and the judges weren’t particularly good. One was terrible: all day, on every critique she basically wrote the same two sentences. You had to conclude there wasn’t much thought put into that.

The second made a suggestion to one of my students on technique that would have been physically impossible for this particular student. We had to disregard that suggestion as impossible. Pity he spent most of the page writing about it. He did have one helpful gem within his comments, though.

The third was very brief. It had no positive points or encouragement, but the four sentence fragments were very good points that were dead on. I had to reframe it for the student, because he just heard "I did everything bad."

The three judges knew music and what wins competitions, but they knew very little about teaching, obviously. That’s okay. Everyone still learned a lot, and that was the important part.

I can’t say I have much experience with critiquing writing or receiving writing critiques, but perhaps some of what I know of music can translate into writing. After hearing about a friend who stopped writing for a month after a professional edit (and she admitted it was well-done and spot on, but just wasn’t expecting it), and after reading the horror stories and hurt feelings in the comments section of Bookends Inc Jessica Faust’s post on Writer’s Revenge, I had to let myself ramble.

First: On Receiving A Critique

  • Expect no positive comments: It’s not that the judge is mean, or that she hates your work. It’s not that that’s the way a judge is supposed to judge, either. But it’s just the way it is, sometimes. The judge sees what needs fixing or what she thinks needs fixing, and she wants to make sure she gives you all that information. She might forget to phrase things gently, or maybe she just doesn’t know how it comes across on the page. Or maybe she is mean. But if you expect no positive comments, you’ll be in a good mindset to learn.
  • Never ask for a critique when you need encouragement: They are two different beasts. You’ll only get both together from very talented and experienced editors, who know just how to put things to make you feel good, all while directing you on how to improve and tighten your work. If you need encouragement, ask for encouragement. If you need a critique, ask for a critique. One does not usually beget the other.
  • Translate the critique: Reduce the ramble and repetition to the critique writer’s main points. Reframe all comments into an action. For example, "too wordy" could be translated into "prune adverbs and remove sentences that don’t serve a story purpose." "I hate your voice" can be translated into "Have partner/friend read out loud and figure out what mood, impressions, and style my voice conveys."
  • Don’t toss the baby out with the bathwater: If a critique writer makes a few stupid suggestions, it doesn’t mean they’re all stupid. As in Judge #2 above, he was misguided in 19 out of the 20 sentences he wrote. That one sentence, however, was worth its weight in gold.
  • Notice what she/he didn’t say: If the critique only pointed out the things you need to fix, then assume that everything that wasn’t mentioned was either acceptable, great, or excellent. For whatever reason, the critiquer didn’t mention the good things. That doesn’t always make her a mean person. Sometimes she just wants to give you everything she knows on how to improve your writing.

Second: On Judging/Critiquing/Editing

  • Adult are way, way, way more sensitive to children: Really. I don’t know what else to say. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s just the way adults are. Young kids are more comfortable with not knowing things and receiving corrections. As we grow older, we grow more issues and more insecurities. We feel we should be experts, even when we’re still learning. It’s just the way it is. Phrase your comments accordingly.
  • Write a "positive sandwich": Forget whether a writer should be thin-skinned or thick-skinned. What they should be doesn’t matter. You’re judging, so obviously you want to help. If you believe in your advice and you want them to take it, then you need to give your advice in a way that they will hear it.
    A "positive sandwich" is just like a hamburger. Point out something they did well (bun), point out something they can improve (meat), and then point out another thing they did well (bun).
  • Make every suggestion an active, positive comment: See translation above. Instead of saying, "too many adverbs and weak verbs," say "To really make your writing pop, try removing some of your adverbs and finding more vivid verbs in those sentences. That way, your action sequences will feel more fast-paced and thrilling to the reader."

Sound overly nice and mushy and too soft on writers? Well, maybe. But you get more flies with honey. Sugar. More bees. Something. It doesn’t mean you don’t suggest what needs suggesting, or you lie about what needs fixing. It means the difference between being a good teacher or a not-as-effective teacher. When you’re critiquing, you’re really being a teacher.

Saying all positive things isn’t of much use to a writer. I’m not advocating judges or critiquers to just say "good job." A sandwich isn’t a sandwich without the meat.

The point is that if you’re going to take the time to critique, why not do it in a way that will make the writer hear you better, and seriously consider your suggestions? Why not frame your comments in a way that makes the writer thrilled and excited to get to work, to dig into her work again and try your suggestions?

What’s the most effective critique you ever received? Have you ever received advice that made you itchy to get back to work? Excited to make changes? Thrilled that you can see a way to make your story stronger? How did they do it?


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Writing Exercises and Quotas

You know when you have those bad writing days? Some days I say I’m grinding out the words letter by letter. Well, it cracked me up to discover that thriller writer, Jeff Buick, sets himself a daily quota of 5,000 characters. Do spaces count? Apostrophes? LOL.

I know how those days are!

How do you count your quota? Words? Letters? Pages? Chapters?

With a thank you to Amie, I wanted to post a link to Lisa Gardner’s Tips & Tricks site. She’s one of those authors that I’ve always meant to try, but have never gotten around to yet. I have a feeling it’s going to be sooner than later.

There is so much on her Tips & Tricks site that I don’t know where to start.

Okay, I won’t. I’ll just let you visit. I came up with the silliest idea. Have you ever "practiced" writing synopses? Ever wrote them for other people’s, already-published books, just to get some practice? I’m thinking I’m going to get on that this week. I’m thinking I’ll learn more about plotting and learn more about synopsis-writing, all in one shot. Oh, who knows.

Speaking of which, do you ever practice technique? I mean, outside of the novel you’re working on, or whatever you might or might hope to be paid for? Ever do little exercises to warm up that will never sold?


Friday, April 20, 2007

Pretty Please ... Synopses ... help, please?

Our local RWA group assigned a little bit of homework: write a synopsis by the next meeting (tomorrow at 4). Okay, so, it’s 1:17 a.m. the night before, so I figure it’s about time to get down to it.

(Okay, yes, I did start it before now, but for what’s actually on the page, you may as well say I’m starting it now.)

It’s good practice. I’ve never written a synopsis in my life. I used to run a paragraph pitch by my editors, but they tended to do the email equivalent of patting me on my head. Ya’ know, but sometimes we need the pat on the head.

So I have a few hours tomorrow to shape this blob into something interesting. It’s not like I’ll be paid for it, so it’s not high priority, but ... it’s good practice. And maybe it’ll help shape this blob of a novel I’ve got started.

I know. The Big N shall henceforth be called the Big Blob.

(I must be getting slap-happy-sleepy, because I just laughed at that.)

A good search turns up a bunch of sample synopses from erotic writers and romance writers. But no thrillers. Not a single one.

Anyone see a good, sample thriller synopsis around town?

What I have so far is definitely eye-glazing material. Maybe I can work a miracle tomorrow morning/afternoon. (Speaking of which, I’m off to a writer’s retreat this weekend! Yay! Yay, yay, yay, yay, YAY!)


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What Would You Do?

I swear this post has nothing to do with religion, believe it or not.

I remember one, and only one, Sunday School Teacher. He wasn’t particularly nice; he wasn’t particularly mean. It was second grade, and we had to earn a brand new Bible with fun little stickers that tabbed the books of the Bible. (We just wanted to play with all the stickers, I bet!) The way to earn it? We had to memorize the whole list of books, in order, and recite them to the class. We worked all year to do it, and boy, when you got your Bible, you were PROUD of yourself!

He asked a lot of us, and I think that’s pretty cool. I’m sure some people today would say, "Second-graders can’t do that!"

Anyway, he also spent a Sunday asking us one question that has stuck with me for over thirty years. It’s one of those stories with one of those tough questions that really make yourself and what you would do.

I just did an internet search on it, and it seems to be told as if it’s true, sometimes. I have no proof either way. It’s usually used as a Christian story, but I prefer the more literal story/situation. Here’s the BDSRA (whatever that means, LOL) version:

This story happened in 1936, when a drawbridge operator took his young son to work with him. The father and son were enjoying a typical day, raising and lowering the bridge to let the boats pass.

Late in the day, without warning, a passenger train appeared in the distance, speeding toward the open drawbridge. The man and his son raced down the catwalk to pull the lowering lever.

With the train quickly approaching, the son slipped, getting his leg stuck in the drawbridge gears. Horrified, the man quickly realized that he could either save his son, or lower the drawbridge to keep the passenger train from plummeting into the river below.

Who would live? His son? The unknown passengers? Who would he kill? His son? The passengers?

The man pulled the lever to lower the bridge. He watched the train pass over the lifeless, mangled body of his son, caught in the gears below. The man sacrificed his son’s life so that 400 railway travelers, oblivious to his sacrifice, could live.

See? I love those kind of questions. They’re heart-gripping, soul-gripping, and gut-grabbing. Jodi Picoult does a fabulous job of finding those situations where you lose your breath and think, "Ohmigod, what would I do in that no-win, horrible situation?"

I’m working on a synopsis this week, for a little homework challenge from our local RWA group. Ugh. It’s hard. But I thought, what if I center it around three of those type of questions as the major plot points?

I hate coming up with plot before I’ve written it. What about you? Do you have any cool stories like that? Situations that grab you in the gut? Any evidence that the above story is true or false? Does it matter, LOL?


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Feed Apology

Okay, the feed is back on! I think one of the feeds still remained on, and bombarded you with every corrected post, and I’m sorry, I really am!

Blogger does this line break thing, which makes it ugly when you post from a blog editor. I turned it off, but it mean I had to insert the paragraph tags into Every. Single. Post.

Thanks for putting up with it! Now that that project is done, I’ll be back to posting more regularly for you! And I’m working on my website! And I think we’re going to have my very first contest ever, soon!


24's Jack Bauer and Hope Floats

{hopefloats image}I’ve always been a movie-lover. When Hope Floats came out, it seemed to be the dawn of a new generation of movies in two ways: music and pacing. I once attended movies to listen to the latest west-coast composers, but Hope Floats was all songs--one of the greatest soundtracks ever! I don’t think there was a single composed-for-the-movie snippet of music.

That seemed to start a trend.

After Hope Floats, I also noticed pacing improving, too. (Again, this may have just been my perspective.) The pacing in Hope Floats was absolutely perfect. The golden moment was half-way through, when we have a whole happy-funny scene that offsets all the sadness and challenges that are going on. Juxtaposition, LOL! It’s an old-fashioned drama, so that moment made the whole movie ... breathable.

How does this compare to last night’s episode of 24? First the good: I thought the Audrey thing was going to be anti-climactic, but they raised the stakes for Jack: he’ll kill himself if he has to, so that the Chinese don’t get the chip. They raised the stakes for the White House: the President collapsed, and evil V-P is now Prez.

That’s all perfect, especially considering they have another 6 or so episodes left in the season.


//’m tired. The season really needed to end for me at 11:00. I suppose I shouldn’t expect a TV series to arc like a novel, but ... I do like series to have some arc over the whole season.

I don’t suppose a happy-funny "relief" scene would work in 24, but ... I’m tired. I need a breath before Jack gets all intense again.You know?

But then, maybe it’s me and my life that’s tired, and I’m just transferring it onto the show, you know? What do you guys think?


Monday, April 16, 2007

What is Beauty?

A few weeks ago, I left an insane comment on someone's blog about the beauty of storms. Afterwards, I thought, how stupid! These storms can kill! I just accidentally did it again, at Therese's blog. Am I insane? They had a window break in their house, and if they had been sitting one room over, they would've spent the night in the emergency room!

What is wrong with me? I see this picture, and ... I just get that feeling, that awed, ohmigod feeling. I see the picture. I see that lives, homes could be destroyed, and yet I can't tear my eyes away. That twister is amazing. Breathtaking.

Why was the movie Twister so amazing? Why did the sight of that tornado make me gasp at ... its beauty? Its horrible, terrible, beauty?

All I can think is, how inappropriate.

It's like looking at the ocean. I mean, look at this picture. That's a wave. That's a wave. That's a wave that can kill, that's a wave that can devastate a whole network of people who love the person who could be crushed by its power. Why do I find that beautiful?

I'm dying to learn how to surf (kind of hard with the ocean thousands of miles away, LOL). I'd love (and would probably pee my pants) to see a twister up close (and yet far enough away to be safe). I love sitting on the porch in storms, the wind and rain biting me while thunder and lightning crash all over the place. I feel so alive and awed and excited, all rolled into one.

Am I absolutely insane???


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #9: Renewal & Relaxation

Thirteen Ways I Renew and Relax
  1. Hold my niece while she sleeps.
  2. Take a week off from the day job.
  3. Learn to juggle again.
  4. Do yoga everyday.
  5. Close my eyes, and savor the feeling and flavor of dark chocolate melting on my tongue.
  6. Watch Chocolat.
  7. Breathe.
  8. Drive.
  9. Savor a wonderful meal at The Melting Pot.
  10. Sit and read in front of the fireplace at Borders with a pot of tea.
  11. Lay with the cats in the the bed, and read.
  12. Try Pilates.
  13. Make DH hug me for a loooooonng time. :-)
What do you do to relax? How often do you relax? Do you have to schedule it in, or is it a habit? Or does it just happen when the systems go on strike, LOL?


RSS/Atom Feed Apology

Okay, because of this one silly thing Blogger does, I need to go through my old posts and enter paragraph tags manually. Plus I want to put labels on everything. So that means … I’ve got to turn off the feed for a day or two.

When it comes back on, it’ll send you about ten posts, like it did last night. (I’m so sorry!) I don’t know how else to change things so it won’t do that to you.

I just wanted to apologize! I detest spam or anything that comes close, LOL.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cool Tool! And Crisis in Darfur ...

Okay, I’m sorry to keep talking about this, but I can’t help it.

Remember how I told you Google Earth is the coolest thing since chocolate? How you can even see your house (fuzzy, though), check out the roads and have a detailed picture of any setting you’d want to write about? (If it’s current and … erm, real.)

Well, if you click to Africa, there’s a little box. Click on it, and you’ll get an in depth view of all the villages that have been destroyed and damaged, and all the refugee camps.

And there’s pictures. Horrible, horrible pictures. Those’ll make you cry. Guaranteed.

If you want to something, and can only do a little teensy bit like me, there’s a $1 piece of the



24 & Jack Bauer, 9:00 - 11:00 p.m.

Last night I watched the last two episodes. Wow! Now that’s the 24 I fell in love with at the beginning of the season! I didn’t laugh once. Not once. It never came close to preposterous. The two episodes were tight and believable, and the characters are all developing in ways that deepened my knowledge of them. I’m interested to learn about this Audrey he loves so much. Can’t you just see the love in the only picture I found of them together?


I have to say, 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. were by far the two best of the season, if you don’t count the first two. They ended the Fayed/nuclear arc quite well. Can the President please take a nap now? I mean, give him a break! The crisis is over, let him rest for crying out loud! I hope he lives.

Speaking of him, I loved the twists concerning him. And with the VP and the Chief of Staff, too! I don’t have the twisting gene, so I love to watch expert “twisting” in action.

What do you think?


Monday, April 09, 2007

Balance and Writing

Wow, the magic of the blogging universe is at work again.  I discovered a blog post about Balance over at Murderati.

I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed. I figured out that I work non-stop 14 hour days, every day, 7 days a week. Half of that time, I’m multi-tasking.

I need to change, LOL.

So what do you know, I head over to Murderati, and there’s a long comment trail of suggestions—I just love the way the universe works!

So here’s the thing: I’m thinking of cutting back and writing only four days a week. Can you see me cringing when I say that?

You see, Sunday, I already day job from 8 am – 9:30 pm, with only an hour break. Monday, I figure I need to take care of my pseudonym’s career, take care of various paperwork and business ickiness from my day job, and, um, work the day job! Tuesday – Thursday, I can write in the morning, day job in the evening. Friday, I can write all day. Saturday, I usually have to day job for half day. I usually write on Saturday afternoon-night.

But .. I’m wondering if I take half-day/day off on Saturday to re-energize, and focus my random to-dos on Mondays … will my writing time be more productive Tuesday – Friday?

Or will only writing 4 days a week be too little practice? And sadly, if I wrote like a crazy woman all the time, I’d probably be able to scale the day job WAY back.

I just don’t know. I just don’t think I can do the 14 hour/7 days a week thing to get there as soon as I’d like.

How do you balance things?


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Can you believe this snow???

Do you believe it? I thought it was time for spring and summer! Before we're done, we're going to have two feet! This picture is from a couple minutes ago! You'd think it was January! Where was this when we wanted a pretty picture of snow with the Christmas lights?


Friday, April 06, 2007

Refreshed, Revitalized, and Renewed!

Hey Everyone! I missed y’all! I missed blogging! I feel like I missed everything! My feed reader got so stuffed I blindly deleted a bunch of posts, just to save my sanity. Now I regret it!

So how are y’all doing? How’s the WIP going? How’s the spring break going? What’s up???

I thought it was going to take me all week to undo my burn-out and exhaustion. I thought I was going to have to spend a couple days in bed, just to clear my head.

In reality, it took me three hours of holding my niece in my arms as she slept. Dear God in heaven, some things are just so amazing and wonderful and … heart-filling, that it feels like your whole world changes. It was the best three hours of the year, excepting the four or so hours I spent with her in January.

Does that sound ridiculous?

After that wonderful day, I’ve spent all week at Borders reading and writing. I’ve been devouring books on Africa. I’ve never been there, but I’m falling in love with the place. God, it’s so gorgeous and raw.

And I’m torn up about things there. I just can’t see closing my eyes and pretending the world doesn’t exist, you know? It breaks your heart, though.

Are there any women out there who don’t have kids? Did you ever hit a spot in your life where you feel like you need to do something? Give some meaning to your life? Something outside yourself? With kids, I’m sure it’s easy; you’re doing a whole heck of a lot for the world. But me? I live to support myself my DH. Isn’t that the most self-absorbed and selfish thing?