Name Calling

Suzanne Kamata and I are doing a bunch of name calling at her blog Gaijin Mama. Here's the lead in:

Any of us who are parents know how important a name is. A name has the power to shape the impression others have of us before they even meet us. Would you ever believe that someone named Bill Bailey would be a rock star? What if his name was Axl Rose? Could Eleanor Gow rock the cover of Sports Illustrated? She did, under the name Elle Macpherson. Who would you be more interested in: Paul Hewson or Bono, Cherilyn Sarkisian or Cher, Mary Cathleen Collins or Bo Derek?

Planning your summer vacation? Why not visit Square Butte, Montana, or Elephant Butte, New Mexico? If those don’t sound good, you can go to Hell—Michigan, that is, about an hour west of Detroit.

What's in a name and how do writers choose monikers for their characters? Well, come on over and tell us how you do it!

Violet Raines Speaks!

Well, it was bound to happen--my character has outshone me. Violet Raines is over at Joyce Anthony's blog today talking about her friends and what it was like to be in a book. I got in a few words edgewise.

Come on over!

Writers Inspired

Come visit me today at Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writers Inspired, where we'll be talking about--what else?--writing and being inspired!

Please join us!

A Good Blog is Hard to Find!

All of us who write have tools and rituals we consider essential to the craft of writing. Coffee, of course, is the main thing--the first thing!--and beyond that we have a world of books, social networking, and other opportunities that help make us better writers.

That's what we're talking about over at A Good Blog is Hard to Find. Come join us!

American Idol: And the winner is . . . what?

We had more than six inches of rain yesterday. Most people in Central Florida attribute this to natural weather phenomena, but those who will track this deluge will find the source to be the tears streaming from my eye sockets.

Adam Lambert did not win American Idol. It's true.

Oh, it started off pleasantly enough. Norman Gentle, I was glad to see him. Kris's journey, nice guy, good runner up. It had been raining all day here and lightning flashed in the windows behind me, giving the effect of strobe lights through the window. I hated the group songs; they just don't sound good together.

Then, just as they started to introduce Adam's journey, LIGHTNING TOOK OUT MY SATELLITE! The world spun crazily and I clawed my way to the phone. "MAC! MAC!" My sister, my only lifeline--she's on vacation, but I knew she'd answer for me. I clutched the phone. "What's happening? Who's Adam singing with?"


Oh, man! Stupid satellite dish. Desperately, my kids and I (and even my husband who hates AI but nevertheless thought Adam superior) tried to restore the signal manually, but to no avail. Then, just as suddenly, the signal returned--at the commercial break following Adam's performance.

Coinkidink? I think not.

Exhibit #1 Despite repeated dialings, I got only one vote in for Adam.

Exhibit #2 None of my text votes received confirmation notices (until the next day).

Exhibit #3 After not receiving confirmation, I repeatedly texted to 5705. That was my fault; I had never texted AI before and thought it followed the phone format. Still, I blame Idol.

Excitement surged through our little family, stirring us to our feet in the final moments. I wonder that I didn't fall to the ground, crack my head on the floor, and require emergency services when Adam's name was not announced.

As some of you know, this season was my first American Idol experience. I don't know if can withstand another.

It's still raining now; forecasters say it will rain all week. If only they would look more closely at their radars and see the tracks of my tears. It's such a mad world.

Mother Daughter Book Club

Cindy Hudson is hosting me today at Mother Daughter Book Club. We're talking about change and the trials of adolescence. Come on over!

New Author Debut Exclusive!

I've always thought I was dead.

With these words, our mystery guest opens his new story. Please join me in welcoming a budding author--my son!

My youngest son wants to write his own stories--funny stories and maybe comics. He's a voracious reader and an insightful boy. This is his rough draft; he plans on developing a full manuscript later. (If he doesn't, he's given me exclusive rights to use any of his words. I love the first sentence, so I'm not going to forget this promise!)

He wanted me to share the rough draft with you, and I am pleased to do so. (Click on picture for full-size image.) Enjoy!

Misadventures with Andi

I'm blogging today with Andi Fisher at Misadventures with Andi. We talk about growing up military, thoughts on creating a series, and whether or not to use a real setting in a novel.

Come on over!

Surprise Guest, Barnes & Noble, Alligators!

Hope you're having a good weekend! Please stop by this Tuesday when I feature a new author. He's written a story for middle-grade readers, and here's the first line:

I've always thought I was dead.

I love that line! If you want to read more, come back on Tuesday!

Also, St. James Cathedral School of Orlando put on a great book fair this month at Barnes & Noble. My bb, Sandy Nawrot arranged for me to come and sign books, and the pleasure was all mine! Such talented students! Chimers, guitar players, and more!

A few days ago, I traveled deep into the jungle and held an alligator. Okay, it wasn't that deep but it was Jungle Adventures, a twenty-two acre spread that includes a natural wetland, a spring, and a beautiful stream covered by duckweed. The facility houses lots of exotic animals, including Goliath, a 1700 pound male alligator. Though I didn't know that male alligators clamp their jaws shut with 3000 pounds of pressure or that females clamp with 1500 pounds of pressure, I did shout the correct answer for how many teeth alligators have--eighty. Ha! I knew that from my research for Violet Raines. But there was more about the teeth I didn't know: Alligators' teeth are like stacked cups; there's always another tooth growing under the visible tooth. The jaw produces teeth for every socket (unless the socket suffer infection or injury) for the duration of the alligator's life. So you'll never see a pumpkin smile on an alligator.

Here is Safari Todd with some of Jungle Adventures' toothy residents:

Don't try this at home!

Spotted at Chili's

After spending the day on a field trip and the evening at basketball games, I took my two little boys to Chili's, and while we were waiting, I saw this kid holding a book, the back of which looked familiar. I couldn't see for sure. After we were seated, I made one of my sons go to the other section and ask that kid what book he was reading.

Can you believe it was Violet Raines! It was his sister's book. A few minutes later, the brother and the sister appeared at our table, wanting me to sign the book, and I, of course, had bookmarks in my purse! I'm sure they'll never know it how thrilling it was for me to see them with my book in a setting outside the context of book signings and schools.

I need to call my mom.

Come Visit Me at Jillian Clemmons' Place!

Today, I'll be at Jillian Clemmons, hosted by Jillian Clemmons! Please stop by!

All Men Are Created Equal

All men are created equal, especially this man:

Yeah! Go Adam, Go Adam! Adam Lambert fans unite! Charge up your cell phones, hook up to DialIdol, do those finger exercises, 'cause next week we must give it our all!

Wash My Laundry or Write My Book?

Today, Anne-Marie Nichols is hosting me on her blog, A Mama's Rant. We're talking about the pros and cons of working from home in my guest post: "Wash My Laundry or Write my Book: How does a stay-at-home-writer do it?"

Come on over!

Friendly Book Nook, B&N, Scholastic

Climb aboard! The next stop on my blog tour is The Friendly Book Nook, hosted by Sally Riley. Sally provides an overview of the Violet Raines, then gives us her take on it. Check it out!

In other news, I met my online buddy Sandy Nawrot at the B&N book signing! We had much to talk about--books and our telephone-voting strategies to slip Adam Lambert into first place. Pictures and more in a later post!

Also, I spent fifteen minutes in heaven yesterday--oh, wait! I spent a few hours at the Scholastic Book Fair office yesterday and had a great time! Photos and more in a later post. Scholastic people are wonderful!

Muffins, Alligators, and Come Visit Me Tonight at Barnes & Noble!

Busy morning:

  • Fired up cappuccino machine and watched Adam Lambert sing "Whole Lotta Love."
  • Ate a carrot nut muffin.
  • Made lunches; drove assorted people to school.
  • Spotted alligator skimming through unfenced pond near elementary school. Rolled down window and shouted, "Hi Allie!"
  • Cleaned up kitchen, made beds.
  • At my computer by 9:30.
  • Performed research for current manuscript.
Time for another cappuccino.

Tonight I'll be signing copies of Violet Raines at Barnes & Noble in the Colonial Plaza Market Center (2418 East Colonial Drive, Orlando). My appearance there is just one small part of the book fair for St. James School. St. James students will be putting on the real show; student performances include a juggling act, chimes players, and a foot-stomping ukulele group! Come on out if you're in the area!



Now I have to get back to voting!


Come Visit Me at Zook Book Nook!

Kim Zook is hosting me at her blog, Zook Book Nook. I know, great name, right?! Kim's interview centers on the relationship between Violet Raines and nature. I loved answering these questions!

Please come!

Interview at WOW, Blueberry News, American Idol

Happy Monday!

Today I'm a guest over at WOW! Women on Writing. Jodi Webb interviewed me and we're holding a Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning book giveaway! Come on over! You don't even have to be a woman to win!

Blueberry news: Last Thursday, I turned in my rough draft for The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness, and Friday morning, my editor sent me an email saying this: I was blown away by the story. Hooray! and YAY! Revisions are next.

In other news, I had an epiphany over the weekend: American Idol is not a contest of who sings the best. It's a contest of whose fans dial in their votes the fastest and are willing to do so for the full two hour voting window. Adam Lambert fans, we cannot have a repeat of last week.

With this in mind, I have been doing finger push-ups and thumb squats, twenty reps, three times a day. Timed drills on my land line and ATT cell phone prove that my speed is improving. LOOK OUT, NON-ADAM fans--I'm feeling AMBIDEXTROUS!

Sandy N., MAC, AprilGarden, AnnaG.--I'm talking to you! Team Adam has been mobilized!

I Have Events!

If you live in the Orlando area, I would love to meet you! Thanks to Sandy Nawrot, bb extraordinaire, and Geoffrey Shoffstall of B&N, I'll be doing a meet-and-greet book signing at Barnes & Noble in the Colonial Plaza Market Center (2418 East Colonial Drive, Orlando). Please come!

Other events include an interview May 4th at The Muffin, WOW! Women on Writing blog, followed by a blog tour. Please visit me at some of these wonderful sites:

May 5th ZookBookNook

May 8th FriendlyBookNook

May 12th A Mama's Rant

May 20th Mother Daughter Book Club

May 22th A Good Blog Is Hard to Find

June 4th Read These Books and Use Them

Hope to see you there!