In Which I Ride a Ripstik

I first saw a Ripstik last year in a sporting store. "What good is this?" I said to my companions. "A skateboard with two wheels--who can ride it?" After giving it a good harrumphing, we walked away.

Since that time, Ripstiks have become popular in my neighborhood. Everyone has one. So I hang out on the edge, waiting for a lull in the action. "Can I try that?" I ask.

"Sure," they say. I give them popsicles. They give me pointers.

Skateboards are old school compared to the Ripstik, or "caster board," which is the generic term. Caster boards are comprised of two independent boards connected by a pole that allows the boards to pivot in opposite directions. The proper stance is sideways, as on a snowboard; to move forward, you press one foot down (toes down) and the other foot up (heel down). Moving your feet like this causes the front wheel to move in a direction opposite of the back wheel, producing forward motion. Initially, I felt like I'd fall and crack my head open. But now--


Not well--not yet--but give me time! I love this thing! It's fun and challenging and different from anything I've ever done. No matter I am the only woman out in the street on a Ripstik; I'm shredding up the pavement.

I can hear you now: Danette, you totally rock! Or maybe you're saying, Danette, you are the village idiot.

And I just have one thing to say to both statements: I know, right!

Published in Writers' Journal!

My short romance, "Playdate," is published in the May/June 2008 issue of Writers' Journal. Page thirty-two!

I'm off to buy 5 10 all the copies left in the bookstore.

Spiders, Dragonflies, and Otters

I went out back to fill up the birdfeeder this morning, and the lawn was covered with these little webs; it looked like an aerial bombardment of spiders had taken place and all that remained were their little parachutes. As I tried to take the picture, A DF-75 (dragonfly in 75 degree heat) hummed right over my head and made me duck. The whole ordeal was quite treacherous.

If you click on this photo, you can see how pretty the beaded dew looks.

After coming in and properly slapping off my ankles, I searched for spiders on the Internet. I felt like they were crawling all over me with their long legs and their bad intentions. (Though a certain website told me that I'd have to work awfully hard to get bit by this spider--a grass spider.)

In other news, the other day, an otter--yes! a real otter--slipped across the road with a big catfish in its mouth. He appeared to amble, but he made good time, cutting behind my house and disappearing into the woods. I couldn't believe I'd seen him. Up to then, I thought my husband was teasing me, trying to make me jealous with his otter-sightings. Next time, I'll try to have the camera ready.

Family Portrait

Growing up, my family was always on a tight budget. My father was an Air Force man and we were all proud of him when he made recruiter. As part of the recruiting effort, the Air Force sent us to a local photographer to be photographed as a family; we’d show everyone what a happy Air Force family looked like. The real bonus was that we would receive our own large print.

My mom was thrilled at the prospect of having a real family portrait done. That morning, she fussed over our hair, curling and combing and hair spraying us. Even my brothers looked good. My mother of course was the real beauty. I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen her look so beautiful as she did that day, coming down the stairs shyly with my father, who was all decked out in his dress uniform. What a good looking family!

The mood lasted until we tried to get into the car. Four kids, two window seats. The boys started hitting each other in their quest for the window. “Stop it!” Dad yelled.

The studio was only a short distance away, but it was a hot day and the station wagon had no air conditioning. Now we argued about the windows. My sister and I had long hair and didn’t want it messed up by the wind; the boys were hot and wanted the windows down. “The windows stay up!” Mom snapped.

A long line of other families greeted us. We tried our best to be good, but it was a long wait. By the time they were ready for us, we were no longer ready for them. They assembled us into our positions and snap! That was it--one shot. We drove home tired and quiet.

When the portrait arrived weeks later, Mom sat at the kitchen table and opened it. “Oh, my gosh! We look like The Munsters!” The four of us kids scrambled to the table to see what she meant. It was true. Our faces were grim, our mouths straight lines. We stood stoically, especially my dad, who seemed to be arching his back and tilting up his head. Mom slipped the portrait back into its envelope. It was never displayed in our house.

As the years went by, we’d think about that photo. “Remember the monster picture?” we’d say to each other. “Yeah, where is it Mom?” We’d be laughing even before she returned with the print. “Look at Dad!” we’d squeal, pointing to his stiff posture and the strange way he held his head. “He was trying to look taller!” Mom would roar. We’d break up laughing, and laugh some more, staring at our own somber little freckle-faces. That unflattering, never-displayed portrait became a cherished, full-of-good-memories family keepsake.

Book Promotion, Your Brain is Fat, and A Thought on Nose Blowing

Sarah Prineas has an excellent series of posts discussing the impact of self promotion. To read the first post and comments, click here.

In other news, yesterday's Parade Magazine ran the Ask Marilyn column, in which Marilyn states that the human brain is 66% fat. So don't go on a diet--you might lose brain cells! And if the other thing is true--we only use 10% of our brains--that means we are only using 10% of 33% of our actual brain. That's only three hundredths of our gray matter! I guess there's no laughing at the dinosaurs and their peanut-sized brains now.

Also, there's a guy who makes $25,000 as a competitive eater. We could be making money for something we already do.

And finally, our paper's food critic says what I've been telling people for years: "If you must blow your nose, leave the table to do it."

My Flash Fiction Placed in WOW! Women on Writing ezine Flash Contest

I checked the WOW! Women on Writing site today and discovered my flash fiction had placed third in the WOW! Flash Fiction Contest. Hooray! Click here and scroll down for "Intersection."

Danette Haworth and Violet Raines have a Website!

The website for Danette Haworth (me!) and Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning went live last night! Some pages are "coming soon," but the main pages are up and working. I don't have a cover yet, but the site does include an excerpt from Violet Raines. And a little about me.

Come visit! Danette Haworth or Violet Raines--both roads lead to my new house.

I'll be adjusting the blogs, too, might change the look of Summer Friend to match the website. And I'll shut down the Danette Haworth blog now that the site's open.

Come on over, then, and tell me what you think!

Violet Raines is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders!

I almost fell out of my chair after performing my daily ritual of searching for my book's title, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning--Violet Raines is listed on, Barnes & Noble, and Borders!

And I received the galleys today!

And I've been blurbed!

I'm not able to share the cover yet, but I am excited to quote two wonderful authors who took time from their own schedules to read my book. Here's what they had to say:

"Danette Haworth has written a wonderful story that is as warm and bright as the Florida sun, and eleven-year-old Violet Raines--loyal, hilarious, and true--is the best friend any girl could have."
Lauren Tarshis, Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree

"Haworth's rich sense of place and telling detail embrace the reader like a hammock on a shaded porch, inviting them to while away the day. Danette Haworth creates characters so real they stand out on the page. They tell a story of friendship on the cusp of adolescence so full of spunk and humor I read more slowly as I approached the last page. This is a lovely debut."
Audrey Couloumbis, Newbery Honor winner, Getting Near to Baby

Comedian Brian Regan Talks About Reading, Writing, and Books

Two-Book Deals

A couple of Blueboarders recently snagged two-book deals--on their debut! Check out these exciting posts and feel the excitement!

One book and seven years' writing turned into an "outstanding offer" in a two-book deal for author Angie Frazier. Read all about it here. Congratulations, Angie!

L.K. Madigan posted her two-book deal in this blog entry. Way to go, L.K.!

All right! Now back to work, writers!