Sunday, May 31, 2009

Peter and the Starcatchers

Cape Cod Weather Today: Beautiful. Sunny, already 66 degrees, and the pool is turquoise blue and ready to swim in. If the water was warmer. Ha! I'll bet the kids are in it before too long...

I just read Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Started it yesterday while waiting for my son's band lesson to be over, and finished it this morning with my coffee. What a great story! I'd bought it for the boys years ago, but personally I couldn't get past the Dave Barry thing. I mean, he was always one of my favorite columnists, but I didn't see how that would translate into a book for younger readers. And yet... it works. Really well.

For those who may not have heard of this when it came out a few years ago (2004, Disney Hyperion Books), it's the story of how Peter Pan got his powers, how he met and made enemies with the infamous Captain Hook, and how the island of "Neverland" came to be. In the acknowledgments, the authors thank Pearson's daughter for asking "how a flying boy met a certain pirate." Leave it to a child to come up with the idea for a great kids' book.

I've always loved Peter Pan - I think we saw it the Disney version at the drive-in with my parents on a summer night long ago - long enough in my past that I'm pretty certain my sisters and I were all in our pajamas with our pillows in the back of the convertible to go to the drive-in theatre, for first the kids movie and then the feature presentation (where my parents expected the three of us to bed down in the backseat and fall asleep.) When my oldest son was four, my mother-in-law took him to see Peter Pan onstage in Chatham, and for the next year he was on the lookout for pirates and flying boys.

I don't want to give away any of the plot points, but if you like the Peter Pan story and ever wondered how he learned to fly.... read this book. It's quick, it's well-written, and it's fun.

This would make a great live-action adventure movie. I hope someone has optioned it. Also, I hope in making it they figure out how to make the mermaids believable, because that would help pave the way in people's minds for MY mermaid tale of adventure. (LOL - but not really kidding) I have seen the previews for the new animated Tinkerbelle movie, which gives a whole different background story for the fairies... so maybe they won't be filming this book.

But they should.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Cape Cod Weather Today: Cloudy and 50 degrees, with rain showers predicted on and off throughout the day. Which is okay because I should be sitting here writing, and not gardening.

Everything is blooming.

I need to get a picture of my wisteria this year because it's incredible. The azaleas (like the one above) are bursting with color - pinks and reds scattered around our yard and neighborhood - and the rhododendrons have just begun to bloom. The blueberries and raspberries are all budding with flowers (and potential berries) and the tomato plants all have little yellow blooms on them as well (yea!) The camellias are long past, but that's okay. (They're covered in aphid mold and need to be sprayed every week which kills the blooms anyway.)

There are hundreds of birds nesting in my yard - the rhodies are quite overgrown, eight or ten feet tall on the perimeter of the back yard - and I even saw a pair of birds building a nest behind the American eagle that sits over my front door.

Mother Nature puts a lot of energy into spring, making it showy.If I tried to use that many adjectives on a page, people would laugh and call it purple prose, like the contest over at the Query Tracker blog.

All that spring rain sure had a great purpose. SO next year? When I inevitably complain again about the lousy weather? Remind me why we have all those April showers, could you?

Because nothing beats the bloom of May on Cape Cod.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ah, Spring...

Cape Cod Weather Today: Cloudy, drizzly and 50 degrees. But I'm not complaining (for a change) because we need some rain to wash away the abundant pollen...

My spring yard work is almost complete. The mulch is all spread, the bushes are mostly trimmed, the leaves hauled to the compost area at the dump... the dump compost hauled back here to plant my husband's (hopefully) luscious heirloom tomatoes... and some hostas and daylillies that I took out of a friend's yard as she was separating her garden (I still owe her a bottle of wine)...and the pool is open and a lovely shade of green. Well, I said the yard was ALMOST ready. Right?

Opening the pool this year was tricky, since my husband tore a tendon in his knee earlier this spring, but the boys stepped up and did a lot of the work. Now we just have to be patient as the chemicals do their work.

The BEST part of spring on Cape Cod is the FRESH FISH. We had freshly caught fish the last two nights in a row - - not to say finally, but FINALLY! I love fresh, fresh blue fish. I would never order it in a restaurant, and I think the smoked version my m-i-l serves is... for palettes other than mine. But Fresh Blue Fish is awesome. I could have that for dinner every day. The Striped Bass my husband and his brother catch rock, too, but I never thought I'd be a bluefish lover...and I am.

The yellow pollen, on the other hand, has to go. It's covering everything, indoors and out. My car looks like a giant blew his nose all over it. Splotchy yellowy green.

Happy Spring and Early Summer to all!

Friday, May 22, 2009

100 Days Until My Novel is Released

Cape Cod Weather Today: Same as yesterday. Beautiful.

One Hundred Days. When you say it like that, it sounds... pretty cool.

Does anyone know how I would install a countdown clock app on this page? Just to tease myself? And you?

Another thing to add to my list today.

Still not writing today - need to finish mulching the backyard and getting it ready to open the pool this weekend (it is almost June after all, it's gonna be warm sometime) Never did get to tearing down the wallpaper in the bathroom this week, as I'd promised my husband before he flew off to Nebraska on business. Busy with landscaping. But I told my son yesterday, I enjoy landscaping because when it's done I get a great feeling of satisfaction, surveying the yard and thinking "I did that."

I think the feeling when I see my book in print will be similar. Maybe a little more intense.

I'm looking forward to finding out.

One Hundred Days.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Summertime is Almost Here

Cape Cod Weather Today: Gorgeous. Simply wonderful. Sunny, already 61 degrees and going up into the 70s later. There's a slight breeze and blue skies. Just what you picture when you think Cape Cod for Memorial Day Weekend.

It's almost summer. I've been posting fun summery pictures on my other blogspot for my neighborhood association... teasing those off-Cape residents with gorgeous shots of blooming flowers and green trees... and beaches. We've got beaches. Sand, shells, and clear blue water.

I've also got fresh pine mulch to finish spreading, and weeds to be whacking, and tomato plants that need watering. So if I want to go for a walk this morning and see that beautiful beach in this beautiful sunshine, perhaps I need to get out of my writer's chair and Get Going.

Hope you are sharing some of this gorgeous weather and beautiful sunshine!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Still Thrilled with My Release Date!

Cape Cod Weather Today: Bright and sunny, 56 degrees but going up to the 70s on Thursday, and maybe the 80s this weekend for Memorial Day! Dare I hope? Dare! Dare!

I'm still tickled pink to know the release date for my first book. I mean, I knew it was coming this fall, but to have an actual date is so exciting!

Thanks to all who've called and sent messages of congratulations! I'm so happy to be able to share my good news and have people happy with me!

My next big project is getting the new issue of Cape Women Online out the door, so to speak - we've completely revised the magazine and the publisher and I are so excited about our new look and the new opportunities we can offer to creative Cape women of all stripes. I'll be posting a link as soon as it's up and running - - and I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks!

Hurray for a Sunshine Day!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Release Date!

I finally got a release date!!!

October first of this year!!!

Here's part of the email I received just a few moments ago:

Hi, Katie,

I wanted to let you know that I just got notification of the release date for Unfolding the Shadows. It’ll come out on October first of this year, and it’ll cost $6.99. The ISBN, should you need it for promotional purposes or reality checks, is 9781419922367.

Congratulations! I hope that this gives a bit of excitement to your Monday.

*Yeah!* I'm busy doing Snoopy's "happy dance" here on Cape Cod! Feel free to join in wherever you are!

I was going to write a post today all about my lovely weekend camping with the girl scouts, but I think I'll hold off on that and just revel in my news. Revel revel revel! Dance Dance Dance!

Friday, May 15, 2009

I'm going camping....

Cape Cod Weather today: Rain. 55 degrees, windy, and while the rain has let up for the moment, there's much more in the forecast. Because I'm going camping with my girl scouts this weekend.

It's a given. I'm going camping, so there has to be a weather event. Drizzle isn't a weather event. The predicted thunderstorm will be, though.

I was truly hoping to break that cycle, and decided I was glad that Spring had gotten all the rain out of her system. But she didn't. There's more.

My first scout camping trip was with both boys and their Cup Scout Pack. 36 inches of snow. Howling wind all night. Had to dig my way from the cabin to the latrines the next morning (as all the dad's were able to just "step outside...")

My second scout camping trip was a Webelo weekend. The governor declared a state-wide weather emergency for the hurricane winds and rain. We had to un-pitch the tent we'd already pitched in the rain, but our pack decided to stay on the floor of the arts and crafts cabin, as the dirt roads were pretty treacherous and we didn't have 4-wheel drive vehicles.

My next few scout camping trips were with my daughter, cozy in a cabin and safe from the howling November wind and rain that canceled the outdoor portions of the activities.

Then last spring. Brownie troop and thunder storms.

Now this spring. Brownie troop and thunder storms.

Mother Nature does not want me to be a Happy Camper.

What was your worst camping experience? Please share so I can stop feeling like it's only Me!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Working Mothers

Cape Cod Weather Today: Mostly sunny and 56 degrees. You look out the window when the sun is shining and say "Yea! but it's actually not all that warm out there...

This is an old picture, from the last time the circus actually "came to town," but it's one of my favorites for lots of reasons. It's bright and cheerful, full of color and life, and loaded with personality.

Just like my kids.

Mother's Day was supposed to be all about relaxing, except I ended up with a migraine. Ugh. And of course it was a gorgeous sunny day (bright sunshine + migraines = more pain) I'm thinking that I'm going to have another mother's day during the summer. I'll let the kids know ahead of time that I get the pool to myself all day. (I'll pick a sunshine + NO migraine day.)

In a way though, every day is "mother's day," when we're surrounded by all things child and loaded down with mommy tasks. (who really got to lounge all day? No dishes? No laundry? No fights?) Just like every mother is a "working mother" whether she works in the home, in an office, or anywhere else. You can't be a mom without work. (Unless you have a "type C nanny" and all your time is "me-time.") (I watched part of the Nanny Diaries yesterday when I was lying down waiting for migraine to go away.)

One of my good friends had an absolutely horrible day yesterday with her kids. She's a single mom who works outside the home and has her own business, and her teenagers haven't been pitching in lately... and they pushed her right over the edge. So she's decided to have a "do-over" next Sunday, and be clear about her expectations. Because really, why let Hallmark tell you what day to celebrate motherhood?

So, hope all you mothers reading this enjoyed your "official" mother's day... But if you didn't you can always reschedule it for next Sunday, or every Sunday for the rest of the summer, or any day that works best for you.

Because I said so. And you can too.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rain Rain and even more Rain

Cape Cod Weather Today: Rain. Rain. and Rain.
Officially, the forecast calls for light fog, 55 degrees and chance of afternoon thunderstorms.But they can't fool me It's raining out there. Again.

When the fog eventually lifts, something wonderful will be revealed.

The clouds will part. The sun will burst forth. It will be wonderful.

I did paintings of this concept in college. The fog was the present, but the future was that bright shiny thing hidden by the clouds. Eventually it would be revealed. (There was always a red sphere somewhere in the painting, representing me in that shiny future.)

I'm not sure eventually is here yet. I get glimpses of bright shiny things now and then, but I wouldn't call my life Bright or Shiny. Not yet. Not quite. So what am I waiting for?

Are my expectations too high? I know what I want to be when I grow up, but when will that be? Ever? Is "finding yourself" a lifelong struggle for everyone or only we confused few? Are there people who are just satisfied with what they have, with how their lives have turned out, or do you have to wait until the end to be able to evaluate it all and work out your tally sheet of pluses and minuses?

I had an actual exhibition of my paintings once, a few years out of college after I'd already left the world of advertising. It was held in Boston at a coffee shop/cafe kind of shop on Boylston Street, on the Berklee College of Music end of the street. I ended up selling one painting off the wall - well, the coffee shop did - to a visiting mathematician from Oxford, England. I like to think of that little painting sitting on an office wall at the university, having students stare at it while they wait to confer with their professor, their eyes traveling through the swirls, trying to find themselves in the painting.

Or at least find enough to make them smile. Hope you find something in your day today to make you smile as well.

...And to all those mothers out there reading this (not mine, since mine doesn't read my blog, she says) HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! HAVE A GREAT DAY - YOU DESERVE IT.

Friday, May 8, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different...

Cape Cod Weather Today: The fog is burning off finally, and it looks like it'll be a bright morning! We did end up going to the beach yesterday in the thick fog, which wasn't much fun. I know I usually like all this different weather... but this spring is getting old. Period. Need some warmth.

Sorry for yesterday's mommy rant.

All better now.

After getting it out on the blog yesterday, I sat down and rewrote my synopsis and query letter and think I did a kick-ass job. So of course I mailed it right out. Perhaps I'll even get back to my rejection a day, I mean QUERY-a-day mailings that I did earlier in the year... I've taken all that advice I got and tightened up the story, refocused it and made the characters more engaging. I think. Let's hope someone else thinks so, too.

And now for something completely different.

When I was fresh out of college I worked at an advertising agency, first as their receptionist (with the promise of moving up) and then in the media department (they kept their promises.) They had a great annual anniversary party on Cinco de Mayo, which I got to be part of for the three or four years I was with them. It was great fun being part of that world, and I have lots of fond memories of those days in Boston.

But even now, every year on Cinco de Mayo, I think of Gearon Hoffman Advertising and wonder what they're up to. Yesterday I decided to look them up online - and found their website, which is funny and interactive, and really quite engaging. I was impressed. Some of the same people still work there as when I was there - besides Dan Gearon and Bob Hoffman, whose names are on the letterhead. Heidi Ferris is still head of the media department, and Kathy Carino now runs client services. She even has a 13 year old son, which I guess I remember from Christmas cards but it all runs together. We've lost touch over the years.

Have you lost touch with people you used to see every day? Who were such an integral part of your life that you figured you'd know them forever? It's strange to look back on things like that, but also there are some great memories that deserve revisiting. Who have you lost touch with, and why? And would you want to reconnect?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mommy Rants

Cape Cod Weather today: Don't let the photo fool you. It's icky out there today. Heavy dense fog and misty, wet 58 degrees... hopefully clearing by this afternoon for my son's track meet.

A friend took this photo when his family was visiting last month, out on the jetty with his dog soon after sunrise. Just him and the dog. He emailed it to me, and I thought I'd share it, as I'm wishing the fog would lift and I could take the dogs to the beach without my slicker on...

This morning I had to make sandwiches for the teacher appreciation luncheon the PTA is throwing at the elementary school today. The president of the PTA cornered me at karate class a few weeks ago. I tried to offer to make something simple. Rigatoni? Green Salad? Tuna noodle casserole? These ideas were rejected, and she asked me to make roll-up sandwiches. For 20 or 30.

My daughter was in the same kindergarten class as her daughter several years ago, which was probably the last time I made curried chicken roll-up sandwiches ever. I'm not even sure she ever came to one of the parties where I served them... but that's what she requested. Whatever. My daughter got out of bed early and was eager to help me put them together. She also made little signs out of index cards to label the two types of sandwiches (some with curry and some without.) I bought a plastic platter to carry them in on, and dropped them off before ten, as requested.

Teachers deserve our appreciation for all they do, but I wasn't in the mood today. Yesterday the school lost my daughter. For twenty minutes. I mean, she was with a teacher at the time, but the office couldn't track her down and her homeroom teacher had no idea where she was. Unacceptable. I sent a note that morning, saying I'd be there at 1:30 to pick her up. I arrived a little ahead of time. Twenty minutes to track her down. Argh.

We were 14 and a half minutes late for a doctor appointment, but luckily they squeezed us in anyway (15 minutes is their cutoff, so you know for next time) because my son had the appointment after hers and then we had to go pick up oldest son from track (he called to say he'd walk to the library but we picked him up on the side of the road before he got all the way there) and drop boys home before then taking daughter to dental appointment, where they ended up charging me $6 the insurance didn't cover for her last visit in November. (Aren't they supposed to write that off?) Oldest son preceded to have a meltdown at me for most of the night and not eat his dinner... and finally apologize to me after 8 p.m. but is mad at me again today because I can't go to his away track meet because middle son has karate belt testing this afternoon, and I'll also miss next week's track meet because of Brownie camping trip Friday. Oh, and my old dog had another cranial "episode" (the vet told us emphatically that dogs don't have strokes. Even if that's what it seems like.) and has lost her balance but not yet her continence. She's almost 14 years old. Her birthday is coming up at the end of this month.

Okay enough ranting.

What's my point, anyway?

The point is, I should be writing. I should be starting something new, or sending queries for my YA. Or hounding my editor about the submission I sent her at the beginning of last month. (Okay, I can't hound her until 8 weeks is up, I promised.) But life has other plans for me, and reminds me again that my primary responsibilities at the moment are the kids in my life. Not my written babies, but the real-life ones.

Point taken and acknowledged.

Now I need to write. Before the bus gets home and the madness begins again.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Searching for Rainbows

Cape Cod Weather Today: Rainy, 47 degrees, chance of thunderstorms through Friday. Still. Again. What's with the rain? Did someone forget it's May already? We had all this in April....

Given the rainy weather, I was searching through my photo albums for a good rainbow picture. I found this shot from the Harwich Junior Theatre instead.

The stairs which lead up to the rehearsal rooms and changing rooms are painted in rainbow hues, with the words to the song "Rainbow Connection" painted on the faces in gold.

The theatre has been around for a long time - I doubt that many of the kids currently taking classes in the building have even seen The Muppet Movie, but I get a chill each time I walk up the stairs and read the words.

You can't help but read the words as you climb. And hear Kermit in your head...

"Why are there so many songs about
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions
But only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it
It's something that I'm s'posed to be
Someday we'll find it
The Rainbow Connection
The Lovers, the Dreamers,
And Me."

I know it's been a dreary spring in many parts of the country, including Cape Cod. Keep looking for the rainbows. Here's wishing that there's a Rainbow Connection out there for each of us.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Saying Goodbye Before Saying Hello...

I got a disturbing email today, telling me that The Lotus Circle is closing as an imprint.

I haven't even been published yet, and my imprint is going under. Without my help, LOL.

The publisher, however, is still going strong, and the fiction titles - like mine - will be picked up by another imprint, CERRIDWEN PRESS, in their psychic division.

So I'm still going to have a book coming out this year.

But I still don't know when. And now, the cover art will be changing slightly, if only to reflect the new imprint title. So we'll have to see how that impacts the release date (still undetermined...)

Such stress on a Monday night. I need (another) martini !


Cape Cod Weather today: Lousy. Rainy, with low-hanging clouds and a mere 49 degrees. Somehow that seems so much colder than 50 degrees. Why is that?

My oldest son competed in a chess tournament this weekend. Out of about 10 kids in his age group (6th-8th grade) he placed fourth. Not bad. Not as good as he wanted, but respectable.

The amazing part to me is the reactions I got from many of the other adults I mentioned it to along the way (I was at a Brownie workshop with my daughter almost all day Saturday after dropping him at the tournament.) Many of the adults didn't know how to play chess themselves. They couldn't imagine their own kids playing chess, or understanding the various ways the pieces move.

My son started playing in kindergarten. There was a chess club at his elementary school that he participated in when he was in first and second grade. He's a bright kid, but no Bobby Fisher. I harbor no illusions. But the basic strategies of chess aren't impossible to learn, especially for kids these days who seem to be able to keep track of every cheat on every different DS or PSP game, and all the intricate rules for card games like YuGiOh or Pokemon. Why not learn chess?

We need to teach our kids strategies for problem solving, and chess is one of those games where you have to think a few moves ahead in order to beat your opponent.

Strate-gery, as our former president would say. We need to learn 'em some strategery.

I'm guessing former president Bush didn't play much chess, either.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Cape Cod Weather Today: Cloudy, high layer of thick fog, 51 degrees and light rain at the moment, chances of heavier rain and storm later... and more rain predicted through the weekend...

I finished mowing the yard yesterday. I even got the Scotts Lawn Spreader out and put down the grub killer in the front and side yards (I skipped the backyard, I woulda had to open the other bag...and I was tired...) First, I did all my dump runs, including the 8 barrels of leaves the kids raked up at the beginning of vacation week and then left in the backyard without lids on them all through the rainy week (imagine 50 pound barrels of soaking wet leaves!) The guy at the dump wanted to charge me $$$, but I insisted they were just wet leaves (leaves are free) and he squinted at me skeptically, but waved me through.

Today, though, is Grey. Grey Day. Grey Friday.

On the bright side (which is internal, not external) I finished rewriting the first four chapters, and am really happy with it. I asked my 11-year-old to read page one on-screen to see if it was engaging and he kept reading through chapter 2 before I stopped him to finish his homework before karate class. He knows this book. Hell, he inspired this book. But yet he was still intrigued by the descriptions I'd added.

"I didn't know Prince Theo was only 4, with a cherubic face," he said. "That means angel-like, right? I'd pictured him as a teenager."

me: "So?"

"Well," he continued, "It makes it way worse when the bad guy kills him like that at the beginning. He sounds cute and then you kill him right off."

me: "Is that bad?"

"No, no," he rushed to assure me. "It makes the bad guy even badder. I can't wait to see what he does next."

me: "But you know what he does next."

"Yeah... but it sounds more exciting now."

me: "Go finish your homework now, and I'll get you pizza for dinner."

The power of adding descriptions. I guess it's a fine line between using adjectives and over-using adjectives. Between showing and telling. I'm so busy trying to follow all the advice I've read about keeping it spare and slicing out the "-ly" words (adverbs, for those of you who're grammatically challenged) ...that maybe I cut it too thin and took out the flavor. I try not to cook with salt, either. But then you end up having to add salt before you eat the food. To bring out the flavor.

So I'm sprinkling in the adjectives and descriptors now, like salt, after the character and plot are established in my head and on the page. To bring out the flavor. To make the reader want more.

Hope it works.