Monday, July 27, 2009

Gathering Clouds

Cape Cod Weather today: Foggy and humid and 70 degrees. The humidity has been brutal for the last few days an everything I own or touch seems slightly damp. I think it may be a local thing, because we drove to the north side of the Cape yesterday, and had breeze and sun. Hmmm....

The rains are back, for good or bad. Good means I still don't have to turn on the sprinkler for the lawn. Good means we aren't suffering severe-severe drought like Texas is this summer. Good means I won't feel guilty going to the mall today with my mom to go shopping.

Bad means the weather is depressing. People are depressed and on short fuses. My kids are snipping at each other on a near constant basis. We had sunshine at the lake yesterday and they still nearly came to blows fighting over a boogie board. Arrrrgh....

And I don't seem to be able to write. I know it's summer, and it's hard to concentrate for longer than a blog blurb or a magazine article with the kids around. And we've had a steady stream of visitors over the last three weeks. (when my parents leave on Friday, I get to quick-clean the guest room for our next guests who "check-in" on Saturday.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about guests - there's not one family whom I would choose to cancel or rescind an invitation...I just feel like a loser calling myself a writer when I'm not writing.

I did submit a few pieces to Cape Women Online for the fall issue, due out September 1st. One chronicles my road to publication. The other is an interview with the Artistic Director of the Harwich Junior Theatre, now in their 58th season, and Nina is in her 13th as AD. I've also edited several great articles by fellow writers and been emailing to remind other authors about the submissions they're supposed to be working on...

I need to find a few moments (minutes? hours?) to sit down and finish rewriting my two manuscripts that are in the almost-there stages. I'll be realistic and say I need to wait until fall to work on the new ideas rattling around in my head. Just let 'em rattle for now.

In the meantime, I'll try to blog more often. And rework my website, which desperately needs an update! Argh! But my web guy is also home with kids this summer, and since he works on my stuff in his "free time" I don't think he has much of that to spare.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sunshine versus Grey Days

Cape Cod Weather today: Changeable. It looked dark this morning, then the sun broke through, but the clouds have been on the horizon all day, hovering, waiting. The air is full of moisture. The pool is totally unbalanced, confused by the changing weather.

It was gorgeous and sunny all of last week. The shifting weather pattern has brought the clouds back this week, and finally some humidity (not that I was missing it) ...but I realized that I hadn't been writing much. The weather was too nice to sit inside and type away.

I hadn't updated this blog in days, so this is going to be a round up of my thoughts and activities - somewhat akin to a big excuse note. "Please excuse Katie for not blogging as she had other things to do..."

I've posted to the Old Mill Point blog several times - stuff going on in the 'hood. As neighborhood Treasurer, I seem to be in charge of numerous tasks, small and large, although the upside is that I can hire my kids to do the odd jobs and not feel bad about the nepotism thing. My middle child bought his own electric guitar (with double pickups!) from last summer's earnings. My oldest was eager to help dig today to earn money for a trip to Canobie Lake Park tomorrow (you know it'll all be wasted on throwing darts and shooting baskets, but he earned it.)

As for writing, I'm trying to keep abreast of it all - I found a blog post today about a new agent who sounds interesting for my MG novel - but I'm not getting a lot of writing done. I'm still only 1/3 way through the rewrites suggested by Chris Richman in his kind rejection letter. Need to keep on that and query this new woman ASAP.

I've written a few magazine pieces for the fall issue of Cape Women Online, interviewed the Artistic Director of the local theatre (who wants my oldest to try out for a part in their upcoming Dracula!) She told me their box office is down about 30% this summer, but that all the area businesses seem to be experiencing the same fall off.

I also got roped onto a marketing committee for my yacht club. I guess they/we are trying to look for new ways to attract new members. There is no wait list at the moment, and in fact I think we need 20 or 30 new families to meet our target budget numbers for the year. The economy is having ripple effects all over. Comments? Ideas?

My parents will be here for a week starting Thursday. Oops, that's tomorrow. I guess I need to go make some beds and vacuum again. The previous tenants in the guest room had 3 dogs with them, so although I've already vacuumed once I feel the need for a do-over, just in case. Greyhounds have very fine hair....

That's about all, in addition to the sailing and basketball and guitar lessons that I'm still ferrying children to. Oh, and my son's rock band NonCompliant will be playing on August 1st at the annual kids day festival in Barnstable. Should be a great show!

Okay, THAT's about it. NOt much writing, but still busy. And counting the days until my release date.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Beach Day

Cape Cod Weather Today: Blue Skies but still a little chilly at 58 degrees (I have on long sleeves.) Should be warming into the 70s today, but the breeze feels good.

I went to the beach yesterday.

As in, I did the tourist thing, and packed a picnic and towels and sunscreen and boogie boards and kids, and went to sit on a different beach - half an hour away - with friends from out of town.

And I wore a bathing suit, on purpose, and without crying (too much.) And I actually went in the ocean.

Okay, I didn't mean to really go swimming, but we were wading in the shallows and a splash fight started... and someone used Mom as a shield... so I ended up soaked. And it was fun.

Living on Cape Cod all the time, I take the ocean for granted. I walk the dogs on the beach almost every day. We were on the beach Saturday morning for an hour digging holes for the new sign posts to keep people off the dunes. I walk up at twilight with my husband while he throws a lure in the water as we stroll along the shore at sunset. I mean, I'm there every day.

But I don't sit down and enjoy it.

It must be like the people who live in D.C., and never go to the National Zoo, or visit the Smithsonian except for school field trips. Or live in NYC and never take the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building. Or live in Boston yet don't know what the I.C.A. stands for. (Institute of Contemporary Art, for those of you wondering. My sister works there, btw.)

Take a minute to think about where you live. What is it that tourists love to do when they visit your area? Have you ever been there? Done that? Taken the time to enjoy what's in your own backyard?

There's been a lot of talk lately about "STAY-cations" - - it's the new buzzword for summer '09. But there really is a lot to be said for the concept of vacationing in your own backyard. Which is why it's fun to have out-of-town guests, who make you do these things and see your town from fresh eyes. And actually sit on the beach and get sand in your bathing suit.

Tomorrow we're gonna get in line with the tourists again and go ride the bumper boats! Wish me luck!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer warms up

Cape Cod Weather Today: Sunny with blue skies! It's only 53 degrees out at the moment, but it's supposed to warm into the 70s today. It never got out of the 60s yesterday, and I never got out of my sweater...and Wednesday I had on a fleece blanket at the beach in the greyness while my children had swimming lessons...but that is all behind us now! Sun and Warmth predicted for the next two days in a row! I'll take it!!!

The pool switches on automatically in the morning, and I just realized that's the sound that wakes the dogs up. They want to come check who's outside, because the bubbling of the jets sounds like it could be a swimmer.

I need to readjust the timer.

I've barely thought about the pool this summer - I try to remember to put in the chlorine each Monday, but it's been so cold and rainy, I haven't had to check water levels or test the water or anything, because we just aren't using it. The kids jump in and out again within ten minutes. On Sunday, they spent more time in there with their cousins, but all their lips were blue at the end.
The new pool toy in the photo has barely seen any use. Hasn't been a single fight over it yet, and it's a cool toy.

I haven't been in the water yet; it needs to be a lot warmer to justify my swimsuit coming out of the, hot. Steamy. Sweaty weather, not sweater weather.

Another mom at the swimming lesson lake yesterday apologized as she shimmied out of her sweatpants to reveal a Speedo suit and blindingly ultra-white thighs. "I just want to get a little color on them," she explained, as I pulled my sweater down over my own pale knees to try to stay warm. She was much braver than I, but maybe she has pneumonia today. Who knows?

My oldest had a beach party to attend last night; the junior yacht club kids went out to Marconi Beach to have a bonfire and cookout. He wanted to go in shorts and tee. I made him wear jeans and bring a thick sweatshirt ("oh, mo-o-o-o-m," he protested). He was glad when the sun went down. As I sat in the parking lot at 10:45 pm waiting for the chaperones to return with the kids, the thermometer in the car dipped well below 50 degrees. This is July?

Maybe July will start today. Summer Sun and Warm Breezes! And stick around for a while. But in the meantime, I'd better call my parents and remind them to bring lots of warm clothing when they visit next week. More than one sweatshirt. Maybe a fleece jacket. Gloves? Hat?

Just in case.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Locks for Love

Cape Cod Weather Today: <the rain found us again. let's all be quiet and maybe it'll go away>

My daughter got a haircut yesterday. She had reallllly long hair, and decided it would be easier to care for at summer camp if it was short (mommy helped her come to that conclusion...)

She thought she'd get 8 inches or so taken off. She stood in front of the mirror with a ruler, measuring... I said, "I think if you go shorter you can donate it..."

We went online to to see what the requirements are. At least 10 inches of clean, dry undamaged hair, tied in a braid or ponytail. We looked at photos of the kids who are helped by this organization. They collect hair to make wigs for children, most of whom are undergoing chemotherapy.

She decided to go for it.

That's her ponytail in the bag. We're sending it off to Florida today. She's thrilled to be helping other kids, and I'm even more thrilled that she can comb her hair by herself now (without mommy and without the tears.) A win-win all the way around.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Fifth of July!

Cape Cod Weather Today: Sunny and beautiful. Yesterday was the same. Finally!

Hope everyone had a wonderful fourth of July! We celebrated by watching the hometown parade in Chatham - the biggest "small" parade ever - and then hanging out by my mother-in-law's lake all day with the O'clan.

My sister-in-law and I made Annie Ippolito's famous Sangria the day before (to let it ferment properly) and enjoyed it all afternoon in the sunshine, while watching the kids swim in the cold lake (the sun hadn't been out to warm it before yesterday, so I was more than content to lifeguard and not swim. And no one needing saving, which is even better.)

All in all, a wonderful fourth! And - even better - the sun decided to stick around another day! So we're headed out to enjoy some more of the warm sun and cool Cape breezes.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Little Light Magic

I just finished reading A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash, from Dorchester Publishing's Leisure Book line. I'd totally recommend it to any of my friends looking for a good beach book this summer.

The book is set on the Jersey Shore, in the Margate/Atlantic City area. Not my neck of the shoreline - we used to summer in Normandy Beach, on Barnagate Bay - but the characters are all very familiar and very believable. There's one short scene on the boardwalk where I could smell the fried dough and see the neon lights of Seaside Heights playing on the movie screen in my mind.

I have to admit that I also liked this as a beach book because there were end-of-chapter scenes where it was okay to put the book back into my beach bag and call the kids out of the water to leave. Some books are impossible to put down. Those don't make good beach books because they don't last more than a day. This one lasted me 3 afternoons of swimming lessons - which was fabulous!

Joy's website is here and her blog is here.

She lists where she'll be signing her books, including in Margate itself tomorrow, where the book takes place, and also has links to her other books... which I think I'll have to check out!

A Little Light Magic just came out in June '09, so it may not be in your library yet to borrow, but it's at Borders for less than your next payment to the ice cream truck, so go out and find it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Laundry and POV on a grey day

Cape Cod Weather Today: The sun broke through for a few hours yesterday afternoon, but the fog and clouds are back this morning. I shoulda mowed the lawn yesterday....

I woke up with a quote running through my head.

"A man may work from sun to sun but a woman's work is never done."

Who said that first? Where did it come from? Has it always been like this from the dawn of time?

Laundry is piled in my bathroom and in my garage in front of the washing machine. My daughter carried her laundry basket out of her room yesterday, saying, "Mom. Really. This is out of control."

Should I tell her it's foreshadowing of her life to come?

It's only Wednesday, only the third day of the full summer schedule, and already I'm counting the days until swimming lessons are over. The kids are at sailing in the mornings, and swimming in the afternoons, one child had karate after swimming yesterday, today we have basketball evaluations after swimming for other son... and guitar lessons start up again next week.

It's good that they're all busy. But where does my writing time fit into this whole schedule thing? Where is the mommy time?

And where, for goodness sakes, does laundry fit into this picture?

My Point Of View (POV) is slipping.... narrowing... making it hard to see outside the kids' schedules and to a bigger, more balanced picture. The frenetic pace of summer is swirling me up into it's vortex.... or something like that.

In terms of writing, I took a fresh look at the Mermaid manuscript yesterday. Chris Richman was right in his assessment, and I changed the character ages back down to twelve. I still need to send off a thank you note, since his rejection was more than perfunctory. I still need to go through and look at the different POVs running through it, and whittle them down as per more of his excellent advice.

However, I think I disagree that I can't have any adult POVs. I just finished reading Anthony Horowitz's Raven's Gate, book 1 of the Gatekeepers series. He has several adult POVs sprinkled in. Okay, he's a NYTimes bestselling author and can break any rules he wants. But I feel strongly that I need to keep my bad guy's POV and he's an adult.

I could make his second in command a teen, perhaps, and get rid of the one or two times we're in Gramma's POV. I need to revisit this, and see if I can keep it to the 3 main characters POVs, and move one of the underwater scenes to the palace so we can see it all in Kae's POV. Ooh, good idea. I'll work on that today.

After I finish the laundry. Or at least start.