Saturday, November 13, 2010

Standing out in the crowd

When I was a kid I was immensely shy and reserved. I did what I could to not bring attention to myself -- short of dressing head to toe in gray, to blend into the cinder block walls at school.
Now, it seems like I am constantly doing something ridiculous to draw attention to myself.

One of the more memorable moments that comes to mind happened a couple of years ago. I promised my youngest that I would go to her Halloween parade/party at school. But before I left the house that afternoon, I decided to surprise her and dress up, and I came up with an insane idea of what to wear. I struggled to get the elaborate outfit on, and then drove to the school. I shuffled through the maze of halls to get to her classroom -- of course her room was just about the farthest from the main entrance that you could possibly get.
Ready for the big reveal, I stepped into the doorway.
The room got quiet as they all stared.
The look on my daughter's face was priceless. "Oh god."
Another child asked, "Is that your mom?"
My daughter answered in a tiny deflated voice, "Yes."
There I stood, in full scuba attire: wetsuit, flippers, mask and snorkel. It was my husband's suit from at least twenty years earlier. It was the last thing she would've expected. And even with my fogged up face mask and sounding like Darth Vader as I breathed through the snorkel, she knew it was me.

But the funniest part of the whole thing was that none of the other parents were dressed up. All the uppity moms were lined up with their knitted Halloween/fall sweater vests.
And then there was ME.

Over the years my children have grown immune to my eccentricities, and now it is nearly impossible to embarrass them. Not that I haven't tried.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I entered The Zombified Writing Contest over at Bree Ogden's blog This Literary Life. The contest was to write three sentences with the zombie theme.
I didn't win, but I did get a special mention.
"Whose entry was absolutely hilarious and clever!"
Here's my entry:

Soft music and candle light set the mood as they gazed into each others eyes. “You’ve stolen my heart,” he whispered.
“Sorry, do you want it back?” she replied, lowering her eyes bashfully and holding it out for him to take.

Thanks Bree and D.M.!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Salem and the Stoughton Name

I've always had a fascination with the Salem Witch Trials. I actually enjoyed learning about that part of history. Ancient Greece, not so much. As a kid we even went to Salem, Massachusetts, and visited all the historical sites. So cool!
Imagine my surprise when years later I realized I had married into a name associated with the witch trials. Okay. So, he wasn't really a good guy. But still.
Of course then when I started writing REACH, I had to add that historical element. Write what you're passionate about, right?
And it was really fun doing those chapters.

William Stoughton (July 7, 1631 – September 30, 1701) was in charge of what have come to be known as the Salem Witch Trials, first as the Chief Justice of the Special Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692, and then as the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature in 1693. He ruled over the trials with the determination to eradicate all witches from Massachusetts Bay Colony - heavily influenced by his conservative religious convictions.
-excerpts taken from Wikipedia [link above] and Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Looking Back

My oldest just started her first year at Community College.
How is that possible?
It's seems like it was just yesterday that we walked into the school, for the very first time. We were there for kindergarten registration and evaluation. Our little girl (who wouldn't be five for a couple more weeks) followed the counselor into the room and closed the door -- not even the slightest hesitation. She couldn't wait to go to school.
After about fifteen minutes the door opened, and the counselor invited us in. As our daughter played in the opposite corner, my husband and I got to sit in the tiny little chairs at the tiny little table.
The counselor smiled and went on to explain the process. "What I do, is ask the child to draw me a picture. I usually get a picture of a pet, their house, their stick figure family, the sun and flowers." She placed a paper in front of us, and said, "This is what your daughter drew."
The picture in front of us was a Diplodocus (dinosaur) jumping on a trampoline. The Diplodocus, floating in mid-air, was in perfect perspective. The counselor was surprised, but we were used to her drawings.
The counselor continued. "Then I ask the child what he/she wants to be when they grow up. I usually get stuff like: doctor, fireman, singer, dancer. I've even had bumble bee. Your daughter said she wants to be a Paleontologist." She smiled. "I didn't know what that was. I had to ask her." She snickered. "Your daughter is ready for school."

At the end of her first week I asked, "How do you like school so far?"
She answered, rather agitated, "It's STUPID! I don't know how to read yet.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

No More MSG

There's something about chinese restaurants that brings out the "wild" in my family. When I say family, I guess I really mean me. There's the time I flicked the fortune cookie -- like a paper football -- and it hit my daughter right between the eyes. That was the funniest thing I've ever seen. Her head went flying back and the fortune cookie smashed into a million pieces. Don't worry, she was okay.
Then there was the time the bench seat had REALLY springy springs, and my oldest would not stop bouncing. I mean REALLY bouncing. She was gettin' some air! After repeated requests to stop, I shifted in my seat, to bump hip to hip. Well, I happened to catch her on the up-swing ... and she landed on the floor next to the table. Again, we all laughed so hard that we nearly got ourselves kicked out.
Last night we went out for chinese. I came back to the table with a plate of jello, and both my girls giggled. One handed me a straw, and said, "Do it!" while my husband shook his head.
Why is it that kids love the sound of flatulence? Jello-farts are the best.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm not a loser anymore!

Remember that contest I mentioned? Sure you do. It's right over there ---->

Well. I won third place!
This is sooo great, because I was going to query the awesome Suzie Townsend just as soon as I tweaked my synopsis [tweaked = finish], and now I get to work with awesome intern GEMMA COOPER!
I am super-duper excited!
Can you tell?
I've never won anything like this before!
I can't stop using the exclamation point!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Twenty Years and I'm Still Blowing Cake Out of My Nose

Today's my 20th wedding anniversary.
Can you believe I'm still married to this guy after this?

Yep, twenty years, and he was a blind date. I even joke that he was an arranged marriage. So, how did we meet? It's an interesting story.

I was a 21-year-old corporate travel agent. Broke and single – so broke I had to get a second job. I started working a couple of nights a week at a department store. One night a co-worker came up to me and introduced herself. I thought she was really nice – reaching out to the new girl. She asked if I would be interested in going out for a couple of drinks after work.
We went out that night. It started like any new friendship. What school did you go to? When did you graduate? Turns out we were the same age.
Then she asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?”
“No. How about you?”
“No,” she answered, “but since we're on the subject … I have a brother. He's 26. Nice. Good looking. Do you wanna meet him?” she said with a big grin.

To make a long story short. He was home, on two week leave from the Navy. He only had three months to go, and he was done with the Navy for good. Her plan was to find him a girlfriend in his home town, so that when he got out he would move back home. She went on to tell me that she hand picked me because I seemed nice and she thought we would make cute little nieces and nephews for her.
A couple of days later we went on our first date. Two months later we were engaged. And less than a year from when we met, we were married.

In this day and age, 20 years is a long time. So what's our secret? Don't take life too serious.
We've always had a lot of fun together, and that's how we've raised our kids.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Very Vampire May Giveaway - Update

So, a couple of weeks ago, I told you about Sara McClung's "Very Vampire May Giveaway" contest. Well, the contest has been extended until midnight tonight, and she is offering extra points if you blog about it.
I could really use more points, because I really want the signed copy of Twilight.
I am a huge fan of Stephenie Meyer! Who isn't? If I lived closer, I would probably stalk her.
If by some crazy chance she sees this...
Just kidding Stephenie. You're so pritty.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Writing and Webbed Toes

Months ago I typed what I thought would be the final chapter of my first novel. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and if it weren’t for the on-line writing community, I might have sent my manuscript off before I was ready.

I have Therese Walsh of Writer Unboxed to thank for pointing me in the right direction. I met Therese on release day of The Last Will of Moira Leahy at our local Barnes & Noble. She was my first connection to the writing community; up until that point, I was on my own. Now, I’m connected with writers and agents through Twitter – which then leads you to their blogs, where these brilliant people share their advice and wisdom.

Well, I’m not on my own anymore. I also have my best friend and fellow writer, Paula. We met about ten years ago, when I worked with her husband. Right away I thought she was way-cool, but busy lives and different schedules didn’t allow for us to build a relationship at the time, and a short time later I left that job. Then last fall, because of my new online presence, we found each other. We’ve been pretty much inseparable ever since.

Paula has been a huge inspiration and sounding board for my writing. Being an aspiring writer can be a lonely journey, especially when friends and family don’t understand your dedication and drive: to not only complete a novel, but to actually want to be published.

It’s a little freaky how much Paula and I have in common -- that's us in the picture. We're like kindred spirits. We both write YA. We’re both a little nuts. And we both have webbed toes. (Maybe that was a little too much information?)

Anyway, I’m happy to announce that at approximately 8:00 pm on May 19, 2010
I finished writing my first novel!
The feeling of accomplishment is tremendous, and I know that with Paula’s help and the advice of the all the awesome people I follow (check them out) I will be prepared for the still long journey ahead.

Here are some links I found helpful and relevant to the stage I’m at, in the last week alone:
The Graceful Doe's Blog post titled More Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts, and she mentions ...
Jody Hedlund's blog post on the editing process, in addition to other helpful sites. Blog, because ... well, I don't need a reason, they're just that good.
Random Daily Thoughts, because this post sounded so much like me.
Guide to Literary Agents, because they've got it all.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Did someone say "Vampires"?

Sara Mcclung has a contest going. It's called "A Very Vampire May Giveaway". She's got some great prizes. Including a signed copy of Twilight!

The contest goes from May 10-June 2. Winners to be announced June 3rd. Check it out. And check out Sara. She's cute as a button.

Now back to the copy of Twilight ... Winning that would be beyond frickin awesome. My copy is a little worn, so I could use a shiny new SIGNED copy on my bookshelf.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Put Down the Camera and Help Me!

Why is it that when you do something stupid, some people’s first reaction is to grab the camera?

I will tell you why: Because they are EVIL!

I was having one of those wonderfully productive days, checking one thing after another off my dreaded to-do-list.

Next on my list: fix loose piece on dishwasher. This should’ve been an easy task – just a dab of glue.

Well, the good news is: I fixed it!

But since that day, almost ten years ago, I am not allowed to use super glue without adult supervision.

[Please ignore my disheveled appearance]

By now you have probably guessed what happened. If not, here it is ... the whole idiotic truth.
I superglued both hands together, AND to the dishwasher. Like a lot.
When I yelled for help, what I got was my kid with a camera.
I may be smiling in this picture. I agree, it was funny at first.

When I said get your father, what I got was, "Hold on!"
"What do you mean hold on? Come back!"
She returned a minute later with the phone to her ear. "Yeah, both hands," she giggled.
"Who are you talking to?"
"Hang up the phone and help me."
"Grandma, I gotta go."
"Thank you. Now go get your father -- I'm not kidding around."
"Hi, it's Lexi--"
She lowers the phone, "I'm calling your friends."
My daughter is pure evil.
Her father was only slightly less helpful.
I was stuck to that dishwasher for an hour and forty-five minutes. [No lie!]

Monday, March 29, 2010

Root Canal, Anyone?

I would say that posting to my blog is like pulling teeth, but I used to be a dental assistant, and I know that pulling teeth isn’t really that hard. Now a root canal, that’s a little more difficult. It takes time and precision to get to the apex. That much more describes my problem. I’ll explain.
Time: if I’m at the computer I’m working on my ms.
Precision: I don’t want to ramble.
Apex or “the point”: I have a hard time coming up with a topic to blog about, and that’s the real problem.

I don’t feel I’m someone to offer advice on the craft of writing, especially since there are so many great blogs with great advice out there. Since I’m still working on editing and polishing my ms, there’s not a whole lot to tell. But, I’m hoping to start querying soon, and with that, I can blog about my experience with the process.

That being said, I do have a little something I can share with you, although there’s not much to tell. A week ago I submitted a (humorous) poem for a book to be published 2011. It is my first submission ... ever. Wow, it was hard clicking on that submit button. But the moment I did, I was filled with excitement and relief.

Then, this weekend I found a new writers group – about 25 people – writers of all kinds. That’s way more than I’ve read to before. I was so nervous getting up in front of them. I read the poem that I had just submitted (which by the way I hadn’t read anywhere before) and to my absolute delight … it was a hit! I found myself having to wait for the laughter to die down before starting the next stanza.
Yeah, they got it! Cue Sally Fields acceptance speech. Yes, that was going through my head as I went back to my seat.

Hey look at that, in telling you that I have nothing to talk about, I talked about something. Uh-oh, I might be breaking my “no rambling” rule.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Was My Face Red?

A handful of customers wandered the drug store aisles that night. No music played over the air and conversation was at a minimum – prime condition for a loud mouth blond to make a fool of herself.

I was 23 years old, newly married, and dirt poor. So, browsing the drug store was our big night out. My husband went one way and I went another. I picked up some decongestant and continued on; scanning the shelves for some sort of ear-flushing kit (not knowing if that sort of thing even existed) but I wanted clean ears.

Then right at eye level, I found it: Ear Wax Removal System. Yes, it does exist! (It took little to excite me.) It was a very small package, with a very small (0.5 oz.) bottle of drops, and it was like ten bucks. So I continued, looking for a better deal. On the bottom shelf I found a system that advertised “Extra Cleaning” and it was only about two bucks. Good deal, and look at that – 7.8 oz. – more for the money.
I grabbed the box off the shelf and went to find my husband.

“You know how you’re always saying I can’t hear you,” I said from the other end of the aisle. Then I held up the box to show him as I approached. “I’m gonna get all that gunk out!”
He looked confused. “With an Enema?”
“Yes silly, it’s for your ears,” I announced. Then looked down at the box, back at him, and naively asked, “What’s an Enema?”

Monday, February 22, 2010

Animal Rescues

These are three rescues that I'm involved in. They mean a lot to me. Check out the good work these people do, and please do your part to help an animal in need -- adopt from a rescue.

Monica's Heart - Greyhound Adoption

Mainely Rat Rescue
Feathered Kisses

Friday, February 12, 2010

Immediately after my last post, Neil, AKA That Neil Guy, contacted me for more details regarding number 10 from the "Ten Trivial Truths" list. He wanted to put the story on his blog
I got right back to him with the story, which he posted that night.
Please forgive me, I'm a little slow. That was 7 days ago, and it only now just occured to me to put the story on my own blog. Duh!

The infamous Dunkin’ Donut incident…..
I pulled up to the squawk box and gave my order. Then, this is what I heard:
“That was one large iced coffee with ahhh! Thump. Laugh. Snort.”
I said, “Hello.”
But she was laughing to hard – she couldn’t speak.
So, I drove around the corner wondering what was going on.
That’s when I found the adorable little blond girl lying on the pavement in front of the drive-thru window. As soon as she saw my car, she got up and ran inside.
Moments later, the red-faced blond poked her face through the window, and tried to take my money.
I said, “Not until you tell me what just happened.”
The adorable little blond simply replied, “I saw a shiny quarter on the ground, and thought I could reach it.”

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ten Trivial Truths

I’ve been busy with my ms, and couldn’t think of a topic, so I decided to do a fun list of facts about me. While making up this list I found that I have a lot of embarrassing moments, so that will be a list for another day.

1. I’m an impatient procrastinator
2. I love saying Abu Dhabi
3. I always have sunglasses on my head
4. I’ve never been able to resist a chocolate chip cookie
5. I love being wacky for my kids, but as much as I try, they don’t embarrass easily
6. I thought plethora was a made up word
7. I was a baton twirler in the marching band
8. I’m not good at telling jokes
9. If I can’t think of a word (when I’m talking) I’ll say whatever word pops in my head
10. I once saw a Dunkin Donuts employee fall out of the drive-thru window

Friday, January 29, 2010

From My Drawing Pad

"Melinda at the window"
I haven't drawn in a long time. I did this today. It's a scene from my manuscript, that got stuck in my head.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

For the Love of All Things Crispy, Don't Call Me Ma'am

I’m gonna let you in on a secret -- just between you and me.
Ugh, I can’t believe I’m doing this.
Here goes ...
What, you’re not surprised? Well I am. Quite frankly, I’m pissed off!
I’ve had issues with my age ever since my 26th birthday.
Why 26? Because I was no longer in my early 20’s.

And don’t get me started on the irrational emotions on the eve of my 40th!
Can you say insane? Well, I know my family can.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Three days before my birthday I was in a department store and a sales lady stepped in front of me to show me “wrinkle cream for around the eyes.”
Then, because of the tears, she didn’t think “the cream would be very effective.”
Great! Now what do you have for red puffy eyes?

My 42nd birthday is coming up, and still, I continue to be amazed when people don’t think I’m 24. Why is that?
Last week I went to a department store for a mini makeover. I thought it would be fun -- I guess this time I set myself up for the disappointment.
I asked the girl, “What moisturizer do you recommend to help prevent fine lines? I’m starting to get a little crease between the brows.”
She pulled out a product and began raving about the cream as she applied it, saying, “My mom has that crease, and I told her …”
Her voice trailed off, as it was now drowned out by my own voice screaming in my head.
Mom! Did she just compare me to her mother? Oh my god! How old is this girl? How old is her mother?
I began to rationalize in my head.
Maybe she is, like, er, I don't know, 20. Okay … I guess, I could be her mother. Maybe her mother is young and looks great. But still, NOT cool.
Let me just say: I’m not good at guessing a person’s age. I later found out that she is married with two kids.

Sorry, I'm trying to get to the point.
As I look around, it seems to me that many of my peers are growing old “gracefully.” They seem comfortable with themselves –- even embracing their age and maturity. They act like moms, with their schedules and routines and stuff.
I’ve never been any good at that. I’m laid back. I like to fool around, make jokes, and act crazy with my kids. I listen to Radio Disney when the kids aren't in the car.
I love Wizards of Waverly Place, Hannah Montana, Jonas, Phineas & Ferb, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Suite Life, and iCarly. (Yes, I like TV.)

The long and the short of it, is this: I refuse to grow up. I won’t do it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I had my 2 year old niece, Alison, at my house for about an hour the other day. I was babysitting – with the help of my 12 year old daughter. Why did I need help? Because Alison is fast! That kid could get into a room, find something to grab and be gone in an instant. So, I had my daughter on “shadow” duty.

Alison had gotten into the nativity scene, which by the way is the most religious thing in our house.

As Alison's father was walking in the door to pick her up, I, just so happened to be running through, yelling, “I found Jesus!"
My brother-in-law thought that I'd had some religious awakening. "Huh?"
"No, I literally found Jesus," I said holding out my hand.

People are always saying, “Kids says darnedest things.” Well, I think that they also make adults say some wacky things.
Parents, think about it. How many times have you said something to your child that you never thought you would have to say?
For example:
-No, that’s not a sandbox! That’s where the kitty poops.
-Why did you write “Joe” across your little sister’s forehead IN PERMANENT MARKER!

I would love hear some your funny kid stories.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

I am so excited about 2010. I have plans and goals, and sadly I feel like this is a first for me.
I feel like I’ve gone through most of my life being clueless.
Just like my 16th birthday, when my mom, with the help of my best friend, threw me a surprise party. Not only did I not pick up on the numerous slip ups by invitees, but I kept thinking we were all going to a school dance.
Then there was the unexpected, “Let’s leave early and go to the mall before the dance,” my friend said.
Okay, that sounds fun. No flags.
Then the sudden “I need to use the bathroom can we stop at your house?”
Okay my house was closest. No flags.
How about all the cars parked on the street in front of my house. You’d think, but no flags.
How about when I saw two of my friends at the bottom of the basement stairs -where our family room was? Still nothing. Well, worse than nothing.
I turned to my friend and said, “I wonder why they’re not going to the dance.”
She looked at me blankly. I realize now that she was waiting for it to HIT. It didn’t. “I wonder why they’re hanging out with my mom, when I’m not here.”
I didn’t figure it all out until I was dragged into the room filled with kids, and I saw a banner that said, Happy Birthday Michaele!
“Oh, I get it now!”
It took the words –in black and white - to get through to me.
That’s what it felt like when I started writing my first novel. “Oh, I get it now!” I only wish it didn’t take so long for me to figure it out. But now, I’m where I want to be in life and I know that 2010 is going to be a roller coaster ride for me. And as much as I hate roller coasters, I will bravely get in the car, and pull down the lap bar. Then as I look to the car ahead and the car behind, I see that I’ve got family and friends who are ready to take the ride with me.