Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Eating at the Kidlit Cafe

It's lunch time, and I'm feasting on leftovers. I made Lisa Schroeder's Baked Potato Soup (from Not Your Mother's Slowcooker Cookbook) last night. Everyone loved it. I'm having it again.

This made me wonder--if a Kidlit Cafe existed, what menu item would you choose to represent you or your characters?

We could have Baby Can't Sleep Potato Soup
Oliver's Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwiches

Of course, there would be Green Eggs and Ham.

Depending on my mood, I'd choose my Tex Mex chili recipe. Maybe we could call it Busy Writer's Leftover Delight (because you eat chili one day, use it as a topping for stuffed pasta shells the second day, eat chili dogs the next day...)

So...what about you? What's your signature item? Share the recipe if you want!


I've updated my new blog. Rather than writers and illustrators in the Midwest, it is now Writers and Illustrators in the Central States. We've always said we're from the Midwest. However, it has come to my attention that people as far as Ohio call themselves Midwesterners. So, it's now Central States.

Not that I want to leave anyone out--but *I* think the people in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas could use some special attention.

And, by the way...if you once lived in the four states mentioned, I'll be happy to add you to the list!

Monday, January 30, 2006

My latest experiment

If you've been reading my blog for any time, you know that have this obsession about book promotion. In fact, just a few posts down, I posed the question, WHY DO YOU BLOG? The responses ranged from networking to promotion, to writing warm-ups.

Since the day I started blogging (Yes, my one year blog-o-versary is coming up!) I've been impressed with the folks in Texas. Actually, it took me a few weeks to realize they were all connected in some way. Don, Cynthia, Chris, Varian, Trevor...and m any more! They all live in Texas and do a GREAT job of promoting one another's work.

And, I'm very, very jealous!

So, I've decided to start a new blog. An effort to connect children's writers and illustrators living in the Midwestern states--Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. If you know of anyone who would like to join or link up, let me know! I hope this new community will be a place where writers can talk about their work, their book releases, book signings and book promotion.

Tell me what you think!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Writing Retreat

Doesn't this just look awesome? I'll be attending the Kansas SCBWI "Write Your Heart Out" retreat in April.

I'll participate in the picture book track with Jane Kurtz. I can't wait to meet her...and to learn from her. It will be a working weekend. I'm on the advisory committee for our SCBWI region, so I'll be helping out at the retreat. I think, once we're organized, it will run itself (mostly) that weekend.

Unfortunately, I'll have to miss out on this awesome conference at the end of April. The Missouri Writers' Guild (JWKC CHAPTER) has an impressive lineup of editors and agents coming to KC. With soccer schedules, school fairs and a traveling husband (oh, and that thing called finances), I'll have to pass on this one. I'll just have to help make sure the SCBWI Kansas annual conference in September is extra awesome! It's just killing me that I'll miss out on Judy Burke, Erin Murphy, Regina Brooks, Kent L. Brown and Cheryl Kline.

Friday, January 27, 2006


I realized today, while daydreaming in the car and jamming to our new CD, (okay, okay...I like it too!!!) that I have a lot of resources available to me. People with ideas and talents who can help make my MG novel a huge success. I have this HUGE idea for a book launch. It's totally possible. And so, so cool!

Um...now I just have to write the darn thing. I wonder if anyone has ever written a book by starting with the marketing plan? In case you're wondering if I'm off on another tangent...I might be. But, it is SO related to the big idea I had last week.

Oh yea!

I now have six little manuscript babies out in the world. I sent off number six last night. Hooray for me!!!!

No, I didn't just scribble all these things down. It's all stuff I've written in the past 12 months. I just did another rewrite yesterday. I have a major rewrite today. By Monday, manuscript seven should be taking a road trip in a postal truck over the thumpity bumpity roads.

I'm shooting for 12 manuscripts out by June. Unfortunately, I don't have 12 I like yet...so I'll have to wait a few more months. I read a Jane Yolen quote on one of my writing lists -- someone asked her how she got so many manuscripts published. She said she made it a rule to always have 12 out there.

I couldn't find that quote, but I did find this one on her site:

A writer never gets used to rejections. But if enough manuscripts are out there, each small rejection is less important.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why, Mr. V? Oh, Why?

I read Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid today. Amazing. I could not put it down. Varian Johnson jumps right into the action in the first paragraph. One minute, I was laughing. The next, I was so very sad. Full of plot twists I would not have expected. A great story. Fabulous characters and an ending that made me want to drive down to Austin and punch Mr. V in the nose! Why, Mr. V? Oh, why?

Highly recommended! I predict a bright future for Mr. Varian Johnson!


171 people have been to this site today looking for the lyrics to THAT SONG! If you're here searching, try this link.

Why do you blog -- revisited

Back to blogs and promotion for a minute.

Why do writers have blogs? Is it a place to dump their thoughts, kick-start the writing day, reward oneself for actually writing, a place for networking and swapping ideas, a promotional tool, or all of the above?
Personally, I think writers, especially MG and YA authors are foolish if they don't have a web presence of some sort. It's a great way to connect with their target audience.

I keep two blogs (completly identical--one on Blogger and another on LJ. Don't ask. I'm still confused.) I have a stat counter on my blog at Blogger. Nearly all of the hits are from 1) blogging friends 2) people looking for author or book references 3) people Googling the topics I blog about (most of which are somewhat related to things the YA/MG audience or their parents would be interested in.

Right now, I write about whatever strikes me. I'm still unpublished and I figure I have time to experiment. Once I'm published, I'm not sure I'd change much. Yesterday, I received 40 hits from people looking for the lyrics to that Disney movie while it was replaying on TV.

Now, the question becomes -- would a person intent on finding lyrics NOW...RIGHT NOW WHILE THE SHOW IS ON...take the time to read something interesting about a book that might be targeted to their age group?

Probably not. But maybe. It's definitely worth thinking about.

Just checked the webstats--another 16 hits looking for lyrics as of 9:30 this morning! Definitely marketing lessons to be learned here! I want a Disney movie/musical/book deal!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I have been in a rut. I've started and quit so many writing projects these past few months. I know I am capable of having good ideas. I keep digging out ideas, partially-written stories, poems from two years ago when I first started writing for children! I love the ideas in my old pile. I'm just not so inspired by my new ideas.

I had so much less going on back then. More quiet time. More time for ideas to simmer. I do a lot of prewriting while driving, working out, cooking...just hanging out. Now I have constant noise. There's always someone or something begging for attention.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but I DO know which manuscript I'm working on this afternoon! I decided to dig it out after reading our February 2006 Spider that arrived yesterday. This is the last issue in our subscription. I had decided that I don't write the stuff they publish...and since the kids won't touch the thing (they think it leans toward "boring" too. I know. I know. I shouldn't admit this!)

BUT, I absolutely love this issue. It's one of my favorites yet. If you have it, take a look at "What's for Supper?" by Julie Douglas. Such a fun story! And similar to one I'm digging out of my old pile.

Too bad all the editors involved with this one are gone, hu? I really like the direction they took with this one!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

High School Musical

Did you catch Disney's High School Musical last night? This was a major event at my house. We'd planned to have a bunch of girls over to watch it with us. Since we still have some sickies, we skipped that and watched it alone.

Disney Channel is SO GOOD at tapping into that little girl audience with their Disney Channel Original Movies. They hype the show with all the behind the scenes stuff for weeks before the show. There's always a soundtrack and web tie ins. You can go to the Disney Channel site and print the lyrics (guess what A's doing now?) so you are ready to sing along tonight when they replay it! Um...we taped it, so we're also watching it again RIGHT NOW.

Plus, most of the movies star a Disney Channel star. I've also noticed they use these movies to launch new stars. Just wait...in a few months, there will be a new series with a kid who "starred in High School Musical."

I love Disney. It's not enough that I want a published book. I want a published book, that is turned into a Disney Movie WITH A SOUNDTRACK! I can dream big, can't I?

Edited to add: We went to Target and Borders to look for the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL CD. Target didn't appear to have it. Our Borders had it earlier in the week, but they were out. We talked to the smart lady at the info desk. She said that she noticed it was on the best seller list on Wednesday, so she already ordered more. Since A has a Borders gift certificate she's dying to use, we gave the lady our name and she'll call us later this week when it's in. Apparently, lots of little girls had already been in today looking for that CD. By the time we arrived, Info Lady knew all about the movie and the CD.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Five down!

Five little picture book manuscripts are ready for a big adventure. They are in their seats all nice and snug and they have their tickets and letters of introduction. Hopefully, they'll take a one-way trip. If not, well...they have a small suitcase with the proper return ticket attached.

One more little guy to send out this week. I think this one will be Highlights material. After I give this one a little trim (He'll look much more handsome without all that excess hair), he'll fly along after his brothers and sisters.

Wish my kids a wonderful flight...with a just a very, very short layover in the Slush Pile. We feel lucky this time.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Best idea ever

This may well be my best idea ever. We'll know in a few days. If I'm still writing this one, I'll know it can at least hold my attention for a while. That's my biggest problem with writing a novel. My short attention span.

My novel idea could go both YA or MG. So, laundry and dishes are done. Work is done. Kids are in bed. Puke* cleaned up. I'm going to grab a notebook and brainstorm in a nice, hot bubblebath. :Giggles: I just love this idea! I hope it looks as good in paper as it does in my mind.

Thanks to Kelly and Lisa for suggesting MG novels (on my LJ...I keep two blogs because I'm still deciding which place I like best.)I'll order the ones I haven't read from my library.

*Yes, we had a day off of school, big plans. We were at the mall buying jeans at Gap Kids. Then, a quick trip to Build a Bear for some clothes for the bear (S hit the jackpot. Her $11 item came to just over $1 because I happened to have a full punch card! She was spending Christmas $$, so she got a real bargain!). We never finished our shopping because A had a bad tummy ache. Doubling over at Build a Bear. We rushed home, cancelled our afternoon playdate and curled up for naps. Then, the vomiting began. I'm SO glad she is old enough to make it to the bathroom...and her aim is good. Fortunately, my kids don't get stomach illnesses often. Keeping my fingers crossed that no one else comes down with this.

Middle Grade Recommendations?

What is your favorite middle grade novel?

I think my next project might be a middle grade novel. Or maybe a YA without the "mature" content. Susan is always saying, "Write what scares you." Well, right now, what scares me is writing a novel where my kids come away thinking it's okay to um...experiment. Then again...maybe when they're older and I'm exeriencing teenaged drama every day.

So, back to the question. I need to do some more middle grade research. What do you recommend?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Good thing my brain kicked in

It's a good thing my brain kicked in before I sent out any query letters/manuscripts. Can't find the editor's name? Duh! How about using the phone??? To think I call myself a sales person.


My research is coming along nicely! I was able to knock out two publishers who are totally wrong. I have one story that might be a good fit at three houses. I have two that didn't seem to belong anywhere...but now that I think about it, I may have to search younger. I was only looking at PBs for 4-8 year olds.

Does anyone know if reviewers such as the School Library Journal hold grudges? One of the publishers had overwhelmingly negative reviews from SLJ on their 2005 books. Would you submit to a publisher who got lots of bad reviews? Maybe it doesn't matter since PBs take so long to get out the door? Maybe they don't really care who the publisher is?

I'm having an impossible time finding names of editors at the places I'm hoping to send my work. Oh, how I wish I had an agent! (Can't say I tried real hard to find one last year.) Possibly a good reason to switch genres...it seems so many more agents rep YA and MG novels than picture books.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Well, that was one quiet party. I guess no one could make it on such short notice :-)

Here's what transpired:

After the dance party, we braided hair, got into PJs and climbed into bed. I turned off the lights and tip-toed to my computer. I researched markets and came up with eight potential markets for my picture books. Next, I went back over my PB manuscripts. I worked on six last year that I'm still pleased with. I did some minor editing, and will print these in the morning.

I'll do some additional research on these markets this weekend, based on information I found at this cool new picture book blogger site. Then, I'll match mss to publishers and ship 'em off this weekend.

I wish each of you a successful writing week!

It's a PARTY! *BYOB*

It was a busy December, and I vowed that I would not host any parties until summer. But, I'm breaking the rules (sort of). This is a virtual party. A Query Letter Party and it's taking place at 9:00 Central time. BYOB! (Bring Your Own Book!)

Yep...my husband has gone to a party without me. One of his actuarial colleagues just passed his ASA exam, so it's time to party actuarial style (YAWN!). Actually, I couldn't get a babysitter on such sort notice.

After my girls finish their dance party (Twister Moves...really fun game!) in a few minutes, it's off to bed for them. I'll be making myself a drink and sitting down at the computer to research markets and write queries.
I have a whole lot of manuscripts that I failed to send out last year, and my first goal of the year is to get those things out the door.

I promise not to send out the queries until tomorrow...just in case I throw a wild party :-)

RSVP below. Tell me what you're working on and what you're bringing to the party.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Children's Music Recommendation

I posted a review of Mr. Stinky Feet's Roadtrip at YA Books Central. We don't usually review music, but this is a very special CD, so I asked Kimberly to make an exception.

Jim Cosgrove (Mr. Stinky Feet) is a children's entertainer from Kansas City. This is his first CD on a major record label, although this is his sixth children's CD. I am proud to say we own them all...and I've purchased most of them as gifts for family and friends.

For a long time, we were groupies. Lately, we haven't been able to catch so many shows...conflicts with travel and sports. He performs several times a year at our Children's Museum. This year was the first time in four years that we'd missed his New Year's celebration there. I wish I could share a little video so you could see the way kids respond to this guy. Watching him perform makes me want to get up on stage and dance (and if you know me, you realize singing on stage would be a HUGE mistake!). The room is filled with energy.

Last summer, we road tripped to Omaha ...and happened to catch him on tour there. So, we loaded up the grandparents and cousins and caught a show. A, S and their cousin P all got on stage and played instruments "in the band." They had a great time and convinced grandma to buy them a stuffed Bop Bop Dinosaur.

Jim Cosgrove is a true entertainer. Sample the music on his site (partial samples on his site; samples of every song at Amazon.) and also check out the tour schedule. I guarantee the pre-schoolers in your life will love him!

In case you're wondering...No, I don't know him personally. Just what I see on stage. Even if you don't like his music (which you will!) he is worth seeing just so you can observe the way he interacts with the children and engages them.

**By the way, I think the Road Trip CD would make an excellent addition to a road trip survival kit. The CD (a CD player and headphones if you don't want to share in the music experience), road games, card games, coloring books and crayons/markers (or Color Wonder stuff if you have kids who can't be trusted with markers in the car). I'll bet a search at www.familyfun.com would provide tons of fun ideas for a road trip kit.

ALA Notable Children's Book List

The ALA discussion list has been posted. I thought I did a super job of trying to keep up on new books this year. The list proves I didn't even scratch the surface!

I was surprised by one of the selections. I disliked this picture book that shall remain unnamed so much, I can't bring myself to review it. This proves I have quirky taste and possibly indicates that I need to try harder to find an editor who shares my quirky views.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Vacation Reading

(PHOTO: New Year's morning in Hawaii on the hotel balcony. A Coke Zero and great reading!)

As I mentioned earlier, I read seven novels on my Maui vacation. My friend's husband was appalled. "What!?" he said. "That's all they could find to do in Hawaii? Then, I don't want to go there!"

We were there a full week and did our share of tourist activities. What we really needed was to relax in a beautiful setting. There's nothing more relaxing than reading a book on the beach (or on the balcony overlooking the ocean). The salty air. The crashing waves. The clapping palm trees. Ahhh.

What a treat to be able to just hang out after our stressful, busy December! Since my relatives didn't use the Amazon Wish List I prepared, I didn't have time to get the books I've been wanting to read. I had to live with what was stocked at the bookstore. I was pleased to find a few books by some of the authors on my LJ friend list as well as at least one recent award winner that I was curious about.

I'm pleased to report that of the seven books I read, I LOVED six of them. Since I really hate to bash books, I'll focus only on the ones I enjoyed.

My Hawaii vacation reading:

1. Contents Under Pressure by Lara Zeises. As you can see in the picture above, this was my New Year's Day reading. I tried to get anyone but you at the bookstore, but they didn't have it. I was happy to find Contents Under Pressure on the shelf. I grabbed it up the minute I saw it, and I was not disappointed. I totally did not want this book to end. I sat staring out at the ocean imagining what might have happened next. Then, a pale bozo popped up an umbrella and blocked my sun and the spell was broken.

2. Chicks with Sticks by Elizabeth Lenhard. I thought this was an interesting idea--knitting bringing people together. Okay, so it's symbolic and makes sense, but it was unique in a high school setting. I really cared about these characters and wanted them to remain friends.

3. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. I'd heard a lot about this one due to the recent press. This was a great, nostalgic vacation read. I loved it, but I'm also curious. It seems to have broken a lot of rules ... and it didn't matter! I fell in love with the characters and wanted a sequel. Now.

4. Bras and Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski. OMG! Too funny! Great voice. Great characters. Fun plot and magical high school drama. I can't wait for the sequel.

5. Monkey Business by Sarah Mlynowski. Okay, so this one is not YA. It's about a bunch of sex crazed MBA students. At this point in my vacation, my husband was giving me a hard time about all the kids' reading I was doing, so when I ran of of books the second time, I picked a pink book in the adult section. I had to hide this one when we got back onto town. I didn't want my young nieces picking it up out of my luggage! At any rate, I love Sarah Mlynowski's writing.

6. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen. This one hit me hard. It's the type of story I've always wanted to write, but have always doubted I could do well. I was absorbed in the characters and the choices they made. I wanted to keep the characters from harm, to protect them from the choices they made. I had tears in my eyes at the end of this one.

I need to go back and study these. I wish I would have read these with paper nearby. With each book, I noticed something different and wanted to go back to analyze certain parts. Naturally, I don't remember what parts I wanted to study! With some it was the characters; with others the plot; with some I wondered what the author did to make me really care about the character or how they made me feel so sorry or scared for a character.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Longing for Hawaii

I'm longing for Hawaii already. Tonight, I'm reading myself a bedtime story, HULA LULLABY by Erin Eitter Kono. I reviewed it at YABooksCentral a while back. I loved it then, and I love it even more after my recent visit. I was so disappointed that I didn't see this among the Hawaiian book displays in the stores we visited.

I bought a book about Hawaii while we were there. I'm going to order A is for Aloha with my next Amazon order. I love S is for Sunflower...what a great series and an entertaining way to learn about the states! If Aloha is half as good as S is for Sunflower, I'll be seriously impressed. Now that I think about it, I'll need C is for Cornhusker while I'm at it. They can amaze their grandparents with knowledge of our childhood home state.

I bought coconut shrimp at the store this week, and I prepared French toast made with Hawaiian Sweet Bread for breakfast today. Also on our menu this week: grilled hamburgers with pineapple slices and teriyaki sauce. Who cares that it snowed today? We're having a heat wave tomorrow--50 degrees!

Off to Hula dreamland for me.

It's that time of year

I usually don't DO New Year's Resolutions. I think people set themselves up for failure by putting so much pressure on themselves as they start a new year. I get that it's a "new year," but why NEW YEAR's resolutions? (I suppose I could find the answer to that with a quick Google search, hu?). Look at gyms. They're filled with people who have recently resolved to lose weight, get fit, look good in a bikini by spring. From experience I can tell you that by February...maybe mid-March, the gyms are thinning out. I have plenty of treadmill access. No waiting for the newly-resolved (who by now are weight loss drop outs.)

That said, so many of you are posting resolutions and writing goals, I'm getting in the mood. I must have been under the influence last year as well. SCBWI contacted me to tell me that my membership is about to expire. If you aren't a member, join! If you're in the Kansas City area, look us up. The Kansas region is really taking off. Join a critique group! Get involved! Meet some new writer friends! Come to our super cool April retreat with a super cool picture book author (info available on the site soon).

But, enough of my setting goals for YOU. Here are a few thoughts I have for myself as I reflect upon my 2005 writing career.

In early 2005, I decided to get serious about children's writing. I took my first PB writing class in the early stages of my pregnancy with Baby K...and just stopped writing after that. Baby K was six months old in January 2005. It was time to get serious.

I dabbled in my pregnancy, but just couldn't focus. I still belonged to my original online critique group with some of the people I met in my children's writing course. They encouraged me to join SCBWI. SO, I joined SCBWI about a year ago.

Then, I set a goal of being published by the end of the year. Rookie mistake, right?
Later in the year, I revised that goal...to have a book under contract by December 2005.

I wrote a lot. I started to blog. I met so many, many awesome writers who inspired me. I wrote some more.

The one big problem? I submitted almost nothing last year! It's hard to be published without submitting!

So, now it's a new year. I've learned a lot. I've been to a few conferences. I became active in my SCBWI region. I joined a local critique group. I took a class. I read a lot. I became a picture book reviewer. Looking back, I accomplished a lot. Sure, I underestimated the work it takes to become a children's writer. I think that's part of the process.

The holiday, vacation and birthday distractions are behind me. Now, I need to get down to business and write, and revise and submit and write some more.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Wonder Where I've Been?

We just returned from a fabulous week in Hawaii. We stayed at the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort in Maui. We went without the kids, so it was very relaxing and incredibly romantic.

Our room had an ocean view and overlooked the pool area. The hotel lobby, dining area and lounge sat perpendicular to our room. Being in a warm weather climate (80-82 degrees our whole stay!) everything there is open air, which meant that each night, we had a lounge music lullaby. We slept with the balcony door open at night—a great breeze, the lounge lullaby each night and the ocean calling us out to play each morning.

We never really adjusted to Maui time, so we went to bed around 8:30 or 9:00 each night and woke around 6:00 a.m. Chris has never been good at jumping out of bed in the morning, so while he watched TV, checked email and lounged, I started each morning with a Coke Zero and a book on the balcony.

We spent New Year’s Eve on a dinner cruise—a good idea, except that sunset is at 5:55 at this time of year. By the time we got out to sea, it was dark, which meant no scenic photo ops. We were asleep by 9:30. The fireworks woke us up—briefly. We looked at each other, “Uh, fireworks. Happy New Year,” and were back in dreamland 30 seconds later.

We took a five hour snuba/scuba/whale watching trip (a three hour tour just seemed unlucky…Gilligan). Snuba was interesting. I panicked for the first 15 minutes. When we had five minutes left, I finally felt comfortable breathing and asked our instructor to put my weights back on so I could sink. But, my ears wouldn’t pop, so I only went down about 10 feet. With snuba, you breathe out of a mouthpiece like a scuba diver would have, but it’s connected to a hose, which is connected to a little raft with an air tank. The instructor was a diver and took six people down each stop.

Our snuba site was the Molokini Crater. They say it’s one of the top 10 dive spots in the world. We preferred the snorkel site, Coral Gardens. Both were gorgeous. Along the way, we saw lots of humpback whales, dolphins and a few turtles.

It’s whale season in Hawaii right now. We could see the whales from our balcony. I wish I had thought to pack binoculars, for whale watching and for viewing the stars. There was a beach front path that connected the resorts. We walked the path at least once each day, enjoying the landscaping, the amazing houses, the whales and the fresh air.

We spent lots of time at the beach. The first few days were red flag days, so we had lots of surfers near our hotel. The first day, I flipped under a wave. My swimming suit bottoms fell to my ankles and I hooked them with my foot to keep them on. The girls laughed…and then put us on hold so they could tell their cousins the story…when we called with our first day update.

We got nice tans, which are already fading. I read seven novels—we had to find a bookstore so I could buy more. (I always wanted to be one of those people who got to read on the beach! With kids, that's impossible!) Unfortunately, there’s nothing spectacular to report about the food (I did like the macadamia nut and banana pancakes with coconut syrup…and of course, the tropical beach drinks :-) I received one of the best massages ever (the whole thing was good, but the neck massage was amazing.) I am SO ready to go back.

The girls had a fantastic time with our relatives (grandparents and cousins), but want to know if our next vacation will be a family vacation. It was a fantastic time for a vacation, so I’m already campaigning for New Year’s Eve at Disney World 2006. (We paid for four of our seven days in Maui on Marriott Rewards points from Chris’ travel, so we’ve now officially switched to collecting Southwest miles so we can buy five tickets to Orlando...if we can get the blackout dates to work, we'll be set!)

Back to regularly-scheduled writing posts as soon as the laundry is done and I get the Christmas tree put away!