Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Freeway Freak

The car was like a sauna, the heat so thick it pressed against me.  I wanted to push it away, but instead it filled my lungs as I took a deep breath and continued to heat me from the inside.  I cranked the a/c, which did little to relieve my discomfort because it started as hot wind blowing directly onto my face.  I shifted into gear and began to drive.  The steering wheel didn’t allow much contact without searing pain, so my fingertips became our navigator. 

 

I looked over at my sister, who had her mouth open and her tongue stuck out as though that would bring the relief she desired.  I tried it, just in case it was working.  It wasn’t.  We both laughed.

 

After a few minutes the a/c brought us salvation and we settled in for the ride.  This day we were to visit the town in which my books take place.  A one-hour car ride would take us to the high school.  I was ecstatic.

 

On the freeway, my hands now able to fully grip the steering wheel, I pulled into the fast lane.  Coming up quickly behind me, a large white van crowded against my bumper, too close for comfort.  I changed lanes to let it pass.  Instead of passing by, it stayed even with me.  Sensing the driver of the van trying to get my attention, I kept my focus straight in front of me, grateful for the visor that I had earlier moved to the side window to block the sun and that now provided a perfect block for the crazy man next to me.

 

Three possible explanations raced through my mind as to why this driver was behaving in such a manner.  One, road rage, for some reason he thought I cut him off and now he wanted to give me a piece of his mind (I tried to look as penitent as possible to diffuse his rage).  Two, freeway flirting, he was trying to pick up on me and thought somehow he could communicate his unwanted phone number through two rolled up windows (I moved my wedding ring laden hand higher on the steering wheel).  Or three, I was overreacting and he was just trying to drive. 

 

As I hoped for the third explanation, the van slowed down suddenly and moved behind me.  Now the likelihood of the first possibility (road rage) caused my heart to pick up speed.  Next he moved into the lane to our right.  My sister and I both looked over as the van inched its way forward.  If he wanted to yell at me, I decided to give him the opportunity so that he could drive on and leave us alone.

 

What came into view as our windows finally met, caused the tension in the car to melt into laughter.  A man, wearing a red and black devil mask, held up a rocker sign and nodded his head a few times before he sped away. Apparently the devil thrived in the Arizona heat.

 

“Awesome,” my sister said in a low voice.

 

“This is going to be a great day,” I added.

 

We laughed again, turned up the radio and sang our way to the high school.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Arizona here I come

I am so excited.  I get to go to Arizona in the morning.  My sister and I are making a road trip out of it.  I love road trips.  Especially ones that involve loud music, long stretches of scenic desert highway, and loads of talking.  I can't wait!  

Quote of the Week

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."  Richard Bach

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Ranting Review

I saw the worst movie of my life last night -- "Nick and Norah's infinite playlist".  Now, I am usually a sucker for a teenaged drama/comedy/romance.  Especially one that is adapted from a book.  Ask my friends, I've probably seen every one that exists.  But, by the time this movie was over, I was ready for a shower.  It started right away with dirty mouths, not just cussing, but crude comments.  Then, the underage drinking began.  It was not only unexplained as to how they got alcohol at public night clubs, but was made to look easy and cool.  The culmination of the drinking came when a character threw up in a subway bathroom then reached her hand into the toilet, fished out her gum, and stuck it back in her mouth.  Yes, I almost threw up myself.  

The main characters had potential, I thought, for a sweet romance.  In fact, the buddy of Nick, gave him this big speech about how all girls wanted was to hold hands.  How physical stuff didn't matter if you just made them feel important.  Great message, I thought.  Well, apparently the writers just put that in for ... why did they put that in if they were going to turn around and proceed to have these two teenagers (who had just met that night mind you) get it on.  And it wasn't just implied.  They let us listen.  I was so embarrassed I plugged my ears.  Believe me when I say, I'm being kind.  There was so much more and this movie was rated PG 13. 

Am I being naive here?  Have I been out of the world so long that this has become the norm?  Seriously?  This is what our teenagers are watching?  Is there any hope for the future morality of the world with these kinds of examples being glorified on the big screen?  Believe me, I know all entertainment offered isn't a ray of sunshine.  But when something is rated PG 13, I at least expect to see something I would feel comfortable letting a 13 year old watch--this did not even come close to that definition.

I would like to make the argument for teenagers everywhere that they don't want to watch garbage any more than we do.  They like to leave a movie feeling good and uplifted,  just as much as we do.  They deserve good examples that reaffirm the good choices they are making in their own lives.  Examples that help them know that they are not alone in their desires to want to be good.   

 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In the Still of the Night

As a mother of four, and now a writer, I have spent many late nights awake while the rest of the house lay sleeping.  I will never forget one of those very nights when I was awake, rocking a little one.

 

Shadows darkened the corners and crept outward in an attempt to overtake the entire room.  The only sound to be heard was an occasional creaking as the walls settled in for the night.  The gentle back and forth motion of the gliding rocker was not only putting the baby back to sleep, but forcing my eyes to close as well. 


A single noise brought me back to my senses instantly.  A low moaning broke through the silence.  My heart raced and I looked around cautiously.  The baby became restless, perhaps responding to my sudden tension.  The moan continued, low and raspy, and I concluded the noise was coming from behind the couch in front of me.  This deduction did nothing to calm me.  Gripping my baby closer to my chest, I prepared to make a run for my husband who lay asleep in the back room unaware of my imminent death.


Just as I shifted my weight to the front of the chair, a robotic voice, sounding a lot like Winnie the Pooh, said, “Change my batteries.”  Resisting the urge to scream, I relaxed back into the chair and began a fit of hysterical laughter instead.  Not because I thought it was funny, but because that voice and command creeped me out even further.  I did not like toys in my house that demanded things of me.  It was too reminiscent of murderous dolls that I had seen in movies when I was a teenager. 


The next day the batteries in Winnie the Pooh came out for good.  I couldn’t risk him turning against me at a future date. 


Some of you may think I made this story up.  After all, I am a writer and I do love to make up stories.  But, this story is one hundred percent true.  Perhaps, when this doll was being designed, the makers didn’t take into account the possibility that a late night demand might nearly cause a poor woman a heart attack.


Have any of my fellow night owls had any nighttime scares?   

Monday, October 13, 2008

I love to edit

If I say it one hundred times, maybe it will eventually be true.  How many times can one book be edited?  Here is my dilemma, I love my series.  I especially love books two through four.  My problem lies in the first half of book one.  This is a major problem because this is the hook to the entire series.  If someone can't make it past the first part of book one, they will never get to the rest.  I think this is partially why I am putting so much pressure on myself to make it perfect.  I have done three major rewrites on the first fifty pages of my series. (not to mention all the minor ones I am constantly doing)  I still don't know if I'm satisfied.  Every time, I feel a little closer to where I want it to be.  At least I know I am in good company.  Ernest Hemingway said, "I rewrote the ending of 'Farewell to Arms' 39 times before I was satisfied."  So does that mean just 36 more edits to go? (maybe more, because I am no Ernest Hemingway)  I know that I'll know when it is right.  I have other areas of my book that I have hardly edited at all because they felt right from the  moment they were written.  Ahh, if only it was all that easy.  I must say, I have a new-found respect for writers.  Who knew that writers had to do so much hard work to make reading so easy?  I will never read a book the same way again.   

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Quote of the Week

Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.

Savage? Not me.

Yesterday my two-year-old threw a hand towel in the toilet.  Today I fished it out.  How is that for savage?  Thank goodness we have three toilets in our house.  Tell me I'm not alone.  Have any of your passions/obsessions ever turned you savage?  How?  

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Perhaps that title should be my writing motto…but I’ve always been the fast and obsessive type.  J  Some weeks, when staying up way past my bedtime and letting my house go to shambles, I think to myself, I really need to exercise moderation.  But when you’re on a roll, how can you stop yourself?  I recently read a post from a fellow author’s (Angie Ledbetter) blog that spoke of searching for balance.  I need some of that.  Searching For Balance


 Some weeks I experience the opposite problem where I can’t drag a single new thought out of my head.  Those are the weeks when I relentlessly edit (because there is always editing to do).  But if my “writer’s block” persists for more than a week, I begin to panic.  I found an article on overcoming writer’s block that helped me a lot.  Ten Tips for Writer's Block    


So, Terri asked me how my writing was going this week (thanks for the interest, by the way) and to answer her question, in a very long winded way (I'm a writer, did anyone really expect me to just say, 'fine, thank you').  I’m in a fast and obsessive downward spiral.  The end is near.  I wrote about 10,000 words last week.  Balance, Kasie, balance.    

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Worst Mother in the History of Mothers

by, Kasie West

Now that’s a title to be proud of.  My seven-year-old daughter bestowed it upon me a couple of months ago when I wouldn’t give her what she wanted.  The exchange went something like this:

“Mom, can I have a brownie?” she asked with the look in her eye that told me she had already had several without asking.  It didn’t help her case that several bits of crumbled brownie clung to her lower lip.

“How many have you had?” I asked. 

The sweet smile, which she had plastered on her face in her attempt to con me, immediately turned into a scowl accompanied by an eye roll.

“No, you don’t need any more,” I assured her.

“Fine, then is it my turn on the computer?” she asked, pointing to her sister who, obviously hearing the exchange, yelled,

“I just got on!"

“Go set the timer and you can have a turn in ten minutes,” I said, in my best attempt at diplomacy.

That’s when the rage set in.  Her hands flew to her hips, her foot stomped angrily on the floor, and drawing on all the powers of indignation that a seven year old could possibly muster, she screamed, “You are the worst mother in the history of all mothers!"

Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I was impressed.  In the entire history of mother’s, I was the worst?  I had never been given such an absolute title before.  I felt proud.  “Thank you,” I said sincerely.

That was the wrong response.  Her lips pursed, her nose wrinkled, her arms became stiff boards at her sides, ending in her tightly clenched fists.  “NO!” she wailed, before running up the stairs and shutting herself in her room.

Ever since that day, I have tried my hardest to live up to my title.  I wouldn’t want to let her down.  It’s worth it for those days when the Sunday School teacher or her Second Grade teacher tell me that she is one of the most well behaved children in class.  The worst mother in the history of all mothers must be doing something right.  And occasionally, when she offers me an unasked for hug or cuddles up next to me on the couch, I sigh happily.  Perhaps she hadn't really meant “in the entire history of mothers”.      

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Agent Blogs

To all you would be writers out there, I found my new favorite blog:  pubrants.blogspot.com  This agent, Kristin Nelson, is an amazing blogger with vast amounts of information for a newbie like me.  She claims she's not an author, but I think she needs to come out of the literary closet, because her blog is funny, well written, and keeps me going back for more.  I'm so glad agents, like her, take the time to give knowledge to peons, like myself.  Maybe with her help I can finally compose a query letter that will get me noticed.  Wish me luck.  As I reach 100,000 words in book four, I feel the end of my series drawing near (probably another 20,000 words or so)  It's almost time to send out my next round of queries.  Eeekk!  I'm so nervous.