Monthly Archives: May 2014

Writer’s Blog Tour: Four* Questions

I was recently tagged in a writing blog tour by A.T. Greenblatt. Check out her answers, and click through some of her links to see how other writers have answered these same 4 questions.

Bonus: If you read to the end, there’s a writing assistant picture. If you cheat and scroll to the end: well, I’ll never actually know, will I?

What am I working on? 

I’m currently working on making my short story, “The Rum Cake Runner,” into a middle grade novel. I’m about 3/4 of the way through the first, very rough draft, and hope to finish and send it out to first readers in the next few weeks.

How does my work differ from others in the genre? 

I tend to enjoy writing only slightly speculative fiction, focusing on everyday, normal interactions. I like my science fiction and fantasy to flavor and inform my fictional worlds, but not be the main focus. In the SFF community, this doesn’t seem to be in vogue currently, though it’s common in middle grade/young adult lit. So I suppose whether or not it differs depends on where I’m lumped!

Why do I write what I do? 

I enjoy writing MG/YA I think because that’s when I really, truly fell in love with reading. As a young girl in a small community, books let me travel outside of my family, state, country, world. They taught me about myself and, by taking me into perspectives that were so different than my own, they taught me compassion for the Other. And they were fun!

I want to recreate those same sorts of experiences for readers–young and old.

How does my writing process work?

If only I knew!

I tend to know at least my beginning and ending, and if I can, I outline the middle.

In the current WIP, I have a pretty specific outline that I’m following, and I add scenes and chapters here and there as necessary. I have to say, it’s worked really well. I’m writing quickly. I know where I’m going next. I kind of love it!

The blank page is the hardest part for me, so my first draft of things are very, very badly done. I won’t let anyone see them, ever. But once they’re done, I edit to a point that I think they can be read by someone else and send it out to first readers. From there I revise again, and maybe send it out again if I don’t think I’ve nailed the story. After that next revision, I’ll start sending it out to markets or let it sit in a (virtual) drawer for awhile until I know how I feel about it.

*And an added question of my own: What’re you currently reading?

In my newest, never-ending quest to read ALL THE MIDDLE GRADES, I’m about to start Claire Legrand’s The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. Have you read it?



Ta da! That’s it. I’m tagging fellow former bootcamper and current YA-novel-in-progress-ess, Julie Whipple.

Caveat: I had been dragging my feet on this little project for a few days, because I don’t have a lot of writer friends that I speak with regularly, especially of the blogging variety. So if you’re a writer friend and you’d like to participate, drop me a note? I’ll gladly tag you.


Now…as promised:

Cat face!

Cat face!

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Writing Assistant Monday: Gardening Assistant Edition

And by “Gardening Assistant,” I mean anything but. This bunny-butt has been wandering through our yard all spring, and I’ve enjoyed spotting him through the kitchen window. I knew he would eventually mean trouble to the garden boxes, but I didn’t expect him to actually begin lounging in them! Breakfast in bed?



What I don’t quite understand, is why he didn’t go for the raspberries that are in the right of the picture, directly in front of him. We found about 12 perfectly formed raspberries on the ground when we got home from Ireland. Unfortunately, they were moldy or I would’ve brought them in and eaten them myself.

Ah well, as long as he contains himself to that box (where Kyle’s 6 zucchini plants are planted), we’ll be okay, the garden bunny and I.

Today’s the first day of “work” after the vacation. My to-do list currently includes:

* Calling Unemployment. Because it just can’t be easy.

* Writing 2200 new words in the novel in progress. At least.

* Dishes.

* Unpacking.

Other things I could/should do:

* Mowing the yard.

* Going through my clothes and shoes and things. Purge.

Riveting, stuff, I know.

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Ireland: The End


Sorry to have left everyone hanging. I had intended on writing the last blog post in the airport, but there was an incident with a lost passport and a long, very stressful, wait in the preadmittance/customs area and then a mad dash to a plane that had been held just for us. So…no last day post.

But not to worry! I have woken up at the ridiculous hour of 3a, and can now conclude our adventures.

The day before we headed out, we headed back to Howth and the King Sitric. Since the family had travel problems on the way out, we wanted to be closer. And besides that, Kyle and I had loved it there.

Unfortunately, it looked like this:


Which, really, doesn’t look all that different. But it was! So cold. And rainy. 

After a lovely lunch at Cafe East, Kyle took Mom, Larry and Grandma into Dublin on the train so they could see a bit of the city. I don’t think it was their favorite part of the trip, but they were good sports like always. Unfortunately, I stayed behind to get some things done, so I don’t have any pictures of those adventures.




Kyle with his Guinness (and new Irish wool sweater!) at Cafe East. 



Cafe East. Isn’t it darling?

When they came back we had a lovely dinner at the Abbey Tavern, because apparently we really like our vacations to come around full circle.

And then we came home. Which was eventful, but turned out well. All safe and sound, ready to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.


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Ireland: Day 8


Bunratty castle.

Yesterday was perhaps our most touristy day, but still a lot of fun. We headed over to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. The castle’s construction was begun in the 1400, abandoned in the 1700 and restored and opened for tourists in 1960. It was pretty great, though the tight winding stone stairways were a bit much for me. Still, worth the view perhaps?


I was particularly smitten with the folk park, which was a collection of cottages and buildings, usually brought in from nearby in the county. There were also a lot of animals and a very few people dressed up in “period” peasant garb.


Kyle fell in love with these beasts.


And I fell in love with this charming coral cottage, fitted in the regency period. If I ever get my little farm, this is going on it…

In the evening, after short naps at home, we headed back to Bunratty for their Traditional Irish Night, which was very, very touristy, but still nice. There was lots of food and drink, singing and dancing and even a little but of Yeats reads. I think this was probably Larry’s favorite day of the lot.


Dinner in the corn barn.


Today we head back to Howth, so we’re closer to the airport on Saturday and so that Mom, Grandma and Larry can explore Dublin a bit. This little trip is quickly coming to an end.

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Ireland: Day 7

How has it been a week already?

Yesterday we went to The Burren. A rocky, desolate place with some of the most interesting landscape I’ve ever seen. It also had the narrowest road we’ve been on yet!



A rainbow in the Burren.

After a quick stop at the visitor center to get an overview on how the Burren came to be and the complexity of its plantlife, we were off to the Allawee caves and birds of prey refuge.

While Grandma and Larry explored the cave, Kyle and I took a hawk walk. It. Was. Amazing. It was just the two of us, with a guide (who was funny and knowledgable), and two Harris Hawks– the only bird of prey who are social, living and hunting in packs.


Kyle and Al.

After the caves and birds, we headed back toward home, making a quick stop at the hole of sorrows, a 5000 year old tomb. Which, I apparently didn’t take a picture of with my phone, but here’s another of the Burren! The tomb is just out of frame behind Kyle. 🙂


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Ireland: Day 6

Day 6 has probably been my favorite of all the daytime excursions so far.

First stop of our day was at Bro Boru Heritage Center, a small museum focused on promoting traditional Irish music and dance. In the summer, they apparently have performance 5 nights/week, but we were a bit too early in the calendar year. Still, we got to see replicas of ancient Celtic instruments, watch videos of dance styles through the centuries and read about very old poetry styles.

I was especially interested in the mythology surrounding yew trees, which I’ve made note of to research later, hoping that they may feature in some new story.

After exploring the center, we headed over to the Rock of Cashel, a medieval fortress/ holy site, where the OPW does 45-min guided tours. It was slightly less busy than most of the other places we’ve been so far (in part, I suspect, because of a threatening rainstorm).


Kyle at The Rock of Cashel, next to a blown off “bit”.


A (creepy-ish) angel in the restored hall of the vicars choral.


An abbey ruin in the middle of a working farm’s pasture.


Squinty selfies inside the abbey. It was bright!


Lunch at Granny’s Kitchen. A simple, light meal before the short trek home.

Ireland: Day 5



Day 5 of our Ireland trip has come and gone. In the morning we drove out to the Cliffs of Moher, which were amazing. It was a bit overcast and a bit chilly, but I thought it was perfect. If we could have, I would have stayed all day. Well, except for the bus loads of other tourists which were a bit much. But we stayed for a good long while, enjoying the seaside winds and the sounds of screeching gulls.

In the afternoon, we came back to home base and celebrated Mutti’s birthday with a delicious caramel and fudge cake. We then headed back out, into Ennis for a late dinner of pub food, beer and traditional Irish music. It was a lot of fun and we stayed out far longer than the pumpkins farmers amongst us normally do.

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Ireland: Day 4

As sad as not having an internet connection is, it’s not bad to “have” to stop by a pub to get connected.

Day 4 in Ireland went well and was largely a down day.

In the morning, everyone went to Mass to get a feel for. I stayed behind to do my own sort of worship by walking around the farm and enjoying the quiet peace of nature.


A fat little speckle-bellied bird.

Then later, we explored Ennis, the county seat of Clare, walking around the town and window shopping.

Especially cool was the ruins of an old friary, the oldest building in town. As it should be, since the main sections were built around 1240!


Grandma in the friary.



These little ferns were growing everywhere. Mom loved them.

In the afternoon we came back to the farm and chilled, eating food, reading books, enjoying the sunshine and playing tennis. We weren’t particularly good, but it was fun.


Mom and Larry, cutting up the court.

All in all, an excellent Sunday full of rest and a little bit of adventure .

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Ireland: Day 3

Not much to share about day 3. It was mostly spent driving from Derry in Northern Ireland to our cottage in County Clare.

Before we left, we did get to see the wall around the city, which was cool.


An entrance to the walled city section of Derry.

And the Irish countryside was beautiful, full of lambs (and their mums) and cattle.

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Ireland: Day 2

So… A bit late, but day 2!


Pictures of flowers in the sunrise in Howth.

The rest off the group made it safely to Dublin this morning, only 26 hours and one million headaches later. While I must admit that our experience so far has been good, I will avoid flying US Airways at all costs in the future, just based only how badly they treated my family.

BUT, they’re here now and all is well. 

We began the day with a walk down the east pier to watch the sun rise, figuring we should take advantage of our only morning on the east coast. Along the way we saw beautiful flowers, a wee little lighthouse and, rather unexpectedly, a seal swimming in the sea.

We then had the most fantabulous breakfast. Seriously, I would have eaten 12 pieces if toast if given the option, the jams were so good. If you ever need a place to stay near Dublin: King Sitric’s.

Then we were off to rescue the fam from the evil airport and we began the day’s real adventures: a visit to Bru na Boinne and a drive through the country side.

Bru na Boinne is an ancient burial ground a bit outside of Dublin, even older than the pyramids. There are over 40 mounds in the area, though this one is the largest and most are quite small. Most interestingly (to me) they’re where the ideas of fairy mounds came from.



A replica of the entrance stone.


The entrance.


Kyle taking pictures of carvings in stone.

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