Sunday, October 4, 2015

Last 200 Words - October

Okay, I'm totally cheating. As you know, I quit doing the WIP Marathon reports because of all the reasons I explained in this post. But I'll admit it, I'm still itching to post a tiny bit of progress, especially when...well...I'm actually making progress (now's a good time to mention that my idea of "progress" is moving up by a mere K or two a month, and that pitiful word counts are my modus operandi). So while I can't commit to writing full-fledged WIP Marathon reports once a month, I've decided that when all of the WIP Marathoners post their reports, I'm going to simply post my last 200 words. I'll also mention how many words I've added this month. Unless it's pathetic. Then I'll conveniently forget and leave that part off.

Word Count for October: Around 10K of Black Lilies. No, I didn't do that all in one month. This is my TOTAL word count since I started the novel LAST WINTER. I'm in bad shape here.

Last 200 Words:

“Don’t patronize me. I’m not a child. And I’ll tell you my name as soon as you tell me what’s going on.” I crossed my arms and stepped back in a show of defiance, accidentally dropping the assignment that was crumpled in my hand. Moving quickly, I reached down to pick it up.
“What’s that?” he asked, leaning forward to look at the paper.
“It’s my ‘lesson’, as you like to call it,” I bit out. “It’s what I’m supposed to be working on right now, but now I will get a zero because of your little impromptu performance of the Star Spangled Banner.”
He squinted his eyes, examining it closer. “Let me see that.”
Why would he want my paper? There was barely anything written on it. I shrugged. “Here.”
I tried to hand it to him, but he didn’t move to take it. Instead, he tilted his head, as if trying to get a better view. His already pale-face turned white, and his bright eyes grew wide. “I know this writing.”
He jerked back, his fists clenched at his side.
“Tell me your name, clever girl.” 
I stood silent. 
“It’s you, isn’t it? You’re Aviva.” 
My mouth fell open, and he disappeared.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Nothing Says Happy Birthday Like Tasty Crickets

My birthday was a little over a week ago, and I have to say that this one was pretty wonderful. That morning when my students were entering first period, they loaded me up with brownies and birthday cards, and they sang to me. Horribly of course, but it was so freakin' sweet. I was stumped, wondering how they figured out it was my birthday. I found out later that Mr. Moore (my mischievous retired-teacher-friend) was subbing on our campus that week and had spilled the beans. I gave him an earful when I found out. Except for it was more like an eye-full since it was via texting.

Later that morning, Teri swung by my work and had a large caramel iced coffee from Jack in the Box delivered to my classroom. I guess that doesn't sound like a big deal, but the caramel-flavored one is my favorite, and it's been discontinued. She had to drive all the way to the Jack in the Box by the freeway to find a place that still had a little bit of the caramel syrup left. She also bought me two additional large coffees--sans the ice--and poured them into a bottle for me, so I could luxuriate in my favorite iced coffee a little longer before I lost them forever. 

When I came home from work, Clint, who likes to torture me with the present-opening process, made me work to win my gifts. I was given thirty seconds to run through the backyard and shoot as many clay pigeons as I could. Each clay pigeon had a gift taped to the inside. The catch was I had to watch out for "whammies"--clay pigeons that had "unconventional" gifts taped to them. The game was a blast (no pun intended). My favorite gift I won was this:

I think I about hyperventilated. I've been wanting some kind of gumball machine for my classroom for awhile, but this far exceeded anything I had imagined. Since I can't keep gum or candy in it (against school rules), Clint stuffed it with pencil toppers and miniature erasers. My students LOVE this thing. Clint got the machine from a company in China that manufactures candy dispensers for businesses, and he got all of the pencil toppers and erasers from Oriental Trading Company. Since he stuck with bulk items that were being clearanced out, each eraser ended up costing about two cents. When students put a quarter in, they get anywhere from 4 to 10 erasers. I'm planning to use the "profit" to buy more erasers.

Unfortunately, I did hit two whammy gifts. Whammy gift #1 landed me with three boxes of dehydrated crickets. On the plus side they came in a nice assortment of flavors (sour cream and onion, bacon and cheddar, and salt and vinegar). I gave them to students as prizes. I made a super big deal about it. "Now whoever does the best job on today's presentation wins a highly coveted, amazing prize. It's.....drumroll please.....some delicious crickets! Never say I don't love you." By the time Monday rolled around, my students were wondering what else they could do to win crickets, and I had to give them the bad news that we had run out. Seventh graders are awesome. 

Here's whammy gift #2:

This is Amelia. She's a Brittany--a hunting dog (primarily bird hunting). Clint and Elijah got their hunting licenses last month, and Clint's been pestering me ever since that he wants a hunting dog. One of the groups he and Elijah joined, Quail Forever, basically requires a hunting dog for their outings. You can always group up with others who have a dog, but it's not quite the same as having your own. While I understood all this, we already had three dogs. There was NO WAY IN HELL I was signing up for a fourth. So I told Clint that he was going to have to wait until Cricket (our nearly-11-year-old Corgi) passed away before getting his dog. 

Then I hit that stupid whammy. Which was clearly marked with a 'W', by the way. If I had hit the other two whammies, I would have ended up with a McDonalds frappuchino and a hug. BUT NO. I scored some crispy crickets and a damn dog. Yay me.

To be fair, I don't really notice the difference between three dogs and four. I think by the time you reach three you're already so saturated with mammals that adding one more into the mix is barely noticeable. Plus Clint's doing all the work of training her, so it's not so bad. Amelia is playful and super affectionate, and she's making it difficult to not like her.

Still, if we don't reign this pet-thing in soon, this is going to be us by next year:

(Clint texted me this photo the other day and I couldn't stop giggling)

Seriously, our household is a zoo. If there was ever any doubt, this is what I was dealing with while trying to read in the backyard this morning:

Tipsy and Fable--our obtrusive geese who are still struggling with the concept of personal space.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


So I got really sick this month. And I'm one of those annoying people who rarely get sick. The flu went through our house two or three times last year and it skipped me every time. Yet on Friday, September 4th, I came home from work with a fever of 103. Other than feeling hot (not the good kind of hot) and delirious, I had no other symptoms of being sick, so I spent the next five days in denial. But I finally went to Urgent Care that following Tuesday, only because by this point I was thinking, "Crap, I've gotta be frying brain cells by now." It turned out I had a urinary tract infection. Okay, no big deal. They started me on antibiotics. Another four days later, my fever was still 103, and I was now coughing up a lung. I went back to the doctors, they did x-rays, and it turned out I had bronchitis and pneumonia in my right lung.

What the hell? I'm as healthy as a horse (I don't really get that idiom), yet out of nowhere I get slammed with a UTI, bronchitis, and pneumonia. All AT THE SAME TIME. It was horrible. And I'm pretty sure with all this sustained fever I burned off a few IQ points. If this blog post seems choppy and boring, it's because I'm actually stupider now you guys. 

So that's my lamenting. I'm on the upswing now. I can't wait to be 100% me again (minus a few brain cells).

I ran a Chasing Echoes booth at our local Hesperia Tumbleweed Days this weekend. My entire family hung out with me all day, helping me with my booth and giving me emotional support. Shannon was amazing. I think she single-handedly sold 80% of my books. My mom was pretty awesome too, pulling people in to watch the trailer. How am I this blessed? Anyway, here are a few pictures:

It was a great day (though by the end of the day I was wiped out), and Tumbleweed Lakes is such a wonderful place to run a booth. There are so many trees that even at 95 degrees it never felt too hot. At least, not the kind of hot where you're seeing mirages out in the desert and stuff. Unlike my damn fever, where I was hallucinating that Voldemort from Harry Potter was trying to eat me in my sleep.

Okay, I'll stop.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Chasing Echoes Trailer

Last week I asked Trinity, "What can I bribe you with to get you to make a trailer for Chasing Echoes?"

She immediately replied, "Sushi."

The girl is 15 years old, and she wants sushi. Whatever happened to pizza with extra cheese?

Anyway, I agreed to her terms, and here is the sweet little 90 second trailer Trinity created (be sure your volume is up):

On a related note, sushi ended up costing me $58, so I probably should have pushed for that pizza.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Summer Catch-Up

Look, I'm writing a post you guys. It's a post!

I went through a massive blog drought over summer. I can't explain why, since summer should be when I finally feel the freedom to write. But right from the onset I knew I didn't want to even look at my blog.

There's so much to talk about from this would make for a very long and boring post (and still might). So I'm just going to abbreviate the main things that happened:

  • Grandma's Ashes: I flew to Cushing, Oklahoma to deliver my grandmother's ashes to her hometown. I made the trip with my half-sister Sarah. We stayed in a lovely hotel suite, swam at an awesome pool, enjoyed some nice dinners, had a little girl-time at the local bars, and met a lot of really cool people. Very memorably experience.
  • My Niece Graduated! I guess this doesn't seem like a big deal, but it was for me. Not only am I close to my niece Cassidi, but she's the first of my and Shannon's kids to graduate. It makes me feel weepy--to think she's all grown up now, and sort of marks a new era. 
  • Clint's Knee Surgery: Clint had knee surgery the first week of July and is out of work until October. The first week he couldn't walk and I learned what it feels like to do everything.
  • Jamboree Days: I ran a Chasing Echoes booth in Crestline selling my books and some other related stuff (see here). It was fun! The only caveat was I was supposed to do the booth for two days, but I only lasted for one day before getting totally wiped out. In my defense, I was staying at my sister's house that weekend and her entire household (including my kids) were still up running around at 1:30 a.m., on a night that I was supposed to get up at 6:30 in the morning. Plus it was the 4th of July, so we were up watching fireworks and celebrating. And I had a crippled hubby who couldn't help me with the heavy-lifting.
  • Comic-Con: Comic-Con was immensely fun--even better than last year (even with Clint on crutches--which he turned into assault rifles, by the way).
  • Camping: This almost didn't happen due to Clint's parent's RV breaking down. But after spending over twelve hours fixing it, we ditched our original plans of camping in Oregon and, instead, found a beautiful campground outside of Lake Tahoe called "Snowflower." I could do an entire post just on that. It was gorgeous.
  • Monopoly Tournament: Elijah participated in the Juniors Monopoly Tournament on the world's largest Monopoly board in San Jose. He didn't win, but the experience was awesome! We all stayed at the Hilton. Clint's parents were trapped in their room the morning of the tourney when their deadlock broke. Maintenance couldn't get them out, so they were forced to climb out the window onto the roof, down an emergency escape, and through a service door to get back to the lobby. I wish I was making this up.
  • Dog Beach: I went to a dog beach for the first time with Shannon, Jeremy, my parents, and all the kids. A dog beach is just like a regular beach...with dogs.
  • Ringworm: My whole family (except for Elijah) came home from camping with ringworm. I still have scars. 
  • Writing: I didn't get a lick of writing done.
  • Art: I drew with charcoal for the first time! And I dabbled with oil pastels too. I LOVE charcoal. My goodness where has this been my whole life? Here are my first two drawings: 

I have a ton of other pictures from summer but I'm too lazy to find/organize them.

That's about it. Now I'm back to work. We're in week 4, actually. It already feels like it's going so fast. And of course I've already slipped up in the classroom. Last week I told the class "In today's society you just don't see balls anymore." Of course we were talking about the setting for Cinderella, but it didn't matter--the class was howling (7th graders. *sigh*). Today I was tempted to play AC/DC's Big Balls to the class, since, like me, he's talking about parties and dances (ha!), but I thought that might be a little over the top.

Okay, a real song now. You've heard it's pretty popular. When I focus too hard on the lyrics, it makes me sob like a baby.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Ready, Aim, Fire

This weekend I became a certified archery instructor!

 My first time firing the Genesis bow

Mr. Bales and me with our certification cards

The class was in Wheatland, CA, which is about a seven and-a-half hour drive from where I live (eight hours plus if you figure in stops for gas and food). Clint and I, along with a teaching colleague of mine, Mr. Bales, left right after work on Friday, arrived to our motel around midnight, and started the training the next morning. 

The class was awesome. I came into the class being a tiny bit familiar with archery, but my experience was limited to the compound bow with a peep sight and scope, set at about 42 lbs. The bows we're required to use for NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) are Genesis bows, which are also compound, but have no peep sight, no scope, and are only set to 11 to 20 lbs. So in addition to having to learn how to set up and run an archery range (including all of the safety rules/regulations), I had to learn the techniques for shooting a bow that I'm completely unfamiliar with. Did you know there are ELEVEN steps to shooting a bow? Here was the nemonic device I made up so I could remember all of the steps for the test: 
Sassy naked damsels boast proudly during an afternoon salsa routine Friday.
Seriously, I need to trademark that baby. ;) It stands for: Stance, nock arrow, draw handset, bow handset, pre-draw, draw, anchor, aim, release, follow-through. Someone was paid the big bucks to make all that up. If I was in charge over at NASP, I'd have three steps: 
Ready. Aim. Fire.
Anyway, we were also required to learn all of the different parts of a bow, and how to do common bow repairs. It was total information the end of the training my brain felt numb. But I also came out of it on a high, because I feel like I learned SO much (I ended up scoring a 96% on my practicals, and man did it take everything out of me). At this point, I honestly think I could set up an entire archery range and run an event with confidence.

While all of this was going on, my son was participating in the Monopoly Championship Tournament eight hours away, which resulted in me doing a lot of hyperventilating, squealing, and screaming while trying to shoot targets and memorize that the top cam of the bow is called the "idler wheel." I'm dying to write more about this whole Monopoly thing on this post, but it's way too cool and special, so I think I'll save it for the next one.

Cross your fingers for me now that our grant through NASP goes through, because I really, really want to get this archery program going for the new school year!