Friday, December 28, 2007

Boxing Day Blowout or How to Spend More Money After Christmas

Here in this area of the world, Boxing Day is a required holiday, and we're lucky if the local gas station is open. But while that may make a few avid shoppers' skin crawl, it probably is an attempt to temper the anxiety of not being able to shop one day of the year, that is Christmas Day.
But that kind of backfires, too.
My kids got money for Christmas, and my son got an MP 3 player that according to him, only plays a few songs and he needed one with quadruple the memory. So, even with a Nor'easter on the way, we hopped into the little car and drove to the mall. I decided on the little car because I wasn't sure how good the parking would be and taking the SUV might make parking a nightmare. Of course, I ignored the fact a storm was coming and taking the SUV would have been a more sensible precaution. Thankfully, the storm held off until we were done fighting the crowds by then.
My son steered me to the electronic games store. EB something or other. We stood dutifully in line, waiting to get in. I hate waiting in a line to give my money away. There's something inherently wrong with that. But my son was quiet and so was I.
Then I realized his motives. It wasn't for a new MP 3 Player. It was for a Wii. I had made the mistake earlier of saying that I was interested in getting one, only because it would get my son more active, and now I was discovering that we were standing in line to get one.
Finally, we were allowed the special privilege of entering the store. I felt honoured and touched and slightly in awe. Actually, I felt none of those things. I was hot in my winter jacket and feeling a bit claustraphobic. But once in the store, we patiently waited in line again. Only after the thirteen pre-teen kids in front of me had spent all their money on violent games, was I able to face the poor cashier.
"Have you got any Wiis?"
"When do you plan to get them in?"
"Probably January 25th."
"Are you taking names for them?"
"Only if you pay in advance."
"How long is the list?"
"I'm not allowed to tell you."
"So, it's like some national secret?"
"Can I get a refund even before the Wii comes in?"
"How much is it?"
"$269 plus tax."
I paused. The big moment. Up until that time, I had used the excuse of there not being any Wiis available, but now I had my son behind me, who didn't get too much for Christmas this year, and the only thing he wanted didn't hold enough songs because I was stupid in not reading and understanding what 512 mb is. Apparently, it's the equiviant of having a computer that still runs on DOS, but frankly, I'm going to tell you that the computer I had with DOS never crashed.
Finally, I took the plunge. A Wii will get my son moving this winter, and allow us to play some games and stay active. With a bit of remorse at the growing debt, I handed over my credit card.
We left shortly after that, and I allowed my son to pick out some MP 3 player that had video capability. He bought it himself.
Then we went looking for boots for him, but strangely enough, there were none he liked.
I left him to drag myself to the nearest coffee kiosk and ordered a caramel coco-mocha latte with extra whipped cream, caramel drizzles and chocolate sprinkles.
I'd just finished it and the chapter of the book I was reading when my daughter and her boyfriend appeared. She'd dragged the poor boy along to carry her parcels. Ahh, young love.
We met up with some family, helped a young niece develop her own personal style, and then realized my son had not returned to the rendevous point. So we scouted out all the usual suspect shops, but didn't find him.
That's when I spotted the perfect birthday gift for my daughter. And felt my credit card burning again in my pocket. It was perfect. It was also expensive. And it was packed in another big box for my future son-in-law to carry.
It was a dressmaker's mannequin. On sale. Still expensive and remembering that I couldn't just buy a Wii for my son and ignore my daughter.
So I bought it. Note to self. Intercept the credit card bill before husband sees it.
We returned home, and I checked my email. What a delight! The travel agent with whom we had booked our March Break Trip to Cuba had written to tell us she'd posted the balance of our bill onto our credit card.
Ahh, but isn't that what Boxing Day is all about? Spending money you haven't earned yet, while appeasing your guilty conscience?

Monday, December 24, 2007

I know blogging isn't as cool as MySpace or ...

Now blogging like this isn't as cool as other things like MySpace or Facebook or like kind, but this is easiest for a dinosaur like me.
I wanted to write this blog to wish you Merry Christmas and remind you that even those who aren't Christian by faith are generally completely cool with wishing you a Merry Christmas, and not that generic and stupid Happy Holidays. So go ahead and don't feel bad. Well, maybe I will say something later about that, but in the meantime, I want you, all what 2 of you probably, to know that I like blogging. I don't do it daily, as quite frankly, I'd bore both of you to death and since you're my only readers, that's not good business to kill your readers. Darlings in stories are fair game.
So please keep reading, keep wishing everyone Merry Christmas, and remember that sometimes those sites like MySpace are good for pics and such, but they're mostly just window dressing, as opposed to the meat in my blog.
All right, so there's not so much meat in my blog. But I like to sometimes share with the world my little corner of it.
Saturday I went snowshoeing and it nearly killed me. The snow had a crust on it that wasn't thick enough to hold our weight, even with snowshoes, and when I picked my feet up out of it, the tip of the snowshoe got caught in the crust and I'd fall flat on my face. But I got a good workout.
I'm ready for Christmas. Presents bought, cantata over and done with, turkey in the oven, and I've written enough of my story to last over Christmas Day.
If you have some time, check out
It'll lift your spirits over the holidays, if you're getting tired of hearing Happy Holidays.
Merry Christmas, and may the blessings of Christmas, this is love joy and peace, be upon you.
Barbara Phinney

Friday, December 7, 2007

I'm supposed to be nice...

Okay, I'm supposed to be nice. All the older ladies in my church think I'm nice. Here's a little secret. I'm not, at least not all the time.
I've been sick this week, and last week, with two of the three writing deadlines I had still hanging over my head, I wasn't planning to be nice this week.
And why mess up a good plan?
So, this week, my deadlines done, and no more sleepless nights, I am supposed to be nice.
But I'm not.
Still sick, I was up in the night last night, sipping ginger beer to settle my stomach, and turned on the TV. Some survivor guy was living out in the Sahara, and showed me how to eat a live scorpion. No thank you.
And we had a huge snowstorm this week, only to discover the snowblower had a gas leak, and my husband kept tracking in gasoline. I hate the smell.
Then, my pastor's wife told me how she wasn't able to get in to the hospital for her surgery because of the storm and how the taxis were telling her she had to wait. She was so kind and polite. Much more than I'd have been!!! They kept telling her a twenty minute wait, until she missed her appointment, while I would have been telling the dispatcher that I was needed at the hospital right now! (I told you all I wasn't nice) Of course, it may have been like shooting myself in the foot, but you have to be honest with yourself.
Then, today, it had come to a head. I receive the Romance Writers Report and often read how these young upstart writers are selling stories to electronic publishers after only a few years, (It took me 11) and now they're down to months!! PULEEAASSSE!
What's next? Signing the a contract for three books when you've never written a sentence? What's wrong with paying your dues?
Oh, sure, some of you say it's just sour grapes, and you're probably right, but a part of me is just expressing what most of us have actually thought at some time or another. Right?
Don't look away. Look me in the eye. And know that, like you all, I'm not always the nicest person around.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

deep down in the deadline

I have two deadlines. I've dreamt of this time, of facing deadlines feeling fresh from a good night's sleep, full of imagination and creativity.
Well, I have neither. I actually spent all my creativity decorating the church vestry. I redid the Guardians of Hope bulletin board, putting two velvet stockings under it with Guardians of Hope booklets in each one. That's it. And considering I make flatbread roll ups for the snack meant there simply isn't any creativity left.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

No more sunshine

It's hard to be cheerful this time of year. If it's not snowing, it's raining. If it's not raining, it's cloudy, and if it's not cloudy, it's nighttime. One bright spot, and a small one at that, was that I managed to see the Comet Holmes. But it's hardly bright and only seen through binos and green to boot.
I think I have SAD. Seasonal affective disorder. I am exhausted, headachey and want to do nothing but sleep. So today, after a bout of headaches and nausea, I came home, found the plant grow light and hooked it up on top of the fluorescent bulb David Suzuki is raving about and sat down to my lunch. Then I took the whole gizmo downstairs and forced myself to walk on the treadmill for twenty minutes, with this bright light killing my retinas.
I think I'm sprouting leaves.
Still, I'm trying to be positive. Only another month of lessening sunlight and the days get longer. Colder mind you, but longer. And I did get my copy edits done for my next book, Keeping Her Safe, (due out June 2008), and I did finish reading a hilarious book called Murder By Mushroom, by Ginny Aiken. If you go to church and know quirky characters, then they're probably described in this book.
And in the meantime, I'm still struggling to write a book set in the summer. My editor should authorize a trip for me to the Carribean.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The snow has started

Winter is insidiously creeping into our lives. Slowly, until it can strike with full, unmerciful force.
I hate winter. We plan to go south for a vacation early next year, but in the meantime, I have to contend with it now. I had to scrape car windows yesterday until my arms ached and were permenantly stuck in that ghoulish way you see in cheap horror movies.
I put an extra blanket on my bed, too. I'm the kind of sleeper who lives in flannel pygamas, sleeps in her socks with an eye mask, and ear plugs. The ear plugs are because I snore and wake myself up.
In my latest novel, it's summer. And since I'm too cheap to put up the heat to give the impression of warmth, just to help with my writing, it's getting hard to capture the feeling.
And daylight is getting weaker. I want to hibernate. I want to suffer from SAD so much so I only want to sleep.
In jammies, socks and under that extra blanket.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A royalty watch

When I first heard this, I naively thought that it was someone who'd spotted the Queen herself. And this was after being in the writing business for years.
Actually, this is watching the mailbox for royalty statements/cheques. I don't expect any money this time around, as I haven't had a book out in a few years. But with one out this past Sept. next statement may be encouraging.
Regardless, when I saw the red flag up on my neighbour's mailbox, (ours got busted off years ago during a snow storm) I was hopeful.
Well, it was good news, sort of. I got an offer from Tena personal products for a nice carry all and restaurant card. Hey, you got to take your victories when they come.
So in the meantime, I write. I have to polish up three chapters and a synopsis. And the story is determined not to follow what I wrote down.
One Love Inspired writer wanted to shoot all her characters and be done with it.
Some days, that's my sentiment.
Back to writing. Back to life. Back to watching the flag on my neighbour's mailbox.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Christmas shopping all done!

I went to the United States this past weekend. With the Canadian dollar doing so well, I had to go. There were bargains to be had, and I needed to get away. So, with two friends, and one new one I met, we jumped into a large SUV and drove to Maine. We immediately stopped to shop in Calais, and then on to Bangor. We then stopped to shop and then finally went to our hotel. (We had our priorities right) and then went out to eat. It was wonderful to eat at different restaurants, and shop at different stores.
So we shopped, ate, slept (a bit) , and in the morning did it all over again. Then the next day did it all over again. By the time we left the US, we had filled the SUV to capacity, packed in some extra stuff, and paid our GST on the stuff we had over our limit.
It was midnight when I got home, and though I would prefer to leave earlier, I had a terrific time. I needed time with the girls, needed to do a bit of research for an upcoming book, and needed new clothes, and Christmas presents.
Now I need some sleep.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

everything is supposed to get back to normal

After this past week, my brother in law's funeral, our lives are supposed to get back to normal. It's hard. And yet, you can see the coping skills of each of us. My father in law deals with difficulties by diving into doing mindless, but necessary tasks. My mother in law by keeping the rest of her family close, and my husband by keeping busy and not thinking too much of it.
And so our lives go on. This week, our local newspaper published his death notice, complete with the picture from the funeral bulletin, (not the best photo of him, I thought) and it was hard to read it. Timmy had always picked up the paper for his mother, and my husband had just bought her a year's subscription, so now she has to go to the post office box to get it herself. That's going to hurt.
And driving by the barber shop bothers me too. It was always full of life and busy, and now the homemade sign I scribbled out there on the night he died is still there.
Now his son has no place to hang out. His son's mother asked us to keep their boy always included in family activities, but lately, they've been a bit sombre.
And in the midst of this, my writing continues. I'm wondering if my prose will have a sombre tone as well. Time will tell and time will heal.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

a terrible loss

This week we have lost a family member. My husband's brother passed away. He'd been sick, but it never fully prepares you for death. I feel as though I've been in a fog all week. And I ache when I think of the young sons he left behind, and his parents, who hurt so badly. We got to bring home a flower arrangement and the house is filled with its scents, bringing me back to the funeral home and memorial service.
All I could do was just pour my emotions into my writing. It seemed like a balm, though I wasn't necessarily writing about him, or family or anything. I just wrote. It helped.
Today I had to get up in church and thank all our church members for their prayers, the food they provided, and the pastor for officiating a difficult memorial service. My brother in law didn't attend church, and our pastor didn't know him well, which makes for a difficult service all round.
Seeing my in laws, especially my mother in law, and my nephews suffering, just broke my heart. What can anyone do? I lost my parents early in my life and can remember getting mad at the people around me at my mother's funeral. I'd lost the most important person in my life at that time. I hated it. All I could say this past week was that I understood. But it's never enough, and would understand it if I got snapped at back with the words, "you don't!"
All I can do is hope that time will help to heal them. I wish they would come to church and see how much it can help, but it's not easy to convince them that it really does help.

Friday, October 5, 2007


I changed my email address, and now I can't get at my old post! Never mind. I've been too busy to deal with that anyway.
With the kids back to school, and myself having a deadline, I haven't put too much into any but writing. But last night, I got to attend a dinner theatre where it was literally a mix of live acting and taped characters. And the story was wonderful.
The theatre group is called Seedlings and they are missionaries of sorts, but the story they told was fabulous and what I want to tell about today. It's called The Prodigal Missionary. A prodigal son type gets marooned on an island near Fiji, and the only way off the island is on a drug runner's boat. But those same drug runners are killing the children of those who saved our hero's life. At a crossroads, our hero is forced to face his past, deal with the present, and find the strength to look forward to the future.

Live theatre is tough enough, but this crew deal with interaction with videotaped performances, not to mention setting up and tearing down their huge sets everyday!

Switching Gears to Gold Cream and Big Bang Theory

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