Jan 19

The Great Crabbing Adventure of ‘11

On Sunday Jack arrived back home after a shopping expedition with four crab nets and various other fishing odds and ends in hand. “I want to take Anna crabbing!” he announced. “We should all go crabbing!”

All right, I thought. I hadn’t been crabbing in decades, but I remembered it as being a very laid-back activity wherein one baited the nets with chicken parts and then threw them into the water and then waited while entertaining oneself with other activities such as fishing or looking at the water or general enjoyment of the outdoors. Anna had been dying to go fishing for quite some time, especially since winning a very nice fishing pole when she took third place in a little mini-fishing tournament during the grand opening of the local Academy Sports and Outdoors store. (It was was one those contests where they have a big vat of fish and the kids try and catch them, and the kids can win a prize according to how big a fish they can catch. Anna caught the third biggest fish, and thus won a cute little fish trophy, as well as an Ugly Stik fishing pole. She could not have been prouder if she’d won a Nobel Prize.)

Anna had gymnastics on Monday, and so it was decided that we would go late in the afternoon on Tuesday, after Anna got out of school and Jack got off work. Various plans were put into place, and at about 4:30pm we gathered everything up and loaded the car and prepared to head off to the pier at the very end of Main Street in Madisonville (which, by the way, you have to go through several miles of swamp on a narrow and rutted one lane road to get to.)

As we were piling into the car I noticed dark clouds on the horizon and I pointed out that it looked like it might rain.

“My daddy always said that rain was the best time to go crabbing!” Jack replied. Meanwhile I wondered if his daddy had an almost-seven-year-old in tow, but I declined to make further comment.

We made it to the end of Main Street and found the pier quiet and deserted. The wind was beginning to pick up a bit and the water was getting somewhat rough, and we agreed that fishing might have to wait until another time. I noticed that the grey skies seemed to be quite darker and closer, and so we untangled the nets and baited them as quickly as we could, and then Jack and Anna went and put them in the water at various spots along the pier.

While we were doing all of this, a Chevy Bronco-type vehicle came slowly into the pier area and parked near the boat landing, but no one got out. I eyed the truck as I finished tying raw chicken wings onto the nets and wished I’d thought to bring my gun, since we were in the middle of goddamn nowhere. But then the truck backed up and turned around and I saw that there was a Coast Guard emblem on the side.

“Probably wondering what kind of idiots we are to be out right now,”Jack remarked as they drove off and as the first heavy drops of rain started to hit us. The three of us scrambled back into my car (which, by the way, I bought last October, so it is still fairly new and lovely) and settled in to wait for the crabs to find the bait and for the rain to pass. The rain wasn’t too heavy, but I still noticed that the clouds were a LOT darker and closer and uglier.

About this time another car came driving through the parking lot. It proceeded to the far end near the lighthouse, and then slowly made its way back and then parked near us. No one got out, and the windows were tinted. No Coast Guard symbol on this one. After a few minutes—after I again regretted not bringing my gun–I said, “I’m going to check the nets before it gets too ugly,” since it had been about ten minutes since the first one had been put out and I wanted to get a better look at who was in the car next to us. The rain was starting to come down a bit harder now, and I flipped up the hood of my sweatshirt and went out onto the pier. As I did about six teenage boys piled out of the other car and made their way onto the pier. I gave them my best hard glare and they retreated to the other side and pretended to ignore me. I had no idea what they were up to, but they didn’t seem to be at all interested in bothering me and so I ceased to worry about them.

I pulled the first net up and saw that a cute little crab about three inches across—including legs—was in the trap. I pulled it out and held it up for Jack, who had followed me out when he saw the boys get out of their car. “Here, show this to Anna!” I said, giving him the crab. He returned to the car as I checked the rest of the nets, then I too got back into the car—quickly since the rain was getting harder.

“I dropped the crab,” he said as soon as I closed the door.

“Well, where is it??” I replied.

He gestured to the tiny space between the seat and the console. “Somewhere down there.”

Meanwhile our poor daughter, who had by this time lost all desire to fish or crab or anything, had her feet pulled up onto her seat and was NOT HAPPY at the thought of a crab roaming around willy-nilly in the car. Neither was I, but for different reasons. We made an effort to locate the crab, but we didn’t have a flashlight and it was difficult to see anything, and the rain was getting hard enough that I didn’t really want to open the door and do the maneuvering that would be required to look under the seats.

At this time I finally had a flicker of intelligence and decided to check the radar on my phone to see how much rain we were in for.

This is a close approximation of what the radar showed:

Scary radar with ugly storm

“Um, Jack, maybe we should pull the nets and try this another day.”

The rain was really starting to come down hard now and he looked at me doubtfully. “We could just leave the nets here.”

“No, that would be littering!” I responded with a remarkable lack of common sense. “And I don’t want to throw away perfectly good nets!”

Anna made a brief plea to come with me, and I shot that down fast—eyeing the dark clouds which were now ON TOP of us. I dashed out of the car and made my way down the pier—quite grateful for the railings since the storm had progressed to where gusts of wind were making it difficult to walk and maintain balance and I REALLY didn’t want to get blown into the water. Really.

By the time I had the first two untied I was soaked through, and my face was stinging from what felt like hail. The wind had risen to the point where I had to be super cautious about my footing and where I was forced to hold tightly to the rail, but I finally managed to make it back to the car with two nets.

“I can’t get the knot undone on that last one!” Jack shouted over the wind and hail as he handed me a net and we shoved the three we’d retrieved into the back of my car. I gave him my pocket knife so that he could cut through the rope, and finally we had the last net and we both made it back into the car—freezing, soaking wet, and laughing our asses off.

Anna was NOT amused by the whole thing, and I mentally added a few thousand dollars to the fund for the therapy she was surely going to require someday. I told her that she needed to look at the fun side of this, because now she could tell everyone she knew how idiotic her parents were. She continued to be unamused, and demanded that we return home NOW. We obliged—quickly, since we wanted to be sure we made it back through the swamp before the roads were covered by water.

We made it back safely home and Anna dashed inside the nice, safe, warm, dry house. Jack and I pulled the crab nets out of the car since they still had raw chicken legs tied to them, left them in the driveway and then ran inside where we proceeded to shed our thoroughly sodden clothing and continued to giggle about what morons we were. Later, after we were warmed up and the scary rain had passed we went back out to the car in an attempt to locate our runaway crab, but had no luck. We finally decided we’d pull everything out of the car in the morning and find the damn crab.

Unfortunately, even armed with flashlights and after emptying the car of everything that could be removed, we could find no sign of the crab. However, I did find a spot under the seat where a number of wires go under the carpet, and I have a sinking feeling that the crab made its way into a nice dark under-the-carpet hole. And, surely, proceeded to die, since crabs don’t exactly thrive in the air.

So, in a few days, I’m sure I’ll be able to find the crab. Or at least the general area where it decided to make a home.

And the next time Jack wants to go crabbing, I’m going to check the radar first. And we’ll be taking HIS car.

Nov 16

Gender roles

As many of you know, I have a daughter (The Kid) in kindergarten. I do my best to raise her with the understanding and knowledge that she should not let gender define her choices or behavior. I repeatedly affirm to her that she can play any sport or hold any job she wants, and that being a girl or a boy makes no difference. She takes karate, she loves to run and chase, she adamantly prefers the “boy” toys at McDonalds, and she also enjoys making crafts and playing with dolls. I’ve been pleased that she seems to be developing into a nicely well-rounded individual, unconstrained by what boys or girls “should” do…

Until yesterday, when my sweet little girl ran into the living room, hopped up onto my lap, FARTED, and then ran off, laughing hysterically.

Lesson: Be careful what you wish for!

Oct 27

Dear child of mine,

What I want to say to my daughter:

My darling child: I know that there are many times when you don’t like or appreciate the decisions I make, or the rules I set forth, or the limits I place. I’m very sorry for this, but my job as a parent is to protect and nurture you and to prepare you for your future as best as I can. Sometimes I am attempting to protect you from risks and dangers that are tangible and immediate. Sometimes I am attempting to protect you from unpleasantness and peril that might happen in the future if you continue on a certain path of behavior. Sometimes I am attempting to prepare you for the vagaries and uncertainties of adult life. The demands I place on you are not intended to be cruel or unreasonable, but are instead imposed in the hope that you will be challenged and will grow in a positive fashion from the experience, whether it be in the areas of responsibility, education, or morals. The lectures I force you to endure are not meant to bore and nag you into submission, but are lessons from my own life experience that I hope you can learn with far less hardship than I endured. I want the absolute best for you, and pray that you enjoy a long and happy life, full of every possible opportunity and well-prepared for inevitable disappointments. To that end I must sometimes weigh your immediate gratification against your future potential, and make a choice that is based on my own experience and knowledge of a world that you are still largely ignorant of.

I will sometimes make mistakes, and will sometimes make decision and demands that you truly feel are unreasonable and illogical. In this event, I will steel myself to not be swayed by outbursts of emotion, invectives, or inappropriate behavior, and, in fact, the aforementioned behavior will most likely encourage me to enact reprisals as I continue to do my best to shape you into a responsible, and mature adult. That being said, I will be more than willing to listen to a reasonable and calm argument, backed by facts, experience, or compelling anecdote, and I promise you that I will hear your argument with an open mind and a willingness to change my position.

I love you.


What I actually say to my daughter:

Because I said so! And stop whining!

Jul 8

Sun, fun, and cars that don’t run

Coffee… need..more…coffee!!!

Well, the past week has been pretty darn full (to put it incredibly mildly.) I spent last week in Florida with the husband, the Kid, the manuscript for Blood of the Demon, and the revision letter from my editor. Woo! Do I know how to vacation, or what? :P

Unfortunately, there really wasn’t a choice about working while down there. I have a bit of a tight deadline for the revisions, and I couldn’t afford to waste a week. But fortunately, the resort had some terrific kids programs, and the Kid had an absolute blast doing games/crafts/beach stuff while I parked myself at an empty table in the bar and worked.

We headed back on Friday, with the plan that we would stop at a number of bookstores on the way back so that I could sign stock copies of Mark of the Demon. It was a great plan, and we hit two of the bookstores on our list…

And then the car broke down just past Pensacola. There must have been a god or two smiling down upon us, because the temps were in the high nineties, we had a fully loaded car and a five-year-old, and we broke down after we’d exited to get gas. We were right by a muffler place, so Jack pulled in and the guy took a look at the car. But when he said, “Well, I think it’s your catalytic converter, and I got a buddy down the road who’ll fix it for just $4000,” we smiled, thanked him, and limped down the road to a Waffle House where Jack borrowed a phone book and starting making calls. Two hours (and several hundred dollars) later, the car was on a tow truck to return to Louisiana, and we were in the backseat of the tow truck driver’s wife’s pickup. (Okay, “pickup” is an incredibly paltry description for this vehicle. It was a gleaming white extended cab four door dual wheel truck with every possible bell and whistle.) Jack had managed to negotiate a price that included our own transportation along with the car, and since the driver and his wife had family near where we live, it worked out well for everyone. (Well, except for the fact that the car was still dead.)

So, I’ve been carless since we got back (which actually hasn’t been that big a deal since I’ve been hunkered down with revisions) but we’re crossing fingers that we’ll get it back today. (Oh, and for the record, it was NOT the catalytic converter. $4000 my ass.)

In book news, there’s not much new to report. Mark of the Demon has officially been on sale just over two weeks now. I don’t know how sales are going, but I’ve been getting some really wonderful emails and comments from people telling me how much they liked the book. I’m trying to respond to everyone, but I’ve fallen a bit behind because of the revisions, so please bear with me! I really appreciate all of the kind words, and it’s an absolute thrill every time I read that someone else has enjoyed the book.

About the only other news I have is that I’ll be in San Diego in two weeks for Comic Con. I already have a couple of events scheduled, and I’ll try to post the details tomorrow. I’ve never been to a ComicCon before, so I expect to be completely out of my depth. Fun stuff! :P

Okay, back to revisions!

May 27

Busy is my middle name!

Holy crap, too much to share!

First off, less than a month until Mark of the Demon hits the shelves! Woot! Reviews are starting to pop up here and there (scroll down to the second review,) and in the next few weeks I’ll be guest blogging at various sites around the ole ‘net. (Yes, I hear you complaining that I can’t even keep up with this blog, so how the heck can I think that I can blog somewhere else? You just hush!)

Second, some holy crap news: Blood of the Demon is now available for preorder on Amazon! (Release date of January 26, 2010.) OMG, I have a backlist!

Lessee… I’m heading up to Kentucky this weekend for a couple of days to be a guest instructor at the Writers Retreat Workshop. I’m sincerely hoping that this almost-a-cold that I’m fending off stays fended off, because flying with stuffy sinuses is never fun. After that I won’t be going anywhere writing-related until late July when I head to San Diego for Comic-Con. I’m also dragging Jack and the Kid along with me, so they’ll most likely be hitting LegoLand and SeaWorld while I have nerdgasms at the Con.

I’m also going to start with some contests/giveaways on this blog (and I promise I’ll update more frequently too!) So, either keep your RSS feed well oiled, or check back frequently!

And finally, on a non-writing note, a while back the Kid was watching Go Diego Go. The episode was about a young road runner (the bird) getting ready to run some sort of race. The Kid turned to me and asked me what kind of noises road runners made.

I answered, “BeepBeep!”

Like, duh.

May 11

Mother’s day

Last Friday was a Mother’s Day luncheon at my daughter’s school, where the moms got to sit down with their darlings and enjoy a lovely repast of cheese sandwiches and carrot sticks.[g] The kids sang songs for us, and had artwork hung along the walls, but the absolute best part was the “essay” that each kid wrote (or rather, dictated to the teacher) about their mother. This was mine:

My mom’s name is Diana. She helps me. Her eyes are blue and her hair is red right now. She likes to go to hotels. She loves to eat at restaurants. She’s good at jumprope and bicycles. Her favorite color is blue and her favorite food is macaroni. She gives me lots of love. She is beautiful. She loves me forever. I like when she helps me.

(I especially love the part about how I like to go to hotels..LOL)

Mar 3

Back to routine

Last week was Mardi Gras, which also meant that the Kid was off from school for the entire week.

Thankfully, her kenpo school had a day camp from 9-3, which worked beautifully to keep her un-bored and allow me to continue to get work done. I’m already looking ahead to this summer and trying to figure out what to do with her. Staying home with me is simply not an option (and I’m still somewhat gobsmacked at the number of people who blithely assume that since I work from home and have a ‘flexible’ schedule, that having a five-year-old at home all summer long would not be any trouble at all.) Not only would it be impossible for me to get any writing done with her home, but she would also be bored out of her little skull by day three. Fortunately, between the three-week day camp that her school is running this summer, two other week-long camps at her karate school, and a day camp offered by a local health club, I should be able to keep her safe, occupied, and un-bored for the summer.

Drawback: it’s gonna be ’spensive. Sigh. Plus, there’ll be a couple of weeks in there where I’m going to be out of town, so I’m probably going to have to upgrade our usual babysitter to part-time nanny status and have her pick the Kid up from day camps when I’m not around (since Jack won’t be out of work in time, most days.) It’s going to be an insane amount of finagling and scheduling. (And check-writing!)

But, other than that, at the moment life is fairly comfortably routine. :)

Sep 23

Where I discover that I rescued orphans from a burning building in a previous life

That’s the only explanation I can come up with.

Some of you may recall my ongoing struggle to get anyone to come and take down two rotten (and large) pine trees in our back yard. Twice I had signed agreements, and checks written for obscene amounts, and twice the people failed to show (and subsequently failed to return repeated calls.)

This morning I had every intention of calling out yet another tree service to try and get the damn trees taken down, because I knew that I was rapidly approaching the point where the big tree that I was really worried about would be too rotten to climb and take down piece by piece. I knew that it would need to be taken down in this manner, because it is right next to the golf course, and I knew damn good and well that there was no way on god’s green earth that the golf course owners would take kindly to an enormous dead pine tree being dropped onto their precious green.

This morning I was sitting in my living room, checking my email, when I saw workmen in my back yard.  I saw that one was carrying a chain saw and my first thought was that this was one of the tree companies who had bailed on me earlier. So, I hied myself out the back door, girded for battle, and then see that not only are there men with chain saws, but there’s a backhoe/tractor thing in my back yard, and several trucks parked on the golf course. ON the golf course.   I changed what I was originally planning to say, and instead inquired politely what was going on?  It turns out that the BIG tree is right on the border of golf course property, and so the golf course is taking it down.  They whipped out their chain saws, shoved the backhoe against the tree, did some cutting, and then plopped that big ole tree right down onto the lovely green.

You can see how rotted the tree was.  I’m still in shock that they came and took down this tree that I was so worried about–saving me not only a bunch of headache and grief, but also at least a thousand dollars.  This is the second time that Jack and I have been exceedingly lucky when it comes to tree removal.  We must have been amazingly good people in a previous life!

Sep 4

Back home again

Long long day yesterday. My sister picked us up at the Gulfport ,MS airport and we made it home by about 11pm. Anna was dead to the world.

Somehow I left my phone in my sister’s car, so I need to drive to Slidell to retrieve it at some point today. But first we need to retrieve our car from the New Orleans airport parking lot. In the meantime I’ve been sweating my ass off cleaning up all of the leaves, pine cones, branches, and downed limbs in our yard. At least I’m making up for all of the overeating I did this weekend!

Sep 3

Trying to get home

I’m sick of my hurrication. I was sick of it yesterday. We’re all tired and stressed and sick of being squeezed into a hotel room together. We’re pretty much out of clean clothes, and this hotel doesn’t have laundry facilities. Nor does it have working internet in our hotel room. It’s supposed to have free ethernet internet, but it crapped out our second day, so I have to go down to the lobby every time I want to get online, which has made it a pain in the ass to figure out our travel arrangements. Our flight out on Tuesday was cancelled, so we changed it to today. Now it too has been cancelled, so we’ve changed to a flight that gets into Gulfport, MS. It leaves at 3:30 and gets in a 9:30. Nearly a four hour layover in Charlotte. With a four year old. Our car is at the New Orleans airport. I’m behind on my revisions. I’ve gained weight. I don’t want to look at my American Express bill.

On the other hand, we’ve been assured that our house is intact. I’m more than ready to see for myself.

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