Thursday, December 31, 2009

Revising, revising

Editing Chasing AllieCat for the publisher--for my editor at FLUX Books. I forgot how much I love revision. This is very satisfying. However, it's always easier to revise when somebody has purchased your manuscript, so you know the revisions count.

Some of his comments made me mad at first, and I was fully prepared to fight my side of the disagreement; however, as I work through the manuscript, more and more of his insights make sense. I'm finding I disagree with him less and less. Am I getting wimpy? Or is John McIntyre right? I think it's the latter.

Love this blog:

I feel like I always learn something from John. Or at least he makes me laugh! Wish I could meet him. I imagine there'd be never a dull moment.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Snow, snow, and more snow: it's why we live in Minnesota, right?

This was my deck when I got home after a week in North Carolina. I had to get a friend to plow me out. Too much for my faithful, sturdy little John Deer garden tractor, even with chains.
Freya and I waded through the snow over my knees, and up to Freya's ribcage. The snow has a rather unrelenting crust after the wet stuff that fell on Christmas, so I "tripped" and fell. More than once. Freya came inch-worm bounding over, pounced while I was down, snatched my hat, and took off. She dropped on it in a drift...and the snow plow buried it. So I had to rake the snow to find my hat. Something wrong with raking snow.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

An absolutely relaxing, delightful day.
The best Eggs Benedict I've ever had for breakfast....

I actually wrote and edited quite a bit today! Woke with a brainstorm for a sequel to AllieCat, so I hammered out a few pages before I forget what I was thinking.
I edited AllieCat quite a while, and I did work out.

100 crunches/sit-ups
20-25 push-ups
50 bicep curls each arm
50 lunges with shoulder presses.

Franklin insists on licking my face or climbing on me while I do sit-ups. It's quite the operation, but I did it!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

So my Christmas present to myself is that I'm going to write and work out every day, no matter WHAT else I have to do. School overwelms me, and I refuse to let it consume my life this semester. Refuse. Did you hear that?

So--I'm working out and writing day by day. I don't have a bike in N.Carolina, so I'm walking, doing pushups and sit-ups, and lifting Nikki's weights. Franklin, my grandpuppy, licks my face the entire time I do sit-ups, so it's a challenge, but I can feel it already. I've been slackin' and I can't if I'm going to try for Leadville! And eating right is a huge piece of working out, too, and even though it's hard at Christmas, it's not impossible!

At this lovely Christmas Eve moment, Nikki is practicing her trombone (love listening), and Tom is cooking and amazing-smelling ham and lentil soup (leftover bone from the early Christmas ham dinner).

Gonna blog about this training regimen, and my ideal goal: That my characters Sadie, Allie, and Joe race Leadville in an upcoming year in another novel. I'm pretty stoked.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm in!--

to the lottery for entering the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. But just getting so far as to register for the lottery took an hour an a half on a jammed website. But I'm this far, and I have to treat it every day as if I'm doing the race. Let the serious training begin!

This morning: oatmeal and berries instead of the fat muffins/bread I've been eating for the holiday.

The race might put me in the hospital, knowing my propensity for broken bones and crashing and such--but as Shelby (Julia Roberts)in Steel Magnolias said, "I'd rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothin' special." Me, too. In this case, it's 12 hours of wonderful agony rather than a lifetime of nothin' special.
So let the training begin!

Leadville? Leadville!

Today begins my Leadville Odyssey. I'm on another computer, trying to register for the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race.
Lance Armstrong twittered that registration was open, so I jumped on that immediately.
It might just kill me, or put me in the hospital, but I have to try.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas time!

At Nikki and Tom's house, along with Josh and Emily. Balmy N. Carolina weather and the very definition of relaxation: reading, movies, eating, doing a puzzle, more eating. Did I say eating? I'll never be ready for Leadville 100 (if I get in) unless I QUIT eating crap the minute I get back to MN. But for now, it's all good. It's Christmas and I'm with my kids.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Finally, finally. Entered grades about 10 p.m. last night. Helping with registration for a few hours in the middle of the day didn't help! But I'm done.

Cannot wait to see the kids.

Wish Freya could come, but Tom will be good to her.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The day is almost over

And I'm still grading. D2L has not worked at home at all, so I'll have to enter all the rest of my grades tomorrow morning at school. I hit "save," and four minutes later, the screen changes. Not good.
I can't wait to be done. I'm tired. Tired. Going to bed, getting up at 4:00 again...

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I do love snow, but since it took me six hours to plow out after the last dump of white stuff, I could stand for it to wait until finals are over for the next onslaught.
My garden tractor has chains on it and has a mighty little motor, but even so, the Durango had to pull the John Deere out four times. And people wonder why I drive a gas-hog car. It's cause I HAVE to if I'm going to navigate my driveway in the winter! (And haul a 147-pound dog and a bicycle).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Snowy Day

That's Ezra Jack Keats, thank you very much. A perfect picture book.

But it's also a day to stay in and grade papers like a maniac, watch the lovely whiteness pile up outside the window, drink tea, grade papers, play with Freya in the drifts, ride my trainer, grade papers, eat the soup I made last night, and grade papers. You get the drift.

My only regret: that it's my next to last day with my Humanities class; they are a ton of fun, and we needed the two hours.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dream big...

Levi Leipheimer (pro cyclist, outstanding contender for the Tour de France, seems like a truly good sport, good soul, for those of you who don't know) on Twitter today, said that he wouldn't be where he is today if he had listened to some people (probably telling him to be practical or realistic). He says, "dream big." I knew I liked that guy.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Snow and 10 degrees this morning, walking Freya--there was even ice on the Minnesota River! Glad that a trainer is an option.

Monday, November 30, 2009

AllieCat and P.R. stuff

I finally finished my author questionnair for FLUX. It's a relief to send that off this morning. Much change and update since Jake Riley came out.

Sharron McElmeel has wonderful reference books on kids' and teens' books. Worth checking out:
(Plus, she does P.R. for authors, so when Chasing AllieCat comes out, she'll help me out!)
She's also a delightful human being!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Faith Healer at the Guthrie

Saw Faith Healer at the Guthrie last week. Not the most entertaining play I've ever seen, but one of the most thought-provoking. It's haunted me ever since.

I expected it to be a play about hypocrisy and religious fervor gone awry. Instead, it was the story of a trio of dysfunctional people striving to survive, baffled by the occasional inexplicable mysticism that sometimes descended on their "Faith Healer" meetings, and struggling to love each other without losing their own lives. Each of the three main characters--the Faith Healer, Frank Hardy, his wife Grace, and his manager Teddy--gives a monologue that relates his or her own version of the same story, giving us pieces of the whole that come together only at the end as we understand their shared tragedy. Joe Dowling himself plays Frank Hardy in an impressive, heart-rending performance of this script by Irish playwright Brian Friel.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's SADIE!!

Youtube videos that match the girls in Chasing AllieCat! This looks like Sadie, if her hair were brown...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Room of One's Own

A link (Thank you, Russell) to Laurie Halse Anderson's youtube from her blog.

I have a built-in room of my own, a whole little farm. This was a good kick in the butt to use it to WRITE.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day: (Why isn't it Veterans' Day? It's for all the veterans, right? But that's not how it's written. It's not Mothers' Day, either, but Mother's Day is for each of our individual mothers. Is it for each indivicual veteran? That doesn't make any sense on any level because being a veteral isn't about anything individual; it's about losing indivudality to ascribe to the group mentality and ditch the humanity we usually have to adhere to in order to be a good soldier, right?) How's that for a long sentence?

But seriously, isn't that what basic training is all about? Get rid of the "me" for the "we"? Find a common enemy and ditch everything you've been taught about humane decency so killing can be done for the "common good"? I'm reading Chris Hedges' War is the Force that Gives us Meaning and it's affirming too many things I've been thinking for a long, long time.
This doesn't have anything to do with the immense respect and appreciation I have for each and every veteran and each and every enlisted man or woman. It's a comment on the whole idea of war.

How could anyone ever declare war unless that person felt an absolute "rightness" and that the enemy was absolutely evil so that innocents deserved to die to eradicate the evil?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Freya and I were skunks...

Freya and I were skunks for Halloween. Not the bad-smelling kind, I hope. I also read for storytime at the Blue Earth County Library Halloween morning as a witch. So I had two costumes, I guess. It made me want to write a Halloween book. Badly.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Steve Deger's new book

Check out my buddy Steve's new book trailer. This book would make a great gift for a boy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Race Against the Sky

I saw Race Against the Sky last night. Awesome. I am afraid I have a new obsession/dream. To race the Leadville 100--the quintessential Mountain Bike race, grueling, painful, horribly hard. In the movie, Lance was the ONLY one who didn't have to walk his bike up a rocky incline. Good lord. And I want to do it.

Had a good mountain bike ride last night: discovered that I can ride the trail through Kasota Prairie. Gorgeous, bumpy, challenging in a couple spots. FUN!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rainy day: good for writing but not for biking!

I may just have to get out on my mntn bike for awhile today, no matter what. But it's gonna be cold and wet.

I worked on the edits of AllieCat this morning. I love the kids in that book. I've spent so much time with them, writing about them is like going for a ride with good friends.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rapidan TT today

How do we celebrate the first snow in Minnesota? By having a roadie time trial, of course. It was 27 degrees when we started, and the ditches were cloaked with snow. Much burned off by the time we were done, but there's still snow in spots that got no sun today.

And we had a blast at the time trial. I was slow, but only six people raced. Fun times!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Top 50 paperback books of 2009

Oooh, would I love to be on this list sometime!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Freya went swimming

Freya's most recent swimming adventure.
She and her buddy Ernie (a regular-sized black lab puppy who looks a bit small next to her) swam at the PAW, and had a blast. Freya helped Ernie get over his fear of the water, best of all!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chasing AllieCat

I got the editorial letter for Chasing AllieCat yesterday! Yippee! It finally feels real...and I can start doing something toward getting this novel into bookstores!

Monday, August 17, 2009

FLUX's website

The trailer for my friend Kirstin's novel--coming out in Sept.--The Sky Always Hears Me is on the front page of the Flux Books website.
Check it out. It's really cool.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Freya is one.

It's Freya's birthday!! My baby is one year old. But look how much she's grown. Wow.

I might have to take her swimming sometime late this afternoon. But first: walk her, write, meet Trish for lunch, and then about a fifty-mile ride. THEN maybe we'll go swimming.

Friday, August 7, 2009

John Hughes died...

And check out this amazing blog/story:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Inside Out

“Fanfare Magazine"---Robert Schulslaper
wrote this review of "Inside Out"--Tom McCaslin's new Tuba CD released by Crystal Records. Check it out! This is the album for which I wrote the program annotations. You can buy the album at:

Inside Out: Tom McCaslin, Sam Pilafian, Jorge Salgueiro, Frank Zappa, Juraj Filas, Francois Thuillier, Elizabeth Raum, no conductor, no orchestra, Tuba, Gail Novak, Piano

This is not your grandfather’s tuba, the genial, lovable purveyor of polka oom-pah-pahs or even the deep anchor of symphonic brass sections and marching bands. This is a flexible, agile instrument with a wide compass, capable of everything from sweet-toned lyricism to growling assertiveness, its latent attributes fleshed out by multiphonics, whoops, splats, and prerecorded sounds. Tom McCaslin, one of a growing number of contemporary tuba virtuosos, seems to be having a great time performing this imaginatively programmed recital, in the process awakening listeners to the instrument’s capabilities. Actually, this flowering of tubism (have I coined a word?) isn’t quite as recent as I’m implying. Roger Bobo, one of McCaslin’s teachers, has been making acclaimed recordings of new repertoire for years, and John Griffiths, another mentor, enthusiastically promoted the tuba through performance and commission. But for those who, like me, don’t get to hear much of this music, this CD was an ear-opener.

Pilafian’s Armenian-flavored piece supports the soloist with a tuba drone and native percussion (the aforementioned prerecorded sounds) that reinforce the exotic atmosphere. Amusingly, the last movement includes a melody that sounds like a quote from Fiddler on the Roof. Elsewhere, the composer seems to imitate the celebratory ululation of Arab women briefly, albeit in a restrained way.

Frank Zappa’s Outside Now, Again somehow strikes me as humorous. Perhaps I’m under the sway of my recollections of his provocative, sardonic, counter-cultural personality and his penchant for outrageous names for his compositions and even his children, Moon Unit and Dweezil. Zappa challenges the performer with a “scaldingly fast” tempo (annotator Rebecca Fjelland Davis), further complicated by demands for rapid repeated notes. Toward the end of the piece, I was reminded of When Johnny Comes Marching Home; probably the resemblance was unintentional, but with Zappa, who knows? The enhanced version adds an extra tuba voice through the use of multiple harmonizer and phaser effects: apparently Zappa often used these electronic techniques in his albums. Speaking of this piece, the composer’s widow declared, “This is definitely not for faint of heart members of an audience. This rocks my world.” I can’t imagine anyone so musically timorous or unadventurous as to buckle under the strain of listening to Outside Now, Again, as I found it a very likable piece. However, it’s certain that the composer didn’t make things easy for future performers. Roger Bobo, to whom Zappa first showed the piece, wrote to McCaslin about the literal-mindedness of Zappa’s transcription machinery. (This inflexibility hasn’t improved over the years, as today’s notation programs’ attempts at taking dictation frequently have to be quantized, i.e. adjusted to more human capacity.) “This device was unkindly sensitive; I remember one measure in 4/4 time that had 17 16th notes in it and they were bracketed with a 17. In that ‘decaseptuplet’ there were other brackets over triplets and quintuplets . . . The music was extremely difficult, I didn’t understand it . . . but now there are guys like you who will do it.”

Filas’s Sonata for Tuba and Piano alternates between vigorous, even furious explosiveness and delicate, vaguely Bart√≥kian ghostliness. Swirling piano figures and rhythmic change-ups keep things moving in the faster sections and the slower, more atmospheric moments are mysteriously beautiful. Salgueiro’s cONCERTO for tUBA—yes, that’s the way the titles are printed— capitalizing on similar contrasts (I didn’t spot the emerging pun until it was too late), begins with spectral, music-box-like piano patterns and a cellar-dwelling melody for tuba that gradually emerges from the “dEPTHS” as the piece becomes more assertive. “bEATING” is more energetic, courtesy of the ceaselessly driven piano, but its melody is lighthearted. “cADENZA” continues in the same happy vein, with simple, repeated harmonies adding to the happy-go-lucky feeling, while “fANTASY” is a truly lovely lullaby: it must take great breath and tone control to play with such beguiling simplicity. “fIREWORKS” relentlessly brings the cONCERTO to a robust conclusion. The cONCERTO, originally written for tuba and wind ensemble and premiered by McCaslin, was rearranged for piano and tuba by the composer, who structured the piece in such a way that the five movements flow together without pause.

Thuillier’s Rebellion, a test piece commissioned by the Paris Conservatory, puts the tubist through his paces, requiring sustained notes at opposite registral extremes and mastery of quick moving, widely dispersed melodies, dynamics, and multiphonics. What Davis calls “funk” passages bridge the classical and jazz styles that are the composer’s preferred genres: a tubist, he frequently performs as an improvising musician with symphony orchestras. Elizabeth Raum wrote four concertos and numerous solo works for John Griffiths, so Tribute, her memorial to him, has great personal significance. Before his untimely death, Griffiths told McCaslin that he was going to request “a beautiful song” as his next commission from Raum. Although he didn’t live to play it—Raum didn’t learn of his wish until too late—Tribute’s long-lined melodiousness would surely have pleased him.

Pianist Gail Novak is excellent throughout, contributing greatly with her rhythmic incisiveness, expressiveness, and when called for, extroverted virtuosity. I enjoyed this CD very much, but I do have one complaint. To my ears, the piano suffers from a split personality: so long as it’s played at soft levels it has a most attractive tone, but once things heat up, it turns regrettably hard-edged. It’s not uncommon to hear pianos voiced in this way in rock and roll, but even there I find it a lamentable choice. I certainly can’t understand why manufacturers and pianists performing what we call classical music would prefer an instrument that sounds almost as if its hammers had been varnished. Contrary to what I’ve sometimes read, this kind of tone is not necessary to allow the pianist to coexist with or cut through an orchestra. I’ve played pianos like this and been astounded that revered brands have the nerve to offer such instruments for sale. Perhaps I shouldn’t have remarked upon it, as this disc isn’t the worst offender I’ve heard, and the piano is somewhat recessed vis-√†-vis the tuba, a perspective that helps to minimize this flaw. In any case, having gotten that off my chest, I still unhesitatingly recommend the disc to brass enthusiasts and anyone else willing to be startled by the tuba’s musical versatility.
Robert Schulslaper

Monday, August 3, 2009

Freaking out a little bit

School starts way too soon. I have had a spectacular summer, but where has it gone?? I'm writing like an S.O.B. to get something finished before I have to be at school every day again. Working on Slider's Son, the murder-in-North Dakota story right at the moment.

Freya would rather be outside than under my desk, but she won't leave me. I better go take her for some play time and get back to work.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Well, it's no surprise that Contador won the Tour. I just was clearing off a workspace on my desk, and found the ProCycling mag with his picture on the front "Alberto Contador: Shooting Star--Exclusive interview with the Tour de France favorite." And so it came to be.

TRAM was wonderful. More details and photos later, but I got 300 miles covered in five days. Day three: I rode 80 miles, but the first 71 were computer-logged in at over 20 mph average speed. Yippee! Felt great.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

TRAM and the Tour

Here's the route map for MS TRAM:

We leave Sunday. I'm looking forward to it, but I'll miss Freya.

And the big debate--is there trouble in Team Astana? I'd so love to be a water bottle in their team van.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Tour and some comments on publishing...

So the Schlecks have MOVED UP in the Tour standings after a stellar performance. Wow. Contador is a powerful rider, and Armstrong, Wiggins, Christian, and Kloden aren't looking shabby, either.

One Cycling News group said, "The fat lady just cleared her throat." How appropriate. The time trial will be very telling and high-tension. Can't wait. Wish I had Versus at my house!

And then, FLUX Books put this link on Twittet. It's pretty funny. Sad, but true.

If that doesn't work, paste in this one (Same thing):

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rest Day on the Tour, a funeral for me

First of all, a cyclist was killed on Hwy 14 last night. We're all waiting to hear who it was. News says a cyclist, and nobody that I have talked to knows who it was. A friend of mine was actually one of the first people on the scene, identity not known yet then...cyclsit vs. semi doesn't leave much for I.D.

Gives us all pause, too.

A friend's funeral is today, after a long battle with cancer. Sad, sad. He used to be the one who orchestrated Tom and friends' yearly trip to Michigan to the races.
Wonderful guy. R.I.P., Dale.

So today is a rest day on the Tour. Controversy abounds. Contador was amazing yesterday, and Lance proved he can be a loyal teammate. As OZCycling says, the fat lady is just clearing her throat.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Drama on the Tour

Georgie (in the picture of the Columbia team at dinner, fourth from right), narrowly missed getting the yellow jersey today, for those of you who aren't watching the Tour de France. He's five seconds--SECONDS--from the yellow jersey, ahead of Lance and Contador. AND there was all sorts of drama among the sprinters. CRAZY and addicting, I tell you.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New book from FLUX!

Get Your Exclusive First Look at Black is For Beginnings NOW on Laurie Stolarz's Website:!

FLUX is publishing Chasing AllieCat in 2011!

FLUX is publishing my friend Kirstin Cronn-Mills' The Sky Always Hears Me in Sept. this year!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Le Tour

I will watch eagerly to see how the rest of this Tour unfolds. I wish I could be a water bottle in the corner to observe Team Astana interacting together. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Team Time Trial

Watching the Team Time Trial (TTT) yesterday made me remember why I love watching Lance so much--and wh he's won so many adoring fans. He makes us recognize what's possible as a human being--how much we're capable of pushing ourselves beyond comfort level, beyond pain to do something great. I remember why I wept when he won the prologue on 1999, before he was a national icon. No matter how the rest of the tour goes, he raises the bar for all of us and he's great for the world of cycling.

Other notes: Astana--Lance's team--averaged 31.3 mph for the entire 24.18 miles
(50.5 kph for 39 kilometers). Unbelievable.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Le Tour, Le Tour!

So many great cyclists to watch...Now I'm keeping my eyes peeled for Cancellera. Today should go to a sprinter. So I'm rooting for Tom Boonen for Rachael and Thor Hushovd for me. Allez!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Le Tour! Le Tour!

Le Tour de France began today. A guy named Fabian Cancellara from Switzerland blitzed to the prologue time trial win. He was a wonder to watch! I may have a new growing favorite...besides Lance and George and's a long list, I guess.
Lance got tenth...a good showing for a man out for three years. This is the only time all year I watch TV. I'm quite excited.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

riding, writing

Freya is sleeping by my feet. I love writing that way.
I hit 1500 miles yesterday for the season. It's not as much as I used to get when I was racing, but it's still a decent amount of miles.

Yesterday, I did the hammer ride from Scheels. The hardcore cyclists meet at 5:30 and do 40-ish miles at a hammer pace. I was drafting and got dropped doing 32 miles an hour! Holy sh..smoke. Later on that ride was the only time I've ever been riding along by myself at 23 miles an hour and getting farther and farther behind. I stuck for quite a bit of the ride, but I got dropped four times, too. good lord. My legs are tired.

Today: write ALL afternoon. I'm not riding today. My bike's getting a minor repair done. I rode 40+ miles each of the last three days. I can take a break.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Freya and TRAM

Freya weighs 132 lb. She's a big 10-month-old puppy.

I'm going to do TRAM again this year and I'm starting to raise money for MS through this venutre--The Ride Across Minnesota. Stay tuned!

(I'll miss Freya!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A good writing day...

Actually, a great writing day. Got tons done at our writing reatreat. I don't know if I've ever written nineteen new pages in a day before. They may suck, but they're written. Feels good anyway.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Best Birthday ever

Best birtnday ever. I had this feeling...great bike ride, good karma....the contract for Chasing AllieCat arrived today! It's a deal! FLUX Books is really truly going to publsih it!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

From The Writer's Almanac...I'm not alone...

It's the birthday of novelist Gail Godwin, (books by this author) born in Birmingham, Alabama (1937). She's the author of A Mother and Two Daughters (1982) and The Good Husband (1994). Gail Godwin said: "I work continuously within the shadow of failure. For every novel that makes it to my publisher's desk, there are at least five or six that died on the way."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Floyd once more

So...I saw and met Floyd Landis. he signed my shirt. I'm a happy camper. With all the scandal surrounding his doping while winning the Tour de France, he's been sort of villified. It was nice to see fans waiting to talk to him, to take pictures, etc. I got my picture taken with him, but we haven't been able to upload it. Oh, well.

Friday, June 12, 2009

FLOYD LANDIS will be racing in MANKATO tomorrow!!!! He won the Tour De France in 2006. He raced on the Postal team with Lance. He was convicted of doping and got honors stripped from him, but HOLY SMOKE! He's a big gun, no matter what. I get to see him race. I'm so, so excited.

Also, Kristin Armstrong, Olympic champion, world champion and returng Nature Valley Grand Prix champion is riding again. She's a wonder to watch.

If you've never seen a bike race, come to Mankato on Saturday. It'll be CRAZY.

Friday Freya

Freya, the goofy Newfy, likes to sleep outside in the summer (well, she likes it all year, but particularly in the summer when it's cool outside). Last night she ragged her water dish out in the middle of the night. I heard this strange shuffling sound thought she was just pushing the water dish around the garage. I woke, and it was thirty feet away, in the grass.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday. June. It's almost heaven, isn't it?

I could use a little sunshine, but I can't complain. It's June. It's summer. No school.
This Saturday is the Nature Valley Grand Prix Bike Race in Mankato. I'll be volunteering. If you've never watched a pro bike race, you need to come see this. It's crazy and exciting.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday, Monday

One of the best things about summer is that I love Sunday nights, and Monday mornings mean I get to write! And outside my window this morning, in my yard at all the same time sere six pairs of goldfinches, a bluebird, and a house wren. Color galore. Worth sitting to watch.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Agray,wet day
I wanted to bike, but I'm not sure I'm in the mood to face how wet and cold it will be.

Freya likes it. She lies outside in the misty rain, then comes inside like a big wet bear.

I keep posting photos of Ireland. My computer takes forever.
It is as beautiful and green as anyone could imagine.
I fell in love with England, too. More on that later!
Gotta get back to writing.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Freya, my muse

As I type this, Freya is under my computer table, licking my toes. I neve knew a muse to be so huge and furry, but she is indeed, and a wonderful muse.

George and Erica (my agent and his assistant) say they're in the very last stages of negotiationg the contract for Chasing AllieCat, my next YA novel. I can't wait to have something in place and certain.

Meanwhile, other projects are calling, and it's SUMMER, so I'm WRITING and RIDING my BIKE!
I am happy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Here I am, kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle in Ireland. It's supposed to give you the gift of gab--or, more specifically, the gift of eloquence.
With my fear of heights, being held like this (note ground five stories below this open space with only a few bars to stop your fall) made my palms sweat and made me weak-kneed. But I did it!
Then I got up and the holder said, "Nobody got a photo of you. You need to do this again," and I couldn't believe that...'cause they were rushing people through. His buddy (who took this photo) kept saying, "I can't make this camera work," so I hung there for almost a minute. He got two photos, but all I could thing was, that if this was supposed to give me eloquence, it ties in to being a writer and kissing the Blarney Stone was exactly like trying to get published: they leave you hanging!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

sort of a panic...

Woke at 4:50 with a panic of all I have to do today, so I just got up and started. Now all I still have to grade are three late research papers (yippee), put stuff in D2L, grade whatever was late in my drop boxes online. Then: attend retirement breakfast, submit grades, buy a watch, mow my lawn, do laundry, pack for the British Isles (!!or rather, start packing!!), get my hair roots colored, plant onions, play with Freya, shower, march in graduation. jeez. Nothing much. I can't wait to get back from England and just live (meaning write, do Freya stuff, and ride my bike) during the day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This morning

I was in the shower and suddenly Freya jumped into the bathtub, in the shower with me. Quite a shock, that is, with a giant puppy and a cold wet nose, and the puppy herself takes up almost the entire bathtub. There was no room for me. But it was very funny.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Last Day of April

Cold, rainy, wet, foggy. It's appropriate. I'm waiting for May to pop open like a cherry blossom tomorrow. Think it'll happen?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Freya got spayed. I was a wreck. She, however, was fine and is already, two days later, feeling frisky.

Ironman WAS cold and wet

It was cold and rained pretty much all day. Thunder and lightning rolled around the sky as we pedaled out of Jordan, but that subsided and simply drizzled or poured the rest of the ride. I weighed my clothes when I got home (a big wet garbage bag), and I was riding with twelve pounds of water-loggedness.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Birthday yesterday, William Shakespeare!

Ironman on Sunday may be bleak and cold

100 mile ride on Sunday with impending cold and wet weather. Doesn't sound fun. I may ride the shorter distance--62 miles. I don't feel like turning into a chunk of ice before the end of April. Last year we did. But the Ironman means 100 miles to me. We'll see.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


IRONMAN Bike Ride is a week from today. I got in a 69-mile ride with Rachael, David, and Bill yesterday. Felt great, good ride to New Ulm and back. Hopefully it won't snow next weekend!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I'm wearing flip-flops! And the sun is shining! Chasing AllieCat is GOING TO GET PUBLISHED by FLUX in 2011!!

I can't believe it. I've been working on this book for five years. I am the poster child for perseverance and determination. Actually, I was thinking about throwing in the towel and taking up knitting, but now it's going to happen. I was wondering if it was a fluke that I got a book published, but now I feel affirmed like yup, I guess I really am a writer. Another boon to this book getting in print is that it's a book about biking, so to promote it, I HAVE to be in great biking shape so I look like a cyclist. So part of my promotional plan is to ride my bike a lot. LOL. Doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The pope and the church...

So, the death toll after the Italian earthquake is well over 1000. I saw this in one news article:
In a letter to the archbishop of L’Aquila, the Vatican secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone, wrote that Pope Benedict XVI was praying “for the victims, in particular for children.”

Isn't that nice, though? Excuse my cynicism, but there's somebody who's got power to do some real good, and he issues an edict that he's praying. Thank you very much.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Viginia Woolf drowned herself 68 years ago today...

Strange, the news came a few days ago about Sylvia Plath's son committing suicide.
Today, the Writer's Almanac reports this (My notes in blue):

It was on this day in 1941 that the novelist Virginia Woolf drowned herself in the river Ouse, near her country home in Sussex in southeast England. She suffered from periods of depression for many years, and modern scholars believe she may have been manic depressive, also known as bi-polar.

Woolf wrote in her diaries about her volatile mood swings. She would often be thrown into depression by her conviction that her writing wasn't good enough. But then she would get herself out of the depression by thinking of a new idea for a book.

She was relatively healthy for most of the 1920s, when she published Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927). But she struggled with her book The Years (1937). She wrote in her diary, "Seldom have I been more completely miserable than I was ... reading over the last part of The Years. Such feeble twaddle — such twilight gossip — it seemed; such a show up of my own decrepitude."

Sometimes, I must admit, that I think that when i read Virginia Woolf...that she does ramble about miniscule things. Yet, she remains a force in women's fiction, so I bow to her anyway. I guess it does my heart good to know she doubted her own work. It happens to all of us, perhaps.

Her mood grew worse as WWII broke out in 1939. She and her husband moved to their country house, which was under the flight path of the German bombers. By March of 1941, she was writing in her diary that she had fallen into "a trough of despair." She wrote, "It's difficult, I find, to write. No audience. No private stimulus, only this outer roar."

Finally, she wrote three letters, possibly as much as 10 days before she committed suicide. The longest letter was to her husband, Leonard. She wrote: "I feel certain that I am going mad again ... I shant recover this time ... I cant fight any longer. ...What I want to say is that I owe all the happiness of my life to you. ... I dont think two people could have been happier than we have been."

Woolf left the letters where her husband would find them and walked a half mile to a nearby river and put a heavy stone in the pocket of her fur coat before jumping into the water.
The novelist Elizabeth Bowen visited Woolf just a month before her death. Bowen wrote about Virginia: "I remember her kneeling back on the floor ... and she sat back on her heels and put her head back in a patch of sun, early spring sun. Then she laughed in this consuming, choking, delightful, hooting way. And that is what has remained with me."

Friday, March 27, 2009

West Virginia

My car--the good old Durango--is STILL in West Virginia. It might get fixed by Monday, and we can go get it next weekend. Good thing the people I dealt with in Princeton, W. V. were so nice. Otherwise, it would have been an entire nightmare trip home from N. Carolina. As is, it's a VERY expensive but funny story. My favorite is the tow-truck driver who was very nice, very toothless, and very intolerant of the "damn foreigners (fawrunners)" he talked to on the phone to charge my towing fee.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


On Thursday, I visited KIPP Pride High and Gaston College Prep in Gaston, North Carolina. What an amazing day. The students had wonderful questions about Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged. We had good discussions every class period.

The most amazing thing was our last period discussion. Every single person in the room had read the book. We talked about everything from the sexual content of the book to how to be a friend to somebody who has good qualities even while being a little scary. We talked about symbols in the book, like the squirrel, and characterization, and how a central idea is not to judge other people until we've walked in their shoes, like Atticus says in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Another especially neat thing was that Lainey in Jake Riley makes reference to Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer and to To Kill a Mockingbird, and those are two books the students were reading at that time! It was almost an uncanny coincidence.

What a wonderful day. There are pictures on my website, if you follow the link at the bottom to "photos" and then "here" to the flickr page.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I'm in sunny North Carolina where the skies are blue and the temp has been in the seventies since I've arrived.

I'm also a brunette. Jesus. Nikki and Josh's girlfriend Emily had consorted in a decision to do a "hair intervention" on me! Hilarious? Sad, too. So Nikki had a hair appointment for each of us. I said I wanted to go darker...and jezus, my hair is almost black. I had a picture of this honey-golden brown hair cut, and said that's what I wanted. Why can't anybody in the frickin' business follow a picture? I tell Keith I want darker, and I go home platinum blonde. I tell this woman I want darker, and show her this honey-brown picture, and go home with a black walnut on my neck. Jeez.

Hair's fairly inconsequential, isn't it? My kids are wonderful, and I'm having a delightful relaxing time. I haven't written a word, but I'm on vacation, so I'm giving myself permission not to.
All is well, and Freya's happy and a wonderful traveler.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Time flies

Time flies when you're having fun or when you're buried in work to get done. How did it get to be Feb. 21 anyway?

We have blizzardy snow this weekend, which is kind of fun and cozy. Freya and I have had some grand adventures out in the snow, too. She loves it. Look how big she is! Her head is a big as mine!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blue Road

I just polished an excerpt from the memoir I'm working on, and sent it to Blue Road for consideration. Waiting and nail-biting begin.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Eagles with coffee

Tom's place this morning. Taken through binoculars.
An eagle soared around in front of Tom's house and settled in the field across the road for about forty-five minutes, joined by three harrassing crows. He/she chased them away and then was joined by his/her mate. The two landed over the crest of the hill. We could see one white head for awhile, and then they moved out of sight. Quite impressive. And, trying to figure out who was who, we looked some stuff up: the female eagle is slightly larger than the male with a slightly deeper (up and down) beak, but coloring is basially identical. So we still couldn't tell who was who.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike

John Updike is dead.

It doesn't seem possible.

I felt personally attached to him, in the way that we do to authors we love. My first undergraduate research paper as an English major at St. Cloud State was on Updike's three Rabbit novels. When he read in St. Paul at what was then The Hungry Mind bookstore, I got there an hour early to get a seat, and waited in an endless line to have him sign some books. (Anybody who knows me knows that it's truly a big deal for me to be early anywhere).

I'm sad. Who can write a more perfetly crafted story than "At the A & P"?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Freya ate my computer cord!

Freya chewed up my laptop cord while I was at school on Thursday. Little stinker. I'm just really, really glad she unplugged it before she bit throught the wire. Note to self: never leave exposed cords plugged in where Freya strolls or sprawls.

Amazing how disconnected I felt from the world without a computer!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

MSAB Grant

I finished my Minnesota State Arts Board Grant final report for my 2008 grant to research and write Slider's Son. It wasn't too much work--the report, that is--but it feels good to have it done!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday, back in the routine

School starts/started today again. However, all I have on Mondays is night class: World Literature this semester, and because of the snowstorm, classes from 4 p.m. on were canceled, so I didn't get ot meet my class. I'm actually bummed because we have MLK holiday next week and no Monday classes, so it'll be the third week of school before I see this group! Grrrrrr.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Part of humanity

Sometimes, I read something that hits me in the heart, or see a painting that I "know" or "understand" what the artist was feeling, or close to it, and I tingle all over...I'm part of humanity. We're all on this earth together...and we have more in common than we don't.

A poem on "The Writer's Almanac" did that for me this morning, and then I read the other tidbits from history and birthdays, and felt glad to be sharing humanity with these people.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


My writer and fellow cyclist friend Rachael Hanel is up north of Ely this week dogsledding! I'd be jealous (I am a tiny bit anyway) especially if I weren't spending every day with Freya. Right now, I think, why would I want to go ride a dog sled if I can be with my favorite winter dog in my own yard, living room, the inddor doggie swimming pool in town, and the dog park!? But still, I envy the trip, and I'm thinking about her lots.

Check her out:

Can't wait to hear about her trip. I'll post an update when she's back.
(Does the ice blue font add the right aura?)

School, Freya, riding

I'm reading Edgar Sawtelle, which is wonderfully written. The prose is beautiful and the characters, especially the dog Almondine (!) are engaging. I hate having to read in tiny spurts because school starts Monday and I have to get ready.

Slider's Son is coming along nicely. I looked at all I've gotten done, and my mansuscript is about 130 pages now, but only about 50 of those have been revised. It's rough, but it's lots of fun.

Freya is huge. I weighed her last night after her swim at the Paw. 78 pounds. She'll be five months on Saturday the 10th.

I wish I'd hear something from George. Waiting is tough, but when stuff is out for consideration, there's life and hope.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year.
Goals, right? That's what we're supposed to think about today?
Here's mine:
Finish Slider's Son. Finish the first draft by the end of January. Edit and have at least a third draft to George before Spring break in March.
Work on the Pastor's Wife (P.O.W.) for the rest of the school year into the summer until a draft is complete.

On the off chance that I get one of the grants or awards I applied for, that could affect what the next project is.

Hopefully get Chasing AllieCat purchased for publication, and then pursue P.R. avenues.

Ride my bike like an S.O.B. Ride the Ironman and Jesse James Centuries and perhaps the National 24-Hour Challenge in June, and TRAM.

Keep Freya happy and healthy, and go to obedience classes with her, starting next week, at the place where she went to puppy school, Me and My Master.

Drive to N. Carolina in March to see both my kids, hang out, and visit Josh's school as guest author.

There. That'll keep me busy for awhile.

Shut up and Write.