Monday, August 30, 2010

First day of school!

Free at last! Free at last!

The house is so quiet I can actually hear myself think. Unfortunately, the only thought going through my head is "Go back to bed!" But that just isn't very productive. Besides the fact that I have to get ready for my own semester to start up again this week. Freedom is so short-lived. Already I'm fielding emails before the semester even begins from nervous students. I'm bracing myself for the onslaught of excuses, favors, extensions, whining, complaining, etc.

And it's not even September yet.

Now I can't wait for December.

Freedom is a relative thing.

But at least the kids are in school.

Sigh. I miss them.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

12:01AM Mockingjay released out into the world.

8:30AM Began frantically checking Amazon shipping to see if they'd shipped my copy yet. No, they had not.

9:00AM Had work related call. Every 15 mins, checked Amazon status. Still not shipped.

12:00PM Done with work. Checked Amazon. Not shipped. I begin grinding my teeth.

12:30PM - 3:30PM Took all 3 girls out for lunch and haircuts. Back to back haircuts. At 2 different salons. Check status on iphone. Still not shipped. I begin to fume.

4:00PM Home again. Checked Amazon. Not shipped yet. Begin to curse wildly under my breath. Girls still hear me and threaten to tell Da Man. I bribe them with Hawaiian Shaved Ice which is conveniently located in front of the bookstore. They agree.

4:05PM Cancel my Amazon order and race to bookstore to pick up my copy of Mockingjay. Oldest demands she reads it first. I laugh in her face. She threatens to tell Da Man. I don't care.

4:30PM Buy girls Shaved Ice and try to read first chap as they drip sticky goo onto my flip flops. I don't care. But when gooey drops threaten the pristine pages of my book, I reluctantly put it away and start harassing girls to eat faster.

5:30PM Finally get home. Race upstairs. Lock my door and begin reading.

6:30PM Girls begin whining that they are hungry. I ignore them.

7:00PM Girls threaten to breakdown my door. Da Man is working late so can't make him do it. I reluctantly put down book and make dinner as fast as I can.

7:30PM Made dinner. Want to read. Girls demand I stay and eat with them. Grrrrr.

8:00PM Girls keep asking me to do stuff for them. I get snippy. They get whiny and start fighting. I get yelly. They start crying. I sit and watch a movie with them and eat popcorn while they cuddle up to me.

9:00PM Can no longer tolerate another Disney moment. Order girls to bed, abandon them and race up to finish Mockingjay. Da Man comes home and sees cover. Makes mad grab for it. I nearly bite his finger off. He demands to read it next. Oldest hears, runs over screaming that she's next. I shove them both out and lock door.

10:30PM Finally done. Emotionally spent. Keep rereading final chapter to make sure I didn't miss anything. Can't believe it is done. Can't believe the Hunger Games are over.

What do I have to look forward to now?

Well, Suzanne Collins has written the screenplay adaptation for the Hunger Games movie and Lionsgate announced that they hope to begin filming in February of 2011. With Suzanne Collins attached firmly, it seems the movie should stay true to the series and that makes it something worth looking forward to.

2011? Can't wait!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Last Empress of Korea

One of my favorite parts of the writing process is the research process. I am a total geek at heart and I adore libraries. The best part about being a faculty member of a university is that you have a fantastic university library at your fingertips. It's like manna from heaven! So for the new WIP, I'm working on late 19th century Korea where the Hermit Kingdom was just beginning to open its doors to Europe and America, and the royal government was divided into 3 factions led by Queen Min, King Kogjong and the Daewongun (the King's father who had ruled as regent). These factions were split along pro-Japanese and pro-Chinese lines but it was the Queen's power that intrigued me the most.

Queen Min's life is one of those historical tragedies that had incredible significance in the world but remains largely unknown. There are many factors to it, the largest one being that she was brutally assassinated by the Japanese government who then did everything in their power to vilify her name and eradicate her contribution to history. They went so far as to destroy any and all paintings and photographs of the late queen. All that is left are a few photographs and paintings that may or may not be the queen.

Recently discovered illustration depicting the Japanese Minister
conversing with King Kojong and Queen Min.

She was known for her open hatred and distrust of the Japanese, afraid that Japan was only out to conquer Korea and bleed it of its resources and people. She was right. But she was smart enough not to trust the Chinese either. Because she felt Korea was in a perilous position, she encouraged Russian involvement in Korea and opened the doors to the US and Europe. Although a devout Buddhist, she showed a high degree of religious tolerance which allowed a new wave of Christian missionaries access to the once closed country. This was in direct contrast to her father-in-law, the Daewongun, who killed thousands of Korean Catholics during his reign as Regent.

The king was a mild, kind man who was weak and ineffectual as a ruler. It was well known that the true power lay first with the Daewongun and then with the Queen. In fact it was the Queen who had the Daewongun removed from power. This led to years of assassination attempts that included an exploding box that killed the queen's closest relative, poison attempt of the queen, and attempted kidnapping. It wasn't until Daewongun collaborated with the new Japanese Minister to Korea that his assassination attempts were finally successful.

On October 8th, 1895, pro-Japanese collaborators allowed 50 armed Japanese men into the palace compound where they killed several women before dragging the queen into the courtyard, hacking her with sabres, sexually violating her, and then finally setting fire to her body.

There are many who speculate that World War II (at least on the Pacific front) might not have happened if the Queen had not been assassinated. It was her increasing encouragement of Russia that prompted Japan to have her killed. Had she survived and had she successfully manipulated the foreign governments interested in Korea, she would have kept Japan out of Korea and Japan would not have grown into the unchecked super power that it did. For when Japan colonized Korea, it took all of Korea's resources and sent it to Japan, enriching the lives of the Japanese while impoverishing the Koreans. (Much is made of the fact that Japan did help modernize Korea also, but a strong case could be made for the fact that such modernization would have occured naturally, like it did in Japan, with the opening of Korean's doors the international world.)

As you can see, I'm enthralled with this topic. It is this history that will play the background to my new speculative fiction WIP. I just hope that others will find this history as fascinating as I do. But one thing is for sure, I'm going to have a blast writing it!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Douchebag juniors

So today I was out with my 3 girls, my niece and my mother-in-law. Because we had no power, we went to Nordstroms at the mall to shop. All 4 girls love the little jewelry accessories that are in the kid's section of the store. But before I would buy them anything, we stopped by the ladies room, which is in the children's section. It has a large lounge area, a separate breastfeeding room and then the toilets. We walked into the ladies lounge and I stopped short when I heard a male voice. I turned and saw a teenage girl sitting on the lap of a teenage boy, in the women's restroom lounge. They were flirting in the ladies room. First of all, yuck. If you're gonna flirt, why the ladies room? Second of all, WTF? You're fooling around in the goddamn ladies room!!!

I walked over to them and said, "Excuse me, but this is the ladies room and you shouldn't be in here." I actually said this in an apologetic manner.

The girl said to me "Do you work here?"

I immediately knew where this was going. "It doesn't matter if I work here or not, he shouldn't be in here."

The girl got real nasty and said loudly, "Did I stutter? I asked if you worked here?!"

"No," I said.

"Then mind your own 'expletive' business!"

I smiled very wide and said "Why don't I get someone who does work here instead, then?"

I stepped out and yelled, "There's a teenage boy in the ladies restroom, please have someone escort him out!"

Realizing that they would be in trouble, the teenagers walked out. The girl gave me a dirty look and called me something that rhymed with plucking witch and threw some other words in there that I won't bother to rhyme at this time.

To which I replied, "Girl, do you really think I give a crap what you call me? As long as you and your little boyfriend are out of here, I don't care."

At this point the security guard had reached them and he started yelling at them.

My mother-in-law, who was with the girls, was in shock. She couldn't believe how rude and nasty this 16 or 17 year old girl had been to me. "The sad thing is," she said. "I bet that she talks to her parents that way also."

Yep, I would bet a lot of money that she does. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last that I run into such nasty behavior from the young. For some reason, this particular area I live in is filled with overprivileged, spoiled, disrespectful douchebags. They start as young as three. I still remember the shock I felt when I watched this mom let her 3 year old smear mashed potatoes and ketchup all over the mirrored walls of a Chicken Out restaurant. The mom didn't stop her, just kept talking to her friend and ignored her kid, even when the kid started screaming for ice cream. At one point the kid screamed so loud, the entire restaurant went dead silent and everyone stared. The mom still didn't do a damn thing. When she finally left, I felt terribly sorry for whoever would have to clean up the humongous Picasso like creation on the mirrors.

I actually think that there are more good kids out there than bad. But the bad ones are so incredibly bad that they stand out like a big ass mole with hairs on the tip of your nose. And the sad thing is that it isn't there fault. Parents have to take responsibility for raising spoiled children who are so self-indulged that they believe they can do anything without consequences and be rude to anybody. It's a sad situation. When I was growing up, I would have been punished severely for being disrespectful to another person. Nowadays kids regularly mouth off at anyone. These Junior douchebags will turn into full sized douchebags and fill the world with their douchebaggery.

So my question is, do we have an obligation to point out douchebag behavior to them and their parents? We have to live with them. They are part of our society. If their parents aren't going to call them out for bad behavior, should we? And what are the repurcussions of that? Can we go around calling kids douchebags? I kind of like that idea, but then are we worsening the problem? I'm not sure what the answer is. But it seems that we are seeing a generation of possibly the most spoiled children ever. What will happen when they grow up? Should we be scared? I kind of am.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bear Country

We are in Wintergreen Resort, Virginia. It's beautiful and the weather is perfect. It's 80 but not hot. It feels wonderful after the oppressive heat and humidity in DC. The only problem is that we are in bear country and the girls are terrified of bears. I blame Animal Planet.

The girls watched an episode of "When Animals Attack" where a black bear kills and eats two people and goes on a rampage and attacks several others in a Canadian hot springs Mountain resort. The worst part of the show was that they did graphic re-enactments and did the part where the bear apparently begins to eat the people while they are still alive. Why did I let the girls watch this show? I was working on my laptop and the girls like to watch some pet dog show on Animal Planet. By the time I realized what they were watching the damage was done. The girls were officially scared of being attacked by bears.

So Da Man gets the girls up and announces that we are going on a hike. The girls freak and panic and insist that they are not going on any hikes because the bears might eat them. Da Man laughs at them and says we're not going to see any bears.

"Oh yeah? Check this out!" Angus turns on the resort channel that is playing a segment all about bears and how some bears have been known to come right up into people's houses.

"Don't worry, we won't see any bears," he blusters.

"Oh yeah? What about the sign on the trash can?" Oldest asks.

"We are not going to see any bears on our hike!" Da Man yells.

"But what if we do?" Angus whimpers.

"Don't run," he said. "Unless it chases you. Then you need to climb a tree. But then some bears can climb trees."

"Nice job, Einstein," I say as the girls begin to howl in fright.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lend a Helping Hand

Hey guys,

The Monday post is below for the regular Random Funny Things my Kids say. However, before you scroll down, can you take a moment to read a note from my friend and fabulous author Erica Orloff about helping out another friend of ours. Thanks so much:

In this little corner of the blogworld, most of us are book lovers. Book lovers and writers, people who say, "I've been writing stories since I could hold a pen," or "I was the kid holding the flashlight under the covers and reading past bedtime." In this little corner of the blogworld, we've also watched out for our own.

Merry Monteleone (Mom and More) and her family were in the midst of raging flood waters in Westchester when heavy rains hit Chicago. The contents of the downstairs of her house were lost, and though it's just "stuff" (lives were lost in the flooding), most of us can imagine how it would feel to watch photo albums and meaningful memories wrapped up in the "stuff" of our families . . . be carried off.

While big "stuff" can be replaced with insurance, Merry lost all her books, and a group of us decided to replace them--with Amazon gift cards, with books, with signed copies of books, with ARCs. We want to see the blogosphere flood her mailbox with good wishes and replace her library. If you love books and your TBR pile is as tall as you are, you know what they mean to her.

What can you do? Send books! Send Amazon cards! Reach out to your favorite authors and ask them to send her a signed copy! For her address or more information, contact:

She has three children middle school and younger. Their books were in their bedrooms and most survived, but it would be great to get some books just for them, too!


Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 43

We were in Toys R Us Times Square so that Angus could spend her birthday money.

Oldest - So what do you want to buy?

Angus - The only thing I want is an Edward doll. (Angus has a crush on Robert Pattinson of Twilight). I want to kiss him and tuck him in to bed at night. But I'm afraid my lips are too big for his head.

Oldest - Ewwww, the doll looks creepy.

Angus - Don't say mean things about my boyfriend! Ewwwww, you're right, he is creepy!
Can I get a Cedric doll instead? (Robert Pattinson first played Cedric on Harry Potter.)

Oldest - I don't think they have Cedric dolls.

Angus - (sighs deeply) My heart is broken. I'll never be happy again.

Me - Who wants ice cream?


If only broken hearts could always be healed by ice cream.

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