Thursday, July 29, 2010

What I'm Not Doing

There are many things I'm not doing today. Today, I'm not:

1. Meeting and greeting 2,000 other authors, editors, and agents and trying not to fawn over the stars.
2. Running all over parts of whatever Disney compound is down in Florida (I am incapable of keeping them straight).
3. Worrying about my hair, makeup, outfit, or whether it's too hot to pull of cowboy boots in the middle of summer in the ol' Sunshine State.
4. Hanging out with fellow authors around a pool, sipping delightful adult beverages even though it's only lunchtime.
5. Attending invaluable presentations on craft, marketing, and surviving the publishing business.
6. Getting truckloads of free books.
7. Offering words of advice and comfort to pre-published authors who are new to all this.
8. Seeking words of advice and comfort from published authors who have been there and done that.
9. Cheering for Heather Snow at the Golden Heart Awards.
10. Overpaying for tea, and really overpaying for wine.
11. Eating banquet food.
12. Having a hell of a good time.
13. Wondering how tomorrow could possibly be better.

No, instead, what I'm doing today is this:
1. Wondering if I should shower now, or if The Kid will just throw up on me again in fifteen minutes.
2. Laundry. Again.
3. Scrubbing carpets.
4. Scrubbing floors.
5. Scrubbing everything else.
6. Wondering how a child who has consumed nothing more than three sips of water can produce so much liquid.
7. Wondering if it makes me a bad mother if I think about paragraph transitions while The Kid throws up. Again.
8. Wondering if there is such a thing as human/canine stomach bug transmission--and then scrubbing the carpet. Again.
9. Counting the hours until my husband comes home.
10. Watching movies all day long--not the ones I want to, but still. Movies.
11. Rationing crackers.
12. Not getting paid because I didn't go to work.
13. Praying that tomorrow will be better.

So for all you authors living it up down there at the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Orlando, Florida, please--I'm begging you--have a little fun for me!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Done Enough

I pronounce this project "done enough." Experienced remodelers know what I'm talking about. It's not done. No home improvement project is ever really, truly done. The touch-ups alone will probably take another 2 days, and we still need to put a new coat of poly on the interior of the windows, which could easily take weeks--if we get to it at all. But functionally, that room is done enough for The Kid to move in and set up camp. See?





(This is but a small selection of the toys in our living room.)


My Gram is coming to look at the new, improved sun/toy room this weekend. She thinks it's going to be pretty. She doesn't realize a five-year-old boy has already moved 85% of his stuff into it, or that Gater has already permanently wounded that cute little chair by eating part of the dust ruffle off of it.

But it's done enough. And that's good enough for me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Romance Novel News!

Exciting times here at the Authorial Mom blog!

No, not so exciting that six-figure contracts are being slipped under my front door by editors so enthralled by the thoughts of hunky shirtless cowboys and Indians on horseback that they are battling it out on the lawn. That wouldn't be merely exciting. That would be so far beyond exciting as to be a coronary event waiting to happen.

Still, I'm excited! I've officially joined Romance Novel News as a reviewer!

What is Romance Novel News? From their website:

Romance Novel News is an independently-owned online site dedicated to contemporary, historical, erotic and paranormal romances.  RNN will provide trade news, features, debut author spotlights, Q&As, reviews and reader polls.

Mainstream media does not review mass market or trade paperback romance novels - even when they make the best sellers list. Most publishers rely on blogs to promote their titles.

While romance blogs ultimately promote the genre, the experience-level and posting frequency run the gamut.  RNN will provide consistent and fair reviews to inform readers of the latest romance releases. All reviews submitted are professionally edited and checked for accuracy prior to posting.

RNN aims to bridge the divide between romance fiction and mainstream media by treating the genre with the same respect as other works of fiction. 

RNN is not affiliated with any trade organization or publisher of romance fiction. 

All books reviewed have been provided by the publisher.

Note that last line--All books have been provided? That line is just about the best part of the whole thing. That line means that free books now show up in my mailbox for me to read. The first two, Awakened by a Kiss by Lila DePasqua, and Infamous by Suzanne Brockmann, arrived today. That's more than a good-enough reason for me to be excited!

My goal is to do one or two reviews a month. I've requested first crack at the westerns and after that, whatever catches my eye. All my reviews will be on the RNN website, and I'll be sure to link to it here, so you'll never have to worry about missing all my brilliant insights.

So stay tuned for more from Sarah M. Anderson, professional reviewer!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot Time . . .

Summer in the City, back of my neck gettin' dirty and gritty...

Yeah, that'll be stuck in your head for the rest of the day now. You're welcome.

Anyway, we've done something I've wanted to do for a while now--prove to The Kid that Chicago exists outside of winter!

As you may recall, due to the husband's work schedule, The Kid and I normally venture north during the winter. It's cold, it's dark, and we normally crash on my old friends J and B's futon-like couch. (I don't know what it is--not a couch, but not a real futon. The Kid loves it, though.) Which is all well and good, but there's a whole 'nother side of Chicago that exists when the sun shines.

J and B recently went and had themselves an adorable baby girl, V, and we were invited to the naming ceremony--in July! Yes! A good reason to visit Chicago in the summer! So I loaded up The Kid and my mom (Hi, Mom!) and we hit the road.

We went up the new Chicago-Kansas City Corridor instead of up Hwy 55, and it was a much more relaxed drive. I recommend it. Luckily, we stopped in a town called Peru, Illinois, for the night--lucky, that is, because  NASCAR was racing in Joilet that weekend and the third hotel we went to literally had the last rooms between there and Chicago. They had a pool, which, as any parent of a small child knows, is vitally important for everyone's survival if the child has been in a moving vehicle for more than two hours.

The next morning, we made it the Chi-town. I lived in Chicago for almost six years before we moved away, but that was five years ago. I always get a little nostalgic when I go back. At least until we hit gridlock. Then I'm ready to go home.

 First stop: The Lake! Now, it may actually be cooler by the lake, but the temps were in the 90s that day, so 'cool' was relative. The Kid had only seen the lake, frozen solid, through the Aquarium glass before--and certainly never done this before:

Note: I remembered to pack his water shoes! Score one for Mommy!

Ah, the crazy times. Really. I lived there for how long? And believe it or not, this was the first time I'd ever gone down to Montrose Beach on a hot summer Saturday.

After The Kid consumed/wore his Spongebob Squarepants ice cream, we headed down to the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Ave. for those who don't know). The Mag Mile is one of the best shopping districts in the nation, plus it's got cool architecture. Our first stop was the bridge over the Chicago River, where The Kid was just positive those were the biggest boats he'd ever seen.

He was fascinated by all the activity going on--right until this flew overhead:

Note the helicopter flying below the top of the building? Note the large, bulbous projectile on the helicopter's nose? Turns out, they were filming Transformers 3 downtown (for like the next month) and the helicopter was getting the aerial shots. I haven't seen either of the first two (I'm the sort of person who reads movie reviews seriously), but I'm kind of curious to see if any of the human specks might be us . . .

Anyway, the Mag Mile was the likes of which The Kid had never seen before. A middle-aged woman was doing disco kareoke all by herself; 'inner-city youth' were doing hilarious choreographed routines, and then there was this guy:

He blew The Kid's mind. For several blocks after we saw the robot guy, The Kid was still trying to wrap his head around whether or not he was a real robot. I hope Robot Guy takes that as a compliment.

Shortly after this shot:

I did one of the craziest things I've ever done--I took The Kid, still sticky from the ice cream and sandy from the beach and sweaty from the walking--into Nieman Marcus and told him not to touch anything. Call me sadistic, masochistic, or just plain nuts, but I did. I even browsed the racks (Oh, it was the world's softest cashmere coat--on clearance for $3,789!) and tried on and bought a sweater (comparatively, on clearance for $44). The Kid found an open space with the husband chairs--well, not really husband chairs, because normal husbands wouldn't be caught dead sitting in those things, but still, the idea holds--and ran in small circles, right in front of the Burbury display. Needless to say, we got exceptionally prompt service from the helpful staff--except from the bouncer posted by the furs. He just glared at us as we kept moving. Because The Kid managed not to take out any displays, we went next door to the Disney store and bought him a Woody doll to go with his Buzz. They're the best of friends now.

We had hoped to go up in the Tower formerly known as Sears after spending quality time with baby V, but then this happened:

and my mommy decided she didn't want to be in a very tall building so much after all. If you look close, though, you can see a rainbow right over the hazy Tower Not Named Sears Anymore way off in the horizon. And, frankly, after gridlock in the rain, I was ready to head back to the hotel.

After the naming ceremony, we headed home, stopping at an antique store along the way and somehow managing to dodge a storm that looked like it was going to flatten Peoria. It was a short, crazy trip, but dang it, it was Chicago in the summer!

The Kid is already asking when we can go back.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Branson, Part Two

So, as you may (or may not) have read last week, we went to Branson and saw Brule'. Awesomeness ruled.

But there was so much more the the vacation than that! We did other crazy stuff, too.

We ate lunch at Lambert's, home of the Throwed Roll. We played sidewalk checkers outside.

Notice the bright sunshine? By the time we got done with lunch, it was POURING. We got incredibly wet making a run for the car.

Yeah, like that.

We went to Dick's Five and Dime, an old-fashioned general store. Those with a more delicate sensiblity may want to look away:

Of course, those who find the fact that Dick's saw fit to stock marshmallow rope candy in the ladies' bloomers section of the store should look again. I thought it was hilarious.

Because we all forgot our swimmy suits at my folks' house, we went to Bass Pro to get some more--only to find that they don't carry kid's stuff, and only slender women buy clothes at Bass Pro. (No worries: A lovely Lane Bryant was nearby!) The Kid took a picture of me with a bear:

At least he didn't drop the camera.

We went to the Stone Hill Winery, where my wonderful husband bought me a case of cream sherry. While we were on the tour, listening to a hilarious man named Bob explain how they carbonate their carbonated wine, a Zydeco band showed up. Really.

A Louisiana bus tour with a child-prodigy accordion player showed up, handed out beads, and broke out a concert on the lawn. Only in Branson!

We went to the Dixie Stampede, where I took pictures of the horses. Not the building, the flower garden in the shape of a huge butterfly, or the cast of actors. Just the horses.

See the special saddle? This guy was one of the two horses who jumped through a flaming hoop with a rider STANDING ON HIS BACK!! Absolutely amazing.

It rained. The sun came out. It got humid. We swam in a pool. We hit the outlet malls. We drove a long, long way. Then we left The Kid with my folks for the week on our way home--and the real vacation began!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Real Indians vs. Fake Indians

Note: This isn't going to be one of those posts where the clueless white woman gets all indignant on behalf of the Indians. Such politically correct rants are condescending, patronizing, and irritating to the ninth degree.

Instead, this is post is just my observations on a recent compare and contrast moment, okay? So please, keep all indignant condescension to a bare minimum. I have enough irritation in my life right now, thanks to the swarms of mosquitoes circling the house.

So, if you read last week's blog, you know that I went and saw Brule', the Native American show down in Branson. If you've read this Thursday's blog (which, admittedly, might require time travel), you'd know that the next night, the family and I went to one of the most popular shows in Branson, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede.

To recap, Brule' is a show that's half rock opera, half Lakota powwow. It is produced by Lakota Indians. It stars Lakota Indians. You can buy things handmade by Lakota Indians in the gift store. It's the real deal (although slightly Bransonized, but still).

Dixie Stampede, on the other hand, is a so-sanitized-it-squeaks edutainment version of select events in America's past, usually centered around the 1860s. We sat on the North side (not the north side of the building, but the side representing the Union--the capital 'N' North) and booed the tourists sitting on the South side (in between bites of chicken, of course).

At one point in the proceedings, after the pork loin but before the hot wipe, and after the performers (dressed as extremely attractive settlers) had a rousingly well-coordinated hoedown but before the bright, happy saloon 'girls' did a tasteful dance number, the Dixie Stampede had an 'Indian' dance number.

A dancer in a craggly face mask and a blacklight-friendly costume came out and released a bird as he danced around. The bird flew up to the ceiling, and then a female dancer dressed as a Thunderbird with blacklight stripes dropped from a wire from the ceiling. A third guy dressed in day-glo fringe rode around on a horse, pulled the Thunderbird dancer around and sending her flying through the air on her wire, all while the first dancer was getting down to a song that sounded a lot like something Tim McGraw would play in a stadium.

Now, aside from the artistry of combining a (figurative) bird on a wire with a guy riding a galloping horse--it was cool--the contrast between the 'real' Indians we had seen the night before with this 'fake' Indian dance number was stunning.

And again, let's not get indignant here, shall we? I'm fully aware that every danged thing in the Dixie Stampede has been sanitized for my protection. The North and South didn't do battle over pig races; saloons were never so friendly, and settlers have never been so clean and shiny. The only real thing about the whole production were the horses.

And I also want to be clear that I enjoyed the Dixie Stampede. It was fun, in that weird dinner-theater kind of way. The trick riders were amazing--a guy jumped through a flaming hoop while standing on the backs of two horses! Awesome!

But even my husband, who, prior to the Brule' show, had never seen traditional dances or really even seen an American Indian in person, was surprised at the difference between the real and the fake. I wasn't going to say anything, but he pointed the difference out to me (along the lines of "Funny that last night we saw real Indians and tonight . . .").

It was like going diamond shopping at Tiffany's and then spending an hour browsing the 'gems' at a Claire's Boutique in the mall. After you've seen the good stuff, the imitation just doesn't cut it. So, in the future, demand the good stuff. It's worth it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


We did the tourist thing last weekend. We went to Branson, Missouri. For those of you not familiar with Branson, it is (for reasons I've never understood) one of the live entertainment capitals of the world, outside of Las Vegas and Nashville, Tennessee. You can see shows ranging from Shoji Tabuchi to Titanic exhibits to Pasty Cline retrospectives. Heck, King Kong was even climbing a building, all from the rolling Ozark mountains in the middle of nowhere.

We didn't see any of that stuff. We saw Brule.

There's supposed to be an accent mark over the 'e' but I'm not good with this sort of thing.

The theater was probably the only place in Branson where you could just pop into a tipi. So we did.

Notice The Kid is showing Pooh Bear the sights. I would like to state for the record that Pooh Bear was a well-behaved bear on this vacation. He watched the show with great interest, right until The Kid fell asleep during the flute duet number and used Pooh as a pillow.

Also notice the foggy quality of the camera work? It POURED for most of the first half of the show--like so much, it almost drown out the drumming--and those were big drums! But at intermission, the sun had come out, so we made a break for the tipi. And the camera fogged up. Le Sigh.

Back to the point, which was the show. What is Brule? Brule is a contemporary Native American Indian music show. It's the brainchild of Paul LaRoche, a Lakota Indian who was raised in a white household.

Ironically, Paul's life story is remarkably similar to a hero character I'm working on. Because he's a cool guy, he said that I could model as many romance heroes off of him as I wanted. I kind of got the feeling that romance authors don't just pop up every day at the RFD-TV theater and discuss why everyone there would be a great hero or heroine.

The show has the traditional American Indian drums, flutes, and rattles, but it also has a contemporary rock backbeat, being as Paul played in a whole lot of rock bands back in the 60s and 70s. I thought the fusion of the two styles was not only cool, but eminently listenable. I can't handle a whole CD of drums and flute. But throw in a guitar and piano? Much better.

Anyway, the show was good. The Husband was a little worried about the hokey factor after the opening number featured eagle dancers, but then the dancers settled in to a good rhythm. The Husband had never been to a powow or anything real and traditional like this, so he was doubly impressed when the fancy dancers and the hoop dancer came out. If you ever get the chance to see a traditional American Indian hoop dancer, go. You won't be sorry. The hoop dancer in Brule is Lowery Begay.

I got a little dizzy watching him spin, but he was great. World-Champion great. The guy was good.

Garan Coons was the M.C. He was in jeans for most of the show, but for the big dance numbers, he broke out the fancy dance outfit. Betcha can't guess why they call it a fancy dance, can you?

The fanciest of the fancy dancers was Douglas Scholfield. I don't want to embarrass him, but there were a few ladies of a certain age sitting in front of us in the audience who let everyone in the building, town, and surrounding county know that they thought he was a good-looking man. Perhaps that's why my husband failed to snap his picture. Makes a girl wonder . . .

Anyway, the only female dancer that day was Josette Wahwasuck.

Josette, I'm sorry about this photo. Just remember, I didn't take it. My husband did.

I bought earrings that Josette made, but it's hard to autograph earrings, so she signed the CD instead. We did discuss her outfit, though.

Note: I took this picture. Are those boots awesome or what? You should have seen Josette spin in them, too. Beautiful. Her main dance was basically a progression from the original women's dance--a slow, steady pacing--to the contemporary women's fancy dance. Fancy dance, if you didn't know, is the original aerobics. I was whipped just watching her.

The other woman in the show was Nicole LaRoche, Paul's daughter. She plays the kind of flute I played in fifth grade, but she plays it in a distinctive way that mimics the traditional Lakota flute, only with more tonal depth. Although The Kid fell asleep during her flute duet with Garan, I thought it was one of the sweeter melodies I've heard in a while. Music clearly runs in the family.

This guy was the grass dancer.

Grass dancers are my favorite. He was The Kid's favorite, too, because he was one of the warriors for the Buffalo Dance and the Warrior Dance. However, he's victim of the dreaded 'unreadable autograph' syndrome, so we'll all just have to be satisfied with his photo. He tried to fist-bump The Kid, but the boy was still groggy from sleeping through a thunderous standing ovation, and just glared at the poor guy.

So, to sum up, Brule was amazing. If you find yourself in southwestern Missouri in the coming months, I highly recommend checking them out. We did a whole lot of other stuff in Branson, but you'll have to come back next week for more crazy photos.