Sunday, November 29, 2009

Winna! Winna Winna Winna!

I am official "winner" of National Novel Writer's Month! My novel and I made it to 50,000 words!


The book is nowhere close to being done, but it's going fabulously. I love the way the plot is coming along and the way the characters are developing.

I know, I know... I haven't told you all what my plot actually is and well... sorry, but I'm not going to. I have this desperate fear that someone (not necessarily any of you), but someone out there who does not have a decent sense of morality will steal my idea.

Several of you have asked me for what my last book was about and I haven't told you. That's why. Nothing against any of you personally! :)

(By the way, I'm writing query letters out to agents and editors this week so if you happen to have any connections to anyone in publishing, please please please let me know!)

Deliciously Home Again!

(I actually wrote this on Sunday evening, but couldn't post it because I needed a couple things for it. You'll understand as you read on.)

We pulled in the driveway about 4:30 this afternoon after spending Thanksgiving weekend with my fam down in California. So that's why I've been incommunicado over the past week. (Sorry!)

Now I'm back, still stuffed with turkey and ready to enjoy the Christmas season!

But before I get there, I have to share these funny "I'm thankful for" quotes. We have a Thanksgiving tablecloth on which, every year, we all write what we're thankful for. The lists are
hysterical considering there are multiple small children writing out their thoughts. I kept in all the misspelling and other mistakes 'cause they're so darned cute! I just wish I could have gotten their handwriting in here, too.

Read on... (But before you get started, it would help you to know that Murphy is my parents' dog, Asta is my sister's dog and Daisy is my brother's dog. We, happily, don't have a dog.)

Hayley '09 (12 years old)
I am thankful for family and friends and vacation time and music and books.
And for Murphy, Asta and Daisy (they make me smile) and for movies.

Emma '09 (9)
I'm thankful for freinds and family, Asta, Murphy, Daisy, food, home, clothes, warmth & chapter books. God and Jesus too. Cheese (accompanied by pictures of said cheese)

Brandon 2009 (9)
family and my pets and my house video games and tv and movies.

2009 (6)
(family) Asta
Mrphiy and Daisy.
ChaperBooks. animals.
(God Jesus.) Movies.
(Pizza) food. Pepsi Ice Prinses
(then there is a drawing of a standing up mermaid in a dress and a dog head next to it)

Matthew (6)
'09 (he wrote his initials instead of his name)

We're not sure why Sophia put certain things in parentheses or where exactly Pepsi came from. She's not allowed to drink it!

And Matthew... you gotta love 6 year old boys!

It was so great to be with my whole family again. It was chaotic and loud, but the kids all played fabulously and my dad was in relatively good spirits. My amazing Hayley coordinated all the younger kids to make ornaments for my brother's Christmas tree (his first as a single man). The rest of us chatted while cooking, putting together an insanely difficult puzzle and playing Scrabble.

Was it relaxing? No. Was it headache inducing? Yes. Was it totally worth the 10 hour drive, the hotel stay and keeping Dutch Bros. in business for the weekend? Most definitely!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Unexpected free time

School bus departed, I dashed around the house getting my power cord, notebook and laptop into my bag.

Then the phone rag. It was Scott telling me that there had been a power outage at work and everything was down. "Don't rush over," he said. "I'll call you when we can work."

What? my mind spluttered. Don't work? Does that mean... Blink. Does that mean... Gasp.


Let's see... what should I do...

write my novel
do the breakfast dishes
clean the house
wrap Christmas presents
make some cards
prep dinner
catch up on all the blogs I haven't read this month

Or I could just climb back into bed and read. I like that possibility a lot!

Happy holiday week to you all, Delicious Readers! May you all find some unexpected free time!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Deliciously Opinionated -- Holiday Tipping

I was listening to the radio yesterday afternoon on my way home from the office and heard a segment about holiday tipping. I've been thinking about it ever since and was thinking so hard about it on my way home from work today that I completely missed my exit and had to cross the river and go into Portland before I could turn around. Argh.

But if I'm concentrating that hard on something, then hey... that's a Delicious topic.

I'm curious. How many of you actually give holiday tips to all the "service" people in your life? By service people, I mean:
  • hairdresser
  • mail carrier
  • teacher
  • trash collector
  • restaurant servers that help you regularly
  • manicurists
  • pet care provider
  • personal trainer
  • housekeeper
  • school bus driver
  • gardener
  • newspaper delivery
$20 is the average tip per service provider. (Except for hairdressers. You're supposed to tip them the equivalent of one visit!) But if you don't want to give them cash, you can always gift them useful gifts, like gloves for the trash collectors. But check this... we have trash pickup that's separate from recycling pick up which again is separate from the yard waste pick up. All of those have teams of 2 people, so if I paid $10 for a pair of decent gloves for each of them, that's $60 just to my refuse collectors. Now I appreciate what they do and all, but my goodness. That is just insane!

So let's calculate this out for my situation...

Hairdresser $50
Mail carrier $20
School bus drivers $40
Trash collectors $60
Servers I see even semi-regularly? Maybe $40
Am I supposed to tip the check out girl at Target that I like (and will wait longer to be in her line?) $20

We're up to $230 right there!

Let me put this into perspective for you. I try to keep all holiday gifts I buy for my family (husband and kids not included) at $15 or under. Since I plan ahead and also love to make gifts myself, I can usually pull this off without a problem. So for the 12 people I buy for, I spend... are you ready???

$180!!! And this is for people I actually love!

But here's what I don't get about the whole holiday tipping concept. I'm already paying them in some fashion or another! Why do I have to pay them again? I shouldn't have to and in fact, I don't. I wish them happy holidays and go on my merry way. (In years past when I have tipped or given gifts to service people, I have never once received a thank you note. I guess we'd have to check with Emily Post to see if you have to send a thank you note for a thank you gift, but quite simply, sending thank you notes display good manners.)

Am I missing some key point here? If I am, please enlighten me. I would really love to understand this whole concept.

I just had a thought...If we're all supposed to tip everyone in the service industries we frequent, does that mean I'm going to get $20 bills from the hundreds of people I help in our software support every week? Ha! Only in my dreams!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And procrastination sets in...

I heard it would happen. That one day I would open up my novel in Word and not know what to type.

That one day, is apparently today.

I'm procrastinating because I'm stuck.

  1. My plot (that was amazingly wonderful two days ago) is not going in the right direction.
  2. My main character is injured and can't get off the couch to help her husband search for her teenage daughter's diary.
  3. I'm desperate to plug in more details about the original plot of the book, but NaNo's hard and fast, completely unbreakable rule is No Editing Allowed! It's killing me.
  4. I've create a town full of unique and hilarious characters and there is just not enough room in the book to give them all their due
  5. I'm stuck in verb quicksand. I can't pull myself out of using the same three verbs over and over. Half the time I pop over to to find better words. The other half of the time I force my hand away from the mouse and chastise myself. No Editing Allowed!
Blah. It's almost midnight and I've written a mere 500 words in the past two hours. Not particularly productive.

I should go to bed. But I think I'm procrastinating about that, too.

Emma wrote to the president today...

And naughty Mama snuck it out of the envelope so I can show it to you all.

Seriously, this girl cracks me up. She can hold her own in conversations about politics, the environment, religion, etc. etc. But instead of asking President Obama for something, you know, significant, she requests a National Llama Day?!?!


Emma's Quote for the Day

"I could be a mindless zombie and you wouldn't know it."

Yes, she actually said it. I don't know why as it didn't relate at all to the conversation we were having. It was a goofy conversation, but still.

Can't say the girl lacks imagination, can we?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Squirreled Away--Your funny story for the day

Squirrels are ample in our neighborhood. Squirrels who apparently want to live indoors? Not so much.

But Emma and I met one this morning. In fact, she almost missed her school bus because of it!

She was standing on the porch when this crazy (but not rabid, thank goodness) squirrel started running back and forth in front of her. It would stop and watch her for a second, then run around some more.

That's when he started to go around her. If he'd have gotten past, he would have been inside.

Nuh-huh. Not gonna let that happen.

I pulled Emma back in by her hood. Had I been watching that on tv, it actually would have been pretty funny. We closed the door in Mr. Squirrel's face. I hate to be rude, but...

We peeked out the long window that borders the front door and this squirrel is sitting on his haunches looking at us. Em and I both knock on the glass to scare him, but all it does is bring him closer!

Seriously, this squirrel came right up to the window and stretched his little paws up on the glass to see us.

That's when we heard the bus. Emma and I just looked at each other. What to do?

We opened the door just a tiny crack and sure enough, Mr. Squirrel was right there trying to get in. You'd think my house was full of acorns or something. (It's not.)

We slammed it shut, hoping again to scare him. Now the bus is actually in front of our house and thank goodness, the bus driver can see what's happening so she doesn't drive away! I couldn't actually see her, but I imagine she was laughing her ass off.

Thankfully that slam worked because when we peeked out again, our squirrel friend was not in view. I literally shoved Emma out the door and said, "Run!"

She made it to the bus and our home remained squirrel free. And you, Delicious Reader, have funny images in your mind now to make you laugh throughout the day. :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Writer Kate

Thought you might like to see the novelist at work!

Birthday in the House!

Well, to be technical, there was a birthday in the house last Thursday. It's just taken me this long to have a few minutes to upload the festive photos for your enjoyment. And so....

Happy 12th Birthday, Hayley!!!!

To celebrate, we took her to Beaches, a favorite restaurant of the locals. They put her name up on their "Specials" board and even printed her name on the daily special menu.

Here she is with her birthday creme brulee (wipe the drool, Dad!) as the Beaches staff, along with most of the restaurant patrons, sang to her.

And here she is with me -- the bestest mom in the whole wide world. (As long as I'm not forcing her to do chores or something equally as cruel.

She opened her gifts, all of which she adored, which included a tall bookcase from Scott and I. That girl was stuffing books in every little nook and cranny of her room, so she desperately a place to put them all! (The two smaller bookcases she already had were so not adequate!)

And, oh the joy poured forth when she opened a new dvd... Another Cinderella Story. It's one of her favorites. (I'll tell you a secret, but you must promise never to hold it against me, ok? I adore this movie! I could watch it over and over. *sigh* Great acting? No. Girl power? Not as much as I would like. But it is so dang cute! Watch it and you will understand. Heehee.)

So it was a fantastic birthday all around. I'm so proud of her. She's such a great kid!

I added a new widget to my side bar...

It's on the big side, though, so I didn't put it up top. Scroll down to see it.

It's Coupon Tom's Coupon Locator!

Need to buy cream of chicken soup? Just type in Campbell's.
Ritz crackers? Type in Nabisco.
Sandwich baggies? Type in Ziploc.

You get the picture.

If you planning on using this money saving feature, then the best piece of advice I can give you is to save your coupon circulars from the Sunday paper. Don't cut out the coupons. Just save the entire little packet.

Stores know when manufacturers are releasing coupons, so they typically don't put those particular items on sale. So hold on to those coupons until a sale comes up! You will save sooo much more money this way. (Did you see the items I recently listed to my list of amazing deals?)

This week, I plan to stop by...

Safeway for Tide ($4.99 for 32 load container), Chewy Granola Bars ($.5o/box) and Saltines ($.75/box.)
Target for Betty Crocker boxed potatoes ($.39/box), del Monte canned veggies (6 cans for $1.70) and Campbell's cream of chicken ($.40/can)
Walgreen's for Ziploc baggies ($1.39/box), Aussie shampoo (FREE!) and Puffs tissues ($.59/box)

Waaahahahaha! I love saving money!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

You have GOT to read this one...

As I posted the other day, Scott and I finally received several months of missed pay checks. I immediately sent a very large chunk to Citi Bank and wrote multiple checks to various medical institutions (paying off Scott's medical bills).

I've allocated most of what's left to savings. But Scott and I wanted to do something for the kids. They've been incredible troopers throughout the ordeal, through all the no's, missed allowances and often stressed out parents.

For months now, Scott has been nursing a fantasy about taking our girls to Toys R Us and saying, "Go. Pick something out. Have fun."

Sensible wife here wanted to put parameters on the instructions. (I'm such a killjoy, aren't I? LOL) But Scott wouldn't hear of it. I was afraid they'd come back to us staggering with a large television. Or a keyboard. Or a guitar. Or something else grandiose and expensive. But he wanted to see what they'd come up with.

Bottom line... I should have trusted him.

Why? Because faced with the *entire* Toys R Us store, our girls were unbelievably modest in their choices. In the half hour we gave them, they filled an entire cart with possibilities. Stuffed animals, webkinz, bags, webcams, games, etc.

A tv? Nope. A keyboard? Nope. A guitar? Nope. An iPod? Nope again.

Not even the Barbie dream house Emma has coveted for years! You could have picked my chin up off the floor, I was so shocked.


In the end, after all the agonizing decision making, each girl held in her arms about $50 worth of stuff that they really and truly wanted.

Emma held the Citrus Dragon webkinz and a large FurReal kitty. It is strangely real. It licks its paws and pretends to clean itself. It meows and purrs and sleeps and wakes. Actually kinda cool, I think.

Hayley held several things, all smaller. A puppy poster, a Littlest Pet Shop set, a pink bag with a turtle on it, a llama webkinz (again, strange but cute) and a rather large stuffed dog.

And in the 24 hours since we let them loose in TRU, they have not once said, "I should have gotten..." or "I wish I would have..." No regrets at all.

Here's the coolest thing, though... when we asked them why they didn't choose bigger, more expensive, fancier toys, they said they didn't want them. That it's fun to dream about them, but that in the end, they don't really want them.

Holy cow. Holy blessed cow.

We must be doing something right.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Amazing, Fantastic, Unbelievable News!

Actually, it's almost old news, but since I haven't had a chance to share it with all my Delicious Readers yet, it's new to you. So I'm going to share it with you anyway.

But first, you need a little background...

Last summer, the company that Scott and I both work for ran out of money. Yup. Completely out of money. What did that mean to us? No paychecks. For four months. No expense checks. No nothin'. It sucked for all of us. Except for our credit card issuers. They were ecstatic.

Finally, after those four painful and bone-dry months, the money started trickling in again from various private funders; thus, the paychecks resumed. Now that's wonderful news and all, but it didn't mean that they were able to pay us all the back pay. All we could do was hope that someday the company could pay us back for the accidental "loan".

I bet you can tell where this story is going, can't you? :)

Yup, one year and six months after that first missed paycheck, we received all the monies owed to us. All of it!!! I won't tell you how much, but it was A. LOT.

Yip-tee-dee!!! Let me tell you, that was one happy trip to the bank! There was celebration in the D___ household that day!

And let me tell you, I feel so much better! Like six tons of bricks was lifted off my very sore shoulders.

Now if you've been reading Delicious as Pie for a while, you know what I like to say when huge blessings come our way. For all you newcomers (welcome again!), you must say it out loud with gospel-like zeal:

"Thank you, Jesus!"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Novel Updates...

That is, updates about my novel... Hopefully they updates are also novel. Then we'd have novel novel updates.

Ok, can you tell I'm way too tired?

I've been writing almost constantly since 7:30 this evening. That's about four hours, less some time to help install a microwave and put Emma to bed.

As you can tell by my sidebar count, I'm now at 16,494 words. That's 38 single space pages. And well into six chapters.

And I'm still loving it!!!!!

There are days when it's hard to sit myself down, though, because family duties (and mommy guilt) demand attention. Then there are other days when I write and write and write and write and could write more if I could get my eyes to stay open any longer.

Scott did, in fact, come into our room late the other night to find me typing with my eyes closed! Yes, my sentences did actually make sense and strangely, there were very few typos.

I'm not anticipating much writing time tomorrow because it's a special day for Hayley. She'll be officially twelve in just four hours and one minute. I promise to post photos. Maybe I'll even regale you with the story of my 35 hour labor. That kid was stubborn even then!

Off to bed now. Will dream of writing fun stories and using new microwaves. And birthday cake. Lots and lots of birthday cake.

A quick hello to my new followers!

Welcome to Delicious as Pie!

I hope you have as much fun reading my adventures as I do writing them (and usually having them.) Haha.

Comment often and I promise I will check out your blogs as well!

Thank you!!!

Wickedly Weird Weather...

I was writing this post in my head a few minutes ago as I was helping Scott install a new microwave (to replace the one that got destroyed a couple weeks ago). And it occurred to me that I have all these exciting things to tell you, but I'm about to write about weather.

But it was interesting weather!

I hopped in the car about 4:10 this afternoon to pick up Emma from a playdate. It was just barely starting to rain and as I got in, I noticed on the dashboard thermometer it was 54 degree. I drove out of the subdivision and looked up at the western sky. It did not look pretty. In fact, it kinda scared me.

I kept watching it as I drove (yes, I was watching the road, too!) and it was all kinds of freakish colors -- dark, dark gray, orange, tints of pinks, possibly even some green, although I kept telling myself I was wrong about that one.

I mean, people were out doing their every day things--walking their dogs, pushing strollers, running--and here I am worried about funky clouds. I thought maybe I was just overreacting. (Wouldn't be the first time! LOL)

So five minutes after I left my house, I pulled up in front of Emma's friends' house. It was raining harder now and the clouds were definitely scaring me. The three girls were outside playing under an umbrella. Emma got in the car right away and the other two were content to just continue playing outside. I told them to go inside *right away*.

Good thing they actually did 'cause the sky opened up. Hail the size of cannelini beans fell in waves! I've never seen anything like it! It was so loud Emma and I couldn't hear each other and the road was completely covered and then some within seconds. The temp had also dropped 12 degrees in the time I was in the car!!

It had gotten so incredibly dark out, too. It was only 4:15 and it looked like late dusk. I would not have been the least bit surprised had a tornado appeared with its notorious freight-train thunder. Thank the good Lord that none did appear!

We made it home safely, back to Hayley, who had waited here. While she had noticed the hail, it hadn't been enough to take her attention away from the computer game she was playing. Sheesh. I guess it was good she wasn't scared, though.

See, I told you it was wickedly weird and actually interesting weather!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just a quick update...

I've been focusing on my novel as much as possible over the past few days, thus explaining my lack of blog posts. Sorry!

I have lots to post about, though. Good news, not-so-good news, events, birthdays, etc. I've even remembered to take photos along the way!

I promise to write more very, very soon (hopefully tomorrow), but until then... Hi to all my Delicious Readers! I hope you're having a great week!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sometimes my dedication to things is a real pain in the...


Here I am, Day 5 in NaNoWriMo, and I can't get myself to stop doing my day job. Oh, I want to. Trust me, I'd rather be working on my masterpiece.

But our world of software basically imploded this week due to an overworked, underpaid and slightly overwrought server. (Hhmm... maybe that description is more apropos for me.)

Customers are frustrated and are slinging virtual bushel of tomatoes at us. Let me tell you, those virtual tomatoes don't hurt any less because they're not real!

I've had to tell multiple people to stop all-capping at us. These people think the world is ending because a service they pay a measly $15 a month does not read their minds.


Do they really think we haven't fixed their issue yet because we think it's fun to make them suffer? Ok, it might be fun to watch them suffer, but we can't see them so really, there's no joy in it.

Yet here I am, trying my darnest to answer 85 support emails. My annoying sense of dedication to my job won't let me concentrate on anything else.

You, Delicious Reader, need to sit me down and give me a firm talking to. Here's what you're going to say:

"Stop answering those damn emails! {If you're a kid, please substitute "darn".} They're still going to be there in the morning, but these hours that you're using up will not! Don't you dare feel guilty! Your book is more important than anything else right now. You have got to focus! We'll all know you're not real fond of goal-setting, but you have set a goal for yourself this time and you are going to reach that goal! Now get off this damn (but amazing) blog and write your book!!!"

Ok, ok... don't get so excited already. I'm closing out of support right now. (Yes, I really did!) I'm opening Word and Chapter 2. And now I'm even closing out of--

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why on earth was I writing non-fiction?

Fiction is my home! I adore writing fiction!

I'm excited. I'm satisfied. My characters are becoming real and I'm still in the first chapter!

And there are already twists that I didn't see coming. It is just the most amazing thing to be typing away when all of a sudden, you pause, realizing that your characters have taken you to a place you hadn't created for them. These fictional, imaginary characters somehow dictate what happens!

I just read what I've written so far to Scott. He was astounded! (No, I'm not bragging. Only being honest.) He was engrossed in the story, loved the character development, could easily imagine the setting and most of all, can't wait to hear more!

I've never felt comfortable reading my writing aloud. I imagine it to be something like a baby beauty contest. Putting your most prized possession on display, asking for judgment. Ouch! I cringe just thinking about it.

But read my story, I did. And I actually didn't feel too much pain. Just a bit of self-induced anxiety that I pushed away by turning off the lights and making Scott close his eyes.

I'm taking that as another sign that writing fiction is my true calling. And you want to know an even bigger sign?

I smile when I write.

Scott tells me that when I concentrate, whether it's at work or when I'm writing my non-fiction book, I tend to scowl. It's just that I'm mired so deeply in concentration that there's no emotion to show. Getting the job done is intense.

But I've noticed that when I'm writing this novel, I smile. I giggle. I've even caught myself bouncing.

How entirely cool is that????

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy National Novel Writers Month!

Or, because saying that feels like a chewing a mouthful of peanuts, you can call it NaNoWriMo. At least that only feels like a small mouthful of peanuts!

The object, should a writer choose to accept it, is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Yup. One. Month.

Honestly, that shouldn't be too hard since I am obsessed with words.

And I have a really good idea.

And I am super-excited!

Now, be aware there aren't prizes (like actually getting the book published) at the end of this mad writing session. No, it's all about writing for the joy of it. You may be writing crap. You may not be making any sense. You may mess up your staging and viewpoints and tenses.

But it doesn't matter because you're actually writing!!!!

I can hardly wait to get home from church (and cook and eat lunch, clean up the kitchen, do some laundry, separate fighting children, etc. etc.) so my first novel can begin its momentous life!