Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!!!!

funny winter Pictures, Images and Photos

With the kids home for the week and a major revision in place, I will be letting the blog go dark for a little while. I hope to be back to posting in a week or so. But in the meantime, I wish all my blog buddies and blog readers a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year!



Friday, December 19, 2008

Writing Mood Music

I am not one of those writers that needs absolute quiet. I write with the tv blaring, kids fighting, piano playing, violin screeching, kids screaming, husband snoring, radio blasting, kids laughing, etc. It is always noisy in the house. I've gotten used to working in chaos and sometimes when the house is too quiet, it is actually harder to work. Too much quiet can feel oppressive some times.

So I do like to play music sometimes while I am writing. Not always, just when I feel a situation calls for it. What I call my mood music. When I am outlining, or brainstorming, world building, etc. - I like having Sarah McLachlan playing on my ipod. When I have some emotional angsty stuff, I reach for Tori Amos. And when I am really sleepy and need to wake myself up, I put on country western music cause I hates the stuff and it will actually make me mad. I'd rather eat raw liver than listen to continuous country music.

Speaking of being mad, I love blasting music most especially when I am writing scenes filled with fighting and violence. Which, by the way, there is a lot of in my books. In fact all 3 of my manuscripts have quite alot of violence in them. I don't know what that says about my personality, but there it is. I am a violent person.

Below is the music I like to blast when working on a battle or fight sequence. It is almost an anthem of mine. And yes I loved their first single too.

Anybody else have a musical anthem they'd like to share?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 19

This past weekend I went up to New York for my best friend's big surprise birthday bash, which was an absolute blast and I am so happy I went. It was a quick drive in and out with the kids but Grandma and Grandpa decided that we had to squeeze in a trip to the American Girl store to get the girls their Christmas presents. Da Man bowed out with a convenient illness and so the rest of us braved the freezing cold weather that day to go midtown.

Anyone can tell you that the Rockefeller Center area on any given weekend is usually extremely crowded, but in December it is a mob scene. There was no getting anywhere near the Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas windows and people were packed in like sardines around the tree. Meanwhile just trying to get into the American Girl store is like trying to see the Pope. After waiting on a block long line to get into the madhouse of a ridiculously overpriced store that clearly shows no signs of understanding what the word recession means, we stumbled out dazed and exhausted. As badly as the girls wanted to take a cab home, there were no cabs to be had. We struggled like salmon during spawning season against the tide of wall to wall tourists and finally wriggled our way to the nearest train station.

The D train was as crowded as if it was rush hour. It reminded me of those Japanese commuter trains where the train conductors come up and push people onto the train. My Mom dives on to the train in true New York fashion, dragging Oldest behind her while me and my Dad with Angus and Youngest barely squeeze on. I can hear my Dad complaining that my Mom would rather ditch us than miss the train. He may be right. She can be very one track minded. That's a train pun. he he.

I can hear Angus moaning and groaning about the press of people around her but at least she and my Dad are by a pole. Oldest keeps asking me anxiously if their American Girl presents are ok while I'm holding Youngest's hand while also carrying a very large American Girl Store shopping bag and extending my other arm out as far as I can to hold on to something, anything!, even while being held up by 8 different strangers around me.

I ask Youngest if she is ok and the next thing I hear is:

"All I can see is butts, Mommy. Butts, butts, butts! But it's ok, cause I'm holding my bweath!"

Over the eruption of laughter, I reach over and slap a hand over Angus's mouth before she can say the inappropriateness that her gleaming mischievous eyes are brimming over with. Luckily we get off at the next stop before my kids say anything more alarming.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

AuthorsNow! website

Here is a very cool new website that I want to share with you. I've copied their information below:

AuthorsNow! is a collaboration of debut children’s book authors and illustrators who are the fresh and emerging voices in children’s and young adult literature today. Created with the parent, teacher, librarian and bookseller in mind, AuthorsNow! is a one-stop-shop to learn about all of our authors and illustrators. Here you’ll be able to …

  • get up-to-date descriptions of forthcoming books
  • read the latest on our authors
  • download supplemental resources such as teaching guides, quizzes, and other materials
  • book an author or author panel for your school, library or organization
  • participate in contests and giveaways
  • find out about debut author events
  • and much, much more.

We’ll also be serving up a fresh cup of content on a regular basis related to children’s literature and what’s happening in the field today.

Our authors range from picture book authors to teen novelists, fiction and nonfiction alike, and all are published by major trade publishers in the United States.

New talent is in town! Learn about what’s hitting the shelves in children’s and teen literature today from our debut authors and illustrators. Not only will you find information about our books, but we’ll also point you to other popular groups, web sites, blogs, and communities who love children’s books as much as we do! So grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair as we discuss what’s happening with AuthorsNow!…

Friday, December 12, 2008

Japanese Ice Cream Treat Sensation

Awhile ago I blogged about this wonderful new treat sensation I had found called kisyu ume. I thought for sure that this was the worst thing masquerading as a sweet treat that I had ever had, but I have discovered that I was terribly wrong. Terribly, horribly wrong.

I love ice cream. I believe it is the best invention in the entire world. I personally don't understand vanilla eaters. Vanilla is good but chocolate is so much better! And what about cookies and cream? Fudge ripple? Mint chocolate chip? Ice cream is heaven on a cone. I can't get enough of it. I adore all these different ice cream flavors! They make me happy... except maybe the Japanese version of our Baskin Robbins 31 flavors. Below is a selection of fabulous Japanese ice cream:

Copyright Wilhelmja via Creative Commons license on Flickr.com

At the top, the second ice cream top showing, we start with the very innocuous ramen flavored ice cream. Noodle ice cream flavor. That's fine. I can deal. The one next to it has a picture of a stalk of wheat so I thought it might be bread ice cream. Nope it is malt beer ice cream. I wonder if there is any alcohol content in it?

Aw come on, you say! What's with the weak stuff? Alright, I hear you. You are way more adventurous. Let's start with the first ice cream on the second row with the green top - good old wasabi ice cream. Horseradish ice cream. Perhaps you are supposed to eat it with your sushi instead of after? Well go ahead and blow out your nasal cavities with it. When you are done, why don't you skip over to the last ice cream on the second row with the yellow top that looks like a horse's head. No! You gasp. What new vileness can this be? Don't say it Ello, it can't be... Oh yes, I will Wilbur! It's HORSEMEAT ICE CREAM!!! After a nice day at the racetrack, come and have a cold, smooth cone of horsemeat! It will make you neigh with delight!

And if horsemeat is not your thing, go ahead and pick up the flavor right below it. You know, the one with the figure of a boy with a turban. Yes I know there is a boy on the cover. No it is not testicle ice cream. I don't think they make that. At least not yet. How about Indian curry ice cream. For those of you who seek some spice with their dessert. Because sweet should also be spicy. Really spicy. Curry spicy that is. Someone somewhere out there was playing around in the kitchen and decided that milk, sugar, cream would be a perfect base for chicken curry. And that person is just so very special.

Wait a minute, you say. What about ice cream for the seafood lovers here? Say no more, say no more. The first ice cream on the bottom row is fish egg ice cream. Hey you can call it caviar ice cream if you want, if it makes you feel posh. Oh salty treats of fishy goodness! Let those little fishy egg sacs burst in your mouth and mix that oily fishy goodness with the milk, sugar, and creamy goodness of the ice cream.

What say you? None of these are hitting your sweet spot? Speak up! I can't hear you with the vomit gurgling in your mouth! Oh you need something more special? Ok, I've got it for you. Here you go:

Octopus ice cream. Cause nothing says summer time like a nice refreshing scoop of octopus ice cream with perfect sucker encrusted tentacles for your crunching pleasure. And if you are really lucky, one of the suckers will still be in working order and stick to your tongue while you try to eat it. How awesome would that be? Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I've been trying to get my name blogspot but squatters have control over it and apparently can't do anything about it! The closest I could get to a new blogger address is elloecho.blogspot.com but then blogger classified it as spam and locked it up for a very long time! I only just got it back and now, finally, on the advice of my agent, am working on changing my blog to the new blogger address. The intent is that I will move all content from here to the new blogspot and that when you click here, you will get redirected immediately until such time as you all start relinking me at the new place.

EXCEPT, I am fairly technically savvy at times and inept at others. This is one of my inept times. I can't find anything to help me figure out how the heck I can keep all my blog features here and transfer them to the new blog. And I tried a redirect on the other blog and had some problems and now I'm afraid to redirect on this one cause ineptness has taken over my brain functions. SO I am putting out an SOS for help please.

So to all my technically brilliant buddies - please help me figure out how to do what I want to do and not screw up. I'll come up with amusing prizes if it all works out right! I might even let Da Man post one of his embarrassing expose stories about me that he has been DYING to spill and which I have rejected on pain of waxing his tenders.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My students

On the last day of my Thursday night class, my students completely blew me away by having a surprise end of the semester party. They brought pizza, cold cuts, cheese, crackers, cake, brownies, chips, cider, drinks, chocolates. I was really blown away by the wonderful spread and touched by the heartfelt appreciation they showed me. It was the first time that I was nearly brought to tears by my students in the classroom. They let me know how much they enjoyed my class and how much benefit they received from it. They let me know that I had made a difference in their lives in some small but tangible way.

I, in turn, have learned so much from all of them. Many are returning adult students, some who've been out of school for more than twenty years, who have more drive, more determination and more passion for their education than their younger classmates. Some are attending college at the same time as their children. Others are raising little ones at home and juggling babysitting to make it to class. They struggle through full time jobs, raising children, paying mortgages and other hardships but come to class every night ready to continue their educational odyssey. They challenge me, argue with me and push me to give them the best educational experience I can. Every class has been a dynamic exchange of knowledge and experience. Every class I leave tired but stimulated and feeling so lucky to have had such an involved group of students.

My admiration for my students is limitless. They remind me that it is never too late to go after whatever it is you truly want. Never too hard to achieve your dreams. Never too proud to go back and start again.

They remind me of why it is I teach.

Friday, December 5, 2008


(Oldest and her best friend are guest posting today while I am slowly recuperating. They are both 9 years old and in the fourth grade.)

Hi again! This is Oldest. Today I have a very special treat! At least it was for me! My Mom bought me the most awesome book called Savvy by Ingrid Law. Me and my best friend read it and loved it and then my Mom said we could interview Ms. Law by email and that was so exciting! So first we will provide our reviews. Mom said to call my best friend Hiccup for this post cause she thinks it is funny. This is funny but we don’t approve. Mom said too bad because this is her blog.

Hi this is Hiccup and I absolutely adore books and I love to read! Let me tell you about this wonderful book that Ms. Ello gave me to read! The book is called by Savvy by Ingrid Law. Mibs Beaumont is a 12 year old girl who is about to get a savvy but before that day, her Poppa gets into a terrible accident and goes to Salina hospital, so her mother and her oldest brother, Rocket, goes to Salina Hospital but Mibs, Samson, her younger brother who is seven years old, Fish, her second oldest brother, Bobbi and Will who are the preacher's grandchildren all want to go to Salina so they ride on a bus that goes to Salina but it starts to go away from Salina, not near Salina! Will Mibs ever see her Poppa again?! I loved this book!!! I think that it was extremely exciting!!! I was smiling whenever I was reading this book!

Oldest – You forgot to tell them what a savvy is Hiccup! And Mibs real name is Mississippi! Her family is not like regular people. They get a special power on their 13th birthday which is called a Savvy. It is a magic power like her grandfather can move land around and her older brother has electric powers. It is so cool.

Hiccup – So cool. I want a savvy where I can fly.

Oldest – Me too. I want a savvy where I can fly and be invisible.

Hiccup – Invisible while flying?

Oldest – Well, yeah. But also be invisible even when not flying.

Hiccup – That’s 2 savvies. You can only pick one. And I already picked flying.

(We interrupt this post for a 10 minute argument on why you can or cannot have more than 1 savvy and how it may or may not be cheating.)

Oldest – Anyway, we got to write a letter to Ms. Law and she answered our questions!!! So here is our interview!

Hi Ms. Law! Thanks so much for letting us do an author interview with you. We are really excited and we have lots of questions! My Mom bought me your book Savvy and Hiccup and I both read it and loved it! Your book absolutely rocks! I think it is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. It was exciting, funny, and fun.

Hiccup: I loved this book!!! I think that it was extremely exciting!!! I was smiling whenever I was reading Savvy! It was the first book I ever read like this. I'd recommend this book to all my friends.

Oldest and Hiccup: We love your book and hope you write more books about Mibs.

Ms. Law: Hi Oldest! Hi Hiccup! Thank you so much for your wonderful, thoughtful questions. It's great to know how much you both enjoyed reading Savvy.

Oldest: Our first question of course is how did you get the idea for savvies?

Ms. Law: Savvies are about fifteen percent magic, twenty-five percent super powers, and sixty percent “fish-story” talents. I like to think of the story in Savvy as a modern tall tale.

Hiccup: How long did it take you to write Savvy?

Ms. Law: I wrote Savvy between January and May of 2007. After getting a publishing contract shortly after, I then worked on revising the book for my editor for another few months. So, altogether, it took about eight or nine months.

Hiccup: What is your favorite part of the book?

Ms. Law: I love the end . . . and the beginning . . . and everything in between! It’s hard to decide on a favorite part, but I do like the scene in the pool and the scene in the diner with Ozzie as well.

Hiccup: My favorite part is when Samson bit the great Ozzie's leg. I can still hear him scream. I couldn't ever do that because I'd be too scared. But it's really funny though. It is nice to hear bad guys have punishments.

Oldest: That’s my favorite part too! When I read that part I could almost heard a little girl scream in my mind.

Oldest: Would you want a savvy and if you could have a savvy what would it be?

Ms. Law: I like to answer this question in three parts. First is my dream savvy, which would be to fly or to breathe under water. Second is my silly savvy, which is that I knock things over and spill things a lot—I’m really very clumsy. And third is my real, everyday savvy, which is that I smile a lot.

Hiccup: Flying is cool.

Oldest: So is being invisible. And see she picked 3 savvies so I can pick 2 too!

Hiccup: What inspired you to write your book?

Ms. Law: I wanted to write a story about magical children that never used the word ‘magic’ and one that was set in out-of-the-way places in the United States—no big cities or fancy towns. I wanted to show that extraordinary things can happen anywhere.

Oldest: How does the story relate to you?

Ms. Law: In the book, Mibs needs to learn which voices in her life are important to listen to and which are not. Sometimes it’s easy to let the voices of criticism and doubt get fixed in your head. But it’s important, especially when writing, to listen to and trust your own voice.

Oldest: I really liked the part when Mibs talked to Miss Mermaid. That part was really meaningful to me. How did you come up with the characters? Especially Mibs. Is she like anyone you know?

Ms. Law: Mibs isn’t based on anyone I know. But as I wrote her story, she became more and more real to me. Sometimes characters come to life on their own.

Oldest: Mibs is one of my favorite characters. Her and her brothers are so cool! I cannot wait to read more about Mibs and her family!

Hiccup: I like Mibs because she's serious and adventurous too.

Oldest: How did you come up with Grandpa Bomba's savvy and the idea that they live in Kansaska-Nebransas? And do people realize they live in a new area? How would people find them on a map?

Ms. Law: Grandpa Bomba’s savvy is one with the most “tall-tale” feel to it. Even his own family knows he’s exaggerating when he claims to have created the entire state of Idaho on his thirteenth birthday. Kansaska-Nebransas was just a fun extension of the idea that Grandpa can create “all new places.” People probably can’t find it on the map. But that would be okay with the family. They need to keep their secrets!

Hiccup: What is your favorite kind of character?

Ms. Law: I love characters with a lot of heart and characters who are still trying to figure themselves out.

Hiccup: What are your favorite books?

Ms. Law: There have been many books that have been my favorites over the years. The most recent is A Crooked Kind of Perfect, by Linda Urban. One of the earliest was Charmed Life, by Diana Wynne Jones.

Oldest: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Ms. Law: No. But I have always had stories in my head. I guess you could say that I’ve never outgrown make-believe and that writing stories is just another way of pretending.

Oldest and Hiccup: When will your next book be out and will it be about Mibs and her family?

Ms. Law: I don’t know the publication date of my next book yet because I still have to finish it! Hopefully, it will come out at the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. The next book follows a new main character, telling the story of Mibs’s cousin, Ledger Kale, as he tries to figure out his own life after turning thirteen. This story takes place nine years after Savvy, but don’t worry! Even though Mibs’s journey is over, there will still be a few familiar characters along the way.

Oldest: Oh no! We won’t get to read about Mibs anymore!

Hiccup: But we will still get to read about savvies at least.

Oldest: Yeah, that’s good.

Ms. Law: Thanks for being such great fans. Take care and happy reading!

Oldest and Hiccup: Thank you Ms. Law!!! We think your book rock n rolls! Thanks for writing such a great book.

So that concludes our interview with Ms. Law. We hope you enjoyed it. We highly recommend that you run out and buy Savvy by Ms. Law right away. It is an awesome book!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanks for all the great comments...

I've really enjoyed and appreciated everyone's comments on the last few posts and wanted to tell you guys how cool it has been to read them all. I'm always glad to see that people think my kids are funny and wicked smart and I'm happy to share with you the funny and poignant stuff my parents have shared with me over the years. So thanks to everyone for taking the time to stop by. I should be making my rounds but I have actually been sick lately. My ongoing dental traumas have caused me horrible reoccurring pain that spreads from my jaw to my ear and has been like this for over a month now. You know it's bad when I can't even joke about it. I keep wracking my brain to try and figure out what terrible thing I must have done to receive all this painful attention from the dental demons. I think the only other person who could relate to my agony is Spyscribbler, who has her own dental horror stories she could share.

To top it all off, I got really sick yesterday after a bad case of food poisoning and over self-medicating (the self medicating has been trying to find a painkiller that actually relieves pain and which I'm not allergic to) and I was one horribly sick pig. It's the second time I've poisoned myself in a month. Actually, if I hadn't taken the medicine myself I might be thinking that there is something to my Mom's idea of never letting your husband get a huge life insurance policy on you...

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone as usual for stopping by and forgive me as I wallow in my own misery and not make my usual rounds. I do have a great author interview post scheduled for later this week in which Oldest and her best friend both read a book they loved and got to interview the author, so please stay tuned for Oldest's post later this week.

Until then, this little poisoned piggy is signing out for a wee bit.

Monday, December 1, 2008

National Day of Listening Story

As part of Moonrat's National Day of Listening request for stories, I want to share a story with you. My parents were down for the holiday and we were talking about old times. My Dad reminded me of what happened on one of our old family trips.

Life was pretty hard for my parents when they moved to the states. They were poor graduate students studying at Georgia Tech University until graduating and moving to New York City, where they were poor post-graduates desperately looking for a job. My mom had a mechanical engineering degree but it was useless for her, being a woman in a male-dominated industry. My dad studied business, but it was not quite his calling either. They both suffered at various businesses, many which were disastrous failures. I remember those lean years as times when I would walk into the kitchen, a hungry little girl, and find absolutely nothing to eat. I relied on the free breakfasts and lunches of my public school to feed me during the day. For sometimes, dinner could be hit or miss. I went to bed hungry too many nights to remember.

But in my early teens, my parents were doing a little better. Enough so that we could, on occasion, go on a short family vacation in our car. My Dad loves to drive and we would drive all over the northeast region. On one such family vacation, we drove south, past Washington, DC (which we visited often) and headed south into Virginia. We had been driving all day and all of us were tired. I must have been 13 and my sister was 5. My father saw a large motel sign with the vacancy sign lit brightly. We pulled in and watched my Dad go in to rent a room. He came back a few minutes later, started the car and drove away.

"No vacancy," he said.

"But the sign..." my mom started.

My Dad just shook his head. A few miles later we saw another motel with the word Vacancy clearly lit. Once more my Dad came out, his face tight in anger as we drove away. This happened many more times that night. It was very late and we had been driving well past dinner and bedtime. My sister had fallen asleep whining of hunger and my parents were very quiet. Finally we found another motel, much smaller and a little tucked away from the main highway. My Dad got wearily out of the car and walked over one last time to the motel office. He was gone alot longer this time and when he reappeared, he drove the car down to the farthest corner of the motel, although it was clear the motel was quite empty.

We all got out of the car, me carrying my sleeping sister, and entered the small room. It was ugly but clean and we were all so relieved to be out of the car. My Mom started making some noodles for our very delayed dinner on our little portable stove top as my Dad laid down on the bed. They argued for awhile over whether or not to continue our trip further south. My Mom wanted to go home and my Dad refused. We were heading for Savannah, Georgia and then to Atlanta to meet friends. He was not going to let racist rednecks spoil his family vacation.

"Dad," I asked. "Please, can we just go home? I don't like it here."

"We're just passing through," he replied.

"But they hate us!"

"They hate what they don't know or understand," he said tiredly. "We are too different."

"I hate them too!" I yelled. I was tired and angry. "I want to go home!" And while there was plenty of racism in NYC, at least the fact that there were so many other minorities around you kept you from feeling alone and insecure. Here in this very white area, I felt we were terribly exposed. But I never forgot what he told me that day.

"If you let hate and fear rule your life, you will never enjoy living," he said. "This is not even that bad. We've seen worse hatred (yes unfortunately this is true - but I'll save it for another post) and we will probably see more. But no matter what, be proud of who you are and stand up for yourself. We have to teach these people about who we are and then maybe in the future when you grow up, you will never have to see this type of ignorance again."

He gave me a hug and said, "Despite what you feel right now, never forget that this is a great country."

So now we come back to the present day, and as we sat in the living room, after the huge American meal, with a few token Korean dishes for my Mom's sake, my Dad brought up this old incident to contrast it to our world now, where we have for the first time ever, a black President-elect. Something he never thought could happen, but which gives him great hope for the future.

"Isn't this a great country?" he said.

Yes, it most definitely is.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Angus came home with her usual pile of papers for me to review from school. As I was sorting through them all, I came up on the page below. She was supposed to describe 5 things all living things need. Check out number 4:

I especially like her drawings on the bottom. Little caterpillars breathing air, eating food and drinking water. One caterpillar sits nicely in its home while another flees for freedom, a little smile on its face. Her teacher is a good sport and gave her a smiley face in the middle but I may have to appeal her decision in marking freedom incorrect. I think it is an excellent answer.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving and another random funny!

Today we were at Nordstroms looking for shoes when the girls spotted a beautiful fancy coat with a fur collar and fur ringed sleeves and a fur muff. The girls oooohed and aaaaahed and then Youngest rubbed the muff against her cheek and shouted out:

"It's so soft! It's made from kittens!!!" she said in an excited shout.

I know that the PETA folks would be really angry about a comment like that, but boy did that crack me up!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates! Lucky for me my lazy butt is not cooking! I shall be eating alot instead!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fascinating to watch

Because my book is set in ancient Korea, it roams across the entire peninsula, from the very tip of South Korea and up and beyond modern day North Korea into what is now considered China, was once called Manchuria, and was in ancient times part of the Korean kingdom of Koguryo. The political dispute between China and the two Koreas over the ancient treasures and historic sites of Koguryo have resulted in vicious academic and journalistic backbiting over whether or not Koguryo is considered Chinese or Korean. Historically, Koguryo has always been recognized as one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. But I don't want to get into the middle of this contentious political disagreement.

But I bring this up because the kingdom of Koguryo, which I refer to as Guru, is a major part of my book. And that leads me to my interest in North Korea. While I abhore the North Korean government and the "military first" ideology that harms its citizens, I am interested in the culture and the people who must suffer under such a harsh one-party regime. So I found this fascinating video highlighting preparations for the 2003 Pyongyang Mass Games, the world's largest choreographed gymnastics performance. These are clips from A State of Mind, which is a 2004 documentary film by Daniel Gordon which follows two North Korean child gymnasts and their families for over eight months during training for the mass games. The UK-based Dance band Faithless used clips from the documentary for this video to their single "I Want More." I hope you find it as fascinating as I did.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 18

This is Youngest as a toddler. Notice the truculent expression on her face. This expression has not changed much over the years. And while normally she is the sweetest, laid back, most easy going and loving kid, the kid has got a wicked temper just like her dad, Da Man Troll.

Yesterday I asked Youngest to pick up her toys.

"I'm too tired," she said as she lounged upside down upon the couch, bobbing her head off over the edge while her legs were splayed straight up the back of the couch.

"They are not my toys they are your toys and you need to put them away," I snapped.

"I didn't take them out," she protested, still in her upside down position. I paused. On Thursdays, she comes home at 12:30 and stays home with me until the nanny comes and I go pick up the girls from school at 3 and then leave for campus. It was 2pm. There was no other child in the house at the time.

"They were not out when you left for school this morning and they are out now. No one else played with them."

"How do you know?" she sat up with an innocent look on her face.


"How do you know space aliens didn't come out and play with my toys?"

"Oh so you are saying invisible space aliens flew into our house and played with your Dora talking dollhouse?"

She nodded her head vigorously as she smiled in glee.

I stood before her and reminded her of what was coming.

"You know Santa Claus is watching you and if you tell a lie it is considered very naughty."

The above truculent expression crossed her face.

"He can see me all the time?"

I nodded. She leaned back against the couch, kicking one of her toy furniture pieces idly.

"Can he read my thoughts?" she asked.

"No, but God can and God tells Santa everything."

"Alright fine, I took the toys out," she admitted. With a heavy sigh she lay back down on the couch.

"I'm waiting for you to clean up!" I reminded her.

"But Mommy I told you I was too tired!"

"Baby, I just told you Santa is watching you!"

"Mommy, Santa is not going to be mad at me if I has an important reason. And I told you I am tired and I need my rest or I can get sick and then YOU will be in trouble with Santa, not me!!"

What a little lawyer. She is 4 going on 40.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brain Fart

Today the phone rang and I got up, walked into the kitchen, where the main phone is hanging on the wall, walked right by the phone and proceeded to open the refrigerator door. I stared blindly into the fridge wondering what the heck I was looking for when the answering machine clicked on, reminding me of what I was originally supposed to do.

One hour later, I walked into the kitchen to get a soda. As I was walking, I noticed Angus' harmonica on the floor. I picked it up and took it with me to the kitchen. When the kids came home from school, they went to get drinks. All of a sudden I hear them laughing. Apparently I had put the harmonica in the fridge.

I am suffering from chronic brain farts. Da Man has taken to calling me a knucklehead. I think it is all related to my dental woes. Da Man assures me that I have always been a bit of a knucklehead. He's nice. I think I shall have a brain fart and accidentally put his work security pass into the freezer.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 17

So the kids were piling in the car the other night and Angus had brought with her 2 string cheese sticks while Youngest brought in a bag of smart popcorn. As I am driving, I hear Oldest and Youngest asking for some cheese which Angus is reluctant to share. Grudgingly she finally shares half of one with Oldest and eats the other whole herself. Youngest has been steadily crunching her popcorn and asks again for some cheese.

"Ok," Angus says. "I'll make a deal with you. The rest of this cheese for the rest of your popcorn."

"Deal!" Youngest says, and hands over the bag as Angus gives her the half stick of cheese.

I can see Youngest in my back view mirror begin to quickly eat the cheese. Angus sticks her hand in the bag and shouts, "Hey! There's nothing left! You cheated me!!"

"Nuh uh!" Youngest mumbles as she shoves the rest of the cheese in her mouth.

"That's so wrong!" Angus fumes. "There's no popcorn left! We made a deal! Cheese for popcorn! You cheated me!"

"No I didn't, there was still some in the bag!"

"It's crumbs! Just crumbs!" Angus is furious.

Oldest and I are giggling.

Angust shouts, "That's not funny!"

"Well it is funny," I say. "But not nice."

"Yeah that's not nice! She cheated me!"

"No I didn't!" Youngest says earnestly. "She didn't ask me how much was left in the bag. She should have asked how much was left first. That's not my fault. That's her fault!"

Angus has just learned the important lesson of caveat emptor and Youngest has proven herself to be a devious little conniver. That's my girl.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Traditional Korean Drum Ensemble

Ok so I waited til the weekend so you can play this video at home instead of the office. See how considerate I am? This is a great example of Samgomu, a traditional Korean three drum dance. It is a drum dance of ancient Korea which is said to have been inspired by Buddhist monks dances and shamanistic rituals. This video is a bit grainy, but it is one of the best examples of Samgomu I could find. I plan on incorporating Samgomu and other Korean drumming into my Seven Kingdoms sequel, if I ever get the opportunity to work on the sequel, that is. But it is fun for me to watch this and think that my Mom, when she was younger, was an excellent drummer. I've always loved drums, and drums are such an integral part of Korean culture, that it clearly flows in our blood.

So I hope you enjoy a little bit of Korean culture.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Poor Unfortunate Pig

I thought three consecutive Wednesdays in a row to fix a second root canal was more pain than a person could bear. But imagine my horror at finding out I have to come one more time! In part it is my fault as I didn't schedule enough time for him to finish up and I had to pick up my daughters from school. But the thought of another needle in my mouth is more than I can bear. It is way too depressing.

So another lesson I learned from my dental experiences. Make sure to push numb parts of your mouth out of the bite zone. I got swollen after 2 hours of my mouth being held open for x-rays and drilling and filling. On my way home, I noticed that I kept biting down on something squishy but was too traumatized to worry about it ... until the novacaine wore off and I realized I had been biting down on my swollen inner cheek, which was now not only swollen but all bit up and basically one big abrasion. Because my tongue and jaw are all sore from the experience, I now have to stick my finger in my mouth and push the inside of my mouth away from my chompers. This also makes eating and talking a bit of a challenge. I shove small bits of food in my mouth, which I can only open about half an inch. Any wider and my jaw hurts. I talk through clenched teeth, like Clint Eastwood in his Dirty Harry movies. I have pain killers, but apparently after taking them for several weeks now, they really upset my stomach. My dentist has given me a different prescription, but I'm also not a drug fan so I'm trying to ride out the pain. Which makes me a fool as well as unfortunate.

One more Wednesday of pain and then hopefully I will be free of this endless misery. And I can't curl up into a ball and rock back and forth nursing my aching jaw because it is getting close to end of semester. So I must turn my attention to grading tons of papers again. Here comes my big red dripping pen. I shall not be the only one feeling sorry for myself. he he.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cindy's Silver Phoenix Cover

No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the
dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed, free, and
not some stranger’s subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.

But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she
cannot comprehend. And as the pieces of the puzzle start to fit
together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace
of Fragrant Dreams in search of her beloved father—missing these many
months—is so much more than that. Bravery, intelligence, the will to
fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as
she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She
will also need help.

It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at
the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying
to drag her under. On a quest of his own Chen Yong offers that
help…and perhaps more.

This is one of the most stunning covers I have ever seen. And to be honest, I couldn't be more proud of this book then if it was my own! Not only because Cindy is a friend and agency sister, but because here is a book about Asia with an Asian protagonist. Cause let's face it, there's not many YA books in the North American market with Asian protagonists. So I cheer loudly when I see books like this. (One other series is the wonderful Dragonkeeper series by Carole Wilkinson.)

Both Cindy and I know how hard it is to get Asian themed fiction in the marketplace. We both have heard from professionals who have told us that our kind of books would not sell in the current marketplace. I am so proud that Cindy has proven them wrong. So when Silver Phoenix comes to a bookstore near you next year, I hope you will all run out and purchase it. Cause it's gonna look might nice on your bookshelves!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Buying Books instead of Toys

I sprung the news on my girls today. I gathered them around me, put on my serious face and I said:

"You know how you girls write letters to Santa Claus telling him what you hope he might bring you for Christmas if you are good?"

The girls nodded.

"We haven't written to him yet," Oldest said.

"He's not sick is he?" Angus asked.

"Is Christmas cancelled?" Youngest asked in a panic.

"No, nothing like that," I assured them. They all let out relieved sighs and sat back.

"Well, this year, I wrote a letter to Santa Claus. I asked Santa Claus to do me a big favor. This year, instead of bringing toys, I asked him to bring you books."

Angus and Oldest looked devastated. Only Youngest jumped up and started cheering.

"Hurray! More books! I love books!" she said.

Angus glared at Youngest. "She's only saying that to kiss up to you, Mom."

Youngest then kissed me, proving Angus right.

Oldest stood up, ready for her lawyer speech. "But Mom, you said that the rule was no more toys for birthdays anymore, only for Christmas. And you have already told everybody in the world not to buy us toys, only books and clothes. But now Santa can't bring us any toys? That's just not fair."

"Yeah! And I was really looking forward to the Mermaid Barbie swimming pool set for Christmas and now I can't get it!" Angus geared up for the big whine-fest.

I raised my hands and glared. The continued pain I have been enduring from root canal number 2, must have given my glare extra fierceness for they all shut up real fast.

"First of all, there are way too many toys in this house and I'm getting ready for another donation pile round up next week." Muffled groans quickly quieted. They know the rules. Twice a year, I make donation piles for the local homeless shelters, more if toys begin to accumulate outside the delegated toy areas. Protests only make the piles larger, and might cause the loss of a favorite toy also.

"Second, most toys do not have any usefulness outside of the 5 day play period." (This is my theory that most new toys only gets played with for 5 days before it is completely forgotten about.) "They are a waste of money, time and space. If you want a toy it better be the most awesome toy in the universe which you can prove to me will be played with all the time." (I believe there are only a handful of toys the kids really play with and cherish, the rest just take up space.)

"Third, if a toy passes the awesome test, and if you have done well in school, household chores, and manners, and if you have saved up enough of your allowance money, you will be allowed to purchase said toy at my discretion."

"What's discretion mean?" Angus asked.

"It means when she feels like it!" Oldest rolled her eyes. (Smart girl.)

"That means never!" Angus whined.

"NO it doesn't!" I exclaimed. "Follow my rules and there is no reason I won't take you to Target when the time is right and you have enough allowance money."

The older girls still don't look convinced. Youngest is perfectly happy, but only because I have a sneaking suspicion she doesn't really understand the ramifications of my rules. As they go back to whatever they were doing, I can hear Angus and Oldest whispering to each other. With my bionic Mom ears, I heard them say:

"We should write to Santa Claus and tell him Mommy is in a bad mood because of her root canals and to please not listen to her," Angus said.

"That might work. Especially if we are really really good," Oldest agreed. "You know, she's been acting kind of weird ever since the root canals." They walked into the kitchen and began raiding the pantry for snacks. I walked over to the wall between the kitchen and the living room to spy on them through the wooden blinds in the window.

"Yeah, who writes Santa to tell him not to bring toys?! Doesn't she know his workshop is for making toys!!" Angus was still mad. "Where's he going to get books? He'll have to go to the bookstore and buy them. That's just too much work to ask him to do when he's so busy. I think she is being unreasonable!"

"That's a great idea!" Oldest said. "We'll tell him the books are too much of a bother so just to give us the toys he has in his workshop instead to make his life easier. I bet he'd appreciate that! We'll get brownie points for being considerate too!"

They nodded eagerly and conspiratorially at each other. I tiptoed back to the sofa, laughing gleefully under my breath. I can't wait to see their faces when they open Santa's gifts this year!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 16

I shall spare you all the torturous details of my latest root canal adventure as I have blocked most of it from my memory. I remember pain, convulsions and the smell of burning dog hair. I don't want to remember the rest. I can't believe I have to go back again next week for a crown. After all I have suffered, I think I'll ask for some diamond studs in the crown. It's a good thing I love my dentist otherwise I would have to hurt him.

But I will share with you one very important lesson I learned yesterday. Never eat anything really hot when half your mouth and tongue is numb from novacaine. This is a very important lesson. It is the same lesson as never eat piping hot pizza straight from the oven or you will burn the roof of your mouth and then you will have a long strand of burnt skin that hangs from the roof of your mouth which your tongue will box with all day long until you finally rip it out in crazed frustration leaving a patch of ripped off burnt skin that will ache with pain everytime you eat or accidentally rub your tongue on it - which is all the time.

In this particular case, the big problem with the numb tongue is that when you place the burning hot item in your mouth, at first you have no idea that you have given your mouth third degree burns. It is only when you try to chew and the volcanic substance hits the roof of your mouth that you realize the painful truth. You are an idiot.

So that was me when I tried to eat my frozen lunch that I nuked way too long and tried to take a bite of molten lava covered meatloaf. I quickly spat out the smoldering remains onto my plate, tears racing down my face as I realized that two things continued to be stuck to the nasty congealed steaming mass on my plate. First was a long simmering stringy strand of elastic drool. Second, a long thinly pink layer of skin which I realized was still attached to the roof of my mouth. I grabbed the drool and the skin and ripped them from my mouth, causing a sharp stabbing pain in my mouth as the skin ripped off from the the roof.

I made a small muffled sound of pain, which was still loud enough to bring Youngest running over from the living room. She peers into my face and pats me on my hand.

"You ok Mommy?"

"I'm alright, it's just my mouth hurts."

"It's the root canal?"

"Uh huh."

"The Dentist took out the nerves again?" (I had explained all about the dying nerves to the girls last week - also took advantage of the situation to really freak them out and make them brush their teeth better.)

"Uh huh."

"All of it?"

"Uh huh."

"Good! Because he didn't do such a good job last time cause you keep-ded on saying we was getting on your last nerves. But now he got it all out so you have no nerves anymore!"

She gives me a big smile and a kiss and with that the cheerful little sprite skips happily away.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tribute to Moonrat

Copyright Randy Son of Robert availabe via Flickr Creative Common License

A haiku for Moonie

Moonie brings solace,
To writers without a clue.
Proud to call her friend.

Here's to our dearest Moonrat who has provided us with so many wonderful, profound and hilarious posts on writing, editing, books, karaoke, Dearest Aunda and so much more. November 5th, 2008, is the Second Anniversary of Moonrat's Editorial Ass blog. So we are going to celebrate her anniversary with a big old party!

Lovefest Location: Moonielove

We've got party central prepared for the big day. Festivities include a poetry slam contest, a recipe contest, and a sing-a-long. Cool prizes too!!! While I shall be indisposed from 10AM until the painkillers wear off due to Part 2 of my Root Canal, the rest of you have no excuse! Please go by the Moonielove blog all day for the celebrations.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Here's what I'm doing on Tuesday

Will you join me?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Devil's Dentist - Part 2

Where Ello finds herself suddenly and surprisingly the recipient of an Unexpected Root Canal.

dentist Pictures, Images and Photos

Previously, I had posted on my last painful experience at the evil dentist's office. To read part 1 click here.

Having vowed never to go back to the dentist ever again, or at least until next year, it was with great dismay that I noticed a nagging, throbbing pain emanating from my right bottom back molar. I ignored it, brushing and flossing my teeth extra diligently in an attempt to appease the dental gods. All to no avail, the throbbing continued - going so far as to not only be sensitive to hot and cold, but to sweet also. When my tooth hurt from taking a bite of a piece of chocolate, I knew I had fallen into one of Dante's Circles of Hell. I had no choice. I cannot survive without chocolate, I knew I had to go the the Dev, er, Dentist.

The first thing he did was give me an x-ray. I don't understand why even taking a stinking x-ray is so terribly painful. They stick a large rectangular piece of plastic in my mouth lengthwise and insist I close my mouth. This always drives me crazy. I feel like a crocodile in some bugs bunny cartoon with a stick holding my mouth wide open as I try desperately to close my jaws together, all the while the stick is digging into the soft tissue of my poor mouth. It takes several drooly attempts before he is finally able to take a picture.

"I have good news and bad news," he announced.

"Tell me the bad news first!" I demanded. I'm all for getting the bad news over with.

He ignored me. "The good news is that you don't have a cavity! But the bad news is I think you need a root canal."

He is smiling as he says this. I am not smiling. I am thinking the pain wasn't that bad. I am thinking I need to just get up and walk out before something bad happens to me. Unfortunately, I cannot move.

"So I think the nerve has died but I need to test this theory out," he said as he began a series of unorthodox tests including a searing hot piece of cotton, a tuning fork and a needle like instrument. I don't know if he is sewing or playing an instrument, but everything he does elicits sharp pangs of agony in my bad tooth. After the fifth time he hammered at my bad tooth with his tuning fork, he announced that the nerves are dead or dying and needs to come out. He then proceeded to announce to his dental technician that he will be performing a root canal immediately.

“Wait a minute,” I pleaded. “let’s talk things over first. I mean do I really need to take care of this situation right now? Right here? At this very second? I mean, can't I have some time to think it over? Give me a couple of days or months or years?”

Dr. Evil smiled down at me. "Can you live with the pain?"

My throbbing tooth said "Listen to him, fool! Before I make you crap your pants!"

I whine like a beaten dog as my tooth sends me a vicious reminder of why I was in hell in the first place.

"I know you," Dr. Evil continued. "You wouldn’t be here unless the pain was intolerable. You and your pansy husband are always ignoring my check up reminders. Last time that wuss was here, he had an abcess that smelled like it had gone bad in 2002. I assume you don't want to develop an abcess, right?"

"It’s only going to get worse so let’s take care of it now," he continued as he pulled out big needles the size of chopsticks and asked me to open wide.

We interrupt this post for a brief scuffle involving my dentist, the dental technician and my lockjaw.

After holding my nose and prying open my mouth, he injected the first chopstick full of medicine into my gumline as I shouted "Unhhhhh, ungggggggg, unhhhhhhhhhh, ga ga ga, unnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, ne ne ne neeeeeeh, Unnnnnnng!" Which meant, "Oh God why have you forsaken me?" or "I hate you you miserable piece of dog excrement."

As he got ready with the second needle, I panicked and began to wail that I didn't want to do this anymore. Reaching behind me, he pulled out the laughing gas and placed it over my nose and let me breathe deeply until I began to calm down. When the nitrous oxide began to make me a little lightheaded, he asked me if I wanted the second shot now.

"No," I said. "Why would I want that?"

"Because your jaw is not completely numb yet and when I cut into the roots of your tooth to pull out the nerves you will feel it. It will hurt."

Having previously deciphered his sick code, I know that when he says:

It doesn't hurt he means It's gonna really hurt.
It might hurt means You are going to cry.
It will hurt means The pain is so bad it will give you diarrhea, possibly in your pants. This is why the chair is covered in plastic.

So he asked me again if I want the second shot. And he smiled. Again. He is always so smiley. Such a nice, smiley guy. I am not smiling. I am so far from smiling that he actually stopped smiling and looked a little nervous. After all, this is laughing gas. I should be guffawing like a demented hyena. And then I realized he wanted me to ask him for the shot. Me, the big chicken ask him for a shot. The irony hits me as I began to laugh. An Ernie laugh - you know like Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street? The one that goes kee heee heee heeee, kee heee heee heeeeeeeeeeee!

"Just give me the #$%&ing D&*% shot already! kee heeee heeeee heeeeeeeeeee!"

I don't remember much after that. I remember numbness, pain, numbness, wetness, the odor of burnt hair, a throbbing in my ear matched only by the throbbing of my head. When it was all done, my mouth refused to close after being held open for 30 minutes with a dental dam. I had to push my jaws together, like a pez dispenser that had a broken spring.

"You did great," he said. "You didn’t cry, you didn’t kick and flail your legs like usual. You didn’t slide down the chair. You were really good today."

“I believe I have soiled myself!” I said.

“No, that’s just your spit from when you missed the suction cup and drooled all over your pants.”

I vaguely remember the drooling, blubbering mouth rinsing mishap that he spoke of. Vaguely.

“Remember this is just the appetizer, the real meal comes next week, when we get to the real meat of the surgery,” he said.

I felt seriously unwell. “Why can’t you lie to me and tell me the worst is over?”

"Cause then you would be mad at me next week when you realized the truth," he replied.

"But I’m mad at you now!!!"

"And this was nothing, wait til we finish off your surgery next week."

“Curse you!”

“Thank you, and here is your bill. Since we are not quite done, you can pay half now and pay half later.”

I looked at the bill and the part of my brain that was still functioning completely shut down. This time, I’m pretty sure I have soiled myself.

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 15

I like corn in my brownies. Hey don't knock it til you try it! Corn is sweet. Brownies are sweet. Corn in brownies are all sweet, with a little chewy. Not that bad. So where can you buy corn brownies? I'm not sure. I only get them in my hungry man fried chicken tv dinners. Yeah, I know the stuff is nasty, but when you are in a hurry and you're hungry the stuff tastes darn good to me! But I have yet to get one where the corn hadn't miraculously mixed into the brownie batter.

So yesterday, I made my tv dinner and set my corn brownie to the side as I ate. Youngest, who is home after lunch, came to watch me eat, eyeing my brownie.

"Can I have your brownie?" she asked.

"No, you just ate 2 cookies, remember? This is mine," I replied.

She was quiet for a moment, continuing to stare at the dark brown, corn studded treat.

"You know what it looks like?" she asked with a grin.

I stopped her immediately. "Don't say it! I don't want to hear it!" I am no dummy. I know where this is headed.

She was silent, but continued to grin slyly up at me. Just as I raised the brownie to my mouth for a big bite, she attacked.

"It looks like when you eats too much corn on the cob and chocolate cake and then you get a bad tummy ache, like you has diarrhea, and then you poops it all out and your poop is all covered in corn!" she shouted. "That's a corn poo poo brownie!"

I put down my corn poo poo brownie, the urge to eat its sweet chocolately goodness screeching to a shuddering halt.

"Thanks alot!" I glared down at the giggling monster.

"So can I has the corn poo poo brownie?" she asked with an angelic grin.

I shook my head at her as I watched her eat it down in a few bites. After licking off the last of the chocolate off her fingers, she started cracking up furiously.

"What's so funny?" I asked.

"I was just thinking," she said as she howled in glee. "Later, when I goes to the bathroom, I'm gonna have a corn poo poo brownie poop!"

Oh the joys of a 4 1/2 year old's potty humor!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Awesome Agent interview over at Cindy's!

Just want everyone to head on over to Cindy's blog for an awesome interview she did with her fabulous literary agent Bill Contardi. Everything I would want to say about him is covered in her post, so the only thing I will add is that I too feel incredibly fortunate to be represented by Bill. Not only is he an excellent agent with a great reputation, but he is a really lovely man whose warm and soothing manner is incredibly calming during stressful times.

And if you are wondering, yes, these are stressful times. Cindy mentioned that she lost weight during her submission period. Well, as you can imagine, this little piggy is having the exact opposite problem. You wouldn't know I'm stressed but for the perpetual chewing motion of my mouth and the matching twitch in my eye. At some point, I might have to put a patch over my eye and pretend to be a pirate. I am hoping and praying for good news before I gain so much weight they will have to cut the side of my house off to forklift me out.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Another Old Korean Tale

frog cute Pictures, Images and Photos

When I was 10, my mother told me this interesting old Korean folk tale. Here's how it went:

Once upon a time, there was a poor old hard working widow who had 3 rude, selfish, inconsiderate children. These nasty children never listened to their mother, who worked so hard washing laundry to put food on the table. This was long ago, before washing machines, so the mother would have to take the hanboks down to the river bank. The collars would need to be unstitched and washed and then restitched. She would bang the clothes in the freezing cold water with large stones, wringing them over and over, her back aching as she squatted by the muddy bank. After a hard days work, she would come home to find the house as dirty as when she left it. (At this point, my Mom gave me a very meaningful look. Unfortunately, at the time, I did not understand the meaning.)

Her selfish children would do the opposite of whatever she asked of them. If she said to clean the house, the house would be dirtier. If she asked them to go to the river, they'd go to the hills. If she asked them to go to the village, they would go to the woods. They never listened to her. The old widow worried about what would happen to her children who were so terribly naughty.

One day, the old widow became very ill and knew she did not have long to live. She worried about what would happen to her. After all, her children always did the opposite of what she asked, and she very much wanted to be buried in the mountains next to her husband. So she called her three children to her bedside and she said, "When I die, do not bury me in the mountain next to your father, but throw me into the river."

Then she died. The 3 selfish children began to cry and feel terribly guilty for all the grief they gave their mother while she was alive. For once, they decided, they would do exactly what she wanted. And even though they felt it was not a good idea, the 3 selfish children threw their poor mother's body into the river, where it got eaten by the fish and crabs.

"Blech! That's horrible!" I said. My Mom ignored me and continued with her story.

The 3 selfish children sat by the riverbank weeping and weeping as it began to rain. They finally realized that they had once again done the wrong thing. And as punishment for all their wrongs, they were turned into 3 little green frogs who would forever cry whenever it rained.

"So what is the moral of the story?" My Mom asked.

"The moral of the story is don't be stupid. Like the Mom. Boy was she stupid!" I said.

We now pause for a ten minute penalty break.

After ten minutes of playing "hold the broom over your head or you will get beat with it," we returned to the moral of the story.

"So what is the moral of the story?" My Mom asked again.

I rubbed my sore arms. (Hey a broom may be light, but if you have to hold it with straight arms over your head, keeping the broom absolutely straight for ten minutes, you would be sore too!) Fuming mad, I gave my Mom a nasty glare and muttered, "Stupid frogs..."

We conclude this story with a lively game of chase the sassy kid with a broom while Mom berates the heavens for sending her a naughty frog child.

The moral of the story is never say stupid to a Mom wielding a broom.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dressing up for Wal-Mart

Copyright by Radiospike_Photography via Flickr.com

Shoot, if she has to dress up for Walmart, what the heck does she wear for Target? Full evening gown and heels? Seriously! I wanna know! Cause I may have been inappropriately dressed whilst shopping at my favorite store. The shame!

Friday, October 17, 2008

I am Severus Snape

I always knew I liked the guy.

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz

Funny thing is, no matter how many times I take the Myers Briggs test, or some variation of it like this short one, I always come out INTJ. Fairly high I, mid N, nearly off the chart T, mid J. Aine over at her new blog Life is Beautiful, has been blogging about Myers Briggs, so if you are interested to learn more about this great personality test, please pop over there and tell her Ello sent you. But when you get there, scroll down so you can see where she starts the whole discussion with her part I on personality tests.

Why do I bring this up? Because personalities are so fascinating. As an INTJ, I know that it is my I (introvert) that makes me anti-social. I hate parties. I dislike talking on the phone, I much prefer emails where I can respond at my convenience and can be as short as I need to be. I hate phone calls because I'm always trying to get off in the middle of the other person trying to tell me something really important like "the number you have dialed has been changed, the new number is..." Seriously, what is wrong with people? Can't you see I don't want to talk to you?

My N (intuitive) is what keeps me always looking at the big picture. So when all 3 of the girls start fighting and arguing about who started it, my big picture trait rises to the occasion and I say, "I don't care who started it, I'm ending it right now!" I am notorious for punishing all 3 kids regardless of who was at fault.

My T (thinking) is what keeps me rational and gives me my thick and shiny rhino hide like skin. This skin is what protects me from rejection and coldly analyzes the logic behind any decision. It has no room for emotion. Crying just irritates me. Like yesterday when Angus started crying hysterically and I said, "Stop crying this instant! I told you if you kept burping like that you would throw up! Serves you right."

And my J (judging) is what keeps me organized against the tides of chaos that is my world. No coddling in my house, that's for sure. If my kid says, "I'm tired, can I do my homework later?" I respond. "You can rest for 15 minutes and then do your homework for 30 minutes. Then practice piano for 15 minutes. Then read for 20 minutes. Then finish off your homework for another 30 minutes. And everything must be done before dinner."

But all joking aside, ultimately, the Myers Brigg Personality Preference Indicator only tells us what we prefer. It doesn't measure how well we can adapt to differences. Like for instance, learning empathy for my children's sake. Handling irrational, illogical behavior from Da Man. Rolling with constant scheduling conflicts and changes for the kids. I think being able to adapt to our environment, regardless of our preference type, is the best measure of someone's personality.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A little bit about Korea's Violent History

One of my beta readers asked me why my young adult book has so much violence. Well, the answer really goes straight back into Korea's history. Violence is the backbone of much of its history and resulted in much grief to the Korean people. In the past, Korea had been coveted by many raiding forces, from ancient Chinese dynasties, the Mongols, the Russians and the Japanese. Korean history is filled with tragedy - which explains why so many of Korean films and soap operas tend to be terribly tragic. So I thought a little bit of background into Korea's history might be interesting.

This is an icon of a Korean pavilion drawn by my talented illustrator friend, Virginia Alyn.Below is a picture of a real Korean pavilion - part of the Gyongbok palace in Seoul, Korea.

Images copyright by usag.yongsan available via flickr.com and creative commons

Gyongbok means shining happiness, and the palace was built in 1395 by King Taejo, the first king of the Chosun Dynasty. Taejo was an admiral in the Koryo Army when he marched on the capital and seized power, and crowned himself the new king. Despite the fact that he overthrew the old government in a military coup, he is admired as a revolutionary who saved Korea from encroaching foreign forces (like the Mongols and the Yuan and Ming Dynasties of China) and got rid of an inept and corrupt government. While the MC in my book is also named Taejo, he is not named after this one. In fact there were three King Taejo's in Korean history and my MC is not based on any of them. He is actually based on the great King Gwangeotto of Koguryo, but Gwangeotto was not a name that rolls off the tongue very well so I went with Taejo. Anyway, I digress.

The palace didn't fare as well historically. It was destroyed during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and it wasn't until 1867 that it was restored to its former glory. It then was crime scene for the very public assassination of Queen Min by Japanese soldiers in disguise, who then ransacked the palace. Queen Min was a powerful leader, more so than her weak husband, King Gojong. She was the leading opponent keeping foreign forces from Korea, most specifically Japan. She even promoted stronger ties with Russia in an attempt to block Japanese influence in the government that had begun to spread. The Japanese saw her as one of their largest obstacles to their expansion plans.

In the early morning of October 8th, 1895, sword bearing assassins dressed in "peculiar robes" and under orders by the Japanese Minister to Korea, broke into the Queen's quarters. The palace itself was swarming with Japanese troops, holding the Korean guards back from the assassination that then occurred. The assassins killed three court ladies. Confirming that one of the women was indeed the Queen, they dragged her body into the pine forest in front of the palace's large complex and burned her body and scattered her ashes. Queen Min was only 43.

King Gojong was so overcome by his wife's murder, he went into seclusion for weeks and when he emerged, he signed a treaty with the Japanese, essentially giving them immense power over Korea. But the one thing he would not agree to was the Japanese insistence that Queen Min be stripped of her title and status and lowered to a commoner status. The King was purported to state that he would rather slit his wrists rather than disgrace his wife. It was his one act of defiance, but it came too late. Korea was no longer a free country as the Japanese occupation was only a few years away. The Japanese occupation officially began in 1910, but in reality, they were already usurping power with the Queen's death. The palace itself was majorly destroyed during the occupation with most of the 200 buildings torn down by the Japanese.

Her murder marked a period of cultural genocide, war crimes and horrors that many Koreans can never forget. While the book Rape of Nanking, by Iris Chang, brought to the world's attention the horrors that the Japanese army visited on the people of Nanking, not as much world attention has focused on the plight of Korea during the occupation. Over 5 million Koreans were conscripted into the army while millions more were shipped off to Japan to work as slave laborers or comfort women (sex slaves). And even far worse, Koreans were also used as human experimentation for the Japanese army. At the time, the Japanese viewed Koreans as a sub-species of human. Lower than dogs, was what they were taught in school. To the Japanese of the time, Koreans were not human.

The Japanese government tried its best to destroy Korean culture. Japanese was the only language allowed to be spoken and taught in Korea. Anyone found speaking Korean was severely punished, if not killed. All Koreans were forced to give up their Korean names and legally take on Japanese names. Korean cultural landmarks and public monuments were defaced to extoll the virtues of the Japanese Emperor. Korean history book were confiscated and burned. Priceless Korean artifacts were stolen and shipped to Japan. In one of the terrible ironies of war, more than half of Korea's priceless cultural artifacts are not actually in Korea, but are held in Japanese museum and private collections, the victims of the rape of Korea's culture. Tombs of ancient Korean monarchs were plundered and stolen and now can be found in the private collections of Japanese collectors. In recent years, many private collectors have graciously returned some of Korea's heritage back to Korean museums, but still much more remains in Japanese hands as other so called "collectors" have donated their priceless Korean artifacts to Japanese museums.

One other remaining remnant of the Japanese occupation occurs in many maps that one finds even to this day. Look at a map, and you will see that the body of water between Korea and Japan is still referred to as the Sea of Japan. However, its true name is the East Sea. The Sea of Japan was claimed by the Japanese during its occupation period. To allow it to remain on modern day maps continues to be a terrible reminder to Korea of their dark period of foreign occupation. That's why it was so important for me to include in my map of Korea, the true historical name of the East Sea. Perhaps one day, all history books and maps will once again reestablish its true name.

Note - Please know that none of this is meant as Japan bashing but as a discussion of past historical issues only.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Website is Up!!!

Thanks to Virginia Allyn, the incredibly talented illustrator extraordinaire, who illustrated my beautiful map and icons of the Seven Kingdoms. If you want to see how incredible her work is click here. I love her moon and star painting.

Thanks also to Cindy Pon, my agency sister, who showed me the way to designing a beautiful website. Unfortunately because I am not as tech savvy as she is, it took me a ridiculous number of hours to get my website ready.

So please pop by when you have a moment. www.ellenoh.com

And then click back to my blog and leave me your thoughts, comments, questions, improvements, etc.

Thanks for giving it a look!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An interesting issue

I'm going to have a roll out of my new website in the next day or two, so please watch out for that. In the meantime, I have come up for air enough to generate what I think is a very interesting post. There is a wonderful resource for children's writers and illustrators which is hosted by the marvelous author Verla Kay and is known as the blueboards. If you are writing for children or young adults, this is the site for you.

Recently there was a very interesting discussion on the boards about one of the blueboarders who had what they thought was a terrible experience with a published author they admired. Since specific details of issues raised on the boards should not be discussed off the boards, I will discuss this issue generally and hypothetically. The fan met the author they admired at a conference and went to speak to the author afterwards. Because the fan was excited about their own writing project and because the author writes in the genre the fan is working on their exciting new writing project, the fan in an admiring gush tells the author all about their exciting new project. The fan is then crushed when the author provides a lukewarm response and seems to even question if the fan knows what they are doing. Upset, the fan thinks this was a horrible experience.

I thought this was a great topic to discuss and the posts it generated ranged from "So sorry you had to deal with such a jerk!" to "Perhaps the author was having a bad day." But the one post that stuck in my head was by a multi-published author who said it was not fair on the author to have other writers topics shoved at them. For example, an author is working on a certain specific topic and is pitched the same topic at a conference by an attendee. The author then feels they must scratch that idea so that they are not accused of stealing the idea. I thought, wow, isn't that a sad statement of what our society has come to that we are so litigious that writers might be afraid to work on something in fear of a lawsuit? It reminds me of my OB-GYN, the most wonderful doctor in the whole world who delivered all 3 of my girls and is now no longer delivering babies because he can't afford the insurance coverage due to high litigious that practice area has become. Wow this country needs some serious tort law reform, and fast!

But I digress. This was a very interesting point for me because having worked in productions, I know that most production companies will not accept any unsolicited materials unless it comes with a signed submission release form. I have always been surprised that agents don't use these forms either but let me stay on topic. The submission release form is basically an agreement that a writer signs agreeing that the production company may or may not already have similar ideas in development. It essentially releases the production company from the claim of stealing ideas. However, I have known of cases where less reputable companies have deliberately taken ideas from submitted materials and claimed they had already had these ideas in development.

To give you an idea of what you sign when submitting to production companies, here is the introduction to MTV's submission release form.


MTV NETWORKS wishes to acquaint all those who have been kind enough to submit
materials, including ideas, proposals, marketing or promotional plans, program formats, literary material, artwork, video and musical compositions, with the problem that faces us in reviewing, investigating, inspecting and evaluating these materials. Much of the material that is now being submitted embodies materials, suggestions or ideas substantially similar or identical to those which have been developed by our staff or which have been submitted by others. Further, we may begin using material similar or identical to yours which we received after the date of your submission. Accordingly, we feel that we can receive and review materials only if it is left up to us to determine whether we have in fact used these ideas and to decide what compensation should be paid in event of use.

Because of this, it is our policy to require the signing of the enclosed release before considering any solicited or unsolicited material, ideas, proposals, marketing or promotional plans, program formats, literary material, videos and musical compositions. (MTV.com)

Now an author can't go around asking people to sign this type of release form before they talk to them about their ideas, but the lawyer part in me thinks that it is a good idea to have a policy NOT to discuss another writer's ideas when approached randomly and publicly. Exceptions of course for friends, families and critique groups. Although recently I heard of an allegation of idea theft which arose within an online critique group so nothing seems to be sacred.

There is a reason why many of the high profile authors have a no manuscript review policy. While an idea is not copyrightable, given the wide access of the internet, an accusation of theft of an idea can be just as damaging to an author even without an accompanying lawsuit. So what can be done about it? I'm not sure. And I'm not saying that the original author was right. How can I without knowing all the specifics? But I am saying that there is alot to think about and worry about. And I can't help but wonder what if the author had a similar project he was working on and was taken aback by the fan's excited discussion of their own project. Who knows what the real story is. But given the fact that individual authors don't have the protection of submission release forms like the big companies do, is it any wonder that people are a little leery? Thoughts anyone?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Oldest thanks each and everyone of you

So Oldest spent quite a lot of time responding to every single person who left her a comment. I told her, "Why don't you just respond to everyone in one comment?" To which she responded, "But that would not be very nice and polite! I need to respond to each and every comment so that they know I read their note." She's a nice kid, not like her lame Mommy. But she got a great big kick from seeing everyone's kind notes so I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for commenting. She said "Is this what it feels like to have fans?" I said, "Sort of." To which she ran around the house screaming "I'm famous!!!!!"

And clearly she is a funny kid. My favorite comment she made was in response to Steve Malley who wrote:
"You make parenting seem like it might not suck!" :-)
Oldest responded as follows:

"Dear Steve, Kids are nice if you give them candy."
Ha! That cracked me up!

And Aerin just reminded me of another great comment. Stuart Neville, aka Conduit, said:

"Ms. Haworth is very lucky to have such an excellent fan to spread the word. And yours is a wise policy about kissing boys. In fact, I would go one further and say you should never kiss boys at all. Ever. Thay have cooties."

To which Oldest rsponded:

"Dear Conduit, You should know that since 3rd grade I now realize cooties do not exist. But boys are stinky! But you can't catch stinky. Thanks for your nice comments."
So since Oldest has gotten a taste of blogging, she is seriously thinking of the next blog post she can guest author for me. I best be watching out or one day soon this blog will no longer be under my domain!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning

Hi! My Mom is Ello and she asked me to do a blog post on my favorite book because she is very busy. I am 9 years old and I am in fourth grade. I love reading. It is one of my favorite hobbies. I try to encourage people to read more books instead of playing on electronics, which I learned from my Mom. I hope that there will be many more authors in the world who will write good books that I can read. Including my Mom.My Mom is always encouraging me to read and loves to buy me lots of books. She was excited to buy Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning because she says she was blogging friends with the author. She wanted to read it first but I beat her to it. I wanted to be the first to read it, but it took a little longer because I had to finish the Golden Compass first. My Mom has a rule that you must finish one book before you can start a new one. My sister, Skye, does not like this rule. She is always trying to read many books at the same time.

Anyway, I loved this book. Let me tell you about it.

Violet Raines is a regular 11 year old girl with a best friend named Lottie. They are fine until a new girl Melissa, starts hanging around with Lottie a bit too much. This is no fun for Violet. But it gets worse. Lottie’s house gets struck by lightning so she and her sisters stay with Melissa and then weird stuff happens because Lottie starts watching lots of TV and starts talking about boys. Will Violet change Lottie back and be friends with Melissa or will she have an enemy forever?I loved this book. It was very funny and I was smiling whenever I read it. I really liked the part when Melissa dared Violet to kiss Eddie. Violet pushed Eddie down onto the bench after she kissed him. He was so shocked he ran away. She chased him but he was too fast and she couldn’t catch him. The next day she tries to apologize but he runs away again. This was really funny! I can’t believe a girl would kiss a boy like that! I would never kiss a boy just because someone dared me to so I thought this was so funny. I also liked the part when Violet, Lottie, Eddie and Melissa saw a crocodile and everyone ran away except Eddie, he just stood there and watched the crocodile with amazement. It was so funny that everyone was screaming and running away.

My favorite part of the book was Violet. I liked Violet a lot. I would want to be friends with someone like her because she’s funny and a very responsible friend. She is loyal and brave. She is a good friend.
My mother always encouraged me to read more and always would buy me books. Her encouraging me has made me really love books and reading and I am so glad I read this book. It is my favorite and I am Ms. Danette Haworth’s biggest fan. I wrote an author letter at my school and I signed my letter – Sincerely, Your Biggest Fan! I hope Ms. Haworth gets my letter. I hope she will write more books about Violet. I want to read more books like this one. I hope that other authors (like my mom) will write great books like Ms. Haworth.

I really want to read more funny books about Violet. I really wonder what Ms. Haworth’s next book will be about. I really hope it is like this one.

(Note from Ello - Oldest read the first 2 paragraphs of my novel, said "I don't get it!" and walked away. Sigh. At least she loved Danette's book!)