Ready for Halloweensie? PiBoIdMo?

I’m as ready for Halloweensie, as I will be this year.
My entry is ready to publish here on Monday, Oct. 27.
If you haven’t read the rules, check them out on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.
You must use the words creak (or some version of it), broomstick and pumpkin in a 100 words or less. She even lets you count candy corn as one word. See, it’s a very generous contest.
I wrote a couple six-word versions among all my false starts and attempts to write a story.

Pumpkin rolled on a creaky broomstick.
{Someone kindly suggested rode instead of rolled.}
Pumpkin rode on a creaky broomstick.
{See one word makes a huge difference.}

Another one:

For sale: creaky pumpkin, rotten broomstick.
{That’s my ode to standard in six-word stories or novel attributed to Ernest Hemingway: For sale, baby shoes never worn.}

My Halloweensie story will post on autopilot this year, because I’m off for a few days.
My nephew Tucker and his dear Katie are getting married Saturday.
Since they chose a Florida location for the wedding, well, why not go see our friends Mickey Mouse and friends. We’ll be in a magical place — being with family — for several days.
My real Halloweensie story is more than six words and more child friendly.
I’m also super excited about November fast approaching, so I can participate in Picture Book Idea Month or PiBoIdMO. Tara Lazar provides lots of inspiration as thousands of picture book ideas are written down in notebooks, on smartphones and on napkins all over the world.
Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday too. While I have dozens of books to add, I’ll save those for when I can properly visit my fellow PPBF bloggers. Enjoy this Friday and check out the PPBF list for great picture books.

I won’t throw up on you

“I won’t throw up on you.”
Yep. That’s what I told a woman a few weeks ago while on a cruise to Alaska.
We had 20 family members on the cruise. Well, not the entire time, as we lost two in Canada. I’ll explain that in a second.

My Dad suggested we take a family trip. We all survived the Stenberg Disney World Trip of January 2013! So the chant (and planning) became — Alaska 2014!

Then, we invited an aunt, uncle and cousins.

The cruise was pretty smooth sailing until it wasn’t. It was our second day on the ship and several of us became queasy. Enzo was fine. He enjoyed body surfing over his teen and twenty-something cousins, running without a care in the world, and eating a pile of french fries.

The thought of food made me almost lose my lunch. So, our waiter sent us packing with saltine crackers and green apples. A magic potion aided by my patch, band bracelets, and motion sickness medicine.

One of the ladies in the spa suggested, I was “trying too much” to keep the sea sickness at bay. My response: “I won’t throw up on you.”

Let me get to the evidence that we will leave family members behind. No joke. Just a warning, if you ever want to travel with us.

It sounds like an obvious thing NOT to do, but a not-so funny thing happened when the ship docked in Victoria, BC. My niece, who hadn’t felt well, visited the ship’s medical office. The office called for an ambulance. While most of the family was out exploring Victoria, my brother and his daughter quietly began their international adventure. We know it had a quiet beginning because my nephew and his fiancée  heard security call for an ambulance with no siren.

When hubby, Enzo and I returned with an hour or so before the ship was scheduled to leave, we saw family members waving at us from an upper deck.

I think “Oh, this never gets old with family members greeting you.” They were thinking … “we need you for information.”

I scrambled to find the travel insurance information, because, of course, we only thought about it in case we had to cancel the trip. Really, if you coordinate a trip with multiple families, you should make sure everyone prints out the insurance card. The ship’s dial up Internet is slow.

My sister-in-law scrambled to find information on her daughter’s condition. The rest of us sat around nervously not knowing what to do. We were just delusional that the medical issue would be dealt with and my brother and niece would travel via ferry and meet the family in Seattle in time for the plane on Saturday.

A lot can happen or NOT between a Thursday and a Saturday. There were calls to congressional member’s  staff and the state department. My niece was treated at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. Apparently, the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. set up for care left my brother a little more than antsy. They just wanted to get home.

Once my niece was stable to travel by the following Tuesday, my brother gathered her up in a wheelchair and began his journey back into the United States. The whole effort was absurd, crazy, and mind numbing as there were concerns, hesitations, and little assistance with their travel. During my niece’s hospitalization, there were a lot of crazy ideas being tossed around about how to get them back into the U.S. — did I mention they didn’t have passports? One minute we were told they could fly due to a medical emergency. The next we were told they couldn’t. No passport equaled no flying post-9/11. So my brother made a run (or took a taxi) from the hospital to the harbor for the Clipper, a ferry to Seattle.

Did I mention I feel it should be criminal for a cruise line to allow passengers on board without a passport? Did I mention I feel like cruise lines should do more for passengers it gets into a country without passports?

My brother and my niece made it to Seattle with birth certificates, lots of prayers, and pain meds for my niece. While technically, they still should have had passports to travel by the ferry, agents let them in. Thankfully, no one denied them entry, since they are U.S. citizens.

My aunt and uncle helped them in Seattle until arrangements could be made to return to Georgia. A midnight flight had them land in Georgia around 8 a.m. a full week after my niece left the ship in Victoria. She was quickly hospitalized in Georgia with more tests. She now has answers and a game plan for treatment. Oh, and she also has a wedding in mid-July! (Thank you all for taking time to pray for my niece and the family!)

I didn’t feel like the cruise ended until she left the hospital on Sunday. Then, it felt OK to begin sorting vacation photos and working on my to do list.
So, in my head I have the cruise mentally grouped as Alaska and after we left two family members behind. I’m not sure my sister-in-law can find any humor in it all yet, but I’m telling you humor is the best way I can deal with medical emergencies.

Seriously, my brother deserves a medal for everything he did — he dealt with a medical emergency, a completely different medical system, and efforts to coordinate contact with travel insurance representatives, cruise line folks, and family members crazy out of their heads for information.

While visiting Alaska was very cool, spending time with family was the focus of the trip. We enjoyed a variety of excursions together in Seattle, Juneau, and Skagway.

A few notes:

  • Running into relatives randomly on the boat never got old. Hubby had to remind me a few times that it was logical since we were all traveling together. Still, I was giddy.
  • Make a joke and well, it may never be forgotten. My dad reported: “I saw a bear in a canoe.” As a result, Dad had his picture taken with every bear in a canoe we could find. Plus, his Christmas tree will now be adorned with a bear in a canoe — several of them.
  • For those, who think, “No one knows me here. I’ll let it all hang out on vacation.” I saw people I know from a small town in north Georgia. They were on a different cruise ship. My sister’s former neighbors were on our ship.
  • To just be a kid, Enzo attended the adventure camp or as he called it “boat school.” He earned a medal for his participation in a talent show. He also earned a junior park ranger badge from one of the best programs I’ve seen in Skagway. (The ranger and I spoke for a minute about a story I wrote about a junior park ranger!)
  • Hubby lost two pounds. I gained two pounds.
  • You don’t realize how much you rely on texting and quick phone calls to communicate until you don’t have cell service for a week.
  • I wondered if the folks working on the ship feel a little like it’s Ground Hog Day. I heard people asking staffers the same questions over and over. I tried not to ask too many questions or just eavesdropped.
  • I found the questions at the Captain’s Talk to be a little crazy — “If the ship goes down, would you be the first off?” or “If my wife knocked me overboard, could I survive?”
  • My zero email inbox experiment helped. I had zero emails when I boarded the ship in Seattle. A week later, I had more than a thousand.

It’s been a struggle to return to regular stuff after all that excitement — Alaska, medical emergencies, international intrigue, a week of Vacation Bible School, and more medical stuff.

So, I’ll try here, today one of my Reader University post appears on Writing from the Peak.

Baby steps. And, on ship or on land, I will do my best not to throw up on you.

PPW: A success post is good news for everyone

PPW: A success post is good news for everyone

I’m seeing all types of GREAT news from fellow writers this week. People are signing with agents and accepting writing positions.

So, it’s good timing that my monthly post at Writing from the Peak appears today, after a week filled with awesome news.

You can read what I wrote “A success post is good news for everyone” at the Pikes Peak Writers blog.

Do you have good news this week?

I joined an in-person critique group this week. I’m excited about the  feedback. Plus, I submitted two picture book manuscripts and an essay.

My PPW blog: Help an Author Out — Leave a Review, Please!

My PPW blog: Help an Author Out — Leave a Review, Please!

I was over at Writing From the Peak last week. I wrote about my declaration to write more book reviews this year. I have three books on my Kindle right now that need my attention.
Why am I late in posting this here?
Hmm. I was in Iowa last week on a family visit. In my rush to leave town, I forgot to schedule my post. Then, I was in the black hole of technology. You know where your cell phone provider is not King and you want to spend time with family (because that’s why you are there in the first place).
Oh (and whispering) I had a birthday too and so did Enzo.
Fun times.
If you have a moment, take a look.
I hope my friends in the U.S. are having a great Memorial Day Weekend.

Taking a little break

Taking a little break

I hope you all have a very blessed Easter.

March turned into a tough month for me — not in a bad way, but a busy one. April will be similar as I prepare for two writing events.

I’m finalizing my pitch for my memoir In a Blink for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. This will be my third year in attendance and the first time I’ve pitched. The last time I actively pitched this manuscript was 2009. Be calm and pitch on!

After volunteer duties at the conference (including a 4:45 a.m. transport to the airport), I have final projects due as the semester wraps up at school.

Throughout the month, I’ll be working on my picture book manuscripts and query letters for the Big Sur in the Rockies. I’m excited about this opportunity and a little nervous about trying to get my stories in the best shape prior to Big Sur.

To help in the process, I took Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic course in March.

My level of interaction with my class and Susanna, didn’t show my true enthusiasm for the class. I know there are tons of classes out there, but I really, really liked this format — especially during a busy month.

Monday through Friday I received an email with the day’s lesson and instructions for the assignment. Susanna wasn’t kidding about the time involved with each lesson. It’s manageable in 30 minutes or less each day.

I know there are tons of classes out there, but wanted to mention I found Susanna’s class to be extremely helpful and informative. The class offers opportunity for a lot of interaction among participants and with Susanna. When I was able to do this, I found it very useful.

That’s a long way of saying, I’m going to take a break from here while I hunker down for a month of revisions, reading the books several friends recently published, and a few other projects including blog visits.

For Jedi Renn

For Jedi Renn

This is for my Young Jedi Friend Renn:

 You can read about Renn at The Brain of a Jedi … and his journey through Epilepsy. He’s in the hospital this week for more tests. Medical tests are no fun!

Many bloggers are joining together to send good wishes, prayers, the power of the Star Wars (a favorite of this little Jedi) to Renn and his family.

Author Susanna Leonard Hill has a link to multiple well wishes for Renn on her blog. Take a look.

Send a happy thought or prayer into the universe for Renn and his family. His mom is children’s author Bethany Telles.

Hospitals are no fun, especially for little guys, moms, dads, and little brothers. So we’re all sending out good vibes into the universe.

I hope this week will be helpful for Renn and his family as they search for more answers into his condition. Good luck. I know the Force is with you all.