March 30, 2005

Switching Over

Hey all,

I probably won't post much on this blog. I've started a new blog at I actually downloaded, customized and uploaded this blog and I'm pretty proud of myself. :-D

This blog will be geared more toward writers i.e. helpful links and tips along with my own journey toward publication.

I know, I know. Sounds boring. But anyone who knows me knows better. ;-)

Pop on over and have a looksie.

Also, anyone interested in joining a book club? Hop on over to Another Story World and look around. We read literary novels. That sounds boring but I'm using the books off the Ballantine Reader's Circle and I have yet to be disappointed. C'mon! Join in the fun!

March 29, 2005

Don't Come Whining to Me

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I ran across this article in our local newspaper .It was listed in the opinion section and I thought it was interesting, though vague. After the article, I'll offer my two cents worth.

Early voting convenient, not a remedy.

There's a problem with voting in this country. Not enough people do it. This is particularly abhorrent when we have just watched Iraqi citizens risk their lives to participate in the first free and fair elections in memory. That freedom was given to the Iraqi citizens thanks to the sacrifices and the deaths of more than 1,000 American soldiers. We should remember this as our elected leaders talk about changing the system we use for absentee and early voting. At it's heart, the discussion boils down to convenience.

How convenient is it for citizens to cast their ballots? Both Gov. Matt Blunt and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan agree in principle that early voting is a good thing. Carnahan said she has talked with many county clerks who support the concept. The question appears to be not if early voting will be approved in Missouri, but when and how.

Greene County Clerk Richard Struckhoff is supportive of the idea but doesn't think it's something the state needs to rush to implement. "It's a convenience I'd like to see for Greene County voters, but Greene County voters need to know what the cost is going to be," he said. That's important for all parties to focus on.

State law says the government cannot pass an unfunded mandate on to local officials. Spence Jackson, a spokesman for Blunt, said the governor's proposal to relax the rules for absentee voting will increase voter turnout without costing taxpayers money. The governor wants to eliminate the need for a voter to have an excuse for voting absentee and eliminate the requirement that a notary public sign the absentee ballot.

"I don't know that that would greatly increase the amount of money that the clerk would normally expend to conduct an election," Jackson said. But consider this: Greene County spent around $14,000 in postage on absentee ballots in the November election. If the rules are relaxed, the costs could multiply by as much as five times, Struckhoff said.

In some states that have early voting, almost half the voters cast ballots early. That's an extreme, but it's something we have to prepare for. Early voting won't be the cure for voter apathy and low voter turnout. Making something more convenient for people never makes it more valuable. Our last two elections set records for turnout because voters felt the stakes were high. They were informed, passionate and active.

Early voting will be nice when it happens. But let's not kid ourselves about how wonderful it will be. We also hope our elected officials will work together across party lines in crafting the legislation. After all, the Iraqi citizens showed us that the ability to have confidence in voting is the foundation of a free society.

"Making something more convenient for people never makes it more valuable." Then why spend the money to make it more convenient. I can appreciate this person's viewpoint. But I think this person was being too diplomatic and not really spelling out the problem.

Why make it convenient to vote at all?

Voting is a privilege. Something Americans are entitled to do because we are a free nation. And we're free because why? Let me hear it, all together now - BECAUSE WE HAD TO FIGHT FOR IT.

Yes, it's sad when Americans are too lazy or too apathetic to exercise their right as Americans but why should the rest of us spend money to make it more convenient for people who, given the excuse, wouldn't come vote when it was time anyway?

I've never really understood absentee voting - Election Day is marked on the calendars years in advance. It's like Christmas, everyone knows it's coming yet never prepares for it. I suppose if you were a business man and traveled a lot, knew you were going to be out of town that week, ok. But what about the rest? Are they voting absentee simply because they don't want to deal with the crowds? I realize there are legitimate excuses for absentee voting, but I'm willing to bet, half of those "excuses" are weak, at best.

Everything has to be "convenient" nowadays. If it's too much trouble, no one wants to deal with it. No one has time. (I hate that excuse most of all).

It's too much trouble to voice your opinion about the person who will manipulate laws and ultimately affect your pocketbook?

Here's the thing - if people want to stay in bed with the covers pulled over their head because it's too inconvenient to get up each morning, that's certainly their choice. But let me forewarn you, I don't want to hear any whining when things don't go the way you want them to.

Forfeit your right to vote, forfeit your right to an opinion.

March 28, 2005

Nobody's an Expert

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It's the toughest, and yet most important job, in the world. People don't get paid to do it and there's no one likely to thank you for it. There are days you just want to throw in the towel and other days there's no place you would rather be in the world.

The job is called parenting and nobody has a clue how to do it.

Why doesn't parenting come with a manual? The hospitals should hand out free copies of "Parenting - Your Job for the Next 18 Years."

Hey, don't look at me, I don't have all the answers. Kevin and I were totally clueless when our sons were born. Our parenting skills have been purely trial and error. We've made mistakes and we've done some things right, but overall, I think we've done an ok job with our boys. They are both sweet, intelligent, kind and loving. What more could a parent ask for?

If you've never seen "Supernanny," you should. When it first came on, I just rolled my eyes. Good grief, not ANOTHER reality TV show!? But I have to admit, after watching it a few times, it has potential.

In a nutshell, SuperNanny is about disciplining children without getting physical. The show starts with the nanny watching a tape of the household that needs help and it's usually pretty bad. The kids run the household and are little monsters. The parents have had it up to their eyeballs and don't know what to do to regain control of their household. I have to admit, these kids are BRATS, with a capital B.

So this is the part where you sit back and scoff and ridicule the parents of these impossible children. How could they have let their kids get this way? To give you an idea how bad these kids are: they backtalk, they slap their parents, they disappear and often show up at the end of their street, they are truly unruly. You just want to take the parents by their shirtfronts and give them a shake or two. Hello!? Who's the adult here?

Ah....that's the problem. There is no adult present. Most times, the parents bicker back and forth with the kids, thereby stooping to their level. It's disheartening to watch. And the first couple of times I watched it, I was thoroughly disgusted with these so-called parents.

But then, I started to feel sorry for them. After all, nobody is really prepared for parenting, you're just sort of thrust into the thick of things. Oh sure, there are TONS of books out there, but who has the time or energy to read them? And then if you do read them, they contradict themselves. Who do you believe?

It's frustrating. In a society where you can't physically harm your child without getting reported to the Division of Family Services, how do you discipline your child?

We never had that problem. When the boys were growing up, I used a wooden spoon on them. I smacked them once on the back of the legs and that got their attention, immediately. They were issued one warning and if they didn't comply, SMACK. It sounds cruel, but it was effective. Our boys are well-rounded citizens today.

I believe in spanking, and let's define that while we're on the subject. Spanking means smacking the child ONCE to get their attention. Not to lose control and beat the child. That's something else parents tend to lose, control over themselves. Children need discipline. If they don't have it, if they don't know where their boundaries are, then you end up with children who backtalk you and slap you around. It's important.

But I have to admit, watching SuperNanny and her techniques, they make sense. It would be wonderful if the non-violent tactics worked, but let's be honest, they won't on more "stubborn" children. The show is great, it's a great lesson in patience, endurance, and consistency. But I have to wonder what the time period is between the time SuperNanny enters the scene and the time when the child actually succumbs. The show makes it look like it works on the first try, or at least, in a short time, and maybe it does. But I'm skeptical.

I guess my point is: parenting is not easy. It's hard and there's no references to consult. It's often times a trial and error learning experience. But this much I know - nobody's an expert.

March 24, 2005

Balancing Those Darn Hats

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Gads, I haven't written in a while. And I did so well, too. I think I wrote everyday (nearly) for the past month and a half. I busted my record.


Ah, but I've been busy. But you knew that was coming, didn't you. These past three days have been a blur. This is the first time I've been able to sit at my computer and actually breathe.
I've got a project nearing completion and information is coming at me like a ricochet of bullets. I finally submitted the site for a final approval, only to be bombarded with problems on another site. I'm in the middle of teaching myself a few new tricks, my
writers' group is REALLY taking off and to top it off, I started a reading group. I know, I'm glutton for punishment.

Of course, there's the little matter of my family.

It's spring break here and the kids have been busy as well. Brandon's birthday is this week and he'll be ten. They had a party last night at a pizza joint and we all had fun. As an added bonus, he got to spend the night with his cousin, and the other cousin got to spend the night with us. The boys were great. Not a peep out of them the entire night. But being a mom, it's hard to totally relax when something breaks the routine. It's an instinct and I couldn't have slept if someone had killed me. :-)

I was like that when the boys were little, too. I just didn't sleep. I constantly got up to check on them. Were they still breathing? Were they warm enough? The little joys of being a mother.
I was so glad when they grew up and I didn't have to "mother" them anymore. I finally got some sleep. But I guess I was nervous about having someone over and I woke up at 3:30 this morning and just laid there. It was one of those middle-of-the-night jolts awake and I simply couldn't go back to sleep. I just couldn't stop thinking. It was if my subconscious had been pushed into fast forward and I couldn't control the images and thoughts that raced across my mind. I almost got up, but I was afraid of waking up the rest of the household, so I stayed put.

And stared at the ceiling.

I feel a lot like that woman up there - wearing several hats at once. I've gotten quite good at switching those hats at a moment's notice, too. When you're a wife, mother, friend, business associate, you have to learn to partition your thoughts in less than the time it takes you to blink. You simply have to. It's impossible to be the same person all day, everyday. Everyone has different personalities, like a chameleon adapting to it's environment.

Last night I was wife, mother, aunt, daughter, sister, and consultant. Wearing all of those hats can be exhausting but I love the challenge of being able to balance them.

Now, if I could only learn to be as perky as the woman in that picture.

March 18, 2005

Let's Kill Each Other for Fun

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What is it about boys and wrestling?

Our boys have never really been aggressive. I mean, they have moments, but for the most part, they are pretty docile.

So imagine my surprise when I walk in one Saturday morning and they are in a headlock.

And growling.

And sound like they mean it.

It ended up they were playing after all, but I was surprised they started goofing around like that. It's like they turned into cavemen overnight.

Is it the testosterone? Is it an instinct deeply imbedded in the fibre of their being that makes them behave like animals?

I walk in. Limbs are locked and their breathing heavy. Their faces are red and they're sweating. And yet, they don't stop. They are taking a breather before round two. I sincerely don't understand it.

But then again, why do women obsess over shoes?

I suppose it's a fundamental difference between men and women - women want to nurture, men want tear things into shreds. It's the way God made us - who am I to ask why?

This aggressive behavior becomes more prevalent as they get older. I especially noticed a difference in Blake. Blake is twelve and hormones are starting to race. He's noticing girls, he's more conscious of how he presents himself (does my breath stink, mom? thinks there is a girl in the equation somewhere).

Is he trying to prove something by being physically aggressive? It's not just the physical, either. It's the mental. The tough talk, the back talk, the swagger as he walks (it's kind of cute, really). It's like he's morphing into someone else. Where did my baby go?

And does this mean my youngest, Brandon, will start this behavior sooner because he sees big brother doing it?

Lord help me.

I suppose wrestling is only the tip of the iceberg. A warning, of sorts, of all the things they will wrestle with as they slam into the teenage years.

Perhaps this is a physical warning that I should brace myself for more battles to come.

March 17, 2005

A Bunch of Clowns

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I do a lot of research on the web. I roll up my sleeves and look for parenting articles, things to write about for this blog and tidbits to put in my "Writing Scribes" Newsletter. So when I came across Jason Love, I was delighted.

There are a lot of things that make me smile online, but it's rare to actually find something that makes me laugh out loud. Jason Love's work does just that. He's a talented artist and writer and if you get time, please check out his site. It's worth a looksie.

You'll definitely be seeing a lot more Jason Love on this blog.

This piece is for all of those people out there who have ever scowled, cussed, or dreamt about hurting their phone company.


Conspiracy Theory
by Jason Love

When I moved from Thousand Oaks to Agoura, it wasn't a big production. Three offramps and double the mortgage. What I could not foresee was the more profound, life-altering effect of changing phone companies. Three little offramps and I had gone from a "Verizon Area" to a "PAC Bell Area." Evidently, these companies mark their territory like dogs. Instead of urine, they use wires.

Okay, I would simply transfer my two phone lines and find out the local access number for my Internet connection. Simply. Uh-huh.

It took Pac Bell 10 days to get to my residence. It must have been a really long drive. On 6 of those 10 days I found a Pac Bell van parked outside my house to service neighboring lines. Logic told me to ask a technician to step into my home and save a trip.

"I'm sorry," said the technician. "Pac Bell keeps my brain at the central office. You'll have to give them a call."

"I would," I said, "but my phone isn't working!"

The following week, my technician appeared at the door. He entered my home in front of two clowns who bounded behind to the sound of circus music. Since my place did not have two lines, the technician had to ransack my residence for existing wire.

He dug up carpet, crawled in the attic, tracked dirt over the beige carpet and, just before deciding to take out a wall, he found the wire. The only problem was that his drill bit wasn't long enough to do the job (I'm sure he's heard that before). Since his drill bit was back at the office with his brain, we'd have to wait until tomorrow. The two clowns bounded out behind him.
Day two. I returned home and found a note on my door reading, Came by to work on your wiring. No one was here. Please call to reschedule.

Day three. National Imbecile Day. The phone companies took it off.

Day four. The original technician arrived with the correct drill bit. He installed the line and stumbled out of my life forever. Ahh. Silence. Resolve. Justice. I went to dial my Internet access number and found that my password had been cancelled!

I called Verizon, and a representative told me that there was a problem. I said that's why I called. She said that since I no longer have a Verizon phone bill, they will not be able to place my Internet charges on said phone bill.

Made sense.

And Verizon's Internet service does not bill its customers. Woe, back up. Verizon does not bill for its Internet services but only accepts credit cards? What if you don't use credit cards?

Then you will get nothing and you'll like it.

I thought long and hard about changing service providers, but my website was tied to Verizon, making it a production. I secured a credit card and made the payment.

On the bright side, I returned to the Internet peddling my cartoons. Over time, I got so caught up that I missed a Pac Bell payment. It happens. I called the company, related my situation and -- credit card in hand -- asked them to reconnect my service.

"I'm sorry, sir. We don't accept credit card payments."

"You're kidding," I said, laughing maniacally. "How do I reconnect?"

By visiting our office in Woodland Hills and paying by check. I have to drive 20 miles to show someone a check?? What if I fax a copy of the check? No-can-doodly-do. By the way, there will be a $120 deposit if you are to continue using our service. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA. Of COURSE I am going to use your service -- I don't have a choice!!

I told the lady that they should call themselves Pac Bill. She got upset and put me on hold. I listened to the circus music on the other end until I couldn't bear it anymore.

I have since developed a theory that the phone companies are conspiring to drive us mad. It is part of a bigger plan to confuse us into submission in the tradition of David Koresh, Jim Jones and Pokemon. Once they have broken our will, they will implement stranger, more nonsensical rules until 1 + 2 = 4. One day we'll discover that all the phone companies are in fact run by a single mad clown seeking to reak havoc on the world. He's already got me, but you may have time to save yourself. And if I disappear from the face of the earth, you'll know that it's because I wrote this column.

March 16, 2005

Marriage is Work

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Marriage is work.

Not exactly a newsflash is it. But it continuously surprises me how many people know that to be true but are unwilling to practice what they preach.

Kevin and I have been married almost 15 years. We've been together 17 and in some ways it feels like a long time, in other ways, it feels like our relationship is just getting started. Have we encountered bumps along this road? Oh my gosh, yes. How did we overcome these obstacles? We communicated.

No really, we TALKED. And not in derogatory ways like, "I'd love you more if...." or "Why can't you be more like..." But honestly spilled our guts. I told him all the things that bugged me about him, he told me what I did that made him crazy. And after airing our grievances, we then compromised.

I focused on the top three things that bugged him the most about me.

1. Always making sure the kitchen is cleaned up
2. Not kicking my shoes off and leaving them in the middle of the floor for him to trip over
3. Picking up clutter

The rest? He simply lives with.

And that's where it gets tough. People have to compromise in relationships because nobody is perfect. Even if you and your significant other are deeply compatible and love each other, you're still going to get on each other's nerves. The important thing to remember is - you have to respect each other.

Just because what I'm feeling may seem silly or stupid to you, doesn't mean you can't respect how I feel and work on the problem. Just because I'm irritated at the kids doesn't mean I can take it out on my spouse. Just because I'm tired and grouchy doesn't give me license to nick-pick and nag him after a hard day's work.

It's a two-way street and if I give, I expect him to give. Marriage is really as simple as that.

The divorce rate is over 50% now. Think about that. Over half of marriages will fail. Why? Are we too self-centered? Have we been brainwashed into thinking that our significant other exists to make us happy? Have we gotten so carried away with "feminism" that we can't accept the fact that we like to feel like women?

Marriage is work. But boy, it's worth it!

March 15, 2005

I'm Stressed

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I need a vacation from my life. Things have gotten too complicated and I don't have the energy to deal with it all anymore.

My youngest son is stressing me out. He simply has no focus. Not only at school, but with life in general. He forgets things at friends houses, he CONSISTENTLY forgets things concerning school and when it comes to "finding" something he lost around the house, he's clueless. He literally steps over the very item he's looking for.

I don't understand this kid. He's smart as a whip and one of the most social people I know (he doesn't get that trait from me, that's for sure) but when it comes to being aware of what's going on around him, he's lost. It's like he walks around in the clouds. He has no concept of reality sometimes. The world revolves around Bran - the world according to Brandon.

How do you make a 10 year old focus? How do you make him aware of what's going on around him and stop daydreaming? I finally had to put an end to his doodling; he was bringing home more doodles than homework.

Where does he go? And how do I bring him back?

I've read somewhere that intelligent people are sometimes spacey. Many have short attention spans. I don't think the work is too hard for him, I just think he absorbs the gist of it and simply gets bored with the rest of it.

Some of it has to do with his desire to make people laugh. He's a comedian and I have to admit, he's quite funny. But how do I teach him to stop being funny and get serious? Do I want to? There are too many serious people in the world as it is. Isn't a personality like Brandon's refreshing?

It is until it gets in the way of reality. And right now, his reality is school. I guess I'll just have to step in more often and make sure he's organized and prepared. When he is, he's lethal. When he's not, well, let's just say, I'm stressed.

March 14, 2005

Should Christians Celebrate Pagan Holidays?

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This topic was bound to come up sooner or later: religion.

Every Sunday morning at 9:00, everyone grabs their bibles and gathers in the living room. We watch "Free Indeed," classes taught by John Schoenheit with the Christian Educational Services. We don't attend "church." We don't believe in church because we feel the messages taught in church are incorrect or the motivation behind the teachings are selfish.

Going to "church" is a good thing; we should get together with other Christians and praise God. But we feel we don't have to step into a building to do that. If anyone is confused about religion, I strongly urge them to check out the Christian Education Services website. They are a ministry who focuses on understanding the bible. We really like them because often times, they refer back to the original Greek and Arabic text to help us understand the true translations and what that means in the context of the bible. They don't pluck a verse here and there from the bible, take it out of context and preach a totally different message from it.

The reason I'm bringing up religion is because of Easter. Should Christians celebrate pagan holidays? It's an interesting question. In some ways, by celebrating the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus I feel hypocritical. As long as we teach our children the true meaning behind these holidays, what's the harm in following our customs? It's all in good fun.

The following article was printed on the Truth or Tradition website - a sister site to Christian Educational Services. This is only part of the article. To read the whole article, please click here.


As modern Christians, we must decide how to engage a world that has lost interest in the true origins of our faith. Should we condemn modern holidays as pagan abominations? Or should we wholeheartedly accept our culture with an attitude of concession? As with so much in our modern world, we are to find a balance that allows us to exercise true spirituality and yet still engage the culture in which we find ourselves.

Imagine telling your loved ones at Christmas, “I’m sorry, I don’t give gifts because I’m a Christian.” Or on Easter, “I don’t celebrate the resurrection of the Lord on Easter because I’m not a pagan.” Clearly, there is some level of absurdity that can be reached by trying to avoid all the non-Christian elements of our culture. For example, in an article published by The Restored Church of God titled “The True Origin of Easter,” the author correctly identifies the pagan elements of the modern Easter celebration, but we believe he goes too far in his zeal to avoid them. Concerning sunrise services, he states, “Observing sunrise services is serious to God! He so hates this vile practice that he will ultimately destroy all who persist in it (Ezek. 9)!” [9] Can this be the same God who inspired the following scripture?

1 Corinthians 8:7 and 8 (NIV)“…Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

God has revealed that it is not an outward demonstration that He requires, but the inward dedication of the heart. We know that God did not raise Jesus from the dead on Sunday morning (it was actually Saturday between 3pm and sunset), but does God not honor the hearts of people who trouble themselves to get up in the dark on Easter Sunday, get dressed, and go to a gathering place to pray, sing, and affirm the resurrection of the Lord? We believe He does.

The Bible uses an interesting word to refer to our ability to relate to things it does not specifically mention—FREEDOM (1 Cor. 8:9)! Remember, with freedom comes responsibility. It is not a sin to have a Christmas tree, or to hide some eggs out in the back yard for the children to find. Please understand, we are not saying that knowing the truth is not valuable, but we feel you can know the truth and still celebrate many modern customs. For example, a Christian can know that Christ was not born in December and that no early Christians had Christmas trees, and still have a Christmas tree of his own. He can know that Christ was crucified on the Jewish Passover but still show his devotion to the Lord in a Sunrise Service. What we as Christians must do is to teach ourselves and others the true freedom that Christ has given us. Many Christians are very blessed to take the opportunity that Easter provides to honor the Lord and his resurrection, and we think that is just fine with God (and the Lord Jesus).

As we consider what honoring the Lord will look like this season, it may be helpful to remember the words of Paul in Romans.

Romans 14:5 and 6 (NIV)One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.

God has given us freedom from all kinds of bondage. Do not let the true meaning of this Easter season be lost to you in a secular sea of eggs and rabbits (and chocolate—which early Christians did not have), but remember that much of the true meaning of the death and resurrection of the Lord is about the freedom we now have to celebrate that from our hearts, and pray and sing to bless and honor him, even if we do it on a day that is not actually “Passover.” May we praise the Lord every day, forever and ever.

March 12, 2005

Book Review: Demon Rumm

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From the inside flap of book:

It was the publicity stunt from hell as far as Kirsten Rumm was concerned. She may have been writing the book about her late husband, aeronautical daredevil Demon Rumm, but she didn’t see the need to play host to the arrogant bad-boy actor starring in the film version’s title role. Still, for the good of the project, Kirsten agreed to share her beachfront home with the impossibly sexy screen idol. Any other woman would do anything to be in her sandals, but Kirsten wasn’t falling for Rylan North, even if he did play his role of male lead to perfection. His down-home charm, his gentleness and virile charisma, might be seducing her in every sense of the word, but he was an actor, after all. Seducing an audience was his job. Rylan could have any woman he wanted.

So why was he so desperately pretending to want her?From the moment he saw her, Rylan North knew that Kirsten Rumm was the woman he’d been waiting all his life to cast as the star in his real-life love story. What did it matter if he was every woman’s fantasy if he couldn’t get Kirsten to so much as glance his way? He’d caught the look of past hurt behind her sky-blue eyes–a dark secret that shadowed the sparkle. Rylan was determined to find out what tragedy held this passionate woman back from a second chance at love even if it cost him his reputation, his career, and his life. But first he’d have to get Kirsten to act on her instincts . . . and to trust the flesh-and-blood man behind the fantasy.

What can I say about Sandra Brown? I love her! She's an inspiration to me.

First: Because she's been on the BEST SELLER'S list over FIFTY times!! (no, that's not a typo)

Second: Her stories are compelling, her characters are interesting and her writing is addictive.

Third: She's so DISCIPLINED!

March 11, 2005

A Word From Our Sponsor

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March 10, 2005

Stop the Insanity

Stop right there Posted by Hello

Please, someone stop the insanity.

Blogs are great. They're a chance for people to share their lives with the rest of the world. It's a place to voice thoughts and solidify feelings. I'm glad I started one. It's been fun and I enjoy ranting and raving about various issues - though I'm always mindful of my audience.

My friends and family read these little insights and I'm careful to word my entries to protect the innocent (in more ways than one). And the opinions and views of my entries are mine alone, they do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of my friends and family.

So I have to wonder, when I flip through various blogs, do people really lead these crazy lives?

After viewing my own blog, I clicked the "next blog" button located in the upper right-hand corner of this page and to my astonishment, landed squarely in the middle of a gay man's boast fest. Complete with graphic pictures.

Now before any of you out there in cyber land begin to think that I'm easily shocked, I'm not. In fact, it takes quite a lot to shock me (and trust me, I'm rarely speechless), but I have to admit, I was surprised. I had assumed that those "kinds" of blogs would be lumped into one category - graphic and obscene.

Whoa nelly. I'm NOT saying this man's blog was gross because he was gay (I remain gleefully blasé about that whole can of worms), my point is that the CONTEXT of his blog was nasty. Profanity, explicit images, etc. You get the picture. What is the point? To shock people? To make one's life more "exciting?" It seems pointless to me. If someone's life is really that messed up, there are professionals out there who will be more than happy to help you.

It's not just blogs, of course, this type of material is everywhere. And of course, there are a lot of GOOD blogs out there; I've read quite a few that were insightful and quite amusing. I guess what bothers me the most is that the disturbing blogs are literally a click away from my own. There are young people out there that read this stuff and it makes me cringe. It's bad enough when you're a jaded adult, quite another matter when you're an innocent. Why start the corruption so early?

Yes, there are ways to block these type of blogs, but one has to go in and specifically click the right button to block them; why can't it be a default setting? Then if one chooses to read that garbage they can choose to set it up so that it becomes visible. Why subject the rest of us to unwanted material?

But alas, that is the freedom of speech. Of course, it's a little known fact that with that freedom comes responsibility and that's where a lot of people drop the ball. And for those of you out there that don't know what responsibility means (yes, I'm being sarcastic):

Responsibility: a moral, legal, or mental accountability

In the meantime, I thank God for the exit window button.

March 09, 2005

Deluded Fools

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Parents - do you remember thinking you'd have a life after your kids?

Non-parents - do you think you're going to have a life after kids?

We're all deluded fools. :-)

March 08, 2005

Are You Allergic to Me?

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Sometimes I think my husband is allergic to me.

He'll start a bout of coughing and sneezing when he's been close to me and I can't help thinking, "is it me?" He reassures me it's just because he gets stuff in his lungs, but I wonder.

I ran across this story and had to share it with you. On the surface, it sounds terrible and I know we would all feel terrible if it happened to us. But then I started thinking about it and thought, "Hmm.." Read on...

The man who is allergic to his girlfriend
by JAYA NARAIN, Daily Mail 10:22am 15th February 2005

When they moved in together, Matt Baines and Cloe Height envisioned romantic evenings cuddled up on the sofa.

But within a month they realised getting close was out of the question.

A kiss or embrace would bring Mr Baines out in a nasty red rash. In fact, sometimes just brushing past Miss Height would provoke an angry reaction in his skin.

After investigating different soaps, deodorants, shampoos and moisturisers, the couple were told the harshest of facts by their GP.

Mr Baines is allergic to his girlfriend.

Thankfully the effects are limited to once a month when a change in Miss Height's hormones, brought on by her monthly cycle, are absorbed through her skin.

Whenever Mr Baines, 26, comes into contact with his girlfriend at these times it triggers a natural production of antibodies in his body to fight off allergy, which shows up on his skin like a red heat rash.

Steer clear

The only solution doctors can offer is for him to steer clear of her at these times. So for four days a month, the couple keep their distance.

Miss Height, 24, who works for a firm which makes products for sensitive skin, took more than a professional interest in the diagnosis.

"When the doctor said we had to stay away from each other at that time of the month, I wondered what was wrong with me," she said.

"It was very hard going for a while. I felt really guilty and upset. But Matt is really down to earth and he just laughed it off."

The allergic reaction is known as urticaria - Latin for "stinging nettle" - and causes inflammation.
Itchy and sometimes painful, it can last for days though the condition can be treated by avoidcing the allergic triggers and using antihistamine creams.

"Matt says things like 'I've got to go out with friends because I'm allergic to you' and we laugh about it," Miss Height said.

Despite their monthly separation, she said their 18-month relationship had strengthened.
The couple who live in Didsbury, Manchester, believe the condition is gradually improving.

Limited contact

"I can give him a kiss but not spend any length of time in ontact with him," Miss Height said.
"Most guys would run a mile if they found that out. But he's not like that. By the end of our first date I knew he was the one for me."

Doctors believe the allergic reaction only became apparent after the couple moved in together because they were much closer, sharing a bed, and far greater exposure to Miss Height's hormonal changes.

Dr Chris Lovell, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: "This is an a extremely rare case but not completely unknown.

"Hormones are generally not a cause for allergic reactions and people are more likely to suffer reactions from chemicals in hair products or soaps.

"This is rare and it is also much more common for the woman to allergic to the man during certain times of the month though it is also possible for the male to develop an allergic to high levels of hormones."

He said: "Special dermatological tests would have to be carried out to ascertain which particular hormone he was allergic to."

I don't know ladies, a condition that forces men to stay away at that time of the month? When a woman feels the least romantic? Doesn't sound half bad to me. :-D

March 07, 2005

Please Don't Hug Me

I need a hug Posted by Hello

I've never liked hugging. I don't have a problem hugging my sons or my husband, but even hugging mom is like, weird. I mean, why? To me, it's just an excuse to touch each other.

Why? Isn't a simple wave and smile good enough?

It is for me.

My husband's family hugs each other. They tried to include me in this ritual when we first got married but I think they have finally figured out, it's not my favorite thing to do. (It could have been the look of panic that flashed across my face whenever I saw open arms).

They don't hug me anymore.

It's not personal. I just don't like being messed with. I hate going to the doctor, the dentist, the hairdresser, and getting hugs.

Maybe it's a defense mechanism, but why am I being defensive? Maybe something happened in my childhood and I'm subconsciously scarred. (Well, there was Aunt Gertrude. Her breath was so bad my eyelashes would fall out). *grin*

Or maybe I'm just one of those people who are not affectionate to those outside my little "zone." I don't know. It doesn't mean I'm standoffish (okay, maybe a little) or that I don't like you (just keep your distance dude), I'm just weird, I guess.

I hug babies. I love hugging babies. Why is that? It's because they're huggable. Adults are not huggable, they just want to sap my positive energy, or feed off my negative energy in a morbid sort of way. (I'm in a weird mood today).

Sometimes though, you just need a hug. Occasionally, I'm depressed, for no reason, just down-in-the-mouth blue. Hugging someone reconnects me to the human race and I don't feel alone anymore.

So c'mon, hug someone.

Just not me. :-D

March 06, 2005

Movie Reviews: Paddle and Vanity

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Without a Paddle & Vanity Fair

Without a Paddle

This was your typically stupid comedy. I think I liked it (i.e. actually laughed) was because the actor who played Shaggy in Scooby Doo was in it. I sort of have a crush on him.

I should have known, as soon as I saw Burt Reynolds was in it, it would be a bomb. I wasn't disappointed. But in Burt's defense, he actually did a good job portraying a crazy old mountain man.

The story itself was pure silliness. However, it had a really good message: Time is more valuable than all the money in the world. This message, however, got buried behind the zany acts of the characters. It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't watch it again.

** stars out of five

New York Times' Review

FILM REVIEW; Up a Creek With City Slickers And Beer-Bellied Beasts By STEPHEN HOLDEN Published: August 20, 2004, Friday

As every red-blooded American male is at least partially aware, 1972 was the year camping trips lost their innocence. That was when the movie ''Deliverance'' introduced a new specter into the horror show of macho nightmares. Thanks to ''Deliverance'' and many subsequent rip-offs, every camper knows that behind every tree may lurk a sadistic, rotten-toothed hillbilly itching to rape a soft city slicker and make him squeal like a pig in front of his friends.

The homosexual panic instilled by ''Deliverance'' fuels the running joke (if that's the word for it) driving the uneasy laughs evoked by the loathsome comedy ''Without a Paddle,'' which opens today nationwide. Three buddies, 30 going on 13, embark on a ridiculous treasure hunt in the Pacific Northwest. Although no rape actually takes place, the threat of it is a constant source of leering humor. When the treasure hunters run afoul of a pair of gun-toting marijuana growers who resemble outlaw bikers, rape, torture and murder seem probable punishments, should the campers be caught.

Much of the movie is a frantic chase through the forest, in which the beer-bellied beasts pursue the wimpy city slickers. At one point, the friends hide in a treehouse where two nature-loving beauties are living an environmentally pure life. But even here, the dreaded possibility of androgyny raises its head, when one of the women (who don't shave) reveals a hairy leg. When the beasts arrive, the women's stored-up bags of excrement come in handy as stink bombs dropped from above.

Later in ''Without a Paddle,'' directed by Steven Brill, the friends, shivering and nearly naked in a downpour, find themselves forced to curl up together in a ball to avoid hypothermia. Homosexual panic is exploited for easy guffaws as the companions, wincing in revulsion, cling to one another fearing the worst (a stray erection), and of course the worst happens. Much is also made of the fondness of Dan (Seth Green), the wimpiest of the three, for the old Culture Club hit ''Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?,'' an affection for which signifies possible gayness. Dan sings it out loud to combat his claustrophobia while squirming through a tunnel.

To be fair, ''Without a Paddle'' is only the latest in a spate of teenage and post-teen buddy comedies to trade on gay panic for laughs. The movie, which pushes its ugly humor further than most, follows Dan (a doctor with a suitcase full of phobias), and his grownup childhood buddies Tom (Dax Shepard), and Jerry (Matthew Lillard) on their jaunt back to nature. Tom is a pathological liar with a bogus résumé as a whitewater rapids guide, and Jerry is an overstressed insurance executive with infallibly bad judgment when it comes to roughing it.

The trip is inspired by the death of Billy, the fourth and most glamorous member of their childhood clique. As boys they used to fantasize searching for the $200,000 stash of a legendary bank robber who disappeared in the forests of Oregon. When they reconvene in their childhood treehouse after Billy's funeral, they discover the treasure map he drew, along with a cereal box compass, and decide to honor his memory by venturing into the wild and fulfilling his quest.
In an early life-threatening mishap, they are menaced by a computer-generated bear with a taste for cellphones. The overlong bear sequence is so poorly coordinated that the animal poses no palpable physical threat. The movie's final joke and homage to ''Deliverance'' is the appearance of Burt Reynolds himself as a shaggy hermit who has lived in the woods for 30 years. With Mr. Reynolds consenting to lend his name to such a shabby enterprise, the joke is really on him.

Vanity Fair

Kevin fell asleep.

This was a character-driven movie and they tend to slow moving anyway. Not to mention, they all speak with an English accent and that's sometimes hard to keep up with.

This story reminded me of The House of Mirth. This is a story about a woman, born to a French opera woman and a starving artist father, who was trying to find her niche in English society. This was back in the day when social classes were sharply defined and if a woman didn't have the pedigree to back her up, then a woman's best career option was a governess.

Becky Sharp (Reese Witherspoon) was such a woman. Though she was very clever, witty, and beautiful, those qualities weren't enough to get her by. She thought she married money, only the wedding ticked off the aunt who possessed the family money and she wrote them out of her will.

This means Becky has to resort to anything and everything in order to survive. She basically gives up rights to her son so he can have a better life. She drives away the husband, who truly loved her, and he dies of a tropical disease. It's a tragic story. However, I think the underlying message was that it was important for a woman in those days, indeed, nowadays, to have strength of character to advance and in fact, survive, in those days and in these days.

*** stars out of five.

New York Times Review

September 1, 2004
FILM REVIEW; Becky Sharp Again Weaves Her Wily Web

Her eyes snapping like tiny firecrackers and jutting her chin, Reese Witherspoon makes an appealingly crafty Becky Sharp in Mira Nair's bland but color-drenched adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's 1848 novel, ''Vanity Fair.'' Ms. Witherspoon, as usual, conveys a bristly, determined spunk. But if her performance emits enough sparks to hold the screen, it never ignites a dramatic brush fire. Despite her make-do British accent, she is quintessentially American in attitude and body language, even more a fish out of water in ''Vanity Fair'' than she seemed in ''The Importance of Being Earnest.''

Ms. Witherspoon's upbeat approach in the film, which opens today, makes her Becky more likable than other portrayals (and there have been many, most famously by Miriam Hopkins in the 1935 movie ''Becky Sharp,'' the first Hollywood feature in Technicolor). But with its diminished gravitas, this Becky comes across as a lightweight schemer about as formidable as an aspiring trophy wife on a daytime soap. When the movie is over, you half expect Ms. Witherspoon to turn to the camera and plead, ''You still like me, don't you?''

The ascent of Becky, the orphaned daughter of an impoverished artist and a French opera dancer, to the treacherous peaks of 19th-century London society and her subsequent fall from grace, plays more like the story of a cheerfully reckless flirt than of the swath cut by an unscrupulous social climber. Becky has been cited as the literary role model for Scarlett O'Hara (a claim Margaret Mitchell denied). And as you watch Ms. Witherspoon's Becky spin her webs, you long for a lot more Scarlett O'Hara and a lot less Elle Woods.

In studiously compressing a novel that spans three decades of early- 19th-century British social history into 138 minutes, the movie becomes increasingly hurried as it struggles to compress so many subplots. Eventually it loses track of time, and its refusal to show the characters aging over 30 years adds to the confusion.

The screenplay, by Matthew Faulk, Mark Skeet and Julian Fellowes, applies the same mosaic technique to ''Vanity Fair'' that Mr. Fellowes brought to ''Gosford Park,'' but the novel's daunting size prevents its being pieced into a similarly tidy jigsaw puzzle.

But ''Vanity Fair'' has a deeper conceptual confusion. In mixing satire and romance, the movie proves once again that the two are about as compatible as lemon juice and heavy cream. The Thackeray novel is a sweeping satire of the rampant drive for upward mobility in a Britain newly flush with the wealth flowing from its colonies. Thackeray grounded the novel in an omniscient, often caustic voice looking down (and askance) at his characters and their foibles.
The movie flashes to comic life in those scenes that convey Thackeray's disdain for the preening foolishness and snobbery of early 19th-century British society and the crass symbiotic relationship between money and aristocracy. Then, as now, you could buy your way to the top, and one of the sharpest scenes observes a crude premarital negotiation that goes nowhere.

The movie's brightest moments belong to Eileen Atkins, as Matilda Crawley, the wealthy, tart-tongued spinster who takes an instant liking to Becky for her cleverness and candid wit and adopts her as a social pet. A selfish hypocrite beneath her rebellious pose, Matilda exiles Becky when the girl marries her beloved nephew, Rawdon Crawley (James Purefoy), whom she disinherits in a fury. Once Ms. Atkins fades from the movie, it never fully recovers.
At the same time, ''Vanity Fair'' toys half-heartedly with billowy romantic drama, and its token gestures emulating ''Gone With the Wind'' are too clear and clumsy to ignore. ''Vanity Fair'' gives us the Battle of Waterloo (and an overhead view of battlefield carnage that recalls the famous crane shot of Atlanta) instead of the Civil War. The stormy marital breakup of Becky and Rawdon recycles some of the same phrases hurled during Scarlett and Rhett's final, desperate leave-taking, but minus the passion.

The most obvious parallel between the movies (and the novels) is the bad girl-good girl similarity of Becky and her best friend from boarding school, Amelia Sedley (Romola Garai) to Scarlett and Melanie Wilkes. But Ms. Garai's goody-good Amelia registers as such a pallid screen presence that despite the character's dramatic changes of fortune, you barely remember her face after the film ends.

Ms. Nair, the Indian-born director of ''Monsoon Wedding'' also can't resist embellishing the novel's connections to her South Asian roots and slaps on a contemporary multicultural gloss. Two outlandish Bollywood-flavored production numbers in the second half of the film come off as jarring digressions that seem shoehorned in from another movie. In the first, Ms. Witherspoon, flanked by dancers, does a grinding Indian-flavored hoochy-cooch, worthy of Britney Spears, at a party given by her social mentor, the Marquess of Steyne (Gabriel Byrne).
Mr. Byrne's Steyne may be the film's most complex character. A discriminating aesthete, he is also a cynical cad who humiliates his wife and daughter and eventually demands his pound of flesh from a resistant Becky.

The movie has pungent but too-brief performances by Bob Hoskins as Pitt Crawley (Rawdon's father and Matilda's brother), who hires Becky as governess for his daughters, and Jim Broadbent as Mr. Osborne, the callous father of Amelia's snobbish husband, George, whom Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays as supercilious twit with the Rupert Everett flounce. Amelia's devoted, longtime suitor Dobbin (Rhys Ifans) is acknowledged only long enough for him to register as a piece in the puzzle.

Tempting as it may be to translate a broad social canvas to the screen, it may be asking too much of a movie, even one this long, without major excisions. Look only at the debacle of ''The Bonfire of the Vanities.'' That Tom Wolfe novel, the contemporary American equivalent of Thackeray's masterpiece, proved even more unmanageable as a movie for many of the same reasons.

March 05, 2005

Book Review: A False Sense of Well Being

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From the Publisher:

In this amiable expose of a genteel enclave of the Deep South, where marriages disintegrate into strained truces, 38-year-old Jessie Maddox finds herself imagining all the ways her faultlessly upright but mind-numbingly boring banker husband, Turner, might plausibly die. A fall in the shower? A freak explosion in the basement? Anything would do. In lieu of murderous action, Jessie seeks the same false sense of well-being she prescribes to her psychiatric patients at the Glenville Wellness Center, like Wanda McNabb, a homemaker who actually has killed her husband.

Then Jessie's best friend in Glenville Meadows, a suburban subdivision full of "Southern Living wives," confesses that she is involved in a steamy affair, and Jessie finds herself desperate for any change at all. In an effort to recapture her youth, she journeys to her hometown in Randolph Gap, Ala., where her mother a maker of macram‚ handbags and a fervent evangelical churchgoer still keeps house for her long-suffering father, and her wild sister, Ellen, is visiting with her son, Justin, and a full menagerie of birds. By contrast, dull Turner starts looking better. Finally, the gritty realities of smalltown limitations and universal disappointments steer the story away from a Thelma and Louise finale toward a more realistic but no less dramatic and ironic ending.

This book gives me hope.

First, it's from a first-time author and it received rave reviews.

Second, it's written in first person, present tense.

When I was in college, that was a no-no. Which was really frustrating because I tend to write in present tense. I've always had a problem with tenses, volleying back and forth between past and present. I still have to go back and change my stories from present to past. It's frustrating.

So it was really refreshing to see someone writing successfully in the present tense. I like the present tense because it makes it seem like you're sitting on the character's shoulder, like an obedient parrot, observing their life as it happens. The story unfolds right before your eyes.

It's funny, but when I took those creative writing classes, I felt totally stupid and hopeless as a writer. Everything I did was scrutinized and ridiculed - picked apart like a fatty piece of meat. But now that I've graduated and have had time to read other work, it's encouraging to see that pretty much any style is accepted, and more importantly, published, nowadays

Just another reminder that I shouldn't write to please people, but stick to the story I feel compelled to share.

However, that said, I've never had much luck writing in first person. It feels awkward to me and I don't like the fact that experiences are limited to one person. After all, if you write in first person then you can't very well know what the people around you are thinking. I have to stick with my character's thoughts and the physical activities around that character.

I don't like restrictions. That's why I like to write third person, or even multiple view points (which I'm pleased to see seems to be catching on more and more). I feel writing a story with multiple viewpoints gives the story texture, like oreo cookies on vanilla ice cream.

The story itself was character-driven. This means, for those out there not really familiar with writing techniques, that not a lot happens, per se. Character-driven stories are about the character and their growth. Though this book was interesting, it was slow moving and the ending wasn't all that satisfying; the character pretty much stays the same. But the writer did a good job keeping my interest because of the character's unique problem - she dreamt of ways to kill her husband.

What did I learn? That first person, present tense IS out there and IS getting published. That's encouraging.

Moral: Having bad thoughts doesn't necessarily make you a bad person.

March 04, 2005

Kidney Anyone?

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For some reason, "Committed" really tickles my funny bone.

You'll see this comic from time to time...enjoy!

We need to save money, but this is a little extreme. I'm A+ if anyone needs a kidney. :-)

I'm kidding!

Have a great weekend everyone!

March 03, 2005

End of Chapter

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My college degree has been reduced to a worthless piece of paper.

Well, I shouldn't say worthless, but it has been reduced, at least in my eyes.

After 19 years of trying, Southwest Missouri State University was finally successful in changing its name. They will now be known as Missouri State University (MSU). We're just waiting for Gov. Matt Blunt to sign the bill and it looks like he will. This means, that beginning August 28, 2005, my degree will be reduced to "Southwest Missouri State University, nka Missouri State University." I hate those "now known as" labels.

I'm happy for the university, this means a promotion of sorts. As a major university, they will get more money from the state, and that means they can finally pay their poor teachers and expand the curriculum. But I'm being selfish. I want my old school back.

By changing its name, the university will ultimately change. It will stretch into unrecognizable proportions, it will turn glossy, corporate, and impersonal. SMSU is the second largest university in Missouri, though it felt "small town" when I went there. Even though there were over 20,000 students, I recognized a lot of the faces.

Five years from now, when someone asks me where I graduated from college and I respond with "Southwest Missouri State Missouri," they will tilt their head, look confused and ask, "where?"


I know someday, I'll have my grandchildren around me and I'll tell them stories about the lean, struggling, sleep-deprived college years. Their eyes will go wide with wonder, their little mouths will moue into surprise and they will ask the question we all hate to hear as we get older.

"They had schools way back then, grandma?"

Yep, soon SMSU will be reduced to the "good ole days." This life chapter has ended, time to turn the page and start another one.

March 02, 2005

Fight Back

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You think you've heard it all and then some crazy does something completely shocking.

Believe it or not, back in December 2004, a Kansas woman killed a Missouri pregnant woman, took her baby and tried to pass it off as her own. The mother of the child died. I can't imagine what that must have been like, knowing someone was ripping their baby out of them and not being able to do anything about it.

The killer had been spreading the word that she was pregnant and amazingly enough, the husband bought it. How can you be married to a person and think they're pregnant when they're not?!? This woman wasn't showing, obviously, but had a ready excuse about the baby being small, etc. People accepted the whole story (though her pastor admitted later he was suspicious). Geez, can people be any dumber? Needless to say, the woman was charged with kidnapping resulting in death. I hope they give her the chair.

So it was with great satisfaction that I came across this story. Before you know it, pregnant women will be carrying switchblades to defend their unborn children. What has this world come to??

Police: Pregnant woman kills attacker

FORT MITCHELL, Kentucky (AP) -- A nine-month pregnant woman fought off and killed a knife-wielding woman who may have been trying to steal the baby, police said Friday.

Police said 26-year-old Sarah Brady acted in self-defense in killing Katherine Smith on Thursday. No charges were filed.

Smith, 22, had been falsely telling neighbors for weeks that she was pregnant, and a search of her apartment after her death revealed a full baby nursery, investigators said.

"She had everything in place that you'd expect to have in place with a newborn coming," said Steve Hensley, police chief in this Cincinnati suburb.

Brady, 26, was treated for cuts at a hospital.

Police said that about a week ago, Smith called Brady, a stranger, and asked her to come over and pick up a mistakenly delivered package.

Brady picked up the package, the two spoke briefly and she left, according to police.

Thursday's attack occurred after Brady went to pick up a second package at Smith's apartment, police said.

In December, a Missouri woman was strangled and her baby was cut from her womb. The baby was later found alive, and a Kansas woman was charged with kidnapping resulting in death.

March 01, 2005

Writers Needed

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Attention Writers!

Need a fresh pair of eyes? Need someone to look over your writing and offer constructive criticism? Do you want to be published but don't know where to start? Have you been looking for a writer's group?

Well, look no further! Genice and I are the co-founders of the Scribes at Work Writers' Group. Scribes at Work is a small, friendly and free critique group devoted to the purpose of helping writers to refine and polish their writing skills through group interaction and critiquing.

Scribes at Work is also a meeting place for writers to exchange ideas or find help and inspiration. Through the sharing and analyzing of each others' work within a friendly atmosphere, many who have joined this group find their writing skills improving.

The benefits of becoming a member of Scribes at Work is:

Weekly chats (this is available to nonmembers as well)
Chat transcripts (in case you can't make a chat and want to know what happened)
A forum to submit your work and have it critiqued by fellow members.
A monthly newsletter filled with writing tips, links to places you can submit your work to, story excerpts from our members, and much more!
And it's free!

We have lots of surprises in store for our members in the coming months.

Scribes at Work is dedicated to helping, supporting and guiding writers toward publication. SCRIBES AT WORK: BUILDING WRITERS ONE WORD AT A TIME.

C'mon, what are you waiting for? Join today!