The day after Christmas, I looked at our white cat, Penny, and saw she had red streaks on her tail and one back leg. A couple of red smears decorated the kitchen window, where she often sits to watch the bird feeder. I braved growling and hissing to probe around her tail and leg. The blood looked like it was on top of the fur, not coming from the skin. Could it be a ruptured abcess? Had she eaten something she wasn’t meant to and has internal bleeding? Could it be…finger paint? Yes, the kids left the finger paint kit in the middle of the floor, and right next to the cat food dish was a pot of thick, gooey, red paint. Crisis averted. But with this cat you can never be too sure. She once ate some embroidery floss with a needle attached to it and had to go to the emergency clinic to have it surgically removed. The X-ray made a nifty show-n-tell for the letter ‘X’ in my daughter’s pre-K class last year. Speaking of whom, our daughter is now officially addicted to Webkinz. I told my husband, “Webkinz today, World of Warcraft tomorrow.” “Well,” he replied, “as long as it’s not Second Life.” That game is incomprehensible to me. I don’t have enough time for my first life. I had read an article not long ago about people having personality changes due to their avatars in online games. For example, one woman who was painfully shy became more confident and outgoing because of her online personality. What if there were avatars in a certain wildly popular game that were really creatures from another dimension who wanted to take over human bodies? Smells like a Sci Fi Channel movie of the week. I signed up for Twitter this evening (UserName = “AGreenleaf”). I’ve also been updating my website. I removed the Podcasts page (which didn’t really do anything) and added a Fun Stuff page (stuffed w/Google Gadgets, which I’ll probably change out from time to time). I added some quotes of the day (one literary, one inspirational) to my Links page.
We had three events last weekend (20th-21st). One of them was a party at the barn where my horse lives. It was good fun and we received a goody bag, filled with both equine and human treats. Sunday morning, my spouse tried to feed the horse cookies to the children for their breakfast (well, they are very healthy looking). NOTE: My spouse steadfastly denies this. He says that the horse cookies fell out of the bag onto the floor and, not knowing what they were, he told my daughter she couldn’t eat them. The usual frenzy of shopping, baking and making preceded Christmas Eve. For that, we went to my Aunt’s house, where we had a lovely meal, singing, and good conversation. And presents. The church Christmas pageant started at six. My kids were over-tired and over-sugared, and were acting like wild animals. I thought it was a bad idea, but my daughter really wanted to go. We got our candles and sat near the back. I have to say that my daughter was good as gold. My son, not so much. First, he turned around and started waving his candle at the man seated behind us. I asked him to turn around. “But I want to talk to the man!” Did I mention that he inherited a very loud voice from his father? The service hadn’t actually started, so it wasn’t too bad. The music started, and he got quiet. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a kerfuffle with the first hymn. That was all it took. He started rubbing the candle end all over everything. I asked him to stop. “NO! I need to clean!” I asked him to use his inside voice. “NO! It’s time to talk loud!” he shouted over the pastor, as nearly half the people in the congregation turned to glare at us. We gave our candles to my cousin and beat a hasty retreat. “You are acting like you were born in a barn,” my husband told him sternly. Then glancing at the nativity scene, he added, “There’s some Christmas irony for you.” We opted to go see a Christmas light spectacular not too far from our house http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/index.php?showtopic=18557 (We saw the first house in this group). We had to wake our son up when we got there, but it was worth the trip. There is also an interview with the homeowners in the Houston Chronicle http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nb/memorial/news/6167927.html. Fast forward to Christmas morning, 6:37 to be exact. “Look! Look what I’ve got!” my daughter shouts, lugging her bulging stocking. Paper flies in the air as the kids rip through their presents. No telling what came from which aunt or uncle. “Thank you for the thoughtful gift. We are enjoying it immensely.” The kids wanted to make gummy bugs from the Smithsonian kit, then do art projects. My son painted himself with fingerpaints and had to have a bath (where he deposited a splendid, um, Yule log and had to have another bath). The house is now sprinkled with glitter (it makes it very festive). I made my corn pudding for the extended family Christmas and read “Children’s Bookshelf,” from Publisher’s Weekly, while it was cooking. It’s almost time to head out to door for another feast. Merry (Whatever you celebrate)!
I read The Opal Deception and The Lost Colony last week. I think Eoin Colfer just gets better and better. The Artemis Fowl series is like Tom Clancy meets Madeleine L’Engle. I have heard a rumor that The Time Paradox has been loaded onto Santa’s sleigh. In the mean time, I may have to run out and get The Supernaturalist or The Wish List or Half Moon Investigations (or perhaps I will content myself with The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling’s latest offering). Since I have a WIP with multiple POVs, Artemis Fowl is perfect. Nearly every character, main or minor, has the POV for at least some part of the story, especially in The Lost Colony. I may have to read it again and take notes. But probably not until I finish revisions on another project. I did take advantage of Firebrand’s Query Holiday and submit the first chapter of said project today. And then who knows? Maybe I’ll even finish the magazine articles and the PB that have been hanging around, half done, for the last six months (at least). And the first draft of another YA novel. New Year’s Resolution #1: Get back to submitting at least one thing per week.
There is an old saying around here: If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes. It will change. Last Tuesday, it was 78°F. On Wednesday, it snowed. It was just above freezing, so it didn’t stick (bad for kids, good for drivers). Still, my kids went out and played in the soft wet clumps that drizzled from the sky. We did get a smidgen of accumulation after dark, but it was gone by morning. Snow is a big deal here. The last time it snowed, my three year old wasn’t even a twinkle. He and I had brought in a half-dozen or so Gulf Fritillary caterpillars that morning, and as I was bringing in plants that evening, I found four monarch ‘pillars. Our average December temperature is 64°F (according to Weather.com). We have something or other in bloom all year round in our yard. We have bees and butterflies all year round, too, although they only come out on sunny days. So where do they go on cold days? Can caterpillars survive snow? Sounds like an NF picture book idea. I put it in my file. Not sure I can live long enough to write all there projects therein. Now there’s another idea: a person has a to-do list/project/mission, but s/he is not allowed to die until it is completed. Knowing this, s/he refuses to do it, lives for centuries. I’ll add that to the file. See what I mean?
My son has started learning to go to the potty standing up. We call it a “man-tinkle,” ‘cause that’s how Daddy does it. This morning, I came in from getting some clothes out of the dryer and found him standing on a stepstool in the bathroom, rear end pointed to the toilet. “What are you doing?” I asked. “Having a man-poop!” At least his aim was good. After I picked my daughter up from school, she found Friendly, the kitten, and began to scrutinize his paws. “Mom! Did you know that fog comes from little cat feet?” Yes, they’ve been reading Carl Sandburg at school.
And now, for something completely different: When Cynthia Leitich Smith critiqued my manuscript at the conference last month, she recommended Nathan Bransford, at Curtis Brown, as an agent who might like this project. I subscribed to his blog, and it is quite good. There is a lot of how-to information, as well as industry news. He seems like someone who would be fun at a dinner party. I had thought I would send out some queries, as I am about 2/3 of the way done with the current revision. It can take weeks for a response, time enough to finish. However, Mr. Bransford said he prefers email queries and he tries to respond within 24 hours. Yikes! What would I do if he requested the mss? Anyway, it is always heartening to see messages from “Nathan Bransford Literary Agent” show up in my mailbox that I know are NOT rejections (even if I do know they are only blog posts).