What’s in your wallet–er, desk?

I’m going through a branding lesson in a writing workshop I’m doing right now, and I’m finding some interesting things this week.


One assignment asks us to look at our writing area – whether that’s a desk, corner in the dining room (my first writing area), or where ever. The instructions were to list what’s ours. Mine included a weird assortment of things, along with ordinary stuff like my computer monitor, cell phone on charger, and a box of tissues. Among them were:

  • The Road Ahead by Philip Tarnoff, a nonfiction book about America’s highway infrastructure
  • The Writer’s Guide to Psychology by Carolyn Kaufman, Psy. D
  • Headphones
  • A Pokemon action figure of Psyduck
  • A brass star paperweight – prize for a writing contest!
  • A vinyl record in its sleeve – 2112 by Rush
  • My Camaro mouse, which I don’t use, because it’s not comfortable, but so cute I had to have it!
  • Stuff on my bulletin board, which includes a “What Would Ozzy Do?” bumper sticker and a Far Side cartoon showing “The untold ending of D.B. Cooper”
  • A binder for my “How to Revise your Novel” materials when I’m working through a revision
  • Several candles and a Scentsy burner, for those evening when my husband had Taco Bell for dinner – or the dog seems to have had
  • Three, new-in-package Camaro convertible Hotwheels I got at a Camaro event where they had tons of ’em

So what does this stuff say about me and my interests?

Evita and Wolfgang (photo by PhoDOGrapher)

Obviously, my writing and my day job are my passions – my computer is my primary tool for both of these. Both are creative pursuits; while the day job is less so than the writing, it pays the bills (neatly stashed in my letter sorter beside the computer). Camaros are obviously a passion; not only do I have my Camaro mouse, but also my two framed pictures and the Hotwheels. I also like Rottweilers – evidenced by a Rottweiler pen, pictures on my bulletin board, and figurines on the hutch. My family photos around my desk remind me what’s most important!

Some passions aren’t so much anymore. I used to spend more time playing video games, particularly long, role-playing games, especially Pokemon. I still enjoy them, but I just don’t have time to play them any more. I still like my Psyduck action figure,  because it still holds true that if I were a Pokemon, I’d be Psyduck, because like me, he has chronic headaches.

What’s on your desk, or in your work area? What do you think it says about you?

And what would Ozzy do?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Favorite Things and Quirks

Last week, my IRL friend Stacy McKitrick mentioned this as one of her favorite blogs, and offered us the Kreativ Blogger Award. Yay for Making the Mundane Magical! And thanks, Stacy, for the blog luv!

To accept the award, all I have to do is list ten things about myself. I’ve already mentioned how much I luuuuuv Mountain Dew, so I’ll skip that. Oh, and Camaros, too. So here are some more favorites, plus a couple of Sheldon Cooper tendencies of mine.

  1. Favorite beer: Shock Top
  2. Favorite place for Camaro information: Camaro 5 forums
  3. Favorite pizza: Marion’s
  4. Favorite band discovered after high school: Front Line Assembly
  5. Favorite WWE wrestler: Evan Bourne
  6. Favorite color: red
  7. Favorite breakfast cereal: Frosted Mini-wheats with Fruit in the Middle
  8. I don’t do many chores every day, but I must make my bed, even if it’s right before I get into it.
  9. …and, the covers must all be pulled up evenly
  10. I can’t stand trash in my car.

I’m not going to pass the award on, since most of the people I’d pass it to have already received it. But anyone who reads this blog is deserving, so go ahead and consider yourself awarded if you like!

What are some of your favorites? Do you have any Sheldon Cooper tendencies? Do you allow trash in your car? 😀

Enhanced by Zemanta

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

No, it’s not Cheers, although for some of us, it is indeed a bar. My husband owned a bar like that for over ten years.

But in this case, I’m talking about a place, or a group of people, where we feel like we belong. Some people can find this almost anywhere. But for misfits like me, it’s unusual and special.

I can find that in my RWA chapter, now that I’ve been part of it for over ten years. And this, I think, is what makes writing groups something special, far beyond the learning craft and business that goes on there: we’re with people who understand us. Who don’t give us weird looks when we say a character started talking to us the other day. Who understand when we don’t want to stay out late partying, because it cuts into the writing.

I have another group like that too, and it took even less time than the writing groups. These are people I can talk about cars with to my heart’s content, and their eyes don’t glaze over. We understand one’s excitement when a small change made to our car makes it sound just a little different. We nod knowingly when one of us describes our Christmas wish list that’s half car swag (or more). We compare notes on the best cleaning products, waxes, and little cosmetic extras we can get for our cars to make them more “ours,” and compliments on our four-wheeled babies are always abundant.

The past Saturday was what’s become an annual event among my local Camaro friends: Mod Day. We gather at one friend’s huge pole barn that’s outfitted with heat (unfortunately needed yesterday), a lift, all kinds of power equipment, and best of all, friends to help each other with small projects or maintenance work.

Of course there is a lot of socializing – in fact that’s all some of us do. Many of us have other things in common – several of the Camaro friends work in the IT field like me, for example. But the talk always comes back to the cars sooner or later.

Another fun thing about spending the day with my Camaro friends is it gives me an excuse to put cool Camaro pictures on my blog!

A really cool surprise awaited me when I arrived at the garage this year. One of my friends had bought a paperback copy of Time’s Enemy and brought it there for me to sign! I’m not sure if he was aware, but yes, there is a Camaro in Time’s Enemy. (It’s also in Time’s Fugitive. 🙂 )

I’d love to hear from you! Did you do anything exciting this weekend? Do you have a special group of friends who just “get” you? Please share!

The Stylish Blogger Award: Favorite Things

Last month, blogging friend Debra Kristi honored me by awarding me the Stylish Blogger Award. Thank you, Debra! She actually posted this on Nov. 5th, but I had other posts booked already, and Stacy McKitrick had awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award just a few weeks earlier, so didn’t want to post something similar so soon.

The Stylish Blogger Award works in much the same way: post seven random things about yourself, then name four or five blogging friends you’d like to pass the honor on to. I’m posting seven of my Favorite things:

Favorite drink: Mountain Dew. I love this stuff. I could drink it all day, but in the interest of health (and my waistline), I limit myself to one per day. Among the many cool things we saw when I went to China a couple years ago with my daughter’s choir, was finding Mountain Dew at the Terra Cotta Warriors museum in Xian. Being made with cane sugar, it tasted like our Throwback Mountain Dew, which is the best!

I will use this photo on my blog whenever possible, because it’s that awesome

Favorite car: Camaro – especially the new ones, but I like them all. This probably started with my earliest memory: going to get my dad’s new car when I was two and a half. It was a red, ’69 Camaro with black stripes, and my brother still owns it.

Favorite children’s book: Black and Blue Magic, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I was probably twelve when I read it for the first time, and I still remember it. It’s the story of a lonely, geeky boy who lived in a boarding house in the 1930’s (I think), where a boarder gave him a special, magic ointment that would make him grow wings for the night. You can imagine the trouble this kid got into! It’s gone through several different covers since, and when I searched, none looked familiar until I found this on a book collector site. The book was first published the year I was born, and this was the original cover. It gets a lot of blame for the book’s initially low sales.

Favorite band: Rush. Actually, I’d be hard-pressed to choose between them, Front Line Assembly, KMFDM, and Emerson Lake and Palmer right now, but Rush has been a favorite longer than any of the others. Please don’t ask me to pick a favorite album or song! I got my first Rush album, Exit Stage Left, when I was in ninth grade. What’s funny is my teen daughter is into vinyl records, and has been listening to all of my old Rush albums! I now have them all on MP3s.

Favorite movie: Beavis and Butthead Do America. I really can’t explain why, but almost all of my favorite movies are comedies. Maybe it’s because I can’t write funny to save myself. So imagine how excited I am that MTV brought them back last month, and I can now watch every Thursday night at ten PM. Only now, instead of making fun of music videos, they make fun of other MTV shows, like Teen Mom and Jersey Shore. Suddenly two shows I can’t stand are funny!

Favorite place to shop: Amazon. That goes double during the holiday season, because I HATE crowds. Amazon has just about everything I want or need, and I can get free shipping on orders over $25, which isn’t hard to do.

Favorite holiday show: The Grinch who Stole Christmas. Yes, I can be one, and once I actually was one, in a play. It was a choral reading rendition, and all the actors were girls. I got to play the Grinch, because I was the only one who had a suitably dark voice. My favorite scene in the original TV special is where the Grinch is slithering beneath the Christmas tree like a snake, collecting stuff. This is also my family’s favorite.


And now for the Stylish Bloggers to whom I’m passing the award! To accept, all you need to do is save the award image to your computer, then include it on your blog (or a post) where you list seven random things about YOU, and then pass it on to four or five other fantastic bloggers!

Samantha Warren: The author of fantasy novels like Blood of the Dragon and the Vampire Assassin series shows that generosity is never out of style. Samantha’s 30th birthday is this weekend, and to celebrate, she’s giving away free books every day this week, and a Kindle as a grand prize! Be sure to stop by and check out her Blog Scavenger Hunt for details on how you can search, answer, and win!

Karen McFarland: Karen blogs about odd yet uplifting things in the news, and hosts a bunch of cool guest bloggers. Whatever the topic, it’s about people – the fascinating, the positive, and sometimes just strange, but always a fun read.

Deborah Dale: Deborah’s Making the Most of a New York Minute blog touches on a variety of topics that include a four-part series on her and her family’s brush with the supernatural during their visit to Gettysburg.

Michele Stegman‘s Thoughts from a Writers’ Block covers all things writing, with an emphasis on things readers who also aren’t writers can find of interest too.


So check out those blogs, and in the meantime, pop in and share – what are some of your favorite things? Do you have a favorite scene in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

My Town Monday: Castles in Ohio? Why, Yes!

Or, Caves, Castles and Camaros, Part Two

Camaros grace the lawn at Mac-o-cheek Castle

For the second leg of last month’s Fall Foliage Cruise, sixteen Camaros (and one Saturn Sky) stopped at Mac-o-cheek Castle in Logan County.

I had no idea this place existed.

To be sure, it’s not a “castle” like we associate with in Europe and the UK. Mac-o-cheek (and its neighbor, Mac-o-chee) are more like large estate homes, more in the vein of Casa Loma in Toronto. Neither of these is as big as Casa Loma, but they are older.

Mac-o-cheek Castle

The two castles were built by brothers Abram and Donn Piatt, in the 1860s-70s. Mac-o-cheek Castle was Abram’s, and is the smaller of the two. It was also completed first, and its ownership has stayed in the family since.

What’s really impressive about Mac-o-cheek Castle is the interior. The walls are covered in beautiful wood paneling from native trees, and trimmed by artful scrollwork. All of the furniture inside was actually used by the Piatt family.

Neither of the Piatt brothers had the intention of opening his home to the public, but people were continually stopping by and asking to see. Unwilling to be rude, the family admitted the tourists. This went on beyond the turn of the century, until weary of the intrusions, the families decided to charge admission, thinking it would discourage would-be visitors. Instead, it had the opposite effect.

Elaborate woodwork graces the interior of Mac-o-cheek Castle

Still offering tours, the Piatt family occupied Mac-o-cheek until 1989, moving first into the back rooms of the house, and later into the servants’ quarters. After that, the tours continued, along with ongoing restoration work.

Mac-o-chee Castle sits a little less than a mile away, and was built by Donn Piatt, the elder of the brothers. Mac-o-chee is the larger and more elaborate of the two homes, but is not as well-preserved. Unlike its neighbor, Mac-o-chee was sold out of the family around the turn of the century. Three owners and six decades later, Piatt descendants regained ownership of the home, but it had suffered a good deal of damage in the interim.

Sixteen Camaros parked outside Mac-o-chee Castle enhance the property's beauty

Like Mac-o-cheek, Mac-o-chee is filled with beautifully-crafted woodwork. It also boasts painted ceilings reminiscent of those found in the great castles of Europe. Sadly, the majority are not in good condition, and due to the sales, the antique furniture inside is also not original to the property.

Both properties are well worth the price of admission, which is $12 per castle, or $20 for both. Children get an additional discount, as do groups of 20 or more with reservations. So if you’re in the area and are looking for a day trip, consider the castles! As for the sixteen Camaros and their occupants, a good time was had by all.

Did you know there was anything like this in Ohio? What about where you live?

My Town Monday: Caves, Castles and Camaros

Camaros at Ohio Caverns

Camaros (and a Saturn Sky) enhance the area's natural beauty

Ever heard of “Easter eggs” in video games, computers and other consumer products? For those not familiar with the term, it refers to an undocumented feature or extra goody included with the product. My 2010 Camaro came with an Easter egg: new friends! Now several dozen strong, most of us met online on the Camaro5 forum, and later met in person at cruise-ins and other car enthusiast events. My Camaro friends come from all over Ohio, as well as from the surrounding states, and every fall, we get together to go for a cruise to enjoy  our Camaros, good company, and some fall scenery.

Bat on a Wire

We had furry, flying friends in the caves

A couple weeks ago, we took our third annual cruise, this time through west-central Ohio. Our first stop was the Ohio Caverns.

Ohio Caverns is the largest and most beautiful cave system in Ohio. Discovered in the late 19th century when a farm worker spotted a sinkhole, over two miles of passages boast thousands of calcite crystal stalagmites, stalactites, and columns. The caves are fairly close to the surface at the entrances, but go to a depth of over 100 feet. However, they don’t involve a lot of stairs or climbing – instead, the caves simply go deeper into the hilly, Champaign County countryside.

The Crystal King is one of the largest stalactites in the U.S.

The crystal formations are considered some of the most colorful and beautiful in the U.S. Iron oxide gives some of the crystals a reddish color, and others take on ranges of pale blue to green. There are two tours available: the regular tour which includes the chambers with most of the dramatic crystals, including the Crystal King, a stalactite nearly 5 feet tall that is estimated to be about 250,000 years old. The Historic Tour is open only to groups, and adds on the first part of the caves that was discovered. The passageways aren’t as finished off and level as in the rest of the cave, and some are quite narrow or low. Caving is one of the few times when it actually pays to be short! I barely had to duck at all. 😀

"Fantasy Land" room in the caverns

If you are ever in the area, I’d highly recommend Ohio Caverns – it’s a spectacle not to be missed! The Camaro friends had a good time, and were in no hurry to take off to our next destination, but we had a schedule to meet, so off we went to Mac-o-chee and Mac-o-cheek Castles – yes, there are castles in Ohio! We’ll take a look at those here next week.

If you live in the area, have you ever visited Ohio Caverns? If not, do you have anything like this in your locale? Ever bought a consumer product that included Easter eggs? Please share!

More at the My Town Monday blog

Crystal King photo via Wikipedia, Creative Commons license




I won an award! Just for fun, the Versatile Blogger Award

Okay, not a real award, like the Rita, or even the Wrters Digest 100 most useful blogs, but what the heck, it’s fun. You can play too, as long as you play by the rules (at least somewhat):

1. Thank and link to the person who nominates you.

Thanks to my writer friend, Stacy McKitrick! Stacy keeps a fun blog called Stacy’s Rantings and Whatnot, where she rants writes about TV, writing, sports, travel and whatever else strikes her fancy. Check her out!

2. Share seven random facts about you.

Hmm, this one was kinda tricky. I mean, I’m not that interesting. That’s why I make stuff up! So anyway…

  • Some stuff I like - and some I don't

    I hate, I mean loathe, green peppers and celery. I can deal with the latter if it’s cooked, as that takes out the stringy texture and mostly kills the taste, or I pick them out if they’re not tiny, but peppers tend to leech into the surrounding food upon cooking, which pretty much ruins whatever it is for me.

  • I bought a car. Turned out to be an alien robot, who knew? I ordered it a month before it even went into production. It came with new friends, who knew?
  • I can curl my tongue, and make the Vulcan “live long and prosper” gesture. It always surprises me that there are people who can’t do this, including my husband and daughter!
  • Despite my artistic background, I never was able to get into scrapbooking, quilting, knitting, crocheting, or anything like that. I do like sewing clothing, though – I wish I had more time to do it. I’ve made numerous sweatshirts, dresses, hats, slacks, bridesmaid dresses, and even a wedding dress for one of my college roommates. The dress outlasted the marriage, but she’s been happily married to husband #2 for over 10 years now.
  • I am a Dale Carnegie graduate, which came in really helpful when…
  • I met my husband at a bar. If not for DCC, I wouldn’t have kept talking when the mutual friend who introduced us be-bopped off to talk to someone else and left me at a table with him. I started dating him after I paid him $400 to fix my car. I figure I’ve gotten my money’s worth – quite a few times over, as we’ve now been married 17 years!

    My Earliest Memory

  • The earliest thing I can remember is going to get my dad’s new car – a ’69 Camaro – when I was 2-1/2. I mostly remember the weird look on my mom’s face when we went to the dealership, which I later found out was because she’d had no idea my dad bought a car! It’s still in the family, too – my brother spent two years restoring it, and it’s beautiful!

3. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it!

Well, I’m only going to list a few, as most blogs I follow are mostly about writing. Some of these aren’t so new to me, either. If you’ve already received this award (or don’t do memes like this), you can repeat it, or ignore, no problem. Everyone else – these are some fun blogs I follow that aren’t all about writing, so check them out!

The Evil Jim Winter – Edged in Blue

Athena Grayson

Michele Stegman – Thoughts from a Writer’s Block

Catie Rhodes – Full Tilt Backwoods Boogie

Julie Glover

My Town Monday – a group of writers who collect links from the comments – fun facts about places all over! Anyone can participate, so if you’re looking for blog topics, MTM is a good way to get them – and share!

Woman carrying a basket of bread and vegetables photo via Microsoft Office Clipart

Thirteen Things I Learned about Canada this Week

Car Show at Ontario Camaro Nationals

Camaros as far as the eye can see


My family and I just arrived home from Ontario yesterday. We’d gone to Oshawa, ON for the GM Camaro Homecoming & Camaro Nationals, hosted by the Ontario Camaro Club, and the Buyers & Builders Meet & Greet, organized by some of the people on the Camaro5.com forums. After the Camaro events, my family stuck around for a couple days to do some sightseeing. Here are a few things we learned:

  1. There are plenty of people who are way more crazy about Camaros than I am. I already knew this, but only now do my husband and daughter get it.
  2. The GM factory in Oshawa is amazing! Even though we’d seen it featured in an episode of Amazing Factories on the National Geographic channel, the show didn’t do the place justice. Very automated, very high-tech, yet more work still performed by people than we thought.
  3. A Buick and a Camaro on the assembly lineNew Buick Regals are made on the same production line as Camaros – right in with the Camaros (about every tenth car or so).
  4. People are really friendly in Ontario.
  5. Black, red, yellow, white, and silver are much more popular Camaro colors than green, dark blue, orange, dark metallic red, dark gray, and aqua. I also already knew this, but the car show and factory made it much more apparent. Aqua blue was discontinued early on, and green was a limited edition, but I was surprised at how few dark blue Camaros there were.
  6. Mountain Dew is hard to find in Canada. There are Pepsi machines all over the place – and none of them have Mountain Dew!
  7. Toronto's Old City HallWhen you do find it (mostly in carry-outs), it’s caffeine-free. (WTF????)
  8. Stores close really early, at least in Oshawa. Everything pretty much shut down after 5 on Saturday, except for bars and restaurants.
  9. Traffic on the highway around Toronto is horrendous, but on the surface streets, isn’t that bad.
  10. Southern Ontario is about 10 deg. F cooler than Ohio.
  11. The building on Rush’s Moving Pictures album is Toronto’s Old City Hall. I don’t know why I didn’t know this before, but I recognized it as soon as I saw it. It’s an amazingly beautiful building, with ornately carved trim and a huge clock tower, flanked by four gargoyles.
  12. Casa LomaThere are a lot of record stores in Toronto, particularly on Queen St, which is an eclectic area rife with street artists and musicians. Yes, I’m talking vinyl records, especially old collectible items and obscure indie pop (which my daughter loves).
  13. There is a castle in Toronto. Casa Loma was built by Sir Henry Pellat, a turn-of-the-century entrepreneur and commander in the Queen’s Own Rifles. It’s absolutely amazing, and pictures don’t do it justice.

Front License Plates – Beneficial, or Bogus?

A few weeks ago, I installed a front license plate on my Camaro.

I’ve been driving this car for almost two years without a front plate, and considering that Ohio requires a front plate and I drive my Camaro almost every day, I figured I was pushing my luck with each day I went without. So, I finally broke down and put it on.

Now, if you’re not into cars, you probably don’t see why this is a big deal. Or if you are into cars, but this is your “winter beater” or practical transportation, work truck, etc. it also isn’t a big deal – for those vehicles. But for people who are into cars, and care about the aesthetics, it’s a major annoyance.

Some cars- even some sports and collectible cars – look fine with front plates. My brother’s ’69 Camaro, is one, for instance, looks fine with a front plate because it was designed with a place for one.


There's a reason car manufacturers never show their vehicles with front plates

That’s not the case with the new Camaros, or really, any car with a front bumper that’s pointed, or curved more than minimally. And people who are into new Camaros HATE front plates. Most enthusiasts who live in states where they’re required, if they buy a new car, ask the dealership NOT to install the front plate bracket. These look especially crappy on the new Camaro because it totally takes away from the aggressive, pointed profile. The other big reason Camaro owners hate the front plate is that mounting it requires drilling into the front bumper fascia. So even if you move, or lightning strikes and your state ditches the front plate requirement, your car is screwed – literally. Many of us just can’t stomach the thought of drilling into our beautiful babies.

In Ohio, the ticket for no front plate is over $100, I’ve heard. I don’t know of anyone in my area (Dayton) who’s been ticketed for it. One of my Camaro forum friends has, but he lives in a small town in southern Ohio. From what I’ve read on the forum, law enforcement is more aggressive other states.

There are several reasons states with front plate laws give for requiring them. The number one reason given is safety. Sorry, but I am skeptical – if it really made a difference, wouldn’t front plates be required in all fifty states?

Another reason – and one I believe – is to help law enforcement (Duh!). One, so they can more easily bust you speeding/running a red light by camera, but also to aid in recognizing cars with a BOLO (Be On the Look Out), whether this is an Amber Alert situation, a stolen car, or being driven by someone who’s a fugitive for some other reason.

There are probably petitions for the abolishment of the front plate requirement circulating in every state that has one. They have been in Ohio for years. And finally, it’s having some affect: HB 107 has been introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives, and hopefully will come up for a vote soon. Given our current economic situation, it may even pass this time – estimates say it will save the state $165 million a year. Granted, that’s not much when you’re facing ann $8 billion budget shortfall, but every little bit helps, and this is a cut that wouldn’t take away from another program or funding need.

If you agree, I’d encourage you to email your congress(wo)man. Find his/her email address at the Ohio House of Representatives web site.

Camaro photo via www.chevrolet.com