Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Christmas Wishes

I hope everyone is gearing up for a wonderful holiday celebration, whatever holiday you may be celebrating.

I have a few simple wishes for Christmas this year.  I'm confident my kids will have a wonderful day tomorrow, as will my wife, and other than a whopper of a head cold that's sinking into my chest, I have nothing to complain about.  I am quite aware of how fortunate we are to have our home and health.  I am also aware that there are many who do not share in that fortune.

That being said, here are my Christmas wishes:

1.  I hope my step-mother Diane is feeling well enough to enjoy the day tomorrow.  She is almost done kicking cancer's ass.  The tumor is gone, says the doctor, but the fight is clearly taking its toll.  She has three more doses of radiation, and will be done with her treatment on 12/29.  I want her to start the New Year cancer-free and recovering from the chemo and radiation treatments she's been enduring for the past two months.

2.  At a library event on December 15th, a young girl attended the reading.  In talking to her, I found out her family is homeless.  I hope they have someplace warm and comfortable to stay, and that she is somehow touched with a bit of Christmas spirit and magic that will make this holiday memorable in a good way, despite her unfortunate circumstances.

3.  I hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe holiday ;-)

Merry Christmas, and have a Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Code Red- Household Alert

The Problem
A misplaced Nerf dart.  Not so bad, eh?

The Location
A light.  More specifically, the cup-shaped cover under one of many bulbs on a high hanging light.

The Challenge
The light is out of reach by hand, about four feet from the railing in the loft. The standing ladder is not tall enough to reach it from the floor.  There is an extendable feather duster, but it does not have a grab-nabber attachment.

The First Attempt
Try to dust it out.  Try not to swing light too much but dammit the dart is really lodged in there.

The Danger
Son keeps wanting to observe from right under the light, presumably to catch the dart if it drops.  The light is swinging farther now and in theory it should be quite secure but parental paranoia kicks in and you can see the whole damn light come crashing down…

The Solution
Clear son from under light by telling him to get a roll of masking tape, in laundry room.  Remove tip from feather duster and extend it to its full length.  When son arrives with tape, tear off foot-long strip of tape, wrap once around the tip of the feather duster, and crumple the remaining length into a semi-loose ball.  Drop tape ball into cup-light and go fishing. 

The Result
Tape made contact and loosened dart, then on the next attempt it made sustained contact.  Success!  Dart cleared from light.

Lesson Learned
Not a damn thing.  It happened before and it’ll happen again.  Maybe not this exact Nerf dart and this exact light, but a similar situation will present itself, I’m sure.


Monday, December 12, 2011

A Very Special Interview

Thanks to Sheri Larsen for the great interview with Jason Hodgin, whose father found "The Man in the Cinder Clouds" in the ice at the North Pole.

Check out Sheri's blog to find out what questions she had for Jason, and what his reaction was when he found out they had a book showing the true history of Kris Kringle and how he came to be known as Santa Claus.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You want WHAT for Christmas?!

'Tis the season for Christmas lists.  I have two boys, ages 10 and 7, and both of their lists have subtle surprises.

My older son is a Lego aficionado.  No, that doesn't mean he completes Lego sets with a snifter of brandy and a fine Cuban cigar.  He can't get Cuban cigars because they are illegal and he's a Good Boy.

His Lego enthusiasm makes him long for the biggest, most complex Lego sets available.  At least he's still focused on the sets, and he's not planning to spend years designing his own gigantic replica of famous landmarks, like OSU stadium, i.e. "The Shoe". 

His first request was the Taj Mahal.  This little beauty used to cost a mere $300.  Then David Beckham said he works on a Lego Taj Mahal to relax, and the price skyrocketed to nearly $1,000.  Thanks supply and demand! Sorry Max...

But it's OK, because my son also wants the London Tower Bridge set.  This is much more affordable at $214.99 on  (NOTE: The Tower Bridge is not to be confused with London Bridge, as I learned earlier this year on a trip to England.)

He also wants a remote control helicopter (he actually wants a real helicopter, but I talked him down), a ripstick (a mutant skateboard designed by the insurance industry as a way to expedite the denial of accident and injury claims), and cold hard cash.

My younger son is a different matter.  The first item on his list:

A robot snake.

"Where did you see one of those?" My wife asked him, hoping to get a head start on her shopping.

"Nowhere," he said.  "I just thought it sounded cool."

As if keeping up with with commercials, ads, and grade-school fads isn't enough, now we have to satisfy the unbridled imagination of a seven-year-old boy. 

Fortunately, my wife, being the ultra-pro shopper that she is, found a robot snake.  We're still working our way through the rest of the list...


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Now Appearing Across the Interwebz...Part Two

This is a big month for me.  I'm doing all I can to promote my new Christmas book, The Man in the Cinder Clouds (which is a great Christmas gift idea, hint hint).  Yesterday I met with a school librarian to prep for an author visit this Thursday, and later in the afternoon I visited a 4th grade class to read to the students and take them through a writing workshop on the elements of story telling.

Bane of Anubis (aka Real Name Withheld) posted a fun interview with yours truly yesterday on his blog, Bane's Blogging Blues.

Today, Michelle Davidson Argyle is hosting a guest post on the origins of Christmas stockings (as revealed through The Man in the Cinder Clouds) on her blog, The Innocent Flower.

Also hosting a posting today is Bryan Russel of The Alchemy of Writing, with my guest post on the challenges of writing a story no one in particular was asking for, and why I'm glad I followed my heart and told the story anyway. 

Thursday I'm scheduled to appear on another blog, details will be provided Thursday morning...and Thursday afternoon I will be visting two more 4th grade classes and then the aforementioned library author visit in the evening.  Still more clasroom visits on Friday and next week, and another library visit on Thursday the 15th. 

And I'm loving every minute of it!!!

And for the other bloggers who have agreed to host a post but haven't received said post, I'm working on them, I promise!

If anyone else is interested in hosting a guest post or interview, let me know and we can coordinate a date / time.

For those that have been supporting my promotional efforts, thank you!  Every voice counts...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Now Appearing Across the Interwebz...

Sue Quinn was kind enough to host me on her blog again today, click here to find out why a took a dare with my new Christmas book.

Sue has been a great help to The Man in the Cinder Clouds.  From excellent editorial feedback to thoughts on cover design to help promoting my origins-of-Santa story, she's been there. 

Sue is also a great author in her own right.  I recently read her book, Open Minds, which is a Young Adult paranormal thriller (it's kind of sci fi, kind of paranormal; I'm not sure where mind reading and mind jacking fits genre-wise...but it's cool!).  Sue does a great job building a world where reading minds is the norm and controlling minds is a dangerous ability for a young girl to have...Definitely a recommended read!