Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Joining the Web

So it finally happened: the Shaws are online! We found an internet provider with a reasonable price for us. As of this morning, the internet is at my fingertips—and I’m not at Starbucks, but in my kitchen!

I was afraid having the internet at home would be a time suck and keep me from Westly. Quite the contrary actually. Now during his afternoon naps, I can blog, check my mail, and look up that recipe on Pinterest—all things I used to do on the weekends at Starbucks while Michael watched West. Because I can take care of business during the week, I have more weekend time with my boys.

Well, that’s the plan anyway. I’m pretty disciplined with myself about not having the TV on while Westly is up—my own personal convictions. And I plan to keep the same rule with the internet. His afternoon naps are my TV/internet/writing/me time.

Now excuse me, I need to Google an art lesson.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Secret of the Month

I think Starbucks needs to release a ‘Secret of the Month’. I feel I am constantly uncovering new secrets they offer, etc. Two of my besties (shout out to Morgan and Becky!) are always in the Starbucks know and are always educating me on Starbucks secrets. Here are a few they’ve shared that I’ll disclose to any other Starbuckians out there:

Venti is not the largest size! There is a trenta size (picture coffee Big Gulp) It is available upon request!

Some Bucks stores offer free coffee refills if you bring in your cup and receipt! (not on special drinks, just plain coffee, but ice coffee—my usual bev—counts!)

There are ways around the higher prices! You just have to be creative. For example, my besties love iced white mochas, but they’re $3-4 a pop. Instead they order an ice coffee ($2-3) and add cream and pumps of white mocha syrup, which basically tastes the same at half the price!

These are just a few of the Starbucks secrets I’ve learned. You’re welcome!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Singe Mom Blues

This weekend I’m a single mom. Michael is teaching. A few times a year he teaches a special weekend class at the local junior college. It’s great extra money (especially needed for Christmas). But I hate being a single mom on the weekends. Last year was really rough because West was only six months old and very needy. I felt very alone with a baby. But this year will be better. Since West is older, he’s become my little companion. And he takes a 3 hour nap each day, which will give me a break.

Still I look forward to the weekend to hang out with my hubby and have a little Westly break. I can’t imagine being a full-time single mom. My heart goes out to all of them in the world.

One mom in my women’s Bible study has been without her husband since July (he’s in Afghanistan). I can’t even imagine! I was convicted that instead of being mopey that my husband has to work a few weekends, I should extend my friendship to other moms who are alone. So maybe I’ll make a new friend this weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When I Was in College....

So I decided to submit something different to our Writer’s Caravan for critique. I wrote a short story for a magazine years ago that was based on one of my mission trips to Albania in my early college years (that makes me sound so old!) I meant to send it out to some magazines…..and well, just never did (a typical writer’s story). Since I’m taking a little breather from Sherlock Academy this month, I’ve decided to work on some little projects, like submit some short stories. So I gave my story and its query letter to my fellow writers to critique. And I’m hoping to then submit it to some magazines. We’ll see…

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Smell A Story

Miranda Turnkettle was an orphan. But not the usual kind of orphan. You see, her parents did not die, they simply stopped living life, which is an entirely different thing altogether. Miranda found it easier to say she was an orphan than to explain what really happened to her parents.

Remember this opening I came up with a few months ago? It popped in my head one day as West and I walked to the park. I’m thinking there’s a story somewhere in there. I’ve decided to write that story and submit it to our Writer’s Caravan. I have no idea where it will go, or what will become of it. But it’s an entirely new story, and entirely new creation, and I’m not going to be intimidated by it. I’m going to be brave and start from scratch again.

So here we go…

Friday, October 19, 2012

Starting from Scratch

This coming Monday I have to submit something to our Writer’s Caravan group for critique. Every month we take turns featuring different members, and this month is my turn. I can submit anything I like to them, and we’ll discuss their feedback at our next meeting. I have no idea what to submit! I’m finished with Book 4, and haven’t started much of Book 5. I have some other projects brewing in my head, but haven’t sat down to formulate them yet. I need to think about what I want to pursue in my writing and what I’d like feedback on. I’ve been so wrapped up in Sherlock Academy for so many years. It’s strange and a little scary to think of writing something new. And not just writing something new, but creating something new completely from scratch. Even when I start to write a new Academy book, I’m not completely creating everything from scratch. I have a whole world with settings and character and backstory to work with.


It’s definitely time for me to grow and stretch as a writer, which means starting over completely from scratch.

I feel the same way when I think of having another baby someday. I finally got a handle on Westly. I know him pretty well, we have a routine, I’ve worked out some kinks in parenting. Having a new baby means starting all over again. And that’s a scary thought as well.


I’ll take one new thing at a time, starting with my writing. A new baby will have to come later.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Who's Writing This?

Sometimes I feel like my own characters, who will be walking through life when all of a sudden I drop them into a situation and dump everything on them all at once. Most of the time I have no pity for them, and actually find a twisted sort of pleasure in watching them tread water to keep their heads above the surface of all the chaos. I add pressure on my poor Rollie to solve the case.  I know he’s the type of character who struggles with the insecurities of letting his loved ones down, of not being good enough, of failing. So what do I do? I up the stakes and add the pressure of his insecurities.

Sometimes I can relate to my characters. There are days when I struggle with my own insecurities of being a mom and wife and friend. I feel like someone ups the stakes. While I know the ending of Rollie’s story—I know he’ll make it through his insecurities and solve the case, for the most part—I don’t know the ending to my story. I don’t know if Westly will learn to be verbal on time. I don’t know if I’ll triumph over my temper. But then not knowing makes the story more suspenseful and interesting, I suppose.

I can count on one thing though: the Author of my story is really, really, really good at what He does.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Scratch, Scratch

I’m getting the itch again. That itch to write. That tingle of excitement to create a new story. That yearning to get lost in my little world of Sherlock Academy and hang out with my characters. I’m getting thrilled by the idea of plotting. I’m ready for a new challenge.

The past six months I’ve been editing and revising Book 4, which is part of the writing process, but it doesn’t always entail writing necessarily. So now with Book 4 wrapped, I’m getting excited to go back to pure writing and creating and start on Book 5. I can always tell I’m antsy to write when ideas keep me awake at night!

I hate losing sleep generally, especially when it’s because my little boy keeps me awake at night. But every so often, I don’t mind wandering into fantasy and being kept awake by conversations between my characters, or scenes of story. I can hear their voices bantering, and see scenes play out in my head. No, I’m not crazy, I’m a writer.

It’s delicious!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Get That Booty Movin'!

I Zumba. It’s true. I’ve joined the fitness fad. For clarification, Zumba is both a noun and a verb. Noun: a latin-inspired dance style tailored with aerobics and hip-hop for a fun fitness routine. Verb: the act of participating in the dance called Zumba.

I love it. It’s a great workout. By the end of an hour, I’m sweating, out of breath, and have burned around 800 calories. And I don’t even notice because I’m having so much fun! It’s been a great outlet for me to shed some leftover pesky baby-pounds, and for me to get out of the house by myself. It’s also a taxing physical and mental workout.

Working out has always brought a little balance to my life. I’ve never been a huge physical-fitness fiend, but I’ve always been a member of a gym where I would take at least two fitness classes a week to stay in shape and healthy. However, after becoming a mom, I had no motivation to workout. Of all the things I have to do as a mom, the last thing I wanted to do was work out during the little free time I got.
Until I discovered Zumba. Like I said, it doesn’t feel like working out. It’s a fun dance party! So this past summer I joined a gym and try to go Zumba a few times a week. And I feel I’m a better wife and mom because of it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Maxwell Smart, Here, Agent 86

“Missed it by that much!”

“Would  you believe…”

“Just what are you getting at, Chief?”

These are some of the reoccurring lines from a great TV show from the 60s: Get Smart. I know a few years ago they made a movie based off of the show starring Steve Carrel and Anne Hathaway—it was pretty funny. But nothing tops the original TV show. I grew up watching reruns of it that my mom taped off TV. A few years ago they released Get Smart on DVD. Right now I have seasons 1-3.

During Westly’s naps I put Get Smart on in the background while I clean, or edit my writing, or work on a monthly craft project. It’s been great fun. Some people don’t care for the show, like  my husband. He really doesn’t get it. If you’d like to know whether you’d like it or not, you should know the show is written and directed by Mel Brooks.

So you can expect the shows to be quirky, ridiculous, witty, and brilliant…in a Mel Brooks way. It’s pure comedic genius. And there are some great spy ideas that I’ve often considered stealing for my mystery series.

The show is a great nostalgic escape. The characters wear classy 60s fashions. The sets are colored and lighted in a great style. Control always triumphs over Chaos. Agent 86 (Smart) and his girl partner Agent 99 have great chemistry. And there’s something comforting about hearing the routine lines spoken, the same props used, and Maxwell Smart always saving the day.

Shoes phones, the Cone of Silence, Max’s booby-trap-rigged apartment, Hymie the robot…

… I love getting lost in the world of Get Smart!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Let's Get Connected

Michael and I have been talking about making a big change in our life. A change that will make life a little more convenient, but will also be a constant challenge to our self-control. A change that will be an added expense, but will hopefully pay off. A change that may keep us up late at night.


We’re thinking about finally getting the internet at our house.

That’s right, we have no internet service at home. We defy the American norm. We haven’t been sure we could afford it. It was one of those luxuries we decided to do without to keep to our tight budget. But now we think we can swing it.

And it’s becoming increasingly more inconvenient to not have it. Right now I go once a week to Starbucks (during one of Westly’s naps on the weekend while Michael stays home) to blog, check email, browse Pinterest, etc. I look forward to it partly to have some time alone out, partly to have my Starbucks treat, and partly to catch up online. While these little dates with myself are nice, I’m finding going online once a week isn’t cutting it.

I’m missing deadlines on coupons sent to my email, missing facebook invites from my friends, forgetting to check different things, and responding way late to editors and publishers. I am also toying with the idea of doing some Etsy business to bring in some extra income. But I would definitely need to be online at least once a day for that.

And let’s face it: it would be nice to have the option to veg online after West goes to sleep.

In danger of being way cheesy, I have to quote Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Same with the internet. We’ll have to exercise some self-control to be sure we’re not ignoring West, ignoring each other, etc. But then I figure we’ll replace one time-suck for another: instead of watching 3 episodes of Gilmore Girls at night, we’ll surf the web.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Spooky Traditions

It’s that bewitching time of year again! October makes me want to watch Harry Potter, read old fairy tales, and write something whimsical…maybe involving friendly ghosts, or bubbling potions, or a magic pumpkin.

This week we added our Halloween decorations to our autumn ones bedecking the Manor. We also brought out our Halloween-themed-inspired movie collection:

The Addams Family 1 and 2

Hocus Pocus

The Worst Witch


The Witches

Ever After

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

We’re all about traditions and themes in the Shaw family. What are some of yours?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Tale of the Lost Fox

I don’t usually post pictures on this blog, but I have to share this incredible story that happened to me. And a picture is a must. Here you see a picture of my fox coin purse that my mom bought for me the last time she came visiting. It’s become one of my favorite little things. I keep hair accessories in it—bobby pins, hair clips—for my purse.

Last week, it disappeared. I thought maybe I had left it at my friend Becky’s house, but she couldn’t find it. I was so bummed. I checked two Targets (ours and my mom’s down south), but they didn’t have any more. I figured my little West was to blame. The other evening we went to Target and I met up with Becky who was shopping. She rummaged through her cart and whipped out a fox coin purse. It was on clearance and she said she would buy it for me because I had been so sad about losing mine. She said it was the last one. I thought, what luck! I was so excited as she gave it to the cashier to ring up.

  “I’m sorry, we can’t sell you this,” the cashier said, “It’s been recalled. See the tag?”

Becky and I were dumbfounded. Why on earth was it recalled? The cashier wasn’t sure—she guessed maybe there was some issue with the fabric or something. Bottom line, she couldn’t legally sell it because it had a recall tag on it. I was so upset. I explained how sad I had been to lose mine, how lucky it was to find one coin purse left, how I had checked other Targets, and how this was so stupid they wouldn’t sell it to me.

Partly joking I said, “Maybe I’ll just steal this one!” I picked up the coin purse to take one last longing look at it.

And my detective observation skills kicked in. I noticed that this fox coin purse had a similar, if not exact same, scratch on the back and a nick on the front as the one I had lost. I opened it, and was shocked to find…

…bobby pins inside! And all the pieces of this mystery fell into place. THIS was MY fox coin purse I had lost!

 I had been to Target earlier on the day it disappeared. I deduced that Westly must have tossed it over the side of the cart without me knowing. Then some Target employee must have found it, tagged it, and tried to re-sell it with a clearance price. But perhaps because of the scratches or strange way in which it was found, Target decided to just put a recall tag on it and not deal with it anymore.

I started jumping up and down and exclaiming, “This is my fox coin purse I lost! Look, these are my bobby pins. Can I have it back?”

The cashier went to ask her manager. And I’m guessing she and the manager both agreed it would be less hassle to just let the crazy, squealing woman have her coin purse back. So now I have Foxy back in my purse, holding my hair accessories. And I’ve got one of those crazy ‘I’m sure! kinda stories to tell.

 I mean, what are the odds that not only is my lost coin purse found, but it’s found by my friend, the same friend who knew I had lost it. And what are the odds I was there when Becky tried to buy it, and I discovered it was mine all along?

Sounds like a ridiculous work of fiction.

Hey, some things you can’t make up.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Baker Street Underground

I have to do a pitch for Sherlock Academy Book 4: The Baker Street Underground

It is scheduled to be released Saturday, November 17!

If you are a Central Coaster, then come to Toy Zoo in Santa Maria on Sat. Nov. 17 from 10-12pm to pick up your own signed copy of The Baker Street Underground. All ages welcome to come and participate in activities, games, and raffles. First 50 kids get a free give-away!

For more info go to and be sure to follow the link to the blog!