Saturday, October 31, 2009

Winning With The World-Wide Web

My day started out as usual this past Tuesday. I dragged myself from bed, showered, dressed and made it to work at one minute before 8:00.

When I finally "really" woke up and came to my senses, I realized the DJ on the office radio was offering to give away two tickets to an upcoming Buddy Holly Story performance and dinner if a listener could answer a question correctly.
The early show DJ at WGEZ, Robert Anthony (the star of my last blog post) asked, "Who played bass for Buddy Holly?" As usual, in regard to most music trivia, I had no clue but I wanted desperately to win the tickets. I turned to my know-it-all friend, the internet. I frantically entered "Buddy Holly's bass player" in the search engine and when the list of websites came up, I scanned the page until I saw the answer, Waylon Jennings.

Armed with the all-important answer, I dialed 368-1490, hoping and praying no one would squeeze in a call and correct answer ahead of me. When I responded to the contest question with the name, Waylon Jennings, Robert declared me the winner.

Thus, on November 6th, Lon and I will enjoy dinner and The Buddy Holly Story (tickets are selling for $52) thanks to DJ Robert Anthony's morning show ticket giveaway and my reliable friend, the world-wide web. As always, it's not what you know, but who you know.
Dinner and The Buddy Holly Show are described in detail on (Click on the large colorful Buddy-The Buddy Holly Story-sign). The amazing dinner menu has my mouth watering already.
There seems to be no end to my luck. The dinner and performance will be held at the Beloit Ironworks Building, giving Lon and I a chance to experience a site we've not yet visited.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Come Blow Your Horn"

******Friday evening, October 23rd, Lon and I attended a play at the Janesville Performing Arts Theater performed by members of the Janesville Little Theater. The play was Neil Simon's Come Blow Your Horn.

The lead actor who played the part of Alan Baker was Robert Anthony. Robert is a patient at the dental office where I work. We learned he had a part in this particular play when he came in to the office a couple of weeks ago. Robert chatted with Dr. Onderak and me regarding the plays he has acted in over the years.

Here at the dental office, we listen to Robert, a DJ, on the "True Oldies Channel" radio station ,WGEZ 1490, here in Beloit. He works "The True Morning Show" which runs from 5:30am to 9:00am weekdays. Besides playing all those oldies that I never tire of hearing, Robert reminds us every day of what happened on that date in history.
Until this visit to our office, I was unaware of Robert's acting passion and talents. I was surprised and excited when Robert offered us an opportunity to witness his acting talent by giving us complimentary tickets to the upcoming production of Come Blow Your Horn.

After a delicious dinner at Texas Roadhouse in Janesville on October 23rd, we drove to the performing arts center on Main Street. We found our seats in the spacious theater and settled in for the evening's entertainment.

Come Blow Your Horn takes place in the early sixties in Alan Baker's (played by Robert) apartment in New York City. Alan and his younger brother, Buddy, have both left their family's waxed-fruit business in order to live the good life. Alan has been living the life of a typical ladies' man for quite some time while Buddy just left his parent's home, "the convent," to join Alan as the play begins.

The results of the events that transpire throughout the play are that Alan grows out of his carefree lifestyle while, much to his dismay, Buddy evolves into a spitting image of Alan's former self.

Robert Anthony, as Alan Baker, was the the first actor to appear on the stage. I immediately recognized the fact that, indeed, he had been acting for quite some time. Robert played his part brilliantly and flawlessly.

Lon and I and the entire audience were much more than pleased with the manner in which we'd been entertained. We had a near overdose of that best of all medicines, that is, laughter. Our dinner and the play made for a perfect Friday evening.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Racing at 220MPH Across Utah's Salt Flats

Can you imagine racing a car on the salt flats out west? Can you imagine going so fast that you need a parachute to stop? Can you imagine building a small block engine capable of reaching speeds of over 200 miles per hour? I can't imagine it, but my brother has done it! He didn't do it for fame though, he did it because he loves cars and a challenge.

My oldest brother, Tom, left home after he graduated from high school to attend GMI, General Motors Institute, in Flint, Michigan. The co-op program he enrolled in required applicants to find a GM division to be their sponsor. Work and school were mixed in six-week rotations with a thesis requirement in the fifth year.

Tom graduated from GMI in 1967, the same year I graduated from high school. He was employed by GM until he retired.

Cars were Tom's hobby as well. I've presented articles from Street Rodder and Hot Rod magazines that featured two of his cars.

(I'm sorry that some of the photos of the magazine pages are turned sideways. I'm not as clever as I'd like to be when it comes to posting my photos. Also, you can click on the photos to enlarge them).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Getting A Feel For NaNoWriMo

***************I practiced writing 1667 words at one sitting last night. That's the daily requirement I'll need to write in order to reach a total of 50,000 words during National Novel Writing Month. I sat down at my computer with no idea of what I was going to write. My mind went to Halloween, possibly because a fellow blogger has been writing about her love for creating horror stories. I just went with the thoughts that came to me and wrote without a break from 8:30 until 9:38.

(I don't expect you to read what I posted below, but by scrolling down you'll get an idea of how much writing all of the NaNoWriMo participants will need to do per day. Of course, it really doesn't matter how much is written per day as long as the word count reaches 50,000 by midnight, November 31st).

Thus, without further ado, here are the first and probably final pages of my practice story.


Crimson Baker left her home by the back door at 5:30 Halloween evening. She struggled with the costume she carried in a large zebra print satchel. Crimson had told her mother she was going to her friend Sasha’s house to a Halloween party. But Crimson had other plans.

Since earlier in the week, Crimson had been awakened every night by a voice whispering in her ear. Every night she became more and more drawn to the words she was told by this unknown visitor. The first night, the voice told her that she must do everything she was instructed to do or she would be punished. Crimson didn’t feel intimidated by her companion. The voice was calm and matter-of-fact.

The second night the voice told her to go to a costume store and pick out a witches costume, a complete witches outfit with a wig, hat, cape, mask, skirt, shoes and long fingernails. That was easy enough and by the next night when Crimson crawled under her covers, she has everything in a satchel at the foot of her bed.

Her next night’s sleep was interrupted at exactly midnight. Crimson sat up and waited to hear the whispers she’d become accustomed to. The room was deathly quiet and Crimson put her head back down on her pillow.

“Get up and come to the window,” said a low voice from across the room. Crimson hesitated for a second but felt herself getting up and moving in the direction of the window facing the backyard. She hadn’t moved of her own choice; she was drawn to the window instead. The voice she heard this time was the same voice she’d responded to previously yet there was an urgency she hadn’t detected before.

“You’ll be taking quite a journey when Halloween arrives. Look out into the dark. Are you ready to go into the darkest night of your life? Are you ready to become part of the one night a year when terror reigns supreme? Will you continue to follow my instructions to the letter?”

Crimson nodded her head in response to each question. She was frightened by what she was being told but she felt that she had no choice but to acquiesce. Crimson began to realize that she was losing control. Whatever she did on Halloween night would be determined by the entity behind the whispers she’d been hearing these past nights.

Crimson was weary the next morning, the day before Halloween. She felt as though she was coming down with a cold and wondered if she’d gotten chilled during the night while she stood by the window. If she was going out on Halloween night, she couldn’t be sick and miss school. That’s what motivated her to get dressed and go down with her coat and schoolbooks to the kitchen.

“You look kind of pale, Crimson. Are you feeling alright?” her mother asked.

“Oh, sure. I’m good to go,” replied Crimson. “I think I’ll skip breakfast though. I’m not very hungry.”

“That’s not a good sign,” her mother said. “Take a granola bar with you and I’ll pour you a glass of juice. You’ve got a long day ahead of you with volleyball practice after school. You’ll need all the energy you can get and skipping meals isn’t an option. Here, drink this and put this granola bar in your purse.”

Crimson drank the juice and grabbed the granola bar. “Thanks, Mom,” she said as she slipped on her coat. “Pick me up at 5:30?” she called over her shoulder as she went out the front door to catch the bus.

“Yes, I’ll be there,” her mother answered.

Crimson went to the end of her driveway and set her books down. She knew her mother was right about eating so she unwrapped her on-the-go breakfast and nibbled on it while she waited for the bus. She was relieved that her parents hadn’t heard anything that was going on in her room the last few nights. Whoever was speaking to her at least had the sense to be quiet.

The bus came rumbling down the street and Crimson picked up her books and stood ready to board. When the bus door cranked open, Crimson scrambled up the steps, ignoring the bus driver. The guy gave her the creeps. The look on his face when she had glanced at him other mornings was enough to make her give up riding the bus if not for Sasha’s company on the ride to school.

Crimson found Sasha in the seat they always occupied, the second to the last seat on the left side of the bus as you faced the front. Sasha giggled when Crimson sat down and asked her if the driver had winked at her again.

“I didn’t give him a chance to, for Pete’s sake,” Crimson grumbled.

“You’re breaking his heart, you mean thing, you,” Sasha joked.

Crimson didn’t feel like discussing that weirdo bus driver so she let the subject drop. She and Sasha had been best friends forever, at least, since first grade. Now that they were freshmen, their friendship was closer than ever.

Crimson hadn’t mentioned to Sasha that her nights had been quite unusual lately. For some reason, she felt that this was something she shouldn’t share with anyone, even Sasha. This would be the first time she had no one to turn to with her questions and concerns. It was lonely, a feeling Crimson wasn’t familiar with. She sat stiffly in her seat.

“Did you study for the Algebra test,” Sasha asked. “I was up until 10:30 practicing the equations.”

“Not much. The equations are pretty easy, I think,” said Crimson.

“You’re so lucky, Crimson. You really like Algebra, don’t you,” said Sasha.

“You’re right, I do,” Crimson answered.

The bus swung into the driveway that ran past the front door of Madison High School and squealed to a stop. Crimson and Sasha followed the rest of the group as they swarmed down the center aisle of the bus and poured out in front of the main doors. Crimson felt the bus driver’s eyes on her as she passed but she purposely looked in the opposite direction as she followed Sasha down the steps.

Sasha and Crimson walked side by side down the hallway to their lockers. After shoving their coats and the books they didn’t need for their first class into their lockers, they walked to the bathroom. All of the girls liked to check their hair and makeup in between classes. It was hard to get a peek at themselves with so many girls fighting for the mirrors but they saw enough to assure they were a bit more than presentable and went back out into the hall.

“I’m glad Algebra is first so I can get this test off my mind,” Sasha said.

“Well, good luck with it. I’d say you deserve a good grade after all the studying you did,” Crimson said as they walked into Mr. McDonald’s classroom.

Their Algebra teacher stood at the door watching the activities in the hall and nodded when his students entered. Mr. McDonald was strict and most of the students in the school detested him. He had more rules than most students could keep track of but Crimson had no trouble following his strict agenda to the letter and in fact enjoyed doing things his way.

Crimson finished her test before anyone else and sat back in her seat. Her mind wandered back to the night and the voice at her window. Part of her denied that any of the past few nights’ happenings had actually occurred. Part of her wanted to believe she had dreamed it all. A stronger part of her believed that she would follow the instructions that had been whispered to her beyond buying the witch costume. She felt a trickle of perspiration run down the middle of her back and felt it soak into the waistband of her jeans. It startled her since she wasn’t overly warm. She shivered unexpectedly and then looked back down at her exam.

The rest of Algebra class passed in a blur for Crimson and she felt like she had awakened from a nap when the class was over and she realized everyone was gathering their books to leave. She caught up with Sasha at the door and asked her how she felt about the test.

“I think I did pretty good. The last equation was the hardest and I’m not so sure about it but I’m just glad to be done and to know I didn’t flunk it,” Sasha said.

“Good girl. I’m proud of you,” Crimson said as she nudged her shoulder into Sasha’s. “You underestimate yourself when everyone knows you’ve the mind of a genius. Just relax and let your inner strengths do their work.”

“Right, right…genius,” Sasha said. They walked side by side to their lockers.

The day passed without anything unusual or unexpected happening. Sasha took the bus home since she wasn’t on the volleyball team. She’d tried out for the team but with her asthma it was hard for her to keep up with the practice drills and she decided to drop out. Crimson was upset to be doing something without her friend but she loved volleyball so much she continued on and made the team.

After volleyball practice and a shower, Crimson ran out to where her mother was waiting in the car. She slid in the front seat with her coat and books, turned and stashed them in the back seat .

“You look nice and rosy in the cheeks now, Crimson, much better than this morning. Did you eat your granola bar and your lunch?” her mother asked.

“Yup. I was hungry at lunch time so I ate like a horse. I even finished Sasha’s sandwich,” Crimson answered.

“I hope you’re hungry again because I made a big pot of chili and a pan of cornbread. I’ll smear some peanut butter on some celery sticks and that’ll be dinner,” her mother said.

“That’s sounds real good to me,” Crimson said as they pulled in the driveway and on into the garage. “I’ll run upstairs with my books and then I’ll come back down to help set the table.”

(I have no idea where this story would go if I continued on with it...but it was fun to write a story beginning).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

K.M. Weiland's Second Novel

I've turned the final page of K.M. Weiland's novel, Behold The Dawn. I began the book uncertain of being taken back in time to the year, 1192, to share the life of a man burdened with past sins and secrets, famed for his tourney skills on the battlefield, trusted with transporting an English noblewoman to safety and all the struggles along the way. I no sooner began reading, when I found myself hooked.

I first came to know Katie after I created my blog earlier this year and we chatted back and forth by commenting on each other's blog posts. When I realized she was a very serious author who had her first book recently published, of course, I ordered a copy from

As with Weiland's first novel, A Man Called Outlaw, I found myself transfixed in her second book by a genre I hadn't explored previously. Thanks to Katie, my reading horizons are being expanded. Weiland is a polished writer who packs more action into each chapter than is often contained in entire books.

Weiland enjoys tackling subjects which are interesting to her and initially unfamiliar. Doing extensive research in order to become knowledgeable about the time period, setting, history and countless other factors about which she is writing, inspires and challenges Katie.

I appreciated the map of the Holy Land in 1192 and the glossary that Katie included in her book and I referred to them frequently. By using the terminology of that time, place and culture in history, Weiland drew me into the world as it existed during the time of the Third Crusade.

Again, I'm impressed in how seriously Katie takes writing. She has her own blog,, and the blog, which she contributes to with two other writers. Both of these blogs offer invaluable information for aspiring writers.
I've found that it's extremely engaging to read a book written by someone I know personally.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Halloween At Our House

Since we're too old to go trick or treating, we enjoy Halloween by resurrecting our pumpkins, spiders, and witches from storage in the basement. We place them where we spend most of our time, that is, in the kitchen and family room.

When we unpacked this colorful pumpkin-head, he used his sport shoes to run and jump up on this mini bale of hay. He's perfectly content to watch our activities from his perch atop the scratchy hay.

I warned this guy, "One too many caws out of you and I'll fold you up and stash you away." I don't know what he does while we're gone but I haven't heard so much as a peep out of him.

I adore my witch trio. Their colors, expressions and antics make me smile. Their skinny arms are bendable. (Don't tell anyone that I got them at the Dollar Tree).

In the evening, we light a candle behind this decorative pumpkin and enjoy the glow that shines through the moon and star shaped openings. Help yourself to some corn candy.

I hesitate before I reach for the remote these days. In fact, I haven't watched TV since we let him loose. He's definitely a control freak!

This funny fellow bounces up and down gleefully when I bump him as I walk by.
Do you decorate, dress-up and go out, eat lots of candy or do something unspeakable, like smashing pumpkins, to celebrate Halloween?

Monday, October 19, 2009

How Big Is 50,000 Words?

**************National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenges writers to spill out 50,000 words in 30 days. In case you're wondering what 50,000 words looks like, here's a list of novels that are approximately that length. (I took this list from Chris Baty's book, No Plot? No Problem!)

The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain

Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
The critter in the photo is my most recent laptop companion. I've nicknamed him Chris, after Chris Baty, the guy behind NaNoWriMo. If things get tough during November, novel writing month, I'll pick at his fur instead of tearing my own hair out.
Now go to and sign up.
See previous posts for more National Novel Writing Month information.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Novelist Agreement

****************************************************************************************************************************************I took this from Chris Baty's book, No Plot? No Problem!

(Please see my two previous posts for more details about National Novel Writing Month/NaNoWriMo and this book).

I hereby pledge my intent to write a 50,000-word novel in one month's time. By invoking an absurd, month-long deadline on such an enormous undertaking, I understand that notions of "craft," "brilliance," and "competency" are to be chucked right out the window, where they will remain, ignored, until they are retrieved for the editing process. I understand that I am a talented person, capable of heroic acts of creativity, and I will give myself enough time over the course of the next month to allow my innate gifts to come to the surface, unmolested by self-doubt, self-criticism, and other acts of self-bullying.
During the month ahead, I realize I will produce clunky dialogue, cliched characters, and deeply flawed plots. I agree that all of these things will be left in my rough draft, to be corrected and/or excised at a later point. I understand my right to withhold my manuscript from all readers until I deem it completed. I also acknowledge my right as author to substantially inflate both the quality of the rough draft and the rigors of the writing process should such inflation prove useful in garnering me respect and attention, or freedom from participation in onerous household chores.
I acknowledge that the month-long, 50,000-word deadline I set for myself is absolute and unchangeable, and that any failure to meet the deadline, or any effort on my part to move the deadline once the adventure has begun, will invite well-deserved mockery from friends and family. I also acknowledge that, upon successful completion of the stated noveling objective, I am entitled to a period of gleeful celebration and revelry, the duration and intensity of which may preclude me from participating fully in workplace activities for days, if not weeks, afterward.
Signed_____________________________ Date__________________________
(Please see my 2 previous posts for more details regarding NaNoWriMo and Chris' book) .
As you can see, I haven't signed on the line yet.
Regarding the pumpkin in the photo above: I mentioned that I'd like to have a pumpkin to carve because I love the smell of a candle burning inside the hollowed out cavity. I was thinking of a little pumpkin. Lon bought this one when he was out and about. I guess I should have been more specific!

No Plot? No Problem!

****************A few months ago, when I began to consider participating in NaNoWriMo, I bought a used copy of Chris Baty's book: No Plot? No Problem! Chris is the founder of National Novel Writing Month. I was naturally initially hesitant and didn't want to commit to the challenge, thus a used rather than new guide book.
Chris came up with the idea of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days back in 1999. He and 21 of his friends and acquaintances from the San Francisco Bay area were the first to give the challenge a try. In his guide book, Chris writes, "The old millennium was dying; a better one was on its way. We were in our mid-twenties, and we had no idea what we were doing. But we knew we loved books. And so we set out to write them."
Chris also writes, "Writing for quantity rather than quality, I discovered, had the strange effect of bringing about both. It didn't necessarily make a whole lot of sense to me, especially as a writer who had spent days laboring over seventy-five word record reviews for the local paper. But the proof was incontrovertible, and everyone who finished NaNoWriMo that first year agreed: We were only able to write so well--and have such a merry time doing it--because we wrote so quickly and intensely. The roar of adrenaline drowned out the self-critical voices that tend to make creative play such work for adults."
I've experimented with fast-paced writing over the past few years and have to agree with Chris that the results can be delightful, unlike anything I'd create in my usual writing mode.
No Plot? No Problem! is entertaining and convincing. I'll be sharing more of it over the next few days. I hope that I'm able to entice a few of you to join in the challenge. Give it some thought. Nobody reads your novel. You submit it for the word count verification and then it's deleted from the site. Word scrambling is an option if you're fearful that your novel will be read.
You can learn more at
*Below is the back of Chris' book with his photo and a send-off statement for those who embrace the dawning of November 1st as the glorious beginning of their first, or perhaps, fiftieth novel.
Please go to my previous post and next several posts for more on this topic.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Novel In 30 Days

Good grief. Who in their right mind would try to write a novel in thirty days? No one in their right mind would.

That's how NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) came to be. Every year since and including 1999, men and women who are crazy, spend thirty days writing crap that they're allowed to call a novel. The final result of thirty days of writing is never read by anyone unless the writer chooses to be ridiculed and laughed at.

A few months ago I announced here on my blog that I was going to join the ranks of thousands who have taken on this challenge. As November 1st looms larger with every passing day, I'm faced with the reality of the task. My biggest fear is that I'll be crazier at the end of the month than I am right now.

I'll share more about NaNoWriMo in the next few days as I ponder whether I should strain my brain or wimp out.

Please go to my next several posts for more information regarding National Novel Writing Month.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Odds and Ends

I'm not done with Door County yet! I still have a few odds and ends to share from our recent trip. Without further ado:

We parked our trailer in Wagon Trails Campground in the northern reaches of Door County.

That's me, queen of the trailer!

This is a yurt. Awesome, isn't it? This yurt is a circular tent-like structure, 16 feet in diameter, secured to a finished floor, with a large skylight dome at the roof center. It has a double bed with a bunk above and one set of bunk beds.

Several yurts are available for rent.

These photos were taken at Wagon Trails Resort, just down the road from the campground.

Lon threw in his line for the fun of it but didn't get lucky.

These extraordinary hay bale creations are across the highway from The Log Den Great Food & Spirits on Hwy. 42.
The Log Den is a fabulous establishment that made our eyes pop out the first time we saw it and went inside. The owners are exceptionally friendly and the food is great too.

Lovely miscellaneous sights abound.

This weathered vehicle reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde's car with its shattered windshield.

He stood quietly, wooden-like when we passed.

We prowled around the Lilac Corner Farm and found some unexpected objects of interest. I love the cow.

Ephraim's setting is delightful.

The Hardy Gallery is the premier non-profit organization in Door County with the sole purpose of promoting and encouraging local artists, inspiring youth, supporting merging artists and celebrating the Peninsula's veteran artists.

Care to sit for a spell?

Relaxing is encouraged in this corner of the world.

Big waters call for big boats and vice versa.

I can't get enough of these sunsets, can you?

The photos below were taken in Peninsula State Park.

We bought this cute framed bird drawing, created with achival soft pastels by George Burr, at his gallery in Ephraim. Aren't they adorable? The candle, we purchased at the Flying Pig Gallery, which I featured in a previous blog post. I've been enjoying its "spicy chai" scent.
That's all folks. I hope you've enjoyed the ride. To tell you the truth, I'm glad I've finished this project of mine. Posting all these photos takes time, yet, you're all worth it.