Archive for February, 2009

I’ve Been Meme’d — Finally!
February 26, 2009


Meme: Seven Degrees of Separation

Secretly, I’ve always wanted to get meme’d — or em-em’d, if you read it backwards. Like an underprivileged blogger watching everyone else make meme, Can I play, too? wishes were sailed out into the blogosphere, but no one heard.

Until now.

Recently, a talented writer named Uppington, who is also a faithful traveler of Query Road, heard my wish and tagged me for a Meme.

I also get to pick five people, who are listed at the end of this post.

Seven things about myself:

1) I could’ve died in a plane crash. Seriously.

In 1997, I was a passenger in a jet that, ten to fifteen minutes into the flight, had engine trouble — specifically, an engine blew up and set the plane on fire. As it so happened, I was sitting in a seat right above that engine. My feet were numb from the vibration, and my ears were ringing from the volume of the explosion.

I knew I was going to die. I wasn’t screaming or panicked, and neither were the other passengers, who, going by their faces, felt the same way. Surprisingly collected, I said a silent prayer asking for forgiveness in any way I had failed to make the most of my life, while the plane plummeted at an alarming speed.

We had already reached maximum altitude when the engine exploded. At one point, as the plane fell from the sky, (I was in a window seat), I remember being close enough to the ground to see the individual spanish tiles on the roofs of a neighborhood the plane was diving toward, while falling plane parts rained down on the neighborhood’s houses, yards and vehicles.

In the newspaper, one witness said: “I saw a vapor trail from the back of the engine … The vapor then stopped and the plane quickly began to lose altitude.”

Another said: “The airplane noise is pretty frequent, but there was something unusual about this one.”

And how.

At the last moment, literally, the pilot regained control of the plane, leveling it off and turning it away from the neighborhood. We landed in the middle of the desert, and quite miraculously, with no one hurt.

Whatever else happens in life, you never forget the silver slide.

2)  As my blog title proclaims, I’m a lefty, a southpaw, the woman who writes like a crab.

My husband called me into the room the other day to show me President Obama signing the Stimulus Bill with his hand curled around like a crab — like mine.

It was interesting to see it from the onlooker’s perspective.

Some scientists say less than three percent of the population are left-handed. However, it’s never seemed that exclusive to me, as I had a left-handed best friend growing up, and strangely enough, my husband is also left-handed — the only difference being that his teachers taught him how to write properly, a.k.a., the un-crab way.

My teachers, on the other hand, hadn’t known what to do with my lefthandedness.

I’ve bumped lots of elbows eating at the table over the years, that’s for sure.

3)  When I was little, I wanted a monkey — very badly. A spider monkey, or even better, the organ grinder’s monkey in the Shirley Temple movies, such as Poor Little Rich Girl, and Heidi.

Now, not so much. It looks like it would hurt pretty badly, to be bitten by a monkey.

4) If I had bread and cheese, I could exist anywhere in the world. Anywhere.

5)  I love my husband, our horses and our dogs more than anything in the world, and even more than novels and writing. I think that very fact keeps me sane during the query process, because I already have what I’ve always wanted.

We live on a little horse ranch in the rural desert, and having horse facilities and my geldings right outside is already one of my dreams come true. My husband and I did all the work ourselves, including building the facilities and even clearing the land.

The geldings love to hear the most recent versions of my query letters. They want to eat the paper they’re  printed on, also, but a few carrots always fixes the problem.

6)  I’ve written five novels in my lifetime. I’ve finished all of them, but only the first, fourth and fifth are in polished/edited form.

The first was a MG novel I wrote at eleven-years-old, 265 pages long. It was my most shining accomplishment at the time, and definitely foreshadowed my future.

Titled The Sun Will Rise Again, it was rejected by three major publishing houses of the day. I was devastated; although, looking back on it, it was the beginning of the seasoning that transforms a writer into a published writer: the collection of rejections gathered during the query process.

(Thank you, Mrs. Mills, sweet librarian in grade school, for typing up my manuscript and submitting it for me, but most of all, for believing in me, making such a fuss over it, and making me feel special.)

That manuscript remains one of my all-time favorite accomplishments.

7)  I love the events of the night sky, whether meteor showers, constellations, comets or the movement of planets. Living rurally, where ambient light is low, I try to catch all the significant events during the year.

In the future, I’d like to learn how to photograph the night sky.

I’ve found it interesting as I grow older, how I see more and more evidence of something greater than myself in nature. The desert is my church, really, where God can be found in a dragonfly’s wing or a surprise double rainbow or a breathtakingly close comet.

Below are the five blogs I’ve tagged for Meme: Seven Degrees of Separation. They are amongst the blogs I couldn’t imagine starting my morning without reading.

Jan at Writer’s Flow:

Crista at Tripping Along the Stumbling Blocks of Writing:

Dara at Tales From the Writing Front:

Michelle McLean at Michelle McLean’s Writer Ramblings:

Elana J at Mindless Musings:


Photos by Emily Murdoch

The Comet Lulin.
February 25, 2009


Photograph courtesy AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, Johnny Horne. 


Who would want to miss a green comet that orbits clockwise instead of counter-clockwise, giving it the optical illusion of having its tail precede it?

Unusual Green Comet Set To Pass Earth  

Discovered by a Chinese teenager in 2007, the Lulin comet was best viewed Monday morning, but it’s still visible to observers, especially if you live in an area with less ambient light.


 Astronomer Stephen Pompea peers through the low-cost Galileoscope at University of California at Berkeley. The $15 telescope kit is now on sale.

Photo courtesy of Dean Coppola/Contra Costa Times

I found out today that I can make my own telescope at home that will provide the same view Galileo had 400 years ago — the Galileoscope. This homemade telescope kit was designed in tribute to Galileo Galilei and magnifies objects 50 times. For example, through the Galileoscope, you can see Saturn’s rings.

If you have children at home who wish on stars, here’s a fun way to show them what they’re wishing upon.

Or, if you, like me, are a writer on Query Road, here’s a way to get out of your own head and observe something other than your query inbox.

The Galileoscope™: An IYA2009 Cornerstone Project |

I plan on ordering two telescope kits tonight.

2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, and Arizona is really starizona, with the starriest skies I’ve ever seen. I’m disappointed to have missed Lulin on Monday, but the skies never run out of new ways to awe and amaze.

Next time, I’ll be ready.

Thoughts Are Things.
February 15, 2009



I hold it true that thoughts are things;

They’re endowed with bodies and breath and wings

And that we send them forth to fill

The world with good results, or ill.

That which we call our secret thought

Speeds forth to earth’s remotest spot,

Leaving its blessings or its woes

Like tracks behind it as it goes.

We build our future, thought by thought,

For good or ill, yet know it not.

Yet, so the universe was wrought.

Thought is another name for fate;

Choose, then, thy destiny and wait,

For love brings love and hate brings hate.

– Henry Van Dyke



Photos by Emily Murdoch

 I stumbled across the poem above, and it stuck to me like gum on my shoe. Wonderful gum. 

I hope everyone had a great writing weekend.

As I chug down Query Road, I read the signs along the way. “Be brave”, “Write hard”, “Choose your words carefully”, “Don’t give up”. Rest areas become writing forums, writer’s blogs, writing friends, and all the people, places and things that encourage, commiserate and make the trip bearable, and even, sometimes, amazing. 

Thank God for the rest stops along the way. 

If you, like me, are clutching a rejection slip (or three) in your hand this weekend, don’t forget that Jack Kerouac couldn’t get any takers for On The Road, at first. How sad it would’ve been if he had given up. Or, how about Madeleine L’Engle, Newbery Award winning author of A Wrinkle in Time

She flouted popular wisdom by writing in a style that editors and critics thought was too difficult for young people to read, too childish for adults — even though the scientific concepts and philosophical ideas actually were not that easy even for grown-ups to grasp. So it took ten years for her unusual stories to be published. The manuscript of A Wrinkle in Time collected rejection slips for two and a half years before a publisher took a chance on it. “You can’t name a major publisher who didn’t reject it. They all did.” But she was never tempted to compromise her vision in order to play it safe.

From Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi      

So chug on, brave and weary writers, because you never know what tomorrow has in store. (Yup, that’s me in the car next to you, waving wildly and honking the horn and using exclamation points!)