Monday, October 29, 2007

january garnet - we have a winner!

All the names went into the official red baseball hat (no team know, in case anyone thought I was a fair weather D-Backs friend who'd decided to swap loyalties over to the Sox).

The official small child subsequently pulled a name from said hat, and the winner is...

Mr. Ken!

So, you see, these soap giveaways are not just a chick thing.

Of course, I have a sneaking suspicion that Mrs. Ken may well end up with this bar.


Ken, email your address and I'll get this bad boy in the mail.

this one's for you, Rockies fans

The Verse-a-Week Memorization that popped up on my screen this morning goes thusly:

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. Psalm 147:3-5 KJV

Let's face it. The Sox brought their A-game last night, plain and simple. Imagine how they would have played if they weren't at altitude.

Friday, October 26, 2007

friday soap giveaway: January Garnet!

These January Garnet bars are the last of the new GemSoaps line that I'll be officially introducing this year at the big November Craft shows. In early 2008 I plan to start working on the spring and summer birthstones, which should be fun.

Since I was told that the picture I took of the November Topaz bars made them look like cheese (not what I'm looking for in a soap pic - then again, maybe I should think about starting a stinky cheese soap line...), I decided to move the garnet bars outside. Maybe I should have taken them out at the crack of dawn or dusk, though, since I still don't think the picture does justice to the yummy, sultry sparkliness. And, lawdy, things just don't get much more yummy smelling: I used a winter grapefruit scent for these, which means that whoever ends up with today's free bar will have to practice great self-restraint and not eat the soap during shower time.

Thanks to Laura for coming across my blog and posting these giveaways on her nifty site.

So, ya want one of these bars? As usual, leave a comment to this post, and the winner will be announced Monday.

Have a great weekend, y'all. Mine promises to be rich in kid birthday fun, Halloween preparations and continuing on a (hopefully near-final) novel revision. And don't even GO there by reminding me that NaNoWriMo starts in just days.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

check 'em out

Sarah Zarr's YA novel, Story of a Girl, which I read a few months ago as part of my own ongoing look into writing YA, has recently been nominated for a National Book Award. Not only is this book a great read whether you're young OR an adult, but how excited must she BE? You can find out the answer by hopping on over to her blog.

Also, my agent has a great post up at the DGLM blog. It's a perfect illustration of why I love her.

Brackett out.

P.S. Please send up a prayer today for folks in SoCal. I can't imagine having my home turned into a blazing inferno like that. I worry about the animals, too - especially the horses, which can be a challenge to move even in the calmest of circumstances.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

of mentors and assassins

image via Yahoo! Movies

An old friend recently reminded me via email of something I've been wanting to blog about for many moons - ever since I first heard that Brad Pitt and some other A-listers were heading into production on a little movie project based on Ron Hansen's book The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

When I was in my second year as an undergraduate at the University of California at Santa Cruz (yeah, life was tough) my loyalties began to feel split between the Theater Arts department and the English department. At the urging of my then-boyfriend's roommate - an eccentric writer and artist - I went with him during pre-registration week to check out a creative writing class offered by a RLPA! (Real Life Published Author!). Who, incidentally, I'd never heard of.

That writer was Ron Hansen, and after being told that this would be an incredibly difficult - if not impossible - class to get into, my boyfriend's roommate promptly pointed at me and declared to Mr. Hansen, "If you let us into this class, she will take her shirt off for you."

I got in. Boyfriend's roommate did not. (Score one point for being a wallflower.) But it's not what you think, honest. For one thing, I have long been president of my local chapter of the IBTC , and for another, Ron was never one of THOSE professors. From that first course (Intro. to Creative Writing, I think it was) until I graduated with a BA in English, I took as many of Ron's fiction, literature and screenplay-writing classes as I could. He was an excellent teacher - not only knowledgeable about the world of writing and publishing, but always humble and willing to share his knowledge freely with goofball undergraduates who thought being a real writer meant donning a black beret and sitting at Cafe Pergolesi until midnight with a notebook, a pen, and an artistically pained expression on one's face.

Uh, not that anyone around here fit that description - no sirree. But I digress.

Through Ron I got to meet Ron Carlson, who cracked me up, both in his pages and in person. He was also supposed to introduce me to his old friend, the literary rock star John Irving, but it never happened. It was also through Ron that I became acquainted with Wallace Stegner's son, Page, who was teaching at UCSC as well. Page taught this amazing class called (if I remember correctly) Literature of the American West. It was a full-credit course, and part of the (grueling, painful, torturous) course work was a ten day rafting trip down the San Juan River in southern Utah. Ron and his then-wife Julie were on that trip, and I remember thinking (at one point when things among all of us undergrads at one of the riverbank camps had descended into something more closely resembling Lord of the Flies than a college course) that those literary, professional adults were being awfully patient with us kids. I fell hard for the Southwest during that trip.

When it was time for me to leave my cushy undergraduate nest behind and apply to graduate schools Ron wrote a glowing letter of recommendation which did - and still does - mean a lot. We wrote back and forth a few times after I moved to Flagstaff, but then life happened and we lost touch. I continued to read each of his books as they came out over the years (Mariette in Ecstasy remains one of my all-time favorites for its gorgeous, palpable writing). So, even though it's been about fifteen years since I last spoke to him I can't help but feel awfully proud of my old mentor for accomplishing things that I continue to dream of accomplishing someday. I'm also grateful to my eccentric artist friend for convincing me to check out that creative writing class all those years ago.

Monday, October 22, 2007

November Topaz - we have a winner!

Congratulations to bebemiqui for being the winner of last week's November Topaz GemSoaps bar. Hey, bebe, send your mailing address to, and I'll get this bar out to you pronto!

For those of you who didn't win, check back this Friday for another Garland Prairie Soaps giveaway!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

and speaking of metal

Did anyone happen to catch FOX's new show "The Next Great American Band" on Friday? I just happened upon it, and I think FOX is onto something. More interesting than Idol, and how cool was it to see Sheila E. as one of the judges? The lady rocks.

The highlight, however, was a band of young (twelve and thirteen-year old) teenagers from SoCal called "Light of Doom." The name cracked me up, as did the cute little dudes, especially when it was announced that they were a "metal" band.

Then they played (scroll down the page a little to watch the clip). Holy cow. I've never been an Iron Maiden fan, but this version of Flight of Icarus was a jaw dropper. Check out the guitar solo, for instance. I'm quite sure having that much talent at that age just isn't natural.

waiting for the metal version

Warning: This video may induce seizures. Also, diabetes.

Friday, October 19, 2007

friday soap giveaway: November Topaz!

I know I've been a bit scarce this week. I've actually had a lot to say, but not much time to say it. I did want to make sure I got the Garland Prairie Soaps giveaway posted before the weekend, though, so here it is!

It's a bit difficult to see the sparkly details in this picture, but trust me: These are gorgeous (and their Ginger-Orange scent makes them yummy to boot). I'm having so much fun with these GemSoaps that I have to make sure they don't eclipse all the traditional holiday soaps I still have to batch by November.

Want one? Simple leave a comment for this post. Winner announced Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

of a sleepy tuesday morn

Monday, October 15, 2007

we have a winner!

Congratulations to betsy@thehomeschoolway for winning the December Turquoise bar.

I had such fun drawing in new readers with a single bar of soap that I plan to make the soap giveaway a regular feature on this blog. So, check back soon - you never know when it may be your turn to win!

Friday, October 12, 2007

soap of the day: December Turquoise (and a giveaway!)

So, Dude. Totally not trying to toot my own horn here, but these may be the coolest bars I've made in over five years of soapmaking.

I am beyond thrilled with how these turned out. My only concern is that the Lemon Verbena fragrance oil I used might give them more of a greenish hue that I was looking for. If it does, I'll just have to reformulate with a different scent.

Have you smelled Lemon Verbena? One of the big companies (Yankee Candle or Crabtree & Evelyn, I think) introduced this natural, herbal fragrance in their products a couple of years ago, and I guess it was a huge success. It's a lovely, lemony, earthy (without being too "bra-burner-like") fragrance, not unlike lemongrass but a little more ginger-y.

I'm actually introducing a brand spanking new line of these GemSoaps this season, and I'm doing the birthstone theme. So far I've batched December Turquoise and November Topaz (Ginger-Orange scented - picture to come). January Garnet is in the hopper, and I'm looking forward to seeing how those sultry bars turn out.

So, ya want one of these December Turquoise bars shipped to you for free/gratis/nuthin'? Even if this first batch yellows a bit, they should still look super cool. Simply leave a comment to this post and I'll randomly choose a lucky winner next week!

a very girly Friday

Heard this morning at the rec center. Brought me right back to eighth grade. Surely, Belinda Carlisle's moves were right up there with Molly Ringwald's in The Breakfast Club.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

pave paradise

It seems to be a given that any town with any redeeming features is going to be developed and grow over time. I get that.

It still didn't make it any easier yesterday when I took that first Flagstaff exit on the way to the dentist's office (two fillings, thanks for asking. See this post for a simple explanation.) and saw My Pasture all but completely bulldozed.

It's not really called My Pasture by anyone but me, but it occurred to me yesterday that I've though of it that way since the late summer of 1992, when I struck out on my own and left California. My move to Arizona was ostensibly for graduate school, but there were ulterior motives involved. One of these was the potential "horseability" of the town. (I'd also been accepted to a university in St. Louis and another in Anchorage, Alaska, but neither of those seemed overly suited to horses, and there was no question that Zzari would live wherever I would). So, Flagstaff it was.

On a visit to check things out prior to actually moving, I managed to find a place where Zzari and I could both live. It was an old stone homesteader's cabin right at the town limits, complete with old stone barn and a huge 80-acre or so pasture out back for seasonal turnout. Life didn't get much better.

I arrived a week or so before Zzari, who was coming via a big horse transport rig. I'll never forget the day he finally got there. I think I'd chewed all my fingernails down to nubs and was probably eyeing my toenails next, what with all the worrying about him. He arrived in perfect shape, though, well-hydrated and with his shipping boots still velcroed on. The hauler made some comment about hating those narrow Bay Area streets, and I didn't blame him: The road to the ranch where some of my California friends had gotten Zzari ready for transport was a one-lane, winding nightmare encompassing a complete absence of engineering ingenuity.
After the hauler left, I walked Zzari around our new home for awhile, feeling complete in a way I maybe hadn't quite felt before in my twenty-plus years of life. Then, I walked him through the pasture gate, closed it behind us and unbuckled his halter. There were a few other horses boarded at the homestead, and they all watched as Zzari looked around for a minute or two, then walked, then trotted, then cantered, then took off at a dead run across My Pasture. Our Pasture. He headed toward the fence separating the acreage from old Route 66, then veered right, whinnying to anyone who cared to listen.
A few months later the first snow fell, and it was a doozy of a storm. Dyed-in-the-wool California girl that I was, I went out to the barn paddock late that night and tried to take in yet another aspect of this new life I'd begun to forge for myself. Zzari was standing outside, no doubt wondering about this white substance falling from the sky. I went inside the paddock and led him by the mane over to a part of the fence that I could use as a mounting block. Then, sitting astride my horse in the dead of night - no bridle or saddle - just our breath pluming out ahead of us in the frozen fall air, I looked out toward Our Pasture and thought for the first time in my life that I could die right at that moment and it would all be okay.
Not too long after that I was starting to be in serious need of a farrier. I called around until a guy who'd been highly recommended by some horse people I'd met in the area told me his book was filled, but that I should try calling this other young guy who had just graduated from shoeing school up at Montana State, and who did a really nice job. So, I called that other guy, who showed up at the old stone barn one day and looked me right in the eye as I introduced myself and my horse. And the rest, as they say, is history. A few years later I ended up marrying that up-and-coming farrier, the one who, just yesterday, sat across from me in a downtown restaurant and reassured me that our memories can't be bulldozed like that pasture. We're still here, and so (thank you, Lord) is Zzari.
That made driving past my bulldozed pasture a little more bearable, and maybe the lump in my throat won't be as big as it otherwise would have been when I drive by and see the foundation for that first cookie-cutter tract house being poured.

Friday, October 05, 2007

welcome to my world

(and the world of just about every other mother I know). A friend-slash-riding student-slash-fellow Super Mom shared this with me yesterday. Don't you just love creative women? (That might be a redundacy). Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

soap of the day: Cranberry Fig!

My son walked though the door after school yesterday and went, "MMMMMMMM - it smells SO GOOD in here!" Here's why:

They smell like ripe cranberries and fresh figs, and each bar comes complete with real cranberry seeds.

Oh, and have you seen my nifty new NaNo icon to the right? I'm official! Maybe I'll even buy a t-shirt to keep me motivated on Writer's Block days. Let me know if you want to do NaNoWriMo, too, and I'll add you to my writing buddy list on their site.

Also you may have noticed that I changed the font of my blog title. I like it, but I can't figure out why it insists on showing as all-caps when I change the font in Blogger's HTML editing window. If there are any HTML gurus out there who could help me with this, I'd appreciate it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

be afraid. be very afraid.

Sign-ups for NaNoWriMo begin tonight, and I'll be a first-time participant this year. I try to tell myself, "50,000 words in a month? Pthhh. No problem."

After all, that's know...a little under 2,000 words per day. I mean, what could go wrong?

Other writers I know have done this, so I take heart in that. It will be a nice boost to my segue into writing for the Young Adult market anyway, since 50K is a respectable word count for YA/Middle Grade books.

In other news, hop on over to my friend T's blog and congratulate her on her GAZILLIONTH (or maybe it's the fourth with a deal for the fifth as well? Seems more like a gazillion from where I sit) novel to be published in Spring of '09.

This woman was my office mate in graduate school, hailing all the way from Vermont. I remember hearing about her first published book when I was pregnant with my first kid. It would have been a lasting case of professional jealously (rather than a relatively brief case) if she wasn't such a dad-gummed nice, lovely person in addition to being a kick-*ss writer. Not fair, but there you have it. (Oh, did I mention her photography? Seriously, don't hate her for being beautiful OR talented. She's way too nice for that.) If you haven't read her other books, such as Undressing the Moon and Breathing Water, I highly recommend them.

Way to go, T!!!!!