Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Humor: Pirate Style!

Last Saturday, Steven's best friend had a "Pirates of the Carribbean" birthday party. Everyone dressed as a pirate (except for Alex, who made the best parrot costume!)
My costume featured an oriental sword, varous medals from my JROTC days and a small penguin wearing a bandana who sat on my shoulder. Naturally, since I can never do these things halfway, I not only had the costume but a routine:

Arr! I be Karina of the Waves, and I've seen ye eyeballing my wee Penguinito. There's a story behind him, so sit ye down and listen well.
Twas the summer of '63--and if you don't know what century, you've had too much grog. It may have been mild and balmy where you were, but on the straights of Magellan, there was a fierce windter storm, the worst I'd ever seen in my life. Me dear parrot Polly flew overboard--and not the good kind of flying, let me tell you. His last words were "AWK! Polly Don't Wanna!" I never found out what poor Polly didn't wanna do, but I'd guess it was drowning. And there wasn't much I could do to help him because me timbers were shivering, if ye know what I mean.
The next morning, I found this wee little penguin on the deck of me ship and I thought,
"Hey, why not go formal?"

Ah, but he's been a good companion--a silent partner of sorts. We've had many a fine adventure. You can tell by these medals. No, I didn't earn them--I stole them of the bonny Brits I've defeated. Well, these two were from bonny Brits--this one... Nah, he wasn't so fine. Fat and ill tempered he was. Had a lovely ship, though. Had.

And my sword? I got this off a Chinaman. He'd decided to give up the sea and turn to an honest life. I figured that was just as well, since I'd taken his sword, I'd taken his ship, and I'd taken his catfor.

What's a catfor, ye ask? The cats for gettig rid of the rats on me ship, ye lilly-livered landlubber! That's what a catsfor!

(And they walked right into it, too!)

Here's a not-so-old "sea" chanty. It's a space pirate theme, but you can adapt it. (I'd rate it PG-13 at least.) "New Sins for Old" by Leslie Fish.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

WRITING: Update on my works

I got an e-mail from a publisher wanting to see the manuscript for Leaps of Faith, the Christian SF Anthology Rob and I put together. (Check out the summary in my BOOKS page). I won't say any more until I hear back, but please pray that this will be the year Leaps gets accepted by a publisher!

I'm also hosting a workshop called "Faith in Fiction" for a free conference in October. Check out the conference at http://museonlineconference.tripod.com.

Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem had its second installment in The Prairie Dawg, the magazine of the North Dakota Mensa Club. It's another Dragon Eye, PI story, and I'm having a lot of fun putting a lot of "real" Faerie folk in Disneyworld. Next episode, Vern is mistaken for a carnival ride. In Episode 4, Coyote (of Native American legend) makes his appearance. (He cheated on the Mensa test, but just to see if he could, and he's at the convention to talk about "thinking outside the box.")

My article on the Catholic Faith in Science Fiction is out in Hereditas.

I'm still looking for an agent that handles fantasy/SF. Any recommendations? :-)

Monday, July 17, 2006

WRITING: Coming Up With Ideas

Like a lot of other writers, I get asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" I wonder though, how many other writers get asked this by people with such befuddled looks on their faces.

For my nonfiction, I usually let my interests guide my ideas. Thus, I've done a lot of pregnancy and parenting articles, particularly about homebirth, breastfeeding, or dealing with the care and education of little ones. (Along those same lines, I've done a lot of articles about simplifying your life.) As my children get older, I've started to branch out into new things, like science and technology. Here, Rob and science magazines are my usual sources for ideas. Sometimes, editors give me ideas. I'd have never thought to learn about sex during pregnancy until Fit Pregnancy asked me to do an article. I started writing clergy interviews at the request of my editor at Montana Catholic. Recently, I wrote about Catholicism in Science Fiction for Hereditas. Overall, my idea generation is pretty straightforward.

For my fiction, things get a little weirder, but the same principles apply. I just tend to mix them up more. I was working on a series of religious orders when Rob was very involved in Artemis Society; we came up with an order of spacefaring nuns, the Order of St. Gillian of L5. Some friends and I were talking about how to confront someone who was hitting their child in a store and what that parent might be experiencing; I wrote "Lovely Hands." I wanted to give my psychic character some psychological problems (being psychic is not easy!) and had read about Neuro Linguistic Programming, so my novel takes place in an asylum. I saw an anthology requesting "dragon stories," and was racking my brains for something that hasn't been done to death. We were watching a lot of "Whose Line is It, Anyway?" and they were doing a lot of film noir shticks, so my dragon became a film noir-style fantasy/mystery/parody.

So how do I come up with these ideas? I try to take the things around me and twist them into something new.

One more thing: I don't write only what I know. How limiting and dull. I write what I can imagine and what I can learn about.

How do you come up with your ideas?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tip: Keeping up with Godchildren

As a child, I didn't know my godparents well. My Madrina Che (Mom's sister) lived in Puerto Rico and I’ve only seen her a handful of times in my life. (I was lucky enough to spend a few days with her this past month.) My Padrino Dave (Dad's brother) I saw more often on holiday visits, but never knew well until I worked for him a few summers in college. I also never felt any spiritual companioning from them, which is supposed to be part of godparenthood.

Now I am Godmother to several children and I want to be more present in their lives, which is hard since we move often and they are scattered across the country. So I write them postcards. I buy them cheap at yard sales or thrift shops, and address and stamp a dozen or so at a time. Then I put them in my bills holder and each payday when I'm writing checks, I take the next postcard and write a quick note. Some are newsy, some just say that I'm thinking and praying for them. If I'm in the mood, I'll write to more than one--post cards only take 5 minutes, especially since I've prepared them already. Thus each godchild gets something from Godmother at least once a quarter.

They love it, even the toddler Marie. Her mom puts the postcard on her dinner plate the day it arrives, and she just glows from getting a special treat from Godmother. ne Godchild has even started writing me back. I hope that by sharing snippets of my life with them, they will one day share their lives with me, and that we might become companions on the Path of Faith.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Parenting: Attitude Makes Setback an Adventure

Last month we flew to Puerto Rico for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. It was Alex's and Liam's first time in an airplane, and Amber's and Steven's first since they were babies, so naturally, they were very excited. So were we, and despite the bad traffic that resulted in our getting to Reagan National with only half an hour for check-in, we were feeling great.
...Until we realized we'd misread the tickets and were supposed to be at Dulles, over an hour away with traffic.
This is one of those situations where I usually fly off the handle, and I was tempted to yell at Rob for taking us to the wrong airport, berate myself for checking the flight number and time but not the airport, blame Expedia for not putting "DULLES" in huge glowing letters so oblivious people like me could read it... You, know, the works. This time, though, something held me back. Four somethings: my kids, who were so excited about their first airplane trip, first visit to a Tropical Island, and first chance to see all of Grandma's family. I was not going to let a silly mistake ruin it for them.
We sat down at the floor and I reassured them we'd get to Puerto Rico, while Rob got on the phone to find out our options. Ten minutes and $1800 later, he had us on a flight to San Juan via Chicago. We had a four-hour wait until our flight left Dulles and we'd be arriving late that night instead of early that afternoon, but we'd be there.
Again came the temptation to stress out, this time about the money and the loss of a day on the beach. Again, I stopped myself. Travel is adventure. Adventures mean challenges. If I wanted our kids to be able to handle those challenges (even the stupid, expensive ones) in a positive way, I had to do so myself.
"We have the money," Rob reassured me. He's far more relaxed about money than I am, which combined with my natural spendthrift instincts served us well this vacation. We'd set aside a lot of money to enjoy the summer. If we had to cut back elsewhere, it nonetheless wouldn't cripple us financially. He, I was sure, was more stressed about making such a simple error and about the prospect of keeping our four disappointed and antsy kids under control during a long wait, two long flights, and unknown accommodations at the end.
"And we have a couple of hours in DC. Where shall we go?" I asked.
We decided on the Smithsonian annex near Dulles. We stopped at a play place for lunch, which brightened up the kids, and had a terrific time at the museum, which has flying machines from the earliest gliders to the Space Shuttle Enterprise. (Liam, of course, got bored, so I took him outside, where he promptly became fascinated with the wheelchairs lined up on the other side of the window.) At every opportunity, I made the kids run: to that light post and back, around that stairwell: walk if you won't run, but get rid of some of that energy!) On the flight to Chicago, Rob was able to sit with Steven and Alex, but I ended up in the middle aisle while Amber and Liam took the outer aisle by the window. Amber, fortunately, reveled in her duty to care for her littlest brother during the flight. We got into San Juan late, but my parents and uncle met us that the car rental and led us to his house. The kids by this time were happy but exhausted and more than willing to plop into bed.
The vacation was a blast, and the stuff of future blogs, but I'm especially thankful for how Rob and I were able to put aside our feelings and turn what could have been a lousy start into an unexpected treat.