Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Misc details before NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo begins in 45 minutes. Don't think I'll inaugurate it by some midnight writing like I'd planned. I had to take Rob (my wonderful loving, Air Force argument husband) to the airport at O-It's-Early this morning and I'm tuckered out. He's anticipating in Wargames in Hawaii for 2 weeks. Our anniversary is next week. He's spending our anniversary in HI. I told him to enjoy the irony.

I plan to be mostly incognito this month as I gamely try to squeeze 50,000 coherent words into one month full of homeschooling, four children, a house to keep, the Catholic Writers' Guild elections, three deadlines and no hubby to help for 2 weeks. St. Jude, pray for us!

If anyone knows anything about asteroid mining, the Kuiper belt, or interplanetary travel and would like to help me with the tech., please contact me!

I've got a new blog going: www.virtualbooktourdenet.blogspot.com. Come check it out for book reviews and synopses. If you have a book you'd like listed, please check out the site and follow the rules on the first post.

I've got a new website dedicated to our book Infinite Space, Infinite God. Check it out at http://isigsf.tripod.com. Leave me a note in the guest book.

King Kluck did not make it to mummification for Halloween. Dare we try Thanksgiving? That would certainly make a memorable holiday...

I'll continue to post this month, though it I may post links to other folks' blogs or articles I've seen lately. Or I may post snippets of what I've written.

I'll finish the links page when I come back from NaNoVille. If you have a link you'd like me to post, please contact me. I'd appreciate you posting my link in return.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Indiana Mom and the Temple of Kluck

(The title gives you an idea of the state of my house lately...)

It was a dark and stormy day...

Even worse, it was salt changing time in the Temple of Kluck. Looking at the weather outside, I decided to risk contagion and "Do the Kluck" in the house. That didn't last long.

"AARGH! Is that King Kluck?" my teenage son asked from down the hall. (For the full effect, say that sentence out loud while hoding your nose.)

I hadn't even opened the bag yet. While the boys prepared the salt mixture, I took our odiferous odyssey to the front porch.

"EW! What's that smell? Is that King Kluck?" demanded the neighbor's girl, who was at our driveway and could not see the pale salty corpse. As you can see, or more to the point, smell, our fetid fowl has achieved neighborhood fame. She decided to enter through the garage.

Jokes aside, the smell has faded, but it's still strong enough to make me wonder how the ancient Egyptian priests could put up with such a disgusting duty, especially for 40 days.

Once the salt was off, I checked the chicken for signs of mummification. Last time, I'd noticed how the decomposing muscle tissue and water loss had made the skin loose. Today, I discovered something new: Some of the meat, especially around the openings and lean areas, had become hard. However, the more fatty areas like the breast and thighs, were not the consistency of gel. The effect was a squishy layer you could form. It reminded me of one of those gross toys I refused to let the kids spend their allowance on.

Still, had I found a fringe benefit to mummification duty? "Hey, look, Ank-Atar! I can form a relief map of the valley of the Kings on his chest!" Or maybe they considered it meditative, like one of those squishy stress balls...

Whatever, the boys were not interested in the phenomenon. They patiently listened and watched as I showed them the discovery--this was their school project, after all--but at a distance and with their noses held firmly plugged.

Afterwards, I found I needed another long shower to excise the smell.

Still, it's been an interesting experience. Squish, squish, squish.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

WRITING: I Can't Get Code Satisfaction

I was up until 2 AM trying to fix fabianspace and start up a new website http://isigsf.tripod.com. (Go check it out. It's actually very nice now.)

This pretty much describes my day and night....
(To the Rolling Stone's "I Can't Get No Satisfaction.")

I can't get code satisfaction,
I can't get no website action.
'Cause I type and I try and I type and I try.
I can't get no, I can't get no.

When I'm sittin' at my desk
and that error comes up on my screen
and it's tellin' me "No, no, no!"
but it's just useless information
I've the wrong kind of imagination.
I can't get no, oh no code no.
Hey hey hey, that's what I say.

I can't get code satisfaction,
I can't get no website action.
'Cause I type and I try and I type and I try.
I can't get no, I can't get no.

When I'm watchin' on my screen
My colors are wrong, universe page gone and
Links and Books look the same.
Plus it can't be a blog 'cause it's showing code
in the spot where the blog should be.
I can't get no, oh no code no.
Hey hey hey, that's what I say.

I can't get code satisfaction,
I can't get no website action.
'Cause I type and I try and I type and I try..
I can't get no, I can't get no.

When I take webbuilding class
and I'm doin' this and I'm trying that
and I'm tryin' to make some site
that tells me baby better come back later next week
'cause I see you're on losing streak.
I can't get no, oh no code no.
Hey hey hey, that's what I say.

I can't get code satisfaction,
I can't get no website action.
'Cause I type and I try and I type and I try.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Latest Peep on King Kluck

The saga continues...

Yep, we are continuing our chicken mummification project. Almost three weeks and four salt changes later, the...educational...aroma of our fetid fowl has abated somewhat. Now it's more prone to surprise attacks on the senses. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the bag...

The neighborhood kids know the King Kluck theme song. The favorite verse seems to be "Smells just like a diaper/makes the dog go hyper/King Kluck!" It's made for a few trying moments around the dinner table.

I heard from a homeschooling family in Australia who tried to mummify a duck. It was an impromptu decision, apparently: the duck attacked Dad, who blasted it with his shotgun. (Classic self defense. Can't be too careful with a murderous out-of-control duck.) her boys didn't want to pluck it, so they decided to "mummify" it by leaving it outside. Once it was--what? hard and dry?--they planned to make it into a hat. A Father's day gift, I'm sure. Apprarently a fox, no doubt interested in furthering its education, absconded with it. Sounds like a happy ending for fox, Dad and Mom to me.

Remember how the Pharaohs had slaves buried with them? We almost had chicken minions for King Kluck. In a laudable fit of domesticity, I decided to cook three dinners at once: chili, curry beef and crock-pot chicken. In a shameful episode of domestic apathy, I neglected to put the chicken in the refrigerator. The next morning it was pink. Yes, Pink! I was tempted to wrap them in linen and put them next to King Kluck. At least they didn't smell.

Thus the Saga of the Kluck King continues. We're pretty certain we can hang to the end--but I'm considering buying a solid air freshener to shove up his cavity.

Wonder if Anubis would weigh that instead of his heart?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

WRITING: Online writers' conference a blast!

This week, I attended on of the most busy, intense and informational writers conferences I'd ever seen. And I never my house.

The first-ever MuseOnline Writers' Conference featured a week of workshops and on-line chat presentations on everything from building suspense in your story to getting published to promoting your book. We even held an on-line party--and I had more fun than I have at a party in years!

The presenters were first-rate. Publishers like Lida Quillen from TwilightTimesBooks and Tom Burton from Wolfmont talked about the industry and what they look for in a manuscript while Dindy Robinson from Swimmingkangaroo hit the basics with what good authors do right. Writers like Christine Amsden, Marilyn Peake,Joyce Faulkner, and Christina Barber hit everything from the basics of plot to the details of ghosthunting (and ghostwriting.) And of course, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Colleen Drippe, Rose Dimond (fellow writers of Infinite Space, infinite God) and I gave a workshop on incorporating faith into fiction.

For me, the most useful workshops were book promotion. After hearing all of Carolyn Howard-Johnson's ideas, I'm ready to put ISIG on the best seller list! I've also been inspired to start a newsletter on faith in fiction. Contact me if you're interested. I'm also starting a new blog--Virtual book Tour de 'Net: a great place ton both peruse for books or promote your own.

The week is over, and I'm coming down from the conference high and trying to get the house back in order. King Kluck is waiting to have his salt changed, too...but that's another blog!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Virtual Book Tour

I'm at an on-line writing conference this week and Carolyn Howard-Johnson mentioned the concept of a virtual book tour, where you visit other folks' blogs and tell a little about your book.

I thought it'd be fun to host one. So, I've started a new blog: if you have a book you want to tell folks about, send me a 200-word summary at comment (at) fabianspace (dot) com. All I ask is that I'm invited to visit your blog in return.

I've got a conference and NaNoWriMo to keep me busy until November, so the site will have a December Grand Opening!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

King Kluck Filk

Changed out the salts on King Kluck today. The neighborhood kids all came to see. Watching from a distance, Alex felt moved to comment, "You're attracting flies, Mom."

One girl said wistfully, "Wish we could do projects like that."

The smell fills the garage and on occasion permeates the walls. I invited my mother-in-law to see their project and she said, "I've smelled it."

The kids wanted to know why he smelled so bad. Rob said because he's tearing up all his songs. After all, he's de-composing!

Anyway, there's just no better way to express my feelings about all of this than in a song. (Sung to--you guessed it--"King Tut.")

You know, one of the fowl-est homeschool projects ever to grace the Fabian garage is the Mummification of King Kluck!
(King Kluck)
(King Kluck)
When Bauer wrote her hist'ry,
She never thought she'd see,
(King Kluck)
A Momma's eyes a-burning,
While making a mummy.
(King Kluck)
How'd you get so funky?
(Funky Kluck)
You're really smelling skunky.
(One he was free-range; now, he just smells strange, King Kluck)
(King Kluck)
Now if I'd known,
The stench would fill my home,
(King Kluck)
I'd've bought de-odorizer,
To kill that foul arome.
(King Kluck)
Bathed in cheap merlot,
(Funky Kluck)
Covered in oregano.
(Smells like a diaper; makes the dogs go hyper, King Kluck)
Change his salt out in the yard,
(We're all gagging)
The local kids think he's a star.
(Gross Kluck)
Stinkin' for a mile,
(Stinkin' Kluck)
We just grit our teeth and smile.
The garage will never be the same...
(King Kluck)
(Kluck, Kluck, Kluck, Kluck...)
Soggy salt stuff!
He's an Ovarian!
(King Kluck)
Technically, trans-genderin'
(Female Kluck)
Now when I die,
Now don't think I'm a nut.
(King Kluck)
Don't want no fancy funeral,
Just don't treat me like King Kluck!
(King Kluck)
He might make it to a mummy,
(Mummy Kluck)
If he'd only smell less scummy.
(Kids won't smell him on a dare, but the cat don't seem to care, he's fetid and he's fowl)
But we've learned a lot--and how!
(From King Kluck)

Monday, October 02, 2006

HOMESCHOOLING: Mummification Most Foul

You do not know the meaning of "stench" until you've tried to mummify a chicken.

It looked like such a neat project in the book: mummify an actual chicken. Make your own King Cluck! How cool can that be? Well, my older two kids refused to try, but my younger boys were game.

The older ones were by far the smarter.

For weeks, the Alex and Liam bothered me about when we'd mummify our clucker, so on Thursday, they were bouncing with excitement when I pulled it out of the fridge to start the project...

Until I told them we had to pull out its guts first.

They're boys! How can they get so squeamish about some giblets in a bag?

Well, Mom came to the rescue and it was decided to trash the giblets since the book said they'd stink even after mummification. (Of course, I'm savoring the irony of that statement now.) In the grand tradition of Fabian First Aid supplies, the rubbing alcohol had disappeared, so we decided to do things the Egyptian way and bathed it in wine.

Merlot, actually. Napoleonic Egyptians.

The boys were more than happy to mix the salt, baking soda and baking powder, plus the herbs "to improve the smell." The instructions said to double-baggie it, but not what to do with it then, so it sat on the counter.

Friday, according to instructions, we (read Mom) went to brush off the salt, which had absorbed the moisture of the chicken. While the boys made a new batch of salt, I opened the baggie--filling the kitchen with an aroma that defies description.

Think baby diaper, open sewage plant, and the Rappahannock River on a really off day. With oregano.

But it's all part of the learning experience right? So I wiped down King Cluck--now King Cluck-Awk!-Oh, Man! in honor of his royal stink. We filled him again with salt and double-baggied. This time, he went into the garage. We have to open the garage door regularly to air it out, but it's bearable.

Today was change the salt day. I was alone in this endeavor.

I didn't get to it until late evening, and while the older kids did homework in the school room, I dragged the malodorous, foulodorous project out of the garage. It immediately announced its presence.

"What's that Stench?!" Rob exclaimed.

"King Cluck! Be done with him in a minute!"

Well, it was more like 10 minutes of tending the fetorous foul, followed by 20 minutes of sterilizing everything from counters to floors to gloves. I bumped it against our Pur water filter. It may never be Pur again. I found the rubbing alcohol and used about half of it. Afterward, I took a long shower. We've discovered new meaning for the word "foul."

And the smell? Well, it's crept all around the house. I've got the windows and doors open downstairs and all the vent fans on. Rob has the window fan putting positive pressure in our room to keep the reek out. The dog is hiding up there, but the cat's being nonchalant about it all.

Next phase is Saturday. It will definitely be done outside.

I'm not sure if we'll be able to go the distance in preparing Ol' King Cluck for the Egyptian afterlife, but I if we do, I have a pretty good idea what Anubis will say.

And it's not, "Is that oregano?"