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Ashley Stockingdale has retired...

I know you all SAY you want to see Ashley as a married woman, but I'm here to tell you, you don't. Married people are boring. How do I know this? Because I am boring. Ashley is young, vibrant, she has her whole life in front of her.

I am old, decrepit and a mother of four. Have mercy on me. I don't have the energy to write Ashley any longer and she's married -- perhaps her life is as boring as yours, did you ever consider that?

I don't have a convertible anymore, so the inspiration just isn't there. So while I appreciate the daily "HINTS" that there needs to be more Ashley, I think until I at least get my midlife crisis convertible, let's consider Ashley living happily ever after and leave her there in Philly, shall we? I think we should.

In the meantime, please enjoy the little bit of Ashley left in me. My handbag and my pedicures. : )

Photo on 2010-09-12 at 20.41

Andrew Marc...like buttah!!


Why Thursdays are the New Mondays (Proof!)

If the line that wrapped around my Starbucks isn't proof that Thursdays are the new Mondays and people need extra sustenance, let me run some other visuals by you. High school starts at 7:30 here -- which quite frankly, I find cruel. But do you know what I find more cruel? Being subjected to foreign men in public in their pajamas!

For some reason, men here find it acceptable to go outside in their pajamas. To drive their kids to school in pajamas, and even to enter Starbucks in their pajamas. This is not okay with me. I have EYES people. Must you make them burn at 7 a.m.? But this morning, I saw the world's ugliest pair of jammies ever, and I squealed. My son goes, "Mom, it's early. He--" Then he notices the jammies. "Oh no. Nope. Can't do it. Can't even defend those. I'd rather see the guy in his chones." LOL

But my "Monday" started before that. I went to bed early last night with the express notion that Thursdays are the new Monday, so I'd be ready, right? Wrong. When you go to bed before your teenagers, this is asking for trouble. I made sure they did the dishes first, put the leftovers in the fridge and started a load of laundry. I was prepared!

However, they decided to have a little leftover birthday cake after I went to bed. And after helping themselves to a piece, they left about 1/3 of it out -- and this morning, my dog is groaning from the side of my bed. I look down and her whiskers are covered in whipped cream frosting. Ugh. This is not going to be good.

Like Scarlett, I said, oh I just can't deal with that now. I'll deal with that tomorrow. Next up: I walked outside to drive my son and my daughter has had some kind of party in the entry way. There are six scooters parked there, her bike, bowls of pomegranate seeds, cereal and gummy snacks(???) -- and let's do the math: one mom and a whirlwind of disaster because apparently cleaning up after oneself has not been a big enough lesson in this house!

I think I need myself a Coach Bieste around here! I definitely need to stay awake longer. Got any proof Thursdays are the new Mondays?


The Glee "Britney Spears" Tribute:


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I have to admit, I missed the whole "Britney" phenom. I was busy picking up Thomas the Train engines off the floor, and trying to keep those suggestive videos out of my children's view. So I admit, I'm really only familiar with the "Oops I did It Again" song. But Britney is my favorite Glee character. Seeing her live just cemented it for me. Heather Morris is SOOO talented. And let me just say, as dirty as that video with her in the sequined catsuit may have been? She rocked it!

That girl can dance! Rachel in her slutty schoolgirl outfit seemed forced and kind of sad. The Matthew Morrison scene, while the song was good and he's my favorite singer on the show -- not so much with him in the gay Broadway outfit.

Whenever they do these tributes (Madonna), it's story that pays. And as a writer, that annoys me. Their copies of the music isn't enough. We need character. We need story. I did love Britney S. Pearce's story though, and the dentist. Since everyone hates dentists -- even if they looked like that. Which, yeah, they don't. Unless maybe they're giving you too much laughing gas.

Okay, Sandie if you're out there, I know you are a big John Stamos fan -- but time has not been all that good to our friend. And if you're an Aussie and inclined to yell at me for not having seen this yet, may I just say, does it really matter? Just pretend that it's "Top Model" and you THINK you know who won, but live TV and models reading winners don't go together.


Going International...

This week, I got my first letter from Taiwan. Now, if you've read the Ashley Stockingdale books, she's not very kind to the country of Taiwan, but I got the sweetest letter anyway. But this week I've gotten a letter in German (that I translated myself and wrote back with a German translation program.) Wouldn't you love to know if it says things like. You German. You like words. Nice. Nice. Me happy very.

(We have this restaurant in our neighborhood that hung out a banner that said, "Now serve Malaysian!") That STILL makes me laugh. Dang, I'm childish.

So Ashley has been translated into Indonesian (is that a language?), German, Polish, and Romanian so far. Most Christian books are translated into Dutch. In fact, everyone I know who has a book in another language has one in Dutch. But not me. No. And something is wrong with this picture. My son has two Netherlands' jerseys. We rooted for your boys in the World Cup. I personally toured your country BY MYSELF in a Volvo. And the tulip is my favorite flower. I have bragged about your butter for nearly two decades! Care to explain yourself?

And Nathalie, my beautiful Danish friend, think you ought to have a talk with your Denmark folks too, that's close enough for you to have words, no?

Maybe they're just all reading it in German. Regardless, I think it's sad that my books have a better lifestyle than me. Four kids are seriously cramping my lifestyle. You know how there are mothers who live to bake birthday cakes and string popcorn around the family Christmas tree? Yeah, I was over that about five years' ago. Do you know I've given 53 birthdays for kids in my parenting career?

They say if you want to create more joy in your life, to do something for others. Well, I'm sort of tapped out at the moment. I'm ready for an International escape. Rather than Eat, Pray, Love, I'm going to call it: Soak, Pamper, Peace. I'm selfish, what of it? Just because the other author puts "Pray" in the title, she's off the hook?


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Everything is Research...

One of my guilty pleasures is Rosie Radio -- it's on Sirius/XM and it's Rosie O'Donnell musing about life. Rosie has a different perspective on the world and I enjoy hearing other people's experiences in life. What I love about her show is she always gives her listeners a chance to talk -- whether they're talking about making choices in your thoughts, squirrel experiences or UFOs.

This morning I cracked up though. Driving my son to high school, Rosie's on and she's talking about UFO's (why don't normal people ever see UFO's? Or do they, and they just know better than to talk about -- cue Rod Serling -- look him up youngins!) So this morning, she's on the radio and a child walks into her studio and says, "Mom, I'm bored."
"Honey, I'm working."
"You're just talking."
"That's my job. I talk for a living. Go help Tracey garden."

My son starts cracking up because that's exactly what my kids do. "You're not working, you're playing on the computer."

"Just because you use the computer to play doesn't mean Mom is playing."
"You're on Zappos!"
Touche.

Naturally, seeing the world's differing perspectives is the best part of my job. Everyone's a character. Especially the lady who called Rosie today. She was a long-haul trucker and had a UFO encounter -- but here's the good part. Her Siamese cat, who was naturally IN the truck with her started communicating with the aliens...wait for it...TELEPATHICALLY! Get that woman her own reality show!

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See Beth, I don't listen to Doctor Radio ALL the time! I mix it up.


I Need a Hero!

Currently, I have a novella and young adult novel to write, but I'm stuck. I am trying to come up with a hero for my next women's fiction/romance and I cannot think of a good hero for this one, and it's totally stalling me.

So we talked athlete (my brainstormers and me) and honestly, I'm not into athletes. Never have been. In high school, I committed social suicide by not dating this football player who liked me, but whatever, he had the brains of a houseplant, and worse than that? He wore a gold chain. Blech!

Because I was reared on Mr. Darcy, I'm not sure I understand the makings of a great hero. To me, it's intellect. My secret crush is Charlie Rose, who is interviewing the CEO of Google today on his website -- a CEO who has the most horrendous tie I've ever seen. He must not be married. Or he's married to an engineer woman who doesn't notice things like that and let him out of the house.

Nope, just looked him up. Eric Schmidt is married and lives in Atherton (rich, rich, rich) so he probably got out without her seeing him in their giant mansion. Next time, dude, find the wife. Make a point of it. Having money doesn't give you the right to subject others to that tie.

So the girls think athlete, I think soccer. Hello David Beckham! But the girls told me that's not a "real" sport like football. Those guys run for 70 minutes! And no one in soccer was nicknamed Refrigerator. Just saying.

I'm trying to expand my horizons. To grow as a human, but I am stuck here. You can have a big bank account, I'll take the big IQ. What about you? Help me get inspired!


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I LOVE being a nerd! (Tell me, don't show me!)

This morning, I downloaded all of Dostoevsky's novels on my Kindle in one file for .99 cents. Gosh, I love that I couldn't care less about bestselling books, and that I still prefer Thomas Hardy to Dean Koontz. It makes me a nerd, but one who can support her reading habit without going to the library and checking out other people's books. Ick.

I was rereading "A Pair of Blue Eyes" this weekend. It's an obscure Hardy novel, but it's one of my favorites because Hardy tries to end it happily, but then nope, that pessimist has to come out somewhere -- but as a reader I am never disappointed. Even in "Jude the Obscure" though you might not want to read this one if you've ever been suicidal. Hardy is the guy yelling "JUMP!" behind you if you're on the ledge.

What I love about Hardy and other classics is they don't have this ridiculous show vs. tell thing as authors. They can just save themselves a few pages and tell us someone's personality. They don't have to "Show" everything in a scene. That's my pet peeve. How today's novels all start with the same crap "show" scenes:

"Titan Manning watched the doorknob turn slowly. Her throat tightened and she clutched at her chest. Her ears filled with the pounding of her heart. He wouldn't get her this time, she vowed." Yeah, yeah. Okay, now Hardy:

"Elfride Swancourt was a girl whose emotions lay very near the surface...one point in her, you did notice: that was her eyes. In them was seem a sublimation of all of her; it was not necessary to look further: there she lived.

These eyes were blue; blue as autumn distance -- blue as the blue we see between the retreating mouldings of hills and woody slops on a sunny September morning. A misty and shady blue, that had no beginning or surface, and was looked into rather than at."

Sigh. And double sigh. My soulmate has been dead for three hundred years. LOL


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Doctors are not gods!!!


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It's no secret that I am not a fan of doctors who believe themselves to be gods, and above questioning. Listen, I don't mind that doctors don't know everything. They're human, after all. But what I do mind is the fact that some can't SAY they don't know and that lack of humility can cost YOU!

So I'm listening to Doctor Radio today and this idiot is on talking about obesity in kids and getting lap band surgery on TEENS!!! That, however, was not my issue. This guy calls in and wants to know his opinion on high fructose corn syrup and its introduction into the American diet and how that coincides with the weight gain of kids. I would add hydrogenated oil to that, as well. And this idiot doctor says, "Sugar is sugar!"

No, dude, it's not!!!! Your body can process sugar because it's natural. It does not know how to react to high fructose corn syrup and it can destroy the hypothalamus gland. Your body does not know how to process fake oil either, so stick to cold, expeller-pressed olive, pure cocoanut, safflower, etc. Basically, if you can buy it on your regular grocery store aisle and it's on sale, stay away from it!

Because I went on the MS diet LONG before you could get any of these items in regular stores, eating healthy was a nightmare! Now it's easy! But I pay four dollars a bag for potato chips -- and I always have. I buy non-hormone milk, and I always have. Let me just say, my kids are pigs. They go through a bag of chips a day, a gallon of ice cream in three days and I use real cream and butter when I make their mashed potatoes, and you know what? They are TOTALLY healthy and if anything, they could use a few pounds.

But when I hear doctors talk like they know things, when they don't, I get SOOOO angry. Just say the research isn't in, you idiot. Sugar is not sugar if it's high fructose corn syrup. I bet you my kids take in as many calories as a lot of fat kids in a day. It's the KIND of fat they take in!


I have had MS since I was 19 (though diagnosed at 28) -- my first doctor told me I needed a psychiatrist (which I probably did, but that wasn't the reason for my double vision -- that's because I was a writer!) and not a neurologist. My mom paid for me to go and since that very day, I knew no one was going to watch out for me. It was up to me to stay healthy. If anything, my MS has been a gift because I learned early that you are on your own out there, so if you're waiting for Obama-care or any other kind of care, save your money. You're better off spending it at Whole Foods -- where I just came from incidentally.

Jonah goes, "Hey Mom, how come everyone in there is tall, wrinkly and skinny?"
"What do you mean? I'm in there?"
"True. You're not tall." Oh SNAP! Hurt the boy, he's bringing in the groceries -- and my gorgeous kid is fifteen tomorrow! SO he's forgiven.

Note: My FIL is in this pic and he's a doctor and this is not a rant against him, just a cute pic of my kids way back when. The fifteen year old is in the Kings shirt. Ah, they grow so fast.


Changing Lives through Story...

We've been talking about books that changed lives on a writers' loop and I'm interested in what books changed you. Not just resonated with you, but truly changed the way you look at life. These books are not my favorite incidentally, but they really did change the way I looked at life. They added a new perspective to my world.

One was "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy because it made law versus love come to life in a way I had never understood.

Or "Two on a Tower" by Thomas Hardy because I saw the difference between love and lust in that story. (It does end happily, sort of, if you don't want a totally depressing Hardy.)


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Another? "Crime and Punishment" because it's written so well and so deeply, that I think I could have been capable of killing the old woman. It showed me how much I feel the need for justice in the world. But from a murderer's standpoint? How weird is that?

"Lolita" changed me because it made me understand how a child molester came to be that way, and I didn't want to have any compassion on a child molester. Granted, I do take pleasure in watching his downfall, but what that book showed me is that people are always human at their core. Their sins, so ugly and obvious, but rooted in something. Granted, not that I care or want them to not be accountable -- I truly feel so much hatred for Humbert Humbert when he gleefully takes custody of his stepdaughter. It's the perfect storm of horrible behaviors and when they combine,it's tragic.

I was also really ticked in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) studying the life of David. Hearing him called a man with a "whole heart for God" irritates me to no end because of all of his sins. As I age, I see that I have quite a bit of David in me. That people who are deeply emotional can also be deeply impulsive and ridiculous.

Since I tend to be a very happy person by nature, I find it surprising looking over my list that it's so dark. My son is reading "Lord of the Flies" and I remember thinking that kind of thing could never happen when I was his age. Now I know better, and I think I liked being blissfully ignorant better.

I'm reading "Holy Ghosts" right now about a man who didn't believe in anything ghostly until his house was haunted. He is a Christian and what I love about this book is that life has a way of taking our black and white world and bringing out the color. There's our beliefs, and then there's our experiences and sometimes, they don't line up and we have to change our world view.

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What stories changed you? I hope they were happier than mine, for your sake. Let's finish with a happy thought, shall we?

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Darcy and Elizabeth, 1995


Next Setting for a Book?

My son is enrolled in rock climbing. Here he is blindfolded at the top of the run. (Apparently, this teaches you something, but I'm not sure what -- since he sees fine.) So anyhoo, this is the same gym where I accidentally took the two-hour advanced Yoga class, where people were contorted like pretzels (actually Scorpions -- that's what the pose is called) and my little body was not feeling Zen at the end. Nor Namaste. Just pain.

Anyway, next week I've decided I am totally hanging out for the class. Why you ask? This place is GOLD! Gold I tell you! Here you have all this brilliant Silicon Valley sorts in their unnatural habitat (physical!) These were not your high school football jocks, or your Saturday afternoon AYSO crowd, these were your AV teams, your captains of Future Business Leaders of America -- and they are currently suited up in Yoga pants and hanging from ropes with someone below "spotting" them. This is comedic gold, people!

So next week? I will suit up under cover in my yoga pants (making sure not to let the guy who tortured me for two hours see me!) and I will be taking notes baby! This is better than my stalkee at the running trails. I can literally sit there, watch over my son and perhaps overhear a captain of industry conversation or two. The only trouble is I won't get to drink an espresso while I research.

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