Corbin, Holidays, Valley of the Bees

A bit of #randomness to round out the holiday season

One of my favorite things about working at a university is the nice little chunk of paid time off I get for the winter break each year. It’s a little less than two weeks for office staff, but it’s just what the doctor ordered this time of year. Extra sleep, a chance to get over my annual sinus infection, family time, good eats, and a little extra writing time to boot, if I don’t let myself get too lazy!

I don’t use Twitter much, but I found myself yesterday with the urge to narrate my time off on Facebook, where I already probably post a bit too much. So, I got the idea to dust off my Twitter account and started tweeting. Oddly enough, my random posts have netted me several new followers and even a retweet from a Tweeter with more than 3000 followers of science fiction. It will be interesting to see if that generates even more followers. Perhaps I should check out Twitter more often! Check out my Twitter profile to see what I’ve been up to!

At any rate, I’ve been up to random randomness the past two days and am feeling rather accomplished. I literally just ordered my first set of proofs for the print edition of Valley of the Bees! This seems like a good time for a cover reveal, so… TA-DA!

capture

And now… well, I’m just sitting here waiting for the family to show up for our annual cousin cookie baking party and face-stuffing with our favorite finger foods. Continue reading “A bit of #randomness to round out the holiday season”

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Domestic Violence, Facebook, Holidays, Illinois, Mount Mary College, Random Rants

What inspired you in 2014?

The "Becky Thatcher House" in Hannib...
On my 2015 to-do list: The “Becky Thatcher House” in Hannibal, Missouri. This building is across the street from Mark Twain’s boyhood home. It was the home of the girl Mark Twain used as the model for Becky Thatcher. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, I’m late. I know. But I’ve been sick with the flu this past week (despite having had a flu shot earlier this flu season) and have accomplished almost nothing over my holiday break. Anyway, here’s my list of things that inspired me in 2014:

  • Malala: Who hasn’t been inspired by Malala? (I mean, other than the Taliban.) The world needs more young women like Malala to stand up for girls and show the world that men like those in the Taliban only want to keep women down because deep down THEY FEAR WOMEN!!
  • Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence: Survivors sharing their stories and helping victims who are in the process of making the transition from victim to survivor.
  • My therapist: 2014 was a rough year for me. It seemed like I would never find a job that would pay enough for me to support my family (my ex hasn’t paid his child support in almost two years now.) I needed steady income and benefits, which was never going to happen while I was freelancing and teaching part-time. I have kids needing braces, etc., and blah, blah, blah, one complaint after another. I was feeling really down on myself and was too stressed out about money and living to be able to focus on writing, so I decided to see a therapist for a while. I ended up connecting with an art therapist who studied at my alma mater (Mount Mary University,) and while we didn’t do any “art” together in my sessions, she totally “got” what I was going through with my lack of inspiration in my own art of writing. She pushed me to write through it, and it was a huge help.
  • The Bloggess and James Garfield’s Christmas Miracles: Check out the blog post for details.
  • Laos organic farming (among other things I’ve watched on PBS recently):

Continue reading “What inspired you in 2014?”

Facebook, Holidays, New Year's, Parenting

2014 New Year’s Resolutions

Skipbo Cards
My kids love this game.

It’s mid-December and time to begin thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t typically get too involved in those. Usually, my resolution is to simply try to be a better person overall. I like to think I am slowly evolving into a human who is at least somewhat better than she was just a few years ago. This year, I’ve decided to be a little more specific about my goals for 2014. I have two:

  1. Be more fun.
  2. Stop complaining so much.

Lately I feel like I am already being a lot more fun than I used to be. I used to hate playing board games and such. I think it had more to do with the company I was keeping than it had to do with any specific bias against games. The past couple of months, my kids and I have been playing Skip-bo literally three to five nights a week. And I am enjoying it. I want more of that in 2014. So much so, that I asked Santa to bring my kids several items that we can enjoy together as a family.

As for my second goal, well—  Continue reading “2014 New Year’s Resolutions”

Holidays

Something to think about this holiday season

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu.
Is it that time already? Yesterday, I noticed workers were hanging lights downtown in my town. Are you ready for this? | Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are the type of person who believes you *must* buy your children every single over-priced item they wrote on their Christmas lists, think again.

Wanting builds character.

If you do not provide opportunities for your children to want for something, then you are depriving them of the opportunity to build character.

Just think how much money you could save this year with an attitude like that. Continue reading “Something to think about this holiday season”

Halloween, Holidays, NaNoWriMo

Happy Smashing Pumpkins Day! (Oh yeah, and NaNoWriMO!)

Pretty pumkins, pre carving
These are the pumpkins we will be smashing today. Of course, they have since been gutted and carved, their rotting faces now caved in.

A few years ago, my sons and I started a new family tradition that they look forward to almost as much as Trick-or-Treating. We like to call it Smashing Pumpkins Day.

This day falls on November 1st, the day after Halloween, when the boys officially gain permission to take our now-rotting jack o’ lanterns out to the marsh behind our apartment complex and smash them to BITS! They love it.

What could be more fun than smashing pumpkins? Of course, if you smash someone else’s pumpkins, you’re a jerk. But there’s no harm in smashing your own pumpkins once their poor faces have sunken in. So today, as soon as my kids get home from school, they will gather up our jack o’ lanterns first thing and drag them out to the marsh. Each year, the boys come up with new and creative ways to pulverize their pumpkins. Let’s just say, we like to get our money’s worth. Continue reading “Happy Smashing Pumpkins Day! (Oh yeah, and NaNoWriMO!)”

Halloween, Writing Prompts

Writing prompt: Tell me a Halloween tale

Photograph of the headquarters building at Hic...
I worked in this building around the year 2000. It is probably the most haunted place I have ever been. | Photograph of the headquarters building at Hickam Field in 2005, still showing bullet and shrapnel damage to a wall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Halloween is coming. Spooky tales abound as the veil between this world and the next one thins. In my mom’s family, visiting ghosts are a yearlong occurrence. Several relatives insist my late aunt still hangs around my grandmother’s house. Although she has never made her presence known to me, I have been warned not to mention the ugly bathroom tiles she picked out before departing for the other side. Apparently, that’s still a sore spot with her.

In the early days of my ex-marriage, I lived in an apartment in Hawaii that I am pretty sure is haunted. It was just the two of us, with baby #1 on the way. We slept in the master bedroom and cluttered the second bedroom with junk. For some reason, that second bedroom gave us the creeps. If I needed the vacuum cleaner while my husband was out, I would run into the spare room as fast as I could, grab the vacuum cleaner, and fly back out, slamming the door behind me. It never occurred to us to start setting the room up for the baby, because our sixth senses told us we didn’t want our baby sleeping in there. Continue reading “Writing prompt: Tell me a Halloween tale”

Autumnal Equinox, Cooking, House and Home, Uncategorized

Welcome Autumn: How to make blackberry dumplings

blackerry dumplingsTo welcome autumn today, my sons and I are planning our own little at-home harvest festival, complete with a variety of cool-weather foods. We started the day off with a pan of my favorite blackberry dumplings.

My parents can’t seem to agree on where this recipe came from. My mom swears she got it from my dad’s grandma, Wilma Webster. My dad insists he never ate blackberry dumplings as a kid, so the recipe had to have come from my mom’s family. Either way, this has been a favorite recipe in my family throughout my entire life.

When I was a kid, my parents would bundle us up in long sleeves and long pants on some of the hottest days of summer. They dragged us out into the woods and shoved us into endless blackberry brambles where we would pick (and eat) until our plastic ice cream buckets were full and our hands were soaked with blackberry juice. Continue reading “Welcome Autumn: How to make blackberry dumplings”

Blogging, Holidays, House and Home, Parenting

Where have I been all this time? –And- My thoughts on STUFF

a graduate and her dad
My dad looks a little sleepy in this picture, but I look good, and he’s not online to see it and complain about it, so here ya go. I got my Master of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing from Mount Mary College on May 18th, 2013.

Hello there. I’ve been MIA from my blog for some time now. I hope you all didn’t miss me too much. This may turn into a long, rambling post with little to no point. I hope you don’t mind.

So, where have I been? First of all, I made it to graduation and crossed the stage on May 18th. I may now officially refer to myself as Mandy Webster, MS, MA. Wow, look at all those letters behind my name! I also got an A on my creative writing thesis (go me!) Graduation and all that goes with it is part of the reason why I’ve been largely absent from the blogosphere.

I was also wrapping up all seven of the courses I taught this semester (or quarter depending on which school I was teaching at.) Needless to say, after teaching seven courses and writing a thesis in one semester, my house was a bit of a wreck. Since graduation, I’ve been on a cleaning streak that has completely distracted me from all things academic. Continue reading “Where have I been all this time? –And- My thoughts on STUFF”

Holidays, Random Rants

Valentine’s Day tips

Children's Valentine, 1940–1950
Image via Wikipedia

Dear men,

It really is the thought that counts. As long as you show her that you think she’s worth thinking of, no matter what you do, it will be plenty.

Unless, of course, you’re one of those men Continue reading “Valentine’s Day tips”