"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Five on a Thursday Night

Happy Friday (or Thursday night for those who haven't yet gone to bed)! Hope you all have a great weekend ahead of you.

Here's my five:

1) I'm happy to say I actually read the Newbery winner BEFORE it won! (The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for those who haven't heard.) This has to be a first for me. And I know tons of people seem to be concerned with the knife chapter at the start. Really, this didn't bother me. It was smoothed over, quickly forgotten, and not gory or anything like that.
Thoughts from others who have read it?
(I'd have no problem letting my son read it when he wants to. And I am totally the kind of person who avoids serial killer movies and stuff like that these days.)


2) So I'm the proud new owner of not only a new ice maker, but new springs and cables for my garage door opener. The ice maker was easy - did it myself. The garage door stuff - I didn't even try. I took one look at the snapped cable and broken spring and looked in the phone book (yes, the actually book version).
Some things I will do. Some things I won't.


3) Finished Bliss by Lauren Myracle. Totally loved this book and totally recommend it. It's so not what I expected, and I was surprised in a very positive way. It's creepy. And I'm not sure I'm totally satisfied with the ending (which I guess means I want more. Wonder if a sequel is in the works?)
So now I'm starting The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga. Anyone read it?


4) So I tried something for the first time on Tuesday. I'd been wrapping up revisions on a project, so I printed it out and headed to the public library. I got there when they opened, found a table, and read the entire thing. No computer. No laundry or dishes. No changing errors as I found them. I marked them and kept reading.
Really, it's amazing how much different my manuscript looked. I could see word repetitions, bad transitions, all sorts of stuff. And this is on something I had read just the day before on the computer! I bet I marked 500 different things.
Totally, totally try this!


5) Huge computer improvement today. I bought and installed Registry Mechanic and Spyware Doctor. My computer would start running so slowly I wanted to chunk my mouse through the monitor. But the sane part of me realized that wouldn't help, so I followed my mom's advice and bought the software. It's great.
(Sidenote - if I'd followed my dad's advice, I would have started using my Mac full time.)

How's everyone's reading for the year going, BTW????? I'm so enjoying it!

Hope you guys all have a great weekend!

Monday, January 26, 2009

My duty to the next generation

Does anyone else remember that old calculator/Dolly Parton joke?
Seriously, please tell me I'm not the only one that had this stick in her mind like bubble gum.

Anyway, my 7-year-old was doing his homework yesterday and needed to use the calculator for a problem (it was a requirement). I took the opportunity and showed him the joke. Of course, since pop culture is never a good idea (in books or jokes), I had to modify the joke to take out Dolly Parton and use some generic replacement.

Nonetheless, he giggled and giggled and wrote it down. And I did give him permission to share it with his friends.
Is this bad?

Still don't remember the joke? It's out there on Google.


Of interest on Friday was the Cub Scout tour of the recycling plant.
Three things I learned about recycling:

1) The recycling plant smells even worse than the waste water treatment plant
2) Most of our recycled paper/plastic is sold to China
3) 90% of separation is still done by hand.


I saw this over on Tabitha's blog today, and loved it. She has an excellent post on voice today. What? You haven't read it? Get over there and read it right away.
Anyway, I quote, voice is:
"The things I think but don’t say aloud, except to my closest friends. "


I'd planned to watch the movie version of The City of Ember this weekend. I'd also planned to go see Inkheart (and seriously, like very movie Brendan Frasier is in I seem to like). Is it just me?
But instead of either of these, we watched The Fellowship of the Ring.

My son didn't think he'd like it. Instead he wanted to play with his castle legos - complete with dwarves and trolls. Yeah, after about one minute he was hooked.
We haven't watched the next two movies yet (OK, I have), so he's really bummed that Gandalf died. And equally upset about Boromir, but I don't predict good things as far as that goes.


The book I'm starting tonight: Bliss by Lauren Myracle. Anyone read it?

Hope you're all having a great Monday!

Friday, January 23, 2009

We Interrupt Five on a Friday for...

I'm so behind on responding to meme tags, so instead of my normal Five on a Friday, I'll go with a meme.

First off, thank you so much to everyone who has tagged me or given me an award. I totally love these, even if I am lax on passing them on. But thank you!!!!

OK, now for Six things that make me Happy. And really, I could have done this last night, but starting the day off thinking about the good things in life is nice. And I'm trying not to be deep, but as I was thinking about this, I realized there are really large scale things that make me happy in life and then there are small scale things. Macro and Micro if you will.
So I'm diverging from the norm and doing this in contrast. A Macro. A Micro.

OK, let's see.

Micro - This collage my daughter made. She loves to make collages (she loves art in general), and I love me some googly eyes.

Macro - That my children are creative and have a desire to learn and try new things. I can learn a lot from my kids.

Micro -
People who smile, wave, stop what they are doing to leave a bit of happiness in their wake. Wanting to be this kind of person.

Macro - My family, immediate and extended. And not just my husband and kids (and pets of course). My parents who read this blog but never comment. My sister. My cousins, aunts, uncles. And the list goes on. I've always felt blessed to be part of such a large family. (Dad was one of 10 kids and mom was one of 11. Yes, to answer your next question, they are both Catholic.)

- Seeing my book on not one but two shelves at Barnes & Noble yesterday. (Face out on one, so I had to explain to my son why it was OK for mommy to turn the cover out on the other shelf).

Macro - The writing community at large. I'm part of so many wonderful groups: All you bloggers, my awesome critique group, the Austin writing community, the Class of 2k8 (which I realize is over, but I have made so many friends through it). And who said writing is a lonely business?

- The gorgeous sunrise this morning while driving my son to school. (And in the short time it took to tell him I love him and kiss him goodbye, the colors shifted and day had come.)

Macro - Turning tree-hugger here - Being able to take the time to see the beauty of the world around me. They sky, water, plants, animals. Seriously, every single little thing is a miracle in and of itself.

- Reading a great book. I loved City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. It was that kind of book I didn't want to put down.

Macro - Being able to step back from a book and examine it. What worked. Why it worked. What didn't. And why. Because this will help me improve. And then maybe one day I'll have a movie made out of a book of my own :)

- Having someone say something nice about my books/writing.

Macro - Having the motivation to keep writing day after day. Having the desire to improve. Having ideas spring into my head. Feeling like I want to write for the rest of my life.

Please consider yourself tagged! This is a great thing to do no matter what.

And have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spontaneity and Pollyanna

First off, thank you so much everyone who weighed in on subplots! I'm not sure about you guys, but I found the comment thread amazingly helpful. If you haven't read the comments, seriously take some time and do so. I'd summarize it, but there's such a wealth of information, it would be hard to wrap up without leaving something out.

So spontaneity and Pollyanna - I'm pretty sure these have nothing to do with each other, but I keep forgetting to relay a funny story.

As you might know, I recently painted the kitchen bright red. I'm pretty sure my husband thinks it looks like he's engulfed in fire, but I'm happy with it; it's bright, cheerful, bold, and all those other things only red can be.
If I was a color, I'd be red.

Anyway, the tortoise habitat backs to the beautiful red wall. And the day I finished painting and moved the torts back in place, I walked by and noticed the larger of the torts staring at the wall.

Me: Look! King Tort loves the red wall!
Husband: How could you possibly know that?
Me: He's staring right at it.
Husband: Maybe he thinks he's died and gone to Hell.
Me: (Glare. Or maybe it was an eye-roll. I can't remember.)
Husband: Do you know what a Pollyanna complex is?

So I googled it and found it to be a state of severe optimism. At which point I was flattered. If there's one thing I want to be, it's an optimist.

(And I also want to acknowledge that when I comment, I use exclamation points all the time. I do try to control it, but I'm normally happy about what I'm saying, and I want people to know.
In my novels, I do not use exclamation points much at all.)


Switch topics.
I'm doing my best to take a week off revisions. Why is this so hard? I know every time I get some space from my WIP, I come back so much fresher. Not to mention I have some beta readers reading it for me now (thanks!). And even though I know this, it's still a long week.

In passing the time, I've been reading.
(Finished Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus - I'll just say there were lots of characters. My mind had a hard time getting around all of them.)
(Starting City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. I realize I'm the only person on the planet who hasn't read this.)

And I realized (this is where the ex-engineer stuff comes in) that three of our DVD players were bad. The odds of this are inconceivable (Princess Bride, anyone), but it's really true. So I bought a new one (which was bad, also!!!!!), returned it, and bought another which works beautifully.
(I knew it was the players as the DVDs did work in our computers).

So here comes the spontaneity part...

On the way to Fry's Electronics to get the DVD player, I saw something going on in the parking lot, backed up the car, and parked.
So cool - the Hobbytown was having a model/toy/hobby gas-powered car race. These things flew around the track. The kids loved it, and we ran into friends there.
The message I got - when life presents you with a spontaneous opportunity, take a chance and explore it. You may have a great time and get to do something a little bit different!

Now how many days until I can work on WIP again?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


So I've been thinking a lot about plots and subplots lately. One thing I'm really trying to work on is knowing my plot and using it to drive the novel forward. Which is simple, right?

In theory I totally get this (at least I understand it).
But then comes the subject of subplots.

  • What defines a subplot?
  • When are subplots needed?
  • When are subplots OK even when not needed? (Must they tie into the main plot and if so how majorly?)
  • How many subplots are too many?
  • How many subplots are too few?
  • If we put in subplots don't we run the risk of going off too far from our main plot?
  • Am I the only writer who wonders about this subject?

I'm sure we can all pull out the old Harry Potter example and say, "Look at all the masterful subplots JK Rowling managed so well in Harry Potter."
But in all seriousness, who cares if the house elves have hats knitted for them (HP5)? While reading it, I certainly didn't care. And when making the movie, what was the first thing to go? Hats for the house elves.
Second, since I did mention Harry Potter, I contend that a first-in-a-series novel would never get published with such a subplot in it. The editor would be like, "We need to cut words. Get rid of the knitted hats."
So, please for the purpose of this discussion, if you mention Harry Potter, stick with book 1.

So really, please weigh in with your thoughts. I'll hold my thoughts to myself so I don't sway any opinions!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Five on a Friday

Happy Friday! We have a four day weekend here (including today), and our big plans are:

1) Continuing on with HipWriterMama's 30 day challenge. My unclutter goals for the week are
  • to go through my old work box and old monogrammed baby stuff and put away / deal with as necessary
  • to paint the ceiling where the upstairs toilet had leaked through
  • to fold the seven loads of laundry waiting so patiently for me in my bedroom (but seriously, I'm not taking my valuable writing/revising time to fold clothes, hence the waiting until the weekend).

2) Work on science-fair project. My awesome critique buddy, Christine Marciniak, had the wonderful suggestion of doing a comparison of alphabets around the world (both old and new) and my son loved the idea so we're going with that.

3) Re-read Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Brown and Dave King. Also read (I've started) Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus which is great so far.

4) Watch more Star Trek: The Next Generation. Firstly, I totally forgot what a main part Tasha Yar had in the first season. Personally I think it was a horrible career move for her to leave the show. Because aside from Pet Cemetery, what has she really been in since? Secondly, at the rate my kids are loving these, they'll be ready to go to a convention soon.

5) Refine Cub Scout Derby Car. We had the practice run last night, and though our awesome car did in fact cross the finish line, it was the slowest in each of its races. I need to sand it down and make it a bit more aerodynamic.

Hope you guys have as productive as a weekend as I plan to!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dewey, Books, Shout-outs

On Dewey, I give you a visual reminder of just how the Dewey Decimal system is organized. My librarian even made up a song which she sang for me.

Today in the library the second biggest topic for the second graders was money (like books on the topic). The first?

My book :)

That's right. The Emerald Tablet.
My son's teacher started reading it aloud to the class, so the whole time during library the kids were talking about it. Where it was on the shelf? If it was checked out?
So then I snuck out of the library a couple minutes early to head down to the classroom to be the mystery reader. How fun is that! The kids even laughed at the funny parts (which I find encouraging because this means they are, in fact, funny).
Cute things were one girl asking me if I'd ever seen anyone levitate and two other kids play-fighting saying, "I'm going to levitate you."

My writing update:
Entrenched in revisions. But they're going well. And I'm tossing around a new story idea in my head which is always fun.

My realization:
Cub Scouts can get you a tour anywhere. We've been to the Wastewater treatment plant, the TV studio, and next week we're off to the recycling facility. I'm going to have to start figuring out where I need to tour (for book research) and then arrange a Cub Scouts outing to go there.

My reading udpate:
Finished reading Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris by R. L. LaFevers.
Finished reading (aloud to the kids - this is not in the 50 books since it's a re-read for me) James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.

Starting Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus.
Starting reading (aloud) From The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (yes, this is the winner - The Hobbit will be next).


A few notes for others:

First, if you're going to be in town (that is Austin) on Saturday, head to the Arboretum Barnes & Noble to hear Emma Virjan read her awesome book Nacho the Party Puppy.
Emma says,
"We’ll be playing My Name is Nacho, written and recorded by Austin’s own Ray Benson. (Nacho asked Ray to write a song and he did!) You can go to Nacho’s site to hear it. And if you’d like, sign up for Nacho’s Birthday Club while you’re at it. Heck, buy a t-shirt if you want."


Next up, if you've always dreamed of being a black belt, now is your big chance to take the leap and get started! What better New Year's Resolution than to sign up for martial arts. And it just so happens the Kung Fu school I attend is having an open house this Saturday.

New Location, New Year
Grand Opening OPEN HOUSE
Saturday Jan. 17th
3-4:30 for adults
4:30-5:00 for kids

Demonstrations, intro sessions, food, and special offers, all in our new school THIS Saturday!

Click here for details! So go, OK?


Finally, if you don't already know, here's your opportunity to support the Texas Library Association Disaster Relief Fund (think Galveston and other Gulf Coast libraries) by purchasing a $5 raffle ticket to win Don's portrait of Ellington. To learn more, check out these interviews with Don and TLA librarian Jeanette Larson.

Click here for details!


Hope you're all having a great week!

Monday, January 12, 2009

On Power Tools, Projects, and Revising

Saturday we had a record-breaking crowd of over 90 people attend our monthly SCBWI meeting. Over 90 people!!!
So who'd they come to see? The fab Jenny Ziegler. Sure she has two awesome novels out now (Alpha Dog and How Not to be Popular), but did you have any idea she also wrote many many books for Mass Market YA Series including Alias: Recruited (Bantam, 2002) A New York Times Best Seller for Children?

Jenny was fantastic and totally wowed the crowd. Here she is in all her speaking glory! Her funniest line:
"I've been Francine Pascal more times than I've been myself."

I was thrilled to see the local authors section at BookPeople. Notice that pretty cover in the middle on the left? Yep, that's The Emerald Tablet by none other than me. Thanks, BookPeople!

So aside from revising like a lunatic and going to SCBWI on Saturday, I finished painting the kitchen red and worked on my son's Cub Scout Pinewood Derby car.

I won't post a picture of the car until it's painted, but let's just say the three hours spent yesterday with every power tool I own paid off big time. There was the jigsaw, the drill, the router, the sander, and the wizard. OK, so not every tool, but still.
The husband and I figured out how to use our Router (used for the first time), which we got 11 years ago as a wedding present. I felt that really bonded us while figuring out how to get the router bit in it. But I have to add - a router is as awesome power tool. Way cool. I am already envisioning signs I will make to hang above the kid's doorways.

One might ask if I'm so deep in revisions, why would I bother to take the time to paint the kitchen and spend hours on a derby car? Which is a valid question.
I could go with the answer I gave my husband when he asked about the kitchen.
I took down the tapestry and needed to patch the holes but I didn't have any extra touch-up paint and Home Depot doesn't make that color anymore so I'd have to get it matched so I went with something new.
Which for the record is true.
But actually getting away from the computer is a blessing. Focusing full force on something else—especially labor intensive—gives me time to think. I can work out problems in my mind, think of ways to rework issues, all that good stuff.
Because even when I'm away from the revisions, I'm still always working on the revisions.
So here's a thought for a Monday...
Start a project (non-writing related) around the house.

So how's everyone reading for the year coming along? I'm still on Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris but only because I've been so engrossed in my own revisions, I haven't spent much time reading. But still I'm working on being consistent.

So I'm trying to decide...for the next read-aloud to my kids should I read The Hobbit or From The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Five on a Friday

Why does it feel like FOREVER since I've done a Five on a Friday? Holidays? Other posts taking precedence. Yeah, I guess it has been forever.

Here goes (this ended up very book-centric. Not so much of the slice-of-life. Next week I'll focus on slice-of-life Five on a Friday):

1) I'm reading Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris by R. L. LaFevers. Have you read the Theodosia books, yet? If not, you should. This is the second in a series (Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos was number one).

2) I'm going to start doing a book review once a month (at the prompting of fab author Barrie Summy whose book I So Don't Do Mysteries is amazing and you should run out and buy it today!). She's going to do a review roundup on the first Wednesday of each month.

To this point, I've hesitated on actually reviewing books. I don't want to post a "review" that is nothing but "ooh, I loved this". And I feel weird putting my opinions on books out for public consumption.
Regardless, I view this as an exercise in learning to critique better. Praising the positive. And pointing out the room for improvement in an acceptable way.

3) I'm totally looking forward to our monthly SCBWI meeting tomorrow. It's the first meeting at BookPeople (fab Austin independent bookstore), and Jenny Ziegler is going to be the amazing speaker (who also happens to be one of the nicest people I know, BTW). I read Jenny's book How Not to be Popular last year and laughed out loud so many times people started staring at me on the airplane. If you're looking for a great laugh, check it out!

4) On read-alouds...
My son's class is starting The Emerald Tablet as their read-aloud. They'd just started it when the bell to end school went off. So the teacher tells me "All I read was The Mirror Comes To Life".
I said "That sounds familiar" and then it dawned on me that was because it is my book :)

I'm reading James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl aloud to my son and daughter. They are way, way hooked. And so far this book is as engaging as I remember it being way back when.
The cover of my James and the Giant Peach, BTW. Don't you love seeing the old covers of the books you treasured?

5) On hooks...
Thank you to Sheri for sharing this story with me. Her daughter's class had the homework assignment of finding a first sentence with a nice hook. As Sheri said, they read first line after first line, and then pulled out The Emerald Tablet. And then they were hooked. She even brought it in to share with the class.

The first line (in case you haven't read it):

"When Benjamin Holt saw his mom disappear into a pinprick of light, he shouldn't have been surprised; his life was already weird."

Thanks, Sheri and Sheri's daughter!

6) Yes, an extra this week :)
Check out my interview over on Keri Mikulski's blog this week. Thank you so much to Keri for hosting me. If you haven't read Keri's book Screwball yet, do it today!

And I keep forgetting to mention, if you didn't see my guest blog over on Cynsations (awesome blog of author Cynthia Leitich Smith), check it out!

Hope everyone has a great week!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

In a Word

So I thought long and hard. I had a word floating around in my head. It was inspired from a nice quote I saw back in December which really hit home.
Then my husband asked a question that made me reconsider.
I thought about it some more. And then I decided to go for it anyway.

My word for 2009?


Why exceed, you might ask? Here's the quote:

"The only certain means of success is to render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be."
-- Og Mandino, author

The message I read here:
Exceed Expectations.
Go beyond what the standard is.
Do the extra revision.
Send the extra email.
Make your presentation better than people think it will be.

Seems like a great word, but then my husband (not in relation to any of this word stuff) asked me a question the other night.
"Do you think 'too' is a negative word?"

Initial reaction - no, of course not.

But then he pointed out that 'too' generally referred to excess (as in too much candy).
And the 'excess' in this made me stop and think about my word exceed.

Regardless, the word felt right for what I want to accomplish in 2009. I want to learn to be the person who gives 110%. Because with this extra effort I believe will come success.

Thanks to everyone who played the word game!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Goodbye to 2k8 and I need a Word!

Everyone seems to have a word for the new year.
I LOVE this idea! And I need a word of my own.

Kids are going back to school on Monday. I'm kicking in to some serious revision time. And let me just say for the record, I'm blogging at night so once I get home from Kung Fu in the AM, I can get right to work.
I may take a small break to paint a kitchen wall red...no wait, scratch that. I'll paint the wall after I pick my kids up from school.
Which will give me from about 9:00 AM until 2:30 PM to work on WIP.
Which equals Bliss. Pure and Simple.

I for one am psyched for the reading challenge. Fifty books in 2009. Thanks to everyone who's doing it also or has mentioned it on their blog! The more who read, the merrier!
Last night I stayed up late finishing off The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and tonight I should finish Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale. I realize this second one is a bit short, but with War and Peace on the list, I don't feel too terribly bad. Next up...I'll have to check my bookshelf and see what screams at me. If you're dying to know, I'll update Goodreads "currently reading" once I decide.

And minor spoiler alert on The Graveyard Book...
I really did like the book, but didn't quite "get" what the Jacks of all Trades did that was so horrible they had to be destroyed except to kill the prophesied boy, and if they always killed off the family of the prophesied boy, then how did the family ever survive and how did they know which family it even was in the first place. Did I miss something here?
But I LOVED the whole graveyard and old graves!

So it's been a great year. And one of the best things this past year was being a member of The Class of 2k8. If you're looking for some books to put on your list or to give as presents, please check out our website. (Being the webmaster,) I've moved it to a semi-static state where it will hopefully remain for the duration of 2009.
All year I bought the 27 books, looking forward to each one in turn. And as an honor to the group which helped me and The Emerald Tablet so much throughout the year, I give you a picture of my Class of 2k8 bookshelf, shown here between my yearbooks and my wedding photos.

Here's my next suggestion, since we're talking so much about reading:
Support debut authors. And not only lead title ones. Check out some of the other books, the ones not getting tons of marketing dollars thrown at them. There are some gems out there.
The wonderful thing about books is not everyone likes the same thing. I've read some lead titles recently that I wasn't overly impressed with. Similarly, I've read mid-list books I didn't want to put down. So be daring and branch out.

And have a great week!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

50 Books Challenge in 2009!

Happy New Year! My kids had a blast drinking sparkling wine and sharing the Polish tradition of Oplatki (which we did on Christmas Eve as tradition dictates, but the kids really wanted to do it again last night while sharing the sparkling drinks).
Thanks to cousin Anna for sending it!

We also got the entire season of Star Trek: The Next Generation on DVD for Christmas and have made it to episode 10 by now.
New Year's Resolution - Watch them all together.

My son's reaction on watching the ball drop - "That's it?"
Yes, I remember that being my reaction, too. I thought the giant ball would smash and make a grand explosion, and apparently he did, too.

Our annual New Year's Eve picture (we take one every year. It's our top priority for New Year's Eve. I need to Photoshop the tortoises into the picture so they make it into the album, and also need to Photoshop the dog so we can see her face):

So here we go with the 50 Book Reading Challenge for 2009!

I started my list of books in the sidebar
(in alphabetical order, not reading order).

Yes, I know some people read way more than 50 books in a given year. Me, with all else going on...this seems just the right number. There are a few I know I need to add, and it will be evolving.

My rules
(and seriously, if you're doing the challenge, change these in any way you need and feel good about):

  • Cannot count anything you've read before (which is why I didn't add any books on writing craft I've already read. I plan to reread many of those throughout the year.)
  • No picture books.
  • Reading my own books doesn't count. Even if I read them 50 times during revisions.
  • Reading critique partners manuscripts doesn't count.
  • Mix it up so it's not all YA. I've listed some classics, some adult, and I plan to add some non-fiction.
  • When making my list, leave room for spontaneous reads, new releases that are "must reads", and anything I happen to pick up at the library during a given week.
  • Record what I read on Goodreads.

Currently, I'm reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I started it a couple days ago, but hardly got a chapter in, so for me, it makes the 2009 list.

Hope everyone is having a great new year! I've been a bit sparse on the blogging and commenting over the holidays, but it's only because the kids are home and computer time is few and far between. I'll be back at it full time on Monday!