Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Come Celebrate!

Today is Tara Tyler's blogaversary and she is celebrating!  In honor of this momentous occasion, she his having a blogfest where everyone brings their favorite recipe!  Yeah food!  So pop over to her blog and check out the festivities.  She's even giving out prizes.

Here is one of my favorite quick and easy recipes.  The kids and their friends love it and it can be modified easily for more adult tastes.

Quick Bean and Cheese Quesadillas:

Flour tortillas
Shredded Mexican cheese
1 can of fat free refried beans
chopped baby spinach (optional)
2 cloves garlic chopped (optional)
1/4 cup red onion slices (optional)

Spread a thin layer of refried beans onto one tortilla.  Lay preferred toppings on top of beans.  Here you can be really creative.  I usually use any veggies I have laying around but my favorites are spinach, garlic, and onion.  You could also use chopped cooked chicken.  Then sprinkle on your desired amount of cheese and lay a second tortilla on top.  Heat a nonstick frying pan to medium but don't put any oil in the pan. Lay quesadilla in pan.  When first side is browned carefully flip and cook until other side is browned as well.
Remove from pan and let cool for a minute or two.  Then cut with a pizza cutter and serve with salsa and sour cream/plain yogurt and enjoy!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Strange Inspirations

I have been trying to figure out a compelling beginning to my YA novel.  A lot of ideas have been floating around in my head, but I couldn't picture the right scene.  Then the other day I had to wait in the doctor's office for about a 1/2 hour.  I was all alone in this cold sterile room and all I could picture was my MC.  There she was in a cold, cave-like cell, held captive by a barbarian tribe.  What terrible plans did they have for her? She didn't want to hang around long enough to find out! She would have to use all her mental capacity to outwit these hulking creatures and set herself free.

I couldn't wait to get home and start writing!  Finally I had a good starting point.

Back home, I had a wonderful hour of non-interrupted writing which is highly unusual for me, and I finished the entire scene!  Yeah.  I'm so excited to finally be writing my novel instead of merely thinking about it.  I've used a lot of everyday scenes as inspiration before, but I never expected to find my opening at the doctor!

How have you come upon your opening scenes?

Kathy :)


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Join the Campaign!

I'm excited to be a part of the Platform Building Campaign run by Racheal Harrie.  It's going to run from
August 22- Oct 31.  Click the link above to check it out.
This is what Rachael says about the campaign.  "My Writers' Platform-Building Campaigns are a way to link writers, aspiring authors, beginner bloggers, industry people, and published authors together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms." 

It sounds like a great way for all of us to make great new connections, friends and followers.  I'm looking forward to learning a few new tricks of the trade as well!  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sparkfest Day 4

Well, we are on Day 4 of Christine Tyler's wonderful creation, Sparkfest.   Yeah!  Thanks Christine!

A lot of us seem to get our inspiration from books, newspaper articles, and movies.  But often I find myself inspired by where I am.  Gazing over a rugged landscape vivid with greens, blues and crisp whites somehow flips a switch in my brain.  I sit staring at the scene reaching for my notebook. I am driven, like a moth to the light, to describe the profound sense of inferiority yet connection that enters my being.  I drive my husband crazy with my sappy poetic speech. But, I could sit there all day pondering life's meaning and writing about it.  Maybe a story would never come of those inspired scribbles, but my inner being feels the need to express itself through writing as if my ancient ancestors had programmed me to do so.

Are there any place which have inspired your writing?

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sparkfest III- The Power of the Written Word

Alyssa and Ryan enjoying their books together.
Thanks to Christine Tyler I've been thinking a lot about what has sparked my writing and what books have had an impact on me.  I enjoyed reminiscing about all the great stories I have read and reading what others have posted.  I wondered how my life would have been different if I had never been exposed to Dr. Seuss or even Disney fairy tales.  I'm sure I would have turned out fine and not known I had missed anything, but I can't help but think that reading those stories opened my mind to a whole realm of creative possibilities which has enriched my life.  I now see the power that we, as authors hold over young minds.  We can create a story and a world which can influence the way a person thinks for the rest of their lives.  That's quite a responsibility!

This is where I come to George Lucas.  I don't think any other creative mind has affected me as much.  I was 5 when Star Wars first appeared on the big screen.  I was lucky that my Dad was a big sci-fi guy so we went 5 times to see it in the theaters.  When it finally came out on video, my brothers and I watched it over and over, memorizing all the lines. I decided that we would shoot our own version.  So I wrote down all the lines on note cards and began to assemble props and costumes.  I got a little discouraged when I realized we didn't have enough people in our family to play all the parts.  I thought about my tall grandpa playing both Chewie and Darth Vader.  But I kept writing the lines. We never did film anything.

Then in 1980,  The Empire Strikes Back came out.  I cried when Han Solo was frozen in carbonite.  But I knew that Luke would become a Jedi and make everything right again.  In the meantime, I worked on my own Jedi Knight skills.  (Ok, I realize that this makes me look like a huge nerd, but it's true).  My brothers and I dressed in black and sneaked around the house, we focused on objects to make them move (well maybe I was the only one that tried that, but I was sure that if I just concentrated hard enough it would work....I still haven't gotten it.), and we practiced our fighting skills on each other.  But I believed in Yoda's teachings like he was my Master as well.  "Try not....do or do not."  His ancient words echoed in my mind and they gave me the extra incentive to  accomplish things.

By the time Return of the Jedi came out, I was totally immersed in the galaxy Lucas had created.  I can't say that I ever became a Jedi Knight, but I would like to believe that I still live by their ancient philosophy to "use their powers for the good of the galaxy" and "always seek self-improvement through knowledge and training".

I only hope that I can live up to Yoda's standards.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sparkfest Continued!

Today's question for the Sparkfest sponsored by Christine Tyler is:

What book/author inspired your current WIP?

It's funny how some things we read stick with us our whole lives.  There are a few books which will never leave my mind and will probably influence almost everything I write.

Way back in 1990, when Clan of the Cave Bear was popular,  I found  Mother Earth Father Sky, by Sue Harrison.  It told the story of a young Inuit girl who lost her entire tribe to a rival group.  She must trek across the frozen landscape to find her place in an ancient world.
I was riveted by Harrison's description of pre-historic life in the arctic circle and the tale of a young girl struggling to grow up in a harsh world.

Much later I was fascinated by anything about French or British Kings and Queens.  I read everything I could find about King Arthur, Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution.  One of my favorites was Young Elizabeth by Alison Plowden.  My heart ached for Elizabeth yet I could see how her troubled young life helped mold her into the powerful Queen she became.  

In all of these books I loved the strong female characters and knew that I wanted my MC modeled after their strength.

Recently, I have also gotten a lot of inspiration from Jess, (my daughter), over at Write Skate Dream.  Her focus and determination to finish her novel has sparked me to be more focused on mine.  And all of you great blog friends and followers that I have met over the last year have been wonderful in supporting my writing and reminding me how much I love the creative process.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Wow I had so much fun yesterday with Ellie Garratt's Star Trek blog fest that I had to do another one.  So today I am happily participating in Christine Tyler's Sparkfest. It runs through August 26th.  Today I am going to start with her first question.

What book made you realize you were doomed to be a writer?

I don't think it was one particular book for me.  I think it was three main events which made me realize I was a writer.  Even before I could read, I wanted my Dad to read Dr. Seuss  books to me over and over again.  He read "Green Eggs and Ham" so often, he started reading it backwards (even pronouncing the words backwards).  I loved hearing the rhythm and the sounds of the words, even in reverse.

When I was a little older and could read for myself, I found Howard Pyle's The Story of King Arthur and His Knights.  I was spellbound as if by Merlin himself.  I couldn't read it enough.

Then in 5th grade, my English teacher gave weekly assignments where we had to create a story using all of our spelling words.   This was the best part of my school week.  I was in class but I entered my own made up world with scenes of lint balls "absorbing" the school and people "transforming" into bacon.  I knew that this was my calling.

Come back tomorrow to check out what inspired my current WIP.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Star Trek As We Know It Blogfest

Lt. McKendry reporting for duty, Captain.
First of all, I want to thank Commander Garrett for hosting this blogfest.  It was lots of fun to think about all the episodes.
I got into Star Trek because my brother and my Dad were big fans.  I loved it!  Captain Kirk was gorgeous and I loved all the cool space gadgets.  I could never really get into the Next Generation though.  I was too attached to the old cast.
Last weekend we started introducing our kids to the originals with the first pilot episode and we are working our way through watching the whole first season.  My 7 year old son was laughing at the "graphics" but he loved the stories.

My Favorite Characters:

Captain James T. Kirk--Is there any more I can say?

Spock-- I love his confusion at Kirk's illogical notions

Dr. McCoy-- The good doctor's humor is infectious.

Lt. Uhura-- She's just awesome!

Mr. Sott--  He always finds a way to get those engines running.

Favorite Episodes (from original series) /Movies:

The Trouble With Tribbles--Oh they were so cute!  I really thought I could have one as a pet. (I was pretty young)

Day of the Dove--The alien who fed on negative energy, it made my brothers and I think twice before squabbling.

The Voyage Home- Movie-  My favorite line is from Scotty:  "Computer....computer?" "How quaint!"

The Enterprise Incident-- Who doesn't love the Romulan cloaking device?

The Wrath of Khan-- I never forgot that earwig scene.

Live Long and Prosper
Lt. McKendry signing off

So Many Flavors

Grandma and Grandpa came in for a lovely visit this weekend.  We had a great time with them.  We went for a walk, hung out, and watched movies.  The kids challenged Grandma to Wii boxing and tennis.  Ryan wasn't too happy when she beat him.

We decided to end the night with an overload of sugar.  We made a dark chocolate torte and bought 6 pints of Jeni's specialty ice cream like wildberry lavender, bourbon buttered pecan, and salty caramel.    Everyone got a tiny spoon to sample every flavor.  Then we filled our bowls with our favorites.  The kids loved the idea of getting to choose from so many flavors.  It was so much better than going to the ice cream shop and choosing just one.

My favorite was wildberry lavender not just because it was purple.  What's your favorite ice cream flavor?  Or do you prefer sorbet, or gelato?

Hope every one had a great weekend!


Friday, August 19, 2011


My husband is a big tough guy...or at least he pretends to be. This morning he was laying on the couch enjoying a good book, when he jumped up shouting "Spider!"  He jumped off the couch as fast as a my 7year old jumps up for dessert. He quickly grabbed a shoe and began smacking the pillow where he assumed it was hiding. But the furry little guy didn't show himself.  My husband,with shoe held high, awaited his prey.

I saw what was happening and thought this stand-off would never end unless I came to his aid.  Carefully, I peeled back the couch cushion, prepping myself for a giant arachnid to lunge at me.  Nothing.  The kids were all standing around us now, cheering us on.  They had faith that we would protect them from the invader.  I decided we had to make a drastic move.  We had to pull the lever to release the foot rest.  I grabbed the lever.  The foot rest popped out and there he was.  A tiny little black spider, no bigger than an ant, scrambled across the floor.  I only had a second to feel bad for the little guy before my husband squashed him.  I couldn't believe all that commotion for such a tiny creepy creature.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Little Scared

Summer was so much fun!

Well summer is almost done and school is just around the corner. But I'm a little scared of what lies ahead of me.  This year I'm going to be homeschooling my 7 year old son. He did very well in school last year, but he was bored and he hated getting on the bus in the morning when his sisters were staying home.

I've homeschooled my daughters now for a while and we have worked out a good system, but I'm afraid it's going to be a whole new ball game with him. First of all I know he will need a lot more individual attention (that means less writing time for me, darn!).  Secondly, his idea of a day's work consists of 6 hours figuring out all the secrets and intricacies of his newest video game. He also can't stand being wrong.  His first reaction to getting a problem wrong is to slam down the pencil and storm away. So why did I agree to this?  I guess I love challenges.... and I love having him home.

Wish me luck!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Old Dog, New Tricks

Gramps with his free tech support.
The old cliche says that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  But I happen to know this is not true...at least not  all the time. In fact it depends on what the dog wants.

For a long time my grandpa, who turns 90 in 3 weeks, marveled at the capabilities of our laptop.  He kept saying he should get one of his own. Finally he did.

His new laptop doesn't have a ton of capabilities but he can create any sort of document he could want and more importantly he can access the internet.  He says, "Back in the 1930's we had to go to a library or search in an encyclopedia for information, sometimes it could take weeks, now we have anything at the touch of a button!  It's amazing."

It's not all fun though.  He gets frustrated when pop-ups appear. He doesn't realize he can close them.  Or a page will load slowly and he thinks it's his fault. But as with anything else in his life, he keeps at it.   Then yesterday, my daughter Jessica said, "Mom look, I'm talking to Gramps on Google chat!"    Move over Smith Corona this old dog has just gone digital!

Do you know any "old dogs" that have learned a new trick recently?  and what inspired them to do so?

Have a great day!

Kathy :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It Has Arrived!

Yeah!  The awesome WriteOnCon, (free online writing conference), has started.  I'm excited to see what new knowledge it will bring.  So far I have already gotten great tips on how to pace dialog and how to construct a great first sentence.  There are many other topics coming and even some live events to join.

There are plenty of forums for different genres.  You can even submit parts of your manuscript or query to have it critiqued by others. I've already submitted two of my picture book manuscripts.  I can't wait to see the feedback I receive.  There are also some sneaky agents roaming around all the threads.  Cool, huh?  It is a great opportunity to see what others think about your writing.  It runs from today until Thursday.  So head on over to http://writeoncon.com/ and check it out.

Have a great day!

Kathy  :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Leibster Award and Great Friends!

 Family and friends are my dearest treasures.  Everywhere we have lived I have been lucky to find lots of new friends. When I decided to start a blog I didn't know anyone online.  But everyone I've met has been super supportive and I'm so excited about all the cool new blogging buddies I have.  One of my buddies has just bestowed upon me the Leibster Award for friendship. Thanks so much to Rosalind Adam for this award.  Yeah!  Visit her and send her some extra love! It is great to have an award to celebrate this wonderful community.

I'm going to pass this award on to these friends of mine.  Check out all the great things they have to say.

Heather M. Gardner-- Waiting is the Hardest Part
Jessica McKendry -Write Skate Dream
Alyssa McKendry My Friend the Ice
Katie O'Sullivan -Katie O'sullivan
Tara Tyler -Tara Tyler Talks
Laura  --Daily Dodo


Writing to Music

My daughter, Jessica,  loves to write her novel with music blasting in her ears.  I wondered how she could possibly concentrate with lyrics pouring into her brain. I like my surroundings to be peaceful when I write. Unfortunately I don't get this situation often.  (Like right now when I have kids bouncing around on my bed!) 
I remember, my old Creative Writing teacher turning on Classical music to inspire our most colorful prose.  It did seem to spark my imagination, but I've never really repeated the exercise, until today.  Jessica convinced me to try writing to some of my favorite songs. She helped me set up my playlist, handed me a pair of headphones and set me free to see what I could accomplish.  I was amazed at how I could block out the other noise of the household and focus on what I was creating.   I did start humming along, off key I'm sure, but I was able to compose more material than normal.  I probably won't plug into the music all the time, but occasionally it's good to try a new approach.  I'm glad I listened to my daughter.

Do you write to music?  If so, what's your favorite?  If not, what kind of environment do you  need to be most productive?


Friday, August 12, 2011


I don't know how you keep track of all the great blogging ideas floating around through your head, but because I can never find the same pad of paper more than once, I try to keep a  running list of all my fab ideas in my "edit posts" page on my blog.  I give each one a title and then jot down a little blurb that will jog my memory.  Like "Kids"--How they teach me more than I teach them!--
 When I can't think of something to write I peruse my old thoughts and try to find a topic that fits with my mood of the day.  Well as I was searching through my notes, I came upon one entitled "Awesome".  I figured I must have had something really great to say.  So I opened it up with anticipation.....there was a blank screen.  Whatever I was thinking of was so awesome that I couldn't even put it into words!


Have a great weekend! :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011


The other day I was looking through a bunch of old papers. Carefully tucked away in an old blue folder, I discovered my very first attempt at a novel, which I wrote when I was 17.  There were 36 typewritten pages, I don't remember if I used our first computer or our old typewriter (yikes!), and a whole legal pad of handwritten pages.  I couldn't believe that I still had this first manuscript.  I figured with all of our moving around it was simply gone.   I excitedly sat down to read it.

I wasn't exactly thrilled with my prose, but reading through the ideas I had held as a teen was a flashback to my life at that time.  It jogged memories that I hadn't thought of in 20 years!  My daughter, Jessica,  who is about to finish her first novel, pleaded for me to type it all in to our computer so that she could read it.  (Kids these days have to read things on a computer!)  I told her I was a little embarrassed by how rough my writing was, but she said, "Mom, I'll help you fix it up and you can finally finish it." I wasn't too sure that I wanted to take the time to do that since I have so many other projects I'm working on.  But once I started typing it in, the story began to grow on me and I began to remember what I was thinking of at the time I had written each page.  It was incredible. So I've decided that even though the writing itself needs a ton of work the ideas can be used.  I'll finish typing it in so I'll always have that first copy and then I'll get down to the real work of totally rewriting it.

I'd love to hear if you regularly go back  and rework stories you've already written, or do you just start new?


You can check out Jessica's blog and her progress on her novel here: write skate dream

Well I'm off now to have one of my students take a skating test.  Wish her luck!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wrestling on the Stairs

Today as I was wrestling with the vacuum on the stairs, I wondered how it's possible that humans have not been able to invent a lightweight vacuum that is capable of sucking up more than dust.  I tried a handheld battery powered one once.... I think the carpet looked dirtier after using it.   Then I tried a light weight plug in variety.  I slow roasted a brisket faster than I got the steps clean that day, but at least they were eventually clean.  So now I'm stuck lugging my over-sized vacuum up and down the stairs.  Of course the head of the vacuum doesn't fit on the step so I kind of have to balance it with one hand while I use the other to control the hose end.  Even with this mega vacuum's power, I have to loosen the strands of hair that are stuck like velcro deep in the carpet fibers.

If we could only harness the unbelievable power of computers and put that to use on a new age vacuum.  Maybe Apple could come up with special sucking app for the i-Pad.  Then I could vacuum the steps and blog at the same time.


Monday, August 8, 2011

A New Experience

Taking your daughters shopping is supposed to be one of those special treats for moms.  But just a few days ago I realized that my daughters were already 14 and 12 and I still had not taken them on a real shopping trip. I know this sounds crazy! Of course I have bought them clothes over the years. But usually we run to the store and buy a replacement pair of pants for the school's choir concert or whatever function is about to take place.  We never go to the mall for the sole purpose of getting lost in the racks upon racks of new clothes.  I decided this had to change.  We had to share this experience at least once before they go to college.  
So we set the day and we were happy to finally be shopping together.   The first couple stores we went into didn't have what they were looking for.  Alyssa found a t-shirt that she kind of liked but I convinced her that we could come back if that was all she found.  After that everywhere they looked they found something.  Even Ryan was getting into the spirit, though there were far more girl's stores than boy's.  They all tried things on and modeled for each other.  The girls fawned all over Ryan when he came out in his spiffy new ensembles. He ate up all the attention and didn't seem to mind that there were fewer stores for him.  I was delighted that everyone was having a great time but being rather cheap, I mentally computed the dollar signs adding up on my credit card statement and told them they needed to only pick a few of their favorites.  They complied and after about 2 1/2 hours we had wandered through almost every store.  

Back at home we rested our sore feet and they compared their treasures.  I was a little afraid I would hear, "he got more than me!", or some other utterance of the sort.  But by some happy miracle they all got the exact same number of items!

All in all, it was a wonderful experience and we will definitely go again!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ambush on the Ice!

They got me!
The other day at work my teen-aged students were all feeling a little goofy. I could tell they were up to something, I just didn't know what.  I skated over to see what was going on.  Bad idea!  A snowball came whizzing at me from one direction and another girl smashed one in my hair.  We all laughed but I made ready my plans for revenge.  They got back to work.  I had them gather around to talk about a particular skill.  I made my move.  I was only able to get one of them with my snowball, but it felt good for a moment.  Until the snow ran into her face.  Then I felt bad, but she laughed and vowed to get me back. Near the end of the session, I spied some of them trying to accumulate a secret snow stash.  I pretended not to notice, I figured I would simply evade them.  But just as the time was up, I felt someone grab my sweatshirt. Then an avalanche of snow spilled down my back and nestled into all the layers I was wearing. I must have looked like a dog trying to shake water from his coat as I tried to shake the snow out.  But it was fast melting against my skin.  There was only one thing left to do.  I jumped off the ice, and started crazily peeling my extra layers off.  My students surrounded me and we all roared with laughter.  I decided I didn't want to get them back.  I guess in this instance it was really more fun to
receive than to give.

Kathy  :)  

When we're not throwing snow at each other we do actually work hard!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dancin in the Rain

We were hit with a sudden deluge of giant warm raindrops today as we were leaving the arena.  We ran across the parking lot to the car so we wouldn't get wet.  By the time we got home it was coming down even harder.  We pulled into the garage.  We were going to go inside, but something happened.  The rhythmic beat of the rain on the pavement beckoned us. All other sounds disappeared.  Alyssa went first, then the rest of us followed.  We ran out into the downpour and danced around.  I'm sure our neighbors gazed upon us with raised eye brows.  Our clothes were dripping and our shoes were soggy. But the warm water nourished our souls.  Back inside we changed clothes and dried off quickly, but the exhilaration of doing something different will stay with us all.


Happy August!

Sorry my posts have been irregularly scheduled, it's been crazy around here lately.  I will try to be more consistent in August.