30 Day Challenge: Day 9 – A Trip Down Memory Lane

Yoga: check. Biking: check.

Another adorable moment on the bike ride to school this morning, one I wouldn’t have seen from the car. We rode past a teenage couple sitting in on a blanket in the driveway. She wore a hoodie and shorts, and had her phone in her hand. He wore shorts, and the rest of him was under a Jeep with an open hood. Tools — wrenches, sockets, that sort of thing — were scattered on the blanket between them. It was a sweet blast from the past, because I’ve been that girl, with Mr. C, except this was back in the Middle Ages, so I had a book. He and his brother were really into cars. Mustangs. At one time Mr. C owned four of these:


Four is three too many, but who am I to judge?

Four is three too many, but who am I to judge?

All bought as junk, all rebuilt, except for the “winter driver” Pace Car, which had a V8 in it, and an unreliable exhaust system. I learned to drive a stick in that car, in a snow storm. (It made sense at the time) He also owned a Mustang SVO. 84, I think, or maybe 84 1/2. That matters. Anyway, it looked like this:

This one's an '86. They all looked alike to me.

This one’s an ’86. They all looked alike to me.

I married the boy I used to hand tools to, and just last week – 25 years into the whole “five cars is too many/no, five cars is just right” debate, we were talking about the pace of our lives, and whether or not we could realistically slow it down. Biking does that for me. I add ten minutes to routes I would normally drive, and arrive a little more alert to my surroundings, and appreciative for the occasional slow trip down memory lane.


Baby Sweater on the Cutest Baby Ever!

I’m what’s known in the industry as an unreliable narrator. 😉

This is actually my son’s stuffed dinosaur wearing Elizabeth Zimmerman’s February Baby Sweater. My niece is due to arrive very soon, so I’m glad I finished it on vacation.

Rexy wears this very reluctantly, I can assure you.


He’s all boy-dino, and I nearly lost fingers to those sharp teeth when I dressed him, but in return for raw meat he acquiesced and let me take the picture.

Backlist Glom

Alison Kent recommended thriller writer Karin Slaughter‘s Fallen just before I left for vacation. Once I realized it was a series, and a freakin’ good one, I borrowed the first two from the library, then picked up a couple to read on vacation. Once I realized the Will Trent series was connected to her previous Grant County series, I had to read those, too. Which lead to this picture of the first page of my Kindle.

This list extends into the 2nd page…a total backlist glom. I’m reading Beyond Reach now, but slowly, after inhaling Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn yesterday. I know what happens at the end of Beyond Reach (no surprise to anyone who started a Slaughter-fest with the Will Trent series) so I’m ready slowly. Despite the characters’ glaring flaws, I’ve come to love them. Happiness, like justice, is a difficult thing to quantify. These books don’t end with everything all right for everyone. They end with some characters a little better off than they were, and others a little worse, still others dead. I’ve absolutely loved the ride.

What’s on your Kindle?

Mother’s Day Garden on the 4th of July

For Mother’s Day this year Hub and Small Boy built me a garden, my first garden ever. On the recommendation of a friend we used Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew to plan the garden, and found it wonderfully simple. Here’s a picture of the garden about a week later:

Mother's Day Garden - one week in









Here’s the garden today, roughly seven weeks after planting:














I know! Holy kittens, right? Apparently when you plant seeds in good dirt and water them, they grow WILDLY. The biggest tomato:









Beans and peas, ripening nicely:














Gardening is much like writing. You start with empty earth that’s hopefully rich in nutrients like real life experiences, other books you’ve read or written, movies, music, your own inner world, and you do the basic stuff like water the garden and look after it every day, and things will grow. You’ll harvest some of what grows for the book you’re working on, while other fruit will get stored for the next project. The book I’m working on feels a little like this garden, wildly bountiful but a tad overgrown, a little out of control, but the smell of good earth and the joy of seeing something grow out of nearly nothing is such a reward.

Happy 4th of July to you and yours. May it be full of good things.

WHAT SHE NEEDS and the Sizzling Summer Book Club

WHAT SHE NEEDS, now available from Spice Briefs, is the Smart Bitches Trashy Books/All Romance eBooks September Book Club Selection!

Now available from Spice Briefs
What would you do to get what you need?

Thanks to All Romance eBooks for giving a great discount on the book. It’s $1.50 after rebate…that’s a sweet price for a spicy hot, brief-yet-oh-so-satisfying story! I’ll be chatting with SB Sarah and readers on Sunday, September 26, 2010 starting at 9:30 CDT. The chat itself starts at 8:30 CDT (1 hour earlier) and you won’t want to miss it! Stop by the SBTB blog to sign into the chat for fun, drinks recipes, and a great discussion!

Want to know more? Visit the WHAT SHE NEEDS page for a blurb and an excerpt…

It’s Like Riding a Bike

My son turned six a few weeks ago. The kid’s always been big, like 98th percentile for height and weight from birth (which wasn’t easy, let me tell you) and inherited my awkwardness. Unlike many of his peers he’s very calculating when it comes to the pain/reward ratio. At swim lessons when the other kids were jumping into the pool regardless of the water depth, my son would gauge where he could get in and still touch the bottom of the pool with his head above water. He learned very quickly that falling over on a bike hurts, and therefore would do his absolute best not to fall over. He got pretty good at pedaling, okay at stopping without running into a stationary object – car, parental unit, curb – but could not get himself started from a full stop.

But this weekend we put our collective parental feet down and told him he had to learn how to start the bike in motion by himself, without a push from Dad. His other friends are riding their bikes with ease, and he knows this. Peer pressure motivated him to ask us to take him to the school parking lot to practice, but he struggled to learn how to push the top pedal forward and lift his other foot off the ground and keep pedaling, all which keeping his balance. I could see he was getting frustrated with each failed attempt. He wouldn’t look at us. A bit of angst crept across his little, sharp-chinned face. He stopped talking (a feat so rare it’s like a medical condition on House). So I said we should go home and try again another day.

What happened next might be the best moment I’ve experienced as a parent so far. He said, “No. I don’t want to go home. I can do it.”

This prompted completely out-of-proportion cheering from his dad and me. “Never give up!” we yelled. “Never surrender!” (We’re not ex-military. We’re Galaxy Quest fans, and total geeks.)

Shouting encouragement is all well and good, but I was standing in the parking lot of the elementary school across the street, shivering in shorts and a t-shirt because a cold front dropped the temp a good ten degrees while we were out there, and I felt fear. What if he couldn’t do it, couldn’t muster the physical coordination and balance and all the steps necessary to get the bike started? He runs like his legs don’t bend at the knees, and he occasionally crashes to the floor for no explicable reason whatsoever.

The next try the whole bike-kid unit fell over after two feet. We said nothing. He got up from his awkward scramble of bike and limbs.

“You have to commit,” my husband called to him. “Commit to going forward! You can do it!”

Come on, honey. Commit. Push the pedal forward, lift your other foot, and commit to motion.

What I said was, “Never give up, honey.”

More silence. His gaze was focused somewhere in the distance as he picked up the bike and straddled it, and I could see him thinking through how to do this, as if he knew there was more at stake than just getting the bike started on his own. His pride, his sense of self as an individual with some control over his world was at stake, and that’s a huge deal when you’re six. You control so little of your life when you’re six.

Left foot on the pedal. Right foot on the ground. He shimmied the top pedal forward, pushed off, lifted his right foot, and he was IN MOTION.

Cue the parental screaming. From our reaction you’d have thought he landed on the moon, and you could have driven a Mack truck through the grin on my son’s face. He stopped, all James Dean casual. He started again, this time riding in figure eights around the parking lot, cutting the turns a little close, but showing off a little, too. Another stop. Another start, and this time he looked at us, the parents still shouting like total morons, like “What’s the big fucking deal?”

The BFD, kiddo, isn’t that you can ride a bike. It’s that you didn’t quit. You said you was going to do it, you stuck it out through the failed attempts, and you did it. Today you’re my inspiration, little man, and inspiration for anyone out there who’s run into obstacles in pursuit of a dream.


New Website Look!

Welcome to the new look for annecalhoun.com! I’m thrilled to have my site updated by Laurie of WordPress Divas. She did an amazing job (how about that header, folks, hmmm???? Awesome, no?) and I highly recommend her to anyone who needs a website done well and quickly. Have a look around! And stay tuned…I should soon have a cover and an excerpt for my first Spice Briefs release, WHAT SHE NEEDS, coming August 1!