First Paragraph Contest

Over at Nathan Bransford’s website (he’s a literary agent for Curtis Brown), he has a contest going on to find the best first paragraph of a work in progress. I entered it and fully expect to either win or be totally overlooked. Currently? There are over 1115 entries, but don’t let that stop you! I know many of you out there have works in progress, if not totally finished works. Elaine? Christina? Kweenmama? Would you like to see what I entered? Why sure. Here it is. Thanks for asking….

Gus Jordan never intended to be a spy. Money certainly wasn’t the motivation—he had plenty of it. Likewise for excitement—it just didn’t play a role in his ultimate decision. Sailing his Dickerson on the icy chop of the Chesapeake Bay in the middle of a winter squall gave him all the excitement he needed. If he did have a motivation to get involved in the shady world of espionage, he couldn’t recall it.

“THE PRIZES: The grand prize super awesome winner of the contest will win their choice of a partial critique, query critique or 15 minute phone conversation in which you and (Nathan) can discuss topics ranging from reality TV shows to, you know, publishing. Your choice. Runners up will receive query critiques and/or other agreed-upon prizes.”

So don’t delay! The contest ends tomorrow at 4 p.m. Pacific Time. Winners will be revealed on Friday. Too. Darn. Exciting. Well, not really all that much, but it is fun to read through some of the entries. You’ll see what I mean….


A bold meme

Have You Ever….

A blogger I read posted this and I thought it looked like fun. 

How to play: BOLD anything you have done

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (It was called Cold Shot.)
4. Visited Hawaii (Got married there)
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (In-Laws live in Orlando, so we get to go a lot!)
8. Climbed a mountain (In Alaska!)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (At my friend’s wedding. Scary stuff).
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris (Twice!)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child (And one more is on the way!)
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables (Just maters.)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (Not a big deal, really.)
20. Slept on an overnight train (Now, that was a big deal.)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (You were thinking I was a saint, weren’t you?)
24. Built a snow fort (I lived in Alaska.  There’s not much else to do!)
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (Ja wohl!)
35. Seen an Amish community (I live right next to PA, after all).
36. Taught yourself a new language (A few, da, ja, si, oui).
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person (Man, that thing is going to fall one day. I swear.)
39. Gone rock climbing (Well, sort of. Nothing impressive.)
40. Seen Michelangelos David (Amazing.)
41. Sung karaoke (who hasn’t?)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (A few, I think.)
46. Been transported in an ambulance (Yeah, but it wasn’t for what you think.)
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (Amazing.)
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Too High for someone who is afraid of heights, by the way).
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (Didn’t like it.)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (Awful. Dachau.)
67. Bounced a check (more than one, actually. I’m not very detail oriented.)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (Often. But now that I know that he had a high, whiney voice? He kind of creeps me out.)
71. Eaten Caviar (Wish I could afford to eat more.)
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (Knee cap, actually. Ouch. It didn’t get a cast until a week later. Ouch.)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (Going around a tight curve with a guy who claimed to know what he was doing. The bike slid into oncoming traffic when it hit some water. Lucky to be here. That was the last time for me. The first time was with my uncle on Germany’s winding, cobblestone streets. Now that was fun.)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (Loved it, too.)
80. Published a book (working on it!)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper 
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House  
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life (Yeah, my sister’s, and she still hates me. Go figure.)
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (I worked for Tommy Lee Jones once.)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person (Yes, but only after I lived in San Antonio for several years).
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Adoption Status

Okay, well, the DNA arrived in HCMC on Monday morning. We received an email from HCMC last night saying that they received it and that if they make a decision, they will be contacting us again. “IF” they make a decision? Okay. Whatever. I’ll presume that was just a bad choice of words and that what they REALLY meant to say was “WHEN” they make a decision.

My guess? Any day now we should hear word. We are considering traveling on Christmas day, but we will just have to wait and see. It’s very expensive to travel just before Christmas and not that much better just after.

Regardless, at least one of my relatives is ready to go…

Another Reason to Love Target

I was shopping at my favorite store the other day and to my delighted surprise, I saw Tim Tams in the cookie section. If you’re not familiar, Tim Tams are a product of Australia and are even called Australia’s favorite cookie. 

A Tim Tam is composed of two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate.

According to its maker, Arnott’s, around 35 million packs are sold each year – nearly 400 million biscuits, an average of approximately 1.7 packs per Australian and 2.5 packs per New Caledonian. Tim Tams were first put onto the market in 1964. They were named by Ross Arnott, who attended the 1958 Kentucky Derby and decided that the name of the winning horse Tim Tam was perfect for a planned new line of biscuits.

Tim Tams are great with coffee and the Australians even have their own ritual when eating them. The Tim Tam Slam is the practice of drinking coffee by sucking it through a Tim Tam  with both of the ends bitten off.

The Tim Tams here are made by Pepperidge Farm and are sold exclusively at Target. They come in original, chocolate cream, and caramel. In a word? Delicious. Give them a try.


According to Lab Corp, the DNA results were FEDEX’d to Vietnam today. I have no idea how long it will take to get I-600 approval, but I can’t imagine that it will be long now.

Freaking out a little….

Ten Years ago today…

In Kona, Hawaii, I said “I do” to my dear husband, “Scratch.” Happy Anniversary, Poopsie! I love you. A lot. Even when you’re bad.

That DNA, That DNA

Well, the bad news is that Bao did not get his DNA tested today. The good (great) news is that it was done on Wednesday! Evidently, the Embassy wanted to push up the test date for some reason. You read that right. They didn’t delay the testing, they moved it up a day. Am I in another dimension? The twilight zone maybe? This was totally unexpected. I mean, come on. We’ve read all the horror stories. Right?

Why they moved it up a day (since they’re not involved in the testing), I don’t know. I’m imagining, as you might guess, that they want to speed things up so that Bao is home before Christmas. But I have often been called delusional, if not down right nuts.

At any rate, our little guy took his very first train ride and went all the  way to Hanoi with, presumably his mom and someone from the orphanage.

They stayed two nights in a hotel in Hanoi and, from the looks of his face on the five pictures we received, he had the absolute time of his life. I’ve never seen the boy smile so much. It was amazing. He was actually laughing from what I could tell. 

He had on some PJs that I had a new parent from our agency take over with her just recently. There was a package of toys and clothes waiting for him in Hanoi. The package I wrapped was behind him in the picture, newly opened and surrounded by all the boy toys we got him (bulldozer, airplane, fast car, etc.) He looked totally delighted. Kind of like me right now.

As John McCain would say, the (Christmas) party is starting to look like a washout, my friends. We shall see. We wait for the results of the DNA test over the next week or two, and then we pack, and then we travel.

Sounds simple enough,  but I’ll hold off on buying those tickets just yet….

Behold, his happiness…


The Waiting Child

I sent this poem to my sister a long time ago when she was considering adoption. She thought she was too old to care for an infant. I mentioned that lots of older kids are in need of homes and are often passed up for infants. I can’t read this without crying, can you? (Especially now).

By Debbie Bodie

I saw you meet your child today
You kissed your baby joyfully
And as you walked away with him
I played pretend you’d chosen me.

I’m happy for the baby, yet
Inside I’m aching miserably
I want to plead as you go by,
“Does no-one want a child of three?”

I saw you meet your child today
In love with her before you met
And as I watched you take her out
I knew it wasn’t my turn yet.

I recognize you from last year!
I knew I’d seen your face before!
But you came for a second babe.
Does no-one want a child of four?

I saw you meet your child today
But this time there was something new
A nurse came in and took MY hand
And then she gave my hand to you.

Can this be true? I’m almost six!
And there are infants here, you see?
But then you kissed me and I knew
The child you picked this time was me.

Copyright 1997


Okay, um, Bao and his birth mother are scheduled to get their DNA tested this Thursday. They will fly to Hanoi and get tested together, from what I understand. I pray that Bao and his mother make it through the day without too much pain, but I can only imagine that it will be nothing less than difficult for them.

That being said, we could be traveling as early as December. That’s next month! 

The funny thing is, yesterday I was walking by a co-worker’s desk and he had huge lady bug images all over his computer.  I laughed and said, wow, in the adoption community lady bugs are a sign of imminent travel. And today, I get this news. Wow.

My head is spinning at the moment. My little guy will be on his very first plane trip on Thursday. The test will take anywhere from 5-10 days to process. And then, we get our USCIS approval, and then we travel two or so weeks later. 

It makes for an interesting Christmas season. We just sent out invitations to our yearly Christmas party for the 20th and there is a very good chance that we won’t  be here.

Or maybe we will and I am just dreaming. Someone pinch me. Hard.

Tag, I’m It (The Book Meme)

Thanks to Nessie I have a post for today. She tagged me with the old book meme. Luckily, I have a book on my desk that I can actually talk about on line! The rules are :

  • Grab the nearest book.
  • Open it to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
  • Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

Okay, the closest book to me is Chasing Shakespeare. My client gave it to me to read, and I haven’t yet–something she points out daily when she sees it on my desk  (But that’s okay, I gave her my very own, personally written novel, which she has yet to read. So there.)

Page 56, fifth sentence reads: “‘Oxford lives for eight years as a royal ward,'” she read to me in a very quiet voice.

From Amazon:

In Chasing Shakespearesby Sarah Smith, Joe Roper is a graduate student who has come from a modest background to become a Shakespeare scholar through a love of the bard’s work. While sifting through Shakespeare memorablia one day, most of it forgeries, he comes across a letter signed by Shakespeare stating that he didn’t write his famous plays. Joe does the obvious tests to prove it’s a fake, but it appears authentic. He shows it to Posy Gould, a PhD student at Harvard and daughter of a wealthy and priveleged family. She convinces him to fly off to London with her, at her daddy’s expense, to find out the truth about the letter. While Joe urgently wants to believe that Shakespeare, from common origins like himself, really wrote the plays, Posy believes that they were written by an Oxford aristocrat. It’s a mystery and an adventure to find out the truth, and where even making a claim it is true could cost Joe his standing in the academic community. Receiving praise from most reviewers, the Boston Globe calls Chasing Shakespeares “a smart, sexy modern-day mystery.”

I’m now supposed to ask 3 bloggers that I know of to do the same:

  1. Kweenmama
  2. Mrs. Broccoli Guy
  3. Looking for George

Jump in if you want to, and leave a link with your comment. Enjoy!

(I totally plagiarized from Nessie’s blog. Sorry, Nessie!)

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