Join the Madness

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mock Me Monday - I Did It Again

You shouldn't be surprised to learn that I can be a bit of a scatterbrain.  If you're new or you don't believe me, just check out a few of the past Mock Me Monday posts.  If that's not enough for you, I've got another gaffe to 'fess up to.

Remember the beginning of the month?  I had promised to give away a copy of Michelle McLean's Homework Helpers: Essays & Term Papers along with a box of goodies.  Then I went off on this break and never gave away the goods!  How pathetic is that?

Well, I'm here to make amends.  I enlisted the help of my daughterling to pick the winner (so I could  remain unbiased).  Ironically, her first choice was Michelle, but I'm pretty sure Michelle has all the copies of her book she needs/wants, so I disqualified her and asked daughterling to try again.

......and the winner is......


Congrats, Theresa!!!  Your prize package is in the mail, I SWEAR!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

More Kid Talk

Cody:  Who is the antagonist on Dora the Explorer?
Me: That would be Swiper the Fox.
Cody: Who is Swiper the Fox?
Me: He's the antagonist, that sneaky fox is always trying to swipe our stuff!
(I passed!) 


I'm inadvertently humming along to Coldplay in the car.  Irritated daughterling #1 grunts under her breath.  After the third grunt, I chuckle.
C: It bugs me when people hum, whistle, or sing.
Me: But they're singing (*points to radio*)...
C: Yes.  But that is their job
*another bar or two escapes*
C: It is not your job to sing, Mother.  You are not a professional.


Cody is playing a video game and it's not going well.  I can hear him grunting and groaning.  Finally I hear him yell, "That's it!  I'm switching to GEICO!"


Cody: I don't like to travel in live action cars or trucks.


C: Where does an angler fish live?
Me: Way down in the deeeep daaaark part of the ocean
C: It's called an abyss.
(I failed)


C: Do you know how many times the little Pixar lamp jumps on the I before it squishes flat?
Me: Uh, no.  How many times does he jump?
C: Five


I'm not above bribing my children to do things they're supposed to but for whatever reason are reluctant to do.  

I recently offered Cody a chance to watch a DVD in exchange for tooth brushing. 

After complying, he sat on floor and wailed, "I want my plaque back"


Working with Cody on homework. He had to take a list of words and rewrite their plural by adding s or es.  One of the words was glass.  He REFUSED to write the a-s-s part.  So he wrote g-l and I wrote the -a-s-s- and he wrote the e-s.  End result?  The ass was glaringly obvious!


Kiersten:  "I'm the Wicked Witch of the Left"  It makes sense if you think West is usually on the left side of the map...


"Mom, could you help me find my assistant?  His name is Zunior, he's small, and he's a black and white puppy."


Coders recently ran through the house asking everyone if they knew any American Americans.  I wasn't quite sure what he meant.  

Me: What is an American American?
C: I am!

Seems the poor thing got a little confused with all the talk of Native Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, etc.  He thought that made him an American American.  I can't argue with that logic, can you?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Only good thing about word verification

The only good thing I can say about word verification is that it sometimes saves my hiney.

Maybe I'm the only one this happens to, but you know when you've typed a lovely comment, and clicked "post" just nanoseconds before spotting an error -- a really juvenile one.  You're mortified that the world is going to see your gaffe, but then after a few long, teasing seconds, word verification pops up so you can fix your mistake!  YAY!

For the record, y'all should be glad word verification isn't customizable, or I'd have you guys typing some pretty funky words for my amusement. hahahaha.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Happy Hour

This is freaking awesome -- microscopic pictures of your favorite cocktails blown up and printed as art!  

Here's a dry martini:   

Click the link. You know you want to see all the other cool pics.

I am seriously drooling over the coasters.  I love the vibrant colors and abstract designs. 

There's gotta be a microbrew / microDrew joke in here somewhere...if you think of one, leave it in the comments.

Plans for the weekend?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This can't be legal.

UPDATE: I did wind up reporting these jokers. We'll see what happens

I went looking for Percy Jackson books recently to see how the whole demigod subject was handled by a real professional. My MC is a demigod, but that's about where the similarities end.  


I checked Amazon and found a reasonably priced 5 volume set.  But, crazy woman that I am, decided to check ebay to see if there were any deals to be had.

And that's when I found these:  Two different sellers offering up PDF copies of the Percy Jackson books.

This person doesn't have any open auctions currently, but has sold several other series by PDF including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the Blue Bloods.

Seller 2
A list of other PDF books for sale by this person is HERE
I'm okay with the idea of someone buying a book, and selling it once they're done.  I've sold plenty of my old books at garage sales. But a PDF is a different story. They could sell dozens, hundreds or thousands of copies, and that's just wrong any way you look at it.

I'd like to report them, but don't know who to contact.  Ebay? The Publisher? Am I over reacting?  What if this were YOUR book?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I didn't know - Sharks

Interesting article on shark attacks, but wanted to call attention to the ending (last paragraph) where they state that 30-70 million sharks are killed by fishermen each year.  Some are accidental, others are used in soup (not making this up, I swear!)

I had NO IDEA so many sharks were killed every year.  I can't say I'm a shark lover, but that's just insane. 

3-4 million cats and dogs are put down every year by shelters
2.5 million people die in the U.S. each year
4 million births in US annually (~140 million births worldwide)
28,000 whales killed each year
(there's a ban on hunting whales, but apparently it doesn't matter.  I threw this in the mix because this is where I would have guessed the shark number to be)

Maybe JAWS was ticked off  because someone ate his mama? Hmmm, I may be on to something....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Things I'd like to see - Part III

I'm back with more inventions that really ought to be on the market.

1- I'd love a home theater, but since I don't have one, I wish my local video store would have a party room I could rent to watch movies on a big screen.  It'd only need to seat 10-20.  They could rent the room for $25 for 2 hours -- throw in the movie for free and add a concession stand.  Way cheaper than the movie theater and you don't need to remodel your home! 

2-Kinda related to #1, I used to wish that movie theaters would have a room in the back for parents with babies/unruly kids to go to.  They could watch through a window, and not disturb the rest of the audience.

3-They probably have this, I never go looking to see if my ideas have already made it to market on someone else's blood, sweat, and tears.  I love my computer, but I miss my typewriter.  It made such a beautiful rhythmic click clack (notice I did not add the moo), that really motivated me to keep typing.  Therefore, I would love an app that will give that old fashioned typewriter sound to my laptop. 

4-For all you crafters out there:  I want a glue gun in the shape of a pencil, not a gun.  The "trigger" would be down near the tip.  I think this design would give you way more control over where the glue goes and with a more cylindrical design, the glue sticks could be longer without being unwieldy.  Don't you hate constantly having to load a new one?

5-I think teachers ought to embrace technology.  Nearly all students (at the high school level anyway) have cell phones.  I propose the teachers give paperless tests.  They can display the questions on a projector and have students text in their answers.  Essays will have to be done the old-fashioned way, I'm afraid.

6-This one I SERIOUSLY want to see happen.  So someone PLEASE take this and run with it!  Have you ever been driving along and been surprised by a cop car or ambulance racing up behind you in the rear view mirror? Or maybe you hear the siren but you don't know which direction it's coming from?  My idea is to have emergency vehicles send out a signal on a radio channel so if you are within a 1 or 2 mile radius of the vehicle, you will get an announcement on your radio saying something like "Emergency vehicle traveling east on Main Street".  Now that GPS is common technology, this should be possible.  Think how many accidents can be avoided!

7-I want an internet timer.  It would attach itself to the family computer and would be activated not unlike arcade games.  Each token would be good for a length of time (to be determined by parents) and when the time was up, the device would power down.  I would use this mostly to police the kids on the internet, but it could just as easily be attached to TVs or gaming consoles.  Tokens would come in different colors so you could give each kid a specific color to keep them from swiping each other's tokens. Oh, and there is a manual override for parents.

8-This is more of a prediction than an actual want.  It's no secret that we live in a vain society.  Just look at all the ads for diet pills, wrinkle reducing cream, etc.  So I got to thinking about extremes of vanity and wondered if there is anyone who has gone to these lengths.  In the movies, make up artists and special effects masters often use silicone masks (or bits like a deformed nose/ear) to create the character they need.  Usually it's a monster they're creating, though sometimes they do it to make someone look significantly older/heavier than they are.  

I predict that it won't be long before people have silicone masks of themselves custom made before they die, so that they will appear younger and more vibrant for their funeral viewing. I'm thinking the silicone might provide a more supple appearance than actual skin can provide.  Again, not a want, just a prediction.

9-I wish newspapers would let you subscribe to just the paper sections you wanted.  I understand it's probably too labor-intensive to sort all these custom papers, but a girl can dream. 

10-I'd like there to be an agency similar to an employment agency, only it's for volunteers.  You could go in for an assessment, to see what sorts of tasks you are qualified to volunteer for and they could call you when they had a position for you.  People in the community could call in when they needed extra help with something.  But what I'd REALLY like to see is a way for you to reduce your tax obligation through volunteering.  Schools and government agencies are short-staffed.  Surely there are plenty of projects that don't require experience.  You spend one day a week making copies for teachers at the school or mopping floors or filling potholes with a crew.  The school/government gets a much-needed task done at no additional expense and you get a valuable tax credit.

What would YOU like to see?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mock Me Monday - The Donut

I have a confession to make I have a particular weakness for Little Debbie treats.  The Nutty Bars are my absolute favorite -- how can you go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter?  

Second up, though, are the Donut Sticks.  I know they don't look like much but YUM.

It just so happens we had ourselves a box in the house recently.  Hubs got them for the kids because sometimes mornings are hectic and we need to shove something in their hands as they're running out the door.

I don't think he knows about my Little Debbie affliction.

Anyway, it was early, I'd made my first pass through the kids' rooms to wake them up, but they weren't actually moving yet.

Little Debbie called to me.

I opened the cupboard, ostensibly to see what I could find to feed the kids.  Wouldn't you know it was the Little Debbie cupboard.

And I was unchaperoned.

Before I even knew what I was doing, I had a coveted Donut Stick in my hand.  Ohhh yummy glazed goodness was just one plastic wrapper away.

I casually strolled over to the garbage.  I was gonna do this right!  I'd open it, toss the plastic wrapper in the garbage (hmmmm...I wonder if that's recyclable?), and then shove that puppy in my mouth before anyone could witness my fall from grace.

I pulled the little plastic flap back.  By far the best way to open anything in a package like this. The contents are exposed lengthwise for easy grasping (or gorging).

My mouth WATERED as I fiddled with the wrapper.  I hadn't had a Donut Stick in years, I couldn't wait to indulge.

I made one slight miscalculation, though. As luck would have it, plastic can be quite slippery and my coveted Donut Stick slipped right out of my hand and into the garbage.

Luckily, there happened to be a plastic grocery sack right on top (we usually reuse them, so I'm not sure why this one was in the garbage, but it really doesn't matter for this story.) UNluckily, however, my precious breakfast did not land on the plastic sack, it fell right into the muckity muck.  The "ewwww" part of the can.

NO, I did not retrieve it.  (If it had landed on top, MAYBE.  I'm no George Castanza, though, so odds are 70-30 in favor of me letting it stay in the can) 

I took it as a personal sign from God that I should not be sneaking Donut Sticks to begin with.  Sometimes I wish He didn't love me so stinking much.  That Donut Stick would've really hit the spot.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Customized Poptarts

My daughter found THIS  (Customized Pop Tarts).  

Now my family loves poptarts...well the kids anyhow. But I can't help laughing at the boxes that say "Happy Birthday" or "Happy Anniversary".  Would you honestly give someone a box of Pop Tarts for their anniversary?  Really?  

Nothing says love like your very own box of Strawberry Pop Tarts, I guess.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Disney Delivery

I found this story recently.  Basically, if new moms sign up to receive Disney emails while still in the hospital, they get a free outfit for baby.

I'm usually okay with most marketing gimmicks, a company has to do business, right?  But this one infuriates me.  I think it's incredibly poor taste to turn one of life's most miraculous moments into a marketing opportunity.  

I'm going to stop now before I start spouting some decidedly non-Disneylike language.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tale of Two Themes

Someone please tell me I'm not the only one who gets the Star Wars theme song mixed up with the Superman theme song?

I've listened to both of them in their entirety, and on the bigger scale I hear the difference but the part I *remember* in the middle sounds the same to me

from about 40 seconds to 1:15 of Superman

and from about 10 to 30 seconds and 50 to 1:10 of Star Wars

That is the same isn't it?  Or eerily similar?  (For the record, I was 20 before I realized "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" was the same tune as the "Alphabet Song")

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Pain of Plagiarism

If you're still working your way through the Pivot Blogfest, my answers are here

As you are struggling to compose love notes and Valentines to your significant others, what better time for a cautionary tale about the perils of plagiarism?  

For the record, I've never knowingly plagiarized anything.

I went out with a guy back in high school.  It was one of those weird situations where I liked him for a time (probably because he was new), but he didn't know I existed until the spell was broken.  But eventually he did ask me out and I agreed, better late than never, right?

As it turned out, it was short lived.  Even though my friends (and even my mom) thought he was good looking, my heart was never in it.

He had all the makings of a good boyfriend though.  He was thoughtful and romantic and even wrote me poetry ahem, lyrics.  Apparently cool guys write lyrics.

At first I was flattered, until i happened to show one of his letters to a friend who told me they were lyrics from XYZ song.  

The sentiment behind the lyrics was lovely.  But his trying to convince me he had written them when he knew he hadn't was too much.  If he had said (or written) "I was listening to this song and thought of you."  I would have been perfectly satisfied.

So remember, feel free to add a little poetry or a few lines from your favorite romantic ballad in your sweetie's Valentine, just make sure he/she knows when it's not an original composition.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bernard Pivot Blogfest

Today is The Bernard Pivot Blogfest in celebration of the fabulous Nicole Ducleroir surpassing 500 followers. It's easy to play along, just hop over to her blog HERE and sign up, then answer the questions below.

Thanks for hosting, Nicole!  I'm looking forward to reading everyone's answers.

What is your favorite word?
I don't really have one.  It changes all the time.

What is your least favorite word?
There are lots of words I think are ugly like deodorant and zit and pregnant (please note, it is the random collection of letters I'm objecting to, not the thing/state it represents)

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Creatively: Humor.  It's everywhere, and nothing gets the wheels turning faster than witnessing some odd behavior that makes me wonder what on earth they were thinking.
Spiritually: Beauty.  Either in the scenery or in human's behavior with one another.
Emotionally: All of the above.  I'm a sucker for the sentimental, too.

What turns you off?
Anger, hypocrisy, injustice, taking advantage of others.

What is your favorite curse word?
I say damn and $hit more often than I should with three children in the house.

What sound or noise do you love?
EASY.  The sound of a child laughing.

What sound or noise do you hate?
The alarm clock? Just kidding, I usually wake up before it goes off.  I'd say I hate the sound of arguing. Or really loud engines (lawn mower, motorcycle, etc) when I'm trying to have a peaceful moment.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Taking writing off the table, that's just too obvious.  I'd like to have a used bookstore or a mini-mall for crafters and artists.

What profession would you not like to do?
Any profession that would have me outside when the weather sucks.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
I'd like him to say, "I've missed you!" or maybe, "Great job!" Or else he could tell me a really good joke.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How Low Can You Go?

Short post today, I just have a question for you literary geniuses out there.

I've often heard the advice to not overlook small presses.  I understand the intent behind this advice, but my question is

How small is TOO small?

Is it a matter of personal preference?  Are there industry-standards or thresholds we should keep in mind as we research smaller publishers? Is it a number of books sold? Is it the length of time in business?  Are some small presses just one step away from self-publishing?

I suspect there might be such a thing as too small (for me anyhow), but I'm not sure where that distinction lies.  LOVE to hear your input!

(okay I asked way more than one question...didn't realize how many others were lurking beneath the surface)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Conference anyone?

It's official! I have signed up for my first-ever conference!  

I'm going to the Missouri Writer's Guild 2011 Just Write Conference in St. Louis April 8-10th.

I'm excited and terrified all at the same time.  If anyone is planning on attending, give me a shout (MissVSpeaks (at) gmail (dot) com) and maybe we can brave the waters together?

On another note, I'm kicking my writing into high gear because I really want to have at least my first draft finished by the time I go, so if you thought my blogosphere presence was scarce before, you will now doubt my very existence.  

I do have about 3 weeks of posts already written and scheduled -- so at least my ghost will be around to amuse you.

Mock Me Monday - Booger Eating

First off, let me say I shudder to think what the title of this post is going to do to my keyword search terms. It made you look, though, didn't it?  Maybe peeking between your fingers because the thought is gross and you're hoping that I'm not actually eating my boogers.

I mentioned recently that I caught a cold from my kids.  The first couple days were brutal.  My nose was raw from all that sniffling, sneezing, and nose blowing.  All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sleep.  

Then an amazing thing happened:  my nose stopped leaking.

Yes!  I thought I'd gotten off easy, a weekend cold.  How convenient, right?

Not so much, as it turns out.  Actually what happened  was that the mucus just changed its evacuation route.  Instead of dripping down my face, it dripped down the back of my throat.

This isn't all bad.  For one, there are no taste buds back there, so I don't actually taste any of the slime slipping down the esophagus.  For another, it's kinda nice not to have to carry a box of tissues around everywhere you go. It's like having an invisible cold!

But, you know I wouldn't be writing if there weren't a downside.  

The biggie, of course, is the knowledge that I have snot sliding down into my stomach.  It's involuntary, but I'm essentially eating boogers.  All day, every day.  Ick.

The other problem is that as the mucus thickens - as it does toward the end of any cold - it requires more and  more effort to swallow.  It clings to the back of my throat.  I can feel it there.  An eternal (if disgusting) lump that is getting more and more difficult to dislodge.  I have been drinking enough water to drown a fish, just to keep the process in motion.  

I keep trying to blow my nose, but nothing happens.  Sometimes when I inhale, I feel a little more oozing out of the sinuses into the throat.  Sometimes, it covers the valve between trachea and esophagus and I panic that I won't be able to breathe. (That's happened before.  Scared the bejeezus out of me, but that's another story for another day).  

So yeah, I'm swallowing boogers -- there goes another one right now -- but I'm not happy about it. Not one little bit.

I just realized this is going to post on Valentines Day.  Not exactly the lovey dovey sentiments you'd expect to find.  Uh, sorry about that.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I don't know about you, but sometimes I'm frustrated by blogger's composition limits. I've decided it's time to branch out and brush up on some html tags so I can do the things I want to. 

And so, because I like to share, I'd like to introduce you to the ultimate source of all things html: HTML Tag List

If you need special characters like:  ∑ or ♠ or ♦  You can check out this chart

But wait!  There's more! If you go to the main site, there are tutorials and you can even practice right on the site, waaaaaaay cool. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Whodunnit Clues

This is just a repost.  I've had several requests the last couple days so I thought I'd put the post back on top so more people could see it.  Don't worry, DL is okay with my clue sharing.  You won't get disqualified for it.


I happen to have in my possession all 37 clues for DL's Whodunnit Mystery Contest.  

I don't wanna ruin anyone's fun, but if you ask really nice, I'll share one with you.

Pick a number between 1 and 37 and I'll give you the corresponding clue.

(Be sure you leave an email address, I'm not going to make them all public -- that would be too easy) 

Customized Classics

While surfing this past weekend, I ran across these Customized Classics.  You can edit yourself and your friends/family into classic stories.  I think this is such a fun idea! It would make a great gift, don't you think?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Stand up!

There's a song I heard once that said "You have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything"  Not sure who came up with this gem, but it's one of my favorite quotes ever.

I moved in with my boyfriend (now hubs) almost twenty years ago this April. It was a first apartment for each of us, so we needed everything - furniture, dishes, linens, food, etc. We depleted savings and maxed out our credit, but we got the essentials covered.  

And then, just two weeks after moving in, there was an apartment fire. We had to jump off our balcony at six thirty in the morning.

The man in the apartment (across the way from ours) where the fire started died. 

The apartments on the first floor were a complete loss because of the water damage.  

My hubs-to-be and I got off easy. All we lost was the gorgeous apartment.  The American Red Cross put us up in a hotel for a week until the apartment complex could get another unit ready for us.  
Needless to say, the Red Cross is a cause near and dear to our hearts (and pocket books).  That's usually the way it goes...people support certain organizations and charities for highly personal reasons. 

This is a really roundabout way of asking what you stand for?  What causes are special to you? The arts?  Animals? Children?  Do you ever channel this passion into your writing? 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Utter Randomness

My usual selfish reminder to check out Shannon's Anonymous Critique. I love reading the comments, so go make one already. 

I checked my search terms never fails to amuse. Some of these are pretty funny on their own, but I think making sentences and/or a story out of these terms would be hysterical.
(there's a huge gap showing up here, though I'm not sure why)

vicki rocho adultery jeans were so tight signs of getting old nose hair peter mckay
my deal more random questions mother nature pbs logo
eyesight squinting gray hair "No you're not. You're bored" family pregnant
pardon the interruption in my pants astrology underwear lost keys squeeage

For example, one could say something like:  
Mother Nature's jeans were so tight it affected her eyesight. Squinting, she searched for her lost keys.

More random questions, Vicki Rocho. Adultery?  Gray Hair? Peter Mckay?  (Answers would be no, unfortunately yes, and yes, faithfully every week)

I'm really tempted to use pardon the interruption in my pants with squeeage together in a sentence, but that's really not a good idea, so I'll refrain from goin there...but you can if you want.

(note: every time I see pardon the interruption in my pants I want to write pardon the party in my pants which is, of course, waaaay worse and I'm here to tell you there is nothing at all going on in my pants, so y'all can quit Googling it.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Query = Resume

I'm a fan of odd analogies, but if you asked me to come up with one, I'd give you a blank stare in return.  But when inspiration strikes, I like to share.

This time is the realization that the query letter is a lot like your resume.

Think about it.  The purpose of a resume is to summarize your skills and capabilities in such a way to garner an interview. The purpose of a query is to summarize your book in such a way to garner a request to read more.

So, then I wondered if resume tips would translate into query tips. There are a LOT of resume advice sites out there, so I grabbed the list off MIT's career office.

Here we go:


  • Proofread to eliminate all spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.
    (So far so good)
  • Use action verbs and strong adjectives
    (This is also a good idea for a query)
  • Make it future or present oriented, suggesting that "I am this kind of person, with these abilities, as my past record demonstrates."
    (I've seen queries done both ways, so this could go either way)
  • Avoid repeating words or phrases.
    (Good advice for ANY writing)
  • Leave out unnecessary words, sentences, and phrases such as "Duties included / Hired to / Project involved."
    (DO write in complete sentences, but do NOT put in too much detail. Stick to what happens -- and at a high level)
  • Avoid stilted or confusing language. Ask yourself, "Would I talk like that?"
    (Translation: use YOUR voice)
  • Don't use the first person I or any pronouns.
    (Unless you're a certified genius don't write the query from your MC's perspective)
  • Be consistent and use the same grammatical style throughout.
    (Does this really need to be said?)
  • Avoid self-flattering terms such as "highly skilled, outstanding, or excellent." Describe your accomplishments effectively and let readers decide for themselves that you are well-qualified.
    (Translation - don't puff up your credits and don't proclaim you've go the next Harry Potter)
  • Be honest and accurate, but not overly modest.
    (Keep it professional -- don't belittle yourself or fawn over the agent.)
  • Convey through the style and content of your resume an understanding of your audience's needs, priorities, hiring criteria, and vocabulary.
    (You are the master of your story.  Let it show.)


  • Stick to 1 page; use 2 pages if you have an advanced degree or extensive experience (10+ years).
    (I'd keep it to one page.)
  • Make the page easy to scan and graphically-pleasing: leave sufficient white space.
    (This goes without saying...)
  • Select a format that suits your qualifications. Don't automatically follow someone else's, which may not suit what you have to say.
    (There's a lot of conflicting query advice out there. At the end of the day, you have to do what you feel works best for YOU)
  • Underline, bold face, and use bullets to emphasize your credentials.
    (I'd skip this. Not great for a query.)

Final Edit

  • Ask a counselor, friend, or someone unfamiliar with your background to review your resume for clarity and effectiveness.
    (DO have someone look over your query)
  • Tailor your cover letter and resume to the specific qualifications of the job for which you are applying and/or to the specific employer.
    (You've heard it before, do your research and customize your query to each agent)
  • Include all important information, such as dates of graduation, major, GPA, etc.
    (hahaha, no, don't include this in your query)
  • Proofread one more time to ensure correct spelling and punctuation

There you have it.  A query letter is just like a resume.  Surprised?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I happen to have in my possession all 37 clues for DL's Whodunnit Mystery Contest.  

I don't wanna ruin anyone's fun, but if you ask really nice, I'll share one with you.

Pick a number between 1 and 37 and I'll give you the corresponding clue.

(Be sure you leave an email address, I'm not going to make them all public -- that would be too easy)

Your Family Tree

My daughter was looking at some genealogy information online recently and asked me what a sororal nephew was. I didn't know, so I looked it up.  A sororal niece or nephew would be your sister's kids.  Don't ask me what your brother's kids would be called.

While I was at it, I thought I'd get to the bottom of first cousins, second cousins and the once / twice removed business.  I went to and found the information below.  I just copied and pasted it but here's a link .

Relationship Terms
Cousin (a.k.a "first cousin")
Your first cousins are the people in your family who have two of the same grandparents as you. In other words, they are the children of your aunts and uncles.

Second Cousin
Your second cousins are the people in your family who have the same great-grandparents as you., but not the same grandparents.
Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cousins
Your third cousins have the same great-great-grandparents, fourth cousins have the same great-great-great-grandparents, and so on.
When the word "removed" is used to describe a relationship, it indicates that the two people are from different generations. You and your first cousins are in the same generation (two generations younger than your grandparents), so the word "removed" is not used to describe your relationship.

The words "once removed" mean that there is a difference of one generation. For example, your mother's first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because your mother's first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents. This one-generation difference equals "once removed."

Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. You are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you and your grandmother's first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.

I finally understand the once removed bit! Now the next time you're writing a family reunion scene (or playing Trivial Pursuit) you'll be able to wow everyone!

Monday, February 7, 2011

How To Get Sick -- In Five Seconds or Less

My kids have all had killer colds lately. 

Or maybe it's the flu. 
I grew up thinking a cold = runny nose and the flu = throwing up.
Apparently, the flu can also be the achy, feverish, congested feeling I've associated with colds.  Who knew? 

Anyway, I got a little Gingerbread Man on them. 
You know, "I've run away from a little old woman, a little old man, and I can run away from you, too.  I can!"

I shouldn't have done it.  Fate loves nothing more than taking down those who mock her.  

And take me down she did.  She even made it look like it was my own damn fault.  She's crafty like that.

The other night I was picking up the living room. My daughter left a half a can of Diet Coke on the table.  

I LOVES me some Diet Coke.

I picked it up and took a swig without thinking.  I hadn't even swallowed when it hit me.

She'd been sick.  The can was contaminated.

I kid you not, I stood in the kitchen with a mouthful of Diet Coke. 
I looked like a hamster with carrots stashed in its cheeks.
Afraid to swallow, but knowing I'd already exposed myself. 

I finally did swallow...but only because there were dishes in the sink and my Momma would have a FIT if I spit on dishes (yes, even dirty ones).

The next morning, my throat was sore.  By mid-day I had a headache, chills, and tingling sinuses to add to my list of complaints.

Moral of the story:  Don't EVER mock Fate, my friends.  She'll get you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Police Blotter poetry

I've been listening to a lot of NPR lately.  This story is about a guy who creates poetry out of items on the police blotter.  See? You can find inspiration anywhere.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Best line ever...

Daughterling and I were reading Gossip in the Girl's Room by Rose Cooper the other night and when I got to this line, I literally Laughed Out Loud.

I wonder who has the totally unfun job of scooping out eyeballs from dead cows?      --Sofia Becker

That's TOTALLY something I would say.  Well done, Rose! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Keeping it short and sweet today, friends.  Two items:

If you haven't already entered to win a signed copy of Michelle McLean's Homework Helpers: Essays & Term Papers hop over and enter today.  I packed the the *other* stuff up last night and there was still plenty of room in the box, so I'm throwing in some chocolate to in there, too. You can enter by leaving a comment HERE

Once your done entering the contest, hop on over and put in your two cents on the Anonymous Critique. I'd consider it a personal favor as I LOVE reading the critiques everyone posts. And no, the piece up for scrutiny isn't mine this week. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More things I'd love to see

for your chance to win a signed copy of 
Homework Helpers: Essays & Termpapers
See the list of goodies HERE


The other day I posted Ten Things I'd Like to See.  I've got ten more things to add to the list.

1. I want the networks to make their FULL broadcast schedule available online.  I'd pay a subscription fee for it, no problem. Yes,I know there's Hulu but there are a lot of shows not available and some of them will only show you LAST season.  Yes, there's TIVO and DVR, but if the networks did it my way, those would become obsolete.  I want to watch any TV show anytime.

2. We eat Hamburger Helper in one flavor or another at least once a week.  WHY OH WHY isn't the company selling its little seasoning packets separately or in bulk?  It'd be really nice to make a little bit extra (or less) depending on the crowd that night.  I'm totally going to write to the company and ask them to help me out...

3. Remember pump-up sneakers? (Were those Nike Air?)  The idea being you could just add a little extra cushioning/support to your shoes whenever you wanted or needed it.  I want this for my bras.  Seriously.  Some dresses/shirts don't fit as well as others ... and let's face it a bra is cheaper than surgery. I'm not vain,  I just want a little extra adjustable support.

4. I was going to save this one until I could draw a diagram...but we'll try it without.  We've all used a travel mug, right?  My original idea was to make one that's segmented so you could put two different liquids in it or freeze water in one half so it'd keep the liquid in the other half cold.  But I've improved it!  Imagine your basic travel mug with a screw-in test tube (with its own lid) that gets inserted in the middle. You can freeze water in the test tube and keep your beverage cold without diluting it OR (heh heh heh) you can put a little rum/vodka/whatever in the test tube and use it to spike your beverage. 

5. Glow in the dark pacifiers.  Do you know how hard it is to find those suckers in the middle of the night? You don't want to turn the light on because it might wake up the baby...but you can't find the pacifier any other way.  Trust me on this one.  Big seller.

6. Have you heard all the hubub about how the phone companies are running out of phone numbers?  It's no wonder with people ditching their land lines in favor of cell phones. A typical family went from one number to four or five.  What I propose is cell phone companies come out with a REAL family plan.  ONE phone number and each cell phone is a different extension on that main number. Gramma calls the one number and if she doesn't specify an extension, all cells would ring and she can chat with whomever picks up first. 

7. I would love an electric lap blanket for the car.  When we travel, hubs is always way warmer than I am, so turns the heat off because he's sweating while I'm still chilly.  This would be an oversized heating pad or undersized electric blanket that I could plug into the car's cigarette lighter.  PLEASE, someone make this for me!

8. This might seem silly, but there for awhile there, my kids loved cereal with marshmallows.  I don't know if you've ever tried to eat marshmallow cereal, but it's more like candy than soft, puffy marshmallows. ANYHOW, 'kid' cereals are more expensive so my idea was to buy the stinking candy/marshmallows separately. I could toss a few in their bowl of generic Cheerios and we'd all be happy.  Apparently no one sells them though.  Hohum.

9. I would love it if radio stations would invite *regular* people in on say Sunday evenings and the station would play whatever music they wanted.  There's a lot of great music out there that is NEVER getting airtime.  Real potential any of you happen to own a radio station?

10. I haven't mentioned Craig Niedermaier of Chicago in a while.  And since I only had nine items for my list this time, I thought I'd make him #10. I would very much like to hear from the elusive Craig Niedermaier.  Craig, if you are you out there, email me at MissVSpeaks(at) gmail (dot) com.

That concludes this edition of Things I'd Love to See.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Proof There Is A God...And He Loves Me

for your chance to win a signed copy of 
Homework Helpers: Essays & Termpapers
See the list of goodies HERE

My children have a problem with flushing the toilets in this house.  Short of installing video surveillance in the bathrooms, I'm not sure I can pinpoint who the real culprit is.  Might be all three, or it might only be one.  No one ever claims responsibility for the unflushed gifts left behind.  

They figured out a long time ago that because there are three of them, Mom and Dad are never 100% sure who the guilty party is unless someone cracks confesses.

My children also have an apparent phobia when it comes to changing the toilet paper roll.  Again, short of installing a camera in the bathroom there's not a lot I can do about this.

I'd consider the spy cam, but I'm pretty sure  the Department of Health & Humans Services frowns on that kind of thing from parents.


The other morning, I noticed the toilet paper roll was empty (again), so I grabbed a fresh roll. This is also when I noticed yet another "gift" waiting in the toilet bowl.  I pushed the handle down just before I unhooked the spring-loaded tissue tube to make the switch.

That's when one half of the tube jumped out of my hand (definitely spring-loaded), bounced OFF the toilet seat and onto the floor.

How it missed landing in the toilet bowl, I'll never know.  

If it had landed in the bowl, chances are good it would have been sucked down the drain since I'd just flushed.  

And if it had gone down the drain, chances are even better that it would have become lodged somewhere along the line and THAT would lead to an expensive plumbing bill.  

(Unless, of course, I had enough presence of mind to reach into the contaminated bowl and retrieve the part before it was forced down the drain...say it with me:  ewwwwww)

So, it's official.

There IS a God, and he LOVES me because that one little piece landed on the floor and I didn't have to go diving in after it....and subsequently sanitize my hand for the next 3 hours.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Seven Deadly Essay Sins

I've got stuff to give away & it's ridiculously easy to win!

By now you probably know that Michelle McLean's Homework Helpers: Essays & Term Papers has hit the shelves.  If you haven't heard, I'm here to bring you up to speed.  

I had the privilege of previewing the book.  Like most of you, I've always loved writing.  The biggest struggle for me is deciding what to write not how to do it. I readily admit to a wee bit of arrogance thinking I didn't need this book. So I was surprised to find there were some great tips in there that would have made my life much easier back in high school and college.  I love to write, but I like writing FUN stuff.  Writing research papers bores me to tears.  Michelle where were you when I needed you most?

Anyhow, I've written a fair number of essays and term papers over the years, and I've arrived at a few helpful hints and tips of my own that were not in Michelle's book.  (Pssst. Michelle, feel free to borrow these for the 2nd edition!) 

Vicki Rocho's 
Seven Deadly Sins of Essay Writing

1. Wait until the day before (or worse, the bus ride to school) to write your paper.

2. Include any variation of the phrase "I don't know ..." in the body of an essay, especially if this is on an exam.

3. Write backwards.

4. Add stick figure illustrations (unless specifically requested by your instructor).

5. Make up sources.

6. Increase the margins, font, or line spacing to make your essay look longer.

7. Write someone else's paper for them.

Since we're all writers and a good number of us are well out of school, you may be wondering why you would need a copy of Homework Helpers: Essays & Term Papers.  Well:
  • It's a great refresher
  • It's chock full of examples to help the reluctant writers in your life
  • A great reference for teachers whose students feel stuck and don't know how or where to begin
To celebrate the birth of Michelle's book-baby, I've assembled an AWESOME prize package for you...everything you need to follow Michelle's advice and some snackage to give you the proper motivation!

  • Snackage of your choice 
  • colored index cards
    (lined for easy note taking)
  • plastic box for storing index cards
  • post it notes (3 x 3, 100 each pink, blue, yellow & green)
  • highlighters (set of 5)
  • report covers (set of 5 to make your essays look fantastic)
  • plastic sleeves
    (20--to protect your essay because it'll be so fabulous, people are gonna drool all over it!)
  • SIGNED COPY OF THE BOOK(I've sent the book to Michelle for her autograph, so it will be shipped separately)

To enter, click one of the links below and let Michelle know which of the Seven Deadly Essay Sins above you think I've committed.  We'll leave this contest open through Friday, Feb. 4th with the winner being announced on Monday, Feb. 7th.


If you don't win, you can purchase your very own copy at: