Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Flashback: My 7th Grade Horror Fiction

(Today's Friday Flashback is highly influenced by the blog posts of both Kathy aka The Dreamy Giraffe, who shared one of her 7th grade stories today, and Tessa Gratton (author of Blood Magic) who blogged her new collection of 90's teen horror books today - Christopher Pike fans in da' house say "hey!")

Middle School Marisa gobbled up 90s teen horror faster than cones of Baskin Robbins Gold Medal Ribbon. That's saying a lot considering I eat ice cream when I angst and my 12-year-old self lived to angst. And, as I wanted to be a writer, my file cabinet of curiosities had it's own file labeled: HORROR STORIES.

This sample is pretty typical of a 7th grade Marisa story. It contains everything my 12-year-old self loved - an historical preface, a modern-day (circa 1993) tween girl who declares she hates her life in a super dramatic way, evil porcelain dolls, and death angels.

This is fiction that should never see the light of day, you guys. You have been warned. Yep. Here we go.


Preface: 1898, Williamsburg, Virginia

"Oh! Momma!" I cried as I threw open my last birthday gift. It was a doll with pale blonde curls, a soft silk blue dress, cremed rose painted lips in a scary, mocking grin. The doll had clear blue eyes, so clear it almost showed the inside of this fragile doll. I glanced up at Momma. "Thank you, Momma, Poppa. It's a beautiful doll," I said, but I didn't mean it. Not all that much, anyway. Something about her features made me shiver. It was the way she seemed to watch me as I looked at her. "I'll call her Anna-Elise," I said blankly as I set the doll down to continue with the wonderful party given to me.
That night, when the party ended, I took Anna-Elise onto my lap and spun her crank to make her say, "Momma!" When she said "Momma!" I smiled. She had a voice sweet and innocent, not like the wicked doll of her appearance. "Momma!" Anna-Elise said again. "Momma!" Slowly I set her down in my doll chair and climbed into bed. A few minutes later, there was a knock at my door.

"Catherine? Are you still awake?" Momma asked me.

"Yes, Momma. You can come in," I said. Momma opened the door to kiss me goodnight.

(insert a page of blah, blah, blah, how did you like your party/doll, I loved it, you're the best Momma ever, shivering because the doll is creepy, goodnight, goodnight, ect... here)

The morning came quickly and I got dressed and walked over to pick up Anna-Elise who had fallen over from the night wind which seeped in from my open window.

"You are one gruesome doll," I said to Anna-Elise. I turned the crank in her back. All of a sudden, her clear blue eyes turned red and she smiled at me in a frightening way.

"Mommaaaa!" Anna-Elise laughed. "Mommmmmaaaa!" I dropped Anna-Elise and backed away, only to see her climb up onto her stubby legs. "Come here, Cemitrum!" she said. I backed away. "Come here, Cemitrum!" she said again. I didn't respond. "Raycastra, Floorum, Cristornien, Traichitum, Clagrium, and Opian!" the doll chanted.

From the window, six flying skeletons dressed in shabby robes with flying skeletal birds appeared. I tried to run out of the room but the door seemed stuck.

(insert a half-page of helpless screaming, here)

"Come to me, Cemitrum. Be one of my death angels. Come to me." Anne-Elise's voice was scaring me. I couldn't bear it. I took a step toward the doll. "Good girl," she said. I took another step then grabbed Anna-Elise and flung her out the window. "Aggghhh!" she screamed, then all was silent. As quickly as they came, the death angels disappeared.

From down below, Poppa yelled, "Catherine Alexandra Castrone! Why is your new doll laying on the ground in hundreds of pieces?"

CHAPTER ONE - New York, 1993

"I can't believe you want to move to Williamsburg! I bet they make butter and soap for fun! It's not fair!" I yelled at Momma and Poppa. I was so mad. I hardly even noticed the hurt look on Momma's face.

"Catherine Alexandra Castrone! If you are going to argue then go to your room!" Poppa told me. "Gramma Susan invited us to live in her old house since she is so old, and now we're going to live there! It wouldn't hurt you to learn a little about family history. Anyway, Auntie Maria and Uncle Johnny's kids are going to live there, too. You'll like having Angela to play with. She's twelve, too."

"But Poppa! It's 1993! No one lives in an old town! Believe me!" I whined helplessly.

(insert three pages of Go to your room! I hate you and I'm not moving! You have no choice, now stop whining! But all my friends are in New York and Angela is a spoiled, conceited brat and I hate her! plus helpless crying x10, here)

The End.

That wasn't really the end. It went on for another several pages, including a scene in which Catherine moves to Williamsburg and makes fun of "the most ridiculous hat [she has] ever seen!"

Invigorating stuff, eh?

But that's not all, folks. My notes come with a family tree. Too bad I didn't think to include a death angels name pronunciation guide.

Sadly, I was more of an ideas + first-10-pages girl and lacked follow through to the finish, so I don't know how this story ends.

Though I'm sure the final fight between middle school drama queen and evil doll and death angels would have been epic, with lots of blood and plenty of helpless screaming, helpless crying, and helpless whining.

Have a fabulous weekend, folks!


Monday, July 25, 2011

On Bosom Buddies, Breast Cancer, and Bookmarks with Mustaches

I'm not one of those beyond-well-endowed-in-the-chest-department people, but my heart sincerely goes out to those with bosoms so ginormo their backs hurt. Therefore, at the start of June, when my critique partner and bosom buddy in the Anne-Shirley-meets-Skype-and-g-chat way, Kearsie Murphy (who has been beyond well endowed since her teen years), was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and qualified for a breast reduction, I jumped up and down and burned underwire bras in her honor.

Everything was grand. Kearsie had her reduction surgery and I went on vacation, had a splendid time with my family... and came home to an email saying: WHERE ARE YOU DID YOU HEAR MY NEWS!?

Then I heard her news.

This wasn't good news, folks. This was stomach-dropping-but-not-in-an-awesome-"I've-just-been-on-a-thrilling-roller-coaster-ride" way.

This was news in the "I-just-had-my-reduction-and-now-I'm-my-dream-cup-size-Oh-and-also-I-have-breast-cancer-and-will-be-having-a-double-mastectomy-ASAP" way.

Here's where the ground fell from under my feet. I've never had a friend with breast cancer. I've sported pink ribbons and cheered on those marching for breast cancer... but I've never had a friend with breast cancer. That makes this disease so much more real, somehow.

The good news is this - Kearsie had her double mastectomy and is now breast cancer-free. And to be on the safe side, in the event the cancer spread from her breasts before they were removed, Kearsie will begin chemo shortly.

Kearsie is a ridiculously brave, super crafty 35-year-old book lover with two adorable daughters. To help the Murphy family through this time, the all-around-awesome Winn has magically created bookmarks for her Etsy shop Vintage Umbrella. Proceeds from these bookmarks will go to aid Kearsie's family during her breast cancer battle.

I bought one. She is currently staring at me from between the pages of Pride and Prejudice.

This bookmark and I have a lot in common. We both share a love for buckled shoes. We both love regency romances. And we both have a mustache. (Seriously, remember those Our Changing Bodies classes we had to go through back in 6th grade? Why don't they have those for grown ups? Because I would have loved to have known that age twenty-nine was the year of Our Growing Mustache before it happened. What. The. Heck?)

I love my mustached bookmark.

Kearsie has been blogging her journey since she was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis {HERE} if you'd like to take a peek into her life and say hi.

And if you'd like a mustached bookmark of your own, you can find them:


Have a wonderful week, folks!



Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Flashback: Fashion

In the wise words of the Conchords, "fashion is danger."

Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel - dangerous stuff, fashion. Which explains why I'm about as fashionable as last season's discount rack at Target. I don't laugh in the face of danger, I hide from it.

Gracie, the resident fashionista thinks differently. When gearing up for her 6th b-day in May, she said to me, "Hey Mom, can I shop at Justice at the mall? That's where the cool clothes are...."

And this kiddo wanted CLOTHES for her birthday instead of toys. Sometimes I wonder if she's really the daughter of my BFF Jenni, who has been known to say, "Marisa... what are you WEARING?" (this is when I dress myself. When my mom or grandma dress me, I'm pretty cool) And every cute pair of shoes that has ever destroyed my feet with blisters always met my BFF's approval.

"Beauty is pain, Marisa." That became my mantra through college as I heard it often enough. This mantra has been replaced by "Comfort is sweatpants, Marisa" and I'm much happier now.

When Gracie was four, I found this picture on the floor and wore a puzzled/impressed expression as I made sense of it.

"You're designing clothes?" I asked her. "Yup, I want to be a fashion designer," she said. Two years later, the girl is going strong. Her style can be described as "Betsey Johnson meets My Little Ponies."

(She was a fashion designer for Halloween last year and this was her monstrosity - er, creation)

So, I thought I'd dig through the file cabinet of curiosities for these: dress designs from my middle school days.

6th grade:

And 8th grade:

I've always been a sucker for wedding dresses. I love them.

When it came to my wedding, I was one of those, "Tell me when to be there and what to wear and I'll show up about a half hour early," kind of gals. I was happy to hand ALL the wedding planning over to my grandma, who did a beautiful job! and focused my attention on making sure my hubs didn't get too crazy on his stag do and wake up naked in a train car in Scotland (he didn't, phew) and finishing school (I got married the same week as finals, so I ended up with a degree and a hubs at the same time).

When it comes to Gracie and fashion, she's very much a "back away, Mom, I'll handle this" gal, and tromps around the backyard in heels and fancy skirts with hair bows erupting from her head.

She's asked to design her 1st grade back-to-school wardrobe so we've been having fun prepping for that. Making sure Gracie doesn't go to school dressed as the tooth fairy will be a challenge... but she shares my love for art deco and I'm pretty jazzed about the designs she's played with so far.

Stay tuned, folks. My 6-year-old fashionista is prepping for the unveiling of her fall collection and it's going to be pretty sharp.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why I Typically Screen All Phone Calls...

Green Vintage Rotary Telephone Watercolor
by Joanna of Jojolarue

I hate talking on the phone. I used to love it, especially in my teen years when I'd talk for six hours straight with one friend and when that call was done, I'd call another friend and talk for another six hours straight.

As soon as I grew up and discovered that my brain and my mouth aren't connected, and that they are further disconnected as soon as a speaker is placed in front of me, I started avoiding the phone like the plague. This all began when I was about 18 and realized that sometimes I randomly say my name like I'm signing off a letter just before I hang up. And when I'm not doing things like that to embarrass myself... I'm saying other things to embarrass myself.

Like today.

[phone rings]

PERKY GIRL ON PHONE: Hi! Can I speak with Alexis Strombone?

ME: Sorry, there's no one here by that name. May I take a message?


PERKY GIRL ON PHONE [less perky]: Uh....?

ME: I mean... Whoops. [click]


And don't even get me started on texting. Apparently my fingers and my brain aren't connected either. Which is why I enjoy When Parents Text so darned much. It's a whole website devoted to people who are as genius as me! (if you have not experienced the hilarity that is this website, you MUST)

Any other phone-challenged people out there? Please say I'm not the only one.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Strange Things Are Brewing...

That's right, Elegant Snobbery Illustration fans - My Etsy shop is open after a 7 month hiatus, but ... I am only back for a short time to clear out my pre-printed inventory!

Quantities are VERY limited (some prints only have a quantity of ONE) So, if you see something you'd like, you better snap it up!

Come on by Elegant Snobbery and see what's left!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bringing Out the Big Guns

So. You know how I've been blogging about how I am ->thisclose<- to finishing this dang draft of The Book the Never Ends for, oh, I don't know, about a MONTH now? Well, I'm still only two measly scenes away from being done, but for some reason... it's just not happening.

This does not fly with me. I want to be done, dang it, and I want to be done NOW. So, much like the little donkey who needs a carrot on a handmade fishing pole dangled in front of his adorable little face (I really love donkeys), I needed to get myself a carrot.

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta = BEST CARROT EVER.

Show of hands - who has never read a book by Melina Marchetta?

*looks around*

Hey you with your hand up: Run, don't walk, to your nearest library and/or bookstore and check out/buy every book by Melina Marchetta you see. And that is an order!*

When it comes to Melina Marchetta's books, I am a fangirl of epic proportions. This book has been at the top of my to-read list since it came out, and yesterday at the bookstore I swear it sang to me like a siren luring my ship to crash upon the rocks (hmmmm... I wonder if my lame simile usage has something to do with why my book is taking so long to finish writing... the delete key is my BFF)

Actually, that's not far from how I feel after reading a Marchetta book - like I've been in a shipwreck. A really freakin' great shipwreck, but a shipwreck nonetheless. And since torturing myself with AMAZING books by Melina Marchetta is one of my favorite pastimes, I absolutely had to buy this one.


Here is the Goodreads blurb -

Melina Marchetta's brilliant, heart-wrenching new novel takes up the story of the group of friends from her best-selling, much-loved book Saving Francesca - only this time it's five years later and Thomas Mackee is the one who needs saving.

Thomas Mackee wants oblivion. Wants to forget parents who leave and friends he used to care about and a string of one-night stands, and favourite uncles being blown to smithereens on their way to work on the other side of the world.

But when his flatmates turn him out of the house, Tom moves in with his single, pregnant aunt, Georgie. And starts working at the Union pub with his former friends. And winds up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he abandoned Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle's death.

And in a year when everything's broken, Tom realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them.


My bookshelf is thanking me. I, however, can not believe I have a Marchetta book in my house that I am not reading at this very moment. Clearly I am bringing out the big guns.


*shuts off internet*

*opens Word*

*writes like a maniac*

Hope you are all having an awesome week, folks!

*if the first book by Melina Marchetta you pick up happens to be Jellicoe Road, do not return it to the library until after you have passed the first hundred pages. I did and lemme just say, BIG MISTAKE. So glad I gave it another go - this book has been my #1 most favorite book EVER WRITTEN (excluding Persuasion, naturally) since I first finished it a couple years ago. And it gets better with every read, I'm telling ya.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Outta the Mouths of Babes: The Annelie Learns to Write Edition

On Saturday, Annelie figured out how to string letters together to form words. Let me just admit, I didn't know this kiddo even knew her entire alphabet. We've been working on it for awhile and I've been wondering for some time now if my 4-year-old has learning disabilities like her dad did as a kid. Her letters are often written upside-down and she easily forgets what letters look and sound like to the point of where I say, "What letter is this?" and she frequently answers, "Um... B? No. Z? No. G? No. I forgot..."

I haven't been too worried - she doesn't start kindergarten for over a year, so I figured we have plenty of time to figure it out.

So. Saturday, we were working on her summer homework packet and Annelie's page was on the letter A. I said: Draw something that starts with A.

ANNELIE: I'll draw Annelie.

ME: Maybe you can hold something that starts with A in your picture. What starts with A?

ANNELIE: I don't know. What sound does A make?

[Makes all the A sounds]

ANNELIE: Apple starts with A! And the sound in the word PAT!

[Annelie scribbles all over paper]

ANNELIE: Look. It says PAT.

ME AND WILL [look at paper then look at each other having a Holy interplanetary yardsticks, Batman! moment]: Wow. You just wrote the word PAT!

ANNELIE: YAY, I wrote the word PAT! Now I'm going to write CAT! [writes CAT] Look! It says CAT!

ME AND WILL [.... O_O ....] Good job! It really does say cat!

ANNELIE: Now I'm going to write CUP! [writes CUP] It says CUP!

ME AND WILL [.... O_O ....]: Good job!

ANNELIE: Yay! I can write WORDS!

ME: Do you want to write another?

ANNELIE: Yeah! Now I want to write the word GINGERBREAD!


Sunday, at dinner -

ME: Annelie, spell HAT.

ANNELIE: Huh... H! Aaah... A! Tuh.... T! [excitedly shouts] H-A-T spells hat!

ME: Yup. Spell DOG.

ANNELIE: Duh... D! Aw... O! Guh.... G! [excitedly shouts] D-O-G spells dog!

ME: Awesome. Spell BUS.

ANNELIE: Buh...B! [long, loud burp to make the UHHHHHHHHH sound] U! Ssssss....S [excitedly shouts] B-U-S spells bus!!

ME [facepalm]: ....

ANNELIE: And pardon me.


after dinner, playing with the fridge magnets -

ANNELIE [laughs hysterically]: Gracie! Look what I wrote!

GRACIE: Um... You wrote BUT.

ANNELIE: I know. BUT! Get it? BUT! [laughs hysterically, again]

GRACIE [rolls eyes]: That's the wrong BUT.

ANNELIE [looks at word]: Oh. How do I spell the right one?

GRACIE [adds a T]: There. BUTT.

[Both kids laugh hysterically]

ME [facepalm]: ...


Two days later, Annelie is stringing together 8-letter words by herself. (she got PRINCESS - even with that tricky C!)

This kid. She does impress me. She also keeps me facepalming on a daily basis.

Hope you're having a wonderful week, folks!


Monday, July 11, 2011


About a year ago, my hubs and I were having one of those Life-isn't-any-fun-unless-we're-doing-what-we-love,-so-let's-figure-out-exactly-what-we-love-and-then-do-it talks.

Now, I'm lucky that I get to do what I love everyday - be home with the kiddos and write and draw and do all things crafty. Will, at that time, only worked. So I said, "Well, what do you think sounds like fun?"

And he said, "I dunno. Elvis impersonator?"

I'm not gonna lie, when Will and I met, and he told me he was a huge Elvis fan, I was like, "Oh. Really." Elvis fans are kinda weird. "Well, that's cool. I know a couple Elvis songs. Like that one UB40 sang in the mid-nineties."

And then I learned that Will has a LOVELY voice, and when hunky men with lovely voices sing Elvis songs to you, you quickly become a fan, I'm telling ya.

When he said he thought he might like giving Elvis impersonating a go, I thought how perfect. We're kind of on the wacky side of normal, and how fun to raise the girls with that in all of our lives. So he got a jumpsuit, a microphone, and grew out his summer buzz cut...

And... then he grew out the sideburns.

OMG, you guys, the SIDEBURNS. On the upside, 70's Elvis totally had that Regency hunk look to him, with those high collars and sideburns and that dark rumpled hair, and I *swoon* love Regency hunks with all my heart... but man. Those sideburns.

Our friend George owns a restaurant and every month Will... ahem, I'm sorry, that's WILVIS, does a show.

He's has been performing at George's and other gigs around our town for close to a year now, and it's really funny - we'll be out as a family doing non-Elvisy family stuff and people will come up to us, recognizing Will. Like, we went to story-time at the library and a woman said, "Hi! I recognize you from the Wilvis shows. I'm Priscilla." (she really was named Priscilla)

Another time the girls and I went downtown for a coffee and Annelie struck up a conversation with a 20-something guy who thought she was pretty darned adorable. The man making our drinks said to the guy, "You know who that is?" The guy shook his head. "That's Wilvis's little girl." And the guy was like, "Oh, yeah!"

That was a very odd, but awesome-for-my-hubs moment. (Also, after a family recognized us while we were all out for dinner at the pub, I realized just how small my city is)

AND I'm happy to say I have a song for you to hear!

He's pretty darned awesome, isn't he?

We have a lot of fun.

Happy Monday, folks!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Cutest Music Video EVER

'Nuff said.

I'm TOTALLY going to call him Pom-Pom.

(Thanks to Jonny for sharing this with me)

You guys, I'm two scenes away from being done with this draft of my never-ending book! It is consuming my life which is why I have been very, very scarce lately. But when it is done, CELEBRATION TIME. (which means I'll probably just go to bed early, because seriously, I'm tired.)

Hope you are all having a great week!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Flashback: Teeth

Gracie lost her third tooth this morning - one of her two front teeth, which are my favorite teeth for kids to lose. I'm crossing my fingers that the other one will hurry up and fall out because, in my opinion, nothing is cuter than a ginormo top-teeth gap on little kids.

When it comes to pulling out teeth, Gracie and I are polar opposites. (or molar opposites. har har.) She's very timid. This last tooth wiggled in her head for a good two months until it fell out on it's own.

Me at age 4, with my big brother, Dan - my first lost tooth.
How RAD is that wall paper?

I, however, was of the 'will inflict physical pain on self if it means a visit from a real live FAIRY and a handful of shiny coins' variety. And so, at the age of four, I pulled my first tooth out of my head during nap time at preschool when it wasn't even wiggly. (I was of the 'will inflict physical pain on self it if means NOT NAPPING' variety, as well, which got me in a lot of trouble as a kid)

Eventually, my grandma taught me a short cut - the string-tied-to-your-tooth-and-then-to-the-door-and-then-you-SLAM-the-door-and-VOILA! short cut. Which is brilliant! Teeth come out SO easily this way!

Fortunately, there is no photographic evidence that I had a monstrous mouth of scraggly teeth. I smiled with my mouth closed in every close-up shot until my teeth looked normal again in fifth grade...

...thus avoiding looking like my adorable scraggle-toothed hubs....

...who eventually turned into an adorable Jr. Bugs Bunny.

What will Gracie's mouth look like? Only time will tell...

But in the meantime, she's pretty darned cute, if I do say so myself!

Have a FANTABULOUS 4-day weekend and 4th of July (or Good Riddance Day, as my Brit of a husband likes to call it)!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...