Monday, December 27, 2010

Guide to Childish Warfare for Robust Young Boys and Toublesome Ladychildren

As we hit the height of snowball-fight season, it seems fitting to remember the roots of the sport. Here are the official rules of Iced-Orb Combat from the 1832 Guide to Childish Warfare for Robust Young Boys and Toublesome Ladychildren:

  • The Captains Courageous of the opposing child army shall meet on the field of glory prior to the start of hostilities. Any prisoners taken during the previous month’s skirmish are to be released from their Snow Dungeons and allowed to rejoin their apple-cheeked compatriots.
  • Any child stricken with asthma is to be rooted out by a set of 10 wind-sprints and sent home to practice his scrimshaw.
  • Should the town’s richest gentleman be present, it is his honor to signal the Beginning of Atrocities by hitting a horse with his cane. If there is no horse, any adult over the age of 14 will do.
  • Inflicting a displaced eyeball upon one’s enemy is grounds for a team’s instant victory and legal precedent for the attacker to receive a Child’s Knighthood at the next Town Ceremony.
  • Should there be no clear victor before the lamps are lit, it is upon each side to tally the nosebleeds among their ranks as the other side’s score. In the case of a tie, whichsoever team has the most stepchildren is the losing party.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In honor of my Mother and Father, who both served proudly . . .

For Chief Master Sergeant Betty W. Frazier, USAF, and Col. Stephan T. Frazier, USAF. I love you and am always proud to be your daughter . . .

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The simple truth about cats. . .

exactly right

by Charles Bukowski

the strays keep arriving: now we have 5
cats and they are smart, spontaneous, self-
absorbed, naturally poised and awesomely

one of the finest things about cats is
that when you're feeling down, very down,
if you just look at the cat at rest,
at the way they sit or lie and wait,
it's a grand lesson in preserving
if you watch 5 cats at once that's 5
times better.

no matter the extra demands they make
no matter the heavy sacks of food
no matter the dozens of cans of tuna
from the supermarket: it's all just fuel for their
amazing dignity and their
affirmation of a vital
we humans can
only envy and
admire from

"exactly right" by Charles Bukowski, from The Night Torn with Mad Footsteps: New Poems. © Black Sparrow Press, 2001. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Buck on the Island

This afternoon we were barbecuing near the lake, and what did we see? A huge, young buck on the island! He traipsed across the bridge and helped himself to some peach tree limbs . . .

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Paws on the Keyboard

Talented writer/photographer Kimberley Freeman stopped by Thursday for a book she's writing about authors and their canine and feline muses! There were photos, wine and women (well, the two of us) and I cooked up some fish I caught! We did the shots on the island where I write and it was perfect. What a lovely woman, and a fun day. Can't wait to see the book! In the meantime, here's a sneak peek . . . Is this a happy dog or what?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Autumn Shivering In On The Wings of Canadian Geese

The Canadian geese arrived today on their annual trek south, and autumn came shivering in on their black-tipped wings. Technically, autumn has been here for weeks, but the summer sun has been reluctant to release her grip on Central Texas, which is fine by me.

Though I am a child of October, autumn, for me, is a yawning, cavernous time of
subterranean sighs, the small creakings and dyings of summer, the lingering shadows of old sorrows burrowing in for a long winter.

Watching the geese skim across the darkening water, I work at finding the beauty of the season, the dusty golds and burnt oranges, but in my heart I know that winter lurks beyond the leaves and will be here soon, pressing its low, gray sky into the earth.

Over the past few years, I have learned to come to terms with autumn, but I am not sure winter will ever be welcome to me.
And so I will pull blankets from storage and stockpile hot chocolate and settle in, knowing that spring will come.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mean Kitty in the News . . .

So, Atticus and I got invited to be in A Cat on My Keyboard: Photos and Essays from America's Favorite Writers by Kimberly Freeman! I warned her that Atticus is not a typical muse--he's really kind of a thug. She seems undaunted . . .

Monday, September 27, 2010

Give that man a martini!

The Return of Odysseus
by George Bilgere

When Odysseus finally does get home
he is understandably upset about the suitors,
who have been mooching off his wife for twenty years,
drinking his wine, eating his mutton, etc.

In a similar situation today he would seek legal counsel.
But those were different times. With the help
of his son
Telemachus he slaughters roughly
one hundred and ten suitors
and quite a number of young ladies,
although in view of their behavior
I use the term loosely.
Rivers of blood
course across the palace floor.

I too have come home in a bad mood.
Yesterday, for instance, after the department meeting,
when I ended up losing my choice parking spot
behind the library to the new provost.

I slammed the door. I threw down my book bag
in this particular way I have perfected over the years
that lets my wife understand
the contempt I have for my enemies,
which is prodigious. And then with great skill
she built a gin and tonic
that would have pleased the very gods,
and with epic patience she listened
as I told her of my wrath, and of what I intended to do
to so-and-so, and also to what's-his-name.

And then there was another gin and tonic
and presently my wrath abated and was forgotten,
and peace came to reign once more
in the great halls and courtyards of my house.

"The Return of Odysseus" by George Bilgere. (buy now)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumn Equinox, Celtic Style . . .

The sun is waning signaling the start of shorter days, winter winds and Autumn Equinox. Today, the sun and moon share the sky equally, and Celts celebrate the harvest . . .

The Wicker man There was a Celtic ritual of dressing the last sheaf of corn to be harvested in fine clothes, or weaving it into a wicker-like man or woman. It was believed the sun or the corn spirit was trapped in the corn and needed to be set free. This effigy was usually burned in celebration of the harvest and the ashes would be spread on the fields. This annual sacrifice of a large wicker man (representing the corn spirit) is thought by many to have been the origin of the misconception that Druids made human sacrifices.

'The reaping is over and the harvest is in,
Summer is finished, another cycle begins'

In some areas of the country the last sheaf was kept inside until the following spring, when it would be ploughed back into the land. In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called 'the Maiden', and must be cut by the youngest female in attendance.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Talkin' Texas, Austin Style

Austin, Texas is an alluring oasis located smack dab in the heart of Texas. Learn the lingo and you'll fit right in . .

New to Austin? You’re not alone. The little big city on the Lower Colorado River has been growin’ so fast almost nobody’s from here any more.

And it's no wonder. Austin is an oasis of rolling green hills, miles of blue river and more writers, musicians and computer whizzes than you can shake a stick at.

Though the city is located deep in the heart of Texas, you can always tell when you hit the Austin city limit line. The elevation is higher, the landscape is lush and green and the language is a pure, straight up, double shot of Austin. With a good ear and a little coachin’, you too can talk like you were born here.Now, learnin’ to act like you’re from Austin may take a little longer . . .

A Bit About Austin

A couple things newcomers find out right away is that Austin is different—not just different from Texas, but, for the most part, different from the rest of the planet, which is why so many people visit Austin and nobody seems to leave.

The semi-official Austin city motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” and we like it that way.

I hear up north they lock their crazy people in the attic. In Austin, we prop ‘em up on the sofa and invite the neighbors over for iced tea. So it stands to reason we need our own language, which explains everything from our own special pronunciation of regular ol’ English to our own brand of Spanglish.

Talkin’ Austin: The BasicsFirst off, you can always tell a newcomer when they refer to Austin residents as “Austonians” or any other some such nonsense. Be aware—this is a terrible insult, since Houston residents call themselves “Houstonians,” and Austin takes great pride in being unique. Austin folks are Austinites.

Many a new weather man has made the grave mistake of addressing his audience as Austonian, and the unfortunate tee-vee station that employs said weather man gets more irate phone calls than if he’d predicted the weather wrong. To be fair, we don’t much care what weather men, or anybody else for that matter, say about Austin weather—we already know the forecast. We’ve got four seasons: hot, hotter, hottest, and natural catastrophe (flood, hail, tornado, drought, and any coastal north-heading hurricane, and the inevitable evacuees said hurricane blows in with, which we take in with shelter, hot casseroles and good intentions).

To keep things interesting, there’s the occasional annoying cold front that knocks the whole city to its knees—helpful hint: avoid rare rain or ice storms. Austinites don’t know how to deal with bad weather and the resulting skidding, sliding, crashing traffic accidents will likely earn you a nasty note from your insurance company.

Austin Pronunciation Guide

Once you’ve dipped your toe in the Austin pool of assimilation and know enough to call yourself an Austinite, you’ve gotta learn to talk Austin.Begin by dropping the “g” at the end of most, if not all, words—Austinites pride themselves in environmental awareness and that extra “g” is just a waste of time and ink.As in most of Texas and other southern/southwestern states, there is no such saying as “you all” or, even worse, “you guys.” Saying you guys is like scritching your nails on a chalkboard. Best to avoid it at all costs.

Y’all (YAWL) is a plural second-person pronoun. All y’all is a contraction of “all of you,” and refers to an entire group. Y'all is not used when you're referring to a single person.

And you’re not ever “about to do something,” you’re fixin’ to do somethin’, as in, “We’re fixin’ to whoop up on Texas A&M.” There's a whole slew of legend and lore about Texas A&M University, their football team and their bitter and uncalled for rivalry with Austinites, whether said Austinites actually attend or ever attended the University of Texas or not. It’s the principle of the thing, and Austinites are big on principles. For the most part.

Gettin’ Around Austin

If you don’t know the Austin pronunciation of thoroughfares and out-lyin’ areas, you’re gonna get stuck in a whole mess o’ traffic because you can’t translate the traffic report.Some of the traffic stuckedness will not be your fault, as some thoroughfares change names three or four times before you reach your destination, and half the name changes aren’t pronounced the way the whole rest of Texas (or anywhere else for that matter) pronounce them.

Some Examples:

Burnet Lane- “BURN-it,” as in, “Burn-it, durn it, learn it!” Also the pronunciation of Austin’s Hill Country pseudo-suburb, Burnet.

Guadalupe Street- “GUAD-a-loop.” Yes, we know the correct Spanish pronunciation is “Gwaad-ah-LOOP-ay,” but stick around and you’ll see that Austinites don’t care much about rules, linguistic or otherwise.

Loop 1- “MO-pac,” so named for the Missouri Pacific Railroad tracks it parallels—sort of.Manchaca Road- “MAN-shack.” Also the pronunciation of a south Austin suburb.Ranch Road 2222- Another multi-named thoroughfare. The correct pronunciation is “Twenty-two, Twenty-two”—not ever, ever, ever , “Two Two Two Two.” This burgeoning byway is changes names as it snakes through Austin, and is also known as Allandale, Northland and Koenig Lane (pronounced

KAY-nig Lane), depending on where you wind up when you’ve gotten yourself lost.Research Boulevard-Depending on your GPS location, this major highway is also known as Anderson Lane, Ed Bluestein, Toll Road 183-A (don’t get us started on this one) and regular ol’ 183, as in, “Pray for me, I drive 183.”‘Nuff said.The Drag—the portion of Guadalupe near the University of Texas, named for fun-loving, free-spirited students, aka “hippies,” in the late 1960s and early 1970’s.

And if you don’t catch on to the lingo or the lifestyle of Austin right away, that’s okay. In the words of adopted, Grammy award-winning Austinite Lyle Lovett, “That’s right, you’re not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway.”

We believe he was writing about Austin. So y’all come on down, ya hear?


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The real meaning of romance . . .

My great aunt tells a similar story about my grandpa and grandma--a bit of romantic nostalgia through rose colored glasses . . .

My Parents' Dance Lessons, 1945

In the story my aunt tells,
this is how they met. It's
September, the war just over,
the air crisp as the creases
in my father's khaki pants,
bright as his Bronze Star,
pungent as the marigold
my mother tucks behind one ear,
the night they both sign
up for dance lessons
"the Arthur Murray way"
at the Statler Hotel
in downtown Philly.

He's there to meet girls, of that
I am certain, and she's there
for romance, though I don't think
that's what she would say,
both of them looking for something
as intangible as the cigarette smoke
that rises in old, deckle-edged photos—
everyone tough, glamorous, vampy.

Perhaps there are dance cards?
Or maybe partners are assigned?
The truth is, no one really knows
about the moment when their glance
catches and snags across the room,
a fishline pulling taut as they
place their feet on Murray's
famous "magic footsteps," and start
the slow luxury of reeling one another in.
Music spills from a scratchy
Victrola as she places her hand
on his shoulder, feels the slight
pressure of his palm against her back,
and they begin to move together,
her hesitant steps following
his over-enthusiastic swings,
until they are both lost in
"The More I See You" or "I Don't
Want to Walk Without You Baby,"
the future stretching out before them
like a polished oak dance floor.

I don't know if they went back
for more lessons, or how they learned
to dip and twirl and slide together,
though I once saw my father spin
my mother completely around—her skirt
flaring out around her like the bell
of a silk lamp shade—just monthsv before she died. It's their story
after all, the one with a secret
hidden deep inside it like all
love stories—bigger than we
are or will ever be—music
from a Big Band coming up
in the background, playing
"You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To,"
while our parents swoop and glide
in the spotlight, keeping back
just enough of the story to make us wonder.

"My Parents' Dance Lessons, 1945" by Alison Townsend, from The Blue Dress. © White Pine Press, 2003. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

A book by its cover . . .

Potential buyers judge books by their covers, making cover art important in today's fast growing indie market. My cover for SCOOP was indicative of the story, and tells you right away that the book is about a young woman with a mind for writing and mystery . . . It says we're in for a snappy, sexy ride.

DEAD COPY, with its image of a young woman near the outline of a dead body, keeps with that theme.

When considering cover art, make sure the art you choose answers these tips:

1. What audience are you targeting?

2. What appeals to that audience?
3. What is your book about?
4. What is the theme of your book?

5. Does what appeals to you personally appeal to your targeted reader? Sometimes it doesn't . . .
6. Does your cover design have a professional presence?
7. The most important thing is to do your homework. Market research into colors, themes and eye-catching art is the foundation of a good book cover that will appeal to your audience.

Remember, your cover not only represents your book, it represents you and your career. Choose wisely . . .

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Best advice ever given . . .

Okay, I laughed so hard I spit iced tea on my monitor . . .

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kit Frazier's Online Writer's Portfolio

My first mystery novel, SCOOP, was Mystery Guild Pick of the Month and was nominated for an Edgar.

After writing three articles for The Writer Magazine, the managing editor assigned an article on self publishing (back when my name was Cyndee DuHadaway)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bodhi's Invading Mah Spaces!

Poor Atticus.

How is a kitteh supposed to gather his minions if he can't get a moment's peace?

Bodhi the Wonder Dog has finally located puss-boy's Lair o' Destruction, and now, there's no rest for the whiskered evil genius and no place to plot his kittenly dastardly deed . . .
Can't a Kitteh get a break?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Writers' Conference Season Is Upon Us--Tips For a Successful Agent/Editor Hunt

Why writers' conferences proliferate in the sweltering heat of summer is beyond me, what with global warming and all, but the fact is, conference season is upon us, so get ready.

Conferences are a great way to meet an agent and editor--but remember--meeting with a Publishing Pro may help, but it isn't the make-it-or-break-it of your career.

It's time to spiff up your writing resume, polish your pitches, get your writing house in order and break out the no-fragrance, environmentally sensitive hairspray.

With a few tips and some gumption, you're going to hit the writing conference circuit in style.

First impressions mean a lot.

In the next few days, we'll explore how to make the most of writing conferences, from Super Secret Must Haves to take on your trip, conference etiquette (hint--don't slide your manuscript to your prospective agent under the wall of a bathroom stall) and some acceptable out-of-the box ways to vault your manuscript over the slush pile and onto your Dream Agent's desk.

To get started, check out the first spiff-up-your-manuscript lesson on Suite 101 . . .

The story of my life . . .

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Graduating? You gotta be kidding! ! !

I can't believe my niece is graduating!

Well done, Maddie Kat, Congratulations! Wishing you lots of love and joy in the journey to come . . .

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stripping Down

See Oprah today? If not, you really need to check out Peter Walsh's Stripping Down:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ready for some serious writing!

Well, if you can't write here, I don't know of a place on earth where you could . . .
Off to get some done!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More Fish & Birthdays than you can shake a stick at!

Lot's of birthdays, lot's of babies, lots of fish and lots of fun! Click the header "More Fish" and take a look at some of these monsters!

Friday, April 23, 2010

There will be hell to pay . . .

Once again Puss Boy wanted to go on the boat, and once again, started acting like the Tasmanian Devil when he realized he was surrounded by water . . . we went without him, but there was hell to pay.

The Koi in the pond are really going to hear about it now . . .

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fishers of Men and Cats and Other Meanies

So, okay, we're throwing a big fish fry for R's family in THREE weeks and need pounds and pounds of fish. So I ask the gang, "Who wants to fish?" None of any of the related kids responded, but I got a resounding resolution from the numerous quadrupeds who populate our homestead:

Fish? You mean REAL fish, not the kind of dried, processed crap in a bag from PetCo you usually give me?
Count me in, but I get to DRIVE!

Of course, the Apocolypse ensued. Dogs every where, geese swooping in for their share, and 25 pounds of flipping, flopping catfish trying to leap for their lives.

And in the ensuing mayhem,
Sam (R's dog) somehow gulped down 1/4 pound of stink bait while assorted men were trying to keep fish in the boat.

Sam didn't get sick. She's okay. Or will be, until Robert's dad finds out she consumed half a can of costly catfish bait . . .

All's well that ends well, however. The boys caught their fish, the dogs got their ride, and Sam ate lots of really stinky cat fish bait.

Life is good on the lake . . .

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's not easy being an Evil Genius . . .

Power, wealth and an endless supply of Little Friskies are not enough for Atticus the Meany Cat. He is out for World Domination, beginning with the dog . . .

And just as the target approaches . . .

Prepare for Projectile Puss Mode!

But Bodhi proves to be a worthy nemesis . . .

Ah, to live and fight another day . . .

Friday, March 19, 2010

Is your dog a terrorist?

I think Bodhi's okay--technically he's Scottish, but I worry about Sam the Lab and Atticus . . .

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Still loving Mary Oliver--Almost a Conversation

Almost a Conversation

I have not really, not yet, talked with otter
about his life.

He has so many teeth, he has trouble
with vowels.

Wherefore our understanding
is all body expression—

he swims like the sleekest fish,
he dives and exhales and lifts a trail of bubbles.
Little by little he trusts my eyes
and my curious body sitting on the shore.

Sometimes he comes close.
I admire his whiskers
and his dark fur which I would rather die than wear.

He has no words, still what he tells about his life
is clear.
He does not own a computer.
He imagines the river will last forever.
He does not envy the dry house I live in.
He does not wonder who or what it is that I worship.
He wonders, morning after morning, that the river
is so cold and fresh and alive, and still
I don't jump in.

~ Mary Oliver ~ Link to purchase this poem at:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The US Census . . .

Okay, so you're going to take it, right?

I got my warning to be looking for the forms in the mail yesterday, and yeah, you bet I'm going to take it. As a country, we need to get a good idea of who we are, how many we are, and how many representatives we get to send to Washington. Depending on how invasive the questions are, I'll probably even answer most of them.

Andy Rooney says the First Question asks you to identify the person in your home who is "Person #1," as opposed to "Person #2." Yeah. Good luck with that one. At my house, Person #1 is a cat-- if you don't believe me, just ask him. But don't forget the lion tamer gloves . . .

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hoping for a Happy New Year . . .

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin

Happy New Year, y'all! Let's hope it's happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous . . .

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing
My friend Pantera with Tahoe & Me

Tahoe and a new friend at the signing