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My good news

Jeepers, my blog is dusty and full of cobwebs. I haven't updated it in more than a year! But, I have book news to share that I'm pretty excited about.

From Publishers Lunch Deluxe:

Amy McAuley's THE VIOLINS IN AUTUMN, after a teenager's uncle is killed in the London Blitz during World War II, she joins the war effort as a spy and soon finds herself parachuting into France for the allies, to Mary Kate Castellani at Walker, by Steven Chudney at The Chudney Agency.

I started working on this book at the end of 2004, and I've been through the wringer with it since then. I'm *thrilled* that it has sold to Walker.

Friday Five

1. I updated the What's New portion of my website with an entry about the parks we've camped at over the years. My mom just emailed to tell me how much she liked it. I could have a second career as a reviewer, she said. Aw, thanks, Mom! If that second career pays as well as my first career... watch out dollar store!

2. I'm sick with a sore throat, aching everything, and laryngitis. With the kids at the tail-end of their week off school and me without a voice, I've had to resort to the wide-eyed "Zip it, pronto" and the narrow-eyed "That's enough, knock it off" looks in public more than normal.

3. We've lived in our house for ten years and my husband and I are finally getting around to renovating the '70s out of our bedroom. I believe the previous owners of our house must have used a substance similar to Krazy Glue to attach a wallpaper border around the room. I now dislike the previous owners of our house.

4. We've baked two products from our cross-border shopping trip loot. Duncan Hines Peanut Butter Cup brownies and the Toll House Easter Swirled Choco Chip Cookies. Both were delicious, but I give the edge to the brownies.

5. Now that it's officially Spring, I only have two months to try and fit myself into Summer clothes. That's a scary epiphany.

Friday Five

1. Next week, kids are out of school for March Break. My girls and I took a trip across the border to buy all the amazing Pilsbury, Duncan Hines, and Toll House products we can't get here (ohhhh, the choices you guys have in the States--when the doors open at Meijer, my girls and I feel like we're stepping into a food paradise! lol). We're going to bake like crazy next week.

2. My daughter had a headache at lunch, so I gave her a ride back to school. Kids were filing out the doors and we suspected a fire alarm. A group started to gather at the edge of the property and I got the feeling everything wasn't all smiles and rainbows. I drove home, but now I feel guilty that I didn't call and give the school a head's up. Do you let high school kids work those kinds of things out for themselves when violence *might* occur, or do you intervene? I have a hard time removing my Safety Mom hat.

3. I read about Jenny McCarthy singing the praises of botox. It's her saviour. I thought she must be, what, forty-two, maybe forty-three? She's thirty-six, for crying out loud! Younger than me by five months. Thanks for making me feel like I need botox, Jenny McCarthy.

4. I no longer feel hopeful that my WWII novel will sell, so I'm depressed about that.

5. The sun is shining and the snow is gone. 'Nuff said. :)

The nephews are here

The week-long vacation with my little nephews is underway. I am the mom of older kids--twelve and up. I had no idea how easy my life has gotten. Now I know. :)

Time to get out the Play-Doh...

The Mom Meme

Snagged from jgurtler. How much *do* I remember about my first baby?

1. WAS YOUR PREGNANCY PLANNED? Ahhhh, noooo...

2. WERE YOU MARRIED AT THE TIME? Test? No. When she was born? Yes.

3. WHAT WERE YOUR REACTIONS? Shock, but surprisingly happy, too.

4. WAS ABORTION AN OPTION FOR YOU? No

5. HOW OLD WERE YOU? 20

6. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE PREGNANT? A weird old-school test with a little ball that changed from blue to green if positive. It turned green!

7. WHO DID YOU TELL FIRST? My now husband. In the college cafeteria.

8. DID YOU WANT TO FIND OUT THE SEX? Nope, not with my first.

9. DUE DATE? August 6th

10. DID YOU HAVE MORNING SICKNESS? I felt nauseous pretty much every waking moment for three months, but I never actually threw up

11. WHAT DID YOU CRAVE? I'm not sure...

12. WHO/WHAT IRRITATED YOU THE MOST? Leg cramps and sore hips while sleeping

13. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CHILD'S SEX? Girl! :)

14. DID YOU WISH YOU HAD THE OPPOSITE SEX OF WHAT YOU WERE GETTING? No

15. HOW MANY POUNDS DID YOU GAIN THROUGHOUT THE PREGNANCY? 25

16. DID YOU HAVE A BABY SHOWER? Yes, a small one

17. WAS IT A SURPRISE OR DID YOU KNOW? I knew

18. DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS DURING YOUR PREGNANCY? Not really. But she flipped over to breech at 39 1/2 weeks!

19. WHERE DID YOU GIVE BIRTH? Toronto, ON

20 HOW MANY HOURS WERE YOU IN LABOR? None! (For that baby...)

21. WHO DROVE YOU TO THE HOSPITAL? Husband. Very early morning. We drove past a guy jogging in a bright pink and purple spandex outfit and had a laugh.

22. WHO WATCHED YOU GIVE BIRTH? The regular hospital folks who watch C-sections. And my husband.

23. WAS IT NATURAL OR C-SECTION? C-section

24. DID YOU TAKE MEDICINE TO EASE THE PAIN? Well, yes. Major surgery hurts.

25. HOW MUCH DID YOUR CHILD WEIGH? 7 lbs 14 oz

28. WHEN WAS YOUR CHILD ACTUALLY BORN? About 5 pm

29. WHAT DID YOU NAME HIM/HER? Katherine Elizabeth

30. HOW IS YOUR FIRST BORN TODAY? She's a great kid who loves to bake and play guitar. I LOVE her.

Teaser Tuesday

I'm doing a quick read-thru of my historical fiction, Violins of Autumn. Here's the end of Chapter 21:

Within one of the rotting logs that littered the forest floor, a Deathwatch Beetle banged his head against the wood in search of a mate. Superstitious people like my aunt believed the noise, which sounded remarkably like the ticking of a watch, foretold an impending death. Her sister had passed away one night when they were children, only minutes after the family heard a Deathwatch quietly ticking in the bedroom rafters.

I thought bad omens were a load of hooey.

The rumbling of a train grew louder, drowning out the beetle. I fought the urge to stir up some action too soon.

Then, as if from a magical door in the forest, a uniformed German soldier appeared on the field, not ten feet from me. I held my breath and watched him, the man who rivaled my invisibility, with a certain amount of curiosity mixed with fear.

He cocked his head, considering a point in the distance. Noiselessly, I leaned forward.

Spying between two trees, I caught sight of a dark form, that of a woman on a bicycle, gliding alongside the tracks.

The soldier knelt to one knee. He brought out his weapon. Nestled the buttstock into the crook of his shoulder.

I had killed a man before, though purely by accident.

My hands did not need light to see. They went to their places, as if the gun were an extension of my body. The silenced barrel of my Sten rose in front of me.

I did not miss.

Friday Five

1. Today is a PD Day. I had insomnia the other night until 5 a.m., so I really wanted to catch up on sleep this morning. My husband, who is out of town, called me at 8:15. He let the phone ring five times, suddenly remembered that today is a day off school, and hung up at the same time I picked up.

2. I have the chattiest cat ever. She could never survive in the wild. Predators would hear her coming for miles. "HerrrOOO. Herroo?? MerrooooOO!" She can sound very whiny and sad when nobody pays attention to her at six a.m. At least she's no longer tipping over cups of water on the nightstand or turning on the clock radio to get my attention.

3. I enjoyed the return of Hell's Kitchen. Finally, they have some chefs on there that can actually cook. And, of course, some that can't. Chef Ramsay needs to scream at somebody.

4. Because my husband is out of town I've been writing a lot more to stave off boredom.

5. As much as I like historical fiction, I am so glad to be writing contemporary YA again. So glad.

Friday Five

1. My horoscope said today would be my luckiest day of the year. I got a rejection.

2. A very nice young man installed our home security system yesterday. I feel safer already.

3. I'm back into a semi-regular treadmill routine again. It is much needed. But my mp3 player has a headphone jack issue and plays sound through only one earbud. I can't run without music!

4. I am very glad it's Friday.

5. In early February, my adorable nephews--10 months and 3 1/2--are coming over for a one week vacation. I love talking to three-year-olds. They crack me up.

Ha! If only...

amy mcauley --
[noun]:

A master of storytelling
'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at QuizGalaxy.com

2009 can only get better

My year got off to a rocky start, unfortunately. While we were out of town to celebrate New Year's Eve with my husband's family, our house was broken into. This is the first time we've ever been robbed and it was a frightening experience for all of us.

New Year's Eve was so much fun that my brother-in-law suggested we stay over another night. We love his family's new home and we always have fun together, so we decided to stay. But around ten o'clock that night, our oldest daughter got an instant message from her boyfriend. While walking home, he and a friend had noticed that the lights were on at our house. He knew my daughter wasn't home, because he'd talked to her earlier. So, they came up to the house to have a look. When they saw that the front door had been kicked off it's hinges and was on the hallway floor, and that the phone had been knocked off and was also on the floor, they ran the rest of the way home to call the police.

At first, we thought maybe he was pulling a prank on us. We couldn't imagine that our front door had really been kicked down. So, I called friends who live in our neighbourhood. After what felt like an eternity, the couple called back to say that our door had definitely been kicked down. Within minutes we were packed up and on on the highway. We drove home as fast as we could. That hour-long drive, not knowing what had been stolen or if our cat was safe, was very stressful and sad. My kids were so upset about the cat that my oldest decided to call a friend on my husband's cell phone. Immediately, the friend said, "My dad and I will go check!" Although the police wouldn't let them into the house, they did pass along the news that our cat was fine.

An officer was still at our home when we arrived, but we spent the first few minutes in shock, racing throughout the house to see what was missing. Dresser drawers were dumped. My oldest daughter started to cry when she saw that her room had been ransacked. I held myself together pretty well, until I saw that my pink sapphire necklace--a gift from my husband--was gone. I broke down in front of the police officer when I told him that it was stolen (which embarrassed me afterward). The necklace was worth only a few hundred dollars, but it was the only really nice piece of jewelry I've ever owned. It was so pretty. After checking with jewelry stores we now know that the exact necklace can't be replaced.

I won't go into details about what was taken... but many of my kids' Christmas presents were stolen, in addition to birthday and Christmas gifts they've received over the last few years. What kind of person breaks into a home shortly after Christmas and steals things that obviously belong to children?? That's one of the things about all this that just blows my mind. And my kids were so shaken up the night we returned home that they insisted I stay awake with them all night. We took up places in the family room on the pull-out sofa, cushions on the floor, and a recliner. None of us got more than a few hours of sleep.

I keep reminding myself that my family and pets are okay. Doors can be fixed and, for the most part, objects can be replaced. But I'm having a hard time shaking the feeling that we need to move away, out of the city. No matter where we live, I will never be without a security system in my home again.

** In a bit of good luck, I took my laptop, which contains all my writing work and family photos, out of town with me at New Year's, so my kids could watch movies on it at their grandpa's. Just imagine if I'd left it at home! And my oldest realized that if we hadn't taken my laptop, she wouldn't have been able to receive the IM from her boyfriend.

** A big "thank-you!" to everyone who helped us out that night and in the following days.