Spook Hill and Me…

Happy Wednesday!  I finally went back out this past Sunday and did a short hike – about 1 1/2 miles – at a place that is about 3 minutes away from my home.

spook hill2

Now, the good thing is Spook Hill (also known as Brown Road Mountain – but it’s NOT a mountain, and I just like the old name of “Spook Hill” better; conjures up thoughts of ghost stories!  😉 ) is that a hike that gets my heart rate going, but it’s short enough that I don’t feel as if I’m going to die before I get to the top.  And that’s VERY important when I have to hike at 5am!  Why am I hiking at 5am on a Sunday morning?  Because I live in the Sonoran Desert, and our summer temps this time of the year range around 106 degrees!  Can you guess how many bottles of water I took with me up that hill?

spook hill 3

View from the top of Spook Hill, facing west towards Phoenix

spook hill 4

View facing east towards the Superstition Mountains

Our temperatures this coming weekend are supposed to be 114 degrees – so I’m not sure I’ll be hiking this weekend (even at 5am).  It may just be the local gym for me!


Happy Health to you!


Writing Time!


It’s drawing close to Camp NaNoWriMo again, and I’m hoping to actually succeed this time!  What is Camp NaNoWriMo?  I’ll provide a link at the end of this post so you can get the full info, but in a nutshell Camp NaNoWriMo is all about writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  Yes….you read correctly – 30 DAYS!

This will be my second Camp NaNoWriMo – I attempted to participate in April; I don’t know what I was thinking then – that’s when our state academic testing is, and the stress levels for both students and teachers are THROUGH. THE. ROOF.  All we do is review, reviews, review.  The time after spring break and right up until testing is basically a giant cramming session. Which I’ve always thought was ridiculous – if the students don’t know the concepts by then, stuffing it down their throats isn’t going to make them perform better on the state testing – but that’s what the school and grade level lead teacher said to do, so I had to do it.

Back to camp – I wasn’t successful.  I accomplished all of about 3,000 words before I threw in the towel.  In a way, NaNoWriMo is like that giant academic cramming session.  You write like mad to make the 50,000 word goal by the end of 30 days.  Cram, cram, cram.  If you average about 1,700 words per day then you’re guaranteed to reach the goal (and go slightly above it).  But that’s 1,700 words PER DAY.  If life happens and you can’t write that many words every day, then you feel the need to write madly (cram, cram, cram) for the remaining days until you’re back on track word count-wise.  What do you get at the end of the month?  A 50,000 word document and a label under your avatar that says “Winner!”.  As petty as it may sound, I want that label of “Winner!” under my avatar.  I want that 50,000 plus word document to put aside, wait until November to revise and then shop it out to beta readers for review.  So….I is willingly entering that giant cramming…err, writing…session again in seven days.

Wish me luck!


For more NaNoWriMo info, click here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/

Writing conference in an unexpected place…

Today is the first Monday of June, and I finally feel as though I’ve rejoined the human race!  The last three weeks of school in May are always hard, but this year it felt harder, as I was not only reviewing concepts already learned, but teaching the beginnings of algebra to my sixth grade class.  This is in addition to completing the end of the year reports with data and graphs that the school I taught at required, as well as packing up my room, getting things ready for the sixth grade promotion, and doing the student cumulative files.


Giganto bags were soooo popular this year.

I went from the craziness of the last three weeks of May (our last day was Friday, May 24th) directly into the local Comicon convention we have here in the Valley of the Sun.  This makes for year four that I’ve attended, but I’ve only attended on Sundays in years past.  This year I attended panel sessions all day Saturday and Sunday.

Some of the panel sessions were fantastic and I learned a lot!  I’ve never really looked at the panels that were available for writers – and I was very impressed with their offerings this year.  My first session began at 10:30am on Saturday, and my last session ended at 8:30pm that night.  Most of the day found me in panels that were basically back to back, with one 1 ½ hour break that began around 5pm.  I was so glad to get something to eat!

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman in line to get pizza!

Sunday found me back at it – same bat time – but my last session ended at 4pm.  Attending all the panels cut into my picture gathering, but I did manage to get a few snaps…


This year’s Phoenix Comicon was a great learning experience for me, and I’ve decided that next year I need to make arrangements to attend on Friday as well – there were sessions for writers that dealt with publishing law and editing that I would have LOVED to have attended!  2013 Comicon was a writing conference for me, and I loved being able to take with other writers (published and unpublished), learn new things, and just people watch (new characters gathering!) all for just $50.00!

The down side to all my month of May is that I was completely brain dead last week!  Yes, I am sorry to say that my 41 year old brain gave out, and it took a week to recover and begin to feel human again.  LOL  🙂

We can find things to help us in unexpected places – we don’t always have to attend actual writing conferences.  So I would like to challenge you to take a look at what your community has to offer…..you just may be surprised at where you can find people and information to help improve your writing skills.  🙂

Elf boy

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