Friday, May 28, 2010

Do you want to win $250? I thought so.

My friend, Bethany, is running her Sports Princess photo contest for 3 more days. Did I mention that since my last Sports Princess post, she went to the London Book Fair (made it there BEFORE the Icelandic volcano) and signed with Irish literary agents?

Her book, The Soccer Princess: Josephina and the Crustacean King, is being re-illustrated by an agented illustrator, and won't be available in June as originally planned (but still in 2010 she promises!). In the meantime, she is still running the contest and handing out 2 fantastic grand prizes. What are you waiting for?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Think and Drive

Just a warning to CLEAR YOUR MIND while driving, and absolutely NEVER think about your novel then. It may be prime creativity time. Your brain may start to unreel and ideas may begin to fly.

However, your speedometer may slowly creep up. You may not see all the signs you pass. And you MAY miss the exit to the airport when you are on your way to pick up your husband.

It's VERY dangerous. Please, NEVER think about your novel while driving.

By the way, I've decided to be much more regular about my blogging. From now on I will post every Monday. Unless I decide to post on Tuesday. But if Tuesday doesn't happen, I may wait until Wednesday.

And if it works out, I'd like to post a second time on Thursday. Or I'll wait until Friday. I'd like to be much more predictable.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Unfettered Writer

Sometimes I want to pause my life, take my laptop, and head to the nearest beach. But there are a few problems: Life doesn't come with a pause button; my laptop has a very short battery life; and I live in Kansas.

But the bigger problem? (Or is it a problem?...) If life wasn't coming at me ALL THE TIME, I think my writing would suffer.

A crazy thought? (How many rhetorical questions can I ask?) The thing is, I believe that the distractions and pulls of life make me a better writer in the end.

I've heard a few people say that once they had open time to write, they found it more difficult to meet their goals.

When we are bombarded with the demands of our day, we might seize the last hour before bed to write. And maybe that hour is more productive than eight fat hours of daytime writing.

Is the unfettered writer really more productive in the end?

What about creativity? It's life and living that feed our muses. Place me on my beach, and I think I'd be lulled to sleep by the waves. Maybe instead of writing I'd drink one too many pina coladas (sin alcohol) (sin means without in case you didn't know).

Give me a day with my two children, and I'll have a breakthrough idea for my book while folding laundry or making grilled cheese. (I was going to say...while changing a poopy diaper. But no, I never have breakthroughs while changing poopy diapers.)

Have any of you ever been so lucky to have large blocks of unfettered writing time? Did you find yourself more or less productive? Did your muse run and hide or stay and play?

Disclaimer: I am still excited for the day when my time is less full, and I can fill it with writing...and not be TOO distracted by the waves and the frozen drinks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The 30's with a Good Chance of Sunshine

When I was a child, my parents watched a show called Thirtysomething. It sounded very boring because it was about a lot of old people. You know, those old people in their 30's.

Today I turn 30. Not so old as I used to think ;) I say good-bye to my 20's forever, which were huge. A LOT happened in my 20's-college, career, marriage, children.

However I'm not looking back today. I am very excited for my 30's.

I'm excited to raise my children and hopefully have more babies.

I'm excited to one day move my family to a house we actually OWN. (There is this thing in our life called House We Cannot Sell and Renting Somebody Else's House They Cannot Sell.)

I'm excited to WRITE MORE BOOKS...and...(fingers crossed)...get published! (Hey, that's a ten year time window. Not completely unrealistic.)

I'm excited to learn more, make new friends, and have new interests.

I'm excited to spend ten more years with him.

Yes, the 30's are going to be great.

(After I wrote this, I decided that if I were a novel, this would be the last thing I wrote before I died a tragic death. It would be a very, very sad novel. But now since I pointed this out, it can't actually happen because that would be too much of a coincidence for real life.)

(Phew.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Calling All Music Lovers

As some of you may remember, I don't listen to music much. I even drive and write in silence. My life is noisy, and when I can have Quiet, I invite it in.

However, as I was reading a blogpost by Stephanie Perkins this morning, she said:

When I've decided on the tone of the scene I'm writing, I seek out music that reflects that tone, and I listen to those songs for hours, days, weeks on end.

Since she is about to be published, I figure it must work. I thought I'd give it a try because my manuscript needs some serious momentum.

But I don't know many songs, which is why I'm posting. Here are my upcoming "scene tones." Any suggestions on accompanying soundtrack would be very helpful.

Moonlight Mysterious

Fear, Darkness, and Shadows

Reluctantly Falling in Love

Discovery, Power, and post-apocolyptic Happiness

Bring on the music!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Being Mom



Feet padding across the floor
"Get up, Mom."
Is the sun up yet?
The morning pauses
Two bowls of cereal
His gummy vitamin
"Play with me."

Squeals from her crib
"Baby's awake!"
Feet padding to the nursery
Happy noises
She smiles
Her small body can't hold
All her joy

They teach me
How to love

All of those morning moments
The time you spent with me
The smiles we shared
The joy we felt

You taught me how
To be a mom


The little girl on the tricycle is my mom in Spain almost fifty years ago. (My grandfather was in the military, and the first home my mother remembers is a great rambling mansion run by servants. Very romantic. Now all that is left of that beautiful house -and we can actually see it on Google Earth- are stone ruins. The roof is gone. Trees are actually growing out of her brother's bedroom.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Scary Thing

Today, while visiting my sister, I heard a large boom-clatter-boom followed by the cries of three children. Thinking of toppled toys and disgruntled children, I went upstairs. My neice was standing outside her bedroom door crying. I attempted to open it, but could only crack it as it was blocked. Through the door I could see my son...crying. And my nephew...crying, with half his body under a fallen dresser. This is what blocked the door.

You never know how exactly you will react to something before it happens. You'd like to think that in the face of an emergency you would be very calm and collected. And maybe I would have if I could have entered the room immediately and raised the dresser. However, I couldn't get in. I imagined my nephews legs crushed, and it seemed the more I pushed the more pain I caused him.

So I screamed. A scream that put pictures of blood and impalation in my sister's head, and she ran up the stairs calling 911. Of course, this all took place in a matter of seconds. A moment later, I had my brain about me, and moved the other piece of furniture that blocked the door. I lifted the dresser, inspected my nephew's legs, and five minutes later he was running around in his dinosaur costume none the wiser. Sorry 911 dispatcher.

I'm not posting this just to tell you I'm a screamer, but to remind everyone with small, climbing children (and within the realm of my blog) to anchor their furniture to the wall...especially the tall and heavy kind. I didn't know it then, but the dresser in question was actually quite light* (cheers for cheap furniture). However, my other sister (also present at the scene of crime) knows of two children who died this way.

(Here is a how-to link. Works for evil dressers, too.)

On a much MUCH lighter note, I won a contest today. Well, okay...second place. The other two entries were pretty fabulous. Go see.

*later addendumm: While discussing the above incident in-depth with my sister just now, I made a comment about this 'light' dresser. She said she always considered it a very heavy dresser. Hmmmmm. Adrenaline-rush when I easily lifted it off his legs? A very lucky boy? Or maybe guardian angels? :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Flesh

If you give a writer mom alone time and some cash, she will NOT spend it on practical things like massages and clothes shopping. No, most likely she will waste it on conferences and workshops.

Saturday I attended a SCBWI workshop, which experience I highly recommend. I've been to one other workshop, as well as the 2009 conference. I enjoyed them all, but I enjoyed only spending $20 on the workshops. For a fraction of the conference-price you are still getting a WHOLE day of writing advice (which rhymes with price) from a real-life author.

There is also the bonus of meeting real-life writer friends, although whenever someone spoke I thought, "Why are you talking? I didn't click on you." I'm not quite as sociable with strangers as I am on my very own electronic stage. Yet we shouldn't underestimate the power of networking in the flesh. (Hence my title. You thought it was a zombie post, didn't you?)

And, having someone look at me and TELL me how plot and characterization works clicked in a different way than reading it...which I've done one million times. I didn't feel like the information I received was necessarily new information, but I learned it in a whole new way. I think it stuck this time.

If you haven't already, check out your SCBWI chapter online information. It seems mine has a workshop every quarter. Once I get permission from the author, I'll post a few tips that I found really helpful.

Now go and win some books or something.