Monday, December 26, 2011

Look Who Else Is Coming To Town...


So here is my big secret. By now it's more like 13 1/2 weeks. I'm due in June, and I went dark when I felt too sick to blog or write or eat or bathe. (Okay, eating was a challenge, but I did manage to bathe.) Thankfully, that's over and now I can enjoy the second trimester...after the sickness is gone but before I gain 50 to 55 pounds. (Not kidding, with both my son and daughter.) I've had two ultrasounds so far, and baby looks good. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How to Lose All My Followers

Well, I don't pride myself on a zillion followers, but I decided that if I'm going to wean myself down to those who are MOST loyal...I had better go on another blog break. For a few reasons. And so before blacking out during the holidays, I wanted to:

1) RECAP my Wake Up and Write Blogfest. A handful of my friends participated: Patti, Myrna, Jolene, Chantele, and Kelli. We kept each other updated and encouraged through a group email, and by the end of the week I thought the overall impression was..."I got a lot done, but this may not become a regular thing for me!" But it was fun. Maybe I'll do another blogfest again sometime.

2) AND rant about how all of those library books I checked out (and racked up a ginormous fine for) disappointed. (Maybe because I had that huge fine, and I was being punished?) I'm going through a period where hardly any book interests me, and then I'm reading just to read. Does that ever happen to you?

3) Good-bye. See you at Christmas. Or something.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Good Morning to You

Today is the first day of Wake Up and Write. I didn't wake up early once last week. I was very lazy, and so this week is a perfect restart for me. Of course, I was a little worried about the whole Daylight Savings thing, and that my children's internal clocks would be confused. However, they are still asleep, and I managed to write an hour already this morning. 575 words.

I had a dream last night that one of my blog friends (who? I'm not telling) commented on my blog, that they are tired of hearing about my book. That it is BORING them. And to finish it up already! Maybe this happened because last night my husband asked me if I still plan on finishing my book by October 31st. (Ha. Ha.) But I know that I'm in the home stretch. Things are wrapping up in Pirate-land, and it makes me happy.

Now my son is awake, lying on the floor, preparing to rouse me with his morning whinage. There are five or six others who are participating in waking up early this week. Tell me? How did it go this morning???

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just a Blog Post

To those interested in waking up an hour early with me the third week of November to write...I did finally figure out the whole linky list thing. So go here to sign up!

Nano is here! I've never played, and I just watch in amazement as those around me crunch out so many words in so short of time. Now, I DID do NaGroBaMo (National Grow a Baby Month) a couple years ago when I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter. But nobody else wanted to play. (Hmmm, poor sports. I mean, you just had to be PREGNANT at the time. Was that too much to ask?) As the only competitor, I came in first. Which I'm very proud of.

Now, where is the best place to hide all that Halloween candy from last night? Above the fridge? Under the bed? Has anybody ever successfully written 50,000 words in 30 days right around a major holiday?

Well then, you're amazing.

Now my pirate book: it's about 10 year-old Bonnie with her cruise ship captain daddy and her successful and not so successful attempts at convincing everyone that the ship's "guitarist" Henry Weston is actually a pirate after the ship's jewel exhibition (who may also be falling in love with her nanny and BFF, Aunt Mel, but that has nothing to do with the fact that she thinks he's a pirate because he wears a bandana and dreadlocks and limps for pirates sakes).

She is cruising the Baltic Sea in this book (which not coincidentally is the same trip I took a few years ago). Now, when she stopped in Denmark, the writing was just...okay. Rocky and smooth at times. But when she stopped in Germany my muse was happy, and words came with little effort. However, writing her last stop in Estonia was like building a stone wall with my teeth. But now she is out of Estonia and on her way to Russia. But I must say that the most difficult scenes to write are sometimes my favorite.

If I can get her through the rest of the Baltic in November while everyone else is NaNo-ing, I'll be happy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Old Guy in the White Shirt

I am irresponsible with library books. I check out way too many. I don't limit myself. Or my kids. Mostly, I just like to surround myself with books, even if I don't read them. I actually find it comforting to have a big stack of shiny library books next to my bed. I know that I can't get to all of then...but, just knowing that they're there if I need them...okay, it's a problem. I admit it.

But that's not my only problem. Apparently I'm terrible at renewing these masses of books I check out. I thought I had a 9 dollar library fine. When I went to check out more books today, the librarian told me I had, in fact, a 16 dollar fine. I had actually returned several books to the outside library box earlier that day, but they hadn't gone through yet. She said she'd just renew them for me...and well, now I owe 22 dollars. I wasn't sure how that computed, and I was frustrated. It was my second time to the library that day because I didn't realize it didn't open up until noon on Tuesdays.

I was annoyed about the steep library fine, but I was ready to pay just so that we could check out the books we'd come for. Only...they don't accept debit, just cash or check. Which I didn't have. This interchange lasted a few minutes. My daughter kept running away from me. When I told my son we could not check out books today, he started to throw one of his awesome public fits. The library was not my happy place just then. And that old guy in the white shirt waiting patiently for me to finish so that he could talk to the librarian? Well, I was sure he wasn't happy with me just then.

Just before my son lost it, my daughter decided to jet to the other end of the library. I gathered her up, grabbed my wallet she had placed on a random book shelf, and returned to the front desk. The librarian told me that I now owed $2.90, and I could check out my books.

What? I just assumed she was tired of our conversation and lowered it for me. So I thanked her. She told me that I didn't have to thank her. Then it kind of all came together for me. "Did someone pay my fine for me?" She nodded yes. The only person I could think of was the old guy in the white shirt. "Was it him?" It was. He paid my library fine down, she said, because he felt bad that my kids wouldn't have their books.

I couldn't believe it. Some stranger. I'll never know who he was. He paid my fine while I went to catch my daughter, and then he left. So I determined two things just then: 1) I'd never have a library fine again and 2) One day, when I have a chance to pay it forward, I won't hesitate.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

WAKE UP AND WRITE

So, I mentioned my WAKE UP AND WRITE blogfest idea a couple days ago. (Wake up an hour early for one week to write.) A few of you were interested. And Candice is going to cheer us from the sidelines. Now to get this thing going. At first I considered next week....but that's much too fast.

Then after next week, there is November...which is also NaNo. But oh that first week in November! Halloween and up all night and children on sugar highs! Who wants to start a WAKE UP AND WRITE blogfest like that?

What about the second week of November? Some of us may be coming down from the very-beginning-of-NaNo high and need that extra boost. (I don't plan on doing NaNo. I'm not a NaNo person, just like some of you aren't morning people.) And it gives us a couple weeks between now...and then.

If I were really cool I'd do a link list and a button. But I'm not that cool. (Mostly because I don't know how.) (And because I don't think my link list would be very long.) (Maybe next time.)

Those of you interested, let me know if the second week of November works for you.

Update: Wake Up and Write Blogfest is the THIRD week of November (November 14 to 18), and I even figured out how to do a link list!



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How is My Morning Experiment Going?

If you recall, about three weeks ago I declared I was going to wake up before my children and write. So how is it going?

Week 1: I woke up 3 times before my kids that week. My muse would go right to work and write 800+ words in an hour. I wrote a lot. I finished outlining my book, and I was happy.

Week 2: My children, namely my daughter, met secretly and decided to start waking up earlier so that I could not write. I woke early a few times that week and tried to write, but I had company.

Week 3: I didn't wake up early last week. Mostly I was grumpy. Very little writing got done. Enough said.

Week 4: My children aren't waking up early anymore, and I've gotten up to write this week. My brain isn't quite as prolific as it was a few weeks ago (is it me or is it the scene?) but I really feel that this Waking Up Early business is how I'm going to make my writing work to for me.

When I declared my morning intentions, a couple of you mentioned the desire to do it yourselves. So I started thinking that maybe I could start a WAKE UP AND WRITE blogfest, setting aside one week to wake up an hour ahead of schedule to write. Sort of a jumpstart to NaNo. (By the way, for me this means going to bed one hour earlier. Otherwise, I'm a mess.)

It's not practical for everyone. Some of us just are not morning people. If everyone says, "not for me" that's okay, too. What do you think?

And one more thing! There is a first 20 pages critique giveaway over at Dear Editor. You have until tomorrow to enter.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The End of the World Might Look Like This

The other day I decided to stop by a Borders. I figured I'd be at the tail-end of their going-out-of-business sale, and that I'd find quality books for 90 percent off. (Okay, that's me being sarcastic because we know the good ones get picked over early on, but still...they're books!)

However, I'd come too late. The parking lot was empty. The signs were down. The bookshelves were empty. I half-expected to see tumbleweed blow by. I was sad, not because I couldn't get my cheap books...but because no one was left. Once, people read there and bought the written word and felt it in their hands there. And that's all going away, leaving places like this Borders abandoned and forsaken.

I know, a little melodramatic. I mean, I want an e-reader. I'm excited about the possibilities of carrying a whole library in my purse. (If only I can digitize the diapers and wipes.) But for a moment I saw the post-apocalypse of the book world.



Um, now that I got that out...hello, $79 Kindle! Or Kindle Fire? I'm so fickle.

Monday, October 3, 2011

HSM 4

High school musical auditions. My senior year. I sat among friends laughing, talking, and looking very much an upperclassman. Oh those poor insecure freshmen sitting alone...or perhaps with their one middle school friend they'd dragged along to the auditions.

I looked forward to my third year as a chorus member. (Dancing and I were enemies. Singing and I were barely friends.) Yes, another year in a chorus with friends that made me smile. With a director I always secretly laughed at because she thought she was a rock star. With boys who had nice voices which made them cute even if they weren't.

I had practiced a song of my choice: I'm in Love with A Wonderful Guy from South Pacific. It was fun and catchy. It didn't have any of those CRAZY high notes that made me look ridiculous.

I wasn't the first to audition. There were others that went before me including some of those poor, unfortunate freshmen. They were so scared, so unexperienced. Remembering my own freshman audition, I sent them sympathetic smiles.

I watched as yet one more freshman girl stood to deliver her performance. And then...

I expect everyone of my crowd to make fun
Of my proud protestations of faith in romance

She was singing my song! And she was REALLY good. What's a girl who's in love with a wonderful guy to do?! I couldn't very well scream, "No, you are not corny as Kansas in August! I am. I am as normal as blueberry pie. Not you!"

So instead I waited patiently. Then when it was my turn, I stood. I handed my music to the pianist, who probably thought she was experiencing de ja vu. I sang my song and when I got to the chorus I sang...nay, I belted...

I'm in love. I'm in love. I'm in love. I'm in love. I'm in love with a MORE wonderful guy.

Then we all laughed. I got a chorus role. Talented freshman girl got a leading role. And we lived happily ever after as all high school stories go.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Book I'll Never Write (And How My Husband Ruined It)

My husband and I are sitting next to each other right now, both of us on our laptops. "Husband," I just said. "Listen to this." I shared with him an idea I had written yesterday for a book I'll never write. But I liked the idea nonetheless, and I wanted him to say, "Yes, Wife. That is a good idea. You are so smart." He did not say this. He said, "Med malpractice is dead." Then he took my laptop from me and added the final paragraph.

Seven months ago, James watched a girl cry in her car. As he planted lilies on the corner of Madison and Rochester for his summer landscaping job, she pulled up to the light, and for her tears he handed her a lily through the open window.

Today James sits in a courtroom because his dad stands trial for malpractice. Seven months ago, his dad nicked a patient’s artery during surgery. And the patient died. That patient’s family sits opposite him now, and once again he is looking into the eyes of the man’s daughter—who’s eyes are dry, as is the lily that she wears pinned to her shirt.

The only person that was happy to be in the courtroom that day was the defense attorney. He was billing about $350 an hour. He had already put over 200 hours into the case and was about to add another 40 after this week.

I mean, if the first two paragraphs didn't hook you, that last one will. But one thing is for sure...he is not touching my real books.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Morning Experiment

Last week my family went to the Texas coast. The ocean was forever. The beach pristine. The weather perfect. And the best part? We had it almost entirely to ourselves. Whenever I return to the ocean, I remember how much I love it. Maybe it's not a coincidence that the sea plays a major role in both my books.



See how pretty? That's my husband and son in the water. My father-in-law is sitting in the beach chair reading. The little imp running toward the seagulls is my daughter. And there is my mother-in-law about to chase after her hat that has blown away.

Vacations always recharge me a little. I go back to real life with new ideas and new energy. This morning I woke up before my children to write. I have a really hard time finding time during the day to write. When I write, it's usually at night. And yet, that's still hard for me because I'm wrapping up my day then. Sometimes other things take priority. (Even though they aren't always necessarily more important.)

But in the morning? Nothing exists yet to clutter up my day. It's time I would otherwise spend sleeping. I wrote for over an hour this morning before Jummers tripped out of his room, fell on the floor, and commenced whining. And I got a lot done. I'm excited about this. I want to do it again. I shall call it...my morning experiment and see if I can't get this book finished once and for all.

Monday, September 19, 2011

You Are Such A....

I try to teach Jummers not to say words like "poop" or "stupid." Of course, sometimes I say those things, but that's beside the point. Well, being the innovative kid that he is he made up a new word.

Wonky Face.

He will sometimes use that little number on me when he's upset. "You are such a wonky face!" Whereupon I respond, "Don't use that word." Well, it's his word. He made it up. And now it's forbidden. Talk about suppressing my son's creativity.

But what is a wonky face? I'd really like to know. He won't tell me.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Let's Have A Writing War!

You know you've found a good writing friend when she calls you up on the phone and says, "I'll bring my computer over and we'll have a writing war."

So yesterday afternoon my friend who is Jessie but not me and who I will call "Jes" in my blog just to clarify that I'm not CRAZY and friending myself...came over with her kids and her laptop. However, a writing war did not ensue. I told her I was stuck in my pirate book, and she said, "Let's write in each other's books."

We caught up to speed on each other's books and switched laptops. And then for about 15 minutes when we weren't calming the screaming children, we wrote. And it was fun. It was completely stress-free because it was 100% and purely Just For Fun. Because we wouldn't keep it. It wasn't our own.

And the best part? I wasn't stuck anymore. She took my book to a place that helped me get past that block I'd come to. Plus we both made each other laugh, which is good when all around you is screaming. And more screaming.

Have you ever written in somebody else's book? Had somebody write in yours? You should try.

(And while I'm giving advice, I advise you not to go see Contagion on an IMAX screen. Because the germs are as big as your head. And it is not a coincidence that a few days later I came down with something. Although I studied Microbiology in college, I'm pretty sure there is a scientific explanation for this.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Jummers and Little

So there are times when I try to be unique and do things my own way. And there are other times that I know I must join in, and well...writing "my son" and "my daughter" is just not cutting it for me anymore. And so, from now on they will be called by their real-life nicknames (because I don't like putting real-life names out there, but if in the end I am ever published and I decide to dedicate a book to them, their real-life names will be out there anyway). So...

My son is Jummers, short for Jumbo, because when he was a baby he was HUGE. Like rolls of fat up and down his arms HUGE. Like he was from another species of human HUGE. He was always at the top of the charts, and at one point off of them. Now, five years later, he is mostly tall which my husband anticipates will lead to a successful and happy career in college basketball. Jummers loves Legos and playing with his cousins, and I think he might have more cousins than Legos. Sometimes he wants to type on my computer so he can write his book. Not sure where he ever got that idea...

My daughter is Little because genes are funny and gave me this petite, little thing that squeaks instead of talks and screams instead of argues. Gosh she's cute, and she just passed the 21-month mark. She also likes playing with her brother's Legos, and usually much screaming follows. She LOVES cereal, and is always getting into the cereal cupboard. And she always runs away from me when I tell her to "come here." Well, actually she's really naughty, but when you are squeaky and little you can get away with it.

I wish they stayed like this forever. Any tips on keeping my children from growing up?


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Writers in Motion

Thank you all my dear blogging friends for your loving words last week. This morning I took a walk with my kids. The intense south Texas heat has finally broken, and this morning just felt so invigorating and promising. I couldn't help but make plans and think of all things I wanted to accomplish and believe that I really COULD accomplish them.

A Really Smart Person wrote a blog post. I keep thinking of it not because he's my dad but because he's right. He relates a story of cutting a tree, and the force of the tree when it rebounded. (He left out the part in which my mom thought the tree was going to win.) He drew a metaphor that while directed at small business owners, I think can apply to everyone who hasn't reached their potential...especially to us as writers.

Trees are immobile and constant. They are docile, peaceful and harmless. They wave their leaves and branches in the wind as if to say, “Hey there. Hi. I’m here. I’m not leaving. Well, I am ‘leafing’ but I’m not leaving. I am staying here. I can’t move. See you around.”

We all become trees at some point in our life. With routine in our comfort zone, our roots run deep and our trunks become thick. We become immobile and constant; even docile, peaceful and harmless. We need to wave our arms occasionally so people know where we are. “Hi. I am here. I am not leaving. See you around.”

Give yourself motion. Make a move. Take a risk. Just do something. Anything. If you haven’t been mobile for a while, you will be stunned at the force you can create. At first it will be scary, but fear fades as you move into the moment. We fear things that might happen, not what is happening.

Stimulated, your mind will focus its power as you *visualize, plan, decide, sense, act, assess, respond. It will be awesome. It will make the bark stand on the back of your neck.

*insert-outline, draft, rewrite, edit

By the way, I was raised on metaphors. Maybe that's one reason I like to write. But isn't it true? We need motion. With motion, we'll surprise ourselves with what we can create.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Something Sad

(Big Sigh. Here it goes.) I suppose when I prematurely announced my pregnancy on Facebook and my blog, I thought I was safe...because I had two babies come of my two previous pregnancies. However, just days after I posted I was going on a blogging break, I started to miscarry. It was my eleventh week.


It was hard. I've had friends and family who miscarried, and I was sorry for them. But when it happened to me, a new empathy developed. I had no idea. Nothing prepared me for the raw sorrow, the loss, and the pain -physical and emotional- that came with that experience. I suppose I figured a first trimester miscarriage would be mostly just...disappointing...because the attachment (at least for me) to the baby isn't nearly what it is in the second and third trimesters.


I was wrong. I felt empty. I felt like I lost somebody. I still feel empty, even though I've had awhile to recover. Even though I'm ready to try again. But with sorrow, comes joy, and I felt my heart turning to the two beautiful babies I do have. And to my husband. The sadness, the tears, are now bittersweet because I'm so grateful to the Lord for the family I've been blessed with. And I have faith that my family will grow.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to Blogging

Well, I have to admit, I've peeked into the blogging world a couple of times during my end-of-summer sabbatical. But I told myself I wouldn't come back "officially" until my son started preschool. He started today. So here I officially am, and I REALLY MISSED IT.



When we moved to Texas, my blogging kind of WANED. (By the way, it was 111 degrees in Texas yesterday. The end of the world is coming.) Since I have blogged both TOO MUCH and too little in my short blogging history, I'm sure I'll now find the perfect balance. You know, that thing we all talk about but never actually really find.


The nice thing about blogging is that I can be away for a long, long time, but here you still are. And you still want to be my friend. I think. So now I'm going to go visit you...after I pick my son up from school. And feed the children. And put my daughter down for a nap. Ah, balance.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Toes

This is one of those posts I say I won't be around for awhile, but I guess I haven't been around for awhile already. I'm hanging onto the blogging world by one toe, but I'm still here...sort of. Anyway, we are in the middle of moving AGAIN, but only across town instead of across three states. Not quite so stressful this time. However, the rest of my summer is full, but I plan to come back in the Fall and maybe hang on with two toes this time. Horrible analogy. I also hope to have the first draft of my pirate book written by then. See you then my bloggy people.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Milestone

Why is it that when I'm on vacation, my brain stops? Or is it because I'm pregnant? Anyway, I'm very boring right now. And lazy. However, my husband --back in Texas while I spend time with my family in Kansas-- has not been lazy. No, he has been shopping for something that will be very convenient with the addition of child #3.

THIS is how I feel right now, not only because we got rid of that awful car that burned through oil every few hundred miles, but because I am now a Minivan Mom:



(We have this monkey. My daughter loves it. Everybody else hates it.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tag I'm It

I've been tagged by Janet Johnson and Katie Dodge, and given awards by Carla Jansen. To be really difficult I am combining the answering-of-questions and stating-of-random-facts. This means my post will flow in a very sensical matter, much like my books.

Do you think you are hot?

It is 100 degrees in Texas right now. Yes.

I ate lamb for the first time on my birthday. I hated it. It tastes like a sweaty man smells.

Upload a picture you are using as wall paper right now.

It is a picture of my family. I stopped posting my kids online, but they are cute. Very cute. The picture of me is not so cute because I am thinking about how my son, although cute, is being very, very naughty.

I am pregnant. I want more naughty, naughty children. LOTS of them. (What? You think I should have put this little number into its own blog post?)

When was the last time you ate chicken?

I am making chicken RIGHT NOW. Cooking and blogging at the same time? I'll have you know that my chicken is not burnt...yet.

There is a fly in my kitchen right now (but not on my chicken), and it is driving me nuts, NUTS I TELL YOU.

The song(s) you listened to recently.

Those of you who know me already know that I am not a big music listener. However, I have been listening to a CD mix of Enya, Coldplay, and Lord of the Rings when I drive. If my kids scream, I turn it up and they stop. It's magic.

I recently started watching Lost on Netflix. I'd never seen a single episode before this weekend. Why oh why did I start it?

What are you thinking while you are doing this?

I'm thinking of all the things I have to do before we leave for Kansas on Wednesday. I'll be there for three weeks visiting my family. We are very excited. (I mean, it's KANSAS for goodness sakes. Who wouldn't be excited?)

I have this crazy, irrational fear of a plane falling from the sky and landing on my house.

Do you have nicknames? What are they?

My parents called me "Honey Buns" when I was little. This began when I'd look them in the eye, prior to a spanking, and say..."You aren't going to spank me, Honey Buns?" My friends called me Sunshine in high school. No nickname now, unless MOMMMMMM counts.

It's time for dinner: chicken with a balsamic, mushroom cream sauce and proscuitto-wrapped asparagus. I am very unpredictable. Last week it was English Muffins and sausage.

(If you are reading my blog I tag you and award you all sorts of wonderful things.)

(Also, if you want to know a fertility secret, read Patti's blog post today.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Book that Made Me Weep


I'm a big fan of historical fiction. I would love to write historical...but I know I'm not ready for the time I'd have to put into the research. Not yet. One day. (It takes me long enough to write a book with just minimal check-my-facts research.)

I've read a couple other books by Margaret Peterson Haddix. While most of her books have a supernatural bent, Uprising is about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City on March 25, 1911. It is told from the perspective of three very different girls--friends--one a society girl and two who are immigrants from Russia and Italy. From the beginning you know that only one survives the fire, although you don't know which one. The story is beautiful. The characters are very real, bringing to life the real-life victims of the fire one hundred years ago.

I hadn't heard about the fire until I read this book, but did you know that it was the biggest workplace disaster to happen in NYC before 9-11? Fire standards in the workplace were changed as a result of this tragedy, and it played a big role in the suffrage movement. (There was a huge strike the year before the fire, which the girls of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory participated in and which many wealthy suffrage supporters funded. In fact, the strike takes up a large portion of the book's story.) So it has a pretty incredible part in history.

When I read the end, I cried. Then the next day when I was driving I might have cried some more. They didn't have to die in that fire. Doors were locked. There was an inadequate number of fire escapes because the rich people in that district didn't like the look of them. The fire hose didn't work. The firemen's ladders didn't reach high enough. Their nets weren't strong enough to catch the falling bodies.

I highly recommend this book. I loved it. In fact, I can say this about very few books...but it changed me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In Which I Touch On Austen

I have the first sixty pages of my MG Pirate book written and the end pretty well out-lined. But the middle...well...I have a bunch of ideas and ghost of ideas stewing in my Middle Soup, but no order or flesh to them.

But I'm not here to talk about pirates or ten year-old girls who wear war paint (really, sparkly lip gloss) to scare away the pirates that must be RIGHT outside her bedroom door and who are SURELY looking at her since her door is always open a crack because ever since she was little she was afraid if she shut the door all the way her bedroom would fall off the ship into the ocean. No, I'm not talking about that.

I'm here to talk about Jane Austen. Last night I (re)watched Northanger Abbey-not the 1987 Northanger Abbey where they get into hot, yucky, infected public baths fully clothed but the 2007 one with the perfect garden kiss at the end and the perfect post-horseride-removal-of-mud-from-her-face-by-her-true-love scene. That one.

Although I do like it, I won't claim it as my favorite Jane Austen book or movie (in spite of the 2007 Henry and Catherine chemistry mentioned above). And I think I'm not alone. What is it about Northanger Abbey that makes it the lesser loved of the Austen classics.

Is it the weak and silly Catherine Morland? (although she does change)
Or is it the slightly overbearing Henry Tilney who will probably always see his wife as weak and silly? (even though she DOES change)
Or is it all those references to books we've never read that have long since fell off anyone's TBR list? (although I'm curious about Udolpho)
Is it the flirtation with the paranormal that just seems so out of place in Austen?

Well? Of course, maybe Northanger Abbey is your favorite Austen. Or maybe you don't even read Austen and have no clue. (Shame on you!) Or maybe you just want to talk more about girls who live on ships and eat brownie sundaes every day and brush shoulders with Russian royalty while trying to catch a pirate.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Copy Cat, This and That

On a completely unoriginal note and because I haven't posted since last Monday, I am going to copy Candice who copied Jenn and post something from my WIP. (This is from my middle-grade A Pretty Pirate Pickle, not Pieces of Moon, which is why my MC sounds like she's ten. She is.)

Bonnie, daughter of the cruise ship's captain, is spying on the new passengers with her aunt. And she is SURE the roguishly handsome musician is a pirate, ready to infiltrate the ship.

Aunt Mel grabs my arms, lifts them, and spins me around. “Okay, where is it?”
“Where is what?”
“That pirate book you're reading. Let me have it.”
“Why does it matter?”
She pinches her lips. “Oh, let’s see…” She counts off on her fingers. “Last year, after you read Anne of Green Gables, you named all the flowers in my suite.”
I scowl at my aunt. “Yes, but I only told you that because you are my bosom friend. And you never should have killed Darrin.”
“He was a daisy.” She doesn’t give me a chance to respond. “Then over Christmas, after you read the Chronicles of Narnia, you tried to look in every closet on the ship.”
"They were wardrobes, not closets." I shrug. “Besides, I've never had tea with a faun.”
“After you read Harry Potter, you were sure your parents weren’t your real parents.”
“But at least I didn’t claim to have magical powers.” I don’t mention the part where I stood in my room for an hour with a wand (plucked from an oak tree in Denmark) trying to cast spells. In fact, I used quite a bit of self-control. I never even touched the kitchen broom.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Tale of Two Blogs

So the problem with blogging on two blogs is that when I have an idea, which happens about once a week, I blog about it on my other blog. You know, the one where people count on me to post every Monday. Of course, I could say something like: If you want to read about my son's angry rant this weekend, you can read it here.

However, I won't. Wait, I just did. Oh well.

Instead, I will write about boys. You would think that being out of the dating arena, it's about the farthest thing from my mind. However, my sister is visiting me right now. And she's beautiful. And she's smart. And she's single. And we talk about her dating life...so today, I don't like boys. I don't heart them. At all. Fie upon you, boys. Fie. Fie. And that is it.

(Well that just sounded like my own angry rant. Like mother, like son.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Do Not Like Them Sam I Am

As you can probably tell by the title, this post is about a book deal, a contest, and a good cause. (Well, it's obvious, isn't it?)

First in line (and I know I'm a little late to the announcing game)...Kasie West, one of my first blogger friends and the best nemesis a girl can have, has a two-book deal with HarperTeen!!! She signed with her agent, Michelle Wolfson, only three months ago and already has a book deal. And with HarperTeen!!! (But I think I already mentioned that.)

Also, the MMW Totally Cliche Contest is winding to a close. You still have until May 31 to submit your Totally Cliche short story for our e-book anthology. You can find more details, such as prizes!, by clicking the button on my sidebar.

AND...to close on a sad but hopeful note: MMW and author Cheri Chesley is donating all her royalties made on her e-books (Peasant Queen, Wild Queen, and Ghost Bride) through August 31 to a friend recently diagnosed with cancer. I am very excited to read Peasant Queen, and what better motive than to help someone out? See here for more details.

Have great weekend :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Somebody Interviewed Me! And I Have A New Laptop!

Every Thursday Chantele Sedgwick interviews aspiring authors. I love that--because most of us are aspiring and at a very similar place in this journey! So, today I am the aspiring author. I'm also a prespiring author because it's HOT in Texas. (That may or may not have been a good joke. I haven't decided yet.)

And since my title left no secrets, my husband came home yesterday with an early birthday present! I feel complete again.

Next day's update: Well, many of you were affected by Thursday's blogger malfunction. Blogger ate this post and then reposted it WITHOUT the comments. Which is a shame because comments are the best part. What is even SADDER is my interview was eaten, but I promise I didn't make it up. No, really. Somebody really did think I was important. Really.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Blog on a Widescreen

Because everybody looks HUGE. My regular computer monitor isn't working, and lately I've been using our TV instead. Now everyone I know, including myself, is a little stretched out, a little wide in the face. When I finally get a new laptop (the last two died due to my really bad luck with laptops which is why I'm buying another)(makes sense)...when I FINALLY get a new laptop everyone will look much healthier.

Which leads me to my post. Actually, I'm a little bit of a cheater because I'm spinning off Natalie's post on blogging today. I liked her Truth #3, in which she discusses the authenticity of our bloggy selves.

How much are we really like the person we portray on our blog (stretched out or not)?

I like to think that I'm pretty sincere and authentic. But...sometimes I delete. And sometimes I add something. And sometimes I sit there and stare at the screen and think about what I want to add. (And sometimes I sit there and stare at the screen and think of nothing at all.) (Can you imagine a conversation along these lines. "Please don't be creeped out by my staring, but I'm thinking of a witty response and these things just take time.")

Spontaneity is part of being sincere and authentic. And face it, we are all writers. As much as we'd like to say we are spontaneous in our blogging, don't most of us read through our post at least once before publishing? Spontaneity is something we get only in real life. Some of us have been blessed to meet one another in real life, but I know that my real life self is different. While Natalie claimed to be a little shyer, I'm actually the opposite. Maybe a little too much personality. My dad once described me as verbally vomiting on people. (For the record, I love love love my dad. He can tell me things like 'you verbally vomit on people' and I can laugh because he is right.) (The last time he told me this was in college ten years ago. I'm a little better now.) (He totally coined the phrase before Mean Girls.)

What about our profile pics? I'll be the first to say that I put up my best. You know, the one that catches you at your best angle with your best smile? Actually, the above picture is three years old. I look much more tired now and have wrinkles around my eyes. (You remember the part in (the newest) Freaky Friday where Jamie Lee Curtis looks in the mirror and says, "I look like the Crypt Keeper!" Yes, well...that.)

On the OTHER HAND, I share things on this blog about my writing that I don't share with those closest to me. Because they don't get it (and that's okay) but we do. We get the exhileration over A New Idea. We get the constant struggle to balance creating make-believe lives with our Real Life. We get the giddiness of finding that YA book at the library you've been waiting and waiting for and then staying up late reading it. (My husband doesn't get the whole reading YA fiction, but to this I say...Sweaty men running up and down a room full of thousands of people and bouncing a ball???) (However, my husband does support me in writing more than any real life person, next to my mom.)

So my point is, perhaps I am not my complete self. But you have part of me that nobody else has.

Bloggingly yours forever,

ME

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Pretty Pirate Pickle

A new middle-grade idea. 6500 words in 4 nights (but not 4 nights in a row because I'm not that awesome). First drafting always gives me a little bit of a high because who cares about mistakes?

Okay, so I needed another break from that book. This idea has been sitting with me for awhile, and it suddenly exploded. It's been fun, though, because I'm writing in the voice of a ten year-old which is much different than writing as sixteen year-old Tess. It's also a challenge because I think at any given point I sound like I'm eight instead of ten. Or thirty instead of ten.

But I love it. However, what am I thinking writing middle-grade? I write YA, YA I tell you!

Anyway, I give you the first paragraph of A Pretty Pirate Pickle (the first paragraph for now) (because we all know how much that beginning changes)...

I have one of the best jobs on the cruise ship—every morning at sunrise I stand starboard and check for icebergs. I know the damage these killer popsicles can cause because I read about the R.M.S. Titanic last year. It’s not that I’m afraid of drowning—because I’m not. I’ve run the emergency drills since I was four. I know exactly which deck to meet at and seven ways to get there. I even know which seat is mine on the lifeboat. No, it’s just that I’ve also read that the Captain goes down with the ship, and I don’t want to lose my daddy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

LDS Writer Blogfest:Establishing a Christ-Centered Home

I don't often share my faith on this blog. Maybe because it's so intensely personal, but perhaps more so I'm afraid of turning people away. Which is silly. After all, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said at this last General Conference, "we have a glad message to share, and we have a message of joy." Why not share my message of joy?

I was very glad when Krista Van Dolzer organized the second annual LDS (aka Mormon) Writer Blogfest. This year everybody participating (see link list below) is sharing their favorite General Conference talk. Twice a year the leaders of our church address us for two days: a beautiful two days when members of the church can gather in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and listen to counsel and feel the Spirit. An uplifting, happy, renewing two days when all 14 million members of our church worldwide can watch the same conference by live broadcast. (In my case, in my own living room. Thank you BYUTV.)

The conference talk I've chosen was given by Elder Richard J. Maynes regarding Establishing a Christ-Centered Home. Now, if I was to discuss his entire talk, this would be a very long blog post. So I'll narrow my focus just a bit.

One thing, among many, I love about this gospel: a forever family! We believe marriage is forever, not just in this life. When I looked into my husband's eyes in the temple and agreed to marry him (and he to me!) we were agreeing to eternity. We believe that when we die and return to our Father in Heaven, we will still be married and we will still call our children our own. This family relationship is infinite, and our entire lives and beings are focused on returning to our Father in Heaven someday so that we can be together forever.

And that starts at home. It starts with teaching our children about Jesus Christ. Elder Maynes said, "Learning, teaching, and practicing the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our homes helps create a culture where the Spirit can dwell."

A pretty straight forward formula for a Christ-centered home seems to be reading the scriptures and praying together. Also, in our church, families set aside Monday evenings for "Family Home Evening," an evening the family gathers for a lesson, song, prayer, and activity. Right now, our Family Home Evenings are brief because our four year-old is well...four years-old. Last night, for instance, we talked about the Resurrection of the Savior, and how we can return to live with our Heavenly Father, that our bodies will also be re-united with our spirits one day because of what He did.

We try to read scriptures with our son every day. And pray with him every day. And TALK about Jesus every day. However, lest you be confused, I'm not perfect. In fact, I am the perfect example of an imperfect person. Some days it's late and by the time my son is lying in bed in the same room as his slumbering sister, I say, "Hmmm, a bedtime prayer might wake her up." And sometimes I forget who gave me life and who gave me the possibility of forever...and who gave me everything beautiful in this world. And sometimes I forget to tell my son. But I try, and I hope it's enough that he remembers. I want him to grow up with the knowledge that his parents loved their Father in Heaven, loved Jesus Christ (and were infinitely grateful for His Atonement), loved him (our son!) and his baby sister and each other, and that we are looking forward to forever with all of the above.

Annette Lyon: “Desire”
Annie Cechini: “The Spirit of Revelation”
Ben Spendlove: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Chantele Sedgwick: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Charity Bradford: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Jackee Alston: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Jenilyn Tolley: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Jennifer McFadden: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jolene Perry: “It’s Conference Once Again”
Jordan McCollum: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Kasey Tross: “Guided by the Holy Spirit”
Kayeleen Hamblin: “Become as a Little Child”
Kelly Bryson: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Krista Van Dolzer: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Melanie Stanford: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Michelle Merrill: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Myrna Foster: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Nisa Swineford: “Desire”
Sallee Mathews: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Sierra Gardner: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Tamara Hart Heiner: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”
The Writing Lair: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”

Friday, April 8, 2011

Totally Cliche Contest!

Over at MMW (Mormon Mommy Writers) we are holding a contest, which ALL may enter. Starting this week through May 31, we are accepting short story submissions in which you MUST use some kind of writerly taboo. The prizes will be a mix of free ebooks and Amazon giftcards. Plus, we are running a mini-contest to spread the word. In the end, the three winners (plus more) will be published in an ebook we put together.

These are the small details. For more details, you can click on the button in the sidebar. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Other Jessie

No, this is not a post about the many sides of myself. This is, in fact, about The Other Jessie.

Many years ago (or eight, but I'm not counting) while in college, I lived next door to two funny sisters: Sarah and Jessie. I'd go over to their place whenever I wanted to laugh which may have also been every day. We had fun. We made jokes. We talked about cute boys. I ate their food.

However, we all married (and had our bridal showers within just months of each other), life happened, and we lost touch until we found each other again on Facebook. (Well, I lost touch with them and they with me, but being sisters, I think they managed not to lose touch with each other.)

When I announced my BIG MOVE on Facebook, Jessie wrote..."You know that's where I live, right?" This was very good news for me because I had a new-old friend in a strange city, and happily our children were the same ages.

Before we got together for the first time, I thought, "Jessie is so funny and so smart. She should write. I'm going to tell her that." I never did get to tell her that. When we met and marvelled that we are still both Jessie and caught up on the last seven years, I found out that she got her Masters Degree-in Creative Writing.

Not only that, but she is also writing a Young Adult novel.

Amazing coincidence? Now we meet every week, and while our children scream (and sometimes my son melts down), we read each other's pages. And Jessie (he-hem, the Other Jessie) is very good at making my book better. Lately I've been writing more because there is something about having the pressure of giving pages to a real person by next Tuesday.

Here is The Other Jessie. You should meet her.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

If Cows Were Clouds

I believe I have a very discerning son. For example, the other day I turned on music and began dancing around the kitchen. He asked me to stop. And the thing is, I can't dance. I'm horrible. So his taste is pretty spot on. (But maybe I really just scared him.)

Recently my husband asked me about my picture book (said it was really good), and whatever happened to that? Then my son, my very discerning son, started quoting the text from my picture book. And well, my husband's words alone were very encouraging, but the fact that my son liked my book enough to remember the words fueled the flame.

So I told my husband that I wouldn't stop until I queried 25 agents. I'd only queried five since I wrote it (received three no-replies, one form rejection, and one nice rejection that liked the book and invited me to query my YA book when I was ready). Five, that's it. (And this is since September.) So I started querying again.

I haven't shared much about my book other than that I wrote it, so here is my wee-little pitch...

IF COWS WERE CLOUDS
Pudding instead of rain? Cheese instead of snow? Just what would happen if cows started grazing in our atmosphere? (Warning: This book is not for the lactose intolerant.)

By the way, I haven't been much of a blogger lately (that goes for visiting blogs, too) so if you are reading this you are a good friend. On the flip side I have been writing more. For many reasons. One which I will share with you soon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mothering Madness

When we moved into our last place, I noticed a rag slung over my neighbor's fence, primarily because whenever I went to do my dishes I'd have nothing to look at through the window but my neighbor's fabulous above-ground-pool and the rag. ("Fabulous" is me being sarcastic because above-ground-pools are not fabulous. They are ugly. Unless you are sitting in one on a hot summer's day. Then I suppose it may feel a little fabulous.) I lived in that house for eighteen months. The rag was never moved, but it was beaten by one of the worst Kansas winters I've ever known and bleached by the sun in an equally intense summer.

I've thought of that little rag these last two weeks because I am that rag. Motherhood has rung me out, hung me out to dry, and blasted me with all its extreme elements. My son did beautifully during the first month of our move, but I suppose something clicked and he realized that...

This isn't a vacation! This is FOR REAL!!

And well...hmmmm. My naughty, naughty little boy. There were times I was sure that one of us was insane. And of course, I questioned all I ever knew or learned about mothering because suddenly I was clueless. I spent a lot of time on the phone with my mother who is wise, and I wish I can take the mothering parts of her brain because her kids are grown and she's not really using those parts right now. It's only fair.

However, whenever I'd put my son to sleep (and then he'd get up and then he'd get up again and maybe he'd get up a third or fourth or fifth time) the FIRST thing I wanted to do was lose myself in my own little Pieces of Moon world. All this stress really fueled my desire to write. (It also fueled my desire for chocolate chip cookie dough.) I've been writing again, more than before, and really, really enjoying it. So I suppose there is a silver lining, but I'd prefer something other than mothering madness to get me there.

The storm may be over now. The last couple of days I've watched it blow off with only a little residual lightning. My son is doing much better. For example, he is no longer waking up and yelling, "Mommy won't look at my face!" (That from my attempt of ignoring naughty behavior the day before.) (Isn't that sad? After he did that, I lay down next to him and looked at his face.) And the best part is...my mom flies in tomorrow morning. Enough said.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In an Eggshell


The other day as I was doing my laundry, I heard a sound that you should never hear inside your house. I heard a creature. Inside my dryer hose. My first thought was, "Mice! My life is over. We are moving BACK to Kansas." (There are mice in Kansas, but who things rationally when a creature is heard inside of one's dryer hose?)

When I calmed down, I went outside and looked up toward my second-floor laundry room. (The whole looking up thing should have been my first clue it wasn't a mouse since mice can't fly. I don't think.) There was a twig sticking out of my dryer vent. Birds are not nearly disturbing as mice and so I was at peace.

That night, my husband and I (with a very interested little boy standing by) unhooked the dryer hose and pulled out a nest. (And a lot of combustible lint backed up behind it, so we are lucky our bird didn't smoke.) I also pulled out one little speckled egg. I even did the flashlight test on the one little speckled egg and found...nothing.(Of course this meant I had no pressure to incubate the egg and raise the hatchling on ground worms. Phew.)

It made me think of writing...

Well, not really. I have no metaphor. I just wanted to share my bird-nest-in-a-dryer story because I think it's cool.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oh Mo!

I love Mo Willems. When I visited the library* yesterday, I picked up a few of his books. My son and I have already read the first two Knuffle Bunny books, (and are waiting eagerly to read the last installment.) I hadn't yet introduced him to the Pigeon, however, so we picked up Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog. If you haven't read these then do! He is such a good example of using very few words to say so much. And his illustrations are hilarious. My son laughed so hard, and even carried the books with him downstairs. (Meaning, the Pigeon was too good to leave usptairs.)

But as I discovered tonight, the Pigeon is setting a very bad example for my son. It all began with an attempt to put off bedtime.

He asked for a snack.

NO

"But I want CARROTS!" (Totally a diversionary tactic. Would he eat the carrots? No, he would not. He'd look at his carrots while reveling in the joy of staying up late.)

NO

Then he said, "Please, I'll give you five dollars."

This is an almost direct quote from the Pigeon (who says "bucks" instead of "dollars.") I've also heard him quote Pigeon a few other times today, although completely out of context.

The Pigeon is teaching my son the art of manipulation. Bad, bad Pigeon.

But I'll still read them. Over and over again.

*Good news. I found a better library branch in my new city, better than the last one I checked out! (But not as good as The Perfect Library back in Kansas.) But a definite improvement!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bead by Bead

My son loves art projects. Usually I just keep an art drawer full of pipe cleaners, pom poms, markers, paper and glue and he just...creates. Well, I had this brilliant idea to buy melty beads. You know-those tiny little beads you place on peg boards, then iron so the design melts together. Why I thought it might be a good idea for a four year-old, I'm not sure. It tested my patience as a thirty year-old because as you place each new bead, the bead you just placed sticks to your fingers and falls off.

Somehow, we both managed to fall into a groove after much trial and error. We were working side-by-side, each beading our own board, wrapped in our creative silence. Then BAM! (Did I really believe it would last?) "It's keep falling off. IT'S KEEP FALLING OFF." So he SWIPED his hand across the table and all those beads went skittering everywhere. In a patient mother voice (which was not the voice I used when he kept dropping boogars on my bed during naptime) I told him to just try it agin. "Sometimes we have to be patient and just do it again."

My thoughts immediately turned to my manuscript because for the last few days I've been toying with the idea of ditching it, starting something new from scratch. New state, new home, new friends, new book...right? What I really find intimidating about my book is that the more I write, the more I discover how much writing and rewriting is left to do. (Insert above advice to my son.) My book has been like that fatal iceberg. It seemed a modest and fun task from far away, but the closer I get I realize what a monster lurks below the surface and it's threatening to sink my ship. (Those of you who can't tolerate cheesy metaphors are excused.)

The irony is I was considering starting a new book from scratch, as if that book would somehow be different. My husband finally convinced me to stay with it when I read some of my (latest) beginning to him. He told me I should spend more time writing. (WHAT TIME?...This is another blog post.) Anyway, I appreciated the vote of confidence. Now I'm going to go gather up my beads and keep moving forward. ("Moving forward" meaning I also need to stop rewriting my beginning and FINISH the rewrite once and for all.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

U R Cute

Okay, my title has nothing to do with this post, but the best thing about Valentine's Day is the candy hearts.

I wanted to let you know that starting today I am the new Monday girl on Mormon Mommy Writers. (For which you don't have to be a Mormon or a Mommy or a Writer to read, but if you are reading this blog, you can probably claim at least one of these.)

Now, after last week's post I must set the record straight that although I miss Kansas, I LIKE TEXAS. The library aside, it's a great place to be. It's warm. People are nice. There is good food to eat. Plus, although we left family behind, we more than doubled the family here.

Also, I must note that I did a facebook poll among my friends and family. Most claim that their husbands iron their own shirts. However, as it is Valentine's Day I might just pull out the ironing board.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Another Will NEVER Measure Up

We are now settled in our new place, and my life is steadily becoming normal again. I really, really like normal. I've already ventured into this strange city alone, navigating unfamiliar streets to visit the library for which I had such high expectations.

See, I was blessed with an amazing library the last few years. Or maybe just cursed because I will NEVER find another to measure up. This new library, for instance, was much too small and crowded, people sitting elbow-to-elbow around tables to read. I saw not one cozy nook to curl up in. (Not that I could curl if I wanted to since I had two small children.) My old library had couches around a fireplace with an occasional semi-authentic (gas-lit) fire.

And the YA section - it seemed wanting. For such a small library, I had a hard time spotting it. After inquiring I found its one shelf in the back corner, a few chairs crammed between it and the wall. The YA section at my old library covered a MUCH larger area. With computers and cozy seats, it invited teens to stay awhile. And I really liked all the new releases on one wall, covers out.

But what is MOST important to me in a library and my main excuse to frequent it often is...the CHILDREN'S section. MY OLD LIBRARY had the perfect children's section with trains and legos and a big reading bear to sit on that eventually died, or ripped, or maybe got lice. There were so many events for the children and the best storytime you'll EVER attend with sitting mats, dancing, and surprises. We had a Miss Vicky, among other great children's librarians, who knew my son's name from day one. This children's section just didn't compare.

Oh and one more thing, before I left Kansas...a librarian at my old and perfect library asked me how my writing was coming along. I don't even remember telling her. But she remembered. Now I am going to go wallow in self-pity.

(Did I mention my old library had no late fees?)

What do you look for in a library? (Besides you know...books.) And my husband would like to know if anybody else's husbands iron their own shirts for work. This is very important.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Honorable Mention!!

This is the first chance I've had to sit down and post a "Woo-eee!!! I got an honorable mention in Nathan Bransford's first paragraph contest!" Actually, I'm a little more excited that Nathan Bransford actually sat down and typed my name in a blog post (among others, but still...)

Anyway, thank you to those that congratulated me already. It is the perfect news to a crazy week. We made it out of Kansas. In fact, the cold chased us out a day early, and somehow managed to follow us to Texas. Really, my in-laws blame me for this insanely cold Texas weather. Now we are waiting for the movers, but while we wait a variety of viruses decided to attack each member of my family. See what I mean by crazy? Yes, this contest news was quite the ray of sunshine.

Head on over to Nathan's blog and vote for your favorite finalist! And I'll be back when life is healthy and normal again. :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Word Hoarders

As I take down and parcel my household, my manuscript is receiving a similar treatment. I found a giant credibility hole in the first few pages of my manuscript, and I am rewriting (yet again) my entire first chapter. (Not the best remedy for MOVING FORWARD with my manuscript, but there it is.) (Actually, I think my first page had enough because it is now unexplicably in a read-only mode.)

I think that writers are a lot like hoarders. Last week a mover told us of a household he'd moved in which it had taken an hour to inventory the family room, a family room that included two rusted-out refrigerators. And I have to wonder what this person's emotional attachment was to these refrigerators. But aren't we the same with our words? Our words will collect, go to files we may never open again until they are attacked by literary rust...but can we really let them go?

Well, I can't because I know how much time I spent on those words. However, I'd have to say that taking time off from my manuscript (which I did and somehow decided to start writing again in the middle of this crazy move) has made it easier to cut scenes. But not permanently. They still exist, piles of words stacked in my harddrive, cluttering corners and covered in dust.

What about you? Do you hoard words?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Don't You Dare...

I am purging my house of junk before my move. That's my goal anyway. My problem is, I start going through my "junk" and suddenly minutes turn into hours and hours turn into a whole evening of me looking through old files and pictures and letters and journals. I've been in a college time-warp the last few days. I am not even going to break open the Pandora's Box that is high-school me. (Actually, there are two "Pandora's Boxes" that look more like giant storage bins.) I would be trapped for days revisiting teenage me...and I'm not ready for that journey of emotional ups and downs. Maybe I'll look again when I want to write a book for teenagers or something. Wait a second....

I found a folder of creative writing from the one creative writing class I took my freshman year at BYU. (For those of you who are somewhat new to my blog, I put aside my writing pursuits and became a registered nurse instead. Now I want to be a writer. Go figure.) And I had to laugh, really laugh, at my writing it all its awfulness. But it was sincere. Really, really sincere. And I wanted to squeeze twelve years-ago me and say, "Keep going! You'll get there!" (Am I "there" yet? No.) I loved all the comments from my creative writing professors because they were SPOT ON. And I remember now reading those comments then and not really getting it. In fact, I remember taking it kind of personally and thinking that they didn't really get what I was trying to say. (So, I guess that's why I turned to nursing. It wasn't personal. I wasn't ready to write.)

And tucked in that folder was an equally awful creative writing piece I wrote for a religion class. And you know what? I didn't have to find that piece to remember what my religion professor (not a writing professor (but a very brilliant man)) wrote. He complimented my writing, and it's stuck with me for twelve years. And sometimes it keeps me going.

Don't you dare do anything else with your life but write!

So spot on or not, I didn't remember much from my creative writing class, but I always remembered that this august scholar of scripture liked my writing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Good-bye 2010, Hello Texas

I've been absent from blogging for a ridiculously long time, but other than the holidays I've been busy with the news that we are moving to Texas in February. Our recent Christmas mecca down south was spent hunting for a place to live rather than actual vacationing. So, I have one little month to pack up my life in boxes. It's kind of overwhelming.

I am excited...but also sad. When I walked into my house after two days in the car with small children, the sweet relief of being home was tempered by the fact that it would only be mine for thirty more days. And Kansas... Who would think anyone would be nostalgic for Kansas of all places? But I grew up here. My family is here and so are my roots. I mean, there are graveyards in Kansas with my ancestors. Kansas is a part of me.

And Texas is a part of my husband. But we aren't moving because Texas constitutes one-third of my husband's blood. (I constitute another third, while the final third is a mixture of basketball and actual blood.) We are moving because of my husband's job. (Yes, I failed to produce that NYT bestseller I set out to write two years ago. Dang it. It could have really come in handy in pleading the case for Kansas.)

So while I'm determined not to be gone for another three weeks (I missed you guys, really), I may be more sporadic than usual. Then again, blogging may be one of my few links to sanity when everything else around me falls apart (and then is neatly packed away and labeled)(until I get to the eleventh hour in which things will just be hurled into whichever box is closest).