Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Random Stuff Fri... er Wednesday - Christmas Edition

Things have been crazy for the last week and a half. I apologize for my incommunicado-ness. We recently suffered a death in the family, followed by a death in the family of some close friends and needless to say, I've been pretty tied up.

That being said, I have decided that despite how much I love hearing from you guys via blog comments and getting those emails in my inbox letting me know you find my randomness even a little bit amusing, I just have too much to catch up on for the holidays and also too much to just keep up with for the next couple weeks after having spent the last week and half on other things, so I am bowing out of blogging for the remainder of the year today with these last bits of randomness. (And omg, that is a holy mother long sentence, but I can't even think enough to fix it, so please forgive me that too, okay? It is the holidays, the season of giving and forgiving right? Okay, cool. Thanks!)

So anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. The randomness. Here goes!

1) My holiday from work started as soon as I was done with my work on Thursday afternoon. It was about 4:00 PM. And I was totally on vacation, I swear. You know, even though I was working on Friday morning. And Monday afternoon. I was still, totally on vacation. However, my boss rocks and so he said that I could carry my time I ended up not using this year to next year, so woohoo! I get extra vacation next year.

2) The whole month of December, 5yo's kindergarten class had Holiday Readers come in to read to their class. Different parent and grandparent volunteers read all sorts of winter and holiday stories to the kids and one of the kids in the class (w/teacher's & other parent's help) was even able to get her Dad, in the military and currently stationed in the Middle East, to read them a story via Skype one day! I think it's an awesome program and as soon as I'd worked out when my "vacation" was supposed to be, I totally signed up. So on Monday (before going into work) I read a cute little book called A WISH TO BE A CHRISTMAS TREE to 5yo's kindergarten class. It was super fun and I wish I had the opportunity to volunteer more at the school, but it doesn't work so well when you're a full-time working mom whose hours overlap school hours. *Steam roller of guilt drives by and smushes me*

3) That being said, I also volunteered for the 5yo's Christmas party at school. Yes, they had a Christmas party, not a pc "holiday" party. The over-PCness of everything sort of irritates me. I mean, most holidays nowadays are so commercial that unless you go overboard stressing the religious parts of things, kids aren't going to notice anything if they aren't a part of a particular religion. At least not until they are older. And making a big deal out of things just confuses kids more in most cases, I think. Okay, that's my 2-cents on that subject. I actually meant to use this point to talk about the Christmas party. It was fun. I love getting to be a part of the class activities and it's amusing just to watch 5yo's awesome teacher have this perfectly organized chaos. She's amazing and I am so glad she is 5yo's teacher!

4) So speaking of yesterday, 5yo had her first experience of the alarm clock not going off on time. Well, that would be because someone (*raises hand* yes, me) forgot to turn my alarm clock on - hey, I'm technically on vacation! - and we ended up runningrunningrunning and got her to school just in time. Barely. But for once, she was up and dressed and eaten and everything without any whining or dawdling. I'm thinking I might fake the alarm being turned off thing just to get her going this smoothly every morning. Is that mean? Probably. That doesn't mean I won't do it. #iamameanmomsometimes

5) This is sort of a poll question. Currently, all the presents under the tree are for other people. Same thing as what happened last year. Last year it was because we got the kids one big present: a play house to share. Some assembly required on Christmas Eve. This year, they each got separate presents, but they are also "some assembly required" gifts. Which means we will be up on Friday night putting things together. That being said, when do you think we need to start making sure gifts are under the tree from us separate from Santa so they don't start to put 2 & 2 together that we just might be Santa because all the gifts show up at the same time? That's not to say we are Santa, of course. Because, dude, he's totally real and if you stop believing, I'm telling you now, you're not getting any presents. Oh, yeah, kidlets are 5 & 2 right now. Let me know what you think.

All right kiddies. I want to wish you and yours happy and safe holidays filled with good food, good friends/family and lots of good times. Happy Christmas and New Year and I will see you back here in January.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Quote of the Week

"One always has time enough, if one will apply it well."

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Friday, December 10, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

It's Friday. Who's ready for the weekend? Yeah, me too.

1) Don't you hate when you wake up one morning, think that it's say, Thursday, but then it's really Wednesday and your week automatically got a day longer? It was one of those weeks.

2) Took the kidlets to the dentist yesterday. We have an AWESOME pediatric dentist (anyone in the South Valley of Salt Lake County need a referral? Let me know!) and 5yo loves going there. The walls are all jungle themed and there's TVs in the ceiling and there's prizes at the end. What's not to love? Well, it was 2yo's first visit. She started out well enough, excited for a prize and to watch ceiling TV. She even let the hygienist clean her teeth. Then it was time for the dentist to check her teeth and oh my holy . . . she was NOT having any part of that. Little did she realize, that her screaming and crying was actually quite helpful in keeping her mouth wide open for the doc to check things out. A new Pooh Bear toothbrush and a Princess flosser later, she's totally fine. Kids, they recover quick. Oh, and we emerged VICTORIOUS--no cavities for either kidlet! Woohoo!

3) I love post-it notes. Right now I'm staring at a wall of post-it notes in 5 different colors as I work through a revision project. Sharing the wall with my post-it notes?

Yep, that's Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and the rest of the good guys.

Autobots, roll out. Transformers, more than meets the eye.

4) While I hate that people in Utah cannot seem to remember how to drive in the snow through an entire winter, and they have to relearn every time it snows, I wish it would snow again. All the snow on our lawn has melted and now the dead grass covered in dried pine needles is not looking so hot. If it doesn't snow soon, by Christmas would be great. We're all "dreaming of a white Christmas." Not a brown one.

5) My TBR pile is so big, I think it's been deterring me from reading. Like, I think the books are multiplying on their own and soon the pile is going to overtake me.

Sorry for the post of boringness today. I'm writing this really late and my eyeballs are starting to hurt and stress has been wearing on me. Having a hard time stringing many words together to make up something sensical.

Have a good weekend!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Quote of the Week

"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."

Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, December 3, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

Did you miss me last week? You don't have to lie, I know you were out there, huddled in the freezing cold with the masses a week ago, trying to buy that digital doohickey and what not. I'm not judging. Personally, I was sleeping.

Anyway, so there was a lot of random stuff that happened in the last couple weeks.

1) Britney Spears. 5yo and 2yo have recently discovered the wonders of old school Britney Spears. I'm talking, the ". . . Baby One More Time" days. After careful consideration, I've decided, you know, it's all right. Britney Spears to my girls is sort of like Madonna was to me. Though, I think I may have to limit how much of her later stuff they have access to. Lol!

2) Utah vs. BYU. I bleed red. 'nuff said. Las Vegas Bowl, here we come!

3) It's been so cold lately, I want to bring back the warmth of summer. But keep the snow. I like the snow. Is that weird? Yeah, probably. So instead, I'm going to make funnel cake. Yes, that's exactly what I'm going to do. Well, not right this second, but this weekend.

4) Kidlets and I have a little manicure ritual that we do about once a week where I paint their nails and then they help me pick a color for mine. Because the girls are 2 and 5, I'm not really down with spending buckets of money on the "good" nail polish, so I buy the $1 or less kind. So the other day I had this awesome midnight blue color on - barely did my nails the night before. I did some dishes one morning, then went to take a shower and my polish was already chipped! Then I looked closer and the polish was coming off in sheets! I could PEEL off my nail polish. Yuck. Husband saw this and told me I was no longer allowed to buy the cheap polish. I had to spend at least $2 a bottle. I'm not sure what to make of it if he thinks the $2 kind is the "expensive" nail polish. I just thought that was funny.

5) Have you ever seen River Monsters on the Discovery Channel? It's basically a fishing show, but it's about all the different kinds of crazy fish that live in fresh water and have been known or rumored to attack / eat people. So we went to the aquarium last Sunday and saw some of these fish there! It was wicked cool. Besides the arahpaima and piranha, we saw a giant anaconda, an octopus, jelly fish, touched sting rays, had birthday cake and went home with two new (stuffed animal) pets ... a baby penguin now named " ", and a baby turtle named "Tuck" like the little turtle on Wonder Pets. What? You haven't seen that show either? Ah, well, that will have to be its own point on another random list.

Anyway, hope everyone had an awesome week and an even more awesome weekend to come!

I'm heading up to Salt Lake City with some writerly peeps for Ally Condie's MATCHED launch party tomorrow, so if you're going too, let me know so I can keep an eye out for you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Too Much Fabric

I've been working on the first draft of a new wip for a while now. A long while. Like, at one point I wondered if the book had an ending and a friend on twitter deemed it:

Yeah, that is how long it is. In word count, you ask? I stopped counting after I hit 100k. It's a YA Contemporary. I KNOW that it is way too long. But I couldn't help it. There was some sort of bizarro word vomit situation going and, well, ta-da! I ended up here.

However, in my defense, I'm one of those people who think that it is way easier to cut than add. Plus, I sort of feel better about myself when I can slim down an ms, instead having to figure out the best places to let it out.

Example: Say you buy an amazing dress online. You never got to try it on and they don't have any clear sizing information, so you just wing it. Plus, they have in bright red bold flashing letters that there is a strict no returns policy. But this dress is so amazing you HAVE to have it. You go to order it, there's 2 sizes left. The first is one size too small. The second is one size too big. Which do you buy?

If you ask me, I'd take the one too big. Why? Because it is way easier to take something in, remove the parts that you don't need, than to get the smaller size and hope that it fits, thinking that you'll worry about adding more later. Plus, you know, when I have to get something taken in, well, it's quite a boost to the ego. ;)

That's just how my brain works. That and I am apparently VERY long winded and needed more than 100k words to tell you about carnival rides.

So do you go with too much, too too much, or whatever you think is just right?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Farming for Time

I have a confession.

A few months ago I quit playing all the Facebook games. Cold turkey.

And now. With a nice hot and juicy turkey heading toward me, I felt like I needed to confess something: I fell off the wagon.

Yes, that's right. I'm playing those time-sucking games again. And then some. But here's the thing. You expected the "but" right? Because when have I not had a very valid and legitimate reason behind anything?

Well, there was some time over the course of this last year that I was not in the best of health. During this time, I worked 100% from home when I could even work and I did 0 traveling. Which we all loved.

In the last month or so I've started traveling again and kidlets are none too pleased with my going MIA after 7 straight months at home. So the remedy?

Facebook games. You see, I play these games with my two little chickadees.

Petville is all 5yo and Happy Aquarium is 2yo's "pet fish"

Farmville, though, is where we have the most value and I'll tell you why. Each kidlet has a pet dog on the farm. They help me manage and decorate and all that. When I have to leave for a trip, we count out how many days I will be gone and we plant crops accordingly. The kids pick out what plant and where on the farm we plant it. And then while I'm gone, they go "take care" of the farm via my sister's / husband's / brother's FB accounts.

And then, the reward for being patient and as good as possible while I'm gone? We get to harvest crops when I get home! It's an easy, free and fun way of spending some extra quality time with the kids right after I get home and it doesn't take very long nor is it difficult.

It has really helped our little family sort out the time thing, because most little kids have a hard time defining the time concept anyway.

So yeah. That's my confession. Quality time with some Facebook games on the side.

Do you guys have creative ways of helping your kids cope with different things? I'd love to hear them!

When I leave for a trip,

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quote of the Week

"The best preparation for a better life next year is a full, complete, harmonious, joyous life this year."

Thomas Dreier

... Just something to keep in mind year over year, before you start thinking about New Year's Resolutions...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Revisiting the Mayo Jar and Coffee

This was something I originally posted back in December of 2008. My blog was a lot different back then and I know I didn't have all the peeps I have now. So I just wanted to share this with you guys again, something to consider with Thanksgiving and the rest of the holidays coming.

I'm thankful to have all of you in my life even if it is mostly in a virtual way. I've found support and motivation, comfort and inspiration from everyone at one time or another and I know I will never be able to thank you enough.

I'll be back next week.

Hugs, and Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Thankful Thursday.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.The sand is everything else---the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. "Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked."It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Look Around

When I first read this week's quote, I flipped past it, thinking I cannot have a quote about birth and death the week of (American) Thanksgiving!

Then I went back. And realized it was the PERFECT quote for the week.

There is so much that goes on in our day to day lives that really, we tend to forget that somewhere in there, stopping to enjoy what's going on around us is not a bad thing.

Okay, so your first draft sort of sucks - guess what? You're so totally not alone.
And you got a rejection letter too? I'm totally with you.
Car trouble? Yep.
Bad hair day? OMG, who hasn't??

But really, that's all sort of trivial in the grand scheme of things. Before you let something like uncooperative hair, a sink full of dishes or yes, even a rejection letter, ruin your whole day, week or even month, take a step back and look around.

I'm betting that after a deep breath, a hot bath and a nice cup of tea (Earl Grey for me, please), you'll see the good that's around you and you'll see how much MORE of it there is than you realized.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quote of the Week

"There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval."

George Santayana

Friday, November 19, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

Okay, hi. It's Friday already. I am writing this post and it is 12:14 AM and I have not yet gone to sleep nor have I done any creative writing. I don't like this feeling.

What have I been doing instead of working to finish my almost-finished wip? Day job stuff. It involves lots of spreadsheets with a bazillion lines. My eyes hurt. I might just type up the rest of this post with my eyes closed and see if that helps.

1) We had our family pictures done about a month ago and I just finally figured out which prints to order and which images to get on the CD. Anyway, I love Joanna Taylor. She knows exactly how to catch our family's whole personality on film. Plus, she's one of my oldest friends. By that I mean I've known her for forever, not that she's old. (Just making it clear, Jo.) If you want to see why I am gushing so much about how talented and wonderful and superawesometastic she is, check her out HERE I am so excited to get the pics and get our Christmas cards done!

2) Yes. I did mention Christmas already and it is not even Thanksgiving yet. Can't help it. The ads are already talking about Christmas lists and the stores have decorations out. The radio is playing Christmas songs and, well, it is what it is. The sad thing, Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday. Why? The food. What can I say, I'm an easy girl to please. So you spend all that time in the morning cooking and stuff but then, the rest of the day is eating. Hanging out. Eating. Watching TV. Eating. And if you pay any attention to my Twitter feed, you'll notice, I tweet about food. A lot.

3) Speaking of Twitter, I love it. I know some people don't get it, others don't care for it and others still hate it, but I think it's because you have not learned how to appreciate it yet. So it has been suggested *ahem* to me by a few peeps (or tweeps in Twitterese), that I do a Twitter series on the blog. I'm working on it. Give me a couple weeks. Thinks have been super crazy at the day job and that's sucked up most of my brain power.

4) I use Excel. A lot. Like, a bajillion lines on a gazillion worksheets that link to a zillion other workbooks. After a few days staring at this stuff, you forget which way is up. Sorry if I sound more rambly than usual. That's been my life lately.

5) Thank you to Arctic Circle and the $.99 rootbeer float you made for me tonight to help me make it through Thursday evening all the way to Friday morning. I couldn't have done it without you. It's the little things, I tell you. The little things.

Happy Harry Potter Weekend Everybody! In the words of my 2yo waving her magic chopstick: Expecto Patronum!
P.S. I typed most of this post with my eyes closed and that helped a bit. But then, I had to open them to put in the links. But anyway. Wingardium Leviosa and what have you. Night. Er... Morning. Well, oh, nevermind. Let's just go with Peace Out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Journey

I think it's safe to say most of us have been trudging along in this publication journey for a while now. It's the "a while" part that is open to interpretation, right?

There are all those success stories we hear, the ones where an author's written a book in just a few weeks that led to a multi-gazillion-dollar-deal, complete with glitter and sprinkles and loads of chocolate flavored confetti falling from the sky.

And then you think, dude, I could totally do that.

You scribble your book down. Jump on what you think is the Amtrak train straight for NYC where you just know your book is going to get an agent-editor-multi-bazillion-dollar (bigger than gazillion, you see) - deal and you'll have a parade and instead of throwing out candy to the masses you will throw chocolate covered words to help other writers achieve their dreams.

But. (Did you expect there not to be a "but?")

The train stops. You get out. And this is so not NYC.

You stand on the platform. And Platform 9 3/4, it's not.

You look around. Yep, still an Amtrak. In your hands, yep, still holding your gonna-be-a-NYT-bestseller. So you go over to find the conductor to get some information. And what do you learn? You've landed in Editsville. The conductor hands you a map and you see that this train stops in Editsville, Revision City, Rewriteston, Letitstewabit and then loops back around to Editsville again.

You've just missed the connection from Editsville to NYC.

The conductor asks, "Didn't anyone tell you that?"
You say, "Uh, no."
The conductor just shakes his head in apology and ambles away.
You stand there thinking, Uh, this is so not the trip I was planning. And then you look at your ticket. Everything looks okay and then you see some fine print beneath the destination.

Amtrak: Home to N
with stops

With stops?!?!?!? You have a WTF moment. As in, Ms. NYT Bestseller just wrote her book in three and a half days and wtf, she is on the NYT Bestseller list and I can't even catch a freakin' break! Don't these people know I am the next (insert trend of your choice here). [You can insert lots more expletives, if you'd like. The moment is rather fitting.]

So your choices? Sit around Editsville eating weird Chocofake Rejection bars or you get back on the train. When you arrive in Revision City and are frustrated. Your options here? Sit around and eat the new White Chocofake Hopeless bars, or get back on the train. As tasty as that sounds, I'd vote the train.

Frustration turns to anger. Anger turns to resolve. And somewhere between Revision City and Rewriteston you break out your soon-to-be NYT Bestseller. You read through your ms as you chug along on the train. You find improvements you can make. You run into some peeps and they help you make it even better. So then, when you notice you've arrived in Editsville (umpteenth loops later) you realize something: You're in the right place. It's the right time. And you can get on the right train! And then you remember to check your ticket for the fine print again, just as the train pulls away from the platform.

Amtrak: Editsville to NYC
with stops

Great. What'd you think? That this whole getting published thing was easy???

~ * ~

All right, that was my so totally long-winded way of saying that while we hear lots and lots of success stories about those people who landed huge deals or seem to "have all the luck in the world," guess what?

We have no idea what their Amtrak ride was like, or how long it took, or what kind of an emotional rollercoaster it was. Okay, that's not entirely true. We get a reader's digest version of what they've lived through. Usually it's been edited to a significant degree, because no one wants to hear the crappy parts of the story, but what it comes down to is that everyone's journey is different. And sometimes it's hard to remember that.

Yes, we get frustrated, we get jealous. Yes, I said it. You don't have to deny it. But that's a post for another day. Like maybe tomorrow.

So yeah. Remember, we're all on a train. Sometimes people jump on and off, but each of our individual tickets is completely unique. Sort of like the tickets the kids get on the Polar Express.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Success via Daily Pep

I thought I had a blog post all ready for today.

I thought wrong.

However, I did get an email from a peep that led to a phone call that led me to want to write a post about success. And how some successes come quickly and others, well, do not.

But as I went through my blog roll, I found someone else had articulated my thoughts for me.

So hop on over to get some Daily Pep for Writers from Samuel Park and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quote of the Week

"No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently."

Agnes De Mille

Friday, November 12, 2010

And Random Stuff Friday Is Back

And more random than ever! Well, maybe not, but this week's title seemed a bit unfinished.

Anyway, obviously from this week's posts you could tell I'm back. And have I got some random stuff to share with you.

1) I went to a conference for the day job out in New York 2 weeks ago. Whenever you tell people you're going to New York, I've found they immediately think of New York City. For some, reasons are obvious, for others, I think it's just because it's a freaking gigantic city. But I sort of feel bad for the rest of the state. It's like they don't really exist because people are too focused on NYC. P.S. I was in Palisades, NY. Honestly, more New Jersey than New York, but not according to the official address.

2) My cousin got a new cell phone. The Droid X, I believe. It's big. And heavy. It does a bunch of cool stuff though, and she really likes it, so yay for her. But it just made me laugh at how the whole cell phone thing has come full circle. From being big and heavy to downright tiny (anyone remember the LG Juke?) and now we're back to the big and heavy. I realize, a lot of this has to do with phone capabilities, but it still makes me laugh a little.

3) There are 2 things that seem to be everywhere in Utah. They all seem to have sprouted up in the last couple of years and now you can't throw a rock without hitting one of them: build your own fro-yo places and sushi bars. Just an observation.

4) I'm so looking forward to the weekend. We've been
doing some house cleaning and sorting out things to donate, etc. I feel so ... Zen when we get rid of stuff and vacuuming, man, that's like the perfect Zen-tool. It totally "sucks" all the bad energy away. I know, I'm a bit of a weirdo when it comes to this, but honestly I don't have enough time to do as much cleaning as I'd like. I have to schedule it onto our family calendar just to make sure we can block out time. I know, a little crazy.

5) The University of Utah football team plays Notre Dame this week. Tomorrow, actually. And last week, well, they had a bit of an off game against TCU. So I'm wishing them much luck this week. GO UTES!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fallen Apple

We've been going through some daycare issues because of the Husband's work schedule being a bit erratic lately, so last week found me dropping off and picking up the 5yo.

Well, she came running out of class ecstatic. As we walk to the car, she's flustered with excitement, telling me about a party. The first thing I wonder: oh, crap. Did I miss a holiday?

Then she tells me that it's a BOOK party.

My ears perk up. There were a lot of different kinds of book parties that I attended in elementary school. Ones where you got to wear pajamas to school and you spent the day reading under a table or a desk or wherever in the classroom. Book parties where you got to surprise someone else with a wrapped book exchange. Endless possibilities, I tell you.

But no. This was not one of those parties. It was a book party "for a man who wrote a book and he invited everyone from school!" Here's how the rest of our conversation went:

Me: "What's his name?"
5yo: "I don't know."
Me: "What book did he write?"
5yo: "I don't know."
Me: "Are you sure it's a book party?"
5yo: random rambling that I couldn't completely understand as she digs out papers in her backpack.
Me: *takes papers from kid and shuffles through newsletters* "Oh, Frank L. Cole came to your school today."
5yo: "Who?"
Me: *turns papers around to show her book covers*
5yo: "That's the books he had!"
Me: "You want to go to his book launch party next week?"
5yo: "pleasepleasepleaseplease."

Can you see where this conversation's going?

So yes, I will be taking the 5yo and possibly her younger sister also, to Frank's book launch party for his 3rd Hashbrown Winters book release tonight, Thursday, November 11. It's at the Barnes & Noble South Towne down in Sandy, UT if anyone's in the area and was also interested in coming.

Honestly, it sort of surprised me how excited she was about the book party. She's always loved books, but I had no idea that the idea of going to a party for a book would be so high on her list of things she had to do.

Clearly, 5yo is an obvious exhibit of the apple not falling far from the tree. And I couldn't be more happy about it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year.

I think I've said that before.

The funny thing about that? I've written more since November has started than I have in the last few weeks, I think.

When I tried Nano last year, I didn't finish. There was too much real life/day job stuff that came up and took away all the free time I generally have to write. Things that didn't allow me to "take away" time and use it for what I wanted.

So this year, I'm working on a quasi-Nanowrimo ... it's more like FiNoWriMo ... Finish Novel Writing Month.

I've got a list ... a LIST, I tell you, of projects I need to get to, all are in some way, shape or form, started, but the one I've been working on has been waiting to be finished since, oh, September, I believe. And I cannot push it off anymore. These other projects are screaming in my ears. I have to finish the current one to give it some time to stew. Time I can use to write something else.

So I'm writing. Lots. To finish a novel, but not one that was started for Nano.

There's no reason not to ride the wave of other people's word count motivations and use that energy to get some words in for myself, right? Anyone else doing noNano writing?

Monday, November 8, 2010

To Be Great

Well hi! Did you miss me? I totally missed you guys! Obviously, I'm back now. And I've realized something in this last couple weeks that I've taken an almost complete step away from the bloggy world: taking that time away is really good for one's mental health.

That's not to say that you guys drive me crazy or anything, because really, I missed our conversations! But coming up with blog topics and trying to figure out the best times to post them and remembering to answer comments and commenting on other blogs, well, it can totally do a number on your brain cells. Especially if you're not at 100%.

Really, what I am trying to say is that "To Be Great," I think you also have to know when to take a break. The world keeps moving, yes. Life continues on without you, yes. But really, you are the greatest part of your life (and probably a few other people's lives as well) so if you're not 100%, you end up being not so great. And we all want to be the best we can.

As I strive "to be great," I have realized that sometimes, I just need to step back and take that break. It gives me a chance to realign my priorities and also means I get to come back filled with more randomness to share with you guys!

What do you think are things that help us be the best we can?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being . . . The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation."

St. Augustine

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quote of the Week and a Hiatus

"I'm leaving on a jet plane . . ."

John Denver

I'll be on blogging hiatus for the next week or so (maybe more, maybe less ... sorry for the vagueness). Last week's non-blogginess was an effect of crazy prepping for a major conference at the day job. This week I'm in New York at the conference it took most of last week to prep for, so I'm not expecting much opportunity to be part of the blog-o-sphere. Don't have too much fun without me!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Quote of the Week

"He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize."

- Oscar Wilde

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

It's Thursday night as I write this and I'm recovering from a flight home, my 2nd time on a plane since surgery, so forgive me if this post seems mildly disconnected. My head feels like it is no longer attached to my body. Good thing this is the random stuff post.

1) As I said, I was on a flight home Thursday afternoon, after spending most of the work week in San Jose, CA. In case anyone was wondering, California is still there and is still broke. It was a hot topic all over the news given upcoming elections. But that's not what I was going to tell you about. I was actually going to tell you about how I got upgraded to 1st class on the trip out there and how Delta serves their in-flight drinks in some very nice glasses. I want a set for my house. They're heavy and all nice and round and you can tell they're pretty decent quality. I should've taken a picture. See this is the sort of things I notice when I travel. Pretty exciting stuff, huh?

2) I didn't read on my trip. Like, at all. Unless you count street signs and workish stuff during the day. Could've had something to do with the fact that the flights made me sicker than all get out and I couldn't see straight. Plus after each day I was so exhausted I didn't even have it in me to read. So Captain Nook stayed in the bag for the entire trip.

3) I love Indian food.

4) I realize that most of what I'm telling you now I've already tweeted. So if you would rather get up to the minute details of my oh-so-exciting (not really) travels, you should go follow me (@windyaphayrath) just saying.

5) I seriously just typed 6, even though I only do 5 random things each week. I think that's a sign I'm done for the night.

All right. Peace out. Have a great weekend all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WiP Wednesday

It's been a while since I wrote a WiP Wednesday post. Well, it's been a long time since I've blogged very consistently, and my apologies for that. My Halloween resolution shall be to improve this.

Anyway, the day job has been killing me recently. We've just closed out our fiscal year, so yeah. There has not been nearly enough writerly time of late. Now into a new year, I get to hit the road some. As you read this, I'm sitting in a conference room in San Jose facilitating a discussion about some stuff and working out how to do some things and figuring out what the important bits of it all is.

I doubt that's what you really wanted to read about though. On the writerly side, I'm swimming in a rewrite of my new contemporary YA affectionately known to Husband as "The Carnival Book." I got to about 65K in it and then something just slammed into me and I was lost, completely uncertain what direction I was to go and there was NO new words coming because of this wall. But since then I've had some time to reflect and I know I need to rewrite this. Wish me luck.

The only thing that doesn't help my ADD is the fact that during this reflection time, I've ended up with thoughts leading to new project ideas in addition to some pivotal points around other wips I've got lying on the back burner.

So yeah, rewriting and oodles of noodley ideas. What have you guys got going? I know I cannot be alone in having tons of new ideas hit when you have zero time to work on them!

Monday, October 11, 2010

And Without Further Ado

As you'll remember, I told you all about H.o.W. I Stay Calm. After many deep breaths, several Jedi Squirrel battles and a series of cinnamon roll breakfasts, the Utah Chapter of RWA announced the results of the Hearts of the West Writing Contest.

And I took 2nd Place!!

The winners were announced at the Utah Chapter RWA Conference that was held over this past weekend. Though I wasn't able to attend, I was notified very soon after the results were announced and also received some great feedback from the judges of the contest.

Thanks to everyone for all the crossed fingers and toes and eyes and so forth! All your moral support was (and always is) superly appreciated!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Remember, happiness doesn't depend
upon who you are or what you have;
it depends solely upon what you think."

-Dale Carnegie

Friday, October 8, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

I really need to work on my blogging consistency. I am so sorry, dear friends. I've been a little frazzled lately with far too much on my plate and not near enough of me to deal with it all. *sigh* Such is life for many of us, right? Right. Anyway, welcome to another installment of Random Stuff. Because, well, if it isn't in context, isn't it all random?

1) I LOVE to buy presents for people. I hate giving gift cards or money, it feels so impersonal. We had a close friend's birthday come up and said friend is one of those people who is SO hard to shop for. He's just the sort of guy who - if he really wants something, he'll just buy it himself. So
what do you get a guy who has everything he wants already? Apparently, according to Husband, if that guy is a fisherman, you get him a fishing pole. You can never have too many, I guess.

2) There are, surprisingly, quite a few good sushi places in the Salt Lake Valley (that's Salt Lake City and all the nearby suburbs for non-Utahns). Funny how that is considering Utah's a desert.

3) I have a work trip to San Jose next week. I have another work trip to a very New Jersey part of New York at the end of the month. My first 2 plane rides since the infamous one that helped us discover all the health stuff I've got going on. Needless to say, I'm feeling very anxious.

4) The other day at work I was, yanno, working and suddenly my laptop shut down and
restarted itself. Then it said "Error Loading Operation System." I just got this new work laptop in March. I am not happy about this. Called IT. Problem solved. 2 hours later, laptop shut down, flashed a bright Blue Screen O'Death, then went to restart itself and gave me the same error. You'll all remember what happened to Little Greenie a few weeks back. I am apparently jinxed. Sounds like I need to convert to Apple. If only the budget would allow it. *longingly sigh*

5) Look at this cool thing someone shared with me - a reminder that we always have the weekends to look forward to!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quote of the Week

" Well done is better than well said."

Benjamin Franklin

... that Mr. Franklin. He sure was one smart cookie ...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

Sorry I've been so MIA this week. I've been slammed with day job stuff as well as revisions on a project topped off with a migraine at the beginning of the week, and, well, there you have it. Moving on ... HAPPY OCTOBER!!

1) OK, how much do I love Britney Spears? And then Britney on Glee? Kick ass, if I do say so myself. My parents were pretty strict when I was growing up, so music was definitely an escape for me. And it wasn't until I was old enough - seriously, I was like, 18, that I saw my first concert. And that concert? Britney Spears. Yep. It was on her very first tour at the Utah State Fair and even back then pre-crazy head shaving, the girl can put on a show! Yeah, that concert was followed up with a more elaborate (and way more expensive) Backstreet Boys concert, but we'll save my love of bubblegum pop for another post.

2) In my experience, the migraine hangover is by far worse than any alcohol-induced hangover. Just saying.

3) My nails are still painted tangerine. It's very summery. I'm clinging to the last bits of summer because the awesome sunshine and 90* weather we've been having is NOT going to last. I'm wondering what are good and fun autumn nail polishes, because all the colors I have are summer colors. Suggestions welcome!

4) Here's readerly pet peeve: books that are in the middle of series/trilogies/sagas that don't end. When there is no closure. I get that it is part of a bigger story, but I'm of the firm belief that each book should tie up its own loose ends while providing more insight and moving us along on the bigger story arc. Otherwise, you end up like me, up until 2 a.m. reading a book because I was so into it and then I get to the end and basically ended up yelling at the book to the point that Husband asked if he needed to throw it out the window for me. Yeah. I'm peeved. So much that I don't know if I even want to read the 3rd book. *steps off soapbox*

5) Behind our house is a bakery. They have a little wholesale store that's open to the public where you can buy a variety of freshly baked yummies for way discount from how much you'd pay for their products at the store or gas station. But that's not the best part. The best part is that almost every morning I get to walk outside to the smell of fresh donuts or bread or cookies. Yum for the nose!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Quote of the Week

"The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes."

Agatha Christie

Friday, September 24, 2010

We Interrupt the Random Stuff with Compelling Characters!

Today I'm joining about 150 other bloggers out there for a bit of a blogfest-blogpalooza and we are all giving you our spin on "Writing Compelling Characters!"

I don't generally do a lot of "how to" posts or what not, because I really think everyone has their own style and that is one of the most important things for a writer--knowing who you are and what your writing style is. You don't need me to tell you how to write.

With that in mind, I'm going to tell you my thoughts on compelling characters and something I always try to keep in mind:

If this was a real person, would I care about this character?

This is a question I ask myself because I think the compelling characters are the most memorable ones. Art can imitate life and vice versa. People who may only have a cameo, or very small, brief parts in our lives may end up making huge impacts that can stay with us forever. Chances are, if this is character is a person whose appearance in my real life could change my life, whether I love them, hate them or recognize them as just a passing acquaintance, will I remember these people/characters?

I guess, the other part of my big question to think about is the word "real." Compelling characters ARE real, they are multi-dimensional. There is depth to them beyond just being good or bad. They are characters that have flaws, strengths, weaknesses . . . these are characters with a soul - whether good or evil. And with that in mind, a compelling character is one thatis developed to where they could come right off the pages of a book and you could run into on your next trip to the grocery store.

Sorry if I'm a bit rambly in this post, running on a week of very little sleep and feeling almost zombie-ish. Plus, a little short on time with day job and kidlet stuff going on.

Regardless, those are just what my thoughts are. As a writer, if I can answer that real person question, I'm all set. As for you, what do you think?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

YanYan is Yum!

Sorry, I meant to post this earlier, but things have been a bit crazy. Hence the reason this is not a more fabulous post.

However, the important part is .... Who gets the Yum?? Well, the YanYan, but seriously, it is chocolate hazelnut YUM!

And without further ado, according to the winner is


LT, shoot me an email on the best way to get the goodies over to you!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

H.O.W. I Stay Calm

It's hard. Sometimes, damn near impossible.

H.O.W. do I do it? I have ADD and --ohhh look,

jedi squirrels!! Oh, wait, where was I? Oh, yeah.

H.O.W. to stay calm. Like I said, it's difficult. Especially as a writer where there's so much waiting and uncertainty and wondering and waiting and waiting and waiting.

Like when you send out a query. And wait. And wait. And wait.

Or if you're past that stage and out on submission. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Or when you enter the Utah Chapter RWA Hearts of the West (aka HOW) Writer's Contest. And wait. And wait. And -- what? Wait, WHAT?

I'M A FINALIST IN THE Utah RWA H.O.W. Contest!!!

Check it out at the Utah RWA site.

And now I am doing a little bit of this:

Because, well, all good things should be shared and celebrated!

And I'm doing a lot a bit of this:

Why? Because losing myself in another story is H.O.W. I stay calm.

Keeping my fingers crossed! If you've got some good news let's hear it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quote of the Week

In lieu of a quote this week, I'd like to ask everyone to please keep the residents affected by the #HerrimanFire in Herriman, UT in your thoughts and prayers.

As of when I'm writing this post at 11:46 p.m. on Sunday night, over 1,200 residents have been evacuated and at last count, 3 homes have been completely destroyed. By the time you read this post, though I pray they won't be, I'm certain both those numbers will be significantly higher. Currently, the fire is 0% contained due to high winds / gusts that are making the fire's path unpredictable.

If you'd like more information regarding the Herriman Fire, which has also been called the Machine Gun Fire due to the cause of the fire (started at the machine gun range at Camp Williams), here are some links you can check out.

Wishing safety to all those affected.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Random Stuff Friday ... and a CONTEST!

1. Little Greeny's back and better than ever. The extra investment in the Geek Squad warranty stuff = Best. Plan. Ever. So now she's got a better hard drive (because they weren't sure what I had, so the guessed and I ended up with an upgrade.) AND they backed up my stuff for free! (normally they charge $100). And the whole thing only took about 25 hours, from drop off until I was able to pick up. Yay! Go Geek Squad.

2. Holy crap, I had no idea that being without my computer for a day would totally throw off my jive so much. But it did. It totally felt like I've been off my game this week - not tweeting like normal, not facebooking or blogging or anything! I feel like I've ended up so disconnected! So now I feel like I have to make up for it. We'll see if I actually can.

3. In addition to my lack of social networking this week ... I have barely been writing. Or rewriting. Or revisioning. Like I said. So off my game. I need to get my crap together. Hoping this 3-day weekend will help - at least on the R & R side (that's rest and relaxing, not rewriting & revisioning). Should help me get my game back right? Let's hope.

4. Last night was crit group night. Can I just say how much I adore my crit group? Love these ladies. Yes, that's right - Ali, Sheralyn and Nichole, I'm talking to you!! They're a ball to hang out with and brainstorm with and they always know just how to keep you grounded. As I've said on Twitter, I'm not exactly uber-techie, hence the shipping Little Greeny off to Geek Squad when she got sick. So this is a little bottle cap magnet one of my crit buds gave me - it's even green to match Little Greeny.

5. Speaking of crit group, we were talking about weird food. I don't remember how the topic came up, but I've eaten my fair share of bizarre foods (by American standards). My family's originally from Southeast Asia and there's loads of things that seem relatively normal to me, but according to some people, are bizarre. Cow tongue, tripe, chicken feet, balut (embryo eggs) and duck blood, just to name a few things.

AND because I decided just right this moment that I want to give something away, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what the MOST BIZARRE THING you've ever eaten is and you could win this lovely notebook, along with some Sharpie pens, very normal things for all writers to have. And that's not all! I'll even throw in one of our family's favorite treats: YanYan crackers with chocolate-hazelnut dip! Seriously - the treat is YUM!

And because there's totally yum foodage involved and some countries are so not down with the yum, I have to keep this a USA only contest. Sorry to the international peeps. I'll leave this contest open until, oh, let's say 10:00 pm Mountain time next Tuesday, September 21. The last day of summer. *sigh* I'll pick a winner with the help of

Oh, and if you decide you want to tweet the contest or FB it or whatev, let me know and I'll throw in an extra entry for you!

Okie dokie, all, have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Battle of the Betas

It's that time again! Time for ...

Super thanks to Alicia for "donating" the first page of her ms - PHOENIX RISING, an urban fantasy, to the cause!

And in case you're new to Battle of the Betas, here's the quick deets: 9 writers (listed at the bottom!) have come together in this little monthly experiment to show you how we crit. Hopefully, if you're out there looking for a beta/crit partner, this will help remind you that everyone crits a little differently and no matter what, everyone's experience and styles are a bit different. :)

Keep in mind, this is just one page of a manuscript, so there may be things out of context and what not. My comments are in the italics.

20 Years Ago

Ianos [I hate when I don’t know how to pronounce a character’s name. just my personal thing :)] studied the chimera pride that roamed the foothills outside Timmons for months in search of the runt. [good tension in this opening line] With a pair of large males and several females, it took him longer than he wanted, [ok, I’m confused – maybe just me, but does that mean those chimera were in his way? It can read that way or it can read a little like they were helping him but sometimes get in the way (like those hunting dogs?).] but once discovered, he kept his eye on it. [this sentence ender feels a bit anti-climactic after his super long-many months search. Just saying.] In a final attempt of self-preservation, they [you mean the pride right? Sugg: clarifying that as you flip between talking about the pride and then the runt and then Ianos] abandoned it weeks ago. Each day it grew weaker, languishing without the companionship of the pride. On the fourteenth day [14th day after finding the runt? Sugg: clarify timeline, could cause confusion. Also, why does he wait for 14 days after finding it?], Ianos executed his oh so easy [should this be hyphenated?] plan. [see, if his plan is so easy, I’m not sure I understand his motivation for tracking for another 2 weeks …]

Armed with nothing other than his knowledge of spells, he made his final trek to the foothills. He was much closer than he’d been in his previous visits to the chimera grounds and never seen anything like the beast before. [but isn’t it just another chimera? What makes this one so different from the others that he’s seen before? –show me what makes this one special please :)] It lay in the sun, with only one head awake, but not alert. The lion head mewled [does this mean it has other type of heads? Like, if this is the lion head-does it also have a tiger head, duck head, horse head?], mourning its fate. Its paper lantern thin wings [great visual!] stretched on the ground while the dragon and goat heads slept. [ok, never mind. You answered my other question.]

It was awing. [this sentence reads weird to me. sugg word choice maybe? It doesn’t feel strong enough to be on its own line. May just be me …]

The lion head despondently watched Ianos’ approach but roared to awaken the other two heads when Ianos crossed some unknown border. [the pacing of this sentence throws off the action sequence. Sugg ending sentence @ approach. Then new sentence beginning with “When Ianos cross… the lion head roared.”] The beast rose to its full height, stretched its wings wide, and bellowed—all three heads created a cacophony [the 2 hard “c” sounds made this line lose some strength for me. sugg: word choice –change one of the c words] of rage.

Ianos snarled and crouched, ready to strike. [is Ianos not human or humanoid? It’s not stated before this and those actions are very animalistic.] Electricity spurted from his palms towards the chimera. It dodged at the last second and ran head-on towards the sorcerer. [Maybe let the reader know that Ianos is a sorcerer before this?] He [the sorcerer or the chimera?] ran into a cave to his right; he’d have better luck surviving the fight if he was able to corner the animal. The beast skidded, turned, and charged again. Ianos leapt onto its back. He held tightly onto the lion’s neck scruff and struggled to pull a lasso out of his jeans. [the way this last line is phrased makes it almost sound like the lasso is in the chimera’s jeans :)]

I really like the tension right at the beginning, how the hunt is what draws us in, but the transition into the action is a bit abrupt. I wanted more tension, more details around the hunt and what was going on with the rest of the pride before the MC discovered the runt.

I wasn’t able to picture where everything is happening. Yes, foothills, but that’s very vague. Maybe some more description of the setting, you could probably weave that in if you showed a bit more of the MC’s search. Also, I had no idea, really what a chimera looked like in your world. The description didn’t come until toward the end and so I didn’t really know what he was searching for until he’d already found it, even though, obviously, he was dealing with the rest of the pride.

Overall, good action, some good descriptions, I just could’ve used a little more … descriptions, tension and setting. Oh, and I had no idea sorcerers wore jeans! I was totally picturing something Merlin or Albus Dumbledore-esque ;)

Thanks again, Alicia, for braving the group and letting us crit your page! It takes guts! J

Take a look at these other beta perspectives on Alicia's manuscript page:

Kate Hart

Meredith Primeau

Sarah Enni

Cory Jackson

Raven Ashley

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Oh my ... what is that beeping?"

Geek Squad Agent

I apologize for the delay in posting my quote this week, but I'd like to explain. You see, yesterday, my new awesome laptop, Little Greeny, came down with BSOD, aka: Blue Screen of Death. Yes, that is actually the technical term. I've only had Little Greeny for about 3 weeks and I have no idea what happened. As soon as I recognized it was BSOD I called Geek Squad (came with the computer) and about 5 minutes into the convo, this week's quote was uttered. By more than 1 Geek Squad Agent. That quote was followed by:

"You need to take this into the Geek Squad guys asap."

2nd Geek Squad Agent

I had a gee? really? you don't say? moment, but I opted not to say that, as they were being nice to me. I packed up the kidlets and off to Best Buy we were, so Little Greeny could get into the computer hospital. And then I had to leave him there. So ... I am without computer for the time being. So if I'm a little lacking in my normal online-ness activities, I apologize. I am practicing my meditations so that I can stay Zen about the whole situation. Hope everyone else is having a better start to their week than I've had!

"Ohhhmmmmmmm. Ohhhhhmmmmmmm."


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

So it's Friday and what have we discovered I am all about on Friday's? Random stuff. Well, it's a whole week's worth of random stuff, but still. Here we go!

1. I am obsessed with Netflix. The kidlets LOVE it even more than I do, I think. They get to watch loads of PBS and NickToons and other kiddie shows and I finally have a chance to watch shows I've heard lots about without making any real $$ commitment. It totally rocks. Why did we join so late in the game? I really need to listen to the masses more often.

2. When we had our 2nd baby (she's 2 now), we had a friend create adorable birth announcements that were more modern and clean and still had so much character. We loved them. And now Mae's going to be using E's pictures on some of her sample work! So, yay! we've got our very own little baby model in the family. And Mae does tons more stuff than just announcements, go check out her website: Mae Armstrong Designs (and no, she's not paying me advertise :D)

3. 5yo's first week full week of school wraps up with her being the student of the week or whatever in her class. What does this mean for me? Well, because I have tons and tons of time and not a million other things to do, we got to make a poster all about her. I let her pick out a few pictures and tried to make it look all cute and crafty and then she wanted to stick Finding Nemo stickers all over it - so totally didn't go with the stripy-dot theme we had, but whatev. It was her poster. She gets to take a show and tell and a treat to share and basically she's super excited, which is great, but let's just say I haven't had near as much writing time this week as I would've liked.

4. On Thursday was my 3-month post-op checkup. And the verdict? My heart is now "totally perfect." I really think they're just blowing smoke. Just kidding, the docs and nurses have been great, but now we're just waiting for the meds to get out of my system and hopefully that will help with all the other symptoms that have hit. A few more weeks and we'll see, but otherwise, good news.

5. Tomorrow is another writerly fun day! Meeting up with some peeps to hit the Kiersten White Paranormalcy signing at The Kings English in SLC! Come one, come all. Hope to see you all there!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quote of the Week ... with Commentary

It has just occurred to me at 11:46 pm on Monday night that I have not posted a quote for this week. So here's one for you:

"Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another."

Anatole France

Apparently Anatole was a parent to rambunctious children with a full-time day job, AND writing aspirations?? Who woulda thought ...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

I decided to jump on the random stuff Friday. Not that I'm not random most other days of the week, but I figure now I can consolidate it into one once a week post. Yeah? Yeah. So here's this week's Friday's Random 5.

1) A couple weeks ago I colored my hair for the first time in what feels like FOREVER. Since before I had kids. So we did a weave between this wicked red and then a more blendy red. But now I remember why I hated coloring my hair: the maintenance, especially of the red. Red fades. Fast. So now the wicked red? Not so wicked. :( Ah, well, back into see PrettyKateMachine, the cute chicky who does my hair.

2) Sneaky word verifications irk me. Not nearly as much as music on blogs, but still. I type in my comment and hit submit or whatever, think I'm all done and then ta-dah! Just kidding. Verify this word. It's like when you read the first exciting awesome chapter of a book (or an entire book) and get to the end and find out it's all a dream and none of it happened. Suck. Just saying.

3) I've been trying to limit my whiny-ness this week, but I currently have 5 canker sores in my mouth, all over. It hurts. I can't really talk. I can eat even less. I think I've lost about 5 pounds since this whole stupid thing started, and not that that's not a good thing, but I'm HUNGRY! UPDATE: Went to the doctor and I've actually lost 4 lbs, so my guess was pretty good. My mouth still hurts, but they gave me some "magic" mouthwash that is decent, but totally makes my entire mouth tingly numb. But hey, no pain!

4) We had our first experience with non-family babysitter last night. A cute girl, the daughter of one of the guys I work with, and the kidlets LOVED her! They had so much fun and she was so good with them! It was awesome. So glad we found someone, because for a while, I wasn't so sure we'd ever be able to escape the dependence on the family. Not that having them around for support is bad ... it's just, there's some things they just don't "get." Like date nights. Or crit groups. ;)

5) 5yo's first day of Kindergarten was today. I took the day off from work because I remembered how I felt when I dropped her off at pre-school for the first time. But it was all good, because she was excited and I'd already done the leaving at school thing before and I'm actually okay. Unlike the lady in the next car who was sobbing, which I totally expected of myself.

OK, that's it for this week's installment of Random Stuff Friday. This production has been brought to you by the letters K (kindergarten) and E (emotional). And by the number 2 (for 2yo's tantrum to distract me from being emotional when dropping off 5yo).

Have a great holiday weekend for all those in the US and have a great weekend for everyone else!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Writing Hurts

I'm not talking about the physical pain of too long hunched over the computer, the eye strain from staring at words that turn into a jumble of alphabet soup, or the brain fog of sleep deprivation from many sleepless nights of first drafts, word counts and revisions.

When I saw this week's quote I cringed at the truth in it. Well, other than the typewriter thing, it is so totally true.

IMO, that's what makes us all writers, though. We all feel that pain. We're pouring ourselves into these stories we tell, leaving bits of us in the words we choose and characters we create.

What do you think?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quote of the Week

There's nothing to writing. All you do is
sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.

Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lofty Goals and End of Summer

I have been working on a new project (as another one swims through slushpiles) and I'm almost done. Like, so close I can taste it and it tastes a little like cotton candy and funnel cake. ;)

I gave myself a deadline I'd be done in July. Didn't happen. Health complications.

Then had a good long convo with the critmates and specifically my dearest Nichole and we decided that the end of August / end of summer would be a great deadline. Not gonna happen. Why, you ask? Well, firstly, life gets in the way: health/family/kids/school/dayjob. You name it. But also, for me personally anyway, I knew I couldn't finish my wip as it was.

And now, 65K words into a project that I think will end up right around 75k, I am going back to rewrite the whole thing.

Oh, and Nichole and I have committed to finishing our full-on first drafts by September 20-the official "Last Day of Summer." How's that for lofty end of summer goals?

Despite how little time that gives me (about 3 weeks), I know this is possible. Why? #amwriting. It's a hashtag on Twitter that if you use it, you can end up finding lots of other buddies online writing at the same time. While writing is a solitary activity, mostly, I've found I can always count on finding a friend with #amwriting. Nichole and I are usually online together tweeting with it while we write late into the night, but we always inevitably have a few other twittermates come on board to the conversation. It's nice to know you're not alone, even if you're by yourself sitting at your desk typing away. But most of all, it's motivating and that ability to reach out at 1 a.m. for a quick pep talk has been priceless for me! So here I go, into the yonders of rewrites.

Have you got any "I need to do this before summer is really over" sort of goals?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer-itis and Leaky Brain

I've been made of blog fail lately.

No idea what's going on. I think this might be a symptom of summer-itis.

Even if the now-5yo was only going to preschool twice a week, there's a strange comfort in the school year, for me. There's a regimented routine, a schedule everyone all around us follows. With the summer and sunshine and kids going to bed way way waaaaayyyyy past their bedtimes and sleeping in until lunch everyday, it threw me.

5yo starts kindergarten September 3 (yeah, on a Friday, the one before Labor Day, no less, don't ask me why...) I am looking forward to more routine at home.

So while I have been severely remiss in blogging, along with commenting on your blogs, please know, I have been reading them every day. It's just more often then not, by the time I think I have something to add to the conversation, the thought leaks out of my brain.

Summer-itis, I tell you. I'm actually looking forward to the fall. Hopefully my thoughts will stay in my head once autumn begins so that may be actual to lay some stuff down on paper. Wips are a-calling! And maybe the kids will actually go to bed early enough I might be able to get in some writing time at a decent nighttime hour!

Have your kids started school? Have the routines kicked in at your house?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quote of the Week

"I haven't read The Hunger Games."

Windy Aphayrath*

*I do have the book sitting on my desk. It is near the top of my TBR pile, but I have been short on time. Wonder why? See here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Battle of the Betas!

Well, I think that blog title may just be teensy bit misleading. It's just ... look at this:
At this point you're probably wondering what I'm even talking about. Well, a few days ago a call went out, or, should I say, a tweet went out from @Kate_Hart...

How do you beta? Anyone else want to participate in a blog activity w/ me, @ImSarahEnni& @kathleenpeacock?

So now where does that leave us? Well, as part of this little blog activity, we're gonna take a look at how differently everyone's beta style is on the same piece of work. Thanks so much to Sarahfor being brave enough to volunteer her first page for all of us to crit!

This is really something to keep in mind when you're out there looking for crit partners and beta readers. From those of us participating in this little blog experiment, you'll see just how differently our styles are in critting. And because Blogger and Word don't seem to want to talk to each other ... I've had to tweak with how to show my crits:

If Hana Larkhill had her way, her father’s body would be in a sailboat, rope and a flute in his hands, and she would watch him embark one last time toward the unknown at the eternal curve of the earth. [Wow, holy long first sentence… Sugg: cutting it into two?] Instead James Larkhill lay in a sterile metal box at Faraday’s Funeral Home. Someone who did it for a living had caked his face with makeup. [This sentence read awkwardly to me. While it makes sense, it doesn’t flow well as well as it could into the next line. Sugg: combining this with next sentence and determining what is really important to keep.] His delicate freckles were powdered out of existence. An old blue suit bound his body; even the strawberry gold of his curls had faded.

Hana’s mother, Noa Larkhill, hasn’t fought these depressing conventions. But she had insisted on an open casket. James’ [OK, so should this be “James’s?” I’ve seen it both ways showing ownership, but I believe it should be ‘s for singular and s’ for plurals] face and shoulders were in tact and the suit covered his abdomen. But Hana felt the looming specter [while I really like “looming specter,” it makes sentence read a little flower, imo] of his ruined lower body, smashed into irreparable pieces by an anonymous fender. [great visual in this sentence!]

Faraday’s was cold, clean and modern—everything was black or stainless steel. Everything had razor-sharp edges. It was the kind of place that gave Hana the feeling she was being blown through by unseen drafts [LOVE this! Spooky J]. She longed for home. For his family, James had provided [This phrasing takes me out of the moment. If Hana is the narrator, why doesn’t she just talk about the house? All the details given afterwards I really like, but this beginning is distracting. Not sure if this is supposed to be 3rd party omniscient?] a house with a door that shrunk up in the winter and bloated until it wedged in the door frame in the summer, a house with stairs that had predictable creaks and groans, a house that moved around them like a familiar friend.

James’ death three days earlier had crushed Hana underneath deep, prolonged silence. Her mother, whose loudest expression to this point had always been in the strength of her brush strokes on canvas, rocked and wailed.[I’m totally confused by this line. How did her dad’s death crush her under deep silence if her mother was wailing? Was Hana the one completely silent? Or the atmosphere? Does that make sense?] Hana felt like a ghost, alone and unseen [really like this, visual and descriptive! Nice!!], holding her mother’s tiny shaking limbs [is she holding just her mother’s limbs or her mother’s whole body? Sometimes phrasing can be taken too literally and then it just sounds weird. Just saying.] in a room full of people that, at least today, felt like strangers.

Firstly, thanks so much for sharing your work with us, Sarah! I hope you find my feedback useful. Overall, I really like where the story’s going and am definitely interested in the spooky elements that are so clearly hinting at what’s to come! Great job!

Keep in mind, this is just one page of a manuscript, so there may be things out of context and what not. Hopefully, if you're out there looking for a beta/crit partner, this will help remind you that everyone crits a little differently and no matter what, everyone's experience and styles are a bit different. :)

Take a look at these other beta perspectives on Sarah's manuscript page: