Monday, August 27, 2012

On gardening

As we all loaded the car to get to dance class, I checked out my planters by the garage.  "Bell peppers!" I said, "This one is growing bell peppers!" I skipped to the car.  "A bell pepper is growing!"

I sighed and twisted the key in the ignition. I had gardened for years and everything, without fail,ended up brown, wilted, and choking in the hot dry dirt.  Probably because I forgot to water it.  But this time, thanks in part to late summer storms, I had basil, oregano, and a few large green plants complete with a beautiful, budding bell pepper.

"What's it supposed to grow?" asked my nine-year old, his face lighting up.

"Bell peppers," I said, a bit confused by his question.

"Huh," he said, his face falling.  "Aren't pepper plants supposed to grow peppers?  Isn't that the point? I'd be more surprised if it was growing something else.  Like bananas.  Now that would be something to get excited about--a bell pepper plant growing bananas."

Clearly this kid does not understand my accomplishment--that I am not an automatic 007 for gardening as I previously thought.  I guess I will just have to delight in this pepper all by myself (until a squirrel comes along and digs it up, scattering the beautiful plant across the yard including aforementioned bell pepper, and then I will have to write a post about those darn squirrels and how I should invest in an air-soft rifle despite my convictions).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Since I really should be working, but don't feel like it, I thought I'd answer a question that my readers pose a lot.   actually, I've only been asked this once.  But the previous statement is still legitimate because that's about what my readership amounts to!

When do you find time to write?

I thought I'd post my daily schedule to give you an idea.

6:00 AM My alarm goes off (Jon gets out of bed).  This is when I should get up, but instead I relish in my now huge bed.  I stretch my limbs and close my eyes and sleep until it's just not possible any more because Rosie woke up.
7:30-8:00 AM  Wake up.  Eat Breakfast.  Read Scriptures.  Feed Rosie.  Do Dishes...blah, blah, blah
10:00 AM Chores in immediate need of attendance are done! Yeah!  Open computer and stare at page.
10:05 AM   Yup.  Still staring at page, so I check Facebook, email, and the bank to make sure I still have money to buy groceries.  Yup.  Still do.  Good.  I really like to eat.
10:30 AM  Wow!  I hadn't meant to waste that much time.  Better get to work.  But first I need a song to inspire me.
10:40 AM  Okay.  Perfect.  I'm in a rhythm.  Who-hoo!  100 words and they're flowing.
10:45 AM   Rosie needs  a drink.
10:50 AM   15 words later and Rosie needs a snack.
11:00 AM    Hayden screams, "WHEN'S LUNCH!!!!  COME FEED ME LUNCH!!!!!"  I sigh, and go give her a little bag of carrots or a gogurt.  Lunch isn't for an hour!
11:05 AM   Writing Again
11:10 AM    Rosie needs lunch, so I feed her lunch and check Facebook again while I feed her yogurt.
11:20 AM    Writing
11:25 AM    All the kids are whining.  I give up.  Lunch for all.
12:00  PM   Rosie goes down for a nap.  Suddenly I realize I am still in my PJ's.  Take a quick shower and get dressed.
12:30  PM   Write!!!! Write!!!!  Write!!!! Things look good until...
2:00    PM    I've finished the chapter, but don't have a good hook to start the next.  Time for Facebook and email and the blue boards (an online community for writer's.)
2:20   PM     I have an idea!  Write three sentences then Rosie wakes up screaming.
3:00   PM     Snack for Rosie and the rest of the kids.
3:30-5:00 PM  Pool Time!!!!!
5:15-6:30 Circulate between cooking dinner, comforting Rosie, and breaking up arguments.
7:00  Jon comes home!  Yeah!  I do dishes, change into my PJ's again (don't judge me) and get to work.
10:00 PM After a good three hours of hopefully uninterrupted writing, I can finally go to sleep.  Except I can't sleep because all I can think about is how that first kiss is going to come about when I write the next chapter tomorrow.

If you are wondering when I do the rest of my chores, I can answer that for you in two easy words...I don't!, I do not live in filth.  In fact, I have a hard time working if things are not cleaned and vacuumed, and more than anything in this world I hate a smelly bathroom or unsanitary kitchen counters.  That's why I married Jon, so he could do it all for me.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

You can't judge a book by its cover.

So not true, according to my son.  He said, "You know why people don't like most books?"

"Cause the story is bad, or it doesn't make sense?"

"No," Matthew said,  "It's cause the cover is stupid.  So you just need to get a good cover and people will like it and want to read it."

So maybe something like this will draw a couple of readers?

Maybe this for Awakened?

Or this for Radiance?

Sorry, I can't get the art to post, so please click on the links and see Claudia's gorgeous work!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I often (okay, never) get asked what I do when I'm not writing.  
This quilt is an example.  I finished it between drafts of Awakened.  I titled it "Mary, Mary" after my daughter, Hayden, who is quite contrary.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My manuscript

Have you ever wondered what a 400 page manuscript looks like printed?  

Now you don't have to wonder!  It's awesome, isn't it?  And it weighs ten-thousand pounds.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Taylor Swift - Fifteen

I heard this on the radio earlier today and it's inspired me to open an old manuscript that's been hanging around on my computer for a while.  I hadn't opened it for a year, maybe.

I can't wait to put the kids to bed so I can finally work.  Too bad its only five o'clock.

Monday, August 6, 2012

So the question...

So my manuscript is pretty good.  Actually, it's beautiful.  Not perfect, but with a little help from my readers, it will be really good.  However, I wrote a query and sent it off to an agent that I think will love it. I only sent it to one because I wanted to test the query letter.  The query was rejected. I rewrote it, because I highly suspected that's why they didn't want any chapters.  However, I want to send my new query to the same agent.  Honestly, the new query is fabulous in comparison and makes it seem like a totally different book, though it is the exact same thing.  I can't believe I ever sent the first one (well tenth one) anyway now that I have a much better one.  Live and learn, I guess.

So here's the deal...Can I re-query the same agent with my new and much improved letter?  Or do I suffer for my mishap and try other agents on my list?  I know I will likely have to query dozens of agents anyway.  Actually, I plan on it. (I'm not delusional.) But I like this one and think she will do a good job representing.  I don't want to break any unwritten rules either.



Thursday, July 12, 2012

July Rain Song

In honor of the rain that favorite poem by Langston Hughes.

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain. 
Langston Hughes
Now I just need a good book, a cup of soup, and maybe some hot chocolate.  I love the rain!

Friday, June 29, 2012

I lost my love for reading.  Not now, but years ago.  After so many years of reading what people told me to read I started to get a little jaded.  I was sick of talking rabbits and men who took potions that made them crazy, and it seemed that all the contemporary books I got for Christmas were fun, but the magic didn't last. So, sadly, I read only what I was required.

And then, one day, I sat at the Harold B. Lee Library at a little desk against a window.  I was too tired to study my zoology anymore and I definitely didn't want to work on my geology paper, so I threw everything aside and took a chance.  I was in the general fiction area and I randomly chose a Steinbeck novel, purely because the "S's" were so close to me.  The book I selected was Cannery Row (probably because it was short).  I laughed aloud for the first time in ages.  I read it quickly and chose another of his works, then as I finished that, I chose another, then another, before long I had read just about everything Steinbeck had written.  From there I moved on to other authors and actually changed my major from biology to journalism because I realized I couldn't get along without reading or writing about my world.

I owe just about everything I love to John Steinbeck.  In fact, I think I married my husband just because he's from Steinbeck country.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Desire to Communicate

The other day I took my one year old daughter, Rosie, with me to run errands.  The black top steamed and the Texas air was thick with humidity.  Rosie cried and squirmed in my arms.

"Settle down, Rose Pose," I said, "We're almost ready to go home.  Just one more store and then we're through."

She yelled bloody murder.  

"Calm down," I said.

She scrunched her nose and frowned.  Then she blew-as if she was blowing out her birthday candle-onto my cheek.  Or as if I was blowing onto her hot bowl of oatmeal at breakfast.  ("Hot! Hot!" Blow.  Blow.  Is how it usually goes.)  Finally it dawned on me, poor little Rosie was hot.  

"Oh, you're hot?" I asked.

She smiled.

"Me, too, baby girl," I said and kissed her cheeks.  I reached into my purse and pulled out her sippy cup.

"Mmm," she said, kicking her chubby little feet and letting me know that water was just what she needed to cool down (and the ice cold air-conditioning in Target helped, too. I'm sure.)

Just like a baby struggling to tell me she is hot. I struggle to communicate through my stories.  Questions go through my mind as I rewrite, "What was I really trying to say here?"  and sometimes I just say, "Huh?!"  Especially when I find a half written paragraph to nowhere.  But each time I rewrite I get closer to what I really want to say.

From our first cries that say "LEAVE ME ALONE!" to our final words as we die, everybody desires to communicate.  Everybody wants to be understood.

I'm rewriting now, so don't talk to me.  Leave me alone.  I'm trying to communicate. :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

I just finished my third, and almost final, draft of my new novel.  It feels good.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rules of Living #30981

You're feeling a little put out, so you want to get a little snippy in an email--just to show 'em.  Put him in his place, so to speak.

Don't do it.  I repeat.  Don't do it!!!!  You will spend the night worrying and wondering how you were going to approach the correspondent.  You will lose precious hours of sleep and wake with large bags under your eyes.  You will have to apologize.  This means admitting you were wrong.  This is difficult, especially when you are never wrong, so don't have much practice in the area.

So don't do it!  Just be kind.  Always.

That's all I have to say on the subject.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Are you Furreal?

I never grew up with pets.  My mom was "allergic" and my dad didn't want us to cry when it died as they all ultimately do.  So because of limited exposure as a child, I'm not too fond of animals.  Besides, I have enough poop and pee to clean up without an animal in the mix.  But, like all children, my kids beg for furry friends.  Rosie pants when the neighbors German Shepard strolls by and the others love, cuddle, hug every animal that will let them.  Jonny tugs at my heartstrings when he bats his puppy dog eyes and says, "I'd be much happier with a dog to love.  Every boy should have a dog."

We all know I'm a pushover and can't stand my ground. So meet the newest member of our family.  Her name is Kitty and she purrs when you rub her back.  She is especially happy when Hayden combs her fur.  The best part about our pet is that she doesn't eat which means no excrement to clean up.  The kids love our new pet!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Samurai Time

"The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction.  By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say."  Mark Twain

For me, editing is the most exciting part of writing.  This is when a decent manuscript becomes good.  The characters become dimensional and theme emerges.

I have read through Awakened (my working title) at least ten times not including the dozens of times I have read through each individual section.  I did a final read through.  I called it done...for now.  I set it aside, there was a wedding and then a cruise.  I needed to finish Hayden's quilt.  Weeks went by and I was content with my second draft.

Cruise finished and quilt bound, I found some time to edit. I pulled out my (proverbially) dusty manuscript for some minor editing and fact checking.  After two hours I had only managed twenty-six pages.  The next morning was spent on the same twenty-six pages.  I moved forward but meandered back to the beginning again.  And heaven help me, those are the best twenty-six pages in the whole novel and I fully expect to go back to them to make them even better.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Editing tip #1

If it bores you, it's going to bore the readers.  Don't be afraid to cut.  Cut. Cut. Cut.  Use that little scissor icon to your heart's content.

If you are so deeply attached to a bit of writing that you don't want to get rid of it, open a new file and paste it in there.  You can delete that file later when you realize it really was that boring.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

You wanna know a little about me?  This says it all...well, it says a little.

"Mom, can I play a video game?" my five year old asks, batting her eyelashes.  She knows this is not allowed.  Not this week anyway.  This week my husband had a fabulous idea--one week without video games, one week scorning television, and one week only taking peeks at Facebook.  But the rules can slide.  I know.  She knows.  Everybody knows that Mom is not one who plays by the rules.  "Just one tiny one." She adds.  "Just ten minutes."

"No,"  I say with a sigh.  I should support Jon in this endeavor to give up screens for a week even if it makes my life harder.  Even if it means entertaining a five year old all afternoon.  Even if it means neglecting my writing.  "Daddy said no.  Remember?"

"But can't we just not tell him?"

My breath stops.  This is a perfect idea!  We could have lots of fun! Her playing!  Me writing my next chapter!  Oh, who am I kidding?  Me reading that new regency romance I synced to my Kindle!  What a perfect way to spend an afternoon!  But my conscience stops me.  "Hayden," I say, putting on my most grave mom face and seeing the bliss slip from my grasp, "that would be lying.  Sorry, hon, no computer."

I look at my Kindle being chewed on by the baby.  My laptop sits lifeless on my desk.  I sigh longingly. "Hayden," I say, "Go get a book.  I'll teach you how to read."