Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A New Book for your 2012 Reading List

It's so exciting when a fellow writer and blogger gets a book deal, and I'm a big fan of Corrine Jackson's blog. So when she invited her followers to help reveal her new book cover and summary, I jumped at the chance. *drumroll please*

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

Sounds awesome, right? Now, the book is due out August 28th, so my baby's age will be... Ack! Don't want to think about it! Still dealing with the idea that he's passed his first birthday!

^_^ Anyways, congrats Corrine and happy reading everyone, in 2011 and the upcoming new year!

Friday, December 16, 2011

My WIP is Not a Backup Plan

I decided to postpone/combine my weekly blog post with Friday Favorites this week. One, because it's relevant, and two, because between the baby's birthday and subsequent ear infection, my hands have been a bit full.

Now, I've been reading a lot of blogs lately talking about the waiting game. Maybe they've been this prevalent in the blogosphere all along and I'm just now noticing. Anyway, I'm there now, and reading a huge amount of advice about how to deal.

1. Take comfort in numbers without publicly accusing agents of taking unprecedented joy in torturing you.
2. Cry if you need to.
3. Rediscover love of writing through working on a new book. (To be fair, all three posts say that, but this one pushed it for me.)

I keep reading, "write a new book," but here's the problem. I'm treating my current WIP like a backup. It's close enough to the end that I can see the finished product, but I'm getting frustrated with the fact that it's not what I envision yet. I just want to finish it and send it out there, even though I know that's months (at best) from happening, not weeks. Most especially, I don't want to be caught "back at square one," where I've got no offer, no material under consideration, and no queries out. As if that would somehow prove that writing my last novel was a completely pointless endeavor.

So I'm taking "start a new book" more literally.

Current WIP was a NaNo novel in its first form. I rewrote it almost completely, but I knew I wanted the ending to be very similar. So today I'm yanking out the NaNo ending, slapping it on, and telling myself, "There, you see? You finished that draft. Now you are authorly-obligated to ignore its existence for two weeks before you come back to fix it. Now you may work on something new."

I have a new novel that I thought I might do for NaNo 2011, and I'm now very glad I didn't. It's got less than 1000 words and I've haven't a clue where the plot is going, and I love it. I need to fall back in love with writing again. Merry Christmas, me. I give you the gift of forgetting queries exist.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Guest Post from Krista V. at Mother. Write. (Repeat.)

I'm excited to present our first guest post by Krista V. of Mother. Write. (Repeat.), who's been kind enough to share her own Letter to Baby:

Dear I-gots,

You probably don’t know this, but I started writing when I wasn’t much older than you are now. I loved creating characters and storylines, but most of all, I loved putting words on paper, writing and rewriting and rewriting every sentence until it absolutely shined. I finished my first full-length novel when I was twelve and my second when I was eighteen. (I started many, many others, but that’s beside the point.) Writing was my hobby, but more than that, it was my passion.

Then I went to college, and all my writing time dried up. Of course, even if I’d had the time, I doubt I would have had the brainpower. Proofs and prose don’t really mix. I never intended to stop writing; it just sort of happened. And when I finally graduated and started my first full-time job, I didn’t even think to pick it up again.

Not long after I started teaching, a miracle occurred: Your dad and I found out that I was pregnant. With you. We’d hoped and prayed for a baby for more than two long years, so we were thrilled to discover that you were on the way. You were born about a week after the school year ended. I promptly quit my full-time job so I could be your full-time mom.

Those first few months were rough, but then things settled down. You adjusted to this thing called life and turned into a sleeping champion. All of a sudden, I had more time than I knew what to do with—and I also had an idea for a new book.

I never intended to stop writing, and I never meant to start again. But I needed something to fill my afternoons and early mornings. Writing filled the bill. After my five-year hiatus, I was pretty rusty, but it didn’t take long for the words to trickle back into my brain and out through my fingertips. Now, four years and four manuscripts later, I can’t imagine life without them—or without you.

So thank you, my sweet boy, for giving me back my words. Thank you for sleeping when you probably should have been screaming. And thank you for giving me something to write about. I only hope that I can help you develop your talents someday as thoroughly as you’ve helped me develop mine.

With much love and affection,

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Holidays. Literally.

The holiday season (and by this I mean, all days between Thanksgiving and January 2nd) is an exciting time for JT. Between all our extended family, he's going to celebrate (and receive gifts on) Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's, and his birthday (which probably will be a major holiday in his mind for at least the next decade.) So for JT, "happy holidays" is less a matter of being politically correct, and more a shortened form of "Happy Birthday-Christmas-New-Year-Hanukkah!"

This got me to thinking about how we wish each other greetings this season. Most people know I'm Christian. (If you didn't, there's your new fact for the day.) I celebrate Christmas because I remember my Savior was born as a baby person, and after this year, I'm even more amazed at how big a sacrifice that was. It brings me happiness and I wish that happiness on other people. I like to be holiday-specific when I can, but sometimes I goof up.

All that to say, I want to get to know people better this season. If you celebrate Christmas, I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas. If you celebrate Hanukkah, I'd like to wish you Happy Hanukkah during the actual holiday, and not two weeks after it ended. (Though Hanukkah falls almost right over Christmas and Kwanzaa this year, so that's probably not as big a concern as it was last year.) If you literally celebrate "happy holidays," I want to wish you that too.

And if I goof and thought you celebrated a holiday that you didn't, please just correct me and don't be mad at me for too long. I'd much rather get to know you better than wish you a generic greeting.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Parents Say the Dardest Things

We don't have any funny kid quotes yet, but as new parents we've said some amusing things now and again. Here's a recent one:

Other Half: Come look at JT!
(I come in. JT is standing in the crib, looking very proud of himself. Although this is a semi-new thing, he's stood on his own before.)
Me: Oh, he's standing again. Yea for JT!
Other Half: No, not that. What is he missing?
(After thinking for a moment, I realize that JT is not wearing pants.)
Me: Wait, did you change his diaper already?
Other Half: No, I did not.
(JT grins.)

By the way, I know God was merciful to me that morning, because although JT did manage to remove his socks and pants, his diaper was still intact. And while I did get some writing time that might've otherwise been taken up by cleaning a huge mess, I can't say I learned anything particular about the craft from this incident.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Specials For Writers

Every Black Friday, you need all kinds of specials: 50%, 75%, ect. But really, the best deal is something cool you get for free, right? So for Friday Favorites, here's a list of especially awesome (and free) writerly resources:

Verla Kay Message Boards: Most people know about Absolute Write Water Cooler, which is also a great place to get writing support and swap critiques, but Verla Kay was unknown to me until a fellow YA writer pointed it out. If you write children's fiction, this is a great place to hang out and get advice.

Query Shark: Can't list writerly online gemstones without mentioning Query Shark. Getting your query in is tricky, but if you do, you either must've done something right or at least went creatively wrong.

The Character Therapist: This was a recent find for me. Jeannie Campbell sits characters down and talks over their issues. One of my characters went through it and the novel got some big changes afterwards.

Like I said, these are some of my favorites, but I'd love to learn about other gems of the writerly world out there. Feel free to share.

And a happy belated Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crawling? Nah, Let's Run a Marathon!

JT thinks crawling is a waste of time and effort. If you put him on his tummy, he might make a nudge forward, but mostly he'll wail about the horrible view from the floor. He wants someone to pick him up and hold his hands so he can waddle around with all the grace of a drunk person while leaning on them. He doesn't get the fact that while he could crawl unassisted to get where he needs to go, walking, really walking, isn't as easy as it looks.

Now, I happen to think my baby's drunk-like walking is adorable, so I'm not about to discourage it. But I do wonder what his reaction will be when he finally realizes, "Hey! I could, like, go to that corner. Without Mommy's help or permission! Crawling rocks!"

What I've learned about writing:
I confess, the waiting game has been driving me to the brink of insanity. I've put all this work into my novel and now I'm thinking, "Well, why shouldn't I get an agent? I worked really hard. And it's really good! Where's my publishing contract, dang it?"

Today I stopped and reflected a bit more. This manuscript was the first time I really edited a novel. Not surface editing, but really ripped the guts out of the thing and put it back together. It's the only novel I've written (and I've won NaNoWriMo 7 years in a row) that I feel comfortable putting in front of agents. Which isn't the same thing as earning agented status. I was crawling, I think I'm walking, but for all I know, I'm still stumbling around, and at some point I have to face the fact that it might take several more tries before I'm walking in earnest.

Now excuse me while I go check me e-mail for any offers of representation. :P

Monday, November 14, 2011

Baby's First Temper Tantrum

A few days ago, JT was playing with a tambourine. We had to leave to go somewhere, so we simply removed the tambourine from his hand. Up until now, such an action would've had little effect other than making him mildly confused. But no, he has object object permanence now. He understands that the tambourine was in his hand, and it was fun, and now Mommy and Daddy have done something to make the fun thing no longer in his hand.

He pitched a fit. I felt kind of bad when I smirked at seeing him cry, but I'd never seen him throw an all-out temper tantrum over a toy before. About being passed into the arms of someone who is not me, yes. But not over a toy. (Does this mean I'm on the same level as toys now? When do toys overtake me in importance? Did that happen already and I missed it?)

We did the thing we probably shouldn't have done and let him take the tambourine with him into the car. (Where it still is, I'm pretty sure.) I think the only thing I got out of this was massive relief that we cured him of his pacifier addiction a few months ago. (Quit the pacifier by six months old = best baby advice ever.)

What I Learned About Writing: It's not unusual for other characters to react in ways the protagonist never expected. This can happen if they gained new information. Whereas they might've seen the protagonist as a friendly entity before, this new information could paint the protagonist in a negative light for them. And that protagonist had better hand the tambourine back pronto before the character in question calls grandma.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Baby Products and the Lies They Print

There's a scene in Charlotte's Web where the insightful spider says that people will believe anything they see in print. (Which means that when you read my sci-fi manuscript, none of the technological contradictions should bother you.) But I don't think she took into account the print on baby products.

He learned how to spray purred food out of his mouth and continued to do so throughout dinner while wearing a bib that said, "Mommy Loves Me." (I guess Mommy needed a reminder while wiping pureed squash from her shirt?)

While in a fit of overtired bawling, he wore a shirt that asked, "Could I be any cuter?" Yes, JT, you could, in this case, be a lot cuter.

I think the one that people have pointed out the untruthfulness of the most has been his onesie that says, "Rough & Tough," which he's frequently seen wearing while he's being oversensitive about everything. (Granted, he's teething, but that's besides the point.)

There is one printed baby item he's stayed true to, though. When I took him to Bible study, there were a couple preschool-aged girls there who couldn't stop cooing over him. The pacifier in his mouth read, "Chicks Dig Me."

Curiosity compels me -- anyone else have these "print lies"/"print is surprisingly accurate" moments with your baby?

What I Learned About Writing: When all else fails to set the scene's mood correctly, have the character's thoughts and feelings printed and displayed prominently in the room. If nothing else, it'll make you think through the character's thoughts and feelings.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Baby's First Halloween: A Photo Story

This is the costume the baby will wear.

This is the night that we'll use the costume that the baby will wear.

This is the snow that fell on the night that we'll use the costume that the baby will wear.

This is the mommy that cleaned off the snow that fell on the night that we'll use the costume that the baby will wear.

This is the baby who's held by the mommy that cleaned off the snow that fell on the night that we'll use the costume that the baby will wear.

This is companion cube. (For the benefit of non-gamers reading this blog)

The end!

Now go get some sleep! NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Request for Guest Posts

I realize that writing up a request for guest posts after I had a long hiatus is odd, but it's something I've been meaning to do for a while. Now, like all parents, I know that my child is the most wonderful kid in the world. But I remain humble and open to the idea that readers might want to hear from the parents of other most wonderful kids in the world. I also realize that I don't actually know anything about parenting a kid older than ten months. (And even under ten months, it's highly questionable.)

Specifically, I'd love to showcase any of the following:

1) Letters to Baby: Anything you wrote for your children, be it a letter, a poem, the lyrics to his/her personal rock song, ect. Can be sentimental or silly.

2) Parental Wisdom: Do you brainstorm plot twists while changing diapers? Do you name your characters after your kid's imaginary friend? Share your ideas on how to get the creative juices flowing without ignoring the kids or refusing to sleep.

3) Kids' Writing: What sorts of creative writing activities do you do with your kids? How do you help feed their imaginations? This is something I would love to feature on this blog, but as my child does not yet communicate, it's a bit hard.

By the way, the age of your "baby" is totally irrelevant. If you want to write about how your 50-year-old son inspires you, that's fine by me. As for word count, I'd prefer if posts stay somewhere between 200 and 400 words, but I won't bite your head off for submitting something a bit outside that. (Nor am I sure how one goes about biting someone's head off through the internet.)

Okay, I think that's it. If you're feeling generous with your time, you can e-mail me me your submissions, or feel free to share any comments or questions.

Thanks so much everyone!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Seriousness and the Getting Thereof

One of the reasons I took the hiatus was because I got a bit obsessive over finishing that final edit. It is done, the queries are out, and honestly, I couldn't be happier to have that behind me.

A quick glance back at my writing timeline will show that there's a point where I decided I was serious about getting published. That it wasn't something I was going to dream about, but actively pursue. In fact, after I made this decision, I actually got irritated at people who talked about publishing a novel in a whimsical sort of way, but clearly weren't thinking of it as a real endeavor.

Then it hit me that this could apply to anything. I could dream about about having an awesome blog, but I'm not serious unless I sit down and work at it. I could dream about having quiet time every day where I read my Bible and chat with God or I could get serious and actually do that instead of obsessively checking my e-mail. I could dream about all these wonderful things the baby and I could do together, or I could actually work them into our schedule.

At some point, I have to decide that I'm more serious about some things than others, because there's only so much time in a day. And right now, even though I am working on a new novel, writing takes a back seat to several other, more important things. Because if there's one thing I never want this blog to be, it's an advice column about how to avoid your kid (or anything else that's important in life) so you can write a novel.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Quiet Time

Thoughts and prayers with the family of L.A. Banks. :(

Also, huge apologies for the complete lack of updates that happened to follow for two months after this. I'd say it'll never happen again but that's like saying I'll never type blog posts at 3am again.

I will, however, be working very hard over the next few weeks to make this extremely unlikely to happen again.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Writing Timeline

I got involved in a really intriguing conversation over at Absolute Write, mostly about at what stage a manuscript is done. It got me thinking about the writing journey -- how far I've got to go, but also how far I've been.

I've just been through a year and a half of editing a story I felt sure was done. Heck, I had a partial and two full requests. But full requests are not my goal. A commercially published novel is my goal. I haven't queried anyone in over a year (and it's been maddening, let me tell you), because I don't have what I'm offering in the query -- a manuscript that's as perfect and polished as I have the ability to make it.

This is pretty much all I've been thinking about, writing-wise. But, on the other hand, I've done a lot to even get this far. Here's my "writing timeline":

I wrote my first novel* 18 years ago.
I decided I wanted to get published 13 years ago.
I decided I was serious about that 4 years ago.

And the past four years is where I've seen the massive improvement. Because as much as I've loved making up stories for the past 18 years, I didn't read much, I didn't write anything that challenged me, and I put zero effort into learning how the publishing industry worked. (Anyone who knows what a query is can call themselves way ahead of where I was.)

And now, with a little reversal of my usual pattern, here's what I learned about parenting: It's going to a be a journey. This time last year it was all anticipation and morning sickness. This time next year, I have no clue. But I'm looking forward to the journey.

*More like a novella, really. But it was a novel to me then.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Yes, Sweetheart, You Can Go Outside and Infringe Copyrights

Dear TJ, if you want to go outside and pretend you're Batman, go for it. (When you're old enough to engage in imaginary play and you actually know who Batman is.) I, for one, am not going to turn you in for copyright infringement. And, incidentally, no, I don't think you're wasting your time.

Every once in a while when I'm browsing online (read: can't sleep at 3am), I run across a fanfiction debate. Is it good? Bad? Legal? Immoral? And in all honestly, I don't get the big fuss.

I should confess, the second story I sold was, for all effective purposes, a Bible fanfic. (It was a short piece about Jesus as a nine-year-old.) But I've also written fanfics for stuff I couldn't sell -- contemporary books, anime, American TV, and video games. Why? Because I couldn't sell it.

Right now, I'm writing to get published. If I think something has publishing potential, I approach it slower. Post-Clarion West, I'm a lot more picky about the words I select. I don't have the massive write-first-fix-later frenzies I had pre-Clarion West. Now, I think my stories are coming out a lot better because of it. But, let's face it, writing frenzies are fun.

That's what I use fanfics for right now. Because they have no potential for publication, I can go into a writing frenzy all I want. I don't have to care all the things that slow me down when I'm writing it to be publishable. It's a totally different experience. I don't do it often, maybe once every other month, but I do it.

Do I think that aspiring writers still need to write original stuff? Well, yeah, if you want to make a career out of something, you have to practice. But I think you need to write for fun too, and if fanfics are your way of doing that, then go for it. (Exception: Your fanfic indicates a need for its author to see a mental health professional. In that case, stop writing it and go see a mental health professional.)

Besides, what exactly were we doing as kids when we were pretending to be Batman, and The Little Mermaid, and whoever else? We could've pretended to be teachers, or vets, or something we could actually aspire to when we got older. Because pretending you're Batman is fun. And sometimes, as kids and adults, we need more of that.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Up at Night 2: Up at Night Returns

I seem to be delaying my blog posts one day at a time... ah, well. For part 1 of this epic adventure, see My Baby is Cunning and Manipulative.

So, the baby is keeping me up at night again. No, not crying. For the most part, he's moved past that stage. Or at least past the stage where he does it regularly. The little guy is now waking me up in the middle of the night giggling and talking to himself (or his mobile, it's unclear which.)

My guess is that the inciting incident (yeah, see that writing lingo there?) was the removal of the swaddling blanket. He was really getting too old for it and he just didn't seem to like it as much as he used to. But now he's got these things called arms that are no longer snug against his side and he isn't sure quite what to do with them. (Why his choice would be rub them all over his face and wake himself, I'm not sure, but that usually what he does.)

I am glad he's not wailing, but this is just so dang cute I can't sleep through it. Our best defense seems to be keeping him awake in the evening hours before bed. Sadly, this means interrupting his afternoon nap if it starts to run too long. But you do what you have to, right? (Insert me resisting a bad pun here.)

What I Learned About Writing: Why settle for the expected? Really, if something's going to go wrong, have it go wrong in an unexpected way. Your MC didn't oversleep because she was out partying. She overslept because she had friends visiting from Australia, and so she didn't want to be rude and tell them to go to bed when they felt like it was noon, so she stayed up until they felt like it was time for bed. Also, her baby was up giggling and talking to himself.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Up and Down

Belated Happy Fourth of July. (JT slept pretty well last night, I thought local fireworks might disturb him. Turned out the only thing that woke him up was the fact that we decided to watch The Dark Knight after he went to bed.)

On an unrelated note, something has been on my mind lately, and I wanted to get it out. I'm subscribed to a number of agents' blogs, so naturally, I read a lot of success stories. And depending on my mood, I can read them very differently.

Some days I'm down. I don't want to hear about how awesome everyone else is doing. I don't want to read about every step that this author took to get that book in his/her hands, because it's only reiterating how many steps behind I am.

Some days I'm up. I'm thrilled to read a success story, because it confirms what I already know: you don't have to be famous, or be the editor's niece, or be printed in the New Yorker before you can sell a novel. You just have to write a good book. I love reading how wonderful Client X's revision of a manuscript is, because it motivates me to make sure my revision is worth reading.

So I guess the gist of this post is that if you're having a down day, don't worry, I've had plenty too. (Especially lately when my manuscript is out with beta-readers, so there's nothing I can do except wait.) Bookmark the success stories for your up days. Go get some chocolate. Play with your kid. Watch a movie (just don't wake the kid up.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

My baby is cunning and manipulative

I was so happy when the baby started having regular naps. I thought, finally, I will get some writing time. I will know what time of day to expect it. I may not know the length, but at least I know that at approximately X time each day, I will be able to write a bit. Or do the dishes. Depends on how selfish I feel at the time.

Then I realized that I was really bad at letting the baby cry it out. I kept listening to him wail in there and thought, "Maybe he's just not emotionally mature enough to self-soothe yet. I should go in and cuddle him."

Well, JT has slipped up. In three ways, actually:

1. Three times in one day, after my other half or I were just about ready to give in and either end the nap attempt or rock him to sleep, he did it. Fell asleep all on his on. I know he *can* do it.

2. He figured out that if his pacifier falls out, I will generally come to put it back in. So he spits it out. Or tries. He hasn't mastered the skill yet, so sometimes he sits there with the pacifier in his mouth making a, "bwww, bwww, bwww," sound, which is kinda hilarious.

3. During one nap, he was protesting in his crib with a masterful heart-wrenching cry. I broke down and went in, and instantly the tears were gone, replaced with a huge grin. Proof positive that my baby was neither inconsolable nor traumatized, but merely plotting the most effective means to get a cuddle.

So, there you go. My baby can self-soothe, and what's more, he will concoct elaborate plots to convince me that he can't. I know to seasoned parents, this sounds like a no-brainer. Heck, when I was baby-sitting, it was a no-brainer. It's weird forcing myself to remember that even though JT does not speak yet, he is an intelligent little guy.

Well, little JT, the game is on! Don't think you can outsmart me. I know how to English!

What I Learned About Writing: The antagonist is always plotting. Always. Even when the hero is not looking, the antagonist is plotting. When the hero is looking, the antagonist will make the hero think he is not plotting. All the antagonist really wants is a good cuddle.

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Father's Day

I was actually good this Father's Day! I went and pre-ordered the present from the book order at preschool. It was a book called "My Daddy and Me" that you could put a little photo into. I also helped JT make a pencil holder out of one of his formula cans. (And by help, I mean I stopped him from poking himself in the face with a paintbrush.) Still, it was not without its challenges. I kept trying to put everything together at Grandma's house, because JT doesn't really paint except for making presents, so the brushes out were kind of a giveaway.)

What I Learned About Writing: It's good to plan ahead of time. You have to plan at least a little bit. Maybe not write every detail, but if you completely wing it, you'll probably have a lot of fixing to do later. Also, if you're trying to keep your novel a secret from the person living with you, that will make writing it a lot more difficult.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Broke Down

JT is on the formula. Yes, the super-expensive formula I was so happy I didn’t have to buy in my last post. At least I saved myself a few weeks. (And yes, it was several weeks between when I composed that last post and when I composed this one. Writing stuff ahead of time resulted in weird timing.)

This had nothing to do with my impatience for diet changes (though I did order a 4-cheese pizza shortly afterwards.) Although JT’s test results were starting to look a bit better, he had another tummy-related crying fit. I have no idea what I ate or where I slipped, but I just plain got tired of seeing my baby hurting despite all my best efforts. It just wasn’t worth it. If there’s an allergy there, I’d rather discover it when he’s eating single ingredient foods so I can say, “Oh, look, this specific thing seems to be causing an issue. Let’s take it out.” For those of you who breastfeed your babies up to the one year mark, you are my personal heroines for your perseverance.

Just to end on a light note though, we had an interesting situation while JT was still on the breastmilk -- my other half had his wisdom teeth taken out. So we somehow had to figure out how to concoct meals that were soft, not too hot, free of dairy, and free of soy.

…yes, it’s sorbet for dinner!

(Okay, in reality we just had separate meals, but sorbet is still awesome.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

In Which I am Hit with the Goliath Warhammer of Reality

Doing something a little different with my "Friday Favorites" this week. (Which, by the way, I think I'm just going to keep on Saturdays and retain the title as a protest to society.)

I'm currently in heavy revision mode. I'd already changed the whole tone of the novel months ago, but many of the events had stayed intact, just with the MC viewing things in a much different light. (Basically, I added an emotional arc.) Now the events themselves are changing. Characters who got along great with my MC are fighting her. Antagonists who left her alone until almost the end are harassing her. My protagonist is protaging. (Credit to one of my Clarion West classmates for that phrase.)

I think, "Wow, go me. These are massive changes, I've never done such serious revisions to a novel before." Then along comes this awesome post from Adventures in Agentland. In a nutshell, it reads, Newsflash: I'm not doing anything special. This is how revision is supposed to work. Everything I called revision before was at best minor tweaking, a baby step above changing character names and correcting spelling errors.

One of the other things I've got to get in shape is the setting. My beta-reader told me that one of the major settings of the book doesn't feel like a real place, mostly because I've done such bare-minimum description of it. Enter the awesomenesses that are Scrivener and The Bookshelf Muse. Bookshelf Muse has a whole series of posts that take a setting and list every possible thing you could see, hear, smell, feel, or taste in it. Scrivener lets you import webpages directly into your research section. So now I can reference these insanely helpful pages without bouncing back and forth between programs. (As it turns out, there's tons of details about my setting I'm not using nearly as well as I could, another dose of reality there.)

So, there you go, a long-winded way of sharing three sites that have really helped me get through the editing this week. I won't have a whole blog post centered around my Friday Favorites every week, but it was a fun diversion. Now, back to (real) editing!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Breastfeeding is awesome… because I’m a cheapskate

A few weeks ago, little JT started to have some pretty loose stools. So we send a little sample to the doctor, who calls back and tells us that he could be having trouble with cow’s milk, and I need to cut dairy from my diet.
Two weeks later, the issue hadn’t improved. Out goes another sample. Now doctor suspects his little tummy isn’t too happy with soy either. (Which, of course, I’ve been consuming in huge amounts to replace the milk.)

Naturally, our first question is, “What the heck would be feeding him if he was formula fed?” Turns out there are formulas out there designed for babies intolerant of both milk and soy. Also turns out they’re 50% more expensive than the regular stuff. (As if formula was cheap to begin with.) We continue with the breastmilk, and I make a generous donation to our church’s food drive when I clear the pantry of all the stuff that has milk or soy in it.

A few days into my dairy-free, soy-free diet, little JT finally seems to be improving. (He’s still cranky at times, I suspect because he’s thoroughly exhausted from his inability to sleep long periods the past couple weeks.) And suddenly a change in diet seems like no big deal. We have to cook everything at home now (something that we really needed to do more of anyway) and invest some time reading labels at the store, but if baby is feeling better, I’m happy.

I’m also happy that I didn’t give up breastfeeding a month ago like I so desperately wanted to do. Yeah, yeah, it’s got tons of health benefits for mommies and babies, no new mother leaves the hospital without hearing that a million times. But it’s nice to see the immediate (money-saving!) benefits too.

The biggest question is -- what do I buy myself as a writing reward if not chocolate??

Monday, May 23, 2011

Future Gamer's Lullaby

We love video games in our house. Also, I do weird things when I'm tired. With both those things in mind, I composed the following lullaby:

Hush little baby, wait and see
Mommy's gonna buy you a 360

If it gives a ring so red
Mommy's gonna buy you a Wii instead

If that Wii is just no fun
Mommy's gonna buy you FFI

If that game gets way too long
Mommy's gonna buy you Donkey Kong

And if that new game falls apart
Mommy's gonna buy Mario Kart

And if you're always beating me
Mommy's gonna buy you a PS3

And if that PS3 runs down
You're still the sweetest little baby in town

(And, by the way, the cost of all those things is still way cheaper than a diamond ring or a cart and bull!)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Favorites Again

My favorite blog posts this week:

“sign” language -- Teach your kids to write early -- and get interesting notes from them.

Super Ninja Twin Mom: I will save the day as soon as the kids are napping. -- This should be a comic book series. Hey, I'd read it!

My Mother, The Strongest Woman I Know -- I hope when times get rough I can be this strong too.

An Ode to the English Language -- Ah, English, how you baffle us!

Monday, May 16, 2011

5 Things I've Learned About Writing with a Baby

1. My three-month-old son does not care if he's listening to Eric Carle or my latest manuscript aimed at preteen girls.

2. I am going to be awake at 2:30am regardless of any of my own effort. Might as well use the time to edit that last scene.

3. When my high school computer app teachers told me to stop typing one hand because it was a useless skill, they were lying.

4. The coffee shop is still an awesome place to write -- hey, everyone, come distract my baby with your oohing and aahing while I get this last paragraph written!

5. It is good to pursue a career where coming to work with mashed carrots on my shirt doesn't matter so much.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Brevity is the soul of... something

Was going to write some long-winded thing about how you can always find time to write if you really want to. Think I'll take my own advice.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My First Mother's Day

I kind of saw Mother's Day as like a bonus birthday. (I always wanted my birthday to be in May. Nice weather, school wasn't out yet but really close, no major gift-giving holidays right around the corner.) Then, it occurred to me that I'm not the only mom around here. In fact, we have four moms this year: me, two grandmothers, and a great-grandmother. So my thoughtful other half gave me Mother's Day on Saturday instead. While one set of grandparents watched the baby, we went out for breakfast, shopped at the mall, rode bikes, and generally lounged about the house. For my gift, I got some lovely flowers planted in a hand-painted coffee mug, which he helped the baby "carry" in.

Now Mother's Day itself felt like mission impossible. Despite the fact that we'd gone shopping on Friday, it occurred to us Saturday evening that oh, yeah, we have our own mothers and his grandmother to buy gifts for. I'm not kidding, we managed to walk all around a mall that advertised Mother's Day everywhere and not once did it cross out minds. We were so on top of it last year, we spent ten minutes just picking out the perfect cards.

So, here's how it goes down. I got the idea to get our mothers each an anthology that corresponded with the theme in JT's room at each of their houses. My mom would get Winnie-the-Pooh (that's her theme) and my mother-in-law would get Curious George (jungle theme). My grandmother-in-law would get a picture frame, with a set of photos. The bookstore opens at 10am, we're meeting for brunch at 11am.

8:30 Baby gets cereal
9:00 Hubby orders photos for 1-hour pickup online.
10:00 I go to the bookstore and buy the gifts and cards. (Thank you, reserve-online-pick-in-store thingy! You're a lifesaver!)
10:15-10:30 I get home and put gifts in gift bags (leftover from baby shower). We change the baby, put the baby in his car seat, toss a can of ready-to-feed formula in his diaper bag, and we're off.
10:45 Pick up the photos
11:10: Congratulate ourselves that we are merely ten minutes late and we actually have gifts and cards with us.
11:30 Remind ourselves to shop more than two hours before going to see our mothers. Wonder in JT will be any more cooperate at the restaurant when he's a toddler.

And More Late Friday Favorites

Here, have some inspiring posts from other mommies. And a belated Happy Mother's Day!

Dear Teen Me from Author Rhonda Stapleton -- Uplifting post from a pro writer/mommy.

A week without -- This inspired me to post my 100-word piece last Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Your Mommy for Real

A short piece I wrote for the flash nonfiction category at a recent writing conference:

"On the day you were born, I wasn't a mother yet. Not really. It was the day we took you back to the hospital. The day I prayed through every sickened knot in my stomach as traffic crawled through the snow. The day I forgot about bruises and tears in my body and sprinted inside with your little car seat. The day I paced the hallways of the children's ward like nobody existed except you. The day I cried in your daddy's arms and thanked God when we heard: 'He'll be okay.' That was the day I became a mother."

In full disclaimer, the baby had jaundice. Severe enough that it warranted going to the hospital, but mild enough that the doctor (when he finally saw us) didn't feel the baby was ever in any serious danger. At the time we went in, however, we only knew the following:

1. The pediatrician had sent us to the hospital for jaundice.
2. Severe jaundice could lead to brain damage. (We had no idea what kind. We had mental images of our baby in a permanent vegetative state.)

So, yeah, it was tears and prayers all the way to the hospital. I didn't really know what it felt like to be a parent until I knew what it felt like to fear for my child.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Better Late than Never

Blog posts I enjoyed this past week:

How I Use Scrivener -- How Scrivener is made of awesome sauce.

Revenge in 10 Easy Steps -- Is four months too young to plan revenge?

On Inner Ages -- This was so refreshing to read!

Avoid the Obvious in a Query -- I didn't think my query did this, but turned out I was wrong.

Monday, April 25, 2011

No Choice in the Matter

Before JT was born, I watched lots of baby-related shows. I don't care to as much now because I know exactly how it feels to have a three-day-old at home and I don't need the television reminding me. But one thing that always boggled my mind was the phrases that came up while these brave women were bringing their little ones into the world:

"I give up."
"I'm not doing this anymore."
"Take me back home -- I'm quitting."

Of course, I'm sitting there all amused wondering what these women are thinking and how exactly they plan to quit. Not exactly an option, is it? Well, as it turned out, when JT was less than an hour from making his grand entrance, I turned to my other half and declared, "I want the baby out. I don't want to push anymore."

...yeah, I was a hypocrite. It's not often in life when you really have no way to back out and you have to move forward. But when it does happen, it changes your life. And this particular change was one of the best, right up there with discovering Jesus, marriage, and my first taste of sushi.

I should relate this back to writing, shouldn't I? All right, then. When plotting a story, one should try to create a situation where the protagonist has no choice but to move forward. But not by putting her through labor. There are limits of torture even for imaginary people.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Favorite Blog Posts This Week

I enjoy this feature on other blogs, so I thought readers here might like it as well. Here are a few of the writing and/or baby blog posts that I found interesting this week:

(Ice cream page of doom!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Letters to Preborn JT

I uncovered some letters I wrote to JT prior to his arrival.

September 3rd:
I think when you arrive, it will be hard at first to associate you with "that person who was kicking me." It's hard to learn much about a person's personality when the only information you have is feeling that person through a bubble. But I know a couple things about you:

1) You do not hold still for the doctor. Apparently, your heartbeat is your own business, and we would all save ourselves a lot of time by taking that silly machine elsewhere.

2) You like your space. If Mommy puts her arm or a book in your space, you will let her know right away that it needs to be moved.

3) You like playing hide-and-seek with Daddy. You know it makes Mommy look silly when she says, "JT's kicking!" and then when Daddy comes around, you're barely moving. I like that you occasionally give Daddy a few hard kicks to make me feel better. You two are going to gang up on me when you get bigger, aren't you?

December 9th:
You are hard to wait for. I know God has a wonderful day set aside to be your birthday, but I'm an awful guesser about which day that is. You should know, right now we're trying to come up with cool ways to remember your birthday. If you're born today, the month, day, and year are all prime. If you're born tomorrow, it's "twelve-ten-twenty-ten," which sounds cool when you say it. On the 11th, your birthday is a countdown: 12/11/10. And on the 12th, you get a double number like Mommy: 12/12. We haven't planned past that.

(Incidentally, we did not have to plan past that. Also, incidentally, I either got the date wrong on that last entry or the baby ate my brain that day because none of those numbers are prime.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

About the New Blog

Welcome to my newly relaunched blog. This blog will about two things: A (yet unpublished) book and a baby.

Blogs are great places to watch things grow, because each entry is a written snapshot. Which is great for things like novels, because let’s face it, if I photographed my manuscript day after day, it would look rather boring. But it’s also great for babies when you’re a new mom who isn’t quite ready to plaster her child’s face all over the internet.

So, let’s take a peek at the starting points.

The Book:
One glorious spring day, I held in my hands the coveted personal feedback rejection letter. The one from my one of my dream agents with detailed comments on exactly where s(he) – we’ll keep things gender-neutral – felt the novel had gone off-course. Sometime afterwards, I received another full rejection letter, also from a dream agent, detailing the same. The concerns about the novel were nearly identical, and when I paused to consider, completely accurate.

Both agents asked to see my future work. One expressed a willingness to look at the same manuscript again, if appropriate changes had been made. So I did the only logical thing. I halted future queries until this manuscript was back in fighting shape.

Enter the baby.

The Baby:
Also in the same glorious spring, I attended my cousin’s wedding. I’d suspected (okay, hoped and prayed) throughout the day that something was up. Among several other stereotypical pregnancy symptoms, I had called my husband from work the week before bawling my eyes out for no conceivable reason. I can get emotional at times, especially on sleep deprivation, but as my other half put it, “You’re usually not that bad.”

At the time of this writing, the countdown on our little miracle's arrival rested at about six weeks. We had something to bring him home in (except that it still needed to be installed in the car), and a place to put him when he arrived (except that it had a mattress and no sheets). Everything else, including my novel, got pushed around by exhaustion, nausea, and seasonal germs enjoying blissful freedom from any and all cold medications.

A quick glance over the old posts on this blog will reveal that the baby has, in fact, arrived, and shall be known henceforth on this blog as JT.

My goal is to chronicle the adventures of both these endeavors as they inevitably mash together. Maybe new parents will read this and think, “Yes, I’m not the only one!” Maybe seasoned parents will get a kick out of my naiveté. Maybe writers everywhere will just laugh at me butchering the English language in my sleep-deprived state of new motherhood.

Whatever your reason for wandering across this blog, I thank you for your visit and hope you enjoy your stay.


Writing Friends:

Steam Trains and Ghosts

Without Really Trying

Kris Millering

Marie Lamba

Author Resources:

Writer Beware


Fellow Moms:

Miss Topaz's DeviantArt
Playing around with the look of my blog/website. If I break anything, I apologize.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011