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.