Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Writerly advice (and advice in general)

If you want to get anything done, stay off of your blog. And the internet. I'm finally home from over 2 weeks of vacationing, so my husband is in desperate need of non-wrinkled shirts for work. (I kind of let the ironing pile up before we left.) So what did I do? I set up the ironing board...then I logged in to Blogger while the iron heated up.

Next thing I know, 45 minutes is gone. Sure, I got caught up on some blog reading, and even managed some interaction with the kids (why yes, children, you may have another chocolate if it keeps you from bugging me while I glean important information from my fellow bloggers).

My darling #4 has been begging me to iron her little plastic shape thingies since the first week in December, so I did manage to pry my eyes away from the screen long enough to do that (and no, I haven't ironed this whole month - I have an 8 item rule before I lug out the ironing equipment. And yes, it's sick that my husband has that many dress shirts.)

So this is me staging an intervention for myself. Must. Get. Away. To iron.

What should you be doing right now instead of reading (and of course, commenting on) my blog?

Besos!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blog Awards and Happy Holidays



I'm still in holiday mode, but thought I'd take the time to nominate 3 people for the One Lovely Blog award I got while I was away.


Also, a big shout out to Natalie Bahm for giving me the Kreativ Blogger award a couple of days ago. Thanks so much, Natalie!

The Kreativ Blogger award has a few rules attached, so I'll do that first, with nominations to follow.

1.Thank the person (or people) who gave you the award.
2.Write 7 things about yourself we do not know.
3.Choose 7 other bloggers to award and link to their blogs.

First off, thank you Kelly and Natalie both for those nominations. I know they're all over the place on the internet, but it made me feel really good to have you think of me. :)

And now, without further ado I give you:

Seven things you may not know about me (and may wish I had never shared)...

1. The only thing I've ever wanted to do in my life for as far back as I can remember, is have a big family and stay home with my kids. I call myself a professional mother when I fill out forms that ask for an occupation.

2. I sometimes feel like an underachiever for only having 5 kids, even though I've also had several miscarriages and a stillbirth, and I'm pretty sure my body couldn't handle any more. (I'd have probably kept going 'til my uterus fell out, or I ended up in a wheelchair. Fortunately, my husband thinks our family is the perfect size, and has saved me from crippling myself.)

3. I've only ever had one English teacher (12th grade English B) who "got" my writing style and appreciated my humour. Up until then, I thought I could write, but really wondered if I was any good. He gave me tons of encouragement, and made me feel like there could be others out there who might enjoy what I wrote too.

4. I love music, but find it incredibly distracting when I write. Oddly enough, I can write with a room full of kids.

5. I was one of the elite few in the air after the September 11th attacks. We lived in a relatively remote northern region, and I had a miscarriage. I was hemorrhaging, so I had to be life-flighted to a big city hospital. There's nothing like taking in the beautiful scenery while being stabilized at several thousand feet in the air.

6. When I read books, the voice in my head has the same accent of the character. I also start using an accent if I'm talking about certain people or things. When we were in Mexico, I was speaking English with an accent. I don't even speak much Spanish (although my husband does).

7. I love taking things apart, putting them together, or just plain fixing stuff. Home renovations are a source of pure joy. Home improvement stores are my own personal heaven. If I got tools for every special occasion for the rest of my life, I'd consider myself the happiest person alive. It's a sickness really.

Okay, so, um, try not to hold any of those things against me :)

My nominations for Kreativ Blogger award are:

1. Princess Hairstyles - I'm pretty sure this shouldn't even count, but it's fun and Holy Catfish, Batman! this lady can do her kid's hair. That little girl deserves an award for sitting through all that hair pulling! Obviously she enjoys having her hair done, although when a fancy 'do only takes a couple of minutes, I guess it's not that bad. My girls would have to sit for an hour for me to do a messy version. I may be handy with the power tools, but when it comes to my daughters, they're relegated to a life of 'au naturel' until they can do their own hair (or develop the ability to sit for 2 hours until I can get it right).

2. Susan at A Walk In My Shoes - I know she's received this before, but I love how she ties different shoes into writing. She's got some fabulous insights into the writing process, and I've learned a lot from her. As an added bonus, it's also fun to see all of those funky shoes. It must take forever to find the right ones to go with each post!

3. Carrie at The Wonder That Is My Blog - Oh my gosh, she is hilarious! And she's a member of the semi-secret order of the blog ninja. I don't know what that means, but it sounds extremely important. I just realized that I'm not even following her (I haven't transferred all of my faves from my favourites folder yet). Er, nevermind.

4. Milli at Fear of Writing - Great tips for getting over your fear of writing, as well as for successful 10k days (which can really give you a good jump start). Though I haven't actually done a full ten thousand words in one day, I've become a 10k day addict. A great little supportive community, and Milli is absolutely wonderful.

5. Mette Ivie Harrison - Okay, not necessarily creative,as it's simply a livejournal account, but I love reading her entries. She talks about life with kids, getting published, doing triathlons, taking piano lessons, and SYTYCD (among other things...). I haven't read her books (yet), but she writes excellent articles for Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show (which is where I found her).

6. Shannon Hale - Is it lame to give a blog award to author sites? Probably, but she is a delight to read. She went on book tour with Libba Bray a while back, and I seriously thought I would pee myself laughing reading about their shenanigans. And Princess Academy is one of my most favourite books of all time.

7. Terresa at Chocolate Chip Waffle - I'm sure she's been nominated a zillion times for this one, but this mother of four is a fabulous poet, and has a way of weaving her thoughts and emotions into her entries that'll bring tears to your eyes. I've really enjoyed getting to know her through her blog, as well as through her comments here on mine. I also have to give her the One Lovely Blog award, because it really is one of the most lovely blogs out there. Anyone know if there's a One Kreatively Lovely Blog Award out there?

My 2 other nominations for the One Lovely Blog award:

Erin over at Welcome to Littlefield, TX - She's a busy mother of two who teaches college English courses. Her writing is poignant, funny, and introspective. And her kids say the best things ever. I actually know her in real life, and love her.

Elise at Elise Murphy Books - She doesn't post very often (probably too busy writing like some of us ought to be...ahem), but I love her thoughts whenever she puts them down. She also takes wonderful pictures, and I'm enthralled with hearing tales of her life on her farm, as well as her adventures in writing.

Phew - this sure ended up being a long post! Hope you stuck with it.

I'm hoping to resume regular blogging after hanging with the kids* for their last week of holidays, so if I don't talk to you before then, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Besos!

*aka: dance parties in the living room. Hope the neighbours don't mind us cranking the tunes...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Back 2 Life


Well, I just got back from vacation, and there was a blog award waiting for me courtesy of Kelly, who is a new face here at A Blissful Life. What a pleasant surprise! I've never been nominated for anything like that before. Thanks for thinking of me, Kelly!

I had an amazing time on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The water was warm, the sun was hot, and the non-alcoholic drinks were plentiful.* I survived the public transportation, and discovered that when you're shopping, everyone is your amigo. Also, I was able to get lots of colour (a heat rash, but maybe it'll turn into a tan?).

It short, it was a blast, and apparently, my husband and I still enjoy each other's company, haha.

Anyways, I just thought I'd pop in and say a quick hello. It's nice to be back on my laptop again. I've got so much catching up to do, and so little time, but I'm sure many of you can relate to the crazy fun this beautiful Christmas season brings. :)
I'm gonna run, but here's a little picture that was taken from our balcony in Ixtapa, Mexico**.


And the view from the front of the hotel overlooking the Sierra Madre mountain range.


Then, just for fun, let's say that we didn't know what time church was on Sunday, so we were a few hours early and I tried to pick the lock to the yard. Since B & E is not my forté we found out that nobody would be there for another couple of hours, we ended up leaving. Good times though, good times.

Talk to y'all later!

Besos!

*Seriously, I drank more pop and virgin piña coladas than any human should consume in 8 days. If I never see another Fresca, it'll be too soon.
**I highly recommend it for anyone wanting an authentic Mexican vacation. There were tons of Mexican tourists, but only about 6 white folks in our hotel. The food was great, the service was incredible, and there were barely any bugs (which is great, because I'm scared of bees. And wasps. Well, and anything that can hurt me. Pain is bad.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vacation (all I ever wanted)

It's rather oxymoronic to post this after my last winter love-fest, but in a few days I'm heading south for a week to a place where it'll be way too hot and humid...and I'm excited. Hubby and I are going on our first real "destination vacation" in 14 1/2 years of marriage.

Our last little trip without kids was to go skiiing in Idaho, but we stayed in a condo with his family, so I don't really count that (although it was fun to get away and we all had a great time hanging out). I also ended up almost stranded on top of a mountain crying my eyes out. True story*. Excuse me while I have a flashback. PTSD anyone?

And...we're done.

So anyway, after that partially traumatic vacation, I told hubby that our next one had better be somewhere warm and tropical. And maybe alone**. So, when his folks mentionned that they had a time share they wanted to use for another family vacay in a sunny locale, we thought it'd be fun. And then we found out it'd be cramped quarters and that our plane fare could either get us there, or it could get us an all-inclusive somewhere else, we weighed our options and went for the all-inclusive.

Now the bags are packed (umm, over-packed), and we're all ready to go. I'm dropping the kids off at my folks' place (thanks mom) and we'll be off! I may post some old blog entries if I can figure out how to do it, but no promises. I don't have too many to choose from anyway. :) If you don't hear from me for the next while, you'll know why.

Adios, amigos.

Besos!

*Yeah, when you aren't a strong skier, and your hubby and bro-in-law tell you there's a really easy blue run, don't listen to them (or at least make sure they'd actually been on it). That sucker went straight down the mountain, and got really narrow. There were kids whizzing by me (obviously their parents don't love them, or they wouldn't let them race down mountains where they could slide. right. off). My goggles were fogged up, and two very sheepish men carried my skis and poles while I slid down on my butt. If they had told me I could do that in the first place, I wouldn't have had a panic attack thinking my children would never see their mother again. Tobogganing down was actually the most fun I had the entire time.
**In all honesty, we did have lots of fun with his family. We all get along really well and it's not very often that so many of us can get together.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cold, dark and happy

I love Christmas time. Actually, one of my favourite things about winter in general, is staying up into the wee small hours with the lights off, staring out the window. Okay, that sounds like I've reached the other side of crazy, but let me tell you, it's the best time* to feel the magic of winter.

Nighttime can be surprisingly bright, and the serenity of moonbeams on pristine snow weaves a spell that is only possible at this time of year. Even on a moonless night, the enchantment of the season is as tangible as winter's ardent, frozen kiss on your cheek.

As an added bonus, I get to bask in the warm glow of our Christmas tree for an entire month. I would keep that tree up year round if my husband would let me. I've made the suggestion, but he wouldn't go for it - although he conceded that if we ever have a large enough house, I could have my very own Christmas room. I thought that was pretty generous of him, don't you?

I can't even count the hours I've spent in a dimly lit room - either writing in a journal, or just plain pondering life's many mysteries. I'm not insane (you can't prove it), but I've had a wonky body clock for pretty much my entire life, and I think because of that, I appreciate the solitude that accompanies the schedule my body so loves to keep. (Either that, or I'm incredibly witty and can't get enough of my own company. Don't judge me, I'm just keepin' it real. *wink, wink*)

I love the long, dark winter nights. While it's a little strange to send the kids off to school in the dark, it means I can pretty much live in my pajamas (oh jammies, I heart you). Also, there's the perk of the pesky sun not interfering with my late sleeping. There's nothing worse than finally falling asleep, only to have the sun's rays bending around the curtain to say hello.

I've made peace with the fact that I am a bad day person, and a fabulous night person. (Um, my husband, not so much, though he's better than he used to be.) My new motto** is: if you can't be the person you love, love the person you are. Er, or something like that.

So I say, bring on the cold and the dark. I've got my jammies on, and the lights are low (and my morning-person hubby is already crashed on the couch).

Anyone else out there appreciating winter?

Besos!

*Not the best time=when you're out shovelling and it's -30 degrees Celcius without the wind chill.
**And by new, I mean I totally just made this up now.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Joy project

I know that sounds lame, but it's only the working title of my latest work which was inspired by last week's moment of clarity. I do have a real title in mind, but we're in the early stages of courtship and I want to make sure it's the real deal before making introductions.

Hmm, somebody needs more sleep....

Ahem.

Anywho, I love having this new perspective on things. It's really given me a lot to think about, and I'm already excited to see the finished product. I will be working on some of my other stuff as well, so I can (hopefully) finish up several things at once. Ideally, I'll edit and polish this fire-in-my-belly book to send out to agents, and then edit the others while I'm waiting for responses. I want next year to be a great one!

I do plan on putting up a progress meter for everything I've got going on in case people (hi mom!) are curious about what's up. Mind you, I've also been planning on hanging pictures in my house *cough*since last year*cough*, washing the kitchen floor, steam cleaning the carpets, and giving the bathrooms a thorough cleaning...Just sayin'.

Besos!

P.S. I hope all of my U.S. friends were able to have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Epiphany

Caveat: please keep in mind that this post is written with the utmost hopes for eventual writerly success (Writerly success? Who's penning this blog anyway?)

This morning, while my mind hovered in a semi-conscious state - you know the one where you're aware that you're no longer asleep, but you can't really move yet? - it came to me.

I don't get many flashes of brilliance, so when they do hit, I try to sit up and pay attention (umm, except that I didn't literally sit up because, like I said, my body hadn't quite woken up...)

I've been going through a bit of an identity crisis as a writer (I discuss my multiple novel personality disorder here), and even though it was brought to the forefront by a post earlier this month by Aprilynne Pike, it's something that I've been struggling with for a good year and a half. Of course there's nothing wrong with struggling, as it fosters personal growth, but frankly, I was getting a little annoyed with myself for not being able to figure it out.

It's not like it's the end of the world or anything, but I'm looking at this in terms of a future career, so it's important to have a plan and a platform. Also important, is the ability to self-promote. Even if I manage to swing some huge book deal (hey, it could happen) with a budget for publicity (umm, too much? Just go with it, k?), I will be expected to do as much as I can with whatsoever resources I have at my disposal. And yes, I'm aware of cart-before-the-horse syndrome, but I promise that in pondering the possibilities, I was only trying to discern what I was capable of doing (or willing to do, for that matter).

So, what does this have to do with my early morning epiphany?

Well, this morning, I saw things more clearly than I ever have, and I understood the path that was going to lead me to eventual success. {Remember, we're working on the assumption that if I'm any good at all, I will be agented and published at some point in time.} Obviously I don't know the exact time frame, but now that I've seen the way all of my different projects fit into the larger picture, I have peace of mind* and can focus on putting my best foot (pen?) forward.

I'm one of those people who needs to know why they're doing something before throwing myself into it, and this little identity crisis was getting in the way of my writing. I've been torn as to which avenues to pursue, which made the writing in my current WIP lack focus and clarity. This new knowledge has left me free , and I can stop standing in my own way!

Okay, so what about my YA novel that I've got with several agents already? Well, I have to admit that I was blown away by the amount of requests I did get, especially considering that it was a genre I never even thought I could write in.

I'm still waiting on a few responses, but I'll really be surprised if they amount to anything because agents are looking for the promise of Next Big Thing, and this book is a little quieter than that. Which is okay. I have two more projects that are high concept, but they're a bit of a departure from my usual interests, and I haven't been sure I'd want to break out with them, nor have I quite got the chops to write them to their full potential yet, so it doesn't matter anyway.

Pre-epiphany, it bothered me to be so choosy - after all, just write any book worth publishing because an agent is an agent, and a book deal is a book deal, right? But I don't feel that way. There's a time and season for all things. Even books. And, um, agents. (Work with me, people.) That said, I've been very careful in selecting agents who represent multiple genres (you know, since I've got multiple novel personality disorder), so even if someone does see something great in my writing and wants to take me on, I'll be in a good place. I don't just want any agent; I want the best agent for me.

On a lighter note, I was telling my hubby about my epiphany and he had the oddest look on his face the entire time, so I was starting to feel really self-conscious and prepared myself to hear that he thought I was stupid and should maybe just forget about my dreams of becoming published. So I asked what was wrong (cringing internally at the possible answer), and he said, "I think this is the most you've ever talked since I've known you, and I'm not sure how to process all of this information. But it sounds good to me."

I had a good laugh, and took it as a good sign that I'm this excited. If nothing else, it makes me feel good to dream a little (okay, a lot). I love having something to work toward, and honestly, the reward is in the writing. It has to be, because it's a tough, subjective business, and I understand the reality of it. Still, I hope for the best. What else can I do?

Besos!

P.S. Is anyone else tired of reading the word epiphany? I really should've consulted a thesaurus. Sorry 'bout that.
P.P.S. I reread this post, and thought (in my most Heath Ledger Joker voice) "Why so serious?"
P.P.P.S. This has to be pretty boring, but I hope you'll come back to visit my blog anyway!
*Love that song by '80s Canadian group Grapes of Wrath, except for that one swear word I wish they had left out. Why do bands do that?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dear Evil Body Clock;

I really didn't appreciate being kept up until 3 last night. And what was up with the twitchy legs? That was a surprise, and something generally reserved for late pregnancy (a state I've not had the pleasure of enduring for almost 7 years). I know you may not care that I really don't have time for a nap today, or that being this tired usually triggers a migraine that lasts for days, but could you cut me a little slack?

You knew I was dead tired. You knew I had to get up with the kids this morning to get them off to school, and you knew that I like to give them a pleasant start to their day (which is generally oh so much easier to do on a full night's rest). I even went to bed at a decent hour so I could wake up refreshed and non-hag like.

But no, now I have to face a very long day culminating in several piano lessons, 2 soccer games, and 3 other children's activities. And did you forget that I'm still homeschooling #1 and require a few operational brain cells to do so?

Also, while we're on the subject of cerebral activity, I know it may not take much brain power to tackle this mountain of laundry, but I would appreciate having enough neural synapses to be able to remember whether or not I put in the detergent.

Now if you don't mind, I'm going to get some stuff together that #1 can do without the aid of her zombie mother.

Sincerely,
Tracy

P.S. Never mind about the whole laundry thing. The power just went out, so I can't do it anyway. I had to steal someone's wireless just to post this entry (why is their power working???). You've turned me into a thief! I hope you're happy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Shiny new idea syndrome

Why is it that the second I commit to finishing one novel, I get eight different ideas for stories? And not just stories, but characters, plot, the whole nine yards!

What about the current novel I'm trying to finish this month, you may ask? Yeah, not the same kind of inspiration going on there. The night before last, I had a dream about my current WIP. Actually, it was more like four separate dreams rolled up in one, and the result was the same - it was going nowhere! I'm trying to figure out if the universe is trying to tell me something, or if I'm just doing it to myself. The jury's still out on that one.

In any case, I was not happy to wake up feeling like everything I had done would amount to nothing*. After all that time and effort, I want something great to show for it (well, I'll take mediocre with potential for greatness - it's just a first draft, after all).

That's not to say I'm giving up - it's an awesome idea and I know the story holds tremendous potential, but you can bet I'm re-evaluating my ability to tell it the way it needs to be told. I knew going into it that it was a tricky story, and while it pains me to admit it, perhaps I'm not quite there yet and need more time to become the writer that can do the story justice.

That said, part of me really wants to push ahead. I enjoy a challenge, and hate to let a story get the best of me. It's just words, darn it, and how hard can it be to string a couple of sentences together? On the other hand, I want to do a good job, and I feel like it's easier to start from a good first draft, rather than something that's only "meh" and have to go in and try and fix a bunch of major plot points, etc.

Have any of you writers out there encountered this? I know everyone has their own sort of process, but I'm curious to know - what did you do?

Besos.
*And I may or may not have been really crabby that whole day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No writer's cramp allowed

Still having trouble accessing the Nanowrimo website. Apparently, the site doesn't like my internet connection. It doesn't matter though, since I'm writing the remainder of this novel by hand, and it's rather difficult to keep track of word count while doing it that way.

I love writing by hand. It's a tactic I often use when I'm fighting a bout of writer's block. The change in medium is often all I need to get the words flowing again. For some reason, pondering while chewing on the end of a pen is conducive to creativity. That's not the best part though. The best part about it, is the feeling I get from putting pen to paper. It's a much more intimate experience than tap-tap-tapping on the computer. Quiet and introspective, like writing in a journal. It's empowering, really.

I'm not about to abandon my computer anytime soon, but sometimes I need to feel those words flow from me directly onto the paper. I like to scribble things out, cram extra paragraphs into the margins, and have the words tumble out so quickly that I can barely keep up. Writing becomes a kinetic experience as much as a mental one. If only it burned more calories, it would be perfect...

As an added bonus, I can tote my notebook to kids' soccer games and appointments. I can curl up anywhere and everywhere, or sprawl out on the floor with the cat. Oh, and I don't get distracted by the internet (oh, internet, I heart you).

Do you like writing things out by hand too?

Besos!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday to me, I'm a hundred and three

It's my birthday this week, and for once I know what I want: to be done the first draft of this zombie manuscript. I already know that's not going to happen*, so I've given myself until the end of the month to finish. That's when I realized I should've signed up for NaNoWriMo.

For those of you who don't know, November is National Novel Writing Month. Many writers use this as a way to kick start (or finish) a WIP, as the goal is to write 50,000 words in one month. This is a major feat, and I had decided not to participate because...because...uh, well, I can't really remember why, but I'm sure it was a really good reason**.

Anyways, now that I've become determined to complete this manuscript this month, I figure I ought to receive some sort of recognition for it. Maybe it's not too late to sign up (it's not like it costs anything), but I can't tell for sure because I haven't been able to access the website. Must be all those people entering their stats or something. Even if I can't sign up, at least I've challenged myself. I'll keep ya posted!

Have any of you ever done nanowrimo? Was it a good experience?

Besos!

*My backup wish is for this super cute winter coat in this lovely shade of blue, but that won't be happening either because I'm not getting a present this year so we can go on a vacation to somewhere warm and likely crawling with H1N1. Don't be jealous.
**The term lazy comes to mind.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I want it all...mostly...um, I think?

Aprilynne Pike has a really good post here about goals and some of the reasons why people write books. It really got me thinking, and I realized that I hadn't set a particular goal for myself as far as my writing career. Yes, I've dreamed, but that's not always the same thing as setting a goal for the future.

So the wheels started to spin...

I started to consider the YA novel that's on submission with agents at the moment, the stories in progress, and some of my other ideas. I have a fun idea for a middle grade series that I've sort of dabbled in. I have a high concept YA zombie comedy/romance that is my current WIP, and the YA SF/dystopian I've begun and outlined (albeit loosely). I also have this children's fairy story niggling at the far corners of my mind, wondering when it's going to have the chance to shine forth. And there are the 2 non-fictions (yeah, I'm nerdy like that) that I've already got a good start on.

That's when I realized my problem: I don't know which kind of genre my break-out novel ought to be! I have multiple novel personality disorder* and it ain't pretty.

So what do I do? After all, it's very common for a writer to be pigeonholed into a certain category once their first novel comes out. Have I written a novel in a genre I could be happy writing in for the rest of my days? I honestly don't know. Without the benefit of an agent (for now, at least) to tell me where my strengths lie (and which story has the most potential), it can be difficult to know which direction to take.

However, the direction doesn't matter much if I don't know where I want to end up, now does it?

Well, I've got an awful lot of soul-searching** to do (um, or at least a little bit...) In the meantime, I'll just try and write the best novels that I can. I have a feeling my strengths and preferences will make themselves known in due time, but trying to set some concrete goals for myself certainly wouldn't hurt.

Besos!

*I think I may have come across a new disorder, so does that mean I also have to decide if I want to publish in medical journals too?? I'm so confused...
**Sheesh, as if writing a novel wasn't hard enough - now I've got to think of all this other stuff?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Unfaithful

I just got back from the Big City - I went to see my sister before she heads to the sandbox. That's military speak for the Middle East (she's going to Afghanistan). It was a lovely visit and she let me install 3 light fixtures. I actually enjoy doing that sort of thing, so it was lots of fun if you pretend that I didn't spend a good 6 hours troubleshooting a new ceiling fan that turned out to be broken. Stupid thing. The second new one went up in no time...but I digress.

The real reason for posting today, is that I made a special connection while in the Big City, and spent about 4 hours in the presence of greatness personified. I fell in love immediately with the funky accent, but it was the generosity that really got me. It's all good though. I've already confessed my torrid affair to my husband, and he's okay with the new union so long as he's the one I come home to.

In case it's not perfectly clear, I'm talking about my trip to IKEA. Holy cow, I had forgotten how totally awesome that place is! I haven't been there in years, and now I know why*. It makes my entire existence seem completely boring and cluttered. It also makes me slightly depressed to know that I could be spending way less on cool, useful stuff for my house. How have I lived without IKEA in my life??? I really have no idea.

If you've never been to IKEA, it's like going to a different country. You know you're in for something special when you pull into the parking lot. There's even a weird flag flapping in the breeze. Upon entering the huge double doors, there's a place to ditch let your kids play. Then you go up the escalator to enter a brand new world.

Angel choruses greet you** as you rise to a land of fun kids' bedrooms, cool living/dining/bed rooms, space saving ideas, and must-have ornamentation. When you've had your fill of touring around the glorious displays, and picked up a couple of toys to assuage your guilt over deserting letting the kids play for so long, you grab some much-needed nourishment at discounted prices from the café and head to the lower portion of the store where the dreaming ends and the real shopping begins, filling your cart with anything your heart desires.

Just when you think you're homefree, you must clear one last hurdle of reasonably priced Christmas items (which would've been nice to look at, but my mom was already in the checkout line because she was dying for some "fresh air"). Our feet were sore, but it was sooo worth it (recovered yet mom?).

I never thought I'd say this, but this trip may have caused me to reconsider my position on us moving to a Big City. If it has an IKEA, it just may be worth it for my husband to spend hours in traffic whilst commuting to and from work (as opposed to the huge 6 minute drive he's got now). This will be the new criteria for job hunting. I refuse to move anywhere that doesn't have an IKEA.

Besos!
*I mean, other than the fact that I don't live anywhere near IKEA...
**That part may have been in my head.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Slow progress is better than no progress

This is me trying to remind myself that writing a novel is a marathon, and not a hundred yard dash. I get impatient with myself, thinking that I should be able to do more, write more, edit more...be more.

The truth is, I've got a pretty full life with a lot of responsibilities, and it just doesn't do me any good to dwell on the things that I can't do (or can't do fast enough). Sadly, that knowledge still doesn't stop me from trying.

I annoy myself sometimes.

Besos!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In which I dislike a classic (don't be mad)

I'm very aware that ninety percent of my blog readers are from the U.S., so it almost pains me to write this post. The fact that this book had the words "Modern American Classic" emblazoned on the jacket in bold black letters gives me pause - especially after finishing and hating it so. However, with reading enjoyment being the subjective art that it is, I'm hoping that my offering of the phrase "it's not you, it's me" conveys as much heartfelt sincerity as can come through a blog.

Before I start rambling on like a destitute aristocrat reminiscing about the glory days (what - too late?), I should tell you that I'm talking about Gone With The Wind here. I can't even believe it's taken me this many years to get to it; somehow it kept getting pushed to the back of my list. I haven't seen the movie in years, so I'd pretty much forgotten it, but this summer one of my husband's sisters mentioned it as a favourite, so it claimed a place at the top of my To Be Read pile.

I will say that it was beautifully written (though overly descriptive, but what classics aren't?), in fact I'd go as far as saying it's some of the best writing I've seen for some time, but that wasn't enough to make me enjoy it.

Oh, I wanted so badly to love it! I'm such a sucker for historical fiction, and I love American history. My crush on the deep south goes back as far as I can remember. But here's the thing - I hated the characters. HATED them. How can I like a book when I can't stand who it's about?

Okay, so I shouldn't say I hated all the characters, because I did like Mammy, Pork and Dilcey, and Sam, but as for the white players - ugh! I found Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley, Melanie and the whole bunch completely unsympathetic, with very few redeeming qualities (if any - that's right Scarlett, I'm talking to you, Miss I-do-what-I-want-when-I-want-to-get-what-I-want-no-matter-who-gets hurt).

How can this be a classic love story when the characters aren't just flawed, they're idiotic! Stupid characters drive me nuts.*

Bah! I can't even write about it without getting annoyed - that's how much I wanted to like it and just couldn't! Have you ever had that experience with a beloved classic?

Besos!

*It's all the stupid people that kept me from enjoying War and Peace too. I read it last summer, and wish I could get that week back...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I want a new drug

It's been about 4 months since I've started querying agents in a serious kind of way, and imagine my surprise when I discovered that being a writer is actually a form of addiction. Not in the usual "I must write in order to express myself or I'm going to die" kind of way.

That's not how I roll.*

I enjoy writing; it's a fun challenge that's helped me learn and grow, and I get a great deal of satisfaction out of weaving the silken threads of plots and sub-plots, and bending words to my will (uh, mostly) but the whole "If I don't write I shall explode, leaving a mom-shaped splat of slimy goo on the wall", meh, not so much.

We've all heard of those kinds of people (right?). The ones who weep, wail and gnash their teeth at having to live in the real world. The world on paper, with characters they wish existed in real life, is more appealing than whatever they've got going on. They reserve domain names for the book they're querying, create blogs with their characters, role play with their characters...you name it, they've done it!

Don't be offended if you're one of those spirited, imaginative people. There are as many roads to publication as there are writers, and I bring that stuff up only because I can't relate to that kind of passionate dedication. Not for the work itself, anyway. Obviously, I'm driven enough by my characters to write about their experiences, and I love to get that story pulled together in the hopes of providing a few hours of escapist entertainment for future fans (um, just go with it okay?) , but my feet are firmly planted in reality.

The real passion for me, I've discovered, is when it's time to send the characters into the Agentverse. There is a high that comes from fully completing a manuscript, followed by an extra surge when you come up with the perfect query letter. There's an even bigger high when you open that email from an agent and you read PLEASE SEND ME MORE. And I look forward with anticipation to opening the penultimate*** agent email that precedes a phone call and offer of representation.

This is what gets me through the little slumps between responses. I know I'm going to get that next fix. I have very few vices - no coffee, alcohol, smoking. Nor am I a thrillseeker. I'm a small town kind of gal living a peaceable life with my husband, five kids, and a black cat named Susie-Q. BUT...

I get the shakes when I go to open my email, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm addicted to the rush****. I'm on the verge of an influx of replies on several full submissions as well as to a new batch of queries I sent out a while ago, and Oh! the anticipation!

In conclusion, if you're looking for something that might give you a buzz, may I suggest writing a book and trying to get it published? Hurry though, it's only a matter of time before the FDA finds out and tries to regulate the publishing industry.

Besos!

*Sorry, I've been watching too much Kim Possible again.
**Which begs the question: what is a non-melodramatic, pragmatic person like me doing writing fiction?? Ah, another post for another time, perhaps...
***I love that word.
****Unless you think I ought to be. Then I'm very, very ashamed. Bad writer. Baaaaad adrenaline junkie writer.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The best laid plans

Okay, so remember how excited I was for tomorrow's 10K day (wherein I attempt to write ten thousand words in one. single. day.) and the amazingly wonderful time I was going to have writing all day while the children spent some quality time with the dad figure?

Well, it turns out that dear old dad has a coaching gig out of town (he coaches men's volleyball for the local college in his "spare time").

*SIGH*

Don't feel too sorry for me - it's par for the course around here, and I'm used to having to write with kids squealing in the background. Maybe if I bribe the kids with taking them out for supper, they'll be extra good. Anything that cuts down on me taking time out to play referee...

Oh, 10K day, I will conquer you yet!

Besos!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reading to write

It may seem counterproductive, but whenever I find myself lagging, I pick up a book. Any book will do. A poorly written book will make me feel like I can write something better, and a well-written book has a way of inspiring me to improve. It's a not-so-fancy trick to get me in the mood to write, but it works!

What do you do for inspiration?

Besos!

Monday, September 21, 2009

So much to do, so little time...

To write, that is. And yet here I sit blogging about it...

I only have a couple of minutes before I have to drag my tired backside to bed*, so that's how I justify it. Not that this is any less difficult than working on my story. Um, yeah, so that's a pretty obvious lie, but whatever, I'm tired.

In any case, there's another 10K day on Saturday. I've been looking forward to it all month, and I plan on hiding out in my bedroom as soon as I've got the kids (and their father) out of my hair. No phone calls, no laundry, dishes or cleaning (er, not that there was much danger of that happening in the first place...). Just me, my computer and my story until bedtime. And I'm so excited!

This month has been even busier than usual, and slightly more stressful what with all the administrative junk I've had to deal with for homeschooling. I haven't really had much of an outlet - but Saturday is all MINE (or as close as it's going to get). I did participate in the last 10K day on Thursday, but it wasn't as productive as it should've been thanks to a noon pick-up from school for sickly #3 and a last minute mid-day piano lesson rescheduling for #1.

Oh well, sometimes you've got to just roll with it, right? That's just one of the many reasons why writing is the perfect fit for me. It's got that built in flexibility. Love it!

And now if you don't mind, I'm off to flex some of those sleeping muscles.

Besos!

*I should be zonked out in 15 minutes tops, thanks to a wonderful sleep aid :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A little breathing room

I had #1 do the cumulative review for the first 4 chapters of Math, and she got 122/130. Not bad for just jumping right back into the swing of things. I was in a bit of a panic that she wouldn't remember anything from over a year ago, but it's coming back to her. The biggest challenge will definitely be getting her used to the language they use, because she had to ask for clarification on what the book was asking her to do (and I had to look it up...gotta love confusing directions...).

I just hope the school will provide a teacher/translator for her during the test. It's been such a struggle to get this far, that I hate to push my luck.

I'll probably do it anyways.

Besos!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rejuvenation

Thanks for all the comments, emails and messages regarding the last post/rant. I appreciate all of the support! The fact that you managed to slog through the darn thing is enough to earn my friendship for eternity. It's there if you want it :)

I've had a fun weekend, and I'm looking forward to a good sleep tonight so I can tackle the new week and get started on that Math review with #1 so she can challenge the final asap.

The sad thing is, I'm sure I'll stress about it way more than she will. I generally don't care about grades with any of my kids, but I totally want her to kick butt on that exam! Hopefully I've done a thorough enough job of teaching her...but I'm trying not to think about it.

Well, not too much anyway. :)

Besos

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Homeschooling Rant

*This ended up being loooong* sorry

I need to vent. You don't have to read on, and it might be incredibly boring, but after talking with the Superintendant of Home School (hereby known as SHS) this morning I've gotta get this off my chest.

A little background information is in order.

I began homeschooling #1 a year and a half ago after she started coming home in tears every day from boredom. To watch this wonderful girl, who loves school, loves her teachers, come home every single day and cry was devastating. When her assignments began to suffer because she was burnt out and didn't care about school, I pulled her out (but not before making polite suggestions and offering alternatives to what was going on).

I suggested letting her work ahead in Math and Language arts, but that was rejected. I offered to get another Math program for her to work on, and they just about had a conniption fit. They didn't offer a single alternative so I decided to keep her at home. Within days of home schooling, my girl was back to her lovely, happy, healthy self. That alone makes this whole thing worth it. But there's much more to the story.

We'd had this problem for 2 years (since we moved here), so it was only a matter of time before she exploded. I tried to address the problem, talking to her teachers several times a year at every conference, but nobody would do anything. I got the same thing every time. She's wonderful, helpful, bright, kind, and she makes a great teacher's assistant. Nevermind the fact that she's done her work before everyone else and sits and reads all day long. Nevermind the fact that she's bored out of her mind and hasn't really learned anything new. As long as she was good, it didn't matter.

Not once in the 2 years we'd lived here did they suggest she undergo any kind of testing. Not until I wrote up my year end home-school evaluation (I had pulled her out midway through the school year) and suggested it may benefit her to be placed into the next grade. I had a call from the Superintendent of Special Education that very day chastising me because it was not my place to suggest such a thing. I calmly replied that I would obviously go through the proper channels to see a positive outcome, and scheduled testing (finally there's testing) for the very next day.

Well, four and a half hours of testing later (I kid you not), we finally had a decent profile of her academic/social/emotional standing. The results were fascinating. Not surprising, she excelled in many things, with her math skills being borderline genius level. However, in all things socio-emotional, she was a normal kid for her age, and her ability to process information quickly and effectively is what made her excel in all her other (non-genius) subjects.

As a result, the recommendation was to keep her at the same grade level as her peers, regardless of the fact that she took school much more seriously than the rest of the kids, regardless of the fact that she was ready for a more mature approach to schooling. She's a no-nonsense kind of kid who is at school to get the job done, plain and simple.

The recommendation (and this is from a school psychologist that I happen to know personally, and think he's wonderful and insightful) included the words "we'd like to see her assisting her peers" and "we wouldn't want her moved ahead, because what would she do when all her friends were getting their license and she couldn't drive for another year". It was concluded that she ought to have a personalized progress plan that would be re-evaluated every couple of months (by her group of 4-5 teachers) with a statement that the idea was not to make her do more work on top of the regular school work, it was to give her work more at her level (which was 2-3 years ahead in Math), BUT not have her complete any higher level of schooling.

In truth, it was basically the equivalent of auditing a university course as opposed to getting actual credit for it. As a result she would still have to take the same classes when she was older (more age-appropriate, as they would say), even though she'd already learned more complicated stuff. So, in the end, it would basically be giving her harder work to keep her from being bored just to pretty much get her through to high school.

I didn't go to the school board with a "give me what I want or I'm keeping her home" kind of attitude, but knew in my heart that although putting her ahead a grade (with modifications for her advanced language arts and way advanced math) was the best-case scenario, keeping her home was really the only acceptable alternative. Going back to the same kids, in the same grade, and dealing with all the same things while being pulled out of class and set apart as "the smart kid" wasn't going to do her any favours.

I could do her own personalized program at home, without the added stress. I also hoped we'd be able to get her ahead in an accredited sort of way with the intention of putting her in high school (grade9) when she was old enough (next fall). That's what brings me to today.

I had been directed to talk to the principal at the high school about placing her in the appropriate math class. She's technically in grade 8 this fall, but we pretty much completed the grade 10 Math curriculum last year. I figured taking gr.10 math would be a great way to assimilate her back into a classroom environment (she knows the material, so it wouldn't be overwhelming), and that it would really solidify the curriculum content before moving on to the more advanced math. The principal was very nice, but had never dealt with this type of situation. After stating that she'd end up with much older kids if she was allowed to move ahead (again with that darned peer group thing), he thought it best to get direction from the new SHS.

Well, this morning I talked with the SHS to see if something could be worked out. Our school division offers distance education courses, so I asked if that would be a possibility if everyone was so concerned about her being in a classroom full of older kids. That idea wouldn't be considered because she would have to be registered as a student at the high school (which apparently is impossible).

After much frustration at trying to get our mutual points across (and yes, I cried, but that's what I do when I'm frustrated - lame, I know, but I'm sure my mom and sisters are laughing right now - it's so me, haha), he decided to direct the principal of the high school to let her challenge the grade 9 final exam to see where she's at, and to challenge the grade 10 final instead of allowing her into the class (after expressing concern that she's been out of school for so long that it would be bad to move too far ahead, even though he knows we plan on placing her in school next fall). And he only allowed this much because he acknowledged that it would open up extra credits for her to take later in school, which "might be beneficial to her".

He did suggest that she get involved with robotics or something to use her math skills. While that would definitely be right up my 10 year old son's alley (oh, and how!), I told him that she doesn't care about using the skills, she just wants them to get her to where she needs to go. Just because it comes so easily doesn't mean it actually interests her that much. I don't even care if she pursues the AP math once the regular stuff is out of the way. He seemed genuinely surprised to hear that.

So, anyway, rant aside, I'm hoping that this "compromise" leads to something good. I plan on writing the SHS a letter to better explain my views of the situation (he phoned me out of the blue this morning, so I didn't have any notes prepared or anything). Besides, I do much better if I can put it in writing - big surprise there. :)

You know, I wonder sometimes why I put myself through all of this. I'm not a pushy parent. I don't much like confrontation, and I don't enjoy adding stress to my life*. But if I don't do it, nobody else will, and I've got an amazing young woman here that deserves to be her own happy self while getting the education she needs. I know all too well that the current system is hard on lots of students, but for someone like her who enjoys it, and loves to learn, there should be no reason for her to have to go through all of this.

All I've heard since the beginning of this long process are professions of "we want to do what's best for her". When I got off the phone with the SHS this morning, she said "I'm starting to feel like it's a crime to be smart". She didn't think anything bad when she said that (if you knew her, you'd understand). It was just an observation, a statement of fact - and she's not wrong.

It's never been seen as a good thing. Nobody at school (nor the school division) has ever encouraged her to move forward, and they certainly haven't facilitated it. Is that what's best for her? Makes a person wonder what book they're taking a page out of when you give them a perfectly happy, wonderfully eager, intelligent child - and they break them.

I don't regret taking her out of school. Not for a second. It might be a bit of a headache for me to deal with the bureaucracy, and it might be hard to fight for a positive outcome, and it might make me cry (so embarrassing) - who knows but that I was put on earth for such a time as this?

I may not be saving the world, but I can certainly try to keep hers from crashing down.

After all, what else is a mother for?

Besos.

*Says the woman who is trying to write books and get them published in a tough market...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Maybe it'll help to complain

It seems like forever since I've complained about those crickets in my inbox. And yes, my mother has taught me that it's not nice to whine, but here I am, doing it anyway. Sorry mom. :) I mean, I know people are busy and sometimes even like to take holidays, and I totally understand - I do! I'd just love to hear from someone...anyone! I don't even mind so much if it's a no, just give me something!

Okay, so I mind a teensy bit if it's a no, but it's sooo much harder when I hear nothing! Particularly on those partials that are so very exciting to send out, and yet so much harder to wait to hear back on.

But, I'm trying to look at the bright side. I mean, at least I'm getting requests. That's really something to be thankful for. Besides, it's not like I don't have anything else going on right now. There's the the home schooling outline I've still need to hand in for #1 (oops - note to self: finish the darn thing already and take it in!), and the kitchen to clean because I didn't have enough energy to do it yesterday (recovering from a throat infection - yay, me!). Oh, and of course there's the yet to be conquered mountain of summer laundry*; though truthfully, that thing never dies.

And what about my super top sekrit work-in-progress? Yeah...slow going with school starting up, but hopefully I'll be back at it on a more consistent basis in another week or so. Last night I actually came up with the perfect way to tell the story, resolved a major plot issue, AND I wrote the query letter so I'm pretty excited to get back at it.

Yeah, that's right. I have the letter all ready to send off to agents for when I finish the actual book. For those of you that have written a query letter, you know how hard it can be to make it good...and this one is VERY. GOOD. (Well, I can't exactly test it out on agents until I've got the book ready, but I think it's awesomely awesome.)

Okay, so now that I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the stuff that's on my plate, maybe it's not so bad that those agents haven't had time to get back to me yet...

Well, I'm off to tackle the kitchen before it mutates into something really scary.

Besos.

*But hey, at least I finally got the suitcases unpacked from my cousin's wedding in June. That's something, right?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Plotting vs. Pantsing...and National Lampoon

Fiction Groupie added another category to the plotter-pantser debate. The Clark Griswold. Her post is funny and informative. Go check it out here.

Besos!

Oh, and my method of writing is totally Clark Griswold. I thought I was just a pantser, since I had nothing else to choose, but his way of best-intention planning is so me. Er, in writing only. I like to think I've got it a bit more together in real life*. You know, where it really matters if a car blows up or whatever.

*I hope.

We hold these truths to be self-evident...

That naps are very, very good.

Very.

Besos!

*I mean no disrespect to the Declaration of Independence. This is just the first thing that popped into my head. Honest.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I really, really love my kids

What else are you supposed to tell yourself when you're cleaning out the throw-up bucket and you want nothing more than to fall into bed because you're dead tired but you know it's going to be a really, really long night?

I sure wish I had gotten that nap in earlier. I tried, but it just wasn't happening. Why is it that whenever I actually feel like I can fall asleep, something usually gets in the way?

Not that #4 is trying to interfere with my rem cycle, but still. Is it too much to ask for some cooperation from lame-o Evil Body Clock? Sheesh. Of all the nights for it to function properly.

It's so not fair.

Besos...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chaos Theory

Ever have one of those days? You know, the kind where you feel like you've been on the go from the second your feet hit the floor? And then you sit down and see that your living room is a complete disaster...and every other room looks like a tornado must've surely hit while you were out running errands or throwing in yet another load of laundry - and you wonder just what you did all day long?

Not to mention the loving husband who works so hard out in the "real world", who comes home to said disaster-stricken area and assumes you must've been lounging on the couch eating bonbons whilst watching wrappers, paper, clothes and dishes multiply and replenish...

Can I just say that I very strongly dislike those kinds of days? Nothing makes me feel like more of a failure as an at-home mom. I mean, sure, I have good days too, but they're sooo much harder to remember when staring at the aftermath of busy family life!

I was thinking how that's a lot like writing a novel. Some days it comes together, with everything in its proper place. But there are days (oh, and how!) when bits and pieces of character and plot are strewn across the pages, and you wonder how it all got to be that way (and how in the world you can possibly fix the mess).

You feel like a failure as a writer, because if you were any good, the story wouldn't be in such disarray!

But...once you start to shift things a little this way, or that, you quite often find that it starts to make sense. You get a clearer picture of what's working and what's not. That's when you find hidden gems in the story.

I have a theory. I shall call it my Chaos Theory*. These messes are a necessity (I can sense my husband smacking his forehead and shaking his head right about now). Without them, we would never devise new and exciting ways of solving our problems. Whether the problem requires new shelving or a new sub-plot, the chaos often breeds something very good.

Unless it's an old piece of fruit under the couch. That just breeds mould. Which is, um, the opposite of good.

Besos!

*Hmm, sounds familiar...sure hope there's no copyright on that.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sorry for the melancholic interlude

I just realized that I posted that poem last night without any explanation...so today, I explain. On the first of this month, my most darling, sweetest friend lost her husband of 7 years in an accident. She is now a widow at the age of 27, and is left raising two of the cutest boys aged 5 and 3.

She is an amazingly strong person, but now that the intitial shock is wearing off, it's time to deal with the back-breaking grief, and the stress of starting over. As someone who loves her, I struggle with knowing what to do, and knowing what to say. I can only hope that time goes by quickly enough to heal her, yet slowly enough to keep the memories of their incredible relationship intact.

I think that when you're as strong as she is, it's hard to even know where to begin asking for help and support. I'm so grateful for her husband's family, and for the concern they have for her. I know they worried so much when she didn't come crashing down in the first couple of weeks, but as it begins to settle in, they are there for her. We all want to be there for her.

So, I hope she knows how much I love her, and how much I wish I could say and do the perfect thing that'll help her make it through another day. I hope she knows that no matter how far she feels like falling, I won't let her go down, and neither will anyone else.

Friday, August 28, 2009

impromptu poem on a dear friend's grief

days go by in
oxymoronic
fast and slow motion
agony because of how slowly
every tear seems to fall
painful because of how fast
every heartbeat
leads away
from precious time together
mourning thrice over
once for yourself
twice more for little ones who
already
seem to forget
the life carefully planned
by loving
parents too soon parted
would that i could
administer
linguistic valium
but my words carry
little comfort
if any
instead i save tears
for when
darkness falls
because i know that's when it
strikes you
seemingly unyielding
my pillow is tear stained
though not so wet as yours
i can't walk in your shoes
only alongside
as near or far
as you can
stand
so i do what i can
while on my knees
that you can
carry on
that you can
make it through
another first step
alone
but not
because you're
ever watched over
ever prayed for
ever supported
by friends unsure
by love unfeigned
by hands unseen

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back to school blues

I really shouldn't be complaining. After all, every single one of my five children has been bouncing off the walls (a couple of them in a literal sense - ah, boys...okay, and one of the girls). So, while I'm happy they'll have somewhere to go that will allow them to release some of that energy, I'm so sad that the end of summer is here. And not just because I can't sleep in anymore (although that is a very, very sad thing...)

It's been fun, it's been busy, and it's gone by way too fast! Do you remember how quickly summertime flew by when you were a kid? I sure do, but why, oh, why didn't anyone warn me that it was even worse when you're a grown up?! How lame is that?

So, in an effort to cheer myself up, I've made up a list of things I'm grateful for with the kids heading back to school.

1. I won't have to find creative ways to fit eight hundred cups into the dishwasher (seriously, why can't they use the same water glass or two during the day?? Or better yet, why can't they use their water bottles?).

2. I won't have to do eight hundred loads of laundry a day (like it's not bad enough with 7 people in the family, they have to change several times a day...I keep trying to get them to live in their bathing suits all summer, but they just won't listen!).

3. My kitchen will get the rest it deserves (because contrary to popular belief, kids don't need 3 snacks between breakfast and lunch, 5 snacks between lunch and dinner, and 2 snacks before bed).

4. I won't have to feed them eighteen times a day (and I thought breast-feeding them as babies* was time consuming - it doesn't hold a candle to all the time I spend in the kitchen feeding them "real" food - and it's waaaaay more expensive!)

5. If I clean up the living room/bathroom/any room, it'll stay clean for most of the day. (Sure, I only like to do that when company is coming, but still...)

6. No more tripping over video game cords.

7. I can put music on really loud without interrupting anyone's favourite show.

8. Peace and quiet**. (This may seem to contradict #7, but I don't think they're mutually exclusive. There's a time and place for rockin' out, and a time for quiet. With them gone, I have a choice!)

9. Peace and quiet.

10. PEACE. AND. QUIET.

Ahhh, I feel so much better already. What makes back to school easier for you?

Besos!

*Too much information, I know.

**Sure, I home school #1, but she's generally the least noisy of the 5.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Teensy reminder

For the upcoming 10K day on Saturday. You can RSVP to the event here. I just rediscovered her site, as it's been moved from blogger, so you may want to bookmark the new one.

Besos!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No more sleep, and how to dress for the weather

Well, it's almost time to send the kiddies off to school again. That means no more revolving front door, no more 24 hour a day kitchen, and no more sleeping in.

NO MORE SLEEPING IN!!!

I mean, it's bad enough that the hustle and bustle of lessons and homework is starting up, but what I will miss most of all are the summer hours of late nights and sleep-ins. As a night owl, the school year just about kills me. I live for weekends and holidays so that my poor, tired body can recuperate from those early mornings and live in a way that is more conducive to my wonked out internal body clock.

My inability to function within the parameters of regular society weighs heavily upon me for ten months of the year. When my second wind hits (usually at about 9pm every night), I begin to dread the coming hours. My mind contends mightily with my body as it tries to talk it into getting to sleep at a normal time so I'll be able to wake up refreshed (and functioning) the next morning.

Now, I know that I have a powerful mind (hey, I've totally read The Secret). I'm an extremely stubborn person with an iron will (you know, when I really want something). But my mind has nothing on my body clock. My body clock defies all logic and reason.

Evil Body Clock has no respect for the conventions of modern, school-going life. It doesn't care that kids have to get out the door on time. It doesn't care that stores are only open at certain times of the day (small town living, what can I say...). It certainly doesn't care that the crazy hours drive my husband completely around the bend.

Evil Body Clock has its own agenda, and I secretly believe that it wants to rule the world. It certainly rules mine. But enough about Evil Body Clock...

Another (much less traumatic) thing that the school year brings, is cooler weather. In a few short weeks I'll probably be dragging out the winter jackets and mittens (I'm from west-central Canada, and we have 2 seasons: winter, and countdown-to-winter). There is a tradition up here that very few outsiders get to see. It's where we send our kids to school in winter clothing on the outside with summer clothing underneath. Mornings can be so cold, and afternoons so hot that we've been forced to adopt a slightly schizophrenic way of dressing.

If you've ever wondered what makes us so...so...Canadian, that just might be it. You psychology types can go to town on that if you like.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to see if I can remember where I put the winter boots*...

Besos!

*Why I even bother putting them away is beyond me...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Because apparently I have nothing better to do at 3 am

Stupid insomnia. I went to bed at eleven, only to come out at half past twelve because my husband (you know I love you honey) was tossing and turning and keeping me awake. I was up this late last night too!

Well, 10K writing day was, um, yesterday I guess. I participated to the best of my ability considering how dozy I was, and came up short of 5K, but in all, writing is writing and gets me a little closer to my goal. I've become quite a fan of 10K day. I like having that extra bit of motivation to just do as much as I can.

Mini progress report: I've all but ditched the book I originally started on a while back to pursue a new and fabulous idea. I'll get back to book 2 (I'm about 1/3 of the way through), but this other one is shaping up to be a snappy little thing.

The idea originally came to me as a series of Far Side type cartoons (I'm totally dating myself, I'm sure...) and involves something I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd write about - a zombie. The cartoons will be incorporated as part of the story, and I have to say that this is different and fun and dare-I-say high concept enough to be something great. I'm not even going to give up the title because it's all kinds of genius (says I)!

Now, don't be thinking this is a horror novel of some kind - it's not. I don't even like scary stuff*, and can't name any zombie movies to save my life. I've also never read a book with zombies in it (because, hello, they're too scary), though I've heard of several current YA books that deal with them. This book is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek romantic comedy/tragedy YA, and I really hope I can pull it off because I'm sooo excited by the concept.

Well, I guess that's about all anyone in their right mind should put in a post in the middle of the night. I'm going to see if I can finally crash out!

Besos!

*To read about my super-sekrit method of watching scary parts in movies, or just dealing with scary stuff period, go here. Trust me, it works every time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another 10K writing day (or two)

It's getting to be that time again. If you missed it last month, you can still get in on the action. There are two, count 'em TWO! 10K writing days this month. One on Thursday the 13th, and another on Saturday the 22nd (a great idea for those who can't participate during the week). Head on over to Milli Thornton's blog to check it out. Don't forget to sign up!

Some of you are probably thinking "I could never write ten thousand words in one day!" You may be right, but it doesn't matter! The idea behind the 10K day is to just dedicate the day to writing (it could be in a journal, for a blog - comments on other blogs included!, or your latest novel). You may be surprised at just how much you're able to get done.

I heard about it for the first time last month on MeganRebekah's blog. I ended up spending that afternoon at the park with my kids, but took my notebook and just wrote. I wasn't anywhere near the 10K mark by the end, but the experience really got the creative juices flowing, and I ended up with some excellent chapters for my current WIP, as well as getting a great start on a few other projects I had going.

If you find that you're languishing over what comes next in your story, take a break and write something else. Or, give yourself permission to let go. Be crazy, and let those characters do something silly. It'll help move things along, and next thing you know, you'll have the answers the story needed. Writing is work, but it's supposed to be enjoyable*.

And, in case you're wondering, I do occasionally take my own advice :)

Besos!

*Uh, I think. Otherwise, why am I doing it when I'm not even getting paid yet...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Getting ahead of myself

Well, I prefer to think of it as being prepared for the future.

Because my family is my priority, I try to think of the best possible scenario for my success as a published author in relation to them.

What does success truly mean to me? I look at the craziness that surrounds someone like Stephenie Meyer, and have to ask if that's what I want. The answer is an easy no.

I choose her as a comparison, not because I think I can write cocaine-laced prose (I think she's a fabulously addictive storyteller), but because she's a mom who ended up with a crazy best-seller, and you can't have that kind of success without it taking a huge toll on your family.

It's important to have some idea of how far a person is willing to go with promoting, etc. Without a plan, it's too easy to be taken by surprise. Before I have time to realize, something important will have been compromised.

Another example I see is Aprilynne Pike, whose recent blog post confirmed my suspicions. You really can't have a huge amount of success without sacrificing something. Let's face it - it's usually family time. Kids are extremely vulnerable to these sorts of changes, and will act out.

Shoot, I know that even though I'm at home 24/7, that if we don't make an effort to be together as a family, the kids are cranky, the parents are crabby, and the underlying peace that ought to be there goes out the window.

I can't live like that.

So, does that mean I can't be a very successful author? I certainly hope not!

In fact, thanks to the examples of other mom-writers, I am in a better position to judge what will work for me. I think it's great that Aprilynne and Stephenie both have a husband who can be there full time for the kids while they toil away at those future best-sellers.

It just wouldn't work for me, because I know that I need to be with my kids just as much as they need me. My husband doesn't have that need and would likely go crazy if he had to be with the kids non-stop.

That's why my plan includes writing with the kids around. If I can't write in the middle of the chaos, and be there for the kids in a way that I'm comfortable with, then I may as well not write at all.

Of course, going on tour for a book is going to take me away (remember, I'm envisioning future success...). I have plans for that too...but that's another post for another time :)

That's why it's good to put the cart before the horse a little bit. It gives me a chance to develop a plan for success that includes the needs of my family in a way that I can be happy.

And I owe it all to the highly successful mom-authors who are (hopefully) living their dream!

Besos!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A little support goes a long way, and a shortened, cheezy post turns out to be super-duper long (and cheezy) anyway

*Warning* Reading this post might cause you to get that song from Beaches in your head. That was entirely unintentional, and I apologize. If it makes you feel any better, I don't even like that song, so I've annoyed myself by writing this.

Okay, so I just wrote this big, long post that had a dreams/airplane analogy, but I decided it was too long-winded and could be summarized into 3 itty bitty points.

1.Dreams are like airplanes.
2.Hope is what makes them take flight.
3.When you share your dreams with others, those dreams can soar.

So, what brought all this on, you ask?

Well, I was talking with some old friends this weekend. We were discussing future hopes and dreams, and I came away feeling so buoyant. There's really no other word to describe it. Then I got to thinking about why I felt so good. After all, I feel pretty good most of the time, but this was something entirely different.

I'm kind of a private person* whose deepest thoughts rarely see the light of day, but as my friends and I layed out some of our aspirations, something magical happened. It was like the good will and wishes of others literally picked up my own hopeful little I-wanna-be-a-writer aircraft, and catapulted it into outer space.

Now, I don't want you to think that I've had no family support with my dream of becoming a published writer. I have, and that means a lot too. In fact, they're the reason I have more confidence than I probably should :) - but somehow having people believe in me (who aren't required to love me) gave me an added dose of determination and even more hope.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is what blogging about this whole process does too. My husband (who thinks the internet is best used for playing games online) is baffled by my blog. He is baffled that I try to read so many other blogs. I've had a difficult time explaining it to him too, because up until now, I didn't know exactly why.

It's fun? I learn lots from amazing and talented people? I just like it? Well, those may all be true enough, but I've finally figured out the real reason behind my actions.

Reading and writing about these experiences puts air under my wings.

I guess I've been well on my way to coming to this conclusion anyway, but this weekend really cemented it in my mind. I hadn't realized that I was feeling somewhat self-conscious about talking to others about my writerly aspirations, the book I've written, and the steps I've begun to take towards making this a career.

(I'm afraid others will think I'm pretentious. Do you ever have that fear?)

The truth is, I haven't got an agent yet, and getting published is even further away than that.

However...I've decided to put those bashful days behind me.

When it comes down to it, I believe in myself, and I believe in my dream. I know that if I'm good enough, then someone is going to offer to represent me. It may take a while to find the right person, but I'm willing to plug away until I make a good match for my story and my career. I'm extremely proud of what I've accomplished so far, and the projects that are in the works will only be better too. I'm always learning; always growing and improving.

This will happen, and until it does, I'm going to share my experiences with anyone who wants to listen. No more stumbling over descriptions of my novel or WIPs, no more mumbling, no more sweaty palms, no more worrying. I have a new-found gratitude for people who ask about what I'm working on, because I think they want me to succeed**.

I know that whatever you're dreaming about - I want you to succeed. I look forward to reading about your trials and successes. Hang in there! I will if you will.

So, thank you for reading my blog; for making me feel like I have something interesting to say, for sharing in my excitement about this awesomely crazy journey, and for putting up with my rambling about, uh, airplanes and wind.

Besos!

*Well, except when I'm airing my innermost feelings on a blog.
**I'm all for making assumptions like that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy

Have you ever just felt happy for no apparent reason? It happens to me quite a bit, and today it struck me as being rather unusual. There are days when that happiness is fleeting, and others where it follows me around. Today is one of the latter. It hums in the background - occasionally poking its tongue or making faces - leaving me smiling and giggling at mundane things.

Sure, I have those down days too, but even then, that happiness is much like Peter Pan's shadow: trying to run away only to come snapping back to mimic (and occasionally poke fun at) me.

It's contagious too. The kids see me smiling, and give me hugs and kisses out of the blue. I love days like that. Somehow the tedium of my run-of-the-mill-housefrau/laundry-cleaning-dishes life is made easier when buoyed up by this ever-present shadow of joy.

My life really is my bliss. What's yours?

Besos!

Friday, July 17, 2009

10K writing day

Yesterday I participated in author Milli Thornton's 10K day (that I learned about from reading MeganRebekah's blog). I didn't come anywhere near the 10,000 words*, thanks to overly demanding children (husband included, haha) who don't understand the need for me to be left alone, but I had so much fun and wrote more in one day than I have in a long, long time.

Honestly, it was the best remedy for the "I'm querying, but nobody's answering, or when they are, they don't like me so I must really stink" blues. Okay, I'm laughing even as I type this. I'm really no good at the depressed-angsty thing. I'm too half-glass-full to be in a funk for any length of time**.

The "rules" for the 10K day include the stipulation that you're not necessarily supposed to make your goal, so much as to just make the time to write and have fun with it.

Thank goodness for that!

I didn't actually think I'd make it (though the over-achiever*** in me secretly hoped I would). With 5 kids at home, it's kind of hard to keep them out of my hair long enough to even write a complete paragraph. We did spend the afternoon at the park, where I was able to get a lot done while working on my sunburn. In all, a highly productive and fun day!

I highly recommend that you take the time to participate in the next 10K day if you can. The next one is being held on August 13th and you can sign up here. It doesn't cost anything, and it really gets the creative juices flowing. You don't even have to work on a novel - anything counts. Even blogging! So what are you waiting for??

Besos!

*I wrote in a notebook, so I'm not even sure exactly how many words I did write, but it can't have been more than 5K.

**Except for that one time I had post-partum depression and didn't realize it until it was over and done. It was one of the most confusing times of my life with my brain trying to be happy, and my body being physically incapable of cooperating.

***This side of me doesn't come out very often, haha.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back from holidays and musings on what editors are picking up

I have to admit that I felt a little weird without my computer/appendage, but I had tons of fun at hubby's family reunion. We don't get to see everyone all that often, so it's always a good time when we can get together. Usually everyone is in bed by 10:30 and I'm the lone night owl that stays up into the wee hours, but this time all of us girls stayed up until 2 am playing cards and giggling while everyone else tried to sleep. It was a blast.

I got home to a couple of rejections in my inbox - one of which was for a partial, which was a bit of a buzz-kill. C'est la vie (and I still have a partial out in the agentverse). I'm trying not to be discouraged, but I must admit it can be a challenge.

I read about YA writers who are getting agents, and of books that are being snapped up by publishing houses, and they're all so very different from mine. They're...well, they're very edgy. They deal with subject matter that I have no desire to touch with a 30 foot pole.

An edgy writer I am not. I'm okay with that. Happy even. And logic tells me there's room for good, clean, exciting books. That's what I like to read, and that's what my kids like to read. They're certainly not the only ones.

I hope this doesn't come across as too whiny. I love the book that I'm submitting to agents, and I believe it will find the right home. It's just hard sometimes. There are days when I do wonder...

I know you all understand what I'm talking about. I'm curious about your thoughts on the subject?

Besos!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Holidays

Don't you love summer holidays? No more rushing the kids out the door in the morning (mornings are bad enough without having to get everyone going), no more running out of juice boxes for lunches, no more searching for assignments, backpacks and notes to sign.

Can you see the big smile that's made its way across my face? It's there, trust me!

I love the breezy, go-with-the-flow summer days. I love sleeping in. I love sticky popsicle and freezie messes on the back deck. I adore sunscreen scented kisses and squeals of laughter that accompany the water fights in the back yard.

We're having to wait a bit for the major unscheduling to begin - the kids' official last day was only 4 days ago, but we've already attended a cousin's wedding out of town, had family come to stay for a few days, and next week we'll be at a family reunion. It's all been fun so far, and there will be more fun to come, but I mostly look forward to days vegging out at the park.

As an added bonus, I tend to do some of my best writing with a pen and notebook, so I'll look forward to completing this manuscript in between trips through the sprinklers at the spray park. Could life be any better?

Besos!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

14 years

That's how long I've been married. Hubby and I celebrated our anniversary last night by going out for lobster, crab and shrimp. Mmm, I love seafood!

Some people say that it's bad to get married young, but I disagree. We were starry-eyed at 22, dated and were married within 6 months, and I wouldn't have done it any other way. That's not to say that it's always been easy*. We're both extremely stubborn (quit laughing mom), and have some definite ideas of how things should be, but when it comes right down to it, we're in this for the long haul. I think that's what makes all the difference.

For kicks, here's a list of some of the things that have accompanied our fourteen years:

7 years of university, 3 degrees, 7 houses, 2 countries, 1 major job change, 6 vehicles, 5 kids, 1 stillbirth, 3 miscarriages, 2 cats, more disagreements than I can possibly keep track of, and more love than I can quantify!

I think it can be a difficult thing for people to grow and change over the years. Thankfully, we've not been immune to learning and growth. I embrace it with open arms. I like that we can learn from our mistakes, and become more effective in our relationships. Some days, I wonder how we could possibly have come together because we're so different, but most days I marvel at just how perfect we are for each other.

Our differences are what make our family well-rounded (and me too, for that matter). The things I tend to forget about are the things he can't live without, and the things that I love are things that he wouldn't push for. I love that sort of give and take in the family dynamic. Our kids have benefitted immensely from our diversity.

Thankfully, we still have a lot to learn from each other - we have a lot of years ahead of us! I know they won't be easy, because let's face it, nothing in life is. But it'll be worth it.

In the immortal words of the High School Musical cast: We're all in this together.

Besos!

*Come to think of it, I'm not sure that it's ever been particularly easy. Maybe year 15 will be?

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Very Good Point

Thanks for mentioning that people might look in the closets. Of course they will. Even I've been known to do that on occasion. I shall only put things under the bed. If they look under there, well, it's their own fault. They're too snoopy and I don't want them to buy my house anyway. I simply cannot be held accountable for other people sticking their noses where they don't belong.

And for something completely off topic...

So, I have an email account that I only use for querying/corresponding with agents. Do you want to know how I check my email these days? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway.

I log in, then cover my eyes, and peek through the cracks in my fingers to see if I have any messages. If I do, I click on it and start to read from the bottom up. For some reason, it makes it easier. Plus, it's more fun. I've received a couple of query rejections from fantastic agents that I knew were borderline for the genre of my current novel, but thought it couldn't hurt to try. Peeking at the email softens the blow. Extremely useful tactic.

Covering my eyes is also how I watch scary parts of movies. Except that I also plug my ears at the same time. My husband laughs, but it works great. I don't like to be scared. My imagination runs wild.

Besos!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Well, I guess it worked

I sent out a query yesterday with just the new preface (this agent doesn't ask for pages with the initial email), and got a request for a partial today. I'm really excited. Not only is she fast, but I've read nothing but excellent things about her, and the agency she's with.

I hope this doesn't mean another sleepless night, because this whole week has been a bust for me and I'm already exhausted. Insomnia is L-A-M-E! Especially when there's a zillion things going on with the last week of school, and getting ready for holidays*. Not only that, I can't even leave the house in the usual packing disaster zone in case the realtor shows the house while we're gone. I have a feeling I might be stashing things under beds and into closets. Shhh, don't tell!

Besos!

*I'm soooo grateful to have a laptop so I can type wherever I go!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

You tell me...

I sort of think the manuscript I've been submitting could use a little something. I've got this preface that's been brewing, but I want to know if it's enough to pique interest, or if I should just forget it because I'm getting requests without it. My husband said it wouldn't make him read further (insert eye roll here), but he's not a big reader, and since this novel doesn't have any boy wizards I didn't really expect him to like it*.

Maybe some more discerning YA readers out there could let me know what they think? I don't need a critique, as I know it's not perfect**, but I'm just looking for a general yay or nay.



Preface

Sure, it might be a brave thing to give up on something that would make me blissfully happy – that had already brought me so much light in the darkness - but could it be considered heroic if I wasn’t going to remember what I’d lost? Judging by the dizzying nausea that blurred my vision, I don’t think I’d be as inclined to make the same decision knowing I’d experience a prolonged, rip-out-your-gut aftermath.

My mind reeled, still playing through a dozen scenarios as it tried to preserve the future it had already grown so accustomed to. I’d already made up my mind, but that didn’t seem to make the actual deed any simpler. It’s not every day you say goodbye to the only thing you ever hoped beyond hope was possible.

I opened my mouth to speak the words that I knew would cut deeper than the sharpest surgical steel blade.

Let me know what you think. Tell me the truth (uh, kindly). I can take it.

Besos!

*This is exactly why I'm not letting him near the book until I've got an agent...
**But hey, if you think it's perfect, feel free to say so ;)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Did you know...

That checking your email inbox eight hundred times a day does not make you get replies from agents more quickly?

Just thought I'd let you know.

In case you were wondering why yours was still empty*.

Besos!

*Not unlike mine.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

This just in: Bipolar is the new normal

According to the comments on the last post (which I really appreciated, btw), it's completely natural to be slightly schizophrenic/bipolar when trying to write a novel.

Okay, so there were only 5 of us in agreement, but that's a whole 100% of 5 people, and those are some hard numbers to argue with.

Hey, don't look at me - I just report the facts.

Now, if there are people who read this blog who are not experiencing the same symptoms as the rest of us, it's okay. You're just not a writer. Or, if you are a writer, the rest of us would like to know if you're taking some sort of supplement to make you behave in a way that's more conducive to life in the non-fiction world.

So good luck to all my writing-induced bipolar/schizophrenic friends out there. No worries - there's safety in numbers, and we CAN make it through to the end* of the project!

Besos!

*Just don't go around shouting "The end is near! The end is near!", or people will really think you're unstable.