Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hair Party

I wanted everyone to see what I am faced with each and every morning:

Besides having stock in Pantene Conditioner and Johnson's No More Tears Detangler, I should get hazard pay for getting the knots out. They went on a haircut strike about a year and a half ago, and being as DH had dreadlocks at one point, we decided that this was not the fight we wanted to take on. Baseball season is coming however, and the tipping point might be trying to find a baseball cap to fit on the mop. I've got my clippers ready. Oh, did I mention, these are boys?

On this date: In 1953, the chemical structure of DNA is discovered.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

(Wo)Man's Best Friend

I'm sitting here trying to write and the Big Hairy Dog is begging me for some of his favorite food. What's that you say? Is it bacon? Roast leg of lamb? Pig's ears? Noooooo. BHD's favorite people food is:

Edamame. That's right, soybeans. He shells them, eats the beans and spit the shells out all over the floor for someone (me) to pick up. Sigh. Even the dog is wierd.

I've been emailing Agent E all morning about a cool new project I want to do. She actually thinks its a good idea too, so I'm going to start working on it soon. It's very different from the MG that's out (it's still out at one pub, and she has a great idea about another house if this doesn't work out - gotta love the energy) and the YA that is in progress so I think I can work on it at the same time. I'll let ya'll know what it is when the "hush hush" period is over.

I've decided that I need a friend. Not just a regular friend, I have those, but a writing friend that I can meet with over coffee, sit at our laptops and write silently but together and commiserate and celebrate with about our writing doings. I've been reading Maureen Johnson's blog and get all jealous hearing about how she and John Green and E. Lockhart all hang around a coffee shop writing and kvetching together. It's all so young, literary and cool (although, according to J yesterday, when a mom thinks that something is cool, you'd better watch out). Okay, so I'm not all that young, I'm sort of literary(ish) and I was cool. Once.

Anyone? Anyone?

On this date: In 2003, Mr. Rogers died.

Monday, February 26, 2007


I was just listening to a debate on talk radio where a city council in New York is considering banning the "n" word. As usual there were some pro, some against and lots of slippery-slope theories. The discussion is particularly interesting to me in the wake of scrotum-gate because the manuscript that my agent is sending around right now contains that particular word not once, but twice. It is said in anger by an elderly man living in a small town in the South and is completely contextually appropriate. Within my critique group there was a lot of discussion over whether to leave it out or not; in the end it stayed because the scene became watered-down and weak when it wasn't there. It is the very word itself that hangs in the air and lets the MC understand what he is up against. I didn't put it there to be controversial; I put it in because it had to be there. (My eighth-grade reader said it had to stay in her opinion.)

Every year, I go to stay in a small town in the South (pop. 4,000 - traffic lights: 4, movie theaters: 0) and while there are lots of good things about this place, I have heard the "n" word bandied about on many occasions, mainly by people older than myself. I'm writing contemporary fiction, and the use of the word in this context is contemporary and not altogether fictional.

In the end, it is up to the editor and me to decide what is right for the marketplace. It's too bad we can't decide based on what is right for the book.

On this date: In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Eau de Caulibutter

So, the whole house now smells of cauliflower (see Weds. post). Seriously like cauliflower. I had to cook it because it is DH's favorite veg and he is out of town until tomorrow (apparently it is cold in Amsterdam this time of year...hehehe - except he just told me on the phone that he might get to go to Hawaii in March. Ba**rd.) and I didn't want it to go off. I tried to get the cauliflower smell out of the house by opening both the front and back doors, but it is cold here and that didn't last long. I came up with the idea of making peanut butter cookies to cover the cauliflower smell so now I have two dozen pb cookies that I have to eat by tomorrow because DH is coming home as I said, and while he loves cauliflower, he hates anything having to do with peanut butter. Comes from being raised in Britain where they have an aversion to anything made with peanut butter. The house now smells like cauliflower with a peanut butter chaser. Yum.

We just had an earthquake. Living in N. Ca will do that to you. Not a biggie - 3ish - but big enough to wiggle my chair around. The kids were bummed because they were outside messing around and didn't feel it.

On this date: In 1978, Fleetwood Mac won the Grammy for Rumors.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Peanut (AKA: Teeny Tiny Kitten)

Some of you are familiar with the saga of Peanut, the one day-old kitten that big hairy dog and I found on a walk way back in October. Some of you met him at the SCBWI conference in Davis in the fall. Well, he proved us wrong by surviving and thriving and now lives next door and wiggles under the back fence to visit us nearly every day.

Members of the blue board on Verla Kay went along on the journey, so I wanted to post a couple of newish pictures so that they can see how big he's gotten.

From this:

To this:

To this:

Peanut wishes you all a very happy Washington's Birthday.

On this date: In 1980, the "Miracle on Ice" for US Hockey.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Big Head Brand Cauliflower

Today, my neighbor brought us a cauliflower that is as big as a boy's head. See:

Hooray for winter in California! Anybody need lemons? We have a whole backyard full.

I'm trying this new fast-draft writing thing with my YA. Basically, you write really fast. And don't stop to correct or edit or change anything (that's the hard part). So far, so good.

Yesterday's word count: 2,375

On this date: In 1965, Malcom X was assassinated.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pick My Face

Okay. I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna post the two top choices for the author photo and let you pick. I really like choice #1, but there is a bit of glasses-glare that I'm not sure we can get rid of. I tried taking a couple without the glasses, but I've been wearing them so long it didn't look like me .

DH did a good job, even if he didn't make me look 20 years younger.

We had a great ski weekend and much was learned. K and J learned that you are supposed to cook gringo taco shells before you serve them. (I like these, but they always taste so stale.) JF learned that poker with four women and an unlimited supply of strawberry margaritas can quickly get out of hand. B learned that a house gets smaller when three boys stay there. And I learned how important it is to have quality long-term friends.

I'm not going to comment about the controversy over the Newbery Award winner The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you can check out
except to say that I hope her sales soar because of the controversy. My bud CTB made the great comment that we don't need Newbery Award winning books to corrupt our kids; we have reality TV for that. Please.

On this date: In 1985, Ireland allows the sale of contraceptives.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Two Pounds of Words

So we're off to probably the only cabin in Tahoe without internet access, so no blogging for a couple of days. Also, no obsessive email checking, no blog perusing and no Friday version of Brotherhood 2.0. The car is loaded with CD books from Alexander McCall Smith, David Sedaris and of course, the CD of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (probably my favorite kid book ever).

I actually printed out the entire 200 pages of Armadillo because some friends we're going with wanted to read it. It had been awhile since I'd seen it in the flesh and it's pretty hefty. So much is done by email and electronically now that you don't often see a big stack of your words. On the one hand it's cool. On the other, you feel bad for the trees.

DH and I took about 57 photos yesterday and I'm fairly pleased with the result. Will update you later on that when I've recovered.

Have a great holiday weekend!

On this date: In 1923, King Tut's tomb was opened.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Best Face Forward

Don't tell Agent Erin, but between ski trips, PTA worries, new braces and T's new love of gymnastics, the only words I've written in the past week have been on the blog. So much for my 5k per week goal. Tomorrow is another day, and I'm going to tuck in, not hit the message boards, not take a look at everyone else's blog, not watch Brotherhood 2.o (okay, I am going to watch Brotherhood, but not until after the kids get home - besides they love it and do an amazing imitation of John Green waxing his chin) and write at least 2,000 words before the sun goes down. I will get this first draft done by June. I have a great idea for the next mid-grade novel, but I've told myself I can't even start research until I've got the Triplets finished.

The only other thing I have to do tomorrow is take the dreaded author photo. Seems so simple; go out with a camera and take a couple of snapshots. Not so. This one photo will tell the world about you and will be around FOREVER. You have to wait until just the right moment when you don't look too tired, hair stripes aren't root-bound, no visible blemishes and your one cute shirt is clean. One thing I've noticed is that most good author photos aren't very smiley. I guess that's because we're very serious people toiling away at very serious work. We'll have to see if I'm feeling smiley or not. I think that Clarion wants to put a photo on the book jacket which makes me cringe, but I can see the point. Helps explain that the writer with the very Nigerian last name is in fact a 6 ft tall white girl from California.

On this date: In 1929, Penicillin was discovered. Yay mold!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Metal Mouth

So, J got braces today. Not to downplay it or anything, but there were only six teeny tiny little brackets glued onto his front teeth held together by a little wire. Nothing like the HUGE metal bands, elastic and wires that were secured on every tooth in my mouth at the age of seven (but I'm glad about it now, thanks Dad). Still, a milestone day for him - Advil all around. The only thing is that my 9 year-old now looks about 13 which is not what I bargained for.

In other news: Publisher's Lunch has announced that Cynthia Lord just sold not one, but two new novels to Scholastic as well as a picture book. After winning the Newbery Honor for Rules (the best MG I read all year - if you haven't read it, you should go get a copy. Are you still here? Go!) this is definitely her year.

Still waiting to hear about my MG that is still out at three houses. This week for sure. Or maybe next. For sure.

On this date: In 1920 the League of Nations recognized perpetual Swiss neutrality. (It was an incredibly slow day)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Where I Went on My Monday Off

This is the fabulous view from our fabulous friends fabulous condo in the Sierras. (Thanks R-Ps, it was fabulous!) We got invited on a last minute getaway for some skiing (me) and snowboarding (everyone else in the known universe) and it was great. Not to worry, shortly after this picture was taken this morning it started pouring snow (does it pour snow?).

This is what I love about Northern Ca. Yes, the cost of living is outrageous (thank God we bought our fixer when we were young and naive), yes there are lots and lots of other people here who think it is cool too, yes gas costs about 45 cents more per gallon here - but in just three short hours I can drive from my house to the snow. The best part, is we get to leave and come home where there is no snow that you have to shovel out of the driveway every day ( I don't know how you people do it).

No big exciting messages from Agent Erin when we got home, but I did get word that she is jazzed about a picture book I sent her and is sending that around next week. Fingers crossed for a quick sale on that one too!

On this date: In 1809, Abraham Lincoln is born.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Ode to a Fieldtrip Chaperone

Can't speke. Two tird. Spnt entire dy at vrry largf scince musem in SF with fiv forth grdrs. Almst loosed one, but made it hme in 1 pice. Whoos makn coffeeee?

On this date: In 1942 daylight savings time is instituted.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Warning: Rant Ahead

From Publisher's Lunch today:
Among dozens of new deal reports, true crime author Dianne Fanning tackles the bizarre case of astronaut Lisa Nowak.
I'm not sure whether to be repulsed or awestruck. This only happened the day before yesterday!

On another note, I have to get something off my chest. Has anyone out there seen the Nickelodeon show The Naked Brothers Band? Does it bother anyone else as much as it bothers me? The basic premise is that there are a bunch of little kids (ages about 8-11) who form this band in NYC and basically live like tiny rock stars. They run around in limos, dress like aging rockers (who does the wardrobe, the costumer from Spinal Tap?), sport fake tattoos and have groupies hanging all over them (most 8 year old boys I know don't want girls hanging all over them).

Besides the fact that the whole thing is driven by their whacked-out father who plays accordion in the "band", they can't sing at all and the songs are horrible. It's the complete "adultization" of these kids that bugs me the most. My kids have seen it a couple of times and think it's ok, but it has been plugged to death by the network which must have quite a stake in it's success. Every time I see it, I want to smack the doo-rag off the little one's head and stick him in the shower to scrub off those awful fake tattoos. Whew. I feel better now.

On this date: In 1915, the first full-length American motion picture Birth of a Nation opens.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Out of the Mouths...

7:45 AM, Getting ready for school.

T (age 6): Who discovered death?
Me (age witheld): Um, probably the first person who was alive.
(Momentary silence and wrinkling of forehead.)
T: So, doesn't that mean it was the second person alive that discovered it?

On this date: In 1964, the Beatles arrive in NY.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Someone mentioned that they couldn't comment because they weren't registered. (Sound of me slapping forehead.)

I changed the setting so that now anyone can comment, so have at it. Just keep it clean people.

Pen Names, Part Deux

Well,I thought I had a lot of time on the name thing (not to mention time to lose that 20 pounds for the author photo), but I was wrong. The mailperson just brought a nice little packet from the publisher of my first picture book that contained a detailed questionnaire and request for an author photo for promotion and flap copy. The third question is what name I want to use. Yikes. As of this very moment, I'm leaning toward Cyn Jaynes because I like the rhythm of it, although I think my kids will be heartbroken if I don't use Omololu. Cynthia Jaynes Omololu is just so long. Cynthia J. Omololu? I think I'll resort to the old dart-board method of decision-making.

On this date: In 1952,Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen of England.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Manic Monday

Ah Monday. I've come to like Mondays because they signal the return of normalcy: the mail comes, my email inbox dings every now and then and I might, just might get a "good news" phone call from Agent Erin. I think that the other editors who have my MS will get back to us this week, so it will either be the best week ever, or I'm going to retreat to my bed for awhile.

J is home sick today, which I'm saying is the reason that I'm not getting anything done. He's lying on the couch watching TV and keeps asking me to come and sit with him (which I do - did you know an Austrialian girl won the snowboard half-pipe gold medal at the Winter X Games?). DH came home sick on Friday and the best I could do was toss him bottles of water from the doorway and sleep in the office until he was better. It sounds cruel, but I've managed to avoid the cooties so far.

The real reason that I haven't written a word today is that I find it hard to concentrate on the brink of uncertainty. The whole "put it out of your mind and work on something else" business is a crock. Ring phone, ring.

On this date: In 1952, the first "Don't Walk" sign is installed in New York City.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Pen Names - Who Can I Be Now?

There is a great thread on the Verla Kay boards about pen names and who uses them and why. It got me thinking about who I want to be in print. I could use my married name, which is long and distinctive and contains lots of vowels. I could use my maiden name which is a bit of a yawn. I could come up with something totally different, maybe using ancestor names. Cynthia Fraser? Cynthia Eddy? Cynthia MacMath?

Lots of writers use pen names to protect their privacy, and that has its appeal. My first book won't be in print until next Spring, so I have a little time to decide. Any suggestions?

On this date: In 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash in Iowa.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Missing the HP Gene

I have a confession to make.*

I've never read an entire Harry Potter book. Not one. Not past page 72 anyway. I've tried, Lord knows I've tried to get on the HP train, even tried to jump onto the caboose one time as it passed me by, but to no avail. HP has invaded our house - J has read every book multiple times and is waiting like the rest of the world for July 21st at 12:01am, but for me it's just, eh.

Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate JK's writing and the brilliance of the plots. I can stand in awe of all she has accomplished but the sad fact is that I don't now, didn't then and most likely won't in the future like Fantasy. I get a little melancholy when the HP hype starts and it gets worse as the release date draws near. Everyone on the writer's boards is all excited, making sure that they get their copy at one minute past the stroke of midnight.

I want to participate, I really do, but it's a little like being allergic to chocolate on the Ghirardelli factory tour. You can see it and you can smell it, but if you can't taste it, there's no point.

On this date: In 1979, Sid Vicious was found dead of a heroin overdose.

*Those of you who read The Edge of the Forest have heard this all before. Sorry.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

"Good" Rejections

So I figured rejections that were filtered through an agent wouldn't feel as bad. Not so much.

It was nicer to have someone to commiserate with and to point out all of the wonderful words and accolades that came before the big "buts", even though I've spent the day with nothing but the buts running through my head. Agent Erin is still so upbeat and positive that I feel like I'm letting her down by wallowing. She knows that "The One" (her words) is out there and the fact that the comments are almost diametrically opposed is a good thing. It feels a bit like being on and looking for just the right editor to take your manuscript for longs walks on the beach at sunset. I can feel that she's right, that we're this close. Now I just have to get through the rest of the day.

On this date: In 1884, the Oxford English Dictionary debuts.