Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pity Party

So I'm holding my own pity party here this weekend because I'm not going to the big national conference in LA. Waaah. I've said that I'm not going to wallow in being the only kidlit writer around who will be sitting home, but it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to. Everyone on the boards is talking about packing and sparkly costumes and where they are going to meet up. It's painful people. We decided a while ago that I wasn't going this year because of the expense and DH's travel schedule and while on the surface it was a very good and rational decision, I'm still bummed. All of the cool kids are going to the party and I have to stay home and babysit. Everyone except Debby G. who is going instead on a fabbo Italian anniversary trip. Whatever.

Next year will be the year. My MG will be almost ready to hit the stores and my YA will be up for auction. Or was that a pre-empt? Maybe I'll even be on a panel. Ah, yes, I can see it now. Save me a mojito.

On this date: In 1975, Jimmy Hoffa disappeared.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Day Camp Diary

Three cheers for day camp! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!
After an 8:30 drop off, I spent a blissful three hours (after mopping the floor and two loads of laundry) with my YA WIP. Rather than pick up where I left off, I've been taking the words of my crit group to heart and am revising from the beginning. It seems that this is the way I write - I plow through the first half of the book, get some critiques on that part, go back and revise the first part and then continue on, finish the book and start the revision process all over. It is less like sculpting a great work of art and more like punching and molding a pile of pizza dough until it resembles the shape you want it to be. Right now, it is looking a lot like a bust of Homer Simpson, but we're getting there.

On this date: In 2003, the last "classic" VW Bug rolled off the line.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Travelblog 2.0-1

I love dragonflies!

On this date: In 1981, Prince Charles married Lady Diana.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Travelblog 2.0

We're on a little two-day holiday in the Gold Country. Who knew it was so cool up here:

Or here...

And especially here:

We're having a great time - hope you are too!

On this date: In 1940, Bugs Bunny made his debut.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Causes of Global Warming?

I'm starting to get assigned particular articles for my web-freelancing gig. Today I got assigned articles on sexual frustration and global warming. Not in the same article mind you, but I wonder...

I actually did some work on my YA last night, and I felt great the whole day today. It's amazing what a physical reaction you can have to a good writing session. I was answering a question on Verla Kay's Blue Board yesterday, and I calculated that if I wrote my customary 2,500 words per day, every day, it would only take me 22.8 days to finish a first draft. Man, do I get distracted.

On this date: In 1965, Bob Dylan played the electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Sigh Heard Round the World

Whew! Mom read Armadillo Season and didn't hate it. Actually she liked it. A lot. Why do I sound surprised? Well...AS is set in a small Texas town not unlike the one she happens to live in. The content is about race and what happens when you are suddenly not who everyone thought you were. It's not like any of the characters are real people or anything, but you know...a borrowed mustache here, a character trait there. I was worried she was going to think I was commenting negatively on people she knows, or the town (it's not actually set there) or even the whole state of Texas. But she didn't.

I love David Sedaris, and whenever I travel I listen to one of his audiobooks. If you've never heard David Sedaris Live at Carnegie Hall, you owe it to yourself to go out and get a copy. Hilarious. Anyway, he has a bit about how he is just a junk collector who reuses the junk the he finds along the way. The only problem is that the junk that he collects is bits and pieces of other people's lives that he picks up dusts off and uses as it suits him. People start to not tell you things after a while.

On this date: In 1911, Machu Picchu is discovered.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Time Carving and Other Intangibles

So Walter Mosley has a book out called This Year You Write Your Novel that was excerpted in O Magazine this month. It was an interesting article, with the bottom line being that you have to set aside a certain amount of time (three hours was the example) EVERY day to write. On a vacation in the Bahamas? Write before breakfast. Kids need attention? Carve out time anyway.

The theory is that if you go a day or more without reconnecting to the world you're creating it is too hard to get back into it. I buy this theory completely and know I could finish my WIP in no time if I could find time. I'd love to be the type of writer that gets up at dawn, sits down with a cup of coffee and cranks out a few thousand words before everyone gets up. Only a few problems with that scenario.

First off, oldest son J gets up at about 5:45 every day regardless of when he goes to bed. That would mean that in order to get a good couple of hours in before he got up, I'd have to set my alarm for about 3:00. (Don't know about you, but I get my best work done when there is nobody around that might need something from me.) Now, I'm useless unless I've been up for a good hour or so, which means that I would have to get up around 2:00. Taking a shower always helps me wake up, and then I might as well wash my hair, so that would have me getting up around 1:30. Of course, if I was up, the pets would want to be fed and wouldn't leave me alone so I'd have to take some time out to feed them, which would back the clock to about 1:15. Being as I now turn my light off at around 1am because I am a staunch night owl, this would only alter my schedule by about 15 minutes. Not too bad.

All excuses aside, I've been thinking a lot about this, so I'm going to seriously carve out some time. The hours from about 9pm to 12am sound about right. Sometimes I wish I was a morning person.

On this date: In 1984, Vanessa Williams gave up her crown as Miss America.

Friday, July 20, 2007

And the Earth Moved...

In advance of the big Harry Potter midnight release, the universe sent the Bay Area a pretty big earthquake at 4:42 this morning. Did I feel it? Youbetcha. Did the kids? J was up and in my room within seconds, but T and his sleepover friend just huddled in their sleeping bags and snored right through it. Being a (mostly) lifelong California resident, it's not that unusual, but this one was big enough to sit up and take notice.

So what did I take away from this? To live every day like it was my last? Well yeah, that, but also that I need to buckle down and finish my WIP so that I can sell it and get a new foundation so that the house will stay put during the big one. Nothing like the wrath of the universe to get you to sit down and open up that dusty file.

Happy HP day!

On this date: In 1987, my littlest sister was born. Happy Birthday Jess!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Back to Normal

We're all back now - most of the bags are unpacked and about half the laundry is done and that seems about right. Being with the boys 24/7 has made me long for a vacation from my vacation.

I recently took a break from kidlit and read a great book called If You Lived Here by Dana Sachs. It's a book about nothing and everything and even though there isn't so much in the way of plot the characters really draw you in. Every night I looked forward to picking the book up and getting reacquainted with the characters. I don't write kick-a** plots, but I'd love to write characters that resonate with people like these did me.

Reading this also made me realize that I need to rework my WIP in first person.

On this date: In 1929 Hunter S. Thompson is born.

Monday, July 16, 2007

All Inclusive

Just goes to show that they celebrate everyone in Texas.

On this date: In 1999, JFK Jr. is killed in a plane crash.

Friday, July 13, 2007

What I Saw On My Summer Vacation

We stumbled on this minutes-old calf and its mother on our friend's ranch today. Way cool.

Did You Know...

...that if you Google my name now, Six O'clock in San Francisco comes up on bookfinder.com and allbookstores.com! That is so cool! I was showing my mom some things on the internet when I came across this info. There is an ISBN number and everything! (Sorry for all of the !, but I'm pretty jazzed.)

We're still shooting for a Spring 2008 delivery. I'm hoping to see some of the art in the next month or two, which really has me biting my nails. Randy DuBurke, my illustrator, has done some great stuff in the past - we even had his title Catching the Moon before I knew who he was, so I'm more excited than nervous. It's all a lot like being pregnant - you know something is brewing, but you won't really believe it until you see it.

On this date: In 1985, the first Live Aid concert happened in London.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Out and About in Texas

If you ever wanted to get to know the business end of a zebra (or giraffe or gazelle), head on over to Glen Rose, Texas to Fossil Rim Wildlife Preserve. This is a park that is along the lines of the Lion Country Safari of my youth. Lion Country did not survive because the owners overlooked the fact that people will always roll their windows down, even when you tell them not to, and zebras and giraffes are much less likely than the king of the jungle to tear your arm from its socket.
On this date: In 1962, the Rolling Stones first appeared at the Marquee Club in London.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Deep In The Heart...

As it turns out, the grandparents have upgraded to wireless internet. Who knew?

I was away from my laptop and email for an entire 24 hours yesterday and the craving I got long about 9pm showed me what kind of an addiction that it has become. I thought about staying off of it for the entire week...but then decided that was crazy. We have a few camping trips coming up and I know for a fact that our tent is not set up for wireless and then I will be forced to go cold turkey.

Anyhoo, this is where we were today:

Not a bad place to be on a Texas afternoon. Hope ya'll are having a good week so far.

On this date: In 1925, the Scopes Monkey Trial begins.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Lea-aving On a Jet Plane...

Yes, the kids and I are winging our way to the Lone Star State to visit Grammy. There is really no other reason to go to Texas in July, and we only get to see her twice a year so we're off. I'm taking my current MS with me as everyone in the house goes to bed really early and with a two-hour time difference I should have a lot of quality alone time at night.

I've been thinking a lot about branding lately. No, get your minds out of the gutter - I mean branding as in a writer writing one particular type of book and becoming known for that one particular thing. So far, I'm not an adherent to this theory as I've got a picture book coming out, along with other PB in the works, one upper mid-grade that is just getting out into the world, a YA in progress as well as a proposal for a picture book biography. That is about as far from branding as you can get.

I met Megan McDonald (of Judy Moody fame) at a conference a year or so ago. She has written things all over the map from PBs to non fiction, and I just read that she's doing an American Girl gig. I did mention this concern about being all over the place in terms of writing and she didn't seem to feel that it is a liability - and for her it hasn't been.

It would be nice to have somebody say: Hmmm...I feel like reading _____. I wonder what Cynjay has come up with lately. I should go to the bookstore and find out. The trouble is, I have so many interests for so many age levels that right now it would feel more like pigeonholing than branding. I'll worry about it more after I've finished the YA. And then the MG series I've been tossing around. Oh, and the other picture book I want to touch up...

Not sure how much blogging I'll get done for the next week - we'll have to see what the tech situation is at Grams. Yee-haw!

On this date: In 1958, Kevin Bacon is born.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Quote of the Day

Overheard, 5:02 pm, Kitchen: "Check it out! The cats are having a meeting!"
- 8 YO neighbor kid as the cats sat in a circle waiting to be fed.

On this date: In 1957, Paul McCartney met John Lennon at a church picnic.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

My Very Own Rewards Club

I'm spent. Wrecked. Fried. Totally exhausted. We all stayed up late last night to do the fireworky thing (as you must do once the kids get old enough to figure out what is what), then got up earlyish and spent the entire day at the waterslide park. It was about 105 degrees here today - which is pretty unusual for us - so the best place to be was sitting on the banks of the wave pool and waiting for it to be switched on. The thing about the super tall waterslides is that you have to climb something like a million stairs to get to them...so I felt that all that work deserved a cheeseburger and fries at In and Out Burger (those of you who don't have In and Out...those of us who do are observing a moment of silence) AND a sweet cream and Reeses ice cream from Coldstone (ditto on the ice cream) on the way home.

Although I really feel drawn to my MS tonight, it's just not going to happen. It's after 9pm, so I feel justified in crawling into bed with a book. Yawn.

Happy 4th (and 5th).

On this date: In 1946 the bikini is introduced.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Writing While Cleaning

It's kind of funny that when you're not writing at all you're still so writing. I'm not sure where the process of writing begins, but it is definitely not when you put your fingers to the keyboard. I find myself looking at people and deciding if my character would wear those shoes or if she would put her hair that way. Traits that you think you can randomly apply to a character either stick or don't and you only begin to know your character when you can say with conviction that she would under no circumstances get that pierced.

You know that it is starting to come together when you feel like she is always somewhere just behind you, and you can roll things around in your head and they either drop off or stick and become embedded in who she is. There is a cool bit in Stranger Than Fiction where the character walks into the author's house and she knows immediately who he is because he is exactly like she imagined. We're working up to that, but really it's more than how they look - it's how they are at the core of their (fictional) being, and that is an evolutionary process.

On this date: In 1971 Jim Morrison died.

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Modest Proposal

I've decided to push for year-round school. Don't get me wrong , I love summer. Nothing makes me happier than long hot days, and I hate the cold so much that living anyplace that it snows is strictly out of the question. What I can't stand are the kids who are demanding to be entertained largely due to my screen-ban between the hours of 9am and 5pm. The bickering and baiting that results from said children is enough to drive anyone crazy.

The days of needing the kids home in summer to tend the crops and water the cows are long gone. There is no earthly reason why there should be no school for 78 days in June, July and August. Their brains turn to mush, they pick on each other incessantly and they are getting on my very last nerve. Don't even get me started on the costs for day-camp or babysitting if you should actually happen to hold a job that won't allow you to take an entire three months off.

I propose that year-round school be instituted on a Federal level. Every June, we would get three weeks off. This is ample time for vacations, camp, and grandparent visiting, yet not quite enough time to drive each other insane. We would then get another three weeks off in or around October and again in February or March. The timing for these vacations would vary by district so that the entire free world wasn't trying to go skiing or to Hawaii at the exact same time. This would also result in less absences during the school year as fewer people would get the Tahoe-flu in March if there were a longer scheduled vacation that was staggered from everyone else's (achoo).

Anyone with me? I've run into a few naysayers who actually looked me straight in the eye and said that they cherished every moment of togetherness and wouldn't give up their summers for anything. I noticed that these individuals also had unusually large pupils and a barely detectable tic in the right eyelid.

I love summer. I would just love it more if the kids were in school part of the time.

On this date: In 1937, Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific.