Saturday, March 31, 2007

Hurry! While Supplies Last!

Knowing the discomermaids as I do (okay, I've only actually met one of them), I looked around, convinced that this was an early April Fools joke. Not so, and it is the coolest thing I've seen in a long while. If the flap over Susan Patron's scrotum was a problem for you, please check out the fabulous Newbery Jewels merchandise that is put forth by the disco's. I seriously considered the thong, but in the end I ordered a shirt and tote bag and I absolutely can't wait until they get here! Get yours and you can be as cool as they are (well, we can dream, can't we?).

On this date: In 1889, the Eiffel Tower opened.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Doing the Right Thing

So yesterday pretty much sucked. I've never had to do that before, and while it was peaceful and the right thing to do it was still hard. T did come in to say goodbye beforehand, but J opted not to. Everyone seemed to be okay until I came home alone. Then there was crying until well after bedtime.

I was trying to get them to go to sleep amid a fresh round of crying while J was upset because she was all alone. I tried to explain that her spirit, the thing that made Spare Spare wasn't there anymore. T pipes up from the bottom bunk, his voice full of tears: "But Mom, it wasn't her spirit that made her Spare. It was her DNA." Apparently I have a strict evolutionist on my hands.

So today we went to the craft store and got supplies to make a memory stepping stone for her. That is the project for the weekend. Everyone seems to have calmed down some - but T just told me that even if he seems happy now, he'll never get over it. There you go. My biggest fear is we have another 17 year old cat in the house, so in the not-too-distant future, we'll have to go through this again.

I did manage to do a little work today. I finally got to the crescendo in the first half of the book where my MC gets to say: "It's not the Jehovah's Witnesses, it's the cops." Really looking forward to the last half.

On this date: In 1981, President Regan is shot by John Hinckley Jr.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn...

This is my cat Spare. I got her in 1990, the way you usually get things when you are just out of college. She belonged to a friend of my roomate who left her with us, and when my roomate moved out, Spare and I moved on. She lived with me in countless apartments in San Francisco, in the first house I ever rented out in the Oakland Hills, in our teeny Oakland apartment when I got married and our first son was born and for the past 9 years in our wonderful house here in the East Bay. She is pretty much the living, breathing witness of my journey to adulthood. She's been a great gal, and is secretly my DH's favorite cat, although he hates to admit it.

We don't know exactly how old she is, but it looks like today is going to be the last day. She's at the vet right now, and when the kids get home from school, I'm going to give them the option of coming with me to say goodbye. DH is going to take them home and I'm going to send her on this part of her journey by myself. It seems only right, as we've been through so much together.

I got the call from the vet with the test results as I was feeding TK. It really puts the whole "There is a Season" in perspective. I'm going to miss her very much.

Goodnight Spare.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Return of TK2.0

Tk2.o is back for a few weeks and he is huge! I can't believe how much he grew in just a few short days. Big Hairy Dog is now very enamored of his little friend and gets right down on the floor and lets TK crawl all over him.

It's all very Hallmark Channel. Now, if I could only get him to deal with wayward rats, he'd be the perfect dog.

On this date: In 1979, the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island happened.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sit! Stay!

I'm having major chair-butt problems right now. That is the affliction known to most writers where the butt full-out refuses to stay in the chair and allow the fingers to type stuff. I'm trying to chalk it up to recovering from the vaca and not that I'm trying to avoid finishing this first draft of the YA. Right now I can only see about 100 feet in front of me with the headlights on which I'm hoping is enough. I only managed to crank out about 1k words, but if I really get going I can do 2-2500 easy. Anything and I do mean anything is an excuse to get up. Dryer finished? Whoops, I have to get up and fold clothes. Mail came? You never know what might be lurking in there. Blog need writing? I'd better get on it.

I have to go to my pt j-o-b tomorrow with a meeting in the evening so most of tomorrow is shot. Thursday. I'm feelin' like Thursday is the ticket. I actually told Agent E that I was going to try to have the first draft for her by June or July. I know I can, I know I can, I know I can.

On this date: In 1998, the FDA approves Viagra.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Welcome Home

So, sometimes you think that it has been a pretty boring day, maybe just a long drive home and there will be nothing to blog about. Not to worry, life has a way of throwing something in your path that is blog-worthy. Kinda like this:

That would be Mickey's cousin Mortimer Rat who made an appearance under my kitchen table this afternoon. Apparently one of the cats wanted to give me a welcome-home present. Unfortunately, it was still very much alive. Not to panic, I put on my gloves, got a box and wrangled the little sucker into it. (Don't ask the kids about standing on the chair with the gloves and the box yelling "Where is your father?!?") This photo was taken moments before Mortimer was flung into the far reaches of the backyard. When DH got home, all he wanted to know was why I didn't fling him over the fence into the neighbor's yard.

Ah yes, welcome home to me.

On this date: In 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise is published.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pesky Paparazzi

So Agent E and I went to dinner and were predictably stalked by the paparazzi. One photographer managed to get this photo before I wrestled the camera away from him.

I was nervous, so I blathered a lot, but she's tough and not easily frightened. It was one of those times where my mouth was moving as fast as my brain and that is not always a good thing if you are the one on the other side of the table. Have I mentioned how awesome she is and how lucky I am?

Today, I went to a seminar headed by Agent E. It was great, and I got to meet Mary Hershey, author of this book:

And Robin Lafevers, author of this book(which is launching this week):

They were kind enough to let me horn in on their table and not look like the odd one out. It was like sitting with the big leagues - I want to be just like them someday. I also met Robin, a real-live disco mermaid - but she was very statuesque and definitely had legs. Now I'm going to buckle down, use this inspiration and get some work done.

On this date: In 1989, the Exxon Valdez runs aground in Alaska.

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Whale of a Trip

I drove down from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara today. Just north of SB I stopped here:

And saw 4 whales swimming around just a couple hundred feet off shore. If you squint, you can see a flipper in the middle of this picture.

It was very cool.

On this date: In 1919 Mussolini founds the fascist party.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Yes Moments

I love it when you read a book and get a "yes" moment. That is what we are all striving for when we write. I went through a huge Tom Robbins phase in my younger years mainly because within the craziness of his stories were many many "yes" moments. I had one of those moments yesterday when I was reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I know, I know, it's taken me way too long to read this but it's always been on the list. Anyway, here's my "yes" moment:

E.L. Doctorow once said that "writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."

That is exactly how I write a novel. I can only bear to sit down at the laptop if I know what is going to happen in the very next sentence, so I end every writing session on a cliffhanger. I've tried and tried to outline to avoid the muddle in the middle, but I just can't do it. I know where I've started and I know where I'm ending, but it's the scenery in the middle that is always the surprise.

TK2.0 is going back to his real family today so that they can take over. He is big enough now so he is easier to handle and... I'm going on a roadtrip - yay! Tomorrow I'm driving down to Santa Barbara to meet with Agent E and attend a seminar that she is giving. Did I mention that I'm going alone? Yes, no stopping to pee unless it's me that needs to, no begging to stop at every McDonalds (every Starbucks is another story) and nobody asking me to turn down the audiobook so that they can hear the DVD better. I've loaded up on David Sedaris and Alexander McCall Smith audiobooks (nobody better than David Sedaris for a car trip - if you haven't heard his Live at Carnagie Hall CD, you're missing out) and packing my bag as we speak. So, so, so excited. I'll see if I can get a photo of Agent E, but she is almost as elusive as the Yeti on Brotherhood 2.0.

Another perk is that my current YA is set in Santa Barbara. Well, it's not exactly Santa Barbara - but a university remarkably similar to the one where I spent a large part of my misspent youth. I'm going to go the UC and hang out, soak up some atmosphere, revisit some of the locations I put in the book and take lots and lots of pictures. Can't wait to load up the '96 Golf and hit the road!

On this date: In 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

TK 2.0 Update

TK is still doing great - weighing in at a whopping 7 ounces. His eyes are just starting to open, which means he wants to be out and involved much more of the time now.

In honor of the first day of spring, I'm sending all of you these daffodils. I could lie and say they came from my garden, but that would be wrong. They came from the supermarket. But that is my vase.

On this date: In 1995, Tokyo subways are attacked with sarin gas.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Poem #1

J's 4th grade teacher stopped me on Friday to give me some poems that she said had touched her and she wanted me to read. I'm not a poetry person. Except for Shel Silverstein (who is a God) and the odd bit from Auden, I don't have the patience. None of them had titles, but I wanted to post one here:

Anger breaks the morning silence
When war destroys the peaceful city.
Snow falls like cotton on the bloody red floor.
Newspapers hold the knowledge of the battle.
Memories clog your head with sadness.

My son wrote this. He's 9.

Agent E sent me another don't-think-it's-for-me letter (I'm not going to say the R word) this morning. I think we're close, but no cigars yet. We've been sending revision ideas back and forth via email (did I mention that she is the best agent?) and it's gotten me excited to take another crack at the manuscript. I also had a great idea for my YA that I've been a little stuck on while I was walking the dog so, while not a stellar good-news morning, not altogether a loser.
On this date: In 2003, the war in Iraq began.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Reading in the 21st Century

T and I were reading tonight when he hops off the bed, turns to me and says, "Mom, put the book on pause - I have to go to the bathroom."

On this date: In 461, St. Patrick died.

Friday, March 16, 2007

TK 2.0 Sucks...

On everything. Fingers, towels, hair and just whisper the word "bottle" in his teeny tiny ear and he's gone. See:

He's looking less rat-like and more cat-like. So far so good. Have a great weekend!

On this date: In 1985, Terry Anderson was kidnapped in Beirut.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Dog and His Guy

When Big Hairy Dog was a baby, we bought him expensive dog-toys from the pet store. Now we're smarter and buy him his "guys" from the thrift store for 50 cents a pop. My mom is a teddy-bear collector from way back and can't be in the same room when I give BHD a new guy - she's even stolen a few from his stash before he could get to them.

The latest guy was missing a few limbs (and a nose), plus BHD left him out in the sprinklers so he was soggy:

Time for a new guy. Now, sometimes BHD will get a guy and just carry him around and love on him for a week or so before tearing him apart. Other times, like today, he grabs the guy and goes to town. The new guy was eviscerated within a minute and a half:

Not sure if this means he loves this particular guy, or hates this particular guy. I think it might be the former, because right after I took this photo, BHD grabbed the guy and dared me to take him back:

Never get between a dog and his guy.

On this date: In 44BC, the Ides of March; Julius Caesar is murdered.

PS: TK2.0 is doing great!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Digital Denial

I just spoke to the last woman in America without a cell phone.

I was the second-to-last woman in American without a cell phone until my DH tricked me last fall. He had to get a new one that worked overseas, and came home with two. It was two for one honey, what was I supposed to do? So now, I have a cell phone that is usually sitting on my dresser, and if I do have it on me the batteries are dead. People who know me, know that, so it usually works out. They also know that I never, ever answer call waiting (I hate putting people on ignore) and not to bother sending me chain emails because I'll always opt for the bad luck. I don't GPS, but I do mapquest. I don't text message, but I live on email. I got my laptop for my birthday and it is my most favorite inanimate object in the whole world. But I'll never get a Blackberry.

It's not that I'm a Luddite or anything - I love technology, but I love to pick and choose which technology I become a slave to. I'm just not that important. Don't get me started on people who have those little cell phones hanging off their ears.

Online shopping? Check. Tivo? Check. Blog? Check. Email? Check, check. If you call my cell, be prepared to leave a message. One other thing; the last woman in America without a cell phone? She sounded quite relaxed.

On this date: In 1879, Albert Einstein was born.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

TK 2.0

So, many of you know the story of TK who came to live with us in October (see post of Feb 22nd). Well, now we have TK2.o taking up residence in the kitchen.

A friend of ours found the litter abandoned under her house but unfortunately he is the only one left. So far, food is going in, food is going out and he's sleeping which is pretty much what should happen with a 4ish day old kitten.

I've had bottle babies this young many times, but so far TK#1 is the only big success. TK2.0 seems to be doing pretty well, he's gained 1/2 ounce in a day which is a good sign. If he does well, I'll keep you updated. The people who found him are anxious to have him back for good, so at least he has a nice home waiting for him.

Cheryl Klein sometimes posts recipes for baked goods, so I thought I'd post my favorite recipe for kitten glop, which is the best thing to feed a newbie.

Kitten Glop
Mix together and set aside:
2pkts Knox unflavored gelatin
2 cups boiling water

Mix together (whisk after every addition):
4 eggs
4 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp safflower oil
1 can (12 oz) evaporated goat milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pie mix)
2 taurine capsules (get at health food store - open capsules and empty into mix)

After mixing, add the Knox gelatin you had set aside. This will keep in the fridge for about a week. Don't panic when you open the fridge and it's weird orange gelatin - this is what it is supposed to look like. Just scoop out what you need, warm it in the micro (be careful not to make it too hot) and give it to the babies in a bottle. You can also freeze it either in bags or in ice cube trays. Happy feeding!

On this date: In 1969, Disney released The Love Bug

Monday, March 12, 2007

Will Write for Friendship

I went to a kidlit conference over the weekend and it was good to reconnect with some writer pals that I only see there (hi Linda Joy and Cassandra). I was thinking about the first one I went to, which was only two years ago, but it feels like a lifetime. Things are different now; I don't feel the overwheming urge to try and get some face time with whatever agent or editor is there, I've heard most of it before (although there is always a new thought-nugget to come away with) but the biggest difference is that a lot of the time when someone is speaking, I'm fantasizing what I'm going to talk about when it's my turn up there. I'll probably throw up from fear, the Powerpoint will mess up and the microphone will keep coming unplugged ;) but I still think about what it would be like to be on that side of it. Someday, when I have something interesting to say.

More than ever I want to find a local writers group to hang out with. I don't necessarily want to critique, just kibbitz. My other writer buddies live too far away to get together regularly, and online avenues aren't really working out, so I'm thinking about sitting outside my local bookstore with a little cardboard sign and a cup for people to put their phone numbers into. If you should happen to see me, be kind.

On this date: In 1933, FDR gave the first fireside chat.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Olden Days

Even though T is seven (newly minted) now and can read on his own, sometimes he likes to drag out a book from when he was little. One of these books is a lift-the-flap book called The Plane Book by Angela Royston. We were reading the other night and got into an interesting conversation.

Me: Look at those people climbing the stairs into the airplane. That's how we used to board planes in the olden days.
T: You didn't go through the tunnel?
Me: Nope, just out on the tarmac with all of the other planes, even in the rain.
T: That would have been so cool! I wish I could walk out there. What's that in this picture?
Me: That's a picture of an airline meal. Back in the olden days, you would get hot food on airplanes.
T: You didn't have to bring your own food?
Me: No. They'd actually bring it to you in your seat. It wasn't always good, but at least you weren't hungry. Look at this picture of the kid in the cockpit.
T: Wow! They really let you do that? You could go and see where they drove the plane?
Me: Yup. I remember doing that a couple of times.
T: Things were sure cool back in the olden days.

Curious, I checked the copyright to see when this "olden days" plane book was published. 1993. The olden days ain't what they used to be.

On this date: In 1926, the first Book of the Month selection was published.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Feeling Springy

Wheee! I include this photo only because it's been a few days since we've had one and it felt very springy. We are feeling very springy here and the weather should hold for the whole weekend. Hope the weather holds wherever you are.

Being that it is not cold and not raining, I've discovered a new exercise - walking to the library to work. This kills two birds; this gets me dressed sometime before noon and gets me working somewhere where there is no email for me to check obsessivly every few minutes. I started to realize that I was spending entire days looking like a bit of a slob, not talking to any actual people in person and that my a** was getting a severe case of writer's spread. 2.5 miles round trip ought to help just a little. When you start to refer to the Green brothers as "my friends" because you never miss a video blog, you know it's time to reevaluate.

On this date: In 1936, the first stock-car race was run at Daytona.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Voices in My Head Have a Mind of Their Own

Don't you hate it when your characters won't listen to you? In my work in progress, I had intended to have my MC have a touch of OCD. Not a lot, mind you, just a little. Well, instead of OCD, she's turned into a bit of a slob. She only wears ratty college sweatshirts and tends to toss her backpack and clothes around her dorm room. OCD is out the window (or maybe under the bed - the room is so messy it's hard to tell), so I have to go back and take out the few references to OCD that I'd put in the beginning of the book.

This happened with my last book. I love the name Olivia and hadn't been able to use it in real life (my boys - and husband - had issues with it), so I named a minor character Olivia. Apparently she didn't like the name so much, because everytime I typed it came out as Nina. After a while I got tired of fighting it and Nina she became (and seems very happy with it).

I guess that this is all part of the magic of writing fiction. It's like I'm not really creating anything; just writing down the movie that is going on in my head. I can't even glorify my position to that of director - more like directed. It's not so bad until I start verbalizing the conversations that my characters are having - usually in the car, at a stoplight with the people in the next car staring at me. Thank goodness for cell phones because now you can just pretend you're on the phone and not sitting by yourself in a closed car acting out the confrontation between a college freshman and her would-be boyfriend.

On this date: In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone.

PS - Thanks for all of the blog comments! It's nice to know that people are out there.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Totally Spent

Whew! I've just spent the past couple of hours writing up a NF proposal for a really cool project that I want to try (thanks Chris B. for the sample - not that I copied it exactly or anything ;). Agent E is going to take a look and tell me if she thinks it's a go - and I hope hope hope she does because the more I research, the more I've fallen in love with my subject. Is that bad? Not like he's still alive or anything so I'm not really cheating on DH.

You know how you feel when you've just spewed out every last ounce of creative energy? Satisfied but drained. Yah. That's about it right now. Bathtime is calling, but a very good night all in all.

I'll keep you posted.

On this date: In 1899, Bayer patented aspirin.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Asparagus Pee

So...we're eating dinner and J won't eat the asparagus because it makes your pee smell and T loves the asparagus because it makes your pee smell. Can't win for losing.

At the moment, our main kitchen cabinet is held closed by rubber bands, the drawer front for the utensils falls off approximately once a week and I had a dream last night that the motion from the washing machine spin cycle caused it to crash through the floor. Which could actually happen pretty easily. I think we're in the market for a new kitchen. I have to go and write something brilliant - baby needs a new Viking range.

On this date: In 1963, the Hula-Hoop was patented.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Love This Book!

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth. T brought this home last week and we've read it every night since. I'm not going to review books very often - I'll leave that to other experts like Big A little a and The Edge of the Forest but when a great book comes across my lap, I have to share.

Okay, I realize I'm not alone in the liking of this book, because it won a Caldecott Honor, but maybe that just shows that they have good taste too. The watercolor drawings of the main text, mixed with the black and white illustration of the embedded zen stories really work. I personally fell in love with Stillwater the panda bear, who speaks with a slight panda-accent. The best part is that T loves this even more than I do. He likes to talk about the issues raised in the tales (if you've read other posts, you know that he is a bit of a "big thinker"). While I was writing this, he came in to snatch the book back from me so that his dad could read it with him for bedtime. That is the best endorsement of all. The book has to go back to the school library on Friday - I have a feeling we'll be buying our own copy before then.

On this date: In 2005, Martha Stewart is released from prison.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Copyedit Heaven

So, I'm sitting here surrounded by the copyedited marked-up pages of my first picture book. As I look at the red and blue pencil marks that wind their way through the text I get a shiver up my spine. There is even a mock-up of the title page with the copyright info and ISBN numbers. Whoo Hoo! It's finally becoming real. My editor wants it back ASAP so that the illustrator can work on the final pages. I'd better get to work!

Watch for Six O'clock in San Francisco at a store near you, Spring 2008.

On this date: In 1932 the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped.