Friday, August 31, 2007

Embarassing Your Children in Two Easy Steps

For leisurely trips to the library and quick jaunts to the store I just got this today:

I also got the coolest helmet around (note the name on the front):

I tried on a million helmets and this is the one that fits the best. There is only one problem. It is this size:

Does that mean I think like an 8 year old too? That explains a lot.

On this date: In 1997, Princess Diana was killed in Paris.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who's On First (Person)

Well, I'm cranking right along with the YA rewrite, I've done 30 pages in two days and now am up to page 59. Which is great. Except the rewrite goes up to page 147. Sigh. I'm one of those people who usually loves to revise - it's so nice to actually have something on the paper to work with rather than sitting at a blank screen hoping that the video in your head will play so that you can write down what happens.

Now I've got a problem with this rewrite. I'm bored. I'm not bored with the story - I'm actually quite pleased at how it's turning out - but I'm bored with rewriting it from third person to first. I'm not finding too much to actually change other than that, so my eyes start crossing after about an hour and I have to set the timer and go do something else for ten minutes. Sweeping the floor is good because then it looks like you actually did something.

I'm going to come back and read this post in about a week, when I'm back into the heart of the story and panicking because I don't know what comes next.

On this date: In 1967, Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American Supreme Court Justice.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Out of the Mouths

In the kitchen, 4pm today.

Me: How did you like the first day of school?
T's BFF, Age 8: It was okay. I didn't see T too much.
Me: Why? Don't you guys have recess together?
T's BFF: Yeah, but he's got a big crew and I don't know those guys.

This is conversation with a 2nd grader, circa 2007. Yikes.

The Bright Side of Bad News

Now, where is that unhappy face icon?

My editor over at Clarion emailed today saying that the pub date for Six O'clock in San Francisco is going to be delayed until Fall 2008. I'm not surprised, as she had hinted at the possibility before, but it still leaves a small pit in the stomach. Like it won't all be real until I have it in my hands. It's a bit like getting to the end of a two-year pregnancy, and having your OB tell you that he was wrong about the date of conception and you really have to carry it for six more months.

On the bright side, because it is multicultural and educational it will probably do better with a fall release date. This is the blurb from Dealtime Media: When Jared wakes up in San Francisco at six o'clock in the morning, children in other parts of the world are doing other things, like going to school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, playing soccer in London, England, and eating dinner in Lahore, Pakistan, because of the difference in times zones around the globe. Includes factual material about telling time and time zones.

Randy Du Burke is doing the illustrations, and I'm sure they will be amazing. It's all for the best. It's all for the best. It's all for the best. I'm going to keep repeating that for the next 12 months.

On this date: In 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More Ways to Waste Time

Only 9 1/2 more hours until school starts. I've finished my freelance assignments that aren't due until the 1st, so I have the next few days to do nothing but work on my YA. I put in a little time tonight just to reintroduce myself to everybody, and rewrote a couple of pages. Hopefully tomorrow will be really productive. If I'm to make my new, very public, deadline it had better be.

I'm smitten by this blog by Nathan Bransford, an agent with Curtis Brown. I've only been reading it for a couple of days, but you can tell he is just adorable, and I like his posts. He doesn't rep much kidlit, it seems like he dabbles in YA, but he has a lot of information that is relevant anyway. Plus he mentions a dustbuster in today's post. Need I say more? He's just across the bay in SF and from his picture I can totally see him wasting his youth in the city. I did, and it was grand.

Right. On to work.

On this date: In 1966, the Beatles played their last tour date in Candlestick Park, in SF.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Setting the Date

November 9th.

There, I said it. November 9th is going to be the date that I get my YA to Agent E. She has a reading week, usually the second week of the month, so that should be time enough to get it to her for November. Being as I'm only 19 pages into the first person rewrite and only 2/3 through altogether, I'd better get cracking.

The crit group (we don't have a cute name yet, do we?) has seen the first chapter rewritten in first person and given it a thumbs up. I have to say I like it myself. It is less like watching Lexi do things, and more like being Lexi doing things. We'll see in November.

I'd better go write stuff now.

On this date: In 1883, the volcano on Krakatoa erupted.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ode To an Appliance, Part II

My allegiance to the humble Dustbuster is well known. Now I have to add another appliance that has become an indispensable part of my life.

"So what?" you may say. "It's just a phone." But that is where you would be wrong. It is a phone that has caller ID! I will admit that I am not an early adopter of technology - I just got a cell phone last fall, and honestly I rarely carry it (in fact, I'm not sure where the thing is at the moment). I usually hang back to see what sticks and buy some piece of technology when I get around to it. The caller ID has changed my life.

As of this month, I'm making enough at freelancing to not have to go and get a real J-O-B. Yay. The problem is that when I'm home working and the phone rings I often find myself in the middle of a long conversation when I really should be typing away. Plus, the answering machine was all the way in the bedroom, so if I did let the phone ring, I would have to get up and go in there to listen to the message. All very disruptive.

Now with the amazing caller ID, I can see who is on the phone and decide whether I'm going to pick it up. The answer is generally "no" while I'm working, unless it is the kid's school, or DH if I'm in a good mood ;) Or Agent E (it even flashes her name!). Or someone from a 212 area code.

But when you call now and I don't pick up the phone, don't automatically think that I'm sitting there looking at your name on the display and deciding to let it go to voicemail. No, I'm probably out walking the dog or something. Or, I might be sitting there looking at your name. Do you have a 212 area code?

On this date: In 1939, the first televised Major League Baseball game.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Counting Down

When you read a book that has been talked about all over the place as being a great read, but you just don't like it - do you put it down, or slog through to the end to see if it gets better? I have to admit, I try to be the "slog through it" type, but I'm much more likely to put it down. I was reading something recently that I'd heard so much about, but it felt to me like being hit with a stick over and over again. After three tries I finally put it down for good. Although I do have to wonder - what's wrong with me? Does everyone else know something that I don't. It's likely.

As of now, there are approximately 116 hours left until the kids go back to school. Not that I'm counting or anything. I love spending time with my kids - in fact we're about to go swimming right now - but I'm getting nothing done while they're home all day. I can type approximately two sentences before someone wants something to eat, a fight has broken out over the trampoline, another neighbor kid needs a drink of water or any one of a million other distractions happens. Next summer, after I hit it big ;) I have two words for you: more daycamp!

On this date: In 79, Mount Vesuvius erupts in Italy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mary Poppins Moments

Feelin' good today - like I'm on the brink of good things. No real reason for it, no good news came that I'm witholding. I had a good email conversation with Agent E which might be part of it. She always knows the right time to give me a well-aimed kick in the pants. In a nice way of course.

I've got a couple of projects out that are with people who will hopefully be a good fit. Now we just wait a little more. I was starting to get a little "waited out", and then realized that while I had no power to change or speed up the submissions process, I did have the power to work on my YA and get that into the pipeline. Nothing like taking control mentally to get you through.

Oh, and I got invited to visit Mermaidland in September. DH's travel schedule seems to be cooperating, so I get a writing-conference weekend away down south. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. Jay is speaking along with Laura Rennert, and Mary Hershey among others. It's like my very own National Conference, and it's coming at just the right time. Those Mermaids know their stuff, and I can't wait to hang with them! Ya'll are going to get sick of hearing me talk about it as the date gets closer, so I'll shut up now.

On this date: In 1950, Althea Gibson becomes the first African American on the US Tennis Tour.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

End of Summer Hurrah We just got back from our camping trip and it was great. Nineteen people and three dogs - big fun. And a big shout out to Anna- the only girl among eight boys.

I'm wondering, is it really dirtier and more exhausting going camping now? Or am I just getting too old? I think I'll figure it out once I get the dirt off everything - probably sometime on Friday.

On this date: In 1959, Hawaii becomes the 50th state.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ahhhh... Internet Connectivity

We're back - at least for a few minutes. Spending almost three days with no internet was the worst kind of purgatory even though Lake Tahoe was beautiful. And now I have to do it again until Tuesday. Unless the campground got internet access when I wasn't looking.

On Thursday, I found myself by the pool next to my BFF's 16 year old niece. She was reading Megan McCafferty's Second Helpings. We got talking about YA books and it was so great to talk books and authors with a real live teenager. Now I can picture her while I'm finishing up my WIP and it should help me focus on my audience. Plus, I think she thought I was cool because I knew about YA books. Always a plus.

On this date: In 1958, Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov is published.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Aaaand We're Off

Going on a tiny vaca here:
Beautiful Lake Tahoe. My kids have only ever been there in the winter, and it occurred to me my youngest didn't get that it doesn't snow there all the time. Mainly because he asked if we were going snowboarding. Must explain.

On this date: 1939, the Wizard of Oz premiered.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Perfect Accidents

Everyone knows that when you rewrite a novel to change it from third person to first, you can't just rewrite what you already have. You put bits in, take bits out and toss them over your shoulder, remove large chunks of yuck and chuck them in the garbage.

At one point in the WIP there is this slightly mystical rasta-guy who sells jewelry on campus. I thought it would be cool (and as an ulterior motive, introduce my MC's name in the first chapter) to have him ask what her name is and he'd tell her what it meant. Her name is Lexi, short for Alexis and I found out that it means "helper" or "defender". Because of her role in the plot of the book, it is absolutely PERFECT! And I didn't even do it on purpose.

Dontcha love it when things turn out that way?

On this date: In 1893, the world's first license plates were issued in Paris.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Never Ending Mind Tape

Whew. Getting over a crisis weekend. Not a real crisis crisis, but one of those crisis of confidence that happens every now and then. DH was in Brazil all week, so I had the monkeys to myself, which didn't help matters. Then I started reading about Stephenie Meyer's success with her new release, and Jay Asher's upcoming book Thirteen Reasons Why which is already a success and some of my agents other clients who are getting starred reviews, etc. and the suck monster just took over. It's not a case of sour grapes per se; it's that tape that runs over and over in your head saying "Why are you even trying to do this? You'll never compete. You pretty much suck. You might as well give up now."

Anyone who writes will recognize this tape. So instead of writing, I started reading Laurie Halse Anderson's Twisted, which I'm very much enjoying. Next up is Judith Clarke's One Whole and Perfect Day. Then, after enough time had passed I opened the file with my WIP in it and started writing the whole thing over in first person. As I read it, a strange thing happened - I realized that it didn't suck all that badly. Okay, so it's no Printz Award winner, but I think in the right editorial hands, it could compete. Or at least not totally suck.

On this date: 1961, East Germany began building the Berlin Wall.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The What? Award

Just got back from Parent's Night at daycamp. For the finale (after two hours of skits!) they give out camp awards. Now, T got the camp award as Most Athletic. Yup. Could have seen that one coming a mile away, as he never actually walks anywhere, prefering to run, jump and leap his way everywhere.

But J got the award for...Mellowest Camper. The kid who just rolls with the punches and is never phased by anything. Huh? Is this the same boy who has separated the moulding from his door frame because he slams it in a fit of rage when he's angry? Who just the other day got busted for breaking his brother's plastic sword over his knee because he was mad? I don't get it.

His kindergarten teacher once told me that he probably uses up his "good" at school, and is freed up to be irritating once he comes home. "Where would you rather he be good?" she asked. I suppose. But I wouldn't mind a little good here.

On this date: In 1969, the Manson cult kills five people.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

To Turtle or Not To Turtle?

We're thinking about getting a couple of these:

T and I spent about an hour at the pet store the other day, picking the guy's brain about caring for turtles, tanks, food, filters and all the things that a $14 turtle needs. Well, it will run a couple of hundred dollars when we're all through. But that's not the problem.

The problem is that these things live more than 25 years. T is 7, so you can do the math. I was asking him who was going to take care of them while he was at college (me, he says), and who was going to clean their cage while he was traveling the world after college (you, he says).

Now, I'm not ashamed to say that we timed BHD on purpose.

We got him when our youngest was 4, and dogs live somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 years, so everyone should...leave us an empty nest at about the same time. Now, if we decide to do the turtle thing, we're going to have these pets for a very long time. I'm not saying we shouldn't do it, but it is a lot to consider. T is absolutely obsessive over turtles and has been for quite a while so I'd like to be able to get a couple, but I'm dragging my feet. Why in the world do turtles live so long? We were trying to sell him on a tortoise instead (less cage cleaning and set up), but then I saw that they live for 75 or 100 years. These aren't pets - they're things you leave to other people in your will.

On this date: In 1974, Nixon resigns.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Cat Women

So my BFF called me last night, pretty upset because her beloved 16 year old cat was really sick. She was at the emergency vet waiting to hear if Vallie was going to make it through the night. After I hung up, I started to think about all of the women I know who have had to go through this lately. If you've read the blog for awhile, you remember that we had to put my 17 year old cat to sleep a few months back, and my other 17 year old cat is slowing way down. I remember Linda D. had to go through this even more recently. Another gal from my son's school had to deal with this right before school got out for summer.

I think I have it figured out. We are all women of a certain age (meaning that we are watching the big 4-0 recede in the rearview mirror), and all of these cats were pretty old when they died. Which means that we all got them when we were just out of school, probably with our first real apartment or house and feeling like we were finally mature enough to care for something more complicated than a plant, but not a husband or - ack! - kids. These were our first shot at caring for something living, and lo and behold, they went on to live to 97 or so in cat years. Even though it's a bummer to have to go through the death of a cat that has been with you throughout your whole growing-up phase, it seems as though in the end, we all did a pretty good job.

BTW - Vallie made it through, and hopefully with meds has some good times left in her.

On this date: In 1971, the Bee Gees had their first No. 1 hit with How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.

Monday, August 6, 2007

P is for...

On Saturday morning I went to Costco and got the Big Hairy Dog some of his favorite treats. Free range bully sticks. For those of you who don't have dogs, bully sticks are the end of the steer. I didn't find it particularly funny, and BHD didn't find it particularly funny (he just grabbed one and sat in the corner gnawing on it), but 10 year old J got hold of the package and collapsed in a heap of laughter. He finally showed me what was so funny. On the ingredients list was only one item: steer pizzle. Apparently, "pizzle" is one of the world's funniest words if you are a 10 year old boy.

Now, with all of the flap over scrotums with this year's Newbery winner, I'm wondering if "pizzle" will be on the radar. I'm going to have to try to work it into an MS somehow.

On this date: In 1945, the US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Shower Epiphanies Part Deux

Jay over at Discomermaids was talking about shower epiphanies the other day. Maybe it was his post, or maybe I was just bored, but I had one this morning in between the rinse and repeat.

I think I've gotten a handle on the first sentence of my YA. I always love great opening lines and want one to encompass the entire theme. I'm also going to rewrite it in first person (at least the first couple of chapters) to see if it brings me closer to the character. I still haven't gotten Lexi out of jail, but I think I know what is going to happen in the next couple of sentences, so that's a start.

J is yelling at me to go an play Mancala, so I have to jet. We've been listening to Cat's in the Cradle by Harry Chapin from the Shrek soundtrack (I can't listen to it without weeping), so I'm trying to be more in the moment.

On this date: In 1892, Lizzie Borden's parents are found dead in their house.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Get Out of Jail...Free?

Ack! I can't seem to get Lexi out of jail. I thought I had a plan to get my MC out, but everything I try isn't working. I'll write a paragraph or two, realize that it's junk and erase the whole thing. So right now, she's sitting in a cold white room with a two-way mirror and no way to get her sprung. See, it's a case of mistaken identity (and identical twins) - she's not a bad girl. I've got a call into a friend's husband who just happens to be on the bomb squad. I've given him a couple of scenarios and hopefully he can point me in the right direction according to police procedure. Fingerprints? Felonies? Free on bail? I sure hope I can get her out and move on because it's driving me crazy.

On this date: In 1971, Sonny and Cher debuts.