Thursday, January 31, 2008

Go Team!

Now that T is taking circus classes twice a week, I'm trying to use that time as a solid hour and a half of writing. Good in theory, especially on Fridays when I can sit and focus in the big, cold, drafty gym. But Tuesdays are tough. On Tuesdays, Cheer SF practices in the same big, cold, drafty gym and they are so rockin' cool that I have trouble just sitting there and staring at my laptop.

Cheer SF is a Bay Area LGBT cheerleading group and they work their tushes off for three hours every Tuesday doing some amazing stuff - lets just say it's a good thing that the ceilings are really, really high. Maybe my next book will be the story of a gay cheerleader whose performance is sabotaged by a bad basket catch - was it an accident or was it cruel competition?


On this date: In 1949 the first daytime soap debuted.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Holding Pattern...

I've been flaking on my blog posts because there is really not much going on. I'm trying to finish the new YA as fast as I can so that I can turn around and revise it extensively. I do have one thing out right now, but other than that, we're in a holding pattern until I get it done. It's frustrating, but when I get annoyed (mostly at myself) I have to remind myself that these are the dues paying times. I'm so hoping that one day I'll look back on right now and toss my head back, laughing as I sit on the author panel at the LA conference and talk about how I spent months sweating it out until I could finish THAT book. Sigh. It ain't gonna write itself.

On this date: In 1948, Ghandi was assassinated.

Monday, January 28, 2008

On Sunday

we went up in the Space Shuttle and became weightless. We even took pictures and got home in time for dinner and AFV on TV.

On this date: In 1978, Fantasy Island premiered.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hobby or Job?

I was just listening to an author interview on the radio, and he was talking about when he started. He said, "Well, I would just come home from work, go to my office and write for five hours. My wife would hold dinner and we would eat at 10pm." How nice for him. This got me irritated and it took me a while to figure out why. It's men.

When a man decides that he is going to "become a writer", everyone says how great and they look at it as a second job for the poor overworked guy. When a woman decides to "become a writer" people see it as a nice little hobby that should be done when there is time after everything else is finished. Not that DH isn't supportive (he is), but I can only imagine the look on his face if I greeted him at 5pm, said "Hi dear, I'm going to go write now. Make sure the kids have dinner, finish their homework, get cleaned up and put to bed. Then make sure that the laundry is folded, the dishes are done and that everything is ready to go for tomorrow. I'll see you at 10 when I'm done." Uh, right. No, I do my fiction writing after the kids go to bed and before I do.

I think what I need is a wife.

On this date: In 1915, the world's largest diamond is found in South Africa

Thursday, January 24, 2008

An Inconvenient Truth

I've discovered something that is frustrating and annoying: Books do not write themselves. I know. I too was amazed when I found this out. I even tried experimenting with this theory, leaving the file alone in my laptop for days - even a week once, and nothing happened while I was gone. Nobody moved, nobody spoke...I don't think anyone even breathed in my absence. I gave everyone such a great start - I was sort of expecting them all to pick it up and run with it. I was hoping to find entire chapters wrapped up, climaxes reached and problems solved, all in utterly astounding prose that would make an editor weep. Instead, I'm faced with a blinking cursor that is at the end of the last word that I wrote. I'm flummoxed to say the least.

On this date: In 1961, Marilyn Monroe divorced Arthur Miller.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Summer in Winter

Well, I've got the summer pretty well planned. What's that you say? It's only January? True, but as any Mom knows, you have to get a jump on these things.

DH travels a lot and because of that we have something in the neighborhood of a zillion frequent flyer miles. We got first class passes anywhere in the US, Mexico or Hawaii, so we chose Aruba. Not because it's better than Hawaii, but because it was the farthest away - I've never flown first class so I want it to last awhile. I've never been to Aruba, so if you have any suggestions, let me know, Natalie Holloway not withstanding. It's so nice to sit in the cold (well, cold for California) and rainy weather and look at pictures of snow white beaches and turquoise water. Now we just have to choose a hotel...

While we were figuring out where to leave the kids that week in July, I went ahead and planned the rest of the summer. Two weeks of day camp, one week in Texas with Grammy, one week in Aruba (yay!) for me and DH only, one week on Lake Tahoe with our BFFs and maybe a quick road trip to the Grand Canyon via Las Vegas. Anyone want to come?

On this date: In 2006, I started the blog - happy Blogiversary to me!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Only in Northern California...

My BFF found this at the store, and it amazed me:

Not only is it in a container more closely associated with processed cheese food and whipped cream, but note that it is organic. How much more convenient can you get?

On this date: In 1981 the Iran hostage crisis ended.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hair Today....

Gone tonight!

The hair party is officially over at my house - and I couldn't be happier!

On this date: In 1949, the first TV sitcom debuted.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Two Good Reads

In the past few days I've read two very good books for teens. One is Laura Resau's Red Glass. It is an interesting, fast paced story that travels from Arizona to Mexico to Guatemala. As a disclaimer, Laura and I share an agent (which is why I picked the book up) but that has nothing to do with why I liked it. Here is the description from Amazon:

ONE NIGHT SOPHIE and her parents are called to a hospital where Pedro, 6-year-old Mexican boy, is recovering from dehydration. Crossing the border into Arizona with a group of Mexicans and a coyote, or guide, Pedro and his parents faced such harsh conditions that the boy is the only survivor. Pedro comes to live with Sophie, her parents, and Sophie's Aunt Dika, a refugee of the war in Bosnia. Sophie loves Pedro - her Principito, or Little Prince. But after a year, Pedro's surviving family in Mexico makes contact, and Sophie, Dika, Dika's new boyfriend, and his son must travel with Pedro to his hometown so that he can make a heartwrenching decision.

The other book was Dramarama by E. Lockhart. Totally fun, a really quick read about kids at drama camp that stays interesting to the end.
Pick up either book and give them to a teen in your life...or maybe just read them yourself.

On this date: In 1919, Prohibition took effect.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Caldecott Musings

Treating you to a lovely photo of the redwood walk we went on yesterday. So much coolness just ten minutes from my house....

I've been thinking about the ALA awards that were announced today. For those of you who are my nonwriterly friends, these are like the Oscars for books. The Caldecott award is given to their choice for the best illustrated book of the year. This has traditionally meant a picture book for young children. This year's winner is The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, an amazing illustrated book that at 550 pages is most definitely not for young kids.

This choice left me divided. On one hand, it's so nice to see something out of the ordinary chosen, but I can't help feel that books for young children got ripped off. As I said on one of the writer's boards, it's almost like the big kids horning in on the second grader's foursquare game. I think that with the popularity of illustrated books and graphic novels, there needs to be a new category (or two) added. I want my Caldecott saved for young kids. Sorry.

On this date: In 1954, Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

40 is the new...

...wordcount! Yes, I finally reached 40k on the new YA - champagne all around. Or beer, tequila or even schnaps - whatever floats your boat. I don't know why 40k is always such a big deal for me, but it is. My first drafts usually run in the neighborhood of 50k, so 40k means that I'm on the downward slope toward two of the sweetest words around. Second Draft.

Nathan Bransford was blogging the other day about overused cliche's in writing. Me being me, I commented that it bugged me when anybody was "the chosen one" and that if they had to go through a portal to do it, it was doubly annoying. Well, one of the other commentors took a little offense (her book has both apparently) and I felt a little bad. Just a little, because I still stand by my comment. I'm not a huge fan of fantasy, but I'm particularly not a huge fan of recycled fantasy.

On this date: In 1946, the first meeting of the U.N.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Speaking From The Heart

I had the big "S" talk with J this evening. He'd been bringing it up for awhile, but I didn't really think he was ready, so I'd put him off. Tonight, he caught me off guard while it was just the two of us at home. He kept asking me what I knew, and I kept tossing it back to him to see what he thought. This went back and forth for awhile. Seems that the kids at school have been talking about it a lot and he wanted to know the truth. He's going to be eleven this year so it wasn't a huge surprise. He looked at me over the table with those big brown eyes and said I needed to tell him the truth. So I did.

I knew that it would be tough, but I didn't expect tears like this. We had to spend the next 45 minutes talking about it all between sobs. In the end, he pulled himself together and I think it ended up okay. I even let him play a half hour of XBox to take his mind off of it.

Yes, J now knows the truth about Santa. It was soooo much easier to have the sex talk with him last year.

On this date: In 1993 the Elvis stamp was issued.

Monday, January 7, 2008


As of just a few minutes ago, oldest son might be on the verge of dehairification!

He has tentitively set the date of this monumental event for Saturday. I'll keep ya'll posted with up to the minute reports and photos if the paparazzi can get a glimpse.

On this date: In 1789 the first US presidential election was held.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Just So You Know...

When you're babysitting the second grade class leopard gecko over Winter Break and your son drops the heat lamp and breaks the bulb at 8pm on a Sunday night, it is difficult - although not impossible - to get a new one so that the gecko doesn't die from cold and the entire class hates you.

On this date: In 1973 Schoolhouse Rock debuted. Oh I'm just a bill...yes I'm only a bill...and I'm sittin' here on Capitol Hill...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Here Comes the Rain Again...

Yup. It's raining. Hard.

On this date: In 1953, construction started on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The First Step...

Youngest son T spends probably as much time upside down as right side up. He's taught himself to do backflips, and no-handed backflips both on the ground and off every available horozontal surface. In order to properly curb this crazy habit, I took him to a circus school today to try out.

Well, they loved him there and really want him to be in the troupe. It's taught by a guy who used to be in Cirque du Soliel (and has the same very unusual first name as my oldest son, which is weird) and is very serious about his acrobatics and theatrical abilities. Being in the troupe requires about 12 hours a week of practice time, so for the moment I compromised with three hours a week of practice time and not being in the troupe right now. I mean, come on, he's seven. T is really excited about the whole thing, so I do see the troupe in our future. As the gym is about 20 minutes away, I'm going to use the hours have to sit there as writing time - I should be getting a lot done in the near future.

On this date: In 1965, my DH was born. Happy Birthday honey!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Are We Done Yet?

Can we officially declare the holiday season caput?Finito? Over? I've been done with them for awhile now (although I waited until Dec. 27th to deChristmify), and I'm hoping that the rest of the world is now caught up. I see some of my favorite blogs sputtering back to life, so that is a good sign. The kids go back to school on Monday, so that is truly the end of the end.

I'm totally into Donald Maas' Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (which should really be titled Revising the Breakout Novel, because if you don't have it already written it won't help you so much, but whatever). It gives you a lot of things to think about when you are putting your characters together. I still have to finish the YA (at 37k and counting), then go through it with the workbook, then go through it with my crit group, THEN give it to the experts that I've been working with on my subject matter. With any luck at all, Agent E will get it before the kids get out of school for the summer. Kidding. Maybe sooner.

On this date: In 1979, Sid Vicious went on trial for murder.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Revolutions

I thought I'd start off the New Year with a couple of comments that actually relate to books for a change. Even though I'm in the middle of writing a YA (or maybe because of it), I've been reading MG. Both of these books deserve to win the Newbery this year, and if neither of them get it, I'll be disappointed.

Both of them have great writing, memorable scenarios and characters and most importantly, they are both actually for kids and not the grownups who determine which book gets the prizes. The fact that they both appeal to adults as well is a nice bonus. I "know" Linda Urban from the Blueboards (which means I don't really know her at all), but that has nothing to do with how much I liked her book. My agent recommended Leepike as inspiration for Armadillo and she was right on.

I'm not officially doing resolutions partly because I think they just set you up for failure and partly because I'm lazy. Let's just say that right up there for 2008 is the knowledge that if I spend one more Christmas with the same cr**py kitchen without the long-awaited remodel, heads will roll. And if I'm sitting here on Jan 1, 2009 without having sold a novel, then I'm REALLY not making any resolutions next year.

On this date: In 1863, Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation