Happy New Year

Countdown to the awesomeness that 2010 promises to be...

T-minus 1 hour 44 minutes and counting.

Christmas At My Parents: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

the Good:
-AuntSaraIsComingAuntSaraIsComingAuntSaraIsComing
-Napping is Encouraged
-Eating is Mandatory
-Someone else changing 90% of the Pea's plentiful poopy pants
-AuntSaraIsHereAuntSaraIsHereAuntSaraIsHere
-Working is Verboeten

the Bad:
-Sharing a bedroom with the Pea
-And a double-sized bed with Hubbykins
-And a bathroom with seven other people


the Ugly:
[conversation with my father]
me:  Do you want my eggnog?
father: Nope.
me:  It makes my tongue feel fuzzy.
father:  Hmmm.
me:  Maybe I put too much whiskey in.  I've never had eggnog with whiskey in it.
father:  What are you talking about?  We don't have any whiskey.
me:  It's in the cupboard over your stove.
father:  That's tequila.
me:  oh.

As you can tell, I'm not the biggest drinker.

But a Merry Christmas was had by all!

Up & Running

Or at least traipsing.  Like me, Ellen doesn't run.

Follower contest to follow.  Sorry, male readers, I'm going to be getting my girly on.

Merry Christmas

Hope your day has been filled with peace, joy, and much "Happy Birthday, Jesus" cake.  Oh, wait, that's probably just at my Mom and Dad's house.  I still hope yours was great!

Back to Business

(Temporarily)

So I read this Michael Hyatt post and realized I'm guilty of every single one of these mistakes.

Fear not...the Best of the Worst shall return!  But I thought it prudent to give a shout-out to something literary-related in the interim.  I thought a follow-up to Ellen's guest post would be fitting...a book recommendation. 

Haven't done one of these yet, and there's a reason.  I am a people-pleaser, and if you, reader, are not pleased with my selection, I would feel horrible.  Here's the lovely thing about this recommendation, though:  I dare you not to like it.  Crazy Hair.  It's a charming, lyrical picture book from Neil Gaiman with mesmerizing (that's right...I said mesmerizing) illustrations by Dave McKean. 




And, bonus, the next time you have a bad hair day, you can look in the mirror and say, "Crazy hair?  Oh me, oh my!  Crazy hair?  I thought I'd die," rather than call your Hubbykins wailing.  Not that I've ever done that.

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes....

It's official Kissing Day Blogfest.  I was actually not aware of this until I opened Google Reader this morning, and it was like a Harlequin novel had exploded in there (in a good way).

Confession:  I am horrible at writing kissing scenes.  My NaNo kissing scenes were the equivalent of a chin bump and too much tongue.  I haven't worked up the nerve to attack the kiss in my WIP.

So here's a bit of off-the-top-of-my-head memoir (I'm feeling sentimental):

I'm so thankful that I didn't listen to the attachment parenting women who said, "Don't let the nurses wipe off the goop before they hand him to you!  The goop helps him bond to you."  Of course, at the time, all I could think was, "Is the shaking normal?  They didn't mention the shaking in the prepared childbirth course.  Or did they?"

And then, there he was.

At which point, all I could focus on was, "Must. Not. Drop. Baby."  Followed quickly by, "So thankful I let them wipe him off."

The first thing that struck me about him was the perfection of his ears.  Like little squished and shriveled apricots, but perfect, with tiny tufts of fuzz on the top.  Everything was tiny.

Then, I kissed him on the top of that tiny head.  On the spot I recognized immediately as the one I'd been waiting my whole life to kiss.  Hoping for.  Praying for.  The spot that God designed for my smooch.

And I realized for the first time I was truly a Mom.  Because I would have kissed it even if he was goopy.

And the Mystery Guest Blogger Is...

...my older sister Ellen.


Some of you may remember her from her Reign of Ellen days.  Well, she's bringing back the blog, bigger and better than ever (but it's not ready for prime time yet).  Here's a little taste, though, and I'll keep you updated when it's live.  [spoiler alert:  I'm planning my first giveaway contest to celebrate her debut...or return, I guess.  And it's going to be legen-...wait for it]

The Worst Hair Trends of the Decade
By Mystery Guest Blogger Ellen

I will begin this essay with the admission that my qualifications to write on this particular subject are suspect, considering that my hair for the past decade has consisted of two "styles": short and brown... and longer and brown.  I guess I had bangs for awhile.  Bangs are a style, right?

I am also of the belief that the pinnacle of female hair beauty was achieved with the early '90's long, romantic curly hair of Julia Ormond (the chick from "Legends of the Fall"), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine from "Seinfeld") and Andie McDowell ("Groundhogs Day", "Four Weddings and A Funeral.")  I rocked that hair trend, and honestly haven't been impressed with much since the Rachel ruined everything we curly-haired had fought so hard to achieve. 

But perhaps those reasons make me the perfect person to review this decade.  I am unaffected by the many hair trends that attempt to pummel me everyday.  Chi hair straightener?  $50 Designer Pomade?  Ha!  I scoff at you.  Don't you know what a lazy stay-at-home-mother you are trying to entice?  You shall not have me.

This past decade (which I will hereafter refer to as This Past Decade, since this decade never really got a good name going... "the Zeros"?) has produced some unfortunate hair trends, all of which combined to culminate in the Ultimate Worst Hair Style of the Decade (but I am getting ahead of myself... I'll get to that rant soon enough.)  Without further ado, I present to you...

Bad Hair Trend #1:

The Skunk



Stripey, skunk hair coloring.  Often sported by sorority coeds, but eventually stretching into the desperately-trying-to-hold-on-to-their-hipness mom crowd.  Looks cool on one out of 3,000 women.  The other 2,999 look like their hairdresser got drunk at the proverbial foil wheel.






Bad Hair Trend #2:

Diiiiirty Hair





Christina used a bit of the skunk, but also added her own unwashed spin.  Thankfully, the mom crowd didn't seem to embrace the Skanky Skunk.



Bad Hair Trend #3:

Emo

By the time that the Emo trend hit about four years ago, cranky American youth had finally learned how to use their hair straightener without burning themselves, as well as how to get a good purple skunk going on their hair.  The thing about Emo hairstyles, though, is that, although they are definitely interesting to look at... they are unflattering to all heads, across the board.  Boys come out looking girlie instead of brooding (which, let's be honest, is the goal, correct?) and girls come out looking like boys.  Who look like girls.  But not in a good way. 

I know that emo is just the new grunge, but at least with grunge, we gals got to grow our hair out and wear baby doll dresses and Mary Jane Doc Martins.  These silly Emo kids.  Oh well.  They'll be happy little soccer moms with skunk hair before they know it.




Bad Hair Trend #3.5:

Christian Siriano





I actually think that Project Runway's Christian Siriano is a subgroup in the Emo category.   Now, don't get me wrong.  I loves me some Christian Siriano.  But I loves him despite his hair.   Christian has enough sass to relatively pull off this Emo-inspired weed-eater hair cut, but if anyone else tried it, they would look like a fierce hot tranny mess.  It's just an ugly hairdo. 



and finally... the hairdo which absorbed all of The Past Decade's hideous trends and plopped it all on one obnoxious, narcissistic head...

The Ultimate Bad Hair Trend of the Past Decade:


The Kate Gosselin

Oh my.  So so much badness going on here.  The skunk coloring.  Goo-covered spikes up the back.  Flattened bangs that wrap around half the head.  At least the traditional mullet simply combines two styles ("Business in the front, party in the back.")  The Kate had about seven ("Manipulative famemonger in front, abusive wife in the back, controlling nag thrown in on the sides"?)

The most frustrating thing was that the style just wouldn't go away.  Nearly everywhere I went, I was greeted by Kate copycat hair on poor unsuspecting women.  As I looked at them, I wanted to scream into the night, "Have I gone MAD?!  Don't any of these women realize how ridiculous they look?  How much money they are spending a month on upkeep and trims and goo?  Have they been brainwashed?!!" 

It's one thing to see funny little teenagers running around with their spiky Emo hipster mullets.  They are young and having fun and don't know any better.  But the Kate is an entirely different monster.   Women are ASKING to have their hair look like this, and it will take years to grow it out.  They are going to be spending their children's college funds to keep up with this hair disaster, just so they can look like Kate Gosselin at P.T.A. committees and consignment sales. 

I implore all of you... as This Past Decade draws to a close... say no to the Kate Gosselin.  Let The Next Decade ("The Teens?") be a return to hair sanity. 

Bring back the Elaine.



[-dary.]




Coming Soon...Mystery Guest Blogger

So I have a guest blogger lined up that I'm kind of excited about.  She'll be sharing some of her own Best of the Worst picks and debuting her revamped, redesigned, back-from-hiatus blog.

Best of the Worst Part 2: Spiraling Celebrities

You know of whom I speak.  All those celebutantes that we watched as they circled the drain, shaking our collective heads in sadness and shock.  Well, maybe not so much shock as mild surprise at the timing.

And there are so many to choose from:

Tiger Woods.  This one's so fresh, it may end up on the next decade's list as well.

Kanye West.  I believe it was Katy Perry who described the VMA Taylor Swift debacle as like stomping on a kitten.  Or a fairy.  Does anyone else think she looks exactly as they envisioned a fairy looking?

Whitney Houston.  Crack is whack, Whitney.  It is.

Joaquin Phoenix.  I'm actually a little sad about this one and don't really want to talk about it. (And, apparently, neither does he.)

Britney Spears.  Oh, Britney.  But she gets points returned for pulling it together in the last year or so.  And her little sister's laid so low since having a baby that I'm not even officially going to put Jamie Lynn on my list.



Lindsay Lohan (okay, pretty much anyone with the last name of Lohan).  And could I just add, if I ever have a TMZ page devoted to just me, it's time to circle the wagons, people.

Oh, oh, I almost forgot Christian Bale.

But I'm going to have to reserve the number one spot for...


Mel Gibson


Because let's face it, how many other celebs can you think of who went from winning Oscars to drunken hate mongering in a span of ten short years?

Anyone...anyone?  Didn't think so.

I know I missed so very many.  What are your favorite By the Heiny of Thor, Can This Celebrity Tailspin Any Faster moments?

Best of the Worst: Part 1...Fashion Trends

A new decade is upon us.  Nathan Bransford has posted his favorite books of the aughts over on his blog.  And this got me to thinking about the decade.  A lot has happened.

So from now until New Year's, I will explore the Best of the Worst.  Topic one:  Fashion Trends!

Oh, there are so many to choose from.

Uggs.  Small dogs.  Giant sunglasses.  Maxi dresses.  Crocs. I secretly heart them.  Leggings (oh, the leggings).

And the winner is...

The metrosexual man scarf.



So sorry if I've offended any of my scarf-lovin' male readers.


What about you, readers?  What tops your Who Would Wear That?? list for the decade?

A Few Non-Writing Related Whatnots

Okay, I've had a week off of writing (that's technically not true.  I've been revising, tweaking, and otherwise picking a picture book manuscript to shreds before I send it off on a conference sub).  Let me rephrase.  I've had a week off from intense novel writing.  Here's what I've been doing instead:

1!  Christmas decorating.  I don't like loathe putting up the Christmas tree (I know, I know, bah humbug to you, too), but I lurvvvv Christmas decorations.  Paradox?  Not really.  My lazy bone just won out this year.  Solution?  Wrapping the banister in garland and hanging some ornaments from it.  Estimated time from start to finish:  27 minutes.  I also made this adorable piece of awesomeness (and a pink one for my niece):



2!  Reading.

3!  Watching "John Adams" on DVD.  It's a fascinating HBO miniseries and worth the rent if you, like me, don't have cable.

4!  Cooking (okay, this is a bit of a stretch, but I did discover this yummy recipe for cheating clam chowder).

5!  Sleeping.


Also, a belated shout-out to everyone who completed Picture Book Idea Month.  Go, you!


NaNo Nuggets

-Google Reader is the natural enemy of productivity, yet I love it so.  Solution?  "Mark All As Read" at least thrice a day.  Reader takeaway?  Give your blog posts interesting titles if you want to draw me in.

-NaNoWriMo makes for a good practice novel.  (I bristled at this concept in the past, but I can see its value now.)

-You have to LOVE your characters to write 50K words about them.  Or just be extremely stubborn.

-NaNoWriMo is the natural enemy of eating healthy.  I do not want to discuss how many white fudge covered Oreos I ate last month.  Answer?  Too many.

-It was surprisingly easy to maintain some semblance of balance in my life over the month.  I threshed out the chaff (long blog posts...both reading and writing them, piddling around, sleeping) and kept the good stuff (hanging out with Hubbykins, playing with Pea, time with friends).  Cleaning flew out the window, but I'm still deciding if that is wheat or chaff.

-I'm not one of those writers who can leave misspelled words, blatantly poor grammar, and typos in their wake.  I just can't.

-I'm also not one of those writers who can write without an outline.

-In any given project, the temptation to cheat on your WIP will arise.  Fight this urge.  Fight it!

-I am a YA writer at heart.  (Not surprising, as I am secretly a 14 year-old girl)


Any other recovering NaNoers out there?

I DID IT!!!!


Yee to the haw!  I hit 50,274 words a few minutes ago.  (You actually know about this momentous feat before Hubbykins because he is napping on the couch beating off a man cold, and I don't want to disturb him.)

I'll share my thoughts about the experience tomorrow.

For today, here's a C.S. Lewis quote that my friend Kristin e-mailed to me this afternoon.  I think he sums it up well:

"What you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on."

Be inspired, my friends.

Before I forget...

Check out the awesome contest over at the Bookshelf Muse.

I will not be asking her to critique my NaNovel if I win it.

Home Stretch

Signs that I'm squeaking into the NaNo finish line:

-All my characters have started shrugging, smiling, laughing, and rolling their eyes multiple times within any given scene.  And my personal favorite, wiping away a tear.

-I've begun updating my word count every 100 words.

-My margin comments have gone from "Research tide schedules" to "Check for continuity" to "This could possibly be the worst paragraph ever written...in the history of writing...ever."

-I've debated sending mean NaNoMail to the crazy writers who have insane word counts like 872K.  What the what?  Are they liars?  Insomniacs?  Superheroes?  Am highly intrigued.

-I've also debated sending mean regular mail to Hubbykins for taking away my Entertainment Weekly with the sparkly vampires research articles that I need to peruse.

-And my favorite activity:  Entering variables into this equation... 50,000 - current word count X number of writing days remaining = Okay, yes, I can write 2435 words a day.

Final NaNo Push

The next few days will be intense, and I am so exhausted from staying up until 1:00 a.m. writing, I can't even put it into words.  But I am also so close to the finish line, I can taste it.  And it tastes like white fudge covered Oreos.  No wait, that's the white fudge covered Oreos I've been noshing on for almost a week straight.

Final word of NaNo encouragement:  as one of my college friends used to say, "If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute."

I'm Thankful For...

...a hubbykins who lovingly banishes me from the living room after Glee to make me get down to the business of writing.

...the fact that I was able to fix my own washing machine this afternoon (thanks, epinions.com, and nyeh, Sears!)

...a sweet Pea who cracks me up each and every day.

...my critique group.  I do not know what I would do (or how I would write) without them.

...Lindt dark chocolate truffles.

I Won, I Won, I Won, I Won, I Won

I won.

What, you ask?  A copy of The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate from Michelle over at Red-Headed Book Child.  She has a great review blog.  Check it out if you haven't already.


And, now, back to my NaNovel (or as my little sister referred to it last night, my NoNaLeViKaRo because she couldn't remember the initials.)  Imaginary tootsie roll to the person who comes up with the best acryonym for "NoNaLeViKaRo".  Bear in mind my first name is Karen.

Note to Pea:

A brief cat nap followed by dancing around your crib for an hour clapping does not qualify as a nap.  Mumsy needs your cooperation on this if she's to finish her NaNovel o' Poo.

[And, can I just add, good gravy...67% done.  I think this is actually going to happen.]

Back to the Blergs

I had a good run there for a few days.  My characters were interesting again, nay, loveable.  Plot points were flying this way and that.  Characters were kissing.  Kissing!

Then, I woke up yesterday, and...blerg.

Maybe it was the impending sparkleocalypse.  Maybe it was the fact that my dog has decided he is now a "couch dog", and I've been picking his hairs off the sofa for two days straight.  Maybe it was the proliferation of awesomeness in the blogosphere world of debates.

Whatever it is, I'm ready for it to stop.

Also, the Pea has managed to turn on a bunch of early morning alarms on Hubbykin's old Palm Pilot that I let him play with, and I can't figure out how to turn them off.  This morning, the Pea apparently thought it was important that I be reminded of my "pbpppppb" appointment.  At 5:30 a.m.

What Was That Sound?

The scales tipping the other direction?

That's right.  25K, and I'm headed to bed.

Also, per Hubbykins, who turns out is a handy little flash drive sneak thief when he wants to be, "It's not as bad as you're making it out to be.  I think you're selling yourself short.  And who does she end up with?  You're not going to pull a stupid Sweet Home Alabama thing are you?  You need to tell me." (yes, I made him watch it, and I will never hear the end of it.)

I'm still not telling, Hubbykins.  Not. Telling.

Bleh.

My NaNo WIP has hit that second week slump.  I read about it before starting, but thought, "Oh, no.  That won't happen to me.  I lurv my story and all the characters and the setting and the blah blah blah."

Here is the problem:  all the characters have become mind-numbingly boring to me.  What do I want to do next, plot-wise?  I want to put them all on a boring boat, the U.S.S. Borington and send them out to sea, let them bore each other to death.  Then, start over with brand new sparkly characters, maybe vampires who will not be boring, and let them have a party on that boat.

Or maybe I'll eat a Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss and keep plugging away.  Or three.

[ETA:  Why can I not get my characters to stop rolling their eyes?  Why?  Why??]

Squee!

A side effect of NaNo:  I feel like my daily correspondence writing (e-mails, blog posts, et similar) has gone to poop while I've been working on this novel.  It's like I've used up all my writing gas on the WIP, and the car's sputtering into the station even writing a grocery list.

But...I officially passed the mark of the most words I've completed on a WIP today.  Squee!!

Switching gears--you know those people that make you feel cooler by association?  Well, Lisa and Laura Roecker fall into this category.  Their book, A Kate Lowry Mystery: The Haunting of Pemberly Brown just got acquired, and I cannot wait to read it (but I will have to as it isn't coming out until Spring 2011).  And after a little perusing of their website, I'm also counting down the days until their WIP, Pride and Purity, is acquired because I HAD A SIMILAR IDEA (only not YA genre) for the flipped gender roles in P&P ten years ago.  I outlined it, but I didn't write it.  I am glad that someone with a proper snarky, hilarious voice is, though.

I digress.  Proof of how cool they are...they are giving away a Kindle.  When they could have kept said Kindle for themselves.  something I would have done

Head over to their blog and leave a comment to win a Kindle.

NaNo Anthem

I've loved this song ever since I first heard it on the Clueless soundtrack whosie-whatsie years ago (and don't pretend you don't love that movie!):

(Nate Albert/Dicky Barrett/Joe Gittleman/Bosstones)

There was a place
And the name of the place escapes me
When I can't remember
It irritates me
Could be I can't remember
Could be I choose to not,
Let's move the song along
And try to find the plot
There was a girl and I don't know her name either
She gave me love and I swore I'd never leave her
If I did I'd come back someday and find her
Maybe I will I should write down a reminder
One day! One day who knows
Someday I suppose
There was a verse that I was gonna write I haven't yet
But there's still a chance I might An open book
That I still want to close I'll find the time
Someday I suppose A place and time,
I wanna be and spend a storyline
That's happy in the end Plans are made
with promises so certainly uncertain
I can't wait to set things straight
before they close the curtain
One day! One day who knows
Someday I suppose
The more I sort things out
The more it gets distorted
I sort of think I'm better off just leaving it unsorted
The more I try to change it's course
the more off course it goes
Of course I'll reach my destination someday I suppose
Sort it out,
Get distorted
One day who knows
Hide behind,
Someday I suppose







It's been running through my head since I started NaNo.  Everytime I feel like a scene is moving too slowly, I start singing, "Let's move this song along and try to find a plot!" in my best ska voice.


Feel free to adopt it as your NaNo anthem as well.  :)

I Know This Is Normal But....

I need to whine a little.

I feel like I'm having to drudge every word out of my brain syllable by syllable.  The past two days have just been rough.

And it doesn't help that the Pea has chosen this week to stop napping well.  It puts a bit of a kink in writing novels during naptime when naptime has gotten chopped in half.

Okay, I'm done pouting.  I'll get back to writing.

Take That, Discouragement!

My motto throughout college was "I can do anything for two months."  It came in very handy since my school was on the trimester system.  I never had to do much of anything for longer than two months.  Tough classes, annoying neighbors, awkward roommates.  I think eleven weeks was the longest I had to put up with any of them.

Well, NaNo's only one month.  So take that!

(I say this after staring at a blinking cursor for ten minutes straight.)

NaNoReI'mGoToGaTePoThiMo

National No, Really, I'm Going To Gain Ten Pounds This Month

(Did I mention I've been putting buttercream frosting on the graham crackers?)

Oh, the Calories.

I'm discovering that November is so many more things in conjunction with NaNoWriMo.

NaGaTenPoWhiWriYoNoMo:
National Gain Ten Pounds While Writing Your Novel Month.

So many more NaMo's (and graham crackers) to come...

The Blahs

Conversation overhead at my house yesterday:
Hubbykins (seating himself at my laptop): Do you mind if I check my e-mail?

Me:  Nope.

Hubbykins (tippity-tap-typing, grand pause): Ummm....

Me:  What?

Hubbykins:  Is this part of the normal creative process?  To work on three different manuscripts at once?

Me:  YOUR LAPTOP PRIVILEGES HAVE BEEN REVOKED! (Okay, I didn't really say that)
Me (actual thing I said):  Three?  What are you talking about?

Hubbykins:  1..2...3.

Me:  Oh, no, actually two of those are the same thing but one is the rough draft and the second is the more polished draft.

Hubbykins:  And the third?

Me:  (silence)

Hubbykins:  And the third?

Me:  I'm just jotting down ideas and stuff!  I don't know.  Blah!


Anyone else out there caught on Cheaters with another WIP?

An (Actual) Major Award

Okay, it's not the Newbery Medal, but I entered one of my picture book manuscripts into the SCBWI Midsouth Fiction Manuscript Contest for the most publishable manuscript, and I WON in the picture book category!!!

What did I win, you ask?

-The 2010 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market.

-A beautiful picture book biography The Secret World of Walter Anderson written by Hester Bass (who was so sweet and came up to me afterward to congratulate me and signed it for me).

-A basket full of candy that I gave away because I couldn't fit in my carryon for the plane ride home, but I did grab the pack of gum, and it came in handy on the first flight which was a little stinky.
 
-a detailed critique from the judging editor.

-AND...drum roll please...an invitation to submit my manuscript

So said manuscript is getting polished up all squeaky clean with the judging editor's revision ideas (which were spot-on and resonated with me immediately).  And I'm trying to remain as calm and non-spasmodic as possible.  Which is impossible a challenge.


And the neat thing is that, even apart from the win, it was just such an amazing conference.  Everyone was so friendly and encouraging.  It was a bit mind-boggling to be surrounded by all these talented writers and illustrators who were happy to share their expertise and knowledge.  Final judgement: a wonderful weekend.


Also also...when I got home, Hubbykins had the house all clean and sparkly.  I heart my Hubbykins.

A Major Award!

I've won a major award!

(Okay, not that major, but still very cool).

Thank you, Michelle over at Red Headed Book Child for my ZOMBIE CHICKEN AWARD!

And here it is:


Ummm, I kind of love the chicken on the right.

“The blogger who receives this award exhibits the spirit of the zombie chicken– excellence, grace, and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.”

Okay, everyone gets an honorary zombie chicken because all my followers are faboo like that.

But my official 5 picks are:

Kristin @ Another Gray Day
Tess @ Tess Hilmo 

And now, I must go pack for the SCBWI Midsouth Conference which starts tomorrow

yee hee hee.



Where I've Been/Where I'm Going

Before you worry that I'm going to start waxing philosophical on this here blog, have no fear!  I am speaking in the physical sense.  I've been to Disney World (and will post about that over at my personal blog, the Snarkington Post).  I am going, this weekend to the SCBWI Midsouth Conference.  I'm stark, raving, out of my mind a little bit excited.

This will be my first writer's conference.  Okay, technically that is not  true.  This will be my first adult writer's conference.  In middle school, I went to two young writer's conferences where the keynote speakers were S.E. Hinton and Judith Viorst.  Let me say that again...S.E. Hinton and Judith Viorst.  And, no, I did not appreciate the opportunities at the time.  And, yes, I wish I could go back to my middle school self and slap her and yell, "Write down everything these women are saying!  Transcribe it on papyrus!  Tattoo it on your brain!"

So, FYI, Caroline B. Cooney, I will be the one taking notes and not flipping through Rumblefish searching for kissing scenes.

My ABC's

I've been tagged!  I love these meme's.  And they're a great opportunity to learn a bit more about each other.  Michelle at Red Headed Book Child tagged me.  Go check out her blog if you haven't already because (a) she knows her books, and (b) that little red-headed kiddo of hers is pretty stinkin' adorable.

So....here goes:


Here are the rules:


1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Share your ABCs
3. Tag three people at the end by linking to their blogs
4. Let the three tagged people know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website
5. Do not tag the same person repeatedly but try to tag different people, so there is a big network of bloggers doing this tag


Here goes. . .



Available or in a relationship? Married



Best Friend? Hubbykins.



Cake or Pie? Cake.  But I prefer brownies to just about anything.



Drink of choice? COKE!!!! no diet.



Essential item for every day use? sunglasses



Favorite color? pink or green depending on my mood.



Google? is slowly taking over the world my life.


Hometown? Siloam Springs, AR (don't bother googling it)



Indulgences? asiago cream cheese bagels when I'm at my critique group meetings, pedicures, *occasional* nap, Entertainment Weekly on Saturday mornings



January or February? February.  It's short, and I love Groundhog's Day.



Kids and their names? 1 son, the Pea



Life is incomplete without…? I was thinking the other day that if the house caught fire, the ONLY thing I would care about would be getting the Pea and Hubbykins out safely (and then our naughty dog).



Marriage date? October 2004



Number of siblings? I'm the middle of 3 sisters.



Oranges or apples? This is a dilemma.  You can never go wrong with a satsuma.  On the other hand, there's nothing better than a really crisp, tart apple.  But nothing worse than a mealy, mushy one.


Phobias and fears? I do not like mice (or heaven forbid, rats!) or spiders.  I'm also not a huge fan of heights.  Or dark, enclosed spaces.  Snakes don't really bother me.



Quote for the day? "Be serious with God, and leave the rest gaily alone."  --Oswald Chambers



Reason to smile? The Pea said "Mama" and pointed to me for the first time this morning.  (And I'm at 13,500 words on my novel!)



Season? Autumn.  I love the start of school, the first hints of a chill wind, and the scent of fireplace smoke in the air.



Unknown fact about me? I had braces for 7 years growing up.



Vegetable you hate? I'm not loving the beets.



Worst habit? Inability to multi-task.



X-rays you’ve had? Lots and lots of dental x-rays (see "unknown fact about me" above).



Your fave food? Pizza.



One word to describe you (I'm changing this up and replacing "Zodiac" because I think that's a silly question that doesn't tell anything about me):  Sassy.

I tag:

Shelli @ Market My Words

The Doubts

The last week or so, I've been plagued with a recurring doubt...I don't have a full novel in me.  I've had several days where the story has flown out of me and a few where I've stared at a blank screen and rewritten the same paragraph ten times.  But the more I write, the louder the voice gets.

"Sure, you've written 12,000 words.  But you'll say all you have to say in 25K.  Then what?  Hum for 25K more?"  (And, yes, I know whose voice that is, and he can kiss my heiny)
 

It reminds me of my math classes in high school and college.  The first day of class, I'd always look at the last chapter in the textbook and wig out because there was NO WAY I would ever be able to learn those concepts.  My mom would sit me down, open up the first chapter and calmly say, "Well, just start here."  And by the end, I was always that annoying girl with 104%.


My plan of action:  Just keep writing.

Happy Labor Day!

Technically, the only "laboring" I've done is dressing up in sports garb and heading to Chick-fil-A for a free chicken sandwich.

Wa-hoo!

Happy Birthday, Little Boy

 
And, yes, that's a binder clip holding his hat on.  Because it's not really a hat, it's a decorative cone that was cuter than the party hats that Hobby Lobby had.

Enjoying the Ride

Hubbykins greeted me this morning with, "Happy 1 year Due-Date-iversary!"  I've spent an entire year saying, "One year ago today, I was just finishing morning sickness, feeling him kick, big as a submarine, etc."  I won't be able to say that much longer.

I greeted the Pea with a kiss on that little spot above his nose that God designed for baby kisses.  One year ago today, I wasn't super happy with him.  He took his time sweet time waiting to come out.

Looking back on my pregnancy, I can't say that I enjoyed it.  I worried.  I reveled.  I loved.  But I didn't just sit back and enjoy.  There were some extraneous complicating factors out of my control involved, but it still makes me sad looking back.  Just a twinge of regret.  The Pea will always be my first child, and my WIP will always be my first novel.

I don't want to look back on these early days of writing--carrying a notebook around to scribble picture book ideas, breathing a sigh of relief when a scene gels, staying up until midnight in a frenzy of creativity--and regret.  I want to enjoy this process.  I will let myself enjoy this process.

Night Karen Wins Again

Note to self:  You ar a grown woman.  Stop traipsing around (okay, technically writing isn't the same as traipsing) until 11:30 p.m., then staying up talking to Hubbykins until 1:00 a.m.  Morning Karen will hate you.  Afternoon Slump Karen will despise you.  And remember, the Pea has an acute sixth sense developed for just these occasions.  He knows when to wake up before the sun rises.  He knows.

So stop it.

Writer's High

When I submit a few new chapters to my critique buddies, it creates a momentary euphoria.  A readership of 5.

I can't imagine what it will feel like receiving my first request for a full from an agent.

Or just having a full.

Yee hee.

Good Timing

Kristin just linked to this article on talent, passion, and discipline on her blog, and it could not have come at a better time.  So encouraging and daunting at the same time.  I am not a disciplined person.  I might sometimes appear so on the outside, but on the inside, I'm flying seventeen different directions at once.

When I started down this path of writing with publication as a goal, I decided that 2 Timothy 1:7 is my theme verse.  "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."  I am re-asserting this theme and posting this as a reminder to myself more than anyone else.

Stuck in the Middle with You

This song has been running through my head lately.  It's how I feel about my WIP, the Pea's increasingly short naps of late (which has a significant impact on the former), housework (this is nothing new).  I've had a few minor breakthroughs on my plot (huzzah!), and one of my PB's now has a much more satisfying ending (in my head...I just need to get it out on paper).

Oh, and thank you, critique peeps, for the help with the ending.  As I spent most of Saturday's meeting flailing my arms and squealing in excitment at their ideas, I am especially thankful to Kim for reminding me to write down notes.

Great Contest!

There's a great contest going on over at Princess Bookie right now.  The grand prize winner wins all of these:
1. Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick ARC
2. Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen ARC
3. Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters ARC
4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater ARC
5. Troy High by Shana Norris ARC
6. Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott ARC
7. Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn ARC
8. Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker
9. Death by Series by Linda Gerber (3 books total)
10. a 5 dollar giftcard from Walmart (you can buy yourself half of a book with it, lol)
11. 3 Sarah Dessen books ( Just Listen, This Lullaby, Someone Like You)
12. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
13. Fire By Kristin Cashmore ARC
14. Last but not least, I have some extra amazon cards, so I will also include a preorder for CATCHING FIRE BY SUZANNE COLLINS. It will be shipped to on or around Sept 1st (whenever they ship it)





Wow.  I want, I want, I want.

The Perils of Living by Paper

Hubbykins, this morning, very sweetly said, "I'm curious about what your bedside table plan is."  That was his tactful way of saying, "Please!  For the love of all that is good and pure, remove a few of the messy piles o' paper."  Which I did, and all is well.

I grow jealous of the writers who have their offices featured in Entertainment Weekly.  Streamlined desks, non-post-it-covered laptops, organized pendaflex filing system, and a regal horse statue (always the horse).

What is on my desk:  desk protector that hubbykins made me buy, tiny fake mouse with the ears and tail loved off, Cricut cutting system for all the craft projects I don't complete, purple velvet pre-kissed frog prince, two overflowing legal pads of ideas and notes, a smallish gnome statue, pre-filed receipts, baby Cotton Candy My Little Pony, stapler, tape dispenser, picture frames (oh, the picture frames!), wooden box full of old letters, weinie whistle.

What is not on my desk:  laptop, regal horse statue.

Free e-book from Scott Westerfeld

I'm a big fan of Scott Westerfeld, and an even bigger fan of free stuff.  Check it out:  free copy of Uglies!

Very generous of him and Simon & Schuster, if I might say so myself.

To Babyland General, Go, and Quickly, Too!

Ever worry that your WIP is a Cabbage Patch Kid?

Yes, I look at it and say, "Oh, her name is Matilda Rose!  She has red braids and a dimple on her left cheek and Xavier Roberts' signature on her heiny.  In purple.  She is you-nique!  She is a special, special flower."

But in my heart of hearts, I'm terrified that you would look at it and see a molded plastic head, stitched-on fingers, and a nubbin for a bellybutton.

Anyone else?

One of Those Weekends

I had a great weekend, creativity-wise.  That was helped in large part by meeting with my critique group:  Kate, Kristin, and Mandy.  Those ladies inspire me, encourage me, and give me a good swift kick in the pants when needed.

Went to see Wicked Saturday night.  It blew my mind grapes...again.

On a side note, I lurvvv when a story comes to me in one fell swoop.  It's ever-so annoying when it comes in one fell swoop minus the ending.  I'm in that boat right now.  What I should do:  put it away for a week or two and look at it with fresh eyes.  What I'm going to do:  eat a bunch of Starbursts and hope that the sugar rush triggers a lightning bolt of inspiration.

Erghhhh...

A cow says, "moo."  A sheep says, "baa."
One tired mommy says, "blah, blah, blah."

Has it ever taken you so long to finish a story that it feels like you've been through 17 revisions and you're only on the first draft?  But every time I put it away and say, "forget it!", this stupid rooster pops up in my brain and does something very amusing.

Happy Harry Potter HBP Release Day!

I'm a huge Potterphile.  Somewhere between the moment when J.K. Rowling plopped me down in the middle of Privet Drive to meet a lonely little boy to sobbing as a young man walked into a forest (not-so) alone, I fell in love with the characters in those books.  Truly, deeply care about them.

She started the writing process for Harry Potter in 1990.  I was 12.  I'm not even sure if Daniel Radcliffe was born at that point.  Wow.

Wanna Connect with Young'uns?

Apparently, don't bother with Twitter.  (Although interestingly enough, I discovered this article as a Tweet from @claycarmichael)

How to Instill a Love of Reading in Your Child

Step 1:  Read to him before naps and bedtime (and when he'll sit still for longer than three minutes).  Check.

Step 2:  Assemble several of his favorite books into a handy basket beside the nursery rocker.  Check.

Step 3:  Encourage him to explore and pick up books at his leisure.  Check.

Step 4:  Walk out of the room for 20 seconds to put the bath toys up and race back into room in panic mode when he begins shrieking.  Check.

Step 5:  Dig said child out of book pile and kiss the boo-boo where the corner of Cha-Cha Chimps scratched him from neck to navel.  Check.

Step 6:  Pray that he is not forever traumatized from book avalanche incident.  Check.

Thankful

I'm thankful for a husband who gives me a little kiss before handing me the tell-tale SASE.  He smiles and says, "Tough skin, remember?"  I smile and say, "Yep."

I'm also thankful that Hubbykins is a great marketer, and if/when I do get published, he will have a marketing plan in full swing pronto.  Case in point:

Me:  Hubbykins, I want to write children's books.
Hubbykins:  Have you checked to see if your domain name is available?

Baby Steps

My graduate degree is in counseling and marriage and family studies.  I'm no longer practicing, but I find that it does still color the way I view the world, my family, parenting.  One thing I've been thinking a lot about lately is boundaries.  Besides the obvious safety ones ("Touch not the electrical outlet!"), I'm attempting to establish some emotional ones with the Pea.  Obviously, at this age, hovering between the Piagetian stages of "trust vs. mistrust" and "autonomy vs. shame and doubt", those boundaries are in their simplest stage ("No, Mommy closes the door while she poops.")  And the fact that I'm still nursing severely limits how well he will accept said boundaries.  If my primary source of nutrition could up and walk out of the room, I'd be fairly clingy as well.

I've also been pondering boundaries which need to be set with my writing.  Examples:  The laptop must be switched off by x o'clock lest I wake up the next morning a zombie.  "No, picture book, I will not focus on how I'm going to introduce the asaparagus earlier on in the story while my pastor is speaking."  And, of course, there's the obvious emotional boundaries involved with developing that writer's thick skin.

It's just that sometimes, the writing seems more demanding than a toddler.

What about you Writing Mamas out there?  How have you tackled boundaries in your life?

A Slight Quibble

Editorial Anonymous (whose blog I love) wrote a post last night about her annoyance with the term "pre-published writer".  Oops!  Guilty as charged.  I can see her point.  In my own case, I use the term because "writer-pursuing-publication-of-her-work-on-an-active-basis" just doesn't have quite the same ring.  And "unpublished writer" makes me feel all Eeyorish inside.

My quibble is in comparing the term pre-published to pre-med or pre-law.  Something like 80% of my freshman class started out "pre-med" (which ISN'T a major, by the way).  Heck, I even started out pre-med (then I realized I would wither inside at the responsiblity of having another human's life in my hands).  You can ace all the pre-reqs, secure all the recommendations, blow the top off the MCATs.  All of this does not slap "Doctor" in front of your name.  By calling yourself "pre-med", all you are really doing is saying, "Hey, world, I intend to become a physician."  Which is all I really was trying to do by calling myself "pre-published."

Of course, I'm not the one who has to sift through piles and piles of awful manuscripts.  That would be a little bit like the hiring committee at the Mayo Clinic looking through piles of applications from people who took nothing but art classes and feel that their appreciation for the human form qualifies them to skip medical school and start their practice.  And MAYBE today will be the day that they discover the one application from the guy who was top of his class at Johns Hopkins.

I love a blog spot that Verla Kay shared recently.  It hit the nail right on the head for me in terms of setting goals.  I have no control over when (or whether) I am published.  But I do have control over how many times I have a manuscript critiqued, how many conferences I attend, how much time I spend actually writing.


That being said, I'm going to stop saying "pre-published" immediately if it annoys editors.


On a side note, my big pet peeve is the term "aspiring writer" (which I've also been guilty of in the past).  Nope, you're either writing or not writing.  "Do or do not...there is no try."  --Yoda.

Tweeting

Am I the only person who is completely overwhelmed by Twitter?  It's like It IS umpteen conversations going on at once.  What's the etiquette?  Is it rude to re-tweet if you don't really know the person IRL?  Is it okay to tweet someone you don't really know but just started following?  (I'm @naptimewriter, by the way).

Oi.  Just when I got Facebook figured out...

Please Step On the Platform

"Platform" seems to be a hot topic recently.  And for a pre-published writer like myself (don't you just love this term?  So hopeful!), it's a bit depressing.  I understand publishers' reasoning on this.  In this stinky economy, I wouldn't want to take a gamble on a complete unknown either.  But if you're like me, a busy mom who writes in her spare (ha!) time, what do you do?  Other than despair and tear your submissions up to make bird nests and papier-mache hats?

But, then, it occurred to me.  Maybe "mom" IS my platform.  Who are buying the books for their kids?  Moms!

So are you unknown?  Go ahead, leave a comment.  There...you're one step up on your platform.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from "Say Anything"...
Diane Court:  Nobody knew me before tonight.
Lloyd Dobler:  They knew of you. Now they know you.


And, now, I have to go hunt down whatever object is leaving this funky smell in my dining room.