Squeezing One More In

My final post of 2010.  It was a great year.  It was a hard year.  And it's almost over.

Fare thee well, 2010.  Don't let the door bang your heiny on the way out.

I don't have much to say.  Hubbykins, the Pea and I literally stumbled through the door after our epic cross-country holiday road trip just a few hours ago.  Somewhere around West Memphis, the Pea started making this pathetic whimpering sound.  But he's in his own bed now.  And I get to sleep in my own bed tonight.  And everything is better in your own bed.

I decided against doing a full blown "Christmas:  The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" post this year.  It was mostly good...went to see Hubbykin's family in Atlanta.  They had their first white Christmas in something like 390 years.  Okay, not really that long, but it was the 1800's.  We went to the Georgia Aquarium (fun!), played with cousins (fun!), ate out a lot with Hubbykins so his family could have time alone with the Pea (fun!).  I had a near miss with a stomach bug on the way out (not fun!) and Hubbykins and I had to nix a trip to Asheville to see the Biltmore because of the crazy, crazy snow they had (sad.)

Oh, and both sets of our parents are probably convinced that Hubbykins and I are on the rocks because after six years of marriage, we finally put our collective feet down and refused to sleep on a full-sized guest bed together.  Hubbykins slept on the couch or the floor for 10 days straight.  What can I say?  A King-sized bed has spoiled me for life.

But, yeah, everything is better in your own bed. 

Why You Should Never Let Anyone See Your First Draft

I had a Christmas party last night and thought, "Oh!  I've wanted to make these for a fun holiday get-together.  Won't people ooh and ahh?"

That is not what I ended up with.  After much toiling and doodling on wax paper, this is what I got:

Seriously, it's so ugly, I had to keep it at home and eat it myself.  :)

After a little more practice:

Still ugly, but I didn't hear any complaints from the ladies at the party

Sometimes, simplicity is the best policy:

Although, on closer inspection, they look a little like blue boobs.

Proof I Think Better On Paper

One of Hubbykin's work associates (Okay, that makes it sound like he's in the Mafia, which he is not) made a scathing, underhanded joke at my husband's expense on Monday.

I thought of the perfect retort...this morning.  So I hopped out of the shower and emailed it to him.

There you go, sweetie.  I've got your back.

72 hours later.

The Pea's Worst Fears Realized

Hubbykins and I are staying up late, reading a Winnie the Pooh e-book* on the iPad and eating candy.

*We're not monsters.  It's for him on long car rides.

You Know You're a Writer When...

You wake up panicky from a nightmare that...

a.) you're being chased by rodents.

b.) a tornado is headed straight for your house.

c.) your husband tells you he hates your book and calls the ending "contrived."


Ha!  Oh, and I should add that I told Hubbykins about the dream, and he got this horrified look on his face and said, "But I love your writing."

Also.  I want these.

Contests, Contests, Contests!

Actually only two contests.  But they are both awesome.

In case you missed it, Beth Revis is hosting her Epic Contest of Epic.  Just go look.  I can't describe it properly other than saying EPIC one more time.

C.A. Marshall's contest for a free full ms substantive edit is closing tomorrow.  I want to win!  Yeeee!

Ooh, I thought of a third.  Ha!  I'll get you like that.  And it's ongoing.  Kathleen Ortiz is hosting daily giveaways on her blog to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas.  Yesterday's prize was a query critique from Mandy Hubbard.  Today, she has some great ComicCon swag.  How fun is that?

Okay.  That is all.

Blerg.

(This has absolutely nothing to do with writing.  Not even a weak metaphor.  Just a warning.)

I spent last night at the mall looking for an outfit to wear to Hubbykin's casual hipster office party.  Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I am no casual hipster.  At all.  I ended up with, after much mall angst, a suitable outfit.  But I had a few things I wanted to tell the retailers:

Dear GAP,
I'll admit it.  You've come through for me over the years, jeans-wise.  And I appreciate that.  But why, why, why am I three sizes bigger in your brand than any other store?  Why?

Cordially, Karen


Dear Maurice's,
Haven't stepped foot through your doors since 1997, but you stepped up last night.  Here's a cookie.

Sincerely, Karen


Dear Express,
Really, Express?  Really?!  You're going to create these...
...and not carry the tall size in your stores?  That's cruel.  These are jean perfection.  I love them.  No cookie for you.

Disgruntedly, Karen


Dear NY & Co,
I love you.  From all the stylistically-challenged, accessory-clueless ladies of the world, thank you for making everything matchy-matchy without being annoying.  Just...thank you.

Affectionately, Karen


Dear Every Single Store In The Mall,
Okay.  I get it.  Skinny jeans are in.  But I look like a half-plucked chicken in them, so no thank you.  Praying for this fad to go away.  Right. Now.

Grrrr, Karen



December, it is upon us.

Dang You, Eclipse.

Dang you, Bella Swan, and the sparkly vampire you rode in on.

Guilty pleasure admission:  I heart Edward Cullen.  (I feel that if Elana Johnson can admit it, so can I.)  Said brooding undead masochist is in fine form in Eclipse.  Both the novel and the movie.  I do not heart New Moon.  The only thing in fine form in that is Bella's whining and pining.

I rented Eclipse the other night and realized, "Dang it.  I want to buy it."  There's so much sparkling.  So much werewolf brawling.  So much intense gazing.

But here's the problem.  I have a titch of OCD, so the thought of owning just Eclipse does not sit well with me.  I would need to buy New Moon as well.  I don't want to buy New Moon.  Here's the other problem.  Hubbykins is slightly OCD also.  We have a PS3 that plays Blu-rays, so even though I can't see any difference whatsoever between DVD and Blu-ray, Hubbykins somehow can.  He insists on buying new releases on Blu-ray, so what are we up to now?  Eclipse and New Moon on Blu-ray...what is that, $60?

No.

No, I'm going to fight it.

But, dang you, Edward Cullen!  And dang your adorable, lopsided, sparkly vampire grin.

Whoa.

Ready for some serious pulse-pounding fun?  Head over to Miss Snark's First Victim.  Agent bidding has opened on her Baker's Dozen Agent Auction.

And might I just add, great opportunity for some quick & easy agent researching.

Also.  Are unicorns the new vampire?  Discuss.

$2.14

Let it never be said I didn't make money in my writing!

Thank you, GoogleAds.  Another two years, and I might save up enough for a Happy Meal.

But seriously...are the ads annoying?  To be honest, I set them up when I started the blog, and now I'm terrified to mess with my settings lest my template disappear or something like that.  But if they're annoying, I'll force Hubbykins to show me how to take them off.  Obviously, I'm not in to this whole blogging thing for the moolah.

One Of Those Posts.

I'm warning you now, this isn't going to be one of my usual light, fluffy, fun posts.  So if you want to read one of those, go click on "I Heart This" in my post categories.  I won't judge.

No, this post was inspired by some hard-to-read posts on other writers' blogs.  If you haven't read this by Natalie Whipple, this by Beth Revis, or this by Kiersten White, go do so now.  Maybe not all at once.  Like I said, they're hard to read and your head might explode if you attempt to read them in one sitting.

Do you know what I found myself dwelling on while I read all three of those posts?  Hint:  Not writing.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't suffer from an occasional bout of emerald eyes over other people's writing careers.  But, no, I found myself thinking about my ovaries.  They're for crap.

I haven't talked much about infertility on this blog, but I have in the past on my personal blog, so it's out there.

The thing about writing is that, yes, there are a few authors out there who try to put forth a happy face in their bio about how their entire story came to them in one fail swoop and then sprang forth from their quivering fingers in two weeks fully-formed.  But I have a sneaking suspicion that if I actually sat down with said authors over coffee, they would admit that their agent refused to sign them before they agreed to get rid of the evil bunny plot line.  And there are times they fear for their family's nutritional safety as they serve another night of frozen chicken pot pies.  And their toddler knows every word to every Wiggles song ever created. Not that I have personal experience with this last one.  And they feel guilty about those last two.  So, while my green-eyed monster may still come out and growl every so often, he stays at bay most of the time.

The thing about infertility?  There really are women (a lot of them) who get pregnant the first month they try.  Who have a surprise oopsie after one too many margaritas.  Who like to complain to you about it in detail.  And I go to one of those churches where every other week, some jokester (bless their clueless heart) comments that "somebody must have put something in the water with all these baby bumps around."  Umm, yeah, unless my Reproductive Endocrinologist is sneaking into my house to spike my water with a carefully monitored dose of Follistim, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, and Progesterone, I don't need to worry about that.

But I digress.

Reading those poignant posts from three women whose hearts must have trembled the whole time they typed, all I could think was, "Yes."

Yes, Natalie, it sucks.  It sucks, sucks, sucks, the year you've had.  I wish I could promise you that this time next year you'd be holding an ARC in your hands, but no writer receives that promise.  Ever.  But I'm praying that you'll be able to send out some book-baby announcements soon.

Yes, Beth, it's hard.  It's so very hard to remember that there will always be someone with less and always someone with more.  I have friends who have walked the infertility path with me who don't have a cherished Pea.  Who haven't heard "I love you, Mommy" yet.  Do you know how much God loves them?  Just as much as me.  And just as much as Michelle Duggar.  But still, my heart hurts for them.  

And, know what?  I thank God now for my infertility.  Without it, I wouldn't have the Pea.  I'm also kind of thankful for it because it keeps the writing thing in perspective.  My husband and my child...they are real.  They matter.  No book (published or not) will ever matter like that.  And those harsh critiques now, the sting of rejection...I have faith that someday I'll look back and realize that they helped me to polish and hone my craft.  That I'll be thankful for them someday.

Yes, Kiersten, I'm enjoying it.  Every baby step of the journey.  I've been so blessed in my family even if 3 is as big as it gets.  I can't put it into words.  And I've been so blessed in my writing to have little victories along the way.  I know there are many writers who haven't had those and yet who still plug away.  Keep at it.  You're not alone.

So there you have it.  Crap ovaries, check.  Thankful heart, check.  Still struggle with the green-eyed monster, check.

In short, I'm human.  Just one who has a hard time making more humans.

One of Those Critiques.

Ever get a critique back (in this case, a partial critique) that makes your eyes bobble out?  Not in a bad way.  In a good way.  My little sister (Psst...update your tumblr, Sara), her roommate, and her roommate's sister have read/are reading my second draft.  And they have caught so much.  So.  Much.  I won't get into the plot details, but I feel like they just get my story and my characters.  They also caught what isn't working and, more importantly, why it doesn't seem to be working.

The feedback that left me squeeing in my chair?  My sister's roommate's sister Erika of the Awesome who is right at my target reader age said that the book sucked her in and that she read the first half in one sitting.  Squee!

But my favorite part of the critique?  At the end, they each gave me a detailed physical description of how they pictured the characters, including actors they'd choose to play them.  How fun is that?

?????

Oh, the dreaded "?????"

On the face of it, it might seem like the least helpful critique comment you can receive.  But I disagree.

So many other areas of feedback can be a matter of taste.  One time, I got two different critiques back at the same time.  One highlighted a section and wrote, "Pick up the pace here."  The other marked the same section, "S-l-o-o-w down."

But if I see "?????", I know an area needs a major overhaul.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  Because I'd rather have a crit partner say it than an agent.

Things I Heart Right Now

-I quadruple heart Janice Hardy's blog, so I know what you're thinking.  What took me so flippin' long to start reading the Healing Wars series?  I have a little secret for you.  I have an intentional bad habit of starting series late in the game.  Because I'm impatient.  And whiny.  And impatient.  Once I know how good a book is, I have a very hard time waiting for the sequels.
But do yourself a favor and go pick up this book.  Now.

-Anything by Amy's Organics.  The Pea was recently diagnosed with a peanut allergy, and we've known of his egg allergy for more than a year now.  Until you've had a child with a food allergy, you don't know how nice it is to be able to pick up a brand and not have to scour the back for evidence of egg and peanut/tree nut.  Plus, all their stuff is yummy.  Especially their bean burritos and mattar paneer.




-No one ruining HP7 part 1 for me with spoilers.  Hubbykins was out of town last week, so we decided we'll see it over Thanksgiving when my parents can watch the Pea.  Free babysitting probably deserves its own "heart" category.

-Hrmmm...okay, this is a tough one.  I want to put this in the heart category: snuggling on the couch last night with Hubbykins.  But we were watching Star Trek V: The Final Craptier, which should land it in the "not heart" category.  Please don't send me any "How can you be anti-Star Trek?" hate comments.  I love Star Trek.  As a whole, it deserves its own heart category.  But this movie stinks.  But there was much amiable snarking, which was fun.  So I'm going to stick with hearting it.

-White Fudge-Covered Oreos.
It will make my heart cry if I find out you've never had these.

-The overwhelming sense of thankfulness I feel for every breath given me, for every moment with Hubbykins and the Pea, for every word I've been able to write.  God has blessed me more than I can fathom.  I'm so glad I have an entire day to celebrate it!  And eat turkey.  And white fudge-covered Oreos.


Little White Socks

The Pea has learned the mysterious art of shoe stripping.  (If you have never had a two year-old, "mysterious shoe stripping" refers to the paradoxical phenomenon that if I ask him to remove his shoes, it takes no less than 17 minutes for him to do so.  Yet somehow, if we are in the car for more than 30 seconds, he manages to always arrive at our destination barefoot.)

There are little white socks everywhere.  Everywhere.  Under couch cushions, lodged in the corners of his crib, stuck in kitchen drawers.  Pretty much every place you can dream up other than the hamper.

It's gotten to the point that I no longer see them.  At the end of the day, when it's clean-up time before bed, I'll have him pick up his toys, books, puzzles.  Then, an hour later, I'll sit down on the couch and lo and behold.  Socks.

I have little white socks in my WIP.  I didn't realize it until I started the read-aloud.  The usual suspects: just, only, but, got, some, a few...and, ironically, little.  All I can say is, "Thank goodness for find in Word."

Now, if only there were a find button for those socks.

Talking to Myself (alternate title: In Which Hubbykins Looks Over the Fact That He's Married to a Loon)

I've started my read-aloud edit on my manuscript.  I'd been putting if off and putting it off for some reason.  That reason being the fact that I hate my reading-aloud voice.  I'm actually surprised by  how much I'm enjoying it (and by how many little problems I find when I can hear my own words).  

Hubbykins is reading it (not aloud) for the first time right now as well.  He claims that he loves to hear me read it out loud, but put up a fuss the other day when he overheard a section he hadn't reached yet and accused me of "spoiling it."

Which makes me smile.

Mary Sue

Ever have a character who's impossible to nail down?  I have a minor character right now who is giving me fits.  Her voice isn't the problem.  I just can't figure out what her "thing" is.  Her defining characteristic.  Her deepest need.  Right now, she feels kind of scattered.  I know all these different aspects of her personality, but they don't feel cohesive yet.

I think J.K. Rowling is a master at this.  Name any Harry Potter character, I can probably tell you what his or her "thing" is.

Hagrid?  Gruff teddy bear.  Molly Weasley?  Worrywart mom.  Fred and George Weasley?  Troublemaking jokesters.

Yet, not a single one of her characters, even the most minor, feels one-dimensional.

Yep.  I've got a Mary Sue on my hands.

What's a nice, mean tic I could give her?

"This is a great post," she said enthusiastically

Don't know if you caught Nathan Bransford's 5 Writing Tips From Reading J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, but it's a gem.

When Bad Covers Happen to Good Books

Let me preface this post by saying, "No.  I am not going to tell you the book to which I'm referring."  I will say that it is not a recent release.  At all.  Like not in the last ten years.  The author is one I respect and admire.  She's a fabulous writer.  It's a great book.

It's a horrible cover.  (Like, cheesetastically bad.  Even ten years ago.)

I picked the book up this week in the library because I've enjoyed some of her more recent work.  And I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  But it pains me.  To the point that I lay the book on my nightstand facedown.  How many people passed this book over because of its dust jacket?  It looks like an afternoon special exploded all over it.  

Oh, but the story!  It's wonderful.  Hooked me from the first page and never let go.

I don't really have a point to this post today.  But I am curious ***without naming any titles or authors*** have you ever almost walked away from a treasured book based on an ugly cover?

Logline Blogfest

What a great idea Steena Holmes had!  A logline blogfest so we can help each other out and give feedback on our critiques.  And as of right now, it's still open for joining.

Here's mine!

When jaded time-traveler Bree encounters a boy from the distant past who claims to be both crazy for her and on a mission to protect her, she realizes that her worst enemy may be none other than her future self. 

Things I Heart Right Now...

With a capital <3:

-Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.  I discovered Kiersten's blog before the book came out, and she is so hilarious.  Her blend of humor and action is fabulous and something I strive for.  Can't bleeping wait for the sequel.

-My new desk and writing area, courtesy Hubbykin's kick-heiny CraigsList negotiating skills.  My new little writing area is tucked in a picture window alcove, people.  An alcove.  How Anne-with-an-e romantic is that?  Much more romantic than splayed out on the dining room table.  And probably more sanitary.

-A weekend visit from the In-Laws with accompanying date day to see The Social Network, eat out, AND sit at Barnes & Noble and read for 2 hours.  Date DAY.  A whole day.  Yay!  Thank you, Inny-kins!

-My little desk lamp.  It has fringe on the shade, and little embroidered stars, and...oh, I'll just have to post a picture of it sometime.  It makes me happy to look at it.

-Febreze flameless luminaries.  They make my house smell yummy without burning it down.
Mine is cuter than this one.


-The "I Love My Hair" Sesame Street song.


Oh, come on. You know you want to sing along, too.

What the Teens These Days Are Liking


My personal fave?  Her opinion on the name Damien.  Hee hee.
And I must say, I think my WIP hits on some key likes, which makes me all smiley inside.

Orange!

I bought some early season satsumas the other day.  They weren't great, but I couldn't hold out any longer.  The Pea promptly ate 97% of the bag.  I think I got one slice in there.

A few days after I'd given him the last one and thrown out the bag, I opened up the fridge to get him a snack, and he yelled, "Orange!"  I assured him that, no, we didn't have any more oranges, but he could have a pear or a plum.

"Orange!"  No, but you can have another fruit or some yogurt.

"Orange!"  No.

At this point, I figured he was just arguing with me for argument's sake, as two year-olds are prone to do.  I opened up the produce drawer to get him a pear.  Behold.  An orange.

It had rolled to the back.  

I couldn't see it.  I was looking from the wrong angle.

So I'm curious.  Who are your "orange" readers?

Logline, take 2

Still not there, but I hope I'm getting closer:

When jaded time-traveler Bree encounters a boy from the distant past who claims to be both crazy for her and on a mission to protect her, she realizes that her worst enemy may be none other than her reckless future self.  


Also, super timely post over at Kristin Nelson's Pub Rants.

Llama Llama Logline Drama

Oh, sigh.

The time has come to tackle my logline, and (insert whiny tone here) this is hard.  Sell your manuscript in one or two sentences.  Make your pitch succinct but punchy.  Oh, and don't forget to make sure it has voice.

And the interesting thing is that I can write loglines for other projects.  Example:  When a charismatic 13th century (??? too lazy to google this) Scot loses his wife and home to a tyrannical king, he must rally his countrymen to fight for the only thing he has left...his freedom.  [Note to Hubbykins if you are reading this: No, this is not a hint that I want to watch Braveheart tonight.]

Or, for a book/musical:  Think you know the Wicked Witch?  Think again.  [Note to Hubbykins: Anytime you can snag us a pair of tickets to see Wicked, you go right ahead.]

I think the issue is that I'm too close to my work.  If you asked me to describe my next door neighbor in one sentence, I would say, "She's a passionate middle school principal who, I realized after we moved in, was actually my most favoritest principal ever growing up."  Not a great sentence, but I hope you're intrigued by the fact that I happened to move in to the house next door to my middle school principal from years ago.  And I could pepper it with adjectives about how she's kind, generous, funny...but do you really think she'd be my "most favoritest" by being anything but?  Even tossed a little voice in there with the "favoritest."

Now, ask me to describe my child in one sentence. Blank stare.  I could tell you he's funny, but then I'd want to launch into a story about the hilarious thing he did last week.  Ditto for cute, sweet, charming, smart...you get the drift.

And I'm not implying that the plot of my book is more complex than an epic 3 hour long movie.   Although, to my defense, it does involve time travel, so that automatically makes things a little difficult.

So without further adieu, I give you my logline as it currently stands.  I would love any feedback you can give me.

Nothing throws time-traveler Bree for a loop like finding out her future self has fallen for a boy from the distant past—the same boy who’s hitched a ride to Bree’s time, convinced he alone can protect her from an unknown threat.  At first Bree scoffs, but in searching for a way to send him home, she uncovers a danger that’s closer than she ever imagined…the microchip in her own brain.

The funny thing is, when I read this, it sounds pretty heavy sci-fi, and it's not.  It's actually funny and fluffy.  So how do I keep a pitch about microchipped time-crossed lovers light and fluffy?

Oh, sigh.



(On a bright note, Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Holiday Drama arrived the other day.  The illustrations are ahh-dorable.)