I Just...I...watch it.

Hubbykins made me watch this last night, and for the first minute, I kept saying, "Why are you showing this to me? This isn't funny. This isn--BWAHAHAHA"

NaNo Day...hahahaha

29? I don't know. Whatever. Didn't happen this year. As of this moment, I have 10K. I did get some plot points hammered out. And I feel like I finally have a grasp on who my character is.

I also squeezed some great books in this month. The Scorpio Races, Enclave, and I've started Untraceable by S.R. Johannes (Shelli). (How gorgeous is that cover?) Very fun read so far.
Good gravy, was Halloween really a month ago?

NaNo Day 22

At this point, I am participating in NaNoWriMo in only the loosest sense of both the words "participating" and "Wri." But I am uber-blessed with critique partners who will continue to badger me until I complete the draft. To be honest, if at this point I wrote even 20,000 words this month, I will consider myself a winner. (And what is with those people who write 190,000 words because "50K isn't a challenge?" That is wrong. Wrong, I tell you.)

And if you haven't read Authoress's lovely post today about not giving up, you should go do so now.

NaNo Day 18

Well, my word count is not what it should be...oh, who am I kidding? It. Is. Pathetic. I'm seriously considering offing all the characters and writing about radioactive sea slugs instead because I think the slugs might be more int--


My sister Ellen did a super fun interview with Secret Agent Josephine (a.k.a. Brenda Ponnay) for the release of her new line of adorably illustrated books. If you've ever wanted to peek into an illustrator's brain, go read it. Go now. And then buy her super cute books.

I would go back to the NaNo update, but I think we all know where that was headed. And it wasn't anywhere good.

NaNo Day 13

This isn't easier. The first NaNo was my first finished novel. And to be fair, it wasn't all that hard to write. I didn't outline. It was terrible. I knew I was going to trash it. About halfway through, I had the epiphany that I really was a YA writer. My passion lives there. "Driver, can you take me to 3129 YA Lane?" Oh, dear. I'm screen drunk at this point. It was a good experience though. 

Then I wrote my book baby, the one I poured blood, sweat, tears, and more sweat into. The one that I thought I was learning the lessons that would make my next novel easier to write.

It's not. If anything, it's harder. Because now I know about the blood, sweat, tears. I know how long it takes to scrub and polish.

Also. I've given up chocolate. This may have something to do with it. Last NaNo I had chocolate. So much chocolate. 

For those who like to gawk at my misery, here's my current standing:

8170 / 50000 words. 16% done!

NaNo Day 12

Thankful I'm actually getting some words in today. I set a goal of 2500, but I wouldn't be shocked if I get in even more.

Also. Thankful that I have an uber-cool little sister that sends me Mental Floss articles for inspiration.

NaNo Day 11 (Happy 11/11/11!)

11! 11! 11! I love it.

Wow. At this point, I have to write 2,291 words per day to finish on time. And at my current pace, I'll finish this bad boy emphasis on bad at some point in late 2015. Okay, kidding on that last part. But the Groundhog would see the light of day before this draft. The thing is, I'm not sweating it. I know how I write, and when I get on a roll, the words will flow. It's frustrating because the story (as it is in my head) has the potential to be better than anything I've written so far. It's a unique premise and, I think, compelling.

I just need to write it.

I'd make excuses about the unexpected goods and bads that have come up so far this month, but they're just that. Excuses. Still, looking back in a year, I'm not going to regret the great Akins Alcatraz Film Fest of 2011. I won't regret squeezing a bunch of people into my parents' house for my nephew's first Thanksgiving. I won't regret letting the Pea write all over my NaNo notebook and watching in amazement as he wrote out not one but two letters and drew his first smiley face. Also a lot of "worms" which are just lines. But don't tell  him. And I won't regret taking time out of NaNo to do other writerly things that are a bit more pressing.

But I do need to buckle down and write.

NaNo Day (I Accidentally Skipped a Day Yesterday) 9

I am sad to report that I don't have many new words. BUT I did discover this diversion excellent video by Martha Alderson (a.k.a. The Plot Whisperer), the first of a series.

I realized my biggest problem. My main character. I didn't have her motivation figured out, what's really driving her. I now think I have it figured out, at least for the beginning of the story.

Now to actually write it.

NaNo Day...what is this?...7

Not much to report. 

I was traveling this weekend. The result? About 300 new words (For you non-writers out there, this is...not good.). At one point, I just started doodling laser chihuahuas in my notebook. Think laser cats, only with chihuahuas

Also. I started reading Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone on the trip. Note to self: when drafting, do not read anything by Laini Taylor. You will simply want to lock yourself in the bathroom, eat a panful of Rice Krispy Treats, and give up on the notion of ever writing anything but dregs. But you'll enjoy yourself while doing it. That girl can write. But I also read this. It cheered me. A bit.

So. Off to play a little catch-up.

NaNo Day 3

It's not pretty.

I know ugly first drafts, and this, my friends, is hideous. My heroine is so flat.

I realized what keeps me going as I write--making myself laugh. Or cry. Or scream in frustration.

Not feeling it yet.

NaNo Day 1

2034 / 50000 words. 4% done! 

4%, all crap. 
Tomorrow is another day.
Probably of more crap.

Drafting and my perfectionism don't mesh well if you can't tell.

What's In a Name?

Well, in my case, there is not a T

Let me start off by saying, if you have at some point referred to me as Karen Atkins, please don't be embarrassed or feel like you need to apologize. Everyone does. Everyone. I'm pretty sure I referred to Hubbykins as Boyfriendykins Atkins at some point when we first started dating. My mother-in-law warned me before we got married that I would spend the next umpteen years of my life spelling my last name. Karen Akins. A-K-I-N-S. Every single time I meet someone. Or give someone my name on the phone. And almost every single time, that person will repeat it right back to me. Atkins.
Wait? What? No.

If I didn't have aspirations to be published, it wouldn't be an issue. Growing up, I learned to respond to my older sister's name. (To the point that if someone yells, "Ellen!" in a crowd, I, to this day, turn around and say, "Yes?") But do you know who insists on my name being spelled correctly? Google. Amazon. Library catalogs. Dang you, you picky library catalogs!

Options? Pen name. Nah. I understand why some authors take one, but it seems like it would add a layer of complexity that I don't need. Toss my maiden name back in there somewhere? (This was actually suggested by my MIL who felt it would sound more literary.) But that also seems to add a level of confusion in searches.
And, yes, the cart is like, "Hey, horse, what are you doing back there?" on this issue. But these are things I think about.

Meanwhile, guess which Mama Pea had to almost forcibly shove her child into a lion costume (now dubbed Aslan) this morning for preschool? Hmm. Yeah.

It's official.

I'm insane.

I need a little nudge to jump start my new novel, and the energy of NaNo is so infectious. I did it two years ago, and wrote 50,000 words of cuh-rap. But. I went into that one 100% pantsing. This time, I'm going in with a different attitude. And a beat sheet. 

For me, any number of words I write will be a victory. I'm going to dub this my own personal NaNoJuStaMo. National Novel Jump Start Month.

Anyone else NaNo-ing?

Kenny Rogers Week, part 3--Talladega Nights Meets What?

Hubbykins tried to make me watch this with him out of nostalgia. But I made him promise if I could guess the plot just based on the song, he wouldn't make me watch it. I'll just give you a replay of the conversation:

Me: So basically, I'm guessing it's about a washed up race car driver who...

Hubbykins: Hmmph.

Me: Somehow inherits six children (one of whom is incidentally Diane Lane). And...a lady love.

H: Erin Gray (who is incidentally also the lady love on the other oft Hubbykins-inflicted show, Buck Rogers).

Me: Erin Gray (Also. Silver Spoons). And he gets overwhelmed by the responsibility and runs away, but then he realizes he really needs them and goes back to them.

H: Hmmph.

Me: Did I get it right?

H: (silence)
Me: Did I?

H: You forgot the part where the kids become his pit crew.

Basically, it's Talladega Nights meets The Boxcar Children.

Hmmm. You see what I did there? I summed up an entire movie plot in one sentence. Is it a perfect description? Heck to the no. Do you have a good idea what it's about? Yep. Does it kind of make you want to go out and watch one of the cheesiest movies of all time? I should think so. I kind of want to watch it now.

And that's called a logline, my friends.

Now, if I could only figure it out for my own story.

Kenny Rogers Week, part 2 - And We Rely On Each Other

Unh Huh

So I mentioned yesterday that I was introduced to the vocal stylin's of Kenny Rogers by my in-laws on a recent road trip. I must preface this story with (a) Hubbykins was not with us Thank the Lord and (b), prior to this trip, the only words I knew from "Islands In The Stream" were "Islands in the stream...that is what we are...something something something...something something something." Which (quick fun factoid) was written by the Bee Gees.

Sailing down the highway toward the beach, my sister-in-law and mother-in-law treated me to a duet. My MIL sang Dolly's part. SIL sang Kenny. Despite the fact that they are both excellent singers, I was completely traumatized by the time they got to the chorus. There's nothing like hearing your sister-in-law singing, "Making love with each other, unh huh." To your mother-in-law. Now you understand why I was glad Hubbykins wasn't there.

My point in all this is thus. This business is rough. And lonely. Solos suck. We need people. People we can rely on. People we can whine to. People we can trust to be tough on our words and tender on our hearts.

My critique partners have become some of my dearest friends. Even after they've shredded my story and poked hole after hole in it. No, especially then.

Yay for islands!

Tomorrow: Loglines--Talladega Nights Meets What?

Kenny Rogers Week, part 1 - Lessons from the Salt & Pepper Serenader

For those of you who didn't guess what my theme would be this week based on my clues (which is probably somewhere between all of you and all of you...unless you're my little sister), that's right.

It's Kenny Rogers week here at Novels During Naptime.

I want to start by saying that I was not raised on the velvet vocals of Kenny Rogers. My parents were more of the Bob Dylan, Mamas & the Papas, and Peter, Paul & Mary ilk. But my husband was. Oh. My husband was. Like "only seven year-old boy in a sea of Kenny t-shirt-wearing, tambourine-clanging middle-aged women at a concert" was. And on a recent road trip with my in-laws, we listened to almost nothing but Kenny Rogers. For 14 hours. More on that in a later post.

Which brings me to why I'm doing this series. He is now the Pea's favorite singer. Yes. That Kenny Rogers.

And I've realized, after listening to Blaze of Glory more times in the last month than I'd care to count or admit, there are some excellent writing lessons to be gleaned from Kenny. Yes. That Kenny Rogers.

Let's start off by discussing voice. And I'm not just talking about his sultry, gravelly vocal chords. Think of a Kenny Rogers song. You have one? I can almost guarantee you that the song that just came to your mind was a toe-tapping sing-along. That you can sing for several lines...and several more...and then you realize you're singing about sex. And not just any sex. Either sweet, sweet love with the lady of your dreams. Or sweet, sweet love with a lady who's about to leave you. Or who you're about to leave.

Except The Gambler. But that's going to get a post all to itself. 

And Reuben James. Which is a fluke. 

And others which I'm sure you closet Kenny fanatics will bring up.

My point is this. Do all Kenny Rogers songs sound the same? No. Can you tell every Kenny Rogers song is a Kenny Rogers song? Yes. Do you want your 3 year-old singing the lyrics to We've Got Tonight in the checkout line at Target at the top of his lungs? No. You do not. But will people recognize it as a Kenny Rogers song? Yes. They'll also recognize you as a bad mother.

I've been thinking about my voice a lot lately. And voice envy. When I read certain authors that I adore, I find myself wishing I could write more _____. Like them. But that wouldn't be me. It wouldn't be my voice. 

If I sat down and tried to write a Kenny Rogers song, it would come out sounding like Let's Hear It For The Boy. And if I sat down and tried to write a Hunger Games, Katniss would probably end up snogging with Peeta halfway through and booting President Snow in the head at the end.

Up tomorrow: Islands in the Stream--a Love Song to my Crit Partners

Coming Next Week

I'm a little bit excited about next week's series of posts. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but...oh, who am I kidding? I love spoiling surprises.

I have a whole week of writing posts scheduled around a single theme.

Here's your first hint (and if you can guess it off this one hint, count me impressed):  It's a person. hee hee hee

Let the guessing begin!

Pitch Contest

The aptly named Operation Awesome folks are hosting a Mystery Agent pitch contest over on their blog. There are still a few slots left. Should be a fun one!

Things I Heart Right Now

It's been a while since I've done a "Things I Heart Right Now" list. And it's Friday. These two facts aren't related, but I thought, Hey! Why not kick off the weekend with some hearting?
If Wes Anderson sat down and decided to write a picture book (Ooh! Wouldn't that be great?), it would be this. Where else will my child learn the words despondent and mezzo-soprano? The Pea's been walking around the last few days quoting part of it. But adding his own little spin to it: "Everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone goes to the froggy potty." Nope, that's just you, kiddo.

Why did it take me so long to read this? Everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone was recommending it to me. But it was for screenwriters. No. No, it is for all writers. Especially those of us who are visual learners. And I discovered the beat sheet just in time for...

Drafting. I've decided I'm not even going to call it "writing a story" because my first draft will be crap of craptastical proportions. It will be said crap whether I slave over it for months upon months upon months or bang it out as fast as I can. Fast as I can, it is. I don't want to talk about how many manuscripts it's taken me to figure this out.
I'm attempting to eliminate wheat, dairy, and sugar from my diet. Do you know what's in every single thing I enjoy eating? Wheat, dairy, and sugar. My sole treat are these Applesauce Oat Bran Muffins that I've been making (and eating) by the boatload. And, technically, I haven't eliminated the sugar out of them. Also. I sneak white chocolate chips into the batter. Oops. Fell in.

Perhaps I'm the Ethereal Weirdo

My little sister sent me this article Mindy Kaling did in The New Yorker about rom-com tropes, and it is pee-in-your-panties funny. And so relevant to YA fiction. How many heroines have I read whose only "flaw" is being klutzy? Or, my personal favorite, short?

My favorite line:
"She can’t be overweight or not perfect-looking, because who would pay to see that? A female who is not one hundred per cent perfect-looking in every way? You might as well film a dead squid decaying on a beach somewhere for two hours."

Sometimes I Think Hubbykins Knows Me Better Than I Know Myself

Last night, as I snuggled up with a new book, he asked, "How many books do you think you've read so far this year?"

"I don't know. 25? 30?"

He laughed laughed! at me.

"You've read a lot more than that."

And for the first time, I stopped and thought about. Added up the number I've read in the last month. Extrapolated.

Maybe 40 or 50. It's hard to say. I don't finish every book I start, so maybe more, maybe less, depending on how you calculate it. If I'm not hooked by the end of the third chapter, shutee.

I need to start tracking these things.

Quick Blog Recommendation

My friend/critique partner extraordinaire/all-around awesomesauce person Mandy Silberstein recently started a blog. Okay, restarted. But she is fabulous, and you should go follow her. Especially if you like MG/YA. Or cats.

Done Done Done Done Done!

Okay, not actually done. I still have to go back and rewrite a chapter, delete a character, fix a few scenes, tweak others.

But I hit "The End" (Again.)


Further Proof I Am A Word Nerd

It's  not a secret amongst my friend that I hate shopping. That whirl of excitement that some women get when they buy a new pair of shoes? I get that at the library when I find a freshly returned new release.

But I love Rhea Lana. It's a consignment sale in my area (actually, in a bunch of areas, but the one in my area is the best. **waves, Hi Ashley!**) Again, most women stampede to the clothes or the shoes or the ______(insert expensive name brand that you can get at a fraction of the cost) section. I run to the books. There are some gems in there. (If you're local, the sale is going on all week at the Frisco Station Mall. They had 97,000 items to be sold!)

And, of course, I also love the Halloween costumes. Although, I find myself wishing that kids demanded literary hero outfits the way they demand Spider-man. I had an idea this year to dress the Pea as Lowly Worm from Richard Scarry's Busytown. But my idea involved a body stocking, and I can't do that to a 3 year-old. Ahh, if only he were still tiny. And less opinionated. He is going to be a lion. A cookie to anyone who tells me their favorite literary lion.


I'm over 80% done with my rewrite. This last week has been phenomenally productive for me. But now I've reached my trickiest scene, and I'm worried I'm doing more harm than good.

Put those fingers down, Karen, and step away from that laptop. Slow-w-ly.

E-pocalpyse Now

It's happened. I purchased my first e-book last night.

It was ridiculously easy.

And as I laid in bed reading last night, I kept pinching the edge of the iPad trying to turn the page.

I still prefer paper.

Of Rubbing Alcohol and Vacuums and Viruses

I've been staying with my parents for a week now. While I'm sure they are more ready than they can put into words to see me and the rabid tornado Pea away, they have been highly gracious hosts. As a houseguest, I'm not the best. I'm sure I'm not the worst. But I'm not the best.

I am however a people-pleasing, helpful-seeking, middle child. So I've vacuumed twice since I've been here. Oh, the memories as I pulled out Ol' Trusty, my mom's 1987 Electrolux behemoth. Over the years, it's acquired new hoses, a new plug, possibly a new motor, but it still sucks up dirt. I can remember the day the vacuum cleaner salesman came to our house. He pulled out a little baggy of sand and threw it (threw it!) all over our living room floor. Then he sucked it up. Then he had mom run over the spot with our old vacuum which obviously wasn't working well or the Electrolux salesman wouldn't have been there, then after she finished, he went over the spot again and sucked up more sand. No clue how much my parents spent on that Electrolux in 1987, but I'm pretty sure it's paid a better return than any other investment they've made over the years. Certainly more than our 401K has lately.

Oh, and, yes, we were vacuuming up little sand granules for years.

Do you know what kind of vacuum I have? A trendy purple Dyson. Which has served me well, but I can almost guarantee you it won't be picking up anything other than landfill dust when the Pea is in his 30's.

As a houseguest, I hate to ask for anything that I've forgotten, so it killed me that first night to have to ask if I could borrow their rubbing alcohol. Mom pulled out the bottle, and I swerved a double take. The label said, "Wal-Mart Brand Rubbing Alcohol." Now, for those of you unlearned in Wal-Mart lore (which is probably every one of you who is not from Northwest Arkansas and married to an ex-WalMart-vendor and most of you who are), there is no such current thing as Wal-Mart brand anything. There is Equate. There is Great Value. There is Ol' Roy for you dog foodies. But as far as I know, there has not been a Wal-Mart brand since maybe 1991 give or take a few years. I looked on the bottle for an expiration date. 1997. This amused me for some reason, using the same rubbing alcohol I used during junior high, and I pointed it out to my dad. His response? It's rubbing alcohol. It doesn't expire.

I tell you this not just to show you that my parents are perhaps the least wasteful couple in America, but to make a writing point. yes, an actual writing point!

When I had one chapter of my rough draft finished on my WIP (which I'm rewriting right now), I read a Publisher's Weekly announcement for a super cool debut author. Part of the blurb said they were hopeful it would do for light Sci-Fi what Hunger Games did for dystopian. Gasp. My story was light Sci-Fi. And it hit me. Was this what it felt like to hit a trend? FYI, I have never been on trend in my entire life. I bought my first Guess? jean jacket four years ago. It was everything my 4th grade self imagined it would be.
Now, has Sci-Fi taken off at light speed according to their prediction? Well, no. The cast of Glee did show up at Comic Con, and this made me squee, but that influx of YA Sci-Fi? I like to think it's happening slowly but surely. And the debut novel has been a huge success.
It's over a year since I finished that first chapter. Over a year since I finished the entire first draft, in fact. A lot has happened in my life during that time. Some good. Some bad. Some gains. Some losses. I thought the manuscript was ready at the beginning of the year. Then I went to a fantabulous writers' workshop in March, received spot-on amazing critique and feedback from talented writers, agents, and editors. On the way home, I locked myself in a bathroom stall in the San Jose airport and cried my eyes out. People liked my writing. But I knew it wasn't enough. So close, yet so, so, so far away.

Hence the rewrite. I'm halfway through it. My story is so. much. better. But it's not there yet, and I know it. A mean little voice crops up every so often and says, "Tick tock. That trend window is closing. Probably already shut." But as my dad said, "Rubbing alcohol doesn't expire." If it's good writing and a good story, if it works, it will appeal to the right agent, the right editor, the right readers. Whenever I finish it. Lord, please, please let that be soon. 

Now if only Mom's Electrolux could suck the stupid virus off my computer.

Key Lime Pie and Other Joys of Staying with my Parents

It is possible probable that I have consumed my own body weight in key lime pie over the last few days. My A/C has been on the fritz in, oh, the worst heat wave in our area's history, so I fled to my parents' house. Note to self: before fleeing to parents' house, check their weather forecast as well. It was 114 degrees the day I got here. The key lime pie has nothing to do with the heat. I just love key lime pie, and my mom spoils me rotten.

As to the other joys, I've gotten more writing done in the last 3 days than I've accomplished in the last 3 months at home. The whole no cooking/cleaning/Pea-bathing/worrying thing helps. That and the fact that my mom and dad spend the majority of their time either reading or reading.

Also. I'm reading Bossypants by Tina Fey right now and almost wet the bed laughing. Major frowny-face missing Hubbykins, but he's devoured the first season of Mad Men on Netflix while I've been gone, so I haven't received any singing telegrams demanding my return yet.

Letting Go of The Maybes

First off...a quick clarification from my last post. I am not actually adopting. My older sister did recently, and I used to work in the adoption field so I have a strong heart for adoption. I am going to be helping other families raise money for their adoptions. So, no, Hubbykins and I aren't adopting. For now. Who knows what God has for us later on?

But that brings me to what I've been pondering lately. The Maybes. That's right. In caps. I've had a bad case of the Maybes for awhile now. Maybe I'll have a book published. Maybe I'll have another child. Maybe I'll win Angry Birds Level 4-17. Maybe I'll ________ Fill in the blank. I've probably thought it at one point in time or another.

It's time for me to start letting go of the Maybes. To stop writing for the goal of publication. Do I desire that? Is it a goal? Yes, but focusing on it too much takes away from the joy of the process and stifles my creativity. Do you know what frees it up? Reading. And walking. But mostly reading. And plopping my heiny in the chair and tapping my fingers against the keyboard. Tangible things that I can (and must) do.

And the baby thing? That's been a hard Maybe to release. I've had to shift my mindset. I can't tell you how many times I've prayed the following prayer in the last 5 years: "Thank you, God for my family. I trust that you have the perfect family for me." For awhile, that meant just me and Hubbykins, and it was a really hard prayer to pray.

Then, that precious Pea arrived. And with him, a lot of stuff. I've held on to all that stuff in preparation for the Maybes, but I realized that (a) it's not doing me any good sitting in the closet...maybe doing me the opposite of good emotionally, (b) it could do someone else a lot of good sitting in their closet, and (c) I could get some moolah transferring it from my to their closet. So after going through it to weed out things for my new nephew, I've come to this amazing peace with consigning a lot of my baby clothes and toys. I'm blessed that my friend Ashley owns this awesome consignment sale called Rhea Lana's. (If you're in the area, check it out. It's pretty much how I clothe my child. The sale is August 21-28, and it's really easy to consign your items. Everything's online. And I'm a techno-dunce. If I can figure it out, you can figure it out.)

Maybe I'll have another child. Maybe not. But either way, it's a Maybe that I don't need hovering around my head (or in my closets) right now.

As for the Angry Birds. I will defeat you, Level 4-17. Oh, yes, victory will be mine.

There Are Two Reasons for a Lack of Blog Posts

One is not enough to write about. The other is too much.

I do not suffer a lack.

Most of my "too much" is non-writing related, though. So while a week long trip to the beach, the Pea's 2nd ear surgery in 6 months, our air conditioner being on the fritz in the worst heat wave in a decade, and starting a new home-based business to raise money for adoption are all interesting and very time-filling things, they have nothing to do with my book.

I've been able to write in spurts, and I've worked out some key plot problems. No complaints. I didn't meet my goal for when I wanted to have this draft done, but that's life. I've eaten popsicles on the back porch, survived swim lesson week, gone on a lot of long walks in the (closest thing to) cool of the morning, watched all the Lord of the Rings movies in 4 days on Blu-Ray with Hubbykins (he swears he can tell a difference from plain old DVD), welcomed a precious new nephew, and met a bunch of new friends.

Life is good. (Easier to say that while our air conditioner is currently off the fritz.)

On Sock Drawers & Revision

Hubbykins has lost sock drawer privileges. Most of his socks are more hole than fabric. And he keeps. wearing. them. I think that it's one of those things that crept up on him, a little hole, and he ignored it. Then another hole. A bigger hole. Two holes in one sock (not including the one that's supposed to be there, so I guess that would be three holes). Maybe he can match the good ones of two socks. But then another good one sprouted a hole...ehh, it's not that bad. I'll match them up tomorrow.

So I stepped in. I went to the store, bought him an 8 pack of socks, and ferreted out every holey white sock in that drawer. I am a sock ninja.

And in six months, I will do it again.

I have two holey sock manuscripts right now. There's a lot of good in them. Most of the feedback I get is, "love the voice, good hook, fun concept." But there's something wrong. And I don't have the ability to ferret out what it is. I'm standing above the sock drawer, looking down, and going, "I just...I don't...???" Thankfully, I have sock ninjas at the ready. Both manuscripts are th-i-i-i-s close. Which is a little frustrating because they're both still th-i-i-i-s far away.

Summer goal (that's right, my bloglings, I'm putting it out there on the internets): Get both those manuscripts out to critters by the end of summer.

ETA: Just realized this is the second post in less than a year I've written about socks & revision. This is my life.

Dear Future Self Blogfest

To join in the fun, head to Kristin Rae's blog and check it out!

Dear Future Karen,

I'm going to keep this short and sweet. I have no idea if/when/where/how you'll be published. And y'know what? It doesn't really matter. Here's what's important:
You love others.
You are loved.
You are blessed.
You seek to be a blessing to others.
All the rest will fall into place. Or maybe not. Either way...You. Are. Fine.

Present Karen

P.S. Eat your broccoli.

There Are No Words.

I'm crying while I type this. I live about 45 minutes south of Joplin, Missouri. The NICU babies from St. John's Hospital, which was destroyed by the tornado, have gone to the hospital where the Pea was born. I have friends in Joplin. One of my friends lost her house and most of her possessions. But she's alive and her family is alive, and she's counting herself as very blessed right now.

Please help. Please pray.
You can donate $10 to the Joplin Relief Fund by texting "Joplin" to 864833. Or, of course, donate to the Red Cross.

Blergity Blerg Blerg.

So turns out the Pea has yet another persistent ear infection. This is after the tubes, mind you. And a little pink eye on top of it. Big old blerg.

But! Head on over to my friend Kristin Gray's blog for a fantabulous author interview with M.P. Kozlowsky, author of Juniper Berry and a chance to win a signed copy!

Yay! We Have a Winner!

The winner of my Delirium giveaway is...
...who, FYI, is hosting a really cool blogfest later in May. Check it out.

(((bells, whistles, ticker tape, confetti, silly string, ummm...more confetti)))


And on another awesomesauce note, my sister Ellen who needs to update her blog is selling these ah-dorable hair bows on Etsy to raise funds for their adoption. And not to be all selfish about it, but I am pretty much counting down the milliseconds until I have a new niece or nephew to snuggle and snoogle. So if you're in the market for some serious cuteness for your daughter or niece or friend or random child, please check out her store.

This is one of my favorites:
Oh, and this one:

It's Been One of Those...

Days Weeks Months

The Pea is sick. Again.

This time, it seems to have taken the form of intermittent fever, whining, and general malaise. I've spent most of the last 48 hours laying (lying? Too lazy to go check Grammar Girl) on the couch with him watching Shaun the Sheep. Which isn't so bad. But it's also not the best way to get anything productive done. I just feel so bad for him. When his fever went up a little this morning, he kept saying, "I hurt, Mommy. I hurt." I hurt for you, sweet Pea.

So I've decided to extend the Delirium giveaway contest until Sunday night at 11:59 Central Standard Time.

Adventures in Swimsuit Shopping

I just...

I don't even...

Actually, let's just skip this and talk about something happy, okay?

Should Prince Harry Date Pippa Middleton?
Umm...yesh, please. And, yes, I realize he is on-again with Chelsy Davy, and she is practically engaged to some London banker. But look at them. Look at them. Another royal wedding. Little double royal cousins. Win.

Also, if you haven't already, go enter my Delirium giveaway. I didn't put an end date (because that's how I roll), but I'm thinking Fridayish.

I Don't Really Have the Words

I saw a tweet pop up in my feed last night: "Obama to make announcement shortly."

Then another.

Then another. And another. And another.

Then one that said, "We got Osama bin Laden." Not the arrival of aliens as conjectured by my friend Kristin.

But my favorite comment of the night came from Myra McEntire: "Solemn prayers for restoration, reconciliation, and peace ..."

Amen, and Amen, and Amen.

I Have a Fever...

...And the only prescription is more tiaras!
Oh, and the hats. The hats, the hats, the hats!

I kind of want this one:

Hip...hip...HUZZAH for DVR!!!

Don't forget to go enter my giveaway for Delirium! Once Royal Fever passes, it's always good to have a back up affliction.

Bleh to Infinity. Plus a Giveaway

Ever feel like life is smacking your heiny?

A massive storm front has parked itself over our area of the country, and water seems to be entering my house in not one but two spots. The back door is leaking (no idea why, but our hardwood floors aren't as fond of water as one might think) and a piece of siding on the roof overhang blew loose in one of the nastier bouts of wind. (Update: siding guys came and fixed it in five minutes. Said it should dry out fine. Huzzah!)

But then I realized I need to get all Bing Crosby on this situation and count my blessings. I am blessed. I have a roof (albeit a possibly leaky one) over my head. I have a floor (albeit a possibly buckled one) under my feet.

I am blessed.

And do you know what I like to do with blessings? Pass them on. So I'm giving away a copy of Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Loved this book. It was such a simple premise: What would you do if society classified love as a disease...and you realized you'd caught it? I can't wait for the sequel.

Rules for the Giveaway:
1. Be a follower.
2. Tell someone about it. You can blog it, twitter it, Facebook it, tell a friend, release a homing pigeon. I don't care.

Double Bleh.

Or it might be triple. Because I think that cleaning up someone else's bile (even if it is your own child's) should count for at least one extra Bleh.

So the malingering illness of ick finally (finally!) seems to have worked its way out of my body. By yesterday afternoon (for those keeping count, i.e. me and Hubbykins, that was a full week), my fever was down to a respectable 99.2. I thought I was finally in the clear as neither Hubbykins nor the Pea had caught it. Huzzah!


The Pea wanted to cuddle all morning yesterday, very unusual for my drive-by snuggler. And then he kept demanding Mommy Hugs. "No! Stand-up Mommy Hugs!" While I was happy to oblige, I realized he felt warm. Then after his nap, he felt downright hot. Then his lunch decided it had resided in his tummy long enough. Ahh, poop-on-a-stick.

All this to say...either tomorrow or Monday. There shall be a giveaway. And it will be appropriate.


Some vile bug has taken over my body. It's one of those two-steps-forward-one-step-back viruses that I keep thinking, "Hey! I shook it!" Then, two hours later, I'm curled up on the couch again, with aches and chills. Sleep seems to be the only thing that quells it. I slept 11 hours last night. And, thankfully, the Pea's been a good napper/play-by-himselfer the last couple days. I'm just hoping Hubbykins doesn't get it. It takes him three times as long to recover from illness.


(But I'm going to have another Cheapskate Giveaway Monday...yee! And the book's been tucked safely away from the plague this whole time.)

Random Updates

Aunt Sara has left. It is a sad, sad day in the Akins household. I'm pretty much going to have to grit my teeth when I go to pick the Pea up from Kids' Day Out, and answer truthfully when he asks, "Where's Aunt Sara?"

On a happy note, my friend Kristin is hosting a fun giveaway/contest/choose your own adventure of awesomeness over on her blog.

Oh, and this is fun over at Elana's blog:

That is all.

Twitter Pitch...last time I mean it!

Anybody want a peanut?

Here's what I went with: To win $ for her cupcake biz, shy Miri enlists a feisty friend to present Miri's wares at a bake-off. Perfect ‘til her alter ego runs amuck.

Oh, and head over to Shelley Watters' blog and check out all the awesome pitches.

I'll probably be out for most of the week. My little sister is here for a much-anticipated visit. Yee!

Twitter Pitch, take 2

Shy Miri finds the perfect way to win $ in a Bake Off for her budding business--don a disguise. Yep, perfect until her alter ego runs amuck

Whaddya think?

Twitter Pitch

I'm participating in Shelley Watters' awesome agent pitch contest in which the fabulous Suzie Townsend will be picking the best Twitter Pitch (under 140 characters). Let me know what you think of mine.

Genre: MG Contemporary

WC: 25K

Title: The Cheater's Guide to Cupcakes

Pitch: Shy Miriam discovers how hard it is to stay true to herself while pretending to be someone else in this Cyrano de Bergerac with cupcakes.

 Find this little guy here.