Thursday, February 24, 2011

White Cat and preparing for WIFYR

Hey all, about a month ago I mentioned the WIFYR conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you're a writer and live on earth, you should check it out. Heck, if you live off planet you should still check it out. It's a great conference.

In preparation, I'm not only trying to hammer out a new WIP, I'm also reading books written by the awesome staff. Yesterday I read White Cat by Holly Black.

Here's the blurb from the jacket flap:

"Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen."

Doesn't it sound gooooood? It was.

I knew I'd like this book when I read the acknowledgments page. Any writer who thanks someone for driving her around locked in the trunk of a car has to be intriguing. And the best part is, not only did the plot keep me turning pages, but the characters and their unique world fascinated me. I always marvel when a writer gets me to care about someone who isn't a typical hero, and there are a lot of characters I felt drawn to in this book who live on the shady side of the law.

Even more exciting is the release of Red Glove, the second book in the Curse Workers series, on April 5,2011. This means I won't have to wait very long to re-immerse myself in Holly's haunting world.

I'm excited to meet Holly at WIFYR and learn from her. Check out her books and the WIFYR conference.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This Means War!

As the sun crept over the mountains this morning, I knew today was the day. What day you ask? The day war would be fought. Here. Now.

What war?

This war.

The Cleaning War.

And the force is strong with my foe.

My house has had a long weekend to gather it's troops. The dust bunnies alone could take out a squad of marines. Just saying. And then there's the dishes. And the laundry.

Yup, it's going to be a long day.

Then the real battle will begin--cleaning house in my manuscript. I have to take out the trash. Pages of it. Writing a first draft is a bit like having a long weekend, it's fun, but you make a mess of things. So, now I need to convince a dark elf who's been banished to earth to play nice with the humans. Yes, he does have a bit of an attitude, but I have the delete key. Mwhahaha.

What are you going to clean today?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye

My parents are moving to Portugal on Monday, and it's time to say goodbye. I've been in denial for months, pretending for all my worth that they weren't really going away, but calling them and hearing an impersonal voice state the number is no longer working and emptying the house of food has a way of shattering even the most well crafted denials.

The thing with goodbyes is they hurt. It's almost like a practice death, a foreshadowing of a much more lasting separation. A reminder that you squandered precious time and there won't be anymore laughter-filled visits with Mom, or dusty days with Dad spend building a basement and memories. There won't be any more birthday parties for grandkids, or noisy family get-togethers, no more tender moments where they lend me strength with an embrace. At least not for a while.

Goodbyes remind you of what you had and didn't cherish as much as you should. Things like being able to drive to their house if I had a bad day and sit at the kitchen table and just be mommy's little girl again, even if it's only for an hour or so. That's a little hard to do with an ocean between you.

Now, my mind tells me I'm being melodramatic, but my heart cries louder, drowning out the reason. I'm just a little kid again, standing on the steps of school as her mommy drives away on the first day of kindergarten. I know she'll come back, and I'll learn things and have fun while she's gone, but for right now, this moment, I don't care about the pretty colors and friends waiting for me inside the classroom. I just want my mommy to come back and take me home. I want to hear her bustling about and asking me if I cleaned my room. I even want to clean it just for her so I can see that happy smile one more time. I want to climb on my daddy's lap and snuggle into his strength. I want to whisper, "I love you." from five-year-old lips and know there is a life time of years before they leave.

I don't want to say goodbye. Ever.

But I must. And I will stand strong and wear out my Skype connection and long distance card with overuse. It may be hard to hug over emails, but I'll use every bit of power behind my words to convey my love. And I will smile as I wave goodbye to take a portion of the sting away from their hearts. And mine.

And I will be that kindergartner and build myself the biggest countdown chain from construction paper, and Christmas won't have anything on the day Mom and Dad come back. And instead of goodbye, I'll practice saying, "Welcome home."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What's For Dinner? A Pass A Long Story? Yum.

Good Morning! And sorry this is late. I had a "What's for dinner?" kind of morning. It went something like this.

Me staring at blank computer screen wondering what to blog about: Ummmmm. Ummmm. Ummmmm.

Me: ...

Me: ...

Me: O fudge.

It was exactly the same feeling I get every time one of the kids asks, "What's for dinner?"

You know, that panicked moment when you glance at the clock and realize it's 5:45 and dinner is supposed to be in fifteen minutes and you got nothing. Zero. Nada. Cereal?

Well, I didn't want to give you plain old cereal so I found this instead:

Delicious isn't it?

My question is, what's the story behind the pic? How did the bike become a part of the tree? Did a dryad have an unfortunate accident? Or did the tree just need more 'fiber' in its diet?

Here's the deal, I'll start the story, and you all add to it. Just post a paragraph or two about what happens next. It'll be fun and so much better than cereal.

Trenton lay sprawled on the forest floor, helmet askew and moss clinging to his face like Mr. Potato Head's mustache. What happened?

A faint crunching sound drew his attention, and he scrambled to his feet.

You write the rest. Let's hear what happened to the bike. And please play along. Please, please please. *Rubs hands together and grins*

Leisha Maw

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One Of Those Days

Do you ever have one of those days where you wake up feeling like this?

And getting the kids ready for school and showering and finding clothes and writing and breathing feel like this?

And you're the donkey?

Sometimes you just have to be the mouse instead. (Watch it to the end.)

Be the mouse.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Magic and Mayhem Of Firsts

Saturday was a day of firsts at our house. First we slept in for three glorious hours. Can you say bliss? Then we got up, because for some reason the children like to be fed and such, and they seem to depend on us for that. Weird.

At 10:18 we experienced a whole new kind of first. Kid A got a phone call. Not that she hasn't talked on the phone before, it's what happened during that call that changed our whole day.

She talked for a few minutes then came to us for guidance. Our conversation went something like this:

Kid A: Mom, Dad, I need to talk.

Us: Okay.

Kid A: That was Friend A. She wants me to ask this guy out to the Sweet Heart Ball.

Me staring at Kid A with bulging eyes: Ummmmmmmm. Ummmmmmm. Ummmmmm. Isn't that today?

Kid A: Yes?

Hubby trying not to laugh: Do you want to go?

Kid A: I don't know. Friend A really, really, really wants me to ask this guy.

Me trying to breath normally so that Kid A won't be frightened: Isn't the dance semi-formal?

Kid A: Yes.

Me still trying to breath normally since this would be Kid A's first date, and I remember how terrifying that is, but also being a mom and knowing how much effort goes into preparing for a dance, and not knowing what Kid A would wear to a semi formal dance that just happens to be in a about six hours: Isn't that today?

Hubby patting my back to calm me down while asking Kid A: Do you want to go?

Kid A: I don't know. They're doing the day activities at noon.

Me staring in dumb disbelief at the clock, which reads 10:22, and realizing my six hours just shrank to one-and-a-half, and thinking we need a dress, shoes, hair, make-up, money, oh crap--she still needs to ask this guy out: Ummmmmm. Ummmmmm. Ummmmmm.

Hubby still trying not to laugh: Well, you'd better make up your mind fast. Who is this guy?

Kid A: I don't know. Some senior.

I'd finish this conversation for you, but it would be painful for most of us--okay, probably just for me. So instead of pain, I'll sum up. She decided to go because she didn't want to let Friend A down and because there was Chinese food involved. Okay, and because she's a brave girl who can have fun under pressure.

She called to inform Friend A of this monumentous decision while I hyperventilated for a minute or two. Then Kid A informed me that Friend A would be at our door in ten minutes to pick her up to go ask the guy out. I hyperventilated some more and ordered Kid A into the shower.

Then the rush began. I ran to the kitchen shouting, "What do we have to ask someone to a dance?" I yanked open the pantry and stared. "Beans! We have beans!"

Hubby, who had followed me, told me I couldn't use beans. We made cookies. Fast. Okay, I started the cookies, and hubby finished them while Kid A and I did the speediest hair and make-up job in the history of the world. Then she left to go ask some poor, unsuspecting senior to the dance (with a plate of cookies and a can of beans) that was in just a few hours. I felt bad for his mother for a second or two. It would have been more, but I didn't have time.

While she was gone, I called in reinforcements, my mom for a dress, my sister for the real hair and make-up, my neighbor for pictures, a prayer or two for sanity and a miracle. They all came through with flying colors.

By the time Kid A came back from asking the now-stressed senior to the dance we had eleven semi-formal gowns, shoes, and everything else lined up--except an oxygen tank for me.

So the long and short of this tale is, we made it. Kid A looked beautiful. The dance was a success, and so was Kid A's first date.

What does this have to do with writing? Oh, tons of things, but I've gone on too long already. So I'll just list three.

1: Firsts are exciting and scary, and all of us like to relive them. That's why I love YA. It's all about firsts.

2: Sometimes you just have to dive into the writing, like Kid A did with her first date, and let the words fall where they may.

3: When you do dive in, have a support group like someone to help with a dress and make-up. You know, readers, and critique partners, and back-patters, and such. But most of all, just love it. There's nothing better than the rush of excitement as the words come. Oh, and keep some beans and chocolate chips handy, you never know when you'll need them.

Are you going to write a first today?

Leisha Maw

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Shadow, Love, and First Publication Rights

First off, sorry about the late post. The sub-zero temperatures iced over our ISP's satellite tower and the world almost ended from lack of Internet. I couldn't even check my e-mail. Shudder.

Well, on to the post.

It's that time again. You know, parent teacher conference time. I took Kid D last night. It turned out well, and once again the first grade wrote stories. Last time I had buy the first publication rights to get Kid D to let me post one of her stories on my blog. This time she was ready for me. It went like this.

Me: You did awesome!

Kid D grinning.

Me: Can I put a story on my blog?

Kid D: Sure. How much are you going to pay me?

Me grinning, too: Two dollars for two stories.

Kid D: Deal.

I laughed and paid her. I think she's liking this write and get paid thing. Who can blame her? I'd really like to try it some day soon.

So, here are her two stories with translations attached. Enjoy.

My Shadow


I am jumping on the trampoline with my shadow in the sun. It is fun. If the sun is up very high, your shadow is low.
And the second masterpiece:



I love to eat ice cream. I love Mrs. Tingey!!! I love school. I love me!!! I love my mom!!! I love my dad!!!

I love this story. Who wouldn't? Ice cream--yum. A beloved teacher--awesome. Love for Mom and Dad--bonus. But love for herself--ahhh a mother's dream come true. I'm so glad she let me buy these.

I'm off to write. I have big shoes to fill. Who knew I'd be trying to keep up with a first-grader. :)

Leisha Maw

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just Wiggle Something

One of my goals this year is to slim down a few pounds, but I've run into some problems. One, food and I are close. Really close. Two, I detest being cold, so walking outside in January and February is out of the question. Three, I have a low threshold for boredom, and staring at the wall while trudging on the treadmill for an hour is the definition of boredom. Really it is, I looked it up.

In an effort to still meet my goal and not die of either freezing to a sidewalk or falling asleep while tied to a treadmill, I found Zumba. Boring it is not.

During my first Zumba experience, I tripped over myself, I laughed, and I sweated. A lot. I also earned some sore muscles and a swollen knee, but Zumba is addicting--kind of like chocolate but less fattening. Bonus!

Anywho, I went back for another session and tripped, sweated, and laughed some more. Then I found a Zumba workout on demand with my cable provider. If you can hear cheering, that's me.

It is not my family, though. Why? I asked them to Zumba with me. They declined. I begged them. They stonewalled me. I bribed them with promises of not having to do dishes for several weeks. They looked at me like I was a crazy lady, but did we Zumba? Why yes, we did.

But not without some objections once we turned the TV on and they stared at the Zumba professionals. I heard things like, "I can't move like that!" and "You are crazy!"

I laughed and told them it didn't matter as long as they wiggled something. The thing with Zumba is that you don't start out knowing all the moves, you learn as you go. It takes practice and lots of wiggling. And sweating. And laughing.

How is this related to writing? Easy, if you want to write, you have to wiggle something. You can't look at the professionals and decide you don't move like that, you just need to jump in and feel the music. Then you need to practice and sweat. And you need to keep coming back to it every day. And you need to laugh. A lot. Learn to grin at your mistakes and follow the professionals' leads. In time you'll be the pro.

So, are you wiggling something today?


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