Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Garage Door Hates Me. Really.

Awhile ago my garage door broke. It looked like this:

I looked like this:

Except not quite so yellow, and with more hair, a nose, and ears, but otherwise it's a dead ringer for me. Just saying.

Anywho, I was bummed. Broken garage doors can do that to you. My dad and brother fixed it. And then this happened. Again.

And I looked like this:

Except with more hair. Yup. You know it's my spitting image.

Anywho, my brother fixed it. Again. guessed it. It broke. Again.

It's official, my garage door hates me. I can feel it glaring at me every time I go out to my car. It's like a lurking monster waiting to strike. And the thing about this monster door is it's something different each time--the cable breaks, the spring does some strange spring thing that equals broken door, the wheels hop the track, the motor groans and does some strange motor thing that equals broken door. It just has problems. Right now it's the sensors that won't let it close. They keep "seeing" something in the way and refuse to let the darn thing go down. And no, we haven't bound and gagged any neighbors and put them under the door. It just hates me.

So, is it time for a new door? A new motor? A new life? Nah. It's just like revising a book. You fix it and then realize there's a whole new problem you didn't see before. At times you even think it's a monster that hates you. AND you may even hate it back. But if you want to get your car out of the garage, you have to fix the door. And I want my car out of the garage, as in I want to get published. And that's why I revise.

What are you fixing today?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Answers Have Come At Last!

I bolted from sleep at four this morning knowing I'd found the missing pieces to my current novel. Talk about one of those moments when the world slows down and everything is crystal clear. It's magic. It's profound. It's brilliance. It't speechless-a-fying.

This kind of genius only comes once or twice in a lifetime, and today was one of those days. You know, the kind when you finally grasp the true meaning of life and all the little holes and questions fill in.

What were the missing pieces to my novel? What amazing knowledge was I blessed with? It came in the form of five all-important words. Are you ready to hear them? Are you ready for the awesomeness of them? Can you handle the wake-you-from-a-deep-sleep-because-all-your-problems-have-been-solved words?

Okay, brace yourself.


These are world changing.

You may never be able to go back to who you were.


Are you prepared for the awesomesauce?

Here they are:

Put. Grind. Lampshade. Aida Cloth.

Yup. Did I mention I woke knowing these words would solve all my problems? Sigh. Groan. Shake my head and bury it under my pillow.

What these words have to do with my book is beyond me. Why I bolted from sleep with them stamped on my brain and my heart pounding like the book gods had granted me a visit is also beyond me. I mean really. Wake a poor girl up with heart palpitations for Lampshade? Aida cloth? Am I supposed to have my dark elf main character take up cross stitching? Seriously?

Ug. I'm going back to bed.

What words of wisdom have you all been blessed with lately? Because I think I could use them. That or I need to stop eating before I go to bed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Visit With Carl Bloch

This week I visited with a master. Well, with his paintings. A group of friends and I went to the Carl Bloch exhibit at Brigham Young University. Amazement courted me as I stood before vivid alter paintings crafted in the 1800s and marveled at the stories told on canvas.

Many of the stories were biblical, reaching out of an even more distant past to whisper messages of faith and love, other were simple yet profound glimpses of life--an old woman feeding birds, a man walking, a wife reading to an invalid husband. All touched me, moved me with wonder and the power of a single moment caught in time. Of emotion.

As I gazed at the works of this long-dead artist, I couldn't help wonder if he ever thought his works would touch me? And in turn, I wonder if my works will live on to touch someone in a distant time.

Carl Bloch said, "God helps me, that is what I think and then I am calm."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

First Line Contest

Hey all, what's in the first line of a book? Promise? Intrigue? Allure? A hook?

Writers might add hope and prayers. Why? Because you have to grab the reader's attention before that first period. My question to you is, does your first line have what it takes?

Chersti Nieveen is having an awesome first line contest to find out, and the prizes are fabulous. Check it out:

First Prize:
A query critique by agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Literary Agency)

Yes, you read that right. You may be excused to grab a paper bag to hyperventilate in. Just come back to finish reading about the rest of the first prize.

You also get a $30 Gift Certificate* toward Writing and Illustrating for Young Reader’s Conference, held June 13-17th, 2011 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah.

You can use the bag again if you need to. Just saying.

Second Prize:
A 5-page critique by author Martine Leavitt + 1 page of notes.

Use the bag now because I've had Martine critique pages for me before and the woman is brilliant. Really.

AND you get $20 gift certificate* toward Writing and Illustrating for Young Reader’s Conference, held June 13-17th, 2011 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah.

Even the runner ups get awesome stuff. Check this out:

Runner Ups can win one of the following books:
MATCHED by Ally Condie signed copy
FRESHMAN FOR PRESIDENT by Ally Condie signed copy
WHITE CAT by Holly Black signed copy
THE WHEAT DOLL by Alison Randall signed copy
WORLDSHAKER by Richard Harland (Simon & Schuster)
MONSTERS OF MEN by Patrick Ness (Candlewick Press)
FIRELIGHT by Sophie Jordan (Harper)
DEMONGLASS by Rachel Hawkins (Hyperion)
REMOTE CONTROL by Jack Heath (Scholastic)
A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD by Lisa Ann Sandell (hardcover)
MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD by Francisco X. Stork (hardcover)
THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY by Tiffany Baker (hardcover)
DAWN by Kevin Brooks (ARC)

See? Fabulous! What do you have to do to enter? First you have to go to Chersti's blog ( and check out the rules. Then you have to enter. Then you should sign up for WIFYR because it's even more awesome than this contest. Really.

Now, go forth and do.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Finishing Characters

He's done. Finished. Hunky. Well, at least I think so. Who is he? The love interest in one of my books, and by finished I mean the sketch I've been working on of him. I want to draw all my characters in an effort to see them more clearly. Guess what, it's working.

Check him out.

Now onto the next one. She'll be harder because I've known her longer and the details will have to be just right. It's tough to take a person you've only seen in your head and put them down on paper with a handful of pencils and lots of erasing. But then again, it's the same way with writing them, it takes lots of words and even more deleting to get them right.

What are you working on today?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I've Been Robbed and How The Universe Failed To Keep Me Away From Small Children

I've been robbed. Really. It happened at my house. While I was home. My whole family was there, the kids sleeping in their beds, hubby and I tucked in as well. The thief broke in and pilfered from us--right under our noses. Door locks couldn't keep him out, not even our attack cat could deter this guy. I mean look at our cat, he's a major deterrent.

But even Krinky the Fang didn't stop this thief. And the crook took something precious from me.

An hour of sleep.

I can hear you out there wondering and worrying and rattling your dead bolts just to be safe, but it's too late. He's been to your house, too. He slipped past your attack cats and stole your hour the same night he took mine. Yup. Daylight Savings Time. May he rot in a dank prison for eternity for what he has done. If you catch him, show no mercy.

And to top it all off, the universe doesn't want me to talk to children. It's true. How do I know? Well, it told me so when I went with a writer friend to speak to an elementary class about writing and art. I'm telling you, nothing boosts your confidence like the universe asking you to please be quiet. I mean really, I started my presentation and got about three sentences in when the fire alarm went off. Yup. That's when you know that you should go home and stumble back into bed. But I did get to stand in a muddy soccer field for several minutes, so it wasn't a complete bust.

AND I got back at the universe. I'm like a ninja that way because we spoke to the kids anyway. And they liked it. Really. I know this because they opted to give up some of their recess to hear more about art. Okay, that may have had more to do with my friend giving them an awesome art lesson than with me showing them a few pictures and telling them they could work magic with only a pencil and an eraser. But still, I got me some ninja skills.

So take that, Universe. And Daylight Savings Time, be warned, I'm looking for you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ouch! Working Out, and Writing.

I used to be a good girl and work out several times a week with a fabulous group of friends. I also used to be strong and a few pounds lighter. I say used to because I stopped, life just got too hectic there for a while. How long is for a while? We're talking a year. Yes. Can you sense the pain coming? Whimper with me.

Well, yesterday I went back like a scared dog with my tail between my legs.

Actual photo of me.

Why was I scared you ask? Are these friends mean? No. They are awesome and kind, but I knew they would hurt me. And they did. With these instruments of torture:

And this, too:

Even though I used the machine of death, I didn't end up looking like the girl in the picture. I feel cheated. I also feel like this:

But it's all good. I know the pain will fade in another day and slowly, ever so slowly, I'll work my way back to where I was a year ago. And I won't need vitamin I (otherwise known as Ibuprofen) forever. Just for today. And maybe tomorrow. And only when I'm awake and breathing. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to say goodbye to those pesky pounds that came to visit during my year of slackerness. And yes, I can use a made up word because I'm a writer and we have a special license for stuff like that.

What does all this have to do with writing? Way too much. I talked about not writing for a while when Kid D was down with the nasties. The trouble is, if you spend too much time away it's hard to get back into it. Your creative muscles atrophy and get grumpy. Your muse gets fat and lazy and doesn't show up when you sit down to write, even when you promise her chocolate. I know because I set out a bowl for her, and she never came.

It's hard and painful at first to crank out those words. The computer starts looking like this:

I mean this:

Well, I'm off to work those writing muscles because I will not go quietly into the night. And muse, if you're out there, you better show up, or I'll hire one of these:

You have been warned.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What's Wrong With Killing The Good Guy?

So, while Kid D was down with the nasties last week, we set up a portable DVD player in her room. Can you say movies galore? Her brain may be fried, but her sense of story is doing great. How do I know? Let's just say a young movie reviewer has been born.

One of the shows she watched for the first time was Megamind.

I'd never seen the show and was busy trying to get something/anything done while the wonders of movie land distracted the little sicky from her aches and chills. What I got instead was a ongoing summons to the bedroom with very real story worries.

It went something like this:

Kid D in tears: Mom!

Me hurrying to the room expecting bodily fluids and clean up duty: What's wrong?

Kid D: This isn't right. The good guy just died. The bad guy killed him! They're doing this all wrong!

Me thinking, What has Hollywood done now?: Hmmm. That is strange. Are you sure?

Kid D: He got blown up with the full power of the sun. All that was left was his bones.

Me: You're watching the cartoon I put in for you, right?

Kid D: Yes. The blue guy with the big head killed Metroman.

Me: Well, now. Maybe the blue guy isn't really the bad guy.

Kid D: He is. He said so. And he has a minion.

Me: How do you know he has a minion?

Kid D: Because he's named Minion. Not the blue guy, he's Megamind. Minion's a fish.

Me: Alrighty then.

Several minutes later...

Kid D: Mom! It's okay, the blue guy feels bad about killing the good guy so he's making a new good guy.

Me: Alright then. Again.

Several minutes later...

Kid D: Mom! The new good guy isn't good! What's wrong with this movie?

Me: Is the new good guy blue?

Kid D: No, he's just doing bad things. People who aren't blue can do bad things, too.

Me really wondering what the show was all about: What's the blue guy doing?

Kid D: Trying to stop him.

Me: So he's good?

Kid D: No. He still says he's bad.

Several minutes later...

Kid D: Mom! The good guy, Metroman, isn't dead. He's just pretending. It's all going to be okay.

Me: Sure it is. *Wink*

Several minutes later...

Kid D: Mom! Metroman won't be good. And Megamind has to save the city.

Me: Hmmmm. Didn't see that one coming. *Wink, wink*

Several minutes later...

Kid D: Megamind is the good guy! He saved the city! That's so cool!

Needless to say I had to watch the show. It was fun, but the best part was watching my seven-year-old gain a greater grasp of story. By the end she loved the twists and challenges to her perceptions of good and bad. I think it was a real eye opener to her that the real good guy wasn't good because of his looks, flowing cape, and flashy smile, and she loved the blue guy. Me, I loved listening to her dissect it with her child's understanding, and okay, Megamind is kind of lovable.

I can't wait for Kid D's reading skills to get to the point we can do this with books. It will be such fun to give her The Thief and wait for the, "Mom!"

What books or movies have challenged your kids? You? Did the experience make you love the story more? Do you like being surprised as you read?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Nasties

First off, if you like art check out this contest at The Wonderful Obsessions.

Second, you get a short post today because it's been one of those weeks. You know the kind filled with groans, wet compresses, and sick kids. Kid D is down with the nasties, and I've spent most of my days (and nights) comforting her. This means I've spent zero time writing.

The surprising thing is that the forced time away from the computer turned out to be good. You see, my WIP was sick, too. Not deathly ill or anything, just a fever, cough, and chills.

I knew the poor thing felt off it's game, but I kept thinking, Just plow through this part and it will get better. Wrong.

The time away helped me see the problems in a broader way. I mentally reworked my plot, added a character, got rid of some others, and put a few more twists into the mix. AND I'm so excited to get back to work. Now I just need my lap and arms back.

Does time away from your projects help you see them in a new light?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What Is It With Love Stories?

So, I've been pondering all the important questions of the universe: what's for dinner, why don't my pants fit right (I have a sneaking suspicion that these two are somehow connected), and what is it with love stories (probably not connected, but who knows)?

Don't we all love a good romance? Seriously, even you men. Now before the egg starts flying (Hmmm eggs for dinner?), I don't mean to imply you men like romance novels or anything damaging to your manness, but admit it, you like a story with a romantic element. I mean, didn't Trinity spice up the Matrix for you?

And who would Jason Bourne have been without his love interest? See, guys like romance. Girls? Yeah, that's a given.

Now, even my own Kid C has discovered the joy of having a sweetheart. Earlier this week the little guy came to me and Hubby with a giant smile spread on his face like he'd woken up and discovered an extra Christmas or something. He gave us both hugs and told us he had a girlfriend. See, Christmas-for him.

Not so much for me. I admit, I panicked a bit. He is pretty young after all, and we tend to shelter him a bit with his disability. His body may be twelve, but his mind isn't.

It went like this:

Me experiencing mild heart palpitations: What?

Kid C just grinning: *grin*

Me growing a smile because his is so darn contagious: You have a girlfriend?

Him: Yup.

Me hiding a giggle, because I can never resist a good love story for long: Who is she?

Him just reveling in the moment.

Me: Is she in your class at school?

Him: Nah.

Me getting into it because I also love a good mystery: What's her name?

Him hugging his ever-present stuffed baby elephant: Rapunzel.

Me savoring the moment of Kid C's cuteness: She is pretty.

Him: Uh huh!

Christmas after all.

I mean, what's not to love? She's nice, she's led a sheltered life, she has great hair, she has a pan and knows how to use it (maybe she knows what's for dinner), she even carries an animal around on her shoulder. So does Kid C, the animal part, not the pan because that would be less safe for everyone. Really. But his baby elephant rides around on his shoulder like it's an extra appendage. Yup, this is a match made in Kid C heaven.

So, spill, what lures you to a love story? Why are we such suckers for them? What draws you to a character in a book? And what is your favorite romance ever?


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