Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Getting Back On The Wagon

Note to self: Never take a vacation from writing, not even a small, mini one -- because getting back to work will suck your living soul.

Well, that and WoW, I guess. ;)

*Ahem*

I’m being PROACTIVE, peeps. I figured I needed something to jumpstart me.

First:

Heidi and Chloe have been resurrected. Very cool. Though, my first post back is not nearly as funny as posts I made several years go. I’m chalking it up to being rusty. *flexing my brain* The next post should be better. Heh.

Second:

I checked myself into a hotel for one night this weekend so that I can have some peace and quiet and focus on work. I wanted two nights (greedy, I know), but they wanted $200 a night to stay two nights. $400?! To stay three blocks from my house?! *cough!*

I said, “Um, yeah, I was going for cheap.”

“We have a room for $50, but it’s only available on Saturday night.”

“SOLD!”

One night is fine (for now). I’m going to lock myself in a room and write my little tushy off.

Which brings us to…

Third:

Goals!!!! Time for me to make some, eh? Heh.

I wanted to finish this revision by the end of October. That was before I realized that I absolutely HATED the last half of my book. So now, before I can finish that revision, I sort of have to write the last half I deleted.

I’d love to have that done by the end of this month. That’s really doable since I only have like 20K or so to go.

That makes the goal for this weekend to finish at least three chapters.

… And maybe hit 60 on my hunter. Hahahaha!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Randomness:

Get ready. I'm going to attempt to psych myself in to a frenzy. I need to get focused and re-apply myself in my writing. Too much “vacation” time is starting to make my brain squishy. It’s taking me forever to make sentences…

It’s like pulling teeth, peeps.

I have been working (promise!), just not as much as I should be.

Okay! Not much at all! Fine. I'm going to try to change that starting today.

This declaration may have been more effective on Monday, but I had super important stuff to do like go to coffee with friends, hang out with Steven before work (he's on nights again. Boo!) and play the soul-sucking game that is WoW.

Ah, WoW... What can I say? It's the sickness that is currently consuming me. This is why I need a shift in priorities! Rules, maybe. Like no logging on till I have 1000 words. Not even to "check my mail."

Hahaha. Yeah, right.

Even better, I need to find a way to turn off the Internet. Heh. I am not trustworthy when it comes to virtual reality. :)

Hum… It’s 9:20am… Is it time for a nap yet?

I need goals! And I need people to make me feel guilty if I don’t meet them. Anyone want the job?

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Tale of Two Stories

[I want to make clear from the start that the following this is my perception. You may understand plot differently. Whatever works for you is AWESOME as long as you’re, you know, writing.]

I’m very blessed to have a few new writers in my life. I like new writers. They don’t know the harsh realities of the business yet, which means they’re not jaded and still full of unrealistic hope. Ha. Which, in turn, keeps firmly in my mind the reason I write is because it makes me happy. In my frustration I can forget that.

On two separate occasions last week I found myself talking about plot. One, because both writers were in the blush of their first novel and, two, because I was struggling with my own plot issues. In both cases I walked away not feeling like I nailed what I wanted to say.

Plot’s a frustrating thing. In theory I guess it would be easy to explain, but then if it was so easy how come everyone struggles with it? For me, it’s one of the most difficult things to create, pull off and make it look like it was easy while doing it.

To explain plot I think I need to go back to understanding drafts. With the first draft, especially for a new writer, my advice is (and always will be) throw it on the paper. It doesn’t matter what you write. You will end up changing every word anyway. What you need is a shell to work with. It is impossible to rewrite something that is not written.

This does NOT mean that you can’t have some kind of preparation for your first draft. I think you should! I think you should know who your characters are and what makes them tick. What your overall story is, etc. If you understand your story beforehand, it does help you not run into long periods of writing inactivity (writer’s block – which I think is more “what the heck do I write next” than actual block).

When I talk about plot, I’m actually talking about the second draft. I think if you worry about tinkering with plot too soon, you can hinder that part of your creativity that comes up with the story in the first place. Because as you figure out your plot, you (well, me) tell yourself things like: “that plotline is bad,” or “ that won’t work.” Negativity does not foster creativity.

I see plot as two stories. Every book (every good one, at least) will have two stories: the one they tell and the one they don’t tell.

I’m going to use The Host for example because I just read that she sold movie rights and I think that’s hella cool. I will be standing in line to buy tickets. ;)

Story #1:

The Host is the story of Wanderer, an alien from another planet who takes over the body of a human host. The host doesn’t disappear, though. Oh, no. She stays right there like a shadow in Wanderer’s mind. The story revolves around Wanderer’s journey.

Story #1 is what the book is. It’s what is written. It’s what you query, or is on the back of the book jacket.

Story #2:

This is more illusive. Story #2 is the unwritten story that you understand from reading Story #1.

For The Host, the story #2 is about the aliens. How and why they’re there. What their plans are. Understanding their philosophies and deciding if they’re good or bad.

Story #2 is told in bits and pieces. Through narrative, actions, thoughts and dialog. It’s something that is created in that grey space, slowly built, so that you may not fully understand it until you reach the end of the book.

Now, there are more threads to a plot, of course. Each character needs to relate back to Story #2. They may live in Story #1, but their reasons for their actions come from Story #2. And every character has to have an understanding of why they’re doing something.

For me, when I start draft 2, I like to work backwards. I already have a clear understanding of Story #1. It’s written (the first draft). What I focus on is solidifying Story #2. What is it the real story I’m trying to tell? Once I understand that, I can begin to dissect Story #1 to make sure that I’m telling Story #2.

This is my intangible idea of plot. Plot is the point where Story #1 and Story #2 work together as a cohesive unit, where each one cannot exist without the other.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monday!

I was going to tell a story about when I opened a package from my mother this week and pulled out a cheerleading outfit she'd sent Bekah. Bekah clasped her hands together under her chin and declared, "It's like a dream come true!"

I was also going to talk about the shopping trip I took with Bekah the other day in which she saw a Laura Ashley dress (the one she wore today) and freaked because... "Have you seen anything so beautiful?"

The post was going to be witty and humorous. I was going to talk about how I feel like I'm selling out on my uncool teen-self by creating a Laura Ashley wearing cheerleader. How did that happen?! I did eat sushi while I was pregnant. Maybe the mercury does effect the fetus after all...

But here's the thing, I can't do witty or humorous today. Why? Well because this current manuscript is KILLING ME. It's all I can think about. I have notes...

NOTES. NOTES. NOTES.

It doesn't fit together. Oh, it tries to fit together. The plot looks sound... but then I tinker a little bit and the sands shift... what were once minor little holes are now craters.

ARG!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Monday!

I haven’t been around in a week!!! Sorry about that. There wasn’t very much to talk about. I figured you didn’t want to hear about the two HUGE BRUISES that I got on my toe from the Lidocaine injections, or the fact that I feel less than stellar.

Okay… so… what to talk about?

How about contests? Hum? I love some free stuff!

Have I mentioned that I’m holding a drawing at Flashy Fiction? No? Well, I am. Go check it out and write some flash. I will be writing some too… shortly. When I feel a little better. (I haven’t worked on my manuscript in a few days because I’m too afraid of adding in fever induced ranting…)

And while we’re talking about contests, did you see the prize package Suz is giving away? I need a naughty bag!!!

AND what else?

Um…

My birthday and anniversary are coming up. I had reservations to Okuma long before the disaster trip. I was going to cancel them immediately after, but I thought… no, let me give it a chance.

Ahem.

So yeah, the typhoon should miss us next weekend, but we’re still in for some bad weather. Plus, Steven’s been working all these crazy hours and may not be able to get off work.

You know what I think? I think Okuma is cursed.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Monday!

You know you've been spending too much time on Twitter when you begin to think in 140 characters or less. It makes blogging difficult.

It's Monday again (funny how that happens every week!). There's not much to report over here. Well, besides the fact that I managed to get my daughter in blue shorts and a blue bow today. I know! It's like the apocalypse happened!

Other than that, I'm knee deep in revision two of the manuscript I'd put aside some time ago. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was actually pretty good. I'm changing the voice up a little, though, on this pass. I'm hoping to get it finished by the end of October. *crossing fingers*

Tomorrow I have a date to play with clay. I was supposed to go last week and canceled because I was sick. I'm kind of nervous about it. I get that it sounds odd. Why would I be nervous about playing with clay? But I am! It's not like I have any illusions that I'm going to walk away with a usable piece of pottery.

I had marked on the calendar that I was going. My husband read it and commented, "You know, you're going to get dirty."

"I know."

"And you're still going to go?"

"Does that fascinate you?"

He shook his head. "No. It's just that... I love this island."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Regrouping

I finished my edit and turned it in. (OMG, YAY!!!)

When I finish a project I go from a euphoric high (which for me lasts maybe a night) followed closely by a crash of epic proportions.

I'm in the crash stage right now.

What does the crash look like? Well that's a good question. I'm sure that it's different for everyone. For me it comes in three distinct stages:


I feel sick.

This is due to lack of sleep for the most part. I've been up for a week straight pretty much. I wanted to finish and sleeping was not an option. There were several days there where I'd return an email to my mom and she'd write back, "Isn't it 3am in Japan?"

*Look at clock.* Why, yes it is. No wonder my eyes felt like sandpaper.

Add to that, in those sleepless hours I consumed way too much coffee and very little of anything substantial. Cooking? Nah. I didn't have time for that.


My house is a mess.

I'm trying (!!!) not to let this irritate me. Because I distinctly remember a point last week (*ahem* Thursday) when I was struggling with a chapter. I was so hung up on it that I cleaned my entire house including scrubbing all the floors with bleach. It helped clear my mind and, yes, the chapter turned out awesome.

Would you know that I cleaned it? Nope.


What am I going to work on next?

There's nothing more sobering for me than realizing... I have no idea what to work on today.

It's not that I don't have things. I mean, I have a 50K word MS that is begging to be finished. The problem? I can't remember what it was about. Ha! I have pages of notes on what I need to do to tie it together... and I think I'm going to have to start at the beginning and just read it. I hope it's good.


Long story short: I guess that makes my plans for today... reading in bed. Sounds awesome.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

SCBWI LA

Today I’m picking up friends at the airport (Yay!!! I’m giddy!!!) and then we’re driving to the conference hotel.

SCBWI LA should kick booty!

I’m going to try to post pictures and updates as the weekend progresses, but as you can see, I’m not at all faithful to this blog when I’m busy. I will try!!!!!!!!!!

If you see me, come say hi. Don’t be shy! I don’t bite unless you ask really nice and only then if you look tasty.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nothing

Gah. It's going to be another one of those random posts... Sorry, peeps.

  • I finally registered for SCBWI LA. I know, I know.... I've only been talking about registering for forever. But $500 for a conference is a lot to pry out of my hand. I kept putting it off. Then Steven gave me some perspective. He said, "You wouldn't think twice about spending $500 on a purse..."


  • *cough*

    Uh, yeah. We do NOT need to talk about my issues. Can I help it if handbags are REALLY PRETTY and they SING TO ME like a Siren? Buy me... you know you want to!.... Look I have a gorgeous front pocket and a cute danglely for the zipper...

  • Still rewriting. Actually, that's going well. Are you surprised? Because I sure am. LOL! Seriously, though... remember back when I said that my goal was to fall in love again? I did and I am. Love is wonderful.


  • I am getting really good at this procrastination thing. Especially when I leave in seven days for California. SEVEN DAYS! There's so much to do between now and then.


  • *Not going to think about that and get back to procrastinating, thankyouverymuch.*

    Monday, June 15, 2009

    At The Movies

    I ended up taking the kids to the movies yesterday.

    We got there a bit early so we had some time to kill. I pulled out my computer and worked:



    How much do I LOVE my computer. *happy sigh*

    And even though I worked, I'm still not done with this chapter. Sheesh. It better be the best chapter in the entire manuscript, or else!

    Meanwhile, the kids played with toys they brought and took some pictures.

    I know I've talked about how Seth is the most amazing photographer. Repeatedly. He blows me away. This is a picture he took yesterday (unedited!!!):



    Amazing, right?

    I think he only gets better too. Imagine what his pictures will look like when he's ten! LOL!!!

    Sunday, June 14, 2009

    Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be...

    I have absolutely nothing interesting to say.

    It’s raining, so the beach is out. The kids wanted to go to the “big slide.” That’s out too. I’m not going to lug cardboard in the pouring rain. Although, they’d love it.

    “It’s just rain, mom. We’d get wet, but it’s still really hot!”

    True. True. True.

    Plan B: I’m taking the kids to see Dragonball today. If they manage to pick up their playroom. I’m thinking more and more about turning it into my office. At least that way it will stay clean.

    Um… that last chapter... It’s turned into two last chapters. I’ve been banging my head against the wall for days. It will come. Slowly… but it will get there. It’s doubtful it will get sent off today, though. Whatever. I’m trying to pretend it’s not the middle of the month already.

    See? Nothing to say.

    I need chocolate.

    Friday, June 12, 2009

    Rambling:

    I need a game plan today.

    I finished Hard and Fast yesterday. The ending was good. I told my mom my favorite line (and I'm paraphrasing because I don't want to look it up) was, "You're the best biscuit this side of the gravy boat."

    *silence*

    Me: What?! Don't you think that's funny?!

    My Mom: I'd have to read it in context.

    Whatever. I thought it was hilarious, and I'm planing on using the phrase on my friends next time someone orders biscuits and gravy. hahahaha... Although, I don't actually know anyone who eats biscuits and gravy besides my dad.

    Anyway...

    Then I read two more books yesterday.

    *Full. Stop.*

    Why yes, I am avoiding writing. How did you guess? It's last new scene at the beginning. Which translates into sending the beginning to MM to see if I managed to take care of the problem.

    Okay... I'm terrified. I'll admit it.

    [insert all kinds of nervous statements that I wrote and erased...]

    I know, it's ridiculous to be so nauseous about it. He's super nice and encouraging. All this anxiety is about me. Me. Me. Me.

    I need to get a grip.

    Monday. The beginning is going to be finished and emailed by Monday.

    *cough*

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    The Last Day

    Today is Seth's last day of kindergarten. That blows my mind. In less than three months I'm going to have a first grader and a new kindergartner. No kids left at home!

    What will I ever do with myself?!

    Don't mind me. I'm having an identity crisis over here, that's all.

    BTW, did you know when you write "kindergartner" you leave off the "e" between the "t" and the "n"? I had no idea. It makes sense once spellcheck caught it for me - "ener" looks kind of strange. But... NO WONDER Seth has a hard time reading! English is weird.

    ....

    I'm too depressed to think about my kids growing up. Let's change the subject.

    It's currently 82 degrees and POURING outside. Ahhhh... island life. The rain better clear up by tomorrow. I have a beach date! My kids are going to be PO'ed if we miss it.

    Rewriting is coming along well. I have one more new scene to write for the beginning and then it should be "clean up" mode till the middle where I have to pick that apart. I'm feeling confident. Or, as confident as I can be until I exchange pages with Casey each morning. Geez that girl can write!

    Gotta get back to it, I guess. Check ya out later. Bye, Peeps.

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    On Writing

    Writing:
    Some days it’s like pulling teeth.
    Others, it’s like flowing honey,
    So sweet, I can’t type fast enough.

    Finding the balance is difficult.
    I believe in minimum word count
    Even if I throw them all away
    The very next day.

    Fickle, fickle muse.

    There are ways to feed it:
    Coffee
    Reading
    Flash
    Music

    Laughter.
    I know that it’s working
    When I make myself laugh
    Or fall in love.

    That’s what I want,
    To fall in love.
    God – it’s been so long!
    Especially with this WIP.

    Scary thing:
    I’m loving this rewrite.
    Will anyone see the brilliance
    That I think it is?

    I used the word “brilliance”
    Strike me now.
    Self-inflated ego,
    That’s me!

    For now, at least.

    I won’t tell MM he was right,
    That it needed to be reworked.
    It will be our little secret.
    Don't tell!!!

    On a plan with Casey.
    I’m very excited about it.
    8 to 10 pages a day.
    To be done by the end of June.

    I can do it.
    The first version was written in 3 weeks.
    Back when I didn’t overthink things.
    Back when I was in it for laughter and love.

    It’s not a race.
    That’s not my point.
    It’s about shutting off my overanalyzing.
    That’s what gets me in trouble.

    Friday, May 29, 2009

    Taking out the Big Guns

    ... or computer.

    How I feel about this rewrite wavers daily. It's overwhelming. This is the very last time I'm rewriting it. Period. From now on, I'm editing - or I'm moving on to another book.

    Of course, if someone wants to buy it and offer me money to rewrite it, I'll happily change my mind. --hahaha

    Knowing I'm not doing this again is... FREEING. So far it's been a lot of fun. Right now I'm in it to make myself laugh and fall in love. I'd lost sight of that.

    I've been playing with my MC's voice a bit. Seeing how far I can push her without her sounding overbearing, or how much I can pull back to show her vulnerability without making her look like a wet noodle.

    I have decided to use my last draft as extensive outline -- keeping the parts I love and dropping what I don't. There are large portions of plot that I'm going to keep. Granted, I may have to change much (or all) of the actual writing so that it reflects the MC's new voice.

    The best way to do that is to work with the versions side-by-side. Something that is super easy on my desktop. However, I can not think in the living room. For some reason, in this house, I am only productive when I'm working upstairs alone in my bedroom (go figure *wink*). I'd love to have an office but, hey, it is what it is.

    Out comes the laptop. My current laptop, while perfect for writing trips to Starbucks, stinks for side-by-side work. It's only as big as a wallet. I can barely see one Word document, let alone two!

    I got out my 17" behemoth. It was one of those buys where after I got it home I thought, what was I thinking?! It's HUGE! It was quickly replaced with something a little more reasonable.

    Once I got it set up (after the trouble of finding the plug...) I realized it's perfect for what I need. I'm happily writing upstairs by myself. Ahhhh nice.

    I love this computer now! I'm fickle. I know it. I own it. Moving on...

    Bekah strolled into my room last night and did a double take. "Where did that come from? It's huge! Where's the tiny one?"

    Steven (who was on the bed with Seth and me) said, "She fed it."

    I nodded. "Yeah, food and water."

    Steven gave me the 'you're seriously dumb' look. "NOT water."

    "Er, right." I admit, that wasn't the brightest thing to say in light of her previously 'washing' my iPod and Steven's computer. "Not water. Computers can't have water, they're like Gremlins."

    "Gremlins?" she asked.

    Seth was more than happy to fill her in. "You know, those crazy monster things. They can't have water, they can't go in the sun and... What's the other one, Daddy?"

    "They can't eat after midnight."

    "Right." Seth nodded.

    Okay... Let's just back up right there. I needed to know something. "Seth, you haven't watch Gremlins in over a year. How did you remember that?"

    "I remember everything." He tapped at his head.

    "Yeah... and you still can't read."

    He huffed. "That I don't want to remember!"

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Self-medicating With Sushi

    I am no longer editing. It somehow turned in to a rewrite. A FULL rewrite. Please, let's have a moment of silence...

    ...

    You queasy? Yeah, me too.

    Please don’t ask questions or I’ll throw the tuna.



    Saturday, May 23, 2009

    Be Back in a Few...

    I’m editing. Woo Hoo!!!!

    Here’s how it’s going…

    Look at comment. Contemplate for ten minutes how I want to fix. Add some words. Take some out. Add some more. Read. Rearrange. Reread… move on. And I only waste about half an hour per comment! LOL!!!!

    I should really learn to be more decisive. It would make edits move a lot faster.

    Per my usual, I have sunflower seeds stocked up. They're my edit snack. At least it’s not chocolate. However, someone must have it in for me because there were no regular sunflower seeds on the island when I went out to stock up. I nearly died. I picked up a few of the flavored versions. Last night I worked on Jalapeno Hot Salsa. OMG – SO GOOD! Forget buying regular anymore. Who needs that when I can have a party in my mouth?!

    Gutter, peeps. Get your mind out of it.

    I shall return soon, victorious and with a shiny manuscript!

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Is it Wednesday, ALREADY?!

    I know… I haven’t updated in a few days. I’ve been kind of busy. Not busy doing anything productive. Because that would be, like, CRAZY. *grin*

    I have amazing friends. I’m REALLY going to miss them this summer.

    I went through my calendar today. Perhaps I shouldn’t have done that because it made two things very clear:

    22 more days until Seth is out of school.
    48 more days until I fly to California.


    So… what does this mean in Heather-speak?

    Let me translate for you: It means that I have 22 days before life as I know it gets put on hold. 22 days to (1) finish the freaking first draft of this never ending book, (2) try to figure out how I’m going to fix said first draft and (3) edit my last book (jury is still out on that one).

    If I don’t accomplish these things within said time period, I will not be able to focus on them for at least another 33 days -- I added a week onto the California time to allow for my brother’s wedding. When that all settles down, I may be able to concentrate again. Of course, that all depends on if I can sneak out of my parent’s house and ditch the kids – hahaha. Poor, Mom/Nana.

    Friday, May 15, 2009

    Saturday List:

  • I gave up diet Pepsi. Not forever, but at least for a while. I'm on day two. Um, so far it's going well. When I announced it to Steven while shopping at the commissary, he looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe I am. I can't give up the tea and coffee yet, so I figured Pepsi was a good start.


  • My friend, Amy, posted the most common things you see in Okinawa. It's a great post because it really IS what I see everyday! Fun, fun, fun.


  • I still haven't edited the pictures from the dragon boat races. It's been a bad week. I'm just so thankful it's Saturday. Hopefully, next week will be MUCH better. For one, I have a new battery for my car ($136 later... ~highway robbery!~). I'll be able to leave the house, at least.


  • At the PX yesterday, while I was busy having Seth try on sandals, Bekah got out the shampoo that was already in my cart. She proceeded to squirt it all over the floor of the shoe section. Thankfully, it didn't end up on any of the shoes so I only had to buy an empty bottle of shampoo. *sigh*


  • Why is it that all my car stuff is due at once? Two cars in the US both have their tags due. In Japan both cars had their JCI's due and now Japanese road tax for both of them. Oh, and guess what -- The yearly insurance on both of the Japan cars are due next month. Yippee!


  • Needless to say... I haven't signed up for SCBWI LA yet. We don't do debt. I keep putting off the sign-up until I can get some of the car stuff taken care of.


  • HOWEVER, I do have tickets to go home! YEA! My brother is getting married in July. The kids and I are staying for a month and a half. My father will be driving me crazy by then and I'll be begging to get on a plane to come back to Okinawa!


  • The Casey-imposed deadline for my first draft came and went. I'm not done. I'm close, but not done.
  • Friday, May 1, 2009

    It's A Hard Knock Life

    I've been running on stress level Alpha. I told Steven that I needed some 'me time' this weekend. Alone... Quiet...

    ALONE.

    His response, "Did I miss something?"

    "Er, no. Why?"

    "Did you get your edits?"

    "No."

    "Then... what's there to stress about?"

    "Well," I took a huge breath, "I told Casey that I'd try to finish my novel by the 15th. It's NEVER going to happen. UGH! I just don't have the time and I'm so ... STRESSED!"

    "About what, exactly? The lunches with the girls? Seeing flowers?"

    Somehow I don't think he appreciates just how complicated my life is. I put my hands on my hips. "I have stuff to do. I'm busy."

    "Yeah, like... figuring out plans for the dragon boat races?"

    "Exactly."

    Which reminds me, I need to run down and purchase tickets for that. It's next Tuesday! Woo hoo. Can't wait.

    And here's Miss Bekah at lunch today:





    Pictures:

    Lily Fest Album 1

    Lily Fest Album 2

    Friday, April 24, 2009

    Website

    I got my website up and running. It wasn't that hard. I wish it looked more professional but... I'll deal. It's not too bad for doing it myself, I think.

    I do wish I had more to say! It's pretty blank right now.

    I didn't put anything on the book page (yet) because I don't know if I should. And... Yeah, the news is blank. I'll fill that in when there is some. I need to work on my links too. :)

    What do you think so far? Cheesy?

    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    It's Monday!

    It was a long weekend for me. I have so much on my TO DO plate I needed to get some checkmarks in some boxes.

    [Completely as an aside... when I wrote this, I didn't realize that I had some boxes that weren't on my radar. Like Steven's JCI which apparently expired three days ago. *grumble*]

    I finished the pictures from my China trip. Unfortunately, Facebook is being persnickety and won't let me upload them. I'm going to keep trying to get them up today, and will let you know the links when I have them.

    I also spent a great amount of time with Seth this weekend trying to help him read. I NEED him to graduate kindergarten for heaven’s sake! Does anyone else think it’s crazy that he has to learn to read in Kindergarten? I think it’s a little much, personally.

    I wasn't going to go off about this but… I have big problems with his teacher and her methods.

    I've mentioned the behavior sticks before. We (Steven and I) have spent a great deal of time encouraging Seth to come home with a stamp at the end of the day, trying to throw some weight behind her system. But then… it all changed.

    In the last few weeks he’s gotten sticks taken away for ridiculous stuff like, we forgot to pack him a napkin in his lunch and he didn’t have his name in his jacket (the jacket he’s used ALL YEAR!). So now I’m ticked. If she’s going to take away sticks for things that have nothing to do with Seth, I’m no longer supporting her. I told Seth that I didn’t care if he got a stamp or not (and I don’t). Guess what? He didn’t get a stamp all last week. Oh well. I don't think it's fair that he's punished for things that are not his fault.

    The end of the year cannot come fast enough.

    The other thing that irritates the snot out of me is she expects memorization only. It’s all about sight words with her. This is NOT the way Seth’s brain works. And personally, I would much rather have him sound out the words than know them by memory. But if he doesn't know the words by memory, he doesn't graduate kindergarten. You can see my dilemma.

    I have spent hours with this kid and the reading thing. The big problem is he's extremely logical and English is, um, not. If I spend time to explain the rules to him, he seems to get it. That’s what makes me the most frustrated, though, is that I’m spending lots of time explaining advanced level English rules (in kindergarten speak) so that we can get through a set of flash cards that he’s expected to memorize and not read anyway!

    The kid won’t take anything at face value either. He wants to know the "why" about everything. If T has a sound and H has a sound… why does TH have a completely different sound when put together? Hell if I know! I just does! That, of course, is not a logical enough answer for him.

    I know... I need to calm down. I'm okay. Promise. We made some progress... so I'm rolling with it. For now.

    Who said potty training was the hard part? This is WAY more work!

    Oh, and I get to do this next year with Bekah. Yea! I'm so excited I can hardly talk.... Or maybe I'm horrified. Whatever.

    I also spent some time writing this weekend. I need to finish this draft. Seriously! This book is taking me SO long. It’s been forever since I've had a book take this long! ARG!

    On the TO DO list this week:

    • JCI (cough!)
    • Bekah shots (that should be loads of fun) and signed up for school.
    • Getting entry stamps in our passports so that we can be all, like, legal and stuff. ;)
    • Finish first draft (hahahaha - laughing over that one).

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Daily Grind

    This is going to be one of those ramble posts (because, really, that’s what I’m good at!).

    I didn’t work on any China pictures yesterday. I’m so close and yet SO FAR from finishing! I needed a break. My life was sort of hectic yesterday. If you follow my Facebook or Twitter feed you’d know I was doing moronic stuff like spilling half a can of coffee on my head and not paying attention and squirting toilet bowl cleaner (with BLEACH!) instead of spray-and-wash on my daughter's pink jacket. ACK!

    I ran away to lunch with my girls. I needed it (although my day did not improve when I got home).

    We ate at a cool Greek place at the sea wall. I took these when we were walking to our car. Seriously, I live in the best place in the entire world! How can it get better than this? I NEVER want to leave and I’m so happy to be home!





    Um… As far as writing goes, I’m really struggling to get back into the swing. It’s hard to get motivated! This is why I hate not writing every day. Vacations always mess me up!

    I will get back to the pictures of China soon. I’ll leave you with this:



    This is a Chinese advertisement for Toshiba. On the surface it looks fine, right? But what’s up with this:



    That’s a purse and a jacket on her head! What the heck is up with that?! How’s that supposed to sell computers?!

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Squatty-Potties

    It's time to tell you the grossest thing that happened to me in China. I was reminded of it when I saw this picture:




    I need to back up a little and explain the potty situation in the Asian cultures. I'm sure I have some readers who don't realize that around these parts squatty-potties are the norm. Literally, it's a hole in the ground that you squat over and do your business.

    In Okinawa it's not so bad. The potties are shaped like a ski: a rectangle with rounded edges that has a lip at the top. This lip is VERY important. I've really never had a hard time finding a western-style toilet here. There's at least one somewhere, if you know where to look for it.

    This does not hold true for China. Western-style toilets are like the holy grail that you constantly search for but is just out of reach. If you find one you pee, no matter if you have to go or not.

    There are two distinct differences that make squatty-potties in China horrible - or rather, WAY more difficult and gross than Japan.

    The first: They have no lip at the top of their hole. Remember how I said that was important? That's because it keeps the pee IN the hole and not sloshed around it. The better places (like the hotels and airports) keep someone in the bathroom at all times that stand in the middle with a mop. That person swishes the floor after each use. NOT with sanitizer, mind you! Just swishing the pee around so that it dries faster.

    The second: In Japan they flush their used toilet paper. In China... there's a bucket where you drop it after. It's lovely to see while you're going.

    You can imagine the smell.

    *ahem*

    Okay... so now my story.

    We were at the wall in Xi'an. I was standing outside the bathroom waiting for an opening when I took the picture above. I had to go pee SO BAD. I really couldn't wait. Because, trust me, if I could have, I would.

    When the bathroom opened up, the floor was so full of pee that I was sliding as I walked. Like, I was literally holding the walls to keep from falling. (I'm getting sick just thinking about it.)

    But I had to go, so what could I do?!

    I tried to do my business. It was difficult just to get my pants down without slipping. And between the squatting, the making sure that I was balanced and not getting my pants wet...

    I fell.

    I landed on my right hand - the one I use to do EVERYTHING! I had to get my pants up and buttoned with my left all while keeping my right as far from me as possible.

    I WAS FREAKING OUT. Still am, actually.

    I was so close to crying. I made it out of the stall only to discover... there was no soap.

    *SOB!*

    I rinsed off with water, all while trying to not slip again...

    By the time I made it out to Steven I was at maximum freak out. I held my hand WAY far away from me while I asked (okay, YELLED - but I was REALLY STRESSED) him to get me out the wipes and hand sanitizer. I used the wipes (7 of them) and the sanitizer (half the bottle just to be sure).

    *Exhale*

    Now doesn't that story make you want to visit China?



    Album #3 can be found here. Are you getting sick of the pictures yet?

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Cheeseburger in China

    Yesterday I brought you the story of Wal-mart. So for something equally fabulous I thought I'd talk about McDonald's. I know - We went all the way to China and ate at McDonald's (gross!). But (hear me out!) we had one free night in Beijing and the next morning we had to get up at 4am to catch a plane to Xi'an. We needed to eat something fast so that we could pack and get to bed. McDonald's just happened to be across the street from our hotel... so....

    The kids enjoyed it:





    I want to talk about the menu in China because it's odd. First of all, they sell chicken (crazy!) and then most of their sandwiches are made either with chicken or a veggie patty. The only three things that had hamburger meat was the hamburger, cheeseburger and big mac. Even the quarter pounder was made with a veggie patty.



    And the really, really cool thing (at least from Steven's perspective) they had delivery. McDonald's delivery!!! And it was 24 hours too!!!



    Why can't we have that?!




    I've uploaded Album #2 - It can be found here.

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Butterflies!

    Wow. My life is full of all sorts of awesomeness lately.

    (BTW, Word recognizes ‘awesomeness’ and yet ‘Bekah’ is too crazy. Hum…)

    I’m going to California this summer for my brother’s wedding. One thing on the addenda is staying a few weeks extra to attend the SCBWI conference. I’m so crazy happy about this because I’m rooming with the two of my best peeps, Suzanne and Mandy. We’re going to have so much fun!

    So in the middle of all the nice/life-changing things that are happening, I got an email from Suz with the room confirmation. It makes it real now!

    I have butterflies!

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    DON’T. GIVE. UP.

    I’d like to say that every writer will find an agent with their first (or even second or third!) finished manuscript… I can’t.

    I'd like to say that the first agent you sign with is your one-and-only… I can’t.

    I’d like to say that publishing is fair. That the amount of time and effort you put into it is proportionate to the success you will have… I can’t.

    I’d like to say that even though you dearly love your friends, and wish them all the success in the world, that you’ll never just be the littlest bit sad that it’s not happening to you too… I can’t.

    I can say, without continuing to try you will never succeed. And I also know it’s about the journey. I have learned so much this last year about writing, desire, determination.

    I accepted an agent offer today. I am so excited I can’t stand it.

    I’ve been in this place before. This time is different. This time I KNOW. This time I’m pushing through.

    And I will not give up.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    The Snail

    This is a blog post about my writing – for once. I know! Snazzy.

    I joined a group writing 30K in 30 days. See the progress bar on the side? – Yeah, I’m not doing very well at the moment. Heh. Life is distracting! My life is distracting. I don’t mean that necessarily in a bad way… just busy. *shrug* Things happen. Like the trip to the ER or the ceiling falling down:




    [I haven’t called anyone to come and fix it yet because it’s still wet - the air conditioning unit upstairs leaks between the two floors.]

    One of the big reasons I’m lagging on this manuscript (and have been since I started this book) is because I’m writing it by hand. It’s not that I haven’t tried to type it out. For some reason the words won’t come when I’m on the computer! It’s frustrating!!!

    Rather than not make any progress at all, I’ve been handwriting at night and then each morning transcribing it into Word. That makes for slow progress. Not only because of the extra time it takes to type it, but because I have no way to gauge of how much I’ve written for the day.

    Daily word count is not necessary, but without it the manuscript will move at a snail pace.

    me = snail

    And the writing is sort of scatterbrained too! I spend my morning typing it only to realize that it’s out of order to how it should go. And that I’m missing huge chunks of what should be there.

    *Make notes… Switch paragraphs… Tighten up… Switch more paragraphs… Switch sentences… Make notes*

    Only to stare at a white screen again.

    It only compounds the problem that I’m 24K in and I don’t feel the story is even reaching the halfway point yet. Not that it’s lagging at all. The pace is really good (actually, it’s the best manuscript so far at the 1st draft point). I’m concerned, though, because how long is book going to be?! It’s YA so it can only be so long, you know?

    Add to that the fact that I fully realize that I’m going to have to go back and add sub-plot. I tend to write the entire book with a singular plot and then, when I’m finished with the first draft, I go back and add plot points.

    *shaking head*

    And yet, I love this book. I just hope that by the time I finish the 30K challenge (and I’m closer to a 60K manuscript) that I’ll see an end.

    Sunday, March 8, 2009

    Night-re-Cap

    I'm missing margaritas with my girls. *sadness*

    Steven has to work tonight. I was all set to go, with the babysitter lined up and everything, when Bekah got sick. And she is really, really sick, poor thing. She doesn't even want to play Wii or eat popcorn! And now she's asleep at 5:30. That places somewhere near death, I think.

    I guess the universe is telling me that I need to finish the never-ending-rewrite-of-the-novel-of-headache (NERNH). With that in mind, I decided to listen and sweat out the pages this weekend. You know what? I'm kicking NERNH's butt! I'm almost done. If I can buckle down tonight, I should be finished by Tuesday.

    Um, yeah. That's it. No margaritas, sickness, and writing.

    And I've eaten an entire bag of sunflower seeds in a day and a half.

    UPDATE: Bekah woke up. The Tylenol is not helping to bring down her fever. I put a cold cloth on her forehead which she left on for approximately 10 minutes before she declared that she couldn't wear it because it made her "shibber." Then she asked for sushi for dinner.

    Not going to happen. However, I am quite proud to have corrupted her enough that sushi is her comfort food. She asks to have it for dinner nearly every night.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009

    A Little Of Nothing

    It’s Saturday, right? The days are running together with frightening swiftness. Are we a week into March?! Already?

    Wow.

    What have I done lately?

    I purchased the trip package. We’re officially going. The kids are jazzed. They keep asking every time we leave the house, “Is this China?” Uh, no.

    Flashy Fiction is off to a good start. Man, I’m having fun with it. It gets my writing juices going when I write a piece of flash every morning. That’s part of the reason I blog, to start putting words together… those first couple of the day are always stressful.

    Of course, I also use the blog to procrastinate – LIKE NOW! :D

    I’m rewriting what I am now calling the never-ending-rewrite-of-the-novel-of-headache. Only this time, I’m having fun with it. At least, I’m trying to have fun with it. We shall see. It is far too soon to make that prediction. I’m stuck at the moment thinking: is this beginning big enough?

    And can I just say, I have the best friends a girl can have. They rock. Every single one of them. I got so lucky. So lucky.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    It's a bird! It's a plane! No.... It's a BLOG!

    Yea! I have a new group blog. I'm so excited about it.

    Introducing: FLASHY FICTION!

    Here's the 411. Basically, it's a blog that offers flash fiction prompts. We provide the prompts and you leave flash fiction in the comments. How fun is that?!

    There's 7 of us giving prompts:

    Monday - Patti Tucker
    Tuesday - Casey McCormick
    Wednesday - Trish Doller
    Thursday - ME!
    Friday - Suzanne Young
    Saturday - Christy Raedeke
    Sunday - Amanda Morgan

    The first prompt was just posted. Come by for the fun!

    Monday, February 9, 2009

    Naughty, Naughty!

    My BFF, Suzanne, was interviewed for her new series, The Naughty List. And she gave a shout out to me! How cool is that?!

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