Thursday, December 27, 2007

Someone checked it out!

I don't know why I'm so excited, but I was just at the Petaluma Public Library website looking something up. Then I thought hey I should see if my book is in the system. Well not only is it there, it's checked out! For some reason I feel giddy. Some kid in California picked my book off the shelf to read. It makes me smile.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Darkness & Silence

We've just moved from a secluded mountain top where we had no neighbors, no phone service, no amenities. We did this so our children can have one "normal" school year, since they never have before. Sometimes I wonder if that is a good idea, but that's a blog for another day.

We now live in a neighborhood where the neighbors are so close I bet I could spit on the house next door from my house, if the wind was right. Not that I would. That would be rude and probably get me talked about because everyone around here seems to know everything about everyone else and if they don't they like to just make it up. There's very little in the way of entertainment in these parts.

There are a couple things I missed right away. Even before I left the house I knew I was going to miss them. One is darkness. Is there anything wrong with complete darkness? Well, in big cities it can sometimes lead to crime, but this isn't the big city(and I could take issue with that theory). Anyway, why do people need lights on at all times? At my house it is absolutely dark when I turn off the lights. I like to walk around the house in the dark and look out the windows. I love to go outside in the total darkness and stare at the stars. It seems to me that people need to have some time in the dark; the real dark without any artificial lights peeking through the windows. But maybe it's just me.

The other thing I miss, that goes nicely with complete darkness, is total silence--no cars, no clicking of heaters turning off and on, no blowing of fans. There are so many little noises in our lives that we get used to.

It took me a few nights to finally get a good night's sleep here. I am getting used to the noises. They don't wake me up for the most part. I do wake up staring at the light that comes in through the window, even though there are curtains on it. I'll probably get used to that too. But in a way I don't want to. I think life should allow for silence and darkness for at least part of the night. I don't want to forget how important it is. Unfortunately, I do require a good night's sleep every so often.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Found the Seven!

At the library there are a couple of puzzles out on the table. I've put them together many times. So when I was walking out of the grocery store and saw a blue seven on the ground I knew I'd seen it before. Sure enough, it was the library's 7.

I think this sort of thing could only happen in a small town. What are the chances?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Another New Diet

My mother-in-law is on a new diet every time we see her. She’s done the all meat diet, the raw food diet, and numerous other diets, most with strange names I can’t remember because, of course, I don’t pay attention. And it isn’t for her lack of trying to educate me on her latest brilliant discovery. Each diet is a life altering transformation for her. She has to get new foods, new gadgets to prepare the food, and practically create a new lifestyle for herself that revolves around her fabulous new diet.

Fortunately for us she has made a break through and found the best diet yet. No, I think it’s the best diet ever. There's no topping this one—she can eat anything, as long as it doesn’t have a face or a mother. Yes, that is the diet.

So now I’m trying to come up with some good questions for Thanksgiving when we see her. Potatoes have eyes. Can she eat them? Technically, do vegetables have mothers? Dh says no, but I’m not quite convinced. He says that mothers have to take care of their young—so can she eat orphans? Oh wait, only if they don’t have a face. Faceless orphans would be okay then. I can see myself spitting my mashed potatoes across the table over this one. It’s gonna be fun.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Perfection--who needs it

“Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.”
– Eugene Delacroix (1798 – 1863)

I came across this quote on a bag of Good Earth Chai. Winter is setting in and I am once again finding meaningful quotes on tea bags. This one seemed to come at the right time as I am trying to get over some writing issues I have.

First of all, as a writer if I wanted I could spend a lifetime trying to perfect a single manuscript. There comes a point at which I have to let go. The story is as good as I can get it. I have to send the manuscript out and see if it gets any interest, otherwise I may have a great story that no one will ever read. And if I write something and no one ever reads it, that’s okay too, but at some point I have to move on to something new. A story can always be changed, always be made better, or at least different. It’s a challenge to get it as good as I can and then send it out to agents and publishers who may think it’s ridiculous or stupid or whatever. I cannot be perfect. I can’t even please everyone. For some reason it is easier for me to send out submissions because I don't actually know the people I'm sending my work to.

The internet is a different story. I’ve come to realize that I do have a problem with “perfection” when I post on my blog or in a chatroom. If I write something I'm paranoid that I'm going to make mistakes, sound stupid, make people angry or hurt someone's feelings when they don’t understand that I’m coming from a kind place. So, for the most part I just read. I don’t say anything even if I do have something to say. I don’t post on my blog. It’s something I’m working on. Heck, I seem to be getting over my blogging phobia this week.

It seems like we’re always being judged. I’ve never wanted to be perfect. I’m far from delusional that that could ever happen. I just hate to sound stupid. Too bad I’m so good at it. But who cares, right? Everyone sounds stupid sometimes. Some of us just more than others.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Family Car

We recently scored on a 1958 Volkswagen Beetle. My husband had spotted it in a yard on some obscure street in town and had been eyeing it for a week. To his sheer delight, one day it had been moved and there was a ‘For Sale’ sign on it. He was on it like a fly on molasses.

And I must agree, it’s a beautiful thing even with all the moss that was growing on it, and the rust, and the holes in the floorboard. Even with all that this bug is in pretty good condition. Hell, it even runs!

Now, I’m sure you understand that some people are just Volkswagen people. Our heads turn when we see a squareback drive down the road, even if it’s a piece. I was born into a Volkswagen family, my Dad being the owner of a Volkswagen repair shop, we had our share of the v-dubs. I remember most vividly our 2 powder blue squarebacks and our camper van when I was little. At my Dad’s shop there was always a long line of VW’s parked out front. I loved getting to help push the cars out of the garage in the morning. When I needed a job my Dad would put me to work with a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towels and I’d go out and wash all the car’s headlights. It was very important work.

When my husband was around two he was out by the light of a coleman lamp handing his Dad tools while he fixed their VW Bus. He remembers it. He wanted to be like his Dad; long hair, cigarette hangin’ out of his mouth, bringin’ his old VW back to life. They had that old bus for a long time. When my husband turned 16, his first car was a Rabbit.

My very first car was a 1974 Superbeetle with a sunroof. I always knew when it had rained the night before with that car because when I pulled out of the driveway a carload of water would pour out on my head. My next car was a Ferrari red Fastback my Dad had rebuilt for me with a souped up engine and racing brakes (no sunroof). I wish I still had that car.

So now you can imagine how excited we are about this Bug. We’re debating paint colors and interior. We’re not sure if we should go totally stock or reasonably priced. Solid color or two-toned? (I vote two-toned.) Either way, it’s going to be sweet when it’s done. I just wonder how long it will take to complete. My husband’s out there everyday tinkering with it, and the boys love to help. They sand their little hearts out, remove bolts, and just plain play in it. I wish my Dad was around to talk to about it, and he’d be so proud to see his two little guys out there working. For me Volkswagens are a family car.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Windy Day

It can be windy in the mountains. We’ve been through a lot of blowy days. But it’s never been anything like it was today. When I got up and looked outside the trampoline was blowing past the front door. It’s usually across the yard, far away from the house. I thought it would stay there, safe, pinned against the house.

It didn’t. It somehow blew over to the deck and flipped to the ground a story below, taking the railing with it. We had to actually lift the trampoline off the dangling railing and roll it out of the way. Trying to up a 20ft. round trampoline over your head is not easy. And kinda scary. The trampoline is toast. The deck is a complete danger zone.

The French doors in the living room kept blowing open. They are now boarded shut and may remain that way out of paranoia. My husband actually told me I’d better got get dressed this morning because he didn’t want me to only have my robe if something happened. He made the kids stay out of the kitchen in case the big windows broke. He’s not one to overreact—and he wasn’t.

Our canoe was blown uphill. Part of the roof came off the house. The chicken coop blew over! Now we’ve got some new house repair to do. Hopefully it won’t be too windy so we can get it done.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

I sent my requested revision in to my publisher Friday night. I always hear back from her the next day, even on the weekends. Always ...but not this time. Is it a good sign or is she just taking some time off? Oh, the suspense!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Halloween Bravery

Even though Halloween is past I wanted to share with you about the best costume ever. A brave and crazy friend of mine is in a band. He plays the stand up bass. After much thought, he came up with the idea that he was going to dress up as “Basic Man and his Manic Bass.” Just the name is fabulous.

He decided that nothing is more basic than a while t-shirt and tighty whities. Since it’s cold here, and since he’s not the type of guy to go showing off his bod(and none of us would probably want to see it) he wore his long johns with his white underwear and a t-shirt over the top. Basic Man. His bass was dressed in a white sheet cape proclaiming it Manic Bass. So please take a moment to imagine this small bald guy with white clown hair and a goofy smile playing rock and blues in his underwear. I still laugh just thinking about it.

But the best part? He went into to the grocery store on the way to his gig dressed like that—and it was days before Halloween. He had no Manic Bass to accompany him. Just a man with his underwear over his long johns pickin’ up a few groceries. Good stuff. Gotta love them crazy friends.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A long blabby blog entry

So, as I’m sure you few loyal readers have figured out, I’ve taken an unannounced hiatus. I really didn’t mean to not write anything for so long—it’s just very easy to not write on my blog. There’s always something else to do. I’d like to say I’ll post on my blog once a week. Okay, I’ll say it. I’ll post on my blog once a week. We’ll see if that really happens. If I could blog straight from my mind I’d have more entries than you’d ever want to read. Unfortunately—or fortunately for you, I can’t, so I haven’t blogged about anything in so long that I don’t know where to start.

How about a summary of memorable happenings in the last two months—has it been two months? Memorable meaning the things that for some reason or another they stick out in my mind. I hope I don’t bore you. You can always quit reading, so I’ll write it anyway…

The most major thing, and probably the reason I quit posting, is that my kids started school. Since my kids have never actually gone to school before (they were homeschooled) this was a major event. The first few weeks were exhausting for some reason, for the kids for obvious reasons, and for me too. This surprised me. I’m just driving them there. How tiring is that? Ridiculous I know. I don’t know what was up with that. I can only tell you that I finally stopped tearing up lately as I watched my little guy walk into the classroom and that I drive 150 or more miles a week—that’s a lot for someone who didn’t used to leave the house for weeks at a time.

Driving to school everyday is getting easier. Since I’m not a morning person I find it challenging to do much of anything soon after I wake up. I’ve listened to way too much Red Hot Chili Peppers (Saturn in particular). I can’t seem to put any other cd in for too long without sticking that one back in. It seems to be my driving music. I’ve learned to leave at least a half hour before school starts so I don’t have to stress myself out trying to get there. And I’ve learned that I have good reflexes after passing a truck within inches on a dirt road going fifty miles an hour—not something I recommend. I honestly thought I was dead. There wasn’t even time to speak it happened so quickly. I don’t usually drive that fast on the dirt roads—this lead me to learn something else, don’t drive when you’ve just been sick on your hands and knees on the lawn. Unfortunately I’ve been sick more days than I’ve been well since school started. Don’t know what’s up with that. Too many school germs I think.

The whole school world is something I haven’t experienced really as an adult. It’s so institutional, yet everyone there genuinely seems to want to do good for the kids. It didn’t take long for the word to get out that I’m a children’s writer. I’ve been asked by both my kid’s teachers to come talk to the class. More like bugged. They haven’t stopped asking. They’re act like they’re amazed that I have a book published. One teacher seriously said “I didn’t know you were famous.” And I told her it’s because I’m not. I resisted adding duh after it. It’s weird.

Also, the librarian asked me how much I charge for assemblies. That caught me off-guard. She said I could come in and do small group talks with all the classes if I prefer. I suppose I should get back to someone about something pretty soon, but for now I’m just ignoring it all. It’s too much. I probably should get together some sort of classroom talk sort of thing. I don’t know—I’ve never even been to one.

In another strange twist, the librarian offered me the substitute librarian job. I was in the awesome school library at the time (it’s bigger than our community library) and was so mesmerized I said I’d love to. Then I went and talked to the principal. She said what they’d really like for me to do is become a substitute teacher. Wha? K – 12. Um, no. Sometimes I think maybe, but really, no. So now I cannot have my lovely substitute librarian job. Well, I probably could but I’m waiting for my husband to make up his mind.

Why? Because he’s decided that he wants to open up a restaurant and whole foods store. Yeah, sounds like a lot of work to me. But hey! I’d never have to make breakfast ever again—unless he got sick, then I might have to cook for people I don’t even know and that’s just scary. So, as of yet we are still in the planning stages and haven’t made a decision. It’s a big decision. Not only would we be running a business, we’d have to move. I’m going to go look at some houses on Friday. It’s pure madness. And I could get a job at the public library right now too! Dreamy. You all are aware that I’m not even looking for a job, right?

I haven’t had an actual paying gig in years, at least ten. Selling Bedtime Monster was the first money I’ve made in so long, and it wasn’t much but I don’t care. It was the best paycheck ever. It would be nice to make some money though, but now the question is how. Too many choices all of a sudden. Life is so random. I just want to be a writer anyway.

And on the writing front I’ve had a couple of amazingly memorable things happen. I got an agent request on a partial. Holy bleep! I think about that guy every single day now and wonder if he’s thinking of me. Ridiculous I know, but I feel like he gets my writing. I sent him one manuscript and he said it was great(great!), but too similar to something he was repping, so I took a chance and sent him another one which he said he liked and had me send in the rest. I’ve been waiting a month and six days now, but I’m trying not to count. I even went on a subbing spree to try to get my mind off of it, but there’s really no getting it out of my mind.

Also, I got a personal back from a major house. Wow! She liked Lion and Mandrill but found it too similar to a series they publish and encouraged me to send it to other publishers. Now that’s something about publishing that is different from most businesses; if an editor likes something but finds it too much the same to their own product they encourage you to send it to their competition. It seems like in the corporate world they mainly try to squash any competition to keep themselves on top. Publishing is so much more civilized.

I could still go on. Maybe I’ve missed blogging. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to talk unabashedly about myself again soon. Once a week, right?

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Just wanted to do a quick celebration--I finally sent off a manuscript to fulfill my contract option. YIPPEE!!! It's been five months and I was starting to feel it was holding me back.
So, now I have a manuscript into an editor and I'm free at last to send out manuscripts to whomever I like. Whew. What a relief.
Now I just have to try not to worry whether they'll like it or not.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

An Expensive Hole

We've had a well drilling truck at our house for the past two days deepening our existing well. We've been living a very water conservative lifestyle for so long now if I'm in the shower for more than a couple minutes I feel like I'm taking way too long. I've been going to the laundromat for at least twelve years. Twelve years is a long time to be dragging your clothes to town with you. I've made alot of friends there, so I guess I can try to look at it positively, but I was really looking forward to going washing machine shopping this weekend.

Instead we've got a 400 foot deep hole with no more water than we had before. Hopefully the water we did have will come back. We won't know for about ten days, which is how long my husband expects it to take the well to fill back up. Hopefully the water in our holding tank will last until then. We're considering taking a vacation for a while.

The topper? Our beautiful new hole will cost about $5000. Yay. And, when they were lowering the drilling tower down after they finished drilling, it broke. The entire tower crashed down onto the top of the truck and crushed it. I about had a heart attack when I saw it parked down on the flat(they drove it down a hill that way!) on my way home. Luckily no one was hurt.

I feel really bad for the driller. His partner was crushed by another truck a couple of weeks ago. They were drilling on a hill and it rolled over on him; some freak accident. Now this. It is a well respected well company around here and the people are all very nice. I feel so bad for them. Seems they are having a run of bad luck. They could probably use a vacation too, but those trucks cost half a million dollars.

Tomorrow they're going to come up and vacuum the glass up that's strewn across the backyard. There's a big pile of rock goo that we get to clean up. My boys can't wait to play in the grey slop. And I find myself hoping that some vein of water will burst through the side of the empty hole tonight and fill it full of glorious water.

At least I won't miss my friends from the laundromat.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Weird Writing Week

It’s been a strange week in my writing world. I got my two first personal rejections. They show I was close--that I was considered, but didn’t make the cut. I thought getting personal rejections would feel good, but it doesn’t. Instead of feeling like I write worthless drivel, I instead feel like I’m not good enough. Not quite the same thing.

One rejection was from my top choice agent. Part of me was disappointed, of course, but part of me was thrilled to have been discussed and considered. Wow. And she was nice enough to clue me in on what she thought my manuscripts were lacking; emotional payoff. It seems so clear now that I’ve been told. Too bad I didn’t realize it before I sent my submission in. It’s depressing and encouraging at the same time.

I wanted to send my picture books right back out there when my rejection came, but now I feel like I should revise and try to give the stories the emotional payoff they need. If I can do it right, just maybe I can snag myself an agent.

I also sent out my first ever adult magazine submission, and it was considered! Ultimately it was rejected because they’ve done stories on the subject in the past, but I was actually invited to send more. Another wow!

So, it's been the kind of rejection week I've often hoped for, but it doesn't feel as good as it sounds when you're only getting forms for some reason. I guess having ones hopes dashed never does feel good. I keep trying to keep the positives in mind. Now if I could just get my revisions done and get something out there I can start racking up some more rejections. Yippee!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

What is going on with me?

I've really been surprising myself lately. I'm doing things that are so out of character. I've gotten up infront of a crowd and read my book, I've talked to numerous people(people I don't even know!) about writing, and now I've actually been on the radio.

It started a couple of months ago when my publisher told me that she was going to try to book me and a fellow author on a local radio show. I told her I really couldn't do that. I was barely able to handle the fact that I was going to have to get up infront of people and read my book at the time. She said I'd do fine. I tried to forget about it and hoped they wouldn't want me on.

Fast forward to last month and I am told that I have to go on a live morning radio show. Live radio? And in the morning? First of all, I have lived my life avoiding being a public speaker. I'll barely speak if it's to more than one person at a time. Two's enough of a crowd. Secondly, although I've tried and tried, I am not a morning person. I can barely start thinking before 10am. It sounded like a disaster in the making.

So, what did I do? Did I worry and fret and drive myself crazy? Nope, I ignored it completely. Until a few nights before the event, I just didn't think about it. I was busy. I had manuscripts to get out, lakes to swim in, a wedding to go to, children to play with, floors to clean! Okay, I didn't do much floor cleaning, but my ignoring method worked pretty darn good until I realized I was going to go in there with nothing. And nothing would bad. Very bad. I couldn't have the interviewer ask me a question and just sit there with a blank look on my face. I hate sounding stupid, although I do it quite well.

After a slight freak out I knew where to go--the blue board. The authors there would have some advice. And they did! I got prepared. I overprepared. I memorized my book descriptions, answers to questions I thought the interviewer would ask, and answers to my faq's from my website. I made up bio and question sheets. I tried not to say, "ya know". And I tried to breathe. I did alot of breathing. It would be okay, right? I still did not allow myself to think about the whole radio aspect, that was just too too much.

On the hour-long early morning drive I went between practicing my answers to the all important question: What is your book about? To blasting the music and singing loud enough to drown out my worries. Then I got lost and was afraid I was going to be late. Several times I did consider just not showing up. Hey, I could have gotten a flat tire! But, not being one to break a commitment, I made myself get out of my 4-door cocoon and walk into the station.

There I met two fellow authors, Kimberely Ann Freel and Susan K. Marlow, who were just as nervous as I was. We chatted with the interviewer who was so totally mellow and unconcerned that he wasn't even interested in the info Susan tried to give him, so I didn't even bother trying. But, while everyone stood and chatted, I went over my notes one last time. "This isn't a test," my publisher joked. Yeah. It was worse.

The time to go into the studio came all too quickly. I tried to sit in the far corner seat and was quickly put into the center. I think they knew I might run at any moment. My throat was so dry I wasn't sure any words would come out when I tried to speak. And then I heard the music. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. I looked at the microphone. Yikes! I tried not to look at it again.

And then we started. One by one, we were introduced. I said hi or thank you or something, and I actually spoke! Major relief. Next came THE question: Tell us what your book's about. I was so ready, it was scarry. I couldn't believe it was me speaking. I wasn't stumbling over words. I was actually making sense. Wow! And then my turn on that terrifying first question was over.

The funny thing is, after that it got easier. One thing that majorly helped was the fact that I was after Susan, who had to be first on every question(poor Susan!), so I always knew what was coming next. The other thing was, I had all this great advice flowing through my brain: don't interrupt, just act like it's an everyday conversation, breathe, don't look at the microphone! I did keep an eye on the big clock that sat on the table in the center, waiting for the 8:15 commercial. There never was a commercial. The time came and went and suddenly it was 8:26. We were almost done, and I was almost enjoying myself? Well, at least I wasn't freaking out. I wasn't nervous anymore! I even added a few things at the end when everyone else was quiet. What had gotten into me?

So, that's my story. I could be completely wrong. I haven't heard the show. I'm not sure that I want to because if I sound horrible, I won't be able to do it again. And knowing myself, I know I'll think I sound horrible. So, I'd rather stay in this state of ignorant bliss and be willing to do an interview again if I'm ever asked to do one. But please don't let it be live! Editing is such a gift.

If you want to see the actual room where I did the interview, here's a link: KOMW

Monday, July 2, 2007

California Here I Come!

I have to drive back to California. Tomorrow. For some reason this comes as a shock to me even though I've known for a month. We've been so busy we've nary had time to decide who was going or how to get there. Well, you procrastinate long enough and you're driving, alone, with three kids. Okay, that's not alone. That would actually be way easier. Can I say I love my new car with the tv in it? (I've come a long way since the 8x10 cabin.) I'm generally against these types of things except when I have three noisy kids on a 24-hour road trip. Listening to kid's movies while you drive is really interesting. I pick up on the adult humour they sneak in alot more easily. It can be offensive. I can't believe the stuff they sneak in sometimes. I listened to Shark Tale quite a few times on the way up. I don't think we'll bring that one.

Anyway, I'm going to California because my Mom is going to China. This affects me because she and her long time(10 years) significant other have decided they want to get married before they go incase anything happens. Okay. Fine.

But I was just there! Couldn't they have thought of this when I was there for six months? The ceremony's only gonna last like five minutes! I know, I need to be supportive and this my family and I should be there. Plus my Mom cried when I told her I didn't think I was going to be able to come.

Ugh. It's such a long drive. We're going to miss our small town fourth of July which is the best anywhere. You get to sit right under the fireworks on the shore of the lake. And it's free. And they say they have cool new stuff this year. I suppose we may miss fireworks altogether. I'm generally against fireworks too, but it's become a tradition since we moved here. They are really stinky. I hate the way the air is on the fifth. And I'll have to be in it in some big city somewhere. Gross.

I guess I better go pack and get ready to go. I've been putting that off too. I don't know when I'll be back. Definitely before the 19th. Don't want to miss going on the radio and doing a booksigning.(Can you hear the sarcasm?)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Me meme

I've been tagged by Jumbled Ramblings and now must follow the rules of the meme because, well, I like her. And it never occurs to me to share weird random facts about myself. I'll try to make it interesting. That could be difficult.

The rules: Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas. Sorry, too much Raffi. I guess I can tell you, I go around singing silly songs like, “If you like to talk to tomatoes…” (Veggie Tales) And “Nothing can go wrong-o I am in the Congo.”(Raffi again) But don’t tell anybody, okay?

2. I like to eat cookies for breakfast. Or pie. I try not to though. Don’t want to be a bad influence on the kids, although we did have rhubarb pie for breakfast the other morning. It’s got fruit!

3. I’ve had lots of animals in my life: Rabbits, Dogs, Cats, Rats, Fish, Snakes, Birds of all sorts (Parrots, finches, turkeys, ducks, chickens, etc.), Sheep, a huge herd of Goats, a couple of Draft Horses, um, I think that’s it. Oh, and a Donkey named Peg. Now we’re keeping it simple with two old dogs, a cat, and four annoying pet chickens.

4. I have Tachycardia or SVT or whatever the doctors want to call it, where my heart starts racing really fast. Too fast. I just call it my heart thing. It sucks. I am able to keep instances pretty low if I don’t stress and get enough sleep.

5. I try to pet cows when I drive by them on the road. Yes, they are out in the actual road, and there are a lot of them on my way home, but I still haven’t petted one. They’re quicker than they look.

6. When I was in second grade we heard the ice cream man coming, so all us kids ran to the garage and got our bikes. Everyone rode them through the house,except me, since the garage door was closed. When I walked out the front door my bike fell on me and I fell onto a box of stained glass. It cut my leg open from my ankle to my knee. It was pretty much to the bone. In my shocked state I actually thought it looked pretty cool, which is weird because I hate that kind of stuff. Anyway, I got sixty-six stitches and wasn’t supposed to be able to run or walk right or something like that. I’m fine though. I can blame that I’ve never been a fast runner on it I suppose, but I doubt that’s the case. I do have this scar that shows how big my leg was from ankle to knee, when I was seven.

7. I stepped over a rattlesnake in my front yard. I didn’t know it was there until I heard the rattling and turned around to see it coiling up. I was carrying my daughter in my arms. Glad I don’t have to add a content warning to that one.

8. I lived in an 8x10 log cabin for two years. It was like a long camping trip.

That's it. I tag Suzy Scribbles because she's the only other person I know with a blog. If I was brave I'd tag some other people whose blogs I read like Editorial Anonymous. She could reveal some interesting facts. I'm too chicken though.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Contest!

My friend Susan Marlow, a.k.a. Suzy Scribbles is having a contest! Go to her blog and vote for your favorite book cover. You could win a copy of the third book in her Circle C Adventures series, Andrea Carter and the Family Secret and you get to influence her publisher's decision on which cover they choose. How fun!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Erik Brooks

My tiny library was lucky enough to have author/illustrator Erik Brooks come and do a presentation last week. If you haven’t seen his work you can find him here and here.

He’s a really nice guy, even nice enough to let me do a last minute email interview with him so I could get an article in the newspaper announcing his visit. It was my first interview ever, so it was cool that it was with a children's book author/illustrator. And I was glad to do it by email, that way I didn't have to be nervous.

Seeing the way an illustrator goes about getting art ready for publication was interesting. His watercolor and pencil art is absolutely beautiful. Even his sketches were fabulous. I got to see an actual dummy. Yes, I know, it’s just paper with sketches and words on it, but I’m always curious to know what other writers submissions look like, probably because I always wonder if I’m doing things the right way.

It must be so amazingly great to be able to illustrate books. I would love to have such a talent. I'm glad there are people in this world that do.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Me, interesting?

What is interesting about me? That's a question I've been forced to ask myself too many times lately. It seems when you sell a book, you have to sell yourself with it. It was something I was not prepared for. So, what do I share? How much? Do I even have anything media worthy?

I wrote two pitch letters last night and I can't help but feel strange about it. It's like I'm saying, "Here are these great things about me. Want me to write you an article all about my wonderful self?"

So, future authors, be prepared. Start a list of interesting facts about your writing self that could be used for an article. Also, keep tabs on how you came up with your story, what your process is, how long it took you to write, and anything at all pertinent to you and your future book. Also, try to get some good candid pictures of yourself at various times so you are not forced to endure failed photo sessions.

And when it comes down to it and we got nothing? We're writers, right? We're sure come up with something.

Friday, June 1, 2007


I’m in a good situation—I think. My publisher has an option on my next book. Here’s the catch: I got excited because I found a publisher that I think might fit well with a manuscript I’ve been holding on to. I was getting ready to send it to them. But wait, I can’t send anything out to anyone (within the definitions of the option) without first giving my publisher a look at it. This particular story is not one I think would fit with my publisher. What to do? Send a manuscript to my publisher, right, but which one? I can’t seem to choose. I want it to be a good one. A story they will like and want. I don’t want to waste my chance at another book. Should I ask my editor what they’re looking for? But, what if I don’t have what they’re looking for? I can’t just sit around in manuscript limbo forever. That would be dumb. And I’m starting to get antsy with nothing sitting in a slush pile somewhere. I just need to choose the one I think fits best I guess, polish it, and cross my fingers. And hey, an actual publisher wants to see my next book. That’s pretty darn cool.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I finally have Microsoft Word and oh what I’ve been missing. I can read comments! Lines and lines of wonderful comments my fabulous writer friends have so wonderfully shared with me.
I couldn’t help but read through every single crit(and my computer didn’t crash!) as I filed them away and this made me realize a few things:

  • I’m a slacker. I have a lot of material I need to revise and get out into the world.
  • Wordperfect really does suck. I even found two mistakes (clearly pointed out by Word) in the manuscript I sold. How embarrassing.
  • I really miss my critique buds that have drifted away.
  • Using colors and strikeouts and bubbles is cool. I’ll have to figure out how to do it.
  • I’m not a very good critiquer, but I’m trying.

    I’m so happy I finally have Word. Now I can get my manuscripts organized. Right now they’re everywhere—in my email, on disc, on two different computers, then there’s all the ones on pieces of paper in various notebooks and around the house. It’s nice to be able to sit down to write and actually be able to find what you’re looking for. Having finally gotten this computer thing taken care of, I have hope that I can get my manuscripts organized. Just don’t look in my desk!

Sunday, May 27, 2007


I’ve been working on a picture books manuscript, trying to get it to be a page turner. At the advice of Linda Pratt, an agent with the Sheldon Fogelman Agency, I have made a dummy. Now, my dummies are nothing fancy. I took eight pieces of fluorescent green paper, folded them in half, and wrote my story in pencil–what I think would logically go on each page.

Dummying is a really depressing—I mean helpful, exercise. As I wrote my story down I came to some quick realizations:

Some portions of the story do not have a definite page break.
Some parts are too long.
Some parts don’t have a good feature to illustrate.
Some parts just suck.

So, I’ve cut, added, and restructured. I hope the manuscript is the better for it, but I do miss some of the parts I had to cut. Many of them were my favorite scene set-ups—I’ll have to leave that for the illustrator. And I’ll tuck those lines away. Maybe I’ll find a use for them someday.

I have to admit, I don’t dummy often; only once that I can remember. Sometimes I do a rough numbering of paragraphs to see where I’m at, but after this I’m going to have to dummy every picture book I write. It really gave me a good perspective on what I need to do to make a salable manuscript.

I think I may even experiment with writing in dummy form. I’ll be forced to create a page turn from the start, make scenes more even and uniquely illustratable, and, of course, I’ll try to make things not suck. Who knows? I just might work a little faster and hopefully a little better.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Just play nice!

I have been wanting Microsoft Word for a while now. Back when we bought our computer, I had no idea about what word processing software I might want. I just took what came with the computer. But, I've learned some things in the past few years.

Now I know, most people(in my writing world anyway) use Word. And Wordperfect does not play well with Word. Wordperfect is more like Word's jealous little brother who, instead of compromising and doing a little give and take, instead turns around and says I'm not playing with you. Well, I've had enough of the arguments.

A friend was over the other day and she had a disc, with Word on it! She copied my files, wiped my computer, and put in the disc. One problem--the file wouldn't unzip. I don't know alot about computers, but I do know if my jacket won't unzip, I'm not getting out of it--and I'm not happy.

So, now I have a nice computer with absolutely no word processing software on it. Do I use my word processor everyday? No. I do alot of writing by hand, but for some reason, not having a word processor is driving me crazy. I have so much to type! I sure hope she comes back with the reformatted disc soon. I'd go over, but it's a long walk over a big mountain, and I have writing to do.

Don't even get me started on bandwidth.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

First Reading

I did it! My first real reading--and I didn't die.

I have been living promotion for the Author Fair put on by my library for the past few weeks and had been able to ignore the fact that I was going to have to get up in front of people. Then, all was in order and it hit me. I started worrying. I cried. I lost sleep. I thought of plenty of good excuses to get out of it. Luckily, after one night of that I decided I wasn't going to worry about it anymore. I lied to myself. I said it would be okay; that I would enjoy it. I even told myself I was excited. No negativity was going to penetrate my fantasy reading!

So, today I sat on a pillow in front of the fireplace surrounded by children(a group of my kid's friends I had somehow had the foresight to gather, otherwise I would have been reading to a room full of adults and might have had to use one of my excuses). I started with some talk about the library with the kids and asked them a question and boom--I was interrupted with an announcement about the bathroom. Yeah thanks.

I went on. I was prepared and was going to get through this. "You're not loud enough," rang out from the crowd. I talked louder.

When I started reading I suddenly sounded very strange. Oh no, I think, I'm losin' it. I'm not going to make it through this. What am I going to do? My kids are here thinking I'm amazing. There's all these people...

Wait. I'm not losin' it, I am speaking into a microphone and everybody can hear me. Yes I know, that's the point of a microphone, but I have really tried to stay away from those things my entire life. It had been snuck right in front of me. Which is a good thing or I may have had to chuck the mic back at Steve. But, he knows me well enough to know that sneaking a microphone in front of me is the only way to go. It was too late. I knew I had to ignore the evil mic or suffer a most heinous consequence.

I read on, waiting for the last page. Would it ever come? The chapter really isn't that long! What's the deal? When will it end. Aaargh!
I can honestly say I loved reading those last few lines.

I even remembered after reading to show the kids the pictures for each chapter of the book and tell them about the illustrator, tell them there is a peanut butter cup recipe in the back, and invite them to come color some coloring pages from the book. Then I thanked them. I really thought I was losing my memory, but I guess it's there when it really counts. I only used my cheat cards once, after the bathroom incident.

So, I guess it went okay. I was glad when it was over. And after being up there by myself the author question and answer panel didn't seem like such a big deal, especially since I wasn't asked any questions. At this moment I feel like, hey, maybe I could do that radio interview. I learned today that I at least know more about publishing than the average joe and more than some people who write even. But ask me tomorrow, and I'm sure I'll be far from wanting to do any of it ever again. Unfortunately, I have to, so I am going to remember the positives, even if I have to make them up. I think lying to myself was quite helpful. I'll have to do it more often.

The best thing about the whole day? My six-year-old wanted to talk about the fun he had today. And the "funnest" thing he did all day was watch me read my book. And my daughter is so proud. They are the real reason I made myself do this. I tell them it's okay to get up in front of people. It's okay to be nervous. I'm glad I was able to show them as well.

Monday, April 30, 2007

A small celebration

I did it--finally. I finished my author questionnaires and sent them off. Man that was alot of questions. I hope they find my answers helpful. It was alot of pressure knowing people are going to read all these things about me. I am going to forget about it now so I don't stress out. La la la. Anyway, Woohoo! Now I can quit worrying about it and move on to something else. Like sleep.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

How could I forget?

Yes, it's true! I have an actual, real-live copy of my book. I put it on my shelf for a week and just gave it passing glances. I don't know what I was afraid of. It was too overwhelming I guess. And I was super busy. Finally I dove in and read it. Soon I am going to have to read it out loud to actual kids. It really was surreal to see it as an actual book with cover art and pages.
My daughter told her teacher, who got very excited and wanted to see it, so I let her take it to class last Friday. She told the class about her Mom being an author and showed off the book. They then left it on a table for everyone to look at. She said there was one kid(who is usually out of control and very hyper) who just kept staring at the cover. He was mezmerized by the dragon. Amazing to hear of such a reaction. She also told me all the Moms checked it out too.(It's a homeschool outreach, parents can stay.) I'm sure there'll be lots of questions next time I show up in class.
So, now I am pretty much commited to reading to the class sometime soon. I would like to come up with some sort of project or worksheet for the kids to do too. Guess I'd better get to work on that. And bookmarks maybe?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

B-day rant

I don't think I've had a moments rest since I got home. There's been so much to catch up on. And it's like I'm moving in all over again. It takes alot of belongings for five people to vacation for six months. Plus there's all the extra stuff I brought back. We bought a new car while we were in California, and it's not a cross country trip if you car isn't filled to the brim with stuff(according to my mom). So, my house has been a total disaster since I got home and it's driving me crazy. I'm not a good house cleaner anyway. I always make more of a mess. And that's what I've been doing. I want to get rid of things, the kids have outgrown alot of stuff since we've been gone, so I don't see the point of putting it away. I end up with piles of boxes that have nowhere to go. It's a long way to any place to drop a donation around here. So, there's that.

And the first day I was home I made the mistake of going into the library and was immediately pulled back into all the things I have to do there. I was told there was a meeting in an hour and I was coming right? We're having an author fair, which I helped come up with, so I have to help with that. And the board had been waiting for me to come back so we could have the booksale. I'm the one who usually heads it up, so I'm the only one that knows how to do it, right? So that's done now, mostly.

Whenever I have a free moment I've been trying to answer the eight pages of questions I received from my publisher. I've had them for almost a month. I hope that's not too long. There are some hard questions like: please list competitive books on the market and, list any special groups that should be alerted to your book. Okay, those aren't questions, but you know what I mean. I feel like I need to get this thing done though asap.

I am starting to get a little freaked out because the conference is almost here. What am I supposed to wear? I actually went shopping. I don't go shopping. I hate shopping. I actually bought two outfits. I made myself buy outfits since I do have some nice things, they just don' go with anything else I own. Anyway, I still don't have shoes to go with anything. Can't I just wear my uggs with my skirt? Or maybe I'll just go as me and wear jeans and tennis shoes. I don't know. That's what I decided for my author photo that is probably going in the paper tomorrow. I dressed nice and took some photos, but it seemed like I should just be myself and opted for the jeans and comfy shirt pick my son took of me. Speaking of that, I told my friend(who is also my librarian) today that I'm not coming to town for the next week since I'll be in the paper. But she said, "You have to. You have to set up the booksale." Yeah. Thanks.

Am I complaining? No. Things have just been so weird since I got home. It's like I left a writer and came home an author. I've got a copy of my book. It's almost ready to release. I am going to do a reading at the book fair.(The me part of me hopes nobody comes, the library promotion part of me hopes tons of people come. I'm making myself promote against everything in me.) My librarian has been telling everybody about me that will listen. I got an ovation from the library board and had to talk about my books. It was not totally awful I guess, but was a bit nervewracking. And now all sorts of people know I'm a writer. After Thursday the whole town will know. But what's the big deal, right? It's part of being a writer. The part I never really wanted to think about. I'll have to take it as it comes and be prepared with some good quick description when asked about my books. That's a lesson I've learned.

And I'm procrastinating. I should be finishing up my author faq's, making business cards, typing up my one-sheet. I am hesitant. I like to be the one in the corner. Not the one everyone is looking at. And I know they're not all actually looking at me. It's just feels like I'm taking a new step in my life-towards some new me. Maybe it's because I'm 35 today. There's a theory that every 7 years your life begins a new cycle, a new era. It has seemed true so far. -And no, I'm not saying this so you'll say happy b-day. It just came up.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


We finally got our internet hooked back up. It was getting really old; stealing a minute at the coffee shop, going insane trying to keep the kids under control at the library, and protecting the open laptop in the car because my two-year-old insisted on climbing over it, to check my email. Now I can work, maybe even all alone once in a while, in my cold dark basement office. Oh how I've missed it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I'm back

I made it! Two days of driving with a two year old. It actually wasn't as bad as I'd imagined. He was pretty wonderful, of course he had his moments, but don't we all. I wrote two stories on the way too. I had no expectations that the trip would be so fun.
I'm on a library computer and the minutes are ticking down quickly. Our internet provider is being a pain. Hopefully we'll be back online soon cause man, we depend on it. Then I'll have to get blogging and writing and all that sort of business.
Well, I'm off to my first interview for the local paper. My hometown friends are excited about my books and are spreading the word. Yikes!

Monday, April 2, 2007

On my way

My boys are home safe. Now I just need to get there. I am leaving tomorrow and driving home. Mapquest says it takes sixteen hours. That's without a two-year-old factored in. I'm hoping we'll make it in three days, maybe four. Should be an adventure.

Speaking of travel, I've been told Bedtime Monster will be traveling to Italy in June, looking to expand it's market. Who would've guessed my little story would travel so far.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Far, far away

My husband and five year old left for home today. They went to do the 'man' thing, and get the house all warmed up and make sure all the pipes work and the water is running so us girls and the 'baby' will be comfortable when we get home.
They were so excited to be going. A father, a son, two dogs, and a cat, on a sixteen hour journey.
Tonight they are in Oregon. I am still in California. It is the furthest I've ever been from one of my children. I've barely ever even spent a night away from him. He is so far, I couldn't even get there quickly if he needed me. It is a big step for him to go so far, but home has been calling him for a while now, and he wants to get there.
It broke my heart tonight when on the phone he said he missed me, he sounded so big and brave, until I said I missed him too. Then I could hear the sadness in his voice. He was wishing I was there. Now I just want to jump in the car and catch up with them. I don't care if the house is warm or if the water isn't running. I miss him terribly and it's only been fifteen hours since they left. How am I going to make it through a whole week? And more importantly, will he? I think I am going to have to leave sooner than I planned.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

My mind is numb

I've spent the last two days reading and rereading the contract I've been offered for my picture book. It is mind-numbing. I'm still not sure if I have a grip on it or not. I was glad I'd recently joined scbwi and had their sample contract to refer to. I had some wording added that they suggested. Why can't they just write all that stuff in regular english? It would be so much easier.

Unfortunately I'm not much of a negotiator. At least it was all online. (This publisher does everything online, by the way, which is really great for us writers, especially the shy ones.) I would love to have an agent someday to take care of all this stuff for me. Maybe once I have a picture book under contract they will take me seriously. Maybe.

But really, I feel pretty lucky. I don't sub that much. Only when I can finally get a cover/query letter perfected, which takes me a very long time(after I've spent an extremely long time getting the story to the point I feel it's ready) do I sub anything. It takes me forever to customize the letter to a publisher. That is really hard for me.

This story went out to three publishers, got one form and two requests. One request ended with a phone call, because I had an acceptance from the third. I am completely amazed. And I didn't think I'd have anything exciting to blog about. So reading the contract isn't exciting. Having a picture book accepted sure is!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wow, what a day!

I quickly scanned my email this morning and saw I had one from a friend, a friend whose name is similar an editor--or so I thought. In my early morning confused state of mind I had to read over the email three times before I realized this was an offer... to me... to publish my book, from an actual real-live editor!

My kids went crazy and ran around the house like wild monsters. I got cyber-congratulations from day traders across the country(my husband told his chat room pals). And I have been happy all day, even though I took four children to San Francisco to walk around and see the sights(bad idea).

Now for the stress(You'd think it wouldn't compare to trying to keep children from running into traffic or falling off a boat. Thankfully we're all home safe so that's over.) Anyway, it's under consideration at another house. I opted to call them and leave a message tonight since I'm a chicken, and I figure they'll need some time to look into it anyway. I told them I'd call back tomorrow. Yikes! I'm still shaking from the call I just made. I hope I sounded okay.

Then, I think I should call the agent I queried and give him a heads up, but maybe only if both houses are interested(what are the chances). I'm not sure on that one. If it's just the small house he likely wouldn't care I would think. I'll figure it out tomorrow. I just can't believe I have an actual offer. Now it would just be perfect if my writing pal got one from the same place.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Spa Day

I got a spa day today. My best friend recently got her aesthetician's licence and wanted to treat me. It was great. She has found her calling and is fabulous at what she does. I am so happy that she is in business for herself and doing what she loves. And man do facials feel good rock massages aren't bad either.

But it was funny, as I laid there with my mask on(My friend had to do a Bikini wax in the other room. Aestheticians are brave people.) I could barely lay still. I couldn't believe I had absolutely nothing to do. I tried to lay and relax. Tried to take a nap. But no. All I wished for was a piece of paper and a pen. There are so many stories I want to work on. There are not enough hours in the day. I couldn't believe I was wasting such a silent opportunity with no one around to ask me to do something. Absolutely no responsibilities. I can't remember the last time that happened, and I'm sure it won't happen again any time soon.
Lesson learned: Bring a paper and pen to the spa ...and arugula on pizza is really good.
Thanks Jes!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Welcome to my frazzled mind

Okay, so here's my blog. Nice and green.

What is a blog for? Telling people about myself? Writing practice? Promotion?
I had a blog that no one read. I actually had things to say because I knew no one was reading it. I have lots of reasons for not having a blog. Want to hear them?
  • The computer sucks the thoughts from my mind(and not onto the screen like I hope).
  • I don't like people reading what I write. Kind of a conundrum for a writer, huh?
  • I am really shy, hence the last reason.
  • I edit and edit and re-edit and delete and start over and ...
  • I sound like an idiot most every time I open my mouth.
  • I'll probably offend people.
  • I might tell you things I don't want you to know.
  • Everyone's gonna think I'm looney.

Okay, that's enough reasons. It's too depressing. Doesn't sound like this is gonna be very good for promotion. Actually, I look at this blog as a way to get to know my writer friends and for them to get to know me. Heck, if you read this blog, eventually you may get to know me better than alot of the people I know in person. Writing things down is very personal. So, I'm forcing myself to share. Hopefully I'll come up with something interesting.