Saturday, January 30, 2010

In Which I Am Easily Amused

Happiness runs in a circular motion
Love is a little boat upon the sea
Everybody is a part of everything anyway
You can be happy if you let yourself be

My elementary school music teacher, Ms. Gillane, taught me that song. :)  Props to Ms. Gillane.  Right now, I am totally feeling that song and ready to write!  (Unfortunately, the writing that must be done today is on report cards... aka Necessary Evil for Real Job).

But I am a happy girl.  Yesterday, Handsome Hubby and the girls and I went out to a lovely dinner at the Italian place around the corner that is warm and friendly and low-key (and apparently a hot spot, Tootsie Roll saw 7 friends from school in the hour or so that we were there).  After the girls went to bed, HH and I had a nice, relaxing evening, and I grabbed a shower, after which I had the best hair I have had in... I don't know, probably ever... just in time to snuggle into bed to watch tv and read blogs. :)

Last night I was busy perusing author blogs and sites that help you to connect with other authors.  I created a basic profile on Author Query (you can see my very fancy brand new widgety business card to the right over there, ooh la la! ------>).   This morning, I got a message from another author!!!!  (Ha, if she finds her way to my blog, she may be like... ohhh... crazy.... nevermind... lol)  Anyway, I am super excited just at the notion of author contact.  I am feeling so ET right now, like I have phoned home and found MY OWN KIND.  People like me whose brains are fixated on this dream.  I'm giddy!  I think I'm in love.

Oh, AND... my mom will appreciate this... yesterday I got a box from a certain greeting card company from whom I ordered valentines for my class and the girls' classes, among many other things I clearly absolutely needed, and guess what was in the box?  NEW DRYER BALLS!   Now, get your dirty minds out of the gutter, they are the little spiky balls that go in the dryer instead of dryer sheets.  What can I say, I am obsessed with them.  (You would be, too, if your kids' skin were so darn sensitive and you didn't want dryer sheets rubbing chemicals on them... and you heart the environment so you appreciate not having to throw more stuff away every time you do laundry).  My mom is laughing right now, I know, because I talked her into trying them and she hated them and went back to dryer sheets.  C'est la vie.  I had a pair but one cracked and I couldn't find any more in stores!  It was a travesty.  So I saw them in this catalog with the valentines and even though I swore I'd never order from this company again (one time I ordered and never received the box and they didn't believe me and wouldn't refund), the dryer balls sucked me in.  So now I have two new sets (plus the lonely old one that was left over).  Ahh, simple pleasures, lol.  Life is good.

Now, off to pound out report cards so maybe I can get to the good writing later!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010


I need to stop reading writing blogs.  (Not you.  You need to continue reading my writing blog.  Do not stop.  Do not pass Go.  You can collect $200 if you want, but... sorry, not from me... although if you find someone giving it away, count me in. :)  )

The truth is that I need to keep reading writing blogs, and in fact, I need to read them MORE and MORE.  I am learning so much about how this whole crazy business works, and I am learning in the process how much I don't know, which is overwhelming, which is why at the moment I am like WHOA.

See, just today I found out about Absolute Write and Agent Query and so I perused over to those incredibly helpful sites and again was like WHOA. 

So I went back to my trusty author blogs where there was some buzz about Alpha Readers and Beta Readers and again I was a little bit WHOA and a whole lot I NEED TO FIND A WRITING GROUP.

But then I remind myself that what matters right now is the writing.  When I have a few chapters done, even, I can begin to ask people to read for me.  And I know you'll all be willing... ;)

In the meantime, I did email one other aspiring writer whose Real Job is the same as mine (I found her through the comments on an author blog).  She sounds further along in the process, but maybe just hearing from another person in the trenches who is trying will throw the kick back in my step!

I should add that I am a little overwhelmed but not discouraged.  I haven't yet met a mountain that I couldn't climb once I made my mind up, and right now the mountain is just getting the darn thing written.  :)  You won't best me, novel in my brain!  (Ok, maybe this weekend while I have to write report cards you will... but not for long!)

Monday, January 25, 2010


Thanks to those of you who let me know that you were unable to post comments.  I have fixed that little snarl.  Please do comment to your heart's content. :)  Just click the little comment link below any post and share your thoughts, show me the new cheer you made up to keep me going, tell me what you had for breakfast, you know.  Whatever.  :)  I love comments!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bad Guys

It's too bad that the antagonist in my story already has a name (sort of), because Curly Jones has a great idea.  In every Disney story, she calls the villain The Mean.  When Maleficent appears at Aurora's christening, it's "Ahhh!  The Mean is there!  I don't like it!"  When Ariel trades her voice for legs, "Oh, no, it's The Mean!"  Short.  Sweet.  To the point.  Know anyone you'd call The Mean? ;)

Gettin' My Nerd On!

Can I just tell you that scientific research is fascinating?  I'm looking up some very specific things that I would never have had any reason to learn about otherwise, and it is really interesting.  I WANT TO SHARE!


I would venture to say that I have the first half of my book plotted out relatively specifically.  I have the next quarter plotted out a little less so, depending on some of the things I choose to do in the first half.  I am consciously leaving the ending a question mark for the time being, for a couple of reasons.  One, as with the third quarter, it will depend on what happens to that point (obviously).  Two, I have plotted out entire novels and then didn't feel like writing them because it didn't feel fun anymore.  Maybe if this one goes well, I'll drag those out and see what I can do with them, because I do love the storylines and complexities that took a lot of thinking to work out.  But for now, I'm trying to keep this one fun.  Will I hit walls where it stops being fun?  Heck yeah, writing is hard.  The actual work of it.  But I can't wait to start what I'm working on now.(I'm being held up a little by the research, as I mentioned... the very first chapter requires knowledge about something that I needed to dig into, but I'm almost ready).  So for now I am not spoiling my own fun by ruining the ending... I'm going to let it work itself out.

So for any of you who write (and I'm sure some of you do, you are creative types)... tell me.  Do you plot out your endings or do you just let them unfurl?

Sooooo... Whatcha Doooin'?

Curly Jones has this hilarious way of coming up to you and saying, exactly in the voice of Isabella from Phinneas and Ferb, "What-cha doooooo-in'?"  It's pretty funny.  Last night, one of my old friends who just joined the fun over here asked me just that.  So.  Um.  Aside from blogging about it, what have you actually written?

Since you are my collective conscience, I will share with you.  Nothing.  Yet.  (AGH! That sounds bad.  Very bad.  In fact, it tastes terrible just writing it, like biting into something rotten.)  But it's ok.  This past week put me through the wringer, but I did manage to do a lot of story plotting on paper AND a bunch of research for some scientific things I need to know.  And both are propelling me in a very good direction.  In fact, this morning, I saw an entire scene in my mind and fleshed it out much more completely in my notes.

I continue to read author blogs and sigh wistfully when they describe the wonderful writing that they got done in a given day, since that is what they do with their days (jealoussssss).  But I'm over it, accepting of my reality that is, like most people, Someone Who Needs A Regular Paycheck.  :)  As such, the goal I have set for myself is a chapter a month, and I am allowing myself this month for planning and research.  (And report cards, lol).

That said... keep asking.  Demand word counts, lol.  Leave snarky comments.  (Ok, not toooo snarky, I do get to moderate the comments, hehe).  I work best under pressure! :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not Eloquent. But Grateful.

When you wake up in the morning, you never know where the day is going to take you. 

Yes, it sounds corny, and no, it's not part of my book. :)  But this morning started off like a pretty regular day and then one friend announced today that she's off to London in the spring where her husband is getting transfered for two years (how exciting!).  And that reinforced my excitement about following my dream.

That was just sinking in when I got word about a completely unexpected tragedy in a very close friend's family.  And that devastated me, and reminded me that our time here is short, and we have to make the most of it.

So I'm still in shock a little and not really focused on writing tonight.   But thank you to my three new followers, you completely make my heart smile.  Knowing that you are here to support my dream means more than you imagine.  The more, the merrier... I have not done a very good job keeping my own writing going over the past few years, so now I have a growing collective conscience.  Which I need.  So now I have to get brave enough to share this with some people outside of the family, none of whom I think really know that I am a writer in hiding...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book Awards and Other Booky Love

Just as I was about to cartwheel in and tell you some happy booky news, I saw that Follower #2 has climbed on board!  I am so in love with this day.  (Hello, Aunt Carol!)  You know you have an awesome family when they are willing to spend their spare time reading about the ideas you are super excited about but can't reveal yet.  (Is that interesting to anyone else besides me?)

Ok, so here is my fabulous booky news:  While the rest of the world was watching very glamorous thespians accepting their Golden Globes, I was here salivating for the American Library Association awards (oh my, that sounds so geeky.  Let's keep that between us, 'kay?).  And here they are!

The Newbery Award went to Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me, a time traveling adventure inspired by former most fabulous Newbery winner A Wrinkle In Time.  Book reviewers are raving like lunatics over this book but apparently can't say much because it gives away the mystery.  Will be my next B&N purchase!

The Printz Award (middle school +) went to Libby Bray's Going Bovine, about a teenager suffering from Mad Cow Disease who experiences wild hallucinations (or are they?).  This one is labeled a "dark comedy".  Interesting, mmm? 

The Morris Award (debut Young Adult novel) went to L K Madigan for Flash Burnout about a boy who takes a random photo for a photography contest that turns out to be of his friend's meth-addicted mom, and the chaos that ensues when he gets involved (romantically and otherwise) in a very difficult situation.  Apparently there is a lot of the s-e-x in it, so put this one up on the high shelf. :)  It's getting a lot of praise for Madigan's ability (as an adult woman) to get inside the head of a teenage boy. 

And for those keeping score for the elementary set, the Caldecott (awarded for illustrations) went to Jerry Pinkney for The Lion and the Mouse.  Cause... seriously... it's about time he won.  I mean... look at that cover alone!

Woohoooo!  Love me some book awards.  In completely different booky cuteness, each morning Tootsie Roll and I put something that we are happy about in writing.  This morning, I had a whole lot of happy:

"Soooo many! We had a great long weekend. Curly Jones' pink eye got better (and did not spread to the other eye or to anyone else), Tootsie Roll started practicing her jazz recital and got 5 stamps on her hand at dance class for doing steps correctly, I got to watch Tootsie Roll this weekend at field hockey practice (so much fun! She learned a lot!), we broke open the Easy Bake oven and had a tea party with Tootsie's delicious (100% made by herself) sugar cookies, we got lots of new books at Barnes & Noble (and they finally started making teacher discount cards in plastic rather than paper... and they can finally be used online.. and are now good for 2 years instead of just one... plus we happened to hit an Educator Day purely by chance, so the discount was 25% instead of just 20%! Woohoo!), got Girl Scout cookies, and I had SOOO MANY writing ideas!"

... which Tootsie Roll read, and then responded, "Mommy, you want to write a book?"  I realized that I had never really mentioned it to her as a real possibility so I said, "Yes, I would like to try."  Her reply:  "Can I illustrate it?  I love to color."  :) 

Here was her own booky happiness this morning:  I got 6 books from Barns and Nobels (sic)!!! And 2 were free!!!   (Can I tell you how much I love having a book loving babe?)

And of course, not to be left out, one of the best moments of the day was reading to Curly Jones at bedtime and having her put her finger in each hole in The Very Hungry Caterpillar and shout out "CHWOMP!" through the entire book.  :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Cast of Characters

I'm not sure if anyone out there is reading this blog besides my darling husband who is currently my one and only Follower. :)  That's cool, I'm sure there will be quite some time before anyone has any reason to join in my happy writing parade, although if you happen to have stumbled onto this crazy blog purely by accident, I hope you stay, hang out a bit, we always have coffee brewing. :)

Since probably even my wonderfully supportive family will tire of reading about my daily writing life, since I can't let the proverbial plotty cats out of the bag to keep things interesting, I will throw in random stories about teaching, life, the kiddieos, heck, maybe even the dog, if she does anything, but that's unlikely.

Not that it will be that hard to play the home game, but for anyone keeping score, here is the cast of characters that holds my heart and hangs out here in my house:

Dangerous - I like to think I'm a dangerous ninja spy with an entire wardrobe of Mod, Avengers-style clothing (and banter to boot... ooh, boots!).  Yeah.  Of course my everyday cover is that of mild-mannered, Type A elementary school teacher and mom of two.  It works so far.

Handsome Hubby - High school teacher and A/V Techie extraordinnaire.  Today went out to the local deli on a quest to find a regular 100 watt lightbulb for an Easy Bake Oven.  Yeah, he's that awesome.  Oh, and handsome Italian good looks as a bonus.

Tootsie Roll - Seven-going-on-thirty year old darling daughter.  At times, tudinal drama queen.  At other times, the most loving and generous-hearted child possible.  Ridiculously smart and very hard on herself.  Thinks her best trait is that she's fashionable.  Still learning table manners.  Visually a mini version of me.

Curly Jones - Two year old burst of sunshine balled up in a crazy, curly, towheaded second daughter.  Getting way too big way too fast.  Talking up a storm, telling me whole stories, but still sweetly mispronouncing words like vanilla (malella) and camera (cramma).  Blue eyed like her sister.  May never learn table manners.  Nice to the dog.  Actually likes the potty, albeit sometimes after the fact.

Fuzzy Puppable - Big, furry, red Chow.  11 years old.  Sweetest. Dog.  Ever.  Has arthritis in her neck and legs but usually feels ok.  Amazing with the kids from day one.  Does not like dog treats.  Still loves to play in the snow.  Scored bonus points today for killing a stinkbug.

Hamstopher - Furry black and white hamster that was purchased as a Christmas gift for Tootsie Roll last year.  Generally goes completely unnoticed.  Feels unloved until I feed him.  Stinks up his cage for fun.    Sometimes escapes to get attention.  Always found in the bottom of the linen closet chewing on beach towels.


Yay For Long Weekends!

Oh my gosh, can I tell you how hard it is to sit here doing lesson plans for my Real Job (you know, the one for which I have a contract and earn a living) when all I want to be doing during moments of quiet alone time is writing?  I have to remind myself that as enthused as I am about it right now, my Real Job stuff has to take precedence.  So I finished up writing up last week's lesson plans (I got a little behind with the whole pink eye thing, had to write sub plans for those days, so I had to redo the week's lesson plans to hand in... yes, we have to hand them in), updated my teacher website with news about what we're learning, finished this coming week's lesson plans, did my book orders, gathered parenting magazines (that I never read because I don't have time but they keep on coming) for a friend who is going to have a baby any day now, sorted Girl Scout Cookie orders, and now I am going to jump in the shower and play Super Mario Bros. Wiiiiiiiii with Handsome Hubby and Tootsie Roll.  I would love to be writing, but I have been doing school work for so long that it's time to join the fam for a little while. :)  But now I am free to write tonight!

Speaking of tonight, I also can't wait to get back to my book - I am currently reading Madapple by Christina Meldrum (wait, can you believe this crazy blog has bold and italics and strikethrough but not underline?  Whose crazy idea was that?).  It's not one of the new books I got at B&N last night (those are waiting!); I got this one for Christmas and I can't put it down.  One more addition to the New Year's Resolution - MUST make time to read!  Can't be a decent writer without being a voracious reader...

The Ideas Are Flying!

I'm really excited!  Parts of the story are falling into place in my head and in the plot outline on paper.  I don't usually tell anyone my story ideas but I talked to Handsome Hubby about this one last night and he is very excited about helping me brainstorm and research.   He even wants to find some films for me that match the genre of my story and watch them together.  I am so grateful for his support, and I wonder why I haven't run earlier story ideas past him?  I guess it has to do with self-confidence, because the more I have planned other stories, the more I have begun to fall out of love with them.  They either become too complicated or they begin to sound unoriginal.  Maybe that's why I'm excited about this one, it feels very original.  Anyway, it's lovely to have the day off from work and after a morning playing with the kids, I really came up here to work on lesson plans (which I will, in a minute), but the opening scene of the story just came to me, so I had to open my working document and jot it down.  I think I'll actually write the first chapter or first few before I completely plot out my story, even though I know generally where it's going.  Maybe that will keep the love alive, lol...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Don't Ban the Book.... That I Haven't Written Yet

Ohh, dilemma.  I am still excited about the idea for this story but the more I research  the topic, the more I wonder if it's a little bit too political.  I mean, it's fiction, but I don't want people screaming that it's an attempt to persuade older children/young adults to think in a particular way about a current issue.  It's not propaganda.  It's just a story idea.  I just want to write my story, not defend my position on political and scientific issues or alienate any large groups of people who position themselves differently on an issue than I do.  Ugh.  Do all authors worry about this stuff before they even write? 

That was a rhetorical question, but yes, I'm sure plenty of them do.  Ok.  Step back.  Breathe.  Think.  I know that one problem I have as a writer is that my lack of time makes me think that every spare moment of writing time that I have needs to be spent WRITING.  Making PROGRESS.  I don't want to spare any time thinking or just ruminating on an idea, because my precious hubby is downstairs with both girls, allowing me unfettered time to pursue my dream, about which I am eternally grateful, but I need to be realistic with myself - writing without thought is bound to be crappy. :)  I need to be ok with time spent thinking and plotting and planning and not every second in forward writing motion.  Hear that, Type A Self?  CHILL.

So I took my own advide and chilled for a moment and realized that a change in storyline can skirt the majority of Joe Political topic and still retain the integrity of the idea.  I think I've got it.  Or at least the Second Incarnation of It.  I'm sure there will be many more.  WHEW.  Just a bump in the road.  Now, to reasearch in another direction...

Seed Idea!....?.... !

In the shower, just now, I had an idea!  (I do all my best thinking in the shower, so if I ever become an actual writer, there you have it, my number one secret, the answer which I will give whenever I get asked, "Where do your ideas come from?" lol...)  Actually, it's an expansion on an idea I got a long time ago after reading a Time Magazine article.  I won't say about what, in case this actually becomes my Seed Idea.  Which I think it might... crazy and exciting!  It's a bit futuristic, which may not be my forte, but then again, who knows what my forte actually is. :)  Let's give it a whirl!

And So It Begins

It's hard to start a new blog, especially one which (you hope) chronicles your road to becoming a "real" published author.  It feels a little bit presumptuous, but actually, starting this blog is part of my New Year's Resolution to write a book.  I have all of these little wisps of ideas flying around in my head, and lots of beginnings and planned-out stories on paper and saved on my computer, and in truth, I haven't had the time or the confidence to try to actually make something of any of them.

So this year I have resolved to "walk the walk" (I wanted to call my blog that, or something related to being overly caffeinated, but all of the ideas I had were already taken by blogs that people haven't written on since 2006 but have left hanging out there for people like me - who want their blog name - to stumble upon).  I'm going to write.  And here, I'm going to write about how it's going.  And it's really more for me, at this point, to keep myself honest.  Because, ya know, if you're chronicling your progress, there had better be some. :)

If said masterpiece (ha) ever does come into fruition on my end (i.e. I actually finish writing something), I will let the Gods of Prose decide whether it is worthy of sharing with the world.  Right now dreams of agents of contracts are a little bit out of my grasp.  Or a lot.  But I'm trying to think positively.  (In truth, I read tons of author blogs, and they all seem like very kind, witty, charming folk, happy to add more to their ranks, but then I read editor/agent blogs and run screaming at the scary end of the biz after your book is written.  You not only have to be talented, but very patient and savy about the business.  Let's ignore that for now, and focus on the warm fuzzy authors, shall we?)

So now the gauntlet has been thrown.  By me.  For me.  But you're along for the ride because I need the pressure to keep me going.  Got it?  So now that we know where we stand, let's write a book!