Thursday, January 29, 2009

Interview Time

Almost. In just a couple of hours (after this, and a couple loads of laundry, and a school visit) I will have my first radio interview. And I am suddenly growing nervous.

I'm just talking to a guy on the phone.

I am telling him how delightful I am, and how charming Bright Blue Miracle is, and how his Sunday Morning Audience (mainly grandmas) will love to buy this lovely book for their grandgirls. 

That's not so hard, is it?

But I'm feeling a little sweaty anyway. 

Maybe because I have never done this before. Maybe because I fear I'll have a hyper, squeaky radio voice. Maybe because I have turned in a totally different manuscript and started another totally different book since the last time I looked at this one. Maybe because I heard the words "twenty minutes" and I have lived through some really long twenty-minuteses in my life. 

And maybe because I have to anticipate his questions: What is your book about? (Um.) What inspired you to write it? (Ah.) How long have you been a writer? (Gulp.) 

I think I need to say that it's fun. And clean. And hopeful. And great, fabulous, hilarious, heartbreaking, witty, and wonderful. 

Can I say that?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Is it possible to sprain a lung?

I know it's been a very long time since college - and even longer since my last really thorough Human Anatomy class - but I must know:  can a person sprain a lung? 

I have been living with this dumb pain in the general vicinity of my left lung for several weeks. Here's what it's like: 

It hurts to breathe.

That's just the obvious part. There are more parts, like driving and turning right, when I pull my left arm across my body and my whole self does a massive nerve-twitch. Or sleeping. Mostly the lying down on my side part. Or lifting my girlie 10-pound weights. Curls? Okay. Hammers? Okay. Over-the-head presses? Fairly agonizing. Picking up a smallish preschooler? Nope. We just sit down on the floor together when one of us needs a good cry. 

I must have been whining too much lately, because Scott said that I need to call a doctor and make an appointment to see what's going on. (Disclaimer: Scott would [this is a fact] play several games of basketball, volleyball, or whatever, on a sprained or broken limb. Going to a doctor is a last line of defense for this guy.) 

So I called. The nice and grouchy reception lady told me she'd be glad to get me in sometime in late February. I said, okay, great. Let's do it, I said. Fine, she said. What's bugging you? So I told her. Not in nearly so much gory detail as I've just lined it out for you, but just the basic facts. Okay, she said. What about tomorrow, she said. Come see our PA, she said. Oh, I said. Do you think that's a good idea? Um, yeah. Apparently maybe I could possibly have sprained my lung. She can't wait to get me in there and check me out. 

So now I'm nervous. Not a lot nervous, you understand, just enough that my sort-of-hidden hypochondriac tendencies are peeking their heads out of their boxes. 

"Hey, what's going on?" they ask.

"Cracked ribs?"

"Or maybe a torn transverse abdominal?" (I don't know if people have these, but frogs do. Right around their froggy middles. Thank you, Mr. Charlie Zimmerman, Batesville High School 1989.)

"Holes like swiss cheese in the lungs?"

"Popped diaphragm?"

"Anything requiring heavy doses of steroids, guaranteed to help add 15 unwanted pounds?"



"Anything that will cause hair and/or fingernails to disappear?"

Hey hypochondria - can you hear me? Shut the box. Go back inside where I can't hear you. I don't need  your help.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ready to Submit

This morning, while not watching the inauguration, I'm doing the Un-American: Readying my next manuscript for submission. This is a good thing for the following reasons:

Once I turn on the telly, I'll stay in front of it until someone calls me away. This could take hours.

The "readying" process consists mainly of double-spacing my entire manuscript and adding Chapter breaks (harder than you may think.)

If the company wants it, that means a happy little advance check will come my way sooner or later. (Hopefully sooner.)

It feels good to know that this book is a little better than my last one, and they wanted that - so logically, they Must and Should and Ought To want this.

I've had a lot of really good help polishing this manuscript. Having other people read my work is scary (in a Walking-Naked-In-Public sort of way), but it always turns out so much better with their great suggestions. (Let us not speak of their dumb suggestions. Ever again.) 

So cross your fingers for me! Here we go.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Revisions may not be the most fun part of writing for most people, because let's face it -- there's lots of highlight-and-delete, and that can be depressing. And it's even a little sad to have someone whose opinion you trust say "Um, that stinks." But I have to say, revising is refreshing to me. 

I have a few great friends reading my latest manuscript and offering suggestions. Some are very broad (like "your main character isn't very nice") and some are specific ("don't you know when to use "its" and when to use "it's"? - and yes, on principle, I do). But guess what? When I get the suggestions and work them through and decide which ones to run with and which ones to politely ignore, THE SOTRY GETS BETTER! 

Isn't that amazing?

It's like two brains (or four, or six) really are better than one. And the better the brains working on it (and I only choose the greatest people to critique for me) the better the ideas get. And it's still my story, only sharper. Smarter. Even (*gasp*) funnier.

So hooray for revisions, and cross your fingers - if I stay on track, I'll have a new submission to the publisher within a month. This is very good news.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Random Becca-ness

*I eat too fast. I'm somehow sure the next bite will taste better than this one.

*I read too fast. I almost always have to reread a good book. 

*I make hot breakfast every school day, including but not limited to: muffins, German Pancakes, whole-wheat pancakes (that everyone but Scott likes, and he'll eat them), multi-grain waffles, breakfast burritos, French toast, scrambled eggs, runny eggs (yeah, I know, but this isn't a restaurant and I don't need an e-coli or salmonella warning on my menu) and great smoothies. But I eat a 1/2 cup portion of homemade granola with skim milk and craisins. Every day.

*I like to grocery shop. I always make a list and usually stick to it.

*If I can go two months without entering a Wal-Mart, I feel like I can have a reward.

*I love mail. In the mailbox, the mail with stamps and envelopes.

*I sleep with lots of pillows.

*I love my kids, but other people's kids rather annoy me. I am not proud of this.

*I am faintly disturbed when a book I love is made into a sub-standard movie (see Despereaux - or rather, don't see it. Read it.)

*Sometimes yogurt is gross to me. Maybe it's the word. Yogurt. Eww.

*Although I need to have a friend, I do not need to see that friend every day. Or weekly. 

*Even though I don't believe in book banning, I will tell my kids not to read some things. Sometimes for protection, sometimes to prolong innocence, but mostly to avoid wasting their time.

*I wish I had stayed in piano lessons.

*Being nice is more important to me than being right. At least as far as you know. I will be nice about being right (to your face).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

writing it out

I've been pounding out some backstory and setting up the setting for my next project. It's more prewriting than I've done before, and it's pretty fun. I'm getting set up with a lot of characters (major and minor) who have motivations and desires. This will surely help me when I come upon those pesky plot problems I'm so aware of.

Writing is fun. And since I'm not a person who has ever actually wanted a job (the kind you have to shower for, and get out of the yoga pants) this is going to work out really nicely. Plus, there's the "just a couple of  hours a day" part and the "take a nap in the afternoon if you must" part that I find appealing. 

I mean, who wouldn't?

As long as you don't care if you ever get paid, that is. And I guess I don't. Who knew?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I'm proud to be able to report that it is now more than a week since I have had any sugar!

Okay, that is not totally true. I'm eating fruit, and that's practically all sugar. But I haven't had any of the white crystalline kind, or even the white powdered kind, since sometime late December. 

(Except what's on my craisins. And the dried mangoes. But really, really, not any other.)

Would you like to know what has sugar in it? Short answer - anything you'd want to eat for breakfast. Or lunch (like salad dressing) or a snack or dinner. 

Ham. Spagetti sauce. Any "low-fat" dairy product (and what's the point of that, anyway? If God wanted butter or sour cream to be low fat, he would have had them come out of the cow  that way, right?). Cereal. Doritos (okay, I don't actually eat Doritos unless I'm pregnant, and I'm not, but I thought it would be fair to give you a good cross-section).

Did I mention that I don't count honey? Because, come on. So if I make my own bread (white or wheat) and a batch of granola, I can do pretty well. Until I get so food-bored that I could spit. 

But really, I feel better. So it's good. Food is good. I am good. Oh, good.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fun in a Bookstore

So I went and looked at my shelves at a bookstore. My shelves. Several shelves. All mine. Someone is thinking positive, because there are lots and lots of copies of my book on shelves in Deseret Book Stores. And the book hasn't officially come out yet! In February, hopefully there will be a whole lot more books in a whole lot more stores.

Confession: In the tiny DB store in Provo, I went in and turned every copy (at least 50, HOLY COW) face forward. I didn't push anyone else's books off the shelves, or even cover them up. I just turned mine so everyone can see the cute cover, because that's what's going to do the trick.

It's kind of like seing one of my kids in a show - that same giddy/proud/nervous feeling. But I like it. And people are buying it. Several. They've told me! So what that they're nearly all related (to me). I just happen to be related to a whole lot of very generous book-buyers. And in fairness, they're not all related to me. Some of them have just loved me for a lot of years!

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year, New Story

This morning, I finished another draft of the new book. It has no title. But it does have characters, and a story line. Very fun for me. So now I send it to readers (most of whom are also writers) to give me advice and feedback on how to make it good. That's fun, too. Except for the parts where they say "start over" or "this really sucks" -- which, in fairness, they hardly ever do. This is not the most painful part of the writing process for me, but it is a little scary to lay my story naked out on a table and let people poke at it.

And now, while I wait, on to the next!