Wednesday, September 30, 2009

True Story

Once upon a time there was a very young Mommy who had one sweet, beautiful, well-behaved child. (Oh, stop. This is all true.) This happy child loved her Mommy and followed her around, sat still for hair-doing, and went to bed without any fussing.

The young Mommy thought, "I must be the best Mommy God has ever blessed with a perfect child." She thought, "I am going to do this again and again, because I am so very, very good at it."

The Mommy watched her happy little girl play with her dolls, being a sweet littleMommy to them, singing to them, kissing their plastic faces. The Mommy said, "Yes, indeed. We should do this again."

So the Mommy, in the family way once again, spent her days watching her little girl play, vomiting in the toilet, and playing at the swimming pool. The sweet child patted her Mommy's back and sat gently on her lap for many, many stories every day.

Then one day, the Mommy watched this sweet, happy child playing littleMommy games with her baby dolls. And heard these words: "Smarten up, baby." (Have we mentioned that this sweet little girl was almost, but not quite two years old?)

The Mommy feared that she had ruined something precious. All was, perhaps, lost. The good, wonderful Mommy could no longer assume that because her child mimicked her sweet-Mommy words, she was only a sweet Mommy. Because now that the good girl also copied her impatient-Mommy words, that would have to mean (gasp) that she was an impatient Mommy. A burned-out Mommy. A real, live, human Mommy... just like everyone else.

Turns out that the timing on this was inspired, because it was Very Important for this Mommy to learn that lesson. Because the next child was healthy (mostly) she was beautiful (in a bald way) but she was not happy. Not ever. Not for a year and a half. That's eighteen months. Seventy-eight weeks. Five hundred and forty -six days. And nights. And the Mommy carried on. She learned that sometimes God just gives us gifts. And sometimes He sends us challenges. And sometimes, when we're ready for it, He lets us see that our challenges are also great gifts.

Epilogue: Once upon a slightly later time there was a nearly middle aged Mommy who had four sweet, beautiful, well-behaved children. Not one of them was perfect. Not one was constantly happy. But they were all loved, all wanted, all appreciated, and they all loved their sometimes burned-out, tired, cranky, sometimes fun, silly, happy, always human, always learning Mommy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A List

So yesterday afternoon while I was mowing the lawn sans iPod, I had brilliant blog-post ideas. They were flowing. Funny ideas, insightful ones, serious and ridiculous ones.

Um, gone.

This is why real writers keep notebooks or carry cards - like those white index cards. Husband does. Unlined 3x5s are his favorites, and he always has a pen with him. Okay, maybe not while mowing the grass, but maybe so. You never know. But that way, when genius strikes and the muse sings, you write it down instead of counting on your brain to hold on to the beautiful ideas.

With the lack of beautiful ideas, I'm going to tell you what's inside my purse. Lucky, lucky you.

The blue scarf is technically tied to the outside, so maybe that doesn't count. Let's go inside.
In the outer pocket:
estee lauder lipstick, #24 in spiced cider*
dramamine, less drowsy formula
mailbox key
orange highlighter with post-it flags inside
altoid smalls, wintergreen flavor - mmmm.

In the inner pocket:
target brand eyedrops
neosporin + pain relief
4 feminine hygiene products
a smashed pack of trident "minty sweet twist" gum, mostly full
7 (200-mg) ibuprophen tablets in a zip-bag (snack sized) for road trips and movies
1 mint that looks pepperminty, but is probably cinnamon, from a restaurant somewhere

Inside the purse itself:
my falling-apart pink wallet (which holds, among other things, my drivers' license, cards from subway, america first c.u., costco, library, health insurance, macy's {that one's a gift card}, ann taylor, discover, zion's bank, a coupon for kohl's that expired 3 weeks ago, receipts from the market and $10 in cash + some coins, but not many because apparently that's free range for the Kids)
a copy of bright blue miracle (never know when that will come in handy)
a cool leather-bound notebook (4x4) for holding all my brilliant ideas that come when I'm not mowing
a pad of yellow post-it notes
a torn piece of paper with the name "M. Hospodarsky" on it (which is just the coolest name)
a ticket to a football game
a pouch-type wallet thing that holds emergency makeup (covergirl simply powder foundation in creamy natural, c.g. super thick lash mascara {names can be deceiving}, a silver c.g. lipstick which is for some reason open, and now all over my hands, but also really obsolete because there is also a wet-n-wild lip pencil that cost me 79 cents and it has earned my undying devotion over the years** and may continue to be my favorite beauty product forever) and a bunch of papers, including Kid 2's 12-year-old well-check reciept, tickets for the train, outlet coupons that expired in august, a cardholder agreement for a card I've never used, and a pack of treetop fruitsnacks - for emergencies on the road***
a pack of skittles which doesn't really tempt me
a grocery list****
a spare contact lens case
a pencil that says "click it or ticket" - I just love threats from the law
3 pens, 1 green, 2 black
2 pennies
a wrapper-lid from a pot of wendy's honey-mustard dipping sauce (which I don't eat, so I'm not really sure how that one happened)

So the point of this exercise? Apparently to remind us all that cheap makeup is a good thing, and that no matter what, a girl who likes to talk (or write) will always find something, no matter how trivial, to say.

* actually a little orange for me, but not bad with the right outfit (black)
**it's # 666, but that is just a coincidence, I mean it.
***mine, if necessary
****that's another post entirely - bet you can't wait

Monday, September 28, 2009

Just a Suggestion

You know me, I'm always full of it - I think somehow that my opinion is relevant. Hm.

Well, today, I'm just saying, you might want to try this. Here's what I just had for lunch:

Carrot slices (a real, full-sized carrot, remember? Not baby nonsense) and cucumber slices (salted) and brie on triscuits. Little slices of brie melted in the micro-nuker on Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil triscuits. This is the best lunch I've eaten lately where nobody else was involved with cooking for me.

And then, about writing - the book signing was fun. I met lots of nice people who, among other things, write good things and love fine foods and share their cute babies and wear great jewelry. (Not all the same people had all those great qualities, you know. But among the group, all that was represented.)

Husband is working at home today, so he's taking Kid 4 over to the driving range for his lunch break and they're going to hit a few golf balls. Soak up these perfect autumn days, right? I'm going to mow the lawn (eventually - maybe I'll read something fun out on the patio first...). This morning I got some outlining done (in a notebook on my bed, because I was terribly _______ (cold or lazy or maybe industrious, you decide).

Friday, September 25, 2009

An Event

Hey there - I'm doing a book signing on Saturday morning (um, did I neglect to mention that earlier? My bad.) I'll be at the Orem Seagull (Center street and State) from 10:00 till noon. I'd love to see any of y'all who are in the neighborhood. We can talk books and ... well, there must be something else we can do.
- m'Kay, bye!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I'm feeling all inspired by my bloggy-friend Kim. She is struggling (I was going to say battling, but that sort of implies more physical work than being on bedrest - you know) with troubles in a difficult pregnancy. She's winning. Baby C is growing. But it's not easy for Kim, of course. And she's doing an amazing job of continuing her job as blog-inspiration-mama.

Her post today (except it was posted yesterday, at some point after I visited) talks about validation - specifically validating her own sadness and suffering. It made me think of a thing I've thought before. Want to know what it is?

One of the greatest compliments I can give a person is to believe that they have a struggle that is at least as big a deal as any I'm going through. I have a tendency to see these remarkable, beautiful, strong women around me and think (very quietly) well, of course she has it all together. Of course her house is clean and her kids' bangs are trimmed and her PTA work is done and her meals are balanced - because she doesn't struggle like I do. Her life is just EASY.

And you know what? That's mean. It's wrong. It's inaccurate. And it doesn't do me (or anyone else) any good.

There is something going on. I have no idea what it is. But just because this one has perfect kids, I shouldn't assume that her heart is light. Just because that one has a great car, I shouldn't figure that her family never has money concerns. Just because this one, from the back, doesn't even look pregnant when she's about to deliver, I shouldn't assume that this pregnancy is any easier than any of mine were. Just because that one laughs so easily, well, it doesn't mean that she doesn't have a huge disappointment hiding behind her smile.

I am trying to give the benefit of the doubt here. I will assume that there are aches. There are worries. There are heartbreaks in every life, and somehow I can channel a little comfort in that direction just by recognizing that fact.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I staggered into the pantry to grab an orange. That would do it. A glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice would wake me up. After that, everything would feel right.

Right hand reached up for the juicer as left hand went for an orange. But instead of lifting out a firm, heavy, juicy orange, my fingers went right through a piece of rotten fruit. As the adult around here, I should have tossed the orange into the garbage can and moved on. But I couldn’t move on. Not only couldn’t I move on, I couldn’t even move out of the pantry. I dropped to the floor and buried my head in my knees. I sat there, gunky orange rot on my fingers, hunched and sobbing, for far too long.

Oranges gone bad, this is cause for tears? Okay, well, I had just spent far too much money on a case of fruit from the roving produce man who visits my house a few times a year. Somehow I always manage to buy what he’s selling, even though his samples are always tastier than what I end up with. And now I was the owner of thirty pounds of rotten oranges. And I wanted a drink. I craved that juice, and now I couldn’t have it.

I know I am capable of near-hysterical acts of drama, but even to me this seemed a little over the top. I wiped the slimy orange parts off on my sock and took a breath. Not a deep breath, because I was still folded in half over my knees, but a breath. In. Out. In again.

What was really wrong?

Isn’t that the question?

What was really twisting my heart to the breaking point so that an overripe piece of fruit could bring me down?

And do you know what? It was nothing. Nothing and everything. There was no major trauma. Everyone was well. Most everyone was happy. Small inconveniences like gnats in front of my eyes were suddenly wood slivers under my nails. The weight of all that needed doing pressed heavy on my back and shoulders, and I knew I simply could not handle it.

I could not be the person I wanted to be. I could never measure up to what I expected of me. I couldn’t be a perfect wife. I couldn’t even be a decent mother. I was a lame friend, a bad sister, a horrible neighbor, a hack writer, and I couldn’t even make a glass of orange juice without breaking down.

I needed a vacation. A maid. A nanny. A pedicure.

Or maybe just a hug.

(This is fiction. I’m fine. None of this even happened, except me needing a maid, and maybe a pedicure. It’s just an exercise in writing – the prompt was “good things gone bad”.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Emotional Outbursts

So this "writing prompts" thing is cool - even if I never see any of it again, it's helpful. This morning, I used the word wrapped and wrote a couple of things from it. I could do more. Weird, how finding a word that seems so obvious, so specific, can open my eyes to feelings and emotions I'd not really considered. I keep these in a computer folder called "emotional outbursts" and that is where some of my book starts come from. I've written a scene that became a piece of a novel (twice). The novel didn't necessarily hinge on that scene, and neither time was that scene the beginning, but both times I was able to so clearly see the characters, their motivations, their fears and their anxieties that those characters came alive to me right then. I just had to do that little job of writing a novel around that scene.

If you're interested, one of those was the scene in Bright Blue Miracle where Leigh and Germ are in his kitchen, the scene leading up to his saying "she makes me feel like you do." That was the first thing I wrote for that book, and I still love that scene (at least in my head. It does me no good to go back and read it now, I'd only find things I wish I could change, you know?).

The other is from the forthcoming Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. It's an almost-kiss scene that takes place at a wedding reception (and in a pink dress), and it appears in the book very close to how I originally wrote it. At least, I think it does. I should see edits very soon, and I'll see how much has changed...

Monday, September 21, 2009


After shuttling all those cute Kids out the door this morning, I grabbed the pruning shears and went to work on my overgrown shrubs. Sometimes I find myself picking up one branch and carefully, gently, snipping it so the new leaves will grow just so. Other times (most of the time) I hack.
Wield the trimmers till my arms shake with the effort of keeping them over my head.

It's like editing, you know? (See? We're doing a writing post today - did you see that coming?) In careful editing, I sit and moodle* over just the right word or phrase to get my point across. I work gently to convey an emotion or a nuance.

Then there's the highlight-and-delete parts, where huge chunks of my writing fall at my feet in clusters, and I gather them up in my arms and haul them to the trash.

And (cue the point) when I'm done, whether with the careful, precise snips or the giant jaws of the cutters, the shrub (or the story) looks neater. More organized. Cleaner. More ready for what's next, whether that's publication or autumn. And either way, my hands are shaking at the end, hoping that it's all going to be beautiful later.

* I stole (borrowed) this wonderful word from a near-perfect writing book by Brenda Ueland called "If You Want To Write." I totally recommend it. The book. And the moodling.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Question Blog

Becca, did you do your assignment you (nearly) promised yesterday that you would do? I just did my homework. I wrote about a time I "bonded" with someone. It was a good exercise. I remembered something I haven't thought about in nearly 10 years. Did I write anything in my WIP? Nope. So sue me.*

Becca, what's going on with your book that's in editing? I'm hearing rumors about my new cover. I haven't seen it yet. I hope to, soonly**. I'll show it off as soon as I have permission. And Lovely Editor is working on smoothing everything out, wordwise.

Becca, if you could never publish another novel, would you still write novels? Um, yes. And maybe that little caveat would make them better. Hm.

Becca, do you have a favorite blog post (that you've written)? Oh. That I've written. Yes. But it's not very fun. Good writing, serious emotion. Here it is, again. And also, this one, which is much less serious. Thank you for asking. Do you?

Becca, what are you reading right now? I assume you mean the right now that I'm not typing this post. In that case, UNWIND by N. Shusterman. Shuddery-good. And also SAVVY by Ingrid Law. Funny, sweet, great. Neither have I finished. I'm thinking about reading SAVVY to the Kids for read-aloud fun, but I wonder if I need to finish pre-reading first.

Becca, what are your favorite books that you haven't written? You assume much, grasshopper. In no particular order: THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Shaffer and Burrows, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Mistress Jane Austen, PEACE LIKE A RIVER by Lief Enger, THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak, TODAY I WILL FLY by Mo Willems***, LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo, and THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver.

Becca, what are you doing to keep yourself busy with Husband out of town? Um, 4 kids on 4 school schedules, writing long blog posts, napping (just kidding, Husband!), not much housecleaning (but it will happen... someday), riding my bike, yoga, watching not-very-trashy chick-flicks, and cooking food. And eating food. And cleaning up the kitchen, hiding evidence of all that food.

Becca, what's going on with that play you teased us about? Oh. Right. Annie Get Your Gun. Kids 1 and 2 and I are "ensemble" cast members, which requires a couple evenings a week, Saturday mornings, and no line memorizing. It's perfect. You know, for small-town community theater. Our Annie is great - she's got such a voice on her. Yowza.

Becca, if we have more burning questions, what should we do? Why, leave them in the comments, certainly. I'll be happy to answer all manner of questions you ask, along with those you don't.

*Except, don't.
**That was a Grandpappy word. He was my dad's dad. And a certifiable Grammar Snob. So it's okay to use it.
***Who is, in case you've maybe been on a different planet for the last 10 years, a GENIUS.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Sometimes I think I'm a writer. Then there are days when I have nothing. Nothing in my fingers. Nothing in my brain. My very soul is a shriveled pod, empty of thoughts or images or ideas.

But at least I can always be overly dramatic, right?

So I'm cheating. Sort of. I googled "writing prompts" and found zillions of websites. (yes, zillions. I counted.) These sites give me (or third graders, whatever) ideas of things to write about, like for a response journal or something.

So I'm going back to "school", and I'm giving myself an assignment every day to write something brought on by one of these writing prompts. And my soul will fill up and blossom or something, and I will have thoughts in my head and itchy fingers to type them down. And then, even if I don't have anything brilliant (or even coherent) to add to my WIP, at least I'm writing. Much like my kids are doing at school, but without the gum-smacking and contraband iPods.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Should be Fun

The other day, Kid 4 called me to come into the office. "I have something for you," he said. Which could be anything, you know. As it happens, he had found a preview for the movie FAME on the computer.

He knows.

He's 5, and he knows that my heart goes all fluttery for the whole singing-dancing-acting thing, especially when it relates to my childhood. I spent many evenings watching "Fame" with my family when I was growing up. And when we took Kid 2 to a movie for her birthday, and the preview for FAME started up, I could barely sit still. I humiliated my kids by singing along. "I'm gonna live forever, light up the sky like a flame. (Fame!) I feel it coming together. Baby, remember my name. (remember! remember! remember! remember!)"

That should be fun. It should be great. It has every reason to thrill me. But now I'm nervous to watch it.

See, my dad has this theory that PG-13 is code for "guaranteed to offend your mother" and guess what? I'm the mother now.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Thirty-five was a very good year. (Frank Sinatra is singing in my head right now. Yes. I am a huge nerd.) Here are some of the things that I did, learned, or experienced when I was thirty-five:

I did my own hair. I never got a professional haircut or any kind of color. I'm looking forward to remedying that situation sometime in the near future.
I achieved the goal of jogging (I almost said "running" but let's not get carried away) 4 miles at a shot.
I had a book published.
I had many prayers answered with calming peace. This is not necessarily exclusive to 35, but nice anyway.
I went on a great family vacation.
I bought leather couches.
I submitted a new manuscript.
I sent my oldest baby to high school and my youngest baby to kindergarten.
I wrote many thousands of words.
I got really tan by hanging out in my own backyard.
I went to a few good writing conferences.
I came to be at peace with my body. Not in love with it, you understand. Just grateful for its capabilities rather than angry at its unwillingness to look a certain way.
I let go some things that needed to be let go.
I held on tight to some friendships that I really, really value.
I fell in love with Husband again. This is also a regular occurrence. And fun.
I tried writing a book in reading order: from the beginning to the end.*
I saw my appliances, at the verge of death, resurrect and perform all their functions well.
I read a great deal of YA literature, some great, some terrible, some: meh.
I had people come to my book signings (and yes, I knew almost all of them. So what?)

And today, thirty-five is over. I wonder what's in store for thirty-six?

*It's not very good yet. Revision time!

Friday, September 11, 2009


I'm working on a story that has all kinds of things in it that I don't know anything about. Because I can't always write what I know. I don't know all that much. I'd run out of ideas pretty fast. But there would be a lot of food in my stories.

Um, there is, in fact, a lot of food in my stories.

But now I get to research some stuff. Like gymkhana. Do you know what that is? It's sort of rich-kids' rodeo. Remember that time I told you about my neighbor's horse? Well, she's a high-school rodeo competitor (the neighbor, not the horse*) and I've seen her do some cool races. When she was about 12 I watched her compete in this event where she did some crazy racing around water barrels and starting and stopping her horse and all manner of horsey-tricks. It was called gymkhana, which even this blogging program knows is a real word, spelled correctly (and maybe I was the only one who didn't know that before) and I am totally using that in my story. Fun, huh?

So I write a bit, and then research a lot, and then write a bit more. Maybe I'll have to go over to the Pony Palace** and watch some competitions. And eat scones or popcorn or some other carnival-type food***, because that goes along with rodeo in my head. And all that time, I can consider myself "working" - you know, working. Working. (Insert giggles here.)

Ah, research. Love it.

*except, apparently, also the horse. You know what I mean.
**really. That's what it's called. It's a county rodeo facility, I think. And that may not be the precise and exact name of the facility, but that's what "everyone" around here calls it.
***but not corn-dogs. I have my limit. I've never (to my knowledge) eaten a corn dog, and I'd really like it to stay that way.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The End

And tomorrow my life changes, once again, forever. (Dramatic, much?)

This is the last day before my last baby heads to school. So we are going out to play.

And tomorrow, there will be much writing, with phones turned off and windows blinded. But for right now, I'm off to play.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We're In This Together

Oooh. Yesterday morning I woke early-early and worked on a story for/with a friend. It's sort of a collaboration thing. She has a great historical nugget, and I put it in my words. If I do say so my own self, it is beautiful.

We have some kinks to work out, and some details to process (kind of like any time anyone writes anything) and it's different doing it together. There are some details that I think should be different, but we'll work it out.

I read it out loud to Husband when he got home from morning basketball, and I choked up a little. That is something that I don't do every day. Especially about words I wrote myself. Isn't that fun?

So, the thing is that collaboration can work. And I am excited to do it, especially with this brilliant friend who has such an ear for a perfect story. I'll keep you in the loop...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Spare Me the Drama

Title Drama is ebbing. Hooray.

There are such good, brilliant people working at my publisher's house (Hi, Lisa, Heidi, Emily!), and sometimes I just take their word for stuff. You know, like I would with my parents back when I was suggestible to their direction. Sure, okay, if you say so, I'll go with you.

But with this title change, the more I thought about it, the more it simply didn't fit. I did some rewriting, threw in a few references that would tie the book in to the title, but you know what? It felt false. It felt like I was using the title (which wasn't mine, and wasn't particularly pertinent) to sell the book, the way I would if the title were brilliant but the book were just... okay. Do you know what I'm saying?

So late Friday evening, we came to a solution. I almost said "to a compromise" but that suggests that we both lowered our expectations to meet in the middle. In fact, I think we came up with something better than any of my previous ideas and better than theirs. So, without any further whinging and moaning, here is the new and improved title for my book which will come out either in February, in May, or not at all:

a romantic comedy by Becca Wilhite

Want to tell me you hate it? Just wait a while, okay? I'm still re-learning how to breathe without a paper bag.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Title

I got a note from Publisher last night letting me know that they'd decided on a new title for my book. I don't know if I'm allowed to share it yet, so I won't, but let me say that it's causing a little work on my part.

And we all know by now how I feel about work.

They've given me a title that ties my story to a specific person, time period, and style (okay, Madame Jane Austen, to be exact). Which is a little funny, because I never once mentioned Miss Austen in my book. Not once.

But that is all changing, starting this morning at 5.30 when I started revising again. I remember telling y'all that I like (love) revisions, and it's still true. But, you know, more work.


So I'd better get to it. More later, when I have it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Job - Updated

I have removed this post, because a friend I referenced here found it offensive. I am very sorry about that. I never intended any offense, as I told her as soon as she approached me. I apologize if the post offended anyone else.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Writing Again

Sort of. Mostly for the past month, I haven't written much longer than a blog post. Ack. It hasn't really been in me. I know, I know... a woman of character writes whether or not she's feeling it. Need we mention, once again, that I am not a woman of character?

But school starts tomorrow, so I got up earlier than usual, made a delicious German Pancake breakfast, and got out a previously-abandoned draft of a novel to peck at. I read it over while breakfast baked, and when it was time to wake the Kids (for the trial run of getting out of bed before nine) I didn't want to leave it.

Wow. Is that fun? Um, yes.

It is totally different for me. A little magical (just a little) and a little spiritual (but not religious*) and fairly formal. Maybe mystical, at least in its first draft. Not funny. Not sarcastic. I wonder, a little, if I can pull it off. But it's also only beginning. I think the draft has 8K words. So there is room to change. And it will, because that's what drafts do. At least they do when I pull them up and read them and write in them.

So tomorrow, when life changes once again, and I have a schedule, I'll pull it out again. I'll write a scene or two or whatever it takes to reach a thousand words. Then in a week or so, it will be twice as long as it is now, and we'll take another look. And then in a month, or two, or three, it will be a messy, dirty, finished first draft. And then it starts all over again.

*Not that there is anything wrong with religious. I am a believer. It's just not what I write.