Saturday, October 31, 2009

Novel Writing Month

Do you know all about this? It begins tomorrow. It's National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo. Clever, right? (See? I'm like a novel-writing MACHINE. Or something.) I've never done it before, but I'm totally in for it this year. I have a plan (the hardest part for me) and a will (um, a close second) and a functional computer. That seems like all the tools I need to crank out a fifty-thousand-word draft in November.

I hope.

I am decidedly noncommittal for too many things, but I really want to try this out. Here's the thing: I need to start strong. Like Bust out of the gate sprinting, or something. But I don't generally write on Sundays. It's more like I spend several hours in church and then sleep it off. Plus some cooking.

So I may not actually begin until November 2nd. Which means, if I'm taking days off for Sunday-type activities, I need to throw down an average of 2500 words every writing day. (I did that math in my head. It could well be faulty.) That is roughly five times my daily writing goal. Okay, not roughly. It IS five times my daily goal. FIVE TIMES.

Want to know what will help? Husband will be in Hawaii for work (yeah, I know) for the first week. If I refrain from Netflixing (don't you love making up verbs?*) anything too tempting, I might actually make it. Possibly even more. Especially if I allow myself a really good reward when I hit the goal. Also, if I stop showering... No. Not that.

Stay tuned.

*We call that "verbing."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How About THIS?

A teacher, stressed out with school, his band, and the community theater play he's got a huge role in, invites an EMT to do a presentation in his class. On the very day the EMT is presenting, the teacher has an actual heart attack during class. IN school. In front of his students. The kind where his body thoroughly shuts down. The EMT springs into action, does all his mighty First Responder business, saves the teacher's life, keeps a classroom full of worried high schoolers calm until the ambulance carries their teacher away.

How's that for the Hand of the Lord in that man's life?

He may not be actively invited in, but God is in our schools, and I am grateful.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Help! Help!

Okay, it's not like this is an emergency. I don't need anyone's kidney. Just really great ideas for yearbook themes.

My WIP needs a terrific yearbook theme, and I've got nothing. If you leave me theme ideas, the greatest one will be in my book, and will even be the title (*gasp*) if it rocks my socks. And also the contributor who sends this remarkable theme will win something, um, great. Which will be determined at some point after the sun comes out. Which I am sure it will do eventually, even though it is very dark and howly right now.

Okay, blog-friends -- Yearbook Theme away!

Oh, and thanks. You know, for all your help.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"What Are They DOING?"

Last night, after a few family board games, Husband and I snuck into the office* so he could show me some photos he's been working on. Have I mentioned that he's brilliant, photo-wise? He also started blogging **recently, but it's mostly pretty, pretty photos (the words come, too, though). Anyway, so the Kids were playing Christmas music on the iPod and dancing around the family room. Vigorously.

Very vigorously.

After a few minutes I wandered into the kitchen to pack lunches for today, and the dancing had morphed into an impossible-to-describe game of "leap over the rolling logs" at which point, Husband came through and whispered to me, "What are they DOING?"

I shook my head, shrugged my shoulders, and said, "I think they're exercising. But be quiet, they don't know it." The game continued until I started reading them "Midnight Magic" by Avi, at which point they all lay their sweaty selves on the floor and drew illustrations of the castello.

To my sistas of the small children, who feel discouraged by the daily-daily: This Too Shall Pass. It gets easier. And it's really a whole lot of fun.

*It wasn't quite as romantic as it sounds.
**Scroll down for some cuteness of our own.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Busy Time

I love, love it when there's nothing to do.

Sometimes I get a paralyzing, breath-constricting, sleep-stealing anxiety when there is too much going on. Like now. Somehow I thought that spending the past hour writing it all down would calm me. If I could get it on a schedule, I reasoned, it would all seem more do-able.


Now it looks like even more. And some of it is really important. Some of it is necessary -- a commitment. Some of it is delegate-able. And it will all happen. Somehow, over the next three weeks, it will all shake out and get done and be fine.

And I'll remember how to breathe.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mama Train

For more than fourteen years, I have considered my job as an exercise in futility. The job? Motherhood. The futility? Everything I do today must be redone tomorrow, and nobody notices a single thing I do... unless I don't do it. Over and over and over.

Do you know this feeling? The second the laundry is folded, someone throws up in his sheets. The minute dinner is cleared and dishes done, someone is STARVING. As soon as the kitchen is swept, along comes King Kong, stomping on the Cheerios he just poured onto the pantry floor. Ah, Baby is finally sleeping... just as Toddler throws herself off the edge of my bed and requires stitches. Vacuum? Why bother? That sweet mommy-voice I've tried to cultivate? Doesn't get the job done. If I start the bartering process with a shout and a throbbing vein, chances are good I'll end it faster.

What's the point, right? So I skip the vacuumming. And the carpet turns to velcro instantly. So I take a break from laundry, and suddenly everyone is naked and IT'S ALL MY FAULT. Don't feel like making dinner? Or lunch? Or that hot breakfast? "Hello, this is Child Protective Services, we need to have a talk*."

But a funny thing is happening around here.

I hesitate to confess, but I'm among friends, right? So huddle up. Shh. Here it is. I think it's getting easier.

The work still must be done, and done every day. But if I don't want to switch the wet laundry out of the dryer because I'm up to my elbows in pie crust, I can ask any one of four talented and capable kids to do it for me. And chances are, it will happen. Before said wet laundry grows fur. I can still spend 3 hours making a meal that will be a memory in seven minutes, but I WILL hear at least 3 people say "Thank you" for it. Does that make the meal taste better? You better believe it. I still have to sit next to the piano for many hours of practicing every week, but somehow, my urge to strangle Kids into proper hand position ebbs.

I've spent** far too many hours of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because, hey - if it's going to drop, it's under the control of gravity, and there's very little I can do about it. So I choose to ride this train. I have fairly healthy, relatively happy kids who like each other. This is what most parents crave. Pray for. Work toward. And I should, can, will enjoy it, for as long as it lasts.

*Please don't worry. This is a hypothetical phone call. Plus, we have Caller ID, so I just wouldn't answer that one.
**Translation: Wasted

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another Day, Another School

You know how some people are insufferable about telling you how cute their kids are? I just want you all to know I'm refraining.

I'm meeting with the "Young Authors' Club" at Kid 1's high school today. Kid 1 is not involved. She thinks writing anything longer than a Facebook status update is akin to torture. But there are a couple of her friends, and at least one very cute boy involved, so she may come. I'm not sure what we're talking about, but that totally works for me. They can ask questions and we can talk about writing. For a while. Or we can talk about food. Because I just made the yummiest. It's like apple pie, but a cookie bar. There is goodness all around. Or we can talk about clothes, but I don't know much there. Or we can talk about the playoffs (but only for a minute, because I think baseball is boring unless I actually know a player) but for all I know, that could be over. But basketball's starting, and there's always my fictional boyfriend Kyle Korver... so maybe we shouldn't talk sports at all.

But whatever we decide to talk about, there will be a few laughs, even if I have to purchase them with vomit stories. Because if I know one thing, it is that kids who laugh with you will be fans, at least for a minute. And if I know one other thing, it's that vomit stories make most kids laugh.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yea for Visiting!

Last week I talked to Mrs. Hall's 4th grade class about all things authory. We had a pretty good time, if I do say so myself. They had good questions and great ideas.

One thing we talked about was goal setting. How we can get a real sense of accomplishment from setting, monitoring, measuring and achieving realistic and important goals. We talked about how a daily writing goal can give me a reason to say, "Yea, Me!" and how that's an amazing part of life. I told them that I hope they all have something to say "Yea, Me!" about every day.

Today I got a large (poser-sized) thank-you letter from Mrs. Hall's class, and tucked inside were "Yea, Me!" notes from the kids in her class. They said things like, "Yea, Me! I am awesome at soccer." "Yea me - I am good at math" "Yea for me! I can make songs rhyme!" "Yay me! I can read! I can write! I learned to tread water!" "I am awesome at getting my math done" "Yea me! I won my football game 21 to 0" and "Yes Me! I am a beast at soccer!"*

They also recommend chocolate instead of popcorn for curing my rejection dejection. I'll take it under advisement.

I am so glad for great teachers who work to make learning fun for their kids. Yea, Mrs. Hall!

*There was one that said "Yay me! I lick my life" - but we're all going to remember how much editing I need and not make a comment about that one.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"After reading a couple hundred of those books, you know, hypothetically speaking, you start to see that there’s not that much difference between a romance and an epic fantasy. You’ve got your quest, sometimes involving a ring, and your hero who will stop at nothing to do what he has to."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Something weird this way came. I don't know what was going on, but for some reason, my blog was going silly. But I've been here, and I'm still here. I haven't had much to say, and clearly nothing at all that's interesting, but I hope I've fixed whatever was weird. You know, in case you've wondered.

Did You Know?

FedEx Express small pack is not for mailing blood. It says so right there on the bag, where you seal it shut. Just so you know. No blood.

Going Shopping Online?

So I wanted to tell you about my cute SIL Sarah's etsy shop. She's the queen of the classy-crafty, and a legitimate artist*. She does beauteous things with paper and ink, and makes such adorable knitted and crocheted (does that word look bizarre to anyone else?) items. My favorite is the froggy hat. In lime green.

Go visit her at Sarahndipities and see what tickles your fancy... just in time to stuff some stockings.

Why, you're welcome.

*We'll save all discussion of illegitimate artists for another forum. Thank you for your courtesy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Sometimes the Busy is good - fulfilling.
Sometimes the Busy is bad - distracting.
Sometimes the Busy is just crazy, crazy busy - never ending.

But I think I see the end coming...

Thursday, October 15, 2009


No school today - it's Fall Break (which once upon a time, I kid you not, was called "The Deer Hunt"). So I slept in until it was almost time for the sun to come up (Seven! Yea!) and looked out the window to find thick, white, heavy fog. The streetlight couldn't even cut a triangle through it. Fuzzy light just hovered like a ball from the lamp and from porch lights. A few minutes later, light from the sunrise tried to clear things up, but not only could I not see the mountains, I couldn't see the house across the street (just the hovering porch light) or the trees next door. I sent Husband off to work with his very favorite words (the ones that start with "be" and end with "ful" and have a "care" in the middle). He told me not to worry, because he has fog lights. Right. So, hurry along, then.

Naturally this put me in mind of writing.* My first drafts are foggy. They're like a mass of unconnected hovering light balls surrounded by the hidden and the unclear. I can barely see the outlying form, the big picture. Somehow I need to bring it all into focus in future drafts. I have to burn through the mist and the murk, sharpening all the story's edges. I need other people, those driving without fog lamps, to show me all the places where it hasn't burnt off.**

And some days, I like the fog, both outside my window and in my stories. It wraps like a blanket, insulating. Today, my kids and I can stay here, protected by the walls of our home. And my story, buffered from all the critical eyes out there, can remain wrapped in its little cocoon until it grows enough to emerge, be tested, strengthen, and take off.

**Yesterday in my talk with Mrs. Hall's 4th grade class, I decided "review group" is a better name than "critique group"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Mojo Has Returned

Remember how I love writing? I think I forgot for a while. But waking at 5.30 to knock out a few hundred words used to be a thrill for me. There's nothing like crossing off a major list item before the kids are even moving. It makes me feel like super-lady. Femme Fabulosa. Woman Extraordinaire. The thrill was gone for a while, but it's back. The muse has returned, and she's singing again. I am happy to report that words are coming. They may be total first-draft words, but they are words. Hundreds of them at a time.

In other news, galley proofing is moving along nicely. And as a little treat for you, my friends, a Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions mini-exerpt*:

"Can teeth sweat?"

*Ally Carter does this, and I think it's fun. So now I do it. See how that works? We call it "sharing."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Galley Day

This morning I got a visit from the FedEx man. Don't you love it when that happens? I live in a short cul-de-sac, and we as a neighborhood get lots of FedEx and UPS traffic. It is a rare treat for the truck to actually land outside my door.

Today he came, and he delivered my galley proofs. If you don't know what that is, you're in the right place. I'm going to tell you! Lucky, lucky. Galleys are the printed pages (on regular 8.5 x 11 paper) that look like book pages. They're laid out with pretty font and page numbers and "Becca Wilhite" on every other page. It's very fun to read through the galleys. I get the responsibility of carefully reading every word on every page to make sure there are no random mistakes. I need to send my corrections back to the publisher within 2 weeks. (It's not a very long book. It won't take too much time.) But I need to be careful and precise. This is not the time for me to make revisions. I can't put stuff from Chapter 2 into Chapter 17 (I don't think I actually have a Chapter 17, and I can't change that now, either). I can't take out characters or make new plot points. That is called editing. The time for that has passed, and that's why I did so many drafts over the last year and a half. That's why I had so many people read it (and some, so many times - Hi, Em!) and offer suggestions. Now is the time for careful proofreading (which is just not the same thing as editing, you know).

And one other thing:

This may be the last time I actually read all the way through this book. It doesn't really do me any good to read my books after they're published. It only makes me itchy. I think of how it could have been better, funnier, longer, more precise. So this may be it, and that's a happy (and nostalgic) thing. So off I go to pick carefully through galley proofs - see you on the other side.

Monday, October 12, 2009


So I sent Kid 1 on a 3-day school trip to a Shakespeare competition and drama workshop (just in case we need a little more drama around here*). She took my cell phone** which she used frequently, and her copy of Les Miserables, which she looked at for possibly 2 pages. She rode hours on a bus with friends of both the female and male persuasion (gulp). She saw a production of AIDA. Here is her review:

"I had awesomeness chills."

She reports that she sat there with her mouth open for the entire show. There were fireworks. Amazing dancing. Music to bring tears to her eyes. There was a waterfall ON STAGE. Awesomeness chills, indeed.

She also saw MacBeth and a show called "The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged***", and can throw out names like Othello and Desdemona at will. How cute is that? For a nerd like me, excellent.

So Hooray for safe returns of firstborn children. Hooray for exposure to the arts. Hooray for stretching and growing and having dreams and goals. Hooray for kids who love the Theatre (because sometimes it's just cooler to spell it that way).

* Clearly, we do.
** Because she doesn't have one of her own - yes, I am the world's meanest Mom.
*** Have I mentioned that I wrote something very like that for my WIP? Funny. The coincidence, not so much my WIP. Yet.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Kinder, Gentler Kids' Stories

Kid 4, home from Kindergarten, has just finished reading me a story (we call this homework). He read the library book he checked out from school. It's "3 Little Pigs" - a version from the early 70s. He's reading along, and here comes the wolf to the first little pig. He huffs, puffs, blows and ... eats the pig up.

Kid 4's eyes widen, his voice softens in wonder, and he asks, with half a grin, "Did you hear that. Mom? He ate the pig. I bet I know what's going to happen next!" He was terribly entertained by this more grisly version. Every page brought that half-scandalized, half-amused face, along with that adorable "I bet I can guess..."

Something has happened (and I am generally for it) to soften our little kids' stories. We feed our kids fairy tales and fables and legends, but the early versions (like Brothers Grimm) are beastly. Witches dance themselves to death in hot iron shoes. Mermaids turn to sea-foam. Princes' eyes are gouged out by rogue brambles. There is wholesale death and destruction on every page.

This is children's literature? These are the stories we read them... before they sleep? I am glad and grateful for the softening of kids' stories. I even prefer the cheesy Disney versions of the classic tales, because they have songs. And we all know how I feel about songs. Yay. Not that I think we have to shelter our kids from all issues. There are things they should feel curious about, and there's no safer place to explore that curiosity than in a book. But. But. I choose to keep them as young as possible for as long as possible. So bring on the gentle books.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Let it Go? Go Where?

Sometimes there's a lot to say. And sometimes there's nothing to say. And sometimes, there's so much I want to say that it gets caught in that place in the back of my throat and threatens to choke me, so I don't want to let it out, and it seems like maybe there's nothing to say after all.

Today I'm thinking a little about letting go. Do you ever worry that if you let go a little, you'll lose your grip entirely? That is rawther* terrifying to me. And sometimes I think I can do it, the loosening up, and then I can actually see things slipping away.

I work and struggle and fight to keep grips on the things that matter. Every day. And maybe I hold on too tight, and maybe I pinch and choke a little. But better to pinch a little than to see it all float away.

*Remember Eloise? The picture book, not the cleaning-advice lady.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The List

It's creeping up on me - this weekend, when so many things are my responsibility, and I am prepared for NONE of them. I'm dabbling in the art of overscheduling myself this week, and it appears that I'm capable. I can create too much junk for me. But it's all good junk (and so I guess I need a new word).

My List of things to do (including blogging, because - duh!) is whittling down this morning, and some things have to be put aside. And some things that I've procrastinated for far too long have to shoot to the top of The List and be dealt with NOW NOW NOW.

Tomorrow, though, there's only one thing on my calendar. The rest of that empty space is a thrill to me, I can admit. Even though the things this week is full of are great, and important, and even fun, it turns out that I am that girl who would rather have nothing to do. The girl who would rather read a book than host a luncheon. Who would rather take a bath than volunteer at school. The girl who would rather make a family dinner than go to a meeting, rather haul kids around than get a job, rather write than perform for a crowd.

But for this week (minus beautiful, beautiful tomorrow) I will do those other things. With a smile. And I'll be glad to do them. And then, after it's over, I'll remember how to say "no, thank you" and be here, home, at the computer, relearning how to do that thing I love. That creative thing where words come pouring out of my fingertips and fill pages with giggles and sometimes tears. That thing that's going back on the top of The List.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Book Fair

It's elementary school book fair time again. This should fill my heart with joy, you know? And it does, really. I'm excited to spend time with the kiddos, talking about good books and getting them excited about reading.

A few books on the shelves are really great. And then there are a whole lot of books that fit nicely into this category: This has been on the shelf and in our warehouse for several years and we can't sell it; can you? You know the ones, right? The Book 4 in a six-book series. The one written by a famous person who is not a writer. Anything with (bless their hearts) Troy and Gabriella on the cover.

If we could request, I'd fill the shelves with quality. Funny books (all Mo, all the time, and I'm diving headfirst into the Campfire Weenies, and loving it) and historical books (anything by Karen Cushman) and multi-cultural books (Christopher Paul Curtis, anyone?) and serious books (why does Scholastic not sell The Book Thief?). I'd give the kids anything and everything by Kate DiCamillo (my favorite for true diversity - she can do it all, I'm convinced). I'd bring out the classics (Roald Dahl in all his glory, Dr. Seuss, Noel Streatfeild, Kevin Henkes, Beverly Cleary and beyond).

What would you want to see at your kids' book fair? (I have an entirely different list for what I'd expect at Jr. High and High School. 'Nother Post.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lazy Me

Remember relaxing?

I do. I'm actually really, really good at it. I regularly read a book in the afternoon (that's called RESEARCH, friends). Husband and I watch a lot of movies. We play games with the kids. We go on meandering walks.

What we don't do well around here (much to the dismay of Kid 1) is sleep in. We have everyone up-and-at-it by 6:30 every day. And I like to have things accomplished by then, because, well, you know. For the next 2 hours it's all about making the breakfast and packing the bags and practicing and finding socks and helmets and biology reports and the Good Elastics.

But tomorrow? There's no reason for me to be out of bed before 9:00. Nine. O. Clock. I'm going to try it. I'm going to try to sleep in. I'm not sick. I'm not even tired. I'm not overworked (as if that were even a conceivable possibility in my world). I'm just curious. I wonder if I can do it.

I'll report back, you know, in case anyone cares. I'll consider it a success if I'm still eyes-closed at seven-thirty. It could happen.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Want to See?

I have a little something to show you.

Want to see?

It's new. It's colorful. It's roughly book-shaped:

There's a lot to think about with a book cover. It's scary territory for me, partly because I have very little (that means "no") control over it. Partly because it matters SO SO SO much. And partly because I want to love it. I want to adore my covers. I want to see them and be unable to control my grinning.

So, here it is.

I am grinning.

(The artist responsible for putting this together is Sheryl. She has my undying devotion, as I'll tell her just as soon as we ever meet.)