Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Look! A great review by YA Book Queen. This fun blog is run by Lea, who is 18. Girl Power! She ran the review today and is running a contest in the next few days. And speaking of contests, my Good Friend Melanie J is running a giveaway of MRRO - you can jump over to her hilarious blog and throw your hat in there, too.
Meanwhile, I get to experience shame at the hands of eight-year-olds today. I'm teaching a dance for a musical program at school. I know. This is enormous irony. But away I go, to dance and sing my little guts out.
Over and out.
Monday, February 8, 2010
- Sunshine. It's out there, people, and I like it.
- Caramel Syrup. Recipe on demand.
- Good books. Try "The Chosen One" by Carol Lynch Williams. It's gripping.
- Nearly-toothless six-year-old boys. Honestly, how does he eat?
- Relaxing Sundays with yummy food in the company of good friends.
- Yoga on wii Fit.
- Homemade bread - made by someone else (thanks, Kim!)
- Drainage. Dripping. Melting noises. Mmmm.
- Blue-painted toenails.
- Knowing by morning what's for dinner.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Here's some fun:
Today I found out that Bright Blue Miracle is a finalist for a Whitney Award. This is a cool awards program for writers who also happen to be LDS (that's Mormons, you know, and we're really nice people). The award is named for Elder Orson F. Whitney, who said, "We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own." Which is awesome, but maybe not totally fitting for BBM. Because, clearly, it's prose. Other than that tiny detail, right. Totally Miltonesque and Shakespearean. Totally.
Also, I was interviewed on Novel Journey today. I'm not sure if they didn't like MRRO, or just didn't have a chance to read it, but there's not a review (but I sound kinda cute, dont' you think?). Check it out if you have a minute.
Also we're going on a family date tonight to the local High School basketball game. Think Kid 1 will be sitting anywhere near us? Yeah, we don't count on it, but it will be fun. And she may surprise us, you know. Her friends think I'm cool, remember?
Have a loverly weekend, all!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I'm learning things about how I write. More specifically, how I write successfully.*
I'm convinced that Writers with Character come up with a brilliant title, dazzling characters, a wicked hook, and a stunning plot. They outline. They plan. They write fifteen hundred to two thousand words every day and make a book.
I get the rest of it, the revising, the critiquing, the editing, the re-revising, the totally re-writing. I know that part. But the planning, the plotting, the outlining, is like some gorgeous pear at the top of the tree -- no matter how much I reach for it, I can't touch it, and then I'm sore and cranky.
But, being the kind of girl I am (a little slow), I keep trying for it. I reach for that outline. I write so many words every day. I struggle. I hate my words. I sigh at my futile reaching. But what do you know: there's another pear, equally gorgeous, waiting for me right at eye level. I just need to change my focus and grab it.
I may not be a Woman of Character (surprise!) and I'm going to have to be okay with that. I may never have a successful writing experience coming from an outline. I may never even write a plot-heavy book. But there are other pears on the tree, see?
Let's switch metaphors here:
My writing style is different from what I think it should be. I'm not that Writer of Character I imagine. I'm more like a toddler playing with pretty beads, picking one up and looking at all sides of it, holding it up to the light, tasting it, maybe shoving it up my nose (or maybe not), and deciding I love it. So I put that bead in the Keepers pile. Then I pick up another bead, one that makes me smile, or maybe even one that reminds me of something sad that I don't really want to forget. So I'll stare at that bead for a while, polishing it on my shirt, and put it into the Keepers pile, too. Before too long, I have a great big pile of shiny beads, some big glass ones, some cheesy plastic ones, some groovy silver ones. I love my pile.
But what good is a pile of beads?
So I have to string them. And then probably dump them back onto the table. And restring them and dump them a few more times. Then I'll see that I need a few more beads. And some spacers. And I'll take a little break here and there. And do you know what happens then? I can put an end clasp on it, and it will be complete. A whole necklace.
Will it make me a fortune? No. Will everyone want a necklace just like that? Certainly not. Will I be able to love it anyway? I will. Because I chose each bead. I polished each one and took time to love every inch of the string.
And so it is when I write successfully. I allow myself to write the scene I'm feeling. To dive in to the middle of a relationship and then let the details, the process, the lead-in follow. To discover each shiny, light-filled bead and to put it in a pile. To go back and write another scene, choose another bead, until I fill my pile with scenes I love: some big ones, some shiny ones, some cheesy ones, some gorgeous, light-filled ones.
And when it's time to string them together, I remind myself that this isn't the end -- I'm not finished if I don't want to be. There can be more stringing and un-stringing and re-stringing until I'm pleased with the whole effect.
But what if my favorite bead doesn't fit? Do I have to throw it away? Course not. I can put it on the desk and look at it every day. Maybe it will inspire a whole new necklace.
And isn't that the whole idea? The Inspiration part? So here's my point. (You knew I had one, didn't you?) Ask everyone about their style. Pry. Discover all the pears on the tree. Try reaching for some. Find the one that's in your reach.
Then go forward. Plot, if you're a plotter. Eavesdrop, if you're a dialoger. Analyze, if your a character-er. Pick up those pretty beads if you're a beader. Outline, for heaven's sake, if you're an outliner. And good for you. Do it. Write it. Paint it. Create it. Sing it. Whatever you're doing, do it. Add to the pile.
When the pile grows, that can only be a good thing.
*With adverbs, apparently.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I saw some. Yesterday, as I was picking up Kid 4 from his buddy's house, I stepped out of the Mighty MiniVan, right into one of my favorite things: Squishy, squelchy mud.
Oh, mud. I love you. I love your fudge-brownie color. I love your smell -- that mix of dirt, mulch, water and hope. Hope that Spring will, in fact, ever return.
There is not a tiny spot of mud visible anywhere at my house, because it's all several feet deep in crusty snow. But if I'm nowhere around here? You can bet on finding me at Kid 4's buddy's house, on my knees, nose to the ground, happily inhaling mud.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
When you go to writer's conferences, there is a great deal of excitement and anxiety. And here's why: Every person attending the conference thinks*, "This is it. This is my break. I'm going to meet the agent and both editors in attendance, and they are all going to fall at the feet of my manuscript. There will be tears and begging and promises of Best Friendship Forever. We may near the word "auction" thrown around. I am here at this conference, and I Have Arrived."
Except, really? Not.
There's some research somewhere that would tell you the percentage of conference attendees who win a contract on the manuscript they bring to the conference, but honestly, we all know I'm too lazy to do that research. So I'll just tell you this: It's not a very big number.
A ton of the attendees at any given conference are bringing a first draft. Do I really need to say more about that?
Of the ones carrying a polished manuscript, many, many of them are first manuscripts. As in, this is my first novel.
WARNING: Here's where this hypothetical-ish blog post turns into a hypocritical blog post.
People don't usually get first manuscripts published. (Just stay with me, please.) Since with the act of writing, we become better writers everyday, it naturally follows that a third novel will be greater than a first, and the fifth will be vastly more wonderful. Paraphrasing several authors' takes on this, a writer needs to write four unpublishable novels before he's ready to have that golden #5 purchased.
At this point, you may be thinking that I got very lucky.
You would be correct.
I wrote a first book that was submitted, agent-free, to a publisher, chosen out of the slush pile, shined up, given a fabulous cover, and published. Then I wrote a second one that was also published (and will be in stores, like, any minute). So, if we're doing the math correctly, here's the thing. I owe the universe something like eight unpublishable manuscripts.
And I'd like you to know that I'm hard at work filling that IOU.
The things I'm writing at right now are bland. Un-spark-ish. Contrived. And it's seriously discouraging. BUT. I know that the exercise is good for me. I'm flexing the writing muscle, even if it goes nowhere. Someday I'll regain my cleverness. I'm certain. And the only way to do that is to keep working on it. Keep flexing that muscle. Keep the words coming, and not worry too much that they're boring or stupid or heartless.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I know, I KNOW that I am not the only one discouraged by the spewing of un-brilliant words. We can't all be on our game all the time. And I want you all to get it -- it's not ON all the time, and that's so totally okay.
Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Scratching. Scribbling. Plotting, dialoging, twisting, charactering. Writing, writing, writing.
The Universe will thank you.
*We really do think it, even if only in a tiny portion of our subconscious. Why? Because we've loved and nurtured and sweat over and lost sleep about this manuscript. It's precious. Like a favorite child. Not that we'd ever have a favorite child. Natch.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
We're working on BeccaWilhite.com.
I know, right?
Everyone is as excited about this as I am (and as Husband is - he's providing all the beauteous photos). So what that means is that I have to learn something new.
I'm transferring to WordPress (because... I don't know why. I just have to, so they tell me) and it's sort of science-y.* There's lots of cool stuff I could spend hours learning. Or I could work on a book. See my dilemma? So what I think I'm going to do is this: For every thousand words I write (in an actual manuscript) I can do half an hour of messing about with my new site. Have I mentioned lately that I'm WAY more at home in the kitchen than on the computer?
So stick around, and when something really official happens, you won't miss a thing! Happy weekend, y'all.
*This is a word I've loved forever - remember that Johnny Bravo cartoon parodying "The Fly"? "Whoa. Science-y."
Posted by Becca at 8:10 AM
Friday, January 29, 2010
Do you have a favorite book you've EVER read? One that you remember with some deep emotion, or come back to over and over? (Or am I the only re-reader around here?)
I was thinking about some of my favorites, and that there are a bunch of books I've read many times. Let's say Five times. Or more.
Les Miserables: (I don't know how to make French letter thingies on my computer, and Blogger doesn't know that "thingies" is a word. Silly Blogger.) I read this every year for the first ten years Husband and I were married.* The whole Romantic style with its overly long sentences and dramatic descriptions is hard for me to take in general, but I love this story so, so much that I'm willing to wade through it.
Pride and Prejudice: This is a favorite bathtub book. The newsprint pages of my copy are all bendy and thick from tub-induced humidity. I could read this three times a year and not get tired of it. My favorite reading ? When I read it out loud to the Kids. I did the voices. They laughed a lot. Mmmm. Happy books + happy Kids = goodness.
If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits? (Do you know Erma Bombeck? If you don't, do yourself a favor and see if any of her books are at your library. Had there been blogs in the seventies, she would have been the Queen. Well, she WAS the queen, but of newspaper columns instead. Go on. Try her. You can thank me later.)
Harry: I love me some Harry Potter. And don't get all up in my grill if you hate it. Yes, there are too many adverbs in these books. Yes, nobody can just "say" anything - they have to say it "somehow" - and yes, that does bug. A little. But not enough for me not to love the books. You don't have to agree, just please be kind.
The Fountainhead: Ayn Rand could write. And spookiness - she has characters that are so convincing that they could make me rethink how I felt about something I ABSOLUTELY knew.
Walk Two Moons: Sigh. My vote for Greatest Kids' Novel Ever. I kneel before Sharon Creech and bow my forehead to the floor.
Where the Sidewalk Ends: This was my favorite book as a kid. I have my parents' copy, all loved up and a little stinky from thirty years or so of kiddish affection. It makes an appearance in RRO, along with Grandma Jennie's oatmeal butterscotch cookies (and her name).
The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Did I tell you that Kid 4 ate our copy? He really did. Bites of board book, ingested. Mmmm. I'd long since resigned myself to never being Mom of the Year. But next royalty check, I think I'll finally re-buy the Caterpillar.
The Great Quillow (by James Thurber): I have a copy of this one that's illustrated by the magnificent Stephen Kellogg. The pictures are magical, and so is the story. One part David and Goliath, one part Morality Tale, seven parts tongue-in-cheek sweet, ironic humor. LOVE.
The Book Thief: Honestly, does anyone else have to tell you to read it? Just do it if you haven't. I'm not kidding. It may change your life. And I will personally give you a dollar if it doesn't make you cry. (Next time we hang out, you read me that second-to-last chapter. If you don't produce a tear, I give you a dollar. Promise.)
This is in no way a thorough list. There are more, lots more. I even read nonfiction, occasionally. (Usually cookbooks.) But not five times. Never five times.** I want to know what you read, over and over. Or if you don't, I want to know that, too - because I might understand. There are some things that are great, once, and that greatness diminishes upon further viewing (remember Mission Impossible? I hope you only saw it once).
*We're still married. It's a weird tense thing. A time-tense thing. Not a stress-tense thing.
**Okay, except Scripture. That's not on the list, but I do read it over. And over. And I love it, too.
Posted by Becca at 7:50 AM
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I don't particularly like being in charge. I love having other people I can turn and point to, either when something is great or when a major disaster happens. I love having Husband - for so many reasons, but also so I can say, "Ask Dad. Tell Dad. Go cry to Dad." I am not bossy, because I don't crave the backlash.
I am always right.
See where the problem comes in?
Even when I'm not in charge, I know exactly how everything should be run, and done, and carried out.
It's a curse.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I love when writers post their FAQ. So I'll give you all a little important information. Here are the things I get asked most frequently:
Q: Do I have any clean pants, Mom?
A: Did you put them in a hamper? Because if you did, I washed them. If they were carefully wadded up under your bed, they're still there.
Q: What's for dinner?
A: Check the calendar. I wrote it down.
Q: What do you think I should do?
A: (tearing my hair)
-- Oh - were you expecting writing questions? Those come, too. --
Q: What do you do with all your extra money?
A: (Laughing maniacally) Is there such a thing as extra?
Q: But don't writers make lots of money?
A: Writers who write lots of popular* books make lots of money.
Q: Here's a great idea for a book. Want to write it?
A: Probably not. I've got ideas - that's the easy part. The actual writing is where it gets a little tricky.
Q: What's the best part of being a writer?
A: Daily naps. Second best? Writer friends.
Q: How do you find the time to write?
A: Every day comes filled with twenty-four hours. I choose what I put in those hours (and how long each thing will take) - at least to some extent. I prioritize. I wake up early. I never clean my house if I can help it.** I have 4 kids in school. I minimize other commitments. I don't answer the phone. I do much less PTA than my guilt tells me I should. I hit my daily writing goal and then I move on to something else (like a whole lot of picking up and dropping off of adorable kids).
Q:Your characters sound like you.
A: That is not a question.
Q: Okay, I'll try again. Do you write yourself into your books?
A: There has to be something autobiographical in every writing - even if it's to say: This is what I don't really believe. It's natural to put yourself into your writing, because you come with a certain viewpoint, a set of lenses through which you see the world. It's good to change lenses when you write, but recognize that the lenses are there. Also, um, yeah. I do write myself.
Q: Do you write fiction because you're scared of the Truth?
A: I write fiction because it's my favorite vehicle for Truth. The True parts are what remain after the story is over.
Q: When is your next book coming out?
A: Technically March 4th (I think). Really? Any time. (You can already pre-order on some sites!)
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Something that's starting to take shape after 15,000 useless words. Sometimes I have to write for the sake of writing - flex a muscle every day. That leads to a whole lot of useless c-r-a-p. But maybe eventually the character will emerge and demand her story to be told. That's the magic part.
And there you have it - some of the things people ask me regularly. Want to know anything else? Your socks are under the couch. You're welcome.
*I almost said "good" books, but that isn't necessarily the same thing.
**I'd love for you to think that's a joke.
Friday, January 22, 2010
You know that feeling where you're itchy in your own skin? Where you have some huge stretch inside and you can't get it out? Where everything is fine, but you still feel just a little... off?
I'm here to tell you that cleaning the house doesn't fix it.
Staring at the computer because you don't have any words? Also not fixing it.
Taking a shower doesn't fix it either, but at least you'll smell nice.
Exercise helps, a little, as long as you're actually doing it, but it's not a solution so much as a temporary patch, a band-aid.
But do you know? Listening to 3 kindergarten-aged boys chatter over their plates of lunch (mac-n-cheeze, carrot sticks, apple juice and those pink-and-white frosted animal cookies with sprinkles), giggling and planning and plotting and snorting? That helps. A lot.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I went to my first rehearsal for "Joseph" tonight, and it was fun. Fun, I tell you!
We sang songs.
Lots of loud songs.
My throat muscles are tired.
Music makes me happy. Funny music makes me happier. Groovy music? Happiest. This is going to be good. And now if I could only get all my Hawaii laundry finished and take time to write something longer than a blog post... (Let's not hold our breath, shall we?)
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
So today I went to the bank. I may or may not have needed to cover an overdraft, and if I did, that's none of your business. So I'm in the bank, and I hand over the business to the cute teller girl. She said, with a shy smile, "Um, I need to tell you something."
Not my favorite words at the bank.
Then she says, "I just read your book. I filled up a huge bubble bath on New Year's Day and read it all at once. I loved it!" (Totally her exclamation point, okay?)
I have never seen her before. This is maybe the first unsolicited (as in Not at a book signing or other author event) "stranger feedback" and it was fun. Kids 3 and 4 were with me. Kid 3 asked as we left, "How did she know who you were? Oh, because your picture's on the cover, right?"
But definitely fun, right? Right.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
A friend Becky* once said, "I can't see myself eating a cube of butter**. Or a bag of marshmallows***. Or six cups of Rice Krispies****. So why can't I keep my hands out of the pan when I make Rice Krispies Treats?"
The sum, Becky is greater than all the parts.
So much greater.
* I'm not leaving her name out for anonymity or protection or privacy or anything like that. I just can't remember her last name. This is causing me shame. Shame. Why do I have this compulsion to remember everyone I've ever met? Um, possibly because I come from a family of freakishly good memories. My dad (hi, Dad!) remembers everyone he went to elementary school with, everyone he's ever taught, and all the people he's met traveling. Ever. And my brother (hi, OmaHeck!) remembers the names, faces, social security numbers, and fictional girlfriends of all the guys on the football, baseball, and basketball teams he ever played on. Plus everyone we ever knew growing up, child or adult, and all their pets. I do not make any of this stuff up.
**Um, no. Certainly not. No matter how good the bread it. Never.
***No, of course not. Not that, either.
****Well, duh. That's not even tempting.
Posted by Becca at 6:28 AM
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Do you know what this is? This? Right here? It's Post # 300. I know. Stunning, right? To think that only two hundred and seventy-five of them have been meaningless drivel! It makes a girl so proud!
So I'm hanging in the lobby (because someone's cleaning my room, perhaps, and also because here is the internet) and I'm watching the pretty waves roll in to the little cove, and I'm sure, certain, positive that I should be writing something other than this blog post, momentous as it may be.
But here's the thing for me about writing.
I need to feel it.
I brought one of those little memory sticks with me. It's purple. It allows me to carry all my drafts over the ocean to Hawaii. It allows me to add to the drafts. Of whatever I brought. Lots of options. And I'm honestly not feeling it at all.
The writing, although good exercise, frankly stinks. It's dry and unfunny and pedestrian and prosaic. (that's different from Prozac - at least that would seem funny, right?)
Side note: There is a man standing at the window looking very much like a late-middle-aged Kip from Napoleon Dynamite. He has on Khaki shorts and a grayish wide-sleeved tank, almost a t-shirt, but not quite. He's wearing square, wire-rimmed glasses and standing with his fists balled on his hips, fingers pointing back up toward his skinny arms. His hair is thin, and his stomach isn't. If I hadn't seen that movie (seventy times) would I have thought that guy was funny? Would I have thought him mentionable? Duh. Of course not. Because it's only the reflection of comedy that makes him comical. Okay, and the outfit. And the fists on hips. But it's the whole picture that makes him -- wait. He just turned his head, and he has the mustache. A skinny one. I'm trying not to giggle, because someone passing by might currently be thinking what a hard-working grownup I am right now. I'd hate to disabuse anyone of that notion.
So the point? I forget. Let's keep talking about that Kip guy. Having something relatable makes stories better.
Never fear: this is not a tirade.
Once I did a school visit where I talked to the kids about Truth and Fiction. Someday I'll write it all up without the "Yeah" and the "Um" and the "Seriously, kid? Is that what you think?" parts. But my point (about that) is that Fiction isn't the opposite of truth. Fiction is the rearrangement of truth. What we love about fiction is the truth that speaks to us underneath the story. We talked, the school kids and I, about Harry Potter. About the true parts (Everyone wants to go home to a safe place. It's valiant to fight against Evil. We want to be connected, especially when we feel different than everyone around us. It's hard to be in the middle of a fight between best friends. Sometimes it's hard to tell who's a bad guy. Good intentions aren't enough. Like that.) and about the clearly made-up parts. We talked about Twilight, about the true parts (teenage girls are attracted to dangerous guys) and the not true parts (it's totally okay for a girl to have her ice-cold undead boyfriend sleep with her in her bed, because nothing's going to happen).
And that's where I like to go when I'm writing. I like to know something true (a family can be built, it's not something that's just going to happen) or something that I hope is true (I am okay, even if I'm not feeling it right now) or even something that I want to be true (love wins) and work it in with things that are not necessarily real. Words become relatable. It creates a reaction - sometimes an explosion (usually just laughter, though) and suddenly it's more than it was. Heads nod. Maybe there are giggles. Maybe frustration. Maybe tears.
It's Fiction. It's Truth. It's Story. It's Real. It's Fun.
Okay, enough. Time to write.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Hurry! Hurry! There's a connection!
I'm staying at one of the nicest hotel/resorts I've ever been to, but internet is not their top priority. You'd think this would lead to much writing time, wouldn't you? In fact, it just leads to me trying, over and over again, to get a connection.
But I'm here to let you know that after strange plane situations that led to my arrival in Honolulu at 11:51 p.m. Hawaii time (um, yes. That's nearly 23 hours since I woke up) I am here. I had a great relaxing day yesterday (lots of clouds and wind, not much in the way of Goldening in the Sun) and might even be on Hawaii time, bodywise.
There are waves. There are trees. There is birdnoise. There are tourists and canceled whale-watching excursions (too much waviness out there, people - no snorkeling either, at least not today) but it wasn't MY whale-watching excursion anyway, so I'm fine. There is time to think. To miss my kids. To sleep in. To listen and ponder and wonder and explore.
If it's too cold to actually put on a bathing suit, I will be grateful that I don't need a coat.
If it's too windy to read a book outside, I will be happy to read inside for a while.
If Husband is working 18 hour days here, I will be happy he has a job (especially one that brings us here!)
But mostly, I'm happy to be here.
Posted by Becca at 10:21 PM
Once upon a time I wrote this:Here's a thought: Don't ask God to tell you what you need to work on unless you're ready for full-scale, wholesale humiliation*. There's a reason "humility" and "humiliation" are related. Ug.
So here I am, wandering around thinking I'm okay, doing my best (in my lazy way) to be good and kind, and giving people the benefit of the doubt. I think everyone's pretty nice, and doing their best, too. I like everyone well enough, so I assume they're all feeling the same about me.
Turns out that it doesn't matter what my intentions are, because the outcome of my actions is universal offense. If I laugh, I'm apparently laughing at someone. If I roll my eyes at life, I'm somehow insinuating that someone is less than I think they should be.
*In fairness, I will admit that this may not happen to you. Because maybe you think you're all right because, in fact, you ARE all right (as opposed to thinking you're all right because you're - like me - deluded)
It turns out that everything isn't always exactly as dramatic as I make it in the heat of the moment. I'd just like to tell you that I'm glad, grateful, delighted that there is such a thing as a "draft" - a place to say what needs to be said, and KEEP IT THERE FOR A WHILE. You know, until I decide that it really shouldn't be said at all, and then I delete it. Or maybe it can be said, but not for a month or two or seven.Like when I write, because I said I would. And the words are dry and boring and brittle and (avert your eyes, sensitive readers) just total crap. As opposed to the days when I write not only because I said I would, but also because my heart was full of things to write. Those words still need to sit on a shelf in draft mode, but they have much less chance of getting deleted later. And the good news? Because of the "draft" I can just go ahead and write the words, with the chance that they'll be juicy and tantalizing and fresh*, and real keepers.*Words, not mangoes. Or pears. Words.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Today is The Day!
(*) I have a few hours of getting-ready time, and then I spend the day on airplanes. And read books. And end up on Oahu. I must let it escape: WHEE! WOOT! WAHOO!
(*) In other news, Kid 2 received an iPod for Christmas, because her Daddy is good to her. She named this iPod "The Ship" and it tickles her fancy to plug it in to the computer and see these words: "The Ship is Synching."
(*) And this: My little Mama came to hang out yesterday, and she gave me a perm. It looks great. Mostly just wavy, and now I won't have to do my hair in Hawaii. Just shake and scrunch, you know? But. It stinks, and I am going to be in very close quarters to strangers all day. How 'bout that? Not very neighborly of me, was it?
(*) Does anyone remember how to do Algebra 2? Factoring is causing Kid 1 and me to bond over tears. If we were drinkers.... But we're not. Just criers, apparently.
(*) Got a call from the school. Among others, these words, "just wanted to warn you... when the boy comes home with his head a bloddy mess... he's fine, went back to class... no sign of concussion." Okay, then. Good news.
(*) And: "The Magician's Elephant" (by Ms. DiCamillo) only brought tears from me, because I was reading aloud*, and Kid 3, who regularly cries in pretty much any book.** Find it. You won't be disappointed. And I want to write a book with a kid named something as wonderful as Peter Augustus Duchene. Just saying.
(*) I found out that I get to play a narrator*** in "Joseph and the Amazing Techincolor Dreamcoat" in community theatre (yes. you do have to spell it that way. it's rules.) this spring. There will be 3 narrators. I (at 5'6'') will be the short one. Also the alto. I am very delighted to get to do this, and all four Kids are in the children's chorus. Fun family bonding, right? If I were a bookie (the betting kind) I would put the odds of us getting Husband near the stage at about seventeen trillion to one. Any takers?
And you? How was YOUR day?
*Don't you think it's harder to keep it all in control when you're reading aloud? I had to practice long and hard before I could read "The Polar Express" aloud on the train excursion my Kids and I volunteer on every Christmas. Years of practice. Now I'm a stone-cold emotionless Machine.
**Calvin and Hobbes, Series of Unfortunate Events, the Refrigerator Manual. (Yes. I'm lying. She hates the refrigerator manual and refuses to read it. Ever again.)
***If you're going to get a "leading" role in any theatre production, and you're not really interested in kissing someone who isn't your Husband, this is the role to get.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Look what you did!
It worked. It came. The package arrived yesterday afternoon (because my personal postal worker loves the hour from 4.30 to 5.30). It has inside the paperback "Bourne Identity" which remains my favorite spy novel EVER, as well as Barbara Kingsolver's "The Lacuna" which I bought because I love her other work, most especially "The Poisonwood Bible" (which you really would love and should try if you haven't - even though it's reallllllly long [not a problem for me] the VOICES will speak right directly into your brain. Brilliant.) Also Robert McKee's "Story" which it technically for screenwriters, so technically for Husband and me to share, but also because I hear its fabulous.
So thanks, dears, for your Schopenhauer-esque positive thinking. I'll let you know when I'm in contract negotiations!
Monday, January 11, 2010
I just checked that "Where's My Stuff" page at Amazon and found that my books are scheduled to arrive the day after I leave for my trip. (The trip to Hawaii. That trip.)
So here's an experiment. How's about we all pick one, or two, or all of these:
- pray my package arrives early
- put it out to the Universe
- wish to the Giant Panda
- meditate on it, visualising me holding my books
and maybe it will happen. I'll be sure to let you know!
And maybe someday I'll actually pay for shipping, instead of taking advantage of the Super Saver. Wait. Who am I kidding? Maybe someday I'll actually order two weeks early. That's more like it.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Can I talk to you for just a minute about Roast Potatoes?
This is Happy-Making food here at our house. It is the most hands-off sort of thing to put in an oven, and it guarantees pleased children and cleared plates. It's as easy as scrubbing potatoes, chunking them*, dumping them into a baking pan, drizzling with olive oil, dusting with Kosher salt**, stirring it up, and baking at 425. I like to stir now and then, because I want all the edges to crunch. It cooks for nearly an hour when I have nearly an hour, or more like 40 minutes when I have 40 minutes. It goes with anything*** and warms us up from mouth to soul.
So we will come home from Church today to Kate DiCamillo's gorgeous The Magician's Elephant **** and a "roaring" gas fire while we roast our potatoes. I love Sundays. Hope yours is peaceful, too.
*That's a scientific measurement. It results in pieces that are about the size of an olden-days ice cube - remember ice cube trays? Like that. If your potatoes (and your chunks) are the right size, every piece gets crunchy skin on. Mmm.
**I'm not a salt "snob" exactly, even though I have at least 4 kinds of salt in my house at any time. The Kosher salt is crunchy and it doesn't disappear during baking. But also? These potatoes become Sunday Potatoes if you replace the salt with that dry Onion Soup Mix, which you can pay $1.25 for under the name Lipton, or $0.30 as a store brand. You're welcome.
***Okay, not pasta. But YUM with a loaded green salad (like with carrots and cukes and cheese and kidney beans and artichoke hearts and tomatoes and pretty red-and-orange-and-yellow peppers and olives and croutons and three kinds of lettuces and green onions and capers).
****This is my favorite of her two that came out this year. I do love our Mercy Watson, but that one (Something Wonky This Way Comes) was bittersweet, since it's the last in the series. But Magician's Elephant? Striking. Spare. Magical. Family-centric. Hopeful. Lyrical. Lovely.
Friday, January 8, 2010
You know how it physically hurts when someone makes a film out of a book you adore, and the film either makes you angry*, or you walk out going, "meh,**" or you want to reach through the digitally projected images and strangle some actor/actress***?
Well, I'm here with a suggestion that hopefully won't make you feel like any of that. I was gathering a few books at the library for my upcoming vacation**** when I found a new-to-me book by Alexander McCall Smith. I think he's adorable, in an old-Scottish-white-man sort of a way. And I adore his Detective Agency books.
"The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency" is a television series made by HBO. I have no access to anything other than the free channels that magically float through the box we got on suggestion from the President, so if this is something you've been TiVo-ing or DVR-ing for a year, humor me.
Prescious Ramotswe is as gorgeous as can be. She is tender, and tough, and funny, and perfect. The title sequences are great. The acting is great. The scenery is great. The music is great. And even Husband loves it! No kidding.
I recommend Netflix, as it keeps me sane here in the frozen mountaintops - but if you have a chance in any form, get your hands on Season One. You can thank me later.
**Anything with the words Harry and Potter in the title
***Kiera Knightly as Elizabeth Bennett
****"Orgy of selfish pleasure" just sounds a little too decadent.
Posted by Becca at 10:29 AM
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Husband has fled the frozen mountaintops, and I will join him soon. (In a week.)
He is making a film in Hawaii. Before you start swearing, please remember your New Year's Resolutions to cut back on that potty mouth of yours. And maybe remember that he was gone (there) over my birthday and also again in November. So maybe he doesn't actually Deserve this trip, but I can promise you that I do. Need and Deserve and possibly Covet. Can I covet my own vacation?*
So don't hate me because I'm about to be warm (in a week).
Which, naturally, reminds me of a commercial from the late 80s - remember this?
"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful."
We used to follow that with "... I used to look just like you." **
I just deleted a lengthy rant about self-berating and comparisons. You're welcome. And once again, let me just say, I love my thirties. (*sigh of relief*)
So, you know, don't hate me because I get to sit on a beach for a week while Husband films beautiful islanders seventeen hours a day. Just know that I'm thinking of you... and I used to shiver in the frozen mountaintops/tundra/plains, just like you.
Oh, and maybe tell me your favorite beach reading. I promise to think of you if I pick up a copy and carry it to my lounge chair - and I'll try not to spill tropical beverages on it. You're welcome again.
*Remember that Simpsons when Ned called Reverend Lovejoy in the middle of the night and said, "I think I covet my own wife?" No? Never mind. Maybe you had to be there.
**Even then, back in the days of big hair and High School, I was fluent in Snark.
Posted by Becca at 6:56 AM
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
So I need to know: If you could have written a letter to an advice column in High School* what kinds of things would you have asked about? (My concerns may not have been entirely, um, of general interest.)
*Bonus points if you're actually IN HIGH SCHOOL. Use LOTS of CAPS in your COMMENT, and then I'll KNOW.)
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
She's Capable of Stressing and Obsessing!
She can take a concern and make it an emergency in a matter of three sleepless hours.
She can go from Fine to Tear-the-Hair in seconds.
Do you know something that's No Big Deal? Never Fear! Hand it over to Anxiety Girl, and she'll make it a Big Fat Deal in no time.
She's capable of worrying over everything from that kid's report on the Desert Tortoise to the bump on her cheek that may be a precancerous growth.
She can lose sleep over any matter: she's best at the sleepless money matters, but she'll handle sleepless relationship matters, sleepless vacation matters, sleepless plot/character/dialog matters and, of course, sleepless parenting matters.
Did she say something to offend someone? Well, even if she didn't, she'll fidget about it! (*Cheers from crowd*)
Is that a gray hair? Be Concerned! (*Cheers*)
Are music lesson payments really due today? Never Fear! She's been up for hours WORRYING about it! (*"Hooray!"*)
Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Anxiety Girl, brought to you by budgeting the month after Christmas.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
It's not like I'm falling over.
It's a different sort of balance I hunger for. The kind where all the Beccas are strong. None pulling the others down.
In an effort to balance, I have made goals (plans, resolutions, lists) for this year. Some of these things are new. Some are regulars, things I hope for and work for and put effort into every year. Mostly I try not to get too grandiose in my "plans" - because nothing works against my balance like the chuck-load of personal disappointment that always follows Me not Doing What I Say I'll Do.
And the balance comes when the important things are covered:
Physical (that's the part where I exercise 5 times a week and maybe get a haircut now and then)
Intellectual (that's the writing every day* part)
Social (that's me working on being a better friend and a better wife, and mom and daughter)
Spiritual (that's where I spend some time every day studying and learning)
Emotional (this is the part I sometimes neglect until I explode, and that's something to avoid - trust me)
And I'm really not going to bore you with the specifics (because, you know me - "death before boredom" - right?) but I think it's good for me to put this down, even if only for me, because when the Balance comes, I know where to cheer about it. And when it falls apart, I know where to look to find what's been lost.
So here's wishing you all a balanced 2010, and if you feel yourself sliding in one direction or another, you can lean over here (you know, metaphorically speaking).
*Except Sunday. I'll only blog on Sunday. Not write.
Friday, January 1, 2010
With a yawn and a stretch, and HOORAY FOR ME! I totally slept in past seven! This is so much fun, that I did a little jig and got directly into my exercise clothes.
(Don't get to proud of me, I haven't actually DONE anything in those clothes quite yet. Except a load of laundry. Life is so glam.)
So here we are at the beginning of a new year (2010, in case you're just joining us) and even though it's not of general interest, I'm going to review some highlights of 2009 (just the professional ones, don't worry - you wont' hear how adorable my kids are.)
January 15, 2009 I submitted the manuscript* that, after several back-and-forths, would become misplaced for months and gather a great deal of dust on Mr. Publisher's desk. It had a different title then, but you may recognize it as "My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions."
February 4, 2009 "Bright Blue Miracle" was officially released. I spent a great deal of time checking the ranking on Amazon.com. I do not recommend this behavior. Except for the time the book actually made it into the 4-digit rankings**. That was blissful for about 10 minutes, and I wouldn't have seen it happen if I hadn't been stalking my own page. Also several friends left kind reviews here and there, and it became clear that validation is my drug of choice.***
In March I continued to wait by the phone and compulsively check my email for news about RRO. No such luck. Also I spent a great deal of time on stage as a Singing Virgin. See? You knew I was a multi-faceted personality. Also I wrote.
In April I experienced shame at a book signing gig where I sat with two of Shadow Mountain's golden boys and watched their books fly off tables. I sold 2. But they were generous and kind and gracious, and in a very casual way, I made friends. At the end of the month, I attended LDS Storymakers' conference, where I met a few of Very Good Friends (one of whom I actually SEE once in a while, the others I get to blog with) and also learned a few great writing tips. (And I blogged every day, I think.)
May? I waited by the computer. And wrote. Drafted. Sort of just word-vomit, but it landed on the pages, so we count it.
In June, July and August I played with my Kids and wrote more stories. Also met with my Writers' Group and loved those women. Still do. We eat fine, fine foods when we gather. Also we work on pages. In July I got the message: Mr. Publisher wants the book. Also the message: Nobody really likes your title. So there was back-and-forth. And more. And more. And finally, agreement. (*Sigh of relief*)
In September all four Kids went to school. You may not consider this "professional" news, and if that is the case, you've never been a writer with four kids all in school. I can either #exercise, #shower, #write, #volunteer at one of their schools, #call my sister, #clean something, #have a meeting, or #take a book into the bathtub during the 2.5 hours Kindergarten affords me. Sometimes two or three of the above. I know, right? Also I kept writing at that story. At least 500-1000 words every day.
In October I got a cover. My first instinct was to cry, since the gorgeous girl on the cover doesn't look ANYTHING like the Sarah in my head. But my second instinct was that she does look an awful lot like my adorable niece J. J. and since I love her, I'm planning to love the cover. (And I do. Love the cover. See it, over there ---->? Adorable, right?)
In November I tried NaNoWriMo. I tell you what that came down to, here. Also I did a fun and productive book signing where actual fans (the kind I've never met before) came and bought books for their friends. And also my Mama came. And Kid 1, who said, "Really?" because people bought books. **** (like, in double-digit numbers, I'm telling you.)
December was full. I did a couple of book signings - one that doubled as Girls' Night Out with Ally Condie and Lisa Mangum (don't be jealous, just be happy for me...) and a repeat of April's signing with SM's gentlemen. Who were great, excellent, and funny. Also, the staffs of these stores are awesome - remember that there are BAKERIES inside? Brilliant. Also in December I got The Box of The New Books. And a friend of Kid 1's called to tell me that someone (who wasn't me) bought her a copy of RRO for Christmas. From an actual STORE. So they're out there... somewhere! Also I submitted something else.
And now, we're on to take 2010 by storm.
Happy New Year!
*Did you know that technically "manuscript" is written out by hand? So I didn't send that. Not even a "typescript" really. I sent a digital file. No paper involved, no trees harmed during the submission process. But "manuscript" is such a writerly word, and since I don't hang out in University libraries or *ever* drink coffee, I'm sticking to it.
**6 thousand and something. I know, right? Simple pleasures.
***Not all the reviews are my friends. You can tell which one(s) isn't(aren't).
****She totally believes in me and loves my books. She DOES.
Posted by Becca at 7:23 AM