Friday, January 23, 2009

My 3 Life Lessons

I've slowly come to the realization that there are 3 major lessons I keep re-learning, over and over and over. Each time they dawn on me as Truth, as Revelation, even though I'm well aware I've learned them before. It's just so easy to forget. If I believed in reincarnation or karma, I'd say these are the lessons I'm working on in this life.

So I'm going to put them in writing this time, hoping that will help me keep them in mind. Y'all feel free to remind me, too.

  1. Give without expectation. If you give love freely, or do things for others freely, without expecting anything in return (this is the hard part for me), the love will come back to you. People will choose to do things for you. CHOOSE, instead of being expected to, which is different and vastly better.

  2. Do the work first, and inspiration will follow. This is really just a different version of butt-in-chair, but it is SO easy to get frustrated when writing or life isn't going the way you want it to, and want to give up because it isn't coming. I realized this one again yesterday when (whew) I had a big plot revelation for SSP...after banging my head against a wall for 11,000 words. Yes, I start with ideas, but the story doesn't coalesce until I put the hard work in. Often I struggle to scrape the words together for my daily goal, only to find that at the end of the session words come, I get into the flow, and I go over my word count. You have to go through the hard part.

  3. Things happen for a reason. I know. This is an old saw, and can seem pretty flat when the world is falling apart around you. But it's true.
Example: I had some pretty miserable school experiences. I mean bad. At one point in 5th grade there was an "I hate Susan club", and many of my classmates were members. Yeah. Because I went through all that a little part of my psyche is still there, still dealing with social struggles and rejection.

Unforeseen Result: Now I write YA. I couldn't, if I hadn't suffered then. I understand what that place is like.
Example: Both my husband and I were laid off within 3 months of each other. We had a 6-month-old child, we had no income besides Social Security, and the economy was tight in our industries, so we had trouble finding jobs (sound familiar?).

Unforeseen Result: Instead of having our child in daycare, I was able to stay home with her for a year. Then I got a really good job in Montana, in a small town, and my husband stayed home with her for another year, until she was ready to start at a fabulous preschool that she loves. My mom moved here a year later (from somewhere else), and now Child is able to have a close relationship with her grandparents that she would not have otherwise had. It worked out in a way I never would have guessed 6 years ago.

I am NOT saying change is easy, or work is easy, or giving of yourself is easy. None of it is. It's freaking hard, and that's why I keep forgetting these lessons. (over and over and...) But I welcome the moments when I realize them again, and feel that surge of YES.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yeah. It really is almost always like this.

Whew! January has so far been a leetle crazy. I'm just breezing by here today to say:

1) I'm alive! You've probably figured that out already.
2) I'm busy! (ditto) Trying to work (big time for us), write thesis, start crazy heavy-load classes, keep writing, attend all these board meetings for Child's school and create marketing materials I know. My Life.
3) I am SO so so so so happy about President Obama (squee) and his inauguration yesterday. Yes, I cried.
4) Hi! Just because I'm slammed doesn't mean I want to lose touch. Comment, if you will, and say hi and what YOU have been up to!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Survey! Please!

FINALLY I have my survey ready for my thesis research. Please, if you're an author--no matter what level--go and answer the questions for me. It won't take long, I swear!

Thank you!!

The state of my head...ow.

The good, fabulous news: I know what the next book is going to be! I have a kick-ass situation, and the heroine is dribbling herself out to me. I even have the perfect working title: LIGHTNESS.

The bad news: I can't really work on it yet. I'm not one of those people who can balance two books at a time, at least not full-bore. And SSP has priority. So...I've got a little queue going in my head. Actually with all the other stuff, it's more like a prizefight.

And first up... *ding ding ding* this corner, it's THESIS! 500 pounds and getting bigger by the minute, THESIS is a real contender. This bad boy knows he has priority, so he doesn't mind throwing his weight around and knocking everybody else out of the way.

In this corner...*ding ding ding*...CLASSES! Two of them this time, so they pack a mean double-punch. If you're not careful, they'll start twisting you around, tossing you back and forth to each other with all their homework and presentations and reading and projects. Watch out for them!

In the third corner...SSP! SSP looks a little bit on the weakling side compared to the other two, but don't count her out! She can grab hold of your brain and hang on!

And last but not least, in the final and fourth corner...FAMILY! They don't look too scary over there, biding their time, but they will absolutely beat up everybody else at the least opportunity. Look for FAMILY to win the overall title!

So that's what it looks like right now. That doesn't even include WORK, who just jumps in the ring and spars occasionally, or FRIENDS, or my volunteer stuff. So LIGHTNESS is there, taking notes and watching the fight, but I really can't let her have a go yet.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SSP: progress, finally

Yay SSP! I got past a block and pushed up to 15% today, and got to do a kissing scene and everything. I'm feeling quite giddy about it right now, which is fun! It's been a struggle for the past little bit, which IS what will happen when you let it sit too long. I know this. Now if I can keep my butt in the chair for a while I can hopefully keep that momentum going!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday Love Day

I'm declaring it a Love Day! Here are 5 things I love today. What are yours?

1. CHASING SMOKE, by Bill Cameron.
I finished this book last night. I have 3 words for you: Buy. It. Now. This was one of the best mysteries I've ever read--but it's more than just a mystery. The characterization is complex and real, the plot twisty and compelling, the writing stunning. Go.

2. Reepicheep in Prince Caspian.
We started watching Prince Caspian last night, and of course as a confirmed Narnia fan I love it. But even better: Eddie Izzard does the voice of Reepicheep. I'm a big Eddie fan (example here), so to hear his voice coming out of a little sword-brandishing mouse...Win.

3. Food.
Okay, to be more specific: the food I've cooked the past two nights. New recipes, YUM!
Sunday: Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Glaze and Cuban Mojo Sauce, served with couscous and sliced hothouse tomatoes. Did I say yum?
Monday: Asian Grilled Chicken Breasts, served with jasmine rice and a plate of cucumbers and carrots (with ranch, of course).
The rest of the week we'll have easy foods and leftovers, but I do like to cook every once in a while.

4. Fellow YA Authors.
Just a kick-ass group of people, who happen to be a lot like me. Where were y'all when I was suffering through high school? Yes, Joanna Levy, Courtney Summers, A.S. King, Rose Holck, Julie Kentner, Maggie Stiefvater, Diana Peterfreund, Melissa Marr, Liz Encarnacion, Sarah Prineas, Lisa McMann, Kelly Parra, Sara Zarr, Linda Gerber, Sue Seeger, and all the rest: I'm talking about you. You guys rock.

5. 2009 (so far).
We're only 13 days in, and yes, we're in a deep recession. But I have a really good feeling about this year so far. I hope I'm right, and it's going to be a great one!

What about you? Any things you love today?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Banning me from the library...section

I snuck into the forbidden section of the library this weekend.

I even brought Child with me (shameless!), and admitted to her that I was flouting the rules. That I was specifically banned, but I was darn well going in anyway. If anyone challenged me, I'd state my case and argue my right to be there.

Still, I felt furtive. I scanned the shelves quickly, with glances over my shoulder at the empty librarian's desk, at the other patrons who were allowed. Were they looking at me funny? Were they whispering about me, or planning to call in enforcement?

But the books...they were worth it. My favorites, the ones I'd seen on blogs for a year but hadn't had a chance to get, the ones my friends had been talking about...all there. I would've gotten a big pile, if I didn't still have Christmas books to read.

That's right, folks. It was the new YA section.

It was well-stocked. It had a manga section, new releases I was drooling over, and a ton of "classics", both the kind English teachers give you and the kind you run across for yourself. It is also "Limited to patrons 13-18 years old."


I sort of understand, on one level, that the librarians are trying to create a safe, teen-exclusive feel, like NO GROWN-UPS ALLOWED. There also might be some weird stalker issues they're worried about. But really? You think interest in YA books stops magically at age 18, and you should BAN anyone older than that from browsing the books? No, really? What about precocious kids under 13 who might want to take a peek?

I have a problem with this. To me it smacks of discrimination, not to mention pigeon-holing. And as a YA writer, I will absolutely argue why I should be there, why anyone who loves good books should be able to be there.

What do you think?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Cool thing of the day

This guy's work is just amazingly cool. Check out the teeny-tiny Wizard of Oz, and the Six Wives of Henry VIII.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

One brick at a time

Let me tell you about Travis Erwin.

Travis is a fellow writer-in-the-trenches, a fellow parent (his boys are 6 and 8), and a friend. I met him through Twitter and soon got sucked into his blog, especially when he posted the brutally honest, heart-melting story of when his son was born, and things went wrong.

On January 4th, Travis's house burned to the ground. Typically, he tweeted about it the same day. Now his family is temporarily living with parents, struggling to figure out what to do next and how to explain to the boys about lost Hotwheels, Christmas presents, and what happened to Captain Jack the turtle.

Everybody's been asking how they can help. Superstar authors Erica Orloff and Stephen Parrish have set up a website for donations to the family: you can buy a brick for Travis's family, and help get them going again.

Donations here:

Or, Travis has asked for donations of Hotwheels or kid's books to go directly to his boys:
522 Casino Amarillo, TX 79118

If your post-Christmas, horrible-economy wallet can spare, or you have some books or Hotwheels lying around, please help!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


We have an internet problem in our household.

Addiction could be a good word. Compulsion. It's gotten to the point that hubby and I can sit side by side on the sofa, both with laptops open on our laps. Or if he didn't bring one home from work, one person will have the laptop open...and the other will be hungrily staring at it.

I just need to check my email really quick.

Let me just take a peek at Google Reader.

I just want to look something up (and also check all my emails, and Twitter, and Facebook, and my message boards.)
These are familiar statements. We know it's a problem, but the compulsion is real.

So when we heard a radio show this weekend where the host announced that as a New Year's Resolution he and his wife vowed to turn the computer off at 7 PM--just OFF--we looked at each other. When the guest claimed he'd done the same thing, and they'd found they already slept better, relaxed better knowing they didn't need to check, couldn't check until the next day (and what was so urgent?), we raised our eyebrows at each other.

Last night, we tried it. Ceremonially at 7 PM we turned the thing off. There were a couple of odd moments, it's true. Something came up that we wanted to look up on imdb. I thought of my email, once. But I absolutely didn't miss it. We spent a lovely evening doing chores together (instead of one doing chores and the other hunched over the machine), reading magazines, watching a movie together. It did feel more relaxed, more us.

So this is our great New Year's Resolution, and I sure hope we'll keep it. I think it's a Very Good Thing.

Sound like something your household would consider? Or could use?

Monday, January 05, 2009

How did I forget that?

I totally spaced on posting the list of books I got for Christmas. Hurrah! In no particular order, I got:

SPECIALS, Scott Westerfeld
HOW TO DITCH YOUR FAIRY, Justine Larbalestier
LAMENT, Maggie Stiefvater

Okay, there was some order in that I've already devoured the first two (yay) and cracked the third last night. I didn't get CRACKED UP TO BE yet even though I searched for it at every freaking bookstore I was near, but that one will be next after these. It is in my targets.

Yay books! Yay hubbies who use your Amazon wish list as a shopping list!

I'm back!!

Hello world. <-- random programmer's joke. Wonder how many get that?

We've been away on vacation. We left for San Diego the day after Christmas, and just sailed (okay, flew) back into town late Saturday night. Vacation was lovely, as usual, and a nice break from the cold. While there we:
  • went to a very crowded Legoland for 8+ hours (craziness!)
  • went to the beach twice. Pure relaxation and playing in the sand and waves. I adore the beach.
  • saw a live production of Xanadu. Yes, with rollerskates and all. The audience sang along and waved light sticks. It rocked!
  • saw a live 40s radio-show version of It's a Wonderful Life.
  • went to Copley Symphony Hall downtown on New Year's Day to see a Celebration of Vienna (apparently a New Year's tradition across North America)
  • spent time at Balboa Park: the Science Museum, the Photography Museum, Train Museum, and the playground.
  • Played with new Christmas toys and games, and got a couple more.
  • ate out a lot. Unfortunately this was not a highlight for me this time because...
I was sick the whole freaking time. Every. Day. Monster cold: first sore throat/fever, then cough, then nose. Yuck. I never wanted to eat and I was doped with cold pills. BUT. We still had a good time, and enjoyed hanging out together. Could've been a lot worse, so it's okay! And I still did enjoy one good Thai meal and a couple Mexican meals.

Now I'm back at work, trying to remember what it is I do on a regular basis, and catching up with folks. Next is to remember what I have to do with my thesis (it's crunch time!) and my book.

That's right! I was writing a book, once upon a time before finals and Christmas and vacation. Must get back to that...

Good to see you again, online peeps!