Monday, June 29, 2009

Word of the Week #58

*Oh my goodness, this is my daughter!*

gamine
- [GAM-een] - noun

Definition:
1. a neglected girl who is left to run about the streets.
2. a diminutive or very slender girl, esp. one who is pert, impudent, or playfully mischievous.

Usage:
The gamine faerie giggled as she darted away and I fell flat on my face trying to chase her; she had tied my shoelaces together.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My new theme song

This song hit me smack in the middle of my soul.

Nickelback - If Today Was Your Last Day from Nickelback on Vimeo.



"If Today Was Your Last Day" by Nickelback

My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each day's a gift and not a given right
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by
That first step you take is the longest stride

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had, if today was your last day?
What if, what if, if today was your last day?

Against the grain should be a way of life
What's worth the price is always worth the fight
Every second counts 'cause there's no second try
So live like you're never living twice
Don't take the free ride in your own life

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had?

And would you call those friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories?
Would you forgive your enemies?
And would you find that one you're dreaming of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you'd finally fall in love if today was your last day?

If today was your last day
Would you make your mark by mending a broken heart?
You know it's never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are

So do whatever it takes
'Cause you can't rewind a moment in this life
Let nothing stand in your way
'Cause the hands of time are never on your side

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had?

And would you call those friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories?
Would you forgive your enemies?
And would you find that one you're dreaming of
Swear up and down to God above
That you'd finally fall in love if today was your last day?


Now go live--really live--today!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We have progress!

On the writing front I don't have a whole heckuva lot to report. I haven't gotten a lot more written since last week, but I've got some really good excuses. Honest!

The last few days my house has once again become *THE* party house for the neighborhood. Like 15 kids in and out, in my yard, needing attention kind of party house. I actually cultivate this attitude, figuring that at least I will know what my kids are doing and with whom. (Did I use that right? I'm not sure.) However, carving out time to write in the middle of spontaneous party-ville is a bit challenging.

The biggest reason for my lack of spectacular progress the last week is the Ragnar Relay. Friday and Saturday found me with my 11 other teammates (including my hubby who is an awesome runner) running through heat, the dark, and pouring rain, up and down four mountain passes and through several teeny towns for 27 1/2 hours on 1 hour of sleep.

I Twittered as we went, which was a lot of fun, too. By Monday morning I'd already been asked by 3 different people to be on a team for next year or the Las Vegas relay coming up in October. It was an amazing experience. An unforgettable adventure, really. I have some great lessons learned on that race that apply to life and writing that I'll be sharing soon.

I was so sore that I could hardly move. As in, people had to push me in and out of the car kind of hardly move. Then Sunday morning I discovered exactly how horrible you can feel if you don't hydrate well enough. Now my kids are groaning about the water Nazi mom I've become.

"Just be quiet and drink that water!"

I can now go up and down the stairs almost as quickly as normal. That's progress!

**NEWS FLASH**
I do have to report that I another agent requested my full manuscript. *Squeee!* *happy dance* This was from a query sent back in January, so it came as a surprise out of the blue.

Next week I hope to have loads of progress to share, but until then I better go see why the kids are screeching outside.

And drink more water! I mean it!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Apparently rats and I have something in common

At least according to my brother on his blog.

(It's a pretty darn cute comic for any writer.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

word of the Week #57

nimiety - [nih-MY-uh-tee] - noun

Definition:
The state of being too much; excess.

Usage:
My aching muscles argue that the race I just ran was a nimiety of running. Owwww...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Validation Day

You, dear blog readers, are great! You are truly awesome!

The first 3 minutes are fantastic if you don't have time for the whole thing. And if you've already seen this (like at Julie Wright's workshop at the LDStorymakers Writers Conference), then watch it again. I mean it!



Writers need validation as much (or more so if they're hunting for an agent) as everyone else. You can do it! You're amazing!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pandora, How Do I Love Thee?


Let me count the ways...

  1. N'Sync Station (for the kidlets)
  2. Backstreet Boys Station (kidlets again)
  3. Beatles Station (hubby)
  4. Def Leppard Station
  5. Depeche Mode Station
  6. Enya Station
  7. Funk Station
  8. Genesis Station (hubby)
  9. Kenny Loggins Station (totally hubby - ick)
  10. Madonna Station
  11. Muse Station
  12. Nickelback Station **my current favorite**
  13. Peter Gabriel Station *another of my favorites*
  14. Peter Murphy Station *another good one*
  15. Reminiscing Station (hubby's - another ick)
  16. Sleepthief Station *in my fav's*
  17. Steve Miller Band Station (hubby's again)
  18. Vertical Horizon Station
  19. Within Temptation Station

Pandora is a personalized internet radio service that helps you find new music based on music you already like. Users enter a song or artist that they enjoy, and the service responds by playing selections that are musically similar. Users provide feedback on approval or disapproval of individual songs, which Pandora takes into account for future selections. *Note: You can even move songs to different "stations" or mix it up.

Music is integral for my writing. The right music helps me get in the mood and the wrong music makes the writing process feel all clunky.

If you haven't tried Pandora, go check it out. I LOVE IT!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Onions and Work in Progress Wednesday

It's Wednesday. That means I have to report on my progress.

Hmmm. *thinking deeply* Progress. What is progress?


According to Dictionary.com (which I love so very much) the word progress means:

1. a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage

2. advancement in general

3. growth or development; continuous improvement

4. the development of an individual or society in a direction considered more beneficial than and superior to the previous level.

And you know what? There are many aspects in my life where I am advancing, growing, developing, and improving. Life is more than just writing, and we have to embrace all the growth and progress we have as individuals.

As a person I am a work in progress. I am more than a word count, or a publishing contract, or an author represented by an agent!

I am an onion! Just like Shrek! With lots of layers. And I'm progressing on many layers! Life itself is a work in progress!



So I will scream it to the heavens! "HECK YES I HAVE PROGRESS TO REPORT! I. AM. A. WORK. IN. PROGRESS!!!!"

*impassioned panting*

I am improving on not getting so impatient with my children and on breaking the habit of armchair parenting (which doesn't work anyway). In the last week I am actually getting up from the computer chair and physically addressing and intervening in the latest drama/crisis.

I can run miles *up* a freaking mountain and not stop or feel like I'm going to die, which means that I have made significant progress for my 187 mile relay race across the back mountains of the Wasatch this Friday.

I am teaching my children to clean and cook, and I dare you to say that isn't work.

I'm drinking enough water. (You know that you'd be a lot more healthy if you drank more water, too.)

I have actually been able to get to some chapters of friends from one of my critique groups.

My hot water heater finally decided to work with me so I could have a lukewarm shower before running all over town, which was really good considering my early morning run. I improved and progressed from stinky to not stinky. (The whole onion analogy was very apropos on more than one level today.)

I slept pretty good last night.

And, I think that's all I have to report.


What? What about writing? I thought I just explained that my progression isn't all about the nifty status thingey in the sidebar.

Oh...fine. *lookingover to the side and shuffling my feet*

I'm not as far in the rough draft as I hoped because my goal of 3 pages a day is depressingly realistic. Deep down I thought I was aiming low and that I could do more than that. Not so much.

Join me in celebrating your life in progress. What progress are you going to shout to the heavens today?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Avoidance - the revered writer past time

I read this on Michael Hyatt's blog over the weekend and was laughing so hard I almost fell out of my chair.

"Usually, writers will do anything to avoid writing. For instance, the previous sentence was written at one o’clock this afternoon. It is now a quarter to four. I have spent the past two hours and forty-five minutes sorting my neckties by width, looking up the word “paisly” in three dictionaries, attempting to find the town of that name on The New York Times Atlas of the World map of Scotland, sorting my reference books by width, trying to get the bookcase to stop wobbling by stuffing a matchbook cover under its corner, dialing the telephone number on the matchbook cover to see if I should take computer courses at night, looking at the computer ads in the newspaper and deciding to buy a computer because writing seems to be so difficult on my old Remington, reading an interesting article on sorghum farming in Uruguay that was in the newspaper next to the computer ads, cutting that and other interesting articles out of the newspaper, sorting—by width—all the interesting articles I’ve cut out of newspapers recently, fastening them neatly together with paper clips and making a very attractive paper clip necklace and bracelet set, which I will present to my girlfriend as soon as she comes home from the three-hour low-impact aerobic workout that I made her go to so I could have some time alone to write.”


— P. J. O’Rourke
The Wit and Wisdom of P. J. O’Rourke

I have to add some of my favorite procrastinations:

checking email, reading other blogs on writing, surfing the net for pictures (of characters, settings, home decor of characters' houses, etc.), visiting band websites to find the right music to appease the muse, checking email, updating twitter status, putting on chapstick, getting a drink, changing the colors on my outline spreadsheet, check email in my other email account, visit and comment on all 247 facebook friends, get out index cards, erase the scenes I have written on the index cards and write them in pen, checking email, write a blog post, read a book and think about how horrible my writing is in comparison, go see if my garden has grown significantly since yesterday, make a new writing playlist, check email, see what's happening on Twitter, sharpen all my pencils, vacuum the computer keyboard because all that dust is so distracting, read a little more of another book for inspiration, check email, read some more blogs, start a new spreadsheet on good blogs to visit, walk to the mailbox, check email again. . .

*I never thought of organizing my books by width, though. What a FABULOUS idea!



Monday, June 15, 2009

Blog-a-holic

I'm beginning to wonder if I have a slight addiction to blogging (facebook, twitter, this blog, my family blog, live-blogging events, reading other blogs, etc.)

*"Nah," my husband scoffs. "'slight' is an understatement."*

So, to fuel my addiction I have joined yet another blog. But before you all start plying me with 12 step programs for Bloggers Anonymous, I'm only posting every third Monday. Which happens to be today. It's over on the new Writing Fortress blog, which still has that new-blog smell that everyone loves almost as much as that new car smell, or that new can of tennis balls smell. (My husband says new tennis balls smell like gasoline and that I'm a freak for standing there sniffing the can of balls.) The Writing Fortress is blog by a group of authors published with Cedar Fort Inc. In today's post I introduce myself. . . in pictures.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I can count 13,000 words on my word count for the week now, right??

Word of the Week #56

limn - [LIM] - verb (used with an object)

Definition:
1. To depict by drawing or painting.
2. To portray in words; to describe.

Usage:
One of my goals as a writer is not just to tell a good story, but to limn a compelling tale.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Let's talk books, zombies, and roses

I thought that maybe I ought to talk about books other than mine every once in a while. So today I'm going to recommend two good ones. They're vastly different types, but that just means this post will have wider audience appeal, right? (Either that or you'll get a glimpse into my multiple personality-like psyche. I mean, who else puts the iPod on shuffle and goes from gothic rock to Josh Groban to hip hop to alternative to electronica? Yeah, my husband laughs at my music. "Eclectic doesn't quite cover it," he says.)

Up first, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

This story rates pretty high on the creep out factor, much like the movie The Village rates high on the creep out factor. And there are a lot of similarities between the stories, or at least the setting.

In Mary's world, there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village....


This book is set in post-apocalyptic U.S. after a virus that changes the infected into zombies (The Unconsecrated) has claimed most of the population. There are a few isolated pockets of living left, like Mary's village, which is protected by a fence to keep out the zombies that overrun the forest. Mary grew up with stories of other times and places, and of amazing things that are hard to believe, like oceans and cities and a life without The Unconsecrated always hungering after living flesh. Mary dreams of leaving the village and finding a life different than what she knows, but when she finally does things aren't exactly like she hoped.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a good read, especially if you're in the mood for creepy. It was extra interesting because it's written in first person present tense. I'm not a big fan of that, but it was so well done that I didn't really notice.

Up next, with nary a zombie in sight, is the book Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate.

From the back cover:

The lessons that most enrich our lives often come unexpectedly. That's what Kate Bowman learns when she moves temporarily--with her husband and baby son--to her grandmother's Missouri farm. The family has given Kate the job of convincing Grandma Rose, who's become increasingly stubborn and forgetful, to move off her beloved land and into a nursing home. But Kate knows such a change would break her grandmother's heart.

Just when Kate despairs of finding answers, she discovers her grandma's journal. A beautiful handmade notebook, it is full of stories that celebrate the importance of family, friendship, and faith. Stories that make Kate see her life--and her grandmother--in a completely new way.

Tending Roses is a heart-warming story (uh oh! If you're like me then that term will make you really suspicious, but it really is a feel-good story). You come to love the characters and I don't know any mothers who won't at least identify somewhat with Kate, who is facing the challenges of financial troubles, aging family, and figuring out motherhood and the feeling of losing her identity in her new role.

One of my favorite lines is: "The best times of my life, the times that have passed by me the most quickly, were the times when the roses grew wild." It's a poignant reminder that sometimes I need to let some of my "roses" grow wild in order to focus on more important things. (Like ignoring the dishes to dance with my daughter.)

There are also four more books in the Tending Roses Series, but I've only read the first one. They're on my list of books to eventually get to.

There are a couple of great reads for your summer. Take a look over on the sidebar to find other recommended books and book reviews. *It will be updated soon, too. Promise!*

Thursday, June 11, 2009

You can never have enough funny cow cartoons

Just for fun. :D


*This one's maybe a little iffy, but I have two boys, so this type of joke is more the norm around here.*


And probably my favorite...

(Look closely at Darth Vader.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday #6

It's been a wrestling match the last week.

In one corner, my muse, oozing attitude and rebellion. "You can't make me help you," she taunts. I know she'd use a certain hand gesture if we were that kind of person (which we're not.)

In the other corner, The Juggler (a.k.a. me). Somehow balancing three high maintenance kids and all their friends, an upcoming holy-wow relay race (180 miles), switching over to a new computer, various other responsibilities, life in general, and writing. My hair is frazzled from constantly pulling at it and my eyes have a wild, almost savage look to them. And that facial expression is determination, not pain. Really.

Oh yeah, Ms. Muse is going down!

DING! Round One.

We circle, eyeing each other warily. And then I make my move. We grapple. No one has the upper hand. I pound out some scenes. They're not great, but they're on the screen.

Score= Tie

The two opponents pull apart and I call a time out to write a blog post about crappy rough drafts. It's a pep-talk to myself.

Round Two

The weekend hits and the Muse dances all around me. The audience throws things into the arena that I keep tripping on, and I can't even catch the Muse. Her mocking laughter echoes in my dreams.

Score = win for the stubborn turd muse

Round Three

It's Monday, and I'm getting serious. It's just not my day, though. The Muse knocks me down and runs off to go dancing with friends. I'm left staring at the computer screen and nothing--I mean, NOTHING-- is coming through. I drag my family into the mountains (despite the rain, because I'm not losing to both the muse and the weather, dangit!), write a blog post on using personality classification systems for character development, and get to know my characters better.

Score = another win for the muse

Round Four

Tuesday. I am *not* going to lose again.

I pounce, screaming like a madwoman, and lift the Muse above my head. I throw her to the ground in under 2 seconds.

That's me on top. (If I were young, buff, oiled up, and a guy).
The one about to smack the ground hard is the Muse.

Score = Me in a decisive 2000+ word day. TAKE THAT!!


**Am I the only one who has to wrestle with my muse? Maybe I'm the only one weird enough to blog about it. :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Personality tests for imaginary friends

I've heard about using personality categorizing systems to help in fleshing out characters . I think it can be a good tool, *after* you have done some basic character development. One of the systems I like (maybe just because it's cool) is the Enneagram. A couple years ago I had a little side business where I sold used books online. I learned a lot about what sells (and keeps on selling) and even though I'm no longer doing that business, my personal library got much bigger during the 2 years it was actually making a profit.

Two books that I decided to keep and not sell because they were so interesting were books on the Enneagram. They were fascinating! I showed them to my extended family at Thanksgiving over a year ago and several people ended up taking the tests and reading up to see what it had to say about us. After my brother borrowed the books for a while I kind of forgot about them until I read a blog by Scott Rhoads over on the Utah Children's Writers blog.

Here are the nine basic personality types:

Type 1: The Reformer. The rational, idealistic type.
Type 2: The Helper. The caring, nurturing type.
Type 3: The Motivator. The adaptable, success-oriented type.
Type 4: The Artist. The intuitive, reserved type.
Type 5: The Thinker. The perceptive, cerebral type.
Type 6: The Skeptic. The committed, security-oriented type.
Type 7: The Generalist. The enthusiastic, productive type.
Type 8: The Leader. The powerful, aggressive type.
Type 9: The Peacemaker. The easygoing, accommodating type.

The really fun part is when you mix your main motivational type (not your only) with "wings" - or types on either side of your main type. So a Type 1 Reformer with a Type 2 Helper wing will be motivated and react differently than a Type 1 Reformer with a Type 9 Peacemaker wing. And the books I have go into detail also about the types at their worst, at their best, when stressed, in relationships, and what's good and what's hard about being that type.

Since Scott Rhoads said it so well (and that means I don't have to) I'll refer you to his blog about using the Enneagram Personality System to Create Characters. You can go take a peek after you finish this post (of course). :)

I did the online quiz for my main character last week and it nailed her pretty good, but if I had to flip through the book and pick a type I don't know that I would have gotten what the quiz did, mostly because I didn't know her well enough yet. After reading in more detail about her personality (and she was split evenly between two of the types) I feel like I'm really getting to know her. The great thing is that now I know some weaknesses I hadn't realized she had. And I can imagine how other personality types would automatically conflict or complement her.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share. And if you're curious, I'm a Type 3--the goal-oriented list maker who takes work even on vacation and must, above all, be competent but sometimes turns into an uptight work-a-holic who needs to be smacked upside the head and reminded to chill. Yeah, that's me.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Word of the Week #55

tergiversation - [tuhr-jiv-uhr-SAY-shuhn] - noun

Definition:
1. The act of practicing evasion or of being deliberately ambiguous.
2. The act of abandoning a party or cause.

Usage:
I know my oldest son is up to something when he answers a simple question with tergiversation.


*This word sounds all intelligent. And it makes a decent tongue-twister, too. :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Embrace the crap

I had a nice book recommendation post almost ready to go for today, but I felt the need to wax eloquent on a different subject: crap.

Stay with me here! Not literally. We're talking figurative crap.


**Complete aside--Do you know how hard it is to find a picture for this subject that isn't sick and disgusting? I thought this was nice compromise. AND I was able to find some really cute cow cartoons that I'll be sharing next week. I'm still giggling over them.**

What I'm talking about is your rough draft. Now lean in closer and I'll tell you a secret. Closer... Closer... *whispering dramatically* Rough drafts are pretty much crap. And guess what? That's okay.

If you're like me, then deep down you have this little kernel of a dream, even though you know it's really silly, but it's still there waiting to pop like a kernel of delicious popcorn dripping in butter with just the right amount of salt (yum). *cough* Anyway, you dream about sitting at the computer, putting fingers to keys, and the most amazing story just flows from your brain to the screen. And it's perfect and wonderful, and the world is filled with daisies and fluffy bunnies and happiness and joy abounds. *angelic choirs singing*















(Isn't he cuuuuuute?! *squeal*)

Yeah, well. I don't know if that ever happens for *any* writer. Sooo, you might as well come to grips with the reality.

Sorry, no daisies, bunnies, or angelic choirs.

The rough draft is rough. In fact, it's most likely a bit terrible. I know I've said this before, but I think many writers strangle themselves on their own unrealistic perfectionism. And I say this because I was one of them. I LOVE books. And I read a lot of them. And so I knew that what I was writing was, in comparison to books I read and love, really terrible. Horrible. And so I would toss the book I was working on into the darkest depths of some box in my basement (or -gasp!- into the Recycling Bin).

Things really started working for me the day I finally realized, and internalized, the truth that my rough drafts are crap.

But the rough draft allows you to oil up your muse and gives you a framework to expand on. We watched our house be built from empty lot to completed home. And I have to tell you that a lot of the beginning steps were pretty darn ugly.

When they poured the foundation and there were bits of rebar sticking out of it, it was not attractive at all. (Very much like my outlines.) Then they put down the floorboards and started framing the house. That's your rough draft. Without that framework you can't ever get to a finished house with some stucco (but not the one style that looks like smoke damage so that everyone calls your house "The Haunted House" and uses it as a landmark like the one around the corner) and maybe some flower boxes on the windows, or a nice front porch with a swing. You have to start with the ugly framework.

So, the moral of this rambling post? Embrace the crap.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday #5

And it's actually on Wednesday this week, too. Yea!

I am thrilled to report... PROGRESS! (Take a peek over on the side. My word meter is up from 0%. Yippee!)

I started on the rough draft of Going Under/Mind Benders (I still can't decide on the title) this week and so far I've managed to meet my writing goal for the last 2 days. Three pages a day may not sound like much, but when I have my kids plus a few of the neighbors at my house all day long, 3 pages is realistic.

I probably have to pause soon and do some free writing to really get a feel for the voice of this story. Author Dan Wells talked about why he does this on his blog the other day. (He also said he'd save me a "I'm Not a Serial Killer" button. So I'm holding him to it. I want my button!)

In other thoughts, I am generally a pretty linear person (I like spreadsheets, I balance the checkbook every few days, I categorize my spending regularly for budgeting - you know, all that boring OCD type stuff), but I'm not sure if this book is going to go linearly. It's got a mind of it's own and the scene I'll be writing today is definitely not the next one in line, but it's the one clamoring to be written. I've already discovered that this story has an attitude, and I don't want to make it sulk again by arm wrestling it to do what I want it to.

I had a lot of fun researching SWAT this last week. And if any of you actually know someone on a SWAT team that would be willing to answer a few questions, I'd really appreciate it. :)

I've noticed as I peek at other writers participating in the WIP Wednesdays that they are working on more than one project at a time. I'm not sure if I can do that.

How about you guys? Can you do more than one book at a time?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Word of the Week #54

fillip - [FIL-uhp] - noun

Definition:

1. A snap of the finger forced suddenly from the thumb; a smart blow.
2. Something serving to rouse or excite; a stimulus.
3. A trivial addition; an embellishment.
4. To strike with the nail of the finger, first placed against the ball of the thumb, and forced from that position with a sudden spring; to snap with the finger.
5. To snap; to project quickly.
6. To urge on; to provide a stimulus, by or as if by a fillip.

Usage:

Pie is always better with the fillip of a la mode.