Friday, December 23, 2011

Can You Keep a Secret???

I'm really terrible at keeping a secret. Ask my 16 year old daughter. On multiple occasions she's made the mistake of telling me the boy she has a crush on and usually within the hour I've spilled the beans to everyone I've come in contact with.

So you can imagine how difficult it is for me to keep THIS a secret. If you were going to be giving your husband a puppy this cute for Christmas would you be able to keep it to yourself? I didn't think so!

Luckily, he doesn't read my blog so I can safely blab my news all I want, trusting YOU to keep it a secret.

The kids and I wrapped up a new collar and leash with a picture for him to unwrap on Christmas morning and later that day we'll pick up the puppy.

We came up with a secret hand signal (scratching next to our lip) when we want to tell each other that we're thinking about the puppy. So far my husband hasn't suspected anything's up, although he might think we've got an outbreak of eczema in the family.

Do you think I'll make it two more days without telling? I hope so.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Merry Whatever: It's Time for a Contest

It doesn't matter what you're celebrating this time of year, one thing we can all get excited about is a contest... and it's been a while since I've had one. So with just enough time to squeeze one more fantastic give away in before the new year rolls around I'm going to be giving away a piece of original artwork.

I hope you want to win it for yourself, but even if you don't, just imagine the regifting possibilities. Up for grabs is "Lone Chickadee", an original painting on vintage paper from the late 1800s (shown above).

To Enter: all you have to do is to leave me a comment below telling me what present you would buy if you had unlimited funds and who you'd give it to. (Today I was wishing I could buy a new car for my favorite checkout girl at Fresh Market.)

All of you new followers, don't forget to mention that you're new to my blog and I'll throw in an extra entry for you.

As always, I'll give extra entries for spreading the word. So if you blog about my contest, post it on facebook or tweet about it, I'll throw in an extra entry for you too. Just don't forget to tell me that you did it so that I can give you credit.

The contest will end on the stroke of midnight December 31st. And I'll be posting the winner on New Year's Day.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Cheer and a Few Swear Words

Yesterday I almost turned into one of those parents whose children grow up to lament them. For a moment the future flashed before my eyes (if such a thing can really happen, although I assure you I saw it vividly) as I imagined my children telling the story about the time their mother ruined Christmas by taking a chainsaw to the tree.

I didn't intend to spoil things. We were all happily gathering in the living room to decorate the tree. My oldest daughter was in the kitchen fixing hot chocolate and my husband was picking out Christmas music on the stereo (well, really ipod, but that sounds less romantic).

And everything was going fine. I'd been put in charge of stringing the lights on the tree, which I suppose we all should have had the foresight to know might not end well, but... there I was anyway, untangling lights and checking to make sure that they worked before I put them up. 

It seemed like everything was going well. I'd asked my husband to find an extension cord so that I could plug all the lights together and turn them on while I put them on the tree so that it would be easier to see where I was placing them, but for some reason (maybe the music selection was distracting him), he didn't get me one.

Well, by the time I got to the bottom of the tree I'd royally messed things up. Somewhere along the line I'd plugged in the wrong end of a strand so when I got to the bottom we were left with the socket end instead of the prong end. Of course my initial reaction was to roll my eyes and blame the person who was supposed to have gotten me an extension cord. Said person then became angry at being blamed and stormed out of the room for a "time out".

After much cursing underneath my breath (and maybe over top my breath too), I finally stormed out too and went to lay on my bed to contemplate divorce during the holidays. Luckily, when I came back my twelve year old son had fixed all the lights and the happy evening that we'd been imagining commenced along with some cups of hot chocolate and a heaping helping of apologies from me.

The moral of the story is: don't attempt to put up the lights. Some things are better left to more competent people.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Top Ten Favorite YA Books of 2011

Okay, so I know that the year isn't over yet and I could probably still fit in anther few books before 2012 rolls around, but I thought I'd post a list of some of the best YA books I've read this year.

I always love finding lists of other people's favorite books, especially if I see that they share my same tastes. And we all know how much I love me a good, tasty list.

I must preface my list by saying that although many of the books I read this year were also published in 2011, the books from my list are compiled from books that I read this year, regardless of the year they were published. Man, there were a LOT of good ones, but here are my top ten (in no particular order).

So many amazing books to choose from. I hope you love some of these as much as I did. And if you read something great that I just HAVE to read. Please let me know. I'll add it to my list of what I must read next year (or if I can sneak it in, maybe this one).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Yes, it's true. After almost a full month of crazy non-stop writing I have finally accomplished my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). And while it's true that I did complete the YA novel I set out to write, I still have a lot of work to do.

Reading through my novel feels a bit like looking in the mirror after getting dressed in the dark. My story might be wearing some clashing colors as well as an embarrassing mix of stripes and plaids. It might have accidentally put on the size 6 pants when really the size 12 would have fit a whole lot better and I don't want to make it blush, but it appears that maybe my story forgot to put on its underwear.

So, it's true, my story is written, but I'm hoping that December will bring not only some well deserved long underwear for my dear manuscript, but also plenty of time for rewrites.

Monday, November 21, 2011


The world is richer when you stop for a moment to think of all the things you have to be grateful for. Almost anyone living in our country has an immense amount to be thankful for: clean water, shelter, food…all those things that we take for granted every day.

I could list all those things, but so could you. We know what they are already, don't we? I thought instead I’d focus on the smaller things, the things that are unique to me. Maybe you’ll recognize some of the items on my list as things that you’re grateful for too, or maybe you'll just be thankful that you have better things on your list this Thanksgiving.
·         Closing my eyes at night and not opening them again until morning       
·         Apples that shock me with their crispness
·         Cold milk
·         Laughing so hard with my kids that I cry
·         Making things with my hands
·         New ideas that make me itch to start them
·         Finishing when it isn’t easy
·         Creating
·         People who write beautiful words that make me jealous and excited all at once
·         A husband who does the small things, like turning on my bed warmer so that my toes will be snugglywhen I climb into bed
·         Hot showers
·         Music that makes me want to sing at the top of my lungs
·         Paper
·         Clean laundry when it’s folded and all put away
·         Sitting around the dinner table with my family
·         Rain against the windows
·         Warm socks
·         The freedom to have my own opinion
·         Coconut ice cream
·         Sunlight shining through leaves
·         Good morning hugs
·         The minutes when the words come easily
·         My fuzzy down blanket
·         A clean kitchen floor
·         Red stoplights at dusk
·         Major and minor chords
·         The smell of soap and freshly washed hair
·         The promise of someday soon

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On Your Mark...

Yes, it's true, I'm totally a sucker for anything with a built in timer. That is why today, when I discovered the Write or Die app, I fell in love at first click.

I'm in the thick of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and even though I've done a pretty adequate job keeping up with the daily word count, today I realized that with a little nudge (and fifteen minutes on the clock) my writing goals went right through the roof.

The key is getting the fingers moving and getting rid of the internal editor. And believe me, Write or Die won't let you lollygag. If your fingers start hovering over the keypad for too long without typing, the screen starts changing color to let you know that you've slumped into one of those writing comas. And if you need a real kick in the pants you can set it to alarm you with annoying sounds if you start slacking off.

Now I just need to find an app that can do this same sort of thing for folding laundry and my life will really be looking bright.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Creative Insomniac

You probably fell asleep just fine, but now your eyes have popped open and you've tossed and turned for the last fifteen minutes, glancing at the clock again and again to see the red numbers mocking you. What? You didn't fall back asleep for another hour. The clock still says 1:42. It just said 1:42 an eternity ago. It might be that you're stuck in some strange time warp where the minutes really do click by like millenia, or maybe you're an insomniac.

Don't fret. All is not lost. Sure you may feel like the only thing that's keeping you from the sweet taste of sleep is your own sick mind which keeps alerting you to the fact that your mouth seems too dry and your eyeballs actually hurt. But don't focus on the BAD stuff. Just think of all the terrific things you can do with your new found time. Weren't you just saying the other day that you wish you had more hours in the day? Well here you go.

With your insomnia you could...

1. Search the internet for all the diseases you may or may not have based on your particular symptoms for the day.

2. Flip through all the catalogues that have been sent to you in the past week and decide that not one piece of clothing would look good on you until you go on a diet.

3. Research all the different diets on the internet. Imagine how good you'll look after you finish: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, e diets, Nutrisystem...

4. Find the bag of trailmix you left on the coffee table and pick out all the pieces of chocolate and anything that might be a cashew.

5. Facebook stalk all the people who are probably peacefully sleeping at the moment and flip through all their pictures. Decide that maybe they could stand to research e diets too.

6. Listen to the ticking of the clock and bemoan the fact that you're wide awake.

7. Scroll through pinterest. Laugh at all the lame quotes and pin all the pictures of country kitchens that you can find.

8. Consider working on the project you left sitting out on the kitchen table but then realize that it would require turning on the light, which you are very opposed to at this hour. No matter what.

9. Sit in the dark and concentrate on being sleepy.

10. Check your email, even though the only ones you'll be getting at this time of night are from Groupon or your kind friend in Belarus who would like to bequeath a large sum of money to you.

11. Learn a language. Just think, if you keep this insomnia thing up you could be ordering croissants in Paris at two in the morning.

12. Invent some tremendously brilliant and useful gadget that will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. Never mind that when you wake up in the morning your so-called "brilliant gadget" will seem either mundane or idiotic by light of day.

13. Work on your novel. After all, doesn't it seem like all your good ideas come to you in dreams. Well this is happening at the same time that you should be having those dreams so your ideas will probably be fantastic.

Oh, what the heck, maybe after all this you'll just try lying back in bed again and see what happens. Maybe you'll even surprise yourself.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Creative is a Verb

This past week my sister-in-law came into town from Portland to see our new play and she brought this amazing book with her. I could tell right away how excited she was to share it with me. We stood in my mom's living room and she flipped through the pages telling me a little bit about the author who had illustrated the book entirely with artwork that had been submitted by readers of her very popular blog "37 days".

So I took the book home expecting to flip through some pages and maybe take in a few insights before I gave it back to her the next day. But it ended up not really being one of those books that I could just flip through. I got sucked in by the clear, but beautiful writing right from the introduction and I could see how this writer gained so many blog followers, and later, so many readers of her books. She seemed geniune and honest and so very excited by the prospect that creativity is for EVERYONE, not just those of us who proclaim ourselves to be "artists".

I only had time to read about half of the book before my sister-in-law had to return home, but I'm planning on going out today to buy my own copy so that I can finish reading it. It seems like a book that I'll be able to turn back to time and again for inspiration. And, let's face it, who doesn't need a good shot of inspiration every so often.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


NaNo what???

That's NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month and I just might be crazy enough to attempt it. Yes, this is an obsurdly busy month to begin with. I've got my play opening tomorrow and I'm supposed to be madly making my new art dolls for an upcoming show next month, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't also be writing.

If you've ever wanted to try writing a novel, November is the month for you to throw yourself full force into the crazy whirlwind of it all. Pop on over to the NaNoWriMo website and enter yourself in all the insanity. In 30 days you could be 50,000 words closer to your dream.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A New Obsession

No time to write. No time to do laundry. No time to take a shower or write a post for the blog. I'm busy with my new obsession... Making these crazy sculptures.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


The winner in the "Back to School Giveaway" is...

Amber Clites

Amber, will you please send me your email address to kebirch (at) and I'll send your gift card right over.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School Giveaway

School has started and I'm feeling productive. Today when the kids marched off to school I mowed my lawn (and the neighbor's too for good measure), made revisions to our play (a man enters), finished reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson and cleaned out my closet, which resulted in six bulging garbage bags full of clothes in the back of my van.

You'd think I'd be exhausted, but there's one last thing to do today. It's time for another giveaway. So in celebration of back to school, which was always my favorite time of year as a kid (second only to the first day of summer), I decided that it's time to give you lovely readers a chance to win something to enrich your minds: a $15 Amazon gift certificate. Because what good is it to have the kids back in school if you don't have anything good to read, right?

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment telling me what your favorite subject was in school. Of course I love new followers, so if you're new don't forget to mention it in your comment and I'll throw in an extra entry for you.

The giveaway ends August 31st and I'll announce the winner on September 1st.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Kate's Free Write

So last night I was up until nearly two designing the banner for my new blog. Okay, so maybe I don't really have time for another blog, but in my defense, this isn't so much a blog as a different form of creative writing journal.

The idea is this: each day (yes, I realize that it probably won't happen every day, but this is the "idea" not reality) I'll pick a new prompt with which to base a fifteen minute free writing exercise. The prompt might get drawn out of my bag of random words or it might be a line from a poem I love. It might be one of the many amazing images that I've found on the internet and have been hording on my hard drive for this very reason.

The prompt could be anything and most likely won't be related to anything that I'm currently writing, but the point isn't to create work that will get used. It's just to get those yummy juices flowing. Mmmm, I can already taste the words now.

And if you want to join along in my daily word romp, please, feel free to share my prompt or come up with your own. I'd love to read what you come up with.

Click here if you'd like to visit Kate's Free Write

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

No Bake Poetry

I'm back from vacation and even though I didn't write much (my aspirations for writing 1000 words a day flew right out the window and got lost in the tumbleweed somewhere in the Nevada desert), I did do a really interesting writing exercise while visiting my brother in Portland.

Here's the general gist: It's a collaborative effort, so you'll need at least a couple other writing folks to make it work.

1. First, the group of you will do a 15 minute free write based off of a prompt. My sister in law came up with our prompt, "With the rocks whirling in the flat lands, the daffodils..."

2. Next we passed our notebooks clockwise and read through our neighbor's free write, underlining words and phrases that really jumped out at us.

3. Finally we passed the notebooks one final time and, using the the underlined words and passages, rearranged them into a poem.

Here's the poem that my brother created from my free write:

Abandoned behind the peach
the sun makes past loves or even current
into warm squash, the core that held the food.
Someone they once knew
made excuses but then forgot,
lolled about, snapped,
dressed a table beside meshy bulbs
and thin crystal with thin green necks,
as if to strip themselves,
snipped by silver,
wrought by a sweating palm.

It was astounding not only how varied each of our poems turned out, but how each of us approached the free write from such vastly different perspectives. If you're curious to read the other poems, visit Fauxy's Lucky Scramble, my sister-in-law's new writing blog.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Banishing Aunt Edna: How to Stop Self Editing

Normally I stay on track pretty well when I'm writing. I know well enough not to go back over what I've written except to familiarize myself with a scene when I begin each morning. Yes, I KNOW better. I know I should just keep typing. Let the words come out uninhibited because once you start looking at them too carefully they'll get scared and start hiding in dark places where they can't be seen.

But lately I've forgotten that a story can be a bit like a shy child and if you start questioning it, start scrutinizing it too closely it'll go hide under the couch or crawl underneath the back patio. And there's no coaxing a story out once it's hidden under the patio.

The problem is that darn self editor. She's like the big scary great aunt with the hairy mole and the bad breath. We'll call her Aunt Edna. Once she starts pinching your poor little story's cheeks she'll scare the bejeezus out of her. And there's no way your story is going to come out again with Aunt Edna standing there staring at her.

This is why I've decided to ban Aunt Edna from my writing. She's kind of difficult to get to leave once she's made herself comfortable in your life, but I have my tricks. For instance, I happen to know that Aunt Edna really likes to look over my shoulder when I'm working on my computer. It's so easy for her to push the backspace key. She loves making me scroll back up and read over my work over and over and again, until it's lost all the magic and all the momentum. She LOVES to start tweeking words. tweek. tweek. tweek.

But for some reason Aunt Edna HATES it when I write long hand. She gets a little perturbed and skulks away pouting about how hard it is to butt in. She knows that I'm much less likely to go back to change things when I'm writing things out on paper. I'll just keep charging ahead, pencil down, until the words are all out of me.

So this week I'm going to try giving Aunt Edna a little break; see if I can't get her to pack her bags and move back home. Then maybe I'll get back on the computer and find that she's not staring over my shoulder any more.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action: Watching What You Write.

So we all have our own writing styles. Some people sit down and the words just start pouring out of them, happy little spigots of inspiration that were just waiting to be turned on the moment fingers hit the keyboard, while other people painstakingly plot out every step, every breath, every turn of the head that their characters make, which will lead them from page one to "the end".

I've tried almost every conceivable way to write and even though I've found that my technique falls somewhere in the middle of completely pantsing it, to having it all plotted out, I have found that one technique works for me every time.


Some people say it's impossible for them to picture what's going to happen to their characters in their head, but for me it's second nature. Maybe it's because I'm such a visual person anyway, or maybe it's because I'm somewhat obsessed with movies, but whatever the reason, it's very, very helpful for me to imagine my scenes before I write them.

I don't know everything that's going to be said, or every movement that will be made, but sitting back and watching my scenes unfold in my imagination makes it so much less intimidating to actually sit down and write.

Usually, after playing a scene out in my mind, I jot down the major events that I want to have unfold in my writing. This sort of an outline relaxes me because I'm not stressing out about what needs to happen and I can focus instead on how things happen.

What works for you?

Monday, July 11, 2011

My First Blog Award

I was just chugging along minding my business as a quiet little blogger when LisaAnn over at Kicked, Cornered, Bitten and Chased decided to be awesome and give me my first blogger award: The Versatile Blogger Award (I hope when it says Versatile it really means slow and lazy because it's taken me two weeks to get to it, but heck, if that's what they're giving awards out for, then I'm happy to oblige).

Here are the rules for accepting this award:

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Pass the award on to five newfound blogging buddies.
3. Share seven random facts about yourself.
4. Contact the winners to congratulate them.

So here are the bloggers that I chose to receive my Versatile Blogger Awards (All chosen because their blogs are both informative and end up putting a smile on my face). Click on their names and check out their awesome blogs:
  1. Becky Taylor
  2. Krystal Wade
  3. Chantele Sedgwick at My Writing Bug
  4. Cheryl Reif at Cheryl's Musings
  5. Barbara Watson at Novel and Nouveau
Now on to seven totally random (yet highly endearing) facts about myself:

  1. The year I turned twelve (I think) I asked for a window for my birthday. Yeah, kind of weird, but we lived in a house that was right next to a creek and the only window I had in my room didn't face the river. So my sweet mom indulged and $500 dollars later (holy cow we didn't expect it to cost that much) I had a tiny little window that overlooked the creek. It was perfect on nights when I could lie right next to the window and listen to the rush of the water.
  2. My Grandma Eydythe used to play the most wonderful game with me as a little girl. It was called Little Neigh Neigh. I was, in fact, Little Neigh Neigh and my grandma was Big Neigh Neigh. I bet you'd never guess what the game involved. Yes, we were horses (my childhood obsession) and would graze on a floral quilt and romp around on all fours. What a kind grandma, huh?
  3. I LOVE all things sour. I have a sweet tooth too, but when you combine it with something sour BAM! My mom used to pack sliced up lemons in my lunch. No apples for me.
  4. My husband and I tried opening a flower shop when we were first married and still very stupid. It was called Morgan's Gardens (named after our daughter) and we mananged to lose lots and lots of money. Once I accidentally locked (I thought) myself in the walk in fridge in the pitch black. I finally realized that I only had to push on the door a little harder, but for a moment there I imagined someone finding my chilled carcass clutching the daisies. That'd be a weird alternative to the saying (pushing up daisies).
  5. I'm probably the biggest scaredy cat in the world. I am afraid of: spiders, bees, ants (let's just narrow it down to anything that crawls), snakes, big dogs that aren't by their owners, heights, the dark, small spaces, big open spaces, being alone (at night), being in the middle of the ocean... I could probably go on and on, but you get the point.
  6. I love to spend money. Sometimes I think that if the government wanted to really get the economy going again they should just give me a bunch of spending money, set me free, and stand back. I would love to be the sort of person who can save, but I'm pretty sure they made up the saying "burning a hole in my pocket" about me.
  7.  I love to imagine what sort of animals people would be if they were one. My husband is definitely a golden eagle, my son is a turtle and my youngest daughter is a cocker spaniel puppy. I also like to categorize people by what fruit they'd be (my mom would be a raspberry) or what flower they would be (my oldest daughter would be a peony). But I'm not sure what I'd be.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Finding a Critique Partner: Your Manuscript's First Date

Oh, my baby's growing up and wants to start dating. No, not my daughter! My manuscript. Yes, she's still young. In fact, she's only a couple of chapters old, but she keeps telling me that she wants to get to know other people, see the wide world, expand her horizons. She's been all plotted out, she tells me, doesn't that mean she's old enough?

Well, maybe my sweet little baby has a point. Usually when I write, I hold my baby to my chest and don't let her out to see other people until I'm sure that she's mature. But I've been craving the input of other writers. It's a lonely business, this writing, and I've been thinking for a while now that I'd really like to find a critique partner. I get so jealous when I hear other writer's talk about theirs that it brings back all those feelings from junior high when the boy I liked had a crush on some other girl.

I was really lucky a couple of months ago to find a reader who offered to beta read my middle grade novel for me. She was WONDERFUL. She pointed out problems that I'd never noticed because I was too close to the project and she had really great ideas for fixing things. This taste of a critique partner made me crave this sort of feedback all the time. The only problem was that my reader wasn't a writer and I couldn't return the favor. I really wanted to find another writer that would need me as much as I need her.

So last night, during my sleepless 2 a.m. jaunt, I decided to put an ad out for a critique partner on WriteOnCon. I've been married since I was very young, so I've never done the whole internet dating thing, but it sure felt like I was putting myself out there in the same sort of way. What if no one liked me and my manuscript? What if they thought we weren't pretty enough, or smart enough, or funny enough?

Well, I've got my fingers crossed that my manuscript and I are going to find just the right match, and hopefully it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship (cue schmaltzy music and sunset).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Better Than a Trip Around the World

You've probably all heard of the story "Around the World in 80 Days", but have you ever heard of A Round of Words in 80 Days? Maybe if you're a writer you have.

A Round of Words in 80 days is a writing challenge designed for writers just like me, ie. writers who need to have a list of goals to get any work done lest they spend the whole day playing around on the internet or staring at their belly button (Okay, so I'm not a belly button starer, but I do know how to waste time).

So you all know how much I love lists and goals, and I love mixing the two together whenever I get the chance. Here's my list of goals for the ROW80 challenge:

  1. Write 1000 words a day. (I've tried not to make this goal too huge or else I'll get discouraged and I'll quit after three days. I know myself too well)
  2. Finish revising my YA novel.
  3. Complete the first draft of my new WIP. (I'm excited about this one because I'm still at the point where I'm actually LOVING my story).
That's it. Just three goals and I'll be able to pat myself on the back in 80 days, knowing that what I've accomplished is just as awesome as a trip around the world. (Well, just as awesome to me).

Click here if you want to find out more about a Round of Words in 80 days.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Parable of the White Pants

The parable of the white pants is one I've discussed with some of my closest friends and I want to share it with you now, because it will probably change your life, like all good parables can. I'm not yet sure that I've learned how to harness its full power (Maybe you can help enlighten me).

For those of you who do not yet know of the parable of the white pants, let me now relate it to you.

A few summers ago, when Transformers 2 came out in theatres, my family and I went down to the Gateway Mall and plunked down our seventy five dollars a ticket (or whatever it was they cost back then) and sat down with our ice cold sodas and buckets full of popcorn to watch the movie.

I don't expect too much from my rootin' tootin' knock 'em up blockbusters. I come to be entertained. I'm fine with a straight forward plot and a cheesy love story. These are the things I expect. But there are some things that I just can't stand for. And that's where our white pants come into the story.

Three quarters of the way through the film I knew something was off. Megan Fox's character (who made the poor fashion choice to begin with of wearing white pants on a day when aliens would try to take over the planet) was still sporting clean jeans after countless near death experiences.

At this point I stopped following the story all together and became consumed with those pants. Those glaring white pants. I was obsessed. How was it that Megan Fox could be blown up and chased by transforming aliens and still keep her pants pristine when I couldn't even run to pick up the kids from school without getting a huge chocolate stain on my butt?

Finally in the last scenes of the movie the directors must have noticed the perfect spotlessness of Megan's pants because they grubbied them up, smearing them with dirt so that they looked close (but not quite as bad) to the way I would have looked by dinnertime on a school day.

But by this point in the movie it was too late. I couldn't look past it. The movie was ruined for me.

So what's the moral of the parable of the white pants? Is it to wear dark colors when earth is being invaded? Is it to stay away from big summer blockbusters? or is it something more subtle?

Can you still find value in things even if there's a big glaring mistake staring at you? I hope that the answer is yes. I hope that I can learn not to dismiss everything just because I see some faults. Politics, religion, relationships, couldn't we use the parable of the white pants to learn to understand all these things better? And more importantly, next time I plunk down three hundred dollars to see a movie, maybe I'll learn to let those silly mistakes go and actually watch the film.

What do you think? (And don't tell me not to wear white after labor day. That doesn't count.)

Monday, June 27, 2011


I get stressed out easily. No, really. I'm kind of like one of those little teacup poodles that could die from an aneurysm if I get too anxious. So, it probably will come as no surprise that change usually doesn't go over too well with me.

As a little girl I used to love to rearrange my room. That is, until night came, when I was then faced with the consequences of my daytime jaunts and I'd get so sad longing for the way things USED to be (which is kind of silly because I could always put things back to how they were the day before just by moving around some furniture). Yes, at ten I was already a nostalgic.

I can still get overly nostalgic today, although I've learned how to cope with a healthy (or maybe not) dose of denial. That is to say, I like to ignore change as much as I can. If I start thinking about the fact that my kids no longer want me to read picture books to them, don't fit in my lap any longer, and will some day move out of my house, I go into full on panic attack mode (including but not limited to: chest pain, blurred vision, dizziness, and the feeling that I'm being sucked down a very dark and endless tunnel). It's so much easier just to turn my brain off and not think about it.

I get this way when I think about my childhood home, which was torn down a couple of years ago. It's so scary to me to think that I can't go back. I'll never be able to go there again and see things the way they used to be. Although most of you would probably tell me that you can never really go back, even if the house still stands. But still I'd like a chance to walk through the yard, stand by the creek, look out the window of my old bedroom.

Maybe I'm so scared of losing the past because I have such a terrible memory. If things could live on in my brain, maybe I wouldn't be so scared of losing them in real life. But until science finds a way to tap into my mind's lost reservoirs I'll have to learn to deal with it. You'd think I'd write in a journal, but I guess my laziness outweighs even my fears.

So I was so proud of myself recently when the neighbors tore down the garage that separated their yard from mine and I didn't have a panic attack. I didn't mourn the pealing paint or the way our yard USED to look. I'm plowing head long into the aesthetically pleasing future, enjoying the way I can now see the light dance through the leaves of their walnut tree in the morning. It's all about the outlook, isn't it?

If only all change could always look so good.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ten Signs You're Out On Submission

It’s official! My little, baby manuscript has left the nest and is out on submission. In honor of my first experience of being out on sub, I decided to (you guessed it) write a list of ten signs that you just went out on submission.

1-    You open your email every ten minutes or so (okay, maybe it’s every three minutes) to see if your agent has contacted to tell you that there’s already a bidding war for your manuscript. Who cares that the editors haven’t even had time to read the submission’s cover letter yet. (It’s already been like an hour, why hasn’t anyone responded?)

2-    You buy lots of chocolate to get you through this stressful time. Upon snarfing down the first Costco sized bag of m&ms you realize that you really shouldn’t be packing away all this chocolate. What you should be doing is going on that new no-cal-no-carbs-no-fat-eat-only-green-things diet so that you can look stunning when you meet your publishers to sign your book deal.

3-    You give away all that chocolate, which is sad, but at least all the neighbors love you now.

4-    You take a quick peek at your email, just to be sure that nothing new has shown up.

5-    You cyber stalk all the editors and publishing houses that your agent submitted to and make a secret top ten list of the houses you really, really want to buy your book.

6-    You decide you should start writing a new project. You already have like a bazillion really awesome ideas that you’ve been dying to tackle and now’s the time. What better way to distract yourself than to create a new world? This next book is going to be EVEN better than the last one. It’ll be brilliant.

7-    You stare at the blank screen.

8-    You decide that maybe you should just check in on twitter and see what’s happening in the blogosphere and THEN you’ll start writing.

9-    You marvel over all those writers who actually sold their books. Maybe a little of their luck will rub off on you. You look up EVERY blog post that was ever posted about authors who went on submission and finally sold their books. You compare every detail of their story to yours. Now you’ll be prepared when it happens to you, right? Right?

10-   You check your email. What it’s only been two hours?!? Oh well. Maybe it’s time to go out and buy some more chocolate.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Writing Journal

Yesterday, in preparation for the first day of summer vacation, my eldest daughter and I went to the bookstore and bought new notebooks for all of us. Of course I'll use any excuse to buy a new notebook (I've got a notebook fetish that could outshine a lot of shoe fetishes). But I also wanted my kids to keep using pens and paper this summer, lest they forget the importance of the written word.

So today we set out to fill the first page of our notebooks with our "Summer Goal List". The kids have some pretty lofty goals, like: have a lemonade stand once a week and draw 12 coloring books (why fill their lists with things that they don't want to do, right?). I however, conjoled them into adding a few things like: chores, and daily family walks.

Here's my Summer Goal list:

  • Write a new book (or 2) 1500 words a day.
  • Daily walks with the kids.
  • Daily chore chart (I'm not too big a meanie. Each kid only has to do two little chores a day.)
  • TV tickets (The kids only get to watch one hour of TV a day, which for them is torture.) 
  • Write in my writing notebook every day, including one new idea for a book each day. (Even if it's a stupid idea.)
  • Write one paragraph in my journal every day.
  • Do a chalkboard animation (I'm excited about this one. I want to do an artsy book trailer.)
  • Limit my internet time. (Yep, this one's going to be hard. This addict's going to go through some withdrawals.)
  • Read 10 books (or more. I can always read more.)
  • Finish revising the play with my mom. (Now's a good time to mention that SLAC decided to use our play to open their season!!!!!)
  • Start a new series of paintings.
  • Learn new vocabulary words (Isn't dinner a good time to learn new words? It's automatic dinner conversation.)
  • Only drink soda one time per week.
My list could go on and on, and knowing me I'll only do a few of the things on my list for the whole summer. Let's face it, most of the things on my list will only last a week, but I do love to dream.

What's on your Summer List???

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

$20 Amazon Card Winner

I hope everyone's summer reading has kicked off with a big bang. I'm happily reading BEAUTY QUEENS and I'm loving it. If your looking for a book that will make you snort, guffaw, giggle, titter and hold your breath in awe of amazing writing, this one's for you!

I'm excited to announce the winner of my Summer Reading Contest. The lucky recipient of a $20 gift card to Amazon is...


Barb, send me your email address and I'll shoot that gift card over your way.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Winner of the Knock-Your-Socks-Off Contest...

Not only is it an amazingly beautiful summer day here in Salt Lake (one of the first we've had all year I might add), but it's my birthday too. And to celebrate I'm excited to announce that the winner of an original painting is....

Gennifer Albin

Thank you Gennifer for entering. I have a number of paintings for you to choose from. If you send me your email address (and home address)  I'll send images for you to choose from and soon you'll have a new painting hanging on your wall.

Thank you to everyone for entering. I'll be having another contest for artwork again really soon.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Reading Contest (Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card)

I don't know about you, but I have TONS of books on my To Be Read list and I'm just itching to jump right in. I've already had a little taste of reading by the pool, although the weather here in Utah has been a bit confused (Mother Nature seems to think that we live in the Northwest instead of the desert, but there's no changing her mind). Even though we're a bit soggy now, I'm predicting warm days soon and I can't wait until the kids are out of school so that we can spend every day poolside.

In honor of a summer full of reading I thought I'd have a little contest to get you all on your way. How does a $20 Gift Certificate to Amazon sound?

To win all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what book you can't wait to read this summer. I'd love to have you follow my blog, but you don't have to be a follower to enter (although if you follow you'll also be entered to win one of my original paintings. Yipee!)

In case you're wondering what I can't wait to read this summer, here's just a few of the titles on my TBR list.

  • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
  • What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
  • Where She Went by Gayle Forman
  • Hereafter by Tara Hudson
  • Possesion by Elana Johnson 
  • The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
  • Stay by Deb Caletti

I could go on and on, but I can't wait to hear what your recommendations are.

Happy Reading!!!

And in honor of summer vacation this contest will end on
June 8th (a.k.a. the last day of school)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ode to Boy

It's my son's 12th birthday tomorrow. Last year I started a tradition to write him a poem for his birthday as a way to celebrate the person he is during this moment in time.

Here's this year's poem:

I have almost forgotten that little boy
who I used to hold in my lap.
He’s grown.
Feet and hands as big as mine.
Soon those few inches between us will close
and it will be your eyes
that are looking down into mine.

Promise me that you’ll still hold my hand
the way you do now,
grabbing it without a thought
as we stroll down the sidewalk together.
Promise me that you’ll still ask for goodnight kisses,
that you’ll still hold on to me,
not ready to let me go
when we turn off the light.
Promise me that I’ll be the one
you want to tell your stories to,
that I’ll be the one you complain to,
about friends who smell funny,
or girls who talk too much,
or teachers who just don’t listen.
Promise me that you’ll never be too grown up
to hug me in public
and tell me that you love me.
I won’t mind
If you simply want to whisper it
Into my ear
Just so long as I can hear you say it out loud.
Promise me that you’ll always want
to snuggle next to me as you read,
just to feel the closeness between us.

I don’t want to forget
your teeth, the way they are right now,
still big in your mouth,
untouched by braces.
I don’t want to forget
the way you shoot your basketball,
tossing it gleefully behind your head,
or the way you bowl,
balancing between pure show off
and downtrodden Eeyore.
I don’t want to forget
the way you look right after you’ve told a joke
that has made everyone laugh.
The way a pleased smile forms on your lips
And you look at me
to make sure that I’ve noticed.

Don’t let me forget these things.
Imprint them on my skin.
Engrave them in my bones
So that I always remember
what it feels like
to be the center of your universe.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tick Tock: My Best Friend Sally

Let me introduce you to one of my best friends. Some people think she’s annoying because she nags… a lot (and in a very loud, screeching voice I might add), but without her I’m basically a lazy blob stuck unmoving under a warm blanket on the couch.

Maybe I just don’t know how to motivate myself or use my time wisely, but without my handy dandy oven timer (we’ll just call her Sally) I’m pretty lost.

I wish that I was a person who could face the day with sword wielded, armor flashing and tackle every task on my “to do” list, but I’m not. In fact, big lists overwhelm me, which is ironic because of my almost obscene love for lists. And I do love them. I love writing them, and crossing the items off in really dark pen.

But the key to tackling a list (for me) is Sally. Maybe I’m a bit like a Kindergartener, but I just accomplish things better when they’re broken down into nice little manageable chunks of time. You’d be amazed what can get done in 15 minutes.

Here’s how Sally serves me best. On those days when I really just want to sit in my big cozy chair in my front room under my down comforter and read the next book on my list, Sally is there to make sure that three o’clock doesn’t roll around with me still sporting my pajamas. Sally can be set for a half an hour, during which time I get to read and read and read. Then when she beeps I know it’s time to get something done, for instance getting dressed.

I’m still not totally fair with my time. The things I like to do: reading, writing, painting, get big chunks of time to work with, while things like housework usually get relegated to 15 minute bursts (and how I love to hear that beeping that sets me free from cleaning.)

I heard Sally’s cousin Ally lives at your house. Aren’t you lucky?