Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's Time For Another Giveaway

Yes, you heard me right. It's time for another giveaway. The weather here in Salt Lake has been a bit confused lately: snow, rain, hail, and just a bit of sun. And even though I think it's time for spring, mother nature can't quite make up her mind. So instead of warm weather, maybe some cheerful little bird prints will be just what it takes to usher in spring.

You could win three bird prints of your choice from my etsy shop. Any three. You choose. 

It's easy to ENTER. All you have to do is make sure you're a follower and then blog, tweet, facebook or email about my contest, anything to spread the word. Then just write me a message letting me know how you did it. All new followers will automatically be entered twice. And like always, the more ways you spread the word, the more times you'll be entered.**

The contest will end Thursday, May 5th. 

** Don't forget to leave a message to enter. Otherwise I won't know to put you in the drawing. You can leave a message here or send me an email.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

(a man enters)

Last night my mom and I got to see a staged reading of our play (a man enters) at SLAC. (By the way, this is a working title. If you have a flash of inspiration and come up with a better one please, please let me know.)

It was AMAZING. The actors were perfect and we were lucky to have a full house and many, many brilliant audience members who stayed after for our talk back.

My funny and neurotic mom (hmmm, that's not hereditary, is it?) was so nervous that she could hardly enjoy the play, but I had a GREAT time. Maybe it's because I let her do all the worrying and I was just there for the ride.

As we were waiting for the play to start I mentioned to my mom how excited and unworried I was and she decided it was because I have fifteen thousand other careers to fall back on if this one doesn't pan out. (Well, maybe she didn't say fifteen thousand, but you get my drift.) This might be the first time my "career attention deficit disorder" has actually paid off. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

I Should Be Doing [blank] Right Now

1-  Laundry—it’s always there. Always. Maybe we need to start walking around naked. It doesn’t have to be every day (maybe just every other).
2-  Revising—Yes, I did it all day long, but that doesn’t mean I’m done.
3-  Baking—Just think of all those yummy things that I could make if only I could follow the recipe.
4-  Going to the Post Office—I’ve got packages just waiting to be sent, but I guess if they’ve waited this long they can wait one more day.
5-  Cleaning out the kids’ drawers—How can there be so many clothes crammed in one drawer yet nothing to wear? Do everyone’s kids grow this fast?
6-  Writing—not this sort of writing. What about that new middle grade novel?
7-  The dishes—you mean you have to put them IN the dishwasher too? And start it??
8-  Painting—I told myself I’d paint three little birds a day. How many have I done today? You guessed it: zero.
9-  Mopping the kitchen floor—If I wait long enough maybe we can just call all that stuff leftovers and I won’t have to fix dinner.
10-              Laundry—Did I mention that it’s never ending?
11-              Reading—What about that list of books I want to read? Aren’t I the one always complaining that there’s never enough time to read them all.
12-              Rubbing my husband’s back—Actually he doesn’t even like his back rubbed, but I was just hoping that he’d reciprocate.
13-              Going to the grocery store—A family can’t live off of cereal alone. You know it’s bad when all that’s left in the refrigerator are condiments, and the containers of leftovers whose origins have long since been forgotten.
14-              Exercising—Ha! That was funny that I even wrote that down.
15-              Reading the newspaper—Don’t all the really smart people you know read the paper?
16-              Weeding—I’m happy that the snow has melted and my flowers do seem to be thriving, but sadly so do the weeds.
17-              Mowing the lawn—Yes, I guess I only do it once a year, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it more.
18-              Practicing the Piano—Okay, so I don’t PLAY the piano, but maybe if I started practicing I would.
19-              Writing thank you notes—Remember when I said that I wanted to start being considerate? What happened to that idea?
20-              Giving the dogs a bath—How can such little creatures get sooooo stinky?
21-              Vacuuming—Where do all those itty bitty bits of paper come from?
22-              Cleaning under my bed—I’ve lived in my house for over ten years and I think the only time I’ve ever cleaned under my bed was when we moved the furniture in our room. I wonder what’s under there (????).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Following Instructions

Anyone who knows me is aware that I'm not the best at following instructions. Maybe this is one of the reasons why it's so stressful to paint comissioned pieces. Even with specific colors, I'm always nervous that the painting I create will never match up to the image that the customer has in their mind.

Trying to understand what someone has envisioned in a custom piece is a little like trying to describe a dream. You know how sometimes a dream can seem to make sense in your mind, but the moment you try to explain it, it turns into something fuzzy and ethereal? That's a bit what visualizing commissions feels like to me. 

I've been working on a piece for a "special" (code word for secret) client that wants an exclusive painting for their store. I'm not done with the painting yet, but you're getting a sneak peek at it. What do you think?  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Let's Play

Yesterday was the first read through of our play at Salt Lake Acting Company and although I’ve heard it inside my mind for months it was like I was experiencing it for the first time. These professional actors have already done more for our play than I could have ever imagined.
The woman playing the character of Rosie (me) was a far better “me” than I could ever be. It made me wish that I could carry an actor around with me at all times to say things the way I really mean to say them.
It’s peculiar to think that the truth can be acted far more convincingly than reality can ever do it. Maybe this is the reason we’re so drawn to movies and plays, because in them we get to see things condensed and distilled to a reality that adds up to more than our disparate lives.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Ceremony

Sometimes a ceremony is in order.

Of course when you've got a day filled with soccer practices, play dates, cookie baking, dinner making, and homework, sometimes even a ceremony can fall by the wayside.

My contract came in the mail today from Levine Greenberg and I resolved when I opened the package that I'd wait for my family to get home before I signed it. In my mind I had visions of brass bands and confetti; bouqets of colorful balloons floating into the sky.

Obviously that's not how things went.

So what if I didn't get around to doing my makeup or fixing my hair. It wouldn't have seemed right to have my family standing around me in three piece suits and evening gowns. Pajamas and clean, damp hair were fine with me. 

As I opened my pen at the dining room table Noah pounded out a drum roll on his vocabulary book and Morgan snapped pictures as well as any paparazzi. As I finished my signature with a flourish, Becca leaned over and asked me if I'd spelled my name wrong? 

Maybe we didn't paint our faces in tribal war paint like Morgan had hoped, or covered our bodies in our favorite words like I'd suggested, but it still felt like something special. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Best Tsunami

It feels like a tidal wave of saved up good Karma has washed over me all in the span of a few days and it has left me happily gasping for air.

My most exciting news is also the news that has taken the longest to get to. For fifteen years I’ve been working hard at nurturing my dream of some day being an author. I’ve written short stories and essays, slaved through 3 day novel writing competitions. I’ve attended conferences in short story writing, creative nonfiction and memoir. I’ve started countless novels and have even managed to finish a few of them. I’ve entered contests, and almost won a few and I’ve seen one essay go on to be published in a literary magazine. All that has brought me to the exciting place I am today: accepting representation from literary agent Kerry Sparks at Levine Greenberg. I couldn’t be happier!

Not only were my dreams of finding an amazing agent realized, but I also just found out that the play that my mom and I wrote together (tentatively entitled A Man Enters) is being considered by Salt Lake Acting Company for their 2011-2012 season. I can’t believe how lucky I am not only to be able to write a play with my best friend (and mom), but to possibly see that play produced. This play is extra special because it’s partially based off of my own life and my relationship with my estranged father. If anyone is interested in hearing our play while it’s still in development, SLAC (Salt Lake Acting Company) will be holding a reading of our play on April 25th at 7:00.

Lest you think that the only good news lately has come to my writing life, let me assure you that I’ve also had plenty of good news about my art as well. Not only has my wonderful publisher, Laurie Downing at Poems Art Inc., informed me that she’s getting barraged with calls for new work from me, but she also arranged for a very cool exclusive painting for a big client. I also found out that the new movie 21 Jump Street has requested to use 10 of my prints on their set.

Wow! I’m exhausted with good news, but I won’t complain if the waves keep coming.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Wish

I admit it, I’m a superstitious soul. I think I could easily be one of those people who believe that book, “The Secret”, except that I can never follow someone else’s instructions (not sewing, not baking), not even for wish fulfillment.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like to make up my own rules for wishes. There’s the whole lucky number wish system i.e. when you look at the clock right when it reads 11:11 and you can make a wish before the time changes. Or the lucky day wish system, like this year when we had 1-1-11. Just imagine all the wish opportunities when you combine the two.
 Of course there are all the tradition wish categories: birthday candles, shooting stars, wish bones.
But last summer while we were camping (Interesting fact: it was on this same camping trip that I came up for the idea of my YA novel), our family started a new little wish tradition. Here’s the gist of it.
1-  On a strip of paper you write out your wish. It can be as simple or as detailed as you want.

2-  Then you fold it up into a tight ball and repeat the wish in your mind.
The next step works best on a camping trip because you’ll already have a campfire, but it also works if you have a back yard fire pit or even in a fireplace or large candle.
3-   After repeating your wish you toss your paper into the fire and watch as the wish catches fire. The best part is watching as your wish turns into smoke and drifts into the sky (off to come true).
The other day while we were at Jolly’s Market buying birthday gifts for my girls’ friends we came across these little wish tickets. I didn’t want to shell out the $8 for the pack, but after I got home I regretted not getting them. I’m sure there’s a new wish tradition just waiting to happen. Come Monday morning I’ll be heading back to buy them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Alter Ego

Yesterday I went to lunch with an amazing group of women and we got to talking about our alter egos. Who would we be if we could be anyone? Would we be ballerinas, singers, maybe the President of the United States?

After I got home, I really started thinking about who  I would want to be if I could be anyone. When I was a teenager I used to look through magazines and imagine what I would like to look like if I could be someone else. I can vividly remember looking at a picture in a magazine of a girl in jeans and cowboy boots leaning up against a brick wall. She had beautiful, long, dark hair and a cute button nose, the Brooke Sheilds type, and for a long time I imagined what my life would be like if I could wake up in the morning looking like her.

But yesterday when I was thinking up my perfect self, looks didn’t pop into my mind at all. So when did I stop dreaming about changing what I looked like and begin dreaming about what I wanted to become instead? Who knows…maybe when I stopped looking at those magazines and started reading DISCOVER and THE SUN instead.

So I started thinking…who would I want to be? The first thing that popped into my head was a writer. But wait, I told myself, I’m already working on that one, so maybe I should pick something else and  I’m not going to say an artist either. Wow, two down, that’s not too bad.

Of course, I can still think of a whole world of things for my alter ego to be good at. She’ll be a screenwriter and an actress, a singer songwriter, and a really good cook. She’ll probably own a farm and take lots of trips to the ocean. She’ll be warm and friendly. The kind of person that makes you feel welcome the moment you walk into a room. She’ll write thank you notes, and probably not waste time on the internet. She’ll be organized and generous and will definitely find time in her day to exercise.

The list could go on…and maybe it will. I’m sure there are plenty of things on that list just waiting for me to check off. Look out alter ego, pretty soon you’re going to be wishing that you were ME.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Essence

Okay all you brilliant readers, I'm asking for a bit of your help here. I'm in the process of revising a middle grade novel that I wrote a couple of years ago and I've given myself the project of rewriting the first couple of chapters. What I'm asking from you is to read my new first paragraph and tell my a couple of things.

1- Would you keep reading?
2- Does this paragraph get you questioning what is going to happen in the pages to come?
3- What would you imagine this book to be about if all you read was this first paragraph.

That's it dear readers. Just three little questions and please, be honest. I promise not to get my feelings hurt.

As the moving van pulled up alongside the tall, white house on Dover Street, an odd thought flitted in and out of Matisse’s mind. It wasn’t a fully formed idea, more the stirring of a feeling, the essence of something. A house, she thought, is kind of like a person. A body, a dwelling, both of them are vessels, and from the outside you might not even notice the emptiness within.

Matisse looked out the window of the moving van as it pulled up alongside the house on Dover Street. As her eyes moved up the tall, white colonial an odd thought flitted in and out of her mind. It wasn’t a fully formed idea, more like the essence of one. “A person,” she thought, “is kind of like a house. A body... a dwelling... they can both fool you if you're looking at them from the outside. Unless you look closer you might not even notice the emptiness inside.”