Sunday, December 30, 2012

Artsy Resolutions

My favorite time of the year has rolled around again. This year I'm not just making lists... I'm "creating" lists. 

2013 is going to be my year to let my creative spirit soar. Doesn't it always, you ask? Well, yes and no. I waste A LOT of time. My poor creativity is often languishing in the corner. So this year I'm going to try to let it flourish. And to start things off right, I decided to draw a list of my top ten resolutions. Mind you, this is the short list. I have plenty of others that go on for pages. I've got my writing goals and my health goals, my household goals and my art goals. 

What are your goals for the new year?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Best Present EVER

I got very spoiled this year. My husband bought me the cutest vintage turquoise typewriter and my son spent hours building me a birdhouse, but my favorite present was the original song my daughter wrote me. Not only did I get my very own song, but an animated music video to go with it. Needless to say, I sobbed when she gave it to me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Top Ten Books of 2012

Before I get to my list I have to give a quick disclaimer: even though this list does include books that were published in 2012, the list is based off of ALL the books that I read this year. 

1. The Fault in Our Stars

2. Okay For Now

3. Before I Die

4. Gone Girl

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

6. Geek Love

7. Outliers

8. Beautiful Ruins

9. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

10. Liesl and Po 

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Books I Read (2012 Edition)

There were some wonderful books that I read this year. Looking back through them now, it's clear to see which books have stuck with me, while there are some that I hardly remember anything about. 

I'll be posting my top ten list soon, but until then, I'll put a star next to some of my favorites.

Why We Broke Up
Be More Chill
Hate List*
The Fault In Our Stars*
The Eleventh Plague
Pen On Fire
The Musician's Elephant*
Fahrenheit 451
Leaving Paradise
Earth Abides*
Once Was Lost
The Screenwriting Formula
American Gods*
One Second After
The Catastrophic History of You and Me
Okay for Now*
Wednesday Wars
Dead to You
The Way We Fall
Seeing Cinderella
Before I Die*
You Against Me*
Moonwalking With Einstein*
Under the Dome
White Horse
How to Save a Life
The Predicteds
Sophie's Choice*
The Perks of Being a Wallflower*
The Luxe
Gone Girl*
Monument 14
The Downside of Being Charlie*
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Bad Girl's Don't Die
Geek Love*
Weetzie Bat
Witch Baby
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Something Like Normal
Liesl and Po*
The Underneath
Beautiful Ruins*
The Plot Whisperer
The Tale of Despereaux
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rats*
Secrets at Sea
Wolf Hall (currently reading)

Did you read any amazing books this year?

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Recipe for Revision

Last month was NaNoWriMo and thousands of people all over the world cranked out a first draft of their novels in thirty days ( a "novel" feat indeed). Many smart people have probably set their manuscripts aside to let them marinate for a while, but a few crazies (like myself) have already jumped into revisions. So I thought it would be a good time to talk about how I go about tackling revisions.

1. The Read Through
Although it's far more helpful to let your manuscript sit for a while to give yourself some distance from it, I often jump right back in. (This is because I'm a very impatient person and I know this fact will never change about myself. EVER.) During this first read through it's important to try to look at the piece as a whole. It's not the time to start nitpicking about sentences and word choice. It's a time to digest the story and see how it's working as a whole. Do I like the characters? Does the pacing flow? Are there any major flaws in logic or plot? 
I usually do this first read through on my Kindle so I'm not tempted to go in and start making changes. This forces me to look at the big picture.
While I'm reading I like to have a notebook handy to jot down thoughts in about these big problems.
2. The Big Ones
Now's the time to make a list of the big problems that I want to address in my second draft. Again, it's important not to get sucked into the little things yet. Now's not the time to be searching for weak words and sentence fragments. Now is the time to think about developing characters and strengthening plot. I like to make a list of a few things that I'd like to tackle during this first revision, this way I can check them off as I go (and we all know how much I love checking things off my lists). 
3. A Little Feedback
By this time, my manuscript is starting to feel a little more cohesive, although I must remember that it's still a hot mess. This is the point when I like having my most trusted readers (the ones I know won't judge me for writing crap) read through my draft and give me their critique and suggestions. This is important for me because, although I've tried to be critical during my first read through, it's still impossible to completely distance myself from the book. I know what I'm trying to say so I can't totally see it with fresh eyes. These reader will truly be able to see it for what it is. After they write up their feedback, I'll have a chance to go back and fix the major flaws they spotted that I was blind to.
4. Tightening it Up
Hopefully by this point the major issues and revisions have taken place. Even though this is only number four in the revisions process, the manuscript might have seen ten or twenty mini revisions already. Now's the time to finally start thinking about things on a smaller level: sentences, word choice, flow. Now I can take out the scissors and go through that manuscript chopping out all the fat. Unless a sentence is doing something important for the story, it doesn't get to stay. Chop. Chop. And chop some more. This is a great time to post your manuscript into one of those word cloud websites so that you can see what words you've overused. I always have a fairly similar list of my overused weak words: just, something, looked, thing. Now I can go through and do a search for those words and rewrite using stronger words.
5. One More Critique
Hopefully those readers aren't totally sick of me, because I need their help again. Just one more read through from them to see if I've fixed the problems that they saw the first time. 
Most likely my manuscript still won't be perfect and I'll have to go through these last steps a few more times, but I'll be getting closer and closer. One day soon this book will be good enough. No, it will never be perfect, but I know myself and I'll be ready to move on to a new project. Maybe this book will find a home, or maybe it will snuggle up with the other books in my filing cabinet. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

How do you revise? Do you have any great tips that I need to add to my list?

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Yes, all those days pounding away on my NaNoWriMo project have finally paid off. It's quite a satisfying feeling to see the word "winner" in reference to something you've spent so much time working on. At dinner tonight when I yelled the word winner at the top of my lungs and then continued to congratulate myself on my recent NaNo accomplishment, my daughter looked at me smugly and declared that I was not indeed a winner if I hadn't at least received a ribbon. But let me tell you folks, those 50,000 words are treasure enough. By the end of tomorrow I hope to be typing the words THE END. Then we'll really get the party started. 

We'll see if I give myself a little break before I jump into revisions. The satisfaction I get from completing a project will probably be enough to keep pushing myself forward. After all, with each subsequent revision my sweet little WIP gets that much closer to the bigger dream.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Are You a Right Brained Writer?

I just finished reading the book THE PLOT WHISPERER in preparation for NaNoWriMo and one of my favorite parts of reading it was my realization that I'm a different sort of writer than I intuitively believed myself to be.

If you asked me whether I was a right or a left brained writer I would tell you without doubt that I'm right brained. After all, I'm such a visual person. I'm an artist who follows her feelings, right? But after reading THE PLOT WHISPERER, I realized that this might not be the case after all. As the author explains, right brained writers focus mostly on character driven plots while left brained writers focus on detailed, action driven plots. 

I've always known that I'm a list maker, a plotter, a planner, but I didn't realize exactly how much this influences my writing. And by far my biggest epiphany regarding this was realizing that the place I normally fall short in my novels is in creating completely believable and sympathetic characters. Sure, my plot moves forward at a rapid pace, but I've been overlooking the fact that I don't truly understand my characters inside and out.

So with this in mind, I'm really going to go forward with my NaNo WIP understanding what my strengths are as well as my weaknesses. I'm going to focus on what drives my characters emotionally. Hopefully by the time the month is through, I'll have a richer, more successful draft because of it.

What sort of writer are you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

NaNo Time

It's almost that time again. Yep, the mad month of November when all those crazy and optimistic writers attempt the not-so-impossilbe task of writing a novel in 30 days. 

I'm gearing up for the challenge. There are a lot of reasons why I get excited about NaNoWriMo, but here are just a few of them:

1. Word Count Widgets- I know it seems silly and a tad trivial, but I sure love to enter my word count and see those stats rise. I haven't found any other word count meter that I love as much as the NaNo meter.

2. Community- We all know how solitary the act of writing is, and even though I'll still be alone pounding out my words, it's nice to know that so many others will be at it with me.

3. Be a Winner- Who doesn't love winning? It might not be a million dollars, but I love being able to say I've won something. And that cute little web badge is almost as awesome as the finished manuscript I'll end up with.

4. A book- Oh yeah, that's a pretty great reason to do it too. After thirty days of torment, I'll have about two hundred pages to show for it. 

So what's the verdict? Are you going to attempt NaNoWriMo this year? If so, let's make sure that we're writing buddies.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Morning Pages

I'm sure morning pages aren't new to a lot of you. Maybe you've tried them yourself. Maybe you do them every day religiously. Or maybe, like me, they're something you've been meaning to try, but have never gotten around to.

For years I've been meaning to buy The Artist's Way, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago, as I was helping my sister-in-law pack up for a move across the country, that I finally got my grubby little hands on it. 

So this past weekend, while on vacation in St. George, I finally got around to reading the first chapter and made the commitment to try morning pages for myself for the next twelve weeks. As a rule, I try not to self edit too much as I write a first draft, but the idea of trying morning pages seems like much more than just letting my writing follow its natural course. Normally when I set out to write, I have a specific goal in mind, whether it be to complete a scene that I've been working on for a book, or to write a blog post, or a poem, or an essay. I have a beginning and middle and end that I'm trying to get to. I'm moving from point A to point B. So what strikes me as the most exciting part of writing these morning pages, is the fact that I'm not trying to end up anywhere in particular. My thoughts can ebb and flow as they want and I might end up somewhere magical or I might not end up anywhere at all. But that's the beauty. It's about putting in the time, not about expecting to get something out of it. This is very contrary to how I normally go about writing and I'm excited by the prospect of it, because I don't have any clear expectations of where I'm going to end up. It's wide open.

Have you ever written morning pages?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

21 Jump Street

I finally got around to watching 21 Jump Street last night and was pleasantly surprised by how much screen time my paintings actually had. Doesn't Channing Tatum look particularly dashing with them behind his head? The prints were used to decorate the hotel room in the final shoot-'em-up scene at the end of the movie. All in all, I think my paintings had more screen time than Johnny Depp who was also in the same scene.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Feeling Mousy

Yep, it's all about the illustrations lately. I just started working on another project- a middle grade novel that will be packed full of illustrations. Here's a little sample of what I'm envisioning.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Picture This

It isn't easy being an impatient person. Sure, you can take up biting your nails or cleaning, but even then you'll probably need something else to get you through the day. 

Recently, I've been waiting to hear back from my agent about some ideas for projects that I'm thinking of writing. One of the ideas is for a picture book. As an aside, I should mention that I've always wanted to write and illustrate (and although I've gotten to illustrate one nonfiction book and shelved one early attempt at a picture book, I've not thought about it much during the past few years). 

Last week I finished writing the manuscript to said picture book, which has been simmering in my imagination for years. Of course, I promptly sent it off to my agent to read, telling her that I wouldn't even think about starting any illustrations until I heard back that she liked the story. Yeah, that didn't exactly happen. 

I've realized that I'm just not content unless I'm creating something that excites me and, at the moment, the pictures for this little book were just the ticket to help me with my terrible impatience while I'm waiting to hear back about everything else. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Recharging the Batteries

I haven't been painting much in the past few months. Sometimes I can get a bit obsessive about one passion and completely avoid the other. But with the kids back in school, I decided that I can't ignore the day job anymore. When I'm procrastinating, the studio at the bottom of the stairs sometimes feels like it's miles away. 

But to tell the truth, it always feels really nice to paint again after some time away. I've been feeling a little bit burned out with all the writing that I've been doing (maybe writing two books in one summer was too big a goal for me), so it feels nice to switch to an entirely visual outlet. 

What do you do to recharge your batteries?

Here's a piece I just finished for a commission that I really ended up liking (now let's hope the clients like it as much as I do).

Friday, July 6, 2012


What keeps you motivated while you're working on a project? For me it's all those little goals that I set for myself: one hour, one day, one month at a time. Maybe since I'm such a visual person I respond well to seeing my progress tracked. This might be one of the reasons I loved doing NaNoWriMo so much. That little bar that kept moving up the more I wrote was pretty thrilling. 

But as hard as I've looked for something comparable to the NaNo tracker, I couldn't find one. So this was my solution. It's about as low tech as you can get. A one column graph that I get to color in one block at a time. A block for every thousand words that I complete. But let me tell you. I look forward to coloring in that little bar as much as a coloring book obsessed kindergardener. 

It may be simple, but it sure keeps me going. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's Time to "Lay Out"

No, I'm not talking about sun bathing. Besides, I never know whether it's lie out or lay out (that tricky grammar). Nope, I'm talking about floor plans for the house in my WIP.

 I've found that whenever I'm writing a lot of scenes that take place in the same house, it's much easier to have a visual floor plan to go by, not just for the practical issues of how to get the characters to move from one room to the next, but also for more subtle imagery, like how the sun would light up a room at a particular time of day.

The house in my current WIP was not an easy one to design because it takes place in a grand estate in New Canaan. I've got floor plans for multiple floors as well as one for the yard and out buildings. 

Truth be told, I had a little too much fun looking through websites of New Canaan real estate while I was dreaming up this house. In fact, I fell in love with the house that I based the one in my book off of. Now I just have to come up with five and a half million dollars, and I can make it mine in real life too.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Freakin' Awesome Winner

I know you've been biting your nails all day, wondering if you were the winner of the Freakin' Awesome Banner Contest. Well, I can now tell you that if your name happens to be:

Kristen Lippert-Martin

then you are most definitely the winner and better start thinking 
about what you want your new banner to look like.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Freakin' Awesome Banner Contest

It's been a while since I had a contest and I decided it was time to shake things up a bit, so instead of having the same old boring contest for a gift certificate or one of my prints, I decided to do something Totally Freakin' Awesome (well at least I hope you'll think it is) and give you a chance to win a new Blog or Facebook Banner designed by yours truly. 

To Enter: All you need to do is make sure that you're a follower and then drop me a quick note in the comments section telling me that you'd like to be entered. 

Extra Entries will be given for those who spread the word. Post about the contest on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog and I'll give you an extra entry for each (just be sure to let me know in your comments).

Here are a few banners that I've designed to give you an idea of what you might choose from. Of course you can ask for something totally different. It's your style that we'll want to be showcasing so the image will need to be personal to you. The sky's the limit. 

The contest will end on my birthday June 6th at midnight and I'll post the winner on June 7th. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

This Summer Will Be Different

It's that time of year when I start gearing up with a long list of summer plans. Inevitably I'll ditch my grand scheme after the first week and a half, ultimately watching the kids fritter their days away vegging out in front of the television and making trips to the corner market. 

But like every year, I'll vow that this summer will be different. It will be educational, and productive. My children will flourish into creative, artistic, brilliant Einsteins. 

Yep, you all know how this story is going to end, but that won't keep me from dreaming big. Here are the high hopes that I have for this summer's activities.

  • Indie Films- Yes, I'm hoping that while my nephew is in town my kids will write and direct a film. I have high, Oscar-worthy hopes on this one. After downloading some awesome editing software they'll finish off their films and we'll have the first annual Logan Avenue Film Festival (maybe it'll even be a red carpet event).
  • Singer Song Writer- Those guitars aren't just going to sit around collecting dust. These kids could have a whole album out by the time summer is over. I've already promised my oldest daughter twenty bucks for every original song that she writes and I'm actually hoping to be out some big bucks come fall.
  • A Novel Idea- Yep, I'm hoping that I'm not going to be the only one pounding out words this summer. I've got two novels lined up myself and I'm hoping that my oldest can finish the first draft of the awesome novel she started working on.
  • Fashion Star- We've got some big plans to repurpose a bunch of old clothes into some fine swoon-worthy outfits. 
  • Mais Oui, C'est Brilliant- We've already started our Rosetta Stone courses and the kids are really excited to learn a new language. Will we all be fluently speaking French by the time school rolls around again? Comment dit-on, I doubt it?
It sounds like an awesome summer to me. Maybe we'll even work in a few days at the pool.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Monkey With a Stick

It's pretty obvious to me that my fatal flaw (besides being too beautiful and talented) is that I'm just a fickle filly. I don't mean to be capricious, but I have a certain lack of stick-to-it-iveness that I really detest. And it's time to find a way to break me free from this folly.

I admit it, I'm so easily distracted by pretty things: new ideas, flowers to plant, pictures to look at; that I have trouble following through with the actual projects that mean the most to me. Without an outside deadline, I could get lost wandering in the mist of countless lost days and weeks and months.

So how does someone like me, with such an obvious lack of willpower when it comes to time (and sweets), ever get anything done. I realize there are some things that work for me: I can sometimes respond to a good self-prescribed deadline, I like lists, and timers. But I've realized that I need to find a way to get back on track with the projects I'm working on and finally get some stuff done.

Any suggestions? I'm not opposed to hiring a monkey to stand over me with a stick.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

300 Plates Show

I've wanted to do this show for years. Each May, Art Access puts on an amazing show in which they ask local artists to paint 300 plates (metal and fiberglass) which are auctioned off in an amazing event to provide arts programing to Utahns with disabilities. This is one of my two paintings and believe it or not, I'm actually really pleased with the way it turned out.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wish

I am a wisher. I work hard at it. Really. If wishing was a sport I would be one of those guys that has all the gear: the hundred dollar sweat-wicking undershirt, the helmet made out of titanium, the little gloves with the fingers cut out. I know it sounds absurd, but it's true. In a way I have made a sport out of wishing.  

I've been this way since I was a little girl, finding ways to wish on anything. Maybe it's partially a belief in something magic, or the hope that if we want something badly enough we must be able to influence the world.

And there's an abundance of things to wish on if you're looking: shooting stars, dandelions, four leaf clovers, numbers, candles, scraps of paper.

But lately I've been wondering what it might feel like to let those wishes go. I've always thought that hope was the greatest virtue, the thing you must hold onto until the end. But maybe there's more beauty and grace in the act of letting go.

I kind of like the image it evokes: 

My hand holds onto a string; at the end of it floats a big white balloon. With the smallest movement, I open my fingers and that ball of hope floats off into the sky. Gone. And here I stand, empty, but free.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Venice

Today I'd like to walk those damp streets
in a thin cotton dress
as soft as well worn sheets.

I'd take your arm as we crossed
the Rialto and turn the corner
to our hotel

looking up at the bright
flags of clothing hanging
against the gray sky.

And later as we stand in
the Piazza San Marco
with the pigeons swarming

around your arms and head.
I promise to look only at you,
no longer peering

over your shoulder
past the crowd of onlookers
towards the boats in the distance

wondering if I might
catch a glimpse of
somebody that I used to know.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Ugly

Yes, I admit it, I'm one of those people who hates going out of the house without a little make up on. But that doesn't mean that I'm not afraid to show my ugly side every now and then. No, I'm not talking about the dark circles under my eyes or the way my nose gets really red in the morning. I mean the ugly side that doesn't show; the prideful, the insecure, the scared me.

Some of my favorite people in the world are the ones who wear their faults proudly instead of trying to hide them. Yes, maybe they end up sticking their foot in their mouth every once in a while. Maybe they end up looking stupid, or rude, or ungrateful. But it's those people who show their faults who also show their humanity.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather be friends with someone real and flawed and human, than someone who wants me to believe that they're perfect.

What about you? Are you afraid to let the ugly side show or do you run out of the house flapping it behind you, banners waving?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Suit

You wear yourself like a suit,
stiff, over laundered.
It hangs on you, this new self,
baggy in the chest, too wide
across the shoulders.

You must have admired it
on the hanger,
held it out in front of you,
watching the way
the expensive thread caught the light.

This is who I am now,
you thought.
Not that old version
who danced with 
wicker basket hats  
and licked the plate
after a particularly delicous meal.

So you slipped it on and set
the other aside, next to
the wide seventies ties and
the sneakers worn thin 
across the toes.

But it's too late to change back now.

If you discard this new suit
I promise not to laugh
while you stand naked,
pale skin showing
who you really are.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Remember

As a person with the memory capacity of an ant, I often dream of what it would be like to remember things. I'm related to a number of people who can not only remember the exact dinner that they ate on a trip to San Francisco ten years ago, but what they were wearing, and the conversation that they had while they were eating (Yes, Tanya, I'm talking about you!). I, on the other hand, have trouble remembering the names of my children.

So maybe I was a bit more eager than a normal person to read MOONWALKING WITH EINSTEIN: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. If there was a trick to remembering inside its pages, I wanted to learn it, stat, before I forgot anything else.

Although I might not have learned a magic recipe for remembering by reading Foer's book, I did come away with a great understanding of how and why we remember and thoroughly enjoyed his exploration of the mind as well as the goofy world of the USA Memory Championships. The ancient techniques of using a Memory Palace, which Foer describes in some detail, are not only beautiful metaphorically, but made me itch to try out. I love the image of strolling through the elegant estates inside my mind and carefully placing my memories inside their sunlit rooms.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Question

One of my favorite phrases in the whole word is "What if?" These are the words that wriggle into my brain while I'm driving, showering, falling asleep; when I read an interesting magazine article or hear an intriguing interview on the radio. They are the trigger for almost every story I've ever wanted to tell, the first two words that begin it all.

What if...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Passion

Patience, practice, perseverance, procrastination, perspective, I guess most of the things I need to work on in life begin with the letter P (besides laundry, of course). But luckily, I've always had an abundance of passion. When I think of all the things I want to do, all the things I want to learn, I'm grateful that this river will never run dry.

Sometimes I like to imagine all the jobs I'd love to have. I've been lucky enough to have some of them, while others I'll just have to wait to try out in another life. 

  • psychologist (although maybe I need my own first)
  • doctor (even though I grow faint at the sight of blood)
  • artist (in any and every medium)
  • woodworker (making craftsman style furniture)
  • professor (art, English, I'm not picky) 
  • costume designer (give me an elaborate Victorian dress and I'd be happy)
  • novelist (YA, middle grade, adult fiction... throw in a little memoir)
  • horse breeder (on a mini horse ranch of course)
  • architect (designing cozy cottages)
  • poet (why can't I just BE Billy Collins?)
  • screenwriter (just don't make me move to L.A.)
  • actor (if only I could memorize the lines)
It's times like these that I really do wish for the chance to live a hundred lives.  What job have you always dreamed of doing?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Observe

The rain this morning has washed away
the dust of the every day that clogged my vision,
uncovering a new world.
Outside the window the leaves
of the rose bushes still hang heavy
with tiny silver orbs.

The dog has decided to bring the wet inside.
His coat is dusted and the underside
of his belly is soggy and brown,
but the rain has awakened something in him too
and he prances on the slick linoleum,
before finally laying his head down
on the ground between his paws.
Looking up at us with those kind eyes.

We walk out the kitchen door
and stop to breathe that cold, wet air.
Even the mountains have noticed
the difference and to celebrate,
have dressed themselves in lacy white collars
that would make Victorian women swoon with envy.

The dog trots happily down the sidewalk,
unaware that the world has changed,
that bits of the sky float in the gutters;
puffy white clouds
and bits of blue.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Nose

I'm going to try to hop back into the a-z challenge. After a rough week, my inclination was to post about nostalgia, but heck, I need a break from the weight of memories. It's time for something a little lighter.

It might seem strange, but I've always had a little obsession with people's noses. For some reason it's the feature that I usually envy most in other people. Maybe it's because I've always been a little self conscious about my own nose. I've never considered it to be huge. As I've grown, I've started to like it more and more for it's slightly beak-like pointiness. But when I was a little girl all I wanted was a cute little button nose that turned up at the end.

My best friend, Jenny's older sister had a button nose that I quite admired. Sometimes when I was lying in bed at night I would hold the tip of my nose between my pointer finger and thumb and imagine that when I woke up in the morning it would be shaped like a gentle ski slope.

Over the years I've admired many a nose and at times I've even considered having a nose job. But time and again I've realized that I like my nose just the way it is because it's mine.

Is there a part of yourself you've always wanted to change?

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I'm sorry for the interruption in the A-Z challenge, but the past week has been extremely difficult. Not only did my grandma die on Sunday, but last night my husband's father died after complications from a heart attack that he suffered last Monday. Needless to say, I might be taking a bit of a hiatus from blogging for a bit.

Take some time to enjoy your loved ones and give them an extra tight hug!

Monday, April 9, 2012

I is for IQ

In 1987, when I was ten, my dad married Marilyn vos Savant. He was smitten by her, attracted to her porcelain beauty, her jet black hair and most certainly seduced by the celebrity of her behemoth mind. At the time, she was touted as the world’s smartest person.

And of course I was star struck too. We had a soft-back copy of the Guinness Book of World Records that we kept on the bookshelf in our family room. Inside I liked to look up Marilyn’s name listed under the highest IQ on page 29. On the opposite page was a photograph of the woman with the “world’s smallest waist” and I was often distracted from reading through the entire paragraph about intelligence quotients, mesmerized as I was by the woman’s 13 inch midsection. There was also an entry on “longest fingernails” and “lightest girl”— Lucia Zarate, who only weighed 4.7 pounds at age 17. Her tiny, doll-like features were both frightening and intoxicating. And somehow,
seeing Marilyn’s name beside those other anomalies made her brilliance seem not only legitimate but exotic.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

H is for Home

My sweet little 96 year old grandma died this morning. Four and a half years ago she moved from Connecticut to Utah to be nearer to us. For most of her life she lived in Connecticut, but after her kids grew up and moved away and many of her friends and family died, she decided that her life might be more exciting if she was around me and my three little kiddos. 

As much as she loved being around us, she still longed for home. It may have been the home she lived in for more than fifty years that she longed for, but we often thought that the home she truly wanted to travel back to was the one that existed in 1940, a home with kids and her "best beau", the love of her life.

I don't blame her. I think the home I'll always long for is the one I'm living in right now. This place. This time.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Goodbye

I don't know if it's time to say goodbye
to you, little bird of a woman.
I hold your bony hands and stroke
back the fine white hair above your brow
while you doze in and out of sleep
and wakefulness.

Who are those four men? You ask me.

And I turn around to stare at the
golden rectangle of the doorway leading
into the kitchen, as if I half expect
to see those men standing there,
leaning against the wall,
their arms folded and waiting.

The borders between dreams and
the solid world are blurred and fuzzy lately 
like the soft, white film that has started
to circle your light brown irises.
And I wonder for a moment if the borders
have blurred between this world
and another,
the one I've forgotten how to believe in.

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Favorites

These are a few of my favorite things:
  • a warm blanket on cold toes
  • sun shining through leaves
  • the first ticklings of a new idea
  • singing really loudly in the car with my favorite people
  • a brand new bar of soap
  • felt tipped pens
  • the first bite of a warm cookie
  • the sound of birds through an open window
  • crystal blue skies
  • new leaves
  • the shuffle of my kids feet past my door in the morning
  • my puppy's grin as he runs
  • warm grass and puffy white clouds
  • a page filled with cursive
  • giant maple trees
  • a new tube of paint
  • freshly vacuumed carpet
  • sidewalk cafes
  • a hot bath after a good meal
  • Italian cream sodas
  • waking up after a deep sleep
  • driving past lit houses at night
  • patios decked with twinkling white lights
  • a window streaked with rain
  • the sound of geese flying overhead
  • crushed ice
  • a tight hug from my kids
  • listening to my girls singing in the shower
  • the tidy look of a pastry case
  • the remnant of paint on old brick walls
The world is full of my favorite things. I could never list them all.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Enough

Right now it's enough to wake to the buttery dawn knowing that all three bodies are still warm underneath their covers.
It's enough to listen to your breath, slow and deep and steady beside me, while my leg drifts to the cool corner of the bed and I imagine the day set before us like something cream filled and chocolate coated, a confection served on a silver plate.
It's enough to know that outside our window the chartreuse leaves of the aspen tree, as small as coins, are moving softly in the breeze, drinking up the new rays of a spring morning.
It's enough.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dresser Drawers

I've loved a lot of the art dolls that I've made, but this one is by far my favorite. Not only did I love her for purely aesthetic reasons, but she was a piece of artwork that I could relate to metaphorically. Without realizing it, I might have sculpted my own self portrait.

I love the idea of drawers, compartments, cubby holes. There are so many tiny places that we store things inside of ourselves, so many different dreams that we compartmentalize. I'm sure if someone opened me up, this is what they'd see, hundreds of tiny drawers filling me up. Some would be crammed full, while others would have only one special trinket resting inside them. Some would be as messy as the junk drawer beside the stove in my kitchen and some would be immaculate.

What do the drawers inside you hold?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Calf (the baby cow kind)

We've already established that I was a girl in love with animals, so it won't surprise you that in the early 80s when my dad took me to the lab at the University of Utah to visit the baby cows that his artificial hearts were first implanted in, I was ecstatic.

In my memory the place is zoo-like and friendly. I overlooked the urine and manure on the floor, the loud hissing and clicking of the machines. I only remember the calves, with their wobbly legs and knobby knees, their large square heads jutting out between the bars of their cages and the dark globes of their eyes.

There’s a picture of me holding a handful of hay out to one of them. I’m not very old in the photograph, maybe four or five and I stand a few feet from the brown and white calf, clutching the hay with two tiny hands, hoping with all my might that my dad will let me take it home to keep.

 I didn’t understand that this calf wouldn’t live much longer, that his life was expendable. After proving that he could survive, he simply wouldn’t be needed any longer. “Sacrifice” was the word my dad used, describing it. It wasn't until much later I started to wonder if I had been expendable too. What need had I filled in him that simply wasn't required anymore?

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Beauty

When I was in Junior High I went through a period of being more than a little obsessed with beauty. I was a "cute" girl, with freckles and a slight build, but I dreamed of being a beauty. I spent hours leafing through Seventeen magazine, dreaming about what it would be like to be one of "those" girls. I'd pick out my favorites and send vibes out into the universe begging the Grand Power of Being (or some cosmic deity) to see fit to bestow a bit of that beauty on me.

For years I thought that I'd grow into that beauty. Maybe when I was fifteen...sixteen...seventeen, I hoped. But of course I stayed the same girl that I'd always been, just a little older, a little taller.

I can't remember how old I was when the longing for beauty finally wore off. It wasn't a grand revelation, not an epiphany that struck in the middle of the night, but more a gradual reimagining. New desires took over. The hope that I'd one day grow up to be a beauty was replaced by the longing to be a good mother and writer and artist. It feels good to look for beauty in other places, in art, in family. And there's plenty of it there to be found.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Animals

I know this month is going to be crazy with Script Frenzy, but I couldn't pass up the A to Z Challenge.

A is for Animals:
Yep, that's right. If you know me, you know that I could collect animals the way some people collect shoes. It's a problem  passion that I've had since I was a little girl and saw my first horse at the circus.

I used to dream that I'd find a horse on the side of the road (I guess like a stray dog) and that I'd be allowed to take it home and keep it. I imagined how I would ride my horse to school each morning, tying him up outside near the bike rack. Yes, watching Little House on the Prairie led me to believe that little girls could ride a horse to school.

I had books full of horses that I'd look through religiously, imaging which one would some day be mine. Normally I was drawn to the black stallions with flowing manes and large, muscular bodies.

Maybe this dream stemmed from my love of the movie, The Black Stallion (sugar cubes would ever after remind me of Black's velvety lips). As a little girl I got to sit on the back of the real Black Stallion. My dad met the owner of one of the horses used in the movie and arranged for me to get to ride him during a trip to Texas. For the longest time we had a picture of me straddling his broad back with my arms spread wide.

As I grew up I never stopped loving animals. I don't have room in my yard for a horse, but I do have three dogs and a bunny rabbit. My dreams have shifted slightly. I still want my black stallion, but now I want the farm to go along with him. I can see him there, grazing in the green fields. I'll come outside in the morning when the dew still covers the grass and I'll place a sugar cube on top of the fence, waiting for his velvety lips to snatch it up.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Matter of Opinion

I just got finished reading BEFORE I DIE*. I've never cried so much reading a book before. Really. I don't like crying. It makes me feel soggy and a bit foolish and normally I hold it in at all costs. But let me tell you, it was a small price to pay for such an amazing story.

Whenever I read a book that I really LOVE, I always feel compelled to go to Goodreads to read the reviews that it's recieved. And for some reason I'm always absolutely blown away when not everyone has the exact same opinion of it as me. In fact, I end up getting a little angry. How can that reader not know how beautiful these words were? How can they not know good writing when they see it?

But I guess it just goes to show that we've all got our own taste. And really there's no accounting for some people. I hope I can remember this lesson if one day I publish a book. There are going to be people who hate it. Let's just face it. If some people hated this book that I loved so much, there are obviously going to be people who hate what I write too.

*Warning, even though this book is catagorized as YA it is definitely for mature readers.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A "Real" Job

I'm not used to this whole "work" thing, but this past week my job has actually been that... a job. I've been painting like crazy, trying to keep up with all the requests for new work from my publisher (whom I love, but might be begrudging just a smidgen at the moment).

All this work is certainly making me appreciate my normal life  (in which I lie around, read books and come up with stories to write).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Hunger Games: a "Tribute"

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you probably know that The Hunger Games movie comes out this Friday, so as a "tribute" (ha ha, not that kind of tribute) to the movie I decided I wanted to share one of my favorite new songs with you, "Parachute" by Ingrid Michaelson. I can't listen to this song without imagining it playing during the closing credits, and even though I'm sure it's not on the actual soundtrack, in my mind, it most definitely is.

Give it a listen and tell me if you think it sounds like it was written specifically for Katniss and Peeta.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Little Screenplay Love

As if I don't have enough reading material to obsess over, I now feel the embers of a new love catching fire inside me. Over the years I've attempted to read some screenplays online, but I have such an aversion to reading anything longer than two pages on my computer that I never really fell in love. But oh how things have changed. Yes, once again Kindle has made my world brighter with the totally awesome capacity allowing me to read screenplays with my Kindle app.

As I'm gearing up for Script Frenzy next month, I decided it would be prudent to read as many screenplays as I can get my hands on in the last few weeks of March.

Yesterday, I decided to start by reading Bridesmaids. And let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint. I didn't laugh as loud as I did in the theatre, but that's because Kristin Wiig can have me rolling on the ground by just moving her eyebrows. Even so, my daughter was giving me some pretty funny looks as I snorted and chuckled and giggled my way through the script.

I can't wait to read more.