Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The eternal battle--writing vs. sleep

The last few nights I've been plagued, for lack of a better term, by revisions to one of my stories. I relax into my pillow and close my eyes, and my little brain goes absolutely bonkers. By itself, this wouldn't bother me. But I have a job. I have to work. And I have to get up at 4:20 AM.

The best part about these revisions is they even seem good in the light of day, so it's not idle busywork my brain is doing. But it does make it impossible to get any sleep, which has the unfortunate side effect of making me grouchy.

I love to write. It invades my dreams, my waking thoughts and my activities. But I'm also a working mom with a really crazy schedule. I've tried working this out. Get up early, take the baby, put her to bed, stay awake and write in the quiet of the morning. Or sacrifice sleep, work late into the night and get a couple hours' sleep in the early morning before the day really starts.

So far none of my great ideas are working. But I haven't given up.

Monday, June 22, 2009

That's enough, Gregory!

Why is it, of all my characters, it's the bad guy talking in my head day and night? Be quiet, Gregory. My hubby is back to working weekends, and Saturday night I went to sleep after reading a great book and dreamed, YES, dreamed about my characters. See, months ago when I came up with a fabulous twist for the end of my book my villain must have thought he had come out on top. But when my readers get their romantic ending at last, he felt cheated. (let's leave the why's and how's a character feels anything to my therapist, shall we?) Stop it, Gregory.

Anyway, after I completed my draft I started hearing very regularly from my bad guy. And he was ticked. I finally promised him his own "happy ending" so he'd leave me alone. Well, apparently, I took too long.

I've written 10,000 words in 2 days. Sunday I woke up and he was screaming in my ear. But I had church, including a primary lesson, then kids and family and all that fun stuff. But he didn't stop. So I stayed up too late last night to write, finally giving up when I started falling asleep in my chair.

I'm doing it again tonight, except this time I'm wrapping the story up. And I'm sensing the silence! I know it's coming.

Give it a rest, already! You got the girl; you got everything you wanted. I even gave you a quiet death surrounded by your wife and four children! And all that stuff you griped about happening won't happen until you're already dead, so SHUT UP GREGORY!!!

It's an awful lot of angst to put a writer through for a piece that no one else will ever read.

Monday, June 15, 2009

And now for a post on writing...

I have always loved spelling. Several dictionaries populate my house. Each of my sons has one and I have, well, at least three. I have a thesaurus as thick as my Webster's Dictionary and, occasionally, I've been spotted flipping through the dictionary for fun. Let's face it; I love words. I mean, really, really love them.

It seriously causes almost physical pain when I'm reading a book or a website and come across typos. Fragment sentences I can handle, but those pesky misspellings or incorrect apostrophe uses really make me nuts. I am that nerd who reads the news feed across the bottom of the screen and gets annoyed each time the misspelled word repeats--but at least I haven't called them on it, yet.

I was the annoying friend in school who would point out mistakes in the notes you passed me in class, or correct them and hand them back to you. It's amazing I had friends, really.

With this blessing (or curse), what else could I do but become a writer? Combine the love of words with the very persistent voices in my head and it was either write or have myself committed--though at times I considered the latter.

The constant butchering of the American language (I don't say English because we aren't "across the pond" so to speak) pains me. Swear and curse words are not only vulgar but show a lack of schooling or intelligence--like you haven't learned enough or aren't smart enough to think of another word. There's hundreds of ways of saying something. Some dialects that have sprung up in recent decades are like purposely talking as though you are uneducated. I'm not perfect, I didn't graduate college, but I do remember my high school language classes.

So I write. When I create a name or a place, I add the word to my word processor's dictionary so it doesn't get underlined in red. (Though it drives me crazy that comcast's dictionary hates contractions) I enjoy what I do. And I think I do it pretty well.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Getting back on track

If you've been reading, then you've noticed my blogs of late haven't had much to do with writing. I'm going to rectify that, but first I wanted to drop a short blog that again has nothing to do with writing--unless you count that even authors have to eat.

In decades past, sit down restaurants were places families or couples went to have a nice meal they didn't have to cook. Then came the fast food craze, where pre-prepared and packaged food was sold for convenience--you could get a fast meal for your hungry family without having to cook: the best of both worlds. Consumers got tired of the lukewarm, unappetizing food that sat for hours under heat lamps, and fast food chains listened. They offered fresh, have it your way, cooked when you order it food and consumers gobbled it up. (if you debate this, go for a nice walk and look at waistlines)

I recently went to a "sit down" restaurant with my youngest daughter, killing time while my husband was at a clinic in SLC. I was floored to read their advertisement of "ready before you even order it" food, and the paradox hit me. Seriously, now we go to fast food restaurants for made to order food and sit down restaurants for pre-made food? When did this happen? I'm so confused.

In fact, I'm so confused I'm going to make dinner at home for a while. It's easier on the budget anyway.

Monday, June 8, 2009

To Princess or Not to Princess

So I'm perusing the web as I do when I should be doing something else--this time sleeping--and I come across this article on The Root: "Enough With the Princesses!
Forget about whether the new Disney princess is black or white. The problem is with princesses. Period." * By: Monique Fields (http://www.theroot.com/views/enough-princesses?gt1=38002) And, sorry, but I have to laugh.

I skimmed the comments other readers made regarding the article, and there's really nothing new I can add there. But, raising two daughters of my own I can relate. Between the ages of 2 and 4, Kylie owned no pants or shorts. None. No kidding. She had skorts, dresses, tights and pretty shoes. I went for the skorts because I had a girlie-girl, but not a particularly modest one. She'd hang upside down no matter what she wore, and since I encourage my kids to be active I wasn't about to chase after her insisting she pull down her skirt. We have a rule in the house and that's strictly a "show no panty" rule. As long as she's covered she can be as upside down as she wants.

Back to the princess thing. There's no thing. Honestly. I've been a girl (some would stay I still AM a girl), I had friends that were girls and I'm raising girls. No matter the level of their obsession with the "ooh, sparkly", they outgrow it. Reality and real life creep in to their mentality, even though there are some realities we'd rather they not have to deal with--those show up anyway. Rianne didn't hit the princess thing quite as hard as Kylie but, at 5, it already shows signs of fading.

Recently we took the kids to see "UP" and saw the preview for "The Princess and the Frog." (I'm actually not nearly as excited for that movie as I am to see what they do with "Rapunzel" next year. Rapunzel is my very, very favorite princess and one of my favorite fairy tales. I've been waiting for literally decades for Disney to tackle that one--even at times considering suggesting it to them myself.) As we left the movie theater, I asked Kylie if she was excited to see the next princess movie. She said yes with enthusiasm. Currently, by the way, her future profession of choice is either a singing ballerina (imagine that on stage) or a veterinarian.

I used to think exactly the same way as the author of the article. Princesses were weak, always needing to be saved, and I wanted my girls to do the saving themselves. Be independent. Be strong. Be brave. I looked with concern more than once over my daughter's head as she oohed and aahed over the next sparkly to enter her vision. But I got over myself. And, in a way, princesses helped me. Even though Mulan isn't technically a princess, she's right up there on all the posters next to Jasmine and Aurora. And she saved China! Twice! Not bad. Jasmine questioned the laws, took risks and got what she wanted. And she didn't rush to the altar with Aladdin either. They took their time and got married when they were ready. Belle dreamed of more than the simple life and "sacrificed" herself for her beloved father. Pocahontas, an actual princess since her father was the chief, and risked everything to save a stranger (I'm going with the movie here, don't attack me for historical inaccuracy).

Yeah, Snow White bugs me. She's such a sap and way too nice. I think doormat when I see her. Aurora I love, but mostly because she's spunky in the forest scene and I adore Prince Phillip and his horse. Cinderella is another one who dreamed of a better life--and there's nothing wrong with dreams. I'd be very worried if my girls or my boys had no dreams, hopes for the future. Because the best laid plans started out as dreams.

And everything has to start somewhere.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

When Hearts Conjoin--the story of the Herrin Twins

Please check out my review:

I'm not a news watcher. I find it depressing to hear about the horrors humanity does to one another across the globe. That being said, I didn't follow Kendra and Maliyah's story as it unfolded. But I've have had to be in a coma not to know what was going on, and I count myself among the thousands who prayed for these little girls and their family during that time.

Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed When Hearts Conjoin. Their mother, Erin, gives an at times unflinching view into her life and her family. She admits her mistakes, shows us her moments of weakness, and in all proves that she's human. She's not a superwoman who experienced a manageable crisis--she's just like all the rest of us mothers who have to make decisions for our children and hope for the best.

I can't begin to compare the experience I had with one of my twins having surgery at 10 months with what the Herrin family experienced, but because of what I went through I could empathize with how Erin felt at times. I know what it feels like to hand your dying child (or children) to a team of surgeons and relinquish that control, hoping and praying for the best. If you haven't experienced that, there's no way to describe it.

LuAnn Staheli is an excellent author and she did a fantastic job working with Erin on this book. It's an excellent read and I recommend it to anyone, though I do caution you to have a box of tissues handy. I gave it 4 of 5 stars.

You can click on the link below to read other reviews on Goodreads:

When Hearts Conjoin


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Another Author Adventure

Sometimes I think every author should go in one a year to have their head examined. While I still maintain writing is an acceptable form or outlet for insanity, it still amazes me that we voluntarily put ourselves through such torture.

I went to New York for the very first time this past weekend to attend the Book Expo (BEA). Honestly, I don't know what was more amazing--the city experience or the Expo. New York, Manhattan specifically, is incredible. It has its own energy. The people really are just like anywhere else; I'm not sure now why I expected anything different. The lights and sounds were a bit much at times and I don't really understand why drivers use their horns at all--everyone ignores them. I will not take a taxi unless it cannot be avoided and I wouldn't recommend a free shuttle bus. The driver thought she was in the Indy 500, whipping through the streets like nobody's business.

The Expo thrilled me just as much, though not for the same reasons. I loved talking to fellow authors, marketing specialists, publisher reps and all the rest. We exchanged cards and book stories and I got to meet some of my favorite authors like Brandon Mull and Shannon Hale. Brandon seriously cracks me up--he's that funny. And Shannon is just as pretty and sweet as you'd expect her to be from her picture.

I'm going back. Next year I'll repeat this experience, though hopefully with an agent or publisher of my own. But right now I'm going to concentrate on getting a national agent and on the first printing of my book.

After I go save the crying baby, that is. :)