Friday, October 30, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Of those we don't speak of . . .

Well, my flu never materialized. It turns out it's just the fall. I should have known. Every single year, about the second week in October, I pick up a bizarre cold. I can tell you why . . . but you'll have to lean in close. Make sure no one is listening and I'll tell you of those who's names we do not dare speak . . .

If you were to drive a few hours south of Salt Lake you would come to a beautiful valley frozen in time. My town sits right in the center. You can still go to the hardware store, pick up what you need, and say to Carl, the owner, as you're walking out the door, "Put it on my tab."

A Friday night out means old fashioned hamburgers and huge shakes at the Malt Shop where you'll exchange small talk about getting a third cut of hay and shake your head in disgust at your cousin who just spent half his operating loan on a new Kubota tractor. You call the neighbors when their chickens are out, and you slow for sheep on the highway . . . but never come to a full stop.

You know it's time to transplant when the flax blooms and time to cover the tomato plants when the cows come home. You sit on the back porch in September and listen to the elk call, naming the gender, age and approximate weight of the animal. When someone dies, the whole community attends the viewing because you likely lost an aunt, uncle, cousin or grandparent. Everybody is related to everybody else—three generations back—and if you're not, live here long enough and you'll be adopted. You rake the neighbors leaves, attend the local halloween carnival—the hottest ticket in town— and decorate your ATV and trailer in miniature lights for the Christmas Night Parade.

Under no circumstances, though, do you ever speak of them—the ones that disappear every fall.

Their eyes peer out of squat steel sheds, with only the faint glow of heat lamps cutting through the darkness, reminding you of the ugly truth hidden inside. They cower behind great barbed-wire walls—straight out of a post-apocalyptic-distopian death camp. No one speaks of the camps. Not at community parties or the homecoming game. No one speaks of the millions slaughtered every year.

Why? Because without their sacrifice how would the cities celebrate gratitude, freedom and family?

Only we in the heartland bear the secret. Only we know the truth—when we're left with only silence. And feathers. Oh the feathers. Always drifting across the road. We never speak of where the turkeys go—not without shuttering our windows and locking the doors.

For my countrymen, fall brings joyful reminders of how much they are thankful for. But for our small town it's only a bitter reminder that eventually we all go the way of the birds.





For more holiday atrocities click hear and see the gruesome images of our family pumpkin harvest.

Monday, October 19, 2009

In Too Deep- Music Monday

Well, I think this song pretty much sums up my life.






The band members of Sum 41 look so much like the guys I hung out with in high school I had to laugh out loud. My peeps might not have been the buffest guys in school but they were definitely the most entertaining.

I know I promised to take a break from all things blogger for a while but I had to share a very brief acronym I heard yesterday. It couldn't have come at a better time for me.

HIT CSA

What? You don't know what that means?

Well, according to Patricia Pinegar— who made awesome tee shirts for all of her children and grandchildren—it means:

Hang In There . . . Cool Stuff Ahead.


Now go find a crazy speedo and stop trying so hard to be normal. :)



And if that image doesn't motivate you to be yourself and stop worrying about outside expectations maybe this video will seal the deal.



Sunday, October 11, 2009

Running to Vegas


I'm back from the Las Vegas Ragnar Relay. It was a lot of fun. I don't think I've laughed that hard in a very long time.


It made me realize a few things.

First, when the hotel clerk at the Virgin River asks if it's okay to stay in a Pet Friendly room, say no.



Second, don't be afraid to be foolish.



Make mistakes.



Don't worry about what people think.




Third, if you can't run like a track star,
run anyway.



You never know what tomorrow might bring
so don't waste the chance to stretch your legs.



Also, to the family of the runner who was killed this weekend by the hit and run driver, you are in my prayers.

We were just a little ahead so we didn't see the accident but we heard the sirens. The race changed for us after that point. He was on the shoulder of the road when he was struck. It could have been any one of us. Heart breaking for all of us.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Maybe it's not so bad to be a cow.

My friend Ali posted this on her blog and I'm stealing it.

There is nothing I can say about this video. It speaks for itself.

Except . . . I want to be this kind of writer.

Not the udder kind.

*Cough, cough*

Libba Bray rules!!

Happy Tuesday.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Finished!!!

I just finished revisions on my Book. Huzzah! Can you celebrate with me? No really. Get out of your chair and do a happy dance.




Even though this was technically my second draft, I basically rewrote the entire book. Twice. You should see my outtakes file. It's got a higher word count than my book. Guess I'm not one of those writers that pounds out a book in three months. I must be the other kind of writer, the one that actually has to work. Bummer.

Well for the most part, I'm pleased with my book.

Oh alright, I'm more than pleased but I'm a little superstitious so I don't want to say too much. Don't want to get too excited too soon. *throws salt over shoulder, knocks on wood and runs like a mad woman from approaching black cat*

I would still like to play with my last five chapters. I know I can make them much, much better but I think I need to take a few days and reflect, pat myself on the back, take a nap and do a happy dance. (Elaine dances so much like me it's scary.)

Because I know that I'm not finished with this very long process. But I am much closer now than I was yesterday and that makes me smile.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Busy, busy, busy . . .

I haven't actively written for the last few weeks. Sorry. I know you've all seen through my veiled attempts to keep things active by posting pictures and videos. But it's only because I've been swamped.

I am working my little tail off on my edits. Okay, I'm probably working too hard. It's just so difficult to make the words work. The plot needs to be water-tight, the prose needs to stay true to the protagonists voice, the characters need to be three dimensional, the setting needs to be the perfect blend of camp, pulp and realism to make me smile. Oh yes, we can't forget the "to be" verbs. Can't have too many of those. Must keep the story active. Show don't tell. That's the motto.

Yeah, those are fun edits to fix. (I'm dripping with sarcasm here.)

Anywho,

I've been busy. Muy, muy busy. In the most productive way. My book is coming along quite nicely. I have to say. Maybe no one else will like it quite as much as I do. Maybe no one else will like it at all. Frankly, I don't really care. I have fought to keep this story my own. If I love it, I will be satisfied. No matter the outcome. Wow, am I one tough cookie to please, though.

Maybe that's not a good thing. I don't know. It is what it is.

I just keep plugging along. In the mean time life goes on. School starts next week. I start a new semester with new students and speeches and faculty meetings. Fall yard projects need to be completed. The bathroom in the basement needs to be painted before we install the cabinets and the list goes on and on and on.

What I wouldn't give for a carbon copy of myself . . .or at least a maid and a gardener. I can't add cook to the list because cooking brings me as much joy as writing. So does gardening actually, but it sure would be nice to have somebody help me with the weeding.

I could get discouraged here, it's Thursday night and I'm a week behind schedule. Because I act all persnickety over the last ten chapters of revisions while the red hot noise for my work at the beginning of the summer has cooled to complete silence. But I won't. It's counter productive.

The only thing I can do is write on. And if it takes me Tolkien time to edit this book to my pleasing, so be it. Cause it's got my name on the first page and that's saying something.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Christmas in August!!!!

This is for Laura . . . and all the parents who still see the innate value in our flawed public school system.



Can you feel the blissful silence coming? It's better than Christmas!


But that's not all . . .

Because I am such a huge fan of school supplies. Huge! I have to post this one as well. Because A) my hair totally looks like this when I go to the beach and B) if this writing thing doesn't pan out, I so want this job. Really, what is more joyful than a cart full of school supplies? The smell of a brand new notebook and a fresh box of presharpened crayons, anyone? Even adults can't resist those beautiful new points of color.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Music Monday- All things Gleeky


I was a member of Show Choir in High School and Drama Club, Speech and Debate, and Academic Decathalon. Most of my friends were in Band and Cross Country. Yes, I was a geek but before Nerd fighters and Lord of the Rings movies and Comicon. I know, it's hard to believe there was a time when looking like Napolean Dynamite was so not cool.

I still remember that wonderful ride Senior Year on the Homecoming float for the fall musical production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown. We had a ten pound bag of salt water taffy to throw to the crowd. When we generously tossed handfuls of candy to the football team, (AKA my very popular sister and her friends) they threw it back. Hard.

Finally there's a show for all of us who were forced to attend football games for band credit. We'll see if season one will be able to deliver. But it definitely looks promising. I can relate to the characters on so many levels. The writing is sharp, the actors are talented. Frankly, I thought it was pretty friggin' hilarious. Here is the pilot to one of the most original and exciting new shows of the season. It takes about 45 minutes to watch but is so worth every minute. Hope you like.


Are you a Gleek? Have you been converted?


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mad Hatter

This is half of me . . . and my favorite hat.


This is me climbing in said hat.
This is the rest me . . . and my hat.


Tell me you like my hat.

(All photos—copyright 2009 Jason Stevens Photography )

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday's a Special Day. . .

It's going to take some time to resolve my emotions over what happened to my father. He was mauled by dogs while hiking. He did nothing to provoke them. They just snapped. In fact the owners where so afraid they did nothing to stop the attack. No one is really sure how my Dad escaped. Running on shock and adrenaline he managed to get himself off the mountain and to the emergency room. According to the plastic surgeon, who measured the bites around his face and thigh, those Mastiffs weighed around one hundred and fifty pounds a piece. Fortunately, they missed every artery and nerve in his face and neck. One centimeter to the right on the bite below his right jaw would have ended his life. And people say miracles are dead.

So now he gets to have one of those rugged scared faces that will make him look even more like Clint Eastwood than he already does.

Today is better.

I ran this morning. I had no particular milage goal in mind. I just needed to clear my head. The amount of head clearing I needed took two hours. It's strange running with a shiny new canister of tear gas. It makes me feel less safe—sort of trapped. I'm trying not to get angry but it's hard. I hate weapons of any kind and I hate that I don't feel safe without one anymore.

Three things I've learned this week.

My dad is one tough (insert adjective here).

And

Don't let life get in the way of people you love.

I've been so busy trying to get my career off the ground I've let it come at the expense of some of my personal relationships. My Dad retired last year and moved from California to be near me. I haven't spent the time with him that I should. Shame on me! How dare I complain about the selfishness of others when I've acted selfishly myself.

The third lesson learned, if you're spending more time online than with the people you love; it's time to shut off the computer.

So I'm having a party for my family to celebrate the end of this crappy week. My kids are so excited they can hardly wait. We are going to eat giant slices of three layer chocolate cake with strawberry lemonade. When my four year old heard we were having a party she wrapped her arms around my neck and said, "Oh mommy, we have to use the princess plates." I'd been saving a package of Princess dinnerware for her birthday but I think she's right. We need those princess plates today. We survived one heck of a week. It's time to celebrate.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How I climbed a mountain on no sleep, a fifth of an orange and a chug o' chocolate milk.



So, last year I got writers block. It happens. Oh, I always have loads of ideas and can usually pull one out of thin air with little effort but those stupid transition chapters give me trouble. Last May I sat at my computer wondering how to get my protagonist from point A to B and I started questioning my future. I realized that in less than I week I was going to be at a conference with real writers and editors and that they were going to read my crap writing and they would know that I suck. I panicked. Then I did the only thing I know how to do when I panic. I surfed the internet.

That's how I learned about the Ragnar Relay series and how once a year teams of twelve cover 188 miles in 24 hours. So I called everybody I knew and signed 12 of us up for 24 hours of pain. See, this was my plan B. When Janette Rallison and her critique group read my stuff and told me I should under no circumstances quit my day job, I'd have a backup. I'd become a distance runner. Brilliant! So what if I dragged 12 of my closest friends and family with me.

Fast forward twelve months. Nothing turned out as I planned. Turns out plan A was working. There was no need for a back-up. My writing career was moving along quite nicely. But there was just one problem. That damned plan B. See, I already paid my money. And practically forced eleven other people to run with me because I had writers block in 2008! Like so many other things in my life, the easy way out ended up being so much more work. Now I had no choice but to go through with the relay. And of course in my attempts to persuade my friends to run with me I agreed to run the toughest leg on the course. (I'm persuasive. I didn't say I was smart.)


So I stood at the starting line of my first leg and the last year of my life flashed before my eyes. There was a lot of typing and praying involved. And running. Did I mention all the running? I started to hesitate. I got runners block. "What am I doing? I hate plan B. Plan B was a serious mistake. These other people are real runners with tight butts, fancy hamstring stretches, tanned bodies and very short shorts." I was surrounded by gazelles. Sleek blonde gazelles with white teeth, long legs and prosthetic . . . Well, let's just say in Utah most of the gazelles are enhanced.

Anywho, I felt a little intimidated with my short little italian Body and ahem . . . natural form. The Ragnar was like seventh grade gym but on a massive scale. Of course my first leg sucked. Hard. Mostly because I'd psyched myself into believing that my last ten years of running were all a big lie and I was still that lumbering beast wheezing through the mile and a half while being past by Tiffany and Amber gazelle. Okay, so I was running against traffic on a busy highway with a teeny, tiny shoulder. Seriously, I thought those semis were going to knock me right off the road.

When I passed the baton to Jamie. I was pretty certain I was done for. I'd just finished my easy leg. The other two were going to be harder. Much harder. I forced down a banana and considered updating my will.

By eight o'clock my brother Jaren, the last runner in our van, passed off the baton to Van 1 and it was our turn to have a little rest and a shower. So we drove to Morgan and paid ten dollars for a spaghetti dinner, a hot shower and a camping spot on the high school lawn. For some reason the event planners traded locker rooms and the women had the pleasure of fighting over the one toilet wedged in the corner of a bank of urinals in the boys locker room. I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go.

Anyway, my friend Tracy and I wandered into the locker room eager for a hot shower when— Holy Crap Did I Really Just See that? There's Naked Women in the Shower! And not artfully Nude either. I'm talking full frontal— "Why didn't you tell me these were group showers?"— naked.

It was high school all over again. Tracy nearly passed out.

"I can't do that." She said her eyes wider than the green urinal cake floating against the wall.

"Oh you can too." I said, sounding like I swallowed a bar of soap.

"And it's your fault I'm even here." She said. "I thought you said this was going to be a fun weekend."
"I'll say anything when I have writers block." 

"What?" she asked.

"Nothing, just quit your whining and take off your clothes."

We wrapped ourselves in towels and haphazardly washed an arm here, and leg there, under the icy water until we were more or less washed over 50% of our bodies. The whole time I'm flashing back to seventh grade trying to remember how to shield all the important parts with a wash rag and a bar of Ivory soap.

Tracy, completely white faced and in shock from seeing so many naked bodies in one place, didn't say a word as we dressed. Apparently they had private showers at her high school. We wandered to the cafeteria where we ate school lunch spaghetti— served from a vat of gray water—some kind of fruit cocktail/cool whip salad and brown corn. Tracy salt and peppered her corn with a faulty pepper dispenser that left her with more pepper than corn. She moaned over her ruined meal at the cafeteria table while I reminisced over apple brown betty. Where was my notebook? This high school was a gold mine of details.

After dinner we spread our sleeping bags out on the LDS Seminary lawn and just closed our eyes when all six of our cell phones began to vibrate. Van 1 was an hour and half ahead of schedule. We needed to be at the top of East canyon in fifteen minutes. It was a twenty minute drive. We rushed back to our van and sped up the road. Dave, the first runner in our van, leapt out of the moving car and took the baton before we even had a chance to slow down. It was 1 a.m.

Three hours later I waited on the sleeping streets of Coleville. I didn't care what I looked like at that point. I was too tired to care. Even the gazelles looked a little worked over. All I cared about was getting this hilly eight miler over. I adjusted my headlamp and fancy reflective vest and took the baton from Tracy. I started off slowly gaining speed as I jogged through the sleeping town. Coleville is a lovely jog at 4 a.m.—even though it smells like cows. It's quiet and hilly and not a bad place to watch the sun rise. But by mile five my left leg started to hurt. By mile six my calf was on fire. My husband met me at mile 7. "How you doing?"

"I need ibuprophen and an ice pack." I mumbled. My tongue felt thick and dry. My insides rumbled. All I wanted to do was curl up under a tree and sleep and I still had two miles. So I started to play the "I'll stop when I get to there" game. For two miles I gave myself signposts, promising myself if it was really that bad when I got to the mailbox, or the fence, or the parked car, I'd stop. When I reached my goal I'd tell myself "Okay, now just a little bit further." It worked.

When I finally passed the baton to Jamie I wanted to die. Okay. Not die. Just collapse dramatically on the road. But my wobbly legs carried me to the car. All the runners in the van looked horrible: green faced, fighting nausea and exhaustion. We split an orange five ways and forced the sections down, promising each other we'd feel better if we ate a little. Runners are crazy. Plan B was the dumbest idea ever.
A gagged down the orange and a half a chug of chocolate milk and started to bargain with my creator. "If you kill me now, I'll be the best dead person. Really. I promise to be one hard working angel." What can I say? I was tired.

Four hours later I prepped to knock off my final run. The one ominously named Ragnar. *Dun, dun, dun*

It sits in the mountains above my old mountain home in Midway winding through a pass that leads to Deer Valley. As I waited for my turn, I watched it blanketed in fog miles above the valley floor. I waited at the exchange. This exchange didn't have nervous energy. This exchange felt solemn, frightening. A cross country star stumbled through the orange barricades. He collapsed as soon as he passed the snap bracelet to his teammate. He was delirous. No one said a word. Had I actually eaten anything besides that measly orange I probably would have thrown it up.

I didn't see Tracy's face as she crossed the exchange. I was too focused on the work in front of me. I trained to run up the mountain, not walk it. I was going to run it so help me. So I plodded along slowly. Other runners dashed ahead of me. They call it a kill I when you pass another runner. I died a lot that day.

But on this run the killers pooped out not that far in front of me and those poky little Italian legs of mine kept going. I killed a tall strong guy, a sporty girl in her twenties, then another. I was the master of the mountain. I was doing it! Then I made a horrible mistake and looked at my Garmin to see how far I had left to go. I'd only run .2 miles. My legs wobbled. I couldn't breath. My entire body cramped. I stopped running to catch my breath. Defeated, I stumbled forward speed walking as best I could. I failed. I couldn't run this. I failed plan B. I wanted to scream. This was what the whole year had been for me. One big failure as I tried to be a parent and a wife and a writer all at the same time. So many days I wanted to throw my laptop out the window and quit.

But then a minivan passed me. They slowed and slid open their door. "You look great. Keep it up. You're almost there." I didn't know the team inside but it didn't matter. That was what I needed; just someone to give me a little encouragement. "You're almost there." Every vehicle that passed shouted positive words to me and the other runners. This was the big one. Everybody could see that. This run wasn't easy for anybody. Like writing a novel it's never easy. One discouragement follows another. And just when I'm ready to quit. Someone on the trail shouts. "You're doing great. Keep going."

So I did. I threw one wobbly leg thrown in front of the other and kept running.

A warmth ran through my limbs into my center and suddenly I couldn't feel anything but exhilaration. Some people call it runners high. I think it was something else. But it didn't matter what it was called all that I knew was suddenly I could do this because it stopped being about me and a mountain. This run was about God, me and a year of writing. With every step I felt stronger and a little more confident.

Hadn't this been the hardest year in my life? Hadn't I stumbled again and again? Hadn't I nearly quit more times than I could count? But I didn't. I just kept going and like magic—or something more transendent—I didn't feel alone or tired at all. A song came on my ipod and I could see my whole life laid out before me on that road. I won't share what I saw— that's between me and my Heavenly Father—but at that very moment I saw my husband standing at the top of a very tall hill holding a bottle of water. And I knew I could make it. Because I knew I couldn't do any of this alone. I had people that loved me and I loved them. I cried huge, sloppy tears—the ugly kind that make sounds. I tried to stop but just cried more. Then he cried because he knew by the look on my face I'd conquered a mountain of doubt. I am capable. I can do this. God's got big plans. And you know what? He's got big plans for you too.

I matter. You matter. And you have something to offer that only you can do. I learned this on top of a mountain last week. I just thought you'd like to know.



My theme song for the 2009 Wasatch Back Relay.

Monday, June 22, 2009

"You know, I've been thinkin'. . . "

This weekend was amazing! I ran, hands down, the best run of my life. It changed me. Wow, I change a lot. I think I'm sort of change junkie. It's the gardener in me. Plants grow the best when they are challenged. I love a good challenge.

Anyway, I'm planning on posting a long entry with lots of pictures from my weekend later—promise.

First, I just wanted to post something for Music Monday.

Can one person with one idea change the world? Fifteen years ago someone said, "What if we got a team of twelve together and ran from Logan to Park City on back roads and mountain trails." Well, that tiny seed of an idea grew into one of the largest running events in the west. Nearly 9000 nearly crazy, hard—and soft—bodied souls ran with little food, less sleep, in cramped driving conditions, through pelting rain and intense heat. Because somebody said "What if?"

When an idea is first planted there's not much too it. But if you let it grow, nourish it and let it take root. It will grow. Share it with a friend and who knows what can happen.


I first saw this on Melinda M. blog last year. Here's the link to this video if you'd like to watch the entire screen. Read more about Matt's dancing adventures here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One telephone pole at a time.


Friday, I'm running with twelve teammates to bridge the distance over the Back of the Wasatch Mountains from Logan to Park City, Utah. That's 180+ miles if you are wondering. In 24 hours. My personal chunk of the mileage is 16.8 miles broken up into three segments, including a lung burning four mile climb over Guardsman Pass above Midway, Utah where I will run 4 miles at 8,000+ feet gaining 1700 feet in elevation. Did I mention I'm running it at 3:00 in the afternoon. The hottest part of the day?

Yes. I am nervous. But I have trained hard and I am ready. I've done all I can do to prepare so it's out of my hands. Time to put my faith into a higher power.

Ten years ago I couldn't run a half mile. I was that girl in gym who did everything possible to get out of that treacherous mile and half run. Running was for suckers and people with no imagination. So I told myself to hide the envy I felt for all those svelte cross country stars.

By the time I was in my mid twenties I had numerous health problems. I felt old, tired and unattractive. I never wanted to go anywhere or see anyone because I knew that people were judging me. For being overweight. Ugly. Lazy. I hated myself and it showed in my charming personality. But I accepted my weight and my sorry life as what God intended. I was just one of those women with big bones. I was born to be heavy. I deeply resented "naturally thin" women. It was so unfair. Why didn't God want that for me?

Then I overheard two "naturally thin" women planning their week in the halls in church one Sunday. At five a.m. every morning they were running at least 5 miles. They'd been doing this every weekday morning for years. It hit me like a stack of hymn books. Natural thinness was a myth. Like small bone structure. These women worked very hard to maintain health and shape. They ran through heat and snow and freezing temperatures every single day. I couldn't stop thinking about that. I pondered that revelation a very long time.

If they could do that. So could I. Right? Maybe? Why not. At least I could try. Then I got angry. Angry at all the naysayers who ever said I couldn't do those things. Angry at the gym coaches and school teachers, and immature adolescent boys who said I was too fat or brainless or ugly. Most of all, I was angry at myself for believing that humongous pile of crap! It was all a myth. And I had fallen for it!

So I pulled an old pair of aerobics shoes out of my closet and went for a run. I ran the distance between two telephone poles before I had to stop and catch my breath.

The next day I ran it again.

And again,

and again,

and again.

Adding distance one telephone pole at a time. My view of myself changed on those runs. All those negative voices started to fall away. Left in the dust of my running trail. Instead of only seeing the things I wasn't capable of, I began to see all the things I was. After a month of running six days a week at six a.m. I ran two miles.

I cried.

Never in my entire life did I think I could run two whole miles. It's still logged in my memory as one of the best days of my life. I went home so ecstatic over what I'd accomplished that I chucked all the junk food stashed in my house. I wanted to be able to run far and I couldn't do it on EL Fudge and licorice. In another month I was up to four miles, then six, eight, ten, twelve. Every mile marker was another milestone adding to a positive believe in myself. Please don't mistake what I'm saying. It was not easy. It never is. But it did get more tolerable in time. And after a while. I needed those runs like I needed nutritious food and water. My biology changed. My spirit became one with my body.

In six months, I lost over 45 lbs. My new confidence led me to apply for a teaching position at a local college. I job that I love. A job I could never have imagined for myself 15 years ago. The quality of my relationships improved and I created many new friendships as I used my new found confidence to try new things. I became a better mother. More organized, tidy and full of life and energy. And I started writing because I finally felt like I had something important to say. I changed my belief in myself one telephone pole at a time.

We are all capable of extraordinary things. The adversary doesn't want us to believe that. He wants us to decompose on our sofas in self loathing. Changing how we feel about ourselves is not easy. Losing that weight, writing, staying organized, teaching college students are all incredibly challenging at times. I have to work at it every single day. It's a struggle to lace my sneakers and get my tired butt out the door. In the same way that it's a challenge to put my butt in the chair to write or put that delicious chocolate chip cookie back in the cookie jar. I just do it and worry about the consequences later. Because the joy is in the journey and once I take those first few steps or type those first few words it's just a matter of going as far as I can that day. One telephone pole at a time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I have a blister where? Music Monday

It's Monday already? Sheesh this summer is getting ahead of me. I have far too much to do this week to spend time on my blog. But I had to leave something for you to do while I'm feverishly scrambling to catch up. 

For Music Monday, I picked something a little reminiscent of high school. One band stuck with me through all of the drama and angst of adolescence. Especially when my parent's unceremoniously ripped me out of school my senior year and dragged me kicking and screaming from our little cabin in the mountains of Midway, Utah for the urban sprawl of THAT WEST DESERT town not ever to be named here. (We'll call it Area 51.5). One band kept me sane. Or crazy. I'm still undecided. 

BTW Stephenie Meyer got the moving in high school thing all wrong. Maybe if there were vampires in my new high school things would have been better. Not because I wanted to date one. (I have strong opinions about icy metrosexuals in white turtle necks. *shudder*) But because I would have begged them to rip my throat out right in front of that giant statue of a buffalo in the school foyer. Anything would have been better than being the only senior suffering through conjugation in sophomore french. (I hope Utah has finally standardized graduation requirements.)  

Moving my senior year still sits near the top of the list of things in my life that completely sucked. Wedged somewhere between watching my mother suffer through a brain tumor and season 4 of Lost. 

High School did have it's upside. I experienced a gold mine of material for my books. Not the least of which was how to get the lead in the school play as the move in. This is not a good thing by the way. There was no Zac Ephron in Area 51.5. High School Musical left out the scene where the disgruntled ingenue eggs the new girl's house. No wonder I stifled my talents in favor of brutal self-deprecation. Poking fun at myself was much better than cleaning wet toilet paper out of the olive trees. So instead of dazzling them with my abilities, I learned to how be funny and aloof and smile wide even when feeling completely alone. 

But everyday after the school parking lot had cleared and I'd shoved those hideous purple gym shorts back in my locker. I'd drive through the maze of beige and brown sprawl to this CD, cranking up the speakers until they crackled as I sang my lungs out. 

Gross Point Blank is the movie referenced here if you were wondering. Great flick. One of John Cusack's finest. (I heart John. I heart funny men. Nerdy, slightly quirky guys in particular. Nerd guys rule! *Sigh*)


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Seduced by Bacon


It's not a mystery that I love books. My office is so inundated with them, I'm starting to lose track of the titles because that they double stacked on the bookshelf. Along with my beautiful collection of classics and modern fiction, I am also an avid collector of cookbooks. I have sixty eight at last count. With fabulous titles like New York- Authentic Recipes Celebrating the Foods of the World and The Italian Chef's Encyclopedia. And I use every last one of them. But my favorite title today is Seduced by Bacon by Joanna Pruess and Bob Lope. That title just makes me giggle. A cookbook devoted entirely to one specific kind of cured meat!

Actually, I am not a huge fan of bacon .

I do like the taste. It just doesn't like me. I can almost feel it slowing my heart as it settles on my arteries. It whispers (Yes bacon whispers. Just go with it.) "Tomorrow's long run is going to KILL you because you ate me." So I don't eat a lot of it.

My husband on the other hand actually believes pork belongs on the food pyramid somewhere between Moosetracks Ice Cream and Cherry Twizzlers. He believes that bacon is the key to longevity because his grandma ate a bacon sandwich every day for eighty one years. Is it just me or does everyone have a relative who ate bacon daily for eighty one years?

Being married to such a devoted bacon lover, I learned along time ago that bacon is a religion with a devoted mass of followers. Apparently, I'm agnostic. I don't deny the existence of Pork but I don't feel the need to worship it. But that didn't stop my indoctrinated husband from buying me Seduced by Bacon for Christmas several years ago. And it didn't stop me from reading it. I can be open minded on matters of religion.

By the time I read the section ominously titled Baconology I knew I was dealing with something larger than personal belief. We're talking a major cult here. Every single recipe in that book includes bacon! Yes, there are the old standbys like Bacon Cheddar Biscuits and Classic BLT's but there's also a dessert section! How does Pecan-Brown Sugar & Bacon Ice Cream sound? *Gulp*

I am not even kidding.

Who knew bacon had so much versatility?

But for the love my spouse and my bacon eating children I have tried to embrace bacon. Okay, so it's more of a handshake kind of relationship. But I'm learning to adjust. (Do you want to know a little secret? Sometimes I still serve Turkey Bacon to the kids. They never notice. My husband calls foul every time. Curse his pork sensitive pallet.)

I think the biggest thing I learned from this family treasured cookbook (aside from what happens when you combine bacon and peanut butter) is that there is a right and wrong way to cook bacon. You are not supposed to pan fry it. Did you know that?

No. No. The correct way to cook bacon is to lay it on rumpled aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and oven bake it at 400 degrees for 18- 20 minutes. This prevents shrinkage and makes for long beautiful strips of bacon. I am a huge fan of this cooking method. It eliminates grease spatter and if you use two cookie sheets it's actually much faster. I can cook an entire pound of bacon at once with minimal clean up. Just toss the foil when your finished.

I'm still not completely converted to the Church of Bacon but I'm much more respectful of those who are. If you can swallow a peanut butter and bacon sandwich, more power to you.

Who knows, maybe Bacon lovers married to health nuts are really the ones who suffer.





Monday, May 18, 2009

Music Monday- Am I good enough?

Is it really eleven p.m.? My goodness how this Monday got away from me. Today was a fantastic day. In fact, I cannot think of a better day. Not only did I get to run with the rising sun, I ran again as it set. And to top it off, I enjoyed it with great friends and abundant laughter.

I am on a high. My training for the Wasatch Back in June is down to the wire. Which means I am logging hours and hours of weekly miles. In a word. Exhilarating. I can't begin to explain how much I have gleaned from pounding the pavement.

I've also discovered something quite exciting about myself. I love revisions. Yes. You read that correctly. Now to be fair, this is not my first round of revisions. I wrote a first draft last summer. Then spent the last six months rewriting the entire novel. The first go around, was very, very painful. So help me I will never try to write perfectly the first go around, ever again.

Joy!

The gloves are off. At last, I can sentence swap and fiddle with words until it feels just right. I can't believe how much fun I'm having. I am NOT a writer. I am a rewriter. How liberating. I can fully give myself permission to write horrible, embarrassing first drafts. Because now I know the freeing truth. The draft can always be fixed later. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I can always fix them later! And the great news? They can be fixed. No matter how terrible the words flail about on the page. They will improve with each rewrite. I've read this dozens of times from other authors, but I never fully believed it until now.

Enjoy my song for the week. Call it a love letter to writing, or creativity or the daily ups and downs of living inside a writer's brain. Oh let's be honest, I just think this video is super cool. And since my sister-friend Melinda is looking for music to inspire a medieval yarn, I can't think of a better band than Evanescence.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Something funny

Don't know how long this will stay up. Enjoy it while you can.


Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

Monday, May 11, 2009

Music Monday- Ms. Judgement and Creativity- round 2

I just took a personality test. These silly little tests are popping up everywhere. I don't credit personality tests with being too accurate but this one was right on the mark. Yes, it would have been great to be one of the more sensible Jane Austin Characters, but let's be honest, if I were a Jane Austin Character, this is definitely who I'd be.

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!






It's time to pass the hat back to Creativity. Ms. Judgement has had her persnickety fun and now I'm going to bind, gag, and throw her in the root cellar. I'll leave her bread and water, though. And maybe the Chicago Manual of Style, you know, for light reading. She's been a good girl. She knows what she's doing. As much as Creativity tends to be unpredictable, it is very clear that Ms. Judgement is an old pro. My manuscript is bleeding in red ink, which means it's time to fix.

For Music Monday. I have two videos. One each for these dueling beauties . Ms. Judgment or Creativity. Which video best describes you today?

(FYI--Both Lenka and Gabriella Cilmi are Australian artists. However, Gabriella is from Italian ancestry. Love to see gorgeous Italians REPRESENT. Love my Pisans. :) )

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Throwing the Bat

My son loves baseball. Deeply. Which is a bit of a surprise since both my husband and I are not fans of spectator sports. We'd rather run a river, climb a cliff or ride single track going forty miles an hour with our kids than spend our Saturdays on sticky bleachers wilting in the sun. Just for the record, my children are incredibly spoiled. Most people never get the opportunity to see and do the things my kids have experienced. They canyoneer, run rivers, rock climb, backpack and bike every single summer. We nearly live out of tent, some summers, skipping from one activity to another.

I kind of expected my children would naturally love these activities. And they do. Apparently, they just love other things as well, like the Red Sox. Who knew?

So, my son announced he wanted to play little league. Which is a problem. We've done absolutely nothing to prepare him for this experience. He knows how to self rescue if tossed overboard in a class 3 rapid. He knows how to repel off a cliff or where his feet need to be when he climbs a slick sandstone wall. He even knows what to do if he gets lost in the wilderness and needs to survive for two days with only small backpack of water and a granola bar. But we've never taught him a thing about how to hold a bat or catch a pop flies. I didn't even know what a pop fly was until a week ago. To be honest, I don't even know how many players are supposed to be on a baseball field...diamond. Oh, you get the point.

But this is what he wants to do. So I support him. Every possible way I can.

Can I just say, sometimes it's incredibly hard to be a mother? Watching my children struggle kills me. Just drive that dagger in my heart and give it a twist. He really, really loves this game. Most of the other teammates have parents who've been playing catch with their boys since they were old enough to hold a ball between their chubby digits. My sons been paddling rivers. And it shows. So learning to play in front of the other boys has been hard. For me anyway. He doesn't care. He wants to be better.

After practice he stays a little longer for extra batting practice. And he practices any chance he gets.

"This kid has heart." The coach says.

I smile. I already knew that.

So my son swings at those balls. Again and again and again. For hours. Until his arms are so tired he can barely hold the bat. Then he swings some more. I simultaneously explode with pride and break every time he misses. Ah. The agony of being a parent. All the while, my boy just keeps swinging.

The other night after a rough practice, he and I walked to the car. He said. "You know mom, I really wanted to throw that bat and walk away tonight. I was so frustrated. "

"Yeah?" I said. My heart breaking all over again.

"Yeah." He sighed. "But I couldn't, because you never quit writing your book, even though sometimes it's really hard."

I nearly dropped my car keys. I am at that point where I want nothing more than to chuck my stupid laptop out the window and say. "That's it. I quit!" Every day I want to give up. I have no idea what I'm doing. And I feel just like my son, desperate to get it right and painfully aware how far behind I am. In the last few weeks I've really, really wanted to quit.

But I can't. As much as I'd like to. Because my boy loves something enough to do it even if when it's really hard; and one day he's going to hit that ball out of the park. I can't wait to write about it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Music Monday- Savin' me.

I'm in the middle of edits. Ms. Judgement is pleased. She can be as persnickety as she likes and I'm just letting her have at it. I'm a little amazed at how easy it's been to divorce myself from my story. Everything on the page is fair game at this point. I'm not nearly as bothered as I thought I would be to 'kill my darlings'.  Rest assured faithful editors, I'm being merciful this go round. And I'm leaving in all the jokes, for now. I'll let my trusted friends give them the axe. 

Anyway, it sort of feels like surgery. Carefully cutting and stitching in red. So my song for the week seems appropriate. 


Thursday, April 30, 2009

The booths are still open!


Are you seriously going to make me post the Break-up story? You people are so mean. Skinheads don't interest you? They don't interest me either. Which is why it was such a horrible blind date! What about a sweet first kiss story? Come on people. Romantics of the world unite. 

Let your voice be heard. Or I'm keeping my humiliation in the vault. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Judgement's got Creativity in a Full-Nelson-Music Monday

I am my worst critique. Always have been. It doesn't matter how much praise is heaped upon my little head, I just can't get past the things I feel I don't do well. My friends say I have selective hearing. No matter how much I've done well, I only hear the critic hovering over my shoulder tearing my efforts apart. In some ways this could be a good thing. I run farther, push harder and stay motivated longer because I am always trying to prove that I can be better. And I've had a great deal of success because of Miss Judgement driving her sharp nails into my shoulders.

Lately, Miss Judgement is overstaying her welcome. It's making me tired. 

For the last year or so, I've been at war with myself as I try to learn how to write. The two sides of my personality have been locked in conflict. And it keeps getting bloodier.  

See, Creativity can't coexist with Perfectionism. She has to breath. Creativity lilts around throwing ideas, ruffling linens and dancing on the tables. And she can't do that if Miss Judgement is scolding her for scuffing the floors. The more I learn about writing, the more I learn what's supposed to be on the page and the more I worry about making it right. So, I stuff Creativity in a broom closet and let Miss Judgement dictate my entire life. In fact, there are some days when I am struggling so hard between the two halves, I can barely breath. Which is sad because my creative side is pretty darn awesome.(notice how I didn't even let Creativity use the adjective she really wanted to. I can't even blog without Miss Judgement. AUGH! )

So my song for the week is about this very personal battle from one of my most favorite bands of all time. (Sorry, had to pull the video. But here is the youtube link.) Numb-Linkin Park.


 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Back to the beginning

Just returned from the Storymakers conference. Made some new friends. Reconnected with old ones. And finally got to meet online friends face to face. It's so hard to come home. Not that I don't miss my family when I'm gone. I do. It's just that my writer friends understand the insanity. They know the angst of trying to come up with the perfect plot twist. And the thrill of finally nailing the perfect page of dialogue. They understand insomnia and revision headaches and wondering "Why, oh why, didn't I listen to my mom and become a lawyer?" They get these things. Because they have the same fear and doubt and insanity. They even understand how an entire bag of Dried Mangos can mysteriously disappear while writing one stupid paragraph! Okay, maybe they don't understand that.
--In my defense Dried Mangos are the best.

 (excluding chocolate


and Raffaello Almond Coconut Treats. 

I'm talking snacks that won't make my long runs feel like I'm dragging a bag of sand tied to my knees. 

What I'm trying to say is that it's so great to spend time with people who get me. Even if they're just humoring me. It always feels like the conferences end a little too soon. 

I was going to wait and post a music video on Monday, but since I am still flying high from eating gelato with Dean Lorey, Janette Rallison, Matthew Buckley, James Dashner, Eric Swedin and a bunch of other very cool writers and editors. (Shari and Karen, you missed out.) I just couldn't wait. For anybody who's ever felt alone in the world, here's to finding your bees. 

*****

So it's time to get to work on my revision. I've let my MS Cool for three weeks. I'm feeling a bit rusty and need to get cracking on it. Apparently, the concept I'm writing about is so last week. I hate the media's modern attention span. It's almost as bad as my own. 

So, I broke down and bought a new pair of Chuck Taylor's. For revisions, you know. Because you can't possibly write without shoes. Right?

*Ahem*

Actually, I've been feeling the need to slip more fully into my characters and wanted a pair of the coolest sneakers ever! Yeah I really don't need new shoes. But they are so in character with my book, I couldn't help myself. 

Anywho,

I guess it's time to get back to the beginning. Wish me luck. Send chocolate. I'm gonna need it. 

****
Oh yes. One more thing. The very cool Ali Cross persuaded me continue the story voting. The current frontrunner is the Breakup Story. By one vote. So Don't stop commenting. I'm not sure if I want to tell that one, since I was the one humiliated. Oh, it was so bad. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Real Kissing, Embarrassing Breakups and Skinheads...Oh why?

Okay, I promised some very cool chica's I'd blog about my very first kiss. You know the one girls practice for on the back of their hand to make sure they get it just right.  (Of course I never did that.* Ahem.* I meant other girls, with rainbow pajamas and a Johnny Depp poster hanging on the wall--I love how this sentence doesn't at date me. At all. Thank you, Johnny.)  

Anywho, I agreed that I'd blog about that kiss. The Big One. My first real kiss. And it's not one of those "I kissed a guy behind the monkey bars in the third grade" kiss either. How can a kiss count when your partner smells like purple crayon and processed cheese? No my kiss came later, when hormones had fully set in. And the guy was my first real, knock me to my knees crush. Yeah that kiss. You might have had one of your own just like it. I said I'd blog about that one.

But not quite yet. 

To tell you the truth, I think they'd be happy for me to blog about any of my blush inducing moments.  

Which is why I'm not going to post about such a personal subject until I know that said chica's are actually going to read it. So here's the challenge. Let me know what you would like to most hear about. I will list three of the most significant events of my angst riddled teen life, I'll post the one that gets the most votes. 

Gulp. Seriously, I'm not going to post a word unless I know I have a substantial readership. So you better post. A lot. Or my humiliations remain my own personal shame. 

So here are your options--In no particular order. 

My First Kiss--All of the twittery, earth moving, and yes somewhat embarrassing details. 

My Worst Breakup Story--I was the dumpee on this one. And this isn't a tear jerker, this is a "Grab a half gallon of Iced Mint Tundra Ice Cream and eat it under the kitchen table with serving spoon because your life can't possibly suck any more than this," kind of experience. 

Or my Blind Date from HELL --One word--Skinhead. 

Let my misery begin. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Music Monday- The Reason


Don't have a lot of time today. I have tons on my plate right now, with the upcoming writers conference, forensics (speech/debate) training and auditions, papers and exams to grade, training for the upcoming 180 mile relay race, responsibilities with the youth group in my church and of course, the never ending family responsibilities. 

Still. There's always time for a story. I've always liked this video. Love the song. It was also a great inspiration for my characters. I thought you'd enjoy it as well. I mean, what's more fun; grading speeches and folding mountains of laundry or being part of a vault heist?



I don't know if you've noticed but Youtube is cracking down on embedding. You're going to have to go to the source to watch the video. Ah progress. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Music Mondays


My name doesn't fit my personality. Seriously. When I was a kid, I'd lie in bed and count the days until I could legally change it to March or Lola--something, anything--besides Kristi. What were my parents thinking? Kristi is great for the cheerleader at the annual car wash fundraiser in cut offs and a tube top. Not the girl who turned down the hottest guy in school when he finally asked her out because it conflicted with her tickets to Othello. Doesn't that sound more like something you'd expect from a Vivianne or Rachelle?

Unfortunately, we don't get to choose our names. We're at the mercy of our parents-the same people who dressed us in bell bottoms and tube socks.

No matter where I moved in the U.S., I was guaranteed at least two other girls slapped with the same moniker. We were the original Ashleys. But that didn't stop the gym coach, A beefy women with a mullet from jocking us all down to Kris. 

The one concession was that if you have a common name, you were guaranteed a song. Right? You know, with your name in the title? Stacy, has a song. Amy and Amanda got songs. Even Rhiannan got a song. Popular names have songs.It's as important as removing your retainer and shoving it in your pocket before you kiss. If you didn't have a song, what was your boyfriend going to sandwich between Depeche Mode's Somebody and Nirvana's Smells like Teen Spirit on the mix tape? Lady in Red? *Gawk*--Sorry, just dry heaved. 

Did Kristi have a song? No. Kristine got a song. There's probably even a ballad to all the Kris' in the world. But nobody wrote songs about Kristi. Man, high school sucked. 

Until Now. 

The Offspring, has finally put the angst of Kristi to lyrics. My name is finally emblazoned in vinyl! (Actually it's digital, but you get the picture.) Apparently, the Kristy they knew wasn't really all that happy, unless references to cutting and child abuse are peppy. Maybe Kristi's aren't cheerleaders after all. Anywho, I love an angst ridden song, especially with a cute guy mooning over a girl. 

So to launch the maiden post of Music Mondays *drum roll*

 Kristy are You Doing Okay--The Offspring.   (Sorry embedding has been disabled so you'll need to click on the link.) 

Note the ode to the eighties in the music. It just doesn't get any better than this.  



Friday, April 10, 2009

It's a girl!


Well, she's about three months overdue but she's finally here, in full. I am so proud. I must admit that it was my most difficult delivery. But finally she has arrived. A 66,610 word bundle of energy. 

And you know what? It's really good. I get giddy just thinking about it. It's not the story I imagined writing ten years ago. But it's definitely a lot of fun. 

I can only relate it to the birth of my first child. For nine months I imagined Jacob's curly hair, dark eyes, and Italian olive skin. After the initial shock that my daughter was going to be wearing blue home from the hospital. I realized that you can't pin expectations on your children. Oh she was gorgeous, still is. But just different than I'd imagined. She was herself and when I first clamped onto those tremendous blue eyes, I knew I couldn't have imagined anything better. 

This book has been such a surprise. Romantic, Exciting, Funny--sometimes bitterly so--but it keeps holding on and doesn't let go. I'm so grateful my characters were so strongly themselves and sometimes fought with me on where they wanted to go. They are themselves and I wouldn't change a thing, blue eyes and all. 

It's not where it needs to be. Yet. It needs trimming and color and a complete wardrobe. But it's alive and well. And that feels really good. 

As a little gift to my readers who might be wondering about this book. Here's a video by The All American Rejects. During the writing process, this video proved very, very useful. Enjoy.



Thursday, April 9, 2009

Obsession

Some people I obsess over. 

The checker at Walmart who's missing two teeth, the UPS Driver who delivers packages in shorts no matter the weather, the ambitious student with the amazing smile that never quite reaches his eyes or the girl in my night class that wore a blue blouse so stunning that it actually changed the color of her eyes. I wonder about these people. These are the reasons I don't sleep. 

Now before you apply for a restraining order, let me explain my obsesssion. It's not like I rifle through their mail or follow them home from the movies. I'd like too--if it didn't sound so completely creepy. But I'm not obsessing in a fatal attraction sort of way. It's just that some people fascinate me. They leave me wanting more. I want to know what makes them tick. To peel back the layers and know what's inside. Their joy and heartaches, what topping they prefer on toast, if they have strange hygiene habits or a weird little toe. I want to know absolutely everything about them. 

I want to know why the checker is missing her teeth? What's the backstory? Why doesn't the student really smile? And how does it feel to suddenly blossom?

I used to think there was something dangerously wrong with me for wondering about people, constructing imaginary backstories and relationships and tragedies. But what I was seeking was the story. I'm writing even when I don't realize it. My mind wanders and suddenly, I discover everything about the toothless girl. What beverage she drinks and what she says when arrogant college boys carelessly mock her. Perhaps you'd see missing teeth as a character flaw or a cautionary tale on poor hygiene. But for me it all unfolds and instead of a person at the checkout counter, she becomes something more. She becomes a character. A living, breathing person inside my head whispering, waiting  for her story to be told. 

What characters do you obsess over? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I lost a chapter today.

That's right. You read that correctly. I did in fact write a kick*** chapter. One of my finest ever. In fact, I was so wrapped up in the emotion of the thing. I didn't notice that my laptop was working on reserved power. My blessed little Mac flashed a warning window to let me know I only had four percent power. I closed it immediately because I was on a serious roll. Yes, I see the error of my ways now. Just when I was about to type the word... Argh. I can't even remember. 

The screen went blank. 

I made a little sound. 

Sort of a cross between an gasp and an eep. And dashed to my office to plug the blasted laptop into the power cord. 

How bad could it be? That was some of my best work ever sure the computer gods would not let such brilliance disappear. It was amazing writing. Honestly. My character was just about to realize her true potential. I was nearly crying as I wrote it. 

It can't be that bad. I soothed as I rebooted my computer. I probably lost a sentence, maybe two. I always save. Don't I? But I was so wrapped up in my character voice. I couldn't be sure. I couldn't breath, or swallow as I waited... and waited for the screen to light up. How bad could it be really? Really? REALLY?

Then there it was, my document. I dropped to my knees. It was ALL GONE. Just a few measly words I'd scrawled first thing this morning remained. And they weren't even in a coherent sentence. 

I'm feeling pretty devastated right now. It was very good writing. Some of my best. And now it's lost forever with all of the other forgotten files in the unsaved vortex. I've spent the last two hours trying to recreate it but it's not the same. Just a hollow shell without any of that spunky freshness. *sniff...sniff*

I read once that Ernest Hemingway's first wife Hadley, lost his first completed manuscript on a train. He was never able to recreate it. I'm not at all surprised their marriage ended. It is that devastating to lose the work. 

There is only one phrase to describe what I am feeling right now;

 OPEN APPLE S.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How much time have you taken today?

video

For Jason, who will go to any length for his girls. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Back from LTUE

A brief list of things I learned at the Life The Universe and Everything 2009 Writing conference. (In no particular order.)

1-For every ten dollars spent on books at the BYU bookstore, you get a voucher for a basketball game. (I came home with 17.)


2- Snap! Ferrero Raffello Coconut Almond Treats are out of this world. 


4-That Dashner Dude can really work a room. 



5-The Utah writer talent pool is very, very deep. 

6-My geek rating is higher than I thought.

7-It is possible to laugh tears of joy for three straight hours. 

8-Apparently, Wii Fit Yoga gives the participant a score. I won't even go there. 

9-There is still a cool kids table, I am still not on it. 

10- If you don't sell your book, nobody else will. 

11-False modesty is for fools. 

12. Even if an incredibly famous author says that he/she loved your stuff and would do everything possible to help you get published, doesn't mean they will actually remember who you are six months later after you've finished said book. 

13. You can wait years for a publisher to bite. When they do, set the hook as quickly as possible.

14. The story happens for the reader in the white space between the words. 

And finally, since the LTUE didn't cost me a dime, 

15. The best things in life really are Free. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What could be better than Shannon Hale interviewing your favorite writers? 

When one of those writers happens to be one of the coolest people I know. Click here to read the giggle inducing interview with Janette Rallison. BTW if you haven't read My Fair Godmother yet, you are missing out. 

Writing Glamorously

As I was sitting in Church, listening (okay pretending to listen) to the speaker. It suddenly occurred to me that I am close. VERY CLOSE to finishing my book. I am a week, perhaps less to finishing my draft. Holy Crap!

Before you start a collective sigh of relief that I finally finished the *^%$&#*@ book. You need to realize how huge this is for me. No, not because I will finally be able to pay off my house and move into my castle in Scotland (or Tuscany depending on the day), bark commands at the house staff on how I want my book launch catered. Or set out to hobnob with my fabulously rich and famous friends on my private jet.  Of course these are all perks in the fabulous life of a young adult author. But that's not really why I wrote a book. Ahem. Not entirely. 

Okay, I may have entertained such thoughts originally. I might have been under the mild delusion that writers lived fabulous lives. 

Let's be honest. I fantasized big time that novelists had somehow figured out how to avoid bills, a sink full of dishes, and weight gain. I blame the film industry for this delusion because writers portrayed on film live in fabulous houses, with beautiful gardens and small butts, while never typing a word.

Overheard...
Brainstorm in a Screenwriters think tank about upcoming Thriller.

Screenwriter one (working on her third Redbull before 10 a.m.) We need a protagonist that lives in a fabulous house by the ocean and drives a convertable. 

Screenwriter two (takes a long drag on his cigarette)- With a sailboat, oh...and a golden retriever named Tolstoy. 

One- Of course a disposable income is a must--

Two--and a drinking problem, he needs conflict--

One-Oh yeah, and don't forget Angelina Jolie is playing his librarian girlfriend.

Two- Yeah, but we can't give him a real job, not if he's going to have the free time to solve all of those crimes.

One- Let's make him a novelist, they don't do anything. 

Two-It's brilliant! 

On film, novelists are either jet-setting eccentrics or oversexed alcoholics. It's a long perpetuated myth, novelists don't write their books, they just appear in tidy piles by the typewriter. Don't even get me started with female novelists. Apparently we all wear evening gowns and date pool boys. 

Why do novelists stand for it?

Because novelists don't want the public to know how they really live. Sun starved, grazing the refrigerator, for something (anything that isn't two weeks past expiration) to eat, while mumbling about inciting events, messy middles and...why in the hell is the preschooler playing on the front lawn in nothing but moon boots and Disney princess underwear? Ahem. I'm speaking hypothetically of course. 

If you are considering writing a book because you think it will solve all of your problems, consider therapy...lots of therapy, because you have another thing coming. 
 
Writing is the least glamorous thing I've ever done. My house has never been more neglected. I haven't seen the bottom of the laundry basket since Memorial day, my answering machine has at least twelve unheard messages on any given day and my nickname at my ubiquitous day job is Seldom Seen. 

My life is anything but glamorous. I wake. Exercise. Shower. Kiss the kids goodbye (because my husband got them ready for school). Bang my head against my computer monitor for three hours. Pick up my preschooler. Bang my head some more. Help the kids with homework. Throw whatever hasn't expired in a skillet for dinner. Listen to my children complain about said dinner. Put the complainers to bed. Grade papers. Go for one more round of head banging. Then, collapse in bed so I can do it all again tomorrow. 

This is my schedule. Every. Single. Day, but Sunday. No exceptions. Okay sometimes I write in the car if I am traveling and occasionally forget to shower. But essentially my life revolves around my book. End of story. 

Guess what? I still love it. I have never felt more joy. I have always wondered, deep down, if it was possible for me, Kristi Bevan-Stevens to actually write a book. (Clearly my overabundance of italics stresses the significance). Since I first read Lloyd Alexander's Book of Three in the Second grade, I have wanted to put my stories on the page. And now five thousand deleted pages later, I've done it! I have created something. It's not perfect.  But sure enough, it's a book, with a beginning, middle and end.  Yipee! 

The finished product might not be what I was expecting, but it's been worth it. Every agonizing sentence. 

If you're still not convinced that writers live exciting lives, watch Princess Diaries Author Meg Cabot here.