Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I survived my son's pirate party--barely!--and even managed to make this cake for him (I cropped out the busy background):

I wrote some little poems for treasure hunt clues, & to my surprise the kids clamored to read the clues aloud. I think that was the best part of the party. (The treasure they found was a piƱata.)

My son has also survived 7 days of first grade, & seems to be thriving. Even the early mornings haven't been a problem yet! I am very happy with our public school, and with his class and teacher. Meanwhile, my husband interviewed in Florida & apparently did pretty well. He'll probably go back for a second interview, in which case I'd probably go with him to check out the area. But I'm not in a hurry for any decisions to be made! He brought me a flamingo figurine to commemorate my picture book manuscript about flamingos, which I need to submit somewhere soon.

Tomorrow I'm really busy, but as soon as I get a chance I plan to read Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, by David Lubar.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Well, I felt horrible when I got out of bed this morning, but I didn't seem to have a fever. Now, however, I do, and I feel even worse. Yuck! But it's not all bad...chilling in bed all afternoon gave me time to read the whole novel I bought earlier today! (If you're interested, the "pretty girl capital of the world" is none other than here in Austin. Cool!) And in a complete non-sequitur, I won a charcoal grill & smoker by sticking my e-mail address in a drop box at Whole Foods this week! I must have been the only person in Texas who has had a backyard for years but has never owned a grill, so I really wanted one. And I won it only 2 days after entering. Hooray!
I just got back from the monthly Austin SCBWI meeting, where I heard author Brian Yansky speak about what characters want, and how their yearnings drive the story. I was late, unfortunately, because I can never remember where the turn-off for the bookstore is...but what I heard of his talk was helpful (it already gave me ideas for strengthening one of my manuscripts), and I bought a copy of his YA novel, My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World, which I've been wanting to read for a long time. I also got to meet Varian Johnson in person, which was nice after meeting him through our blogs!

Lately I’ve been busy planning a pirate party for my son’s birthday next week, and getting him ready to start first grade on his birthday. He’s changing to public school from a small private kindergarten, so it’s going to be a big change. (It also starts at, gasp, 7:45 am! I don’t think I’ve even seen 7:45 am in months!) My younger son doesn’t start preschool for a month after his brother’s school starts, and that may drive us all crazy! He hates when his brother has somewhere to go & he doesn’t.

Of course, the whole preschool thing may be moot because my husband is interviewing for a job in Florida soon! I'm trying not to think about it, especially since an interview doesn't necessarily mean a job. But I've lived in Texas all my life (except for 6 months as a baby), and planned to live in Texas for the rest of it, so it took us a while to decide to go ahead with the interview. Today, though, I was thinking a big change might be just what I need. But I'd also have to sign up for a frequent flyer program for frequent visits to Texas!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I got the new issue of Once Upon A Time with my article "In With The Old" in it. Fittingly, it arrived right around my birthday! (But my mom served my cake on Strawberry Shortcake plates, so I must not be too old...right?! Never mind that I was already too old for Strawberry Shortcake when she was first introduced!)

A week & a half ago, I had to submit a manuscript for critique at the October Austin SCBWI conference. I was stymied. I first thought of submitting a picture book, but doubted it was the best fit for the critiquer. Then I printed out first chapters from 3 different novel projects, to see which one I wanted to submit. I had several versions of the first chapter of Can't Beet It and had never been happy with any of them, so I stayed up pretty much all night rewriting it. While I liked the new version better, I still felt it wasn't quite right. The next day, I was leaning towards Purple Panic, but asked my husband to look at all three first chapters and tell me which one caught his eye most. He voted rather strongly for Can't Beet It--he really liked the rewrite--so that's what I ended up submitting, to my surprise.

A few days later, I dreamed that the regional advisor of our SCBWI chapter showed up at my door, telling me she'd sent all the other critique manuscripts but had lost mine. I told her it was no big deal, and that the critiquer couldn't have read them all yet, so I'd just Fed Ex mine right away. She looked unhappy with that, and I suddenly noticed she actually had my manuscript with her. I realized she hadn't sent mine because she thought it was so bad that it reflected poorly on our whole chapter, and she would rather the critiquer not see it! I told her it had once been recognized in a contest (true) and that I had 4 other manuscripts I could send if she didn't like that one...but in the end I was going to Fed Ex it and pay to send it myself, and was sad she was so disappointed in my manuscript and in me as a writer. In real life, I got word that she sent all the manuscripts, including mine, but this dream sure brought out my writerly fears!

The day I took my manuscript to her in reality, I told my kids I was going to deliver a manuscript to someone from my writing group, and we had this lovely conversation:

6-year-old son: "Is it going to be published?"

Me: "I don't know. An editor is going to read it and tell me what he thinks, and maybe if it could be published."

4-year-old son: "I think it will, because you're a good writer."

Big praise from a little person! I didn't know my 4-year-old even realized what "published" meant or that it had to do with being a good writer, nor that he had an opinion about my writing, but he definitely knew how to warm his mother's heart!

Monday, August 01, 2005

I've been tagged by Varian Johnson...I feel honored! I had no idea what tagging even meant until I did a search. Looks like I'm supposed to answer the same questions as he did in his blog entry, then tag 5 more people...kind of like a chain letter without any dire warnings about what will happen if I don't do it! I'm game:

20 years ago – I was 2 days away from turning now you know how ancient I am! I was working at a movie theater popcorn stand, I had recently totaled my first car, and I had already finished one crazy year of college at UT-Austin and was about to go back for another. It was a completely bizarre summer, as anyone I knew that year can probably attest to.

10 years ago – I'd been married for nearly 4 years & had lived in Austin (again) for 2. I'd had my first publication 8 months earlier. I was working as a tech writer at National Instruments while my husband worked on a master's degree in history. We made some good friends through a grad student reading group that year. Also made my first web page, and I still haven't updated my 10-year-old HTML skills!

5 years ago – I was staying home with my first son, then nearly 2 years old, and pregnant with son #2. I started the novel Can't Beet It I'm still working on! (It goes on & off the back burner regularly.)

1 year ago – Mom of two young boys, still writing...about the same as now!

Yesterday – Missed church, ack. Ate at The Black-eyed Pea for the first time in at least a year, yum. (Son #1: "This is the best turkey I've ever eaten." Son #2: "I can't imagine anything better than this!" Wow.) Shopped for gifts for the two kids' birthday parties in a row we're going to next week.

Tomorrow – We're going to my hometown of Arlington to celebrate my birthday on Wednesday.

5 snacks I enjoy – Popcorn, Twix bars, ice cream, powdered mini donuts, Munchos potato chips

5 bands I know the lyrics to most of their songs – MOST of their songs? I'm not sure if any fall into that category! There are plenty of albums I know most of the lyrics on, though. See my way old (circa 1998 or 1999, that is) music web page for a few clues to my tastes.

5 things I would do with 100,000,000 dollars – Tithe, pay off debts, buy & furnish a house (I currently want one with a game room and soda fountain!), travel, support causes I care about.

5 locations I’d like to run away to – New Mexico, Wales, Greece, Canada, California

5 bad habits – drinking soda constantly, staying up too late, hitting the snooze alarm too many times, skipping breakfast, misplacing things

5 things I like to do – write, act, enter contests, go to amusement parks, hang out on the Internet

5 TV shows I like – 5? I don't watch that much TV...though I do watch Survivor most seasons.

5 famous people I’d like to meet – Madeleine L'Engle (my dad has met her but I haven't!), Kevin Henkes, Louis Sachar, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and/or Wes Anderson (they were both at UT while I was getting my film degree, but they went on to get nominated for Academy Awards in screenwriting while, didn't). And let me sneak in Lance Armstrong since he's a hometown hero!

5 biggest joys at the moment – Laughs & hugs from my family, the funny & smart things my kids say, my iPod (pathetic but true), getting some things in order around the house, making breakthroughs in my writing

5 favorite toys – My long-lost Fisher-Price castle, my Humpty Dumpty pillow doll (my kids have them, too!), my long-lost Fisher-Price Main Street, Legos, & the rubbery spiny echidna toy I bought myself at Toy Joy! I'm also keen on my kids' Fisher-Price Fun Park with a loopy roller coaster we like to run Hot Wheels, & somewhere I have a great blue mouse puppet that sticks out its tongue and squeaks.

5 people to tag – Most people I considered tagging have already been tagged with this! I'll tag Pam Calvert, wry_tang in Australia, and taking an idea from Linda Joy Singleton's 7/30 entry...if you're reading this, tag, you're it!