Friday, December 29, 2006

The end of the year as we know it

All over the Internet, I'm seeing people doing recaps of 2006 and resolutions for 2007. I wasn't sure I was up to doing a recap of 2006, which has been a very odd year for me, but on one group people listed their top 10 most memorable events of 2006--whether good or bad--and I felt I was at least up to that.

So, in chronological order, 10 of the highlights & lowlights of my 2006:

1. Moved from Texas to Florida
2. My husband and I renewed our wedding vows in a citywide ceremony on the beach
3. Got pregnant!
4. Our van got totaled
5. My husband lost his job
6. Our youngest son started kindergarten
7. My husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary
8. My grandfather died
9. Moved from Florida back to Texas only 8 months after moving there!
10. We had our first Christmas at home (not traveling)

I wasn't planning to make any sort of new year's resolutions, seeing that I'm about to have a new baby, which will throw everything off. I feel like 2007 is a big mystery, what with a baby I haven't met yet and (I hope) a job my husband hasn't gotten I don't feel like I can plan anything. However, I just read Anastasia Suen's blog post about deciding on a "theme" for the year instead of a resolution, and I'm thinking "passion" would be a good one. Well, either passion or love, I'm not sure yet. Passion would be more all-encompassing, and I try to make it one of my theme words anyway, but maybe with the baby coming I should focus more on family.... I guess I have some time to think about it, but I like the idea of thinking of a theme instead of specific goals, especially for this coming year.

In other news, I'm finally 35 weeks pregnant as of today (yay!). That means my due date is in 5 weeks, but at the moment I'm just hoping not to have to add "had our baby early" to my list of 2006 events! I've had SO MANY "false" contractions the past couple of days. And as mentioned, we stayed home for Christmas for the first time this year, and had a lovely celebration, but my parents also visited us for a late celebration a couple of days ago, which was nice. And today, we went to see the new movie of Charlotte's Web, which we all enjoyed. It seemed faithful to the book, and pleasantly old-fashioned compared to the usual smarmy kids' movies these days that are loaded with pop culture references that will be outdated in a year.

Also, our friend Jeff is getting married tomorrow. We can't attend because I don't want to travel at this point in my pregnancy, but Happy Wedding & Marriage, Jeff!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Holiday wishes

Is that really Santa with elves Ryan (8) & Kyle (5),
or someone else getting ready to make a special delivery?

Happy Holidays from me & my little elves!

(P.S. Baby due Feb. 2!)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Highlights of the week

I met Louis Sachar yesterday! You know, the Newbery winner for Holes, and author of twenty-something other children's books including the very funny Wayside School books that my 8-year-old just happened to be re-reading this month anyway. Mr. Sachar spoke at an Austin SCBWI meeting yesterday, at a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Austin. Then I got to speak to him very briefly when I stood in line to have him sign my copy of Holes, a new copy of Sideways Stories from Wayside School for all of my boys (which we already had...but this copy does have new art), and a Marvin Redpost book for my 8-yr-old. 

Not that I could really think of anything to say. During the question & answer time, I asked a question that I think seemed stupid in that setting, but which I had really wondered about before--that is, whether he'd had really mean teachers growing up. I only asked it because he had just related a story about a real-life mean teacher (not his) who had inspired part of one of his other books. To my surprise, he said he could only remember one mean teacher, and didn't seem to think his books had many. But the third Wayside School book, which we'd just finished two nights earlier, has several really mean teachers and other school authorities, his book Someday, Angeline has a particularly mean teacher in a more realistic setting, and of course Holes is chock full of cruel authority figures. I think the third Wayside School book actually gets pretty dark, especially for a humor book. I also asked why he chose to write for kids, but he didn't get around to answering that part. I think I've read, though, that the first Wayside School book got started when he was actually working at a school. Anyway, he was a friendly, personable guy, and I was glad he agreed to speak at our meeting! He lives here in town, but rarely speaks in public, at least here. (He did mention a book tour he recently went on, though, where he met a young woman sword swallower who had a potato tattooed on her ankle like one of the kids in a Wayside School book, & appeared on a reality TV show about tattoos, getting another tattoo based on one of his books!)

In other news, I'm 32 weeks pregnant now. Meaning I'm due in just under 8 weeks, but again, expecting the baby anywhere from 4 weeks on. We're not at all ready, but...I do feel ready to stop being so huge & uncomfortable! I can't believe how active this little guy is, and how hard it is for me to do basic things anymore, like roll over in bed, tie my shoes, or lean over to something up! At any rate, I'm glad I've gotten this far with no complications! I'm on a group for moms expecting in February, and two of the members have already had their babies! One at 29 weeks, one at 30--the babies seem to be okay, but are both in the NICU, of course. I'm really glad I'm far enough along now that if the baby decides to show up early, he will likely do pretty well. But here's hoping he at least holds out until 2007!

Monday, November 27, 2006

And now for something completely self-indulgent...

Because I haven't posted in so long, and was kind of bored, I decided to compile one of those "100 Things About Me" lists I've seen on lots of blogs in the past.

Without further ado, 100 things about me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from me & my little ninjas! This is the first Halloween in about 7 years that I haven't gone out with my kids while they're trick-or-treating. My husband is taking them out while I stay home & give out candy. Before trick-or-treating, we decided to go to a free carnival at the YMCA, because they were giving free hot dogs & sodas, & that took care of dinner! Of course, the kids also got plenty of candy from the games there, as well winning cupcakes in the cake walk & sliding down the inflatable slide a bunch of time, so they really didn't need to trick-or-treat, too...but then, trick-or-treating isn't about need! Anyway, being 6 months pregnant, I was pretty uncomfortable after walking around the carnival for nearly an hour, so I decided I'd better stay home.

I also knew it would be taxing to jump up & open the door every 3 minutes, so I've set myself up a station by the door with a chair, my laptop, a soda, my Tums & cough drops, & of course the Halloween candy. We'll see how well it works out. I got enough candy for 100 kids, since we've had that many kids come by before, but I keep giving them too many pieces each! I have to limit it to one if I want it to last that long...and/or if I want to have enough left over for myself, hee hee. (And before my own kids left, I found out they were giving trick-or-treaters 6 pieces each! Ack. Wishful thinking for themselves, I guess.) I'm wearing a bat barrette and big hoop earrings made out of glow sticks. Several kids have complimented the glow stick earrings--even some pre-teen boys! Next year, though, I'll have to go out with the kids so everyone can ooh & aah over my baby in some kind of silly costume. There's nothing cuter than a baby or toddler in costume. (But can you believe, we actually saw a toddler at the YMCA dressed up as Kinky Friedman?!) Actually, some of these bigger kids coming to the door are awfully cute, too!

Meanwhile...NaNoWriMo starts in less than 5 hours. And I still haven't decided what to write! Now that's a scary Halloween thought.

(I guess the baby's dressed up as me!)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Weekend recap

Friday was unremarkable. Saturday, kid #2 went to a costume birthday party during the day, and both kids went to a Kids' Night Out thing at night. My husband & I went to see The Prestige, a movie about rival magicians, which has a lot of tricks of its own. I liked it fine, but thought it was more "huh" than "wow!" It's the kind of movie you might be tempted to replay in your head to see if the plot twists made logical sense, except in this case I didn't care enough to think about it anymore. Also, it didn't really have anyone to root for. (Edited later to add that after reading the world's longest thread about this movie at, I appreciate some of the themes, foreshadowing, etc., more than I did at the time. Though it still didn't make me walk out of the theater in awe.) We finished the evening with a dessert crepe from IHOP, which I've been wanting to try for a couple of years. It was also fine, and also more "huh" than "wow." My coughing spell alarmed the waitress, who warned me she'd had bronchitis recently and it sounded similar.

Sunday morning, I was still coughing and didn't feel so great, so I skipped church, but my husband and the boys went. While they were gone, I read The Boy Book by E. Lockhart. Like her other books, it was a light, fun read. Most reviews I've seen of it say it's better than the prequel, The Boyfriend List, but I liked the first one better. I might have liked this one better with a slightly different ending, but that's all I'll say, as I don't want to give any spoilers. Meanwhile, our only car died right as my husband and the boys got to church. So after church, they had to arrange for a tow truck for a car, and find a ride home with some friends. Later, my husband had to find someone to take him to a rental car company to rent something we could drive. He ended up with some kind of Kia SUV. It's not bad, but let me say that any vehicle made in the last year or two should have an audio input jack for iPods or similar players! And the mirrors on the visors should be lighted. Little things can make a big difference.

Sunday night, I decided at the last minute to attend the Austin NaNoWriMo kick-off meeting. I think it was worth my time, and there's more about that on my NaNoWriMo blog. Also, to my surprise, there was someone there who recognized me as the person who rode in the Wienermobile! She turned out to be on a children's writing group with me. (Hi, Diana!)

Monday, October 23, 2006


I really enjoyed the Austin SCBWI conference yesterday! I talked to more people than I think I usually do (I tend to be really quiet...), probably because I was just so happy to be back in the writing world after 8 months of seeming exile! When I was in Florida, the only interaction I had with writers was online, and I really missed the atmosphere. I'd always appreciated the local SCBWI group, but I think I appreciated it even more yesterday.

Anyway, Bruce Coville is an excellent speaker. It was mentioned that he loves theatre, and it's obvious, as he's a real performer! He was a great choice for kicking off the conference. Likewise, Esther Hershenhorn was a great choice for ending it. Her talk was enthusiastic and helpful, as she shared a wealth of information and resources. Those two speakers left me feeling particularly inspired, and during the book signing portion that followed, I sat down & jotted 3 pages of notes and thoughts for my 2 potential NaNoWriMo novel ideas! Since then, the wheels in my mind have been spinning and I've thought of even more to add to each one. For more about this conference, see Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog report on it.

Afterwards, I started feeling a little deflated for being in SCBWI for so long without selling a book! I know I'm not the only one, but sometimes it feels like it. I know it's my fault--not for lack of talent but for lack of trying. I haven't racked up a huge slew of rejections; I've rarely felt I had something polished enough to submit. In his talk yesterday, illustrator Tony Sansevero shared a poster he sends to kids, which says at the bottom, "Some succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined to." I've wanted to write since age 5, so I guess I've always felt destined to, but I've often let life and fear get in the way. And here I am pregnant again, knowing that babies tend to sideline me for about a year, so it's hard to commit to going for it whole hog now, but I have to at least commit to continuing, to working on it, to stopping putting it aside. I have at least had short pieces published, but that wasn't what I was dreaming of at age 10, staring at the children's novels in the bookstore and imagining my own books beside them. But I'm not out yet. And these conferences are really helpful for reminding me what I really want, and what I need to do, and how to go about it! So, thank God for SCBWI!

And speaking of God...last night my husband and I watched part of a Steven Wright comedy special on Comedy Central, in which he pointed out that the New Testament isn't so new anymore, & that maybe we should call it the "Newer Testament" or the "Most Recent Testament." So I completely cracked up in church this morning when the pastor asked us to turn to the "newer Testament" near the back of our Bibles! I'm sure he had seen the same show...very amusing.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday free-for-all

  • I've started a NaNoWriMo blog for this year: Now here's hoping I can decide on a promising novel idea!
  • I fear I may be getting sick. As if I could be any more tired! I have a scratchy throat & cough & am a little congested. Yuck! I hope it does not get worse. At least I got a flu shot yesterday.
  • I watched Newbery-winning author Linda Sue Park on Jeopardy! today. Even though she didn't win, she did a great job, and looked and sounded amazingly poised the whole time. Yay, Linda Sue!
  • I'm going to a writing conference tomorrow! Hooray. Seems like forever since I've gotten to do anything writerly, with other writers. And since I didn't submit anything for critique, I don't even have to feel stressed! (The critiques are always fantastic, but honestly I think I enjoy the conferences more when I'm not getting them....) The only downer is, I have to get up at 6:30. I'm normally a night owl, so I'm not sure I even have that time on my clock. ;-)
  • I had my first OB appointment here in Texas yesterday, at 25 weeks along. I returned to the dr I went to when I had my son who's now 5. All went well, though they did say I'm anemic (hence some of the tiredness), and have to get some more bloodwork, and I also need to take the glucose tolerance test soon. Baby's (Cushie's?!) heartrate was 140. He still doesn't have a real name.

Monday, October 16, 2006

News of the day

I surprised myself... I braved going downtown by myself yesterday, driving through even more pouring rain and having to park on the street blocks away, to go the the screening of my friend's movie. I'm glad I did. It's a moving documentary about the Belgian resistance in WWII, and I'd recommend watching it when it shows up on PBS October 30th. I've known the director, Mat, since he was about 10, and I figured we artists should support each other. (After all, he and his wife showed up for my visit to the library in the Wienermobile a couple of years ago, and I'd hope someone I know would show up if I ever had a book signing!)

I'm also excited today because we've been hoping for a long time to get our 8-year-old science fanatic son into some kind of science, Lego, or robotics program, and today we did! The friends we visited in the country Saturday said they'd heard about something similar on an e-mail list they're on with other homeschoolers. Last night, the husband forwarded me the message, then I contacted the woman who wrote it, and she wrote back immediately to let me know about an after-school Lego robotics class that's starting in November five minutes from my house! It's limited to 10 kids, so we signed him up right away. Hooray!

Meanwhile...our 5-year-old has christened our new baby "Cushie." I'm not sure why he came up with that, but I think it's so cute, I'm afraid it's going to stick!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The weekend and writing

This weekend has been really nice so far. Friday night, we took the kids to a parents' night out thing they always enjoy, and went out to dinner and an entertainment place that has an arcade, pool tables, mini golf, bowling, you name it. We actually bowled a couple of games, which might have been inadvisable in my front-heavy pregnant state (I'm still a little sore...), but it was fun! Yesterday we spent a peaceful day visiting our friends out in the country for their daughter's 7th birthday party. Tonight, I'd really like to go to the local screening of a documentary made by an old friend of mine, but I don't have a babysitter and I don't think I'm up for going downtown for it all alone... However, it's going to be shown on PBS on October 30, so check it out!

As for writing, I'm beginning to plan for NaNoWriMo. I still have no plots to speak of, so that's a slight issue. I'm mainly debating between two ideas I've been batting about for a while. One of them intrigues me more, but the other seems to lend itself to more action...though still not much. I tend to write things that are too much about emotion instead of action, too much in characters' heads. One story, the one I'm not quite as excited about, is about the evolving relationship between two sisters, and the other is about the aftermath of a death. But in both cases, I'm not sure exactly what would be going on page by page. I know I'm guilty of using filler action as a backdrop for thoughts and relationships, but I want action that's actually relevant to the story. In the sister story, I'd at least have some pre-made situations involving school and family. In the death story, I would have some school, and of course a funeral, and there would be a band with some rehearsals and possibly concerts...but the action I can imagine doesn't seem like the page-turning kind that really moves a story forwards. I don't suppose it has to. I recently read Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci, and all the action in that is similar--classes, school club meetings, the protagonist working on a movie set, etc.--but it seems like books with more action (Harry Potter, for instance!) attact audiences better, not to mention editors! I just don't want to put everyone to sleep. So for now, I'm making notes for both books and as I get closer to November, I hope one seems better poised for me to plunge into it. I also need to revive my NaNo blog, because that helped keep me going last time. (I still have my 2002 one up, and would like to just add to that, but I've got to figure out how to stop all the archives from 2002 from showing up at the top of the screen...4 years later I've forgotten everything I learned about editing the template!)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Random update

  • I'm back in my old house. It still feels weird that it feels so normal and so strange to be back all at the same time.
  • We haven't even thought about unpacking, even though our stuff arrived 2 days ago. We also have no dining table & need to remedy that soon! For that matter, we haven't even bought groceries, & my husband's out getting toilet paper & a few essentials right now.
  • We've had contractors in & out since we've been here. We were trying to get a lot done on the house before we got back, so I was a bit stunned to come in & find our toilet in the living room (!), and so much stuff unpainted & undone. A lot of it has been completed since we returned, but there's still more. (And we can't afford a bit of it...)
  • We finally got the kids enrolled in school today. But they won't start school until Tuesday (Monday is a teacher workday).
  • The kids and I were amused to find a small new shopping center near our house here, featuring a Baskin-Robbins next to a Firehouse Subs. We had never seen Firehouse Subs anywhere but Sarasota before, and there were Baskin-Robbins all over Sarasota, but I only knew of one in Austin, which was probably 15 miles from our house. So this seemed like a piece of Sarasota here in Texas! And in fact, one of the Baskin-Robbins in Sarasota was also next door to a Firehouse Subs.
  • A few things have closed down here since we left, but luckily nothing I cared too much about: an Albertson's grocery store, and 2 local restaurants I didn't like anyway.
  • I went to the library yesterday and renewed my library card, which I'd never gotten rid of. I was stunned when they were able to pull out my original paper library card application from 8 years ago in a matter of seconds! I checked out 4 books--The Class Trip from the Black Lagoon for my 2nd grader, and the following 3 kids' and YA books for me: Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci, The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen by M.T. Anderson (the sequel to Whales on Stilts, which I loved), and Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen.
  • I read all of Boy Proof yesterday, and enjoyed it. The protgonist, Victoria a.k.a. Egg, reminds me of my YA protagonist Lydia in some ways, since both are actively anti-social, though Egg has some strong interests to motivate her (film and photography), and Lydia could probably use some!
  • I am completely exhausted thinking about all the things we need to do here (get new driver's licenses, change addresses on all accounts & subscriptions, get our car fixed & inspected, get haircuts, unpack our whole house, buy everything we need for a baby, find a job for my husband, etc.!).
  • I think this move is harder than the last one, at least for me, because last time my husband went 2+ months ahead of us so we already had a lot set up when we got there. This time, we're just scrambling. But I think, once everything calms down a bit, it will be nice to be back in Texas. It already is nice having all our favorite things & restaurants around us, but it will be nicer when we're more settled in!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Back in Texas

The boys & I arrived safely in Texas today! We flew back, with no problems or delays at all with either of our flights. Now we're visiting my parents for a few days while my husband drives from Florida to Texas. It feels weird to be back--actually, it mainly feels weird that it doesn't feel weird. And it was soooo good to get one of my favorite burritos in the world again. But after only a few, interrupted hours of sleep on an air mattress last night, I am extremely tired! Anyway, hi from Texas.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

15 years ago today...

...I got married. It's amazing that it's passed so quickly! Here we are on our wedding day:

After the wedding, we went to the Bahamas, where my husband wrote our initials in the sand:

For our anniversary today, I gave him a print of a beach scene personalized with our initials in a heart in the sand. I hoped it would remind us of our whole 15 years together so far, from the initials in the sand back then, to our 8 months living on the Florida coast this year. While the kids were in school, we had lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant here, then went to the Ringling Museum, a Sarasota must-see we hadn't seen yet, featuring an amazing mansion on the sea, some circus collections, and a fine art museum, among other things. It was very hot and I didn't feel too good, but all in all it was a pleasant day. I don't know if we'll do anything special for dinner or not! It wasn't the trip back to the Bahamas I'd always envisioned for our 10th (when we turned out to have a 7-month-old) or 15th anniversary, but considering that I'm pregnant and we're in the middle of a move, I think it was better than might be expected!

So...Happy Anniversary, Honey, and here's to the next 15 crazy years!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's a...


Which means boy #3 for me. I never imagined myself as the mom of 3 boys, but I guess that's who I am! This one looked healthy, measuring 2 days ahead (weight around 12 oz.), and was very active. My other boys are so active and high-maintenance, I was hoping for a calm one this time, but the tech said, "Maybe one of your other children will get calmer." Umm...and maybe cows will jump over the moon! This one is breech right now, but she said he has plenty of time to turn in 20 weeks.

So now we are stuck for a name! We've had a girl's name (Kara) picked out for 8+ years, but don't have a third boy's name for sure. Anyone want to help with our boy's name? Here is what to keep in mind:

* His brothers' names are Ryan and Kyle
* His middle name will definitely be Nelson
* Our last name is Dellenbaugh

Here are the top contenders in alphabetical order: Alex, Blake, Grant, Logan, Luke, Scott, Trent. Feel free to comment or suggest other similar names!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

And the week moves on...

We made it through a guy from the moving company walking through our house to see how much junk stuff we have to move, and then a separate visit from an appraiser our landlord sent over to appraise the house. Now it's just a matter of, oh, sorting and weeding everything we own and being all ready to move in about 2 weeks! (Not to mention getting work done on our house in Texas and my husband looking for a job.) Eek. The movers still have all the records from our last move since it was only 7 months ago, and mentioned that we'd moved 58 boxes of books. And that was with over 200 regular books and 40 kids' board books we left behind in Austin to give away! And when we moved to our Austin home 8 years ago, we had given away another 18 feet of books, mostly from my husband's grad school days. Wow, we've had a lot of books. Fortunately, we only unpacked about 1/3 of the books here, but I'm afraid we have bought some more here!

And now... it's about 24 hours until my big ultrasound!! I'm praying that (1) the baby is healthy, and (2) the baby cooperates enough for us to tell its gender! So far, we have 2 boys, and I've been a little nervous about the possibility of 3. However, my husband reminded me one day that he is the 3rd boy in his family (4th kid). Then I realized that I've actually gone out with at least four 3rd boys, and one 4th boy! I've gone out with a couple of guys who only had one sibling, older or younger, but I don't think I've gone out with anyone who had a younger brother at all. Only the youngest brothers, and most often in families of 3 or more. Isn't that strange? So, I can't say it's a bad thing for people to have 3 boys! And of course, it may actually be a girl. We hope to see tomorrow!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A super-spectacular day

Back in 1980, when I was 12 or 13, I bought a copy of MAD Magazine that came with this really cool plastic "flexi-disc" record featuring a novelty song called "It's a Super-Spectacular Day." It had multiple tracks in parallel grooves, so it played differently depending on where the needle of your turntable started playing the disc. The first bit of the song was the same every time, with a cutesy happy intro about the great day ahead, but you never knew which one of 8 different endings it would play, each describing a different way the day would disintegrate into something horrific. The lyrics are here, and sound files of all 8 versions are downloadable here (I was happily amazed to find these online recently).

Anyway, that's about how I feel right now, without the cheerful part at the beginning. 

So, do wake me up when September ends. Preferably in Texas. And then tell me whether my baby is a boy or a girl.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Moving stinks

Moving really, really stinks. I wish my 8-year-old would hurry and invent that transporter he's always wanting to invent so we could just transport ourselves and all our stuff to Texas without having to do all this moving business. Ecch. We're trying to get out by the end of the month, so my husband said today that our theme song should be Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends." But I can't wish for that, because then I'd miss my big ultrasound next week!

We signed our kids up for a 4-hour kids' night out thing at a craft place so we'd have time to work on the house uninterrupted tonight. So my husband just took them there...and it was last night. D'oh! All my fault, and I have no idea why I got confused about it. 


Friday, September 08, 2006

Writing & reading

Since leaving Austin, I've really missed the SCBWI group there. Here, the only thing I could find for children's writers was one critique group that met at a time when I couldn't go. There, I was used to large monthly meetings, many critique groups to choose from, and a couple of conferences or retreats per year. Here, the only conferences are in other parts of the state. In general, I've felt pretty cut off from the writing world since I've been here, apart from the Internet, though much of that is my own fault for not settling in more quickly or sitting down to write! But anyway...I'm going back, with a new appreciation of everything offered for writers in Austin. And since I'm having a baby soon, which will probably put me out of commission for a while (at least in terms of attending events), I decided that, income or no income, I'm going to the Austin SCBWI conference in October. It's just a one-day thing, but I expect it to be a breath of fresh air for my writing! I sent off my registration form last week.

Speaking of writing, I've read some this week. On the way back from Orlando on Tuesday, I started reading a novel called The Boy I Loved Before by Jenny Colgan. It's a British, chick-lit type thing, not something I'd normally read, but it has kind of a YA element, as the protagonist is a 32-year-old woman who wishes she were 16 again, and then magically is. (A bit like 13 Going On 30 in reverse.) But instead of going back in time to when she was 16, as she expected, she becomes 16 in the present day. It's a bit odd, since her parents also become younger, but no one else changes, and her old self no longer exists for most people, but several people she was close to still remember her the way she was.

At any rate, I read a few chapters of that, and then when we got home, I found in the mail an old YA book I'd ordered from an Amazon reseller--The Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School Handbook of Rules and Regulations, by Ellen Conford. It's from 1976 and I remembered reading and liking it as a teen in the early 80s. I sat down and read it through immediately! I still enjoyed it quite a bit. It turned out to be episodic, with each chapter based on one idea or theme from the school handbook, rather than having one plotline running all the way through. But for a 30-year-old novel, I was surprised how modern it still seemed. I'd think any YA reader today could relate to most of it (and to my surprise, there was even foul language--mainly the "s" word!).

After I finished that, I went back to the first book and read until I finished that one, too! So, two books in one evening. The Colgan book was a fun read, and I was surprised that there were actually several points of overlap between the 1976 YA book I had just read and the 2004 adult novel. There were a few similar characters and situations, and just general riffing on the mindsets of idealistic young people.

The Colgan book ended up similar to Back to the Future, in that the protagonist, once restored to her regular age, finds she has changed the timeline in such a way that her whole new history is different (an accountant at the beginning, she discovers at the end that she's now a teacher), and of course everyone around her has a newly happy ending. I have some trouble with this. Yes, it's happy that she now has a life she likes better than her old one, and seems to be ending up with the guy she really wanted, blah blah blah, but wouldn't it be a little freakish not to know your own history, and for everyone else in your family and circle of friends to have a different memory of your life and theirs than you did? I'm not sure I could accept that so complacently!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A last hurrah in Florida

When we moved to Florida, we promised the kids a lot of things. Of course we would go to Disney World, Universal Studios, the Nick Hotel, and a whole lot more. All in good time. And now our time here is up, and we hadn't done those things. This week, the kids were off Monday for Labor Day and Tuesday for a teacher workday. Wednesday, there was supposed to be a space shuttle launch. We realized it was probably our last chance ever to see a space shutte launch, and since the kids' school here has already had 9 more schooldays this year than the school they're about to change to in Texas, we decided we'd let them miss school Wednesday to see it. Without income, we couldn't swing Disney or Universal. And probably shouldn't have done anything, but figured we'd have one last hurrah, and took them to the Nick Hotel in Orlando for 2 nights before the planned launch. Since they are 5 and 8 and Nick cartoon addicts, they had a blast. We stayed at the hotel the whole time, except for a short excursion one afternoon to the big Lego store at the Downtown Disney shopping area. The pools were really cool, they saw a lot of people dressed up like Nick characters (they know they are costumes, but are still drawn to hug them...), and we went to a show where my husband got picked to go on stage, get dressed up like a big baby, and have water balloons thrown at (or rather, to) him. It was a hit.

The weather looked like it would cooperate for the shuttle launch, for once (our first day at the hotel, the kids had to swim in the pouring rain!), but of course, the morning of the scheduled launch, it was called off for technical problems. Sigh. So for the second time, we had driven across the state to see a launch that didn't happen. Instead, on our way home, we decided to stop in Tampa and visit the Museum of Science & Industry. They let us in free with our local science museum membership pass--a good thing, since their ticket prices would have cost us more than we paid for this pass!

And now...we're home, where we have to get ready to move. Considering that we moved here just over 7 months ago, and half our stuff is still in boxes in the garage, you'd think it wouldn't be that hard to get ready. But it is. Is it ever! And I've been putting it off like crazy. I wish I were an organized person. Maybe after this move I will be? Ha.

I have more to say, on the topics of reading & writing, but I'll save those for another post.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Weirdest thing my son asked me...

...about moving back to Texas.

"Will we see cowboys?"

Keep in mind that this child has lived in Texas for 5 of his 5.5 years, and to the best of my knowledge, has never seen a cowboy. I'm not sure why he thinks we might see one this time! LOL.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bye-bye, Florida

Long story short... My husband's department at work was dissolved and the multi-year project he was hired to work on was cancelled, so his job disappeared and we are moving back to Texas. We still have our house there and are only renting here, so it only makes sense, especially since there are far more high-tech jobs there. But, it's weird, and pretty unnerving when I'm 4 months pregnant! I'm not sure when we'll move, but probably in a month or less. (I did want to move back to Texas eventually, but I was hoping to do so with income!)

Saturday, August 26, 2006


My book is here!!! That is, our book is here, since a few of my online writer friends, as well as many other writers and illustrators, are also featured in it. That is, my contributor's copies of the Summer Shorts anthology arrived in the mail from Blooming Tree Press today! Hooray!

For those who get the book (and you should all buy one, if I say so myself), look for my poem, "High Dive," on page 69, and my short story, "Owen Nolan's Square-Wheeled Bike," on page 128. The whole book looks great! It features 360 pages of stories and poems for children (ages 7 up) by more than 40 writers, along with illustrations throughout by a variety of illustrators. I don't think it's officially released yet, but as soon as it is, I'll let everyone know how to buy a copy!

I also realized my second grader is old enough to read my story on his own now--I read it to him while I was working on an early draft, but that was probably 2 or 3 years ago, and I'm not sure he quite followed it. I'm pretty sure the story also changed after that. So I look forward to making him read it tonight or tomorrow and getting his reaction! (Though truth be told, both kids were just as excited by the free Blooming Tree Press pen than came in the package as they were by the book!)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Happy Birthday to me

Today is/was my birthday. As noted on my bio page, dolphins have been my favorite animal ever since I read Madeleine L'Engle's novel A Ring of Endless Light at age 13. I've seen plenty at places like Sea World, but hadn't ever seen one in the wild. Now that I live 20 minutes from a bay that's home to about 145 dolphins, I decided I'd like to see some for my birthday. So my husband took off work today, and we all went on a 2-hour dolphin watch cruise. The first hour was great...we were lucky enough to see a group of 3 dolphins, which apparently included a mother and baby, and they were close enough to see for at least 15 minutes. It was nearly impossible to get photos of them, especially with my slow camera, but here's one fuzzy shot. The water here is too shallow (4 to 6 feet!) for them to do leaps like they might in the open ocean.

It was, however, very HOT. It hasn't been as hot here as it apparently has been in the rest of the country--never seems to break 100, anyway--but it's very humid. It was 97 degrees with 65% humidity, and standing out on the open deck watching the dolphins for a while really got to me. I had to go down to the lower deck, which was mostly enclosed and at least had a fan, and I sat there nearly doubled over for 35 or 40 minutes trying not to pass out or get sick! The boat was very stable and there weren't many waves, but I guess I was just hot and dehydrated (and pregnant!). I think I missed another dolphin sighting during that time, but I didn't care. But after I rested a while and had 2 cups of water, I felt okay again. A shorter cruise would have been much better for us (the kids were bored by the end), but I guess they make them that long to increase the chances of spotting dolphins.

Because of the timing of the boat ride, my birthday meal plans got changed...we didn't feel like driving an hour away when it was already 1:00 and we hadn't eaten. I decided on Bennigan's, an odd choice because I've only eaten there maybe once in the past 10 years, but I decadently got both a steak and a bowl of French Onion soup! And luckily, they were so slow bringing the soup that they gave it to me for free! My 5-year-old spilled two drinks there after already spilling one on the boat...but we had a nice lunch. (Note: And my 7-year-old just dropped a drink in the kitchen as I was writing this!)

Later in the afternoon, we had a mini-party at home. I'd had absolutely no luck finding a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting at the local grocery stores a few weeks ago, after trying 7 stores, and that's what I wanted so I suggested to my husband that he try a local Amish restaurant that we knew served good chocolate cake. He ordered a cake from them, and when he went to pick it up yesterday, it was crazily lumpy. They felt so bad about it they offered to sell it to him for nearly half price, or to make a better one for today. He chose the discount cake, which is good because the regular price was too high! Today, it was even lumpier. But it tasted really good anyway! My presents included a "mask" drawn by my 5-year-old, and a 3D house made out of paper by my 7-year-old (with help from his dad), complete with a cute mail slot, tiny fake mail, and a bucket inside to catch it in! Oh yeah, and Oil of Olay from my mom! Talk about gifts that make one feel old... she also sent me an 80s compilation CD, which manages to take me back to my youth and make me feel old at the same time. ;-) She also sent along a foam tiara!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Who wants to be a superhero?

Yes, I saw the last 5 or 10 minutes of "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" on TV last night...not quite sure I get it. (Does the winner get to be a real superhero? Now that I'd like to see.) But what really prompted this post was the topic of names.

Before I had my first child 8 years ago, we'd picked the name Kara as a girl's name. It was just a name I had liked since childhood. We had a boy, and then another, so Kara's always been on the back burner. Now, since I'm expecting again, I started considering it again, and just found out this year that Kara is the "real" name of Supergirl (most incarnations of Supergirl, anyway). Shortly after learning that, I found out some DC Comics stamps were coming out this year, including 2 Supergirl stamps. I planned to buy 3 sheets of them, one to use and 2 to save as keepsakes for my possible Kara. 

So...the stamps came out last week, and as I went to buy them online, I realized I had a dilemma. I'd just found out my baby might be a boy. Why would I need 3 sheets of stamps with Kara/Supergirl if I wasn't having a Kara? My husband said to buy them anyway--I could always just use them for mailing. But 3 sheets? They're not that cheap, and I don't usually like using special stamps on everything. I already have a lot of Muppets stamps, children's book art stamps, Disney stamps, author stamps, etc., and never want to "waste" them on bills, so they hardly get used. 

So I joked to my husband that our only solution was to find a boy's name that was the alter ego of one of the male superheroes on the stamp sheet... About 2 minutes later, I added, "When I said we should find a superhero boy's name, I didn't realize Nicolas Cage had named his son Kal-El." My husband asked what search terms I'd used to find that out, and I said, "I wasn't searching for it, I just happened to be reading an article on Nicolas Cage!" Which was true. At the very moment I'd been talking to my husband about the stamp problem, I'd been holding the lastest Reader's Digest open to an article about Nicolas Cage, which I was about to start reading. How oddly coincidental to read about his son Kal-El just a moment later!

That got me thinking... I wouldn't name a child Kal-El, or Clark for that matter. I kind of like Kent, but I don't want sons named both Kyle and Kent (I know, Kyle and Kara both start with K's, too, but I picked Kara first!). So I decided to look up the names of the other superheroes. The best one ws Plastic Man--Patrick--but I wouldn't name a kid after Plastic Man! Others included Arthur, Oliver, Barry, Guy, and a lot of other names I wouldn't use for my child. Then I learned that the name of the most recent Green Lantern is...Kyle, my youngest son's name.

I then looked up the rest of us, and discovered we all have superhero alter egos! My husband's name is Mark, and there's a newer superhero named Invincible (from Image Comics), otherwise known as Mark Grayson. My oldest son's name is Ryan, and it turns out the newest Atom is Ryan Choi (and Atom fits my little scientist quite well!). Finally, I looked up myself, and found a superhero named Alison...Dazzler, who was once even known as "The Disco Dazzler"! She's a singer who started out in disco, later moving on...also a mutant who converts sound into light and energy beams, and has been associated with the X-Men. Totally cracked me up! So now do I have to keep the superhero thing going with the 5th member of our family? Heh. They are coming out with some Marvel Comics stamps next year, so at least we could expand our horizons...

By the way, I bought 2 sheets of the stamps. If Kara doesn't materialize, I'll just use them. I figure they'd be great for my sons' birthday party invitations! And in my ongoing loyalty to all things literary, I also got a sheet of Katherine Anne Porter stamps.

Friday, July 14, 2006


  • It is Bastille Day.

  • It is Cow Appreciation Day.

  • My youngest son is 5½ years old, and we'll be having a small half-birthday celebration for him (we started celebrating the kids' half-birthdays because his real birthday is close to Christmas, and a year is a long time for a small child to wait).

  • I am 11 weeks pregnant with our third child! The due date as of now is Groundhog Day 2007 (February 2). We've had a few scares with a dental emergency I had and a car wreck I was in that totaled our van, but we've seen the baby on ultrasound recently, and so far so good! :-)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Shuttle-free Saturday

Yesterday, we sort of impulsively decided to drive across Florida to try to see the space shuttle launch. One hour, we averaged 70 miles an hour. The next, the traffic was so jammed we only made it 10 miles in an hour! Then we had to have a long potty break for our we weren't on track to make it there in time, and it was just as well for us that they canceled the launch 10 minutes before the scheduled time. However, at the place on the highway where we were when we heard on the radio that it was canceled, there were cars lined up everywhere along the shoulder of the road, some with binoculars, so I'm assuming we could have seen something from there if it did happen!

So there we were, after 3 hours of driving with no launch to see! We were nearly there by then, so we decided to go on to Orlando, which we had never been to before. Not to see some exciting theme park or was already nearly 4 pm, after all...but to eat at Fuddrucker's! Fuddrucker's is one of our favorite burger places in the world and we knew that Orlando had the closest one to where we live now (ugh!). So we did that. I had no idea Orlando was so much like a little Las Vegas! (At least on International Drive where we ate.)

Then it was already 6 but we figured we should do something there, and realized our science museum membership card from Sarasota might get us into Orlando's science museum for free. Sure enough, it did, so we had a nice evening at the science museum with the kids, and saw a safari film on their 8-story domed screen. Then drove back home afterwards, returning home at 11:30 pm! I was tempted to get a hotel room for the night in Orlando and try to see the launch again today, but we decided not to spend the money when they said there was still a 60% chance they wouldn't launch today, either. So, we may try again for a future launch!

In scarier news, right before we left town, I saw a big snake on our porch! It was moving fast, but appeared to be black and maybe 2½ feet long. It was headed off the porch, into some grass and plants, and we lost track of it...scary! My kids play outside all the time, usually even barefoot. Now I'm not sure what to do! I'm particularly freaked out because I know there is/was a water moccasin in the creek behind our house. They are swift, aggressive, and deadly. I am just hoping a water moccasin wouldn't have wandered that far from the water, but who knows? Shudder!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Oh, by the way, you're in imminent danger...

When my radio alarm went off this morning, I heard the DJ say my county was currently under a tornado warning. Warning. That means an actual tornado has been spotted. When I said I was moving to Florida, everyone said that at least hurricanes give you advance notice, unlike the tornadoes Texas is prone to. But yay, great, I get tornadoes here, too! So I jumped out of bed and turned on the TV. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing! I could not find ANY mention of this tornado, except in a small ticker running across the bottom of the screen on 2 channels: the national Weather Channel, and a local weather channel that just displays radar images & abbreviated forecasts, but does not have live humans on it. That's it.

The closest news channels are mostly from Tampa, and while some of them were discussing Tropical Storm Alberto, which is brewing in the gulf, many were just chuckling about whatever else struck their fancy and talking about national news. Hello?? I'm about to be blown away here and no one is mentioning it. The "Sarasota news" channel is only replaying taped human interest stories from the past week. They don't even have a ticker about looming danger. Meanwhile, the ticker on the other 2 channels is telling me to go immediately to an interior room of my home and put a mattress over my head. I was kind of in shock. My good interior closet was piled up with unpacked boxes & stuff like that & I tried to frantically start removing things. But I was furious, too. This county isn't even that big, so any danger they spotted is danger for me. In Austin, if there was a tornado warning anywhere in the viewing area, that would be all you'd hear about on any of the local channels, including the local news channel with mostly human interest stories. But here, I could get no information. I am not happy to live in a town without its own real TV channels! And the local newspaper only updates its web site once a day when it puts out a new paper, so I've never found a way to follow current or developing local news. The highway was closed down for hours one day when I was trying to take my mom to the airport, and I never could find out why, despite searching for relevant information that day and the next.

So, we never managed to get better information or get our kids out of their windowed rooms before the tornado warning expired, which was 15 minutes after I found out about it. The kids could have been blown away in their sleep if the tornado hadn't dissipated on its own. I finally found a Tampa station that at least seemed to be talking about the weather and showing maps that included Sarasota. We are all under a Tropical Storm Warning & Flood Watch, so I have no idea what I'm supposed to do or whether I should avoid taking the kids to their Vacation Bible School today that's only a few miles from the coast.

I am already at my quota of tornado warnings for this year (I rarely got more than one a year in Austin, if that), so right now Florida is racking up negative points in my book, as it surely will for the rest of the storm season, if we live that long!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

17 years later

It's June 11, which means I met my husband 17 years ago today! We met at a Jason's Deli restaurant in Arlington, Texas (with mutual friends), so every June 11, we celebrate by going to Jason's Deli. There isn't one where we live now, so we drove an hour to Tampa to find one. Yum! They have excellent broccoli cheese soup--even our kids love it. Also huge stuffed potatoes, though I just went with the salad bar today. Anyway, that was a nice celebration, and we stopped at a mall on the way home where the kids and I rode on a two-story carousel.

Another big event this week was my 5-year-old son's dance recital for his arts preschool. This dance school has so many classes they have 10 nights of recitals--last night's alone had 33 acts. And tickets were $14 apiece, even for us! Eek. But his dance was REALLY cute, really good, and a real showstopper. Of course, part of the appeal was the adorable little boys in tuxedos (3 in this case, dancing with maybe 7 girls), especially when there were only 5 boys performing the whole evening! But my son did really well, knew his part wonderfully, & had a big smile to boot. He's quite the performer. Here's a pic I took of him before his first performance of this dance at his preschool graduation a few weeks ago:

Oh, June 11 is also Owen Nolan's birthday in my short story "Owen Nolan's Square-Wheeled Bike," coming out this summer in the Summer Shorts anthology from Blooming Tree Press! The date worked really well for my story, since I needed a date near the beginning of summer, but I picked that particular date because of meeting my husband that day. So, Happy Birthday to Owen, and I hope you got a good present this year. ;-)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Days of our lives

We had a really good weekend. Friday night, the kids went to a "kids' night out" thing, while my husband and I had a nice dinner at Steak & Ale, then went to the beach & just watched the ocean for a while. The next day was a full but pleasant Saturday. In the morning, the kids went to the circus kids' club, where they got to walk on a (low!) tightrope, balance plates and peacock feathers, juggle scarves, and do tricks with a hat. Then we had lunch, got haircuts, stopped for ice cream (and pinball--haven't seen that in years!), and later spent sunset at the beach my husband and I had scoped out the night before, with the boys playing in the water and digging in the sand. Other than one mini-meltdown my 5-year-old had at circus club when my husband dared to try to help was a rather nice day!

Right now I'm having an unpleasant situation with a tooth infection that will probably require a root canal. This is particularly alarming at the moment for reasons I'll get into later...but anyway, I've been on antibiotics for a few days so I'm feeling much better, and tomorrow I have an appointment to find out what's really wrong and what will need to be done. Let's just hope the dentist's office doesn't make me wait TWO HOURS again or play Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in the room where I'm waiting again, or I may just pull my own teeth out! And the dr's waiting room I was in last week was playing Days of Our Lives the whole hour I was in is not appropriate waiting room material, IMO, and made me long for headphones, or that root canal. Whatever happened to magazines?!

This will be a crazy week. The kids have Vacation Bible School every morning at a church that's really far away. I have a dentist appointment on Monday afternoon & a dr's appointment Friday afternoon, so those two days they're staying in after-care at the church (assuming they're still invited back on Friday after they stay on Monday...!). Wednesday afternoon, my 5-year-old has a dress rehearsal at a theatre in town for his preschool dance recital, which is a pretty big deal. Thursday morning, he has a kindergarten screening at the public school (testing what he knows, I guess), from which we'll have to rush to VBS. Then Saturday night is the big recital. We had to pay $14 per ticket to even go see it! Crazy. And Sunday we plan to go to Tampa, an hour away, to eat at Jason's Deli, because we met at a Jason's Deli (in Texas) 17 years ago that day!

We planned to go to Kansas at the end of the month for our niece's wedding. Her brother got married there yesterday and she is getting married there in a few weeks. But the airfare alone looked like it would be $2000! Then we'd have to get a rental car, hotel for a few days, and babysitting for our kids during the wedding... Looked like it would be at least $3000, and while we'd love to see the relatives, we couldn't swing that! But, I hope we can find some vacation option for this summer. I'd hate to do nothing at all! My husband's 20th high school reunion is next month in Texas, and I'd love to go to that just to go to Texas (burritos! decaf Dr Pepper!), but again, the plane fares we are finding are ridiculous. I guess it has to do with fuel prices.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

My mother-in-law

Hey, this is cool, there's an article about my mother-in-law, who is blind and just made her own cookbook, in the Kansas City paper.

Hooray, it's a rotten day!

It's a gloomy, rainy day and I'm in a gloomy, worried mood and not feeling good. But I suppose that's appropriate because this is Oscar the Grouch's birthday, and time for our 3rd annual Oscar's Birthday Party! My older son started this when he saw something about Oscar's birthday in a Sesame Street Magazine calendar a couple of years ago--it's just a mini-party for our family. Over the years I've managed to get an Oscar shirt and socks for myself, and I found Oscar party cups & goody bags, & each of our boys will get icky goodies like a little toy trash truck, gummy bugs, and some Shrek "ogre ooze." I also found some streamers & stickers with Oscar on them. At our party, we will read a book about Oscar, drink green Kool-aid from bags (a little like trashbags), make "goop" from cornstarch & water (try this if you never's cool!), spray green silly string, and eat dirt & worms (actually chocolate pudding with crushed Oreo bits and gummy worms in it). The first year we did it, we also made mini-Oscars out of green pom-poms, googly eyes, and film canisters for the trash cans, but I wasn't up for that this year. We cap the party off by watching videos of the Oscar songs "I Love Trash" and "Doin' the Grouch" (the latter of which is a dance-along video, & that's where they say to have a rotten day), and cap it all of with a showing of the movie Elmo in Grouchland, which Oscar is in. It's all a little weird, but...we're all a little weird, and tend to be an over-celebratory family in general!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Writing rewards

My son came home from first grade today with a "Certificate of Excellence" for "outstanding performance in WRITING." Under that it says "Awesome Author Award," and he also got a sparkly blue dogtag necklace with "AWESOME AUTHOR AWARD" screen-printed on it. I asked if he got it for writing a story, and he said, "I got it for a writing a good story." I haven't gotten to see the story yet, but it's apparently about a "shiny shell thief." I asked if everyone in his class got a certificate, and he said only one other kid got one besides him. So, I thought that was pretty cool! He has also written a couple of stories about Neopets lately (fanfic, if you will) that I thought were rather well done for his age. He's really going to give me a run for my money when he gets older, since I just write, and he can write and do amazing things with math & science!

As for me, I found a check in the mail today for my pieces in the upcoming Summer Shorts anthology from Blooming Tree Press. Hooray! Even though I sold the pieces about a year ago, this was the first money I've gotten from my writing since 2004, so getting that check made me feel validated as a writer again! I can't wait to see the anthology when it comes out.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

An update that wasn't worth the wait

So I apparently said I'd post an update soon...guess I missed the "soon" part! And I'm still way busy. Right now we're trying to get ready for my mom to visit from Texas in a few days, and our house is so not going to be ready. We never really unpacked everything, & now we just seem to be shifting stuff around & I still don't know where to put anything. There aren't enough places and our things aren't organized well to start with. We also have to put together a futon for her to sleep on, and I don't know if it's going to get done. I'm a bit panicked. Then there's stuff going on with the kids' schools and the end of the school year coming up, and we have no plans at all for summer, except going to at least one wedding out of state. Everything feels very haphazard right now, and I'm not writing, either. I hope things will look pretty different in a few weeks.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Not down the rabbit hole

Just so you know, I am alive. Horribly busy. Planning to update soon, but between egg hunts & last-minute taxes, I doubt I can manage more than this today. So if you don't hear from me again, Happy Easter weekend!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Destined to be a Pepper

Check out this new Dr Pepper can design from my latest 12-pack:

It's hard to read, but it has a big 23, surrounded by the words "AUTHENTIC BLEND OF 23 FLAVORS."

23 has been my favorite number since I was a kid. And I live on Dr Pepper. That just seems...cosmically cool somehow.

And while I'm on the subject, I just found out that the Dr Pepper commercial with Meat Loaf singing "I'd Do Anything for Love" is online here. That's my favorite commercial in years! (All my favorite commercials seem to be drink other all-time favorites are the first "Got Milk?" commercial, the one that was set at the Aaron Burr museum, and the Sprite commercial with the little animated sun that jumped off the orange drink bottle, causing the mom & kids to run for their lives.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Detective Day (and a dreadful dream)

This morning, I woke up from one of those wretched dreams where it's almost the end of the semester and I haven't been to class. The math is always impossible to make up, and in this one I also had to write a very long, detailed paper analyzing Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, which I hadn't read. Those are some of the few mornings when I'm glad to wake up!

Then I took the kids to a library event for beginning readers. It was advertised as a dectective book party for ages 6-8, focusing mainly on Nate the Great and Young Cam Jansen. My 7-year-old, Ryan, loves Nate the Great & Cam Jansen, and my 5-year-old, Kyle, is an early reader himself, so I took them both. I was surprised that out of 18 kids in attendance, all of whose parents chose to bring them to a detective-themed reading event, Ryan was one of only 2 kids who was familiar with Nate the Great, & one of only two kids familiar with Cam Jansen. These are fun books, people--check them out! Anyway, the Cam Jansen girl knew all about Cam Jansen, but the other Nate the Great boy had only read one book about him for school. So Ryan ended up answering more than half of the questions about detectives and the characters, even though he's normally shy enough he couldn't bring himself to share his favorite food at the beginning of the meeting. Kyle also answered a few! Then, they had a secret code to solve and said the first to solve it would get a prize. Ryan was first, except for one girl who had done it before the kids were told to, so he got the prize, though they later gave prizes to everyone who figured it out. (Once I showed Kyle how to get started, he eventually got it, too.) They did some reading & singing (the singing could have gone over better than it did...), & talked about mind-mapping for ideas. At the end, the librarians made pancakes for the kids from the pancake recipe in a Nate the Great book. My kids love pancakes & got to help stir the batter, so it was a really nice event for them! Kyle even behaved until it was time to go. (Then, he very much didn't.)

Blog Entry Update: I'm sitting on my bed with the laptop, and Ryan just brought me a tiny, intricately folded piece of paper, that is "To: Mom" and "From: R and K," addressed to me at "Mom's bed, Last house, (Our) Road." I unfolded it to find this message: "Need help building time portal." Under that are a picture of an envelope in a circle, and the words "mini envelopes inc." He told me that last part was the name and logo of the company that made the message. This is a glimpse of life in my house! (But sadly, I have no idea how to build a time portal! No worries--he and his brother will surely figure it out.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Since I last blogged...

  • We took our kids to the County Fair. It was pretty fun, though wildly expensive. A highlight was the racing pigs (see them on video!). So now I've seen racing pigs and swimming pigs (back in the day...).

  • In the evening, when we had babysitting, my husband & I returned to the fair sans kids and rode some big rides. The best was, I think, called the Spin-Out. Was it worth $5 a pop? I'm not sure, but I think everyone should occasionally have that experience of being whipped through the air at crazy speeds, seeing bright lights and hearing carnival sounds all around, not knowing if you're right side up or upside down, and not having a care in the world. (The other ride we rode, though, gave me plenty of cares, as I would have sworn I was about to be hurled at great speed into a Winnebago. Or at least, that something would get hurled... It just wasn't fun!) Despite my belief that rickety carnival rides are disasters waiting to happen, there were some truly magical moments there. (I also had a new appreciation for the dunk tank guy after reading David Lubar's novel Dunk!)

  • I saw two magic shows. The first was at the fair with my husband. My favorite trick was when he set the inside of a pan on fire, closed the lid, then removed the lid and a (non-burnt) ferret came out. The second magic show was one for kids this morning at the library. Note that the two magicians used at least 4 or 5 of the same jokes! Magicians of the world, please learn some new jokes. Naturally, out of 60 or 70 kids in the audience, my 5-yr-old monster was the only child acting up. I had to wrangle him twice & hold him on my lap as he struggled to escape. Fun.

  • I read the latest Newbery winner, Criss Cross. I wrote up a lot of thoughts on it for an online book discussion earlier, and made a copy of those thoughts here.

  • I read about 2/3 of the friendship book, which is very insightful, and all of the photo book by teenagers with cameras. What surprised me most about that was how little the teenagers seemed to be learning or doing in school--the classes seemed to be mostly busywork or note-taking with little interaction, so they were falling asleep in class instead of having lively discussions. Sad! I was also surprised so many of them were talking on cell phones, using iPods, etc., even during school.

  • My family tried to watch the first Harry Potter movie last night, which was my kids' first direct exposure to the HP stories (but my oldest has often been told he looks like Harry so we figured he should at least know who that was). However, the DVD of it we got from the library was in such horrible shape, we could not get it to play certain parts even after stopping to clean it and trying all kinds of fast-forwarding, backing up, etc. The sound kept going out, too. We had to skip a few short parts and rely on my poor memory to let the kids know what had happened. Finally, when Harry was supposed to get his invisibility cloak but we absolutely could not get the scene to play, we gave up. That's too good of a part to miss! We'll have to try a video store tonight.

  • I gave up on trying to revise my novel by today to submit it to Carolrhoda Books (today was the deadline in their call for submissions). But I'm still glad they called for submissions, because it got me over a hurdle with the manuscript and I'm getting stuff done!

  • My kids started Spring Break. Somebody save me from Spring Break! I doubt I'll get much writing done this week.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Friends and the library

Hello, my name is Alison and I blog too much. I’ve long said that writing begets writing, and now I see that blogging begets blogging. The more I blog, the more aware I become of more things to blog about. And you’re stuck with the result.

Anyway, I went to the library tonight, with my laptop. I freaked out a little because the YA section of this library says, "This section is for teens only after school & on weekends." Uhh...does that mean no aspiring YA writer with a regular day job can check out a YA book?!!? I don’t have a day job, so I can work around this, but it doesn't seem fair. And will they bar me in the summer? I snuck in anyway, furtively, and grabbed a copy of the Newbery winner, Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. I thought Newberys were nearly always midgrade. Odd.

I rarely get books from the adult section, but today I got 3, all with sub-titles:
  • My So-Called Digital Life: 2,000 Teenagers, 300 Cameras, and 30 Days to Document Their World (obviously for my YA research!)

  • Sudden Fiction (Continued): 60 New Short-Short Stories (I have the first Sudden Fiction anthology & thought these would be quick reads & expand my fiction horizons a little)

  • Connecting: The Enduring Power of Female Friendships
That last choice is an odd one for me, especially since I don’t particularly have any close female friendships at the moment, but I’m just curious about the nature of friendship (female or otherwise), and wanted to research it for my YA. It seems to me that friendship--in particular, how we choose our friends and whom we develop rapport with--involves a kind of chemistry not completely unlike that in romantic relationships. I mean, people don’t usually become friends with just anyone, and I don’t think life stage alone is enough to base a relationship on. People often expect that moms with kids in preschool will make friends with other moms from the same preschool, but just being at the same place in life isn’t enough, really. If it were, everyone in a high school class might be friends with each other, and that’s not how it is. Nor is it just about hobbies or shared interests... even though we may have a natural affinity for others with the same interests or goals (like my general affinity for other writers), we still became closer to some people than others, even if we like them all. One would also think it had to do with outlook on life, and there’s definitely something to that, but it’s not as simple as sharing the same views. What particularly interests me is that some of the people I’ve hit it off with the best are people who, on the surface, are nothing like me. I may disagree with them vehemently on some core issues, and still feel some sort of bond with them that I don’t feel with everyone else in the same group. My theory is that it has something to do with personality type, but surprisingly, I can find very little written on the subject of how and why people become friends.

While countless books, magazine articles, and websites dissect and theorize about what attracts people to one another romantically, the "chemistry of friendship" seems almost completely overlooked. But I think it’s important, and interesting, and it’s something I’d like to understand more for my YA. Why does my character feel so little ability to fit in with those around her, and what is it that draws her to the people she is drawn to? Can she learn to change how she feels about the people around her? This was something I struggled with in my late teens, and I wasn’t sure where or how to find like-minded people, or what a like-minded person might look like. Like minds don’t always look alike to other people. So, if anyone has any books or other resources to recommend on this subject, let me know! I’ve already scouted out everything the local libraries and Amazon have to offer, and so far I’m coming up pretty short. (I did order one out-of-print book that seems to address this subject, but that’s about it.)

Now, drumroll, please. Rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-tat: Ta-da! While at the library, I made some changes to the actual text of my novel! I only got to write about a paragraph before the library closed, but I started this revision! And started making notes about the current structure, scene by scene, and realized that one minor character might be more important to the story than I'd thought. I was really moving along and then the library had to close. But I may go back in the morning while the kids are in school. It's easier to concentrate there. (Too bad next week is Spring Break & I won't have any time to myself then!)

Moving forward

I still haven’t changed a word of my YA novel this year. (Well, okay, I did fix one typo.) But…I am still making progress for the first time in ages!

Yesterday I sat down with the manuscript file and stared at the first few pages in confusion for a while. As usual, I had no idea what to do with it or where to start. I decided I needed to understand the point of the book once & for all. I needed to make it really, really clear in my own mind what my character, Lydia, wants, and why. I opened a new document & started making notes.

The more notes I made, the more I understood Lydia. The more I understood that she does have a story, a real story that is actually worth writing. I understood more clearly why the events in the book are a big deal to her, and why she reacts as she does. I finally figured out at least a little more about her relationship with her mother, which isn’t explored much in the current draft. And I understood how people could care about her even when she seems not to care much about anything. I realized to my amazement that this tiny spark of an idea I had, initially just something vague about a girl not liking her neighbor, could grow into something complex that delves into childhood hurts, family relationships, and fragile emotions, and makes statements about life and friendship. Something that has three-dimensional characters I can see and hear and care about. Something I might even be able to be proud of writing! I am excited by all the things I discovered in my story, many of which I didn’t even put there on purpose! It mostly came out of my subconscious, and even after I wrote it, and even after my first critiques, I still didn’t see it all. I still didn’t see where it was going or why it mattered, or if it could matter or not make everyone yawn. And now, after a critique that opened my eyes, I see so much more to it. Stuff I’ve still got to chip away at or build up to show to the reader--but stuff that I now know is waiting to come out!

One good thing is that I realized most of my trouble with this manuscript is chronological. Changing the order in which I tell things, or even the order in which things happen, may fix quite a few of the problems it has now. I'm also mulling over how to make something seem less coincidental. At any rate, I'm thrilled with my new insights into the story. And when I ever get a chunk of time to myself again, I'll see what I can do with it!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

So Much to Say

S is the Sound of the Day
After typing the rest of this post, I realized all my headings, including the title, started with S. Which is appropriate, because S is the letter of the week at my son's preschool, & he had to bring snacks with an S theme today. (We took cinnamon sticks & string cheese--they just called them sticks & strings.)

Sons & School
On the bright side, my older son got his first report card from his new school today. It's quite complicated as report cards go--lots of codes and legends to decipher, etc. Anyway, he got all A's in the subjects that have letter grades, and satisfactory or outstanding in everything else. He also got a report about some testing he did on a computer that put his math level as 4th grade & his reading level as the end of 4th grade, so that's pretty good considering he's in 1st grade! On the not-so-bright side, I found out my younger son is having social trouble at preschool. His friends aren't playing with him much anymore, and I think that's part of why he's been in such a rotten mood lately, though I'm not sure what to do about it.

Scrubbing Bubbles
A month or so ago, on a whim, I sent a photo of our shower into an online cleanest & dirtiest shower contest from Scrubbing Bubbles (in the cleanest category, thank you very much!). The showers rated cleanest & dirtiest each day by web site visitors would win automatic shower cleaners. I forgot about it after that, but I must have been rated cleanest one day because I found a huge box on my porch today containing an automatic shower cleaner! It's some kind of thing where you push a button & it sprays bubbles everywhere to clean the shower without your doing anything. It's supposed to be worth $40, so that's pretty cool. I've always loved the Scrubbing Bubbles anyway--I even have a toy one!

My "baby" brother is currently in flight on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Zurich, Switzerland! Wow, wish it were me! He apparently has a travel agent friend who finds these last-minute deals every now & then, so a few of them decided to go.... I hope he at least sends me cheese. (Also wishful thinking. But chocolate would melt in my mailbox!)

We have a creek near our house, & I just saw what I think is a water moccasin in it! Although it moves fast, which this site says is more common in a nonvenomous water snake, it definitely swims on top of the water with its head up, like a water moccasin. Scary. I really hope my kids don't fall in the creek. In general, the area around our house has so many wildlife noises it makes me nervous. Most of it seems to be lizards (they are noisy when scurrying in bushes) & squirrels, but something larger (I hope just raccoons) keeps knocking over our trashcan, & now I'm worried about snakes. I was reading that water moccasins may even zoom out of the water to attack someone on the bank!

A few days ago I downloaded the old Donovan song "Sunshine Superman" from iTunes. I'd been wanting it for a while, but wasn't sure which version to pick since they had a bunch and they were all very different lengths. I finally just picked one from a 60s hits compilation. Today I got around to playing it, only to find out it wasn't the original version! I mean, it wasn't even Donovan!! Even though he was listed as the artist! Can they do that?! I went to iTunes & found several user reviews complaining that the compilation did not use the original artists. Bizarre. That reminds me of when I ordered a double-album set of disco hits from TV as a kid, only to find out that even though the original artists were named in the commercial, the songs on the records were actually performed by "The Homestead Singers." Eek! (Though I kind of wish I still had that album now...!) Anyway, I paid another 99 cents to download an actual Donovan version of the song. Then after I played "Sunshine Superman," the next song my iTunes picked to play, in random shuffle mode, was "Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down! Spooky... (Which reminds me, I was just listening to Sufjan Stevens' song "Casimir Pulaski Day," but now I guess I should switch to his song, "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts.")

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Remedial revision

Yesterday I read over the last critique I got on my YA novel. It is truly an excellent critique (2½ single-spaced pages), and cuts right to the heart of things. When I first got it, I felt like I finally had something to work with--somewhere clear to start in rewriting. But then I still didn't manage to do it.

Reading the critique again, I was amazed by all the positive comments in it. For instance: "interesting characters," "I'm rooting for her," "very touching," "readable and engaging," and the wonderful "well worth writing and well worth reading." It still needs an overhaul, especially in structure and depth, but after reading all that I realized I really do owe it to myself, and this manuscript, to stick with it and not give up now as I've halfway done.

But...taking the critique yesterday morning and sitting down with my manuscript, I still had no idea what to do. I feel like I need a remedial course in revising. I want someone experienced to sit with me and show me, practically and physically, where they would put the cursor in my document (or even in a new, blank document) and what they would do from there! I have substantially revised a bunch of short stories & feel I've got a decent idea how to do that, but novels seem like a different creature. Even if I break it into smaller chunks like another wrier suggested, taking out one peg seems to knock down the whole structure, & I don't know how to rebuild it without cramming some pegs back in where they don't belong.

I know I just need to experiment with it and be open to where that may lead, but I feel like I'm trying to perform a play when I don't know my lines, or where to go on the stage. Of course the entire novel is just improvised in the first place, so the answer is to improvise, but now I feel like there's something there to screw up! So, I wish I had a hands-on course in Revision 101, but in any case, I have renewed enthusiasm now for trying to salvage the thing.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Nothing in moderation

Well, almost nothing in moderation, I'm afraid. I do eat & drink in moderation, except for Dr Pepper, which I have an unseemly addiction to. But in general, I am SUCH an all-or-nothing, feast-or-famine type of person. Much of the problem is I'm terrible at transitions. It's hard for me to start anything, & it's hard for me to stop anything. I write nothing for long stretches, or I write a 60,000-word novel in 17 days, while simultaneously writing an article and 12,000 words on another novel. I don't blog for a week or two, or I post 4 times in one day. When I read a book, I nearly always read it straight through in one sitting, which is probably one reason I prefer children's & YA novels to adult ones! (If I have to leave a book sitting for a while, chances are good I will never get back to it.) Even when I'm reading to my kids for bedtime, I have a hard time stopping until I've read the whole book aloud...even if it's an 80-page chapter book and it's nearly 10:00 at night! And my ideal vision for my house is something so perfect & so organized that even the toilet paper roll would be perfectly centered on the dispenser, with no rips or uneven edges on the first piece. Not being able to manage that regularly, I tend to give up & just block out the clutter piling up around me or the dishes in the sink, and step over stuff on the floor without really noticing it.

The other day I got some software that's supposed to help you learn to sing (yeah, the one they advertise on TV, that has the microphone & lets you track your pitch in real time...I'm a sucker, although I bought it from Amazon, not TV). It starts with a series of 20 lessons, and then you can do freeform exercises or singing practice. I thought I'd spend a few minutes setting it up & then get back to it later, but after I set it up, I sat there singing for hours until I'd finished all 20 lessons! (The singing itself was both encouraging and frustrating. I was shocked I didn't completely bomb all the sections, and in fact aced most of them quickly. Then I moved to the freeform part and it all fell apart. But the fact I could hit any notes accurately at all was a happy shock after years of singing shame!) And then there's Tetris, which grabbed me back for a while last week after a several-year hiatus...thank goodness I'm back out of Tetris obsession mode right now.

So, writing ideas are no exception. I'm bursting with ideas. More than I've managed to even write down or remember. But it's hard to stop the flow of new ideas long enough to choose one of them and block the others out. I've got a list of 9 novels I feel pretty committed to writing (including the 1 that I already have a whole draft of). Then I have an idea for a midgrade series, and 5 other vague novel idea possibilities. Now, I have come up with yet another idea! When I come up with an idea I like, I go through the novels I already have listed to see if I can plug my idea into an existing project idea. This time, it might work. Except, I have at least two ideas on my list that this idea might fit into! And those ideas are completely different, so I'm not sure where I'd want to use it. It might also work for my series idea. Meanwhile, I can see Lydia from my main YA novel rolling her eyes & wishing I'd just get back to her story so it can be over & done with. Then I might actually be able to justify thinking about another idea! Hang on, Lydia, I'm getting there!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Books, books, books

Last night I read Fly on the Wall, the new YA book by E. Lockhart about a girl who turns into a fly to spy on the boys. As with The Boyfriend List, I thought the author did a great job conveying the main character's humorous thought processes. I also took her "What's Your Fly Style?" quiz online, which said I'm a nosy fly. Well, sure, I'm a writer, I have to be a bit nosy about how other people live and think...but I'm really not a gossip! (Plus, if I change one answer to another I almost picked, I come out as a do-gooder fly.) Minor spoiler alert: I found it interesting that the book never explains the mechanism by which the girl becomes a fly. She wishes to be a fly on the wall, and she is. I once wrote a story about a girl who turned into a pig just by wishing it, and got taken to task for not explaining why/how her wish was granted. Apparently, Delacorte Press does not find this sort of explanation necessary. So there.

In other booky news, I finally got my voter registration certificate on Thursday, so I could finally get a library card here! (I needed some kind of ID showing I was a permanent resident, and there have been some hang-ups trying to get our cars registered or get driver's licenses...) I ran out immediately that day to get a card and check out a bunch of stuff. The library here has a rather odd automated check-out system, but I'm amazed you can check most items out for 3 weeks (we're used to 2), and that you check out up to 5 of each type of audio-visual item! Our old library had a limit of 2 total audio-visual items at a time, but this library has a much larger collection of them. I'm still getting used to the fact that Florida does nearly everything on a county basis, but I think that works well for libraries. We once had an Austin address but lived outside of the city limits, so we had no library available to us for free, and had to pay $54 per year for an Austin library card! Here, the library systems encompass whole counties so it doesn't matter if you're in the city limits or not. I think our closest library here is a pretty nice one, too. I'm not sure I like the children's section quite as well as at my old one, but the YA section seems much larger.

Then there's my own book. Or, there's not my own book. I haven't done a thing about my revision, except for printing out the critique I want to refer to. So, it's unlikely I'll have it revised in 8 days, but I may do something on it today. We'll see. I'm not quite ready to commit to it! (Also, I'm petrified to tackle it.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Return to Sendak

Today we went to the Tampa Museum of Art to see an exhibit called WILD THINGS: The Art of Maurice Sendak. I thought it was really fascinating. Unfortunately, my own 5-year-old wild thing made all kinds of mischief, so our time there was tense and we had to cut it short. He stomped around, threw himself to the floor, and kept demanding to leave. (If only I could have sent him across the sea to hang with the real Wild Things for a while!) I could have easily stayed another hour, but had to rush through it all in 15 or 20 minutes & didn't get to read most of the information. The exhibit included original sketches, artwork, & even some early manuscript drafts from many of Sendak's books, as well as a few large 3-D reproductions of his work, like a giant Wild Thing. There was a "Max's reading room" section where kids could relax to read Sendak's books, but my son would have nothing to do with it, despite being familiar with many of the stories and liking them. There was some video of his Really Rosie animated movie (I've mentioned before that we love the Carole King songs from this...many are available on the Where the Wild Things Are animated DVD), video of a Where the Wild Things Are stage musical, and some dioramas & soft sculptures of his Brundibar book & opera. All of this was accompanied by placards explaining Sendak's background and influences, and giving some insights into how his various projects developed. It was all very interesting and I wish I lived closer so I could return & see more! I did get a poster from In the Night Kitchen, which was one of my favorite books when I was little.

On the way out, we made an overly quick tour through the Classical World exhibit, with more than 400 objects from ancient Greece & Rome on display. I could have stayed there an hour, too, and that was my 7-year-old's favorite part of the museum. Unfortunately, my husband had to take our wild thing outside before he started a wild rumpus and/or knocked over an ancient statue, so my 7-year-old and I had to rush through that in just a few minutes. Argh. After the museum, we were happy to have a chance to eat at Jason's Deli. I met my husband at a Jason's Deli (we were dining with mutual friends), and our kids could eat gallons of their broccoli cheese soup. Unfortunately, there isn't one where we live now, but this one was maybe an hour away. So, at least we can go there for our 17th anniversary of meeting in June! Anyway, the 5-year-old decided to behave better at this point because he thought good behavior would make a fortune-telling fish we had work better for, whatever works.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Leapin' Leprechauns!

Top o' the mornin' to you! Or top o' the afternoon or evening or whatever it is for you.

My sons decided to make a leprechaun trap last night! It was the 7-year-old's idea, but the 5-year-old was all for it. First, they left a note at the bottom of the door: "To an important leprechaun: GOLD INSIDE!" Then they left a message on the wall inside directing the leprechaun to the bathtub. (And just in case the greedy leprechaun decided to raid the silverware drawer looking for silver, they put a copy of the same note inside the silverware drawer!) On the bathtub, they left a note directing him to the TV. This note, as written by my 7-year-old and printed out in green, says: "Now on from the bathtub and on to the TV, a place you watch shows till you're crazy like me." (Isn't that cute?! He even added a clipart pot of gold.) And in front of the TV, they left an upside-down shoebox labeled with a sign saying Gold. Inside of that they left an imitation gold coin from our recent pirate cruise as bait (my older son wouldn't use chocolate coins, saying "Everybody knows they're fake!"). The shoebox had a door & 2 tiny windows cut out in front (windows just big enough for the leprechaun to see the bait), but the door only opened from the top, and then would close, and was covered at the bottom in front so it couldn't be pushed back open. This was intended to keep the leprechaun trapped inside.

What they actually found when they opened the box in the morning was a note saying: "I was here but now I'm gone. You just can't catch a leprechaun!" There were also gold and silver-wrapped chocolate coins, some St. Patrick's Day magnets, & 2 green lollipops. The leprechaun left messages like "Sorry lads, you can't trick a leprechaun!" or "Ha! Ha! Can't catch me!" on the notes they had left, and left a few gold-wrapped chocolate coins by the notes in the silverware drawer & on the bathtub. Despite all the goodies, my older son was somewhat crestfallen not to have an actual leprechaun in his trap. (?! I can't figure out if he really expected a leprechaun to be in there or not!) He finally took some comfort in the chocolate.

This afternoon I have to bring snacks to his first grade class, so I'm taking shamrock cookies, more gold-wrapped chocolate coins (a different variety), & probably some green Kool-Aid. In the evening, we'll have our annual green dinner. This year, similar to most years, it's going to be spinach fettucine with pesto sauce and/or green-dyed Alfredo sauce, broccoli cheese casserole, and some green-dyed applesauce, with green-dyed Sprite to drink & lime popsicles for dessert. We thought we might try Key Lime Pie this year, having moved to Florida, but all the Key Lime Pie we could find was off-white, not green!

Anyway, I wish you all a lucky day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Revisions revisited

So there's a call for YA submissions right now at Carolrhoda Books, but they have to be postmarked by March 27. Which is, um...11 days from now. I'm trying to decide if I should try to revise my YA novel by then and submit it. It seems crazy, since it needs a major overhaul & I've theoretically been trying to revise it for three years, but then, I wrote the first draft in 17 days, so it should be technically possible. And I have fantastic critique notes to guide me this time, so I have more idea what I want to do with it now than I have since I wrote it. What it would take is the mindset, and I'm not sure if I'm up for that or not. When I wrote it, it became the only thing on my mind for those 17 days, and most other responsibilities went by the wayside. I don't know if I can do that now--it's not like I have a lot on my plate, but I have a lot to do today & tomorrow, so that already throws me off. But part of me thinks it would be a really good exercise, even if I don't finish in time for this round of submissions, just to make me finally buckle down & work on it in earnest! I don't think I've touched it in a year.

Silly retro musing of the day: Yesterday I heard the Tears for Fears song "Pale Shelter," and I heard a synthesizer noise that I thought sounded just like the one in No Doubt's cover of "It's My Life" by Talk Talk. I played the Talk Talk song to see if it was the same noise, and lo & behold, that noise isn't in it. So, did No Doubt take that noise from the Tears for Fears song? Or am I completely wrong about it being the same sound? I don't have the No Doubt version to check with. Ah well.