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 imdb.com, 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: http://dolphin23.blogspot.com/. 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!