Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy things

1) My toddler did great at the Parents' Night Out the other night! He even seemed to like it! He was there 4 hours, and the worker was sad to see him go because she said he had such a great laugh!

2) Because of that, we got to go on a real date, without kids, for the first time in 18 months!!! (Technically the second time, but the first time we couldn't stay long and he did cry nearly the whole time we were gone.) He picked up some kind of stomach bug from the childcare that made him get sick about 20 times over the next couple of days...but it was worth it!

3) My husband finally finished reading my midgrade novel manuscript last week, and told me, "I don't see any reason why we won't be seeing this on the shelf at Barnes & Noble soon." :-)

4) To my amazement, Jennifer Ziegler's daughter and son both read and liked the aforementioned manuscript when I gave it to Jennifer to read, and her daughter, who is in the target age group, said it was her "favorite book ever"!! That was so unexpected and wonderful, it probably made it worth it to write the book even if it never gets published!

5) I get to look at this every day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday six

Six things on Friday, because alliteration is overrated.

1) My baby turned 18 months old yesterday and learned to jump off the ground with both feet in the evening! My other kids didn't learn that until around 2. This one keeps going, and going, and going... We took him to the children's museum during the day, and at night we had a mini half-birthday celebration for him with cookies he didn't care for and popsicles he definitely did.

The very happy half-birthday boy:

2) The older boys went to art camp this week at an ice rink. I went ice skating with them on Wednesday. It was fun, and I especially enjoyed the fact that skating rink music hasn't changed much since my heyday of skating in the 80s! I remember hearing The Doors, Journey, Howard Jones, and other stuff from the 80s or earlier. So, I may have liked it more than my kids did.

Blurry pic of me on ice, taken by my 7-year-old:

3. I need to finish my monthly garden article and turn it in. It's one of those months where I have so much great information, it's going to be really hard to make the article short enough!

4. We're trying a "Parents' Night Out" again tonight for all 3 boys. Last time we tried one, we were called to pick up the baby because he wouldn't stop crying. This was the first week he's ever played in the church nursery instead of crying or sleeping the whole time--still cried a lot, but played in the middle--so maybe it'll work, but I'm not getting my hopes up too high!

5. Our computer broke this week! Just what we need when we can't afford to replace it. It says it can't find the operating system--yikes. That's the family computer. I still have this laptop (with almost no hard drive space available...), so my husband is going to remove the hard drive from the other computer and hook it up to my laptop to see if the data is still accessible. I sure hope so, because it has our whole lives on, documents, music and audio clips, etc., going back about 13 years! A lot of it has been backed up, but I think we'd lose the last few months' worth.

6. I'm going to Austin SCBWI's "Day with an Editor" in September. I got in while there were still critique slots available--hooray! I think the whole thing is probably sold out by now.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Time management, tongue tattoos, & video

This morning I went to Austin SCBWI's monthly meeting to see P.J. Hoover talk about goal-setting and time management. She gave out the coolest thing after the meeting: personalized "tongue tattoo" fruit roll-ups with the name of her upcoming book, The Emerald Tablet, printed on them, along with her name and Oct. 2008 (the release date)! A friend of hers won personalized fruit roll-ups and gave them to her. Too fun!

Here are P.J. Hoover and author/illustrator Mark Mitchell showing off one of the fruit-roll ups. Unfortunately, the color in this photo is awful so you can't really see it! I don't think the fruit roll-up, which was reddish pink, was really the color of her shirt, which was somewhat orange. Oh well! P.J. (Tricia) and Cynthia Leitich Smith took close-up pics of a roll-up and will probably post those later. 

In other news, I pushed past my inexplicable bias against online videos and watched the much-ballyhooed Dr. Horrible videos last night... which turned out to be right up my alley. 

Then, probably because of that breakthrough in online video watching and my memory earlier this week of making lots of cassette recordings as a kid, it occurred to me that my digital camera will take short videos. I've used it many times to take family videos, but I just realized that I could do other things with it. So while my husband has been out swimming with all 3 boys this afternoon, I've been using it to practice reading my manuscripts out loud, and even doing some silly voices, singing, and all kinds of goofy stuff just to practice public speaking, etc.

Why didn't we have stuff like this when I was in theatre??? Okay, a couple of families had their own video cameras, but it wasn't common. They were new then, and I didn't really get to use them. I even bought a strange video camera in college so I could make my own short films, but it was bulky and didn't work with regular lighting, so it really wasn't useful. But if I could have taped myself rehearsing or working on stuff years ago, I think it could have made a big difference! Interesting... I can't see myself doing video blogs because (a) I don't really like them, and (b) I write partly because I'm more comfortable communicating in writing than in person. But every time I can see things in a different way, it inspires me!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Coming back to Earth

I still haven't come down from the high of the Awesome Austin Writers' Workshop this past weekend (see my entry about that), or recovered completely from my whole insane past week, which also included finishing a novel draft, getting my first-ever cat, getting major car repairs, and doing a whirlwind job of interviewing people and writing my monthly freelance column when the deadline got pushed up.

Yesterday, I never got out of my pajamas! I didn't sleep all day, but didn't leave the house, either (though my kitty cat went to the vet with my husband). Today, I'm slowly trying to get back to Earth. My house looks like a few clutter bombs exploded, so there's that to take care of, plus my older kids decided to share a room and we need to rearrange stuff in a few rooms because of it. But I also need to determine what's next on the writing front.

On the reading front, I can finally start reading The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, which I bought a few weeks ago and haven't had a moment to read. I also want to run out and get the new books of some of my fellow workshop participants, especially A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg and How NOT to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler.

As for writing, I have this newly drafted midgrade novel I need to figure out what to do with. With luck I can get it critiqued and get back to that later. Then I'm only 20,000 words into the novel manuscript I had critiqued at the workshop, and people there were after me to finish it (yikes, pressure!). I also have my old YA, which desperately needs a revision. My original idea was to work on the old YA next, to get a better handle on the YA form with something that's more complete, then come back to the new one and apply what I learned. But after the workshop, the characters from my new one are calling out to have their stories told!

Oh yeah, and a few photos from the workshop that I haven't already seen on other blogs...these are courtesy of Cynthia Leitich Smith. Also note Liz Garton Scanlon and Jennifer Ziegler have now blogged about this, too.

L to R: Liz Garton Scanlon, me, April Lurie (in the back row), Erin Edwards, Philip Yates

(I'm in the red again. That's Chris Barton in the center, Carmen Oliver with her back to the camera, and Julie Lake in the very back. Jennifer Ziegler is barely visible on the right.)

L to R: me, Jane Peddicord, Chris Barton (in back), Debbie Gonzales (in back), Greg Leitich Smith

L to R: Brian Anderson (in back), me, Philip Yates, April Lurie (behind Philip), Varian Johnson, Varsha Bajaj, Lindsey Lane

(And don't forget to read my previous AAWW post if you missed it.)