Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Positive & purple

Happy, Happy New Year to all!!

It's resolution time again! I accomplished my primary resolution for 2008--to finish a stranded writing project--when I dusted off my middle grade novel manuscript and completed it. I didn't do as well in organizing my house, but did get more active for at least a while, participating in a race.

I'm sure I'll set various short-term goals in 2009, but instead of having a lot of individual goals to track from New Year's on, I'm setting only one main, overarching New Year's resolution, which is: Focus on the positive.

I don't just mean looking for the silver lining in bad situations. I'm pretty good at that already. I mean that, in nearly every situation, I hope to remind myself, "How can I respond to this in a positive, productive manner?" or "How can I approach this in a positive way?" So, when the kids whine "Mo-om!" for the tenth time in a row and I'd normally snap "What?!" in an exasperated way, I want to remind myself that won't make the situation better. Likewise, when I walk in the door after being out, I want to greet my family instead of immediately complaining about the mess. I want to notice the good things and say "thank you," instead of taking them for granted.

I also mean that I want to focus on the possibilities and things that could go right, instead of letting fear hold me back as I contemplate what could go wrong. When I face a challenge, whether it's revising a novel or organizing my kitchen, I want to replace "I can't do this," "This is too hard," "It'll never work," or "I'm going to fail," with "I can do this," or at least, "I can do some of this, and see what happens from there" "I'll give it a go," and "It might just work."

I hope to focus on the things that will lift me up, and that will lift up others around me. When I'm overwhelmed by the negatives, as I know I will be at times, I don't want to be overly daunted by them, but rather to dwell on the positive steps I can take to make things better and move things in the right direction.

I also expect this to be a purple year! The manuscript I finished in 2008, Purple Panic, is with an agent right now. Whether or not this agent offers to represent me, I plan to market that novel in the new year, so I've been getting into a purple mood. I'm wearing a purple shirt right now, to usher in the new year (I'll add a purple paper tiara or New Year's hat near midnight). I also bought a purple dress and a purple tote bag and even some purple high heels! So, here's to purple, and here's to a positive 2009!

2008 in review

I'll model this after my 2007 in review post, but with a few tweaks.

The year in summary: 2008 was a year of waiting for me and my family, with few real changes in our lives. It was a hard year. It had some bright spots, of course, but I'll be glad to see it go!

Most outstanding experience: The Awesome Austin Writers’ Workshop I attended in June

Some other great experiences: Connecting with old & new friends online; a trip to Galveston in April; several Austin writing events including an SCBWI conference in April and an Editor Day in December; my kids throwing a carnival for me on Mother's Day; going to my former roommate's wedding; seeing my toddler jump for joy most times that he sees me walk into the room

Favorite new people met: A bunch of writers from the Austin children's writing community (see above!)

Scariest experiences: Heavy-duty economic uncertainty; seeing my toddler (a.k.a. the fearless stuntbaby) perform wild physical feats and risk damage to himself and everything in and around our home (daily)

Saddest experiences: My great-uncle passing away; my husband not getting a job we thought was perfect

Most unexpected experiences: Getting a cat; running on purpose; my toddler jumping right into an indoor swimming pool (which also turned out to be unheated, though it was November); becoming a fan of Doctor Who; finding out my husband hadn't seen the 80s teen movie Better Off Dead, when it's one of my favorites and I thought we'd shared that point of reference for the past 17+ years (I did make him watch it after that!)

Favorite movies seen: Once; Juno; Bolt (it was a good year for one-word titles!)

Favorite TV shows: Survivor; Top Chef; Flight of the Conchords; Doctor Who

Favorite things I read:
Several books by writers I met this year (& a few by writers I haven't met); excerpts of unpublished books by writer friends that I can't wait to see in print; several little books & stories my 7-year-old wrote; some great poems my 10-year-old wrote, including a group of haikus for school and a book of "A-Z Christmas Guess-it Poems" he wrote and illustrated for me for Christmas; a request for my manuscript from an agent I queried

Biggest blessings: My family; great classes & teachers for my kids; the generosity of others; the Austin children's writing community

Most impressive accomplishments: Finishing a middle grade novel manuscript; writing a short story that then got published; winning a bunch of games of Word Twist, Scramble, & PathWords (not as many as some of my other writer friends, though!); getting good feedback on my writing; completing a 5-mile race (though I alternated walking & running)

Things I missed most: Like the previous year--sleep; free time; silence; money

Out with the old: After Hurricane Ike hit, we sadly had to bid farewell to many places in and around Galveston, some of which we'd just visited in April

In with the new: A Taco Bueno opened within 30 minutes of our house, when we'd previously had to drive 90 miles to get to one (this also qualifies for the "great experiences" and "most unexpected experiences" categories!); our niece had a baby girl in March; one of our nephews got married; our toddler started Mother's Day Out in the fall (preschool-type thing 2 mornings a week); our cat Pepper was born in April (probably) and came to live with us in June

Song(s) that will remind me of 2008: Anything from the Once soundtrack

Song lyric that sums up the year for me: "Looks like we made it."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Season's Greetings!

Good tidings to you and yours from me and mine!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Alison is alive and well and posting a Friday Five

Surprise--I have not fallen off the face of the earth. Turns out it's not even possible! I am around and even have a Friday Five.

1) There's a new blog in town... Laura's Review Bookshelf, where Laura McCarthy will be reviewing young adult books and interviewing young adult authors. Check it out! I'm especially fond of this blog because I was lucky enough to win a $25 Amazon gift code from Laura's blog comment contest last week, which I just used to buy some Christmas gifts! :-)

2) Last Saturday, I attended Austin SCBWI's Day with an Editor, co-hosted by editor (and middle grade author) Jill Santopolo of HarperCollins and author Cynthia Leitich Smith. Jill and Cynthia critiqued the first three pages of about 30 submitted manuscripts, including mine, in front of about 50 attendees, with a ton of general Q&A time mixed in. It was very informative! We also got written critique comments from other participants. And fortunately, most of the comments I got were positive. :-) There are a few photos from the event on Cynthia's blog (most of the way down the blog post).

3) Today, I had the pleasure of sharing lunch with 15 other Austin-area writers (assuming I counted right) at Central Market--what fun! (Though I was a little daunted when only about 8 of us were still there, and I realized I was the only person at the table without a published book!) Thanks to Liz Garton Scanlon for the great idea. Children's writers are cool people.

4) It actually snowed at my house in the Austin area earlier this week! Unfortunately, it only happened after midnight and was gone the next day, so the kids didn't get to see it, but my husband took a snippet of (dark) video of the snow coming down, and they did find some icy slush left in the morning. The weird thing was, it was unseasonably warm earlier that day--according to one site, there was a high of 81 that day and a low of 31!

5) My 22-month old is currently playing around me like a whirling, Looney Tunes-style Tasmanian devil, and let me tell you, if anyone needs a stuntbaby, I've got the child for you! This kid is fearless, has amazing balance, loves running, loves climbing onto everything, and loves throwing himself off things or even just onto the ground--or onto his brothers--with full force. He was just trying to do a somersault (which he can do) down his brother's back while his brother was kneeling, and happily landed on his head on the ground. If he never performs an aerial skateboard, snowboard, or dirt bike trick (or perhaps joins the circus), I'll be surprised! Also, my fondness for children's books aside, Goodnight Moon has nothing on his enthusiastic new "Bye-bye, Moooooo!" yelled out to the moon when we're driving down the street or coming into the house on a moonlit night like tonight!