Tuesday, August 30, 2005

One Week!!!

Only seven more days and I get to kick the Orcs out the door. Oh, I can’t wait. However, the school is in a bit of an upheaval. We lost 5 teachers at the end of the year to various things: one went on to be a principal; a couple went back to school and so on. Supposedly they have interviewed and had prepared to offer the jobs to new teachers. But there is a glitch.

In my school district, you are allowed to choose which school you want your child to go to. Each elementary school has its own philosophy and way of doing things. My kids’ school is the earthy-crunchy granola-eating school. Many of the students are the children of the professors at the private colleges next door. Very eclectic school. The classes are multi-age. My son was in the same class from first through third grade. Anyway, we are unique in the district and suddenly we are very popular. The school is bursting at the seams and can take no more kids. This is not so in the rest of the district. Many of the other schools have had a severe drop in enrollment. The result is that those teachers will be moved to our school. I don’t really have a problem with that; however some of these teachers are coming from schools that have a completely opposite philosophy than ours. A couple of schools are slaves to standardized testing and I worry these teachers will bring these ideas with them.

I’m not a big fan of the standardized tests. My son loves them. And, to brag a bit, he had a perfect score in math and an advanced score in language arts. But I don’t think these tests are gauging all the other great things my son has learned from his teacher. He’s learned so much more than the fundamentals and he has had the luxury of having a teacher who has encouraged her students to explore and incorporate their interests in the classroom.

A Big Thank You….

…for all of your hugs and kind thoughts. I’m feeling much better. I’m sure Tom Cruise won’t be my friend anymore, but I have to say the anti-depressants have made a world of difference. Supposedly the good affects really kick in after two weeks but after a week I can feel a difference.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Writing as a Career

I have to admit, I’m a slug. I do not like work. I’ve never actually had a job I enjoyed. My current job (stay at home mom) leaves plenty to be desired. So when talk comes up about treating my writing as a career, my eye starts to twitch.

Suzanne talked about treating writing like a career on her RTB column. She made some great points. But I hate thinking about my writing as work. I’ve tried scheduling time to write, but I feel the yoke of oppression when I do so. Yeah, I should take it more seriously, but I do not have the ability or inclination to make it my number one priority.

Anyone with small children can tell you that they have a way of making the world revolve around them. They have a sense for when my mind and time are occupied with something else and so they strike. Today my toddler found her milk on the counter, climbed up and tried to fill her own cups with it. I had milk spilled all over the counter plus 4 cups half filled with liquid. This is typical of her behavior. My older ones know when I’m writing because that is when they feel it necessary to get into knockdown drag out fights.

I’m not using these as excuses for not writing, they are just things that take priority over my time. I still manage to get my pages in. I have scheduled my day so that I have certain chores I do on certain days. Today it was the day I clean and mop the family room. It’s done and now I have the freedom to write as much as I want barring my children’s interruptions.

Anyway, for me to think about my writing as a career at this time is a practice in frustration. My family is not going to understand the importance of what I’m doing until I actually sell. Hubby definitely has the attitude that if it doesn’t make me a dime, it must be a hobby. Not a particularly sympathetic way of looking at things, but I think it is a fairly common view from non-writers. He is not going to be real excited to come from a day of work and fix dinner so I can write unless there is a contract involved. And that’s okay; it is just another hurdle to work around.

But it can be done. I think the obstacles in my path make me a more efficient writer. It forces me to focus on each and every word on the page. I do very little in the way of revisions because I don’t have the luxury of going back and making change after change. When I write, it had better be damn close to what I want because my opportunity to make drastic changes could fly out the door at anytime.

A side note…
I’m going to leave the blogger comments on until I can figure out what in the heck is wrong with my haloscan. It’s a bit awkward but feel free to use whichever works for you.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Yahoo Groups

I remember a day when I dreaded opening my email inbox because of the tons of email I received. No, I’m not that popular and I have some pretty nifty spam blockers. But the bulk of it came from addresses containing “@yahoogroups.com.” Funny thing is, when I started blogging, my interest in Yahoo Groups dropped.

I was up to 40 groups there for awhile. Half of them I was “no-mail” but still I was getting a pretty hardy chunk of messages in my inbox. But I found when I started blogging, I paid less attention to the posts. I wonder why that is?

I’ve dropped only a few of my groups, but most of them are on “no mail” or “digest.” Have any of you noticed a change in your online habits since you started to blog? I think maybe it because of how personal blogs are, how reflective of the actual person a blog can be. A Yahoo message is just an email whereas a blog shows off a bit of the blogger’s personality. Since I change my wallpaper so often on my blog, what does that say about me?

On another note….

I debated whether to say anything publicly about this but I’m thinking maybe I should. I have recently started treatment for depression. I’ve noticed for some time now that my life was being affected and it has intensified over the course of the summer. I really don’t want to talk about it here because, well, hell, it’s depressing. So I started another blog, Come From the Shadows to discuss the problem. I figure if I’m suffering from the problem, there are probably tons of other people out there suffering as well. And if discussing it openly helps another person, then I have done the right thing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Two weeks from today I will be taking my kids to school. I absolutely cannot wait. This summer has been a real trial for me for reasons I'd rather not get into here, but suffice it to say the kids really increased the difficulties I've had. I think they will be glad to go to school as well. Their minds are going at such a dizzying rate along with their bodies, they are antsy and bored most of the time. Their favorite activity seems to be plaguing their mother. There are days I feel like a rabid pit bull trapped in cage and these kids are poking me with a stick. Heaven help them if I get out. When I do explode, expanding their vocabulary exponentially in the process, they look at me as if I am an exhibit at the LaBrea Tarpits.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

All Your Saturdays Over

All Your Saturdays Over     

It’s August so it must be soccer season.  I have two kids in the sport and for the first time, dh and I are not volunteering.  My dh coached my son two years in a row and assisted the year before.  The first year he was a field instructor.  Last year I coached my daughter’s team and did the team parent duties because I couldn’t get a volunteer from the parents.  I had such a miserable experience last year dealing with politics of AYSO I swore this year I wouldn’t do anything.  Hubby has said the same thing.  Our Saturdays were completely swallowed last year because we spent so much time on the soccer fields.  There was field set up or take down, the actual games and then hubby would have to referee another game.  Luckily my folks live nearby so they could baby-sit my youngest while I was coaching.  But it was a burden.  

So this year we decided we would retire from the volunteer duties.  We went to my daughter’s practice yesterday and the coach was trying to get volunteers.  The woman sitting next to me said, “you coached last year, you should do something.”  

And I said, “why don’t you?”  
“Oh, I don’t know anything about the game.  I don’t think I could help much.”
I just looked at her.
“I guess this would be a good level to start, huh?” she replied.  Later she went up to the coach and volunteered for something.

I’m guessing dh will go ahead and volunteer to field instruct.  The coach managed to get a father to assist, so I think I might be off the hook.  I did tell the coach if she was in a lurch, I’d help out but not in an official capacity.  And this is my plea to you who have kids in sports:  even if you don’t have the time to be a volunteer, try to help out somehow.  If you are at a practice and see the coach trying to coach your child but has to watch their toddler at the same time, offer to take the kid to the playground.  Maybe offer to type up a roster or create a snack schedule.  None of these things take a lot of time but they are invaluable to helping a coach.  These folks aren’t being paid and in many instances have been told that if there isn’t a coach, the kids won’t play (this is happening in my nephews AYSO region right now).

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Family of Five Drowns in Ocean of Magazines

Some people collect stamps. Others, coins. Dolls, butterflies, plates are all common collectibles. But not me. No, my family and I seem to collect magazines. Here is a list of mine that I get every month:

Cooks Illustrated
Martha Stewart's Living
Martha Stewart's Kids (that only comes out 4 times a year)
Martha Stewart's Everyday Food
Cooking Light
Hollywood Life
Entertainment Weekly

I occasionally pick up "Sunset." At Thanksgiving and Christmas time I pick up all the granny magazines like "Good Housekeeping," "Family Circle" and whatever else is out there. Hubby is bad too. He gets at least 4 different car magazines. My son gets a couple of magazines as well. Problem is, I don't read or look at them. Then they start encroaching on our living space. I need to make it a habit when I sit down and watch t.v. to sit and go through the darn things. I end up with piles of torn out magazine pages, but I can throw them in a box and hide them in a closet like the monsters they are. Hubby's are even worse. Typical man, he reads them in the bathroom. You have to fight your way to the shower.

Am I the only magazine fiend? What magazines do you get?

Haloscan Trouble

Is anyone else having problems posting to my blog? A couple of people have mentioned they can't open the comments section.

Oh, one more thing....

For the Paul Anka fans out there, I saw this. I can download it from iTunes for $10, I might have to do that.

Monday, August 15, 2005

She Can Blame Suzanne

Today Suzanne talked about how she forced her children to clean house. I admit, the idea enchanted me. So I gave my fiver year old daughter a rag and some all purpose cleaner and sent her to work on the coffee tables and end tables. Having done that, she moved on to the dining room table and all the chairs. And her reward for all this hard work? I let her cut out my coupons. I hate cutting coupons more than anything but the darling girl has almost a pathological obsession with cutting stuff up. So she was happy, particularly when she found the Chuck E. Cheese coupons.

By the way, I dyed her hair again: Red Copper spirits. It looks awesome, people keep asking if its natural. I also put the dye on the two year old's head. She is a blonde so it makes her look like a fireball. She loves it. I'll post pictures later. They look really cute.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Demon of Self-Doubt

The incubus itself crouched on my chest last night, its weight pressing all of my confidence out of me. I received a rejection letter last night that left me devastated. I won't go into the specifics, just that it was a bad one, my first.

The demon is one of my own making. I've been rejected before and will no doubt get rejected again. For the most part, the rejections have been encouraging. But this one was vile. So what do I do? I ignore all of the good things that I've received about writing, all of the positive comments and focus on this one crummy rejection.

No one can make us unhappy unless we let them, no one can shake our resolve unless we let them. And I let this one person make me question my talent and my ability to write.

Luckily, I've been through this before and I can get myself through it. The positive is it makes me really look at my writing and decide why I am doing this. I get upset enough that I want to focus on my writing and damn the market place and the movers and shakers of such.

My point is to those who are new to submitting, it will get ugly, but you have to decide how much you are going to let it shake you. How badly do you want to write? Go ahead and throw yourself a pity party, mine consisted of two Tecates, a glass of wine and numerous Reese's peanutbutter eggs I found leftover from Easter. But realize the only one that can make you quit is yourself. If you let anyone else dictate your desire to write and your drive to accomplish publication, you have no one else to blame.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Whining-Writing Connection

I realized after all my whining this week about not being able to write and how rotten my kids are and how I want to quit, I've managed to write about 3K words. I would probably have gotten more done but I had to research Palladian architecture. For those interested, I've got some nice Georgian architecture links I'll post over at the "Age" blog later today.

So I wonder what magic whining does to get me to write?

I'm playing with Haloscan. Suzanne mentioned over on Kacey's blog about it, so I'm giving it a try.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

World in My iPod

Suzanne talked about her favorite room in her house today on her blog. I have a favorite room, but my opportunities to escape there are few. But I do have my iPod.

I love this thing. The sound quality is so wonderful and it is so easy to carry, it makes listening to music so much more accessible. Quite often, it is my only escape during the day. I plug myself in and tune out everything else. I work on my dishes, fold laundry, mop floors, any number of household chores with my earphones on. Usually I am somewhere else in my head, the music effectively blocking out the world. My thoughts usually dwell on my WIP. Unless its Gwen Stefani playing, then I stop and start singing. It's ugly and the children run crying for their rooms. But for the most part, the music carries me to someplace else.

I have 368 songs on my iPod right now. The artists range from Guns n Roses to Joan Baez, k.d. Lang to Enya, usually I can find something to fit my mood.

No, my escapes aren't temporal, but I think the beauty of being a writer is the ability to use the mind to create a world within. We always have a favorite "room" within our heads.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Long and Winding Road

So Kelly and Kacey have started the "writer's journey" blogfest.

I'm not sure there is anything a writer likes more than to talk about how they're own journey began or where it is leading. We do so love to talk about our writing. And I am absolutely no exception.

I didn't seriously start writing until 2001. Suddenly I felt the bug as it were. I went to about.com's romance writing site (it wasn't "about.com" then, I can't remember what it was called) where I got my first cp who is now author Lydia Joyce. She really kicked me from amateur hour to taking my writing seriously and working hard on it. Then I discovered Romance Central and got involved in the forums where I am still active and I met Melissa. The webmistress, Becky Vinyard has been an amazing font of wisdom and support, encouraging me when I wanted to quit. I also joined RWA. I love my local chapter (OCC/RWA)and my online (KOD). I love the blogging community.

Right now, I feel like I'm a difficult spot professionally. I've got an ms that I've been querying for over a year. It keeps getting requests and I'm still submitting. I've really only queried about 25 different agencies, pretty small number considering. In the meantime, I've kept writing and now have another finished book and am 1/4 of the way through another.

The other challenge is the homefront. Trying to balance writing with being a mother, wife, soccer coach, baseball coach and all the other stuff that fills the life of a SAHM suburbanite can be frustrating. I did dump the coaching duties. You think romance writing is a challenge? Try dealing with the BoD of your local AYSO region.

Sometimes I quit. Like a diehard smoker, I swear I'm never going to write again. I'm going to be a reader and that's it. The longest I've gone without writing in the last 4 years is about 2 weeks. It is a compulsion I cannot stop. I can't imagine that I will ever quit, as long as the characters in my head are trying to escape.

Diet Coke

I love Diet Coke. It is my drink of choice. It beats our wine, beer and sometimes martinis. But Coca Cola has been doing some funky things lately. First, I accidentally bought Coke Zero. YUK! It was terrible. It tasted like regular Coke which I do not like. Then I tried Diet Coke with Splenda. Blech, that stuff was nasty. I am a purist. I do not like Diet Coke with Lime, Lemon, or (shudder, shudder) vanilla. Occasionally, when I am feeling exotic, I will drink Diet Cherry Coke.

However, all of the above are better than Pepsi. I'd rather drink hamster urine than Pepsi (although I'm not sure they aren't the same thing).

So what about you? Are you persnickety when it comes to soda? Are you a Coke drinker or firmly in the Pepsi camp? Is there anything worse than vanilla cherry Dr. Pepper?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Sibling Rivalry

My children have spent the entire summer fighting. All day long it is a litany of complaints and demands. I'm real tired of it. But the sibling they seem to have the most trouble with is the one on my PC.

It never fails, as soon as I sit down to write, they pop up like rapid prairie dogs, tattling or asking for something. My five year old, seeing me with my eyes glued to the screen, will start up a conversation about totally inane things with the only goal being to distract me. My son will come down and ask me how to play a certain computer game or tattle on his sister. The two year old is more insistent. She climbs on my chair and clings to my throat.

Why are they so jealous of the time I spend on my WIP? They don't bother me if I'm doing something else on the PC, but it seems like they have a sense when I'm writing. Perhaps it is my beleaguered imagination, but I don't think they like the idea mommy has something of her own that does not center around them. My husband has said he doesn't like me to write at night when he is home. I can live with that. But my kids do not have that say in my life. I'm hoping as they get older they understand.

I think being a stay-at-home mom has created a situation. They have me here 24/7 and being the centers of the universe they are, they honestly see me as their private property. They own me like they own their toys or anything else. In their mind, my life should revolve around them. Do they ever grow out of this?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Okay, So They Both Wear Weird Gloves

Thanks toSuzanne and Tori for putting a damper in my day, I had to investigate this nefarious "Johnny does Michael as Willy" accusation. Apparently this is a widespread concept. I didn't see the connection myself, but I'm a little biased when it comes to Johnny. Anyway, MSNBC thought it merited a story so here is the link: Depp surprised by Jackson comparisons.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Yesterday I took a second out on the house and packed the kiddies up for the movies. It cost $20 for three of us to get into a matinee! It was another $20 at the snack bar. Ah well....

The movie was great. It is nothing like the Gene Wilder film. I'm not saying it is better or worse, just different. Of course, I grew up on the original so it has special meaning to me. But the new one with Johnny Depp....excuse me, I'm having a Johnny moment. I have a lot of these. Anyway, Johnny...man, there I go again...is very good. He does "oddball" so well. Freddy Highmore, the boy who plays Charlie, is soooo cute. I want to adopt him. It is definitely a Tim Burton film, so it has a dark feel to it, but my kids got a real kick out of it. The sets are cool and Johnny...sigh...does such a good job of being weird and childlike at the same time. I will definitely be picking this up on DVD when it comes out. My 5 year old daughter has decided she wants to be Veruca Salt. Hmmmm......

Other things of note...
I posted an article I wrote about the joy of writing a query letter over on the Villa in Tuscany blog. So if you are looking for yet another query letter writing article, there you go.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Another Controversy

The hot stuff I found while blogging today was the whole RITA/GH ceremony fiasco. I wasn't there, so I don't feel I can comment either way with regards to the appropriateness of the program. But hoohaa it has unleashed has certainly been interesting. Having a "National Enquirer" mentality, I've scanned through the various blogs ad nauseum getting little else done.

And that is my concern. Every year it seems RWA has a controversy that THREATENS TO TEAR APART THE ORGANIZATION. It never does. We get through the latest fiasco and things move on. But they do not move forward.

We are an organization of what, 9200 members? That's a sizable group. Our genre has over a billion dollars in sales every year. We are the big chicks on campus. We want respect. We want to be considered serious writers. How serious can we be taken when our infighting is so publicly displayed? When Nora Roberts says she considered resigning from the organization and makes it public, what does that say about us?

Besides being embarrassing, the internal battles are non-productive. While the board and the membership are arguing back and forth on what should be on the cover of a book, we have authors suffering severe financial crushes because they are uninsured and have life-threatening illnesses. While everyone is screaming up and down about the definition of romance, an unpubbed author is having her dreams destroyed by a huckster posing as a legitimate publisher or agent. We as an organization have real power and we are wasting it on inane squabbles that eventually go away, leaving people bitter but no better off.

I blame myself. No, I didn't come up with the Tiananmen Square/"Don't Worry, Be Happy" montage. I didn't vote. I got my ballot, put it aside and completely forgot about it. I did not take it seriously enough to devote 15-20 minutes to read through the candidates and make a decision. I can hardly complain about the current board since I didn't exercise my right to vote and decide who should be there. This has been a lesson learned and I will most definitely pay attention when elections roll around again.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Six Feet Under

Okay, I was going to blog about other stuff, but last night's episode blew me away. I remember when I started watching the show, the first two seasons were amazing. As a writer, I truly appreciated their no-holds-barred approach to conflict between their characters. The last couple of seasons have been kind of dull and less than brilliant, but this season has really been wonderful. Last night was awesome and the makers of the show truly showed no fear in the conflicts and story lines. I don't want to say too much in case there are those who haven't seen it yet. I'm going to miss the show when it is gone. But "Rome" is coming this month and it looks pretty gritty, so I will at least have that to watch.