Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I find myself stalling in my current middle grade. I mean, how long can a conversation on the back staircase of a castle go on for? One page? At the most, two, right?

"Lovely staircase, isn't it?"
"A bit winding if you ask me....getting a bit dizzy."
"Well, why don't we just get to the bottom of it?"
"Well, that is a good question. I suppose the author would have to figure that part out."
"'Spose so. Do you think there's any hope for that?"
"Dunno. She's had us walking down these stairs for what....four pages?"
"Seems a bit ridiculous if you think about it."
"Doesn't it, though?"

Yeah, so I desperately need to get them off of the staircase...(and there are dogs on the stairs, too. I am getting claustrophobic just thinking about it.)...I just need to figure out what is going to happen when they reach the bottom.

I don't get stuck like this often. Usually, things just tend to roll along. But when it DOES happen, well, it is a bummer. It means I can't keep seat-of-my-pantsing-it along and I need to revisit the manifesto and journal to myself about just exactly what kind of book I am trying to write.

Something in my brain is unsure about the direction I am going...which is why I am stalled on the stairs.

Stairs! Why stairs????

Maybe someone needs to jump from the tower.......


Monday, July 26, 2010

Dear July.....please stay...

Dear July,

Please stay.

I am not ready for you to leave and force me to hang out with August. It's not that I don't like August....(actually, August is my second to least favorite month...) but it's just that August signifies the end of Summer......*sob.*

So, I was thinking, maybe you could stick around a little longer. I mean, whose brilliant idea was it that a month can have only 31 days? How about 40? Is that so much to ask? I only talking about 9 more days. 9.

That's a piddly little amount, really, when you think about it in the context of the history of time and all. It doesn't really even qualify as an inkling.

I'll cook for you...maybe a nice Sunday Roast...or how about some jambalaya? Strawberries for breakfast?

Don't make me beg, July....begging is never pretty, even for dogs.

I'd stick around longer if you asked me to.

Pleeeeeeeeaaaaaaasssssseeeee......(insert whining tone used by my 11 year-old to get her way).


Okay, then it's settled.

More July for Everyone!!!!

(you can thank me later.)


Friday, July 23, 2010

Stuff I Like

I wrote a lot yesterday. It felt good. I think I know where the story is going, but there are surprises along the way, even for me.

That is the best thing about writing: when your own story surprises you.

Love*love*love* when that happens.

Other things I love today:

1. Hot tea in the morning brought to me by my husband as I sit at my non-desk (TV tray these days actually). He know just how long to leave the bag in, which isn't very long. I don't like it if it's too dark. blech.

2. Guacamole. Yep, feel like making a big ole bowl of it tonight and eating myself silly with salty-salty chips. yum.

3. Fresh water pearls. I bought a necklace last week in Santa Fe that had freshwater pearls and some turquoise and I love it so much. Usually I wear freshwater pearl earrings everyday that dangle just a tad. (StoryQueen secret: I don't change my earrings but for very special occasions. When I had my third child, something just had to go. There was only so much time in the day, so it was earrings. Sigh. Someday, maybe I'll have cool earrings with every outfit again, but for now, I rarely think about them.) But now I have an awesome necklace....lalalala.

4. My hair. Oh, I am in a debate with myself as to whether to cut it or is the longest it has been in a while and silverish, but I really don't want it to look like I am a hippie or a witch. But today, it looks kind of cool. (maybe because it's overcast....?) Anyway, it feels soft and not wirey and, well, today I like it.

5. My Agent. Joanna Stampfel-Volpe is the best. Seriously. THE best. IN THE WORLD. How I ever managed without an agent all those years is due to sheer dumb luck. * I bounced some new ideas off of her yesterday and she was so encouraging. (She has a new should check her out....maybe someday you'll be as lucky as I am and get to work with her....)

What are you loving today?


*Yeah, I had to stick a Harry Potter reference in...just because....that was a Professor McGonogall-ism.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How I Write

Sometimes, I just sit at the computer, open the file of a WIP, read the last few lines from the day before and start typing away. When I get to the top of the next page, most of the time I stop, (happy to have made that little goal) but sometimes the writing is so hot, so flowing-from-my-fingers-good that I don't even notice when I hit the top of the page. I just keep going and going.

I love when that happens.

Sometimes, I pull out my moleskine (okay, most of the time it's a black and white speckled student composition book.....but picture the moleskine, it's more authorly) and a blue pen (or fat leaded pencil) and try to unclog the clog in my brain that is keeping me from getting good work done. Usually, when I read back on stuff in the notebook, I have no memory of having actually written it....the writing is very free.....half of the time it is usable.....don't aask about the other half.

I get more work done when I have less time in which to do it. Sad but true. Last week, on vacation in NM, I got only two pages done. Really, that's not very much. Yeah, I know, I was on would have been fine to take a break from writing. But for me, vacation IS for writing. I dream of days just for writing.

Those days never happen.

Days in which I know I have unlimited time during which to follow my muse....well, she reverts to her slacker days...or her inner preschooler takes over and she is forever distracted by shiny things. Days in which I know have but a tiny window....I get much more done.

I work on lots of stuff at the same time usually, but this past week I have only worked on one thing. Weird for me. I need to open up something else today I think. Perhaps I'll work on the poem for Surfiesta so I don't have to eat it in a few weeks.

Speaking of eating....what is it about going on vacation that forces you to eat so much?


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bathroom Secretary

We are getting ready for yet another little adventure.

This time, we are driving to visit my family in New Mexico. So, the day before the trip is always a crazy conglomeration of laundry piles, unwrapped gifts (birthday parties to attend), half-packed suit-cases and the like, not to mention a very messy house. A house which needs to be cleaned before the house-sitter comes, otherwise it's just too embarrassing.

I asked Cali to follow me around the house with a pad and a pen and write down everything I said that needed to be done (I am NOTHING without a list when it comes to chores).

So far so good.

Until I went to look over the list:


Clean dog hair from floor

vacuum stairs

pack Toilet Trees


Ohhhhhhh, I get it....toiletries......Toilet Trees.

Well, I still have much to do...but I thought it would be a good idea to remind the rest of you heading anywhere sometime soon to remember to pack your Toilet Trees.

(I am picturing that hideous Charmin commercial with the bears in the woods....and the not strong enough toilet paper....sorry, that's just tooooooo much bear bathroom info!!)


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When Harry Met Shelley (or My Day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

(insert Harry Potter Theme song)

So, yes, I was the luckiest person in the world last week. I got to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!! (which I will refer to as HPW henceforth).

It was amazing. I wish you all could have come. Actually...uh...I'm sure I DID see some of you there because Everyone In The World was there last Monday. Well, maybe not everyone...but at least half of the world was there. (Yes...v. crowded.)

You can see some of the bajillions of people here...I could have made some of them disappear, I suppose, but I had to follow the rules on the sign and respect the spell limits. Just common courtesy, really.

So, first let me say that when you first walk under the archway into Hogsmeade, you really do get chills, because IT LOOKS LIKE WINTER!! (But it is Florida in July, which is the direct opposite of Winter. Look it up) Lucky for us, the day was overcast, even with a downpour in the middle of it. I had a swell plastic, there will not be a picture of that!

I could go on and on about the wonder of it...but I don't want to be like when you went to somebody's house for dinner when you were a kid and they whipped out the slide projector and you spent two hours perusing somebody else's pictures speckled with random people you don't know in places you don't care about. So...highlights only it will be!
1. The Forbidden Journey of Harry Potter:

This is it! The Biggest Ride there. It's inside of Hogwarts...really the only way to see the castle is to ride the ride. One word review: SCARY!

I am not sure what I expected...but it starts off like Disney's Soaring Over California...('re's quidditch....whee) then things go horribly, horribly wrong. I don't want to ruin it for you, in case you go soon....but let me just say this. My daughter Issy tried to film it with her phone (and she is one lucky kid that she didn't drop her phone during the ride!) but it was way too dark. All she got were the screams. 5 minutes straight of us screaming at the tops of our lungs! My throat was RAW at the end....(where we got stuck for a few minutes. Yep. The ride stopped. Luckily it was right AFTER the dementors....and spiders who gleek on you...and the dragon...and did I mention the spiders....???)

I'd like give the ride an A+ (except that I kind of didn't see it all....what with my eyes being closed and all.) It was the thrill ride of all thrill rides.

Well done!

2. Wizards Like Sugar:
There is the Butterbeer wagon in the middle of the road. We got ours from the Butterbeer Maid, selling from a tray just outside the wagon. They also sell Butterbeer and Pumpkin juice in the Hogshead and the Three Broomsticks, but the lines were WAAAY too long.

Butterbeer tastes kind of like a greasy rootbeer float (made with cream soda or vanilla soda) but with no icecream...just the thick, salty, buttery foam on top. Yes, it sounds a little gross...and it is...but it is also deliciously cold. (Even though the day was cloudy, this was Florida in July). We bought one to share...had to dare someone to take the last swig. (In other words, the first swallow is the best...followed by thoughts of, "'s bloddy sweet!" Followed by thoughts of, "Hey! I'm actually drinking Hogsmeade....lalalala!")

Pumpkin juice also = super sweet. Like spiced apple cider, but cold. It would probably be better hot. (Interesting to note that the pumpkin juice they sell there really DOES contain pumpkin there somewhere. It was our vegetable for the day.)

Honeydukes: Cali bought 15 bucks worth of candy. (Yes, I win mother of the year.) Every kind of sugar imaginable.

3. If HPW wants to make more money (and who doesn't these days) they should have more stores....bigger stores...with more stuff:

We waited in line for an hour just to get into a tiny little store (Dervish and Banges) thinking if there was a line this must be a good store, right? Not really. My girls were ready to drop some cash on Tshirts...with Ron on them of course....and they went home empty handed. It was just too crowded in the stores, and the stuff wasn't really different than anything you could get at Hot Topic.

The line for Olivander's Wand Shop was over 3 hours. I just couldn't do it. I mean, I'll wait in line for a ride...but for a store? Naahhh. So my plan was to break a branch off a tree to use as a wand...see? Then I would really have a wand (that was made of wood instead of plastic) that I got from HPW. But....the trees were too gorgeous to rip a branch from.

See? Lovely trees. That's Cali and I (notice my pseudo-Hufflepuff colors...yellowish stripes.) Of course, when I saw this picture, I realized how long my hair has gotten and that I should have just worn all black and been Lucius Malfoy in drag.

There were more rides (dragon coasters....flying hippogriffs.....) and such. But the best part was walking past the Hogwarts Express and feeling like you had just walked into a dream.

I love you, HPW!

Artsy shot taken by Noel.

Here's hoping they build one on my coast.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Authors, Authors Everywhere!!

First off....home is a wonderful place!

And I will give my thoughts on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on Monday (as soon as I can get my sleepyheads to upload their pictures for camera ran out of batteries....sigh.)

However, reading over the old blog-o-la, I realized that I neglected to post a picture of the Rolling Reader event I did a few weeks ago:
This is Meiko Patton, Gerald McDermott and me (it is hard to see the tiara in this photo, but it is there).

I sat in between the two of them for most of the evening and laughed a lot. Gerald's tie was awesome. He has a new book coming out int he spring about a trickster Monkey from India.

I got to talk with Janell Cannon about her WIP and it is going to be very cool. Many of the authors at the event were author/illustrators and it was fun to hear how different the process is between those who "see" their stories and those of us who "hear" them.

Great event.

Then, the following Saturday, I was in Barnes and Noble picking up a little summer reading and who should be there but Sarah Pennypacker (of Clementine fame). She was signing and talking to kids about her passion for her characters. I was eavesdropping a little...trying not to look too weird. Then I introduced myself and we chatted for a moment*. She has a delightful voice. I could listen to her talk about writing forever.

THEN, the very next day, I was in Disneyland and who should be there signing books but Gail Carson Levine!! Seriously. Hopefully, I can get one of the sleepyheads to find that photo in one of their magical phones so I can post it. (Even though I was pretty thrashed at the rollercoaster and all...and no tiara) Gail is so petite! It was a thrill for young Cali to get her book signed, and a thrill for all of us to meet her*. Her Princess Tales are still among my favorite middle grade reads.

So, the next week, totally NO author sightings. What is up with that?

I was on a roll.


*I find it so weird to introduce myself to other authors at their events...."Oh, by the way, I am a writer, name is blah-di-blah-blah...." It is just weird. But conversely, if I am the one in the chair signing, I don't find it strange at all if a another writer introduces themself and says thathe/she is an author as well.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Trying to Envision Revision...and what ARE the house colors for Hufflepuff?

So, I've got myself into a bit of a pickle during a revision. The thing is, I keep asking myself questions as to why certain things happen in the story...and I realize that I don't know why.

The stuff just happens.

Well, that's not good enough, is it?

Even if I choose not to hit the reader over the head with every detail about every little thing...I must know. The writer MUST know. If I know, then I can be subtle about how I weave in clues, and make better decisions about what to leave in and what to leave out.

And there's some stuff in a ms that I am playing with right now that I just realized that I did not know the answer to.

So, I've got some stuff to ponder.

While I am pondering, perhaps you can help me with a question I have (and it's not about my story...just JK Rowling's!)

What are Hufflepuff's house colors? We are having a debate here at the Thomas house. Noel assures me they are yellow and black...NO WAY I say. And I want to wear Hufflepuff's* colors when I go to Harry Potter World next week (woohooooo!).

So, I need to know.


P.S. I am quite sure that the hat would have sorted me into Hufflepuff. Gryffindor for bravery, Slytherin for sneaky, Ravenclaw for superbrains....and Hufflepuff for everyone else. Well, ladies and gents, I am everyone else! And proud of it!