Thursday, December 29, 2011

Live Blogging/Writing Day

I am about three fourths of the way done with a writing project and I just really need to kick it in gear and get a first draft of it finished before I go back to teaching on the 9th.  So, today I am going to do a series of timed writings to see how much I can crank out.

So far progress has been unsteady, with days of lots of words and days with VERY few.  I attribute that to the holidays, naturally.  But no more excuses!

So, I am starting my first chunk right now.  Wish me luck!

Okay, I just finished my first 1/2 hour timed writing.

word count:  466. 

 Not bad, but I can feel that I am stalling.  And I can't figure out why.  If I need for something kind of bad to happen to MC, then I just need to let it happen!!

Last line: 

True, I did not want to go wherever they were taking me alone, but one does not live as a princess for as long as I have without learning even a little about bravery and how important it is to have courage at all times, or at least appear that you do.

Going to have a little run and work some things out in my head.  Back in a bit!

9:55 The run was evil.  I went twice as far as usual just to avoid coming back and getting myself out of the fine mess I've gotten myself into!  Why did I think the public humiliation of not getting the writing done would spur me on to finish this book?  Why?  Why?

I will tell you why.  

Because it is strangely effective.

So, at 10:00 I am going to try for another 1/2 hour, then maybe have a little breakfast.  Something with a poached egg, I think.  I had something at a fancy schmancy restaurant the other night which was a chanterelle mushroom tarte with goat cheese, frisee and a slow poached egg.  I have been dreaming about that egg.

Okay, I am off to the tower prison.  (Feeling a little cliche...perhaps all will not be what it seems.)


Word count: 701 (which makes for a total of  1156 so far!  Which pleases me to no end!)

Got out of the tower, thank goodness.  Not a big fan of towers, really, except the one I saw a Blarney Castle which wasn't dark and dreary at all.

So, off to eat a little breakfast and perhaps do some laundry (ugh...but the clothes must be cleaned!)

Last line:

    It could not have come at a less opportune time, but I felt the itch in my fingers to paint. 

Had to run and get cold medicine for sick people...poor things.  And I've for a dr.'s appt. myself here in a bit, so I am going to try and squeeze in 1k in 1 hour starting in 11 minutes.  It's nice because once the words start flowing, it is easier to pick up where you left off and keep going.  (And I bought myself a little present when I was out medicine moleskines!!)

Yes.  I should have a sign above my desk:  Will Write For Rewards.
Well, I'm off to hit the pages!


word count: 742 (but a neighbor stopped by and we had to show them how to play Fruit Ninja on the Kinect)

So, off to the doctor now, more later.

Oops!  Forgot the last line: We spun and spun and for a moment, I let myself believe that this would, indeed, be far better than returning.
 4:40 Back from dr. with a nasty case of asthmatic bronchitis.  Lovely.  But at least I have a fresh inhaler to get me through.  It is quiet in the house now, so I am thinking of doing another one-half hour, but I am almost positive there will be an interruption.  Such is the day.  And soon I am going to a friend's house for little holiday get-together (to which I am bringing the famous Thomas cheese ball) but then I hope to have most of the evening for writing.

8:58 p.m.

So that rest of the evening for writing thing SO did not happen.  But holidays are for friends and gatherings, thus sometimes I have to go counter to my hermit tendencies and get out a bit.

However, I did manage 169 more words, bringing the total for the day to 2067 words!  (Honestly, not a much as I had hoped, but I am always grateful for whatever progress I make.  Writing is not a race to be won, but a life to be lived.)

last line: “What are you doin’, you foolish lad?”


And thanks for the twitter encouragement, everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Favorite Things of Christmas

1. I love that the new green for Christmas is Grinch green.  When I was young, a deep evergreen shade of green was the Christmas green.  But I just love the way Grinch green works with red.
Love his saucy little expression!

2.  Love that I am finally on break--and still standing, even after taking nine twelve year-old girls, (who decided to speak in loud, shrill, British accents for the evening), ice skating last night.

3.  Love that I STILL cry when everyone is singing towards the end of ELF.  (Seen it a billion times, still gets me!)

4.  Love this:
I shouldn't love this so much...but I do.

4.  Love my simplified menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day:

Christmas Eve:

Tortilla Soup
The red and green makes it so festive! (And it's easy)
It will be nice just to have a pot of something on the stove for anyone who pops by.

Shortbread Cookies (made by Noel...thank goodness for college-aged daughters!)

And that's it...going simple this year.

Christmas Day:

I scored big this time...Sean said he'd make BBQ!!  He hasn't done this at Christmas for almost 10 years.  So excited!!

So there will be ribs...

And Southern style green beans with the heck cooked out of them.

Cooked so long the beans inside fall out.  And I like the pink-red of the ham and the green of the bean together.  (But I might use bacon....)

Potatoes (not sure what kind yet...maybe scalloped or au gratin)

And trifle

Ours won't be quite as pretty, but just as yummy!

6.  I love that my shopping is done and the wrapping is ALMOST done.  (Not loving the wrapping.)

7.  I love writing time...uninterrupted  writing time.

Happy Christmas to you!



Monday, December 19, 2011

Of Budgets and Blossoms

There were a lot of things I felt like blogging about today, like how insane it is that teachers in my district are teaching up through the 22nd!  Of December!  Yes.  True.  Or the fact that my muse is being quite naughty and distractable, finding things to be interested in other that the work at hand.  Or the wonderful book-presents that I bought myself.  Or the ridiculously ugly Christmas cards that are left in stores (sorry, had to buy more today....ewww.) Or how my husband got me an early Christmas present of a housecleaning service and somehow, during the dusting, the Lego Millennium Falcon went DOWN.  (sob.) Or the easy holiday menus I am thinking up for this year since there will be only a teensy about of prep time this year (see TEACHING THROUGH 22ND!)

But I am not going to blog about any of those things today.  Soon, perhaps, but not today.

Today it's time for a little story.

Once not too awfully long ago, there was a school that was able to do big things.  Amazingly big things, like putting on epic performances with spectacular, sparkly costumes and huge audiences.  Everyone would watch these shows and say "ooh" and "aah". The coolest of the newest technologies abounded, and everything was just so, so shiny.  For though the school itself was not wealthy, it did not want for much.

Then hard times hit.  Gone were the big budgets and the big shows.  Gone where those things that glittered in the light and made folks say, "ooh" and "aah." Gone (or broken) were the newest of the new gadgets. They were replaced by little things.  Tiny things.  Things people might not even notice unless they looked very closely.

But somehow, the smallness of these new things was no less wonderful than the largeness before, as long as you knew what to look for.

Is a rosebud any less magical than the sun just because it is smaller?


I guess what I am trying to say is that today I watched some kids play the most incredible game with the rattiest-looking-tennis-ball-in-the-world and their baseball caps and it was just so beautiful.  They didn't have new, great stuff, but they had fun.

Today I listened to kids sing, not in fancy costumes on a big stage, but in the classroom I passed on my way to kick the temperamental copy machine, and their little, golden voices touched my heart.

I did not end up kicking said machine.

I probably don't need to harp on this, but my wish for you this holiday season is to be open to the smallness of things.

Bigger doesn't mean better.  It just means bigger.  That's all.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Dangers of Being Awesome

My daughter recently completed her first year of soccer.  Her team was Awesome (yes, with a capital A).  I mean, these girls were incredible players.  Incredible.  Many had been on a "competitive" team before but it was no longer "fun" so they switched to a" recreational" team.  But these girls....truly I don't have the words for them. Wait, maybe I do.  Velociraptor comes to mind.  (Remember that scene in Jurassic Park where the  raptors are using their superior psychic, mind-reading abilities to hunt like a pack?  Well, that is what is was like to watch this team play.)

They were deadly to opponents. A girl would kick the ball and another girl would be there and BAM!  GOAL!  These girls scored off of corner kicks and headers and backward bicycle kicks. They were made of win.

The coach (who I will call St. Coach because he was the most chilled-out, gentle coach in the WORLD, would often say to the girls in hushed tones so as not to be overheard, but I have super-sonic hearing) "Ladies, don't score this half.  Just play Keep Away."

They had an undefeated season.

Then they went into a post-season tournament.

They were so used to being Awesome, and so afraid NOT to be Awesome anymore, that they started playing scared.

You can't play scared if you are going to win.

They were playing it far too safe.

You can't play it safe if you are going to  win.

Luckily, St. Coach said something to the girls (that even my superior hearing could not make out) and things turned around for them. Four games later, they were tournament champions, still undefeated.

But the fear of not living up to your previous success is a very real one.  I think it hits writers very hard.  "What if what I am writing today is not as good as what I wrote yesterday?"  or "This story will never be as good as my last one."

We can't let being awesome do this to our creativity.  For the power of creativity lies in the creation not the product.

Do not fear the Awesome.  But don't let it mess you up, either.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Dear Carlos

Dear Carlos,

I just wanted you to know how much you warmed my heart the other night.  When you picked up my book and held it against your chest, your small arms barely able to encompass it, and steadfastly refused to let you parents buy you ANY other book in the store, well, I got a little teary.

You see, Carlos, above getting published and seeing your book in a store and all that, the real moment an author longs for is when a child picks up her book and won't let go.  Oh, I watched you walk so proudly when you parents finally caved* and let me sign one for you, like you were a little soldier of literacy, marching off to battle.

But Carlos, I am a little worried for you.  Soon, there will be fewer and fewer choices when you go to buy a book.  More books stores are closing and even though you can buy a book on-line, it's not the same as walking out of a store with a brand-new book, one you picked out for yourself.

You are probably like me, Carlos.  I mean, sometimes I read the blurb on-line when I go to the bookstore, I am convinced that I am going to buy a particular book...but then I get there and the book doesn't live up to what I thought it would be and meanwhile, I have fallen completely in love with another book.  I am the kind of reader that has to read the first couple of pages to know if it is right for me.  (I watched you do the same thing as you made your decision--thumbing through several books before choosing A Good Knight's Rest).

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I will never forget that look on your face.  Ever.

Thank you, Carlos.


*Okay, so his parents weren't against the book, per se, but I think they were hoping for a cheaper option. I think.  If they hadn't bought it for him, I would have done it myself!  Oh, that smile!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Loose Ends and Book Signings

First of all, I am a little behind with my announcement of the winner of A GOOD KNIGHT'S REST.  The book goes to the lovely Lydia Kang!

Email me your address and I'll get it out to you soon, Lydia.

Next, tomorrow I am doing a performance/booksigning at the Barnes and Noble in Oceanside.

Yeah, I know.  I should call it an "appearance" not a performance.  But actually, with my puppets and all, it is more of a show than  a "talk."

And that's fine with me.  I love my little puppet friends.

But seriously, every booksigning is a bit nerve wracking.  I mean, there is there fear that you will be standing there all alone, the fear that you will forget something vitally important that will ruin everything, the fear that people will heckle you.  (, I don't usually get hecklers, except for the occasional toddler...but any toddler worth his/her salt will heckle ANYONE if the situation is right and the child is cranky.)

And shhhhhh...I really shouldn't tell anyone, but I think there is a FLASH MOB happening sometime during the event.

The truth.

A flash mob!!! I am so excited.  Naturally, I won't actually BE in the FM...(those little kids probably think I would ruin it with my bad dancing--and they aren't that far off the mark.) But I get to have one at my signing and that's enough for me.

(I wonder if it will be the Macarena, Kung Fu Fighting, or some other fun/wacky song for the flash mob.  I am being kept in the dark.  I mean, what?  Do people really thinkg I would post about something as secretive as a flash mob on my BLOG??)

Er, um, .....oops.  Looks like that is what I just did.

So, anyway, I had to google a lot of flash mobs, you know, just to see.  I highly recommend it.  I can't decide which one I like best, but the billions of elves in the Elf Yourself one is pretty awesome.

Moving right along--would love to see you tomorrow at B and N if you'd like to come.  (Flash mob is at 4:15, I will read and sign at 5 and 7.  Lots of other fun things as well, including some hula-ing.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Those That are Now Lost to Us

We lost someone this week.

And it's not like we didn't see this coming.  My friend had fought her illness bravely for six years.  And yet....the shock is still immense and my heart is hurting.

The hardest part when we lose someone are those moments when all of a sudden, in the middle of the drive to soccer practice or a math lesson, it hits you all over again, as if you are realizing for the first time that your friend is truly gone.

Life, however, goes on. But Death--Death stops us and wakes us up and says, "Hey!  Something happened here!  Slow down and pay attention.  And Remember."


I remember her quick smile and her grace and her passion for teaching little ones.  I remember how much she cared and how much she believed.

And I find myself rushing, rushing, rushing (even more so than usual) to get all of the THINGS done that must be done so I don't fall BEHIND because this is the life that I lead.  The life where there is always more to do than there is time for and the life that if I sit for one minute quietly, I agonize over the THINGS I am not getting done in that moment.

Yet this particular passing, this Death, brings me to a screeching halt.  It makes me understand that it is impossible to get behind in Life.  Life just goes on.  It.just.does.  And it's okay to stop and remember. Not only is it okay.  It is necessary.

They say that those who pass live on in our hearts and our minds.  And I think that might be true.  But I also think that it is hard to plant a seed and nourish a young seedling of memory if the ground is unstable and ever moving.

A seed needs quiet and calm.

For those of use who have suffered the loss of a dear one, I am wishing us moments of comfort, calm, and peace this December.