Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry Christmas, Internet!


My 3 year old son is OBSESSED with Rudolph, who he affectionately calls "Rudoll" (making me think that Santa's lead reindeer is somehow a cast member from that Nazi movie that Brad Pitt starred in). Anyway, I was looking for a cute RUDOLPH picture, and I stumbled across this little comic, and thought it was funny. COME ON, PEOPLE, I live in Georgia, where kids are taught to hunt straight out of the womb (and equipped with Skoal and muddin' tires for when they get their driver's license). What did you expect?

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Be safe if you're traveling, and I'll see you back here on January 3rd!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Grab A Cupcake and Weigh In...With Your Opinion, That Is


It's National Cupcake Day!

I love when they give special days to the most random things, like National Talk Like A Pirate Day. If I knew all of your addresses I would send you each a dozen of these, my favorite, RED VELVET cupcakes. Mmmm, can't you just taste the cream cheese frosting? (No, I don't know what my obsession is with sweets lately either. It COULD possibly be that since my husband is a teacher he brings home a boatload of homemade sweets almost daily during this time of year. I'm not complaining...at least I won't until I can't button my pants.)

Now watch how I tie this into writing. Ready?

What is your go-to food for snacking while writing? Mine is usually a bag of chips or something salty (of course, not as of late) and a GINORMOUS caffeinated beverage (preferably a Coke from McDonalds). Perhaps chocolate? A glass of wine? Both (nothing wrong with that at all!)? I always like to find out more about my readers and fellow writers!

Happy Writer Wednesday, everyone. Now go grab a snack and get back to work!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is It Too Early For Memory Loss?


Internet, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I'll be thirty before the New Year.


Why would I be bringing attention to this fact? Because it could possibly explain why my brain seems to have been replaced by figgy pudding (which, I have never in my life tried, nor do I ever plan to). I literally don't even know what day it is anymore. Which is, by the way, why I am posting Mommy Monday on a TUESDAY.

People say things to me like, "Oh, thirty is the new twenty!" These people, I believe, are the same people who say, "Forty is the new thirty!" or "Fifty is the new forty!" or "You know they make hair dye to cover that, right?" NOT HELPFUL. I'm just going to put my big girl pants (with my Spanx underneath them, thank you very much) on and face it:

I am getting old.

And before you go telling me your age, and how if I think thirty is old then I think YOU must be REALLY old because you're (enter any age here older than thirty here) and I shouldn't be complaining, remember, if you will, the imminence of YOUR OWN 30th birthday. Did you have that perspective? Then do me a favor and let me have my moment, hm?

See, I've got the grumpy old lady thing DOWN! Now somebody give me a hand putting on my pantyhose and shawl so I can go to the grocery store and stand in the middle of the aisle and NOT MOVE for the woman with two screaming children behind me. If I can't hear them, they don't exist! :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

You Too Can Survive The Holidays


There seriously should be a self help book for getting through the holidays. Maybe I'll write it one day, you know, pending I actually SURVIVE this Christmas. It'll be like an advent calendar combined with a weight loss program and filled with daily reminders TO NOT KILL SOMEONE.

Ahem.

Something that has made the craziness of this Christmas season just a bit more bearable is the Portable North Pole . You can go to this site and design a custom message from Santa to your child. It even allows you to enter specific information like behaviors you've had them work on this year (we set ours so Santa would see that we've had our boys working on being nice to one another), your child's age, and even what city you live in so that it show's Santa's sleigh route on a GPS screen. Needless to say, it has been a total hit with our kids. Our three year old, Tyler, has watched his EVERY DAY.

So go make a message for your kid from Santa. Then sit back and sip your spiked eggnog, and watch as your children squeal with delight.

Have a great weekend everyone. I'll see y'all here on Mommy Monday, unless of course, I get into a fight while Christmas shopping at Target and decide to deck something other than the halls! and we'll talk about baking cookies, or as I like to call it BUYING COOKIES!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hitting the Wall

I had really good intentions to get a decent Writer Wednesday post written this week. I sat down to write it a dozen times, and got distracted EVERY time. Do you ever have days (or even weeks) like this? It could just be the holidays making me crazy, but I cannot seem to get my act together when it comes to stringing words together. Not for this blog, and certainly not for my manuscripts. What's a girl to do?

What do you do when you feel like you've hit the creative wall? Do you power through, or do you give yourself a break?

I'm off to find some Oreos. I have a feeling they will greatly help my situation. If you disagree, feel free to keep that information to yourself. ;)




Monday, December 6, 2010

Meet Santa's Younger Brother

Internet, meet Junior Claus.

Junior Claus

Junior is Santa's younger brother. He was unceremoniously dropped down our fireplace the other evening along with a note to our boys explaining who he is and where he came from. Apparently, Junior has been getting into too much trouble up in the North Pole, so Santa dropped him off at our house so we could keep an eye on him (because Santa thinks I have time to keep an eye on ONE MORE TROUBLEMAKER?! Seriously, Santa. You better make the present a good one this year.).

Junior has also been instructed by Santa to keep an eye on our boys, and report back weather they've been naughty or nice. If Junior does not complete his task, he will not be allowed to ride back to the North Pole with Santa on Christmas Eve.

The kids absolutely love Junior. The first thing my oldest son said when I woke him up this morning was, "Can I go find Junior?" Junior was hiding in the kitchen after trying to pour himself a bowl of cereal. The kids thought this was absolutely hilarious, and they can't wait to see what other silly things Junior does.
Junior loves "Frosted" Flakes

I cannot take credit for this idea. I was inspired by the Elf on the Shelf and Elf Magic dolls. Because December snuck up on me this year, I wasn't able to get the elf in time, so I got Junior from the grocery store in the middle of buying bacon and yogurt sticks. Improvisation is a mother's greatest weapon, people. That, and "Because I said so."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Because I Don't Really Cook


I don't usually tune in to Rachael Ray's talk show to see what meal she's cooking up, because, well, I don't cook all that much. I mean, I'm not completely inept...I make a mean fajita. But yesterday, I was flipping through the channels while folding laundry and came across her show. The first thing that grabbed me was that she had Stefan (Paul Wesley) from The Vampire Diaries on (go ahead, I'll give you a moment to daydream about Damon (Ian Somerholder), because you know he's the real reason we all watch TVD, am I right.).
Then, she had on this couple, Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding, who are hand dancers. Sounds strange right? It is, but it is also incredibly awesome! Apparently, they are a YouTube sensation, and if you take the two minutes to watch this video, you will see why. A-mazing. It's like Riverdance, but with their hands!!!







Happy Weekend, Everyone!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Who Do You Write For?


What's selling? What's hot? Are you wishing you were a delinquent reality star just so you could get a foot in the door for a book deal? How much are you willing to change in order to please the industry?

At the writer's conference I attended, I had an editor tell me that my type of book isn't selling, and I had an agent tell me to change my title, yet she requested a full manuscript. A little bit confusing? I think so. There is so much subjectivity out there it's scary. So who do we listen to?


I would imagine that if you're an unpublished author you would move heaven and earth to please an agent or an editor (I changed my title, by the way). But what about those who are already published? I wonder if they feel the pressure to bend to please the industry professionals as much as someone who is trying to get that foot in the door.

What do you think? Should unpublished authors do "whatever" they're told to please the industry? Published authors, do you still feel the pressure to change everything you're told to?

*Photo courtesy of Google Images

Monday, November 29, 2010

I might get out of bed for Edward

Today is Cyber Monday. I had no idea such a thing existed. You can do a heck of a lot of online shopping for really cheap stuff today if you need it, or couldn't get it on Black Friday. Confession: I'm not good at coupons. I envy the women who roll around the grocery store with binders and envelopes stuffed full of them. I've just never gotten the knack for it. Yes, I love getting a good deal, but I don't live for it. I don't wake up early in the morning for it. I know, my husband is a lucky, lucky man, isn't he?

Naturally, I don't do Black Friday. I don't really care if I can get something that costs fifty dollars for twenty, or something that costs five hundred for a hundred. Do not even whisper the words "3 in the morning" within earshot of me or there will be blood, and, trust me, it'll be yours.

What I didn't know (and discovered this year) is that you can still get some pretty awesome Black Friday deals at a normal hour, like noon. Our family ventured out of the house from our turkey-induced stupor at lunchtime the day after Thanksgiving to find something OTHER than turkey to eat. We got burgers, and after all that turkey y'all, those burgers were DI-VINE.

We decided after our lunch to poke around the stores in our burger joint area to see if there were any deals left to be had. And let me tell you...OLD NAVY T-SHIRTS FOR FIVE DOLLARS!!! AND CUTE SHOES 50% OFF AT KOHLS!!!

Okay, so I am kind of getting the Black Friday thing, and the idea of shopping online on Cyber Monday whilst still in my Twilight pj's is appealing. But I'm still not getting up at 3 in the morning for a t-shirt. Not even if it's free. Not even if you told me Robert Pattinson (Edward from Twilight - yes, I'm a loser) himself had worn it. Okay, maybe then I'd think about it.


P.S. You're welcome.

Did you get any good Black Friday deals? Did you know today is Cyber Monday?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cautionary Tales


I've been cleaning for the last 2 days in preparation for my family being here for Thanksgiving. Cleaning, even though I'm sick and what I would really rather do is get into my bed and sleep until Thanksgiving Day when I hear my mom say, "Turkey's done!"

I don't know why I even bother, because I know that when my mother gets here she will absolutely insist on mopping my floors even though I've already mopped them and cleaning my stove even though...well, that one might be justified. Don't get me wrong, it's not like she whips out a white glove when she gets here to check for dust bunnies, it's just WHO SHE IS. My mom is an unstoppable domestic force, cooking and cleaning are her forte. Mine? Not so much.

Anyway, to my point: PEOPLE WITHOUT CHILDREN WHO ARE SOMEDAY PLANNING TO HAVE THEM, LISTEN UP, because I'm about to give you the best advice you will ever get. Are you ready?

DON'T BUY ANY MORE NEW THINGS. Why, you ask? Well, because YOUR FUTURE CHILDREN WILL DESTROY THEM. So that new furniture set that you think you just have to get before you have kids and have no money for any other selfish purchases? Yeah, they'll spill chocolate milk on it and you'll have to buy a new one anyway. So yeah, better hold off on that idea. Oh, and that expensive Persian rug you've been eyeing at Pottery Barn? Chances are they'll barf or pee on it, so pump the breaks a little bit. Mkay?

Whew. Good deed done for the day. Off to clean the toilets (and what I really mean is the floors AROUND the toilets because 3 year olds are also not good at aiming).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Pen is Going on Holiday


"Going on Holiday" sounds so British, doesn't it? And on that British note, how excited is everyone that Prince William is finally engaged to Kate Middleton? I'm BEYOND excited. I'm a total Anglophile. I wonder if my husband will let me fly to England for the wedding?

Sorry.

I think my brain has gone into mush-mode post writer's conference. I can barely pick up the pen to write my grocery list, let alone start my second novel. I've decided that I'm taking a mini-break before I gear up to write the next book. And what better time to take a break than the holidays. Bring on the gravy, people.

In the meantime though, I'm going to practice p -- . Wait, let me try that again. I'm going to practice plo --. Hmm, once more. I'm going to practice PLOTTING. I ran into a ton of trouble with my first book for lack of planning. While I still very much enjoy sitting on the pantser side of the fence, I'm really striving with this second book to know where I'm going before I begin the journey. At least a little bit.

On that note, I want to direct you to Jill Kemerer's blog, because she's doing an excellent series on writing the synopsis before you write the book. Cool concept, huh? I think I might just try it, you know, after I'm done devouring every morsel of my mother's cooking and figuring out how to lose the weight so I can fit into my dress for the Royal Wedding next year. Ahem.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oops, I did it again

I played with your heart...got lost in the game...oh baby baby.

No, I didn't get on here to sing old Britney Spears songs to you. (I do, however, feel like a SLAVE for you sometimes, Internet). ;)

Anyway, I just wanted to apologize for my unannounced absence last week. I took a small vacation and then my brain thought, "That was amazing. Let's do that for a bit longer, shall we?" But I'm back now, and can I just say HOLY IT'S NOT EVEN THANKSGIVING YET AND I HAVE JINGLE BELLS IN MY HEAD. People, you know how I feel about this. If you don't, you can read about it here. Christmas comes after Thanksgiving. AFTER. THE. TURKEY.

Okay, I feel a little better.

On this Mommy Monday, I just had to tell you about my favorite new product, and NO, I'm not being paid to say this. I was strolling through our local Walmart the other day (which I do frequently), and I came across these new greeting cards from Hallmark. They're called Edge of Motherhood and they are HILARIOUS. I'm always looking for ways to make my mommy friends laugh, and I am WISHING that I had come up with the idea for these myself. This one is a personal favorite:

*Photo courtesy of Google Images

Come on, you know you've done it too!

Feel up to writing your own mommy (or daddy) greeting card? Take a stab in the comments. I'll announce my favorite next monday! 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lessons Learned from My First Writer's Conference - Part 2


In last Wednesday's post, Lessons Learned From My First Writer's Conference - Part 1,  I shared with you that the publishing industry is totally subjective, something that you may or may not have already known.

I'd also like to share is that it is really helpful to decide what exactly you want to get out of the conference before you go. Are you wanting to learn more about the craft of writing? Do you want to learn more about the publishing process? Do you want to gain a better understanding of the legal aspects of the business? Do you need to be inspired by other authors who have already established themselves?

I was completely torn when it came to the course offerings. There were one or two classes that I KNEW I wanted to take, so I did. As for the others, I was a little bit lost. I made the mistake of not really honing in on what I wanted to learn from the courses they offered, so I don't think I truly maximized my experience in that way.

I did, however, take advantage of the opportunity to network with other writers, which I feel like was the most rewarding experience. The writing community is incredibly supportive (which I already know because of so many of YOU!), but I was really struck by the unspoken bond between myself and all of these complete strangers. I met a few people (the lovely Angie Mizzell, for one) who I know are going to do great things, and it totally energized me.

I also took it upon myself to get in front of agents and editors that I really wanted to meet. On that note, I have to admit that my first "meeting" with the lovely Rachelle Gardner was...in the bathroom! Now, I know you've heard the horror stories from agents about being pitched to in the bathroom, and I was WELL AWARE of that major faux pas, I assure you. I did not do that. What I did, however, was giggle when she came out of the stall...purely from the irony of it all. I'm sure she thought, "Who is this weird chick laughing to herself in the bathroom?" But I actually made a joke of it and told her I was absolutely NOT pitching to her in the bathroom. And you know what? She laughed. Who knew? AGENTS ARE REAL PEOPLE TOO!

Have you been to a conference? What lesson did you learn? Were you able to get what you wanted out of it?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wherein I Chase The Garbage Truck Down The Street

So.

Mommy Monday started off with a bang - literally. Ran downstairs with my toothbrush still in my mouth to find my youngest child screaming because his art easel had fallen down on him. He wasn't hurt (it's not that heavy), but still not a great way to start a morning.

I blame the Halloween candy. He was probably trying to climb the thing, still shaking with the after effects of too much sugar last night. Y'all, we got an OBSCENE amount of candy. I'm blaming my husband not pointing any fingers or anything, but I think my kids might've knocked on every door in the neighborhood.

My oldest doesn't have school today, something about accreditation and whatnot. Really I just think his school is SUPER SMART not making kids come in the day after Halloween. I can't imagine the devastation THAT storm must leave in its wake. Oh wait, YES I CAN BECAUSE IT'S IN MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW.

So I throw my uber-hot, oversized sweatshirt on over my tank top and yoga pants (that I may or may not have slept in) and get both kids in the car to take little man to school. We make it there with less than a minute to spare, meaning a minute before drop-off ends and I will be forced to get out of my car in my uber-hot sweatshirt and yoga pants and WALK MY KID INTO SCHOOL LOOKIN' LIKE A HOT MESS. Phew.

But.

Then I get home and realize that the garbage truck is down my street, past my house...AND MY GARBAGE CAN IS NOT SITTING AT THE CURB. Which means it hasn't been put there, and my already overflowing trash has not been picked up. I hightail it out of my truck and into my backyard to grab the garbage can.

What happens next, I swear, is straight out of a movie. I have to FLAG DOWN the garbage truck driver in my HOT MESS OF AN OUTFIT and BEG him to stop and take my trash. And you know what he said?

"We only stop for the cute ones!"

Thank you, kind garbage man. Thank you very much.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Halloween Public Service Announcement

This is a repeat post from last year, but I think it will serve you well. Stay safe out there this weekend!


















*My Buzz and Woody - Halloween 2009*

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM HALLOWEEN 2009
1. You CAN get a hangover from candy. The remedy? MORE CANDY.
2. Your child COULD be allergic to his costume. But since you paid $40 for it, you WILL give him Benadryl and tell him to buck up.
3. Carving three pumpkins = insanity.
4. Use old Christmas lights to light your pumpkin instead of an actual candle if you're going to be leaving your house on Halloween. That way, your house doesn't burn down and everyone can still enjoy the stenciled-on ghost face that your husband painstakingly carved out of your enormous pumpkin. Everyone wins.
5. Buy a smaller pumpkin next year.
6. Trick or treating in the cold and rain is still fun for kids. For adults...not so much.
7. Make sure you're invited to a friend's house where this recipe is being served. Trust me.
8. Make sure that friend is a great photographer, because you might get just about the cutest picture you've ever seen of your kid in a costume.















And now a word about the Fall Back time change: When you think it's a good idea to stay over at your friend's house and keep your kids up later so that they'll "sleep in" the next morning instead of waking up an hour earlier? IT'S NOT.
That is all.
You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lessons Learned from My First Writer's Conference - Part 1


To sum up what I learned at the South Carolina Writer's Workshop annual conference would be that this? This business? Of writing? Yeah, it's TOTALLY subjective. What one person might LOVE another person might HATE.

I sat through one particular class called a slush-fest, which basically boils down to a real-time critique of the first 2 pages of your manuscript (or some people chose their query letter and first page of their ms). They collected everyone's submissions as they walked through the door and then placed them up on an overhead projector to rip them to shreds. Or at least, that's what I THOUGHT would happen, seeing as how that's what I had heard happened in those sorts of situations.

Well.

Not so with this one. The editor* was totally gracious to her audience, saying mostly what she liked about everyone's work with a small suggestion here or there about what could improve. There was no yelling, no "What were they thinking?", no "Wow, that was awful." None of that. That is, until she got to the very last submission, and guess whose it was?

Mine.

She read it aloud, as she did the twenty or so before it, and when she got to the end (we were running short on time) she said, "I like the voice, good idea, but THESE BOOKS AREN'T SELLING."

I'm sorry, WHAT? Could you repeat that?

Needless to say, I was a little bit depressed. I didn't have time to ask her if she could expound on the subject, because I was late for a pitch session. Ha. Yeah, I was supposed to go pitch a book that WILL NOT SELL to a literary agent after that. That pitch session did not go well.

BUT.

My mama raised me to get back on the horse after I've been thrown, and gosh darn it, I did. I marched into my next pitch session (which was literally ten minutes after I bombed the first) and I nailed it. Said exactly what I wanted to say and got a full manuscript request.

*On a side note, I was able to pull that editor aside after dinner to ask her for a little more info (prettyprettyplease) about what she had said earlier. And what I got was a chance to send her some of my pages to get some feedback. Feedback. From an editor. At a huge publishing company. It pays to get back on the horse!!!

What has been your experience? Have some loved your work? Some hated? Do you agree that the industry is subjective?

Come back next Wednesday for Part 2.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What A Difference A Day Makes

So, as you may know (since I've been beating you over the head with it for the last two weeks), I got to go to the South Carolina Writer's Conference this past weekend. And while I learned A TON about the craft of writing and the publishing business (all of which I will tell you about on Wednesday when my brain stops hurting), what I really wanted to say is...I MISSED MY KIDS.

And THAT, my friends, is the conclusion a mother comes to after TWO WHOLE NIGHTS of uninterrupted sleep.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Out of Office

Well...not technically :)

I won't be blogging this week, as I am preparing for my VERY FIRST WRITER'S CONFERENCE EVER!!!

Come back and see me next Monday, won't you?

*Cartoon courtesy of Google Images

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just Because

I just wanted to drop in real quick and say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have encouraged me over the last couple of weeks with regard to my upcoming conference and my writing in general. I'm still freaking out, but have a peace (God-given to be sure) that everything will work out the way it is supposed to. I'm not going to be blogging next week, as it will be THE WEEK (I leave next Friday morning!), but I wanted to leave you with a little gift (an intangible one, but a gift nonetheless).

Girls, these are for you...

Boys, this one's for you...
Happy Friday everyone, and I'll see you all back on Monday, the 25th, with plenty of stories and stuff I learned from the conference.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's Not You, It's Me...Well, It's A Little You


I apologize for my lack of post-age (say it like Pauly Shore). I'm not intentionally ignoring you, dear Internet. I'm just really trying to get my stuff together for this conference that is NEXT WEEK! 

*grabs a bag* *hyperventilates for a moment* *puts bag down* *smooths hair*

I finally polished up the synopsis to an agreeable level, that level being one where I don't want to kill msyelf after I've read it (score one for Team Beth) and am currently working on my one-sheet. Business cards have been ordered (and they are SUPER cute thanks to my good friend Jodi at Leapfrog Creations) and outfits have been chosen.

I'm also trying really hard not to re-read my manuscript over and over to the point of insanity, because this girl? She likes to edit things into non-existence. If I were an actress, I would NEVER watch my own movies because I am way too critical. Okay, maybe I would, but only because in MY movies (the ones in my head) I would always be co-starring with...well, you don't need to hear that now do you? Maybe someday I'll tell, like if my book gets published and then made into a movie, because then it will be OBVIOUS!

Where are you in your journey? Drafting? Editing? Querying? Hyperventilating? Waiting?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pumpkin Stuff - It'll Change Your Life

This is a repost, but I thought it was appropriate for the time of year. This recipe is TO DIE FOR...so go out, get your ingredients, and get to it!



















Happy (almost) Halloween!!

My sweet friend, Jodi, shared this AMAZING recipe, and I thought that all of you beautiful people deserved to have it, too. Speaking of amazing things, Jodi is an incredibly talented photographer and graphic designer, so you should also hop on over to Leapfrog Creations and check out her site. Thanks, Jodi, for the delicious recipe!

Pumpkin Stuff

1 15 oz. of canned pumpkin
1 can of evaporated milk
1 cup of sugar, regular white
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 Eggs (slightly beaten)

Mix all of that in a bowl, pour in a greased 9 X 13 pan

On top of that spread the following 3 ingredients below: Do not make the cake as directed, just crumble the whole cake mix, just powder stuff, on top of the pumpkin mixture. You can add the pecans if you want. I didn't and it was still awesome. But I am sure it would be great with them, because they would be on the top and they would get all toasted up YUM!! Yes, I said just the powder stuff, just trust me, it will work. On top of the cake mix and nuts, as evenly as you can, pour on the 2 sticks of butter. If there are some areas that are still powdery, it works out, so don't worry.

1 Yellow Butter Cake Mix
1 cup chopped Pecans (optional)
2 sticks of butter, melted

Bake in a 350 oven for 50 - 60 minutes

Frosting: Make while the pumpkin stuff is baking

1 8 oz. block of cream cheese (softened)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups of Cool Whip (thawed)

Mix these 3 ingredients together. I got out the electric mixer to make it smooth, but the recipe didn't call for that. After the Pumpkin Stuff has cooled, smear the frosting all over. Quite delicious still warm, but I think even better cold, the next day. Store in the fridge, if there is anything left.

*Photo courtesy of Google Images

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Conference Jitters

I'll be attending the South Carolina Writers Workshop Conference in just about two weeks, and I have MUCH to do. I'm putting the final touches on my synopsis, one-sheet, and ordering my business cards. 

I have to be honest...it feels a little surreal. I'm not just talking to family and blog friends about being a writer - I'm actually going to be talking to agents (I have a pitch session with THE Rachelle Gardner - this is my happy dance *I apologize for the H-word*) and editors and authors (people who have actually PUBLISHED something!) about my being a writer. *deep breath*

I'm trying not to let myself get psyched out. I've done the work, I've done the research - now all I have to do is put myself out there and see what happens. Hopefully, it won't be a train wreck. Hopefully, I won't make any embarrassing mistakes. HOPEFULLY someone will like my idea.

If not? Well, at least I'll have two nights of uninterrupted sleep and I'll get to eat at least 4 meals without my kids asking if they can have some (and by "some" they mean "ALL" of it).

There's always a silver lining, right? :)

Are you nervous about anything right now? Can you find the silver lining?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Whistle While You Work


I woke up smiling today, and that is NOT something that happens very frequently, trust me (or just ask my husband, remember he got me this shirt?). It could be the gorgeous weather outside, which is sunny and cold enough to drink a caramel apple cider (my favorite!) without sweating to death.  However, I'm pretty sure it's because we're all healthy again, having put the terror that is the stomach virus behind us.

TANGENT ALERT: Why on earth is it referred to as a stomach bug? A bug is something small (unless you live in Florida - then I get it. Those palmetto bugs are HUGE!) that can be easily squashed. Calling the heinous and destructive virus that went through our house a "bug" just doesn't seem to do it justice - stomach ninja or stomach assassin seems more appropriate, don't you think?

I'm off to clean up some of the aftermath of last week. Wish I had some furry forest creatures like the lucky, er, girl up there in the picture to help me do it - WHY CAN'T FAIRY TALES BE TRUE??? But before I go, I want to say THANK YOU to all of you who sent prayers and well wishes our way this last week...I appreciated them so very much. 


Whose fairy tale would you like to live?
a) Snow White
b) Sleeping Beauty
c) Cinderella
d) Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

(My answer is D - she might live with a beast, but he's got a GREAT library!)


Friday, October 1, 2010

What Day Is It?

*Photo courtesy of Google Images

I've just recovered from a vicious stomach bug, which attacked 3 of the 4 people in this house. I can honestly say I have never loved my husband (the only one spared from this horrifying virus - you'll see why in a moment) more than I do right now. He is my hero, my knight in shining armor, wielding his can of Lysol like a sword and slaying the invisible germs of death with ease.

Internet, I can do colds. I can do sore throats, stuffy heads, coughing, and sneezing. What I CANNOT do is puking. And OHHHH THE PUKING that happened in this house two nights ago. Oh, I'm sorry. Does the word "puke" make you uncomfortable? PUUUUUUKE.* At one point, I'm pretty sure I asked the Good Lord to take me home, and I'm almost sure I meant it. I wanted to die. I thought I was dying.

Every once in a while I would see a strange Avatar-like creature with a blue face and blue hands. I thought it could be an angel, only the angels I'd read about in the Bible weren't blue. Only after the fever broke did I realize it was my sweet husband wearing a blue medical mask and blue latex gloves on his hands, deftly avoiding the plague that was upon us. I married a smarty, Internet.

Today is the first day I'm actually able to get out of bed without feeling like I'm going to fall over, what with all the dehydration and lack of food and all. And it feels GLORIOUS. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the weather is lovely. I'm going to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air this weekend, and I hope you all can do the same.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

*I apologize for my rudeness. I blame the virus. I believe the adorable cat picture makes up for it? No? I'll try again next week.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Plotters and Pantsers and Pretty Woman, Oh My!


The lovely Roni Loren over at Fiction Groupie did a great post a couple of weeks ago on Plotters vs. Pantsers. I remember reading it thinking that I am absolutely a pantser, just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (minus the hooker part, of course). I even replayed the scene in my head where Julia's character, Vivian, says to Richard Gere's character, Edward (no, you can't call him "Eddie"), "I'm more of a fly by the seat of my pants kinda gal."

However, my pantser story doesn't end with a man hanging out of the top of a white limo wielding flowers in lieu of a sword, clearly coming to my rescue. Lord, I wish it did. (Actually, I would give him a red sharpie instead of a sword, to slash my manuscript to pieces. I would call him "Eddy", short for EDITOR...get it? I know, I'm insane.) Instead my pantser story ends with me pulling my already thinning hair out because I've lost myself in my story. I'm up to my eyeballs in edits and I can now see the gaping holes due to my lack of preparation (just like Roni said I would!). Can I fix them? Most likely. Will it be painful? Absolutely.

Thankfully, I have already begun to learn from my mistakes, creating a rough outline for my second book before I even BEGIN to write it. I don't want to get too detailed with my outline, because I'm still a pantser and I thoroughly enjoy not knowing ALL the details before I write (because a lot of them change in the process anyway). I do hope, however, that at least with a rough outline of my plot and characters that I won't find myself in such a stressful position the next time around.

What about you? Plotter or Pantser - or a little of both? Has being either one given you trouble in the longrun?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Momisms



A great friend of mine from college, Lauren, recently opened a discussion on Facebook asking her friends to post their "momisms". For example, Lauren shared this little gem: I have mastered the art of a quick shower...I am a mom.


Below are just some of the awesome responses. I've taken the liberty of borrowing some of them and fixing them because I'm anal like that, so that they all sound the same. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.

  • I have realized I will never be on time for anything again in my life. I have gone to work with spit up in my hair and not noticed till noon...I am a mom.
  • I have realized I will not be able to poop alone for many years...I am a mom.
  • I have an arsenal of statements at the ready so that I don't have to share my food (This is too spicy for you, Oops - I ate it all, This is really gross - you don't want this) ...I am a mom.
  • I have learned to eat an entire meal while nursing...I am a mom.
  • I now look for coupons for Preparation H...I am a mom.
  • At the store, I push a cart filled with about 50lbs of human before I ever even get to the supplies...I am a mom. *
  • I fart in public and then blame the kid closest to me - works every time...I am a mom. *
  • I know the names of every character in the cartoons and have seen almost every episode at least twice...I am a mom.
  • There are days that I dont have time to brush my teeth till I'm going to bed...I am a mom!  
  • I have perfected the evaluation of each successive cry of, "Dad!" by intensity, volume, and urgency, and no longer appear until actually needed...I am a mom. *
  • I not only know all of the lyrics to the Spongebob theme song, as I am singing it with my 11 year old, the baby is spitting squash in my face and I don't miss a note...I am a mom.
  • I have mastered using my left hand to hold my breast pump and painting my toenails with my right hand...I am a mom (with cute toes).*

*Denotes a personal favorite


What is your momism? Feel free to chime in. Dads and parents of furry kids are welcome too!
 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Is There A Dog Barking?

I mumbled that exact question to my husband sometime in the middle of the night last night. His response? ZZZZZZ. Then I hit him gently prodded him and said, "Do you hear that?" He didn't. About 10 minutes later, our youngest child came into our room crying and saying his throat hurt. Then he let out a sound that was not at all childlike, more like what a child might sound like if it swallowed a grenade and then burped.

So I took little man back to his room and snuggled for an hour before he fell back to sleep. This morning we went to the doctor, because we're headed into the weekend and I did not want to have to make a trip to the ER if this thing got worse. Plus, I'm going to a conference starting today, and didn't want to leave the husband with a sick kid and no meds. 

My doctor said it first, "Was it a seal-like barking sound?" Why yes, actually, yes it was. I wonder if doctors are required to take a zoology class in med school to learn to identify animals by their barks, because she totally hit it out of the park. One yucky throat swab and a few tears later, he was diagnosed with croup. CROUP. Ugh. One prescription and a Spiderman sticker later, and we were headed home.

Here's hoping your weekend doesn't involve a barking seal - unless you're going to the zoo, because that's WAY more fun.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The View From Where I Sit



We all write in different places and on different types of computers (or maybe you prefer to use paper and pen?). I thought I'd share the place where I do the majority of my writing: my kitchen table. Occasionally, I will get out of my house and write at Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, or the library. Most of the time, though, I'm sitting right here, surrounded by laundry and toys to be picked up (hopefully with a large caffeinated beverage and flowers from my sweet hubby to get me through it). 

I used to say, "I can't write at home, it's just too distracting." Then I realized that I was using that excuse as a crutch. Many of us don't have the luxury of being alone and undistracted while we write. Maybe you're a mom like me, constantly interrupted by questions from your children (or distracted by the mere thought of your children: What is he doing right now? I hope he ate a good lunch today. I hope he's not getting into trouble. Did I remember to sign that form?). Maybe you're like me in that sometimes there just isn't enough time to get in the car and drive to one of those places and write for hours. Groceries have to be bought, children have to be dropped off/picked up, doctors have to be seen (Click here for some great tips from author Jody Hedlund on how busy moms can make more writing time).

But the truth is, you have to just DO IT. Writing takes discipline. It takes passion. It takes determination. Put your butt in the chair and WRITE, even if it's just thirty minutes a day, like exercise! Exercise for your craft! Allow yourself the luxury of putting down the laundry, it'll still be there when you get back (though don't neglect it for too long, otherwise you might be faced with a situation like this). If I can do it, so can you.

What's the view like from where YOU sit? Do you get easily distracted when you write at home? What distracts you?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Love It/Hate It: Nifty Fifty Edition

Internet, my mom is 50 years old today. She probably won't appreciate me sharing that with all of you, but I don't really care (see, Mom? I told you I'd get back at your for giving me bangs one day). I was fortunate enough to be able to fly home and surprise her this weekend and attend her surprise 50th birthday party, and it was awesome.

In honor of my sweet mom, I'd like to share with you some things I love/hate about her (don't worry, there's only one "hate").

Love It:
- That we talk all the time. My mom is my best friend and the best advice-giver EVER. I know too many women that have strained relationships with their mothers, that feel judged or incapable around them, and I am very grateful that is not the case with my own.

- She has a heart of gold. She is a giver: meals for friends who are hurting, her time and energy, but most of all, LOVE. She genuinely LOVES people.

- She is SO funny. We laugh at the same things, and sometimes we say the same things at the same time, making us laugh even harder.

- Her faith is strong. She loves God and she might tell you about him, but not without SHOWING you how much she loves Him by the way that she treats you first.

- She is the absolute best Grammy to my kids.

- She is the glue that holds our family together.

Hate It:
- She lives in Florida. I live in Georgia. That is my only complaint!

I love you, Mom. I hope that you have the best birthday ever. I'm praying for 50 more years, because I don't know what I'd do without you.

xoxo

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Writing Is...





I'm off to make some serious edits on my ms...so on today's Writer Wednesday, I'd really like to hear from all of you.

Tell me what writing is to you. Obsession? Therapy? Hobby? A job? Use as many words or as few as you like. You may begin...now.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Mommy's Getting a Makeover

Is it fall yet? Because I always get this stirring in my bones when fall is around the corner - time to change things up a bit. A few weeks ago, I gave myself bangs. If you knew me in the early 90's you know that this is MAJOR because I had an unfortunate bang situation for most of my adolescence (thanks, Mom!). I might try to color my hair (what I have left of it anyway) tonight...who knows.

AND as you may have noticed (or may have not, so I'll blatantly point it out to you) This Mommy's Life has a new look. Yep, it's still the same blog, just under new management. Mommy's getting her act together. I hope you like it - it is TOTALLY me, except it's missing something. Hmmm. OH! How could I forget, the BIRD ELEMENT. We all know I'm a crazy bird lady.

When I went looking for pretty birds, LOOK what I found on Etsy! LOOK AT THESE BEAUTIFUL PRINTS!



Those last two are my favorites! I can't wait to sell my first book (fingers crossed/toes crossed/eyes crossed/KrisKross'll make you JUMP JUMP! I told you...early 90's), because I will buy up this ENTIRE Etsy shop by YumiYumi.

Enjoy your Monday, everyone. I'm off to Starbucks to get a pumpkin spice latte, because it's fall...right?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Help for your Query Letter

Click here for a "How To" on writing your query letter.

Taherah totally nailed it, don't you think? :)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Blood Work And A Peek At My Book

When I titled Friday's post, There Will Be Blood, I didn't realize that it would be self-fulfilling prophecy.

 I spent the better part of my morning sitting in my doctor's office waiting to have my blood drawn because I've been feeling a bit crummy lately. My hair is falling out, I'm tired all the time, I've eaten too many Nutty Bars gained a little bit of weight. You know, the usual happenings of a mother with a 5 and 3 year old.

My brain is fried, and I can't think past my overwhelming desire to go lay down right now (News Flash: Having four vials of blood drawn is not for the already tired and faint of heart!). On the bright side, I've decided to share a little excerpt of my book with you, dear reader. AREN'T YOU EXCITED? I know, try to contain yourself (I'm looking at YOU, MOM).

Feel free to tell me how much you LOVE it what you think. I promise, I won't retaliate if your response is negative. That's the beauty of critiquing someone who can't get out of bed! :)

And now, I give you a snippet of Jeannie and Her Bottles:


When I pull into Lexi’s driveway, she is sitting at the bottom of the front porch steps. Her wild, dark hair is pulled back into a ponytail, and she’s wearing a ripped neck, gray sweatshirt and spandex pants. However, it’s not her clothes that shock me – it's the fact that she’s smoking a cigarette. My sister, the portrait of health and champion of defying premature wrinkles, is smoking a cigarette.
“Alexis Anne Franklin, where did you get that?” I ask, jumping out of the car. Lexi’s middle name is our mother’s first name. Hearing myself say my mother’s name hurts, but I push the thought out of my head and continue reprimanding my older sister, who, at the moment, is acting like anything but. “Those things will kill you, and you don’t even smoke,” I say, slamming the door.
“I bummed it off some teenager,” she says, blowing out a puff of smoke.
“Seriously, Lex. If you don’t put that thing out, I’m going to kill you.”
“Fine.” She puts it out on the step, and flicks the butt at my sandaled feet. I have to jump to miss it.
“Come on, let’s go inside and have a chat,” I say, grabbing her by the arm and dragging her up the stairs. I get a closer look at what’s she’s wearing as I’m dragging, and can't believe it. Lexi prides herself on her appearance. She is always put together - she wears the latest fashion trends and never leaves the house without full makeup and perfectly done hair. To say that I am shocked to see her smoking is one thing; to see her in bad clothes is entirely another. “Love the outfit, Lex. Are you single-handedly trying to bring back the eighties?” 
She shrugs and opens her door, and as I follow her in I notice a pathetic looking plant, what might have once been a fern. Lexi loves her plants – you might call her a green thumb – a trait she annoyingly inherited from our mother. Even though I’m the one who spent the most time in my mom’s garden, I still manage to kill every green thing I attempt to grow. If Lexi’s plants are dying, then I know things are getting bad.
I don’t fully realize how bad until I open the door to her apartment. If the cigarette, outfit, and dead fern didn't scare the crap out of me, this certainly does. The garbage can is nearly overflowing, her kitchen table is stacked high with unopened mail, magazine subscriptions, and what looks like…a bunch of mismatched socks? Her kitchen counter is littered with opened and half-eaten frozen dinners and their containers, empty wine bottles, and dirty glasses. 
Lexi walks past it all and flops down on the couch, pulling a fuzzy blanket all the way up to her chin.
“Sooo, how was your day?” I ask from the kitchen, carefully prodding an open pizza box and trying to make sense of my surroundings. My sister is also a neat freak, so this is completely uncharacteristic of her. I reach into the cabinet and pull out two juice glasses – for lack of proper stemware – and pour us some wine.
“Oh, just peachy,” she says, mumbling beneath the blanket.
While surveying the wreckage around me, I notice her radio. The plug has been ripped from the electrical socket and is now dangling over the counter.
“I see you finally turned off our friend Delilah," I say, trying to hold back a giggle.
Smudge, Lexi’s huge, aptly-named black cat hops carefully up onto the counter, navigating his way through the debris and looking for someone to pay attention to the backs of his ears. 
“Hey, Smudgy,” I say, indulging him for a moment. “At least I see she hasn’t forgotten to feed you.” Smudge looks like he could skip a meal – or ten – and be just fine.
“Yeah, after I turned off Delilah I decided to turn on the television, and guess what was on,” she says.
“Enlighten me,” I say, lifting Smudge off of the counter out of habit. Even with the mess, I can't stand cats on counters - you never know where those feet have been.
“One of those stupid depression medication commercials. You know, the ones that make you want to kill yourself they’re so sad?” she says, obviously irritated.
I laugh, knowing exactly what she's talking about. “Well, you know that’s how they make all their money, right? They depress you with their commercial so that you’ll call your doctor and he’ll prescribe you their medication,” I say, making my way into her living room, glasses of wine in hand.
“Well, it’s a very effective strategy."
I have to step over kicked off shoes and discarded clothing to hand Lexi her cup of wine. Smudge has followed me from the kitchen, hopping stealthily up onto the arm of Lexi’s soft leather couch – the only good thing that came from her marriage to Tom.  It suddenly strikes me that the only good thing that came from my own previous relationship was a piece of furniture. What the heck is it with furniture?
 I pull her feet up into my lap and cover them with a blanket. Smudge looks at Lexi’s feet, then back at me with his yellow-green eyes, as if I’ve committed a crime. Obviously perturbed, he hops down and finds a comfy place at my feet.
 “So what’s up with the landfill in the kitchen?” I ask, taking a sip of my wine.
“Oh, that? I just haven’t gotten around to it,” she says, waving her hand dismissively.
“Well, I think you’d better get to it before it gets to you.” I see one eyebrow twitch, the only proof that she’s heard me at all.
“Are you going to tell me what this is all about or what?” I press, even though I’m pretty sure I already know. She stares blankly at the wall before finally giving in with a sigh.
“I’m just lonely, Pea,” she says, taking a gulp of her wine.
“Pea”, short for Peanut, was my nickname growing up. My initials just happen to be J.I.F. –  yes, like the peanut butter – for Jean Irene Franklin. Lexi is the only one in my family who is still allowed to call me by my nickname. My dad started using it a little too frequently in public, so I had to put him on restrictions.
“I hate coming home after a long day of work to this empty apartment,” she continues, laying her head down on the armrest of the couch, her wild curls spilling all over her face. “I hate cooking meals for one,” she says through them. I don’t have the heart to tell her that microwaving doesn’t exactly count as cooking. I rub her feet in an effort to calm her down before she hits full crisis mode. She sits straight up all of a sudden and glares down at my hands, causing me to stop rubbing immediately.
“What?” I ask, putting my hands up like I’m under arrest.
“I hate that my sister has to be the one to rub my feet at the end of the day,” she says, and slumps dramatically back down onto the armrest. I give a little laugh and resume rubbing as she continues in her downward spiral. “I hate that I know he’s out there with that stupid girl, or some stupid girl like her. I hate that he’s not here.” With this last statement, she begins to cry uncontrollably.
I stand up to hand her a box of tissues from the kitchen counter. For a moment, I allow myself to imagine that I might have been a therapist in a previous life. I don’t technically believe in reincarnation, but if I did I would’ve totally been a therapist. Random strangers approach me all the time and tell me their life stories, like I have some sign on my forehead that says TALK TO ME. It’s not that I really mind listening, unless I’m in a hurry to get somewhere. I know that simply listening won’t work on Lexi tonight, so I reach deep into my arsenal of encouraging sentiments. I swear I could write a book with all the material I’ve used to calm my sister down. I’d call it Chicken Soup for a Psychotic Sister’s Soul.            
“Sweetie, you know you were too good for him to begin with. He wasn’t right for you.”
“Yeah,” she sniffs. “I know that. It’s just that I can’t…forget him. I try – I really do, but every time I meet a guy, I end up comparing him with Tom…the way he was before he became the guy who cheated on me. I thought everything was great between us. How did this happen?”
I think it over before speaking. Now is definitely not a “told you so” moment.
“I don’t know, Lex,” I say, choosing my words carefully. “Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.”
“I have never understood what that means.” She sighs, taking another big gulp of her wine. I find myself relieved that I didn’t bring over the Cabernet I’ve been saving, because I’m pretty sure my sister isn’t even tasting the wine at this point.
“It means,” I say slowly, “that sometimes we are rendered so incapacitated by our feelings, that we can’t really be objective about reality. You had him up on a pedestal. You cared about him so much that you chose to ignore the truth about who he really was…like the fact that he had cheated on his previous girlfriend with you.” I take a sip of my wine, fully appreciating the taste merely out of principle.
“It’s better you found out after two years instead of twenty, right? I mean, what if you’d had kids or something.”
This is not really new news to Lexi, but for some reason it seems to be sinking in tonight. She finishes her wine and reaches for the bottle, pouring herself another glass and swirling it around. “Yeah, what if we had.” She looks at me and shakes her head, and I can see fresh tears welling in her eyes.
“What is it, Lex?” I ask, suddenly worried that I’ve said something to upset her.
“After I took Tom back. I got…pregnant a month later. I…I had a miscarriage.” With this she collapses into my lap.
After finally registering what my sister has just confided to me, I find myself fighting back tears. I certainly don’t want to make this worse for her, so I stiffen my resolve not to cry. We sit in silence for a moment as she cries and I struggle to get past the shock of her revelation. 
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I ask, gently smoothing the wily curls away from her tear-stained face.
“You were so upset when I took him back, and it was just so soon after. I thought you would be angry with me. I’m sorry – I should’ve told you.”
“Listen to me,” I say, pulling her chin up so that she can look me in the face. Her hazel eyes – just like our mother’s – are swollen and red. “There is nothing you could do or say that would make me stop loving you. Nothing.”
“Really?” she asks sniffling, finally sitting upright next to me.
“Sister’s honor,” I say, crossing my heart. I put my arm around her shoulder and shake my head. “Well…unless you tell Dad that I’m a registered Democrat, because we both know that information would get me written right out of the will.”
We share a laugh so deep that I can actually feel it healing us from the inside out.