Thursday, April 26, 2007

Three Cheers Elsewhere

There's nothing like speaking to a classroom full of second graders ready to take a test.

You walk in to hear cheers and clapping. Of course, it's because the test has been postponed until you leave, not because there's any acclaim for being a published author.

It all began with the last parent-teacher conference. My daughter begged me to tell her teacher that I'm an author and that I'd be willing to speak to the class. I'd spoken to her older siblings' classes before, and she thought that me doing the same for hers would be mucho cool.

After Mrs. M. told me that my cute little thing was tops in reading and a model student and all that jazz (of course she is--she's my daughter!), my little girl gave me this look that said, "Mom! Say something!"

So I sort of mentioned the whole author thing and said that if she's interested, I could come talk to her class. The teacher hemmed and hahed and said maybe. I heard nothing else for months, and figured she'd never take me up on it, but at least I offered, and my daughter knew it.

Then a couple of weeks ago, Mrs. M. called me and asked if I'd speak after all. Sure, I said. When would you like me to come? What shall I talk about? We jotted the details on the calendar: Thursday, April 26, 10:00 am.

That would be TODAY. I got my stuff together, and this morning I walked into the classroom door.

To see a substitute.

Who looked a bit perplexed to see me.

I had to introduce myself as Mrs. Lyon, the cute little red head's mom. I explained why I was there.

She abandoned the test she was about to hand out (hence the cheers and clapping) and let me take 30 minutes to talk to the class even though Mrs. M. had apparently forgotten I was coming and hadn't told the sub anything about it.

I told the class a bit about what I do, how I knew I wanted to be a writer ever since I was their age, and we did some fun writing exercises centered on a field trip I had chaperoned recently. I taught them a few things that Mrs. M. wanted them to learn (which we had discussed on the phone).

The kids' hands were flying into the air, and they seemed to really enjoy it--and by golly, they were really getting the hang of the concepts, too. I had fun. I think they did as well. I passed out bookmarks and buttons that had one of my covers on them--and left one of each on Mrs. M.'s desk as a gentle reminder that I had been there.

As I walked out, I heard the sub saying, "Now for the test," followed by groans from the students.

But I know I was a bright spot in one kid's life. A tow-headed boy named Cody said it was his birthday, and that this was one great part of it.

And frankly, I had fun, too, even though the cheers weren't for me.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Coming up for Air

I just hit SEND and emailed my latest rewrite to my editor!

I'm still in my PJ's. Hair's a mess. No make up. House is in shambles. My life has been this way for, oh, over a week now.

This was made possible, in part, by my sweet hubby who stayed home and helped keep my darling 4-year-old occupied and happy.

But I'm DONE.

For now. Of course, now I get to take a breath and get my life back in order just in time for the edits to hit. But for today I'm done, and my honey will be taking me out for dinner tonight to celebrate.

Yippee!

This week I'll also be speaking in my daughter's school class about writing. I'll probably leave out the part about trying to finish rewrites when you really should have showered six hours ago so your editor will get the manuscript before lunch like you promised.

This week I'll also post on Writing on the Wall, the editing blog I'm part of with the Precision Editing Group. (I'm assigned to Wednesdays, but the whole team is amazing. Check us out.)

And with any luck, I'll get some actual writing done on one my other projects in addition to getting the house straighted up and some laundry done.

One other way cool thing I'm part (again, thanks to my amazing hubby--he rocks beyond words) is the Writers in Heels planet. It's a feed aggregator, basically a collection of blogs by some of my lady writing friends. It's a one-stop shopping blog fest. Visit the site and check out the newest posts on each blog. To visit the original blog site, click on the blog title.

But for now, because yesterday was our anniversary (13 years!), there happens to be chocolate in the house right next to the roses, so ten bucks says you know where I'm headed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

History Tag

Being on deadline as I am, I wasn't planning on blogging again for a good week, but Tristi the Pixie decided on tagging me.

Being as these kinds of tags tend to go awfully fast and leave any blogging friends I know already tagged, I thought I'd better get mine done FAST and leave me to my rewrite. But frankly, these really are fun, and I learned a bit in the process.

Here we go for my HISTORY TAG.

1. Go to Wikipedia and type in your birthday without the year:

December 18

2. List 3 events that occurred that day:

1787 - New Jersey becomes the third state to ratify the United States Constitution.
(I include this because I love U.S. History.)

1892 - The first performance of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is held at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.
(I include this because I love dance.)

1987 - Larry Wall releases the first version of the Perl programming language.
(I include this not because I have any real idea what Perl is beyond a computer programming language, but because my hubby does, being the amazing techno man that he is and because I've seen books with the word "Perl" on our bookshelves.)


3. List 2 important birthdays:

I assume, besides mine. :)

1863 - Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria (d. 1914)
This is the guy whose assassination began WWI, so I'd consider him pretty important.

Okay, the second is a little tough. I'm stuck mentioning people I really don't admire or consider important, per se. There are actors (Brad Pitt, Katie Holmes), a singer (Christina Aguilera), and someone really atrocious (Joseph Stalin).

None are someone I'd really WANT to mention.


4. List 1 death:

Francis Drake


5. List 1 holiday or observance:

Feast of Sebastian the Martyr (Greek Orthodox Church)


Now for tagging other bloggers:


Lu Ann

Luisa

Jeff

Matthew

Carole

Have fun!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Three Things I Am

I discovered recently, reading a fellow friend's blog I met here in blogland that I am a writer, a foodie, and a knitter.

In fact, it was the latter that first connected us. Who knew that confessions of a pre-teen knitting addiction psychosis would connect me with an LDS writer in New York?

How totally fun and random is THAT?

So in honor of the fact that I am a writer, a foodie, and a knitter, I am hereby blogging about all three:

1) I'm a writer.
Shocker, since I generally blog about that very topic. I am going to be pretty much chained to my computer because of item #1 this coming week because of my latest rewrite. My editor is brilliant. And she's right. I hate that. This should be interesting since it's also my children's spring break. I will be bribing them with pretty anything they want. Let's hope they don't read this and decide to exploit said fact.

2) I'm a foodie.
As one of the three founding sisters of the Utah Chocolate Show, also not a shocker. I'm a second generation chocoholic. Daughter #1 makes it generation #3. Since my mother is European, she started us early on the good stuff.

Here's one fun secret: I make one heck of a chocolate chip cookie. Here are my two big cookie secrets, which I will share with the world. (Seriously, people are constantly asking why my cookies aren't flat. Take notes.)

First, use real butter, not that pathetic excuse for butter that is shortening. Ick. Gross. Gag.

Second, add more flour. I don't measure flour for my cookies. Just add flour until your dough isn't sticky anymore. Add more and more and more. Add flour until the bottom of the bowl almost has crumbs in it. You should be able to handle the dough and not end up with any on your fingers.

You'll have nice, round, UN-flat cookies. I swear it!

The last thing is to use lots of chocolate chips. Forget a pathetic 1/2 cup or whatever. Sheesh. If you're going to make chocolate chip cookies, add the chocolate, people!


3) I'm a knitter.
Lately, that's been a little tough. As my blog friend, Luisa, reminded me, knitting really does relax you and "unfry" fried neurons better than even chocolate. (Truly folks, that isn't sacrilege. It's true.) So I've tried knitting at times other than bedtime, which used to be my regular knitting time. It hasn't worked very well.

I'm remembering WHY I picked bedtime to knit.

My daughters find handwork as fascinating as I did at their age. I pick up my knitting, and suddenly I have little girls swarming me. They somehow find crochet hooks and yarn and those knitting looms and sometimes even fabric and needles and thread or whatever else they can find around the house--anything that looks like handwork--and they want to make something, too. And of course they want my help with it. "What do I do next?" "Show me how?" "Is this right?"

And I plead, "PLEASE, can I just finish this row?"

So in an hour and I'm lucky to finish two or three rows of my daughter's jacket.

And then the following week she whines each morning that she doesn't have a jacket to wear to school. Yeah, well, cutie, it's you're fault, because you won't let me KNIT THE THING!

So there you have it, folks!

I'm a writer, a foodie, and a knitter!

Thanks for the blog idea, Luisa!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Which Won?

Which beast won since last time, the creative juices or the nagging tradition of sewing my girls Easter dresses? As you can see below, the dresses won out. I couldn't tell my daughters that after eight years or so of making them something to march into church matching on Easter Sunday that I would fail them. (I had hinted as much once, and the horrified looks on their little faces about did me in.)

If you do the math, you can tell that I first made them dresses when my second daughter was oh, 8 months old and I wasn't even published yet. Life was much simpler then, as in, I wasn't ever ON DEADLINE.

Note that the "dresses" aren't dresses. They are jumpers (hence, no sleeves to fight with that add lots of time to the sewing process). They still, however, had zippers, which you cannot see, fortunately, because they are crooked. You also, fortunately, didn't see or hear me sewing them, because it was not a pretty sight.

The pattern called for three fancy stripes at the bottom. Note that there are no stripes. Said pattern also called for trim at the neckline and around the arm holes. Note that there is no trim at those locations, either. Instead I opted for a fabric that had a cute, flowery design all by itself. I bought ribbon and a $1.87 flower for each dress that I could pin to the front of each one in about 3 minutes flat.

Tada!

Next year I'm thinking that instead of jumpers I'll do skirts. Then the following year, maybe I can get away with a cute purse. Then maybe the next year they'll be okay with a fancy scrunchie in their hair . . .

By Saturday, I had managed to hem the last dress, so I pulled out my trusty Neo as we drove home from visiting grandparents and I typed up a scene that had been floating in my head all week as I sewed. It was great! I love my main character, and today I had a ball going back to that scene and fleshing it out.

I looked forward to spending this week writing more of her story and "living" with her.

After all, my editor had told me I had a few weeks to "run free." I had pictured myself doing a Julie Andrews impression, twirling in the Alps.

Alas, it is not to be. She e-mailed me today officially putting me back on deadline.

However, she did throw me a bone. I have a title!

My Salt Lake City Temple book, due out this fall will be called Spires of Stone.

I love it!

But now, back to work . . .

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dresses vs. Juices?

I'm so totally stoked!!!! The creative juices are SO back.

My next book (Manti Temple) has been hanging out in the wings refusing to come onto stage, and it's been one of those things I've been gently trying to coax out into the open and a bit scared that it just WON'T even show its cute little obnoxious, stubborn face. Drafting really hasn't been much of an issue, since really, I haven't had TIME to draft recently.

But frankly, when I've given drafting a thought, I've tried not to panic, because my story hasn't been there TO draft. It's been nowhere. My rewrites are turned in. I'm not on deadline. The conference is over. I asked my editor when I should expect the next set of editorial deadlines, and she said I could in her words "run free" for a few weeks.

In my terms, that means I should be drafting. So I turned my mind to the next book.

It's not there.

Oh, I've had glimpses of it. Little glimpses that show me it has promise. I've had a clue what the protagonist is like. I even had an idea of what one scene LATE in the book might be like. I had a teeny tiny idea of what my protagonist does job-wise. But for the most part, I was in the dark, and not for lack of trying to muddle my way through my usual ways of figuring things out.

Then today as I'm blow-drying my hair, she decided to show her face, along with much of her story.

And then the book pranced onto center stage!!!

I now have her name plus two nicknames—the one everyone uses (which she hates—and why she hates it—plus the one she prefers). I also have her back story. I have what she does and why. I have the romantic interest AND his name AND his occupation. I have why she's here and where she came from. I have several scenes just waiting to be explained and shown.

I mean, oh my freakin' heck!

This is so dang cool, and I can't wait to write it down!!! (Now I better not lose it all . . .)

The only down side is that this is the week I was suppose to have reserved for my annual attempt at domesticity to make my daughters their Easter dresses. Ahem.

M'kay . . .

Coming Soon: Firsts and Lasts

UPDATE: Firsts and Lasts is now live as an ebook, and it'll soon be available in paperback as wel! Get the ebook HERE . I've got s...