Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Politically Purple

Like a good portion of the population, I'm driven crazy by politics. I hate them, hate them, hate them. And that's in non-election years. Right now, I want to throw a hammer at the television half the time.

One of my earliest memories about politics came when I was a teen and two former sister missionaries who had served under my parents came to visit us. They had recently done internships in Washington, one in a Republican's office, the other in a Democrat's.

My parents asked them about their current political opinions. Now that they'd seen both sides of the aisle first-hand, what did they think?

I'll always remember what one of them said: "I hate both parties." She went on to explain how each side had some great things going for it, but they both had major blind spots as well. While one party valued X, it made things much worse for Y. Meanwhile, the other party might take great care of Y but tended to be completely damaging to Z and sometimes even X.

As an adult, I get that. Both parties have a lot to offer. Both have a lot of baggage that I think they could get rid of and be better. Neither party is one I really want representing me.

So what do I do? Which party to I support? Neither, really. I'm not blue, and I'm not red. I consider myself politically purple.

I finally have a child old enough to "get" politics and form his own opinion about them. It's been interesting to see him change sides, express disbelief or frustration over something a candidate has said, and ask Mom and Dad their opinion on matters.

Yesterday he reported watching part of the presidential debate in his U. S. History class. The result made me laugh and think of my own 13-year-old self listening to those former interns. Up to this point, my son had a definite favorite in the race, but following the debate, his bubble had burst a bit.

"McCain and Obama were just the same," he told me. "Half the time their answers had nothing to do with the questions!"

Yes, son. That's politics for you. Let's hear it for the purples among us.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Enjoying the Less-Enjoyable

Coming up with book ideas is fun. Drafting (except for those writer's block moments) is a blast. Revisions are something I usually enjoy, because I can take something that's already there and polish it up, making it better and better each time I revisit it.

And then you turn in your manuscript, and generally speaking, the fun part is over.

If you're lucky and the book is accepted, you'll likely do more revisions. This might not be painful, but most likely, it won't be fun anymore, either. And yes, at times, rewrites can be just plain brutal.

Then come the edits. Even though I may be the grammar and punctuation nazi and an editor, I don't enjoy going over edits of my own books. By the time I've reached this point in the process, the book isn't fresh and new to me anymore, and chances are I'm finishing up something else altogether, so I'm having fun with that manuscript.

And to be honest, there have been times when I've been ready to flog someone over what they're trying to do to my book.

All this is leading up the point: I returned from our trip to Finland with my edit waiting for me on my desk. Kirk, my new editor, had sent it beforehand so it'd be ready to go when I got back. It stared at me as I tried to play catch-up around the house, and I put it off for several days. The stack of paper scolded me for ignoring it.

Since edits aren't fun (in fact, they're right up there with root canals at times), I didn't really want to go there yet. But I knew I had to, so I buckled down and did it.

So here's the great news: Kirk is awesome. Good editors are hard to find, and as I've mentioned before, I was scared to lose Angela, my dear editor for five books. But Kirk is gold, I tell you. (Okay, I already knew he was, but now I have physical proof.)

Here's a big clincher right here: he added a couple of semicolons to my book! I KNOW! It's like we were separated at birth or something!

I learned a few things going over his edit:
  • Even the grammar nazi can have loose fingers and type embarrassing homophones like you're/your, who's/whose, and (the worst!) it's/its. I know which is which. I do! But somehow my fingers still betrayed me.
  • I've developed a few bad habits with sentence structure that popped up over and over again. And again. Kirk gently smoothed them out. I'll be looking for them in my work in progress, however. They won't be able to hide . . .
  • Apparently, I really like em dashes.
  • It's rather jarring to work on a contemporary piece at the same time you're editing something historical. I had half a mind to give Tabitha a cell phone or something.
  • It's also a bit of a time warp to look back at a manuscript you haven't so much as glanced at in months. I'd practically forgotten some of the storyline. (No worries, though. I'm sure that by the time this thing goes to press, I'll nearly have it memorized. It's inevitable when you have to go over it several times.)

Now back to revisions on my contemporary book. My early readers' critiques are trickling in. For the most part, these upcoming revisions should be fun.

And for the first time in over six years, I've given a book a working title instead of calling it by a major character or location. (See this post for why I just don't do that normally.)

My work in progress is about five women and their friendships and difficulties while their husbands are deployed in Afghanistan. I'm calling it Band of Sisters. Assuming it gets accepted, we'll have to see if the title sticks.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Linkity Link-Link

I'm still in major catch-up mode post-trip, so I've been a bit absent, but I thought it was high time I did a little housekeeping around here.

To start with, I'm very tardy in mentioning these two lovely ladies, but here we go:

A few months ago, I won two fun prizes from bloggers.

First, Rachelle from Rachelle Writes sent me a Mother's Day story from Story Time Felts. My youngest had a ball cutting the pictures out of the felt (I'm lazy like that and let her do it). Then we read the story together with the pictures. As we don't own a flannel board and I wasn't in the mood to make one, we used a couch cushion. She loved it, and she's played with the set off and on quite a bit on her own, even when I'm not around to read the story along with her. I think she's been making up her own stories as well. Rachelle has written several of the stories Story Time Felts produce. Check out their products here.

Second, I had a true stroke of luck when I won two prizes from Karlene of Inksplasher. She and her daughter Megan went on a big road trip this summer and gave out oodles of prizes in connection with it. One of my prizes was a plastic cougar figurine that will surely become a staple of the kids' play bin.

The other was a bag of Urban Botanics products. (That sound you hear is me singing in triumph. I have dry skin, folks.) My daughter loves the body spray and wears it even more often than I do, but my true love is the hand lotion. I use it every night and will cry when it's gone. (Hear that, Karlene? I'll CRY. You'll need to send me more. Or I guess I could actually buy some, since this is the second bottle I've won from you.) Visit Karlene's Urban Botanics page here. The joy of their products? You can customize your own scent. They're awesome!

And last but certainly not least, right before I went world traveling (and when I was in the throes of preparations and thus couldn't acknowledge it), Melanie J at Write Stuff awarded me with this totally awesome number:



Yay!!! I love Melanie's blog, and it was a big compliment to see mine in her list of ones she like to frequent as well. Thanks, Melanie!

Now for the award bestowal:

I got this close to giving it to Alison Wonderland, but then realized that um, DUH, she created the award.

(Wait. Does that mean she hasn't gotten it and therefore is eligible? What are the rules about bloggy awards anyway? Uh, Alison, consider yourself awarded. :D)

Ever since I got a Google reader, my blog list has grown to a crazy size, so choosing additional recipients is tough. I read lots and lots of great blogs and should probably cut down on my subscriptions.

For now, I'll pass also pass the award to some of the blogs I've been following the longest and love (I'm nothing if not loyal):

JulieQ at mental tesserae

Josi at Sundial in the Shade and

Jenna at Cranberry Corner.

UPDATE: In light of overlooked unreciprocated linkiness (See the comments. Goodness gracious, WHAT was I THINKING?!), go here and here. To make sense of it all, go here.

See, Wells? I gave you not one, not two, but THREE links. So there. How's THAT for linky-love?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Quiz Winners & Answers

I'm still in the process of re-entry after my trip.

I have lots and lots to report and post, but for today, it'll be just the winners to the quiz.

Oh, and to mention where I was and what I was doing while I was away—of which there will be much future bloggage, because it was just way too cool.

Back story: From 1984 to 1987, my parents presided over the Helsinki, Finland mission, so I lived there from the ages of 10 to 13. It was a hugely formative era for me in so many ways. I'll go into that more another time, but to be brief, two years ago, my parents were also called to be the first president and matron over the new temple in Helsinki.

Hubby and I went to visit them and the country during part of the maintenance closure (when they'd have time to spend with us!). We stayed long enough to attend the temple after it reopened.

The trip was amazing on so many levels. I really felt like I'd come home after 21 years.

Like I said, LOTS to report on that, not the least of which was seeing classmates Katri and Leena again and catching up with them. Many photos forthcoming!

Now, without further ado, here are our winners and the quiz answers, for those who want to read that far:

Julie Wright of Scattered Jules had the most correct answers at 15. She wins the Utah Kernels gift basket. I may have to go on a road trip to eat some of the gourmet popcorn with her. I know firsthand how good it is!

MelanieJ of Write Stuff wins for her creative answers. Her whole write-in list of answers had me laughing out loud. To #17 (I think I have cute . . .) she put, "children (that answer alone should totally win this for me)." Possibly. (I DO have awfully cute children, you, know, in a totally unbiased observational way.) But all her other answers were very funny and creative too. (According to her, I've never been to Oz, I hate my Vista upgrade, and I had no cat named Spears . . . but neither did I have one named Paris, Simpson, or Lohan.)

So MelanieJ wins the Seriously, So Blessed! T-shirt.

And for linky-love about the quiz, the winner of the Line Upon Line greeting cards bundle is Jami from Superfluous Miscellany. About hoping to win, she wrote, "I know the secret. (Actually, I only overheard it, but that's close enough.) I am sending winning vibes out into the universe and the universe is about to dump the motherload in my lap." Must have worked!

Now for the answers:

1. Which of the following did I undergo at the age of 12?
B. Cosmetic surgery
I was bestowed clown ears through my paternal line. While living in Finland, where excellent medical care is inexpensive, we got them pinned back. It was nice to stop being teased mercilessly. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Mark Skousen from third grade.) Fortunately, none of my children inherited my ears.


2. Which have I done in Utah?
D. Scaled down the Robber’s Roost cliffs
I’m a sad excuse for a Utahn, I know—no skiing, no Lake Powell, and not even Timp Cave (although I hope to rectify that one soon). Robber’s Roost was really cool.


3. All of these titles are childhood favorites. But which was the first to inspire me to write my own stories?
C. The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary My first attempt at a book was Mean Marvin the Mouse right around age 8.


4. Which of the following classic musical groups do I not particularly care for?
A. The Mamas and the Papas
If you’ve read Lost without You, you know I love ABBA. The others in the list are absolute classics I grew up listening to.


5. I have performed in all of the following musicals except:
B. The Sound of Music
Some of the best times of my adolescence were performing in plays. This was the first one I ever tried out for—and I didn’t make it. Readers of my first book could probably guess that I had been in Into the Woods and Fiddler.


6. If I were to return to school for a master’s degree and didn’t study English literature or writing, what would I probably study instead?
Linguistics. Because I’m a language nerd. I had a couple of basic English language courses for my major—taught by a linguist—and they were my favorite classes, hands down. (Dr. Oaks = best teacher ever.) Probably helps that Dad is a linguist.


7. I name cars, but I’ve never driven one called:
A. Harold.
Arthur was Dad’s little red truck I buzzed around in as a teen. I drove Louise through my last two years of high school (until little sis wrecked her on my graduation day . . .). Betty took me through college. And Eleanor was Mom and Dad’s car that we eventually inherited after I got married and they got a new car.


8. At Olive Garden, I am most likely to order:
C. Chicken Parmesan
Fatty? Yes. Tasty? Oh, yeah.


9. Which salad dressing do I consider nasty?
C. Bleu Cheese
I have an aversion to ingesting mold.


10. Name one of my two favorite writing “toys.” (Bonus if you can name both.)
My beloved AlphaSmart Neo and my OED on CD. See above about being a word nerd.


11. What city did I live in until the age of four?
Springville, Utah.


12. Two-part question, with a point for each right answer: With my children, I duplicated the family I grew up in.
1) What does that family look like?
Boy, girl, girl, girl.
2) Where do I fit in?
I’m #3, the middle girl.


13. We had lots of cats in my childhood home. Which name did NOT belong to one?
E. Fiona
This is our current cat’s name.

14. Which household chore do I hate?
A. Sweeping the kitchen
Ugh. I swear, it always needs to be done, and you can’t really get a sense of satisfaction afterward, because it’s not that visible.


15. Which city have I NOT visited?
D. Frankfurt


16. Name my favorite L. M. Montgomery heroine.
B. Valancy
Rilla’s a close second, and Emily comes in third. But no one beats Valancy. She’s a riot.


17. I think I have cute:
B. Toes


18. But I hate my:
C. Cheeks
Many a blog post about them . . .


19. I almost never leave the house without:
A. Waterproof mascara
Largely due to my long but very blonde lashes (blogged about previously), I look very different with and without mascara, to the point that without it, people (even family) think I’m ill or upset, when in reality, my lashes are just naked. Waterproof is a must.


20. My husband and I met as ballroom team partners doing which dance?
C. Cha-Cha
We were pretty darn good, too.


21. In high school, I took two years of which language?
A. Russian
Not sure why I did that. I took French in junior high. I still like deciphering the Cyrillic alphabet betimes.


22. I have all of the following nationalities in my blood except:
A. Norwegian
My paternal grandparents were Swiss and German immigrants. Mom was born in Finland, and her dad was Swedish.

23. Which of the following classic writers do I enjoy reading? (In other words, which one do I NOT despise?)
B. Steinbeck
Forgive me, Luisa! I really do like Steinbeck. Hated him in high school, but found a love for him as an adult. He’s brilliant.

MelanieJ, you can rest assured that I despise Faulkner with a serious passion. I ranted about that here. (If you Google, "I hate Faulkner," that post comes up #1. Hah!)


24. Which did I learn to do first: knit or type?
Knit, around age 11.
I could do the fake pecking typing at that point, but didn’t officially take keyboarding until 9th grade. On a typewriter. Yes, I’m that old.


25. My part-time job in college was:
B. Secretary in the P.E. department
At one point, I spent hours each day typing up a huge report about the graduate program, which was coming under review for accreditation. One reason I can type as fast as I can today. Yay for speed! And I didn’t quite get carpal tunnel, either.


Thanks to everyone who played!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A QUIZ . . . and PRIZES!

I’ll be absent from blogland for the next couple of weeks. When I get back, I’ll most definitely report on why I was away and what I was doing. (All I’ll say now is, again, woohoo!)

To keep you busy while I’m gone (stealing the idea from Novembrance, who just came out of her own bloggy break), here’s goofy a quiz about me. You’ll want to enter this one because of the fabulous prizes.



The Prizes:



The person who provides the most correct answers
will receive the Pretty in Pink gift box from Utah Kernels, a division of Colorado Kernels. They're easily my favorite gourmet popcorn company.

The gift box includes all THREE of my favorite flavors: Chocolate Avalanche, River Bottom Crunch, and Cherry Cordial. Scary levels of deliciousness, people!

It’s worth $26.99 and will be delivered to your door.








The person with the most creative responses gets this T-shirt from my new favorite blogger, Seriously, So Blessed!


If you haven’t read this hysterically funny satire on the Mormon Mom blog, you’re missing out . . . seriously!

Check it out. (Her e-store, too!) I dare you NOT to laugh as TAMN (Tiffany/Amber/Nicole/Megan) recounts her amazing, exciting life with her adoring newly wed hubby JJWT, who’s in law/dental/medical/business school.

Be sure to watch the buzz she made recently on KSL news.

The "Fro-Yo" (frozen yogurt) shirt reads, "Like cocaine, but cheaper, legal, and not against the plan."

I already ordered a shirt for myself that says, "Want me to put it in Laman's terms for you?" (Perfect for the Grammar Nazi, no?)


Finally, link to this post on your own blog to be part of a prize drawing. The winner will get a 5-card bundle with their choice of Line upon Line greeting cards.

Click on the widget at the right to check out their site for all their cards. I had a riot reading them all and laughing my little head off. The ladies behind this company are brilliant.


Here are some of my favorite lines from their cards:

A baby card: "Congrats on adding to your Eternal Glory."

For Dad (something all moms can relate to):
Outside: "mom, I'm hungry" "mom, the baby's stinky" "mom, she's pinching me" etc.
Inside: I'm so glad when Daddy comes home. Glad as I can be!

For Newly weds (wanna get them blushing?):
Outside: Just Married
Inside: Now go multiply and replenish the Earth!


AND . . . because I'm in a good mood, I'll draw a second winner from those who link back. That person will receive one of my books, of their choice.

To be part of the drawing, sure to pass along your post's permalink either in the comments or by emailing it to the address below.


Answering the Quiz:
Many answers can be found in previous posts, so many long-time readers will likely know several. People who have known me personally for years will know a few more. A good number of answers are found in my 100th post. And others questions? You’ll just have to hazard a guess. :)

Answer in the comments or via e-mail: annette at annette lyon dot com

Also, if you haven’t entered the Her Good Name contest yet, be sure to drop by the contest page on my website to do that. I’ll be drawing the winner in October.


The Official "While I’m Away" Quiz

1. At the age of 12, I underwent:
A. Oral surgery
B. Cosmetic surgery
C. Tonsillectomy
D. 73 stitches in a gash on my leg

2. Which have I done in Utah?
A. Gone skiing at Sundance
B. Gone swimming in Lake Powell
C. Visited Timpanogos Cave
D. Scaled down the Robber’s Roost cliffs

3. All of these titles are books I loved as a child. Which inspired me to write my own stories?
A. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
B. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg
C. The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary
D. Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery

4. Which of the following music groups do I not particularly care for?
A. The Mamas and the Papas
B. ABBA
C. Simon and Garfunkle
D. The Eagles

5. I have performed in all of the following musicals except:
A. Fiddler on the Roof
B. The Sound of Music
C. Into the Woods
D. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat

6. If I were to return to school for a master’s degree and didn’t study English literature or writing, what would I probably study instead?

7. I name cars, but I’ve never driven one called:
A. Harold
B. Arthur
C. Louise
D. Betty
E. Eleanor

8. At Olive Garden, I am most likely to order:
A. Chicken Fettuccine
B. Lasagna
C. Chicken Parmesan
D. Soup and Salad

9. Which salad dressing do I consider nasty?
A. Thousand Island
B. Honey Mustard
C. Bleu Cheese
D. Russian

10. Name one of my two favorite writing "toys." (Bonus if you can name both.)

11. What city did I live in until the age of four?

12. Two-part question, a point for each right answer:
With my children, I duplicated the family I grew up in.

1) What does that family look like? (Example: Boy, boy, girl, boy, girl.)

2) Where do I fit in?

13. We had lots of cats in my childhood home. Which name did NOT belong to one?
A. Muffin
B. Spears
C. George
D. Herman
E. Fiona

14. Which household chore do I hate?
A. Sweeping the kitchen
B. Vacuuming
C. Laundry
D. Toilets

15. I have NOT visited:
A. Stockholm
B. London
C. Nazareth
D. Frankfurt

16. Name my favorite L. M. Montgomery heroine.
A. Emily
B. Valancy
C. Anne
D. Rilla

17. I think I have cute:
A. Earlobes
B. Toes
C. Pinkie fingers
D. Knees

18. But I hate my:
A. Legs
B. Elbows
C. Cheeks
D. Nose

19. I almost never leave the house without:
A. Waterproof mascara
B. Almond-flavored lip gloss
C. Sunglasses
D. iPod

20. My husband and I met as ballroom team partners doing which dance?
A. Samba
B. Rumba
C. Cha-Cha
D. Paso Doble
E. Tango

21. In high school, I took two years of which language?
(Note: all of these were really offered.)
A. Russian
B. French
C. German
D. Japanese
E. Spanish

22. I have all of the following nationalities in my blood except for:
A. Norwegian
B. German
C. Swiss
D. Swedish

23. Which of the following classic writers do I enjoy reading? (In other words, which one do I NOT despise?)
A. Hemmingway
B. Steinbeck
C. Faulkner
D. Norris

24. Which did I learn to do first: knit or type?

25. My part-time job in college was:
A. Staff editor for Inscape, a student literary magazine
B. Secretary for the P.E. department
C. Server in the Sky Room restaurant
D. Tutor in the writing lab

Good luck, and I'll see you when I get back!


(Hope you have as much fun over the next two weeks as I will be!)



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