Thursday, August 28, 2008

Body Movies--Yes!

My daughter's fascination with how snails poop has moved on to bigger and better anatomical concepts.

Not long ago, she asked me how we talk. I had to dig to figure out what she meant, which boiled down to:

How do our bodies actually make the sounds of speech?

I tried to explain about vocal chords, how our tongues form sounds, but that wasn't enough for her. So we went to computer, where I searched for videos of vocal chords in action, including the famous clip of Steve Perry's wonder chords banging together at an insane rate as he belts out that falsetto note he's famous for. (It took me forever to find the clip before; I'm not searching for it again or I'd link to it!)

Fascinated by the video, she stroked her neck in wonder. "Mine look like that when I talk?"

A few days later, she asked how our bodies move. A simple explanation about muscles wasn't enough for her. She wanted more. (I mean, really. She's in kindergarten. It's not like she's little.)

Before she was satisfied, we'd gone through discussions of ligaments, tendons, and signals from the brain.

At one point, I casually mentioned that if she had other questions about her body, we could probably find more answers and more videos online to answer them.

"Yes! Body movies!" she exclaimed, and jumped.

For the next two days, she hounded me. Several times a day it was, "When can I watch more body movies?!"

One morning on my way to the shower she begged again, so I gave in to keep her happy. I found a site with several (on the Discovery Channel site, I think.) It had about half a dozen video clips about the human body. As I showered, she watched them. And she re-watched the one about a brain bank several times, fascinated.

When I emerged from the bathroom, she told me all about what a healthy brain looks like versus a diseased brain and how the brain bank people were cutting up the brains for study. Her eyes sparkled with excitement.

Her older siblings looked ready to wretch from disgust.

"Can I watch more body movies?" she begged. "I want to know how hair grows. And how food goes through my body. And how my heart works."

The next day we sat at the computer and searched out one answer at a time. One medical site had clips about all kinds of things. I read through them, and she'd light up when I hit on a topic she found interesting.

We watched several bits about digestion. Another about the heart. We viewed a colonoscopy. She leaned forward in absolute fascination during the tape of an actual brain surgery while the patient was awake. (That one made me flinch.) An hour later, I had to put a stop to it so we could get on with the rest of the day.

At our next trip to the library, she asked if she could check out a movie. Sure, I said, expecting her to trot over to the kids' section and look over the Arthur tapes.

Oh, no.

"Body movies!" she demanded with a hop.

You'd be surprised at how few they had. I searched the entire video collection and found two. (They had plenty of educational videos, but most were about geography, history, or animals, not the human body specifically, which was a prerequisite.) We left the library with those videos, and she watched them right away.

The next time we visited the library, she didn't care so much about finding new Berenstain Bears books like she usually does. Instead, she wanted (what else?) body books. We ended up with an armful that explained everything from how hair grows (we never did find a good video clip she understood about that) to how our ears work, why we sneeze, and what happens when you hiccup.

Thanks to a book about bones, she can now point to her patella, scapula, and femur.

"Maybe you'll be a doctor when you grow up," Dad suggested.

"No," she said with a shake of her head, laughing (as if Dad were being truly silly). "I'm going to be an artist."

"Artists need to know how the body works and moves," I told her.

"Really? Yes!!!" She pumped her arm.

I was with Dad, thinking that this body fascination would go beyond perspective and shading.

But then the other day, she showed me a picture she drew and explained that it looked just like lungs. Scary thing? It did. She looked so proud of herself that she knew what lungs looked like and what they did.

So for now, no matter what she ends up doing in the future, we'll try to feed her curiosity. While her siblings continue to think that body movies are just gross.

("A brain? Ewww!")

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Difference 8 Years Makes

Eight years ago, I dropped off my first child at kindergarten. He was nervous. I was nervous. I also had his (then) two little sisters with me, one in a stroller, and the other I was trying to keep a hand on so she wouldn't get lost in the shuffle.

We took pictures, found his name tag and his desk and all that stuff. And then it was time to say good-bye. He gave me a hug (fortunately without tears). I took a deep breath and walked out the door.

I fully expected to do what friends had told me to expect: sit in the driver's seat of the car and burst into tears.

I didn't. I couldn't. I was too worried about my little guy. He was probably the youngest kid in his class. What if a big bully decided to lay into him? I had been in charge of his world for his entire life. Would a teacher with twenty other kids be able to keep track of him? What if he got lost in the school? What if he got kidnapped from the playground?

What if, what if, what if?

It was all I could do not to stalk the school to be sure he was okay. I drove home, a nervous wreck. I worried all two and a half hours until I could go rescue him. He was fine. Of course.

But I wasn't. Not by a long shot. He survived one day of school. Good. But there were still 179 left in the school year. So much could still go wrong. For two straight months, I was a ball of nerves. Every day, I waved good-bye, and he trotted off with his backpack. He was just fine. One of his best friends was in class, and he was loving recess and reading and art and all the other fun things.

It wasn't until about October when things finally got into a bit of a routine and I could send him off without verging on a panic attack. That's the day I caught a television show about mothers sending their children off to college.

They wept. And that opened the floodgates. My little guy had years yet before he'd be going off to college (although that number is shrinking with frightening rapidity), but he was growing up. We'd hit a bit milestone.

I bawled my eyes out, a mere two months late.

Today I dropped off my youngest to her first day of kindergarten. She's been chomping at the bit to get to school, and this last week when her siblings had school and she didn't yet, it about killed her.

We took pictures, found her name tag, and got her settled on the rug with the other kids.

"Are you going now?" she asked. Her tone was purely curious. She wasn't at all concerned. If anything, she might have been trying to get rid of me because it would be silly for Mom to stay. I gave her another hug and said that yes, I'd be going now.

And I walked out.

I'm not worried this time. I've been through first days of school many times since that day eight years ago. She'll be just fine, and she'll get a great education to boot.

Me? I'm doing pretty good. I'm a bit weepy about this being it: my last first day of kindergarten. Even I can't kid myself anymore that my baby is still a baby.

At the same time, there's a sense of satisfaction. A new milestone for me and the family. For me as a mom. I dreamt of this day for a long time when I was in the diaper trenches. Look how far we've come.

I may shed a few tears yet. My time with her at home when she's a baby and toddler is forever gone now.

On the other hand, you can bet I'll be enjoying my time in the house where all is quiet. I have a feeling I won't have any trouble filling it up.

But I'm looking forward to seeing her walk home on the sidewalk with her big sisters. She'll have a grin on her face; I just know it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Drafted!

Final word count: 82,940

Working title: Band of Sisters

Time for: Happy dance!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Reactions

You never know what to expect from other people after you get the good news that you're about to be a published novelist.

Before the big day arrives, you've surely imagined what it will be like. I'm betting that you're wrong in several cases.

For example, I was pleasantly surprised in how my parents reacted. Growing up, I was the good girl. I regularly brought home the 4.0 GPA. I didn't break family rules. I had friends they liked and trusted. I graduated high school with honors, passed a couple of AP tests, got a scholarship, never drank alchohol or smoked, and so on.

This was all taken in stride. It's what I did. I don't recall much celebration or pats on the back about it. Doing well and doing right were just expected of me.

But for the last six years, ever since my first book was released, my parents have turned into proud peacocks, bragging about me to everyone they know. (Mom's been known to advertise my books wherever she is, including obscure places like Jerusalem. I'm not kidding.) I can't tell you what joy their reaction has brought me. Not that they weren't proud of me before, but this time I'm seeing and feeling it in a way I never had.

On the flip side, I had a close family member brush my success aside without so much as acknowledging that it happened.

We had a phone conversation shortly after my book was accepted. I could hardly contain my excitement. I wasn't bragging or trying to take the spotlight; I just wanted her to share in my joy.

But I didn't get so much as the release date out of my mouth before she railroaded over me in her own excitement, telling me all about this fantastic MLM she was now a part of, how it was such a great company, and how she was going to make all kinds of money off it.

Confused and saddened, I dropped to a stair and listened. That's all I could do. I made all the right comments and assuring noises on my end, but all I wanted to say was, "Gee, I'm so glad your childhood dream of being an MLM rep is finally coming true." I'd worked hard for eight years to make this happen. Publishing a book had been a dream of mine since the tender age of eight. But let's celebrate your new hobby, by all means.

When that book came out, I planned to give family members free copies, but they all insisted that they'd buy their own to support me. When this person went to the book store, she told the cashier we were related. "That's cheap. Why didn't she give you a free copy?" the cashier asked. The question was met with a smile and a shrug, not an explanation. That store probably still thinks I'm an ungenerous hack.

My brother's reaction took me by surprise, in a very good way. You can read about it here. He's been a big supporter. I have a gorgeous necklace with a pearl and a diamond he gave me to celebrate book 2 (diamond & pearl = two items, second book . . . cool, huh?) and a porcelain figure of the Logan Temple to celebrate book 3. All of which he presented to me at book signings with his entire family. (There was something else for that first book. Read about it at the link above.) I still get all sniffly when I think about it.

Old friends, especially those you've known since junior high or earlier, seem to have a level of disbelief that you could have written something and actually published it. (Um . . . thanks.) Sometimes you get a pleasant reaction after they read it. ("Wow. It was actually good.")

Like I said, you never know how people will react. But I can say that my husband's reaction was perfect.

The day the acceptance call came, he'd taken the morning off work. As soon as I hung up, I squealed and raced upstairs to tell him. He hugged me, kissed me, then promptly called his manager to say he wouldn't be coming in after all; he had to take his wife out to celebrate.

Before that call, he refused to let me stop or give up, knowing I'd regret it forever if I did. He's responsible for me getting my first submission into the mail. Our first Christmas, he got me my subscription to Writer's Digest. He had flowers delivered after a particularly harsh rejection. He let me cry into his arms when I doubted myself.

He's always gotten how important this gig is to me. And for that, I'll be eternally grateful.

Especially because he puts up with a lot. Trust me; it ain't easy being married to a writer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"City of Influence" Has Arrived

Nearly four years ago, my long-time friend Sarah (who I recently talked about here) gave me a call and asked if I'd take a look at a book she was working on for her job. She was (and is) a director at Corporate Alliance, a pretty cool institution that connects businesses to one another to help them all succeed.

I didn't know that at the time. All I knew was that Sarah wanted me to take my red pen all over her manuscript. Which I did. The book was unlike anything I'd ever read before: A fun story that actually taught real, helpful business principles without being dry and putting me to sleep.

Better yet, the concepts were clear, applicable, and the story was witty and well-written. I still remember lots of important lessons I learned reading it.

It's a sort of a fantasy business parable. She once described the book as, "Harry Potter meets How to Make Friends and Influence People." As out there as that sounds, it's a pretty apt description. I know I learned a lot just editing the thing back in '04, and that was several versions ago.

Sarah has slaved over this book for a very long time. At long last (yay!), The City of Influence is in print.

Check it out in all its glory here.

Congratulations, Sarah!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Mighty STET

I read a blog today that hit home in such a way that I wanted to jump up and down and yell, "YES! That's it exactly!" I can't explain it nearly as well, so after reading this, go check it out.

But here's my experience:

I've been at this writing thing a long time (it's been almost exactly 14 years since my first submission), and for a good chunk of that time, I've been getting critical feedback (probably 11 or so years since I got my first feedback form from a contest judge, and nearly 9 since getting major critiques by peers).

In that time, I've developed a thick skin, and I crave feedback to help me get better. A good reader or editor will point out problems in a manuscript, whether they're big (this subplot drags, and I hate this character) or little (your modifier is dangling, and you're using "just" way too often). When it comes to feedback, bring it on! I want all the warts pointed out and fixed.

So I believe every writer needs a good editor. And a good copy editor, too. (The former helps more with the big stuff, and the latter on the little, word-by-word stuff.)

But sometimes you get the occasional copy editor who, I believe, is really a closet writer, frustrated that they aren't getting published. So instead of smoothing out and polishing your book, they try to rewrite it. On top of that, they get things downright wrong.

To clarify, whenever I refer to "my editor," I'm not talking about anyone who did copy editing. Those are different people, and sometimes you'll get two or three copy editors going over the same book, none of which are my "editor." I've been fortunate to always have fantastic editors.

Almost never do I know who these contracted people are; I don't even learn their names. Some are worth their weight in gold, and I feel as if I owe them large sums for their expertise. Others . . . mmm . . . not so much.

Case in point: Not long ago I had a copy editor who added four misspellings and at least one ma-hay-jor grammar error. (Not on my watch, you don't!) This editor even questioned some of my vocabulary (he/she didn't think "pique" was a real word, for starters).

These kinds of these are a bit annoying, but they're fixable, provided I catch them before the book goes to press. (Although I'm always terrified I didn't catch something they added, and readers will assume the mistake was my fault.)

What becomes a real problem for me are those times when a copy editor tries rewriting the book in their voice. In this case, they took lots showing and replaced it with telling. Some of my best descriptions were watered down to almost nothing. Any bits of my personality and voice were stripped out and replaced with cliches and flat images. Even spots of humor were wiped out.

I have never wielded my power of STET so ferociously as I did on that manuscript as I sat there, steam coming from my ears. On every page, I scribbled it: STET! STET! STET! I felt as if I were fighting for the life of my book, as if its very soul had been sucked out, and I was trying to perform CPR to bring it back to life.

My poor editor (my editor editor, not the contracted person doing the damage) got a serious earful when I turned it back in. Fortunately, she was patient and understanding and didn't even roll her eyes at me. I don't think.

But when I picked up the next copy edit on the same manuscript, it had a note from the new copy editor on the top that I don't think I was meant to see. Something about how, "I understand this author is rather particular about her voice, so I addressed only grammar, punctuation, and clarity issues."

Great, I groaned. I'm officially a "difficult" writer.

But that thought was quickly followed by, Hallelujah! A copy editor who is learning their job!

See, copy editors shouldn't ever mess with a writer's voice. As someone who has done lots of copy editing, I know that. I try very hard to maintain a writer's voice when I do editing work. I know what it takes to clean up writing so it shines and still sounds like the original author.

Ever since seeing that note (and enduring that STET session), I've been tempted to create a label for my publisher to slap onto all my manuscripts before they go out for copy editing.

Something like:

WARNING: This writer has serious control issues. Do not attempt to tamper with her voice. She is liable to blow a gasket.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frickin' Brackin' ARGH!

So that's a slight exaggeration. But it is frustrating.

I've been slaving away at my work in progress, trying very hard to get it fully drafted by the end of this week. It's been a 12-week goal of mine to get it done, and I'm so close . . .

The goal isn't a random one. It's pretty important I get the book done soon, because of certain scheduling difficulties and plans I have for getting it critiqued by trusted people and getting it back and revised and submitted and . . . you get the idea.

Much of that stems from the fact that I won't be able to write for much of September, so time is of the essence here. (I'll explain why soon. It's a totally rockin' cool reason why I won't be working then. I'll blog all about it afterward. Let's just say it deserves a big huge "WOOHOO!")

Here's the deal: I have five women who are all integral to the book. Each one faces her own issue. Their problems intertwine, and the women help one another. It's been neat to see how they get along and work things out among them.

But, um, problem. Part of the story just refused to come together properly. One character's arc was misbehaving in the worst way, and I couldn't figure out how to knock the puppy back into submission. It's been bugging me for weeks. My poor husband has gotten an earful of me whining about it. I've been trying to ignore it for weeks so I could get work done on other areas of the story.

So . . . if you haven't noticed, the week and my 12-week goal end, oh, TOMORROW. And as of today, I still had no resolution for my poor character, J.

I spent much of today trying to figure her story out. Right around 6:30 this evening, the answer came to me. It's an easy fix, as fixes go. And it'll totally do the job.

Basically, I was trying to do too much with her in this book. Two scenes of hers really belong in a sequel, if I ever write one. So out they'll go. Cut. Delete. G'bye.

Yeah. That's 2,318 words that are no longer in the story. (Each and every one of them counts, people, yes, even the 18.)

The word count on my sidebar doesn't reflect the cut, however. I'm still counting the grand total of words I've written for the whole book. Because it makes me feel better. And because I'm not brave like some people who have folders to hold their cuts. (Hi, Josi!) The final count will be 2,318 words below whatever the rest ends up being.

2,318 is a lot of words. They represent two scenes I really, really liked and worked hard on. My goal wasn't just to get it drafted, but to write 60,000 words over the 12 weeks. If I delete those words wholesale, I'm a couple thousand (and 318) words in the red. If I leave them in my wordcount, I technically make my goal even though the story isn't quite done.

So here's the deal: I won't get too annoyed about hacking them out if everyone promises to buy this book in droves so there'll be enough demand for a sequel and I can use them later. (This is a contemporary book I'm working on, not my upcoming historical . . . wanna make sure everyone knows what they're promising.)

Deal?

Good. Now I can go kick something and feel better.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

School Shopping: Ending the Drama

I always hate school clothes shopping. It's not like buying something for yourself. It's a miserable process from any vantage point, an epic saga drawn out by whines and complaints.

To make things easier on myself, I once tried spreading it out over the summer with my three who were in school, taking one in June, one in July, and one in August.

Slight problem: In June, you can't find much for school (like backpacks and lunch boxes, not to mention any SALES) and any clothes you do buy will probably be outgrown just as the snow starts to fall.

Other years, as I've tried sticking to the budget I set for the event, the kids whine and complain and BEG for just this one extra thing. Okay, or two or three extra things. PLEEEEEEASE? And either I say no and look like Cruella deVille, or I give in like a soggy noodle and spend too much.

Either way, I lose.

This year I did something a bit different. I wasn't intending to fix the problem, exactly. I just wanted to experience the fiery furnace a different way. You know, shakes things up for a new kind of miserable.

But lo and behold, shopping this year was easy and (virtually) pain free.

YES!

Flashback: When I was entering my junior year of high school, Mom was just too busy to take my little sister and me school shopping. She handed each of us an envelope with cash in it and dropped us off at the mall to do it ourselves.

At first, I was thrilled. I could buy whatever I wanted. Bwahahahahahaaa!

But then something happened. I found a sweater I loved. I checked the price tag. Yikes. I could get at least two pairs of jeans for that. Did I really like it that much? Hmm. I'd come back and later and decide.

Soon I gravitated toward the sales and clearance racks. I scoured the slightly damaged racks.

I had the power to decide how to spend a concrete amount of money. And I ended up being highly selective with every purchase. I came home with the biggest and cutest wardrobe of my entire high school career.

This year with my kids, I kinda sorta did the same thing, but unintentionally. I told each one exactly how much money they had allotted to spend on school clothes and that they could spend it however they wanted. But when it was gone, it was gone.

Their eyes went big at the sum. Yeah. Anything over twenty bucks is massive wealth as far as they're concerned. I smiled and assured them that the money wouldn't go as far as they thought.

I didn't drop them off at the store with a wad of cash. (They're not old enough for that.) I tagged along with the cart and watched them go, adding up their purchases with them as they tossed items into the cart.

We went in three shifts with the four kids, and the result was amazing.

First was #4, who is going into kindergarten. Over her life, most of her clothes have been gifts from Grandma, hand-me-downs from her sisters, or bought by Mom when she wasn't around. For the first time ever, she got to pick. And boy, did she.

More than once I pointed out a shirt I thought was mucho cute and said, "What about this?"

She hardly glanced over. "Nope." And then she raced off down the aisle and pointed to something else. "I like that one! And that one!" And flung them into the cart. She had fun. She also got a lot of mileage out of her money, because clothes for someone as small as she is just cost less.

Next was the trip with the older girls, #2 and #3. Normally, we try to get backpacks every other year, so #2 wasn't up for a new one this time. But she opted to spend some of her clothes money on a new bag for school. And Mom let her. The power! She also got some earrings for her newly pierced ears in addition to the typical jeans and shirts and socks and shoes.

She also decided to use some of her school clothes money on a swimsuit for the rest of the summer. I wasn't sure about that one, but heck--it was her call. If she whined mid-year about not having enough jeans, it would be her fault. Into the cart went the suit.

#3 decided to not get a new lunch box, because it would give her a little more money to play with, or, er, spend. Her old one wasn't stinky, she said. It would work for another year. She thought long and hard about every purchase and got a great variety of items she was pleased with. (I think she takes after her mother . . .)

For my oldest . . . well, he wasn't able to stretch his dollars quite as far, reason being that he's getting so dang tall. (Next year I may have to allot more to him than his sisters just to be fair . . . and so he'll have enough clothing to cover himself.)

The thing that's freaking me out is that he's now straddling the boys' and men's sections. Most of what we found in the boys' section was too small, but the men's section is still mostly a bit too big. We had to go to both for what we were looking for.

And his shoes? Holy mackerel . . . they're bigger than mine. They're the same size one of his grandpas wears. Yeah. And in a few months, he'll be taller than his mother.

(I officially have a teenager. Pray for me.)

The best part of this year's shopping was that when the money was gone, it was gone. And everyone got that. No one whined or complained or begged for just one more thing. They knew it was gone. The end. Let's go check out.

This year, I don't think I got an ulcer or even an extra zit from the stress. I'll definitely be doing the same thing next summer.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Today: A List

1) People treat you differently when you're wearing a blazer, slacks, heels, and even lipstick instead of your usual mommy uniform of a t-shirt, jeans/capris/sweat pants and sandals. They look at you different and speak to you differently. The entire attitude is something I don't get in my day-to-day life. It was very odd.

(I spent much of the day at the Whitney booth at the LDS Booksellers Convention and ran a couple of errands before and after in my more dressed-up clothes. After having several moments like this, I wanted to yell, "Really, I'm a mom! I don't usually look like this!")

Contrast that with the sweats, ponytail, and zero makeup I had on when Josi from Sundial in the Shade dropped by to pick up some Whitney stuff last week. You know you have a true friend when they don't notice (or, more likely, don't mention) that you look like a drowned rat.

2) While at the convention, I discovered a painting that I just might beg and plead for Covenant to license to use on the cover for Tower of Strength. Al Rounds, the artist whose temples grace my other historicals, has only one Manti Temple painting, and it's a winter scene. That won't work for this book. So unless he paints something new (and quick!) I might not have him on my next cover, and that makes me sad.

The picture I found would be the next best thing. It's by Cortney Lunt, and they told me that it's a brand new painting, so you won't find it online, but you can get an idea of her style at that link.

Since my editor wasn't there today (I missed seeing you, Kirk!), I dragged his colleague Kat over to show it to her. She agreed it would be great on a cover. After that, I had a ball chatting with both Kat and Rachel. They're awesome gals, and Covenant is lucky to have them on board.

3) I'm on the countdown. If I'm estimating right, I'm within 10,000 words of finishing the first draft of my work in progress. The pieces that have been circling are slowly coming together. I really hope I can pull this one off the way it's in my head. The story, characters, and entire concept mean a lot to me, but I'm not sure if it's working on paper as a whole. Yet.

4) While walking out of the library yesterday with my kids (wearing my trusty mommy uniform), a man in the parking lot stopped me and said, "I listened to one of your books and really enjoyed it."

Whoa. That's NEVER happened to me before. No one ever recognizes me unless I'm standing next to a table with my books on it at a signing or I'm at a writers conference with a name badge.

I was so (pleasantly) surprised, that I came back with, "Really? Cool. Thanks! Which one?"

He rather sheepishly couldn't remember the title or even the cover. So that leads me to a few questions:

Do I know this guy? (He looked familiar, but I couldn't place him. He hadn't seen my children before, though. Hmm.)

Did he somehow recognize me in my mommy uniform based solely on my author photo at the back of the book?

Or did he mistake me for another writer? (And it was their book he'd listened to?)

I'll never know the answers. But the moment was a nice ego stroke regardless, even if I had zits all over my face, a stained shirt, and fly-away hair.

Lesson learned: When someone says they enjoyed you work, take the compliment and move on.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Contest Time!

I have a post I'm thinking about doing, but I'm not sure whether I dare write it or put it up here. It might get me a lot of hate mail. But then, I'm so opinionated, I'm not sure I'll be able to not talk about it.

You probably already know the topic. Yeah. That one.

Hmm. Still on the fence.

In the meantime, I've got a new contest up on my website. You'll want to enter this one. Really, truly.

Whitney Award-winner Josi S. Kilpack has a new book coming out next month. I had a chance to read it awhile go, and it's most definitely another keeper.

I can state my opinion on this one, because Josi's on the Whitney committee this year, and therefore her book isn't eligible to win an award. So yay for opinions! I loved the story! Read it!

Josi's known for taking issues that are big and working awesome plots around them. If you recall, her last book, Sheep's Clothing, was about internet predators. The plot of that one still freaks me out.

This time, Her Good Name even has its own blog addressing the latest issue.

So here's the deal:

Visit the Her Good Name blog at the link above. Poke around a bit and see what it's all about. Then go to this page of my website and answer the question you'll find there in the form provided.

All correct answers will be part of drawing to receive an autographed copy of the book later this fall. (One entry per person. And yes, I do pay attention to them.)

Enjoy!

Friday, August 01, 2008

My Favorite Room: Tada!

I've been promising forever, and I finally dug through the digital photos we've taken over the last year to pick out all the ones from my office makeover.

As I think I've mentioned before, when we moved into this house, it was originally #4's bedroom, being as she was still in a crib. Now that she's an official big girl, she's moved downstairs and shares a room with #3. My old office is now #2's bedroom.

I love spending time in my new office, complete with a gorgeous view outside and plenty of sunlight . . . neither of which you'll be seeing in the photos, because the blinds are closed because of the glare.

Finally, without further ado, the transformation of my office, with waaaaay more pictures than you probably care to see!

First, the beginning of the demolition. The carpet is gone, the trim all ripped out. The walls look a bit pink here, but the color was really more of a cool taupe.


Honey ripped out the closet shelves, bars, and trim, leaving this:



Then he built in bookshelves just how I wanted them: most of the shelves are built to hold novels and research books, but a few on the lower right are really tall so I can fit in big binders that are filled with research fun. And below that is room to store boxes of my books and stuff:

I primed the walls and the bookshelves, then painted the shelves a yummy chocolate brown:


Time for the wall color to go up. Again, it doesn't come all that accurately in a picture. The room doesn't look like a tub of margarine. It's more of a golden tan.


The paint looks pretty cool next to the shelves, huh?

Next up: installing the walnut laminate floor:

Ain't it purty?!


Trim work begins. I think my honey's knees and back about gave out doing this one because of all the extras I picked out for him that required that much more time on his knees and bending in awkard positions. I still feel a bit guilty for inflicting that on him . . .


With the trim all done, I volunteered my exceptionally lame handy skills and caulked it all. Be impressed people. Be very impressed. Here's some of the cool molding honey put in, along with some of the less-than professional caulking I did:


When it was time to move in, these books went in first. Anyone who knows me knows right away what they are. (Can you make out the first edition Windy Poplars? Volume V of the journals isn't pictured, as it's still on my night stand.)


Tada!!!


Some day I'll get curtains and do a few other touch-ups, but for now, it's pretty darn awesome.

I purposely didn't bring in all my books. I left a lot downstairs where the kids can read them. Okay, and to leave room for future books. I didn't want the whole place chock-full right away.

A couple of notes about the stuff on the wall: When my first book came out, part of the celebration was getting a poster of the cover framed, so that's the big picture. My BYU diploma is on the bottom. The 4-picture frame will eventually have pics of the kidlets.

And the wooden sign is something I got from Josi Kilpack that brings me joy. It reads, "I will NOT live like a NORMAL person. I AM A WRITER!"

Truer words were never spoken. Or put on a sign. Whatever.

And below is the view from the door, where you can almost sort of see the rugs (the one on the right I featured in my "closer look" photo meme).

One fun thing to note: See the wooden name block on the desk? Below my name, it says, "Writer." I love it, not only because it's pretty, but because my husband bought it for me years before my first sale. Even during all the rejections, I kept it on my desk as a reminder, a symbol of what I was and where I could be someday.

When you've got someone who believes in you, it really helps you get through the rough times in this writing gig. He always has believed in me.

Oh, and the stack of papers are critiques from my weekly group that I hadn't gotten to when I took the picture. That stack is smaller now. Not gone, but smaller. I think I'm down to three or four weeks' worth of notes rather than twice that.

What you can't see in these pictures is the wall to the left of the door, where there's yet another bookcase (of course). Some day I might get a reading chair to go next to it.

And right below the window (you can just make out the black edge) is an electric fireplace Honey got me for Christmas to put in my future office to keep my toesies warm. (I freeze year round. It's really sad. Today might be August 1, but I'm wearing a wool sweater.)

The left wall also bears this print on it from my sister that's very much me. It shows a street with a cafe named after Shakespeare and a chocolate store. Oh, yeah. I could spend all day there.

As it is, I spend plenty of time with the print in my spiffy new office. Honey did a ton of work on it just for me. Yes, I married a keeper.