Friday, February 26, 2010

Here's Where It Gets Fun

Word has it that Band of Sisters will be shipping to stores on Monday. At what point it reaches shelves is yet to be determined, but we're almost there! Yippee!

The journey for this book began with that magazine article the summer of 2007, so Band of Sisters has been nearly three years in the making. In many ways, this release means more to me than many of my others. I'm not sure why.

Maybe it's because the topic wouldn't be shaken off until I wrote about it. Maybe it's because I felt so invested in the lives of my characters (and had more main characters than in any other book). Or maybe it's because the process simply took so much longer than usual.

Whatever the reason, I'm thrilled that the book is almost here for readers to get their hands on. Yesterday I got feedback from a reader/reviewer who received a PDF copy. I believe she's the first actual reader to see the whole thing (versus my early beta readers, critique group, editor, etc.).

Turns out . . . I made her cry. Yay!

(I'm a sadist!)


Some upcoming Band of Sisters fun:

A week from today (FRIDAY, MARCH 5), I get to be the "I Need Friends Friday" guest over at Sarah M. Eden's blog!


Her interviews are always a blast to read, and I was thrilled to be part of the weekly tradition. I'll be sure to link over Friday, but for now, be sure to check out her blog. Sarah's a total riot as a person
plus an excellent writer. I was first introduced to her work when her book Seeking Persephone was a Whitney finalist last year. (A much-deserved honor, by the way. I loved that book.)

Her newest novel, Courting Miss Lancaster, is about to be released with Covenant. And here's the really, REALLY cool part:

This book is REGENCY ROMANCE! That's right! It's not "LDS fiction."

It's for readers who love the Regency time period but cringe at national titles with a bunch of smut. Now Covenant is (hooray!) providing clean (well-written!) Regency Romance for their readers. (Can we hear a hallelujah?!)

I adore Sarah's work and can't wait to get my hands on this one!


BOOK LAUNCH PARTY!
And here's the really big, fun news: TWO WEEKS from today (FRIDAY, March 12, from 6-8 pm), I'll be at the new Orem Deseret Book by University Mall for a ginormous launch party.

Best part: I get to share that launch party with two other great novelists with their own brand new books out with Covenant:


(I think my coolness meter just went up several notches.)

Seriously, folks . . . this is going to be fun! Be sure to mark your calendars NOW so you don't miss out. We're already rounding up door prizes and making fun plans for that night.

THREE authors, THREE genres, THREE new books! How awesome is THAT?!

I've been squealing ever since the launch party was confirmed yesterday.

And I believe I'll be squealing for the next two weeks.

Please come--and tell your friends to come too! All three of us would LOVE to see you!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

WNW: Reader Peeves

More Word Nerd Wednesday fun from reader comments and e-mails. On tap today:

Alyson of New England Living mentioned a constantly confused word pair:

Affect/Effect
One of these words in a verb, and the other is (almost always) a noun. In a handful of cases it's a verb, but usually in formal situations, so probably not when you're writing a blog or a novel.

AFFECT is a verb. In other words, it implies an ACTION.
Use that as your mnemonic device: they both begin with A: AFFECT mean ACTION.

Examples:
How did reading that book affect you?
His death affected her for the rest of her life.
We anticipate the downturn of the economy to affect overall sales.

On the other hand, EFFECT is a noun.
Think of it as the result of the action version. First something gets AFFECTED, and the result is an EFFECT.

The two words even happen in alphabetical order (another way to remember which is which.)

Examples:
That book had a powerful effect on me; I cried.
His death had a huge effect: she spiraled into depression.
The effect of the downturn in the economy has meant lower overall sales.

Make sense? (I hope?)

L.T. Elliot of Lexicon Luvr brought up two issues:

First: grey vs. gray
Which is correct? That depends on where you live and/or where your publisher is located. In the UK, Canada, and some other locations, GREY would be correct. In the U.S. use GRAY.

If you're lucky enough to have a book with multiple foreign markets, expect to see differences like this. I got a kick out of reading Dan Wells's I Am Not a Serial Killer in the UK version. The book takes places in the U.S. but all the punctuation, spelling, etc. is with UK standards.

Lexicon Luvr's other topic: than vs then
Oooh, an error I see ALL THE TIME. (Also, one I sometimes make accidentally, even though I know which is which. One reason writers need to PROOF their work. Spell check ain't catching this one.)

THAN compares two things:
Dan is taller than his father.
Sammie is shorter than most of her friends.
I love chocolate more than you do.

THEN, on the other hand, refers to a sequence:
Dan came home from school then did his homework.
Sammie played the violin, clarinet, and then settled on the flute.
I ate chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake, then two chocolate donuts.


councilor/counselor
These are both people, but they have very different definitions. Take the "OR" off the end, and you can figure out what the meaning is for each.

A COUNSELOR is one who (take off the OR) COUNSELS, such as a therapist.

A COUNCILOR, on the other hand, is a person who (wait for it . . . take of the OR . . .) is part of a COUNCIL.

SO:
Bob went to see a counselor to help him through a bout of depression.
Harry was elected to be a councilor in the nation's governing council.


And a personal peeve . . .
Many grammatical errors are made when listeners think they're hearing one thing, but in fact are hearing something else. (One common example: Yesterday I laid down. People assume there are TWO Ds, so they use the wrong form. There is only ONE D: Yesterday I lay down.)

My peeve of the day:
Contractions of should have, would have, or could have should be:

should've, would've, could've

But sometimes people hear that wrong and end up writing down what they think they're hearing. And it comes out like this:

should of
could of
would of

If they took five seconds to think through the meaning, they'd realize that OF makes no sense in this context. But that's the word they hear, and they forget it's a contraction, so that's what they write.

[TWITCH]

Monday, February 22, 2010

Personal Wagons

In recent years, I've had a particular lesson hammered home many times:

Life isn't perfect . . . for anyone. 

That's simply a fact, no matter what someone's life looks like from the outside. No human being will escape this life without their share of trials, unwelcome surprises, and burdens. 


But somehow, we either forget that, or we don't realize it, or, often, we simply don't believe it.
 
I've had people say to my face that I must have no clue what stress is like, that gee, I should be so grateful for having such an easy life . . . all because they see just a little piece of my existence from the outside.
 
While I might not have experienced their particular trial (one such commenter was divorced, and no, I've never been through that), I do have trials of my own. Everyone does. Just because I don't proclaim mine from the rooftop in neon lights doesn't mean they don't exist.
 
The same goes for other people. I continue to be stunned when I hear about long-time friends who have gone through this or that trial, really big things I never knew or suspected. But I shouldn't be surprised, because no one is immune to this thing called mortality, and most trials aren't obvious to the casual observer.


Instead, our private burdens are just that: private, personal and between us and the Lord.
 
About twelve years ago, when I had a 2-year-old and a baby, a neighbor apologized for not calling earlier about something, explaining she'd had a crazy, stressful day. I said, "Don't worry about it. I totally understand being stressed out."


Her reply: "No you don't. I have four kids. You have two."


In shock, I stood there with the phone to my ear with no clue how to respond. She had no right to assume anything about my life and its stresses, regardless of the number of children I had at the time. (So now that I have four children can I say I understand stress? Puhleese.) To this day, I can't think about her with warm fuzzies.


I had something similar happen recently, only it wasn't cruel like that other situation; it was simply an offhand remark from a friend who didn't know what she was talking about. I was with two friends, and they were commiserating about the problems their teenagers were wreaking on their families. One turned to me and said something like, "None of your kids are like this. Aren't you glad that the only thing you have to worry about is promoting your new book?" It was all I could do not to cry. As it was, my eyes stung, and I made some flippant remark before leaving.

Yes, I know I am very blessed. I know I have some things many others yearn for (among them: a publishing contract. Trust me, I don't take that for granted). But that knowledge doesn't mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that I don't have trials. Daily ones. HARD ones. I just don't broadcast them. I'm willing to wager that any blogger who appears to "have it all" . . . doesn't. NO ONE DOES.

Some days, I envy bloggers who can dump their problems freely into posts. I can't really do that, because this blog, while very much an honest part of who I am, is only a slice of me. That slice is the professional writer/editor, and sometimes the mom. This isn't a forum where I put my problems out for the world to see. But that doesn't mean they don't exist. I believe it's unfair for anyone to compare trials. 


"What I'm going through is so much harder than what she's dealing with. She has it so easy." You know what? You can't know that. Only God can know the burden each person pulls in their wagons. They may have dozens of trials you haven't ever considered.


And even if you happen to know what all their trials are (which is unlikely if not impossible), what is excruciatingly heavy for one person to bear might not be so hard for another, but that doesn't discount the suffering the first person is going through. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, once compared suffering to a gaseous substance. He said that a gas will fill up any container it is placed into, regardless of size, and suffering is the same: no matter what type of suffering we're dealing with, the pain fills the person completely. 


This means that if one of my daughters has trouble with her school friends, it might rock her world just as much as something so-called "bigger" rocks mine. As her mother, a more mature adult, I can look at her problem and see it as trivial or small (it would be small if I were to magically be a fifth grader again with the maturity of a 36-year-old). But to her, it's not trivial. It is a heavy burden, and the pain fills her completely.

As I said, this idea has been on my mind a lot in recent years, so I suppose it shouldn't have been a surprise when it showed up in Band of Sisters. Several of the women in there assume things about one another and about their individual struggles, or supposedly the others' lack of problems. But the reader sees behind the curtain and knows that each and every woman in the story has a heavy load she must pull in her wagon, even though each burden is of a different stripe. 


In real life, we don't have the luxury of seeing behind one another's curtains, but perhaps we can be more compassionate and give one another the benefit of the doubt. As they say, if you assume that everyone you meet is going through a difficult time, you'll almost always be right.

Friday, February 19, 2010

When Is Writing Work?

I get this question asked a lot: Do I ever get sick of writing, and/or does it ever become work?

The answer is messy and convoluted . . . pretty much like the writer brain is.

I don't think I've ever gotten sick of writing during the drafting phase. Sure, I've stressed myself out during it, trying to get it done or worrying that the story won't turn out right, or that maybe this is the time I'll fail at writing a whole book.

But as for actually getting sick of writing?

Absolutely not. Drafting and the initial stages of revision are the best part of this gig. Drafting is when you're in the act of creation. It makes me alive inside. I love hanging out with my characters and watching them do their thing. Generally speaking, the happiest seasons I experience are the ones in which I'm regularly drafting. (I think my family prefers me then too.)

Took me awhile to figure that out, though. I'd get into a slump and hate the whole darn writing thing: it had become work.

The slump would generally hit after revising a manuscript headed to press for the three thousandth time and proofing it for the eightieth. A slump hangs around after doing rounds and rounds of book signings and other promotional stuff. Basically it's when you want to torch your new book because you're so close to it that you can't see it objectively anymore and you're sure it's garbage, and it's been months and months since you wrote anything new.

At the darkest, most depressing part of the slump, I'd begin a new project . . . and discover the magic all over again. It happens every time: the sun comes out, I'm energized, and I love what I do, eager to get back to the book as soon as I can.

The slumps are the hard part. While they are filled with "writerly" things, they aren't what I consider writing. They hit after I've crossed the finish line of both drafting and initial revisions. I love revising (at least, at first; I hate it when it's #1,987) because I can take what's already there and make it better and better, like molding clay into the right shape.

It's when you're (or at least I'm) revising and editing it to death and can practically recite the thing in your sleep that you start to hate it, because it's no longer fresh. It's lost the magic for you.

Slumps also hit when you're so swamped with the business side of things that you don't have time for the creative stuff. The inner writer child needs the rush and excitement of creation to keep going, to not wither and die.

I'm withering.

I haven't written anything brand new in about a year. Band of Sisters was submitted October of 2008, and shortly after that, I finished the YA folktale. So this last year, I had revisions and edits for Band of Sisters. Then I worked on revisions for the folktale. I'm currently revising my old murder mystery.

The only new writing I've done (unless you count magazine articles and blog posts, which I don't, because although I enjoy them, they aren't my first love: fiction), is for my upcoming chocolate cookbook. While that was a tasty experience, it still wasn't drafting fiction. (Honestly, my favorite part of doing that book was writing commentaries on the recipes and having fun with the manuscript on the keyboard.)

I'm glad I can recognize the problem. After enough years of the cycle, I know that what I'm feeling isn't that I hate writing, but rather that it's been too long since I drafted a new novel. I'm particularly glad that I know what the real issue is because I have so many other pots in the fire right now that, unfortunately, it'll still be a spell before I get to draft full force on anything new.

But that new book is dangling out in front of me like a carrot. Or a chocolate bar.

And I can't wait to eat it up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

WNW: Dangling Participles

A couple of weeks ago, Michelle Jeffries asked me to address participial phrases. Since that's a giant topic, I thought I'd start with the way participles are most often misused: the famous dangling participle!

They're loads of fun . . . really! They're easy to giggle over . . . at least when you find the mistake in someone else's work (or before yours gets in front of an editor).

I originally wrote about them on the Writing on the Wall blog about a year and a half ago, so for those who have followed that blog a long time, you may recognize parts of this.

So what is a dangling participle?
It's a modifier, usually noun, pronoun, or phrase—basically any descriptor—that's in the wrong place for what it's supposed to be describing. Often that means it's too far away from it, or at least that something else is in the way.

Sounds confusing, so let's just ignore the definition for a minute and show some examples. They're the best way to learn anyway, right?

Try these sentences on for size:

Joe went on the ride with my sister called The Raging Flame of Death.
Hmm. That's not a sister I'd like to hang out with. Oh, wait! The
ride has that name. In that case:

He went on the The Raging Flame of Death ride [or the ride called The Raging Flame of Death] with my sister.

Other funny examples:

Two computers were reported stolen by the high school principal.

(That's one unethical principal . . .)

The anchor reported a coming lightning storm on the television.

(Get AWAY from that television!)

Please look through the contents of the package with your wife.

(Must be one huge package if she fits in it.)

James hadn’t meant to let it slip that he wasn’t married, at least to his boss.

(Wait. His boss is Mrs. James?)

Quiet and patient, her dress was simple, yet stylish.

(Let's hope her dress wasn't loud and impatient.)

At the age of five, her mother remarried.

(Um . . . doubt that's legal in any state. And she certainly wasn't a mother then.)


These little nasties are painfully easy to drop into your work without you even knowing it. They happen when you've used an action and then the subject that belongs to the action is put into the wrong place.

The result is most definitely a meaning you didn't intend.

One of the most common forms is relatively easy to spot: look for sentences that open with an "ing" phrase:

Turning the corner on a bike, a huge dog startled him.

(Apparently that's a dog with serious coordination skills.)

Driving through town, the grocery store appeared on the right.

(Freaky store. And just how big is its car?!)

And here's one of my favorite dangling participles (which I found in a New York Times bestseller that shall remain nameless, even though it was just too funny):

Being my father, I thought he'd be more upset.

(Now THAT is one amazing genetic trick . . .)

You get the idea.

Dangling participles can sound scary and intimidating, but in reality, they're easy to fix. Just make sure the action in your sentence is really attached to the person or thing doing it.

For the writers reading this, it's something you don't need to worry too much about in the drafting stage. It is, however, one of those things you should try to catch in the revision stage.

One great way is to read your draft aloud. The stresses and pauses will make you recognize when something doesn't quite sound right. Pick some trusted readers to ferret out these kinds of bloopers as well.

Your future lack of embarrassment is most definitely worth the effort.


I've got a busy bloggy day:

I also posted HERE over at the AML blog and HERE at Writing on the Wall.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Happy List

At times, a list just feels good.

Some things that made me happy today:

1) Making quite a bit of progress at digging the house out from under some serious messes.

2) Getting a freelance check in the mail (which was a bit larger than expected, so double smiles).

3) Husband taking the day off work and saying, "This afternoon, if there's housework you want help with, let me know." (SERIOUSLY? WOOOOOOT!)

4) Meeting Emily M of Segullah for the first time. Even though we've corresponded a lot via e-mail, this was our first in-person meeting; we swapped some Whitney finalists to read. It was like chatting with an old friend. She reminds me of one of my cousins. (Emily, that's a compliment!)

5) Seeing Emily's post over at Segullah. Kinda made my day.

6) Wearing pants that make me look smaller than I really am (pants that hide those extra pounds that recently sneaked onto my waist . . . grrrrr).

7) Getting my Band of Sisters pass-along cards in the mail. They turned out gorgeous . . . and seeing them made the upcoming release feel more real! (It's coming! It's coming! We're only two weeks out!)

8) NOT being on deadline. (Which allowed me to, oh, do some housecleaning.) I enjoyed the fact that there wasn't work and a due date looming over me like a cloud . . . because I'll have another deadline soon, self-imposed or otherwise.

9) I was about to say kids not fighting, but then two of them rushed into my office . . . fighting. So, yeah. Forget that one.

10) I won't be cooking dinner tonight. Always cause for celebration.

Up tomorrow: Word Nerd Wednesday, my day at Writing on the Wall, and my AML post for the month. (What was that about no deadlines?)

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Valentine Post from #3

My three oldest kids have their own blogs that their friends and family read. #2 and #3 update theirs more often than my oldest, and it's been a great writing exercise for them.

#3, who is in 5th grade, has created a second blog for an alter-ego named Bob. He's got his own personality, and my daughter has this wicked sense of humor she uses when writing in Bob's voice.

I'm hoping she forgives me for doing this, but first, I laughed myself silly when I read it and second, it's Valentines Day weekend. I couldn't resist.

These are her words exactly as they appeared on Bob's blog, unedited or changed by me at all, but inspired by the picture you'll see at the end.

Enjoy!



valentines day . . . It doesn't deserve to be capitalized

You all know what time of year it is right? It's not quite the winter wonder land it was but it's not warm yet. It's just, uh, awful. It's cold outside but is there snow? NO! All there is , is just soggy slushy dirt piles of ice. (I know, makes no sense.) And how do the people decide to cheer us up? With some holiday all about...(gulp)...LL...L....L...Lo..lo....LOVE! Whoof! Glad I got that out of me. Any who, it's a holiday trying to cheer us up but it's a stupid holiday! I don't care what you guys think it is! And for many different reasons!


1. It's stupid
2. It's Idiotic
3. It's dumb
4. It's worthless
5. It's all mushy gushy....BLAH!
6. It's REALLY stupid
7. It's REALLY idiotic
8. It's REALLY dumb
9. It's REALLY worthless
10. It's REALLY all mushy gushy...BLAH!


Now, besides that, the #1 reason why valentine's day sucks (Notice, not capitalized. It doesn't deserve it.) is....


CUPID!


That dumb little baby that was , "Sent from heaven above" is such a brat! First of all I think most people don't know the difference between heaven, and the underworld. (I've been studying Greek Mythology...) That little kid is flying around with arrows-Which may I add, so shouldn't be given to a 2 year old!-Shooting whoever he spots and then BOOM, they're in love. BLAH I say! BLAH! Why does he get to decide who gets to like who? Aren't we smart enough to choose? Or are we...I don't know I just hate that kid! I think I'm gonna go give him a piece of my mind. (It's piece not peace. I don't want to make peace I want to make that baby into pieces.) Well off I go!


1 HOUR LATER:


Okay, the whole Cupid thing didn't go as planned. I "accidentally" grabbed his arrows and shot him, thinking he would fall in love with the rock in front of him. But no... Apparently the arrows don't work on him. With most people they are love arrows, with Cupid himself, they are death arrows....


Is it to late for sorry?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WNW: Hopefully Unthawing

Today's WNW is one of those fun ones where we look at commonly misused words submitted by my trusty readers.


Hopefully
This one is so chronically misused that it's pretty much taken on the wrong definition in casual conversation. That said, I'd be hesitant to use it that way in professional writing.

Hopefully is an adverb, similar to slowly, happily, and randomly.

In other words, it's the manner in which something is done. Correct usage would be something like this:

Sarah looked up at her father hopefully as she handed him her birthday wish list.

But of course, we usually see things like:

Hopefully, we won't be late.

From a grammatical standpoint, that doesn't make much sense. No one is doing anything in a hopeful manner; the person speaking is merely wishing, hoping. But we aren't told how or in what manner they are hoping. So an adverb doesn't work there, but we use it that way in speech all the time.

(Picture another adverb there instead: Tenderly, we won't be late. Sure . . . that makes sense . . .)

To be honest, I'm sure I've used it "wrong" a lot in conversation myself. But you won't find hopefully used in any way but as an adverb in my novels or articles.

Because I'm a control freak like that.


Concord/Concur
This submission confused me at first. Why would anyone mix them up? But when I thought about them a little longer, I realized that I
have heard the two words mixed up myself, someone using concord when they mean concur:

Since we all concord, let's make the new rule official.

Not quite. I'm guessing the confusion is made by accidentally smooshing concur and accord into a single word.

Try concur: all acting or agreeing together.

Since we all concur, let's make the new rule official.


Champing/chomping at the bit
I learned a lesson on this one. I was so sure that
champing at the bit was wrong and that chomping on the bit was correct.

To make my point, I looked up champing in my favorite online dictionary (m-w.com), and lo and behold, both words are used interchangeably with that very same phrase.

They're even linked together in the dictionary as alternatives.

So here's the interesting part: the OED doesn't list champing as a modern term. It was used with the same kind of definition ("chewing with vigorous action") until about 1880. But it doesn't even include chomping at all. Chomp is there as a modern term and "a widespread variant of champ."

Even though chomping on the bit sounds more natural to my ear (and, I'm guessing, to most modern ears), apparently it's a much more recent development in the language than champing on the bit, by a couple of hundred years.

Who knew? I sure didn't.


Thaw/Unthaw
I must admit, I do giggle a bit when I hear unthaw.

The prefix UN- reverses something or states that an item or condition is NOT something, right?

Like UNdo (reverse the doing), UNwind (reverse the winding), UNsteady (something is NOT steady), or UNstirred (the batter or whatever is NOT stirred).

So what are you saying when you plan to UNTHAW something? Make it NOT thawed? So . . . you plan to FREEZE it? That would be reversing the thawing process, right? (Hence, my giggles.)

Prior to my digging this time, I'd thought that unthaw was a recent invention. Turns out that the first use of it was around 1598. (That's when Shakespeare was alive!).

But here's the clincher: it hasn't been considered standard usage since 1895 (more than a century ago!).

So I was right in that it's not considered correct, but I was wrong as to when it was first introduced into the language.

Considering that old Bill's family didn't even have freezers and refrigeration, I'm having a hard time figuring out why they'd use the word in the first place except in spring when the ponds would unthaw . . .

(Giggle. They'd technically "unthaw" around, oh Christmas, right?)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Motherhood: Rocking It Out

There's a reason my children know all about Ed Grimley, Footloose, Anne of Green Gables, and so many other parts that make up the mother they know and love.

(It brings me no end of joy that my two oldest daughters adore Hitchcock. Hitchcock! I could sing!)

I show them older (as in 80s) TV shows, movies, and even YouTube clips under the guise of "educating" them so they'll be culturally literate. It's proven helpful for them when watching other shows or reading books and they get the inside joke, when none of their friends did, all because two months ago, Mom showed them whatever movie was referenced.

Totally rocks. (Kinda makes me look cool in their eyes, which doesn't hurt.)

And in some ways, it's made a difference with school: they see the point of studying Greek mythology and other subjects, because those things are referenced all the time in other things, and to "get" them, you have to know the original source.

My kids' first contact with musical indoctrination was with ABBA. I believe they all heard ABBA Gold in the womb. Recently my 9th grader had a teacher who offered a prize for any student who could name the song he was about to play on CD.

Within a couple of bars, my son's hand shot up. No one else had a clue, but he knew immediately not only that the group singing was ABBA, but that the song was "Voulez Vous." Had there been a piano in the classroom, he could have played it from memory (not even almost kidding).

He won the prize. (See, son? Cultural literacy totally pays off. Also, put your nose back into that geography textbook.)

The classic rock group Journey was their next big musical experience. It came in the form of Max singing "Lights" on Jillybean's blog. (GO NOW to listen to it. SERIOUSLY. NOW. SO WORTH IT. Then come back.)

To have my kids fully appreciate Max's rendition, however, they had to know the original first: Steve Perry. Trusty YouTube did the job. We found a video there with Journey performing "Lights" and Steve Perry crooning out his classic tenor soul.

Since then, my kids have been Journey fans. They were amazed to realize that a lot of songs they recognize are, yep, Journey songs. Somehow they missed the fact that on and off for their entire lives, Journey's Greatest Hits CD has been playing in the minivan.

They noticed that Randy on American Idol talked about being in the band. Then Glee made "Don't Stop Believin'" a return hit. And suddenly Journey was everywhere. My kids love, love, love Journey.

And then . . . the other day, my 5th grader came home from school ready to pass out with excitement.

One of her teachers had told the class about the time she had a backstage pass to a music group that she was sure the students had never heard of: Journey. Mrs. Miller had even gotten to talk with the lead singer, this great guy with beautiful long hair named Steve Perry.

My daughter gasped. She cried out that she knew who Steve Perry was, but Mrs. Miller didn't hear. Instead, she continued her story about what she and Steve had talked about, blissfully unaware that one student was sitting in her seat, frightfully near hyperventilation.

"Steve Perry, Mom!" my daughter practically yelled when she got home. "Mrs. Miller got to talk to STEVE PERRY!"

Moments like this make me realize that you know, I'm doing okay on this motherhood thing. My kids are learning the really important stuff.

Ahem.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Exciting Things Are Afoot.

First off, time for celebration! Both of my Whitney Award ballots are submitted. Done. Finito. Woohoo! My eyeballs are ready to drop out of their sockets, but I'm done! Now we all get to wait a couple more days to find out the results. Squeeeee!

Second, two of my bestest writer friends are featured in this month's issue of Mormon Artist magazine, Julie Wright and Robison Wells.

Julie is one of those people I call when I need a shoulder to cry on or someone to vent to, and she's always in your corner, cheering you on. Everyone deserves a Julie in their lives. (Plus, she's a great writer, to boot.) I don't remember when I first met Julie, but I can honestly say that she's one of the brightest spots in my life. Any time I see her, I can't help but smile, because I know I'll get a big hug and that she'll just ooze love.

Rob is in my critique group. He's another great writer, and he keeps us grounded. Among other things, he's great at big-picture problems and making sure our men don't act like girls. I'll never forget one of the first things he said about a scene of mine. "This scene isn't funny. In fact, it's egregiously unfunny." Awesome. (He was right, by the way. Humor is tough to write.) He's also the Whitney Awards founder and president. I found out things about him in this interview I never knew. It's fascinating.

Read both interviews (linked to at their names); they're worth it.

Finally, some fun for those attending the Storymaker's writers conference in April. For Friday night's dinner, the organizers have some special guests (among them: David Farland, Jessica Day George, James Dashner, and singer Shawn Barrows).

Attendees may get a chance to sit at one of the tables with these guests if they simply help spread the word about the conference a bit: blog about it, tweet it, become a Facebook fan, put up a badge on your sidebar that says you're coming (like the one I've got up saying I'm speaking), and the like.

For all the contest details, visit Make Me a Story, conference co-chair Jaime Theler's blog.