Tuesday, April 27, 2010
My daughter is having surgery on Thursday in Portland, so we're heading out tomorrow so she can have her pre-op check up. She's feeling good, which is HUGE, because a month ago she was incredibly stressed out. I thought one of the main culprits was that she was worrying about this surgery. But these last few days she's been giddy with excitement. Probably part of it is that she gets to miss school. And I think the idea of staying in a hotel with a pool the first night is also very exciting.
Her classmates wrote her notes today and her teacher made a book out of them for Olivia to take to the hospital (thank you, Miss Bowman!). Second graders are awesome, that's all I can say. Here's a sampling:
"Olivia good luck with your surgy I'll miss you. Oh yeay will you be my friend?" -- Wyatt
"I hope your surgery goes well. Thank you for being such a good friend. Why did the elefint cross the road? To crush the cars. Have a great time swiming. Your the best friend I could ever have. Have a good time. I'll miss you very, very, very, very, very, very, very much!" -- Lily
"Olivia you were a good friend to me. I will miss you. I wish you were not in the hospero good loak ok I am thing of you." -- Yurely
"Hope you have a good time swimming Olivia and remember you are as bright as the sun. And you are so good to me and I hope you get better and you be good girl! Have a wonderful time I love you Olivia." -- Savannah
"We miss you good luck Olivia. We care about you. We hope you get beter soon Olivia. We wish you luck Olivia. Why couldn't the spaceship land on the moon? Because it was already full." -- Luke
In other, less-important news, I got all our plants and bulbs in the ground today. Yippee! I can drive away tomorrow morning with a clear conscience.
Hope you all have a great rest of your week. I'm off to finish packing....
Delicious – Young Delicious, that is – loved going to her Grammy’s. She loved coming up to the front porch and hearing the creak of Grammy’s rocker. Loved the way the elms sounded rustling around in the wind. She’d tap her stick around a bit until she found the porch steps. “Here I am, Grammy!” she’d call out.
“Well, look who walked over here all by herself!” Grammy would say, and Delicious would hear the clip-clump of her thick-soled shoes across the creaky boards of the porch.
Delicious would reach up and touch the rough wood, feel the peeling paint under her fingertips. “You need to paint this house, Grammy,” she would say. Always the same. That’s what she’d say. It was like a pattern. She figured if she didn’t say it, Grammy would think she wasn’t herself. Might make her drink a whole spoonful of molasses to get her right again.
“Yes, I do,” Grammy would say, just as if she’d never thought on it before. “Gotta get myself a boy out here to do the painting, ’cause I’m getting too old for the ladder.”
And Delicious would say, “You not too old, Grammy.”
Every time she said it, Grammy acted like it was the most precious thing in the world. She'd laugh, a big laugh, and hug Delicious so that her face was pressed into her bosom where she couldn’t just hear, but feel the laughter – a deep vibration way down in Grammy’s core.
“Oh, honey baby,” Grammy always said. “If only you could see me, you’d see how old I am!” Then, she’d laugh some more, spin Delicious around and take her all dizzy up the rickety porch steps into the house.
That’s where things got tricky for Delicious. She needed her stick the most inside, because Grammy’s house was never the same two visits in a row. Grammy was a changer. She changed her furniture around like most people change their socks.
Delicious stuck out her stick and knocked into something.
“Here, let me take you,” Grammy said, taking hold of her elbow.
“No, Grammy,” Delicious said. She actually enjoyed the challenge. “I can make it. It’s good practice. Like a maze.”
Grammy laughed. “One of these days I’ll really surprise you and not change anything around at all.”
But Delicious knew changing was part of Grammy. Where her furniture sat was the one thing Grammy could change about her life.
“Right back here in the kitchen,” Grammy called, as Delicious made her way – tap, tap, tap. “Then I’m gonna sit you down and feed your little skin-and-bones body.”
Delicious stood in the kitchen doorway with that furnace heat tingling on her cheeks, and the meaty smell of roast sizzling in her nostrils.
The chair scraped over the linoleum when Grammy pulled it out. When Delicious sat down, she crossed her ankles like her ma taught her, and propped her stick up next to the chair.
Grammy chattered. “You heard about Old Man Huff, didn’t you? Fell down the stairs and broke his leg in two.”
“No!” Delicious said. “I didn’t hear about that.”
“Oh!” Grammy said. “I suspected it was all over town by now.”
“Is he gonna be okay?”
“Well, if they can get it straight again, he might walk,” Grammy said. “And if they can keep it from gangrening, he might live.”
“Oh,” Delicious said. “I hope he can walk and live.”
“I don’t care much either way,” Grammy said. “You know, he tried to court me once. Pulled up in front of my mammy’s house in his old pa’s surrey and expected me to ride out with him, just because he was in a surrey. Even though I’d never liked him one minute when we was in school together.
“My mammy, she got so mad at me when I turned him down, told me I’d never find a man as rich as Leonard Huff who wanted to ride out with me again.”
“But then you met Grandpa and married him instead,” Delicious said.
“Yes, I did,” Grammy said, opening the oven with a screech. “Though he wasn’t as rich as Leonard Huff, I sure was happier. Didn’t want a man with a temper, so I got your Grandpa instead. Meek as a lamb. Then again, all your grandpa ever gave me was a puny little girl, probably on account of all that meekness.”
“My ma,” Delicious said proudly.
“Your ma,” Grammy said. “And one little blind grandchild to show from her. Not much if you ask me.” She sucked in her breath. “Maybe if I’d married the man with the temper and the money and not for love – known my duty – God would’ve rewarded me with a motor car full of sons.”
“And a house with good paint,” Delicious added.
“And a house with good paint,” Grammy said wistfully.
Delicious couldn’t see Grammy smile, but she heard the smile in her voice. “But you know what, Delicious?”
“Yes, Grammy?” Delicious said, flashing a grin, because she knew exactly what Grammy was going to say, even though their conversation had never been exactly like this before.
“I wouldn’t do it," Grammy said. "I wouldn’t trade it. Even if I knew about how my life would be now, I would’ve chose the same way.”
Delicious giggled. Silly Grammy. Always trying to fool her into thinking she didn’t love her and her ma, when it was more obvious than a porcupine quill in a mutt’s rump that she did.
There was a clatter as Grammy set the big pot on the stove top. “So, that’s why you follow your heart,” Grammy said. “So even when the paint’s peeling, you still have some respect for yourself.”
“Yes, Grammy,” said Delicious. She picked up her fork, ready as anything to taste that pot roast.
Monday, April 26, 2010
I have been battling crab grass. My whole body hurts, and I am dressed in droopy, dirty clothes. My feet are perpetually dusty-feeling. But I must get all these small plants I ordered in the ground soon. I must!
This is Spring, ladies and gentlemen.
I think writers everywhere are going through the same thing, more or less. Spring has come and we suddenly awaken from our winter snooze. It was fun hibernating in front of our computers, lazily squirting out novel pages. But now Spring is here.
We are no longer content to sit in front of our computer screens. There's work to be done outside. And even if we have no work outside, nobody wants to stay inside very long. Our children are escaping out the front door, and we must go with them!
And yet, conference season cometh. It is nearly upon us.
So, we wait till dark and patter away at the keys, madly trying to polish up that WiP in time. We take blog holidays in a desperate attempt to catch up. Our dirty dishes sit idly by the sink. Our laundry piles nearly reach the ceiling. We know it won't be long before they topple and bury us.
Spring for a writer is a mad, mad season.
That, my friends, is why I sometimes fall asleep sitting up.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I'm taking every section of my novel and pretending it's a short story. Not that it needs a beginning, middle, and end. It doesn't need to stand alone. But it's amazing how (for me) this little switch in perspective helps me to see where I've been too wordy, where I need more description, and where my dialogue is too lengthy.
It helps me to look at my novel in shorter chunks.
Have you tried this method? Or is this something that everyone does already and I'm just now catching on? *grin*
I know many of you are editing gurus. Do you have any tips to share from editing your own work?
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I think I said a few weeks ago that I needed a deadline.
Well, I officially have a deadline. A self-imposed deadline. I registered for the SCBWI summer conference this morning (July 30 - Aug 2, if you're interested!). I also signed up for a one-on-one critique of my manuscript while I'm at the conference, which means I need to have the WiP in some sort of completed form and in the mail by June 9 (yes, of this year).
(Excuse me while I freak out.)
But honestly. What was I thinking?!?
So if my posts are short and sweet over the next month or so, you'll know why. I'm keeping my writing priorities straight. I'm slogging through edits on my WiP. Considering I'm only about 23 pages into my second draft, um, I have a lot of work to do.
Meanwhile, Sophie has an ear infection, so I spent the entire day holding her. Can't afford too many sick days like this. Better make sure my kids get that memo. *wink*
Anybody else racing against time with a writing project? Commiseration, anyone?
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I was born on April 20, which is a groaner birthday for a number of reasons. For one, I share it with Adolf Hitler. Because of this, yucky things tend to happen on my birthday. Columbine is one example.
Four-twenty is also National Smoke Pot Day. I didn't know that until I was twenty-one and went to a bar for one of the first times. The guy at the door checking IDs laughed at me. I had no idea what he found so funny. "Four-twenty? Dude, is that seriously your real birthday? That's freakin' awesome, man!" I stumbled inside still clueless. My friend had to fill me in later.
But even though I'm neither old nor young, and even though I quite possibly have the world's worst birth date, I feel so thankful tonight.
I just came home from a wonderful dinner with my darling husband and my in-laws. My mother-in-law outdid herself on the dinner, and bought a chocolate gelato cake for dessert. They broke out some of their best red wine.
About a hundred friends near and far wished me happy birthday on facebook, which makes me overwhelmed and happy all at once. And tomorrow I get to register for my big birthday present: the SCBWI summer conference.
It's raining outside as I type this. I love the sound of rain on the roof, the earthy breeze that wafts through open windows. Young, old, or somewhere in between, tonight I'm so content, I could curl up and purr.
It’s Martin. “I forgot to put the bins out, Sharon! And all those piles in the back yard, they have to go today! I’ve got to plant when I get home and if those weeds are still there—!”
“I’ll take care of it.” I use the gentle voice, the voice I use when Martin overreacts. “I’ll clean up the piles and get the bins out to the curb.”
“Really?” His voice cracks. “You don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind.”
“You have time?”
No, not really. “I always have time for you,” I say. “Everything will be okay.”
Hanging up, I slip the silver posts of my pearl earrings through my punctured earlobes, and hurry down the hallway to the garage for my work gloves. Granny-Smith-apple green, they match the pendant hanging from a silver chain around my neck, a cold nugget against my chest.
My four-inch heels sink into crumbling earth as I work. Twenty minutes later, I flap the lid closed on the green disposal bin, shutting out the odor of rotting food, mixed with the damp scent of the pine needles and weeds.
I don’t have time for yard work. I haven’t unloaded the dishwasher and the tile in the kitchen feels gritty when I walk in bare feet. Not to mention that I’m meeting with a client in half an hour. I notice a smudge of mud on my blouse when I glance down. Another thing to do. I’ll change it, then hit the road and pray for a clear highway.
I won’t think about Martin, about all the times I’ve lied to him, or changed my schedule to keep him sane. I won’t worry that these stresses devoid of consequences are piling up on his head so that he can’t bear his own skin. I return to the house to rinse my hands in cold water.
Back in my bedroom, the dead grass out the window looks like a picture I’ve framed and hung on the wall. I should be the one to rake it up and plant new seed, water it and toil over it so that Martin can sleep better at night. Tomorrow, when I’ve secured this account, when I’ve had time to mop the floor, then I’ll worry about the grass.
Sighing, I toss the dirty blouse into the laundry basket and slip a clean one off the hanger. Fastening the pearly buttons with trembling fingers, I catch a glimpse of my face in the mirror. I’m a stranger: silver streaks in her hair, creases around her mouth, and wrinkles like tree roots sprouting from the corners of her eyes.
“He’s a good man,” I tell the person in the mirror, using the gentle voice I always use when she asks me why I love him. “He needs me … he does need me.”
Monday, April 19, 2010
I spent most of the day dreaming about how I was going to spend my hour.
All the day dreaming got me wondering -- how would my friends spend a free hour? So, here's a pop quiz. You have a free hour. Would you spend it:
A. Lying on the sofa watching TV
C. Reading that book you just can't put down
D. On the computer with your WiP
H. None of the above
And just so you know, my hour didn't actually materialize. Something at school held up the darling husband and I had to leave for an appointment right after he got home. But it was nice dreaming....
Still, I'm curious. You only have an hour. How would you spend it? I know what I would do!
I hope you are all having a day filled with sunshine -- and many free hours!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Today I pulled weeds and dug up root systems in an attempt to eradicate the crab grass problem. I have my own pair of girly work gloves that I picked up at Fred Meyer. They're so pretty. They keep the dirt out from under my nails and I look fashionable at the same time. (tee-hee)
I've never really gardened before. I had my window of potted plants in China, but that was about it.
Gardening is a lot like writing. It's hard to stop once you get started. There's always one more thing that you just have to do before you quit for the day.
The kids love it outside. They have their little shovels and rakes. My husband bought them their own miniature work gloves. They're happy indefinitely.
It's a win-win.
Plus, I can garden with my broken toe and still get a bit of exercise.
Today was so beautiful ... and I learned that magnolias smell good.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I'm not an organized person. I don't sit down on a certain day every year and take inventory of my life. But, occasionally, usually by accident, I'll realize something I'm doing isn't exactly what I want to be doing.
Many have come to similar conclusions before me. I guess now is just my time. But honestly, I'm getting too wrapped up in blogging, and reading blogs, and all this networking stuff.
I complained to my husband in the car yesterday: "I haven't had any time to work on my novel!"
"You haven't?!" He was floored. "Then what are you doing when you stay up late at night?"
I told him I was either blogging, or commenting on blogs, or Facebooking, or working on my short stories.
I'm planning on attending the SCBWI summer conference this year. I would like to go with an at least semi-polished novel in tow. If I went today, I would have nothing but a bad first draft and a couple of shelved novels that flopped in Queryland.
I want to finish this book. Not that I'm expecting to pick up an agent and a contract while I'm in LA. No. But it would be nice to give a pitch or a writing sample, and be able to stand behind it, knowing it's the best I have to offer.
So, I'm hereby switching gears. I love blogging. I love the writing online community. This isn't goodbye. It's just a little break. I'll still be posting. Just not as much. And commenting when something especially moves me.
I just need to get my writing priorities straight. When you're an unpublished fiction writer, networking shouldn't be the top priority. Writing should be.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
She heard Seth panting up the slope behind her. She did not turn around.
“Couldn’t catch you,” he said, jogging around to face her, his sneakers crunching over gravel. He stood in the shade of the pear tree, leaf shadows playing tag across the folds of his wheat-colored hair. She noticed his red t-shirt, rings of sweat accenting the contours of his belly. Seth was one of those boys who might benefit from the use of a man-bra.
“Want a pear?” she asked him, holding out the pale green fruit.
“No thanks,” he said, waving her hand away. “I’m saving it.”
“Saving what?” she asked.
Seth smiled with only half his mouth. “The calories. I’m heading out with my dad to Stuff-o-Mania after this. We’re sharing one of their big pans of hash.”
Emilia knew Stuff-o-Mania hash was more than potatoes. It was sausage, jalapenos, and crispy, fried onions, covered in layers of cheese. The big pan was the size of the four-person diner table. If you ate it single-handedly (single-mouthedly?) they gave it to you free.
“You’re actually going to share it with your dad?” Emilia asked as she raised the pear to her lips. This was the whole reason she’d come up here before the heat of the day: to grasp one of Mr. Lopez’s Comice pears, to bring it to her lips. To let her teeth sink into it.
Seth lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “I tried one time to finish the whole thing. Couldn’t do it.” He looked down at the dirt, traced a pattern with the toe of his shoe. Emilia wondered if he were ashamed at his failure.
“Oh well,” she said. Honestly, she didn’t care. Her thoughts were on the fruit. Pears fascinated her: the juiciness without the crispness. Sweetness without tartness. Pears were plain, honest, unassuming. They never disappointed.
Seth had seen her when she passed the convenience store. She'd seen him inside, but pretended she hadn't. He’d followed her. She hadn’t turned around when he called her name. She often claimed deafness when it was convenient. Said her dad yelling at her when she was a kid broke one of her ear drums.
As she chewed, she watched a droplet of sweat trickle down Seth’s flushed cheek.
There was something beautiful about the quiet of the pear orchard. Emilia wanted it all to herself. How many more words would it take to chase him away?
“So, why are you up here?” she asked. Direct questions were sometimes best in these situations.
Seth flinched. He opened his mouth. Emilia thought he was going to speak, but he let his jaw hang loose too long. Emilia had that feeling: dread rising like flood water in a canal.
“I—” Seth began. At least it was a sound.
“Yes?” Emilia scratched at the skin of the pear with her fingernail.
“I just wondered if Micah….” His cheeks burned the color of fat tomatoes.
Emilia let the hand holding the pear drop to her side. She felt a droplet of juice drip onto her shin and dribble down to the elastic of her sock.
Seth tried to recover. “I – just – you know….”
“Does this have anything to do with Homecoming?” Emilia kept her voice perfectly level.
“Well, yeah, I—”
She swallowed. “I’m sorry, Seth. I’m not going. Not with Micah, not with anybody.”
When she glanced up, she saw that Seth’s eyes were crinkled. “So, it’s not—”
“It’s not you,” she said, shaking her head so that her ponytail flipped from side to side.
“Dances aren't my thing,” she said.
“Okay,” he said.
“But thanks for the thought.” She smiled.
Seth nodded, shaggy hair flapping into his eyes. “Okay.” He turned away. “See you around, I guess.” He raised one arm in a sort-of salute.
“Bye,” Emilia said, and watched him gallop down the hill.
When the back of his head finally disappeared behind the ridge, Emilia tipped her head back to gaze at the blue sky. Then, she returned to her first love. Fresh pear.
Twelve weeks. That leaves only forty stories still to write.
If this endeavor can be compared to a marathon, I'm feeling the first burn right now. I'm starting to wonder if this was a good idea. It's a big commitment. I'm spending more time writing short stories than I am novels. I have a bunch of short stories I'd like to polish, but I don't have time. Creatively, I'm drained.
But then I remind myself -- after this year there will be time to polish. And I'll have 52 stories under my belt. And hopefully I'll be a better writer than when I started.
It's that last point especially that keeps me going.
Stay tuned for this week's short story ... coming right up!
Monday, April 12, 2010
Still, I wanted to quit on page 64. I had no desire to keep reading.
But I made myself keep reading.
Now I'm on page one-hundred-something. Again, no desire to keep reading.
The book is due on Thursday. I've had it out for two months and have run out of renewals. Maybe it's time to move on.
Besides that, City of Bones arrived for me at my library today. And also The Yiddish Policeman's Union. And also the amazing Annie Dillard's Living By Fiction. I have to move on with my reading life.
Now I'll admit it. The book I'm abandoning is Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt. Don't all throw tomatoes at me at once!
I think the "voice" of the story should be the character's voice, regardless the point of view. To give an example, the mc of a story I recently wrote is a British expatriate woman. Because of this, the language in the story is entirely different from the language I use for my YA novels. I wrote the story in third person. Still, I wanted to use her pattern of speech to tell it. I wanted her voice.
But many would argue that writers need to find "their own voice," that sets one person's writing apart from the rest of the world's.
Is there a perfect balance here? Is a balance even possible?
What do you think? I really want to know.
Some of you may remember that I broke my toe last Monday.
I was doing better. Although my foot was primarily still blue, I was walking normally. Still unable to wear shoes, but thankfully Spring had arrived and flip-flops were working.
Yesterday, though, I didn't realize my baby was standing behind me. I turned around and tripped over her. Somehow my broken toe tangled in her clothing and was pushed sideways again (the way I suspect I broke it in the first place).
(If you're curious, on the diagram, the smallest phalanges, near the metatarsal-phalangeal joint, is the broken one.)
So now I'm back to square one. Spent yesterday limping. Today it doesn't hurt as badly, but I have to keep moving or it gets numb.
I'm also fitting into pants that were too big for me when I lived in China. I'm blaming it on the fact that I haven't exercised in a week, but am eating the same amount of food as when I was exercising. (Actually, maybe more food than when I was excercising. There's something about sitting around that makes a person hungry!)
I even had to say no to the Oreo cookies on sale at Safeway this morning, because I knew I wouldn't be able to work off the calories. *sob*
So, what's my positive spin here? I should have listened to Sharon when she told me to keep tape on the toe? (Confession: I still don't have tape on the toe because it gets numb when there's tape on it and I hate numb more than pain, believe it or not.) I'm happy that I have more of an excuse to sit endlessly on my butt in front of the computer? Hmm.
Help me out here. Can you find a positive spin for this situation?
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Olivia was busy. She had to get a second car to fit all her kids. And she was a doctor, which I think was the highest paying salary in the deck. Still, she wanted to keep her money, so she chose the mobile home when it came to picking a house. She's a savvy kid. I have no doubt this game could mirror her life. (Except, maybe, the mobile home part.)
Anna, on the other hand, was playing this game with a three-year-old mentality. When choosing a career, she chose TEACHER because she wanted to be like Daddy. She turned down a higher paying job. She had a car full of kids. It was very important to her that the sexes of her children matched up so she could have a girl row and a boy row.
Most interesting, though, was that Anna wasn't bothered by the ups-and-downs of Life. She was the only one who kept landing on spaces where she had to pay up for this or that. She laid down $5000 for an LCD TV. She paid veterinary bills. And on a teacher's salary, it meant she came in last place when it came to counting up money. She couldn't afford a new house when she had the opportunity to buy one. I counseled her against taking out a loan.
Still, she was not bothered by any of it. When I gave her the option to switch careers (you get that option with this new version of Life), she said she was happy being a teacher like Daddy.
I hope I can go through real life with that same simple gratefulness. Being thankful I have enough money to pay for life's expenses. Not being wrapped up in how many one-hundred-thousand-dollar bills I can accumulate next to the board.
Anna was content with her condo and her car of children. I want to be like that, too.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Is anyone else doing this challenge? Or are you involved in another reading plan?
I personally love having a list of books to read. It helps me to be more deliberate & thoughtful about what I put in front of my face.
I am re-starting my WiP (in a blank document, just for the heck of it), but I am typing it in a weird font. I chose one that I thought my mc would pick. It may be too early to tell, but I think it's helping with voice.
Has anyone else tried this? (Of course, I'll switch back to Times New Roman 12pt when I'm done.)
From time to time, I stumble upon a book about adoption that I'm not expecting to be about adoption.
GOOSE by Molly Bang is a wonderful example.
I picked it out randomly at our library. It sat for a few days before we got around to reading it. When I did read it, though, I was touched by its simple, poignant story.
A goose egg rolls into a woodchuck hole. The egg hatches and the gosling is raised by the woodchuck family.
I thought at first this would be a retelling of the Ugly Duckling story. But it isn't. The woodchuck family adores the gosling. They raise her well. They teach her everything they know: how to swim, how to build.
Goose is happy for a long time, but not complete. When she reaches maturity, she deals with a depression she can't explain. Because of this, she sets out on her own, wandering aimlessly through the dark night. Accidentally slipping off a cliff, she's sure her life is over. But during the long drop down, Goose learns to fly.
This is a beautiful coming of age story. It's in the epiphany of her darkest moment that she discovers a talent that distinguishes her from the rest of her family. She is able to fly home to the woodchucks with a sense of completeness.
I don't know how this story will apply to a human adoption story. I'm thinking, of course, of my daughter Olivia. I don't know what the future will hold, what her personal struggles will be. I wonder if someday she'll find a talent that was given her by nature and not by nurture, one she'll share with her birth family (though she may never know for sure), something that delights her soul and makes her spread her wings.
There's also a lesson in here for me: that there's a time to let go, to let a child find their wings. Not yet, though. But I know that day will come.
I'd be remiss at this point if I didn't talk about some great news our good friends in China just received.
I was with my dear friend Megan the day she first saw her daughter Rose. Rose was an orphan who'd been sent to the orphanage as a baby. A British woman took her as an infant and raised her for several years. But when this woman's visa expired and the government forced her to leave China, she had no choice but to send Rose back to the orphanage.
Rose only spoke English (with a British accent!). The orphanage director asked if any English-speakers in our community would be willing to provide foster care for her. My friend Megan and her husband Mark offered to help. I remember seeing Rose for the first time in the four-year-old room, sitting at the table, playing with playdough. Megan and I were both stunned by how beautiful she was. Poor sweet thing! She must have been so confused being back at the orphanage surrounded by people who didn't speak her language!
To make a long story short, over the course of the last four years Megan and Mark thought they were going to lose Rose twice. The Chinese Adoption Administration matched her paperwork with two different families at two different times. My friends had to fight to keep Rose in their home. But just this last week, they received their official referral for Rose's adoption. After four years, they will be able to officially adopt their daughter.
Of course, this mirrors our family's experience in many ways. Two years ago, around this time of year, we received our referral for our then six-year-old daughter Olivia. It had been a wait of six and a half years to receive that paperwork. I remember that insane feeling of disbelief and joy and overwhelming thankfulness ... I know my dear friend Megan is feeling that now!
Congratulations, Mark, Megan, Rose, & Grace! We are so happy for you!
And I'm so thankful for adoption, I don't even mind being the woodchuck in the equation.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Clarification: Not BORED. I didn't feel BORED. I had plenty to do. I just felt boring.
Have you ever had a day like that?
I tried to work on my WiP, but I think I was doing more harm than good (because I was boring).
I switched over to edit my dad's novel instead. Ripping another person's creative work apart was no problem, but attempting to do anything creative myself was an exercise in fruitlessness.
I officially knew I was boring when my husband and I got into bed and I talked to him for fifteen minutes about something boring. It bored me, but I kept talking. What I was saying made hardly any sense -- did I mention it was boring? -- but I persisted until I was so bored I was almost comatose.
My husband deserves an award for his patience. Seriously.
Are you bored yet? Is talking about being boring, boring?
But, in totally UN-boring news: I'm sure you all know this already, but Lisa and Laura Roecker are having an EPIC contest on their blog. I was not a follower up until now (I don't know why!), but today that will change. Maybe some of their amazing creativity will rub off on me. I mean, just look at their prizes! Sheer brilliance.
And now, a sweet Easter treat:
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
How can it be Wednesday again already?
I'm desperate to keep editing my WiP while baby's napping, so this won't be long.
I didn't get much at all done this last week because it was spring break and everyone was home. Which was so wonderful, by the way! I miss the hubby and the two big kids now that they're back in school. But in some small ways it's nice to be back in the regular routine. More writing time, for instance.
What am I doing this week?
- Trying something new with my revisions: I'm going through and critting using the Track Changes feature in Word, just like I would on someone else's manuscript. I'm hoping it will help me to distance myself from the project and see it through different eyes.
- I left my WiP alone for a few weeks, so hopefully I'll be reading it like an agent or editor would read it. At least, that's Agent Mark McVeigh's advice. Click here to watch the revision tip video.
- I'm going to polish up The Tiffin Box (the short story I wrote a couple weeks ago) and send it to my mom. She's been to Cheung Chau, where the story is set, countless times, so she's my expert critiquer, not to mention #1 cheerleader.
I've officially shelved V-Day, at least for the time being, though the idea still haunts me. Since it's been so widely queried, I'd like to have something new to offer at the SCBWI conference when I go in July. Besides that, my WiP is the first book where I honestly feel I've hit my stride. Not to say it won't need extensive revisions, but in some ways it feels like a story that only I can tell. I like that.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
- Literary Agent Kate Testerman really did change her submission guidelines! (No April Fools joke this time.) Click here to read about what she changed and why.
- The same Kate Testerman is hosting a hilarious contest where her readers post their most embarrassing writings from their teen years (living proof that most teens can't write!). I've already posted my doozy of an entry in her comments, but there are still crazy ones pouring in. I'm sure you have something embarrassing hidden in your bottom drawer to share, too. Check it out and/or enter here. (Please note: The prize is pretty fun!)
- I'm planning to enter the Dear Lucky Agent contest on Guide to Literary Agents. Click here to read the entry requirements. Anyone else thinking of entering?
That's it. Hope today's Story A Week story didn't freak anyone out. It did turn out kind of weird. Scraping the bottom of the creative-juices barrel at the moment, unfortunately.
Have a great evening!
Sara didn’t notice the marks until she was in the shower. She winced when the hot water hit them.
She flung open the shower door and crossed to the mirror, rivulets of water running onto the white tile. That’s when she first saw them: long tentacles streaking her back from shoulder to shoulder.
His voice floated in from the kitchen. “What?”
“Come here – quick!”
He came slowly, carrying his coffee mug in one hand, the newspaper tucked under his arm. He raised his eyebrows at the scratches. “What’d you do?” Reaching out a tentative finger, he tried to touch the mark.
“Ouch! Don’t touch! It stings.”
“How’d you get those?” he asked.
Sara shrugged as she pulled her towel off the rack. “I don’t know. I just woke up this way.”
Her mind had been sorting through the possibilities. They didn’t have pets or children. Marsden cut his fingernails severely short. It was one of his peculiarities. There was no way his stubby fingers could have inflicted this much damage.
“Looks like someone laid into you with a whip.” He smiled slowly, teasingly. “You didn’t go anywhere last night after I fell asleep, did you?”
Sara wasn’t in the mood to kid around. She finished gingerly drying her body and slid into her bathrobe. It annoyed her that her back was still damp: the way the robe stuck to her skin, fibers clinging to the raw places on her skin. She picked up a comb and jerked it through her wet hair. “Don’t be an idiot. Of course I didn’t.”
Sara sighed. “Maybe I did it to myself. Got itchy in the night.” She inspected her nails -- short, perfectly filed. She clutched them in fists before Marsden had a chance to notice her hands were shaking. Thankfully he wasn’t the observant type.
He laughed. “Yeah right. You can’t even reach those places on your back. Let me see you try!”
“No,” she said. Everything to Marsden was a game, a competition. “I’m sorry I bothered you. Go back to your – whatever you were doing.”
“Breakfast,” he said. “No, but this is interesting. Let me know if you come up with an explanation.”
“I will,” she said, pushing him out the door and shutting it after him. She glanced at herself in the mirror. The noise of the bathroom fan hummed in her ears. Leaning against the counter, she pressed her hands against the cold tile. She needed the support; her legs were trembling.
The dream. It had to be the dream.
But that was impossible.
She could still see that woman’s face, eyes like two cinders, face pocked like a potato. She’d been holding a whip.
What had she said?
Sara closed her eyes, scarcely daring to remember. “For the sins you didn’t commit.” Her voice rattled, rickety with old age. “All those opportunities to do wrong and so many times you chose right.”
Sara remembered crying out in her dream, “Then why do you persecute me?”
“Because I own you,” the old woman hissed. “All your good works – all that effort – for nothing! Punishable only by death.”
Sara sat down abruptly on the closed toilet seat. The rough fleece fabric of her robe shifted on her back. The lashes burned like fire.
Monday, April 5, 2010
I think I broke it, dang it.
That means --
- No ballet today
- A lot of slow limping around the house after toddlers
- I'm managing a lot of anger at myself for being so clumsy
My mother-in-law just came to the rescue with medical tape so I could wrap it up. It actually hurts to have the tape on. I'm kind of a wimp, I guess.
I wonder if this will give me a reason not to have to cook dinner or perform any household chores. Maybe I can just sit in bed with my leg elevated and work on my WiP edits.
Ha! I'll keep dreaming.
Now off to find the ibuprofen. If that doesn't work, I'll try intensive chocolate therapy.
Is anyone else currently suffering from stupidly-acquired, painful injuries? (I hope not!)
Saturday, April 3, 2010
I don't speak Spanish at all. Saying "Gracias" is a stretch. Occasionally some of the other team members took pity on me and offered translation help, but through most of the first part of the service, I sat totally mesmerized and totally no comprendo. Throughout the entire four-hour service there was so much energy in the room. People shouted, stomped their feet, clapped their hands. Children wandered around the auditorium, playing. Dozens of people came up to the front and sang songs. As people came up to share their testimonies, I watched their faces light up. They were so expressive -- and afterwards so friendly. So many came up to shake hands and give hugs. Even though their words were lost on me, I wasn't bored for even a moment.
I guess I'm used to being a minority from growing up in Hong Kong, but we got more than one comment from the church attendees: "Thank you for bridging the gap between the Hispanic and white churches." For me, it never felt weird being one of the only white people there. If I felt self-conscious about anything, it was the very real possibility that I was mispronouncing the Spanish words I was trying to sing up front into a microphone!
People thanking us for gap-bridging sort of shocked me, to be honest. I guess I hadn't realized how racially separated we tend to be when it comes to worship and church attendance. I know part of it in this case is a language barrier, but still. Sad, sad, sad!
Now I didn't grow up in a charismatic church, and the church I attend now is not charismatic either. But I hope we can have a little bit of their energy, a little bit of their excitement tomorrow for our Easter service. After all, Easter marks the resurrection, which is the most amazing thing to happen since the creation of the world. Christ conquered death! We have a lot to celebrate! I hope we can do it justice.
I'm so tired. The long service (and the wonderful Mexican food afterwards) totally drained me, but in a good way. I'm ready to sleep for awhile and wake up to a glorious morning.
God bless you all.
Friday, April 2, 2010
You know, I was so busy giving out awards yesterday and there were so many great blogs from which to choose from, I actually did something so embarrassing I'm blushing as I type this entry:
I wrote a comment on someone's blog telling them I'd given them an award when I really hadn't. This person was so incredibly gracious. She came and left a very nice comment congratulating the award recipients.
The funny thing is, I was up with my baby in the wee hours of this morning and it suddenly struck me what I had done. I blamed the realization on irrational, middle-of-the-night thinking. There was no way I'd made such a blunder!
This morning I actually checked it out (cue funeral march) and realized YES, I did flub up. Big time.
With yesterday being April Fools, my first instinct was to act like it was a "Happy April Fools!" type thing. But I quickly decided against that. It would not only be a jerky thing to do (read: not funny at all), but also deceitful.
So, I decided to come clean and just admit my stupidity to the world.
Susan, I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I love your blog.
Since you've already received a Prolific Blogger Award, I thought I'd give you a brand new award that I am made up. (I don't think there are any rules against making up your own award, so I'm going to!)
Don't feel obligated to pass it on, but you are hereby awarded the:
A is for AWESOME award.
For bloggers who are not only fantastic blog crafters, but also AWESOME people (kind, generous, humble, gracious, and forgiving).
And if you choose, you can pass it on to five (or six!) other awesome bloggers.
Have a great day, everyone, and try not to stick your foot in your mouth -- or your foot through your laptop screen, as the case may be.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
In addition, two very popular agents have announced important changes to their submission guidelines that are worth checking out. Kate Testerman's new guidelines are here and Janet Reid's here.
I'm also very excited to accept the Prolific Blogger award, given to me by Night Writer, Myrna Foster, and Krista V. of Mother. Write. (Repeat.). Thanks Myrna & Krista!
"By definition, a prolific blogger 'is one who is intellectually productive...keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.'"
*Blush* I'm honored, and feel very undeserving of such high praise.
Now, to pass on the award to five intellectually productive bloggers. I apologize if you've already received this award, but I guess that means your blog is just extra enjoyable....
Tess Hilmo who wrote one of the best posts I've ever read on how to start a novel. Since that post I've been a Tess-Hilmo-blog addict. Tess's debut novel With a Name Like Love is scheduled for release by FSG/Macmillan in Fall, 2011. Hooray for Tess!
Sharon K. Mayhew at Random Thoughts. She recently held a Authoress-esque first-four-sentences critique session that was loads of fun!
Wendy Paine Miller over at All In A Day's Thought. Wendy always has thoughful and thought-provoking things to say.
Lisa Schroeder is a published author whose most recent book, It's Raining Cupcakes, had its book birthday last month. Yay, Lisa! Lisa's blog is fun and interesting to read because she's very open about what life is like on the other side of publication (hint: it's rewarding and awesome, but not all cupcakes! tee hee).
Caroline Starr Rose of Caroline by line who just announced the sale of her debut novel, May B., by Tricycle Press in Fall, 2011. Congratulations, Caroline!
So, there's your homework: five awesome blogs to check out. Happy April Fools Day, everyone, and don't let anybody pull your leg when you're not looking!