Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beauty tips for the writer

I have stumbled upon a sure-fire way for writers to make themselves feel beautiful.(This probably only works for women writers, but hey, the guys don't have to worry about being beautiful anyway.)

Step one: have revisions due on a certain date.

Step two: ascertain that you will not make this date unless you give up several things in your life like showering or grooming.

Step three: repeat step two for several days.

Step four: by the time you finish your revisions you will resemble the troll-like figure on the front cover of Brandon Mull's first Fablehaven book.
Step five: now that your revisions are done, shower, dress in something besides the lifeless sweats you've been wearing, and do your hair and makeup. You will be astounded by how good you look. In fact, you will be downright stunning in comparison to how you've looked for the last few days.

It works every time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

In which I terrorize the office staff of my son’s school

I blame it on revisions. When you’re working nonstop for a month on rewriting your novel for the third time, you get testy. I’d told the bow-tied one that I’d have the manuscript to him today, which means that in the last week I showered approximately twice.

So I wasn’t happy yesterday when son number 1, code name Gaston, called and told me he forgot his tennis shoes. He asked if I could bring them so he could participate in football practice. I nearly told him, “Forget it. Just skip practice and come home with the rest of the carpool.”

I didn’t want to take forty minutes out of my work day (twenty minutes there, twenty minutes back) to bring them to him. The deadline was looming and I still had quite a few of the bow-tied ones 407 comments to go through. Instead, I gave myself a pep talk about being a good mother (see last blog) and told him I’d try to get them to him. First I called around to the other carpool mothers in the neighborhood to see if they could bring up Gaston’s shoes when they picked up the other kids. Four phone calls later I found out that carpool turn fell to one of the fathers, who picked up the kids on his way home from work. So that wouldn’t work.

I got in the car, unshowered and covered in cat hair. (One of the cats feels it’s her duty to lie on my chest while I write.)I brought the shoes to the school’s front desk, explained the situation, and asked if they could give them to Gaston.

Imagine my surprise when Gaston came home with the carpool kids instead of staying for football practice. “What the heck are you doing home after I spent forty minutes to bring you your shoes!” I said lovingly. Because that is the type of mother I am. (see last blog)

“You didn’t bring me my shoes,” Gaston said.

“I gave them to the front office and they said they’d give them to you,” I said.

“They didn’t,” he said.

I called the school and left a message for the front desk. Which is probably something I shouldn’t do—leave messages when I’m angry. When you do that, you have to worry that your message is being endlessly replayed while people mimic you and do gargoyle impersonations. Not that I’m saying the office staff did this. But just, you know.

Anyway, the secretary called me this morning and apologized. She said she had called Gaston’s teacher and told him to send Gaston up to get his shoes. Apparently the teacher hadn’t passed along the message.

“Didn’t you notice that he never picked up his shoes?” I asked. Gaston doesn’t have small feet. He wears a size twelve.

“Yes,” she said. “So we sent his shoes to football practice with one of the other mothers.”

Which would have been nice if Gaston had gone to football practice, but he hadn’t because he had no shoes.

I pointed that out to the secretary, and then we hung up. That was the phone call.

Today when my husband came home he said, “I think the office staff is afraid of you now.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked. I had sent off my manuscript, showered, cleaned the downstairs, went to the grocery store to pick up frosting, baked a cake, and taken seven junior high kids to the movies for a party. I was back to loving mother mode. (See last blog.)

“The school didn’t know what happened to Gaston’s shoes after they were sent to football practice,” my husband said, “so they went out and bought him new ones.”


Now I feel terrible. I suppose the office staff thought after I called to complain because I had to drive forty minutes to deliver the shoes and they didn’t give them to him, there was no way they were calling me to break the news that Gaston once again didn’t have shoes for football practice, and they didn’t know what had happened to them.

“The whole school knows about it,” Gaston told me with irritation. “The football coach came up to me and asked me what the shoe problem was.”

Turns out one of the football carpool kids had taken them home last night and he’d forgotten to bring them back to school today.

We have them back now, along with new shoes that the office lady bought. I really do feel bad about it. I told Gaston to ask the secretary how much they cost so I can repay her.

On the bright side, probably no one at that school will ask me to volunteer for the PTO.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My real job

During Project Book Babe one of the questions that was asked of the panel was: When did you know writing had become your career? Shannon Hale had a great answer. She said, "It isn't my career. Being a mom is my career."

I've always felt the same way. I'm a mom first. I hardly did any promotion or travel before my kids went to school all day. If truth be told, I didn't do a lot of writing before my kids went to school. It was mostly done during nap times, favorite kid TV shows, or sitting beside soccer fields pretending that I cared which way the ball went.
Sometimes I forget this though. I imagine we all do. We have a goal to get xyz done and our kids seem to be the thing standing in the way of getting xyz done, so they seem like a job-hinderence instead of our real job.

But today I'm remembering. Being a mom is my real job. I will make cupcakes for my daughters class, and take another daughter shopping for the shorts she needs, and make dinner.

I can't complain. All in all it's a great career.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Writing Class

Hey, for any of you around the Casa Grande area, I'm going to do a writing class on May 30th. Here's the vital info:

Writing a Young Adult Novel?
Get the Foundation Right: Point of View, Plot, and Characterization With Janette Rallison, Author of Books for Young Adults

Saturday, May 30, 2009
10:00 AM to 2:30 PM

Holiday Inn - Canyon Room
777 N Pinal Avenue
Casa Grande, Arizona 85222

Writing a young adult novel? Learn how to use the most important building blocks of fiction: point of view, plotting, and characterization. Did you know that 90% of the manuscripts in publishers' slush piles have point of view problems and as a result, are immediately rejected? Don't let your novel be one of them. Learn about point of view and how to use it effectively. Also, find out how to save time and effort in the revising stages by setting up your plot and characters right the first time around.

Janette Rallison is the award winning author of 15 novels and has sold over 800,000 books, including Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List IRA Young Adults' Choices List 2007 and It's a Mall World After AllIRA Young Adults' Choices List 2008.

Most of her books are romanticcomedies because there is enough angst in real life, but there Is a drastic shortage on both humor and romance. She lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, five kids, and enough cats to classify her as eccentric. Some of her other titles include My Fair Godmother, Just One Wish, and How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend.

Registration is limited.
For more information, contact Michelle Parker-Rock at
RegionalAdvisor at

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

book giveaways

I’ve meant to do a blog give away of a couple of my friends’ latest books for awhile. What can I say, when I’m doing revisions a lot of things fall through the cracks. This is mostly because I’m sitting by my laptop rocking back and forth, mumbling things about certain editorial comments, but I digress.


First up is Kersten Campbell’s book, Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother. I immediately liked this book because I am often a completely insane mother. If you’ve ever taken a group of boy scouts to the police office for a tour, you can relate. It’s a book full of Erma Bombeck-like vignettes, you know, supposing Erma Bombeck had five kids that she had to get ready for church in ten minutes because she overslept. (I have done this. I can relate. One day I’ll have to tell you about my two-year-old son who refused to wear pants to church. Ahh, happy memories. Well, not really.)

The odd coincidence about this writer is that although I’ve never met her in person, she is now living in my old hometown of Pullman, Washington and is married to my friend’s little brother. It’s weird to think of him as a grown man since he was about six when I left home.

I suddenly feel old.


The second book is for all of you regency romance lovers: Donna Hatch’s The Stranger She Married. It has a guy in a mask. That’s always cool. Alicia, our heroine is in dire straits (or maybe straights, I can never keep all of those dire places, um, straight) and vows to marry the first wealthy man she meets. Enter Cole Amesbury, a dashing lord. Personally, I think there are not enough dashing lords around when you need them, so I was glad this book was doing its part to help the shortage. Plus I liked it because I love romance, but not bodice rippers. So potential readers, rest assured you will not be impaled by flying bodice parts if you read this book.

For this give away tell me one insane mother moment, or one romantic one (or a romantic one you’d like to have some day) and I’ll enter you in the giveaway.