Sunday, February 28, 2010

Excuses, excuses

I've been offline most of the week and will continue to be for a little while. I've been negligent in checking e-mail, commenting on blogs, posting on Facebook, and all the other little things I enjoy doing online.


Many reasons. A bad school week that's left me with a lot of need for introspection, which is hard to do when you're flitting around the Internet. A dog who keeps yo-yoing between sick and well and sick again. (He's well now -- but not quite himself -- still not sure we're completely back to normal. He threw up during the night -- first time in a week. He's going back to the vet in the morning.)

But I won't lie. The main reason I've been offline?

This work-in-progress.

On Throw Momma From the Train (one of the funniest writing movies ever), the main character's advice to the writing class he teaches is, "A writer writes. Always." Which is true, and not true, of me. Sometimes writing means reading. Sometimes it means interacting with other writers. Sometimes it means researching and learning all I can about this craft, this business, or some obscure fact I need for my latest novel.

But this week?

Writing means writing. Writing something very different from what I usually write, something so powerful it has already left me twice in tears and once in a fit of laughter -- and I'm only 10,000 words in. So if you don't hear from me for a while, I hope you'll forgive me. Hopefully someday you'll get to read why.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two quotes and an award

STUDENT: "Is it time for snack?"
ME: "Not quite."
STUDENT: "Hey, no fair!"
ME: "Well, don't look at me. Tell the clock."
STUDENT: "I can't! It doesn't even gots ears!"


STUDENT: (Looking at an atlas during reading time) "Oh my gosh! Did you know there's a New Mexico?!"


Also, Jon gave me an award on his blog yesterday, and I totally missed it! Something about godawful school days followed by parent teacher conferences tend to limit my time online. But what a nice surprise to wake up today to a snow day and the realization that somebody out there thinks I'm a good liar!

The rules of this award are as follows:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link them.
Thanks, Jon! Everyone -- go to Jon's blog and follow the drama of the snowflake method. You'll be glad you did!

2. Add the award to your blog.
Ain't it purty?

3. Tell six outrageous lies about yourself and one truth.

1. I am excellent at math.
2. Sometimes I visit friends just to use their shower.
3. I hate brussel sprouts.
4. I don't like dogs. At all. Actually, I'm scared of them and find them quite smelly.
5. My childhood dream was to be a supermodel.
6. When I was four, I swallowed a nickel.
7. My three favorite things are standardized testing, IEP meetings, and diets.

Which one is true?

1. I am terrible at math.
2. TRUE! Shameful. But true.
3. I LOVE brussel sprouts!
4. Buddy and Lola and everybody at French Broad River Dog Park in Asheville, NC, know this one is a lie.
5. My childhood dream was to be an author! (And an Olympic horseback rider. *snort*)
6. Actually, it was a quarter.
7. Shoulda been the word "least" in there somewhere ...

4. Nominate six creative liars ... I mean, writers and link them.

1. Floot -- This lady turns out some seriously frequent writing exercises on her blog. She likes to NaNo, which is cool. Also, she happens to be a stunning writer.
2. Paul Michael Murphy -- Murphblog. 'Nuff said.
3. Bettie Lee -- She sells plumbing parts! How cool is that? She also shares her writing and editing journey on her blog. Plus, she's about the most faithful blog commenter anyone could ever ask for.
4. OgreVI -- One of the nicest people you will ever meet, this guy can also write your socks off. And it's all true. Which is why I want to see him lie.
5. Wendy Allen -- Her blog is fascinating, and I know her lies will be, as well.
6. Granny Kate -- Yes, she's my mother. No, that's not why I'm passing this on to her. Mostly I'm doing it because I want to see her lies. Also because she's the one who taught me to lie, so it's only fair! Her blog is a delight to read. There are poems and observations and runes and sometimes recipes for things like dandelion wine.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Three Quotes and a Book


Teacher: "How many more red cubes are there than blue cubes?"
Student: "I know! Red!"

Teacher: "Six plus one equals ..."
Student: "Nineteen? Oh, no, wait! Sixty-one ... Sixteen? Six plus what? Wait."

Test question: Check Ray's work. Did he do the problem correctly? Explain your answer.
Student answer: "Yes, he is rite. Becaus he used his hed."

AND MY BOOK! Got my bound galleys today -- GORGEOUS!

It's book-shaped! It looks like a book! It walks like a book! It talks like a book! I THINK IT MIGHT BE A BOOK!!! I'm so happy I could spontaneously combust! (But I don't have to, because I've got matches -- see on the cover?)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Photo I have to share.

This is so off-topic, but I just took this photo and I have to share it. This is my dog Buddy, who is recovering from Parvo and is obviously feeling a lot better today, sharing a little love with my cat, Tater Tot.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A few good things

You know how when you're little and you get a new toy, you wake up with that feeling that something wonderful has happened but it takes you a few minutes to remember what it is?

I woke up this morning with that feeling about the new book I'm writing. :)

I got out of bed and headed to the kitchen to find my sick-dog, and he met me with a wag and eyes that seem brighter. I think he might finally be on the mend.

Our foster pup made it through another dry night in his crate. I'm almost ready to officially declare him potty-trained.

And it's Friday.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Inspirational Surroundings

Inspired by Macmillan's fun new blog, Get to the Point, which routinely features various Macmillan staff members sharing the fascinating and sometimes mysterious-sounding contents of their desks, I want to share with you the current contents of my own hallowed workspace. And then you'll understand a little more about why I am the way I am. (It involves being acutely disorganized and overrun by animals.)

On my desk (which is actually two desks shoved together) at this moment, you will find:

1. Laptop – much-loved old Gateway held together with painter's tape
2. Cat (Sage, six-year-old notebook-obsessed Tortie)
3. Notebook with several versions of a scribbled outline by which to revise my current work-in-progress (under cat, of course)
4. Pedialyte (for my sickly and dehydrated dog, Buddy)
5. Syringe (with which to squirt the aforementioned Pedialyte down Buddy's throat every hour on the hour)
6. Worming powder (for our foster puppy, Rupert, who was diagnosed with worms based on his awful gas problem)
7. Candle garden (Valentine's Day present from my honey) filled with scented candles (to try to mask the aforementioned doggie gas problem)
8. Singing bowl (Birthday present last spring from Mom and Dad)
9. Collection of Feiwel and Friends books
10. Coffee cup (sadly, sadly, sadly empty – I am trying to cut down on caffeine and it is no fun)
11. Cough drops (getting over the flu)
12. Tissues (multi-purpose – for mopping up coffee spills, cleaning up sick-dog vomit, and dabbing at splatters of Pedialyte) (Oh, and blowing nose)
13. Little figurines of a roan horse and an orange cat who represent two dear pets I used to have
14. Several vet bills and receipts
15. And my feet.

(Feet not pictured. I'm not agile enough to take a picture of my own feet on my desk without flipping over backwards. And yes, that is Facebook, not my WIP, on the screen. Ssshhh.)

What's in your workspace? Spill! (The beans, I meant. Not the contents of your desk.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Washing my hair in a bucket on a snowy morning and thinking (in that order)

(Because any time you wash your hair in a bucket on a snowy morning, you weren't thinking to begin with)


-Toilet paper for coffee filters
-Coffee filters for toilet paper
-Paper towels for both of the above
-Paper plates for glass ones
-Paper towels for paper plates
-Coffee filters for paper towels
-Cereal bowls for coffee cups
-Coffee cups for cereal bowls
-Empty coffee cans for both of the above
-Forks for spoons
-Butter knives for forks
-Dishpans for sinks
-Sinks and washcloths for bathtubs
-The cost of grocery store gallon jugs of water for your monthly water bill
-An electric kettle for a hot water heater


-Good plumbers (Anybody know one?)
-Wacky families and the friends who appreciate them (Got this! Appreciate it now more than ever.)
-Good books (Got lots of these! Reading an awesome one from my crit partner now)
-Hot baths (you can get clean without them, but there is no substitute for the emotional value of a hot bath)
-Buddy Sunshine (Keeping this one at all costs. Which is why we will be basically sledding to the vet again today.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spring is coming. I hope, I hope, I hope.

I despise lists. Here, have one.


-Finished rewrite. Love the result.

-It's February. That's the month before March. Which means spring is coming.

-Still groovin' on this gorgeous LIVVIE OWEN LIVED HERE cover. Love it, love it, love it. They got it just right.


-Lost a good family friend, and it was too snowy to make it to her funeral.

-Buddy Sunshine is very sick. He's currently in a sad circle at my feet, probably dreaming of all the poking and prodding that goes on at his daily trips to the vet.

-Because of a water leak, we still don't have running water. Let me just point out how difficult it is to disinfect a whole house and yard with NO RUNNING WATER. And because we just basically spent every cent we had on vet bills, we're not likely to get the water leak fixed any time soon.

-The car is currently starting when asked with approximately 75% accuracy. (The other 25% is when we're in a hurry.)


-Did I mention we don't have running water? You oughtta see my hair. I look like I've been electrocuted. Also, Buddy and I are competing to see who can smell more like ... well, Buddy.

But spring is coming. Spring is coming. Spring is coming.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

For Joy

Things you do when you're eleven tend to haze out in the remembering, get fuzzier like old socks or recycled paper. You know you wore jeans with holes in the knees, but you never remember them being too tight, or too short, or too anything except exactly what they are in your simplified image: jeans with holes in the knees, a sign of being eleven in autumn. And your hair. The truth was that you probably drove your mother crazy with the snarls and the tangles. But in your mind's eye? Your hair caught the sun, it flew on the breeze raised by biking.

When I was eleven, my mother answered an ad in the newspaper. I don't remember this. I don't remember the first writer's meeting or how awkward it must have felt, pulling up in front of a house in a neighborhood so different from our trailer park.

What I remember, in that haze of looking back on eleven, is feeling completely at home in that house. Curling down into wicker and pillows, or soft sofa, or a corner of the floor, and listening to a sweet southern voice warm the cold places that winter and drip down the insides of the windows like condensation. I was a flighty kid, couldn't stand sitting still for more than half a minute, but I remember that voice lulling me, hazing out my rough edges even then. It almost didn't matter what she read.

But what she read – what she read was so real and so honest it should already have been written, not dashed out in a ten-minute session during a writer's meeting. What she read, it was so obvious – of course that's the way of things – of course that's how things are – except that nobody else ever quite found the words for it, as sweet and unassuming and matter-of-fact as she did, and even when she didn't read it – even when you read it yourself – you could hear it in her voice, honest and truthful and warm.

Eleven hazes out. Twelve is a little more clear. Then thirteen. The years kept passing, but the voice was always there. Filling up the cold spaces and giving us all her straightforward but oh-so-rare version of the truth. That voice, it was as much a part of my childhood as bikes and torn jeans and tangled hair, as much a part of my childhood as books and paper. Looking back, I learned a lot of truth from that sweet warm voice that slipped around me half-distracted, as matter-of-fact as oxygen.

I miss you, Joy. I miss your sweet voice and your warm words and your truth. You were well loved.

(In memory of Joyce Herndon Lackey)