Saturday, October 31, 2009

No NaNo for me, but how about....

Okay, so first of all, Happy Halloween. I love this holiday. Endless amounts of candy accompanied by creatures from the crypt just makes me smile. If you want to attend a rockin' Halloween blog party, head on over to my friend Natalie's blog. I'll be in and out of her party all day, I'm sure.

Now, onto business. I'm not doing Nano. Why? Because I don't need to be more obsessive about writing than I already am. If anything I need a contest that helps me become less obsessed. My friend, Linda, was discussing this same thought on her blog and we decided that if there were a contest that forced us to clean house instead of write, we would be inclined to participate. Well, we thought, why not make one? Tricia jumped on this bandwagon as well. So for the month of November we will be participating in National Housecleaning Month (NaHoCleMo). If you'd like to join us in our quest to make our lives slightly more balanced (and clean) grab a widget (click on the one on the left sidebar to take you to the instructions of how to use) and join the party.

The Rules:

We will be working in minutes, not hours. I set my goal for 5,000 for the month (if this number sounds too easy for you, feel free to up your goal. It sounds like a mountain to me, especially since I'll be out of town for 10 days in November. If it sounds too hard, feel free to make it less. Just a goal is what we're looking for. Something that will help us get away from our computers for a little while and give our poor, neglected houses some attention).

*Laundry counts when it applies to folding, loading, or putting away, but not the actual washer/dryer cycle.

*Cleaning up after dinner preparation counts, as well as loading the dishwasher, and putting away dishes, but not the actual dishwasher running time.

*And of course every other house cleaning venture. (making beds, vacuuming, scrubbing tile [I'm reminding myself what cleaning is, I'm sure you already know])

You may not include in total minutes:

*Trips to the grocery store

*Baking goodies

*Eating (even though this might seem like a chore when in the midst of writing a chapter)

*Writing (of course does not count, shame on me for already wishing it did)


Sounds like fun, yeah? And for those of you participating in NaNo, good luck, I'm excited to track your progress.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Follow Friday

Last time I did follow friday, I featured my nemesis, Jessie (who I secretly think is awesome but don't tell her because we've vowed to plot each other's destruction for the remainder of our lives). So this time, I thought it only fitting, to feature my BFF, Candice. Candi recently switched from wordpress to blogspot and she's lacking in blog love.

What can I say about Candi? Well, she is my best friend so that alone should tell you a lot about her. Namely that she might be bordering on crazy and highly lacking in good judgement. But it also tells you that she's charitable and patient. :) This is a girl who is brave enough to turn around in a theatre and tell the scary thugs behind us to be quiet (and give them the stare down when they continue to talk) but who screams out loud at a scary preview in the theatre (so loud that the other patrons laughed). If you're lucky enough to have her as a beta, you'll know why I consider her my secret weapon in writing. And now I finally get to return the favor and read her first book--Wahoo! (It's soooo good). I could go on for multiple paragraphs of mushiness about how much I love this girl. But why not just hop on over to her blog and see for yourself. And while you're over there, give her a follow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wednesday Reviews

As I've said before, when I travel, I read. And since, once again, I had two full days of traveling, I got to read quite a bit. I read a few authors that have been around for a while but I have never read. I was kind of shocked, actually, when I realized I had never read anything by Shannon Hale. Nothing. So I picked up one of her more recent novels and got to work.


This was such a cute book. It's one of those that while you're reading you find yourself smiling a lot. Often I feel like a dork when I do this, especially on an airplane. But most of the time I don't care.

I also tried one of Sarah Dessen's books and was very entertained. Real life (and of course when I say "real life" I mean fictional) teen drama? I didn't realize it existed. I thought all teen books were fantasy these days. Just kidding, of course. I've just been reading (and writing) a lot of teen fantasy.



Sarah Dessen does a great job creating emotion in the reader without telling me how to feel. I had some very strong emotions as I read this book. And not one of them was one she told me I should be having. In other words, her character never said, "I am feeling very angry or frustrated right now." (or whatever other emotions she had me feeling) I'll definitely have to pick up another one of hers. She has quite a few.

And in other news, my agent is back! Was that the longest maternity leave you've ever had to wait through? Yeah, me too. So, now she's reading one of my other books that I asked her to (I couldn't decide which one to start submission with) and depending on which one she chooses, we should be going out into the world of publishers in the next few weeks. I'm excited.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-How to embarrass yourself

I know you've been asking yourself lately: "How can I make a complete idiot out of myself? I know, I'll go to Kasie's blog to find out. I heard she's good at that." And you'd be right. I am excellent in the art of embarrassing myself. So here goes. I will help you start on your journey. First you have to develop a habit of trying to breathe and swallow simultaneously. It's quite a hard habit to develop, but once you get the hang of it, it comes quite naturally. Next you have to be sitting next to a complete stranger on an airplane and he has to ask you a question while you are taking a big gulp of water. Then you must breathe that big gulp of water into your lungs instead of swallowing it. Finally, you must choke and gag and cough on the water for five minutes. Your eyes will be pouring tears, your lungs will be burning, and the passenger next to you will have a concerned look on his face and ask you several times if you are okay. And voila, embarrassment for all involved.

I had the best weekend with Candi. We stayed up late every night talking. I read a few books (I'll review one or two of them on Wednesday), we made a trip to Cincinnati, went shopping, played Settlers, and saw a movie (the Vampire's Assistant--very good). It was awesome. I'm missing her already.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Because I'm suddenly responsible


You shouldn't be reading this because technically I shouldn't be writing this. You see, I'm out of town right now. Specifically in O-hi-O. Yes, today is my birthday (well, not today for me, because I'm writing this Wednesday night, but today for you because you're reading this Friday morning) and for my birthday my husband (the most fantastical husband in the world) sent me to see my best friend, Candice, in Ohio (I'm sure I'm freezing by now, but incredibly happy).

Exactly a month ago today I made a goal to write on my blog 3 times a week. (This goal was made after the much less desirable and therefore immediately broken goal of giving up chocolate.) Well, guess what? I've done it. I have made it four weeks of writing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I'm guessing it's because I'm much older and wiser now and have suddenly turned responsible. You see, the old me would've said, 'I'm going out of town to party for my birthday. I don't need to write on my blog. What's one missed Friday?' The new me says, 'There is nothing wrong with scheduling a post to keep my goals.' Wow, the new me sounds a little boring. Okay, I take that back, the new me says, 'I've learned how to send posts into the future. I must make use of this awesome skill.' Better. So here's to celebrating my new found sense of goal making and keeping (actually, I think I'm about maxed-out with the one goal so no need to add any more) and my birthday! Wahoo!

Have a great weekend. Send warm thoughts my way because this California girl hasn't seen fifty degrees in a long time. (Do you think it will be colder than fifty because I don't even own a real coat?)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reviews and Awards

I love to read. I've been reading sooooooooo much lately. I think the lady at the bookstore knows my name. The three I've read in the last two weeks are:


Loved this book. Scott Westerfeld builds an amazing world that I adored. His characters are pretty awesome too. Beware, though, the ending is less of an ending and more of a cutting off point. When I was done I shook my fist at the sky, cursing myself for not waiting until the second book came out to read this one. But I will definitely be the first one in line to buy that second one.




Ah, Brandon Sanderson, you have sucked me into your world. I bought this book originally because I'll be attending a conference in February in which he will be the key speaker. I wanted to listen to him, having read him. I was not disappointed. This is a book for those who truly love deep fantasy. His world is intricate and detailed. I loved trying to figure out the complexities of it. He threw in a really good twist that I didn't see coming as well. Now that I've read him I'm very excited to go to the conference.





And last, but not least, James Dashner's latest. I would say that the target audience for this book is middle grade boys. But, that being said, I was highly entertained. It kept me engaged and guessing. I loved the concept and I'm curious to see how it's going to go forward in the next book.



In other news, I got a lovely award from the awesome Jade.




Rules:
-Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
-Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
-Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
-Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
-Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Since you all know that I live on the edge and like to break rules in any form they come. I am picking only 2 people for this award. I know, you're all shocked at my nerves of steel. I generally like to pick the newest blogs that I have discovered, so why break tradition. :) Those two would be:

*The ever inspiring: Tamika
*The adorable: Melane (I noticed you recently got an award, Melane, so feel free to wait until next week to post this [or break all the rules and don't post it at all]). :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice--Too many toys?

Jenn asked me, How many toys are too many? And my answer/advice to that is: one. That's right, one toy is one too many. I remember back when I was a kid my mother used to hand me a length of string and a hanger and I'd play with it for hours. Eventually I invented the first rough antenna for television sets. (What's that? Sorry, my husband is screaming from the background telling me that didn't really happen. Now, where was I. Right my inventing years) Sometimes she would just tell me to run outside and play. I didn't need fancy "toys" or new fangled "video gaming systems" (Sorry, my husband is now trying to tell me that I was the queen of tetris and super mario brothers growing up. I have no idea what he's talking about.)

So, Jenn, my advice to you is throw away all your kids' toys and stock up on wire hangers and balls of string. It will stoke their creativity. Just be careful that they don't poke their eyes out or anything.

Perhaps this isn't exactly true advice. But, according to my daughter, I grew up in a generation where things such as "playing with toys" and "learning" hadn't been invented yet. A few weeks ago as we were sitting around the dinner table after the kids' first day of school my husband asked her what she learned. "Oh, you wouldn't understand," she said, "we learn much harder things in school than you did growing up." Without missing a beat my husband said, "But I aced hole digging one oh one, what could you possibly be learning that's harder than that?" Then, of course, we both went on to name all the classes we'd done very well in. "Gardening", "sharpening pencils", "Breathing". By the time we were done, my daughter was rolling her eyes, apparently convinced we were even stupider than she gave us credit for. It's fun to annoy your children isn't it?

(Anyway, I better go hide the millions of toys in my house in case Jenn comes to visit.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

My adorable son

video

I have been trying to capture this on video for weeks now. My son loves this song. Every time it comes on in the car he sings it. When he listens to my ipod he wants me to find this song. Nobody is allowed to sing it with him either. If my daughters try to sing it, he screams at them until they stop. It is his song. :) So, indulge a proud mother for a moment and pretend like you think this is as adorable as I do. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Squidward can't make Krabby Patties


So I'm sitting on the couch folding laundry while my children are watching Spongebob (I know, not exactly educational programming, but hey, it makes me laugh). It was the episode where Spongebob and Squidward are competing for employee of the month. Towards the end of the episode as the two are doing crazier and crazier things to try to get Mr. Krabs attention, Squidward starts frying up Krabby Patties. My eight year old daughter, who is sitting next to me mutters under her breath, "I thought Squidward couldn't make Krabby Patties."

There are two lessons I learned from her indignation. One, my kids watch way too much Spongebob. And, two, your characters have to stay true to themselves no matter what situation you put them in. If you've already established that your character cannot do something, you can't have them doing it in another chapter/scene/book just to prove a point. Especially if you write for children or middle grade. Kids are smart and not as willing to overlook character breaches as adults are. My daughter helped reiterate a lesson I've heard a lot in writing-- My characters must always stay in character. Even if they're growing and changing, characters should each have a way they would handle change and growth. Now, Squidward, get behind the register and don't touch the grill unless you take a class that you will grumble your way through. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice--Potty training

Last week Jessie (my nemesis) asked for some advice on potty training. This is a great topic for me since I am in the midst of doing that very thing (and failing miserably).

The best way to start is to let your child pick out some big boy (or girl) underwear. Make sure they're printed with characters they like. When putting the underwear on your child, say things like, "Child, don't go potty on Spiderman, he doesn't like to get wet, it makes him sad." Isn't this a good idea? (Yeah, it doesn't work. Later, your child will just say, "Mommy, look, Spiderman is wet. Don't worry, he's still happy.")


Next, work up a good bribing system. Every time your child successfully goes, give them the predetermined bribe. (Unfortunately, stopping the bribe is hard so you may have to continue it for the remainder of his/her life.)

Finally, set a timer to remind yourself every hour or so, to take your child to the bathroom. This way you won't forget and they will start establishing a routine of trying to use the bathroom. (Soon, much like Pavlov's dog, whenever the timer goes off, your child will immediately go to the bathroom. So you might want a silent timer.)



You should make sure you go into potty training with the right attitude. There are a few things you should expect so you won't be disappointed:

*Expect to re-carpet your whole house when you are done potty training. You might need to take a side job to finance this (note: writing does not count. I was referring to a paying job). Lucky for me, we were already planning on recarpeting upstairs due to other little boy "accidents": Nail polish, sharpie marker, mascara, a whole tube of bright blue gel toothpaste, all do not go well with carpet. It's beginning to sound like I don't watch my child. In fact, my husband said it's "fourth child syndrome"--we just aren't as attentive with him as we have been with the others. When he suggested this, I gasped. "How dare you accuse me of this," I said. "I have been equally neglectful with all my children. He just gets into more stuff." If you weren't already planning to re-carpet and you don't want to have to, you might consider covering all surfaces in plastic.

*Expect that there will be casualties of war. Some underwear won't make it through the battle. So have plenty of backups.

*Expect that if you are potty training a boy he will soon learn that the toilet isn't the only thing that's fun to aim for. I discovered this the other day when my 3 daughters were running through the house screaming, while my son was chanting, "I'm gonna squirt you."

*And finally, expect that even though you might be ready, your child might not be. Or even though your child is ready, you might not be. All parties involved must be willing participants or it will end in disaster.

Jessie, good luck to you. If anyone else has more helpful advice than mine, feel free to share it. Or, feel free to share unhelpful advice as well (potty training disaster stories are always fun). That is the name of the post after all. :) And again, if you would like to be the recipient of my priceless advice, leave me a question. (Next week, Jenn's question is on the agenda)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Follow Friday

I had so much fun doing my "spotlights" after the retreat I attended in July, that I've been wanting to do this ever since: My own small scale version of Follow Friday. I'm going to be spotlighting some of my favorite people, or newly discovered (to me) people who, like me, don't have hundreds of followers. I thought it would be a fun way to share the love. Plus, once in a while, it's nice to take the attention off of myself (As in, once or twice a month. Let's not go crazy here, people, we all know how much I love talking about myself).

So for my first "Follow Friday" I wanted to tell you a little about the girl I love to hate. My nemesis, Jessie. First of all, I just want to say, I am so glad I found my nemesis. A lot of people go their whole lives searching for theirs only to die an utter failure having never met the person who ever gave them a reason to live. That reason being, plotting the destruction of this person, of course.

Many of you know Jessie. Yes, she's that super cute, super funny, amazingly nice girl. But hiding behind that awesome smile is the girl who finds it fun to oppose me. If I like something, she hates it. If I hate something, she loves it. For example (yes, Jessie, I have evidence) I love music, she never listens to it (I know, shocking). I find a guy with a little eye make-up attractive, she doesn't. She's not a fan of subways and I'm pretty sure she hates free hugs too (I've taken creative liberties with that last conclusion) But the nail in the coffin: she likes wax museums (Jessie, how could you?). (We will overlook the fact that she loves my favorite author, Dickens, was a drama geek in high school, like me, and is a stay-at-home mom. These facts would only detract from the nemesis rule, which states that your enemy must be your opposite.)

It's easy to see why she has been chosen as my nemesis, right? Unfortunately, we will now have to spend the remainder of our lives plotting each others destruction, but maybe once in a while we can take a break and do lunch or let our kids play (I'm sure there are loopholes in the nemesis rule book to allow for such frivolities).

So if you're not already, jump on over and follow Jessie's blog. But please know that I have already claimed her as my nemesis, so you can't steal her from me. And Jessie, I'm giving you an award. It is the "evil eye" award. You have reached official nemesis status. You probably shouldn't post it on your blog because then it will always be watching you. Mua ha ha ha (and, Jessie, don't fight me on this one, I really want to play the evil one, you're avi is way too cute to pull off evil.) Mua ha ha.




(Wow, that post ended up being mostly about me, didn't it? Funny how that worked out.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Guyliner

So out of the blue several people on several separate occasions have asked my husband if he started wearing eyeliner. What the? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for guyliner. Really, I am. I think it's quite unfair, actually, that woman are allowed to wear make up and men aren't. Why is it fair that when we get a zit or have a blotchy complexion we have this awesome thing called foundation? And why is it acceptable for women to bring out the color or shape of their eyes by lining them, but not men?

But the truth of the matter is, it just isn't a mainstream practice and my husband, as a professional in the business world, would not be taken seriously in guyliner. It turns out, he doesn't have to wear it. Apparently over the last few years, my husband's lashes have naturally darkened (hello, where are my miraculously darkening lashes, universe?) thus prompting the question from long time friends and relatives about eyeliner. So, to all you who were too embarrassed to ask Jared (because for every one that asked there had to be five that didn't) no, he has not taken to wearing eye make up. But, because I occasionally enjoy seeing a man in guyliner, I give you my list of men who easily pull it off:


30 seconds to Mars' Jared Leto:




Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong:



The Killers' Brandon Flowers:



American Idol's Adam Lambert:



And of course, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow:


What about you? Are you a fan of guyliner?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice--Creepy vs. Not Creepy

Let’s face it, kids are creepy. Okay, maybe not all the time. But when Hollywood puts them in the right situation, with the right scary music in the background, and the right looks on their faces, they scare me more than any onscreen adult can hands down. Maybe it’s because I have 4 kids of my own who can potentially turn on me at any moment. Maybe because seeing kids in those scenarios is just so unnatural. Whatever the case, kids in scary movies give me the heebie jeebies. Even scarier than pale-faced kids, bloodied kids, black eyed kids, or vampire children, are long haired little girls. You know the ones I’m talking about. Their hair hangs over all or most of their faces, hiding something truly horrible or nothing at all (we’ll never know). I’m getting to a point, I promise. I just had to set up the scenario.

So, my beautiful daughter has attained “creepy child” length hair. Sometimes when I see her from behind, I shudder. Maybe it stems back to watching The Ring. (Which by the way was a huge mistake because it made me scared of not only long-haired children, but my television set [which was the true travesty]) I’ve begged her to cut her hair for weeks now. First I told her it wouldn’t get as tangled. Next I told her it would be easier to wash. Finally I told her it would be easier to put up. None of this worked. She said she didn’t care. So the other day as I was brushing her long hair that was soon going to make her turn on me I muttered under my breath, “It’s turned to creepy child length.”
“What?” she asked.
“What? Nothing, it’s so beautiful.”
“No, you said creepy something.”
So I told her about the creepy children of film who are often portrayed with long hair. And guess what? Suddenly, she wants me to cut a few inches off her hair. What? That’s all I had to say?

So today you get two pieces of unhelpful advice:

One: Never underestimate the power of calling your 11 year old creepy. I know, I should win the mother of the year award for that one.

Two: There is a fine line between creepy hair length and not creepy hair length. I will include some pictures below so you are clear on the difference.

Anything from shoulder length to middle back on a child is not creepy. Aw, isn't she precious? And I don't even suspect any thoughts of 'taking over the world one less adult at a time' lurking in her mind.




Anything from middle back to above the waist is on the creepy side. Wipe that smile off her face and she looks ripe for an attack on innocent parents or unassuming bystanders.



And anything around the waist or longer is just plain creepy. Scared.



I hope that clears things up. You're welcome. :)

By the way, I know you are just dying for a bit of sage wisdom to some unanswerable questions in your own life. If you have a question that you would like answered in a future edition of 'maddeningly unhelpful advice monday' please leave it in the comments section.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I Love Music


Okay, so I've been tagged by the awesome Jenn. I'm supposed to list 7 of my favorite songs. Yikes, I don't think I can narrow it down to 7. Plus, the seven I write today will be replaced by seven new ones in a few days. My favs constantly change. But, oh well, for today, these are seven of my favorite songs:


1. The Fray--Never Say Never

2. (Hottie) Rob Thomas--Her Diamonds

3. Sara Bareilles--Gravity

4. All American Rejects--Gives You Hell

5. Taylor Swift--You Belong With Me

6. Parachute--She Is Love

7. Silversun Pickups--Lazy Eye

Oh wait, I just remembered Green Day--21 Guns, and Miley Cyrus--The Climb. This is too hard.

I tag anyone who loves music. If you end up doing this tell me in the comments section so that I can see your song picks and maybe discover some new favorites through you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Top 10 reasons to avoid the gym

10. It’s swine flu season and every surface in every gym is covered in germs. I have my health to think about.

9. The starve-crazed patrons might take one look at me, realize I eat, and attack me in search of food.

8. I don’t “glisten” I sweat and sweat is yucky.

7. If and when I have time and money to spend on child care/gym membership, I want to spend it doing something way better than forcing myself to sweat and shower.

6. Don't want to have to witness muscly man making out with himself in the mirror.

5. A trip to the bathroom might result in seeing people way too comfortable with their own nakedness.

4. My workout clothes are not cute enough (and we all know that according to Stacy and Clinton, from “What not to Wear”, even for a trip to the gym we are supposed to look hawt).

3. No one—ever—should have to be exposed to spandex biking shorts. Whoever invented them was trying to play a cruel trick on the world and some people never caught on.

2. Why would I work out when I could be ______? (Insert almost any word in the universe into the blank and it will be a good question.)

1. And the number one reason is…… I might run into Carrie’s creepy “speedo guy” (warning: if you click on link, you might pee your pants laughing)

Thanks to my commenters Wednesday for helping me with these awesome reasons. I'm beginning to think maybe I don't want to go to the gym tonight.