Friday, February 25, 2011

A catch-all

I can't even manage to blog three times a week. In my defense, there were major family emergencies involving loss of sleep and other strange things. (Don't worry, everyone. We are all fine. Hubby had a kidney stone and was pretty much incapacitated for several days. He's doing a lot better.)

The shiny idea is starting to take shape a little better. It's a really great idea, if I do say so myself. It's especially nice to have my little girl in a better pattern and less in need of constant holding. YAY! I may actually be able to get back into this writing thing and make it a regular part of my day, after all. I was seriously beginning to wonder if it would happen.

In other news, I've been reading like crazy in the holding the girl moments. I finally finished "Across the Universe" by Beth Revis. LOVED. Seriously great book. Also, read a series of books by Robin Wasserman, the Skinned Trilogy. Interesting concept. Kind of a dystopian that's similar to another book that I loved, "The Adoration of Jenna Fox" by Mary Pearson. Good, quick read. And now, I've picked up "Uglies" by Scott Westerfield. That's been in my TBR pile forever and it's as goo as every one said it was. Loving it so far.

So, friends, what are you reading now? Any thing I should add to my list?

Monday, February 21, 2011

A little late, but... meh

This week, it begins. That mad, crashing sensation of laying down new words. the hope of expressing the right sentiment and tying it together with powerful meaning until something beautiful has risen from the dust. I don't know exactly what form it will take, but the vision of it sparkles so brightly. Hopefully, the reality matches the dream.

What are you working on this week, my friends?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Look at the pretty!

Just because it's amazing, and every one should read it, here's the cover to Kiersten White's next book, Supernaturally. May I be so lucky, some day.

Answers to all your questions and more...

Okay. Not really all your questions. Just any questions from the post on Wednesday in which I told several lies and only one truth. The best lies always have an element of truth to them. So, here we go.

1. I have never dyed my hair. FALSE I have dyed my hair for several different reasons. The first was for a play in high school. I dyed it black and I never was able to go back to my honey blond hair again. I was pretty distraught about that. In college, I dyed my hair fire engine, almost purple, red. Just because it drove my mom nuts. Yeah. I was that girl for a while.

2. I keep a jar of bacon grease in the fridge because everything tastes better with bacon. FALSE While I love bacon, this is not something I would do. My mom did when I was growing up. We do have a grease jar on the counter, but not for reusing.

3. I have never been out of the country. FALSE This is almost true. I went to a town near the Canadian border with my then boyfriend to meet his family. I spent a week there. We broke up later.

4. I have never had a pet. FALSE We never had a cat or dog, even though I really wanted one. What we did have was a bowl of fish. I killed them. The first one died because we caught it and put it in a cottage cheese container, then stirred it up with a pencil. Mom rescued it, but the damage had been done. He must have communicated the horror that waited, because the next night, one fish jumped out of the bowl, repeatedly, and flopped around the floor. The last fish died when we fed him laundry detergent. (It was the same kind of flaky stuff that mom put in the bowl. I don't know why he didn't take well to his change in diet.)

5. I have been run over by a car. TRUE!!! As a missionary for my church, I got run over by my companion. The front wheel rolled up my leg. I should have been crushed, but miraculously escaped with minor scrapes and bruises. I used crutches for a few weeks, but was just fine after that. I had several other run-ins during my time as a missionary. One head on collision, one rear end collision. None of them my fault.

6. I speak several languages fluently. FALSE I used to be able to speak German fluently. I have a handful of phrases and words in Spanish, Latin, Italian, Swedish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and a few others. Sadly, with toddlers, I feel like my grasp of the English language suffers, so I don't even know if I can speak that fluently any more.

7. I'm a trained dancer. FALSE I have been part of a show choir where dancing was required. I've even choreographed routines, but I've never really had formal dance lessons. There was that awkward social dancing class in 9th grade where my partner was a girl (if I had a partner.) Yeah. Good times.

So, there you have it. More random facts about me. 

No plans for the holiday weekend. Except that I plan to really start hitting the writing sometime next week. Hopefully, I'm ready.

What about you, friends? Anything fun in the works?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I have had these awards since before I took that really long writing break and never got around to doing anything about them. I'm really just going to say thanks for the awards, since I have no idea who to pass them on to. If you haven't gotten them yet, feel free to take one.

From Abby Stevens at the Tabby Catt

I'm supposed to tell you seven things about myself, only one of which is true. You can guess which one it is and I'll let you know on Friday:
1. I have never dyed my hair.
2. I keep a jar of bacon grease in the fridge because everything tastes better with bacon.
3. I have never been out of the country.
4. I have never had a pet.
5. I have been run over by a car.
6. I speak several languages fluently.
7. I'm a trained dancer.

Next: I got two awards from Krista at Mother. Write. (Repeat.)

Thanks, Krista and Abby. Sorry it took me about 9 months to get to this. You guys are great and I love your blogs. Everybody needs to check you out, if they haven't.

Meanwhile, friends, nothing new to report. Still plugging away on the idea train, researching, plotting, and planning. Tonight, I'll be giving a lecture on Postpartum Depression to a group of ladies at my church. It should be fun. See you all on Friday.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

The sun is out and it's unseasonably warm today. My kids are playing in the yard and loving life. I'm enjoying having some reprieve from endless repeats of Dora the Explorer and the opportunity to clean my house.

Valentine's Day for me is a non-issue. When I was younger and single, I wanted to have a Valentine. I was always jealous of the others who got chocolates and flowers and dates. I thought that I would just die if I didn't have a Valentine. Now that I'm married, I have a Valentine every day, so I don't think as much about needing flowers and chocolates and fancy dinners to help me know that someone loves me. In fact, yesterday, my husband said, "Do you have any plans for tomorrow?" I told him that I didn't. It only occurred to me an hour or so later that he was asking if there were Valentine's Day plans. So, that's how my day will be today, I'm sure.

In honor of the love that should be abounding on this day, I wanted to mention a lesson I learned. It's from the TV show that's all about love... the Bachelor. That's right. I watch the Bachelor. I watch it on my computer while the kids are watching the same episode of Dora for the 7th time. Strangely, I'm learning a lot about writing from watching an "unscripted reality show."

First of all, if you have characters that are relatable, people will be invested. Even when the character is the "tramp" or the "drama queen", people will tune in to see what happens next with that person. Have you ever gone to the website of a show like the Bachelor? There are discussion boards in which people spend inordinate amounts of time talking about what's going on in the show and why so-and-so should have gone home or stayed. And a lot of the people commenting really do care about it. People get into virtual cat-fights over the people they have connected to. In writing, we have to have characters that people will be invested in, even if it's the bad guy.

Second, people need emotions. The Bachelor wouldn't be as successful if there wasn't an emotional payoff. We watch to get lost in the wonder of finding true love (or maybe the silliness of trying to find true love in that setting.) We watch to see the girls who get rejected crying. Or whatever reason. We want to see something with emotion in it. Our writing needs to evoke an emotional response; happy, sad, love, fear. We have to leave people feeling something.

Third, editing really is important. They film hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and ... you get the point. They only air two hours (with commercial breaks) of footage from a week of events. The editors have to figure out what is important, what to leave out. which camera angle of the shot will be the most effective. They have to hide the end until it really is the end. They have to grab your attention and leave you wanting to come back next week. In writing, we can't just write the story and think that those are the only words that need to be written. Or even that those are the best words to tell the story. We have to edit the story so that we get the best end result and leave people wanting more of what we write.

So, friends, what have you learned from TV? (I won't just assume that everyone watches the Bachelor, because, really. It's the Bachelor.) Do you have any special plans for Valentine's Day? Hope it's amazing for all of you!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A confession

Thanks to every one who has commented in the last couple of days. It's hard to be in a slump. And I've been in one. We're going to get really personal for a minute, so bear with me.

There's an ugly, often misunderstood thing that happens to a lot of women when they have babies. (And sometimes men, too. It's not a gender specific thing.) We go through periods of "the Baby Blues." And sometimes, it gets a little worse than just feeling blue. Sometimes, it's a depression. Post-partum depression. And it's ugly. But, it's normal. (Or, if not normal, at least, common.)

I have had a bit of that post-partum depression with each of my babies. It's been a rough road, learning how to deal with it. PPD is different from regular depression in several ways. You have all the major depression problems, like sleep, appetite, and mood changes, but it's compounded by the feeling that you shouldn't be feeling that way because you just had a baby. You should be so happy and excited and full of love for this new thing, but you don't and you can't figure out why.

I got lots of advice when I was feeling that way. I just wanted to talk to someone who could say, "It's ok for you to feel the way you do. Everything is changing around you and you have really lost a lot of the control you used to have." That was the biggest thing for me. I didn't even feel like I could control my own body because I was nursing. I particularly remember one day when my oldest boy just didn't want to be put down and I had to take him with me to the bathroom so that I wasn't listening to him screaming from the other room. I couldn't even have those few moments to myself. I sat on the couch and cried. 

I felt like maybe I didn't really love my baby, because if I did, I wouldn't feel the way I did. My husband had a hard time understanding why I wasn't happy that first time around. We were both new to it and didn't know much about PPD. I vetoed the use of the phrase, "You just need to..." because every time I tried to tell him how I was feeling, I would get a "Well, you just need to... read your scriptures, get up earlier, get out of the house, get out of your pajamas." The list was endless. And I didn't feel like he really understood or cared how I felt when he said those kinds of things. It took me a long time to feel like I knew who I was again and what I wanted out of life. It's really hard to be a mom. It's so new and so many things are dependent on you. A husband can't nurse the baby. He doesn't have to get up in the night. He doesn't have to deal with the crying all day or the poopy diapers or the inconsolable baby all day. Even if he's there with you, it's just not his job. And you still have all the other things that you did before as a wife. Everything feels out of balance and it seems like things will never be normal again.

It took me a long time to realize that it's ok to let things slide or to ask for help. It's ok to not have a clean house every day, or for the dishes to sit in the sink. Or to never get out of your pajamas. It's ok to do something nice for you, to say, "Take the baby and let me have a bath." And most of all, it's ok to feel what you feel, knowing that some time in the not too distant future, you'll feel more in control and more able to do what needs to be done.It's ok to tell people you are having a bad day and to let yourself be vulnerable.

Today, I'm feeling groovy. And it's nice. Things are looking up. I'm feeling a little more capable and motivated. I have new direction for the things I want to do. And I am so grateful to understand that my bad days aren't going to last forever and that people understand.

Friends, if any of you are in the same boat, please know that you aren't alone. Drop me a line and I'll be glad to chat. And remember. It does get better.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Horrible Truth

My last post was a bit of a downer. It's been like that a lot at our house recently, but that's another post entirely. In the middle of all the down, it's hard to see anything but how awful everything is. It's a part of human nature to focus only on what we are currently experiencing. That's why it is so hard to remember the horrible truth.

The truth is that we are capable. We are talented. We are powerful. We can do the things we want to do. We can do hard things. And, most importantly, we can be happy with who we are and what we do. We can honor our efforts and know that they are good enough. We can keep working, even when it's difficult and we want to quit.

When it feels like everything is on a downward spiral; when we can't seem to feel motivated to start something; when we can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, the horrible truth is right there. All those things are just our fears getting in the way of who we really are. Deep, deep down--so deep we may not even recognize it--the core of us says, "Don't believe it. I know you are more than all of this. You are everything you want to be."

So, friends, that's my horrible truth. What's yours?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Things that work

I'm apparently not one of them. At least on the blog/writing front. Too much, too soon. Or something like that. I expect things to be the ideal and when they aren't... the whole world falls apart. At least that's how it seems. I still have all these hopes, dreams, and goals floating around in my head, but other things keep crowding them out. I'm not making them a priority, like I used to. And it all sits there in some kind of chaotic whirlwind of neglect and entropy.

It doesn't help that I read other blogs--the people I used to follow before my break--and feel left behind. Many of them started out at the same time and place that I did. Now they have followers, and agents, and book deals. Okay. Not all of them. But a lot of them. And it feels like I'm not really a writer after all. Like I don't have what it takes because I'm not making any headway, or even any time right now to really be serious about it.

It's hard to feel like I'm getting anywhere at all when the few 100 words I'm able to type at all are done one-handed while holding a two-month old and supervising two young children. It's hard not to feel like something of a failure when I can't even keep my house clean, let alone do anything for fun or for myself. And it's really hard to not feel bad about feeling bad.

Sorry for the downer, friends. It's been one of those weeks. I promise to be back to myself soon.