"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday, February 29, 2008

Highlights of the Week

OK, so even though I'm the one who actually placed the order at Kinkos, picking up a box of bookmarks with MY bookcover and MY name on them is pretty cool. I showed my husband.
"You already showed me," he said. "They look great."
"Yes," I said, "but you didn't see the whole box of them."
Love my son as he insisted I pick out 20 for him to take to school and hand out to his class.

Tuesday I had the pleasure of having lunch with the inspiring Cynthia Leitich Smith. We met at Z-Tejas downtown (yummy miso salmon in case you're ever in the area). Things I enjoy about Cyn's company are how great she makes me feel about myself, the positive aura she exudes, and how dedicated to the writing life she is. (And I've been tagged by her for a 15 Random things, habits, facts, or goals thing which I'll do this weekend).

Today I head over to Mendez Middle School to help celebrate Read Across America Day. I love these opportunities to mingle with kids. Seeing kids in action, especially when they're interested in reading, is priceless.

Countdown to Big Sur: 7 days

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


So after a week of (hopefully) getting everything perfect, I ordered some bookmarks today. I printed off plenty of sample, and my son was thrilled to get one. He made sure the entire cover part was sticking out of his book.

So what do you think?

Note: Who knew both prophecy and prophesy are correct spellings of the word?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Looking for Inspiration

Random thought: It's never good when you check the mailbox and pull out a thick envelope from the IRS. It's even worse when you open said envelope and it mentions that you owe $24,000. Um, yeah, you read that right. Good news is I don't owe it. I just need to make a change (these are 2006 taxes) and send it back. And I may actually even end up getting some cash back out of the deal. Can you say "Sweet"?

If you're looking to get inspired, go watch some people test for their black belts. Seriously. These are the cream of the crop. The ones who've stuck with it. The ones who practice at home and put in the extra time. It's a goal. A commitment. They set their sights on something, and tonight, for them, it happened!
And watching doesn't mean you have to start Kung Fu. Just do something. Anything. Exercise each day. Write a novel. Fold your laundry.
Whatever it is, just make a goal, and get started!

Worlds Collide

Random: Who's have thought so many people Googled "Lunar Moon Myth" yesterday? I got something like a gazillion hits on the blog.

Lots of you know, aside from writing, I also design chips. Computer chips. Not Doritos, though sometimes I wonder if a little Cool Ranch wouldn't spice things up a bit.

So my question for the day is:
What does writing and chip design have in common?

OK, I'll give you the answer. Lots of the cell phones you guys carry around have one of my chips in it. Treo - got it. Blackberry - got it. Now the Kindle is out, and, yep, that's right, it's got one of my chips in it.

Disclaimer: If you own a Treo, Blackberry, or Kindle and something goes wrong, do not email me. Just reboot it. That almost always does the trick with my Treo.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Total Lunar Eclipse

SUBTITLE: Random Astronomical Trivia Regarding the Moon

So Wednesday is a Total Lunar Eclipse. The last time we had one here in Austin (actually, I think it was a partial), the clouds were so thick, my kids didn't even think the moon had come up. But this one's going to be great. Check your viewing schedules, and get you and yours out there to see.

Who knew every Full Moon has a name? (OK, Dad, I'm sure you knew).
This moon we're in happens to be the Snow Moon. We've all heard of the Harvest Moon in the Fall.

I'd always heard a Blue Moon is the second Full Moon is a given calendar month. Not true. New reports show the Blue Moon to be the third full moon in season with four full moons.
And, yep, you guess it. This moon we're about to see is a Blue Moon according to this Farmer's Almanac definition.
So does that mean this is the Snow Moon and the Blue Moon?

Whatever. Get your bottoms out there and watch it!

Monday, February 18, 2008

ARCs coming soon!

Random Note: My daughter spit in the soup on Friday at daycare. And not just in her own bowl. In the large bowl in the center of the table. She said she didn't like it.

I just saw the ARC layout for The Emerald Tablet. It looks so pretty. The title is on half the pages, random characters out of the Lemurian Alphabet grace the chapter pages, and my name even appears on every other page. Yeah, that's right. My name. Um, cool.

OK, so every excited kid is a good one, so when the eleven-year-old down the street and her dad stopped by the other day and I asked, "So are you going to buy my book when it comes out?" she beamed and answered, "Definitely!" And then my son yells "I'm going to buy it too!"

So that's two sales (one of which I'll be funding). Maybe it's small, but it's a start. Can you say second print run?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Writer's Lunch

I met a fellow writer for lunch this past week. After making the ever-so-big decision of what to eat at Central Market (I got the salmon wasabi salad), we sat and had a great chat.
Some of the highlights of our talk as I saw it included:
  • talking about how we critique other's work
  • talking about what we gain from various conference/workshop attendance
  • talking about how we handle critique on our own work. I've gotten much better at this one.
  • catching up on life in general
One great thing about Austin is the strong SCBWI group we have here. Each month we have wonderful speakers come to our meetings (OK, I'm setting myself up a bit here as I'm speaking at our July meeting). We have an amazing list of published authors. We have editors. I've been fortunate enough to meet such great people who are super generous with their time and love to get together to talk about nothing but writing.
But it makes me curious. How are other local SCBWI groups? Strong? Non-existent? Do you have to drive far for meetings? Are there annual conferences?

In case you'll be our way in April, come to our conference. It's sure to be great!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Two things I loved about Valentines Day This Year

My heart VANS:

Evidence of my 3-year-old's sampling of her sampler:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Monster Thanks!

I think they liked the "Give your monster a catch phrase" part of my presentation. And I'm not only a kid's author, I'm a Professional Monster Creator. Now this is a title I may have to put on the business cards.

From the school:
Monsters, Inc. is busy creating many mad monsters for our living monster museum. Scary, hairy and not-so ordinary, our creatures are getting ready for their debut. We were lucky enough to have a Professional Monster Creator come and share with us the many ways that monsters are created from past until present times. (Thanks Ms. Hoover!) Students are working to bring their monsters to life through scripting and actions of their monster creations.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Middle School Boys

Lunch went about as usual. Sat at a table with one other female and six males. Remember - the engineering world. So somehow we start talking about funny things from our youth. The one guy (my age - 38) mentions that when he was in junior high (guess they call it middle school now) and high school, he was way into online groups, trying to hack into computers.
What? They had the internet back then? We're talking 1982 here. Um, OK. He then admits hacking into anywhere was way un-fun as you really couldn't do things like Matthew Broderick did in War Games. (BTW, I loved that movie). And he admits, there was no hot girl watching him hack into these places. In fact, the internet world back them was utterly void of females.
So why did he stop? According to him, he discovered he liked girls way better than computers and never looked back.
So then he tells the funny story about how (back in middle school once again), someone tells him and his friends about a great phone number you could call to hear recordings of girls. Yep, you just dial One Nine hundred. And so he and his friends went to his house and each called over and over again for days on end. All was fine until his parents got the $400 phone bill.

So why am I mentioning this? Aside from the fact I almost fell out of my chair laughing, I think it's great to see this insight into the middle school boy's mind.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Really, a new, favorite holiday

Could Chinese New Year be any cooler? I got presents in the mail from my cousin and lucky money left on my desk at work (only a dollar - I hear in China, they actually get a month's salary). And today we headed over to Chinatown Austin for a real celebration.
OK, the Dim Sum place was too packed, but we got in to Wok on Fire and had some of the best Chinese food around. My friend I was with got some authentic clay pot dish. I settle on fancy won-ton soup. The kids split two orders of fried rice and egg drop soup.
Free candy. Fortune cookies. I didn't snag a bubble tea, but may remedy that tomorrow at East Bound Market close to home.
Demonstrations from a Chinese Dance School, a Hula Dance school (the two boys covered their eyes the whole time this was on stage), and a martial arts demonstration by our very own Austin Shaolin-Do Kung Fu school. We missed the Tiger and Dragon dance, but did get to see the performers dressed up in costume.

OK, my cousin tells me to spend the lucky money on something I enjoy with the hopes of bringing more of that joy into my life. And then she sent us each a dollar. My husband handed his dollar over to me. It's good to know this brought him joy. He understands how things work around our house. The kids put their dollars in their ATM machines. And I used mine to tip at the Chinese restaurant today.

Since they don't celebrate Egyptian New Year around these parts (August 1st), I'm happy to settle on Chinese!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Look for Opportunities

We all face them. Little disappointments. Daily challenges.
Things like receiving an annoying email. Finding out news that bothers you. Even the little things matter. They eat away at us on the inside and stop us from gaining productivity and momentum in other things which count in life.

My new attitude?

Look at each of these annoyances as a challenge? Ask yourself: How can I use this situation to improve myself as a person? How can I use this as an opportunity to further my quest toward achieving my goals?
A normal first reaction to, say, for example, receiving a disappointing or nasty email, is anger. Refusal to agree. Wanting to send back a tart response.
Stop. Think about it for a minute. A day. However long it takes. And then try to figure out how you can regain control of the situation. How you can use this email to improve yourself.

OK, maybe I'm rambling. Back to work.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


A seriously good night of writing here. I love when a scene comes out of nowhere. It's not on my outline. It fits in perfectly. The characters start talking and whatever they say flows from the script they're reading to the computer in front of me.
Love when that happens.
And then end of scene. End of part one of my new WIP.

Status check - 19,000 words in. I figure I'll push hard on it the rest of this month and March, and I should have a first draft. Or don't some people call it draft zero.

Do you guys have a favorite book you read and re-read? One that helps you remember what voice is? For me, it's The Lightning Thief. Seriously. I plan to read it a gazillion times. To me, this book defines "voice". It is my comfort read.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Time keeps on ticking ...

So we've made it through yet another scissor incident. This time involved the manicure scissors, a locked bathroom door, and a haircut.
Sigh. That one will require serious watching.

On a different note, after over a week away from WIP, I'm back at it. The monster presentation took some time, I had a conference call one night, and, wow, a whole week slips by. WIP, I've missed you.

Which brings to mind the whole time thing. Time is such a crazy thing. It keeps ticking by no matter what we do. If you don't jump in and start doing rather than talking about doing, a year from now, you'll be saying, "Oh, I've always wanted to write a book." "I've always wanted to take Kung Fu." "I've always wanted to *fill in your own blank here*".

Make a resolution today. What have you always been wanting to do? When can you start it?

In July, I get to give a presentation on Time Management and Goal Setting. I've always wanted to give a presentation on Time Management and Goal Setting. :)

OK, in the spirit of Cultasaurus Erectus, here's an easy one. What song and artist is the above title from?

Off to California

Yea that I got accepted into the Big Sur Writing Conference March 7-9! I'm so looking forward to the great feedback I know I'll get.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I interrupt this program ...

... yes, to tell a story about my daughter. The three-year-old. The one who's always so confident in her actions and her decisions. After today's incident, I now know it's all an act.

Subtitle: Don't try to nap with a 3-year-old around.

So I closed my eyes for ten minutes. Really. No longer. And then I started to get suspicious as my 6-year-old was right there with me listening to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, but the 3-year-old princess was nowhere to be found.
I headed out of the bedroom door, and there she is. In my office. Where she knows she shouldn't be. I head over. She's on the floor with twenty pairs of scissors scattered about. (Yes, I have the Michael's craft store scissor collection). There are index cards in shreds (no problem). And then there's my life-long favorite stuffed animal from 30 years ago (remember Gagloo Greenplatt, Mom and Dad?) on the floor next to her with his tag cut off.
"Sweetie, what did you do to Gagloo?" I ask.
She smiles. "I cut his tag off."
"Why did you do that?" I ask.
"Because he wanted me to," she says, still smiling.
I pick up Gagloo and hold him. Put on my sad look. "Sweetie, he's so sad and I'm so sad you did that," I said.
And then she crumples. Like a saltine cracker.
She starts sobbing uncontrollably and telling me how sorry she is. Sobbing. Heartbreakingly so.
So I picked her up and held her, and told her it was OK.

And then we get out the needle and thread and I sew his tag on Frankenstein style.

But now I know. Her confident "I did what I did, and that's why I did it" thing is all an act.

Friday, February 01, 2008

They weren't even monsters!

So they laughed at some of my jokes.

How do you greet a two-headed monster?

Hello. And Hello.

So I gave my monster talk today. About fifteen 2nd and 3rd graders. I came plenty prepared. Lots of pictures. An activity. A word search. Jokes interspersed. And a bag of lollipops.

Thoughts. An hour is a long time for 2nd and 3rd graders. Pictures are great. Asking questions is great. I had lots of talkative kids. Some were WAY into monsters. Others not so much. But overall, the multitude of Scooby Doo photos was a hit.

I went over the basics. What is a monster? What are types of monsters? Where do we get inspiration for monsters? Create a monster.
But my personal favorite was "Give your monster a catch phrase."
Vampire? "I want to suck your blood."
Headless Horseman? "I need a head."
I had fun hearing the kid's catch phrases for their monsters. And what is a catch phrase anyway but motivation. Why does your monster exist?

I also tried to get them to think about "monster flare." Where does your monster live? What clothes does he wear? Does he like to dance?

My final thought - Relate everything to Scooby Doo and Harry Potter and everything will be fine.