Monday, June 29, 2009

An Unexpected Party

My in-laws were supposed to leave Yesterday afternoon, since my brother-in-law was coming back from Iraq and they wanted to meet the plane.

Well, his flight's been delayed a minimum of 2 days, barring a miracle. So we've got unplanned-for house guests until the Army gets him home. (Note: Mechanical problems??? Delayed two days for Mechanical problems??? Why don't they just send in a replacement plane? Or are they just lying?)

I don't think I'll be getting much blogging or writing done this week......

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

For the First Time in My Life...

I am ashamed to be an American. In Iran, the slaughter of the innocents persists. Yet out government, in their finite wisdom, has responded by..... uninviting the Iranian leadership from a BBQ?!?!?!/

Wow. That's some real tough diplomacy there. Way to side with the oppressed, Mr. President.

If you'd been President during the civil war, would you have firmly told the South that, until they stopped enslaving people, you wouldn't send them a Christmas card?

And I suppose, during the Berlin airlift, you would have sent the Russians a stern note notifying them that, until they changed their ways, you would not buy any Girl Scout Cookies from their daughters????

Look, I didn't vote for you. And I don't expect you to agree with me on things like taxes, healthcare, even abortion! BUT can't we all at least agree that governments that slaughter peaceful protesters are evil?????

No??? Then you're a very scary, evil man yourself.
John Scalzi has an awesome post up on why "novelist" is a middle-aged person's came.

My thought: Ok, he says my first novel sucks. Does that mean I can quit revising it for now and put it aside? Probably not, actually. Because even if, ultimately, the revision is pointless, it helps me practice the hard work of revising.

Dangerous Heat

The National Weather Service says it's too hot to go outside today. Dangit! What am I going to do with my kids? I can't send them out to play when the heat index is 99-- they'd run around and give themselves heat stroke!

At least I can take them to swim lessons later. And maybe I'll hit free-swim at the Y tonight, too.. it will be crowded, but at least it will wear them out! The one problem is that John's working late, so it will be me with three kids. On the plus side, the girls have gotten VERY GOOD with their floaties and noodles. So as long as I follow them around the shallow end, we should be fine......

(I need to bring a camera one of these weeks, so I can record the adorableness for posterity!)

Random Coolness

I love commenting on blogs. I can't help it. It's my morning entertainment, my social activity for the day, my chance to fix some of the things WRONG on the internet.

But I always feel guilty-- I mean, isn't it a waste of time?

Well, for once, maybe not! My blog-commenting habit led to me being an 'expert source' for the following article:

http://www.faithandfamilylive.com/features/sunday_morning_scramble

Pretty cool, huh? Too bad random blog commenting won't finish my WIP, revise Yeller, and get me an agent! =) So, back to work.....

(After I put in some SERIOUS chore time (in-laws tomorrow), some SERIOUS kid time (ignored them yesterday to work on house....poor kids.), and greet the washing machine repairman with shouts of joy (we've been washerless since Sunday-- I'm drowning in dirty clothes!!!!!!)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Parenting Posts at Associated Content

Over at Associated Content, I've got a couple of new parenting posts up. I figure, in a world where most people my age don't have any kids, and where most folks are going to have one or two at most, having three (with the expectation of more!) makes me some kind of an expert, right?

I mean sure, if you compare me to the CATHOLIC mommy-bloggers (Danielle Bean, Elizabeth Foss, etc.) three isn't many. But in the general population? Especially at a time when most of the folks I went to school with are just having their first?

Besides, who can turn their nose up at an oppurtunity to get PAID for advice???

In other news, Flix has turned a corner--I'm into chapter 4 of the new, improved, plot, and things are picking up. The story is starting to go forward under its own steam now. The one problem I'm having? I keep wanting to put in this awesome cool scene that DOESN'T FIT. Maybe I can save it in case I set another book in the same world? Or maybe I can stick it in, knowing it will have to be cut later, just to get it off my back?

Oh, and I'm nearly done my latest short story and my Yeller first-chapter rewrite-- of course, once I'm done rewriting the first chapter, I'll have to go back through the book and rewrite the rest, too. =) Don't worry, I DO save old drafts......

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Taking the Plunge

I'm taking the plunge and joining an online critique group-- I've really reached the point where I ought to get regular feedback, so I'm joining up with a bunch I found on Verla Kay's place.

It's kind of nerve-wracking.... I mean, you can't really tell if you'll be a good fit until you try it out, and I don't know anyone in it.

But most of my friends' critique groups are full, and I need to get better at critiquing and being critiqued.

I hope this one works out. At least their schedule seems to be pretty low-key, so it shouldn't cut into my writing too much!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Kids, Cognitive Science, and Writing

I just finished a great book:




Willingham discusses what we've learned from psychology and cognitive science, and how it applies to classroom instruction and other types of learning. His prose style is fun and understandable, and he does a great job presenting his research in layman's terms.

I originally picked up this book to help me with my homeschooling. I figured it would help me evaluate math curricula, teaching plans, and other ideas I've had. It HAS helped me figure those things out, and it's give n me hints on how to be a more effective teacher, too.

(He mentions that teachers described as great always have a strong, positive emotional connection with their students, and present material organized in a way that maximizes student retention. (he gives hints for this). I wonder if one of the reason homeschoolers are so successful is because they already meet the former qualification, and can LEARN to meet the latter.)

Anyway, I also enjoyed his chapter on how to become a better teacher because he drew parallels with the process of becoming a better writer. He had some especially helpful hints on critiquing and being critiqued. (I'd wish I'd read them BEFORE my first page came up on Editorial Anonymous-- I'd have responded in a better way, and more swiftly! As it is, it took a while for the critique to settle in, and NOW I'm slogging through the rewrite!)

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in how brains really work, parents who want to help their kids excel, teachers who want to improve their classroom, and anyone who's ever tried to learn something! It was really a quick, fun, informative read -- I'm glad I saw it reviewed at http://joannejacobs.com/ (My favorite Edublogger).

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fun with Reading

I went to the library with my husband and the kids last week. Which means that, while he supervised them, I got to browse! So I had a good couple weeks of reading.

1. Cartwheels in a Sari, by Jayanti Tamm - Not technically a YA. It's a memoir of growing up in a Guru cult, and the author's eventual attempts to leave. I loved some of the details about her childhood: At one point she watches "Little House on the Prairie" and wonders where the Ingalls' guru is. Her father tells her that he only appears in special episodes that can't be picked up by their TV antennae.


Fascinating stuff, especially as she later tries to break free of the cult's mindset. There's one graphic sex scene, but I think this book would appeal to teens as well as adults---and it seems like pretty good book club fodder, too.




2. The Invention of Hugh Cabret by Brian Selznick - I had a hold on this one for A YEAR straight! Then my hold got canceled, and I forgot about it. But I finally picked it up and, yes, everyone is right. It is awesome. And totally appropriate for all ages-- I may read it to the kids, actually... they're already fascinated by the pictures.




3. Chalice by Robin McKinley - I meant to read this the second it came out, but somehow I missed it. So I read it last weekend. It's typical McKinley-- magic, mystery, a hint of romance that comes out right in the end. The world she creates, full of people deeply tied to the land, is enchanting and awesome. But, of course, if you read fantasy, there's no WAY you'd pass the new McKinley novel up, right?



4. Alchemy by Margaret Mahy - This is an older novel, but I love Mahy! This one came out when I was in my "not reading YA" stage. (I was trying to force myself to read 'grown-up' nooks.) A boy with a fairly normal life gets drawn into a world of secrets, magic, and mortal peril after a teacher catches him shoplifting. Great book, classic Mahy. I'm so glad I happened across it!



Anyway, that's what I've been reading these days. Meanwhile, my first-chapter rewrite on Yeller is nearly done (And has made me realize that I really need to rewrite, not just edit, the entire book. As in, chapter by chapter, keep the plot points, but rewrite the description and dialogue. Because my writing HAS improved in the past year, and Yeller needs to reflect that!)

Also, my WIP is humming along nicely - I think this book may be the ONE that lands me an agent. So there's the tension between time for Yeller and time for the WIP. And I have two short stories that are finally clicking and I've been writing more goofy parenting articles for Associated Content (quick cash!).

So, writing, and reading life, is good. Now I'm off to bake bread, so my husband doesn't starve at work today!