Thursday, March 31, 2011

Brawl 'n Haul Contest: This vs. That Thursday

For today's contest, Vicki and I will each debate a side on a This vs. That vote. Read my arguments here, then go read Vicki's on her blog, and don't forget to vote on both blogs for whichever side is more convincing!




Pen and Paper

I will be defending the archaic Pen and Paper. Now I know we all have to eventually use a computer to type in our pages. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about when you need to sit and write. You need to simply get words down on paper. And I am going to convince you with the TOP TEN REASONS for choosing Pen and Paper, David Letterman style.

Reason #10: No internet to distract you.

Reason #9: No blogs to distract you.

Reason #8: No e-mail to distract you.

Reason #7: Saves electricity.

Reason #6: Pen and Paper is lightweight and travels easily.

Reason #5: You have a hard copy of your work if your computer dies. (!!!)

Reason #4: The smell of paper is a sentient reminder of the goal of being published.

Reason #3: Builds two talents at once: 1) writing and 2) penmanship.

Reason #2: Builds the calluses on your hand which builds your Street Cred as a writer.

And the #1 reason to use Pen and Paper?: When you don't like your work, it's SO much more satisfying to crumple up your paper than to simply hit delete.

Now that you're all convinced, go check out Vicki's side of things, but be sure to vote on both blogs! And don't forget, you have until midnight on April 2 to vote on any of our brawls.

And if you're just joining us, here are the rules for our Brawl 'n Haul contest. For a longer explanation and the posting schedule for the contest, click here.

  1. You must be a follower of both blogs
  2. When you comment, let us know if you prefer Grand Prize #1 - 10-page critique by Sarah LaPolla (Note: your ten pages must be for a YA or Adult work) or Grand Prize #2 - A Prize-filled Gift Basket
  3. You can earn 5 bonus entries for the grand prize by spreading the word in any way shape or form (twitter, blogs, facebook, sidebar, etc.). Just let us know!
  4. This is open internationally! Woo hoo!
  5. Contest Closes Saturday 2 April at midnight EST. All winners will be announced Monday, 4 April

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brawl 'n Haul Contest: Wacky License Plate Wednesday

You knew we had to have something associated with license plates, right? So today, Vicki and I are each posting personalized plates for this car:

 Vote on which plates you prefer in the comments. Here's mine:


Now, off with you to Vicki's blog to see her plates, just be sure to come back here and vote.

And just for fun, here's another wacky car we liked. Give us your plates!

And if you're just joining us, here are the rules for our Brawl 'n Haul contest. For a longer explanation and the posting schedule for the contest, click here.

  1. You must be a follower of both blogs
  2. When you comment, let us know if you prefer Grand Prize #1 - 10-page critique by Sarah LaPolla (Note: your ten pages must be for a YA or Adult work) or Grand Prize #2 - A Prize-filled Gift Basket
  3. You can earn 5 bonus entries for the grand prize by spreading the word in any way shape or form (twitter, blogs, facebook, sidebar, etc.)
  4. This is open internationally! Woo hoo!
  5. Contest Closes Saturday 2 April at midnight EST. All winners will be announced Monday, 4 April 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brawl 'n Haul Contest: Testing Tuesday

For Testing Tuesday, we wanted to see how much our commenters know about us and who is better known between us. And of course, a commenter from the winning blog will be randomly chosen to win a prize.

A little nerve-wracking here because we have no control. It's all up to you, people! So, click over to Vicki's blog to show how much you know about me, and below is a quiz on Vicki. Have at it!

1. Which of the following celebrities have NOT been mentioned on Vicki's blog?
a. Anna Nicole Smith
b. Mark Wahlburg
c. Zac Efron
d. Jennifer Jason Leigh

2. The artist who painted the picture Vicki uses as her icon is:
a. Wassily Kandinsky
b. Henri Matisse
c. Alfred Gockel
d. Pablo Picasso

3. Ever the fan of odd writing analogies, which of the following has Vicki NOT used?
a. Writing is like getting dressed
b. Writing is like the Antiques Roadshow
c. Writing is like popping a zit
d. Writing is like telemarketing

4. Which of the following was NOT a title of a post?
a. The truth about the chicken
b. Kissing the parrot snake
c. Tickling Turtles
d. Appeasing the Voyeur

5. What is the working title of Vicki's WIP?
a. Murphy's Law
b. Porcelain God
c. Creditable
d. Waiting for the Sky to Fall

Now don't forget to head over to Vicki's blog!

And if you're just joining us, here are the rules for our Brawl 'n Haul contest. For a longer explanation and the posting schedule for the contest, click here.

  1. You must be a follower of both blogs
  2. When you comment, let us know if you prefer Grand Prize #1 - 10-page critique by Sarah LaPolla (Note: your ten pages must be for a YA or Adult work) or Grand Prize #2 - A Prize-filled Gift Basket
  3. You can earn 5 bonus entries for the grand prize by spreading the word in any way shape or form (twitter, blogs, facebook, sidebar, etc.). Just let us know!
  4. This is open internationally! Woo hoo!
  5. Contest Closes Saturday 2 April at midnight EST. All winners will be announced Monday, 4 April

Monday, March 28, 2011

Brawl 'n Haul Contest: Mock Me Monday

Today is the day! The Brawl begins. If you haven't heard, The FABULOUS Vicki at Rambles and Randomness and I are hosting the Brawl 'n Haul contest this week.  We brawl and you haul away the loot!

Vicki and I will duke it out Monday through Thursday in some wacky contests, and you guys decide who wins. That's right, you! 

Each day, one lucky commenter on the winning blog will win a prize, and at the end of the week, we have not one, but TWO Grand Prizes to award. And every comment this week (on both blogs) is worth one entry, so comment away!

Grand Prize # 1:
A ten-page critique from the fabulous Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown! (Note: Your ten pages must be for a YA or Adult work)

Grand Prize #2:
An exciting themed gift basket including a $40 gift certificate to Amazon!

Every good contest needs some rules, so here are ours:

  1. You must be a follower of both blogs
  2. When you comment, let us know if you prefer Grand Prize #1 - 10-page critique by Sarah LaPolla (Note: your ten pages must be for a YA or Adult work) or Grand Prize #2 - A Prize-filled Gift Basket
  3. You can earn 5 bonus entries for the grand prize by spreading the word in any way shape or form (twitter, blogs, facebook, sidebar, etc.)
  4. This is open internationally! Woo hoo!
  5. Contest Closes Saturday 2 April at midnight EST. All winners will be announced Monday, 4 April 
Okay, as Jillian Michaels would say, "Enough talking! Let's do this thing!"

So Vicki totally has the advantage on Mock Me Monday, since she's been doing this weekly for a year now. To make sure my moment was mock-worthy enough, I tested a few on my husband, and this one finally got a belly laugh. I'm feeling confident!
(Note: No husbands were harmed in the testing of these mock-me moments.)

When I was 12ish, my family had just gotten back from Church and we were all foraging in the kitchen. I had grabbed a glass of milk (yeah, you see where this is going) to go with my toast.

Just as I took a long drink, my brother made some absurd comment. I knew I was in trouble.

The smart thing to do would have been to spit the milk back into my glass. But ewww! That would ruin the rest of the milk, and how wasteful is that?

And I didn't want to just spit because I knew my mom would be M-A-D.

So what did I do?

Wait for it . . .

I looked up.

Yep. Krakatoa II.

Milk exploded upward and came pouring down. All. Over. Me.

On the bright side, I didn't get in trouble because the whole family was too busy rolling on the ground, laughing. And yeah, that would be AT me, not with.

Now, be sure and go read Vicki's Mock-me moment, vote there, then come back and vote here, because a winner will be chosen from the comments on only the winning blog!

Friday, March 25, 2011

This vs. That: Paris vs. Rome Results

Oh my goodness, the voting on this was close! Paris was ahead by a landslide and then Rome crawled it's way back for a respectable finish. And amazingly enough, while many of you professed indecision, everyone was able to pick a side. Kudos to all of you for getting past the indecision! Here are the results:

Total votes: 18 

Paris: 10 votes; 56%
Rome: 8 votes; 44%
Both: 0 votes; 0%

So, hard vote. I was leaning toward Paris because I know and LOVE Paris. Ah, my mouth waters just thinking about the crepes there . . . or the paninis. Yummmm . . . . But then I read Beth's post yesterday on Of Muses and Meringues. She has the touch people. Her pictures alone got me, but then she started talking about the legends. Gah! I never can resist a good legend. My vote went to Rome.

Though I may be on the losing side in the vote, I'm totally on the winning side because I leave for Paris in less than two weeks. TWO WEEKS!!! It won't be Rome. But that's okay, because it's PARIS!

So on to the next vote. And THIS is an important one: 

Black Ink


Blue Ink

***And don't forget! The Brawl 'n Haul Contest starts this Monday (March 28). Vicki and I will duke it out with daily blogging competitions and you vote for the winners. Be sure to stop back in because you don't want to miss it. Daily prizes! Easy entry! Plus the chance to win a 10-page critique from Sarah LaPolla, Agent Fabulous.***

UPDATE: Vicki has the details and schedule up on her blog. Click here to check it out!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Win a Ten-Page Critique with Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown!


For all of you writers of YA and Adult fiction, Vicki and I will be giving away a 10-page critique by the fabulous Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown as part of our upcoming Brawl 'n Haul Contest from March 28 to April 1. And there are plenty of other great prizes for those who aren't into writing. Trust me, you don't want to miss it!

If you aren't yet, be sure you're following both my blog and Vicki's. And though she's on a blogging break until April 6, go check out Sarah's blog where she publishes novel excerpts, short stories, flash fiction, memoirs, and personal essays.
(And if you want to enter but don't have a way to follow, contact me via my handy-dandy "Contact Me" tab. Vicki and I are low stress.)

T-minus 5 days and counting until the fun begins!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Show Me the Voice Blogfest

 The Show Me the Voice Blogfest is hosted by Brenda Drake over at Brenda Drake Writes . . . under the influence of coffee.

The idea is to polish up our first 250 words before entering them in her contest. The prizes include critiques from Natalie Fischer of the Bradford Literary Agency. Totally awesome! You don't have to participate in the blogfest to enter, so go check out Brenda's blog for the details! And be sure to check out the other entries. You can find the list here.

So here are the first 250 words of The Peanut Butter and Jelly Friendship, a middle grade contemporary novel. I'd love to hear your comments!


When they'd first started the cemetery, Annie always hoped for rain. She thought it was more dramatic. But common sense won out. Rain turned the holes into mud baths.

Fortunately, today was perfect, clear-sky burial weather. If she had to wait any longer, it would be too late.

Annie eavesdropped from the top of the stairs. Her brother Matt and a friend droned on about healing plants for Boy Scouts. That'd keep him out of her hair.

She tip-toed down the hall and peeked in her mom's room. Busy with bills. And Kate was out of the house. Perfect.

Still, to be safe, she sneaked the phone into the hall closet where her sister's faux fur parka would muffle the sound. She speed-dialed 7 and let it ring once, then hung up and called again. Their secret code. It rang twice before Jason answered.

"It's me." Annie was all business. "I've got a body count."

Jason hedged. "I don't know. My parents are talking to this lady, and . . ."

"Jason, you're ten. Find a way. This is important." Without waiting for a response, she hung up.

Jason wouldn't find a way. Annie knew. She'd just have to go to his house and get him, like usual.

After listening at the door for several seconds, she slipped out of the closet and replaced the phone. In seconds, she extracted the pre-packed bag from under her bed then ran down the stairs.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pitch Contest at YAtopia!

I wanted to pass on the info! Here's what they posted at YAtopia:

Super agent Ammi-Joan Paquette has so kindly offered to host a pitch contest on YAtopia. And seeing as she's currently closed to submissions, this is an opportunity you simply CANNOT miss out on.

It's really quite simple what you have to do. Ready?

1) Be a follower of the blog. Nice and easy.

2) Blog about this contest and include a link with your entry. If you don't have a blog, you may tweet or make a facebook status.

3) Create a TWO SENTENCE pitch. And not a massively long run-on sentence either. Two concise sentences that will hook Joan to your book and have her desperate to read more.

4) Include the opening line of your manuscript.

5) Manuscripts that you submit should be completed. I leave it up to you whether you decide to submit a half finished manuscript. You'll have to deal with it SHOULD Joan request you send her the full.

6) This contest will be capped at either 150 entries OR will end midnight on the 24th March.

7) Winners to be announced (along with prizes) on 31st March.

8) Only childrens and young adult categories will be accepted.

Again, if you're at that point, click here to head on over to their site and check it out! Best of luck!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jillian Michaels' Writing Boot Camp

Trying to reach those health resolutions I set back in January, I've been exercising a lot. My friend recommended Jillian Michael's 30-day Shred workout video, and let me tell you, it is killer.

Still, it seems to be working, so I've started imagining Ms. Michael's as my personal trainer to help me reach my writing goals. Here's what I'm hearing:
  • "Come on people! If you want to write for only 20 minutes a day, then you've got to WORK! It can replace hours at the computer, but you can't stop. You have to TYPE! You can't stop typing!"
  • "I know it's hard. It's hard for me. But when you're done and you see the results . . . it's worth it people!"
  • "Okay, this is our last speed-writing circuit. When it's through, I want to see your hand CRAMPING!"
  • "When it hurts the most, that's when you're accomplishing the most! Keep writing! Come on, just give me five more words . . ."
  • "You're probably thinking I'm a crazy person, it wouldn't be the first time I've been called that, but I get results! And when you see what you can write, and you see what you can accomplish, it will influence every other part of your life!"

I'm inspired, people! I hope you are too. :)

*Note: These are not real quotes but rather parodies stemming from a half-crazed mind in the throes of one of her killer workouts. 

**And a heads up for a week of fun and silliness starting March. 28th. Vicki over at Rambles and Randomness and I are planning daily prizes, easy entries and lots of fun to celebrate our 1 year mark together. And we just added an AWESOME prize. Details coming soon!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We interrupt this regularly scheduled day off . . .

I know I don't usually post on Tuesdays (minus that week I thought is was 2012), but I wanted to let you know that I'm over at Chris Phillips' blog today doing a guest post for his "Music To Make Write To" feature.

If you haven't seen it, he invites different bloggers to share the music that inspires them in their writing. You should definitely check it out (and not just because I'm the featured blogger today). ;)

**And a heads up for a week of fun and silliness starting March. 28th. Vicki over at Rambles and Randomness and I are planning daily prizes, easy entries and lots of fun to celebrate our 1 year mark together. Hard to believe we've been at it this long!

Monday, March 14, 2011

What is Your Platform?

A little over a year ago I discovered the writing blogosphere. I was amazed at the wealth of information and at the giving nature of all these folks. For months I simply visited blogs, until I decided I was ready to jump in with two feet and start a blog of my own.

Deciding was the easy part. But when I sat down to plan it out, I realized I had no idea what to blog about. I was in awe with these bloggers who made it look so easy. Topic upon topic related to writing; funny vignettes from their lives; serious ponderings about their frustrations. Blogs where you could get your work critiqued. Blogs that offered marketing advice. Blogs that gave information about agents. Blogs that interviewed agents. Blogs that gave grammar instructions. Blogs that focused on Asian settings.

It seemed everyone in the blogosphere knew their place and their platform, and how could I enter that? What could I possibly add? It was definitely intimidating. But I had decided to try, so there we were.

I looked at my background to find my strengths, but I decided that few people had need of French translation services (though if you ever do, feel free to ask away!); and having done the English professor stint, I initially dabbled in the mockery of grammar, but I got tired of it.

I'm sure you're waiting for a point right about now, but the thing is, I've been doing this writing blog for almost a year now, and I still am not sure I've found my platform. I still wonder what I should blog about more often than not (because you can only do so many posts on license plates).

So this is what I wanted to ask: Do you have a platform for your blog? Do you know what you are trying to convey to your readers? How did you get there? And what keeps you coming back to a blog?

Maybe one of these years I'll figure it out!

**As I'm nearing my year mark, another blogger and I have a week of fun and silliness planned from Mar. 28 to April 1. Lots of prizes, easy entries, and a big grand prize you won't want to miss!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Forming Critique Groups

Since I first joined a critique group over 6 years ago, my writing has improved immensely! For anyone who's serious about writing, I highly recommend finding one. Not always so easy, though.

Last week I got into an e-mail discussion with Colene Murphy about how our critique groups work and how we met them (and if you don't already know her, you should totally click the link and become acquainted . . . she's a lot of fun!). With her permission, I'm going to share some of our discussion.

How We Met Our Groups

Colene met her group through blogging. She said, "We all connected right around the same time when we started up, we all got close quickly, then we figured out we all wrote YA fantasy. Just clicked!"

I met my current group through the SCBWI Yahoo group for my area. I sent out an e-mail saying I was new to the area and wondered if there were any groups who met near me. One contacted me, inviting me to meet with them and the rest is history.

How We Critique

Because they don't live near each other, Colene meets with her group on Skype once a week, and they take turns submitting 50 pages at a time. She said, "We usually spend about 2 hours on the 50 pages. We go through a chapter at a time and bring up things we think really need to be discussed and ask questions where we need an answer on something. Grammar and little things we don't mention just because it would take so long."

In my group, everyone can submit up to 10 pages every Sunday. We have a week to return our comments via e-mail (we use the "Track Changes" feature of Word). Once a month we meet in person, where we can discuss not only that week's submission, but any other larger concerns we may have. We comment on things from grammar to pacing to plot. Whatever strikes us as we read.

What I Learned

1. If you are ready to find critique partners, there are a lot of ways to do so.
  • Look for other bloggers who write in a similar genre and contact them.
  • Join a national or local writing organization such as SCBWI, RWA, HWKT (shout out to my friends in Kansas City!). They usually will have methods in place to hook you up with other writers in your area.
  • Join some writer's forums such as AbsoluteWrite, QueryTracker, or Verla Kay's. QueryTracker, for example has a forum titled "Critique Group Central" where you can seek out others. On this same vein, I was recently contacted by someone who had seen my query that I posted. Their book was similar, so they e-mailed me and asked if I would be willing to exchange work. I was totally up for it.
Point is, there are a lot of ways to meet potential critique partners. It may not always work out, but you never know if you don't try.

2. Make sure you find a critique method that works for you.
  • Know how much critiquing you are willing to do. Exchanging 50 pages every week might be too much for you. Only ten pages might not be enough. I actually belong to a critique group via e-mail that only exchanges a chapter a month. For some that is enough. For others it's not.
  • Know what kind of critiquing you want. Are you interested in line-edits? Or would you prefer overall comments of what's not working in the plot? Do you want to receive chapters before you meet? Or would it help you more to read your work out loud once you get there?
  • Know how you prefer to receive comments. Do you do best in person? Or would you prefer the impersonal nature of e-mail exchanges? 
In short, know what you want to gain from your critique partners, and know what you're willing to give to them. And if you find that a particular group isn't working for you, you always have the option of gracefully backing out and seeking a new one.

If you are in a group, I'd love to hear how you connected with them and how your group works. So many ways to do it!

If you are looking for a group, or even a single critique partner, please feel free to give a shout-out in the comments. Be sure to mention what genre you write and perhaps the best way to contact you for those who may be interested. Who knows? Perhaps you may find that perfect CP!

Or if you prefer more anonymity, contact me (via my handy-dandy "Contact Me" tab), and I'll do what I can to connect those with common interests.  :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

People Watching (via license plates?)

I've got cars on my mind this month. Everywhere I go, I see clever personalized plates, and I have to share a few. It's fascinating to see what people want to share about themselves to strangers.

MEEOW4 (Think this person has a thing for cats?)

HUGGGS (Lenny, I thought of you)

AWSUM1 (Loads of self-confidence here)

2SLFSH (Proud of their flaws? But hey, at least they're self-aware!)

PAIRDOX (I could read this two ways . . . They own two doxen's, OR they are a clever English major and it means 'paradox.' What do you think?)

MS ROBO (Is this kind of like the Stepford Wives?)

STYXCHK (A girl who likes the band Styx)

SHAMROQ (I'm betting this person is originally from Ireland)

RED BUG (I thought about doing the guess the car with this, but yeah)

However, here's a license plate where I'd love to hear your guesses. It totally made me giggle. :D So give me the make, model and color, and the person with the most correct information wins their favorite candy bar: 


(I'll give you a hint. Google a picture of Z06 if you don't know what one is.) And if you haven't voted on the latest This vs. That poll, I'd love it if you did! ;)

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Fabulous Blogosphere

We are part of a fabulous blogosphere. So many great people out there who are so generous with their time and resources. I just wanted to tell a few people in blog land thanks:

I won a beautiful wooden box from Vicki over at The Ron Empire Wants You! (She's one of my wonderful CP's who writes beautifully!) So, thank you!

I won a signed copy of The Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead from Tracy over at Forever Endeavor. I have five books to read before I can use it, but I've heard great things about it and am very excited. Thank you!

I won a $10 giftcard for Amazon from Racquel Henry over at Racquel Writes. She is pretty amazing, co-founding and co-editing her own magazine, The Black Fox Literary Magazine. Thank you!

Finally, I wanted to thank Martina and Lisa over at Adventures in Children's Publishing who are hosting a First Five Pages Workshop. I was able to sneak in as one of the five entries for this round. Another round will be starting on March 12. Their critiques are so thorough! Definitely worth it. So if you care to, feel free to read the entries (I'm #3, wink, wink). And thank you, thank you!

Hope you all have a great Monday! And I hope you find someone to thank for something. :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blog-fail and Cicada Killer Wasps

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you wake up and say, "Huh? It's Friday? What happened to my week?!"

That's me. Nothing bad going on. Just lots of distractions. In fact, did you notice I posted on Tuesday this week? Umm, yeah. I scheduled that for Wednesday March 1st. ;)

"What?" you ask. "Wasn't Wednesday March 2nd?"

le sigh.

This isn't the year 2012?

So since I completely forgot to post anything today, I'm going to break a rule and re-post one of my very first ever blog posts. I apologize for the length, but it's a fast read. I promise. Hope you enjoy!

Cicada Killer Wasps and a Trip to the Library

It was just a trip to the library:

30 minutes to get out of the house,
10 minutes there,
Then I was planning a leisurely 30 minutes to an hour choosing some books and movies, maybe reading one of them to the kids,
Then another 10 minute return trip.

Sounds so pleasant, doesn't it?

Bad sign #1: Rain drops start falling the second we step out the door. I should have taken the hint, but no . . . we're driving, I have an umbrella in the car . . . why should I let a little rain stop me?

So the kids jump in. Pop the car seat in, London buckles himself, but Brandt is our free spirit.

Me: Brandt, hurry and get in your car seat so we can get to the library.
Brandt: I don't want to sit in that seat!

It starts to rain harder.

Me: You have to sit in that seat or we can't go anywhere.
Brandt: I don't want to sit in that seat!

It starts to pour.

Me: Please sit in that seat! Mama's getting soaked!
Brandt: I don't want to sit in that seat!

I'm soaked, Brandt's crying, but the car is moving.

At the library, it's raining pretty hard, so I pull out the umbrella, make London pinkie promise to share the umbrella with his brother and to wait right there while I get the stroller out.

Seriously, I looked the other way two seconds.

A quick search and I see them: the boys are having a total blast strolling through the parking lot, heads buried in the umbrella. After all, there are puddles to look down at. My heart stops, and I thank the heavens there are no cars or Child Services workers around.



The stroller's out, I'm putting Khyah in. My two-year old tackles me.

Brandt: An ant! An ant! Mommy, save me!
Me: Silly boy, an ant can't hurt . . .

Then I saw it. Not an ant. This was a Cicada Killer Wasp. Ever seen one? As long as my pointer finger. Striped like a bee. And they can apparently sting like one too. Eew!

London: [whimpering and holding the umbrella in front of him for protection] There's two!

I noticed one crawl into a golf-ball-sized hole in the ground. Then I noticed all the other holes. There's more than two! I wisely chose not to mention this to the kids.

Me: [struggling to keep my voice calm] Let's hurry, boys!

I get Khyah in the stroller (sleeping sound as a rock), and usher the kids towards the entrance.

Brandt stops dead in his tracks behind the van.

Brandt: I need MY stroller.
Me: You'll have to walk this time.
Brandt: I need my stroller!
Me: I'm sorry. I can only push one at a time.
Brandt: [at the top of his lungs] I NEED MY STROLLER!
Me: Let's hurry before the bugs get us!

I know, low blow. I don't usually like scare tactics, but eew! You'll have the satisfaction of knowing that it didn't work anyway.

I start to walk and Brandt grabs onto the stroller, pulling back with all his might, screaming at the top of his lungs. Fortunately I am still stronger than my 2-year old, so I kept moving, dragging him along, and pointedly ignoring all the stares of the other patrons. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of entering before he had stopped screaming. Tile entry. Automatic second door. Very loud.

Brandt throws himself on the ground in a temper tantrum.


I'm starting to have second thoughts about this trip.

Me: Brandt! [in the most furious whisper I could muster] If you don't stop screaming this instant we won't choose any movies!

Amazingly, he stood up and stopped crying, but Murphy was not done yet: Khyah started crying. I still wonder how babies can cry so loudly.

Me: Let's just return the books and go!

We rush to the book return, dump them in, and before I can make it out, London heads to the movies with Brandt in tow

I really should have insisted. But with the stroller moving, Khyah had stopped crying, and I thought, "Surely the worst is behind us. And we're here . . ."

The library has a plethora of Thomas movies, and London is glibly looking at every one. Knowing Khyah won't last long, I suggested one, which Brandt gladly took.

London: I wanted that one!
Brandt: [pulling the DVD in tight] Me have that one!
Me: Brandt already has it, so choose a different one.
London: But I want that one!
Me: If Brandt chooses it, you'll get to see it too.
London: But I want to carry that one!

His voice is getting dangerously loud.

Me: Oh! Look at that! "The Best of Gordon"!
Brandt: Okay, London can have this.

He tosses the movie at London and snatches up Gordon.

Grab a few books on the way to the check-out, and we're almost home free. London goes running toward the door . . . right through the unchecked-out-books alarm.

I held my breath, waiting for the alarm. . . . It didn't go off. Finally! Something goes my way.

Just as the books are all checked out, Khyah starts to cry. I turn the stroller around, and Brandt pushed me out of the way.

Brandt: I want to push the stroller!

Khyah is quite loud by now, so I scootched Brandt to the side and hurried to leave.

Brandt: [throwing himself on the ground. Again.] I WANT TO PUSH THE STROLLER!
Me: Brandt, hurry! Let's go home and watch the movie!

I push the stroller through the exit

Me: Hurry kiddo! Let's go.
Khyah: Waaaaah!
Librarian: Excuse me ma'am, could you back away from the exit?
Me: sigh
Librarian: [slightly annoyed] Did you check out your books?
Other librarian (who checked me out): [also slightly annoyed] Yes!

After a quick check of my bag, the librarian sighs.

Librarian: I guess it's not you [sounding disappointed]. The alarm must be broken. It will go off, just keep going.

Believe me I did.

Ten minutes later, we arrive home. I struggle up the stairs with the car seat, diaper bag, purse, and bag of books (all while London complains about how heavy the movie he checked out is). Stumble inside, set everything down, and notice there's a message.

We never get messages. No one calls us since we're so new here. Yay!

Message: This is the Library calling. Do your children own a copy of Polar Express? We believe you returned it to us with your library books. Would you like to come and get it?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Final Answers

No, this is not a post about Jeopardy. Alas, just the final answers to the comments from my Tabula Rasa post.

Raquel Byrnes asked: Who is your dream publisher? If you could chose who would do it...who would you want?

I know this isn't what you were asking, but any publisher who loves my work would be my dream publisher. There are a lot of great publishers out there, small, medium and large, and they all have place in this industry for the different things they do. I simply hope to work with people who are excited by my book.

The Golden Eagle, another 2-question comment, asked first: What's one thing about writing that, before you wrote, you never imagined would come up? (Presuming you haven't been writing since, you know, birth.)

Hmmm . . . this is perhaps the hardest question I've gotten. But I think I never imagined learning about the body's reaction to certain kinds of deaths or diseases. Fortunately I have my personal research assistant (aka my husband) to help me out with these. It's pretty weird to ask him questions about how quickly a dead body gets rigor mortis (a couple of hours in case your interested . . . and after about 24 hours, the rigor mortis clears up. Not something you see in the movies, eh?).

And question #2: And, was it awesome to have your picture taken with Oscar?

I just have to say that Oscar was such a pleasure to work with at that photo shoot! He knows all the tricks like putting vaseline on your teeth (though he did suggest adding a drop or two of green food coloring since my teeth were "way too white" according to him). Very pleasurable photo shoot. :D

And finally, Connie Arnold asked: Do your children give you much input about your writing?

My children are still young enough that they don't exactly give input. But they do give A LOT of inspiration! I've written several pictures books (still in the editing stages) that were inspired directly by them. Children definitely spew idea-fodder all the time.

So there we are, I've finally answered all the questions I received. Thanks again for the questions and for stopping in!