My Favorite Children

My kids are ecstatic — counting the days, the hours, the minutes, until school is out.

They only have four more days of school.

I only have four more days of uninterrupted writing.

I am a terrible mother. I know this, because a good mother wouldn’t be fantasizing about skipping her child’s end-of-year assembly or teacher conference to get a few more chapters written. Would she?

No, she wouldn’t.  I am so selfish. I have two novels (count ’em, two!) in the works, one about 20,000 words in, the other around 4,000 words, and a new PB (the sequel to Best Grandmother, BTW) almost finished.And they are my favorite babies right now! Okay, don’t call CPS, I’m just kidding. Sort of.

I am a complete mess, as I am expecting some sort of news (good? bad? indifferent? who knows?) on Best Grandmother soon from Publisher X, the publisher I am completely convinced is the right one, or at least the one I would like above all others,  for this manuscript. (And the sequel, of course. Never forget the sequel…;-) )

Of course, I have rooms to clean, conferences to attend, and chapters to write, so I’m spending my waiting time wisely/productively, at least.

And then off to Scotland in two weeks! Did you know, when I took this year off to write, I fully intended to finish a paranormal romance set in Scotland? And now, I have a stack of children’s manuscripts on my hard drive, and a head full of ideas for more. Isn’t it wonderful, and crazy, how the Spirit moves? Have any of you ever thought you knew the direction you were going, only to have the Spirit hijack your route? If so, how did that work out for you? I’m just curious, since I haven’t gotten wherever I’m going on this one, and I’m sure as shootin’ not behind the wheel.

Writing About Your Husband

Dave knew I was a writer when we got married, so he has no one but himself to blame for what’s about to go down.

I keep telling myself that.

No, I haven’t written a tell-all novel about his obsession with Twitter or giant lenses, or that show Top Gear.

I did write a short, funny, little-bitty essay about his fashion sense for a parenting magazine that got (gulp) accepted today… and will appear with all the incriminating details next month on all the local newsstands.

Dave, of course, has not read it yet.Um… honey? If you’re reading this, I REALLY love you, and I promise it’s not that bad.

I’m thinking he can read it when it comes out, not before. I’ll link to it here when the new ParentWise:Austin comes out.

So, have any of you other writer-types done anything like this? If so, are you still happily married, or do your children still talk to you?

Good News Today!

Just a quick post to tell the world that my manuscript, Raymond Mahaney, Soccer Failure, has been selected as a finalist in the Writer’s League of Texas Manuscript Competition! Of course, I won’t find out if I won until the conference in June… everybody start crossing fingers now. (Unless you need them to type your own award-winning manuscript! LOL)

The judge who wrote on my critique sheet noticed a few things (um… 2 missing paragraphs on pages 7 and 8? What in the world? That only happened because COMPUTERS HATE ME.) But here’s my feel-good for the week…. the final words on the crit. sheet are in bold and all caps, and I quote:

THIS IS READY TO BE PUBLISHED.

Are you listening out there, all you agents and editors? Get with it! (LOL! I guess I have to send it to more than two, right? )

Honest to goodness, I could (to paraphrase Mark Twain) live for a week on that compliment alone. WOO HOO!

How Married Writers Get That “First Kiss” Feeling

Do you remember that feeling you get when you’re just about to kiss a new girl/boyfriend for the very first time? Or that feeling you get when you’re going up the first steep hill on a roller coaster and you know the really fun, really scary part is right over the top, just a few more inches away?

I get that feeling. All. The. Time.

Trust me, if you’re as happily married as I am (which means first kisses are a thing of the distant past!) and you have little kids (who are still terrified of the really fun coasters), you’ve gotta start writing a new novel.

It’s so fun, it feels naughty.

Yes, I started writing a new novel today. No, I won’t tell you what it’s about. But I’ve been reading Kathi Appelt’s The Underneath, Jerry Spinelli’s Star Girl, and Elizabeth Bunce’s A Curse Dark As Gold. Imagine those three on a spin cycle in the warped mess that is my brain (and add a dash of my not-so-secret fetish for paranormal mysteries) and you might come close to glimpsing my current madness. I love writing. Love it, love it, love it. As in, I’m about 4,000 words in love with my new book already.

Of course, the previous novels are either in revision or in agents’ hands. I’m not loving that part as much.

And what do I hate? Submitting and rejections. Bleah.

In Love with Terry Fator

Oh. My. Goodness.

Did I have fun in Vegas? Yes.
Did I win? No. (You have to play to win, I believe!)
Did I fall in love? Oh, yes.

I fell completely in love with Terry Fator. As in, Simon-Cowell-listening-to-Susan-Boyle in love. As in, Paula-Abdul-talking-to-everyone-who-has-vocal-cords in love.
Have you heard of Terry? I hadn’t seen him perform, since normally I have no life and never watch television (writing, right?), but he won America’s Got Talent a while back. He is just about the best entertainer I have ever seen. He can do dead-on impersonations of anyone, male or female. With his mouth shut.
Because he’s a ventriloquist.
And he’s so cute you just want to hug him.
Here’s a clip.Enjoy!

Mars Needs Moms and more…

I can’t help it! I have to blog one more time before I go to Vegas.

Last night, on my Mother’s Day date (perfect: excellent Thai food, an hour in Borders, and a Star Trek movie filled with eye candy for Moms) I bought two — count ’em! — two hardcover picture books. Full price. All you authors out there, I know you’re loving this.

I couldn’t stop myself. Once you sit in Borders laughing your head off, then crying… you buy those books. (Actually, they kind of ask you to buy them once you cry onto the pages. Weird, huh? Tear stains just add character, I say.)

What books, you may be wondering? For laughing, it was Walter the Farting Dog Goes on a Cruise.
No, I don’t have the other Walter books, but I knew my kids would love the cruise one just as much as I did.

Now, the perfect book for Mother’s Day, for a Mom with sons, is the one that made me cry. Twice. Berkeley Breathed’s Mars Needs Moms.

Of course, you’re gonna go all “Velveteen Rabbit” (or is that “I Love You Forever?”) trying to read it to your kids, but it’s worth it.

So, with that, go to a bookstore, and buy a book or two! And if you get the Mars one, buy a box of tissues as well.

What Happens in Las Vegas…

When I was a little girl, whenever anyone mentioned the words “Las Vegas” around my grandma, she would practically spit out the words, “Trashy town! Trashy people!”
I asked her when she had been to Vegas. She acted like I had asked when she had been a hooker.
“Las Vegas?! I would NEVER go to Las Vegas. Trashy town!” Yadayada.

So when I took Grandma to lunch yesterday for an early Mother’s Day, I didn’t bother to tell her I was going to Vegas on Monday.
Wouldn’t want her to die of shame, right? I mean , she’s 89. The shock could kill her.

And no, I’m not going to gamble. I “lose” enough just submitting my work! So, I’ll be back in a while, ready to post about the den of vice and depravity that will be my home for the next few days….

Hey! One piece of news! I was invited to write a “Kids Cooking”-type column for a new e-zine. I’ll link to the first issue when it happens, which should be in August. Of course, I wrote it with my own special brand of humor….

Idea Factory Time Again

I read a book on creativity a while back, a borrowed one, unfortunately, or I would be able to remember who said that an artist/writer needed to “go for a long walk, and every day, and alone.”
For me, that’s it: how I prime my pump. I can’t go with anyone, not even my dogs. I have to go every day, or I lose the momentum of my imagining.

Yesterday and today, the walk resulted in a story, called “The Outside Music,” which I very much like, even in its rough first draft state. I haven’t read anything exactly like it, and I made it to fit Texas and the American South, so it may be “marketable.” Sigh. I hate thinking of the market when I’m writing, it seems so much like preparing your toddler for a rigged beauty pageant.

But there’s enough saleswoman left in me to know it’s necessary.

Maybe someday it won’t be that way. Pleasant dreams!

(Oh! I did have an idea for an MG or chapter book today about a kid magician who keeps doing tricks that go very wrong and very right! He cuts his brother in half, and can’t get him back together, etc. I think I’ll play with it this weekend. My oldest son has more than enough magic books and tricks for research!)

Here’s a teaser from today’s story, the first few lines — poetic, though lacking references to local flora/fauna:

Once there was a boy who could do something very unusual —
He could be still. Completely still.
And when he was perfectly still, he could listen.
And when he listened, he could hear the music of the Outside.

Unwriting

I don’t mind editing. In fact, I kind of like it, in the way that I like vacuuming: not at all before the fact, but it’s very refreshing to look around afterward and think what a nice clean house you have! Until the kids get off the bus, that is.

I woke up this morning and wondered which project I should work on today. A quick email from the editor at Texas Co-op Power solved that dilemma for me! My essay should (may, might, etc.) be in the September edition, but I need to provide a shortened version. Wait for it…. from 1,500 words down to 900.
(Maniacal laughter on this end.)
So, it’s less like plastic surgery, and a bit more like amputation. “Hold still, this won’t hurt for very long… I just have to cut the heart out.”

No complaining, though. I can’t wait to see this essay in print!
Gotta go chop chop now.
Nikki

My Favorite Lines… This Week!

Happy Monday!

You know there’s nothing like a really long really meandering sermon to get the creative neurons firing! I had an idea yesterday — yes, during the sermon –for another PB. I wrote the first draft this morning. I don’t know what the Spirit is doing, but recently I’ve been writing this lyrical, poetic stuff, in between jags of snarky middle-grade humor — and I LOVE IT!

Although I won’t post the entire manuscripts here, I thought I would give you a teaser. Email me if you would like to see the full text.

My favorite line from The Treasure Nest (today’s draft):

She built it out of twigs and ribbons, peacock feathers and candy wrappers,
buttons from her favorite winter coat, and gleaming silver tape.

My favorite line from Shadow Dance:

“I remember dancing the salsa in a crowd on the streets of San Juan, my arms like streamers before me, my legs so long they stretched into the ocean.
But that is not the tango.”

From “Once Upon A Duhhhh”:

But the next night was the same. His Mom tried to tell one of his favorites, the story about Drew and the Amazing Albatross from Alba, but all that came out was “the Amazing Duhhhhhh.”

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming… and revisions for me (oh, joy).

Peace!