And They Encourage Kids To Read This Stuff?

I got a call yesterday from a Very Nice Lady at my church, the lady who schedules the children’s sermons. “Oh, Nikki! Could you help me out? The person who had signed up to do the children’s sermon this Sunday can’t make it. Can you fill in?”

I said sure, and asked what the Scripture would be. The Very Nice Lady hemmed and hawed, so I assured her that I could look it up, and not to worry. I had it covered. Come on, I did this for a living for years. How hard could it be?

I looked up the passage this morning. Mark 6:14-29.

For those of you who don’t have your Bibles memorized, that would be the bit about the beheading of John the Baptist.

Yep, that’s what I’m supposed to talk to the kids about tomorrow.

Of course, I’ll need props. I was thinking a melon, a wig, and a big silver platter would do it. Maybe a machete, too? No, no. That would be taking it too far.

I now know why the person who originally signed up called in sick. I think I’m starting to feel a little ill myself.

Pray for me. Pray for us all.

Howdy from the Center of the Sun

Hot… hot…hot… even for this native Texas girl. Record-breaking days, one after another. We’re melting…..

And you know what makes it hotter? Trying to do final revisions of a manuscript while your kids are hanging off your legs, whining about wanting to go to the swimming pool.Revisions, you ask? Surely not! Wasn’t that the (ahem) prize-winning manuscript from last post? Well, er, yes. But when I looked back through it, I saw a few things that just needed tweaking… then a couple more… then a little problem with continuity… Agh! I MUST send it off to the agents who wanted it, or no more snow cones for me! Bad writer! Bad! Bad!

So tomorrow, I am splurging. I will spend every dollar I made today as a Zumba instructor on a twelve-year old neighbor girl who will keep the kids OFF MY LEGS so I can finish revisions, an essay and/or a picture book draft that has been pestering me.

Oh, yes, I did teach my very first Zumba class today, at the local YMCA. It was fun, although I think I may have been a little too energetic for a couple of the members. Maybe not, we’ll have to see what their EKGs look like. (Kidding! I think.) If you haven’t tried Zumba, and you love to dance, you should get to a gym soon. It’s super fun!

I’m off to Ohio in a few days, where very little writing will happen, but lots of driving (yep, that would be a 23-hour road trip each way with my kids. Pray for us all.), lots of visiting newborn relatives, and (I hope) a lot of reading!

I’m looking forward to reading Savvy, The Gollywhopper Games, and finishing Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go. Yeah, yeah. Mock my list, but a certain agent mentioned that an aspiring witer should have read around 300 books in her field printed in the last 5 years… and I’m a hundred or so short right now.

Happy Summer!

As We Say in Texas –Yeehaw! I won!

Howdy, y’all!

It’s been an amazing month. First, a trip to Scotland, England, and Canada (check out the photos on Dave’s photoblog as he posts them). In Toronto, we climbed the CN Tower, the world’s tallest… and then I came home to even dizzier heights.
Fame, glory, prestige… well, okay. Maybe not so much of that. I did win the Writer’s League of Texas Manuscript Contest with my Middle Grade (that means older elementary level) manuscript, Raymond Mahaney, Soccer Failure.

Very exciting, heady stuff. I got to wear a little “Winner” name tag, receive a certificate where (strangely) they spelled my name right, but Raymond’s name wrong, and –best of all — I met with a whole BUNCH of agents who asked for my full manuscript.

Wicked cool, eh? (Sorry, I loved Canada.) I also got another nibble from an editor on a new picture book manuscript. (I’ll let you know!) Plus, I met an amazing number of soon-to-be-famous authors, and a few already-famous ones, and got their cards. If you’re reading this, you know who you are… and I can’t wait to buy your books! (Be prepared to blurb mine;-)

The one thing about all of these writers that was utterly consistent was their phenomenal supportiveness of other writers. It was a total lovefest.

Other great news: My friend Shelli Cornelison has a humorous article coming out in July’s ParentWise:Austin. Check it out and be ready to laugh! Will our kids ever forgive us for exposing their childhood traumas so publicly? Do we care?

Also, my sugar daddy has a photography exhibition coming up, hosted by Alpha and Omega Fine Arts Photography Gallery, beginning July 2. Yay, Dave!

I have to go polish up my query letters and make sure my manuscript has the right sized margins. Never mind the piles of dog hair in the living room that now resemble small floor pillows. I mean, the housework can wait! I’ve got fun work to do!

Father’s Day Essay Online!

Okay, I know a bunch of you have been checking back in to see when the aforementioned essay about my sweet husband would be available. (Yes, the essay he hasn’t even seen yet. The perils of marrying a writer!)

Well, it’s available online today! Just click here to read all about my fabulous, fashion-challenged husband in the June edition.

I love you, Dave!

Rejection Roses

Don’t you all wish you had husbands who, when they hear you had a rejection that day, come home with roses? And not just any roses –yellow ones? Already arranged, in a vase?

That editorial board may not appreciate my picture book, but I know my husband appreciates me! (sounds of Nikki pinning her remaining hopes on her novels…there!)

My roses are beautiful, and they even smell good. Of course, that’s probably some floral perfume they spray on, but anything lovely is welcome today.

FYI, Comportment Camp is over 25,000 words… only about 6K more to go, and you’ll all be reading my rough drafts again… I know, I know, you’re very excited.  Hey! Where are you going? Don’t run away. I’m going to need you to line edit for me in a few days… Get back here!

One bit of Proud Mama news: Cameron won the grade-level AR medal (engraved w/ his name, no less!) today at the school assembly. He rocks, the little reading freak. (For those in the know, he had over 300 points. Yeah. Freakish.)

I Wish I Could Type

I’ve been thinking about high school recently. Probably because I received an email that my (muttermutter-revealing age here)-th high school reunion is coming up this summer. I don’t have too many regrets from those years (not that I want to revisit them or anything; they were not my glory days, thank Heaven!), but I have one very substantial, lifelong regret.

I deeply regret that I never learned to type. Mostly I regret this because I… Am… A…Writer.

My mother (yes, let’s blame our mothers, now, that’s always fun) warned me off typing class. “If you take typing, you’ll become a secretary. Take orchestra/choir/physics instead.” I listened.

Oh, Mother! What have you done to me? (she typed, using two fingers on her right hand and three on her left.) I have never used Physics! I stopped playing the violin/cello in…. high school. Okay, so I did use the singing thing. A lot. I followed your advice! But at what cost?

Writing that Master’s Thesis? A special type of torture.  Writing the three thousand words I wrote today? Not as bad, considering I at least enjoy what I’m writing right now. But I could have written more, if I had more fingers to use. (That sounds vaguely Hitchhiker’s Guide-ish. Hmmm.)

But, yeah, you heard me. I am a writing MACHINE. Still, I have about 8,000 words more to go to finish my current WIP, and it has to happen before June 6 and Scotland.

So hello, carpal tunnel!

Gotta go think about diets, hair dye, and Google all my old boyfriends now….

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.