School-Related Insomnia

School starts in a few days, and I can’t sleep.  I know, it’s not school for me… but in a few, short, blessed days, my precious sons will return to the classroom and I will have the opportunity to concentrate for more than an hour at a time on my next novel.

I think my excitement is why I haven’t been sleeping. Either that or I’m officially an old person, with complaints like insomnia, bunions, and arthritis.

I prefer to think of my ailment as a symptom of impending professional success.

So what have I been doing instead of sleeping? Yeah, well, not writing. Mainly tossing,turning, mentally calculating how fast I can get my novel done so I can start on the next one (If I write 5,000 words a day, I can finish in five weeks…snerk!), and untangling the plot snarls in my head.

I’m worried that when school finally starts, I’ll be so tired, I’ll just curl up for a long nap every day instead of writing.

Nah.

Now, where did my stinkin’ kid hide that Andrew Clements book I was trying to read? Honestly, why doesn’t he just play video games or ride his bike or something? What is it about MY books that make them so irresistible? Off to search….

Reunion News/ Damaged-Toe Blues

Ouch! Ouchouchouch! I finally discovered something more painful than a last-minute rejection from an editor: spraining/breaking my big toe.

Even worse? Damaging it right before I was supposed to put on the most divine four-inch heels ever, and dance the night away at my high school reunion.

Last night, I met up with hundreds of my old (yeah, we are all old now) friends in Round Rock, Texas for an evening of fun. I’ll post pictures soon — I’ll be the one doing the heron impersonation, standing on one foot and trying to smile through the pain.

But which pain? The actual toe itself, or the pain of not being able to wear the fabulous shoes?

Here’s irony: I trained for and ran three half-marathons last year, always worried about the horror stories of “runner’s toenail.” I emerged unscathed, but my slip in the bathroom last night will keep me in closed-toe shoes for a year.Yuck.

Good News For Everyone!

Hi, y’all ! Yesterday was something special.

First off, my talented photographer husband got a great boost: his photo was chosen as the Austin winner of the Scott Kelby Photo Walk 2009 Contest! Check out his photo here. He could win even more, but he says not to hold my breath.

Yay, Dave!

Then, I got a nice email informing me that an esssay I wrote is a finalist for the Cup of Comfort for Mothers anthology. I’ll know for certain in a month or so, and I’ll post more if it all shakes out. If so, publication is set for spring 2010.

Yay, me!

And to top it all off, it rained buckets yesterday! A real, thumping-it-down gullywasher. The driveway looks like the Grand Canyon this morning, but we don’t care.We’re in the worst drought in a century down here, and we need it.

Yay, rain!

Also, I’m writing up a storm. I’m halfway through a humorous story for 3-5 graders. It’s short, <2,000 words…. anyone want to be a Beta reader for this one? I’ll have it done in a couple of days — I started it a month ago, or so, and it’s finally all coming together.

Here’s prayers for an even better week next week!

Fighting With Kids Over Good Books

Yeah, I know. There are FAR worse things I could fight with my nine-year-old over. But the recent stack of books we checked out from the library had some extremely hot properties in it! Things got a bit ugly. Is it wrong to make your son go to bed early so you can sneak in and finish his current read? I’m feeling tiny little pangs of remorse. Very tiny, though.

So, my advice is not to tell your kids how good these are before you have the chance to finish them:

Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick. Hilarious, moving, quick-as-popcorn beach read. Good for adults and kids.

Savvy by Ingrid Law. Oh, wow. I so wish I had written this. In fact, I have a novel in progress much like it… glad I read this first so I can make sure mine doesn’t seem derivative!

What Are You So Grumpy About by Tom Lichtenheld.  Picture book we scooped up at Book People a few weeks back. Funny, and perfect for my little grumpus. Um, and maybe me.

I have been a writing MACHINE this week. Submitting, too. Strangely, it’s all essays right now! But I’m heading over into my documents folder right now to dig out Perfect Mischief and start my first round of truly horrifcally detailed revisions. Joy.

This Is Why I Distrust Facebook

Urg.

So, last night, I invited some close friends/neighbors over for a lovely dinner party. I made a new recipe my brother taught me in Ohio last week — “white sangria.” This consists of 1 bottle of riesling, 2 cans mango and/or peach nectar, some cut up mangoes and strawberries, and an undetermined amount of both peach schnapps and triple sec. Suffice to say, it is a dangerous drink.

Dangerous enough that I felt brave enough to do my very first Facebook post…. before I went to bed.

So this morning, you know who had commented on my Facebook post, right? Yeah, it would have to be my pastor. Why, oh why, did I ever agree to “friend” him? I should have known something like this would happen. Off to church now, where I am relatively certain the pastor will be preaching on the dangers of strong drink.

He should just preach on the dangers of Facebook.

On the writing front, I sent off three new essays yesterday to some different markets. I have decided to spend this summer revising Perfect Mischief… and I’ve even found an ultra-cheap camp to send my kids to for a week so I can actually write!

Now, I’m off to convince my 6 year old that he cannot simultaneously brush his teeth and wear his Optimus Prime Voice-changing Helmet.

$6.99 Bottle-Of-Wine-Bad Day

Bad day. Bad, bad day. Twisted my knee at the gym (um, so about those 2 aerobics classes I said I’d sub for next week…?), took the kids — including my doctor-phobic, tantrum-prone son — to the doctor for shots, and ended with two of my precious youngest son’s goldfish turning up dead and half-eaten at the bottom of the tank. Ick. There was hardly enough of them left for a decent toilet burial.

Definitely a wine night. Of course, living way out here in the sticks, there’s not a lot of choice. So I’m drinking cheapola pinot grigio from a plastic cup, and wondering… can I have a mulligan on today?

Please?

Road Trippin’

Adios, Amigos/Amigas!

I’m off on a road trip tomorrow! For those of you who are feeling jealous, let me clarify: A 23-hour road trip to Ohio, with my two sons, my mother, and my mother’s aptly-named chihuahua, Booger.

Not so jealous now, are you? Ha! It will be fun, I just know it. I’ve packed Tylenol, carrot sticks AND chocolate, and enough DVDs to turn my kids’ brains to mush by Cincinnati. Of course, Mom loves Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, and John Denver to the extent that it might be MY brain in jeopardy by then.

I have so much going on with my writing, it’s crazytime. But as this site is being checked out by the darling agents who have my full manuscript out, I must refrain from emoting here. (Yes, I see your furtive little nighttime visits, you sneaky varmints! It’s all there, on my blog stats page. I love you like family, each and every one of you. But would it KILL you to call me once in a while?)

I DID erase the sample chapter of Soccer Failure, since it was a very early draft I had posted for family/friends to read, and (gulp) I noticed it was being read by others. So, just comment if you want to read something. I’ll send.

I wrote drafts of 2 new picture books this week, and sent an essay off to a national mag that looks VERY promising… more when and if it gets picked up.

Oh, yeah… the new essay? Here’s a quote from my beta reader/sister. “It’s hilarious! It’s so good… wait, has Mom read this yet? She’s going to KILL you!”

Bah! It’s so much easier to ask forgiveness than permission, right? Who knows? I’ll probably have more to write about the woman when we get back.

Happy Summer!

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!