Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vacation Brain

Fingers? This is a keyboard.
Okay, left hand. Fingers on asdf. Right hand? Fingers on jkl;
Brain? Send your message down to the fingers and they'll type.
Got it?

Well, now. That didn't go so well.

Let me try again.

I returned from vacation yesterday. Physically, I'm back. I managed to unpack, sort three garbage bags full of dirty laundry, and get three loads done. I even made a Cosco run (no tequitos in the house? how will we survive?). But my brain is still lost among the sand dunes of the Cape.

While I was away, I took a true vacation from my plugged in world. For me this meant no internet, no cell phone, and very little television for 5 1/2 days (though I did watch the the evening news and my kids discovered Cash Cab 2 days before we left). Coincidentally, one night a newscaster asked, "Are you addicted to the internet and could you live without it?" I chuckled and boasted, "Of course I could. After all, I grew up without it, computers meant nothing to me in high school, and I tapped all of my college papers on an electric typewriter." And though giving up the internet wasn't a problem while I was away, I wouldn't want to live without it. I've met so many cool people and have learned so much about the publishing world and what it takes to achieve my own dream of publication some day. In fact, I doubt that I would have ever pursued that dream if it wasn't for the internet.

Now that I'm back, I feel refreshed and ready to write. Even though I took my notebooks with me, I didn't write a blessed word while I was away. Today I read through some of the blog posts I missed and I'll try to comment on some of the more recent ones. However, what I really need to do is get back to my ms. I think I've pushed my brain hard enough today with this post so I'll be giving her the rest of the night off. Starting tomorrow and through next week I'm dedicating as much time as I can spare to writing.

Hear that brain? Vacation's over.
Back to work tomorrow.

Have you given your brain a vacation this summer? Or have you been working hard?

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Message For Us All

Last night I went out for Chinese food with a friend. When I opened my fortune cookie this is what was written on the paper.

Ride your ambition to the skies.

So what do you say, friends? Let's ride!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's All About the Books

By now, most of you have probably read a review or post about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II. I went to see it last Friday, but decided not to review it on my blog. I love the films, but view them as something entirely different than the books, mainly so I won’t be disappointed (and even then...). As good as the films are, they could never compare to my reading experience with this series. I expected to be a bit sad after it DH2 was over, but I realized “the end” really came 2 years ago. After attending my last midnight book release with my kids, I rushed home and read until I was bleary-eyed, slept for a few hours and then read through the next day until I finished. I was a tired, weepy mess. That’s when I mourned the end of Harry Potter.

For me it really has been all about the books. I thought about sharing how I discovered Harry, but decided to instead share one of the multiple stories of how Jo Rowling has given my entire family – husband and 4 kids whose ages now range from 7 to 17 – memories I will always treasure.

Short introduction: I first shared the following experience 4 years ago with friends I met through an HP forum/Reading Group on my LiveJournal. At the time my girls were 3, 7, and 10 and my son was 12.

May 17th, 2007

I've been listening to the Order of the Phoenix cassettes (read by Jim Dale) to get ahead of the story as part of my Reading Group prep. Partly because it had been close to 2 years since I last read Order and mostly because of my sieve brain which doesn't retain the written word as well as it used to.
Usually I listen to the tapes in the van while running errands or driving to and from the kids' various practices. For my girls, this is their first experience with OotP. My 7-yr old had been too young before and my 10-yr old lost interest when the school year started so we stopped reading it together. They've been enjoying listening to the cassettes and I've been enjoying their reactions; their outrage at Umbridge and their laughter and cheers when Fred and George made their grand exit.

Yesterday we began listening to when Harry and Dumbledore's Army arrive at the Dept. of Mysteries and get cornered by the Death Eaters. Each time we climbed into the van I swelled with pride as I heard the words, "Mom, can we please listen to Harry Potter?" How could I say no? We listened on the ride to and from dance class and for the first time, we were grateful for the traffic backups (Another red light...YES!)

Last night, the whole family attended the school's Art Fair and as we piled into the van to head home, "Mom, can we listen?" Now, my husband likes HP and has read all of the books once, but hasn't joined me in my obsessiveness. He teases me about it occasionally but I try not to subject him to it too much. I asked, "Do you mind if we listen?" He didn't, so I turned it on. We listened in silence when Lucius Malfoy tells Harry, "You see, there are ten of us and only one of you...or hasn't Dumbledore ever taught you to count?" And Neville runs in shouting, "He's dot alone! He's still god be!"

As we pulled into the driveway, we all listened as Bellatrix cast the Cruciatus Curse on Neville. I shut off the tape, anticipating everyone jumping out and running to the house like usual. Instead I heard a chorus of "Awwww!" and the sole voice of my husband saying, "We can't stop there." So we brought the cassette in the house, settled into the den and listened; listened as the Order arrived just in time to help Harry and Neville, listened as Bellatrix and Sirius duelled, listened as Dumbledore appeared in the doorway, and listened to the inevitable fate of Sirius. "Can Sirius come out of the veil, Mom?" my 7-yr old asked. With a lump in my throat I answered, "No, he died. He can't come back." Hard words to speak. We listened to the end of the chapter. It was bedtime for the younger ones.

There aren't too many moments when we all come together and enjoy a moment like this. This is one memory I'll treasure. Simple. Magic.

Thank you, Jo Rowling.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beautiful Words

Do you have a favorite word? One that you are drawn to every time you read it?

Last Friday, Jason Boog from Galleycat asked, What’s the Most Beautiful Word in the World? It’s a fun topic to talk about with friends and family. We all have favorites – certain words that evoke an image or an emotional response, a particular association with a word, or just the beautiful combination of consonants, vowels, and syllables.

The first word I remember making a note of was the word waft. It’s simple, but beautiful at the same time. I love the image of something drifting lightly through the air.

The scent of spiced apples and cinnamon wafted up the staircase and through the open door. Rachel’s scowl melted like the sugared fruit baking downstairs in the oven. She could always be mad at mom later.

The word felicity made the list. I’m particularly fond of this one. Not only do I love the sound of the word, but it's the name of my MC. I wanted a beautiful name for this girl who is trying to find her place in a new family situation, a new neighborhood, a new school, with new friends and classmates. She struggles with how she sees herself and how she wants others to see her.

Other words I find beautiful:


What are the most beautiful words to you? Is there a particular reason why?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Good Vibrations!

Lots of Beach Boys songs make me smile, and they remind me of carefree days in the summer. One of my favorites is Good Vibrations. I love the feel good beat of the chorus, the harmonizing, and how the song just kind of shifts by slowing down in the middle, until the "AHHHHHHHHH" moment when it picks up again. Like most of their songs once I hear it, it's in my head for the entire day.

Maybe it's the summer, maybe it's the Beach Boys, maybe it's something else, but there seem to be a lot of good vibrations rippling through both my own life and through the writing world. I've been on a roll lately working on my current WiP. I've added 4 new chapters, writing my way through a spot that's been giving me trouble. Soon I'll reach a part of the story that I've been waiting to write. Why? Because it's going to be a blast and my head is bursting with ideas. Then it's writing down to the end - a first for me.

There have also been a lot of good vibrations rippling through the writing community as well.

Josin McQuein - You may have read Josin's comments on other blogs. She has a great eye for what works and what doesn't in a query, a first page, etc. She blew away the Shark herself, Janet Reid, with her near flawless query here. If you've read any of her excerpts online, either on other blogs or her own, she has talent. You can read first pages from three projects she's working on by clicking the tabs at the top of her blog. Be warned: You'll wish you could read the next page and so on. I wasn't surprised when she announced not long after querying that she was offered represented by Suzie Townsend from Fine Print Literary Management. Josin has a great career ahead of her and I personally can't wait to read her first book, whenever that may be.

Natalie Whipple - We all knew her day would come and yesterday she announced that she sold TRANSPARENT in a 2 book deal by Harper Teen. Natalie's blog is an honest account of her long, and often difficult journey to publication. Her positive outlook, even during the times she struggled with doubt, and her encouraging advice to writers are what bring me to her blog daily. Congratulations, Natalie!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Keeping it short and simple. I suspect the blogosphere will be rather quiet today and throughout the weekend. I'll be spending the 4th of July weekend with my family close to home. I'm looking forward to burgers, potato salad, and watermelon with my brother's family, and of course, fireworks!

I have many special memories centered around the 4th of July. Spending the day on the Esplanade in Boston with friends, listening to the Boston Pops at dusk, then watching the fireworks over the Charles were amazing (but exhausting) experiences. One of my favorite memories, however, was while traveling home from my honeymoon. Nearly 18 years ago, my hubby and I were flying home and able to view fireworks as tiny colored bursts of light while approaching the airport. Amazing!

A very Happy 4th of July weekend to all my friends in the U.S.A.

What about you? Do you have any special plans for the weekend or any special Independence Day memories?