Monday, February 26, 2007

A dendroglyph

A blissful hour to myself... Ahhh. I wrote five hundred or so words and then got stuck, did a bit more research, and decided to post an image pertaining to my story. It's both procrastinating and working in one bite!

The Morioris carved images into trees, and since the first line in my novel is "I wanted to carve a map of the stars into the trees," I thought I should show you kind of what Rohana meant in the following line, "The others had always carved faces of the dead, or of fur seals, slicing into the bark with sharpened seal bones." (It feels weird to put quotes around something I wrote, but I wasn't sure how else to separate blog from novel. Also, I bet the first few lines will be completely different by the time I'm done!)

Isn't it beautiful? It makes me think of a dancing Chieftain (or "Ieriki," in Moriori).

This image's source is from the New Zealand National Library.

My First Submission

Today I didn't work on my novel. Instead, I wrote a short story - and a science-fiction one, at that. I don't think I've written any sci-fi since I was eleven, when I wrote about some aliens wanting our trash in exchange for jewels, a "trash-trade" of sorts. (I know, I know - but I was eleven for goodness-sake!)

Anyway, I wrote up the short story today, went over it a few times, talked about it with the hubby, and decided to print it off. Tomorrow I'm mailing it in, along with a query letter, to Odyssey Magazine. They wanted a short story about colors for their December issue. Hopefully, mine will be the best they get!

Tomorrow I will return to Rohana. The floors have been vacuumed and mopped, the laundry is done (except for diapers), so there shouldn't be anything left to distract me. That is, if Elizabeth cooperates. She's been rather loud the past few days. I think she's teething. Today, when she wasn't upset, she squealed and squealed. It was too cute. :-)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

March of the Librarians

I saw this on Lisa Yee's website and thought it was funny. It's a YouTube thing, but for some reason I can't get it to show up. If you click on the question-mark, it goes right to it, though, so the hyperlink is working swell.

Yes, March of the Librarians as in March of the Penguins.

Blogger has gotten so much more savvy since I joined... it's so much easier to add pics! So, here's another one of Elizabeth.

Friday, February 23, 2007

bookstores and libraries

Let me start by saying I love my daughter, my non-napping, six-month-old daughter.

Elizabeth and I went to the Carlsbad library today. I thought crawling around amidst books would be, at least subconsciously, good for her. It lasted about ten minutes. She did crawl around books -- in fact, she crawled to the other children, took their books, and tried to eat them. (The books, not the children.) She told me (telepathically, of course!) that picture books taste better than board books, especially the fragile pages inside. They're easier to digest.

So... we left the library and left for a much safer place - the bookstore, logically. You know, where the books aren't free.

Actually, my goal was to get her to fall asleep so I could sit inside my newly found favorite bookstore (Book Works in Del Mar) and write, or at least admire the other YA books that I really can't afford right now. We were there about five minutes when she woke up. I offered her a few of the stuffed animals that were lying there for babies to play with, but no! She wanted to eat the book I was flipping through (_The Book Thief_). So, we lasted another ten minutes. I ended up buying _I am the Messenger_ by the same author as _The Book Thief_, mostly because it was in paperback and therefore half the price. (Isn't that lame? And I still haven't told my hubby I bought YET ANOTHER book.)

The best part of being there, though, was meeting the owner (at least, I assume she's the owner), Andy. She is exactly the kind of person you'd want to meet at a bookstore. She knows all the books, and judging by the titles in the YA section alone, doesn't select books just to make a buck. I did not see _The Clique Girls_ there. I looked. You can blast me all you want for disliking a series like that, and yes, I know, I'm judging them without having read them (yet). I TRULY believe we should be held accountable for the art we create for children. I'm not saying we have to avoid traditionally taboo subjects like sex, drugs, or whatever, but personally I would not like myself all too much if I had written a series of books making the "boozy, slutty girls" (as Laura Preble calls them) look ideal. But then, I'm not much in favor of the MTV lifestyle anyway. Maybe that's why my book takes place in 1835. I don't think it'll be a favorite among the "boozy, slutty girls."

Did I get any writing done today? Nothing but this post, so far. Mommydom has been challenging today. The hard part (or maybe it's the exciting part) is that I'm dying to get back to my book because I left Rohana in an interesting situation... It'll have to wait until my scheduled time-slot of 7-8pm, where daddy takes over. I have to relinquish my time at 8, though, for his GRE study time from 8-9. My husband Jim wants to go back to school, in Boulder, Colorado, to get his PhD in Astrophysics. *gasp* How will we afford that on my unpublished-writer salary? I have no idea, but we'll worry about that later. If manifestation is what they say it is, everything will work out. Day by Day, Bit by Bit, Bird by Bird....

Thursday, February 22, 2007


This weekend was the Southern California Writer's Conference. It was also my first time being away from Elizabeth for more than five hours. Two things of note: 1, go to a writer's conference if you are a writer - they are tremendously helpful and fun; and 2, don't wait until your child is two months to try offering a bottles or you may end up with a very stubborn breast-only child. She only took three bottle the entire weekend, and whenever I got home at night I felt guilty. Still, she survived and I pumped standing up in the hotel lobby's bathroom.

Today I babysat my friend's daughter and then left mine with her so I could go off and write (we do this twice a week). This time I drove to Swami's Beach in Encinitas. It was chilly so I stayed in the parking lot and wrote on my lap. This would be a lot more difficult if I didn't have my dana. ( Before I got my juices flowing, I journaled a bit and wrote this:

The ocean is melodic today. The waves are moving firmly but slowly, curling over before they break apart on the flat surface. Up here overlooking the sea, I feel like I could be Rohana. Connected to her in a way no one else could possibly understand. She wanted so much more than what she got. She would have loved living now. She could have moved to a natural place and set up a home for herself, free of the fear of annihilation by anyone but mother nature herself.

I wrote more than that, but it was mostly a complaint about the man smoking outside my car and how the smoke somehow found its toxic way through the tiny slit in the window. Also, there was something bobbing out in the waves but not moving. I deduced it was a buoy meant to look exactly like a seal.

Tonight I am meeting up with the Sisters of Soul (a women's group from the Soul of Yoga in Encinitas). It's "Creative Writing" night, so I just have to go and share my stuff (I pity the fool...). Usually the meetings are meditative hikes or silent mandala workshops, but I've only been to two - the first one and the "romantic belly dancing" one. (A story there, let me tell you.) I'm thinking of creating a short story by going through each one of my journals dating back to 1990 and collecting bits from them. What do you think? I hope I have the time... Elizabeth is napping - for now.

THIRTY MINUTES LATER: While reliving my nightmares from middle school, I decided NOT to make a short story out of my journals.

You know, I burned up my last journal. It was the one I wrote when I was in Iraq. I had a lot of good writing in there, but it was all painful. One night (or was it morning?) I ran into the kitchen, turned on the gas burner of the stove, and lit the pages on fire. I thought it would cleanse me, but all it did was smoke up the kitchen.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


14,797 words now. :-) I shouldn't count, though.

Apparently the magic of writing more and more is to not look back. Write the whole thing first, and THEN edit. So, that's what I'm going to do now. With the exception of critique sessions with my group, and we're so far behind in that that it's not that distracting (we're going over chapter two on Saturday).

Today I drove around for five minutes before deciding where to go. My hubby guided me -- "why not go to the beach?" Duh, why not? So I drove to Encinitas beach and parked where I could see the water. It was a little chilly to be sitting still outside, so I stayed in the car and wrote nearly 1200 words in an hour. The magic of the ocean!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Elizabeth is trying not to sleep anymore. The outcome: fussy baby, frazzled hair-sticking-out-all-over mama, and a blank page.

This can't go on forever, though. I'm going to get her in the car, drive around and do some grocery shopping, and THEN maybe she'll sleep for a while this afternoon. The house is clean, so the only thing pressing on my mind is the story.

I must write write write!

Monday, February 5, 2007


I'm over the 50-page mark, over 12,000 words. Now, at last, I feel like I'm getting somewhere. A writer at last, and on the way to being published.

Yes, I know, even after the first draft is written, it's a long long long way until the book is in the stores. But it will be, if I keep at it. I have a quote by Winston Churchill next to my computer: Never, Never, Never Give Up!

That's there for now when I am writing the book and will stay put through all of the guaranteed rejections I'll get from solicited agents. And then for the rejections the smart agent will get from the publishers. But some day, it'll be there. If I never give up.

Even when I hate it and think I'm a horrid writer. I have those days about as often as I think I'm doing darn good for a rookie.

My last paragraph thus far is: No, nevermind. I'm not going to post it. Not only am I afraid of someone stealing, but I'm a little bashful. It's a FIRST DRAFT, after all. :-)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

new blog

I know, I have an old and warm blog already created, but that one is about my life. I wanted a new blog for my writing, so I've created this one.

I'm writing my first novel. No, that's not wholly true. It may in fact be my first FINISHED novel, but it's not my first attempt. I must have started writing books when I was twelve, or maybe ten, but even in my most serious of moments could never get past chapter one. This one, this beautiful, sad tale, is so far six chapters long. And they're not tiny chapters, either. (Or at least I don't think they are.) How many words, that's important I'm told. Well, at the moment I have 11,687 words. For the lay-men who don't write books - that's 50 pages. (In courier, mind you.) On average, it's 250 words a page.

Ah, such technical detail! Tell me, Amber, what's your book about?!

Well.... it's about these people:

The Moriori of the Chatham Islands. But really, that's just the setting, and it's about Rohana, a young woman who has to face the brutal world without her family. She witnesses the impact of colonialism - and not just European, but Maori colonialism as well. So it's an historical young adult novel set in 1835.

The story came to me when I was reading the prologue to _Guns, Germs, and Steel_. I had to start writing that night, and I never did get to chapter one in that book. I've been working on it since October, then changed from third to first person in December and had to re-write the first few chapters. It's moving along now at... well, at A pace. Not the pace I'd like. My goal at the start of January was 250 words a day, but then I changed it last week to 1,000 words a day, 5 days a week. The hard bit for me is finding the time to write. When I get a chance, I usually write at least 500 words at a whack.

The reason why I don't get to write as often as I'd like (which would really be several hours a day) is because I have a baby girl. So although I intend to write a bit on here as I go along and keep it strictly about my writing, I have a feeling I'll add in bits here and there about her growth and achievements. She's not penning sonnets yet, but she can crawl! (And so have ended the days of lazy parenting.) And naps are hard to come by. I'm so exhausted at getting her to sleep that when she DOES fall asleep, I lay right down next to her and dream a bit myself.

Ok. So. Now you know what this blog will be about. Nap-time writing (or "daddy-is-watching-the-baby writing").