Sunday, September 30, 2007

San Juan Capistrano

Thanks to my Great Aunt Helen, we've got somewhere to stay until we leave next week for New Zealand. Jim is busy studying, Elizabeth is teething, and I am writing and reading like a furious monk who can't have any more beer until he'd copied the Old Testament into Swahili. (Ok, I know, I don't really drink much beer, and I don't think Swahili has much of an alphabet.)

You get the idea.

Although I've virtually been given the go-ahead to write my book, I still fear that I'm taking the story in the wrong direction. What if I'm wasting time? What if it's too over-the-top in certain places? What if it's not all that interesting? What if my writing isn't a good in the middle and end as it is in the begining? AHHHH!!!

My husband is a dear, however, and continues to encourage me. We just went over the plot, and it was nice to have someone else go through it with me. He says it sounds exciting, but then again, he's my husband. What if the ending is horrible? Hopefully, any editor will be able to help me out there and let me know when certain sections aren't working. I'm betting that the editing process will take a bit more than a fortnight. (I read Shannon Hale's Austenland last night, so I am still breathing out Regencyese.)

So speaking of good books... Yes, Austenland. I little book of chick power. I could NOT put it down. I tried. I went to the kitchen to make myself some late-night oatmeal (Ms. Sick Teether is nursing like crazy, and oatmeal helps me make more milk, in case you wanted to know...ok, maybe not, but I said it anyway). I decided to read a bit of it while eating said oatmeal, fully planning on getting back to MY story after the chapter. Jim asked when I was going to start writing. I said I would, later. Then at TWO A.M., I finished. Voila! Shannon Hale is so good at storytelling, it's scary.

I have also recently read Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind, by Suzanne Fisher Staples. I had to read it because that wonderfully encouraging editor said my story reminded him of it. It is beautifully written... ;-) I was completely immersed in the Pakistani world while reading it, but I was a little disappointed at the end--it was over too soon! Ms. Staples is really good at describing things in a different sort of way, usually referring to the way the light bent at that particular moment, or sounds, like the jingling of copper bracelets. Everything became real and clean and illuminscent. I can only hope my story comes out at well!

I'm printing off a chapter I wrote back in late spring, before I changed the plot, because there is a part of it I want to use in the next chapter I'm about to write. It's the point in the book when the Moriori gather at Te Awapatiki to discuss the Maori take-over. They have to make the decision if they should fight back and defend themselves or stick to their code of non-violence and try to make peace with the Maoris.

Fortunately, I saved all of my work on iDisk because my lovely computer is in storage. Again, here's my ad for alphasmart: get a Dana. If you can't afford a laptop, or don't want to deal with lugging around much more than you need, a Dana is perfect. I've even found it easier to type on than my at-home keyboard.

Wow, my Aunt's printer is S L O W. I'm only trying to print off 12 pages. Ok, it's almost done... now, back to writing!

Monday, September 24, 2007

An edit

Yes, I took out the editor's name in the previous post. I was getting cold feet and started to worry that I had jinxed myself by naming him, so... voila! Name removed.

Jim, Elizabeth, and I went to dinner tonight with some friends from long ago, and although it was a buffet, we spent most of the time chasing after the roaming pink monster. She wore herself out and didn't eat much (no surprise there). At this present moment, she is passed out wearing nothing but a diaper and two hair ribbons.

Tomorrow is my last day on Air Force duty. Yay! My skin was starting to turn camouflaged from wearing my BDUs every single day.

Off to bed... I'm going to have to wake up an hour early each day to finish my book on time. Since she wakes up at 0400 and nurses for a half hour before falling asleep again, and we all get up at 0530, that's my one window. That is, IF I can keep myself awake.

Wish me luck, and pray that Elizabeth doesn't wake up between now and 4. (She usually wakes up at 1 or so, but I'd like to start skipping that one, if possible.) Someone tell me their kid did this too, please. I'm tired of hearing everyone else say, "oh, my son/daughter slept through the night when he/she was only three months old." I haven't had a SINGLE night yet where I was able to sleep the night through... If my novel turns out whacky, it's due to severe, prolonged sleep deprivation.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Most Glorious Email Ever

This is a photo of me, absolutely excited (and with a horrible hair cut).

I called Jim from work this morning:
Jim: Do you know who ******* is?
Me: Yes.
Jim: He sent you an email.
Me: It's just a mass email, probably.
Jim: It looks personal.
Me: No way.
Jim: It says, "Dear Ms. Matthews"
Me: What?! (followed by yelping and shrieking)

Yes, a rather prominent editor emailed ME. I couldn't believe it! He went on to say that I was runner-up in the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant, and that he had been one of the judges. He also said he thought my writing was "beautiful" and would like to see the rest of the manuscript.

I was shocked, full of glee, and shaking. Someone likes my book! And not just someone, but an editor! I sat in on a discussion of his at the LA conference this past August and kept thinking that he and his staff were exactly the kind of people I want to work with to make my book a great one. I just didn't know how it would ever happen...

And to think that yesterday I was this close to volunteering to go to Iraq for some financial security. (Not that selling a book will solve our money issues, but it would take me longer to finish it if I were away and working all the time.)

Of course, I didn't focus well at work today, and I couldn't wait to tell my mom. ("See? Writing isn't a lost cause...")

Woohoo! I'm not insane to think I can do this!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Still Kickin'

No, I'm not dead. I actually wrote a blog message on Friday, but Jim's laptop and my Dana aren't working well together. (If I could convince him to buy a new computer, like a Mac, we'd be in business).

I've been working seven days a week, and it has been draining me. I feel guilty about being such a wimp, though. There are millions of people world-wide in much worse conditions than I am in, working seven days a week for years on end, and here I am, complaining about a few weeks of it.

I miss spending all day with my daughter, though.

Friday night was "Parents' Night Out" so Elizabeth spent the evening at daycare while Jim and I went out to dinner. We debated about seeing a movie, but decided it would be more fun if we went to the bookstore to write/study. I loved it - we got to sit down, together, throughout an entire meal. We got to browse the bookstore without running after Ms. Toddlypants. I got to sit down and write an entire scene in Rohana's tale.

Sunday was depressing because I spent eight hours in a building attacked in 1941, presumably full of ghosts of men who had been sleeping in their beds that fateful Sunday morning, ALL BY MYSELF. I didn't see a single soul the entire time I was in there. (Maybe that's a good thing: No souls = no ghosts.) Anyhow, today was much better as there were other people living and breathing nearby, with tinkling brains.

Only one week left. We leave next Tuesday for San Diego, and then Jim will brave the Physics GRE. I know he will do fantastically well on it. :-)