Thursday, August 28, 2008

The National Zoo Field Trip

Yesterday, my friend and I took our girls out for their first Field Trip: The National Zoo.

We rode the Metro up to D.C. and the girls loved it.

They got to see the elephants hanging out in the "elephant barn." Fortunately, the elephants are getting a new pad soon--all lush and outdoorsy.

After watching the beavers for a while (had no idea they were so huge), the girls made some attempts at rock climbing. Elizabeth seemed to pull some glee and power straight from the rock, which was alarming. Gave me the shivers just thinking about her future self, climbing up the mesas in Arizona without so much as a rope.

Finally, on the way back to the Metro, they both passed out and missed the entire train ride. (Thank goodness for that--I needed to rest!)

While the girls were dozing, we decided to snap some pics of ourselves. Here's my panda date:

P.S. My frankincense arrived today!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm a Guru (and I just SO knew it)

Your result for The Perception Personality Image Test...

NFPS - The Guru

Nature, Foreground, Big Picture, and Shape

You perceive the world with particular attention to nature. You focus on what's in front of you (the foreground) and how that fits into the larger picture. You are also particularly drawn towards the shapes around you. Because of the value you place on nature, you tend to find comfort in more subdued settings and find energy in solitude. You like to deal directly with whatever comes your way without dealing with speculating possibilities or outcomes you can't control. You are in tune with all that is around you and understand your life as part of a larger whole. You prefer a structured environment within which to live and you like things to be predictable.

Take The Perception Personality Image Test at HelloQuizzy

It's weird. It's like this test knows me or something.
Here's a definition on the word guru: A guru (Sanskrit: गुरु) is a person who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and uses it to guide others. The word comes from Sanskrit Gu, darkness, and Ru, light (prakash); literally a preceptor who shows others knowledge (light) and destroys ignorance (darkness).

Cindy did it too, so take the test if you're as curious as we were!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Official "Me" Day

Today was all about me. Seriously. I dropped E-beth off at her Tuesday Day Care, shot over to my 28-week OB appointment, and sat there for an hour to take a glucose test. After that, I had lunch with myself at Panera Bread (yum) and then sat and wrote for an hour and a half. Finally. Then I tried on some work-out clothes at Target, got depressed, left the store without so much as a lollipop, and went to pick E-beth up.

I am at that point in pregnancy when the days drag on and my body just hurts. I've got a little less than three more months of it, which make me just so relieved. As I told my OB today, this is my last pregnancy. I don't think I could do it again. To which she replied, "Girlfriend, you nursed your baby for twenty-one months. You can do this." I nodded, but it was mostly to shake the cobwebs from my head.

If I didn't have writing, a supportive husband who at least seems empathetic, and an adorable little girl, I'd be a lot worse off. (Although, in E-beth's case, I might get more napping in.)

Still waiting for my frankincense to arrive. I can't believe how long it's taken--four days already. Geesh! (Forget the part in history where it took at least three months for frankincense to get from the coast of Yemen to Gaza, then another month or more to get to Rome.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Book Planning

Some of you have heard me complain about writing myself in circles in this second book. Well, I decided to tackle that problem once and for all--while I was at the gym. (And I mean figuring it all out at the gym, while walking on the treadmill.)

Today it finally hit me: I needed to answer a few questions. I need to set the story up just right so that my MC can take me along for the ride without me having to do any major road-building. Now, I went to the gym armed to the teeth with info and had just read a research paper on the frankincense trade and ordered myself an incense burner and a pack of "gourmet" my mind was "in the mood." All I needed now was a reason for why my MC was going to do the things I wanted him to do. I needed a mystery, a deadline, and a few other things.

So as I walked at a fairly fast pace (and tried to ignore the super-skinny long-haired blonde running at 7mph right next to me), I thought it out. I stared outside and tried to feel the heat of the Yemeni desert. I asked my MC what his story was.

And then it came to me. Ahah! I was so excited I almost fell off the treadmill. (And the blonde stared at me like I was crazy b/c I was trying to write while exercising.)

Now I can answer the questions that have been posted next to my desk for months. They're a great guide. I got them from somewhere (I forget where, now)...maybe Cheryl Klein's website?

1. What does your main character really want?
2. Why can't your MC have it?
3. What will happen if your MC doesn't get what s/he wants? (What are the stakes?)
4. How does your MC struggle to get what s/he wants?
5. When is the situation hopeless? (When can you not put the book down?)
6. When is the tension relieved?
7. What is surprising about the ending?

Ok, so I can't rightfully answer 5-7 yet, but I have an idea of what that'll be. I even have a place in mind (geographically). Phew! So although I haven't cranked out draft one this summer like I had hoped, at least I'm on the right track. It's been hard just trying to find my keys lately, much less the rest of my brain, so I'm proud I accomplished this much.

And just so ya know, all of the walking has not helped the preggo pain at all. In fact, now I feel like a Barbie doll whose legs are being pulled apart by a three-year-old.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Teen Writing Workshop

As the sign says (if you can read it), I taught a writing workshop to teens last night at the library. :-)

Aren't they wonderful? They're not all in the photo, as some had escaped before I remembered my camera.

We started right away with a writing exercise and then did the introductions. Then we went over "show vs. tell," in which I went through the latest draft of my novel looking for an example of telling. (Sadly, I found one on page four.) After that, we spoke a bit about using the five senses in narrative to bring the writing alive to the reader. After that, we wrote the same paragraph again, but everyone had to use at least three of the five senses. Most of the young adults then graciously offered to read both of their paragraphs out loud to the class so we could hear the differences. (Brave souls!)

I don't know about them, but I had a great time. :-) Who doesn't when surrounded by writing friends, talking about great books and the craft of writing?

Oh, and the library asked me today if I'd be willing to do it again in October, to start out their Teen Reading Week. I'm honored--it's like being the opening speaker!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Me and Jane Austen

Ms. Austen and I are tight. See?

I even wore my most-Regency-looking maternity shirt to look the part while we toured Bath last June.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's Starbucks' fault

I'm up way, way too late. I've been critiquing some submissions I've received in preparation for the workshop I'm teaching on Monday, and because I was rather incoherent all day due to being unable to sleep last night, I opted for a Grande Nonfat Green Tea Latte with two extra scoops of matcha powder. It's like a double-espresso green tea.

Actually, I got two, but the first one ended up on the floor and spread into a circle of about five feet. The very kind baristas gave me a new one for free. :-)

I might have ended all the critiques I needed to do, but I got booted out at 9:30 because they were closing (What?! But it's Starbucks!) and ended up spending too much time online at home. *sigh*

So, yeah, here I am, unable to sleep or read or critique any more. What else is there to do but blog?

Good news: I'm querying agents for my first novel, ROHANA, and one of them asked me for the "full" this evening. Cross your fingers, pray, or chant on your beads that he devours it quickly and calls me up soon, asking if he can represent me for life! If he rejects it, I'll just curl up and cry for a moment or two, then get back to work. It's the way the writing world turns, I've discovered.

Now, here's my inspirational photo for the night:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


It has taken me far too long to talk about the RockSugarBeets, so here I go...

A few of the people I met at the conference were so fantastic, in fact, that we ended up eating the last few dinners together and formed a write-and-share group (not a critique group, as we've all got plenty of that going on). If you check out Cindy and Jacqui's blog posts from L.A., you'll see what I mean. (Everyone else already blogged about this, and it'd be better if you'd just check out their blogs than if I regurgitated everything. I mean, really, twice-chewed news is about as nice as fish bits picked from a mama seagull's beak.) Be sure to check out their photos, too, since I apparently am failing at posting pics lately.

Yesterday was Elizabeth's 2nd birthday and we had four other two-year-olds come over for the party (with their parents, of course). There was much insanity, but it was good insanity, you know?

She was so happy to have kids over to play with. The presents were great (Little People toys, a hand-made Tinker Bell blanket, Crocs, clothes, and a tricycle), the food was great (Brewster's Ice Cream Cake), and the guests were great.

She was so wound up after everyone left that when she spoke on the phone with my mom, she told her "Happy Birthday." (Except it was "Happy Dirtday," because although she can say pterodactyl, she can't say birthday.)

This morning we punched balloons around the living room until after breakfast. And then we played with hairstyles. I was SO proud of getting this done on a moving target (even with her sitting in the sink) that I had to take a picture.

Today was our 3rd Anniversary. (Yes, our 1st anniversary was spent mostly in the hospital.) Since we didn't have childcare set up for the evening but we had it during the day (Kid's Day Out), we went to the obligatory Japanese restaurant for lunch. Jim wasn't expecting anything in the way of gifts, so I surprised him with a huge bag of new clothes and a cute card. He needed those clothes, and I needed him to get something else to wear so my eyes didn't burn out, but he would never have gone out and bought himself anything. I think he was pretty happy. Not the greatest of gifts, like, say, something for his bicycle, but oh well. Last year I had more time and made him a scrapbook of our wedding pictures.

I must get off the computer now, as I was just informed that I should be spending time with him tonight. ;-)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sheba Gold

I'm plunging back into my research for my work-in-progress novel and having a blast on YouTube. I just watched a video done by Discovery Channel and BBC a few years ago on the Queen of Sheba mystery and current archaeology persuits. It's fantastic, and I want to buy it, but it's not available anywhere. Argh.

The clip I included is a 2:37 photo montage about Yemen, Sheba (Saba), the Great Dam of Marib, and other things I've researched. I didn't make the video, but did chuckle through it as it showed covers of books I've bought recently for research and other photos I've seen. Wish I could go to Marib!

I want to make this novel rich with detail, truth, and mystery. Sounds good, right? This book is going to be a joy to write and research!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Back from L.A.

My mind is still reeling and recuperating from my red-eye flight, but it was all worth it. I met some amazing people and feel inspired, confident, and ready to tackle anything the publishing world dishes out. It was nice to get away for once, and hang out with other writing moms (and dads).

Ok, so I meant to write more and create an exciting post, but I'm thinking longingly of my bed--and I can't go to it because I've got a house to clean, queries to dust off, and a non-napping kiddo.

Next time--photos and a "deeper" post.