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Saturday, August 20, 2011


I have recently been introduced to something almost as Freaking Awesome as my life: WriteOnCon, which stands for Writers Online Conference. It's a (duh!) conference that's online. And it's free. And you can access it for months after the conference, and all the live events are transcribed for later viewing. In fact, I didn't attend a single live event, but I still get to reap the benefits!

The 2011 conference was held August 16-18. I don't know if you can register to look at it after the conference has finished, but I also don't see why not, so give it a try if you are interested (scroll down past the donation stuff--er, I mean, scroll down after you give a lofty donation, of course). So far everything I've read has been great stuff!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Over the Hill

I would just like to point out to my one fan out there (You're out there somewhere, aren't you? Mom? Anyone?) that I am officially over the halfway point to 75,000 words! Holy pecans and macadamia nuts! That's pretty exciting. Does it mean the second half will be any easier to bust out? Who knows! But I'm about to find out!

Thanks for listening, fan.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Word Goals and Homeless Babies

Baby #3 is due on October 25. I have deduced that if I write 3500-4000 words a week, I will finish my first draft before he is born. So that is my new goal.

This week I wrote 4156 words, and technically I have two more nights to write more. So I feel pretty good about the goal.

This last month was so incredibly busy, between vacationing to visit family, a trip to Disneyland, and church and motherly responsibilities. But now that I am in my third trimester we are officially home bound for the rest of the year. We aren't even traveling anywhere for the holidays (did that once before with a newborn--not willing to repeat that mistake!).

We also put an offer in on a house that was accepted by the seller (woohoo!) but it is a short sale so now we have to wait for approval from the bank (booooooo!). So it looks like unless there is a major miracle, we will be having our third nursery-less baby. Yep, that's right. So far every single one of our newborns has had no room to sleep in.
  • Superboy: slept in dining alcove in our one-bedroom apartment until he was three weeks old, when we moved to a two-bedroom apartment. (This is the aforementioned child we flew across the country to visit family at Christmas when he was only six weeks old. Night-mare.)
  • Tinkie: slept in the place of our dining room table in the main room of said two-bedroom apartment until she was 14 days old, when we moved across the country from Florida to Arizona. She then proceeded to sleep in 7 more places (hotel rooms, grandma and grandpa's house, more hotel rooms) until finally she got her own room at about four weeks old.
  • X-Man: will probably be sleeping in the office of our current three-bedroom rental, where he will at least have a door.
Yeah, we sure bring in our babies right.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

It's a good one here in my bubble of life. We are hanging out at my parents' house in Colorado. The weather is great and it's nice to see GRASS everywhere (you really get to appreciate grass when you live in Arizona). Superboy and Tinkie love playing with my parents' golden retriever Ripplee. They also love all the toys, books, and activities that my mother keeps on hand for their visits. We enjoy getting our Wii fix, since we don't have a Wii at our house. (Yes, you heard right, people. WE DON'T HAVE A WII AND MY LIFE IS STILL AWESOME.) Dr. Luv's sister lives close by, so we get to spend time with her family, too. Tinkie keeps saying, "I wan' cousins!" whenever they aren't here.

But the best part of our trip is that my parents have FOOD. I've been eating, eating, eating to my pregnant belly's content. And when I'm stuffed, I still eat because it's fun and hey, I'm doing my mom a favor by eating all the food before it spoils, right? My parents eat a pretty strict organic diet, so I know the food is healthy. And my mom also makes sure Superboy has all the food he needs despite his food allergies. It's so nice to have a break from worrying about what to make for him!!! I mean, seriously NICE--I feel like a weight has been lifted off my back. It's hard to explain unless you have food allergies in your own family, then you understand.

So I'm going to head back upstairs and have a snack. Chocolate-covered toffee, maybe? Okay, so maybe it's not ALL healthy. But it's still freaking delicious! Then tonight it's off to a local festival and fireworks galore!

Happy Independence Day, people! I love America!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Groupon Says

Here is writing advice from some of the best writers of fiction I know. I think if I just base my book off their recommendations, I will have the next NYT best-seller for SURE.

(Disclaimer: Please remember this is not ME writing this, it's the Groupon people! Though if you have Groupon, you will know that the people who write for them are hilarious and clever which makes me WISH I were writing this.)

The Groupon Guide to: Writing Fiction

Instead of being based on real-life events, many of today's best-selling books are composed of what are conventionally known as “lies,” although the publishing industry prefers the handy euphemism "fiction." Because they are entirely made up, writing fictional books is extremely easy—just follow this handy guide:

Use at least three characters:

  • Protagonist: The hero. In all books written thus far, the protagonist has been a sullen teenager, a swashbuckling duck, or car that can transform into a smaller car.
  • Anti-gonist: The bad guy. Always the protagonist's twin father.
  • Love Interest: Either a person or bag of gold that must be rescued by the protagonist.

Choose a type of conflict

  • Man vs. Man: A man fights another man
  • Man vs. Himself: A man fights his clone
  • Man vs. Nature: A man fights some angry clouds
  • Nature vs. Nature: Two angry clouds fight each other

Finish with a twist:

  • It was Earth all along! Or conversely, it was space all along.
  • All the characters were ghosts! And the characters that seemed like ghosts were actually mummies.
  • It wasn't a book at all, but a helpful exercise VHS! That's why it was so fun to read!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Melancholy Moment, If You Will Allow

Dr. Luv and I put down not one, but two offers on homes this past week, and both were rejected. Grrr. It's hard to know what to do when you are rejected. Is this just a little taste of what it feels like to send out multiple queries and then get rejected over and over again by agents and publishers? I'm not looking forward to that.

Lately I've been feeling like my first draft is a lot like a heap of burning poo left out on my doorstep and I can't figure out how to put the fire out. In short, it stinks. I am writing one of those books with a strong beginning, a strong, exciting ending in mind, and a lot of unorganized, uneventful blegh in the middle. My only hope is to write out all the blegh and then go back through and excite-ify it somehow. It's just crazy to think about how much work it's taking to do my first draft, when I know that once I finally finish it (and eat the big celebration cake that I plan to bake for myself when it's done), the real work will only be beginning.

Such is life when you want to create perfection. It takes so. much. work.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The 1/3 Mark

I am now officially almost 1/3 of the way through my first draft! Yippeee! My heroine has just been saved from a freaky ghost by her love interest. There's got to be one of those guy-protects-girl-making-girl-swoon-even-more-over-guy scenes in every romance. Cause I mean, come on, ladies, we all like being protected by our big, strong men. Am I right or am I right?

Also, we are going to put an offer on a house in the morning!

Also, I forgot to post that Baby Bean is a Baby BOY Bean!

Big news all around!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Summertime business! The time of busyness! I feel like my mind has been constantly in a blender, whirring at full speed, with the "grind" button hitting me over and over and over throughout the last month. Plan this! Clean that! Call to make that appointment! All while simultaneously entertaining two small children! And listen to their stories! And their screaming! Usually at the same time! And feed them! Bite by bite! And oh yeah, you're pregnant! So don't try too hard to bend over! Except that Cheerio is pretty far away and you have to pick it up before someone steps on it!! And mop this floor, it's disgusting! And don't forget your husband is buying a dental practice! And you're going to be buying a house! So pack already! But not too much, you're pregnant!

Somewhere in the middle of that, I've written a grand total of almost 2000 words. I suppose that's something, right?


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Awesome Moment: At Walmart

So there we are, waiting for the lunch-meat guy to cut me some turkey in the produce section, when suddenly my son starts screaming. "Help, Mommy, help me! I can't stop walking backwards!"

Worried he was about the run into the lady pushing the bakery cart, I whip out my imaginary rope and lasso him across the belly. "Don't worry, I'll pull you back!" I start pulling and pulling, and even though it's tough, he's moving back to me slowly, inch by inch. Finally he makes it to my arms and collapses against my knees in an exhausted embrace.

For an improvisational miming stunt with a 4-year-old, I have to say it was pretty well-done. We even got a couple people to look at us funny.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thoughts on My First Draft, Round 1

My boys are out camping tonight, so after I put Tinkie to bed I was fully able to give in to my recluse tendencies and spend the last two hours writing, uninterrupted.

In two hours I wrote almost 2500 words. That's pretty good, right?

It is such a ride to write a first draft of a novel. There are so many times I want to stop and edit. I have to literally pull myself away from the keyboard and say, "No! First draft means you keep going! Leave it! I know it sucks and you can write it better if you keep trying! But leave it!"

But then there are other times while I'm writing when I can't believe the things that are coming out of my mind. Characters are instantly created, ones who never existed in my brain but just walk into the story like they were meant to be there the entire time. Plot points that were giving me grief suddenly work themselves out right there on the screen. My protagonist's personality changes in dynamic and gains aspects that I never realized were there.

It's true that sometimes things get meddled as I write it out, too, but the book is shaping and growing as if it has a life of its own, something I just couldn't create in my mind alone, something that needed words to be able to breathe.

It's a strange feeling, empowering yet humbling at the same time.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Hung Out with Aprilynne Pike

Yeah, that's right! And she's really cool, too!

Aprilynne Pike is the author of the NYT Best-Selling YA Series Wings, the third book of which, Illusions, just came out May 3. Well, apparently members of my writer's group have some pretty sweet connections, because a few weeks ago they arranged for Aprilynne come to our meeting and share with us a lesson about editing.

I thought since I was so blessed, I should be charitable and share the notes I took at our meeting. So here ya go!

The lesson was on what happens when you get an editor, and what it's like to start editing with them (in other words, what it's like to find out you're finally going to get published and then realize the work is just beginning).


o First ed letter for Wings was 11 pages long.

o Gave her 8 weeks to fix it all; ended up rewriting half her book.

o Second round was another 8-page list of questions plus a marked-up manuscript

· STAND-ALONE book she’s working on now:

o First ed letter was ten pages plus a manuscript (Aprilynne showed us what the manuscript looked like--covered with comments written with the tracking system on Word)

· When you get an ed letter:

o Yell and kick (first day or so)

o Go through and highlight to get to point of suggestions

o Go through with a pen and jot down what to do to make these changes

o Editing is digital now—you can just press “accept” and it will change it the way the editor suggested (uses system on Word)

· Editing Lingo

o “awkward—recast” = rewrite this awkward sentence

· Editing your own work

o First draft--don't edit anything, just change spelling

o Write down everything that jars you without second-guessing it and make a bulleted list in categories (characters, story arcs, etc)

o Go through again and fix sentence structure (varied sentences, make sure things sound vibrant, not same words over and over—highlight your pet words and find a way to get rid of them, take out “just”, “seemed”, and “going to”)

o Give it to your critique partner, who will tear it apart, and then you spend a couple weeks rewriting again after that

· Drafting--two different types

o Pantsers—don’t know what is going to happen while writing until they get there

o Outliners—outline it some way (lots of way to do this) before they write it all

· Random Tips

o If you have a chapter that is character-building but nothing happens toward the plot, you need to take the character-building stuff out of that chapter and then incorporate it into a chapter where something is happening

o Don’t write all of the interesting parts first because then you have to go back and fill in all the boring parts in between

o Characters: as long as they relate to the plot, there can be as few or as many characters as you want—but keep two or three of them in the forefront

o Fleshing out a “bare-boned” draft: look for places you can vamp up the emotional stakes—add tension where things are scary or awkward. Add more kissing, more action in action scenes. Add where it’s going to emotionally affect your reader.

o Book recommendation: Mysterious Benedict Society books are good for middle-grade readers--and are apparently fun for adults, too" :)

A big thanks to Aprilynne for coming and sharing her knowledge with us! She is a busy woman (ya know, with normal stuff: four kids, a recent move to a new house, writing National Best-sellers...). We were grateful to snag her for a couple hours!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Where am I?

You might be wondering why I'm such a lame-o. And yes, I will agree with you that starting a blog for two months and then stopping for three is lame indeed. But I have a good reason! It's called:


Yes, I am pregnant! Baby #3 will be coming to town on or around October 26, 2011. (NOT 2012, just so we're clear. Thank heavens. I am not an alien.)

Now some women get nauseous when they're pregnant. Others get really tired. I get both these things, plus an overwhelming symptom of severe laziness. Is it no wonder I only have energy to take care of the kids and then spend the rest of my time lying on the couch in a state of mental comatose? (Oh, and eating tacos at 10am. I have energy for that.)

I promise it won't always be this way. But since it is right now, thank you for your patience.

Whew! That was tough. My brain is out. Peace!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FPIES: Pie of Doom

Sometimes the title of my blog is a clever, sarcastic guise for how much my life really SUXX. (And yes, that's with TWO CAPITAL Xs, just so we're clear.)

Okay, my life doesn't really suck. We all have our trials. We all have to face something that everyone else, when they look at us, thinks to themselves, "Oh my gosh, I'm sooooo glad I don't have to deal with that!" Right? So, I will just go ahead and tell y'all what you are glad you don't have of mine. It's called FPIES.

FPIES stands for Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome. And I actually don't have it myself, but my 4-year-old son does, and its the worst thing EVER. Children with FPIES cant digest certain foods, so their bodies react by profuse vomiting and lethargy that lasts for days. The food can be anything (each FPIES kid has his own individual triggers) and just a miniscule amount (as in, can't see it without a microscope) will set off a reaction. Worse, the reaction won't occur until anywhere between 5 and 12 or even 24 hours later, so it's pretty freaking impossible to figure out which food was the culprit.

I try really hard to be positive about this most of the time, but right now, as I sit next to my son who is passed out on the couch for the bazillionth time after puking all day over some sort of mysterious food trigger that I can't figure out, I am going to take this opportunity to be bitter. BITTER! BITTER! BIIIIIIITTERRRRRRRR!!!

My son's FPIES triggers are soy, oats, possibly rice, and who knows what else, because he still gets sick even when we try to prohibit these foods from his diet. You might think it's not a big deal to remove these foods from someone's diet. Here is a non-conclusive list of foods he cannot eat that you might be surprised about:
  • All breads
  • All cereals except Kellogg's Raisin Bran
  • All crackers
  • All pasta
  • Most conventional meats, even raw meat
  • Sauce packets
  • Mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, salad dressings, etc.
  • Chocolate
  • Some juices (Minute maid, Simply Orange Juice to name a couple)
  • Pretty much any processed food you can think of, and any canned or pre-packaged foods that have soy, oats, or rice in the same facility--many times this is not mentioned on the label (especially where oats or rice is concerned because, really, who is allergic to oats or rice?)
Also, I have suspicions that tocopherols, mono-and diglycerides, and sodium lactate are all preservatives that are derived from soy. There are most likely over preservatives derived from soy as well.

Not only is it devastating to watch my son in this vomiting, catatonic state so often (about 2-4 times a month), but here are some other ways that FPIES limits our life:
  • We can't go on vacations, as traveling anywhere with our son means traveling with our own stash of food (most of it needing to be refrigerated and/or bought from special stores), as well as our own pots and pans because cross-contamination is just as harmful as if he ate the food itself
  • Eating out is stressful, since we have to bring a cooler with us and make sure our hands are thoroughly washed whenever we handle his food or something he might touch (if that's not hard enough, we now have to make sure his baby sister's hands are also washed, and you know how hard it is to keep a toddler's hands clean)
  • I am having a heck of a time coming up with enough food recipes that we can all eat that don't take all day to prepare from scratch
  • I can't come up with enough foods to fill our 72-hour emergency kits, let alone food storage
  • I am planning on homeschooling him until he (hopefully) grows out of this, because there is no way I can trust his school environment to be safe (this is what could happen: he touches a crumb of another kid's bread on the lunch table, licks his finger a few minutes later, and is out of school for three days)
So listen: I am grateful because I know there are worse things out there plaguing the lives of young children--life-threatening things that break my heart just thinking about them. And I am grateful FPIES is not life-threatening (though I imagine if he ate a whole lot of soy on accident--like a piece of bread, for instance--he would certainly end up in the ER). But right now, listening to his painful moaning and knowing there is nothing I can do to fix it--and maybe nothing I can do to stop it from happening again next week, as I still don't know what caused this episode--all I can think of is SUXX, SUXX, SUXX!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Superheroes 101

Today during the drive home from swimming lessons, I caught this magic moment between my two kids in the back seat.

My 4-year-old son--we'll call him Superpower Man, per his request--is looking at his Iron Man sticker book. His 19-month-old sister, who we'll call Pinkie (per my request), is watching him with a wistful expression. (And yes, I am looking at the road. I don't need to see them to know what they are doing, I'm just that good.)

Pinkie: Spidehma! I wan' Spidehma!

Superpower Man (offended): This is NOT Spiderman!

Pinkie: Spidehma!

SP Man: MOM! She's calling my Iron Man book "Spiderman"!

Me: Blah blah blah, she's just a baby, blah BLEH.

Pinkie: Spidehma!

SP Man: HE'S. NOT. SPIDERMAN. Look at him. Does it look like he has a Spiderman head?!

Pinkie: ... Spidehma!

SP Man: UGH.

Me: (To Pinkie) Can you say IRON Man?

Pinkie: (Thinks.) Eye-di-dun.

Me: There, that's better!

SP Man: Mom, she said "Iron DUH."

Me: Blah blah blah, she's just a baby, blah BLEH BLEH.

(A few moments of silence go by, during which Pinkie says "Spidehma" several more times and apparently Superpower Man has turned the page.)

SP Man: See, look. This black guy (as in, dressed in black) is not Spiderman. He's a bad guy.

Pinkie: Bad guy?

SP Man: Super heroes don't have guns like these. This is a super villain!

Pinkie: Spidehma!

(Superpower Man groans.)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy New Year; or, My First Rookie Writing Mistake

Happy New Year 2011! Yeah, I know I'm late. I've been too busy trying to keep up with my already too-extensive list of New Year's resolutions. Maybe that's why I never actually achieve any of my goals--every year, I always have too many!

One of our new resolutions--me and the Iceman--is to stick to a tight-wad budget so we can start really making a dent in our student loans. (If you didn't already know, dentists have a load of debt the size of my resolutions list. No, actually, way more than that.) Ice has always been anti-budgets,and I've been pro-clueless about money in general, but we finally gave in. It's been really good so far. We even have a calendar whiteboard that we record every purchase onto. Nerdy, perhaps? Is it even more nerdy to tell you that it's hung up right next to our bed? Well, at least we are cheap nerds.

Another one of my resolutions is to write an entire first draft of a novel. Said novel is one that I have been working on for umm....over two years. I got the idea for it about the time that I was newly pregnant with my baby girl who is now 19 months old. I've thought about it relentlessly, but when I'd sit down to write, I just couldn't get past the first chapter. Finally, last fall I went to my writing group and shared a short story I had written. The ladies told me it was good but that the beginning was slow. Apparently I was boring them with too many background details leading up to the action. (ME? Boring? Pshaw. Okay they were right.) But I learned some great rookie writing advice: You HAVE to start a story where the action begins. Then you can go back and fill in *needed* background details later.

I realized that I had been doing that same thing with my novel. I was boring MYSELF with all the background details leading up to the action, to the point that I didn't even want to keep writing! (You can laugh at me, it's okay.) So I started over, right where I thought the action would begin. And BAM! I wrote three chapters in just a few weeks.

Now I am stuck again. So you see, this finishing the rough draft business is going to take me a while. But I had a great thought today that I think will get me out of the rut. Also, the belated Christmas present my parents got me arrived in the mail yesterday, and I think it will definitely make my writing easier. How do you like this little beauty?

Yes, it's even pink! I cried when I got it. Thanks Mom and Dad!