Sunday, July 31, 2011

frolicking



Here in the south, we have this lovely plague of afternoon thundershowers.

A hot, steamy blue sky is suddenly black with clouds, and then the bottom drops out,
often while you're pushing a cart full of groceries out to your car.

The temperatures have been in the 100's, and the air quality near Atlanta is horrid. Some mornings, you can see the smog. So the kids don't get as much time outside as I'd like.

Usually the afternoon storms are all thundery.

Yesterday, it wasn't.



Barefoot, half-naked children frolicking in the summer rain with their dad.

I hope they remember that moment.

I will.

*

Friday, July 29, 2011

the book I wouldn't read

Okay, so maybe there are LOTS of books I refuse to read, and most of them are by Nicholas Sparks.

I'm talking about a book I refuse to read to my child.

It's called Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus. Maybe you've heard of it?

There's currently a movie in theaters, and there are 29 books in the series. It's beloved, it's popular, it has a great voice, it's hilarious, and it has priceless illustrations.

But I still won't read it.

I picked it up at the used bookstore a few days ago, and after reading one chapter, offered to buy her a brand new book of her choice if she would give it back. And that's why I've read The Berenstain Bears Go To School 32 times today.

But I digress.

Why did I reject this well-written and well-loved book?

Because I don't like the message it sends to my daughter.

First of all, there's the grammar. While it's cute and funny, I feel all fidgety correcting Junie B's voice as I read, and I refuse to read a book to my kid that has blatant grammatical errors. She already has trouble with brang and brunged and brought.

Next of all, it's Junie B's negative attitude and outrageous behavior. Maybe it's funny to an older child who knows what's expected at school. But for a four-year old about to enter Kindergarten, it's just going to give her bad ideas.

Oh, I can kick people and call them names and interrupt teachers and talk back? AWESOME.

But most of all, it's because I think this book is capable of instilling fear in my mostly fearless child. She's excited about the bus. She thinks everyone will want to be her friend. She thinks her teacher is the nicest lady in the world, and school is going to be wonderful, and she's going to be happy forever.

And even if none of that is true, she's not going to hear it from me, and she's not going to hear it from a book.

I don't think Junie B. is a bad book, not at all. I just think it's not the right time. So I'm putting it high up on the bookshelf for the day in third grade when somebody is mean to her and she feels like an outcast. And then I'll tell her all about what happened to me on the bus as a kid, and we'll pull out the Junie B. Jones book and laugh about what bastards kids can be.

And that, dear friends, is why I hate censorship so much. I don't trust anyone else to make that decision for me. It's my job to read it and make a judgment and put it on the high shelf. And not just because it's got curse words or sex or violence.

Because sometimes, it's the wrong time.

One day we'll meet again, Junie B.

One day.

*

Thursday, July 28, 2011

on momFAIL

So I messed up today.

I'm supposed to take my daughter to a very expensive and very important lesson twice a week.

And today, I completely forgot.

And why did I forget?

Because I'm on page 48 of another creepy YA book and can barely function while I'm writing. Because I haven't gotten more than 6 hours of sleep in a week and perform notoriously poorly on 6 hours of sleep. Because I spend approximately 12 hours a day alone with a two-year old and a four-year old, which is clinically proven to make someone insane. Because my toddler was taking a rare and much-needed nap after collapsing in on himself like a black hole by the fridge because I wouldn't let him lick an ossified strawberry he found on the kitchen floor.

All that.

But you know what?

None of that matters. Not a bit.

I messed up.

And I feel horrible about it.

There's this trope in movies and books about the busy, self-involved parent who accidentally forgets to pick up their kid at the soccer game, and the kid is abandoned, alone, in the rainy dark, feverishly clutching a trophy and feeling unloved.

Our sympathy is supposed to rest solely with the kid.

And the thing is, we all had that moment as kids. When you look into the audience, and they're not there. Or you wait anxiously for that ride to the mall that never arrives. When you spend a sick day shivering under someone's desk with the flu because they can't take the day off.

That's life. It's just part of growing up.

But nobody ever tells you how hard it is to be the parent that messed up.

Now I'm on the other end of the stick.

I fail my kids all the time, in a hundred different ways.

"In a minute" becomes "later" becomes "this afternoon" becomes "tomorrow."

The zoo trip becomes a pet store visit becomes driving by the goats and waving.

That camp I promised to sign her up for was full, and I couldn't find another, and then I missed the deadline for the next one, and now I can't even find a pair of roller skates to buy.

Or, like today, when I just flat out messed up. Even if my daughter didn't notice that she missed her class, I've spent the afternoon plagued with guilt.

And what am I doing to make up for it? Am I reading a fourth book or making muffins or playing My Little Ponies?

Nope.

I'm in my studio, trying to make myself feel better by unloading my feelings on a freaking blog.

This is the crux of parenting for me.

I want to give my children everything, but if I give them everything, there's nothing left for me, and then I can't give them anything because I'm an empty bag of nerves and yelling. I have to think ahead, keep a calendar, get reminders, stay on top of things. And sometimes, I just flat out suck at doing all of those things that mothers are supposed to do-- hence that ossified strawberry under the fridge.

Everyone tells you to balance your life as a woman and a mother, but they don't generally tell you how f'ing hard it is.

So I want to apologize ahead of time to my children.

Guys, I'm going to mess up a lot.

But I'm going to hug you and apologize afterward, and be honest with you about my feelings.

One day, I think you'll understand.

Now, let's go bake some muffins.

They're probably going to suck. Because guess what? I also suck at baking.

But by God, we're going to bake the hell out of 'em.


*



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

further pimpin' the cube


So I got one of those family stickers for my car.

The one that shows each member of the family and their interests.




Turns out we're all zombies.

And we're interested in BRAAAAAAAAIINS.

Even the cat.

*


Monday, July 25, 2011

meet tootbucket


So this is Tootbucket.

For no apparent reason, my son decided his name wasn't working out.

He renamed himself Tootbucket.

His sister's new name is Poopindown.

(Of course, she doesn't know that yet.)

He's currently standing at the window in his Buzz Lightyear underpants,
yelling at the rain.

"RAIN, YOU TOP NOW! NO, RAIN! YOU GO 'WAY! BAD!"

Pause for effect while the rain pours down.

He looks at me meaningfully.

"DAT MY LIGHTNING. YOU NO CAN HAVE IT. DAT MINE."

So you're just going to have to get used to Tootbucket Stormlord. He's probably going to be a much gentler weather proprietor than Thor, so that's nice. Instead of sacrificing white bulls and unruly virgins, you'll have to offer up Captain America figures and Space Goldfish if you want to stay on his good side.

Oh, and his hammer is small, red, and plastic.

*

Tomorrow, I'll show you the sticker I got for the back of my sweet new ride.

Hint: ZOMBIES.

*


Sunday, July 24, 2011

that movie about the guy in the bearskin


I'm about halfway through my first watching of True Grit, and it's taught me two important things.

1. I really need to reread Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

2. If you give characters odd quirks, they can become truly memorable. I have trouble recalling the main characters' names, but I sure as hell remember Forster. You know, the guy in the bearskin?

He reminds me of the old man in Labyrinth, the one with a bird for a head.

Also, he's a dentist.

And on an unrelated note, has anyone seen these guys?



Missing, since yesterday. We had all these blueberries, and now I can't find them anywhere.

I BLAME THE PURPLE PIE MAN.

*

Saturday, July 23, 2011

berrypicking




It's July in Georgia, and that means one thing:

It's hotter than the devil's drawers.

Wait, no. More than that.

That also means berrypicking.




Blueberry season runs from about now until mid August. So we woke up early and headed out to the dirt driveway right down the street from the house where I grew up. The chain link gate is open, and the sign just reads BLUEBERRY PICKING. It's been there as long as I can remember. And they said they've been in that house for 50 years and planting blueberries for 35 years.

Those are blueberries you can trust, y'all.




We walked up to the shady garage, where two old ladies and one old, tail-thumping black lab sat. One lady was selling monster zucchini and bright buckets of tomatoes for practically nothing. The other one gave us buckets and rules.

1. No screaming.

2. Stay out of Farmer McGregor's garden.

3. Eat as many blueberries as possible.


Yeah, no problem there, ma'am.




There are over 700 blueberry bushes. The last time I picked here, I was in high school, and I hated blueberries. I just went because I was invited. Now? I love the darn things. and so does my family.

Dr. Krog has requested a cobbler, and as soon as I figure out what that is, I guess I'll have to make one.

"DEES MINE OWN BERRIES," the boy said. "LOOK AT DEM. YOU NO CAN HAVE DEM."



And then he spilled them all over the ground, and we all squatted to help him refill his sparkly purple bucket. I tried to toss the white and pink ones, the unripe ones.

But he liked those best of all.

You know, berry picking is a lot like writing. You go out in the wilderness. You have to go in deep, because the good berries are never the easy ones. You have to test each bush, make sure you like the taste of it. And then you have to push further in to find the ripe ones, the ones that are ready to be picked.

And then you've got to figure out what the hell to do with all those nice berries.

I've got a notebook full of book ideas and a colander full of fruit.

Time to get to work.

*

p.s. Did I ever mention that I had an Admiral Piett hat?

I do.

I wear it for berrypickings, hay rides, and hootenannies.


*

Friday, July 22, 2011

book update: OMGSQUEE!



So the cover reveal will be soon.

I've seen it.

It's awesome.


You can even like it... if you want me to love you forever.


I now live every day in a state of constant wonder.

Yeah, even more than before.

I'll keep you guys posted on further developments.

Oh, and did I mention they changed the name?

It's no longer BLUD.

Now it's...

WICKED AS THEY COME.

Sexy, right?

*

Big thanks to everyone who's already liked the page--
56 of you! I love you guys!
Big thanks to the alpha and beta readers who critiqued it.
Big thanks to everyone who asks about it and squealed with me on Facebook.
And super, duper big thanks to everyone who follows this blog.
It couldn't have happened without you.

<3

*

Thursday, July 21, 2011

the plague trolley, part 2


So you might remember my Plague Trolley Cake.

If so, you'll enjoy seeing the inspiration.


That's right, guys.

It's the real PLAGUE TROLLEY.

But before you laugh too hard, I must warn you.

Those plagues?

They're real.

The day after I made fun of it,
I got a zit and saw a frog and was pestered by flies.

That can't possibly be a coincidence.

*

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Goble.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

pimp my... cube?



So I have a new car.


It's a Nissan Cube.

A sparkly, handsome Cube.

I love it.

I already named it:

The Iron Duke.

And I want to do something fun to it.

Maybe steampunk it up with gears or tentacles? Vinyl?

I don't know.

Where does one even begin
to make a car that's already ridiculously fun
look EVEN MORE ridiculously fun?

<3

*


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

the story of skydancer


Back in 1984, I was 7 years old.

It was a hot summer, and we were vacationing at a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains with another family, our best friends. I remember learning about the Olympics for the first time, spitting watermelon seeds, making forts out of bunk beds. But the strongest memory is smoke.

We were playing on the dock when one of the grown-ups looked up.

"Do you smell something?"

The column of smoke was coming from our cabin.

And the baby was asleep inside.

The adults bolted for the house, leaving three confused children alone on the dock. The storm clouds were coming in fast, and in that moment, the day went from idyllic to terrifying. They told us later that each of our parents tried a different way into the house, finding every way blocked by thick, choking smoke, locked doors, and windows long painted shut. I huddled in a boat with my friends, watching smoke-stained, tearful adults still in their bathing suits carry the crying baby out of the house, trailing singed blankets.

And then the house collapsed.

That's when it hit me.

I had lost something, too. My most precious possession, something that no one would brave a burning house to save.

My favorite My Little Pony.

Her name was Skydancer, and I lost her that day, along with all my clothes, my toys, and my favorite towel. But she was the only thing I really missed. At seven, faced with the terror of a house on fire, of sirens blaring and black smoke and falling trees, that toy was the only thing I could focus on, the only way I could relate to loss.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when author Seanan McGuire mentioned on Twitter that she had inventoried her vintage My Little Pony collection and had some duplicates to cull. I mentioned that I lost my favorite MLP in a fire 26 years ago.

And you know what?

She sent me this.


See, back in the early 80's, there was no internet. They sold some ponies, retired them, and sold some new ponies. By the time I lost Skydancer, you couldn't buy Skydancer. Anywhere.

She was gone forever.

Until now. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of Seanan, of someone I've never even met, I have Skydancer again. It's like a tiny little wound in my soul healed, risen like a rainbow-haired phoenix. What is lost can be found.

Before that fire, life felt safe and predictable. Childhood was golden. After it, every storm cloud felt like a threat, like a catastrophe waiting to happen. The world was a sinister place, and I had lost my innocent faith that everything would be fine.

But now I'm soothed. I have Skydancer again.

*


We're just a big ball of cozySQUEE today, guys.
Some days, I love the internets oh so fiercely.
<3

*

Monday, July 18, 2011

levity in the form of tiny people




biscuit: Mommy, who is Autobot Bismarck?

me: I think you mean OTTO VON Bismarck.

biscuit: And I think *you're* thinking about somebody else.

me: Touché.

*

biscuit: There was an ant eating a frozen blueberry, and then another zombie ant showed up, and he thought the blueberry was the other ant's brain, so he ate it. HA!

me: How interesting.

biscuit: Also, here's a snowman.

*

biscuit: 3-2-1 BLASTOFF!!!!

t.rex: 3-4-5 BLASTAWAY BALLS!!!!!

biscuit: Oh, brother. You are so wrong all the time.

*

biscuit: Mommy, do you remember what it was like in that giant ball?

me: Which giant ball would that be?

biscuit: The one at Epcot where the purple guy made things go upside down.

me: You're mixing up two different rides. The purple guy was Figment, and he was the one who turned everything upside down in the Imaginarium, which was the ride that broke down on us twice. The giant ball was Spaceship Earth, and it had lots of scenes of people and a computer where you and daddy went on a skiing vacation and got fixed with nanorobots.

biscuit: Uh... I don't know what you just said, but did you see my zombie blueberry snowman?

*

t.rex: WAAAAAAAH!

me: Biscuit, why is your brother crying?

biscuit: Because I gave him two choices.

me: What were they?

biscuit: Get locked in his room in the dark or go away.

me: Those aren't the most attractive choices, dude.

biscuit: Well, it was the best I could do at the time.

*

biscuit: Mommy, last night, the third time that I was supposed to go to sleep, a hummingbird came to the hummingbird feeder and then it came up to my room and buzzed at me through the window and then it was Tinkerbell.

me: Really? That's amazing!

biscuit: Oh, wait. On second thought, I think that might have been a dream.

*

t.rex: Mommy, Grimlock is eating you.

me: DON'T EAT ME, GRIMLOCK! YOU'RE MY FAVORITE TRANSFORMER!

t.rex: HA HA! Him eating you! NOM NOM NOM.

me: If he doesn't quit eating me, I'm going to eat *him*.

t.rex: You no can eating him. Him is AUTOBOT. Him have teeth.

me: You and Grimlock sound a lot alike.

t.rex: NO! ME AND GRIMLOCK NO SOUND ALIKE! ME NOT AUTOBOT!

me: Keep telling yourself that, kid.

*

biscuit: Bye. I'm going to eat some worms. I mean eggs. Because I'm a fox.

*

Saturday, July 16, 2011

the girl who disappointed.

Image borrowed from Tahereh Mafi,
an author 10 years younger and 20 years more awesome than me.

This is not a post about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Instead, I thought I'd tell you another secret.

When people look back at things they wish they had done differently, I have an unusual one.

I wish I'd never been told I was smart.

When I was very young, I was told that I was smart. Very smart. Which seems like a good thing to do, to build a kid's confidence. But because of that knowledge, I developed an enormous ego, a crippling case of constant anxiety, and an overwhelming fear of failure.

I never tried anything new or difficult, because I was afraid to suck.

I never had any ambition, because I was afraid I wouldn't reach my goals.

I never chose a career or a life path, because I was afraid to choose the wrong one. I didn't go to grad school because I was afraid it would be too hard.

I basically opted out and coasted along. I was content to let other people think I was smart. I never did anything exceptional because I thought *being* exceptional was enough.

It wasn't.

And I wasn't.

You know how Hagrid and McGonagall told Dumbledore that Harry should have been kept in the wizarding world, and Dumbledore knew better? How he knew that Harry would be better growing up normal and without the heavy yoke of expectation?

Lots of times, I wish it had been that way for me. Being told that I was a genius set me up for failure, or, at the very least, a heraldic sort of mediocrity, at least for the first thirty years of my life.

Let's get one thing straight: I'm not saying I'm a freaking wizard genius like Harry, although I do have several interesting scars.

I'm not saying I'm all that-- I'm actually saying I'm *not* all that and was too scared to try to be *all that*. My own expectations for myself held me back. Who knows what I could have accomplished, if I hadn't been afraid to strive?

The saving grace was marrying Dr. Krog and having children. Motherhood altered my brain in two major ways: fearlessness and object tracking. I started writing, and I think that was the savior of the me that was lost, all those years ago, thanks to an IQ test.

Suddenly, there was nothing to lose.

One day, with Dr. Krog's help, I finally tried something new. Then failed. Then tried again. Then failed. Then tried again.

Then succeeded.

I catch myself sometimes, telling my kids that they are brilliant or clever. And then I shut the hell up and focus on telling them that they're kind or generous, two traits that I would much rather possess.

So there's the good news.

It's never too late to build a cupboard under the stairs.

*


Thursday, July 14, 2011

storming the bastille

Happy Bastille Day, mes amis!

What, you don't know about Bastille Day?

For the sake of not boring each other, let's just assume it's the French version of the Fourth of July and move on to the part where Kurt Cobain's ghost taught me a life lesson. Shall we?

Back in 1995, I was in France for Bastille Day. I was staying in Toulouse as part of a student exchange program, playing the fourth sister of wonderful, wonderful family who used a guinea pig named Scooby-Doo as a crumb catcher/vacuum cleaner. For reasons I can't go into here, I was severely depressed, and although some of the best and clearest moments and epiphanies of my life happened there, so did some of the darkest.

Anyway, cut to Bastille Day, July 14, 1995. We took the tube downtown for the festivities, which included some sort of French Nirvana cover band shredding on a small stage. Every single French girl over the age of three was obsessed with Kurt Cobain, wearing cheap shirts with his face on them and murmuring, "Oh, qu'il etait beau," whenever he was mentioned, which was every three seconds. So there I was, the underdressed American in a sea of obsessed French girls, trying to explain the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit.

I had a surreal, David Lynchesque feeling, a seeping feeling, which washed over me like a storm cloud. I am utterly alone, it said. None of these people are my people, and home is a thousand miles away.

And then something landed on my face. No, it wasn't the panties the French chicks were throwing on stage. It was a big, fat drop of rain. The storm cloud of feeling had in fact been a real storm cloud, so low and thick you could almost poke it in the belly. The rain came hard and fast, and the band kept playing, and the French girls kept swaying and crying and exclaiming over the beauty of a dead man's blue eyes.

And then the first lightning bolt struck.

It slammed into the stage in a burst of sparks, and the band dove for cover. The audience started shrieking and panicking. I looked for my foster sisters, and they were gone.

I really was alone.

The second bolt of lightning hit a building, jolting the awning into a fireball. Everyone screamed and stampeded for, oddly enough, the other awnings. For any sort of cover. I was driven among them, out of the square and under the overhang of a restaurant.

The third bolt of lightning cracked in the middle of the square we'd recently vacated. The rain was so thick by then that we could barely see the black smudge it left behind. The awning was still burning, and sirens began to wail. I remember noting how strange it was that French fire alarms, like French telephones and French cats, sounded entirely unlike those in America.

So there I was, soaked, scared, alone, foreign, cowering under an overhang while curious and annoyed diners stared through plate glass windows, muttering into their wine about how silly teen girls are. But for some reason, I was calm. There was an odd, surreal beauty to the experience, and I felt like an observer looking at a painting.

That's when it struck me that being alone was an internal construct, not an external one. In the crowd, next to my friends, listening to music I understood and liked, I had felt entirely alone and utterly alien because I didn't feel what they were feeling.

I was there. But I wasn't there.

Now, rattled by fear, overcome by strangeness and beauty, I was lifted out of my misery and into a bizarre tranquility. Transported. I was alone, but I felt like I belonged there, in that moment. And I had a sense that everything would be fine.

Then the rain quit. My friends found me. We walked home along glistening clean streets, talking about how it was the strangest Bastille Day ever and hypothesizing that the entire experience was an act of a God who missed Kurt Cobain as much as the French.

And that's why July 14 stands out to me. It's not something we celebrate here, but it's no longer just a number in the middle of my least favorite month. It's a day to remember.

It's the day I learned how to be alone.

*


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

in which I eat crow

I didn't want to put up the hummingbird feeder.

It's plastic and looks like a Coke bottle and is just another pile of sugar water to attract bugs. And it's called Hummer's Galore, which not only insults my inner grammarian but also sounds like a hot chick from the Sean Connery phase of James Bond.

But I got so sick of being nagged that I put it up as a last resort. And maybe just a little bit out of spite.

We don't have hummingbirds. Period. NOW YOU'LL SEE.

And I did see.

I saw this.




And since he hung around for five minutes, I also saw this.



Little dude actually sat down. Hung out a while.

My Hummer's Galore actually *did* bring all the boys to the yard.

So this is me, eating crow. Tiny, superfast, iridescent crow.

I WAS WRONG.

*

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to have a gargle.

I don't like the taste of crow.






Tuesday, July 12, 2011

the creative process, A FLOW CHART



I think that about covers it.

the creative process

THE CREATIVE PROCESS AND YOU



General observations:

* There are two modes of the creative process. Manic, where you work feverishly and don't clean the house, and depressive, where you're too tired to clean and don't care, anyway.

* Alternately, the creative process can be considered a little obsessive compulsive. You get obsessed with the idea, and then you're compelled to be obsessed with the idea a little more.

It works like this:

1. It all starts with the idea. I think of it like a seed. And like seeds, not all of the ideas go on to sprout and bear fruit. Most of them never germinate. They're like that nargly little black bean in the dead side of a peanut. But when you get the seed that does spread out little green tendrils, you focus all your energy on it, and you think about it all the time. The idea is the seed, and your BRAIN is the SUN.

2. This part of the process can be especially annoying to your loved ones, who find you staring off into space like a moron and ignoring questions like, "Why didn't you turn into our neighborhood? Where are you going?" and "What's for dinner? I ASKED WHAT WAS FOR DINNER. IT'S 8PM, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, AND THE CHILDREN ARE HUNGRY."

3. It's best if you meditate on the seed for a while and really let it blossom. Starting work too early often means your subconscious hasn't had time to fully vet the idea. If I start writing or painting before the seed has fully blossomed, I usually end up finding a fatal flaw, losing interest, and burning something. (Yes, I have scars to prove that.)

4. The next stage involves copious note-taking, especially for writing. Plot ideas, character names and descriptions, lines of dialog. These notes can be especially fun if taken during sleep hours. For example, see this page of my sleep notes.

5. Once your loved ones have given you up as hopeless and the dishes have piled up and you've completely forgotten to eat, you might finally be ready to start writing.

6. You will get a certain gleam in your eye. The sort of gleam that led Conquistadors to their alligatory deaths in Florida swamps looking for El Dorado. Now there's no stopping you. The seed has blossomed, and you are filled with madness, and the world will end if you don't write the story THAT WILL BE THE NEXT HARRY POTTER.

7. You will sit down to write four pages in a feverish frenzy at 1am.

8. These four pages will SUCK. They will SUCK HORRIBLY. And that's okay.

9. If you're really, really lucky, you will keep writing. You will neglect pretty much everything else you're supposed to do, including bathing and taking vitamins and flossing. You will be manic, obsessed, compelled, feverish, and UNSTOPPABLE.

10. Until you get to a stopping point and realize that YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHERE THIS IS GOING, and YOU ARE DOOMED.

11. You search your notes. You reinterpret your sleep notes. You lay awake at night, eyes watering, praying that something will come to you, because you have FIFTY UNBELIEVABLE PAGES.

12. The solution. It's simple. It's elegant. It comes to you while you're driving, or in the shower, or swimming in the pool, and suddenly everything is alright again. You grin like a moron, and people ask if you're on tranquilizers.

13. You go back into manic mode. You keep writing.

14. Eventually, you type the words THE END.

15. And then you learn the joys of THE EDIT CAVE.

I'm not sure, but I suspect it works the same way for other creative ventures. Music, entrepreneurship, clown school. It's this strange cycle of ups and downs that rules you as surely as the moon rules the tides. It's like the cycle grabs you in its blood-riddled teeth and shakes you like a possessed Corgi. Whatever that thing is-- you have to do it.

And there's a downside to the cycle, too. There's always the dark phase of the moon, when you fear that the muse will never return, that you are truly doomed. When there are no ideas, all the seeds turn black in the earth, and you fear that the rest of your life will be a yawning chasm of failure.

That's when I turn to reading or going through Seth Godin's blog to keep myself on track. And I remind myself that this, too, shall pass.

Wait. Screw all that. I'm going to go draw A FLOW CHART.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

ink & bones playlist

Working on a playlist for my creepy YA, Ink & Bones.

The arc goes: happy--> goth---> falls in love---> broken heart---> gothier---> creepy-ass freak-out---> I'm not tellin'.

Any suggestions?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

chick armor



I'm a pretty normal girl.

That means that I need armor as much as anyone.

Stuff to protect me.

And stuff to hide behind.

For example, this beautiful necklace made by my dear friend Alice.

I commissioned it to remind myself to be tenacious. To never give up.


It's hard to admit defeat when your necklace quotes Mal Reynolds from Firefly.

"No power in the 'verse can stop me."

So I wear that one when I need some extra backbone.

When I doubt myself, or my path.

And I just got these today.




Those were made by another dear friend, Rosy Revolver.
Another artist, another kickass woman with fire in her eyes.

I think they were made to look like a cross between roses and guns.

Guns n' roses.

And I like that.

It takes quite a woman to bend metal to her will.

My work with words seems calm by comparison.

*

But I have I ever told you guys my secret nickname?

Like how Beyonce calls herself Sasha Fierce
when she wants to put on metal mittens and silly boots?

I call myself Tenacious D.

Because I didn't used to be tenacious.

And, honestly, I didn't used to be D.

I had to claim them both for myself.

That's chick armor, too.

*

betas - for creepy YA?

If anyone is a fast reader with a love of YA, I could use a couple of beta readers this weekend. I'm not looking for an in-depth critique-- just some honest feedback. Basically, read it like a book you bought at B&N and tell me what you thought. And when it gets published, you'll be in the Acknowledgments, of course.

Requirements: Must be able to finish and respond by Monday, must read widely in the YA genre, must promise to keep it very hush-hush.

The hook: When fifteen-year-old Virginia Hale is forced into taking a goth art class by her wicked stepmother, she finds more than she bargained for: a friend, a cute boy, and mysterious, ghostly images in her graveyard photographs. When home is a minefield and trust seems impossible, is it better to believe in the real boy or the ghost?

If interested, please email delilahpaints [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Friday, July 8, 2011

why Twitter > Facebook




Because hashtags are fun.

a little nooky

Lft. Interrobang's Guide to
Escapist Books You Might Enjoy a Jot or Two
While Melting into Puddles This Summer:

Paranormal steampunk awesomeness, including zombie porcupines. ZOMBIE PORCUPINES.
(Note: that's a 3-book bundle for Nook for $9.99. Smashing price, lads!)

Like Victorian steampunk YA X-Men.

3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Dystopian YA. It's going to be the next The Hunger Games.

3. Hourglass by Myra McEntyre
Ghosty YA fun.

4. The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
Hot steampunk-y romance.

5. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
Very sweet YA about serendipity.

*

Sorry for the quiet.

I've just emerged from the Edit Cave to discover that it's July, and just like my hydrangeas, I never do well in July. I have no idea what to talk about. Besides zombie porcupines, of course.

I'm always up for discussing zombie porcupines.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

IKEAphobia


Things I Learned at IKEA yesterday:

1. That place is actually RIGGED to make you buy things you don't need. I have extrapolated that the Swedes are trying TO TAKE OVER AMERICA THROUGH RAMPANT CAPITALISM.

2. Even when other people-- wonderful, delightful people-- drive you there because you're terrified of highways, you can still manage to have a panic attack for an entirely different reason.

3. Sometimes, people will redistribute all the things in your cart for no discernible reason while you're eating. And then the people whose carts end up with bits of your stuff in them will be annoyed with you, and you will feel WRONGED, and the new scissors and chip clips will never be as great as the old scissors and chip clips, and no one will understand and GAH.

4. There is such a thing as ZOMBIE RABBIT FABRIC, but you won't be able to figure out what to make out of it and therefore won't pay $9.99 a yard for it, even though it's freakin' ZOMBIE RABBIT FABRIC.

5. Out of that whole, entire store, you will have 5 simple things on your list, and they will BE OUT OF TWO OF THEM, including the weird light bulbs in your bathroom, and so you will have to brush your teeth in the dark, because it is a CONSPIRACY BY SWEDES.

6. And this one is very, very important: Even when you yell MY KID IS ABOUT TO BARF, sometimes people are just too busy shopping to move.

7. When your kid actually barfs, the people will move much more quickly.

8. Except for the people who work at Ikea. They will all, oddly, walk very quickly in the opposite direction of the huge splatter of fluorescent pink raspberry oatmeal vomit that looks fabulously Swedish next to a black leather POANG chair.

9. Your salmon won't taste quite as nummy after the vomiting incident. But you will understand that salmon doesn't matter so much when you realize what amazing friends you have.

10. By the time you get home, you will decide that YOU MUST NEVER, EVER GO TO IKEA AGAIN.

11. You will probably decide to go to Ikea again anyway, sometime next year.

Monday, July 4, 2011

the plague trolley



Ah, the Fourth of July.

I have two problems with this holiday.

1. Way too hot.

2. Cake not mandatory.

But the problems are canceled out by awesomeness in the form of a hilarious local parade, a delicious dinner, and hanging out with friends under an umbrella in the rain, trying to throw damp M&M's down each other's shirts.

Oh, and the fact that I brought cake anyway.

But not just any cake.

Sure, I could have made a flag cake or patriotic cupcakes.

But I wanted to honor all that is best about the Fourth of July.

That's why I bought a vanilla buttercream cake at Publix and decorated it myself.


With THE PLAGUE TROLLEY.

What, you don't have a Plague Trolley?

See, we live in a sort of smallish town by the much larger town where I grew up. And in our smallish town, we have an adorable downtown and lots of people with very urgent views about religion and politics and other things that I mostly ignore. And these people sign up to be in our Fourth of July parade so they can hand out fliers.

But the best part are the beautifully painted trolleys that one of the local churches keeps for ferrying people around. First there's the Noah's Ark trolley, painted with colorful animals and bright blue water and a big brown boat. Lots of people ride on the Noah's Ark trolley, beaning my kids in the head with Tootsie Rolls.

But after the Noah's Ark trolley comes another trolley painted in the same style. But only two or three people ride on this trolley, and they don't look happy, because it's THE PLAGUE TROLLEY. It's painted with pyramids, Moses parting the Red Sea, and a vibrant depiction of THE 10 PLAGUES OF EGYPT. Asps, frogs, locusts, flies, hail, even a dude with bright red boils. It's all there to enjoy during the parade.

All the kids love the Plague Trolley.

We just don't let them eat the plague candy.

So I purchased a PLAGUE CAKE and drew the PLAGUE TROLLEY on it in icing, because everyone knows that PLAGUES ARE DELICIOUS.



It was awesome.

Until the flies started showing up and the lightning started flashing. Then it got kind of Amityville Horror.

Still, I think it's an outstanding way to celebrate freedom.

*

Sunday, July 3, 2011

my wish

I wish I could invite you all over to play Rock Band.

But I get to sing Just Like Heaven. And Break On Through.

And harmony on Bohemian Rhapsody.


Anybody want to call anything else?

Friday, July 1, 2011

THE RANDOM NOTEBOOK OF RANDOMNESS

I found an old notebook last week.

I thought it was blank, but inside, randomly sprinkled, I found little drawings and stories about interesting things that I saw back in 2005. In between the flash on my camera and the weird sheen on the paper, I can't seem to capture them.

But I thought they should be shared with the world.


*

Today at my favorite sushi restaurant, I left one piece of sushi on my plate next to the miso soup. When Johnny picked it up, he asked me if there was a problem with the food, since I'd never left sushi behind before.

I answered, "No, I just didn't want the soup to be lonely."

And then I figured I should rethink portion sizes.

*

Today I saw a grandmother point to an orangutan
and say to a young child on a leash,
"Look at that orange goriller."
She was standing in front of a sign reading
ORANGUTANS.

I weep for the youth of tomorrow.

*

Driving to work isn't so bad when you're behind a Beetle
with an "I <3 My Weiner" bumper sticker.

*

Today I saw a skeletal tree dissolve into smoke.
At least I think I did.
It was like I'd missed Moses by 5 minutes.

*

And thus concludes the dream in which Andy Kim, the coward,
stole my rutabagas and took off in his biplane
without giving me a ride, leaving me to grieve
in my red and green replacement oompah loompah costume.

It was a weird dream.

*

Today I saw a honeybear party.

*

I am woman enough to wear pink, dammit.

*

Today I realized that I like things
in the following order:

1. Selecting items to purchase online.

2. Receiving purchases in the mail.

3. Owning stuff.


I need to work on that.

*

Ad in Creative Loafing:

WANTED:
TEACHERS
AND
TUDORS

...is that supposed to be a test?


*

Today they replaced two light bulbs over my cube.
I had no idea until that moment that I was sitting in the dark.

I have to get out of here.

*

I AM A NINJA.

*

Pretty poignant, eh?

Life's better now, even if I'm not living in a public park with deer in the backyard.