Tuesday, August 30, 2011

127 hours

Is that how long I've been without a power cord?

I can't tell.

The time all runs together.

I've read three books. I cleaned up after the party. I sliced the cake into large slabs and put them in the freezer so it would be harder for me to nibble. And I'm getting 8 hours of sleep per night.

I can't write. I can't edit. I can't beta. I can't socialize.

I can't tell my 324 Facebook friends that I abhor old people who cut in line in front of people with small children. Seriously, if I can't tell you that, if we can't commiserate together about people who drive slowly in the left-hand lane, WHAT'S THE POINT?

Anyway, my new power cord should be here in the next two days, and then I'll get to be myself again. Until then, it's back to being responsible and finding escape in books that I didn't write.

I DON'T EVEN RECOGNIZE MYSELF.

But part of the problem could be that my left toenails are all painted gunmetal gray, and my right toenails are all teal.

It's very confusing.

Honestly, I think I do better when sleep deprived and manic.

*

written in my parents' spare bedroom to the wheezing whine of a chihuahua

Friday, August 26, 2011

moo!


So I got some Moo cards for the Decatur Book Festival that's coming up soon.

And, you know, just to make myself feel fancy.


I just love feeling fancy.

If you don't know about Moo cards, they're so much fun. They're half the size of normal business cards, and you can choose/upload up to 100 different images to go on the back of them. I was in a hurry, so I just did 4. Two are based on a design element from the WICKED AS THEY COME book cover, one is a painting of mine, and one is a photograph I took at the blueberry farm, just so I have some options.

So if you meet me somewhere, I'll give you a card, and you'll be all, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THIS?

And I'll be all, MOO.

*

baker vs. booker

10 Reasons Why I'm a Better At Writing than Housewifery

1. Writing is a lot easier to say, because "housewifery" has a short i. So it's more howse-WIFF-ery, which makes it sound like a horrible new kind of Swiffer. I hate Swiffer.

2. In writing, it's easy to go back and change something. But when I clean the kitchen to a razor-fine shine and *THEN* bake the cake, brownies, and muffins, it just means I have to clean all over again. I hate cleaning.

3. You never have to scrub words with your fingers and get brown mystery gunk under your fingernails. I hate mystery gunk.

4. At the end of the long, painful writing cycle, I get a book. (Supposedly.) At the end of cleaning and cooking for a party, I get two sugared-up monsters and an even bigger mess than I started out with. I hate bigger messes.

5. Even if the writing is really top-notch, it's not like I snack on the words. But the cake and brownies in the oven? Half of them are in my stomach, the uncooked eggs writhing with bacteria and calories. I hate bacterial calories.

6. It's unlikely that I'll burn myself while writing, unless the coffee or pizza is too hot. But I burn myself *WITHOUT FAIL* while baking. Seriously. I just burned my fingers. There go my dreams of being a hand model for hipster steampunk typewriters!

7. I have these insanely bizarre ideas for books. WHAT IF THERE WAS A STEAMPUNK WORLD WITH BLOOD DRINKERS WHO WEREN'T VAMPIRES AND THERE WERE ALSO VAMPIRE BUNNIES AND CIRCUSES? And it works. But my meager dreams of baking always come out lopsided and bizarre. I... actually like lopsided and bizarre. But I don't like it when I can't live up to my own expectations.

8. When I'm writing and my toddler asks me to read to him, I never mind taking a break to read. But when he wants to get involved in baking and squeezes 3 smashed bananas into the floor and knocks over a bottle of oil, I want to tear my eyebrows out by the roots.

9. I can write anywhere, provided they have coffee and I have earbuds. But I have to bake in my house, which only makes it messier, and then I have to clean again and try to keep myself from eating whatever I just baked. Also, I am out of coffee.

10. The entire time I'm thinking about baking and cleaning, I'm really just thinking about things I'd like to write.

On the upside, the house smells MARVELOUS.

More later.

Back to the HOUSEWIFERY.

*

Thursday, August 25, 2011

viva la bludbunny





The world needs more vampire bunnies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the things that stick

A long time ago when I was thirteen and pudgy, I watched the movie City Slickers and realized that we weren't supposed to eat innocent baby cows named Norman. From then on, my diet revolved around white pasta with butter.

I know. It's ridiculous. But it was 1992, so stick with me.

Anyway, my friend's mother taught me that the best way to know if your pasta was cooked correctly was to throw some at the wall. So every night, while cooking my pasta, I would take a big handful and chuck it at the wall. Nowadays, as a mother myself, all I can think about is how annoying this process must have been for my mom, having pasta starch sliding down her wall like slug trails. But at the time, I dutifully threw 1000 calories of oily pasta against the wall each night until something stuck.

I think that's how I know writing is good.

Something sticks with me.

Because I read a lot. I read mainly books published by the Big Six publishing houses. But I also read indie published books, self-published books, and the works of friends and other members of my writing group. I read blogs and websites and magazines. I read so much that it's like throwing pasta at the wall, and only the special things stick.

Last night in my writing group, there were only five people-- a small group. And everyone there was one of my favorite writers. I looked around the table, thinking about how I would always remember the angry parrot, the pig in the yellow t-shirt, the boy whose mother made him act out famous works of literature, and the granny with the gun.

It happens in blogs, too. After reading the blog of a high school friend, the name Denis will forever haunt me. It's amazing, how a short, unedited story or blog entry written on the spot in twenty minutes can contain a twist or a character or a turn of phrase that's magical, that we'll think about years from now. I read the classics, but some of them don't stick with me half so well as short stories from my monthly writing group.

I think it's easy for us to forget that something doesn't have to be written by an MFA-wielding, bestselling novelist to stick with us. That everyone has that magic inside, some insight or phrase or seed of a character that strikes a chord. That's what I'm looking for, when I'm reading or writing or daydreaming for the next book. Out of all the starchy pasta I'm expected to digest, I want something to stick on the wall.

That's one of my biggest goals, as a writer. I want something, even if it's just a vampire rabbit, to stick with the reader.

The funny thing is that I learned, years later, that throwing pasta at the wall doesn't indicate a damn thing. I also learned that pasta with butter does not a healthy vegetarian diet make. But you know what really stuck with me, all those years?

A character.

Norman, from City Slickers. To this day, I've never eaten veal.

And I never will.

*

Sunday, August 21, 2011

play with your food


Perfectly Pac-Man-shaped chip
+ box of cherry tomatoes
+ Sharpie marker
+ bag of chips
+ me drinking mojitos
_________________

= we-e-e-e-e-e-e-WOMP WOMP

*

Friday, August 19, 2011

no one here but us hedgehogs

I'm editing one book, waiting on edits for three others, and cogitating another one.

My brain is dead.

Therefore, I will present you with the best thing I saw on the internet today.





Don't say I never gave you nothin'.

Floaty McHedgehog > me.

*


Thursday, August 18, 2011

so that's charming

One of my biggest problems is sleep deprivation. Of course, it also leads to my best work, but I think we all know that crazypants people make interesting art and bad friends. Still, some of my grandest ideas arrive in the hazy fog while I'm trying to fall asleep.

And it happened last night.

My agent suggested I write a straight-up romance with no magic, vampires, or demons. And I was all, BUT REAL LIFE IS BORING. But last night, I had The Idea. I went downstairs to type out my notes and clear out my brain, which usually works. Kind of like cleaning out the litter pan, but instead of cat doo, it's full of MAGIC.

This time, it didn't work.

Instead, for no reason whatsoever, the following song got stuck in my head.

Bon jour Pierrot!, bon jour Jacquot! 
tuons le coq, tuons le coq; 
tu ne diras plus cocodi; cocoda; tu ne diras plus cocodi; cocoda!
il ne diras plus cocalarico.


Or, to translate this delightful ditty from Madame Adams and 6th grade French:
Hi, Pierrot! Hi, Jacquot!
Let's kill the rooster! Let's kill the rooster!
You won't say cockadoodledoo anymore
You won't say cockadoodledoo anymore
He won't say cockadoodledoo.

I'm not sure which is more bizarre-- that the French people sing this to their children or that a middle school teacher thought it was a good cultural experience for first-time French students. We used to sing it in rounds, just like Row, Row, Row Your Boat. I don't think we knew what it meant.

Here's one promise, though: The next book will have nothing to do with murdering chickens. I'm even thinking about making the heroine a vegetarian.

Also, I punted a rooster once. He was trying to kill me at the time.

It was awesome.

Monday, August 15, 2011

today's movie quote is:


Who can name the movie and quote referenced above?

I will give you 3 Krog points.

Also, I had a margarita.

Hence, that photo.

Burp.

*

inspiration, the goblin king, and you


Source: thoughtballoonhelium.blogspot.com

I'm actually not sure if that's true for me. Since I started writing, there's always some idea hanging by its tail in the closet, waiting to strangle me when I'm not looking and just want my red shoes. I think part of the reason is that once you open yourself up to possibility, you realize that it's everywhere. All the time.

For example, right now, here's what's obsessing me.


It's a piece from the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibit that recently closed at the Met in New York. Basically, I think this poor, tortured man was possessed with the spirit of the Goblin King, and everything he created was like something from a masquerade ball.

I saw pictures from the show on The Sartorialist, then had to check out the show online, then ended up buying the show catalog. And in spare moments, I've been losing myself in the pages. From the quotes to the photos, it's fascinating. Romance, history, darkness, savagery, rape, football, foreign relations, poaching. He covered everything. I'm probably going to have to buy another book and put this one on the shelf for keepsies because the Biscuit is also obsessed with it.

"Mommy, this book is so interesting. The cover is a face, but also a skull!" she said.

What I find curious is the difference between now and elsewhere. If you had shown me this book in high school or college, I would have looked at it and thought, "That's pretty cool." And I would have handed it right back to you and gone somewhere to be melancholy. Maybe I would have written a crappy poem or two about it.


But now? I'm obsessed. Each of the pictures conjures a scene, a character. I can't wait to write a book on it. If I had my way, I'd go buy a bottle of absinthe, check myself into a quiet hotel with a pool, and not speak to another person for a week as I went into a hallucinatory trance and wrote 80k without sleeping.

But I'm the same person, right? So what changed? One day, a switch flipped, and now everything means something. It reminds of of A Room With a View, when George flips over the painting and draws a question mark on it.

Now, everything is a question mark.




So here's what I would do, if I wanted inspiration.

I would poke around the internet. Follow people on tumblr, click on interesting links on Twitter. Plug songs you like into Pandora and find some new bands. Go to the used bookstore and pick books randomly off the shelves. Everyone says to get out in nature or go listen to conversations out in the world, but for me, that's a load of crap.

Because that's what I'm trying to escape, when I write.

Every book idea I've had in the past two years?

Has somehow come from the internet.

Even when I'm goofing around, I'm not actually goofing around.

So go goof around.

Follow a trail of breadcrumbs.

And then do something amazing.

What are you waiting for?

What have you got to lose?

*


Friday, August 12, 2011

growing up is overrated


Note to self:

NEVER GIVE IN.
MATURITY IS BORING.
RAVENCLAW QUIDDITCH 4EVR.

*

things i love today


I love the Sherlock Holmes reboot. RDJ is awesome, production values are high, bulldogs and kung fu are in abundance, and it's chock full of steampunky goodness.

I love tumblr. I finally have a place to store all the things that inspire and amuse me.

I love Community. It's like The Office, but without having to worry about people losing their jobs and starving to death on the streets.

I love the new red shoes I got at Target for $7.

I love frozen cupcakes. But that goes without saying.

I love writing. It's a good way to channel obsession.

I love my Cube. It makes me happier than any car since my first car, Roxy, the 1989 Chevy Cavalier with the moonroof.

I love the smell of an August morning, when you can just barely detect the Autumn licking at the edges.

I love the way the sun filters in through sheer curtains. Perfect for reading.

I love planning adventures and writing them on the calendar.

I love right now.

*

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

two goofs, goofing




The big girl's in school. It's just me and the boy.

And we are exceedingly goofy.

We're a lot alike, actually. Ridiculous, snuggly, creative. Always in want of an adventure. Exceedingly fond of an apple. We both think we're a lot faster, stronger, and more grown-up than we really are. And we both sing way, way off key.

Three cups of coffee, three hours since we woke up, three writing assignments under my belt.

Three readings of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Three pictures of us hanging out, just a mom and her boy.

And three hundred times that I've been asked, "You wan' see sumpin, mom?"

Yes, son.

Yes, I do.

*



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the hunger dreams


Last night, I dreamed that I was in an adult version of The Hunger Games.

But instead of having a lottery and making a big deal out of it, they just secretly took over an adults-only beach resort. Apparently, the contract we signed included something along the lines of, "We reserve the right to kill your ass with collapsing grottos and exploding speedboats."

That's why you always read the fine print, guys.

The dream lasted all. Night. Long.

There’s just nothing like getting on a bus to your car and discovering that fembots designed to look like the Shirelles have been planted to kill you with microphones that are actually maces.

Monday, August 8, 2011

i tumblr for you

In the interest of tomfoolery, I started a tumblr account.

I think I'll use it like a curio cabinet, a place to put pretty things that don't have a place to live. Pictures, videos, quotes. Things that inspire. Things I want to eat.

You can check it out. Follow me. I'll follow you. It'll be like Red Rover, but without the nasty rash on your wrist.

coming home

204 pages in 14 days.

The first draft is done. Now it needs to marinate a while in its own juices. And since it's another creepy YA, those juices are all black and demonic.

I woke up this morning suffused with calm.

It's done.

Now I can get back to life.

Be a real girl again.

The floor needs sweeping. Everyone's out of underpants. There's no more meat.

These are the sure signs of a book trance.

After I finished writing and saving and renaming it V1 last night, when I was just sitting in my chair, exhausted, feeling immeasurably pleased with myself, my husband walked into the room.

I looked up.

"Oh, it's you," I said. "There you are."

"Yep."

"I haven't seen you for a few days."

"I was here."

"But I didn't see you."

"I know."

And then I hugged him.

He once compared being married to me to maintaining a classic Jaguar. It's pretty and interesting and of classic quality, but it's persnickety and full of surprises and falls apart a lot of the time. And you have to keep up the maintenance. And it's just a big pain in the ass in general.

So thank you, Dr. Krog, for putting up with me.

For making me put on shoes and eat Five Guys when I haven't eaten in six hours because I've been too busy torturing my characters. For making another pot of coffee when I've already drunk it all. For taking the kids... you know... wherever you took them for three hours yesterday so I could snicker and type in peace. For forcing me to write the first book and then giving me Stephen King's On Writing so I would know how very, very bad a book it was. And how to fix it.

I'm so lucky that I found someone who not only digs me but also understands me, helps me, and likes most of the things I like. Without him, I would never have found my voice and my calling as a writer, and for that, I'm eternally grateful.

Writing is a lot like vacationing: It's great to go away and have adventures, but it's even better to come home.

It's good to be home.


Friday, August 5, 2011

something that I want

So I'm a mean old lady, but some things always make me cry. Like the last page of Watership Down. And the song Starlight by Muse. And chopping onions.

And this.




I don't watch a lot of videos, and I definitely don't recommend a lot of videos.

But this one is worth watching.

I don't know the full story on it. I just know it's the office where Tangled was developed and produced, and I have to assume that all the people in it are people who helped. And they're having so much fun that it makes me cry every f'ing time I watch it.

"Why are you crying?" my daughter asked me.

"Because they're having such a fun time. Because they get to do this for a living. They get to work in that office, and make dreams come true every day. They made the movie that we watch and laugh at and dance to. That's their job. And it makes me so happy that I cry."

And she looks at me like I'm crazy.

She still doesn't quite get it. And she doesn't see me up writing until 2am, so enraptured with an idea and in love with characters and caught in the flow that I couldn't sleep if I wanted to. Kids rarely get to see their parents in thrall with life, doing something they feel passionate about. Kids need to see that more often.

It's hard to communicate to a child that your work doesn't have to be drudgery. You don't have to hate school and be bored in college and go do something you hate every day. You can find a way to do the thing you love. It might be rare, in our world. But it's possible.

When my kids grow up, my hope for them is that they wake up smiling every day, excited about what's to come.

Every time I watch that video, I wish the internet had existed when I was 9, and someone had shown it to me and said:

DO. THIS.

And then told me how.

And then given me a pony.

*


from the mouths of terrible lizards


While the Biscuit navigates her first week of public school, I'm at home with this guy.

It's weird, being an only child with two kids. I don't have a model for how to parent them, so I just try to keep them from tearing each other apart like baby weasels. While the Biscuit had me all to herself for almost three years. t.rex has always had a loquacious, bossy, helpful older sister to take care of him... and steal the spotlight.

But now? Man, is he ever enjoying his chance to shine. And talk.

Here are a few of our conversations from today.

*

t.rex: You give me steak?

me: Here's some steak.

t.rex: You give me my own?

me: Right there. That's yours. Eat that.

t.rex: You give me all the steak?

me: No.

t.rex: YES! GIVE ME ALL MINE OWN STEAK!

me: No, sir.

t.rex: GIVE ME ALL THE STEAK I WANT THE STEAK! IT IS ALL MINE!

me: (growing vexed) DO YOU REALLY WANT TO FIGHT ABOUT IT?

t.rex: (hits me across the face with a wooden spatula) YES, I DO.

me: Fair enough, dude.

And then I picked him up, slung him over my shoulder like a bag of potatoes, and deposited him in his room for a nap. He was asleep within 2 minutes.

*

t.rex: What's dis strawberry's name?

me: Strawberries don't have names.

t.rex: What's his name?

me: Inanimate objects don't have names. Only people and pets and maybe cars, if you really dig them.

t.rex: What's his name?

me: He doesn't...

t.rex: WHAT HIS NAME?

me: STEVE.

t.rex: Oh. Okay. I EAT STEVE. NOMNOMNOMSTEVE.

*

t.rex: Dis my baby. He no can walk. I carry him.

me: You're a good daddy.

t.rex: Yeah, I a good daddy. Like my daddy is good daddy. I put dis baby to bed.

(he runs into the other room)

t.rex: (from the other room) You go bed, baby. Baby nappin'. I sing you a song. DA ITTY BITTY SPIDER CLIMB ALL OVER YOU. HERE COME THE FIRE, I GET THE FIRE HOSE. FIRE EAT YOU UP, HERE BABY HAB SOME FRUIT.

(pause)

t.rex: Mommy, come see my babies! I put dem all to sleep!

me: Wow, son. You buried all your babies under a pile of pillows. You totally smothered them.

t.rex: (sits on top of the pillows) Yeah. Dey cozy now.

*

t.rex: What you doing?

me: I'm chopping up vegetables for lunch.

t.rex: I eat dem now?

me: Nope. They have to cook first.

t.rex: I chop dem? I am very big boy.

me: Sorry, dude. You can't use a knife.

t.rex: I CAN. I CAN USE A KNIFE. I AM BIG. YOU GIB ME KNIFE.

me: No.

t.rex: I just cut dem a little bit?

me: Still no.

t.rex: You gib me sweet potato fry I put it in my mouf?

me: If I give you some kale chips, will you go in the other room?

t.rex: (thinks about it) Yeah, I will.

me: It's almost too easy.

t.rex: Yeah, I easy.

*

As a final note, despite that last conversation... he's so not easy. Oy.

The twos can indeed be terrible.

Tremendous.

And terrible.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

bulletin: ALIENS ARE COMING.

Please watch this important-- and adorable-- PSA regarding the evil plans of our future alien overlords.



1. The aliens sound a little confused as to their strategy.

2. But you have to trust a guy with a smile like that.

3. Forgive the messyface. He just snarfed most of my sweet potato fries and kale chips.

4. In case you weren't a fan of the Transformers in the 80's, the real song goes like this:
Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons!

Or, as per t.rex, the Autobot symbol.

Yesterday, they were waging battle against evil ponies.

I'll keep you posted.
*

suck it, goose.


I saw this comic linked on Twitter today and found it funny and sad.


It talks about how many generations of single-celled organisms and furry-tailed fish and Civil War soldiers struggled and lived and bred just to make us, and how our ancestors would want us to do something useful instead of sitting around, moping and having existential crises.

But I didn't like the ending.

Here's my proposed change, which won't make sense unless you read it.

Or maybe it will.


There. That's better.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

hyperbole and much less than a quarter

My feelings after a trip to Whole foods yesterday,
brought to you buy an art degree
and those weird, big pencils they use in Kindergarten.




Note: This is why I'm not an illustrator.


For someone who does this sort of thing 1000 times better,
try Allie Brosh at Hyperbole and a Half. She's my hero.



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

on dangling


So much of parenting is hard.

They don't tell you that, when you're pregnant. Just like they don't tell you how much childbirth hurts, or what it's like to look down and see your guts sitting on a table. The answer, in case you're wondering, is that it's actually really fascinating, because intestines are cool.

At the very most, they write, "It's the hardest job you'll ever love," or, "It goes by so quickly; cherish it."

Which, frankly, wouldn't be nearly as helpful as "always point the peeper down before diapering," or "there's a reason they make nipple balm, and you're going to find out why."

But one thing they rarely tell you is this:

Sometimes, your kid is going to fail. And it will suck.

Today I watched my son fall down on the playground. Three times. From the same three-foot platform. He's even got a bruise on his forehead, in that picture up there.

"I am big boy," he said. "My do it myself."

"Dude, monkey bars are bad news," I answered. "Don't dangle."

"Okay. I won't."

Patter-patter-patter-patter-patter.

"What are you doing, son?"

"I dangle."

I dropped my book and scramblde across the playground, heart in throat, arriving just in time to watch him splat on the bark nuggets.

But you know what?

Each time, he got right back up and said, "I okay." And kept going.

But it gets harder. The biscuit is having her first week at Kindergarten. She gets on a bus, does stuff for seven hours, and comes home. It's hard to get a straight answer about what happens there. So far, I've heard that she's got a coach named Boomer just like in Sky High and that they lost a kid in the bathroom and probably never found him again.

She's 4 days shy of the cut off date. That means that she's the youngest kid in her class. Most of the kids are already five, and some are six. She's still four. She's tiny, and vulnerable, and overly optimistic. And I was a little scared to send her to school, for so many reasons, most of them having to do with my own elementary school tragicomedy. What if the other kids are mean to her? What if she hates it? What if her teacher is half demon?

But I put her on that bus anyway.

Because I believe that you have to let your kids try the things that scare them.

And scare you.

Maybe I wouldn't give the boy so much freedom on the playground if it was over cement or went up really high. But I think a kid's got a right to dangle, and a right to fall on cushy bark chips, and a right to get right back up again. Hell, I admire him for it, even if it takes a year off my life.

And as for the Biscuit, I'm her cushy bark. The moment something goes wrong, I'll be here to catch her and help her find her feet, and if public Kindergarten isn't the right answer, I'll keep looking until we find it.

So there's my advice for the night.

Let your kids dangle.

And if you ever get to see your intestines on a table, take a damn picture. I wish I had.

Monday, August 1, 2011

the CHEESE


My day began at 6am when her first alarm clock went off.

BEEP.

BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP.

"I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE IT STOP!" she shrieked.

So I showed her. Again.

Then breakfast, which she couldn't eat, because her "tummy is a little wobbly and doesn't like oatmeal much today."

Then a crying fit because the t-shirt they gave her for the first day of school is ugly and huge and doesn't go with any of her skirts.

Then a discussion of whether or not her socks were "right."

And then we packed up the new backpack and walked to the end of the street.

She was the youngest at our bus stop and watched the older boys doing handstands in the dewy grass.

"Will I learn that in Kindergarten?" she asked, eyes wide.

Then the bus came. It didn't look like the ones I used to ride, where I was bullied and spat on and generally taught that books make better companions than people. Her bus was shaped more like a hedgehog. And the windows were tinted.

The door opened.

And by God, the child got on without so much as a hug, a kiss, or a "Bye, Mommy!"

She disappeared behind the smoky glass before I could even wish her well. I leaned in the door and told the bus driver her name, and that she was in Kindergarten.

"I'll take good care of her," he said.

Seven hours later, she hopped right back out.

All in one piece! Inside, I cheered.

"How was your first day at Big Kid School?" I asked.

"It was okay," she said.

We walked a bit.

"I didn't like rest time. I can't rest with my shoes on. And the gym smelled."

"I hear you, dude," I say, a hand on her little shoulder.

Then she thought some more.

"Actually, I loved it. I liked it so much I didn't want to come home. But then I remembered that I like you guys, so I did."

"That's the way everything should be," I said.



*