Monday, December 23, 2013

On Gratitude at Christmas

A mouse ate our stockings. 
Not my son's stocking, thankfully. That was stored in a sturdy plastic tub, along with most of the tree ornaments. All the other stockings, which I hand made, including ones for each cat AND the goldfish, well, they were folded neatly in a cardboard box, and made a lovely little home for some industrious rodent, who chewed his way in there and made a glorious nest for himself. 
Ah well. The image of a little mouse curling up in a Christmas stocking is cute enough to offset the pang of rage at seeing all my hand embroidery chewed and wadded up. They were just stockings, after all. I have felt slightly guilty that there hasn't been time to replace them. But they are a tidy little metaphor for the year over all.

We've had our losses. Losses of big, important and precious things that we will miss forever. We lost my husband's grandmother last winter. We lost my cousin the day before my birthday. His son started kindergarten the day after the funeral.
 A month later, just as I was starting to have success with my own business venture, my husband lost his job. It seems trivial in comparison, but it was still a definite tick in the "cons" category of 2013.
We still have a family member with stable but terminal cancer. So far, everything has been going well, but that could change at any moment, and when it does, it will only be for the worse.
 None of our losses were a surprise. Knowing what we were going to lose has only made me more grateful for the things we still have, and the people that I will get to spend my time with this holiday. There might not be enough funds to go as overboard as we have in the past, but my husband is still here, and my little son with us. We will each have gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. All of our parents and siblings and nieces and nephews are here with us, and have warm homes and warm meals and gifts to enjoy. We will even get to spend the day with most of them.   

In the last few days, over eight inches of snow fell on our little village. Fluffy, flaky white snow, of the kind found in snow globes, and Christmas movies, and the daydreams of people who live in warm climates, and have the luxury to imagine perfect snow.  Our Christmas snow this year is beautiful and sparkly and dusted across the branches of trees porch railings and windowsills. It is mounded along the roadside, still white and crisp, making everything look festive and simple and clean. In so many ways, this has been the year of dreams coming true here, with promises of more to come in the new year. Ben and I have both had successes in our professional lives that we can't help but be grateful for, even if there is still a long way to go to get where we want to be.
Sometimes, we just have to take a moment to see all that we have, and let it overwhelm us, and be happy for the time we had with someone, not just sad for the time we lost when they left. It's been very hard for me to set goals for the end of the year. But it has been easy to be grateful, so I'm sticking with that, for now. A mouse ate our stockings. But there is still one left. And we have time to make new ones.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

*"What's Up Wednesday" is run by Jamie Morrow and Erin Funk, and is an awesome weekly bloghop that gives readers and writers a great venue to keep in touch through the magical world of blogs. Come hop with us!*

Welcome back to Wednesdays! Well, for me anyway. 
It's been a few weeks, so there's plenty of catching up to do!  

What I'm Reading 

I'll admit, nothing really. I've been slowly nibbling my way through Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, but I had a real craving for some fiction this week, and I owe my son a few books from our deal that he could have a new book for every week he aced his spelling tests. So it was time to put in a book order this morning. Yay! Books are coming! 

What I'm Writing 

Making really solid progress on my MG ghost story. The first half needs some polish, but everything seems to be in order. (I say before I get the back half straightened out, and realize I have to make all kinds of adjustments to the front half again.) 
I'm not NaNoing this year. I did it last year, because hey, how can I be a writer in the modern age and not give that a try at least once? I enjoyed the experience because I love drafting anyway. But this year, I had to buckle down and get some revising done on more than one project before I go starting something brand new. New stuff waits for next year. 

What Inspires Me Right Now 

Honestly? The holidays. With a little guy in the house, Christmas is still a Very Big Deal, in terms of decorating and planning and preparing. His energy is so contagious, it's hard not to be cheerful when he's around. We had our first snowfall of the season on Monday, real snow, that fell in fluffy clumps and stuck to the trees, and had to be scraped off the car windows. I love snow, but possibly no one loves the snow as much as my son!

What Else I'm Up To

Many, many things. Things that kept me from hopping these past couple of weeks.
I decided to participate in No Sugar November, which is a 30 day commitment to eating healthier, and breaking the sugar habit - which was both a fantastic and horrible idea for me, admitted sugar addict.  We're almost halfway through, and it has been HARD. Some of my group are being more strict than others. I was just trying to avoid eating the heavy duty stuff, soda, candy, cookies, ice cream, etc. that are usually a way too common part of my daily diet. So far, so good. 17 days to go.
Changing one eating habit leads to changes in others, and so I've been spending a lot more time cooking, and trying to avoid processed foods as much as possible.
It's a challenge, and challenges are good.
I've also been working hard at building my Etsy shop from a hobby into a real business. It's a steep learning curve, but progress is being made in the right direction. It's going to take a lot of work, but it's work I love doing, and it allows me the flexibility to fit in my writing time anywhere in my day.

And that's enough for now. I have packages to mail, and blogs to hop to. And we all have writing to get done!

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

All Those November Goals

Here we are, already 1/3 of the way through November.
To you NaNoers, keep on writing. You're not yet at the "oh crap" stage, no where near too far to finish. No matter how many or few words you have written so far, you can get there, if you stick to it.

If any of you had the harebrained idea to participate in No Sugar November, as I did, stay strong, good buddies. It really is a challenge. Cookies and ice cream and candy are hard to give up, but my biggest obstacle was the coffee. I HAD to find a way to make a good cup of coffee without the sugar. Some of my sugar free compatriots are fans of the splenda, and stevia, and other assorted fake sweeteners. I just cannot eat them. The solution? Cream and cocoa (unsweetened cocoa powder) makes a nice macchiato kind of flavor. (but let's be real, on Dec. 1 I'm dumping the peppermint creamer in there like a boss.)

On the writing front, I'm just shy of the halfway point on the current revision of my WIP. I took a short break from writing directly to do some plotting and planning, and otherwise arranging of the elements, to make sure this was heading in the right direction. And I suspect that it is.
Tomorrow will be a writing day. A precision writing day, not just a bang out the word count kind of day.

Any November goals that are going well for you? Not so well? Ready to just get the rest of the year over with??

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Wicked Conspiracy to Pry The Coffee From My Cold, Living Hands

So, I've already decided to participate in NaNo from a cheerleading perspective only. Lots of love to all those brave souls getting in on the action, but I have a manuscript to polish, up here in my hermit hut.
I have also been snookered into another, completely unrelated challenge in the coming month - a thing my adorable but perhaps a bit unhinged aunt has dubbed No Sugar November.

The concept is making the month sugar free to whatever degree suits your lifestyle and will power. I recently left a part time job that required a lot of walking around to be home making art and writing all day, which is lovely, but also much too sedentary. I fully support us writerly and artistic types taking the time to take care of ourselves. Writing and art making are careers with a fairly strong association with decidedly unhealthy lifestyles, including untreated depression, alcoholism, addiction to opiates, amphetamines, tobacco, basically any method of being especially self destructive.

Us kid lit writers seem to have evaded that long and sordid history of creative brilliance coupled to personal misery and tragedy. I rather like our tradition of demonstrating a creative and yet healthy life. I've learned how to find the hidden sugar in a lot of foods, and to prepare foods that I somehow came to believe only came from jars or frozen bricks. Since I became a parent, I've been an active food label reader, and I've made a serious commitment to limiting the processed food and unnecessary additives in our everyday meals.

However, I eat waaaay to much sugar. Candy, ice cream, soda, cookies, pie, tarts, scones, muffins, and the list goes on into the sunset.
So to that end, I've decided to try this experiment my dear aunt has proposed, and remove the sugar-based items from my diet for a few weeks. I'm not a dieting kind of person, really. I've had at most a tertiary curiosity about the concepts of eating Paleo or Adkins or Juicing or whatever the thing is at the moment that's going to save/kill us all. I see problems with cutting whole food groups from your diet, except of course in cases of allergies. I don't really see a problem with cutting back on the raw tonnage of oreos or hershey bars I manage to put down in any given week.

My only hesitation is my dear, beloved coffee. I'm getting  a little misty just thinking about it.
I love my stupid flavored creamers. Love them. Cutting back on the caffeine would probably be pretty good for me, too, but to think about a whole month without a cup of coffee... that just seems mean. Especially when I have a manuscript to revise!

I'm giving it a shot anyway. With a one day pumpkin pie exemption, of course.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oh No NaNo!

It's that time of year when the leaves are changing, the air goes crisp, all foods are mysteriously infused with pumpkin, and your writerly friends begin asking the inevitable fall question, "So, you doing NaNo this year?"


I did it last year, for the sake of trying it out. One of my favorite things is Trying New Things. The older I get, the more I have realized that I thrive on novelty, and I love a challenge. However, this year I really need to rein in the novelty,  and focus on revising a manuscript that has been with me since before last year's NaNo.
So, instead of reinventing the wheel, and churning out 50,000 words that will most likely have to be entirely rewritten, I'm going to take my halfway finished MG and make it into something wonderful in the next six weeks or so.

For those of you who are diving into NaNo, I send the very best of luck! It was incredibly fun to participate. I really love writing first drafts, sitting down with my manuscript and cranking out words, playing with the story and the characters, and letting them do odd things that might get axed in later revisions, but might lead to something delightful down the road. It's so fun and refreshing to start a new project, which is what I plan on doing next year, which means getting this current project finished (or as close to finished as it ever can be).

And I also have to get my son's Halloween costume done.

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What's Up Wednesday - Big News Edition!

*"What's Up Wednesday" is run by Jamie Morrow and Erin Funk, and is an awesome weekly bloghop that gives readers and writers a great venue to keep in touch through the magical world of blogs. Come hop with us!*

Fun stuff is going on over here! 
But first, the pleasantries. 

What I'm Reading 

Tell the Wolves I'm Home  by Carol Rifka Brunt 

Just started this one, and so far, its an engaging read, that seems to be leading very heavily in one direction, so we'll see if there are any surprises coming up. 

What I'm Writing 

Still working on my middle grade ghost story. Solidly in the revision stage, where I can no longer see my progress in a growing word count, but now I get to do the deep digging and meticulous cutting and piecing that make a book out of a first draft. 

What Inspires Me Right Now 

My little son, of course! He's in third grade this year. It's a big step up in responsibility and accountability, with real homework and everything. So far we're only in week three, but he's been admirably vigilant about keeping all his papers in order, getting his work done, and even getting to the bus on time in the morning all on his own (I have no idea where that kid gets it from)

What Else I'm Up To

Well.... As of this week, for the very first time, I have an agented novel out on submission. Coming soon, the essential How I Got My Agent tale! For now, I'm off to hop around and visit the rest of the Wednesdayers.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I was hoping to get out to the apple orchard this weekend. 
But the weather was pretty much this - 

So here are some scenes from last year's trip, 
until we can get to the orchard for reals! 

If you have orchards nearby, now is the time to get out there and get them apples!
And pretty soon... pumpkins!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Running in the Dark

As usual, it was my own fault.
It was my idea to sign up for the Electric Run.
Of course, my wonderfully supportive husband, sister in law, and our awesome running crew gladly joined up as well.
I got us all registered and ready to go. And then I proceeded to prepare in no way at all.
Most of this month, I barely went running. Even though Ben went out at least every other day, I let it slide. Hard. I think I went out three times in the last three weeks.

Then yesterday arrived, as dates on the calendar tend to do, even when you forget about them.
We had the whole day to prepare, so of course it took me until ten minutes after we should have left to find my running pants.
The Electric Run in our part of the world was set up at a local fairground. I was getting really excited to run by the time we got into the fairgrounds and had all our glowing accouterments on and flashing. The weather was gorgeous. The people were thrilled to be there.
We left in the fourth wave of runners, down the gravel trail, around a gentle curve and through a series of glowing arches rising over the beginning of the course.

Did you catch the gravel trail part? Yeah. I didn't know that either, until we started running.
It wasn't just gravel, it was also great big stones, one of which I tripped on, while trying to avoid the nice people walking and pushing strollers from the wave just ahead of us.
I tripped on a big 'ol stone at the edge of the trail, and landed on my bare knees on the gravel. When I stood up, I had a spectacular scrape on my right knee, and a little pebble stuck in my left palm. I knew that knee was going to bleed, but it didn't hurt at all, and I had about 3.1 miles of fun run ahead of me.

So I picked that pebble out of my palm, and I went running.

It was so worth it.

The Electric Run was crazy fun. The course zigzagged through the fairgrounds, over grass and trails and through the barns, which had been decorated with umbrellas and floating bubbles and thousands of dangling twinkle lights. Outside there were lanterns in the trees, and lights set up all along the path. It really was beautiful, and one of the easiest runs of my life.

At the end, I realized I had quite a lot of gravel dust in my right knee, and a huge bruise on my left knee.
I still ran the best 3 miles of my life. Somewhere around 28 minutes, after accounting for a few seconds to pick myself up off the gravel and keep running.
Jen ran it in 23. Ben ran it in 20:45. I did not take many pictures, as I was running, and bleeding.

Me & Jen, just before the race
Notice, my knees are intact at this point. 

Me, Patte, Jen & Kristi, at the end of the course. 

I'm not posting a picture of my knee, because it's just gross.
Don't worry, I'll be fine. It's just a flesh wound. This was still my favorite fun run so far, and I highly advise you to try it, if it's coming anywhere near you. (without the falling and bleeding part, of course.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

There's Got To Be A Better Way!

Too often in the course of my day, like all the times I notice how disorganized I am - and its in the triple digits a day, people - and am reminded of a Troy McClure infomercial. "There's got to be a better way!" There are so many things I could probably be doing smarter, somehow

I want all these meals to be healthy and delicious.
I want this house to be *reasonably* clean.
I want my tomato plants to make tomatoes the way everyone else's tomato plants actually make tomatoes.
I want this manuscript to be less crappy, and more awesome...

But the way I do things seems terribly inefficient. Because none of those things gets done in any kind of reasonable amount of time. This is the age of the Smartphone and the Smartcar and the self cleaning oven, and the mimeograph.  I live in a house with buttons on the wall that can make it instantly warmer or cooler, should I feel the slightest bit uncomfortable. I have a  box on my counter top that Makes Food Hot in under 90 seconds, which I only  use to make popcorn and warm my coffee. No longer do I live under the scourge of Tepid Coffee Because I Didn't Drink It Fast Enough. The machine I'm using to write this can give me any information available in some form of print from anywhere in the world - and time. My car has a whole compliment of ways to tell me that something is wrong with it before it breaks down.

I feel like things should be easier. At least some things. More should be possible in a day.
And yet, there always seems to be a bigger list of things Left to Do than things Accomplished at the end of the day.

Somehow, I have the delusion that if I had some magical system of organization, everything would be so much easier, and the things I want to get done would fall into place around me.
There's just one problem - writing takes as long as it takes. There's no rushing. There're no shortcuts. The scene or chapter or book is done when it's done. And it doesn't care if I have plants to water, or laundry to fold, or a car to vacuum. So those things come after. (Or perhaps everyone else's secret is to just pay someone to do all those other things for them. )

But then, every once in a while, there's a little payoff for simply not having anything like enough time to get everything done everyday. Like, when I didn't weed my front yard garden as thoroughly as I'd like. I started to let some things grow, and this is what happened -

I didn't plant these, and I don't know what they are, exactly, but they're almost six feet tall now, and covered in the most beautiful little flowers. I looks like chamomile, maybe. Whatever they are, I'm glad I didn't pull them up when they were just little unrecognizable sprouts. because I never would have seen them bloom. 
So, while things like the laundry and the dirty vegetable crisper and the oil light on the car will never, ever get better by just letting them sit a little longer, there are things that get better with time and patience and maybe letting go a little bit. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

The Late Edition. Again.

*"What's Up Wednesday" is run by Jamie Morrow and Erin Funk, and is an awesome weekly bloghop that gives readers and writers a great venue to keep in touch through the magical world of blogs. Come hop with us!*

I'm running a day behind again, I see. Again, apologies. I've actually been writing! 
So now it's time for some hoppin' fun. 

What I'm Reading 

Still working on Born to Run. This weekend is going to include a run to the bookstore, so I'm excited to hop around and see what everyone else has been reading. I need some good suggestions on what to pick up for next week! 

What I'm Writing 

Good news here! I spent too much time this summer waffling between two little manuscripts that are equally dear to my heart. But my lovely agent steered me in direction of one in particular. So, Ghost Story* it is! I'm going to spend the next few weeks of summer buckling down and finishing a solid, readable draft of this one. 

 *not the actual title. Just what it will be referred to henceforth, as I always find it amusing when a writer can't come up with a good title. Also, I'm sooo bad at titles.

What Inspires Me Right Now

I've been at this craft for a while now. Since first grade, if you want to get technical. But I've been writing with a major goal - publication - for over ten years now, and really focusing on my work since I moved to my little cottage and started submitting to agents almost four years ago. I've learned a lot from this process, about having courage, and conviction in your self, and your talents. Standing by your work with both pride and humility. It's a bit of a paradox to be a writer, and at the same time hold enough confidence in your work to put it out in the world, and also remain humble enough to recognize the weaknesses in your work, and always strive to improve. Lately, I've been trying to take those lessons learned from one area of my life and apply it to others. There are a few major changes I would like to see, and I had a moment of realizing that I will have to make them happen. They aren't just going to happen to me. And I'm in luck, because being on this journey as a writer has really prepared me to be brave and try new things in the regular world, too.

What Else I'm Up To 

Making things! 
I love designing and crafting. Loooove them. The more I challenge myself to create things, the more I develop as a writer. My artistic mind, however, always thinks I can find a use for things, and so I have acquired quite a pile of Potential Cool Stuff Supplies. Lately, I've been digging through my mountains of acquired nonsense, and actually Making Things. 
I made so many things, that I decided to revamp my old Etsy shop, and get that running again. 
It is both a heck of a lot of fun, and a great excuse to Keep Making Things. 
Here are some of the Things I've Made lately. 

Lemon and Orange

Moon Jelly 

Golden Pear

Seriously. Messing around with a sewing machine and a pile of fleece is super fun. I usually get bored with most things, besides writing, but sewing is another thing I've been doing since I was a little kid, and it just never gets old! 

How's your week going? Made any Big Decisions? Small ones? Spent any time doing something Just For Fun? 

Monday, July 22, 2013

On Making Things Happen

As writers (as most of you are) I think we're all familiar with the concept of "Making Things Happen."
We all understand this, I hope.
It doesn't really work like this -

1. Write manuscript. 
2.  ???? 
3.  Profit. 

There are a few more steps in there. Like revising, and submitting, and revising some more, and then more submitting and later probably more revising. And then Repeat. 
Step One is a big deal. You have to do Step One to get yourself in the race. 
But then, you also have to start running, instead of standing at the starting line, waiting for someone to hand you the trophy. (Or some other heavy handed metaphor for trying.) 

I thought I was pretty good at this concept. That I understood the idea of getting your work out there, and being ready for the ups and downs of pursuing art of any kind beyond being a personal hobby. 
This year, for instance, I just wanted to make some kind of progress on the writing front. To move in some way that I could consider "forward". 
And I did, to my delight and surprise. I snagged an agent! And that filled me with pride and satisfaction for about ten whole minutes, before it just became a reflection of all the other things I have just let kind of fall off the radar while I was on my writing bender. 
Writing and art are my two main goals, of course. The focus of my time here on this spinning bit of rock is to Make All the Things. 

So, I'm on my way with the writing. It might not be an easy road, or a straight road, but I'm on it, and I'm moving forward. 
But there are other things I'd like to change as well, other things going on in my day to day world that I would do differently, if I could. Only... I can! It's a weird thing, to realize that you can totally change things, and then realize that you haven't been doing it, but without any real reason. Or to realize that the Reason was really just an Excuse. 
Now that I have made some progress on the writing front, I've decided to challenge myself in other ways, too. Let's see how far I can go with this idea of Making Things Happen. Maybe not big grand things, but things that are important to me :) 

How about you? Anything you'd like to do differently?  Something as little as changing your daily routine, or as big as changing careers? 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

*"What's Up Wednesday" is run by Jamie Morrow and Erin Funk, and is an awesome weekly bloghop that gives readers and writers a great venue to keep in touch through the magical world of blogs. Come hop with us!*

Hi all!! So, I've missed a few of these. I know, look at my head hanging in shame. I've been a busy writer, which makes me a slacker when it comes to blogging. But that's what these Wednesday catch ups are all about! 

What I'm Reading 

Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. I'm a sucker for non-fiction. Since my last visit to What's Up Wednesday, I've also read Warm Bodies, World War Z, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. So maybe I need a little non fiction, eh? 
And what did I think? Read 'em all. 
My son just finished Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist, and is halfway through City of Ember. 

What I'm Writing 

Way too many things. Halfway through the ghost story, I had a bit of a breakthrough. It's going to need a lot more work. So that one is simmering on the master plot whiteboard. Most recently, I've been tinkering with a MG magical realism story I began loooong ago, building a still rough early draft into a solid manuscript. I'm almost at the halfway point. 

What Inspires Me Right Now

Summer! It's halfway over, at least in school year terms. Tonight is my son's last baseball game of the season. I have to admit that I love fall and winter weather, much, much more than the hot awfulness of our current triple digit heat, but I also love having my little son home all the time, and the weeks are already running out. 

What Else I'm Up To 

Still running! Though I have to admit, not as much in this brutal heat. I ran in my second 5k at the end of June. It was my first timed race, and I made it in 31:55. 

Jen & Me. I'm lucky #15

She almost has me talked into thinking about considering maybe training for a triathlon next year. Maybe. We'll see. (there's swimming. Running? fine. Biking? no prob, bob. Swimming...? Eh....)
Mr. Cate, though, finished third in his age division, with a time of 23:05. And that's after a week of being brutally sick, poor guy. 
We're for sure doing the Electric Run at the end of summer. And probably a few in the fall, too. There's a trail run I'd like to try in October. Gotta keep active, and counteract all the hours sitting in front of the computer, after all! 

Now, off to hop around and visit some more Wednesdayers! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

*"What's Up Wednesday" is run by Jamie Morrow and Erin Funk, and is an awesome weekly bloghop that gives readers and writers a great venue to keep in touch through the magical world of blogs. Come hop with us!*

I know it's a day late. But I missed the last two due to revision related tunnel vision, and I don't want to miss this week as well!!

What I'm Reading 

Er, nothing at the moment.
Waiting for my copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane to arrive!

What I'm Writing 

Just finished a revision, and sent it off to the agent for inspection. Next, I'll be diving back into a MG ghost story that I love, but needs a massive rewrite.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Possibilities! For the first time on my writing journey, I'm not querying. Which is weird, and refreshing. I feel like I can concentrate on my manuscripts fully, and not worry about tracking queries, and working on revision requests, and researching places to submit - I've got people to do that for me now ;)

What Else I'm Up To 

Dude, a LOT. So I'll try to keep it simple here.

Strawberries are growing! Also Tomatoes!!

Running is much harder in the summer. I hate sweating. I hate hot weather. But I love running, so suck it up, buttercup. It's going to get way warmer before the fall. (Ooh, I love fall!)

My little son is trying many new things this year, including horseback riding and swimming lessons, and keeping up with some old hobbies too. Yesterday, he got the game ball at his baseball game! Go Junior!

Checked off the first item on my June Not-Writing-Related-To-Do-List. Last night, Mr. Cate and I saw Before Midnight. Loved it so much, I'll have to give it a post all to itself!

So that's my wrap up. What have you been up to??

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

There have been a lot of awesome dads in my family, not just my dear husband, and my own dads, but lots of dads before them, so let's get in the way back machine, because I love looking at old photos ;)

My great grandpa Tom Mills, as a teenager. His middle daughter would one day marry
The handsome fellow on the bottom, in the middle, my grandpa Harvey.
He had four adorable kids of his own, the first of which was my mother. 

On the other side of the family,
we have great grandpa Gilbert, (and grandma Laura)
who's daughter would one day marry

This troublemaker, grandpa Frank,  and have ten troublemaking kids of their own,
the seventh one being my dad.
This guy. Hi Dad! 

There he is, with little tiny me, oh, 30 years ago,
about the time he stopped shaving that mustache.

And here's my own sprout, with his dad, my dear Mr. Cate. 

Mr. Cate, my stepdad, Mike, and Cate Jr.
on the train at Disneyland, which is clearly awesome. 

Happy Father's day to my dad, my wonderful stepdad, my Mr., my Mr.'s dad, and thanks to all the dads who came before them, and taught them to be the wonderful fathers they all became. We wouldn't be here without you guys. And we wouldn't know how to drive a car,  pitch a tent, cook a pizza on a grill, bowl, catch a baseball, use a Commodore 64 computer, appreciate both classic rock and Neil Diamond, ski, ride a bike, cast a fishing pole, start a fire, use power tools, tile a bathroom, plant a tree, appreciate literature, or be the free spirits we are, among a thousand other things. Basically, we couldn't get through the day without you. And we know how lucky we are :) 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What We Do Besides Writing

My husband's brand new website went live this morning.
Here's a peek -

September Son Films 

The new site was designed and built by his good friend and collaborator, Jeff Scott Townsend.

There will be much more news to come, in the last half of the year. A brand new project is almost done, and two more films are in pre production right now.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Color Run!

Well, I made it!
It was a little bit cloudy, and a little bit crazy, but the weather was great, and the colors were flying!

The crew at the start. I'm the one on the far left, in the awesome socks.

Me and Mr. Cate, at the starting line

Game face 

And even though he was too shy to pose with the Runicorn, I got a pic anyway :D
At the starting line

Start of the race!

First color station - Pink! 


Then orange!
(Then yellow and blue, which were like fog)
Halfway there
(Jen and Lauren)

The end result - Sis in law Jen and me, after a sprint at the finish 

Mr. Cate, finished in 21:14

We did it in just about 30 minutes.
(Me, Jen, Lauren, Kristi)

And then - a toast to celebrate. It was still early enough for Bloody Marys
(Ben, Me, Lauren, Tynia)

And that was my very first 5K. If you ever have a chance to try this, I totally recommend it - but you need a good crew! Mine was the best :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What's Up Wednesday!


It's Wednesday again!

Man, I had plans to blog more this week, which did not happen due to reasons which shall be explained below :)

So what have I been up to?

What I'm Reading 

Secretariat by William Nack.
 I am a sucker for horse stories, especially racehorse stories, starting of course with The Black Stallion which I devoured as a kid. I loved Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit. I'm in the mood to read some nonfiction while I work on my own manuscript, and Ill be honest, I've never found Secretariat the horse a very exciting subject. He always seemed like the upper crust jock type, another Winkelvoss of the already Winkelvossy Thoroughbred world. He doesn't have a good Bad Boy or Underdog story. He was a really nice horse bred from exceptional stock by impossibly wealthy people. So I'm going to see if this book can surprise me.

What I'm Writing 

Working on a clean up of the middle grade manuscript that landed me my awesome agent (!)

What Inspires Me Right Now

The ticking of the Last Day of School Clock. Only a few more precious days until sonny boy is released into my custody for the whole entire summer. And while I adore having him around all day, there will be much less quiet writing time, very soon.

What Else I've Been Up To

Prepping for my first 5k, this weekend! I had to get fancy socks.

*"What's Up Wednesday" is run by Jamie Morrow and Erin Funk, and is an awesome weekly bloghop that gives readers and writers a great venue to keep in touch through the magical world of blogs. Come hop with us!*

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What's Up Wednesday!

We're halfway through the week, so that means it's time for What's Up Wednesday, a fun weekly check in with other awesome writer peeps. 

So here's what's up with me this week : 

What I'm Reading 

Nothing. I know, I know. Finished Wildwood, and don't have anything on deck at the moment. (well, nothing I feel like finishing next.) It's still over a month until The Ocean at the End of the Lane is released into the wild, and into my library.  It's time for a good long tromp through the bookstore, so if you have any suggestions on what I should pick up when I'm there - let me know! 

What I'm Writing 

I'm revising at the moment, a middle grade historical fantasy, and trying to be persnickety about it, to hopefully save myself another round or two of additional revisions down the road. 

What Inspires Me Right Now

Nature! Blue skies! Blooming flowers! Sunshine and thunderstorms! Having all the windows and doors open! It's finally spring up here in the North. 

What Else I've Been Up To 

Well.... it seems that this week I finally found an agent. Tee Hee. I'm still working on a nice, thoughtful How I  Got My Agent type post, about the long strange road it's been so far. But for now, I am delighted to be able to say that I am officially Agented.

Happy Wednesday fellow writers! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Healthy Writer's Club - Something I Can Actually Join

Can I say  how much I love this idea??
I love this idea!
Thanks to the brilliant Shailee McArthur for getting this started. No rules except make an effort to be healthier, to balance out the inherently unhealthy nature of sitting all day at the computer. (Great for the manuscript, not so great for the rest of you.)

Today is exactly two weeks until I run in my very first 5k. Yay!

Just over three months ago, I wasn't even a runner. I hadn't done any running since I was forced to in high school, to get that ridiculous P.E. credit out of the way.
I've been an on-again-off-again exerciser since Cate Jr. arrived, and no longer could I eat nothing but hot pockets and dr. pepper and still fit into my size 4 jeans. (this was actually how I got through college. Ah, those good old irresponsible days of yore.)
I do not like exercising. Or rather, I like it at first, but anything repetitive becomes boring very quickly, even those dancy workouts and all the sci-fi looking equipment in the big monument of a gym with the bank of windows overlooking the lake. Cool at first, and then quickly very boring.

But 14 weeks into this project, I still love running. I've gone from stumbling my way through a whole mile to running 4 whole miles at a time. I now run 2-3 miles at least four times a week.  Even just doing the same routes in my cozy little neighborhood has stayed fresh and interesting. The scenery has changed from snowy to damp to beautiful budding spring. The changing weather has been a challenge too, conditioning myself to run as it gets hotter and hotter. Winter was easier, for sure.
And I have the best jogging buddies, including my sis in law, Jen, and my Mr. Cate, (who can still live on Mountain Dew, cinnamon bears and microwave pot pies and not gain an ounce - and I mean not an  ounce, since he was 23.)

So I'm going to keep on running, and keep on writing, and I'd love to meet some new peeps who are working on doing the same!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Writing to Distraction

Thanks to all my new Wednesday Peeps for stopping by!
Everyone seemed to love the pillows, too. Double thanks for that! But enough about handicrafts for a moment.

I'm digging into a very thorough revision right now, and it's taking over most of my available brainpower. There's enough space left up there for making the son's lunch in the morning, and filling the kittehs' water bowl, and not much else.

For instance -
Two days ago, I bought myself a new pair of sunglasses. A nice wrap around kind with grippie arms, good for jogging when I'm not in my beautiful tree covered neighborhood. So, I find this great pair of sunglasses, I'm all happy. I put on these brand new sunglasses the second I step out of the store.
Then, I look down at my phone, and think, "Geeze, the screen looks so dark! Is something wrong here?"

Then, I get into the car, and pick up my iPod, and think, "Man! This screen is so dark too! What is going on with the technology today?"


Then... and only then... do I realize I am wearing the sunglasses... which I just bought ... three minutes ago...

But I figured out what I was doing in chapters 2, 3, and four. So, I win.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

Sooo, I just found this awesome weekly meme called "What's Up Wednesday", run by Jamie Morrow and Erin Funk, that gives readers and writers a great venue to keep in touch through the magical world of blogs.

And I want to play!

What I'm Reading :

Wildwood. I started this one a while ago, and never finished it. Time to find out what happens to Prue!

What I'm Writing : 

Revising a middle grade first draft from last fall. Just started from page one again yesterday. It's going to be a big project.

What's Inspiring Me Right Now :

The Hubble Space Telescope! Really, it's just beyond fascinating, what is really out there in the big mysterious vastness of space. Want to see the awesome? Check this out. 

What Else I've Been Up To :

Pillows! Really, I love crafting, quilting, painting, and generally building or making things. It's fun, and challenging, and is a great refresher when I've been down in the manuscript cave for waaaay to long. Here's a few of my favorites.

A tree slice

A lemon slice

A trio of monsters

And a squishy watermelon

And that was my first What's Up Wednesday!
That was fun :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Full of Tomato Goodness

That's right, this is a ketchup post!

So, the last time I posted on the ol' blog, I was all psyched up to jump into a March project. Weeellll.... I missed March Madness. I missed A-Z April. And why? Well, I needed a little break. A little writing break, a little blogging break (though I am ever a more loyal reader that writer) a little literary break in general.
What was I up to?

Lots of running.
I'm up to 4 miles at a stretch now, and all signed up for my first 5k in less than a month. (!)

That's right, I'm doing the Color Run for reals! (photos will follow, for sure!) And my team needed tutus, of course, and that has become another giant (super fun) project.

Also, it turns out my awesome, fluffy headed son is just as much of a Whovian as his dear old mum, so we had to watch all of the modern era Dr. Who episodes, from Christopher Eccleston through David Tennant (son's favorite) through Matt Smith (my favorite).
Then, we had to make son's bedroom door into a Tardis.

So, basically, I needed a refresher. I needed to back away from the manuscripts, at least for a short while, and generate some new ideas, do something I found engaging and exciting again. 

Writing, as we all know, can be so isolating and solitary. It suits me, as I am a solitary person by habit. So every once in a while, it becomes necessary to take a breath, and a step back, and try something new. Get the Idea Motor all tuned up and running like a champ. And now I'm all jazzed up, and ready to jump back into my manuscripts again. 

So what is up in bloggerland? How's spring been treatin' you? 

Friday, March 1, 2013

March Madness! Who's In?

It's March! The last official month of winter. (boo. I like winter.)
The first official month of spring. (yay. I love my garden, and can't wait to see it start to bloom again!)

It's also time for March Madness, WIP edition, hosted by the fabulous Denise Jaden.
Thank you, Denise!

Come and join!

This year, I'm jumping in. 2013 has been a year of progress so far, for me. The running is going great - up to two miles today (weeee!) There's a 5k Color Run coming up this spring, and I've sort of set my sights on running - still have to talk the Mr. into joining me.

I completed one R&R, and it's off to the agents and out of my hands.
So now I need a new focus, and this is the perfect time to start a new goal.

This month, I'm going for craft and precision over speed. I shall write as I run, slow, and steady, with precision and purpose. Goal 1 is to finish revising a MG ghost story that is so very very close to being done.
Goal 2 is to complete a storyboard for a PB that's been taking up a lot of my thinkin' time lately.

And that's it. This is the time of the year when I usually start fast drafting something. This year, I'm going to try to get some of my previous projects cleaned up and presentable.

Anyone else have a plan?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Zen Revisionist Part Two : Perseverance

I'll just warn you up front, this is a cheerleading post.
Go you, Rah Rah, and so forth.
To write, and especially to revise, one needs encouragement, and that's mostly going to come from yourself, from your drive to see things through, when you're sitting alone with a laptop or a notepad, and absolutely no  clue how to write your way out of the problems you made for yourself by starting on this manuscript in the first place.

I'm not going to say "don't get discouraged", because that's not really possible, is it? That's like saying, don't get frustrated, don't get angry, don't get sad. Those are just your emotions. They're gonna do what they're gonna do, after all. And we have to have emotions to write! Emotions are gold.
So, go ahead and get discouraged. Take a minute to wallow. Then remember what that feels like, so you can use it when your MC faces the worst, most disastrous moment of his or her story arc, and must find a way to  carry on bravely anyway.
You can do it.
After all, if our characters can survive all of the horrible ordeals we put them through, certainly we can make it through telling their stories.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Zen Revisionist Part 1: Patience, Grasshopper

So, I am a confirmed panster when it comes to early drafts of a new manuscript. I love sitting down and just letting the words spill out until I have something like a book put together.
I know that is a terrible mindset to have whilst revising. I know this, and yet I have ignored it on too many  occasions. Once I have revision notes, and a list of fixes, and I just want to tear through them as fast as I can blurt out those first drafts.
No, no, no, silly zombie.
I'm learning to be more zen about the revising process. To take more time with each chapter, paragraph, and sentence. To let the changes I've made stew and simmer for a while, before considering them "finished".
To go back over those changes after a little bit of simmering, and give them a hard stare, and a good kick in the tires.

In other  words, I've realized I have to take my time, and as I've said before, embrace the process. The horrible, horrible process.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A.M. Monster Madness

What did I do all day?
.... er... not so much. I'm saving that for after dinner. I promise.
Today, I made Monsters.





And Erik, of course
The Gang
And why would I spend the morning making monsters, while it snowed outside my window? 
For my Etsy shop, Wild Rabbits. We've been doing mittens for a couple of winters, and they sell well during the snowy season, but it was time to branch out, and find something fun to make for the rest of the year, too. So - Monsters!