Thursday, January 30, 2014

*"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!*

Yes, I'm a day late. It's the Polar Vortex, I swear. 

What I'm Reading 

Fragile Things by Mr. Neil Gaiman. Re reading, actually. I'm in a short fiction tear at the moment. I love a good short story, and they get unfairly overlooked, I feel. 

What I'm Writing 

Why, short fiction, actually! 
I had a plan to finish the rewrite of my MG this week, but two days of Polar Vortex school closings changed my intended schedule. I spent a lot of time this week playing Mario Bros. with the kid, and doing some non fiction reading, which has inspired some short form writing. 

What Inspires Me Right Now 

Learning. Reading. Exploring. Which I have to do from indoors, because it's too horrible to be outside. The weather will break soon, and then we'll be back out in the world. But for now, it's time to hibernate and gather information. I feel like a squirrel preparing for winter. 

What Else I'm Up To

Let's see... I made the earth. 

My sincere apologies if I have omitted any particular geographical locations that are dear to you. There are limitations to how fancy I can get with fleece. But I'm trying to get as detailed as possible. 

In web news, I found this interesting article about agents, and what they look for when they google you, at The Write Life. If you aren't in the habit of googling yourself (snicker) don't panic, but you should be doing this, at least once in a while. 
My current agent discussed this with me during our first phone call. Never underestimate the value of creating a web presence, even if you aren't published or represented yet. Most agents will be googling your name at some point in the query process. I assume editors are doing the same. In my case, my official name is Lindsey Becker, and well, there are a lot of us out there. Which means I have work to do to be the writer Lindsey Becker, and not the tennis player, the lawyer, the bikini model, or one of the 50+ others on facebook alone. Although, if you pull up images of the bikini model, go ahead and imagine that's me. Honestly, I don't mind. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

*"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!*

Yay 2014!!  

What I'm Reading 

Not a dang thing. Tomorrow is going to be bookstore day, whether I make it there in person, or the horrible weather makes me order something. I have a terrible craving for a really good read right now. 

What I'm Writing 

Still plugging away on my MG ghost story. I spent some time really contemplating the whole design of the story, and who all my characters really are, which resulted in a pretty big shift for a few of them, and some heavy edits to the first few chapters. 

What Inspires Me Right Now 

Independence. Over the last few months, I've taken on roles and challenges that I never thought I could handle before, and surprise surprise, I'm doing just fine! I'm finding a new confidence in my work that is allowing me the space to work at my own pace without pressuring myself with unnecessary and arbitrary deadlines. In other words, I'm enjoying the process.

What Else I'm Up To

Settling into the new year. Setting some goals while trying not to have my whole dang year booked solid before we even reach Valentine's Day. This is the year of taking things as they come, and trying to be more accepting and spontaneous. Or at least trying!

Happy '14, Wednesdayers!

Friday, January 17, 2014

It's Like... Imagine Terrence Malick Made Short Films... About Stuffed Animals...

Then it might be something like this.


Some of the most popular items in my Etsy shop are my sea creatures, specifically, nudibranches and moon jellies. I do love odd animals, and making things that possibly have never existed before. One of my recent creations is a plush lettuce leaf sea slug - possibly the only one in the world. 
But back on topic, dear Mr. Cate decided to make me a little promotional video, staring my sea slugs. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In Which I Claim I Am Not Complaining, But Really I Am

Have you ever had an idea for a "little" book?
Not even in length, mind you, just, something fairly simple in scope. Nothing too fussy, no sprawling epic, no intense world building, just a story about interesting characters involved in some engaging experience that sounds like it would be just as much fun to write as to read about?
Yeah. That one.
How often does that "little" book turn out to be any easier to write than the multi-volume high fantasy epic we all thought we would pen when we were still in junior high?
Yeah. That's what I thought.
A "little" book is kicking my rear end right now. I thought I would be done with this by now. I planned on having this revision done by the end of '13. And that didn't happen.
I think perhaps most, if not all writers have this naive dream when struggling through that first novel that it gets easier with future projects, even though we know that can't possibly be true. It's just a merciful wish, like thinking childbirth will be easier the second, or third, or tenth time around. Ah, no. The process is the process.
With my current manuscript, I've been giving myself quite the hard time. This book is shorter, or at least supposed to be, than my previous manuscripts. It's more refined in scope, with fewer characters and locations and a much more straightforward plot than the last project I worked on. This should be simpler, I tell myself. You're making this too difficult, I tell myself. Once, I even accidentally echoed the words of a family member in my own head - why are you finding this so hard? It's just a book for kids.
Bad writer. No cookie for you.
There is no such thing as "just for kids". I've seen plenty of writers use some form of that phrase lately, in an exchange that goes something like this.
"You're a writer?"
"Oh, yes, just children's books."
It's said that way. Just children's books, as if it's nothing important.
Hey now. Kid's books may not be considered especially sophisticated. We children's writers may not as often wear the Tortured Artist badge like so many others of our kind, but children's books are very important. I spent a lot of time during the past two weeks grumbling to myself over having this unfinished revision looming over me. I kept hearing, "this should have been done by now." being muttered under my own breath every time I opened the manuscript.
But then, one evening at the end of last week, I looked up from my pages to see my nine year old son curled up on the couch with a novel, and I immediately understood the importance of taking my time with that "little" book. It may not look like much to the great Literary Community at large, but for that little boy, even though he is a very strong reader, picking up a book is a challenge. I know plenty of adults who won't read a full novel because it's too hard, or takes too long, or some other bad excuse. But then there are plenty of kids like my boy, who choose spend his time reading, instead of turning on the Wii again, or playing with his tablet, or more lego building. And if he's going to take on a challenge like that, then he deserves to be reading something worth his time. As a writer,  I owe it to any future little reader that may one day pick up the manuscript that's giving me fits right now, to have made them the best book possible.
So I'm going to take my time. There is no rush. There's no deadline. The book will be ready when it's ready.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

George the Giant Goldfish Who Also is Not Gold

Today was a big day.
First of all, school actually started again, after two extra days of polar vortex related Christmas Vacation. (the children thank you, arctic jet stream. Our pipes, however, and my brave husband who had to spend the day under the house thawing them out, do not.)

Also, Mr. George moved into his new home.

Mr. George, the goldfish who is not gold. He once was gold, but has faded to very shiny silver.

He joined us over four years ago, when my mom kindly gave my little son an old desktop fish tank that had been sitting around in the garage, and I stupidly let him pick out whatever fish he wanted at the pet store. He picked a little comet goldfish from the feeder tank, one with a black stripe down his back. He was barely an inch and a half long. My son carried him home, beaming in his little car seat, holding the bag as carefully as if it were a glass egg. Picking his name was very serious business, but by the time we arrived home, the fish was christened George, after a tractor from Thomas the Tank engine. George was set up in a place of honor in the living room, right beside the sofa. Little son gave me updates all day, as to George's activities, his eating habits, where he liked to swim in his little tank.

Now I know the rule about fish habitation. Especially goldfish. There's no such thing as a goldfish bowl. They need a tank. A big whopping tank. But my kid was so dang cute when he was four, and he really wanted the stripey fish, and who would have thought he'd pick the hardiest little goldfish in the whole Petsmart? I consider myself fairly optimistic, but I wasn't about to invest in a five hundred dollar set up for a fish that might not live out the week. But George was a trooper.

He outgrew his little 2 gallon tank in a matter of months. We moved him up to 5 gallons. That lasted over a year, and then it was clearly time to get him into yet another, bigger tank.

This time, when we went to the pet store to look for new tanks - after having the fish for two years, remember - I finally asked the In Charge of Fish Guy how big they get, and how long they live.
"These guys?" he asked, as I pointed to the tank of tiny, minnow sized comet goldfish. "Well, they're carp. They can live about 30 years. And they can get to be 12-16 inches long."


But by now, of course, we were quite attached to our man George. So we moved him from his little 5 gallon studio into a 20 gallon ranch, with Real Live Plants that George quickly devoured. This is his Favorite Thing. He eats all live plants put in his home. If he doesn't like the taste, he simply pulls off all the leaves and digs them out of the rock. Even the plants that In Charge of Fish Guy insisted goldfish won't eat. George, it seems, is part goat. We got him a moss ball. He chewed that apart. At least he seemed to have fun doing it. He loves to eat shelled peas and corn. He darts about the tank, snapping them up like a little shark. He's learned to beg for food when he sees my husband Ben. He swims right up to the corner of the tank, and always gets rewarded.

All this feeding is probably what contributed to George's other habit, which is growing. He lost his black stripe, and became solid gold. Then he lost his gold, and became shiny white and silver. And he just kept growing.

He's now roughly 8" long, from snout to fin. Hold up your hand sideways, with your fingers flat. That's about the size of his fish body. I have caught bluegill and pumpkin seeds smaller than George,  in the lake near our house. For the past few months, it's been rather obvious that Mr. George needed a bigger tank. Today, George's new home was finally ready for him to enjoy. He's now moved up from his 20 gallon ranch to a 44 gallon mansion.

Sonny Boy and George, moving day #3

Sonny Boy and George, moving day #4 
The next step is we just have to turn the house into a fish tank, and we live in a bubble in the center. Whatever we have to do for our Mr. George.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looks Like We Made It

Welcome to 2014!
As Greenberg might say, I'm weirdly On this year. 2013 had the highest peaks and the lowest lows of any single year for me. And since I've learned all I can from the lows, let's just focus on the highs. I made tremendous progress in my work, both writing and otherwise. This was the Year of the Agent, after a long, careful  and very patient search. I am fully prepared for the next step to follow the same pattern.  I'm starting off with plenty of books in the works that still excite and motivate me to keep going. Outside of writing, I've found the work of my dreams in my little Etsy shop. It may be a small start, but it seems to be the right trail for me. And it took a long time to find that, so I do truly cherish every moment that I have the privilege to continue forward in that direction.

I'm not a big resolution maker, but I do love setting goals, so here are a few to start -
Finish the 3 WIPs that I have been daintily piecing together since last year. Time to get some of these done!
Get back to running regularly. I was doing really well up through September, when we had a wild readjustment of priorities around here. To keep myself fresh, I need to find the time to run as much as the time to write.
And that's enough for now. Time to write!