Sunday, December 18, 2011
I'm writing these grounded in my experiences thus far, after several years of concerted effort to self-educate in the field, making many mistakes, and having some breakthroughs. In other words, I make no claim to be a world expert in this, but I hope you find some of what I have to say on the topic of interest and use! There are many ways to get to Rome, if that's where you want to go, and these are just some of the paths.
Agent or Editor? To Whom Do I Submit?
It's a question that crops up all over the place in the blogosphere. You can go either route, but here are some things to be informed of when making your judgment call.
Literary agents are "gate-keepers" in the publishing industry. You might not like that, but that is how it is and it isn't going to change any time soon, epublishing to the contrary! So why not just skip the middle step and go right to the editors themselves? After all, their mailing addresses are listed in publishing guides, right? Well, many editors are closed to "unagented submissions." And those that are open to all submissions have large, teetering "slush piles" (open submissions) that take months if not years to slog through. You'll wait longer to hear back on average, and generally speaking your work will be read by a despairing intern doing their time in the Siberian outpost that is the slush pile to prove their worth to the editor. Their goal is to slog through slush as efficiently as possible, not to pause and admire your turn of phrase. Although you and they both dream of submitting/finding the diamond in the cistern, the odds are against both of you.
The other thing to consider is that although you can send work to an editor, this counts as "shopping it [your literary work] around" and you have then determined a path you have to stay on. Agents are not interested in considering work that has been shopped around to editors already, unless you have an offer on it and would like agent representation to finalize the deal. Why not? Because first, you thumbed your nose at agenting and went it alone. Second, many agents want the opportunity to have you work some revisions before they shop something on your behalf. (This serves two purposes: they see that you are open to revision and behave professionally--you are someone they want to work with. And their name is on the line with yours when they send your stuff out on their letterhead, so they do want it to be the best it can be.) And third, if you have already sent out your work to a bunch of editors, what can the agent do with it? You have already "tainted the pool," so to speak. And unless you have an offer, you are admitting to an agent that you have been rejected by a lot of editors already (kiss of death: do not quote any nice things said in a rejection; it was still a rejection). Unless you plan to overhaul the manuscript significantly, it will now need to stay shelved until after you sign a three book deal somewhere.
If you go to a conference and meet with an editor either one on one for a critique or, in some cases, are simply in the audience for their presentation, the conference organizers have usually made arrangements for you to submit your work to them after the conference, following whatever submission guidelines they have set, and noting that you were present at the conference (thereby avoiding the slush pile and guaranteeing a slightly faster response time). This type of editor submission is acceptable to agents, providing you are only talking one or two editors, but full disclosure is important. Agents need to know where it has been submitted. If you have not sent it anywhere, say so in your cover letter.
Agents also attend conferences and permit attendees to submit to them afterward. However, it is rare to get picked up at a conference, and there doesn't seem to be any strong advantage to having met the agent or had a critique with them--other than good advice, of course. So if you do attend conferences (like SCBWI--Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) then do so because you will learn vast amounts about the industry expectations and good writing, not because Prince Charming might invite you to dance!
Agents don't really apply in the case of the non-fiction children's writer. Here, the hustle is different. Either send a pitch/prospectus directly to a relevant Press and/or send your resume to education presses that accept WFH (work for hire) applicants.
In my case, I sent my resume to around 40 presses. About a quarter or more of them emailed or wrote to say they liked my credentials and found me qualified to write for them. They kept my resume on file. Although this may yet provide some writing work, and for some it might do so very quickly, I found personally that networking has paid better dividends thus far.
A colleague in my writing group had an overflow of work from her editor and suggested to both of us that I might be a good fit. I sent my resume and magazine work clips, and got a contract two days later, and have my first book in this genre--for a high school market--due at the end of January. Needless to say, I'm extremely happy at this turn of events, and hope that this work will produce more work, particularly as the editor in question works for a book packager and thus works to connect press needs with writers. In other words, the editor represents many presses.
When I expressed my gratitude to my lovely writing colleague, she told me to pay it forward. She got her first break this way as well, and said that she suspects connections work best in this industry. And so I will.
So, my counsel in summary is: write. Learn the hustle of submitting, tracking, researching markets, and contacting agents and editors. Attend conferences that help you meet people. But the people you really want to meet are your colleagues, because they're the network that can help you most!
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Oneday you were harsh to me so i'll be harsh to you. I don't know how to be harsh to you. but it's pay back time. I know I can! oooo yay. PAY BACK.
(Hey. At least all the apostrophes were in the right places.)
Sunday, December 11, 2011
So herewith the first in a mini-series of posts dedicated to aspiring and beginning kidlit writers. The perspective is mine, of course, but I make every effort to ensure that I don't break with common sense and industry practice. If I talk about common errors it's either because I made them myself, and/or because I have read a lot of industry bloggers and absorbed their collective counsel. I hope you find the information helpful!
The Path to Publishing
There are two major paths to publishing success in kidlit: the stunning novel manuscript that grabs an agent or editor's attention and gets you a bidding war and a three-book deal, and the path that everyone else is on.
The latter path is characterized by not having all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. If you are submitting a single picture book manuscript, for instance, as your entry point into the publishing world, you are engaged in a methodical process of researching your market (agent or editor--more on that in another post), sending out submissions, tracking replies, and repeating the process. You can spend a year doing this, watching your email inbox as the seasons pass.
The adage about sealing the envelope, mailing off your baby, and then getting back to work is a good one. Better yet, letting your baby sit in a drawer for a good few weeks while you work on something else. Fortune favors the persistent, well-edited, and prolific. And that is why magazine publishing makes for an excellent (and still highly competitive) training ground for your skills.
If you haven't looked into it much, magazine writing may still carry some stigma for you. It's "Cinderella in the kitchen" of children's publishing world. Don't think of it as paying your dues, but earning your chops. It is difficult to get published in a magazine. Many other people are submitting to the same titles as you. Editors are skilled at identifying exactly what they want in a poem, piece of short fiction, non-fiction, or rebus story. By researching each market, learning the conventions expected of the genre and the publication, writing to those conventions, submitting correctly and waiting a month or two to hear back, you are engaged in a process of code cracking. Getting publications ("clips") indicates to you and to prospective editors that you are a working professional who understands the process.
The Cinderella analogy works here too, I think. Children's writing is glamorized but to be a successful children's writer takes the same type of grit and perseverance that it takes to do any other work. Writing to specs enables you to learn a type of writing hardiness and flexibility that will stand you in excellent stead whatever market you aim at. Before you send any submission to any magazine, read their submission requirements in a market guide and confirm them by going to the magazine's website. If a magazine will only accept submissions that state genre and age of intended reader in the subject line, and limit poetry to 20 lines, then you are wasting your time and theirs if you send a submission that ignores or defies their requirements.
Clips tend to generate more clips, as each editor sees from your growing list of publications that you are a capable and organized writer. But you can also learn a great deal about yourself while you apprentice as a magazine writer (and make your career here if you choose as well!). You will quickly discover what type(s) of writing you enjoy most, and have the best successes with. For fastest response times, begin with smaller, regional titles or specialty magazines. Submitting to national titles can be done later when you are more certain of your skills and can afford to wait longer to hear back on your submission.
Children's Writers and Illustrators Markets (CWIM)
Magazine Markets for Children's Writers
Children's Writer's Word Book (for leveled vocabulary)
The Business of Writing for Children (Aaron Shepard)
Writing it Right! How Successful Children's Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories (Sandy Asher--great for seeing revisions of successive drafts in several genres, leading up to published version)
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Daughter: I have a question.
Hubby: OK. You know you don't have to raise your hand, though.
Daughter: Well, I'm training to be home schooled.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Me: What list?
Daughter: I asked for: a real kitten, a real chestnut horse, and another American Girl doll.
Daughter: I asked for stuff for you, too!
Me: Like what?
Daughter: A lie detector. So you can tell when we are lying.
Me: I tell you what. If you don't lie to me, I won't even need one!
Daughter: Um. Yeah. You really do need one.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Son: You know, only one percent of the water on the planet is drinkable. We'll really be in trouble if we don't look after it.
Daughter: We can just drink milk then.
Son: What will the cows drink? They need water too. And for grass. One day, there'll be no cows.
Daughter: So then, we'll just have to learn to milk a walrus.
Friday, November 18, 2011
If I could buy every parent I know a copy--and, for that matter, all the other parents too-- I would! Even in a week it has changed things for the better around here. But, as I can't, I will offer you a tidbit I would call "Nice Try" which occurred as we watched the moon go down behind the airport runway from our hotel window in the early-ish morning:
Me: You just watched the earth turning.
Daughter: That was amazing.
Son: It was. And we could do that sort of thing all the time if we home schooled.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Me: What did you wish for?
Daughter: A million ladybugs. But today, I'm wishing for a pegasus!
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Daughter: Look, Mom. There are ten chapters, and I'm at chapter eight!
Daughter: It's page 72!
Daughter: There's only this much to go!
Me: You're a reading fiend!
Daughter: Sssshhhhhhh! I'm READING.
Part the Second:
[in a local bookstore, with TV playing scary music in one corner...]
Daughter, clamping herself to my leg: What IS that?
Me: It's a TV. It's playing a movie.
Daughter: Ohhhh. I thought it was a dementor.
Part the Third:
Me: What specials did you have today?
Daughter: Library. I NEED an ipod touch!
Monday, October 17, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
At the car, Daughter then realized she no longer had "her favorite" sweatshirt tied around her waist, either. She wanted to go back in and look for it. But, the place was now officially closed, and in any case the item in question could have been anywhere in the corn field, or in one of the mazes, or... well, anywhere. Still, Son pointed out. She is more likely to see the sweatshirt again than he the ring. But, she replied: It is my absolute favorite! I don't have another red sweatshirt!
As soon as we got into the safety of the car, both burst into tears. I drove home to the sounds of wailing, thinking we would have been better off not going at all.
Then, in the kitchen, the moment I found truly heartbreaking. The two of them hugged, sobbing. "I'm sorry you lost your sweatshirt!" Son wailed. "I'm sorry you lost your ring!" Daughter howled. It was truly tragic.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Son: Why me?
Me: Because I carried you for nine months, then gave birth to you, and raised you so that this moment would come. So worth it!
Son: You are a sick and twisted Mommy.
Returns with coffee, and proceeds to talk for five minutes about Yugi Oh cards.
Me: Look, I haven't been able to read a page since you came back in!
Son: And yet... you carried me for nine months, gave birth to me, and raised me. You knew this moment would come.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Daughter, turning page in piano music and seeing a sea of notes: "Oh, sweet niblets."
Spanish conversation class: "Por que viene el oso?"*
Girlfriend, explaining how she told the car dealer she wasn't going to move from his office until he made it right: "Civil disobedience is my hobby."
Son: Mom, you should stop picking up. It's my room, my mess, and my responsibility to pick it up.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Daughter, at dinner: You remember you said you'd give me that thing?
Daughter: That crunchy thing?
Daughter: Oh, you know. Starts with a "b." ... Barnacle?
Son: It's another word for toffee.
Daughter: That's it!
Friday, September 16, 2011
Daughter: Are we on a highway?
Me: I can assure you, you are not adopted.
Dauther: Cool!! (Singing: I'm not adopted!)
Daughter: Smiley is a kid's name.
Me: Well, he's still called Smiley. Kids grow up too. You'll still have your name when you grow up.
Daughter: You mean, you were called Casie when you were a kid?
Me: Uh, yeah.
Daughter: Cool!! I get to keep my name!!
Sunday, September 11, 2011
The easy answer is, of course: well, Son is now hale and healthy and has muscles. So, "priceless," and all that. But it's also a platitude. Because, yes. It can be very difficult at times.
When we first got the diagnosis it was a relief of sorts. We were the ones who had asked to have celiac panels run, etc, so it wasn't exactly an enormous surprise to us (although it did seem to be to the pediatric gastroentorologist at Children's Mercy). Still, we had a blizzard to ride out, had just arrived back from Middle Earth the day before school went back, I was teaching a grad class, and what on earth to feed Son in the hours that immediately followed? We got by on lots of mixes, and although I did purchase a whole heap of recipe books it was with the best of intentions and not much time to learn new tricks. The blizzard was actually a godsend as it kept me indoors away from other human beings and shopping on the internet while we weathered the news.
The semester got easier. We learned new things: assess the school cafeteria eating environment; ask the teacher for a list of birthday dates in Son's classroom so as to be able to provide something tasty for him when cupcakes were being consumed; send pizzas to the local pizzeria when the school took Son there to celebrate something with an external reward. For the most part, Son enjoyed feeling Special throughout this time. He enjoyed the feeling of being a medical mystery (something that has cost us a lot of money over the years, I must say).
The kitchen became GF in the first week. Bye bye: toaster, bread bin, cereals, crumbs in the cupboards, and our favorite bread board made out of ancient kauri from New Zealand. (A replacement is finally on its way, as I type.) Daughter was initially frustrated by not being able to eat chicken nuggets in the house, but is now quite happy in the realization that she gets gluten in sealed packets in her lunch, and can eat anything she wants to out in the world. For now, at least. She had a blood test to check for antibodies (not a fun five minutes) and is currently clear.
Then the summer arrived, and with it the end of my deferred best intentions. Time to step up, and become self-reliant! Bought a bread machine. Baked, and baked. Have found (with the help of One Piece of Cake at a Time--see blogroll, and several of my recipe books, and the internet) some new family favorites. Chocolate cookies that all kids love. Almond joy that adults say is the best they've ever eaten. Went against years of low fat wisdom and bought a frier which, when coupled with a french fry potato cutter, is now responsible for french fries once a week at dinner. Son is now far from feeling deprived. We use GF beer in the crock pot. Eating at home is easy. Sending Son on sleepovers or playdates with food is easy.
He has his moments of frustration. He has said it's a bit annoying to show up with a food kit to a friend's house. He can't eat licorice. And the chinese buffet is pretty much a thing of the past.
I have to say that for both of us (as I too am affected): restaurants are the hardest to bear. The gap between what is supposed to happen (request conversations with the cook; request that they cook meat wrapped in foil if they cannot change out the grill; request that they use clean utensils and avoid touching anything else with them; ask a million questions about what's in the marinade... I mean, who thinks that is a fun way to eat out?) and what actually does happen is wide. Holla Red Lobster for actually volunteering to switch out the grill and grab utensils from their dishwasher in reponse to our careful menu questions, by the way. You rock. Usually what happens is a slab of meat with as little on it as possible, and a "hope for the best" attitude.
So the long answer is more complicated. Lovely to feel healthy, and have Son look and feel healthy. Glad his vitamin and mineral absorption is looking good, and his teeth don't seem to have suffered from lack. Annoyed that his life will be markedly different, and still feeling guilty (it is genetic after all). Glad that labelling laws and product availability are getting better every single day, but annoyed that very few people understand that it's more than a food allergy: it's an auto-immune disease, and yes: one bite does hurt. Glad we're out of the six months of lactose intolerance and ban on eating GF oats until Son's stomach has healed enough to reintroduce those foods. Glad it's not something worse, or more medically managed, but nervous that Crohn's is also still in the picture, pending another biopsy in the new year. Worried about teen depression, which is apparently more likely for diagnosed celiac teens.
Hope this is interesting and/or informative. I know there are many other ways of handling celiac and the GF lifestyle, and this post may not be as upbeat as someone else would write it. But there you have it!
Thursday, September 1, 2011
But I digress. Today's story is about Hubby's journey in GF land. Son and I were diagnosed with celiac disease early in the new year. Out of deference to Hubby and Daughter we attempted a split kitchen... for a week. At the end of that week, Hubby realized the sheer cross-contamination impossibility of such a thing, and since that time our whole house has been GF zone. Daughter eats girl scout cookies in her school lunch, on on the back patio. Hubby dines out to get his "fix."
But Hubby misses sourdough bread too much. And I know it is possible to make GF sourdough, so no need to tell me. But 1) old dog who just spent months learning a heap of new baking tricks and can't yet take on another one, and 2) Hubby likes the "store boughten" kind. 3) It isn't just sourdough. It's canned ravioli, frozen burritoes, and everything else guaranteed to clog the arteries and give you diabetes from carb overload. I finally caved, and purchased a loaf of sourdough, had it sliced in the store, and then bought a survival kit of sliced cheese, deli meats, etc, for him to take to work and make there.
The bread sat in its bag for a couple of days as Hubby wrapped his mind around making his lunch at work. I said if that loaf goes mouldy, I won't repeat the experiment.
Two days ago, he came home, made the sandwich on a plate, in the sink, and was "parched" because he "couldn't touch anything with his gluteny hands and couldn't turn on the faucet without dousing his sandwich." Clearly, that wasn't the solution.
Yesterday, he called me after lunch with a new tale of woe. He went home and decided to make his lunch in the man room. It has a microwave, and a fridge. It is a gluten zone. He has a supply of gluten snacks for game nights out there. It was obviously a perfect choice for Plan B. He used a paper plate, tipped out a can of ravioli, and nuked it. (Doesn't really count as food, I know.) But the paper plate objected to having hot, slightly runny food on it and sloshed molten ravioli onto his right hand as he extracted the plate from the heating device. In pain, he grabbed the plate with his left hand, and repeated the results which, he said, "felt like napalm."
He now has a blister on each hand. Kind of like gluten stigmata. And let that be a lesson to all.
Monday, August 29, 2011
We did the tour around the kids' school on Meet the Teacher (aka: Bring Us the Supplies the District Can't Afford Any More Thanks To Budget Cuts) night, and dispensed boxes of chocolates. The tradition is to start with the kindergarten teacher the kids had, and go up every grade in order. Daughter, who began second grade, has done so with general good cheer and excitement, which is way, way better than terror and anguish like last year. Son's teacher used to be a kayaking instructor, which has gotten Son through the first week with minimal boredom.
The Schedule is set: who picks up kids on which days, and ferries them to which events. Hubby's rehearsals begin this week for his annual university play, and The Schedule takes that into account. Five nights a week of rehearsals for the next two months? No big thing. Because we did this all last year. We figured out how to juggle our work and the kids' homework and their many extra-curriculars, and now it's just a matter of doing it again. There's a general air of self-congratulation at casa LKL these days, and The Schedule can take much of the credit.
Also, as I had a very busy year teaching-wise and requested just two preps this year, and as my department tries to take good care of its human capital and granted my request, I have so much more head space. I know we just got started, and grading will find me soon, but still. Two preps? Piece of cake.
So, I am auditing a Spanish class twice a week too. So far, I love being a student, although there are a few moments of confusion when I'm not sure which side of the desk to empathize with. I have discovered, for instance, that it feels irksome when the prof confidently reads off the price tag on the back of the textbook and says it's a mere 18.95, when I just came from the bookstore and it cost 31 dollars. I don't mind the minimal expense, and it's a darned sight cheaper than many textbooks, but the realization that the professor has no idea what the book costs is alarming from the student side of the desk. I must take note of these things. And yet, when the students who all showed up without the book in the second class, and therefore also did not have their homework with them, I was annoyed at having to share my book with them. As an auditor I am trying hard not to be Hermione Granger in class, but it's difficult when there are so many Crabbes and Goyles and none of them have done their homework. I'm used to this from my usual side of the desk, but it's quite different when you're an Undercover Prof.
Anyway. It's Monday. Which means: Daughter has piano after school, and Brownies once a month, and Son has scouts. (Thank you, Schedule!)
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Me: Probably Cassandra. The prophetess who could see into the future.
Daughter: Can you see me as a teenager?
Me: Yep. You're beautiful.
Daughter: Is my hair blonde?
Daughter: So you DIDN'T let me dye my hair.
Son, looking through old photos: No offence, mom. But I don't like what you did with your hair in the teen years.
Me, having a meltdown, to Hubby: I mean... What's the point in just existing? I come home, I watch Netflix, I'm happy. But I'm going to look up in twenty years and I'll be 63 and then what?
Hubby, wryly: Oh, they'll have come out with more movies by then.
Friday, August 12, 2011
- One Piece of Cake at a Time
- A Good (Enough) Woman
- Fie Upon This Quiet Life (I Want Work)
- Design in Technical Writing
Please see my blogroll for a link to each!
And here are a few fun questions for you:
- What were you going to be called if you were not born the sex you are? (If you don't actually know, what name would you choose for your alternate self?)
- Why do you blog?
- What is your least rational pet peeve?
- If you write creatively, what's your favorite genre and why?
Feel free to answer in the comments!
Sunday, August 7, 2011
- Don't buy sewing patterns that cost more than 2.99, because I will cut them wrong;
- Son knows sarcasm ("You made bacon and eggs for breakfast? Who are you, and what have you done with my mom?");
- The "many hands make light work" theory that got over a thousand scouts to Joplin yesterday to help the schools get ready for the extra students they will have (due to the several schools that got destroyed in the May 22 F5 tornado) doesn't really work when: many of those hands are elementary aged, the work is all outdoors, the temperature is 105 degrees, you begin at 10am, and whoever delivered the mulch to the school playgrounds our pack drew had delivered "creatively" at best;
- There are many more lines to repaint on said playgrounds than you'd expect, and the ground is so very, very far away;
- You can drink about 15 bottles of water and never visit the porta-potty once when doing manual labor in a heat wave;
- I am very glad not to have an outdoor job;
- Sometimes the farmer's market eggs have giant chicken embryos in them, with visible chicken feet;
- It's best not to break eggs open over a bowl already containing baking products;
- My diet is working (Daughter: "You're killing Squishy! Squishy is dying! Squisheeeeee!")
- Hubby will work for the scouts without complaint, but throws giant tantrums when doing it at home, like... today.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Son: summer soccer (in 100+ degrees).
Daughter: gymanstics team training (in Y gym with 2 AC units out).
Me: more teaching.
Son: nature camp with university biology folks.
Me: catching a defiant plagiarist.
Daughter: Made the top level for swim lessons. Learned to do a flip turn.
Me: did actually bike to work for a week.
Hubby: stayed up late gaming.
Son: claymation camp, followed by invention camp. Made elaborate roller coasters and video of a bank robbery.
Me: wore flip flops to all classes after the first week. Bought farmer's market produce from students.
Son: came home from "outdoor adventure camp" with heat exhaustion. Cried.
Daughter: began the Harry Potter series.
Son: saw the seventh film, three times. Cost us a fortune.
Me: more teaching. And an entire two seasons of Damages. (Yes, I unplugged but not from my beloved Netflix, which was the only thing that got me through summer school.)
Hubby: stayed up late gaming.
Me: learned to make GF bread from scratch. Learned the secret to enjoying baking is to stay on Atkins, where I have lost 20 pounds. Baking is now a lot more fun.
Daughter: Made this discovery: "Wait. So that's where I came from?!"
Son: Began a Yugio collection and formed a duelling club. Had a "Platform 9 3/4 party" to celebrate being 9 3/4 years old. Harry Potter robes worn by all (except one creative Sirius Black who had a face-painted beard and a dog nose). Many killing curses hurled around the yard, in between Quidditch and Potions class. Restroom renamed The Room of Requirement.
Daughter: learned how to put a ring sprinkler on her head and chase everyone at said party. Then filled the birdbath, colored it with green food coloring left over from Potions class, and everyone stuck their faces in the "Pensieve." Sirius Black went home with green eyebrows.
Hubby: Ran Potions class and a Quidditch match, and then stayed up late gaming.
Me: Hurt my wrist playing Scrabble on my Kindle.
Wonder what August will bring? Hard to top that!
Friday, July 1, 2011
All this to say, it's LKL's unplugged month. No blogging. No reading blogs. No tweeting, facebooking, and a minimal checking of email. Movies... not usually, but this year I still think sanity requires them. So, be good! I'll be back in August. Hope summer is a good one and I'll catch up with y'all in a bit!
Monday, June 27, 2011
She asked where New York was, and whether the shop called Mood (fabric shop, for those of you non-Project Runway types) really exists, and could we go there asap? I pointed out that there might be lots of Moods because I haven't googled them yet, but that most towns had fabric shops. Why? Because in every town someone sews. Where is the shop in our town? Well, I stammer, it's Walmart. Can we go there right now? Errr... okay, why not?
Daughter has been to Walmart probably every fourth day of her life thus far. But she never knew they had fabric there! Half way up the aisle toward the back of the store, she spotted The Wall and began to run. She exclaimed over bolts of cloth, and picked out several, discussing whether the color palette would work. I need two yards of this! She yelled, probably thinking someone from Mood would cut it for her. We got some good natured fellow who sheepishly admitted that he didn't work the cloth desk usually and that we could come back during regular hours for the sewing person (it's a 24-hour Walmart, so I don't know when regular hours are), but who managed to cut with aplomb and sharp scissors. Wow, said Daughter.
I then bought a sewing machine. And thread. And a pattern. I came home, and the two of us watched The Instructional DVD. (Have I mentioned we were already well past "regular hours" even for Walmart?) And this morning, while Daughter sleeps, exhausted by Project Runway hours (and somewhere, an hour away, Hubby and Son have already attended a flag raising, swum, eaten breakfast and been bitten by mosquitoes) I have Set Up the Machine, according to the Operation Manual. I have wound a bobbin! And threaded the machine! And sewed several types of stitches! I will, Tim. I will make it work!
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
We went into her room, which was very dark, and she closed the door. She went to a spot in the corner of the room and turned on some blinking red and blue light thing (actually, I had never seen it before) and we sat on her bed for a few minutes. We're traveling into the future, she said. Two hundred years. Aaaaand...we're there.
She got up and turned off the light, and led me into her brother's room. In his bed under the blankets was a mounded shape, and on his pillow a skull with glasses on. (I would have been more alarmed by the skull except he bought it at the Globe Theater in London a couple of years back. Alas, poor Yorrick. The glasses were a surprisingly moving touch, though.) He's dead in the future! Daughter informs me.
We reverse the process, blinking lights and all. When we return to Son's room, he pops out of the closet and asks why it took us so long to find him.
While the whole thing was endearing, it was also triste. I don't like being met at the door by one child telling me the other is dead. She was wrapped in a blanket (it was noon, mind you) and Hubby looked like he had been crying. Turns out, he had not been awake for long (must be nice, right?). But there was an awful instant where I thought she must actually be telling the truth. Compared to that, Yorrick was a blast.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
But it began this way. We were geared up, in swimsuits, for our first trip to the city aquatic center for family swim. My keys were the only ones in the key bowl, and hubby was out by the car. In my defence, it was a logical assumption to make that he had his keys... But no, he was just applying sunscreen.
I was also distracted, telling Son that it didn't matter if the kiosk was closed when we got there, because we were going to swim, not buy candy. I was in full diatribe about how he really should focus on the bigger picture when hubby asked me if I had the keys.
So, all four of us are locked out. We have swimsuits, towels, an open car, and a bottle of sunscreen. And a chalk box, on the front porch. (Lurking out of sight is, of course, a brick.) It's like Apollo 13, but the weather is nicer and we can breathe the air. We check: no keys hidden anywhere. No open doors.
The kids suggest things like: We could walk to the pool! And: We could sleep in the car! We instead sit on the front steps and ponder the options. A locksmith? Hubby muses. Nope, he says. Too expensive. So, he decides to break the wee front window on the door to unlock it. What about the cost and time of replacing glass? I ask. No sweat, apparently.
I wasn't looking, and I assumed he was using the bottle of sunscreen (contents under pressure--that would have been my mistake) but it was the chalk box. A plastic thing, that spread the mass of impact and probably absorbed most of it too. On the second whack, it went through, and so did his hand. There was glass twenty feet inside the house, and five feet outside. Blood lavishly dripping. So, the kids missed the aquatic center. Hubby missed his tendon (barely) and had eight centimeters of stitches in four spots. And now doesn't have to swim for a couple of weeks.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Daughter brought me the tooth, with the warning: Be really careful! I was eating a snack, so it has gluten on it!
Apparently, that tooth was doing its job, right up to the last.
But there's a trend in our house, begun when Son lost a tooth and pondered that the tooth fairy must have all kinds of teeth available. He requested a shark tooth from her and she produced. Other teeth that have been requested include: whale, horse, unicorn, gods, and other mythical animals. The tooth fairy has reasonably stated that mythical animals rarely lose their teeth. Teeth she has left instead include: badger, rabbit, cat, horse, cow, coyote. The tooth fairy has a supplier who lives on a farm and who thankfully bleaches most of them before sending them along to the TF.
(Have you seen cow and horse teeth, outside of a head? They are grisly, and huge.)
On receiving rabbit teeth, Daughter announced: I know the tooth fairy is real. Because she comes in the night and leaves me things I've never seen before.
Friday, June 3, 2011
They meditated, off and on, most of yesterday. Daughter decided to Teach Her Mother. Her version went like this:
Daughter: You have to sit down on the floor, criss cross like this. In front of the voodoo doll.
Daughter: Yes. The Buddha doll. You hold your hands the same way. And then you just ... let your mind go blank. Think about nothing. And just go with the flow.
Me: Okay. That's hard.
Daughter: Levitating is harder. But it doesn't usually happen because of ... well, gravity.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Me: You are big-hearted.
Son: Mom. My heart is the size of my fist.
Hubby: Boy. My eyes were bigger than my stomach.
Daughter: Oh, no Dad. Your stomach is way, WAY bigger than your eyes.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
First, best use of CreateSpace publishing, ever. This is one seriously lovely looking book. Second, I know I'm biased, but this is the book that should have been written and collected a long time ago. Now, in one handy spot, all those grisly versions of the tale, with scholarly accuracy. You know you need this on your shelves.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
This book is justly famous and wonderful. And here's why.
Daughter, far past bedtime: Is there another meaning for "lean." Not like "lean on me," but "fat and lean"?
Me: Yes. Now go to sleep.
Daughter: I'm lean. Brother is lean. You're... kind of lean.
Me: Go to sleep.
Daughter: Dad... Well, he isn't fat, exactly. But he isn't lean, either.
Me: Enough already.
Daughter: Hey! I'm asking some pretty good questions here!
Daughter: Did Brother's tummyache get better?
Me: Go to sleep.
Daughter: I know! [sitting up in bed, eureka style] I'll make him a Get Well Card!
Here, on the other hand, is why there should also be another Mo Willems treasure, called Don't Let the School Give Up Early. (Or if you prefer, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Summer Vacation.)
Note, sent home this week from third grade. "We have a lot of activities going on this week! Tuesday, AR points Pizza Party! Wednesday, Reading Celebration! Trip to Mini-Golf. Thursday: Wings party! Health Party! and AR Points, Ice Cream Party! Next week I have attached a number of notes for activities. Monday is a school-wide luau. Please send beach towels marked with your child's name. Also, I will take our class fishing next week. Please return permission slips!
Please help your child stay focused in school this week as we have several tests for grade cards."
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
"Your interests are pretty much the exact same as mine, and they are good interests. I simply adore reading, writing is fun too. I love movies just as much as you do and family time is the most fun of all. And we can't forget cats, very elegant creatures, but not as elegant as you, mom. Traveling I agree is excellent. Your talents are extraordinary. I mean you are really good at mothering, you know, when you should apply discipline. Writing is one of your specialties. Your voice is like silk, you could sing anyone to sleep! Your French is really good!
Your dislikes are exactly like mine. I dislike all of the things that you dislike too. You are really smart so you have a really good job. You were born in a really nice place. I agree that it was wide open spaces in New Zealand. It is very fun.
I am a kid and I love these vey interesting things. Reading is awesome!!! Writing is not too much my style, biking is fun, and swimming rocks. I have to agree that sunburns stink. I really do hate jelly. Bullies are meanies! I think that stabbing a pitchfork through your foot would hurt! You had to be embarrassed in that pink swimsuit. I bet you didn't like to ride your bike as much after you fell off your bike.
Your hair sparkles in the light. Your eyes are as blue as the sea. And you are lovely!!!"
[Note: he did not mention that I am plump, after all!] Daughter's card was beautifully hand decorated, and gorgeous. She praised my "squishiness."
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Then, you are a card carrying children's writer. SCBWI sends you a host of materials and, perhaps more importantly, access to your regional chapter. Even if you live too far to attend any or many of your regional chapter's events (workshops, agent days, annual conferences featuring editors, authors and agents) you can still get access to their newsletters, craft columns (writer's craft, mind you!) and critique groups. You could even start your own local critique group with other local SCBWI members.
When you submit your work, thoughtfully and in proper format, to agents/editors, you will state on your cover letter that you are a SCBWI member. It is a sign of your professionalism. To live up to the expectations that establishes, you need to do your homework on submissions, read the websites, and do everything it tells you to do to ensure your submission will be read.
This plug for a great organization is brought to you by one happy camper, who spent all day yesterday a few hours from home attending a SCBWI workshop with Cheryl Klein, the incomparable editor at Arthur A. Levine, she of the last 3 Harry Potter novels fame (and A Curse Dark as Gold by Kansas' own Elizabeth C. Bunce, one of my favorite reads of last year, and of course many other books too), and author of Second Sight (about revision for writers).
Buy the book! For less than twenty dollars, you can experience a paradigm shift.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
- Can you spell that? Actually, can you write it out?
- Okay, (stroking imaginary beard), are there any other examples you'd like to give?
- Wow. that IS an interesting detail. Are you done, or do you have more?
- About you, Mom. Not the country. It's an interview about a person, not a place.
- I'm practicing my note-taking skills.
- Oh, man! I put "cats" under "talents" instead of "likes"!
- Why is "mothering" a talent?
- I can put "plump"? really? you don't mind that?
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Do you "retreat"? How do you do it?
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
When the 24-pack of coke zeroes fell off the back of the cart, I felt lucky. They missed my bare feet!
But then I hoisted the 24-pack by its tab and ripped up my big toenail, but bad.
I then stood there for a few minutes staring at my foot, trying to figure out why my nail was all red, and then determine how badly it was going to hurt, and should I seek assistance or not?
I decided it was necessary to elevate it, with ice, and hobbled back to the service area to find someone. It was empty. So I backtracked a few aisles and found a worker who took off to find an ice pack. I told him he could find me sitting in the service area. I was beginning to feel clammy and not very well.
He zoomed back moments later to tell me his manager was fetching me an ice pack.
Then, not one, but ten managers converged upon me. One of them handed me an ice pack, and then they conferred. Then they took an incident report. Name? Address? Phone number? I was so rattled it took me a while to figure out why they were asking me these pointless questions.
Where did it happen? I was asked. I stared at my cart, trying to remember. Eggs? I stammered.
How did the box fall? Which way did it roll? How did you lift it?
Do you think we got everything? asked Manager 1, holding the pen. I think so, replied Manager 2. We could photograph the box? Suggested Manager 3.
I laughed. The box is fine, said I. It isn't defective. (Manager 1 wrote this down.) Three Managers lifted the box and examined it for defects. All clear.
After a while, I was offered bandaids, and assistance if I needed it "with the cart." I hobbled home.
Halfway there, I realized they were probably watching the tapes at that moment. And that it hadn't happened by eggs at all, but rather by sour cream. And I wondered if that discrepancy was being tallied for use by the legal team if required.
I realized that fortunately for me, I had no intention of sueing. Because Wal-Mart and Coca Cola would no doubt be a formidable legal combination.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Just in time to ward of generalized "lack of writing time lately" despair. Thank you, Bunny (you know who you are)!
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Daughter: Change lightbulbs.
Hubby: Wha-? You know, you have a point. Why doesn't she change lightbulbs?
Daughter: Not tall enough.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Me: I can't hear you!
Daughter, from the other room: UuuurrrrrhhhhhhhA!
Me: I still can't hear you. There are three appliances running in here. If you want to talk to me, come here to do it!
[Five minutes later... high pitched, continuous hum from the other room.]
Me: Is that you making that noise?
Daughter. Oh. So you CAN hear me.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
Me: I suppose so.
Daughter: I can see why it's called "Ever." Because it's the highest mountain of them all. Like "forever." But "rest"? That doesn't make sense. Why not call it "Mount "Forever." Like goodbye, forever! Or: Mount "so long, suckers!"
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Son: But...I thought you said we could watch some of a movie?!
Me: That was before you two began screaming at each other.
Son, to Daughter: Quick! Truce!
Daughter in reply: [Screeeaaaaaaaaam!] Leave me alone!!
Son, to Daughter: No, you don't understand! Truce!
Daughter: I don't know what that is.
Son: It means we have to get along, or we can't watch a movie! You want to watch a movie, don't you?
Daughter, suspiciously: With you?
Son: Well, yeah.
Daughter, shaking hands: Okay. "Truce."
Overheard a few minutes later...
Son: Remember! We're getting along? Movie?
Daughter: Oh. Yeah.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Son, teasing daughter AND quoting Despicable Me: "It's so fluffy!!!!!!!"
Daughter, in a sardonic tone: That's so last season.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Me: Then eat something.
Son: Okay. And that thing was mostly true.
Me: What thing?
Son: About dinner and dessert.
Me: ... Well, I expect that most things you tell me will be at least "mostly true."
Son: Then: so it shall be!
Me: Could you clear the table?
Son: Never fear, Mother! It shall be done!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Me: Nope. I had a shower this afternoon. I'm good.
Me: Not tonight.
Daughter, sounding desperate: But... I need someone heavy so the water will go up over the jets!
Me: Oh... So that's what this is about? You need water displacement?
Daughter: No! It's about me being your little angel.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
So when she emerged sobbing, dripping and snotty from her room, saying: "Something's wrong with Flicka! She won't get up! I think she may be dead. Flicka!" I was, officially, the worst. mother. ever.
Thankfully, the horse lived. Note to self: next time, watch the animal movie with the child.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Me: So, what was the story?
Son: Basically, it was Romeo and Juliet except--
Daughter: They were gnomes!
Son: --they didn't die in the end.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Other TV character: That's jibberish!
Daughter, to me: So, what does that mean: Hubba Hubba Two?
Me: I don't know.
Daughter, in sardonic tone: They just said it's British.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
Daughter: Are you watching Some Dangerous Fish now?
Daughter: Are you going to watch your show: Dangerous Fish?
Me: ... Uhh ...
Daughter: With the crabs?
Me: Ohhhhh. Deadliest Catch. Yep!
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Here is mine. I enjoyed the dinner. It was a nice respite from the "domestic attentions" of which you speak. Thanks for that.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Daughter, to Son: You have to guess the password.
Daughter: Nuh uh.
Son, leaving: Okay, well, I have to go somewhere and fart now.
Daughter: That's IT!!!
Sunday, January 23, 2011
You take this:
At some point today I also saw a balloon with a birthday candle taped to the side of it. I think it's time to up the insurance...
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Son: I know what I'm gonna be for Halloween.
Me: That's months away!
Son: No, wait! I'm going to be a beggar.
Daughter: I'm going to be a whiner.
Me: Oh, goodie.
Son: I'll dress up in rags, and beg.
Daughter: And I'll whine about a bunch of stuff! Actually, everything.
Son: Please!! Please!!!
Daughter: Waaaaah. Whine!!
After Day 2 back at school:
Me: How was your day?
Son: Great. I love day two. 'Cause on the first day back, you're all "that guy who went to New Zealand." But the next day, you're just a regular guy. You don't need too much attention.