Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Toddler Spirituality

Abby's really into Jesus these days. One of her bedtime books is a collection of Bible stories about him written in very simply language. For the last week or so it's been the only book she wants to read at night (we typically read two), and she'll pick to a random title in the table of contents and we'll start there and read three of the stories. And then the other day she told Dan, "Jesus is coming over today. He's going to give me a hug."

I'm teaching her the Lord's Prayer. We were praying it at naptime, and then praying our usual prayer at bedtime, but now she asks for the "Our Father prayer" anytime we pray. I say a line and she repeats it, but she's getting a few of them a little wrong. It's so cute. For example, every time I say "thy" she says "my" (for some reason I memorized it in King James language). She also says, "deliver us from eagles." And every time I say, "Lead us not into temptation" she'll say, "Like Larry Boy!" (Thank you Veggie Tales.) And I started pronouncing "Amen" as "Ahmen" when we did the Lord's Prayer, and now if I say it with the long A sound like I used to, she'll say, "No, it's AH-men!"

Abby has heard me sing Penny Jane's lullabies enough that she's learning the songs (plus she's heard all the songs on her Praise Baby DVDs for the last year or so), so now she sings them whenever the mood strikes her. One of the songs' lyrics is "Hallelujah, hallelujah, God is love." Abby pronounces it, "Haba-you-yuh," and when she sings along with me while I'm trying to put PJ down it's always a struggle not to start laughing, I just love how it sounds.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pens, highlighters, and notecards at the ready...

Guess what this is?

That is my third novel, Reinventing Rachel, all 192 single-spaced pages of it. It is due in two months. Tomorrow I'm going to begin my edits. Woohoo! I love being this far ahead of the game. All I need to do before I start is three-hole punch it, buy some highlighters, and pick up the editing flashcards (a.k.a. the checklists at the end of each chapter of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers) I had laminated today at Staples.

Now, if you've been paying attention, you know that I wasn't supposed to start editing until next week. Well, I decided to tweak my schedule a little. I finished the snowflake method for the fourth book a couple nights ago, but I decided not to start writing because I have a feeling I'm going to get really into it, and I didn't want to set myself up for frustration by starting something I wasn't going to be able to finish. I'd rather set the snowflake aside, edit ReRa, and then come back and reread the snowflake and insert the information I've gathered from the research I still need to do and then start writing. I also decided to take on a sewing project because I'm just not busy enough.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Checkpoint 1

Today was the first checkpoint on my six-month schedule. I am happy (and surprised, frankly) to announce that I indeed finished mapping out the scenes for Book 4! (I really have to figure out a title for this book.) I didn't think I'd make it since I'd missed a big part of the process and had to set the scene stuff aside to go do it, but I actually finished it Thursday night. However, when I made that schedule I did so assuming I was going to skip the last step in the snowflake process, but I've decided to really stick to it and do it all the way. So I doubt I'll get the first 10% done by August 2 like I'd planned. But, then again, this whole experience has been one happy surprise after another so far, so who knows, maybe it'll work out.

Dan's brother-in-law is here with his family for the weekend. They're Las Vegas folks (North Las Vegas, to be specific) but they're Disneyland fanatics, so they're in town to purchase season tickets. I'm going to get pictures while they're here of their son Simon (who's 5) with Abby, because they look so much like siblings; same with their 6-month-old Gavin and Penny Jane. It's bizarre, really, how much they look alike. There is zero resemblance between me and my cousins, so it really cracks me up.

All the kids are in bed, Dan and Andrew are holed up in Dan's office playing XBox games, and Amber is, I think, tucking herself into the Aerobed, so I'm going to take advantage of the solitude and get going on the last step of the snowflake process. I can't say enough about this concept--if you're a novelist you absolutely MUST check it out. It's ten bucks and worth every penny.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What Abby said today

Abby: "I want a baby."

Me: "You want to *be* a baby? Or you *want* a baby?"

Abby: "I want a baby. In my beebo (bellybutton, a.k.a. tummy). I want to be a mommy."

The look on her face when she said it...oh my goodness, I nearly cried. It was so precious. She just looked so sincere.

Check your email!

Go ahead, go take a look, I'll wait.

*insert elevator music here*

Did you see the friendly reminder from me and my newsletter? You didn't?! Oh dear--that means either:

A) It went in your spam folder--quick, go check! Is it there? Mark it as not spam so you don't miss anything else!


B) You're not signed up for my newsletter. And really, what excuse do you have? You don't *like* insights into the writing process, or hearing about awesome women who are doing cool things to stay home with their kids, or entering ridiculously easy contests to win fantastic prizes? Maybe you just missed the sign-up box in the right-hand column of the blog, and just didn't happen to see the posts back in June about the first issue being sent out. It's okay, we all make mistakes. Go sign up and I'll forgive you. Then check out the archives to see last month's issue and to enter the contest!

And if you're thinking, "Waitaminit--I *did* sign up for the newsletter, but I never got it!" then that means it went to your spam, just like my reminder most likely did. Oops! The next issue releases in mid-August, so be on the lookout for it so you don't miss it. And until then, you can check the first issue at the archives.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The itch

Two nights ago I completed the last character sketch for my next book. I even modified the approach by writing each character's backstory in their own voice starting at the point where they enter the story. I think it helped me to create a unique voice for each one of them; I tend to make all my characters sound alike. (At least, I think they do.) The next step is to actually plot out every scene in a big spreadsheet. I love spreadsheets. I'm excited to have a reason to open Excel.


The itch to start writing has begun to, well, itch. This is the point when I gave up on the snowflake method when writing Reinventing Rachel. Actually, if I'm honest, I slapped together some pretty half-baked character sketches for ReRa because of the dang itch, so it's safe to say I've gotten much further this time. I've never outlined with this much depth, and my little inner voice is complaining that this is too formulaic and all the creativity is getting sucked out of the process. Which is so not true. If anything, I'll be able to be MORE creative because I won't have to stop every five minutes to figure out where exactly I want this or that scene to go, what's going to come next, etc. But regardless, it's getting more and more difficult to focus on the process because I want to write already!

It's also not helping that I'm completely stuck as to how to start the story. I'm eager to get out my spreadsheet, but I don't have any idea what to put in it yet. Actually, that's not quite true--I do know about some of the scenes, but they're further on in the story, and I have a very hard time approaching a book in a non-linear way. (Diana Gabaldon, who writes the unputdownable Outlander series, supposedly writes her books by just writing random scenes and assembling them together later. I CANNOT fathom that process. Talk about messy!) Even though I have those scenes in mind, I can't bring myself to enter them into the scene spreadsheet until everything that's supposed to come before them is there. Maybe I'll be able to push myself in that area with the next book, but not yet.

So I'm wracking my brain to come up with the right entry point into the story, but I think once I do the story will unfold pretty easily. My revised schedule for the rest of the year (I can't believe I'm planning out six months worth of work; I've never planned out more than a couple weeks at a time!) is as follows:

July 19: scene spreadsheet completed
August 2: First 10% of story completed
August 3-31: edit ReRa and work on marketing ideas
September 1: turn in ReRa to Cook Publishing
September: 1-30: write 20% more of story (30% cumulative) and complete marketing pack for book 4
October 1: turn in marketing pack to Zondervan
October 1-31: write 25% more on book 4 (55% cumulative), work on ReRa edits with editor
November 1-30: write 25% more on book 4 (80% cumulative), work on ReRa edits
December 1-31: complete book 4, work on ReRa edits

If I can stick to this, then I can set book 4 aside for all of January, start outlining book 5, and then come back to book 4 in February to edit before turning it in March 1. Am I completely insane for thinking I can do this? Especially given holidays, and travel, and parenting, and life in general? I don't know, truly. We'll see. Right now, however, I need to figure out my opening scene for the book--and my next move on Scrabulous. Kari is kicking my butt.