Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dog Days

It's pretty quiet out here in the Blogosphere.

Are you writing? Reading? What else are you doing with the last days of summer?

The kids and I are all packed up for a week-long trip to my dad's near Sacramento, while Dave rakes in the overtime.

During this part of the year, I'm not working, so I'm not paid. And it seems that the kids cost five times more than usual, with pool passes and movies tickets and lost flip flops. And the food -- the food!!! The grocery bill has definitely tripled, easy.

I should be writing.

I know you know that feeling.

But there doesn't seem to be any opportunity to do it.

Did you read Tuck Everlasting? Do you remember the intro, where Winnie's drying up from the "dog days" of summer?

That might be us writers.


September is right around the corner.

When the leaves are turning colors, and the kids go back to school, and there's that buzz in the air, but a lull at the same time. An excellent time to pick up a pen...

imgage from

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Writing Group Water Babies!

Okay, so we "forgot" to take a picture of ourselves last night at a very wet writing group. But we had a (beach) ball splashing and noodling around. There's was even a bit of writing talk, but mostly giggles and gossip and Jolly Rancher Popsicles.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Getting Fancy With Felt and Sequins

Today was hot and muggy, but thunder-y and dark, too.

So we spent the whole day having fun making these:

They took a lot of thread, and patience, and commitment. The kids were so proud!

Each one has a little bit of that kiddo's personality.

These will definitely go in our yearly Day of the Dead display at the library in November.

I always forget how good it feels to make something. $17 of materials brought us incredible joy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

What We're Reading

On the way up to Portland, I zipped through Aimee Bender's The Impossible Sadness of Lemon Cake. While I longed for more scenes of the MC's "super power" over the feelings ("empty," :hollow," "rushed,") in food, I appreciated her struggle with it, and the unfolding family conflict. Dialogue was good, setting was perfect, and a near-decade passed smoothly, though I did get hung up on the fragments that popped up every so often. This was a sad book, and I like sad books (I think there's depth in suffering), and one scene made me particularly teary. I love a young, wise narrator, and I also admire a book with a question as the conclusion.

Then there's this:
which Reesie (9)and me are reading together. Tom Angleberger writes a hilarious stack of stories about MC Tommy's deciding whether paper puppet Yoda is real or not. We giggle, we cringe, Rees begs to read one more chapter. Even Chewbacca makes a guest appearance, and every so often, we get to use the Yoda voice. What's not to like?

Dominic (12) has this going on:
I don't know anything about it, other than it's written by Carl Hiaason, and it must be good, because Dominic was reading it last night in the dark, instead of watching a family movie.

Daney (11) has to be on her 153rd library book review form. She's trying to win an iPod Nano, but even if she weren't, she'd still be devouring everything she could get her hands on (more on this in a later post). Daney whips through words so fast, I had to creep in her room while she was sleeping, to see what she has right now. While there's a huge pile by her bed of Hardy Boys, a Dangerous Sea Creatures guide, and The Girl Who Could Fly, there's also my copy of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (again, more later), and I know for sure she's a couple discs into Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, which his writing partner gave me a couple years ago when we were roommates at a conference.

And Dave? Just those graphs and charts that show how his stock is faring, as well as an occasional page of flashlights in a firefighting catalog, and maybe a Sports Illustrated article or two.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Do Not Believe What I Say

Even though I want you to.

I want you on my side.

But I'll say things that aren't true.

I'll do things I otherwise wouldn't do.

Because the alternative hurts.

Because I need an escape.

Because I want respect.

I want to be heard.

I want to matter.

You might see my flaws.

But you'll look past them.

You'll know it's self-preservation or nothing.

You'll know the reason.

Do not believe what I say.

But want to.

And accept me anyway.


"Who you were in Fight Club was not who you were in the rest of the world." (Fight Club)


This is what I've gathered from a little study on unreliable narrators. It's tricky, creating a somewhat believable but also doubtful character who says and does terrible things, but who we love regardless.

What I used: Fight Club, Shutter Island, Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, Inexcusable. All male. Hmmm...

Can anyone think of a book/movie where the unreliable narrator is female?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Let's talk "revision," my most frequent blog label, right after my kids, and even more frequent than "writing" itself.

How do you revise?

How much?

I was thinking about the word "revision" this morning (at 3). There's the "re" prefix, meaning "come back to" and the root, the great word "vision."

"Revision" is a change in the way we writers see things. It goes beyond substituting vocabulary or restructuring sentences, to whole new elements of plot, premise, theme.

Carolrhoda Lab editor Andrew Karre told me that he most admires "fearless revisions."

I've found that the more fearlessly I change the way I see my writing, the stronger it becomes.

It's not always easy. Sometimes I'm really married to stuff I have to throw out or re-do.

But it's always, always made the work richer and deeper.

What do you think about when you think about revising?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Caught This!!!

First cast. Last night.

Monday, July 12, 2010

No Limits

Last night before the Oregon Shakespeare Festival plays started, we watched the Green Show, a free 30-minute performance every Sunday-Tuesday.

It's different every night: taiko drummers, washboard bands, Thai dancers, acapela, comedians...

Yesterday, we were lucky enough to see Jen & Nate, acro/arial artists, who have performed for Brittany Spears, Prime Ministers, and at Disney World.

Jen and Nate spun, swung, and bounced. They narrated between acts.

There's something really extraordinary about this duo. Check out this link to see what it is, and to be truly inspired.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Oh my gosh, I had such a bad dream last night: I had sent Holly back my manuscript with the last 20 pages unrevised.

This is because I've been asking myself the last couple days if I did everything she asked me to.

Accept grammatical changes? Check. Post up certain chapters? Check. Add context for MC's first day of school? Check. Emphasize MC's moment of decision and the result of it? Ummm....

Did I do that?

I can't remember. My writing group says I did. Dave says I did.

But I don't know.

The re-revision didn't take weeks and weeks, like I thought it would. Like it did before.

My writing group said it was because I had already done that huge revision. Dave said the same.

Should I trust them?

Friday, July 9, 2010


Moon. Plow. Bird of Paradise.

These are the poses I'm still trying to master.

Candlestick. Crow.

Almost there.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day "Off"

"I was a slug -- so unproductive," I whined to Dave when he called from the fire department today. "I have no idea why I'm so tired. All I did was...take the kids to swimming lessons and the library, cut Daney's hair, finish revising the manuscript and send it back to Holly, make some French toast then lentil soup, do the floors, and hit up Wal-Mart for sunscreen and vitamins."

When I listed it all out, it didn't seem quite so unproductive.

Neither did it come close to the kind of day I usually have.

I wonder what that means...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Word Choice

Over the years, we've accumulated an interesting vocabulary in this family.

Here's a sample:

hi yo = hello
Noodle Baby = Top Ramen
Choicey = Market of Choice Grocery
Taco Juice = bottled sodas from the taco place
Goose = scoot over
Aker/Eeper = awake/asleep
Goo = good
Little boonie = baby blanket
Bad Baby Pie = 1)disobeying 2) quiche with bacon and potatoes
Charlie Potatoes = halved tubers with garlic and olive oil
Chick quick and grab the lucky before you get swacked = if you're the first one to come read in Mommy & Daddy's bed, you get the best spot and nobody can kick you out of it

(Can you tell the summer is sucking my brain power?)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Big Weekend -- How It Went

My adorable dad was here over the weekend. So was my brother Mac (18) and his girlfriend Sarah, my sister Erika and her husband Ryan, our niece Maddy (7), and my silly old friend from high school: Steve.

We went to the park, to the river, to the Redwoods, to the ocean. Dave gave us a ride in the fire engines. We watched the crazy Ashland parade. Of course we had Noble Coffee. And Mexican food. And Yogurt Hut.

There was crying. There was laughing. There was a lot of laundry and little sleep.

I finished up teaching the Lego class and swept the floor and hung on every word of my dad's immigration story.

And then, when it was time for them to go, after Maddy's sobs became fainter and fainter down the driveway, I went out. I sat down in Blue and I told the server, "Look. Here's what we need. We need these lyres and castanets turned way down. We need minimal attention. And I'll have a drink, any drink, you pick it."

But five minutes in, I missed all those guys already.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Big Weekend

The Fourth of July is Ashland's craziest holiday (Halloween is definitely first). This year, we're sharing it with my dad, Mac and his girlfriend, Erika and Ryan, and my friend Steve from high school.

It should be chaos!

Will post pictures after it's all over, so stay tuned!

And hey, America, happy birthday! Hope you're celebrating with her and us.