Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Thursday, February 24, 2011

To Laptop or Not to Laptop--That is the Question

So, this weekend is my annual girls' weekend sanity trip. We'll be hitting Disneyland among other places. My sister and my BFF Stephanie will be there with me. It's the only time I get away from the kids for more than 24 hours at a time during the entire year... and it's glorious. Stephanie started the tradition four years ago when I was killing myself to help the kids get services, and I was a wreck. I'd been with the kids for five years straight at that point... like... straight... no vacations without them ever. Every day. Day in. Day out. Yeah, I was a wreck. Anyway, so it's our annual trip, and I'm really excited. The husband watches the kids and they love it... and they even pitch fits when I come home sometimes because they love the time with Daddy so much.

BTW, this is just another reason I love my husband so much. He insists and supports I take this trip.

So, wooooooooooooo! Disneyland!!!!!!

Naturally, after my brain being free from the rolling storyboard and dialogue that normally plagues me... which is thanks to eating and breathing Secrets of Skin and Stone... I woke up this morning with two story ideas in my brain and a strong desire to finish off Sentinel's Run. I've had Sentinel's Run stuck in my brain ever since I set it down to work on other projects last year, but this time... I don't think I'll be able to put it off. So, after I tackle the revisions from Sarah on Secrets of Skin and Stone, I think I'm going to beg, borrow, or steal the time to finish Sentinel's Run.

I'm torn on whether to take my laptop with me on the trip or leave it behind. It worries me that these two ideas I woke up with are as pernicious as they are. I'll try to jot down what's in my brain and walk away from them. We'll see. There is always the possibility that I won't be able to sleep at night because they'll eat at my brain. (Zombie ideas... I think I have a zombie muse.) On the other hand, if anything happens to my laptop... I'll go stark raving insane.

Gah! We'll be switching hotels tomorrow and have a rental car and I just feel weird about leaving my laptop all day... unprotected... in a rental car in L.A. *screams* Tell me that doesn't sound scary. It's like leaving my soul on the sidewalk for someone to step on.

BTW... being agented is weird. I tried to explain to the kids that it's like "Mommy has a job now." Well, I didn't expect it to feel like another 24 hour job like motherhood is. It's weird. Now, if I go goof off on Twitter... I feel like I'm playing hooky. If I work on revising a different project... hooky again. If I'm doing anything when I could/should/normally would be writing... I feel guilty. I've been told this feeling fades, but I've raised guilt and paranoia to an art form so I'm skeptical.

Well, I should get the rest of my packing done and leave the laptop until the end so I can stare it down. Can I walk away from being a writer until Monday night? I haven't taken it the last two years... I don't think.

Gah! What's nobler in the mind? I just don't know.

Anyway, I might post pictures on Twitter and get on there a few times, but I probably won't be on the blog until next week. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Sharing-Take Two

Last Sunday, I posted a painting I'd done of my son, so it seemed only fair that I post one of my daughter this week.

This is also based on a photo of my daughter. It was shortly after she was diagnosed with Autism but before we knew she'd also share my diagnosis of OCD. B has a strong interest in science and math... as well as things being a very specific way... a rather perfect way. You've never met a perfectionist until you've met B. She learned how to use white-out in Kindergarten so she could get her coloring pages just right. I love this photo of her (the one the painting is based on) because you can see so much of how she was. With B, even her weird little quirks are charming and sweet. Her stopping to stare through a magnifying glass was just so "her."

Children change everything... including how you view yourself. I'd been hiding my OCD for twenty-eight years from everyone. Sadly, this isn't so far from the norm for those with OCD. You become adept had hiding the darker side to you... and OCD is dark. It's not clean and precise as Hollywood would have you believe. When we found out that B's quirks were beyond the quirks of just Autism... and that she also had OCD, I knew it was time to stop acting like I had something we couldn't talk about. Since then, I've been brutally honest about my OCD. I never want B to have to hide things like I felt like I did. B changed everything. She made me look at myself and realize that I was hiding things within me that I loved in my daughter.

Raising a child with OCD when you have OCD yourself is a challenge. Our quirks don't always play nicely with each other. She likes repetition. I despise repetition. She has a peanut butter and honey sandwich cut into four triangles every day for lunch. I can't follow recipes because making something the same way twice makes me feel trapped. My husband sometimes has to intercede... especially when it comes to homework. B takes a very, very long time to do homework... because it has to be just right. She's gravitated toward preferring math because there IS a right answer. I hate math for the same reason.

Luckily, my husband is as free from quirks as his wife and kids are quirky. If I haven't mentioned this before... I love my husband to pieces. If not for him, I'd be a mess. He can tell when I'm going slowly mad inside from things that probably don't make sense to him. The husband isn't afraid to dive into the chaos that sometimes exists between B and me to calm both our OCDs.

This weekend was pretty chaotic. We had my sister's four kids staying with us. Apparently, my two year old nephew wakes up every two hours all night and decides to play with hotwheels. I was so sleep-deprived by the time my sister picked up her kids this morning... it was just pathetic. Six kids under age ten was a little taste of insanity. One of my nephews got a raging ear infection and my sister had to take a break from her anniversary and run him to urgent care. It was... crazy. Still, everyone survived. We ate pizza. We watched Nanny McPhee. Some of them slept. Some of them didn't. It was fun. Crazy, but fun. My brain feels so incredibly scattered. Still, while we were at church, I kept thinking how blessed we truly are. Even in my sleep-deprived state, I couldn't stop thinking about how lucky my husband and I are. Crap... I don't have to deal with a spouse with OCD so I'm doubly lucky. ; )

I love B... despite and because of her quirks. I feel the same way about T. We've had a lot of stress due to their needs... but the road we're on right now... is a really blessed path. We're very, very lucky in so many ways, and I'd be a fool not to acknowledge it.

If not for B, I'd be still hiding a large part of who I am and that would be a shame because we all deserve to be loved for who we are... and not just the picture we present to the world.

Anyway, I hope you like the painting and have a good Sunday. *waves*

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the beginning... there were a lot of words. (Agent Story)

Sorry this is so long, but people asked for my story. This is my story:

For those that are new to my blog, I'm an insomniac... a raging insomniac, and I always have been. I've also always loved writing. I adored creative writing classes in high school and college and I submitted to school magazines and won placement. When the kids came, their needs pushed my writing towards blog posts and journals and mentoring others dealing with Autism and Special Needs. I wasn't writing for fun... I was writing to keep my sanity... but, still, I was writing... a lot.

In October of 2008, my brother said to me, "You should try writing a novel. You'd be good at it."

The idea stuck in my head... and wouldn't let go. I thought there was no way I could write a novel. I mean, that's a lot of words, right? What would I even write about? Well... obviously... something I knew... and so I did. A month later, I'd completed my first novel. The second novel was already pushing its way into my head... so I wrote that one. I mean, I had the time. I wasn't sleeping. I might as well do something with all that time. The third novel slipped out just as easily... and the fourth... and so on. I won't say they're fantastic. It was the challenge of writing something that drove me. They're heavy on dialogue and need revisions. Novel followed novel followed novel... and my family kept saying, "You should publish these. They're good." I laughed and said "whatever" for the most part.

By early 2009, I couldn't stop writing or I couldn't sleep. The characters were keeping me awake with their stories... and now I knew I could write them.

Then, Honor came on the scene. All the novels up until that point had been in a series of books I call "The Company of Him" series. Honor was different. She was a different take on the vampire legend... and she was pissy and fun and when I printed out a hardcopy of "Honor Among Thieves" my betas went nuts for it. Honor traveled. I had friends telling me, "I hope you don't mind but I loaned my copies to my friend/mother/daughter/my cousin's former roommate's orthodontist's ex-assistant." It was crazy. People talked about Honor as if she was alive and asked for the next book... and the next book.

I thought they were weird... and it was a little surreal, but I liked that Honor felt so real to them.

In August of 2009, I submitted a copy of Honor to DAW publishing's slush pile. I tried to keep my expectations low. I mean, sure... people liked my writing... but not professionals. This was DAW. DAW was big-time. Honor made it to a second reader there and they sent me a list of revisions and told me to resubmit in the future.

I wanted to frame that rejection. I wanted to hug it and take it bed and put it under my pillow. They read it! They liked it! They may have passed, but they took me seriously.

It was time to get serious and get an agent... because I knew that I needed help... and someone to do all the math. (Seriously, I've always hated math.)

So, I submitted Honor to a few agents... and almost every query turned into a submission. It was staggering. For someone who writes for herself and her characters... being taken seriously was just so hard to fathom. By that time, I'd decided to step out of the series manuscripts and start writing stand-alones.

When 2010 rolled in, I was going to query... and query hard. I'd decided to query on some of my other manuscripts depending on the agent's preferences. I didn't want to tackle the heavily-saturated vampire market... and, besides, I'd started writing YA by that time, and I was digging it. So, Honor was set aside and I queried on three manuscripts.

I have been thoroughly rejected. In 2010, I was rejected over 100 times.

However, in 2010, I was asked for a submission over 20 times.

I was also on Twitter and I was meeting tons and tons of writers and agents and realizing that even if I was never published... the friendships I was building... were worth the hell of querying.

BTW... querying is hell. Anyone who tells you differently is selling you something... or just a liar.
Synopses are a special place in hell that only writers are forced to visit. They're a dark corner that will make your brain explode as you weep uncontrollably.

Okay... back to the story....

All the while, I kept writing... and writing... and writing... so I could sleep. In March of 2010, the idea for Secrets of Skin and Stone stole into my brain. I wanted to write about OCD... real OCD... OCD in all its darkness from a YA girl's POV. I wanted to talk about it... but there was no way I'd query it. No way. Just... no way. I mean, it was too close... perhaps even shades of autobiographical. Just. No.

In June of 2010, Sarah Yake read and loved "Curse Me A Story" and asked what else I had written... which was probably a question she almost immediately regretted. Frances Collin got involved and asked for a list of what I'd written and fulls of several of my mss. I sent her the list. (Stuck in as an aside... I muttered something quietly about this story about a gargoyle and OCD I'd completed but said it needed revision.) The summer squeaked by as they went through them. Sarah came back in September and said they wanted to see revisions of "Curse Me A Story" done. She told me what she wanted... and it just clicked in my brain and I thought, "OF COURSE! I should have done that from the beginning!!!!! BAWAHAHAHA!" I did the revisions which included adding about 20K in words onto the ms... and sent it back... and waited.

I hate New Year's resolutions, but I received my 100th rejection shortly before the year turned and I was determined 2011 was going to be different. I'd tried that hell called querying, and I'd given it everything. I'd poured my soul into querying. Not only had I been rejected THAT many times, but some agents hadn't even cared enough to respond.


I wasn't "giving up." I was going to try something different. Something that WAS NOT querying.

On January 17th, I had a game plan. I was going to hard-core revise the Honor series and epublish it. I was going to submit my short stories to magazine/ezine and short story collection markets. Finally, I was going to revise the one novel that had never really seen the light of day and submit it to ABNA (Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award) because I wouldn't have to worry about the exclusivity conditions with ABNA. No one had seen Secrets of Skin and Stone. I'd been reading up on epublishing and I'd talked it over with my husband.


I announced on Twitter: "I'm going to epublish Honor." Within a minute (NO JOKE) of this... an email notification pops up.

I may have said some naughty words when I saw Sarah had sent me another revision request. Not because I wasn't excited... but... because... geez... the universe had it out for me. I mean, I'd JUST made this plan. I'D HAD A PLAN!

I'd decided long ago that if I was going to do this thing... I was going to do it the Sinatra way... my way. I was going to be me... and if the agents didn't like me... it wouldn't have worked anyway. I'm too honest. I'm irreverent. I'm sarcastic. I'm goofy. I overshare. Plus, I have a lot of bad qualities. ; )

So, I wrote back to Sarah and told her that while I would love to do more revisions... (Her advice again... was spot-on perfect... so I was excited to do them.) I told her that I'd started making plans and I dumped all my plans in front of her and asked if I should halt them all until after she'd reviewed Curse Me A Story.

This was probably a very weird thing to do and may have even made Sarah want to run the other direction....

She didn't run, though... so... uhh... hah!

Sarah asked me to tell her more about this story that I "never planned on querying." So, I did... and she was excited and asked to see a full of Secrets of Skin and Stone when I was done revising it.

If you've been following my blog, you know how I revised the crap out of Secrets of Skin and Stone in order to add a southern accent in January. I went hoarse during my read aloud after a full week of reading it aloud in a southern accent. It wasn't the most pleasant revision... but... on the other hand, parts of it still made me cry... and I loved it. I love Secrets of Skin and Stone... even after revisions. I think this was my seventh or eight revision even.

I sent it out to betas... with my heart on the line... and they loved it too.

Finally, last Monday (February 7th,) I hit send and sent it to Sarah... and immediately wished I hadn't.

It was too personal.

It was too OCD.

It had scenes with cutting in it... for crying out loud. What if she wrote back and said, "What part of your twisted little mind did this crawl out of, Wendy?" She'd say it nicely, of course... because Sarah is awesome, but she'd be thinking that.

Last Monday, I was a freaking wreck. I snarled at people all day before I just told myself to go offline for a while until I was less of a bear.

My husband kept sending me looks like "Wendy has finally lost it.... more."

Tuesday morning, I pulled myself out of bed and thought, "I'm going to pretend I didn't send that so I can get on with my life for the next few weeks until she gets back with me." I had all sorts of things scheduled for that day so I did an early run with my dog... during which we were nearly attacked by another dog. It was the worst run ever because my knee brace made it last FOREVER. I got home pissier than ever... and I had to run out the door after a shower to an appt. I was in a foul mood. REALLY FOUL. (We're talking "mentally composing hate mail to the owners' of the dog that attacked us" and "planning on ripping the heads off chickens with my bare hands in the mean time" type of mood.) All the while, I kept thinking, "Why did I send that? She'll probably think I'm crazy. I shouldn't have sent it." While gathering clothes, I popped up my email to make sure the appt. hadn't been cancelled. I was muttering under my breath I was so stressed and frustrated and....

There was an email from Sarah... she couldn't put it down. She couldn't put MY NOVEL down.


No... really.

Like... really.

I sat down on my couch and just stared.

Utter shock ensued.

I pointed at my laptop... even though I was the only one home.

I laughed... even though I was the only one home. It was one of those crazy laughs that crazy people do too. Maybe it was good that I was the only one home.

I sent an email to the husband and went and took a shower... and went to the appt. and tried to concentrate. My emotions were flying to pieces underneath my skin. I just kept thinking, "An agent... couldn't put down my book. She read it in less than 24 hours. This is the dream. THIS. IS. THE. DREAM." Meanwhile, I was nodding and trying to look sane.

I came home and composed an email to Sarah that probably looked much like the ramblings of a psychopath.

It mostly was.

On Thursday, Sarah offered representation... but I had some manuscripts out that I needed to work things out with the agents... and I'd just come back from a run... and I had to run out the door to a meeting.

At the meeting, I sent an email to Di... and we texted highly-exclaiming texts back and forth while I desperately tried to concentrate on taking notes for the meeting.

My notes for that meeting suck, btw. One of the people there told me at the meeting, "You spelled my name with a "y" in the last notes, by the way... it should be with an "i."' I remember staring at her and thinking, "DUDE!!! An agent asked to represent me!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH!" Instead, I made a note.

I got home and sent another psychotic rambling email to Sarah.

My husband took me out to dinner and told everyone on the ferry and at his work how proud he was of me and that I'd received an offer of representation. (Yes, everyone on that ferry run of the WA state ferries found out before all of you... I apologize. What can I say... my husband is a big fan of me... and it was really sweet.)

By Saturday, I was free and clear to accept Sarah's offer of representation.

I celebrated with Mt. Dew and asked Sarah when I was allowed to start screaming it around online.

I got my contract in an email yesterday and the go-ahead.

I still can't believe it. I'm sure most writers in my position behave with a moderate amount of decorum or something... but... I'm me. I've already put poor Sarah through the labyrinth of psychotic rambling emails... and she still wants to represent me.

This has been a crazy two and a half years... and no matter what happens from this moment on... I feel proud of the fact that I've struggled and grown and become a writer thanks to it. If my first novel had been published, I never would have managed to improve my writing as much as I have. If my first query had netted me an agent, I wouldn't have learned what I have or met some of the wonderful people I've found.

This has been a journey... and sometimes success isn't in the destination but the amazing things you learn along the way and the people who help you get to the next step in the journey. I've queried and interacted with some truly spectacular agents. Sarah is one of them. She "gets" my manuscripts and she's been great about helping me with revisions.

I'm really excited. Hopefully, I'll have more good news eventually... but I finally feel like I'm a professional. I'm not just writing to keep my characters from disrupting my sleep. I'm writing because I'm a writer. I'm not playing at it anymore. I am a writer.

Author comes next.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thus insuring that nothing will ever be accomplished today (Agent News)

I just saw my contract and it says on it... that I am indeed REPRESENTED!!!!!!!!

My agent is Sarah Yake of Frances Collin Literary Agency.


*cue crying*

For those that don't know, this has been a long two and a half years for me, and I just wanted to give up on traditional publishing just a month ago. I should know by now how important the journey is, though....

Okay, I'll post the actual story in another post when I can gather up the scattered pieces of my brain.

I'm so completely excited. It's been a week and a day since I sent her Secrets of Skin and Stone. It's been a week since she emailed me saying she couldn't put it down. It's been a long five days since she offered representation... but I've had to hold off announcing. (I know... most of you guys had guessed or harassed information out of me. LOL. Still, pretend to be surprised... use your wide, shocked eyes.)

I AM REPRESENTED!!!!!!! *dances in circles while screaming and crying*

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just Kiss Already Blogfest

I was just about to wander off to sit in front of my fire for a bit before I tackled cleaning when I remembered I'd signed up for this blogfest. Uhh... doh! Just Kiss Already blogfest starts here. I'll need to run out and visit some of those blogs tonight.

Here is mine... it's from Scorched aka Flirting With Fire and it's from Asher's POV:

“I really want to kiss you, Sidra,” I said, leaning against the door frame, inches from her mouth.

“Okay.” She blushed, but smiled.

“But I can’t.”

“Oh,” she said, frowning.

Wow. Honesty was not turning out to be the best policy.

“No, it’s just that I want to talk to you about something first because I don’t want you to feel like I’m using you.”

“So… talk.”

“It’s complicated. I was thinking maybe—tomorrow.” It would have to be tomorrow. Trace would just have to deal with it being tomorrow. If she cancelled out on our date after tomorrow—then so be it.

“Why are you telling me this?” she asked.

It was a fair question. Why was I telling her this?

“Because when I walk back to my car without kissing you, I didn’t want you to think that I was doing it because I wanted to. It’s killing me.” I shoved my hands into my pockets just to not touch her. Her hair was close, and it looked soft, and I wanted to put my hands into her hair and kiss her and taste her mouth and....

“What if I kissed you?” she asked.

My first clear thought was that she was a genius. “That would be okay.” Okay was such a lame word for what it would be. It would be freaking fantastic.

She tipped forward and closed her eyes. If I took that final inch, I hoped she didn’t notice.

Her mouth was soft and sweet, and she tasted like ice cream and everything I’ve ever wanted. I clenched my hands into fists to avoid pulling her head closer so I could slip my tongue into her mouth and really taste her.

It was over too soon. As she pulled away, a nervous laugh skipped out of her mouth. “That was—uhh….”

What? It felt better than anything I’d ever felt before.

“Good,” she said finally.

“Yes, it was.”

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Sharing

This week has been crazy... not the least of which... my little T turned eight. You've probably noticed by now I don't post pictures of the kids for the most part, but this is a painting I did which came from an actual photo of T, so it's almost the same. ; ) He's much older now, of course.

T had a fun time at Chuck E. Cheese last night but it was crazy packed and his parents are a little overstimulated today. His sister gave him a dragon ninjago for his birthday. His parents gave him Epic Mickey... which he is busy playing right now. His paternal grandparents gave him a huge troll/goblin castle lego set. Some friends gave him dragon egg lego sets. He had a good birthday.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to share my news yet... though the world might find out via private messages, texts, and emails if I wait too much longer. LOL. This week has been so crazy. Hopefully, next week I'll be able to just blurt things out. Next week will be busy regardless. I really have to spend some quality time cleaning my house because I'll have my niece and nephews for a couple days next weekend. The following weekend is Kidless Disneyland weekend. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WAHOOOOOOOOO!

Have a good Sunday, everyone.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Inspirational Friday Video

Tina sent me a link to this on Twitter... and in light of the fact that it's my son's eighth birthday... and I just got back from an award assembly where he received an award for being thoughtful and considerate of others... AND my own super secret good news... it fits.

Have a great Friday, everyone.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

And there was much rejoicing....

It all started with a thought about a dog and what a person with OCD might think. It moved to a sketch... which some thought was naked... and then it went to a southern accent which made me lose my voice and gave my husband the chance to snicker at me behind my back. It doesn't, of course, end here on a day where there was lots and lots of screaming and jumping around, but today was a pretty good day for me as a writer.

(We're still not jinxing it by talking about it until I can announce something for reals, btw.)

There was a lot of screaming today, though.

It started after I got back from my run and discovered all good emails will come approximately ten minutes after I leave for a run. *true story* It's happened twice this week anyway. Unfortunately, I'd bumped my run up so that I could go to a meeting. I sent off a quick email to the husband, showered, and ran out the door.

During the meeting... and while I was meant to be taking notes, I texted Di... who then bombarded my phone with texts full of screaming and exclamation points to the point that I had to mute my phone... and it still nearly buzzed itself off the table. When a meeting consists of four people, and the secretary, who is meant to be taking notes, keeps sneaking out texts while grinning like a dork... it's not as efficient as you might think. I know. Go figure.

My husband did not scream.

He told everyone he commuted home on the ferry with... and the people at his work.

Which is pretty close to screaming.

He also brought me home a chocolate-covered Twinkie before taking me out to dinner to celebrate. We tried to explain to the kids how exciting today was for mommy... but B was more focused on T's birthday tomorrow, and T lost enthusiasm for the whole thing when he discovered that agents and secret agents had very little in common.

My mom screamed. My mom screams at a lot of things, though. It's hard to give her credit for something which is almost involuntary. She does scream at a lot of things.

My dad didn't... which is good because that would have creeped me out. Actually, men should never scream.

My sister screamed... I think... the connection wasn't so good. Her prior text said "HOLY COW!" which I'm sure was meant to be significant because our religion doesn't believe cows are holy. We eat a lot of meat in my family but not to the point of revering it.

Other people may have screamed... whether because of this or just because they like to scream.

Anyway... it sucks that I have to be all coy, but if you knew... you'd scream and jump around... or at the very least, you'd buy me a chocolate-covered Twinkie... because it was that kind of day.

I hope your Thursdays were as good as mine.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WIP Wednesday- Secrets and Vampires

So, I'd planned on working on getting my head out of Secrets of Skin and Stone but the agent email I received yesterday included some revision advice which I can't seem to get out of my mind and kept me up late thinking about it. One of her comments regarding the ending just makes so much sense my fingers feel itchy to fix it.

I'm still waiting to hear back from her so it can wait a day... maybe.

LOL. Actually, knowing my issues with obsessive writing, you've probably guessed I'll work on that tonight.

In the meantime, Piper's voice is more pernicious than I'd ever guess... especially with her accent. It's dug down into my head and rooted in. Gris's isn't quite as sticky, but Piper's really is.

I wanted to get to work on the revision request for Curse Me A Story, so I was trying to exorcise Piper's voice from my head, but that might be put on hold if I'm going to be working on revisions of Secrets of Skin and Stone.

Either way, when I'm in the middle of a revision or writing, I can't read other people's writing. So, Monday, when I wasn't sure if I'd be doing a few more revisions to Secrets of Skin and Stone before I tried querying it (I was waffling hourly on querying, but I had two betas that were still helping me with it... so I was pretty sure I might) I decided to do a "revision" on my tawdry vampire love story while I was waiting. By revision, I mean mostly just reading and taking out the occasional "that."

Some of you may remember the tawdry vampire story that started off as a short story here on the blog and I got a bunch of requests to turn it into a novel. It ended up being a three part novel with three different POVs picking up the narrative as it built. It also ended up being so sexy I slapped a pseudonym on it and I have no idea what to do with it. Also... the title is rather racy. *head slap* Sometimes, I think I'm making this up as I go along... this whole writer thing. I won't even let my mom read it... it's THAT sexy.

So, that's my progress for WIP Wednesday. I've still got my head stuck in Secrets of Skin and Stone but I've been removing "that"s from sexy vampires who really don't need them. (That's what she said...)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Good News Tuesday

Today looked as if it would suck hard core.

I sent off a full of Secrets of Skin and Stone yesterday which put me in a lousy mood... the husband can attest to this. Actually, most of Twitter could probably attest to this too. (I wasn't in a very good mood yesterday.) I blamed it on all kinds of things. I complained on Twitter that my February was getting crowded. My week is filling up faster than I could handle. Everything felt like it was conspiring against me. The reality was: I was stressed about Secrets of Skin and Stone getting a poor reception... and it was too close to my heart for that.

I mean, I hadn't even really planned on querying Secrets of Skin and Stone... but the beta comments were coming back so positive so I started thinking... maybe. I'd mentioned it off-hand to this agent and she'd asked for a look at it, so that was that.... but querying? Yikes. First I'd revise Curse Me A Story for the agent I'd just sent Secrets of Skin and Stone... and then I'd think about querying.


Then, I thought about how horrible it would be to have agents tell me my book about a teenager with OCD stunk. HORRIBLE. It would rip out my heart and stomp on it.

And I wondered why I'd hit send... and I wanted to take it back.

Then, I thought maybe I was meant to write books that wanted to rip my heart out and stomp on it.

Or not.

But maybe.

I should keep it to myself.

No, if it was good, I should query it.

But maybe it wasn't good....

But the betas all said it was good....

I'd gone through this roughly a kajillion times since hitting send.

No. Really. Don't underestimate how obsessive a person with OCD can be. We can kick your butt in obsession... twice... or thrice in my case, because I'd never just do something twice.

When I'm stressed out, my OCD goes nuts... and my schedule and familiarity are EVERYTHING. I don't want to be forced to be around people or do things. I don't want to make phone calls. I don't want things scheduled or the few things I do regularly to be bumped. I just want to do "my thing."

Today, "my thing" was not happening. I had a phone call interview from someone I know on the difficulties of adhering to a special diet. (It was a school project.) I hate talking on the phone for the most part... and when she'd called the night before to arrange the interview... her phone had a nasty echo. Everything I said was flung back at me. I hate that. My eye was twitching by the end... it was my own private hell. So, the full hour before this phone call I spent obsessing over what I'd say if her phone had that echo. I knew I wouldn't be able to handle it. I couldn't even handle it for two minutes... let alone twenty to thirty. I'd be a freaking wreck. Finally, the phone call rolled around and there was no echo and it went just fine.

Then, I felt stupid for obsessing about the echo... but hey... don't judge me.

The rest of the day looked crappy for doing "my thing" also.
My Tuesday running got bumped by a later appt, but it was Tuesday so I was determined to go running. I would just do it earlier. This made me feel "grr"... a lot. I was pissy... and I was wearing my knee brace because my left knee has been funky.

I failed to take into account that the garbage trucks had just been by.

(Some strange events like this are crucial, so don't knock my pointing it out.)

The second I opened Nanaimo's gate, he bolted... and I mean... bolted. He "eventually" came when I called, but it was like he was on doggie crack... he was so spun out of control by the plethora of scents around from the truck. So. Spun. Out. So, we went for our walk. I won't call it a run... my knee was too squishy and my brace makes my gait funky. After we got out of the neighborhood, Nanaimo clued in to my injury and stopped trying to rip my arm out of the socket. (He's a really smart dog that way... it's part of the reason he's been so good to have with our kids being Autistic. He's always barked when they cry or when he thinks they're in trouble. That's right... he's as good as Lassie... our kids just don't fall down wells.)

About 3/4th the way through our six-mile route, we were met at the end of a driveway by two big dogs. Two VERY big dogs. Nanaimo sniffed them politely but stayed on the road beside me. Suddenly, one of them snarled and lunged for his neck! Nanaimo, luckily, moved faster and jumped back. I screamed and shouted and jumped towards it while waving my hands. The mean dog took off with his nasty little buddy. This isn't the first time we've been attacked by dogs, but it's been a while and I was hoping people were more responsible. So, I finished slogging home. It was our longest "run" ever and miserable and I was just pissed at the world by the time I got home.

Plus, I'd taken so long that I needed to quickly shower and run out the door to this appt which had bumped my run. I decided to check my email to see if my friend had cancelled this appt. I figured the universe had it out for me so that would be just my luck.

Lo and behold... there was an email.

Not just any email.

An email from the agent I'd sent the full to... barely 24 hours previously.

When your friends tell you they couldn't stop reading a book of yours... it's exciting.

When an agent can't stop reading a book you wrote... it's exciting and you feel like a rock star.

I've replied back and I'm waiting but, as you can imagine... life feels better than it did when I slogged in the door after walking Nanaimo.

I've decided getting good news on Tuesday can be a new "thing" for me and I might not mind if it messes up my schedule.

BTW, in other news, my son has decided my knee brace looks like a championship belt when he wears it. He wore it for the rest of the day and only took it off at bedtime.

So, really, we were both champions. It's our "thing."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

99 Lines About One Woman

I swiped this idea from KT's blog but... because I'm me, it'll have to be ninety-nine instead of one hundred.

Ninety-nine things about me:

1. I was named after the Wendy in Peter Pan.

2. I have severe and clinical Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

3. I'm not obsessively clean--not all those with OCD are.

4. I have two kids with high-functioning Autism.

5. I've lived in California, France, Florida, Las Vegas, Utah, and now I live in Washington.

6. I was a military brat... my dad retired, but I'm still a brat.

7. I married my husband over 13 years ago after a five month courtship.

8. I don't like even numbers... such as this one.

9. My favorite TV shows are Castle and Psych.

10. I'm allergic to living... practically... I'd list my allergies, but that would give those trying to kill me ammunition.

11. I'm not paranoid.

12. I write prolifically due to insomnia and obsessive writing.

13. I've had insomnia since childhood.

14. It's usually related to my OCD... and hormones.

15. I used to work as a Barney impersonator.

16. No... really, I did. I quit because it got to be too violent and dangerous.

17. No, really, it did. I had a bunch of teenage boys punch in me in the stomach and I also had someone rip off my head. My Barney head, of course.

18. I was 18 at the time and weighed around 105 lbs... they were really brave for picking on a girl... who did a ripping-awesome Barney voice.

19. No, I won't do the voice.

20. My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird... or maybe The Plague.

21. The color orange makes me happy.

22. Wearing gray makes me look sickly.

23. I have eclectic taste in music. You should check out the playlist here for a few examples.

24. My dog and I, when we run, have been running the same route for three years.

25. If Nanaimo, my dog, gets loose... he runs the route without me rather than exploring. I've ruined him.

26. I named our dog after Nanaimo bars... not after the city in BC.

27. In three week, I'll go to Disneyland without my kids... this will be my fourth year doing this "girl's weekend" with a friend.

28. Clowns freak me out.

29. My aunt was a clown.

30. They still freak me out.

31. My middle name has been passed down for three generations and my daughter has it too.

32. No, freaky stalker, I won't tell you what it is.

33. I'm not paranoid.

34. I hate driving.

35. I once owned a sports car... an ex of mine hoped a cool car would make me like driving.

36. It sorta worked, but I don't have that car anymore... so I'm back to hating driving.

37. I like prime numbers... especially odd, prime numbers.

38. Except the number five... I have a bad memory association with that number so I don't like it.

39. I haven't picked a single genre to write in yet.

40. Or an age group to write for.

41. Text speak makes my eyes explode when I read it.

42. I suffer from agoraphobia and if I stay inside for long periods of time due to sickness, it's hard for me to leave my house.

43. It's mostly because the world is a dirty ugly place filled with germs... and covered in dirt.

44. I don't like camping.

45. It seems like a slap in the face of all our wonderful technology to go without it.

46. Plus, I'm fond of indoor plumbing.

47. I was going for a Bachelor's in English at BYU when I went through Spring and Summer classes after two full semesters and burnt myself out in German classes.

48. I took three semesters of foreign language classes to avoid a single math class.

49. I hate math.

50. My favorite college class was a Linguistics class. I found the study of language to be fascinating.

51. Least favorite college class was Physical Science.

52. I only attended that class once before I stopped and just showed up for tests.

53. I went to a vocational school to become an optometric assistant.

54. I managed an optical for several years before getting pregnant.

55. I've had a lot of miscarriages.

56. The last day of my job (which was very stressful) was the first day of the pregnancy which finally stuck.

57. I like cupcakes more than cake.

58. I really like red velvet cake even though it's possibly the most unhealthy type of cake on the planet.

59. Typically I don't like foods that stain.

60. I don't like red punch for that reason.

61. I like fry sauce.

62. I'm LDS--Latter-day Saint... Mormon. I don't debate, though.

63. I'm also rather irreverent... especially on Twitter.

64. I'm pro-vaccine although my son was vaccinated on a delayed schedule after my daughter was diagnosed.

65. Actually, I don't like to debate much of anything. I'm very non-confrontational.

66. I like fires.

67. I don't like smoke.

68. I like wooden rollercoasters.

69. I like this number because I'm immature.

70. I read really fast.

71. I can't read while I'm in the middle of an obsessive writing jag or deep in revisions because it stalls out the voices in my head.

72. I like to paint, but I don't paint often anymore.

73. I painted the painting at the top of my blog.

74. It's based on an experience we had with B back when she was non-verbal and newly-diagnosed. We were working on animal noises and she made a ladybug puppet roar. It meant something to me.

75. It still does.

76. I come from a big family. We're not dysfunctional at all... which makes this line rather boring.

77. We went to Vancouver Island for our honeymoon which is when I first had a Nanaimo bar. Victoria is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

78. I'm afraid of growing old.

79. I'm hoping to die long before I get incontinent.

80. You don't need to help with that, by the way... it was just a comment.

81. I'm not paranoid.

82. I'm superstitious even though it makes no sense and I don't like that about me.

83. I try not to walk under ladders. *knocks on wood*

84. I love haunted houses.

85. The Ring is the scariest movie I've ever seen.

86. I'd rather have a hurricane than an earthquake. Earthquakes are freaky.

87. I like thunderstorms but not windstorms.

88. The sound of a tree falling is one of the eeriest sounds I've ever heard.

89. Ditto on a coyote's cry.

90. I live in a rural area near a forest where bears live.

91. I had to stop running for a bit three years ago after a nearby bear attack.

92. I love shopping on Think Geek.

93. I like to eat seafood but I don't like the smell.

94. I'm very anti-gun.

95. My brother-in-law is a cop, and I think that's awesome.

96. My life is full of contradictions.

97. I love the Robert Frost poem "Fire and Ice."

98. I think the world will end in fire... or a zombie apocalypse.

99. This list will end here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Your Own Love Story

So, last night's book club was on the book "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman and if you've never read it, I heartily recommend it as the one book on relationships that will change the way you think about love.

The book asserts that most people give and view love in five "languages" which are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. There are websites you can look at to find out more about this concept if you're interested, but the concept itself is simple. There are ways that your significant other can show love that will mean something to you... and others that don't express love in your "world." It would be like your spouse telling you everyday in Chinese that he loves you... only you don't speak Chinese so it doesn't matter.

When my husband and I were newlyweds, we came to marriage with preconceived ideas of how to show love as well as we were still in the thrall of "Being In Love" and all giddy and goofy. My husband, I think, had been taught by society that when a man loves a woman... he will give her gifts. I'd been taught... when a wife loves a husband... she will clean his house... as well as the fact that my primary "love language" is acts of service so it seemed like a no-brainer. I wanted to be a good housekeeper because I thought that he'd see that as me loving him... and that's what a good wife would do. My husband would give me gifts because that was showing love. I won't say that I ever felt unloved, but I kept worrying over the expense of gifts... and then beating myself over the fact that I despise cleaning... with the fire of a thousand suns... and it didn't seem to make him realize that I was crazy in love with him.

My husband wouldn't be comfortable with me sharing his "love language" but suffice it to say... it's not acts of service so while he thought it was nice that I tried... he didn't feel more or less loved by the state of our house. (To my knowledge) Meanwhile, the honeymoon was over... and we got kicked by reality the first year of our marriage. I had weird issues with my health and miscarriages... which carried into the second and third year. Then, we had kids... and the honeymoon was definitely over especially as B's development slowly drifted and she was subsequently diagnosed a month after T was born. Our marriages has never been awful really, but we've had some times that sucked where I think both of us wondered what we'd gotten into.

Believe it or not, I'm not a picnic to live with.

I know, take a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor.

I first read this book about five years ago and it stunned me. For so many years, I'd been plugging along in my marriage and trying to show my husband that I loved him in all the wrong ways. Suddenly, our fights made sense... as did the times when things went right in our marriage. There were times when we were best friends and then times where we were partners at best and roommates at worst. When I started showing my husband love in a way he'd understand things changed. It was like when google offers to translate a page in a different language for you. It's not perfect... but things make sense.

My husband and I make sense together. I've never loved anyone as much as I love him... and I never will. There are days when we don't get along... and I can be crabby as all get out at times and he may wish I was a little less female in some ways (though clearly he approves of me being female in others... we do have two kids after all.) Still, we make sense... we belong together.

My point is not just to recommend this book... which you can see that I do... but to say that a good marriage can still be a love story long after the bells and whistles have ended. Sometimes, things can look really bad but you fell in love once and sometimes that can be saved.

Rereading this book made me think on all the things my husband does differently today now that he understands what I will see as acts of love. It's humbling to think he changed the way he does things because he wanted me to know that he loves me. I still get the occasional gift but it's usually because he knows I wanted it or because he really wants to give it to me. Instead, he takes the kids out to a Monster Truck rally for the day, so I can have quiet. He keeps our car running and makes food for the kids. He does little things every day even though he's spent the whole day working. Most importantly, he does go to work every day... and while he likes his work, he also does it because he loves me.

Love isn't a fairy tale but that doesn't mean you can't have a happily ever after, and I think we all deserve that. Understanding love is just one of those ways to find your happily ever after.

So, it's rare for me to do a book review, but this book continues to change my outlook on human behavior. It's brilliant.

FYI, it was written by a Christian but the themes throughout are not exclusively Christian. There are a couple instances where you can see that he counseled couples from a Christian perspective but the concept as a whole is not religiously-based... nor is religion pushed in any way. Love is the focus. Psychology is the core system not faith or religious themes. Also, the writer is not LDS for those wondering. I'm not sure which religion he is but there are a few mentions in case studies of New Testament scriptures, so I know he is Christian. Still, the concept has human psychology as its basis NOT religion.

Addendum: The concept to this is not exclusive to adults and the relationships between couples. My son's language is "quality time" and my daughter's is "receiving gifts." I think it's valuable to understand your kids' languages so that you know what they'll see as love when sometimes the words "I love you" don't mean anything... especially not to my kids. Every one has an inherent right and need to be loved and this book is about that as much as anything else.

Also, this was one of the few books that was universally liked by the book club... even those that couldn't attend reported in that the book was amazing and would change their lives.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Last night I had the strangest dream...

No... really.

(Wendy lies down on couch.)


Okay, so I was the single mother of this baby with Downs Syndrome and I took too many sleeping pills one night (after three days of not sleeping) but whether I was trying to kill myself or not... I didn't know. I tend to think that I wasn't... but I was so stressed out and sleep-deprived even I didn't know. I was rushed to the hospital where they were keeping me for observation and this guy I'd been dating was watching my baby... because he was this sensible and boring guy that I could trust completely. He was pressuring me to get engaged, but I could see this life ahead of me with this boring sensible guy and we didn't love each other, but it made sense. He could help me take care of my child... and I could get some sleep.

*enter the weirdness*

So, one of the orderlies has been stopping by late at night and talking to me. He'd talk to me until I fell asleep, and I was actually getting sleep... thanks to this guy. He's really nice and doesn't treat me like I'm an awful person for wanting out of this life I have. I keep thinking, "if only someone like this wanted me... I could get through these days."

One day, just before I'm about to be released, this orderly walks in and locks the door and barricades them and says he's been sent to kill me and he's an assassin. (I had some strange job where I was a courier of papers... and I'd seen something that I'd thought was innocuous, but wasn't... not at all.) Instead of freaking out, I point out that I'm under observation, and they have cameras in my room so they know what is going on.

He says, "Yeah, I know that." Then, he pulls out this note... and it's part way between a will and a suicide note from me. "I have this thing I do... with all my hits. I get to know them, so I can write their note."

So, I read this note... and it's beautiful... and instead of being a suicide note it talks about everything I have to live for and it talks about all my favorite things and even some things I had no idea we'd spoken of. I just started bawling as I'm reading this, and I said, "How did you know this about me?"

He just shrugs it off while saying, "I got to KNOW you. I think I know you better than you know yourself." He gives me this look... like in another place and another time... we might have had something... that kind of a look.

Outside the door, I can hear people scrambling and this guy I'm dating is outside, pounding on the door, asking if I'm okay. Only... none of it matters as I'm staring at this hitman and holding this note. It's like one of those moments of unreality where you think maybe you were born in the wrong time or wrong place and maybe your destiny was meant to be different.

Suddenly, this door nearby opens. This door was to what I assumed was a storage closet, but apparently it had an outside door to it also, and this other orderly walks in pushing tray, totally oblivious to what is going on. The hitman just turns and walks out that door without another word.

I'm left clutching this "note" and thinking "what? No... wait... what?"

One of the other doors crashes in, and they all rush into the room, looking around for this other guy and grab the poor orderly who'd just used this back door. This guy I'm dating has my daughter with him and runs up and hugs me, saying, "Thank goodness! I don't know what I'd do with your daughter without you."

In the background, I can hear gunfire... and one of the security guys in the room says to me, "That guy will never bother you again." And he takes the note out of my hand, saying that it's evidence.

Then, my daughter in the dream throws up... all over me...

*The part of the day in which we play amateur Freudian.*

My daughter spewed last night... so I get that part of it. I even get the Downs Syndrome part of it, believe it or not. I turn 35 in just three months and it's wigging me out. I never thought I'd only have 2 children... and, truth to tell, I want more kids, but it's not just my choice. But 35 is the age where you start being higher risk for pregnancies and we already have 2 kids with Autism. So, yes, I can probably expect more strange dreams like this one and this birthday should be a just a barrel full of monkeys.

As an aside, I manage to make friends with people that are my own age without realizing it... so I have quite a few friends that are turning 35 this year and my friend yesterday announced, "Can you believe we're all turning 35 this year??? Can you believe that??? That's only like five years from 40!!!" I wanted to shake her and tell her I'd decided to be 34 for another year despite it being an even number.

*back to the dream*

On the other hand, I'm married to a man I love... who can be rather sensible but isn't boring. In fact, the hitman had some of the qualities of my husband whereas this would-be fiancé didn't really. Really, my husband acts a lot more like the hitman... err... besides the whole "hitman" thing. No, my husband isn't a professional killer... for the record.

Anyway, the whole thing was longer and deeper than most of my dreams are. I woke up thinking... that would make a great story... but there is no way I'm going to write it. There are dark corners of the human psyche that I don't care to really muck around in.

So, there you go... weird dreams and deeply bent psychosis. I woke up... and thought it was the weirdest thing ever... and then went back to sleep... and starting cleaning up my previous imaginary daughter's puke in the latest dream. *head slap* I think the universe hates me. This baby managed to spew all over and hit keyboards and everything and it was just... blech... everywhere and it was chunky like oatmeal. *shudders* It made the hitman dream look pretty darn good... and how often do you say that?

So, I don't know why I blogged on this other than to let you know that your dream about dancing with the President while dressed as a platypus has nothing on my weird crap... so there.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WIP Wednesday - When the stories creep in...

So, I'm somewhat WIPless. I'm waiting on beta readers to get back with me on Secrets of Skin and Stone, but the dark nature of that one... and the fact that it has a southern voice... and I'll need to dive back into it as soon as I get beta comments back... I just can't start revisions of Curse Me A Story until that one is done.

I did just finish a revision (thanks to Diana and Tina) of my zombie short story for the anthology, so I haven't "just" been hanging out on Twitter and accomplishing nothing.


A bit.

Unfortunately, my brain started protested the lack of writing and the stories are already starting to creep in. I've long ago accepted that Writer's Block for me will consistent of setting up an actual blockade to stop the ideas rather than the opposite. They sneak in by way of the smallest "what if" that starts niggling it's way into a "hmm maybe" and then it won't leave me alone until I get it down.

I've been writing since October 2008 now... and I don't think I've taken more than a few days off at a time. I keep hoping that when I finish a manuscript... I'll get a few days break where I can focus on my own issues and the characters and their lives will drop out of my head. So far, it hasn't happened. I still have my mind obsessing over Secrets of Skin and Stone and then a short story idea started making noise this morning.

I'm also trying to decide what to do about Secrets of Skin and Stone after this revision. The agent I've been emailing back and forth with, requested a look, and I'd considered entering it into ABNA, but I think I'm letting ABNA slide through again this year. I could query on Secrets of Skin and Stone, but I just don't know... maybe I'll be able to make that decision after I hear from betas.

For those that don't remember, Secrets of Skin and Stone isn't just the gargoyle one, but the main character has OCD and is a cutter. The cutting scenes I ran by betas several times to make sure they weren't too much, but I'm still worried that it might bother some people. Plus, as you might imagine, the portrayal of OCD in a teenage girl is really personal. I'm just not sure how the whole thing will be received.

Anyway, this post is somewhat scattered, but I didn't want to fall out of the habit of blogging just because....

BTW, thanks to the five people that are helping me beta Secrets of Skin and Stone. I really appreciate all the beta volunteers who help me. Writing anything often involves a village for me and I appreciate my online village.