Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Going for Weird

 My fourth book has a weird plot. 

What happened was that I wrote three books about suburban motherhood. Each one had a different take and a different setting and a different world with a different set of rules. I like each of those projects a lot, and sometimes, I can't believe I even wrote them. It seems so bizarre and hard to produce a book. Still, even after I've done it a few times.

And, when I finished with Home or Away, I just didn't have anything else to say about suburban motherhood. It took a while to figure out what the pivot was going to be, especially because my editor and publisher get to collaborate on that. Collaboration always takes longer, but experience tells me it's generally worth it.

We all went pretty far on two different ideas before bagging them and going back to the drawing board for my real fourth novel, my first (pretty-please) non-pandemic release. One of those discarded ideas I'm running right back to when I finish Book 4. It's going to be Book 5. But in the meantime, I'm immersed in a funny-yet-poignant, quirky-but-believable, high-concepty story about mistaken identity, deception, and--this part came as a real shock to me--grief.

Least surprising surprise ever, right, since my own brother died eighteen months ago? Every main character has a powerful grief wellspring hanging out in their motivations for every damn thing. Figuring that out (it took 200 pages or so) gives me some ideas about how to move forward.

Moving forward is happening. This Thursday, I'm printing all the pages and taking stock.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

I Got Inspired by Leeway

I just zipped over to ALittleLeeway, a blog I have loved for lo these 18ish years. It inspired me to write here. Blogging has changed a lot for me in the last several years, obviously. I won't recount the reasons here, and instead, I'll just give a Status Report. This blog is known for those.

Fitness Training: I didn't write about it, but I ran a pretty good marathon in the first week of October. It was Twin Cities Marathon, and I ran my second-fastest time ever for that distance. I had a new running coach this last year, and she really had me in tip-top shape. Now, she says I have to get stronger in terms of my muscles. That's how we get to the next level.

The trouble is that I'm not what we'd call a brave soldier when it comes to doing sit-ups and push-ups. Still, I'm doing them. Because a couple of things I am very good at are following directions and seeking external approval and needing gold stars to feel worthy as a human being.

Book Writing: I'm not going to lie: writing the fourth book has been a bear. A big scary grizzly bear straight out of hibernation. But now, I'm kind of rolling on it. There are words hitting the page. The whole thing is a mess, but I am optimistic that someday, it won't be. And there are some really good parts. That's all we need for now.

Christmas: Today is Christmas Eve. Generally, this is a very hard time of year for me; but today, I'm feeling happy and generally cheerful. We're taking it and running with it. Stuffing it in our pockets and rolling it around between our fingers. That's the plan.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

In It

Continuing on with several milestone moments over here.

I'm writing this from the tiny but charming Burlington International Airport in Vermont. Dan and I are leaving our firstborn child in this lovely state while we jet home.

He's staying here for college, a fact I can't believe.

Here are some things that happened on this quick trip:

  • We discovered again that Shef's college campus is gorgeous and sprawling. There are mountains and valleys and lots of lush greenery. It's Middlebury College.
  • Kids from his new cross country team met us at the dorm and helped us carry his stuff to the second and top floor. Then, when we didn't have the code for entering the dorm room, they made multiple phone calls to figure it out and toured us around to kill the time while we waited. This was great because we visited Middlebury for the first (and only other) time during Covid and didn't get to see much of anything. 
  • Shef's dorm itself is in shocking disrepair. I'm not kidding. I mean, it's pretty much a shithole. There's a big brown water stain on the ceiling in his room, the hallways smell like mildew and urine, and the carpet is the very definition of threadbare. Dan remarked on entry, "Wow! It's like you're in prison!"
  • Despite the conditions, the board is still quite expensive.
  • Despite the conditions, Shef is happy and excited and all the cross country runners seemed awesome. Some of them had previously lived in that same dorm (which will be destroyed, perhaps by fire, next summer) and have lived to tell the tale.
  • We left him there about five hours ago, and he has not texted me. When will he text me?
When will he text me?

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Some Pretty Decent News

I won't beat around the bush: I think I'm ready to write and rewrite the first act of my new book. I have a bunch of out-of-order vignettes of what I'm calling The One and Only Sadie Jones at the moment, but as of this morning, I also have an outline for the first act of the book.

It's important for everyone to know that the outline will change, and the beginning will change. It's an inevitability. 

But, I'm pretty excited to get to work on a chunk--50 pages-ish?--that people can actually read. I think I've got most of the pieces already drafted, which is even more thrilling. This means that I get to use Revision Color One (red, probably), and the differences between the first crappy version and the second will astound me and make me feel productive and worthy.

I know from my outline that there are a couple of few new scenes I know I have to draft. One or two of these involve rodents. I used to think the mice were just there and menacing and designed to make us feel like Sadie is in over her head in her new apartment, but now I think they're a neighbor's escaped pet rats. This makes it so she can have a friend who doesn't have her same name. And the neighbor will be quirky and confounding because she has rats.

Is that confusing? Well. Just wait. We'll write it, and then it will be clear.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

A Restful Summer

I've been working hard, but I've also been resting hard this summer. I think it's good. I'll confess: I've taken at least one nap on each day of the summer so far. I close my eyes, and most of the time, I fall asleep for 20-40 minutes.

Part of this is just a middle-aged willingness to accept my limitations. Part of it is that we finally got a new bed that I find to be irresistible. Part of it is that I have been running quite a lot, and then resting is a natural counterpart to that. I just like napping, as it turns out.

I hoping the naps have been reducing my cortisol. They've definitely been improving my mood, as I've been generally quite cheerful even though I've experienced a couple of setbacks.

I'm not sure that daily naps are sustainable all year long, but perhaps I can prioritize them in the school year. I'm already quite good at Saturday and Sunday afternoon naps. I'd give my napping ability at solid 10/10.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Status Report

Tour de France:

It's happening, and I've been watching it. It's weird to me that everyone in cycling, at least in the past, has just been a convicted doper, and now it's sort of just accepted and fine. I did watch that Lance Armstrong documentary during Covid, and I sort of felt like, well, if everyone is using drugs and Lance is still the best, then do we really care? If no one was doping, he might also still be the best. I did some cursory googling about this issue, and it seems like now the doping is just more on an individual and micro-dosing level, rather than team sponsored. I mean, okay.

Book Work:

I have written 10, 250 words of the Sophie Jones book since Mac has been at camp. I've also emailed a synopsis to my agent. We can agree this is excellent progress.


In a momentary lapse of judgment and self-preservation, I have agreed to race a mile on Sunday. Lucky for me, Shef volunteered to be my pace buddy, so now it won't be as bad as it might have been if he hadn't done that.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Camp Departure

Today's the day Mac leaves us for three weeks at camp. He's very excited, can't wait to get on the bus, and claims he won't miss us at all. He resisted purchasing the required camp supply of stationery because he claims he won't be writing to us at all ever. I reminded him that the camp staff will require him to write once per week. We bought the stationery.

It's hard for me to imagine a better place for a fourteen-year-old boy than camp. He'll have a ton of autonomy in a youth-centered community. He'll have opportunities to create real and lasting relationships. There are wholesome mentors and thoughtful scaffolding for both physical and emotional growth.

I'm a camp enthusiast, and I'm happy for Mac. But I'd also like for him to write me some letters and pretend to miss me just a little bit.