Thursday, January 24, 2013

Months, and Months

Disclaimer:  All of this was written over the course of several months and promptly not posted.  I mention a few times about being busy and is true.  Things have been nuts.  I shall post more (hopefully) soon.  I am still struggling to get back into that wonderful routine that I had in August.  (August is sounding good right now for many reasons....not the least of which is my cold hands.)  Hoping all is well with everyone reading this.  Please, leave a comment to say "Hi", even if you don't read all of this craziness.

This evening I am sitting in a quiet corner of a gorgeous patio at a Marriot in Indianapolis.  I scoped out the spot while on my way to the ice machine.  By the time I returned my ice to my room, had some ice water (I was pretty thirsty), retrieved my laptop and phone charger and returned to the scoped out spot there were people here.  Sheesh, I thought.  So much for that spot.  I started to walk past, then noticing how many people were on the main patio decided to stay.  The nice people smiled and acknowledged my presence then went back to their reading.  Now I am sitting here writing about them while they read.  I feel kind of like a creeper, but also incredibly like a writer.  They are a man with a novel, some kind of political thriller by the look of it, and a woman with a magazine and a catalog.  They seem to be together, ah yes, they just shared a short exchange in regards to something in the catalog. 

It really is a beautiful evening.  The little area we are sitting in is set up like an outdoor living room complete with rug, and defined by four columns supporting a thingy.  You know, a thingy.  Like people put up over decks and what-not, often supporting flowering vines or some such, but not in this case.  Behind me there is a waterfall with three burning basins, like Olympic torches.  Music is piped in via an unseen speaker somewhere.  The sun is setting, there don’t seem to be any mosquitoes, and the sound of laughter drifts over from the busier far side of the patio. 

I am at the annual conference for librarians and such who work with kids and teens.  I am careful to not say just “children’s librarians” because, like me, not everyone here is a librarian.  (Note: some folks with degrees in library science do not approve of the title “Librarian” being handed out in so cavalier a manner.)  As I point out often, just because I work in a library, does not make me a librarian.  After all, you wouldn’t call the guy making burgers at Steak ‘n Shake “Chef”, now would you?  (mmmm Steak ‘n Shake)

Our dinner speaker this evening was Katherine Applegate.  She was a delightful speaker, and was accompanied by husband Michael Grant, who did not speak.  Their daughter was along as well.  Unbeknownst to me, I sat on the then fairly empty other side of this very patio with Mr. Grant and daughter earlier today while I waited for conference registration to begin.  I wonder what interesting new YA book he was working on.  I must confess that I haven’t actually read (yet) any of either of their books.  I intend to remedy this by reading The One and Only Ivan as soon as I get the chance.  I was inspired to do so, not this evening after hearing the story (though it was a good story), but by famed school library super hero John Schu, of Mr. Schu Reads.  Mr. Schu took a road trip this summer and got to visit the real Ivan, who passed away just a few days ago. 

Well, the light is failing, which doesn’t affect me, but my laptop battery is getting low, and I want to get a few photos of this patio before the light gets too low for my silly phone. 

Hello.  Just a quick confession: I've been thrown off my groove. I had really hoped to be back in my groove by now, but woke this morning with barely time to turn on my lap top, let alone get any creative juices flowing. *sigh*  I have not given up, there is always tomorrow, and perhaps by confessing here I really will get back into the swing of things tomorrow.

I attended a conference a few weeks ago.  At this conference I had a fun encounter with author Lauren Myracle.  It started during Katherine Applegate's keynote talk after dinner the first day.  I happened to notice that a familiar face was sitting not ten feet away at the next table. Being the paranoid-about-being-wrong person that I am I checked the Internet for photos of her, you know, to be positive, then tweeted something like "OMG I'm sitting here next to Lauren Myracle".  

It is now nearly November.  My time since I wrote the above has not been as productive as I had hoped.  This morning, as I sit listening to the world waking outside, is about re-re-establishing my routine.  There have been many reasons, some of them very good reasons why getting up early to write has been difficult.  I’m drowning again however, and I must once again take the reins in hand and control my ride.  As much as anyone can. 

My Grandbaby will be a year old in just over a week.  It is hard to imagine life without this amazing girl.  She has grown to be so bright, and happy, and just downright amazing.  Her sister, a huge surprise, will be here in January.  I am anxious to see how this new addition will change the dynamic of my daughter’s little family.  I remember when my son was born, how different things were.  There is such a big difference between having a child, and having more than one child….and mine were eight years apart. (unintentionally, but we can’t always plan these things)  It doesn’t seem like it should be as different as it is.  

On a completely different subject,

Lauren Myracle: (the above italicized paragraphs were typed in a separate post and saved as a draft....idk)

After the True Blood season finale (which I watched with Mr. via phone) I got a text notification from Twitter that Ms. Myracle had responded to my tweet.  That’s cool! I love it when that happens, it just isn’t usually when we are in the same hotel.  Being wide awake, with a stack of new books in the room I picked up one and started to read.  I chose BLISS, by Lauren Myracle. A little later I tweeted that this book had completely sucked me in, then eventually went to sleep. 

Skip ahead to the next day’s lunch keynote speech, by (of course) Lauren Myracle.  In the midst of her talk, she completely floored me by mentioning my name and asking me where I was.  I gave a shocked little wave, as she asked me if I had noticed her fascination with psychopaths in reading BLISS.  “Just a little bit.”  I think was my reply. 

We spoke again afterward during the book signing portion.  I had been in her break-out session on writing for teens earlier.  It was very good.  I was not.  Writing for teens is something I find difficult, and will have to challenge myself with more in the future.  I read plenty of YA, but I seem better (at least so far) at writing for younger readers.  Possibly because I had such a happy childhood, and can mentally jump back into that mindset so easily.  Ms. Myracle gave some great suggestions and I hope someday to make use of them. 

Speaking of my YA non-abilities, the contest at Figment that I entered in September was a great example.  My entry was not YA.  It could have been tweaked to become more YA, but I realized after re-reading it that it was really not specifically YA.  This realization came after reading Saundra Mitchell’s top 5 reasons why she didn’t choose a story.  Happily, my entry didn’t fit into any of the other reasons given.  J  So that is good. 

I need to write more about BLISS…

For the first time in far too long I am up early to write.  I haven’t visited my WIP in almost as long as I’ve visited my blog.  There are many excuses.  Most of them are legitimate, but they are still excuses.  I haven’t written on a regular basis since early September.  Here we are in December.  Sheesh.  Back into the habit.  This is my pre-New Year’s Resolution.  (I thought about waiting….I’m a terrific procrastinator.)

As I sit here in the semi dark, the only light coming from the laptop and a single dim lamp, I hear the traffic out on the road, so many people up so early.  I shudder to think about jobs that have one out on the road so early.  I know there are many.  I am thankful not to have one of them.  My library opens at a nice comfortable time, of which I am quite glad.  My other job, that of a writer is worth being up early.  I don’t have to go out of my home, and there is no dress code.  These things make it easier, to be sure.  The fact that it is not (yet) a paying gig is trivial.  Time will tell if what I do now will pay off in the future.  I have learned so much these last few years, but the years are slipping by much too quickly.  The need to succeed in producing the stories in my head into that which will enchant readers is strong.  Not as strong lately as it should have been.  As I said, many excuses. 

This morning is to help re-establish a pattern and get my brain back into the game.  One must stretch before exercising or one could end up injured.  In this case, my WIP may suffer from rusty brain syndrome.  This has happened before.  Better to take it out on my trusty blog.  Sorry, but thanks for being there.

Saturday evening our town had our third annual Christmas parade, lighting of the courthouse lights, and Santa visit extravaganza.  This has grown every year, and this year they wanted someone to read stories.  There were many stations to visit while waiting for Santa’s line to diminish, or else to do after visiting the big guy.  I, of course, volunteered.  A few of us accompanied the new bookmobile in the parade to the courthouse, handing out books along the way.  It was an experience that was both good and, well, less-than-good.  For most of the route there were not many people.  Handing out books was easier and less stressful.  Then we got to the area of the courthouse and WOW was there a lot of people!  It got pretty chaotic, but since there were six of us, it was not too terrible.  We gave out all of the books and lived to tell about it. 

Once the bookmobile parked, I took my things inside the courthouse to the prearranged story spot and I set up and waited for the kids.  I had chosen several stories to bring with me, which I perused while I waited.  Before too long I had a group to read to.  Reading to kids is my absolute favorite part of my job.  Hands down.  No contest.  I saw several kids I knew throughout the evening.  There were a couple of lulls, which were great for my voice.  During one lull I picked up the copy of The Velveteen Rabbit I had brought along and began reading to myself.  As I was reading a boy walked in and we talked about how great the story is, he told me how he and his sister both loved it.  I let him choose from my stack of books, and he decided on The Velveteen Rabbit, no matter how long it would take.  His teenage brother joined us, sitting next to his little brother on the floor.  I started reading. 

Some background about what this story means to me.  When I was young, I was given The Velveteen Rabbit on record.  My first audio book, maybe.  Definitely my first favorite.  I listened to it, and looked at the accompanying book (in those days, they built the book in the size of the record cover so that they could be combined) so often that I can hear the reader’s voice still in my mind.  I loved that bunny every bit as much as the boy in the story.  I didn’t realize how much a part of me this story was until Saturday evening when I picked it up to read during that small window of quiet sitting in the Commissioners’ room of the county courthouse. 

As I began reading to this boy, who I knew already loved the book, I began to wonder if I had ever read this book aloud.  Had I read it to my daughter?  I think I must have.  Had I read it to my son?  I couldn’t remember…..I felt terrible.  My son, who came into the room near the beginning of the story, but didn’t stay for the entire thing as he went off to spend the night with a cousin, will be 13 this month.  Thankfully, he is not yet too old to value a good story, and I pray that he never is.  I vowed to read this wonderful story to him this week. 

When I got to the part of the story in which the boy is going off to the seaside, and the doctor tells Nana that all of the things the boy was in contact with during the Scarlet Fever must be burned immediately I paused.  “This part may make me cry”, I told the boys.  The older boy stood and said he was going to go walk around and read it at home where he could cry in private.  “But it ends happy.” I said.  The younger boy stayed and as I read walked up beside me and patted my shoulder.  I made it through, but oddly had to clear my throat during the last line.  That hand on my shoulder was so touching that I had to tell his mother via facebook that night how awesome they made my night.  Then she told me that they had been given The Velveteen Rabbit during the parade.  There had been one copy, out of two hundred books given out that night, and it was given to that family.  If I hear nothing from anyone else who received a book that night, I’m ok with that.  

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