I decided to start the year with a january Blog Hop giveaway. So read to the bottom if you want to participate.
I love the poem by Tennyson: Ring Out Wild Bells. Love it. It’s been put to music in the LDS hymn book, and it’s haunting and beautiful and feels full of promise all at the same time. The song gives me chills. I was disappointed we didn’t sing it on new Year’s Day in Sacrament meeting, but maybe next year.
With two books coming out within the next three months, I have been insanely busy. This means I haven’t blogged very much, which is probably a relief to everyone because then they don’t have to hear me whining over edits, over the fact that every time I think I’ve uncovered the secrets of the comma I realize I haven’t uncovered anything at all, over the fact that my kitchen counters are never clear, over the fact that Mother Nature is a real slacker with the whole winter thing.
I’m really glad I spared you all of that whining. Lucky you guys!
But since it is tradition that I start the year by looking back at the previous year, I’d decided I’d better write *something*. I had things I wanted to do last year, and things that actually were achieved.
Writing. I had tons of writing goals. Long term . . . short term. I wanted to write three books. I wrote two and three quarters. I would have made this goal except the year ended with all kinds of stuff getting piled on me at once and honestly . . . I have three kids who need to know they’re loved. I had to put something aside, and the work in progress was that something. It’s mostly done . . . which feels quite the same as mostly dead. I will pick that up again in another week or two. The two books that did find their way to completion are also the two coming out in the next few months. Olivia (which is part of the series written with Josi Kilpack, Heather Moore, and Annette Lyon) is coming out in February. And Hazzardous Universe: The Magician’s Last Words (Loving that title!) is coming out in March. The book that is mostly done is called Capes and Curls. It’s a fairytale retelling featuring Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks. It’s been a fun write, and I cannot wait to go back to it.
I wanted to read 70 books and I read 78. One of these days maybe I will be as well read as Jessica Day George. But probably not. That girl is a machine! I fell in love with Jim Butcher’s writing over the year and ended the year with James Dashner’s Death Cure. It was an epic ending to the series. It was fitting and believably human. I genuinely loved it. if you haven’t read it–then a pox upon your head. Dashner did a great job and Death Cure was a great book to end my reading year. Thanks James.
I wanted to get into shape. But one ACL snap and torn meniscus later, I am just grateful to be walking. I’ve come to the point that I can walk without a limp most of the time. I still struggle on stairs. I can do them, but sometimes if my knee is really hurting, it’s slow going. A rather severe depression overcame me at the time I injured my knee. It’s strange how a physical ailment can have such an emotional impact. I’m clawing my way out of it. Some days are great and there’s no pain at all. Others are less than great. It is the way of things.
I wanted my kids to be safe and happy. They are that for certain. I’m so grateful for the joy those three kids give me. I love listening to them laugh and hearing their ideas. I love the way they see the world and the fact that they aren’t afraid to share their thoughts with Mr. Wright and me. I love their jokes and hard work, and the way they care about others. Families are important things. And not every day is perfect in any family, but every day is worth experiencing because they are there: parents, siblings, in laws, nieces, nephews, children, spouses. I’m glad for the people in my life.
It was a good year. I was able to do some cool things and spend time with cool people. I’m glad to have another year at my disposal. Maybe I’ll get three books written this year . . .
I wish all of you a great New Year. May you accomplish your goals and be happy. As a way to kick off the year, I’m joining
I’m revising. Last night I tore through thirty pages of edits and feel good with the progress made on my manuscript. I’m hoping to be done tonight. Hoping–but not holding my breath.
A long time ago, when I was doing a book signing for my first book, I met another author–Carole Warburton. She was with a bigger publisher (the one I’m now with), and I was in awe of her. She gave me some advice, advice that is useful every day in my career.
She taught me about edits.
“Edits aren’t evil,” she’d said. “Edits are a chance to prove you can do it better.”
So when it comes time to do an edit on a book I’ve written, I repeat her words in my mind. Edits are a chance to prove I can do it better. I love a challenge. Of course I can do it better! Just watch and see.
I only wish I could manipulate my reality the same way I manipulate my written world. I wish I had a delete button when I say something completely stupid. I wish I could rearrange parts of my day so they fit better and accomplish more, the same way I rearrange paragraphs on a page.
In reality, just like with writing, of course I can do better when I don’t get it right. Of course I can be more patient. Of course I can speak words of compassion, love, and respect. I can edit my future, but that doesn’t delete the deeds of the past. It’s vexing–this reality thing.
The important thing is knowing where we can do better and working towards that. Thanks Carole. The advice is useful all these years later.
Cross My Heart actually has a book launch date–November 4th! It’ll be food, fun, and prizes so be there! The address and details will come in the next few days. Sorry about the delay on that. I’m heading to California to do a book signing at the Disneyland Hotel and we’re making a family trip out of it so it’s been tough to get all the scheduling to work out. Thanks for being patient with me.
As a child, every memorial day centered on the town of Oak City where my grandfather was buried. It was the town my father, aunts, and uncles had grown up. It was the town my grandma had spent the majority of her adult life. For them it was home.
For me . . . it was home too. Though I didn’t live there (not yet) and only visited a handful of times every year. For me, Oak City was the place of four wheelers and frog catching. It was getting lost in fields of rye grass taller than me. It was the candy store, the camp fires, the moon rising over the mountains, taking walks without anyone worrying over where I’d gone and when I’d be back. It was childhood freedom.
And it was the cemetery.
We always went to the cemetery. We’d walk with grandma, taking our place in the family pilgrimage to the edge of town. Grandma always shed tears at the graveside of my grandfather. I hadn’t known him. He’d died before I was born. But I knew her, loved her, wanted to be everything she was, and if grandma was sad, then the moment needed to be respected. But I was young, and had never lost anyone I’d loved. The sadness was hard to understand even while it was being respected. I had no attachment to any of the people under the grass and stone markers. Memorial Day was festive, bright, and filled with flowers. The tears didn’t make sense.
When it was me standing at Grandma’s graveside, when one of the biggest reasons Oak City felt like home was gone.
Today–twenty years later from that time I’d been forced to say goodbye, the tears felt fresh, the wound felt new instead of scabbed and scarred over with time. My aunt had bought little plant markers for when someone plants a garden patch so they remember where they put everything. She’d also bought a ton of flowers ready for planting. She put every child, grandchild, and great grandchild along with their respective spouses that had all blossomed under the love of my grandparents on those markers and placed the markers in the flower pots.
I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight.
Grandma would have loved it.
So on this day where we honor our dead, I just want to say hello to my grandmother. Hello, and I still miss you every day.
. . . my kids.
Mr. Wright is out of town tonight, so it’s just the Wright brothers and me. Already we’ve argued about what will be on the television while I make dinner. The argument was over whether we’d watch the Disney Channel or Unwrapped on the food channel. I lost.
So guess what we’re watching . . .
Yep. Unwrapped on the food channel. I swear these children are not mine. Why would they want to learn something on TV when they can have mindless entertainment? So, instead of a silly but fun show about teenage wizards, we’re learning about how the PEZ dispenser came into being and about some odd new pancake product called Batter Blaster.
The elder Wright Brother wants Batter Blaster bad. He is our family pancake maker and the Batter Blaster apparently is the newest rage in pancake making. I hadn’t made my first pancake until I was in college, and here is my ten year old, scoping out new ways to fine tune his breakfast making experiences.
The younger Wright brother has determined he wants an edible bouquet instead of cake for his birthday because it’s healthier (fruit instead of pastries), and he no longer drinks soda pop because he thinks soda pop is bad for you. Honestly! I did not teach them any of this. They are totally on their own when it comes to this total weirdness. I now get lectures about my Dr. Pepper habits.
The kids teach me a lot as we move through our time together, but I’ve taught them some pretty valuable things too, such as:
- How to cuss in traffic
- How to brush teeth
- How to critique the dialogue in movies out loud in the theater
- How to throw tantrums
- How to read
- How to irritate people with semantics
- How to pick up litter
- How to be a sore loser at Monopoly (which I refuse to play with them anymore because they gang up on me)
As you can see from the list, some of the stuff they learned from me is actually useful. I miss the daughter a lot and, in spite of teaching mostly less than useful life skills, still wish she was around for me to teach. She’ll be home for the summer in just two and a half months. Yay! This whole child rearing business is one well worth taking on.
Oh and I finished writing the manuscript, Spell Check, last month and have already started my new WIP tentatively called Dream Writers. I’m into it nearly fifty pages and so far loving the manuscript.
My kids have said some great things over the years. Things that make me laugh, things that make me cringe, and things that have actually made me cry. So here is my top ten list so far of the worst things my kids have uttered out loud and on purpose.
- “Mommy! The kitchen’s on fire!”
- “I don’t see why you’re mad; It’s not like it’s a *real* book.” (this said when I was preparing my first manuscript for the editor and had lost fifteen pages)
- “I’m going to my friend’s house for dinner. Her mom makes GOOD food.”
- “But Daddy doesn’t do it like that!”
- (during scripture study) “If all those people only eat milk and honey, they are going to get scurvy and die due to improper diets! You’d think God would know better about nutrition.”
- (child pointing to a quote by Colonel Sanders in KFC that has the word “damn” in it) “Look! There’s the word Mom uses!”
- “Mommy! Look! I cut my own hair!”
- “So you mean like it’s hard for you to hear why you shouldn’t swear?”(also during scripture study when I was explaining why Nephi’s brothers were mad, because it’s always hard to hear about the things you do wrong.)
- “The backyard’s on fire!” (notice how fire and my cursing seem to be thematic at my house?)
- “I’m ready to go.”
The last one seems tame compared to the rest, but it’s the one that gave me tears. It is what my daughter said after we’d packed up the car with her belongings to move her to St George to live with my parents so she can go to the school of her choice. She was ready to go. I am not ready to let her go.
She’s been gone for a few weeks and I miss the sound of her piano practice, and her coming in to my room to plop down on my bed and just hang out with me when she comes home from school. I miss the giggling between her and her brothers as they play.
The best thing I’ve heard? Last night she called and, in a teary sort of voice, told me she missed me.
It’s nice to know.
Josi Kilpack reviewed my manuscript for me recently. When I received back the edits, I had to sit on them for a while and figure out how to make the suggested changes. She wanted more depth.
“You love your characters too much,” she said. “You’re afraid to let them get hurt.”
I can’t argue with her. I *do* love my characters. They are funny, and charming. I would go to movies with them and invite them on vacations if they were real.
“You have to let them get hurt!” she continues later in the manuscript. “Burn them, Julie! Burn them!”
Let me clarify a few things about this particular manuscript: Anyone who knows me knows I like writing good conflict, but I wrote this book to be a candy bar book–empty calories that are fun to consume but have no real value. It’s a romantic comedy. In the need to write a whimsical book after several books that were emotionally draining, I ended up with this one–a light breezy romance in the same vein as Notting Hill with Hugh Grant. What kind of silly woman wants to burn a miraculous man find who looks like this:
But after much contemplation, I have dug a little deeper and found that there are some other ways I could strengthen the conflict without losing the whimsy of romantic comedy.
And as I’ve continued, I’ve realized that the characters have to be burned at some point. How will I ever know what they are capable of if I never give them the chance to damage themselves?
My daughter’s moving in less than a month. 28 days and I will no longer be there to keep her from getting hurt. And yet, how could she ever know how strong she is if she doesn’t ever get to flex her muscles? How will she know what she’s capable of if she never takes chances, fails, succeeds, lives?
I wonder if God shakes his head at us silly mortals as we shake our fists at him. As we curse him for our trials, does he say, “It’s for your own good! I promise you’ll thank me later! If you don’t hurt, how will you ever know what you’re capable of?” He has to let us get hurt for our own good, our own learning, our own expansion into a greater universe.
I feel suddenly more grateful for my challenges.
Just as I have to let Rae go, for her own good so she can know that she is strong–not because I told her she was strong, but because she stood on her own two feet and proved it.
Today I had to go to Salt Lake. On the freeway, I nearly ran into a bird. On the highway in the country, a person expects to see birds, but in the city on the freeway, birds are a rarity–especially in the case of this particular bird.
The poor thing was flying for all he was worth, dodging in and out of the traffic, trying to fly ahead of the car speeding along behind it. For all his efforts, it was only a matter of time before he and a windshield met in an intimate sort of way. “Don’t you know who you are?” I shouted at the bird (’cause I’m weird enough to talk to birds on the freeway).
He’s a bird! He has the amazing gift of flight and wings. All he had to do was fly up. Once high enough, he’d have been able to see beyond the distractions around him. He had the ability to move beyond his present circumstances, but didn’t because he’d apparently forgotten who he was.
All this happened as I was driving to my oldest brother’s house. He’d had a really rough day. He wasn’t home and hasn’t answered his cell phone. I wanted to talk to him today and tell him he was loved and worried about. I wanted to give him a hug and let him know that things were going to be okay. I wonder if he feels like that bird dodging in and out of traffic, trying to outrun the things that he fears and worries over. If he only knew how much potential he has. If he only would fly up and see beyond the distractions, he’d be able to see how to move into better situations.
How often do we all wing blindly in and out of traffic, just trying to survive and not get run over? And don’t we know who we are? Don’t we all have the ability to rise a little higher so we can see above and beyond whatever it is causing us grief?
So many of my friends are amazingly . . . well . . . amazing. Yet there is a common thread of worry and the downplay of their abilities. I want to shake them sometimes and scream, “don’t you know who you are?”
This post is a backwards way of telling all of you, my dear friends, I appreciate and value the people you are. I am grateful for all the kindness you give me and if for a moment you could see yourselves the way I saw you, you’d not only be able to rise a little higher, you’d be soaring.
I’ve been incoherently busy this last month. With work, several tradeshows for my store, and random writing and editing that had to be done, I can’t believe I found time to breathe. I wrote nearly 20,000 words which is no record breaking number but is still progress towards a completed novel.
It all comes back to normal life monday afternoon. I am in Vegas right now. Last week I was at the LDSBA in Salt Lake City. I had a great time at that convention hanging out with good friends. It was fun to get to see Michael McLean and hear the Tabernacle Choir resonate throughout the Tabernacle in downtown Salt Lake. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing brought me to my feet as applause thundered all around. What an amazing performance.
My release for the novel, Eyes Like Mine, has been pushed back to July. It’ll be better for sales in the long run, but it is sooooo hard to wait that long.
It’s been a trying month as a mother. I’ve spent several nights staring into my sleeping children’s rooms and wondering if I really wept for all those years I thought I was infertile. Beyond the regular drama that comes with parenthood, the dog got hit by a truck. It isn’t just any dog, it’s Rae’s dog. My nephew was staying at my house and came in while I was packing to tell me that the dog had been hit. I ran outside to a horrible scene. My thirteen year old daughter cradled the limp bloody body of her dog in her arms as she screamed, “My dog! my dog! They hit her! They killed her!” In my entire life, I have never heard anything more jarring and disturbing as her shrill screams.
I took the dog from her to hurry and assess the situation. The dog didn’t move, but she was stil breathing. I kept assuming that each breath was the last. There was no way an animal bleeding so violently from the mouth and so limp in the body could survive.
But I looked up at my daughter as she chanted, “Fix her!” over and over again. How it reminded me of all the times when she has come to me throughout her life and demanded I fix something that I just couldn’t. The cookie that broke in half when she dind’t feel like eating a broken (and therefore less-than-worthy) cookie, the doll missing a leg due to puppy chewing, the glass tinker bell that fell and shattered.
Meeting Rae’s eyes and seeing the trust she placed in me to fix this, to make it better, to bandage it, and kiss it and make it all okay was more than I could handle. I looked back down and found that the dog was looking at me with the same demand as I’d found in my daughter’s eyes. “Fix it! Fix it!” I went in and called the vet with absolutely no hope that the dog had any chance to live, but unable to handle the insistence of both child and animal. After a few moments on the phone with the vet (who left me with even smaller hope that the dog would live) I decided to take the dog in.
I made Rae go with me.
And it turns out the dog was fixable for a very high price tag, a tag I couldn’t see how we’d be able to pay. But there was my daughter and the dog staring at me with those demanding eyes. There were the shrill screams still bouncing off the insides of my skull. I consented to the surgery. Copper (the dog) gave me a feeble flick of her tail in gratitude. Later, Rae hugged me so tight I almost couldn’t breathe. “Thanks for making it better.”
By saving the dog, I saved my daughter’s faith in me, for a little while longer, that I can still make the world better. That’s something I can’t put a price tag on.
I don’t care how sentimental and lame that sounds . . . the world *is* beautiful.
Don’t believe me?
Did you notice? No matter where he went, no matter what language the people spoke or what religious, political, or personal beliefs they may have held, when they smile, they are all the same. When they dance, they smile. The world really IS beautiful. Anyone who says different has simply never stopped long enough to notice.
No one’s watching, feel free to take a moment and dance.
2. Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.
3. Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with “Nothing” usually end in “Fine”.
4. Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don’t Do It!
5. Loud Sigh: This actually is not a word, but a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of nothing.)
6. That’s Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That’s okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.
7. Thanks: A woman is thanking you, do not question, or Faint. Just say ”You’re welcome”.
9. Don’t worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking “What’s wrong?” For the woman’s response, refer to #3.