Monday, January 27, 2014

Picture Quote Monday {It Couldn't Be Done}

I missed putting up a picture quote last week because the entire family decided to come down with a nasty head cold ALL AT THE SAME TIME. It's bad enough when the kids are sick, but when both parents are feeling miserable on top of it...double the not so fun. But thankfully, after much pitiful lounging about on the couch and the disinfecting of all surfaces, we are on the mend and here I am, up way too late on a Sunday night to bring you your picture quote.

Recently I was having an email conversation with someone, discussing the difficulty in selling pirate-themed picture books and picture books in rhyme. Then she said it didn't surprise her that I was attempting to write the impossible - a trio of rhyming pirate picture books. To which she said: BRING THEM ON! And she wrote it just like that, in all caps. It made me exceedingly happy.

I'd like to think that there's a little of the White Queen in all of us, if only we, too, would dare to believe in six impossible things before breakfast. When I came across this jaunty poem, I knew I had to share it. It can't be done? Psh. Do it anyway. Because the only thing that's sure to fail is the thing that's left undone.

Did that make any sense? I think I need to go to bed.






Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Decade and Counting



We met on a late spring evening doing yard work outside an old stone victorian house on the upper west side during a youth group service project. I was quietly raking leaves by myself, having been assigned to a different job than my best friend (who was one of only three people I actually knew there), when A BOY came over and started talking to me. Despite my notorious shyness around members of the opposite sex, I was amazed at how quickly we fell into comfortable conversation. We talked for the rest of the evening. When he asked for my number at the end of the night I gave it to him, at which point my best friend nearly died from shock.

That weekend he asked me if I would go out with him. I said yes. Eight months and thirteen days later I said, "I do." Today, ten years and two kids later, I still love hearing him say, "This is my wife." Seriously, it never gets old.

If I were to list all the ways my husband has made my life better over the last ten years, you'd never be able to spare the time to read it. Thanks to him I have a deeper appreciation for film, music, and hot sauce. And of course, those two crazy, wonderful children. He never fails to tell me I'm beautiful on the days when I'm feeling the opposite. He's an amazing cook, isn't afraid to watch chick-flicks, and wholeheartedly agrees that our house needs more bookshelves. He's my biggest supporter, always encouraging me to pursue my dreams and there with the perfect words when I'm feeling like I'm the worst writer in the history of novelists. He's my best friend. And on top of all that, he loves me every single day, even when I've got my cranky pants on.

Pretty sure I'm the luckiest woman in the universe.


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, Nebraska, where nothing exciting ever happens. Until the day the Green Wind shows up at her window with his flying Leopard and whisks her away to Fairyland. There she encounters all manner of things she could never have imagined, both marvelous and dangerous. When she takes on the task of retrieving a witch's stolen wooden spoon, it falls to September, a book-loving dragon, and an almost human boy named Saturday to vanquish a tyrannical Marquess and restore order to Fairyland. But this adventure won't just threaten September's life. She might just lose her heart as well.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is quite possibly the most fun I've ever had telling people what book I'm reading. How so many words manage to roll off the tongue so beautifully, I'll never understand. How can I properly convey how wonderful this book is? There's so much to love! Just reading the cast of characters on the opening page is enough to tell you the story is going to be magical. (Witches, Wyverns, Spriggans, Numerous Velocipes...Do tell!) Reading this book is like being transported to a modern version of Alice's Wonderland. I found myself constantly amazed by the imagination of the author and the vast and varied cast she created inside the enchanting world of Fairyland. The narrator is perfection, stepping in at just the right moments with all the wit and poetic speech that is to be expected from the teller of such a tale. The writing is fantastic, the kind of stuff you'll find yourself constantly wishing you could fit into a tweet, in order to share the brilliance with the rest of the world.

"Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble."


"It is true that novelists are shameless and obey no decent law, and they are not to be trusted on any account, but some Mysteries even they must honor."

See what I mean? 

Most of all, I love that the author isn't afraid to mix humor with seriousness, the light hearted with a darker edge. I love the way that September, dear, brave girl, grows throughout the story. I came to many passages that, as I was reading them, seemed as if they were trying to teach me a very important lesson in some wonderful, mysterious way. The whole book is like that, wonderful and mysterious and enchanting. Including the ending of the second to last chapter that, just when I thought I had it all figured out, snuck up behind me and surprised me one last time before it disappeared and left me sitting there with my mouth hanging open.

If you're at all interested in traveling to a fantastic world filled with fairies, lovable dragons, terrible Marquesses with very fine hats, and a bathhouse where you can wash your courage clean, I don't think you'll find a better book for the job.

Then again, I am a novelist and not to be trusted. Perhaps you'll just have to make your own judgements.

Friday, January 17, 2014

An Apology to My Bookshelf



Here's what my current to-read list looks like (in no particular order). And these are just the ones that currently live on my bookshelf. After reading this Buzzfeed post on 16 Books to Read Before They Hit Theaters I think my list just got longer. Unfortunately it seems like my reading list is a lot longer than my reading time. I've been working on the same novel for about 5 weeks now...pretty sure my Bookworm card is going to get revoked now that I admitted that. *Hangs head in shame* It's a fantastic book, but I've had such a hard time allowing myself the down time to read. Right now I have six graphic design jobs going (good for the bank account, questionable for my sanity), and children and a husband who expect to be fed, and a state who expects me to educate my children, not to mention the laundry and house cleaning, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera... Every spare second I have left over is being focused on writing and editing, which I've somehow been managing to squeeze in daily (even if it's just 30 minutes) and that's a great thing--especially since I eventually want it to turn into a full time career. So of course what gets sacrificed? Reading. Which I know is horribly backwards, I mean, you can't write great books if you don't read great books. I've been seriously considering making myself a daily schedule and penciling in reading time. Yes, the situation has become that dire.

To all the books (and authors) I've been neglecting: It's not you, it's me. I'm sorry. I love you. I promise I'll be back

What about you? Do you read when you have a spare moment, or are you more intentional about picking up whatever book you're currently reading? What's on your 2014 to-read list? (I'll probably regret asking that last question.)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Picture Quote Monday {Compare}


I tweeted this quote yesterday, but it's just too good not to share again. Over the holidays I had a conversation with a family member about this very subject. She was frustrated with some difficulties she'd recently run into, and even more frustrated over the fact that a friend of hers had seemingly quick success resolving the exact same issues. My response: It's always going to be like that.

Now, on the surface, that doesn't seem very encouraging. But it's the truth. No matter how old you get, or how much progress you make, there's always going to be someone that seems to have it better and/or easier than you. I say this from experience—and it's something I still struggle with. But the problem with this is summed up so perfectly by the above quote. So often, we only see the other person's glorious finish, that destination we ourselves long for so much. But if we could see their behind-the-scenes clips, we'd probably see the same frustrations and roadblocks and difficulties we face. And chances are, along the way, they ran into someone "better" and felt the same way you do.

It's so easy to fall into the pit of comparison. Don't do it. Instead of letting another person's success bring about feelings of doubt, insecurity, and—let's be honest—jealousy, let it inspire you. Offer them congratulations. Then keep pressing on toward your own goals. You can't get to the light at the end of the tunnel without walking through the dark first. You can't win the game without playing the minutes. Keep moving forward, one step at a time. We're all at a different place on our journey, and someday, you'll have your own highlight reel to look back on.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Whatever

I don't know about you, but when it comes to the daily to-do list, I have a tendency to focus on all the things I haven't accomplished, rather than all the things I have.

For instance, I spent a good portion of this morning worrying over the fact that I haven't posted anything on the blog in two weeks. I mean, that's terrible blog etiquette. I missed a prime opportunity to start off the new year with a blogging bang. I really should be more prepared with these things. Maybe I need to add "be more organized" to my list of New Year's Resolutions Goals.

But then I looked at the quote that I meant to post last week (but of course never got around to) and I was reminded of one of things I actually do want to be better at this year.


In the last 14 days I've celebrated Christmas and rung in a new year, visited with family, learned how to play Farkle, worked on several graphic design projects, spent time with good friends, scored an awesome pair of shoes on clearance, watched my husband and son put together over a thousand Lego bricks, discussed wedding plans with my future sister-in-law, played about twenty games of Sorry! with my kids, and wrote and/or edited almost every single day. The house has been moderately clean, the bills have been paid, the laundry has been washed (if not put away), and all persons and cats have been fed.

That's a lot of awesome. The fact that I didn't put up a blog post doesn't seem like that big of a deal when compared with all the things I did do.

With 2014 ahead of us, all shiny and new and ripe with possibility, it's good to remember that one year is made up of 365 days. In the midst of setting goals and making resolutions, let's have grace with ourselves and our days--especially when they don't go as planned. Because there really is more to life than what makes it on the to-do list.