Thursday, August 21, 2008

Summer's OOOoooo-VER

We had a great summer, and our Disneyland trip was a definite highlight. We had two days and an overnight at the Staybridge suites. It was fabulous. We went on every ride, and many rides we went on multiple times. The Indiana Jones ride, for example...we probably went on that ride nine or ten times, no joke. We loved checking out California Adventure and really enjoyed the Soarin' over California ride. Here are some fun pictures--notice how I'm strategically absent. School starts Monday. Too bad, so sad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The SKETCHES arrived! Hooray!

Last week I was thrilled to receive David Catrow's sketches for our upcoming book, THE MIDDLE CHILD BLUES. He is incredibly talented, and I'm very excited for this book. The sketch above (remember these are rough, to get the layout correct, etc.) made me laugh out loud. Our hero, Lee, is mad that his older brother can order from the adult menu and his sister gets a meal with a kiddie toy. (As you can see, she's shot him in the forehead with it.) Mom and Dad are still ordering at Jack in the Bun. What fun!

I also found out that one of my manuscripts has now been moved to an acquisitions meeting, which means it may be close to a sale. I'm crossing my fingers so hard, they're blue.

My kids are all home from their summer visits with their other parents. We're back to a full house. Noise. It's a great thing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

David Catrow Sketches

Today I’m just like a little kid on Christmas eve...or a little kid standing in line at Disneyland. That’s because I’m about to get my first glimpse of David Catrow’s sketches for my upcoming book, THE MIDDLE CHILD BLUES. My editor says the sample sketches should arrive Fed Ex today. Holy cow. Talk about exciting. Keep watching my blog, and maybe, just maybe I’ll give you a sneak peek.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Baby Mine, Don't You Cry

Today my five-year-old daughter started to cry, and said, “Mom, I don’t ever want to have babies, ever.”

And I said, “Why do you say that?”

“Because it hurts you. They have to cut your tummy with a knife. And that hurts a whole lot. I just don’t want to.”

I was speechless for a moment. Where had she heard about tummies being “cut?” I decided she’d probably seen one of these birthing television shows on A & E or something. It seems like childbirth is everywhere on T.V. these days.

“Well, honey, not all mommies have their tummies cut. And there’s medicine that makes it so it doesn’t hurt. Anyway, you don’t have to worry about that for a very long time.”

“Yeah,” she whined, “and then if I did have babies, you’d be old like a grandma and then you’d probably die. Just like your mom died when she was a grandma. And I don’t want you to die. So I don’t ever want to have babies. Never EVER!”

She tossed herself onto my bed in a heap, crying dramatically. I stroked her hair. I thought about my mother and her untimely death. I remember feeling like a five-year-old little girl when she died, even though I was a young adult.

There’s a scene in the movie “Dumbo” where the little elephant wants his mother, but she’s been banished and caged. His trunk reaches up to her desperately, and for a brief moment she's able to cradle him through the bars, rocking him to the song, “Baby Mine, Don’t You Cry.” But then she must slip away into the darkness, leaving him all alone. My mother’s death made me feel just that vulnerable and scared.

“I think someday you’ll change your mind,” I told my daughter. “Being a mommy is a wonderful thing. My mom loved being my mommy. And I love being your mommy.” I told her a little about the day she was born. And I said, “I’ve had lots of babies. And look, I’m fine. I survived. I’m here with you, and I’m happy.”

I didn’t mention the fact that she was indeed “cut” from my tummy, and that days after her birth I was rushed back to the hospital when the incision completely re-opened. Her birth and the recovery were very difficult. I also didn’t mention stuff like stretch marks, the pain of breastfeeding, the heartbreak of loss, the devastation of divorce and sick children and the many other things a mother might experience which make a “cut tummy” seem like a jog down the sidewalk. She’d have to find these things out on her own, after life toughens her up a bit. I hope she’ll be spared some of them, but certainly not the intermittent joy.

Moms are warriors, but we start out--and part of us will always remain--as scared little girls. Tonight I understood my daughter.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Torture Chamber

In case anybody was wondering, the business of writing picture books can be sheer torture. Torture I tell you, torture! It’s mostly the waiting that drives me insane. Since early February I’ve had a manuscript with two publishers—and each had given me good hope—but I’ve yet to hear anything from either one. Not a yes, not a no. Six months of waiting. It’s agonizing. I wait a few weeks, until I’m practically biting off my fingertips and then I finally cave in and write my agent. She’ll give me reassurances but no final word (if she doesn’t have one she can’t give it).

So we wait. Sometimes my agent makes a very polite inquiry with the editor who took the manuscript, and we might hear a tidbit or two about who’s currently looking at it and what the picture book sales “climate” is. But nothing about the final decision. I end-up waiting several more weeks, until we’re brave enough to make another inquiry. Sheeeesh. Meanwhile I write new stuff, filter it through my critique group, and send the best stuff to my agent. She rejects the majority of it. So I go from excitement over a new piece, to the awful belief that surely my last book will be my last book forever, and I could never write another worthwhile thing again if I tried every day of my life.

I’ve learned that a big part of a writer’s angst is the yearning for more. Because getting published doesn’t make it go away. There is no cure. Sure, there are episodes of exhilaration—but no end to the yearning. Another story, another book, another character, another idea. Searching, searching my brain files. Dry spells are unacceptable.

I wonder if J.K. Rowling is finally satisfied. I hope so. Please say there’s a hypothetical end to this madness.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

From the Secret Files of a Nutty Mother, Episode 1

Tonight I walked through a pitch-black park by a stream, and put a tablecloth on a picnic table. Then I set out a vase with flowers, lit two candles, put out four Ben and Jerry’s ice creams with spoons, and waited. I waited for the signal. It didn’t come.

I started to hear noises. You know, scary noises like rustling in the bushes, whistling, and footsteps. Where was the blasted signal? Darkness makes me nervous. And with the candles lit, my eyes could see absolutely nothing beyond ten feet of me. More sounds. Noises. Somebody breathing? I paced around a little, tempted to just leave. This was beyond the call of duty as a mother. I mean, please. Covert operations in the woods on a dark night? I’m too old for this.

Finally, the signal. A text jingle. I read the code letter. “D.” That’s all the text said. It meant “we’re standing by the duck pond.”

I texted my response. “A.” That meant, “I’m at the first location we chose. Plan A.” You see, we had to pick two locations in case one had been foiled. But in the original plan, he would arrive at the location at dusk. The candlelight was supposed to be enchanting, not eerie. They were supposed to see the rushing stream, not hear it and imagine it. He'd waited too long.

I hit “send,” and I ran. I left the candles burning in their glass containers, and I ran through the black night, my stomach in knots. That was really scary, and I’m not even sure why.

I jogged around the corner where I had hidden my van. There was my teenage son’s car, parked by the curb. His car and nobody else’s. Hmmmm. He was supposed to be bringing his date and another couple. This little romantic candlelight thing was a surprise for the end of the double date. But the other couple would be in a separate car. Where was it? Had my son hoodwinked me?

For a moment, I didn’t care. I just didn’t like being at the park at night, clear back from the road, deep in the trees, by a rushing stream. I’ve seen too many slasher films, I suppose. So I got in my van and drove off. Mission accomplished.

As I pulled into my driveway, I thought, that might just have been the nuttiest thing I’ve ever done as a mom. No, no, wait—I’m sure there are nuttier things. Give me a moment and I’ll think of something else.

At home, I waited fifteen minutes and sent another text. No code letter this time. Real words. “You were supposed to be with another couple. Five more minutes, then come home.”

Covert operations or not, I’m not a shmutz.

"Sorry. The other couple couldn't stay," he responded.

"Five minutes. Then home."

Friday, August 1, 2008

Releases, Reprints, and Realities

I walked into Deseret Book the other day, and there was BEDTIME AT THE SWAMP, staring me in the face. Hey, that was unexpected but very cool! So if you’re looking for a copy, try Deseret. It’s curious to me because they never carried COOL DADDY RAT. Not sure how these decisions are made.

Yesterday my editor at HarperCollins emailed me, saying she was “very happy” to report that only one week after its release, BEDTIME is already into its first reprint! I guess that’s good news, as far as sales go.

Now everybody around these parts is getting ready for the release of BREAKING DAWN, by Stephenie Meyer. I can’t help but wonder what it must be like to be her. She’s got fame, fortune, and a movie in the works. This was a girl who graduated from BYU, a young LDS mom who loved to write. Did she ever imagine this? How has it affected her family? I’d love to talk to her, mom to mom, someday.