Saturday, February 27, 2010

Greens Have More Fun

Yes, I like a good dragon story. I wish I could post the giggling in the background that went with reading HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GOOD KNIGHT, and TAKE CARE, GOOD NIGHT, by Shelley Moore Thomas.
Happy Birthday, Good Knight (Dutton Easy Reader)

Take Care, Good Knight
The loudest giggling came from the eleven-year-old, who couldn't even see the pictures because she was supposed to be doing her homework. To quote a line from the knight in HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GOOD KNIGHT, "the gift of laughter is the best gift there is!" Thank you, Shelley, for giving my family the gift of giggles.

On a slightly (but not much) more serious note, I gave my seven-year-old Tony DiTerlizzi's KENNY AND THE DRAGON for Christmas and couldn't figure out why he wouldn't read it. I mean, check it out.
Kenny & the Dragon
When I picked it up, I knew right away. I have to wonder what the reading level on the book is. However, DiTerlizzi tells a great story, so I read it to him. We both enjoyed the story and illustrations immensely. Now, I'm thinking, if my little guy could handle the vocabulary and story-telling style of KENNY AND THE DRAGON, he'd probably enjoy Tolkien's FARMER GILES OF HAM (the next time I'm feeling ambitious).
Farmer Giles of Ham : The Rise and Wonderful Adventures of Farmer Giles, Lord of Tame, Count of Worminghall, and King of the Little Kingdom

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

So, What Do You Have Out In Your Parking Lot?

This morning, a group of students at the local high school rode their horses to school and tied them up in the parking lot. The principal took a picture of the horses with his phone. This isn't the picture, but you get the idea (besides, my two-year-old wanted to look at horse pictures).

Our principal sent the picture and the text, "So, what do you have in your parking lot?" to some of the principals in a nearby city. One of them replied, "Nothing but drug dealers."

I think there are a lot of different ways a principal could have responded to students leaving horses in the parking lot, and I respect him for the way he handled the situation. He didn't make a big deal out of it. He asked them why they rode the horses to school, and they told him they wanted to save gas money. The next time I drive by the high school, I'll be checking the parking lot for horses.

The story made me think about how I deal with the unexpected in my own life. When I can laugh at a problem, it makes everything easier and more enjoyable.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

In Which I Write About Writing (Parenthetically)

Does anyone else out there get discouraged when they're revising and they read something remarkable?

A couple of days ago, a main character from the wrong novel (not the one I'm working on) kept trying to tell me something, and, and, when she wouldn't go away, I started writing it down. Halfway through I realized I'd written the first chapter of her story, and I really liked it. Squee! I wrote a first chapter (If you've been following this blog for very long, you know my writing is a bit chronologically challenged). The chapter reminded me of the first chapter of "Holes," by Louis Sachar because it was short. So I pulled out "Holes" and read the first chapter. Sachar's chapter was shorter (though only by about two hundred words) and just better than mine in pretty much every way possible, and I kept reading.

The first time I read "Holes," I thought I'd just read the first little bit, but the first chapter was so short that I kept reading. Afterwards, I realized what a great hook that incredibly short first chapter was, and it made enough of an impression that I remembered when I wrote my own really short first chapter. Maybe comparing my first (or even second) draft to a Newbery winner isn't such a great idea.

On the bright side, I still have my first chapter to add to a collection of interesting scenes (this character doesn't believe me when I tell her that her story isn't next in line) and two intense scenes that I wrote for the novel I'm supposed to be working on. I'm hoping to get another one or two done today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I've had questions on and off the blog about what rheas are since last week. Rheas are ratites (large flightless birds) from South America. I think they look like a cross between an ostrich and a swan, but I'm going to post some pictures and let you form your own opinions.

*Update: I found this National Geographic video on YouTube, and it's much better than the photos I originally posted.

Rheas actually feature prominently in my half-written novel from last November's NaNoWriMo, especially the little ones. They're cute, aren't they?

Female rheas are shy, gentle birds. The males build the nests, sit on the eggs, and take care of the young. They will also take a piece out of anyone or anything that messes with their young family, and they move like a snake when they bite. First, they puff out their feathers and charge to scare the offender off. If that doesn't work, they fight.

They come in gray or white. The white rheas have blue eyes that look surprisingly human. I'm not crazy about this picture, but it's the only one I could find of a white adult.

I hope this helps.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I wasn't around this weekend. We drove several hours to spend the weekend with Ben's family, especially his parents.  In a week, his parents will be leaving for an LDS mission in Prague, and, while we're very excited for them, we're going to miss them for the year and a half that they're gone. 

I really really really really really would love to visit them while they're there. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

10 Things You Don't Know About Me.

Catherine Denton gave me an award!  Isn't it lovely?  Thank you, Catherine!


I have to share ten things about myself that you probably don't know and pass the award on to five other bloggers.

1. Not only do I listen to opera, I like to sing it, and I am NOT an opera singer.  I've also corrupted the next generation; I heard my daughter singing opera in the shower last night.

2. I'm really good at cleaning/digging ditches.  I grew up on a farm, and I've had lots of practice.  When I was in high school, one of my neighbors had a son he wanted me to go out with.  The son saw me out there digging ditch and told his dad he wasn't dating some ditch digger.  You can imagine my relief.  ;)

3. I helped my parents raise emus and rheas.  In fact, the baby rheas thought I was their momma and snuggled in my lap.  They were very cute.

4. I taught a female parakeet/budgie to talk (even though the book I learned how to do it from said it was impossible to teach the females to talk.  Yes, the book was written by a man).

5. Make-up irritates my eyes.  When I do wear it, I end up pulling on my eyelashes.  Weird, I know.

6. My dad was a pilot, and he used to let me fly our plane until I'd put it into a spin.  Then he'd pull it out and let me at it again.  I haven't tried to get my license though.  My oldest sister has hers.

7. I bite my nails when I read.

8. I got to swing on vines in Hawaii, when I was a kid.

9. My eyes are such a dark shade of blue that they usually look black in pictures.

10. If there is a phobia of doctors and hospitals, I have it.  I joke about being afraid of silly stuff like my dishes, but I have been unreasonably afraid of anything to do with doctors for about the last 13 years.  Maybe I'll write about that sometime, but I'm not going there tonight.

And now to pass this on to five bloggers I'd like to know more about:

Tone Almhjell Her writing and images are beautiful.

Sarah  Her posts are so interesting, and she is so friendly that it seems like we are already friends.

Krista  She has just started interviewing agents on her blog.

Debbie  She has excellent taste in writer's blogs and currently attends the university I graduated from.  Also, she is giving away books and jewelry.  Go and visit her.

Elliah  She is my newest follower, and I enjoyed reading her blog so much that I read quite a few of her older posts.

And now, I will compel you to listen to opera.  I chose this one because the words make me laugh and because there is a Muppet version.

Let me know which was your favorite in the comments.  I'm just kidding.  You don't have to listen to it.  You should check out the blogs I mentioned though.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Quite the Game

Tonight, my son's basketball team played a team that was taller than they were all the way across the board.  We play man defense, and my boys were scared to shoot because the guys blocking their shots really were blocking their shots.  So, our team didn't shoot or rebound much in the first half.  I thought about calling a time-out, but I really didn't think they'd listen to me. Sometimes, they do.  Sometimes, they don't.  

At half-time, we were down by 16 points, 20-4.  I explained to the boys they needed to fight for those shots and rebounds.  They said they couldn't do it because the other guys were too tall. They looked thoroughly depressed, beaten.  I argued that our best rebounder is almost the shortest kid on our team, and they stopped arguing and listened.  It was like a light bulb turned on.  They started nodding and looking determined.  I told them they could do it, that the other boys weren't that much taller; our team could come back in the second half.

Those boys went out there and played their hearts out, all of them.  With 36 seconds left in the game, our team tied the score.  When the other team made the winning shot, my poor team looked heart broken.  I quickly pointed out they'd outscored the other team that second half, that they'd had their come back. I'm grateful their parents jumped in then with compliments. By the time we left, most of the kids were smiling, but they'd been so quick to blame themselves for losing the game.  I can see that they're working hard and learning from their mistakes and that it would be a mistake for them to beat themselves up over the first half.  So why am I so angry with myself for not calling that time-out?  I don't know that they would have won the game if I'd called it, but boosting their confidence earlier, when I could see they needed it, couldn't have hurt.  The next time I see a need for a time-out, I'm going to have the guts to call it.        

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Contest Prize

Last month, Natalie Whipple ran a writing contest over on her blog, and my story won a lovely prize:

Isn't she talented?  This picture is from a scene in "Star Swans and Sarki," my novel that most wants to be finished, the one I'm almost finished revising (until I get feedback, and then I'll revise some more).  Lani looks just the way I imagined her, and the Star Swan is very close.  There are differences, but I like them.  For instance, she made the Star Swan sparkle, and the sparkle reminds me of sparks from a fire.  I hadn't even thought of that; I may incorporate the sparks into the story.  And I love that Natalie dressed Lani in red.  If you haven't been over to Natalie's blog, I highly recommend it.  I've scrolled through all of her posts labeled "drawing" because I like her art, and she gives great writing advice.

In this scene, Lani discovers that the Star Swan loves pomegranates as much as she does and is feeding it seeds.  She's convinced Jaavan to sneak out at night so they can convince the Star Swan to heal his mother, but they don't know that Lani's mother also fed a Star Swan before she disappeared. 

There is a distant allusion to Hades and Persephone, so distant and inverted I didn't realize it existed when I was writing it.  I noticed it later.  Isn't it interesting how our subconscious feeds our stories tidbits of other stories? J.R.R. Tolkien referred to sources of this nature as "the bones" of "the soup" in his famous essay, "On Fairy-Stories."

I hope you enjoyed the picture as much as I did! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Agent Blog

Last night revisions went so well that I am feeling ridiculously optimistic today.  I got goosebumps reading over my old stuff twice, and I didn't want to put it down. Now, I need to finish up and hand the story to someone else to see if it will have the same effect on readers.  :)

Kathleen Ortiz just started a blog and is holding a Query Contest to help her gain a following.  But let me clarify. You don't have to enter a query to win.  The prize is a query critique, and she has promised to bust out a red pen and give the winner feedback.  The real treat here (for me) is the opportunity to read another agent's blog. I'm already following.   

Monday, February 1, 2010

Basketball Madness and Contest Links

February is Basketball Madness Month at my house. What?  You've never heard of Basketball Madness Month?  That might be because YOU are sane.  And maybe I made it up.

Ben is coaching the Girls' "A" team at the middle school, and I'm coaching Robyn's and Daxton's teams.  At Robyn's practice last week, I realized just how out of shape I was when I demonstrated how to protect the ball, and a sixth grader trapped me.  Ouch.  I totally should have seen it coming. So, I went running with Robyn after school today--I haven't been running in months because I broke my toe playing soccer with her back in October--and she beat me (gleefully) for the first time. Double ouch.  Guess who's back to working out this month?  

And now for the free stuff (because free stuff is fun), I've listed the items being given away instead of what the actual contest name is.  Most of them are Valentines Day Contests.  Here are the contest links:

Shannon Messenger said she would have a contest going on later this week too, if you want to check over there.

And Kathleen Ortiz just started a blog and is holding a query contest.  If you're a writer, you might want to check out her new blog.  

I'm sure there are more contests out there, but that's all I have. Happy February!