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    Friday, April 26, 2013

    Piece of Cake

    Right now I’m trying really hard not to eat cake. The thing is, it seems like eating cake might make my day better and, you see, I have so much of it.

    I had my own little Cake Wreck yesterday. I didn’t take pictures because it was just your run-of-the-mill crumb and frosting collapse.

    Yesterday was Chunky’s birthday. Poor kid. I bombed my role of party planner. As you know I’ve been a little distracted with a certain novel, so when Chunky asked for a Minecraft party, I groaned and said, “I don’t know how to do a Minecraft party.”

    He said, “How about a vampire party then?”

    I said, “Ok, you can have a Minecraft party.”

    But as we got closer to last weekend’s conference and I got crazier with my deadline, I realized I couldn’t pull off a party at home. We agreed to have it at LaserQuest and have Minecraft-themed food.

    Yeah, that fell apart too. Honestly, at one time I was good at this stuff. We once had a pirate-themed birthday at our house with 34 kids in attendance. Yes, you read that right.

    But I had to knock my youngest’s expectations down once again when I realized my ideas for cubed food and green Minecraft Rice Krispie treats wouldn’t materialize without magic.

    He didn’t mind as long as we could construct an elaborate, many-flavored cake landscape complete with mountains, a canyon, and a lake.

    I talked him down to a simple layered cake. And then that fell apart! Talk about shredding my Super Mom cape. Chunky was a good sport when we had to run out last minute and buy a cake, and he did have a lot of fun at his party.

    Me, I’m feeling the weight of what I didn’t do this last month. I didn’t:

    1. Pull together an awesome Minecraft party.
    2. Clean my house. At all.
    3. Cook a nutritious meal.
    4. Shower regularly.
    5. Feed the turtles more than a couple times a week, which is about how often they should eat, but Roger sits in his food dish and looks at me with sad turtle eyes. Guilt! 
     Yes, I did finish a book. And I did pitch that book and get a request for the manuscript from an editor. Woohoo!

    As I head back into another month of intensive editing on this story, I’m very aware of the choices I make in order to pursue this dream. I sometimes let my expectations and other’s expectations cause me guilt.

    But the truth is, Chunky had a fantastic day yesterday. He happened to be off school on his birthday and we spent the whole day together. I didn’t touch my manuscript once, but I did give my nine-year-old lots of hugs.

    I’ve intentionally let the housework slide and though it bugs me, my life’s goal isn’t to die and have people say, “Her house was always clean.” I hope they have something more interesting to say, even if it’s just, “Evangeline was never one to pass up cake.”

    What about you? Is there an expectation you’ve let go—or trampled—in order to pursue a worthy goal. Will people talk about your clean house at your funeral?

    By the way, I totally ate a piece of cake.

    Thursday, April 18, 2013

    Hello, My Name Is

    Hello all! I’m putting together all my last minute stuff for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference this weekend, including practicing my pitch.

    For non-writers, at conferences you can request pitch appointments with agents and editors. In these appointments you have a few minutes face time with an industry guru. You give them a pitch—a short, intriguing explanation of your book—if they like it, they might ask you to query them with a few chapters of your manuscript.

    Some organizations and industry professionals advise you to memorize your pitch. For the last few days I’ve been trying to do just that.

    But novels that fall under the fantasy category require extra explanation and my story world is complex. As I ran through my pitch either in my head or out loud in the shower, I kept flubbing it. So I’d go back and start with the easy part…

    “Hello, my name is Evangeline Denmark.”

    I’ve done this so many times in the last few days that now I cannot separate “Hello, my name is Evangeline Denmark” from “Hello, my name Inigo Montoya.”

    The phrases are stuck together floating around in my overworked gray matter. Which isn’t all bad. It worked for Inigo Montoya after all. His mantra saw him through to the end.

    But somehow I don’t think shouting “Hello, my name is Evangeline Denmark” and skewering agents with pens will get the desired result.

    Thankfully, this afternoon a couple of writer friends helped me break the mold I’d gotten stuck in. They encouraged me to go for a conversational, less practiced, approach. After all, who isn’t better at conversing than shouting prepared speeches at the point of a sword?

    Inigo might not approve of my new tactic, but I hope it gets the job done.

    So, writers out there, have you had any memorable pitch appointments?

    Non-writers, share some interview stories. I once pretended, during a job interview, that I was a celebrity being interviewed on TV. I did NOT get the job.

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    Demons in the Drains

    In my last blog I was looking forward to being Human Again in April. Well, it’s April and I’m not human yet.

    Many of you know I’m trying to finish my young adult urban fantasy novel for a conference this month. Progress is good. I’m at around 96,000 words and closing in on the finish, but there have been a few hiccups in my real world.

    At the end of March I took my mother in for what we thought was a detached retina. After two doctor visits, we were told she’d had a stroke and would never regain the vision she lost in her left eye.

    Mom is very positive about the whole thing and thinking of designing a line of bedazzled eye patches for her online Dragon Lady Shoppe. We also thought about dressing her bunny up as a parrot to go with her new pirate look. Our poor pets probably don’t have a clue what animal they actually are.

    We don’t know much more about Mom’s condition as we are waiting to have tests and get results back.

    So we managed to get through our crisis and Spring Break which is always a bit of a crisis too, and get back on track. Then Kory went on a business trip.

    In just a little over 24 hours:

    1. I got one of those calls from the school. “My son said what? MY son?! Put him on the phone!”
    2. The boys’ toilet spewed water all over the bathroom. I suspect a poltergeist. Now that they no longer flush toys and plastic cups, I fail to see what biodegradable substance could’ve caused such an epic clog.
    3. We had a blizzard.
    4. The dog took allergy medicine. She seems fine and not once has she complained of a runny nose, sneezing, or itchy eyes.
    5. The kitchen sink clogged. Poltergeist again?
    6. Monkey came down with a virus.
     When Kory texted that he’d landed in Denver I told him both boys were in bed with me (Monkey sick, Chunky had a nightmare) and that he should just find a hotel room. My exact words were, “Save yourself!”

    He came home anyway. Good because he fixed the sink. Bad because three adult-sized bodies (plus allergy-free dog) in one bed does not make for a good night’s sleep. At least we managed to get Chunky back to his bed.

    My husband teased me that he couldn’t leave me alone for one night. He knows I can handle things, it’s just that when Kory’s away, the poltergeists come out to play.

    I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced disaster while my spouse was gone. Please, share your stories. It’s a less violent way to relieve stress than attacking said spouse the moment he or she returns.