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Pretty, yes?

Blanco River

 

There’s a small window…not more than a couple of weeks…when the colors are this pretty. That sliver of Fall when we see some reds, oranges, yellows. For the past several years, I’ve wanted to venture out over the bridge, brave the traffic rushing past, and inch my way along the narrow ledge to take this picture. I’ve missed the window every year, until now. Fingers crossed that soon there will be other windows of opportunity I hit just right:)

 

 

Austin Teen Book Festival 2012

Writers and book lovers, mark your calendars for this fabulous, free event next year. I took my daughters, 11 and 14, and all three of us were bubbling over with creative inspiration by the time we left. This is the first year I’ve gone, and I didn’t know what to expect. Here’s a rundown:

Amazing, kick-a$$ opening keynote by author, Libba Bray. She gave us a bullet-point list for life that included such gems as, “Testing is bullsh@#!” (referring to teachers being forced to stick to a strict curriculum focused on standardized testing, which leaves no room for encouraging the kind of creative, out-of-the-box thinking that really makes a difference in the world), “Be nice!”, “Writing is revising!” and, “Serial killers are always interesting.” Here’s a link (thank you, Laura, for this post!): Libba Bray’s Opening Keynote ATBF12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and there were light sabers and a great video sing-along to Total Eclipse of the Heart (remember that one?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were six different panels, based on genre, with authors giving us an inside look at their writing process and a short Q&A with the audience. I had time for three panels…

“We’re Not in Kansas Anymore” panel, with authors Sarah Rees Brennan, Libba Bray, Leigh Bardugo, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, and Rae Carson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What Would You Do For Love?” panel, with authors Tracy Deebs, Ally Condie, Kresley Cole, Jessica Shirvington, Tamara Ireland Stone, and Jessica Khoury.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Real Life Happens” panel, with authors John Corey Whaley, Jesse Andrews, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, EM Kokie, and Jessica Lee Anderson. (John and Jesse were SO funny! And weird. And FUNNY!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course we had to get in the giant Reached bubble for a picture, before we left! (Oh, and spend a small fortune on new books, autographed by the authors. Money well spent:)

The Morning After

My heart is heavy.

Yesterday, we took my mother in law to her new home…a room in the memory care wing of an assisted living facility. It wasn’t possible to talk to her about this ahead of time. To explain, to reassure, to ease her mind. Anything we told her would have been forgotten within two minutes. That’s the sad reality of Alzheimer’s. Her husband of sixty-two years–my father in law–was diagnosed with  blood cancer just as her Alzheimer’s was escalating to the point of necessitating 24 hour care. This morning, his heart and immune system weakened by chemotherapy, he is in a hospital ICU, fighting cancer, pneumonia, and a dangerous spike in his blood sugar, while his wife is waking up in a room completely unfamiliar to her, sure of only one thing: for some reason, her husband is not with her. She will ask for him every few minutes, all day long, for many days to come. She will wait for him indefinitely. And even if, at some point, she stops asking for him, she will love him forever. This much I know is true.

For information about Alzheimer’s, including ways to help find a cure:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers-research-volunteers/MY02005

http://curealzfund.org/donate

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57360569/finding-a-treatment-for-alzheimers-by-2025/

The thing about writing…

Okay, so, three things:

#1  The business of writing is hard work. Hours, days, years of market research, writing, critiquing, being critiqued, revising, rewriting. Over and over again.  After much hard work, a writer sends off the polished manuscript…and then waits. And begins the hard work of writing something new. And waits some more. And after a few minutes, or a few years, hears back. If it’s good news, a period ranging from months to forever plus two days is the accepted norm before fruits-of-labor can be enjoyed. If it’s not good news…well, writers endure rejection after rejection, licking their wounds, sucking it up, learning, working harder still, to perfect their craft.

#2  Writers love to write. Yes, of course they do! No sane person would continue down such a difficult path without a genuine passion for writing. But the goal is to personally connect with others through the writing. To make people laugh, cry, smile, think, question, appreciate, feel inspired. It’s a heart-wrenching, kick-in-the-gut feeling to think this might not happen, despite all the hard work touched on in #1.

#3 Writers are a creative, persistent, brave, resilient bunch. Have you enjoyed a great book lately? Tweet about it, get online and write a nice review, send the author a note. Chances are, he or she endured years of hard work and scores of rejections to be able to write that great book. And high fives fist bumps with explosions to all the writers out there staying the course, working toward sharing their own great books with the world.

I haven’t blogged much recently…working on my YA novel…but I added some new photos here: Distractions

And another distraction… if you haven’t seen the hilarious Sesame Street version of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe, here you go:

Summer!

School is out. Kids are home. I’m hunkering down to write. I’m querying agents with my MG novel and writing a YA novel. And some verse. And outlining another MG. I have a few PBs just waiting for the right agent’s/editor’s eyes. And then there’s my other YA-in-progress…12,000 words in, I decided to let it simmer…it has dystopian elements, but I want those to be secondary to the story. Dystopians that grab me by the short hairs &  jolt me right out of the story with an onslaught of new lingo and world building description are a pet peeve. I don’t want to fall into that trap, so I’m taking a step back and rethinking. In the meantime, my current (contemporary, edgy) YA idea came to me…my characters now have (kick-a$$) names and are off and running with me.

Yay, summer!

 

Ten great gifts to give for less than $35

Mother’s Day is coming. Soonish, people! Have you shopped, clicked & shipped? I have 10 awesome finds to share, all under $35, for those of us on a tight budget. Most of these storefronts offer a variety of gift worthy items…I just picked my personal favorites. Click on each to open in a new window. Here we go:

1. Wine Cork Trivet — $12.98   Cute, simple, useful. Check, check, check. Pair it with a nice bottle of wine to start Mom’s cork collection.

2. Floral Measuring Cups — $29.95    These are so adorable, they definitely don’t belong stored in the drawer with the plastic measuring cups.

3. Large Dahlia style earrings — $27 (sale price)   Love! Check out the site for other unique items made from sustainable materials.

4. My Mom interview journal — $9.95     Great journal for Mom…and one to be passed down and cherished.

5. LED book light — $12.99     A must-have for all of us moms who read while others sleep. Purple too, yay!

6. Journals handmade from vintage books — $14 (free shipping in the U.S.)     Looking for a unique writing journal? Bingo.

7. Amethyst prayer bead bracelet –$25     Beautiful! Many other pretty things here, but I’m partial to purple:)

8. Internet password organizer — $9.95     Okay, this is a little boring. But practical. And it will make Mom’s life easier. I seriously need this…I have about thirty different password combinations scribbled on little bits of paper in my desk drawer. Shameful.

9. Lemon Verbena Bath Salts — $28     Let Mom enjoy soaking in a tub with these lovely bath salts. $1 of every $5 you spend on this site is donated to the charity of your choice!

10. Book Lover’s Journal — $10.19 (as of this post)     A place to record books she’s read, wants to read, borrowed, lent, or given. Awesome gift for your book lovin’ Momma!

I would love anything on this list. Maybe your mom would too.  Happy Shopping!

A Moment of Valentine Mushiness

My kids are awesome. Yours too, right? My son is in kindergarten and I was at his class party today when he did something pretty amazing. Imagine twenty 5-or-6-year-olds on a massive sugar high, music playing, wrappers flying, lots of mess and noise…you get the picture. And in one corner, a girl crying.When we were about to leave, my son noticed this friend crying. He gave her a big hug and asked what was wrong. She had received a stuffed animal in the gift exchange that didn’t make her heart pitter-patter like the one she gave away did. He pulled out the teddy bear he had received (and had already named) and offered it to her. The tears stopped immediately. More hugging. As we walked out of the school he told me he would miss his bear, “Red”, but wanted his friend to be happy and have a good Valentine’s Day. Mission accomplished.

Just one of those snapshot moments of a little, everyday kind of thing that made a big difference to someone. He might not remember it for long, but I will. A proud mom moment. He’s got a big heart and a bottomless bucket of *good*, *kind*, & *amazing* to spread around. Score one for the planet.

Mushy-mommy post done:) Happy Valentine’s Day!