Monday, January 31, 2011

The importance of backing things up.

Back things up. Seriously. And I'm not talking about computers crashing or losing your drafts. No, I'm talking about losing your characters. No, not the letters, or words, although they do contain the necessary information.

No, somewhere down the line you're going to realize that those raw feelings you initially had towards your main characters got lost. Tainted by later edits when you got worried about them looking stupid, afraid, or downright ugly. So save them. Save them ALL.

I'm facing edits right now that have me jumping back to some VERY early drafts (which I'm SO glad I kept). Strange how I would edit my heart out and then find myself back at square one again. But it's real. Because the writing and feelings were real. Fear. Angst. And characterization that hadn't been beautified by my later impression of who they became or how they'd been changed. The dialogue and wording are improved of course, but the raw emotions came from the first draft.

I need those. So I need my back ups.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Destruction 101

So the past few days have been fun for me, comparing childhood mishaps with friends and the subsequent damage to our parents' furniture and personal body parts. Ours, not theirs. Body parts that is. Well, except for maybe their hearts. I'm pretty sure my parents weren't too thrilled with me when I put a kickball through my bedroom window, or used the long hallway to go bowling in--taking out part of said hallway.

But alas, I was a kid and that was my job.  And I was VERY good at it.  Not as good as my brothers (who ripped my parent's carpet into two during a wrestling match), but good enough. I even broke a few bones to keep my ranking up. Or down. Or--whatever. You get the idea.

And that got me to thinking.  Surely we're not the only ones who have stories to tell. Windows to fix. Light fixtures to pay for (that was my brother's fault, I swear).

So let's hear it. Because this is the stuff great stories are made of (and fodder for novels)!  What have YOU done (that you're willing to admit to). And remember to keep it clean, cause honestly we've already dealt with the messes once, folks.  Let's not add to it shall we?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Million dollar idea

No. I don't actually HAVE an idea that will make you a million dollars. Well, aside of recreating the wheel, inventing specialty ice cream, i-something, or writing the book of all books. :)  (Which is MY plan.)

The million dollar idea was what happened around our dinner table tonight, in which each person at our table took turns telling the others what they'd do with a million dollars. And then couldn't help but make suggestions about what others should buy.

Hilarious. Seriously.  I haven't laughed so hard in well...since the last dinnertime discussion.  I really love my family.  Especially when the conversation digresses to the point that one teenager threatens to go "shopping for dinner" on another's ranch (which by this point has been placed next to his mansion) and shoot her livestock if it keeps him up all night. O.o

5 yr old wanted Dad to buy a yellow car for himself, while she would buy everything that was slapped with a Barbie label, looked like a Barbie, or in any way was related to the doll she's currently obsessed with.  The yellow car got vetoed in favor of a Bugatti.   :)

Other ideas were: Visit Japan, buy a lifetime supply of Pocky, pay off the house, pay for college, buy some sheep, buy a house and a kitty (and stuff for the kitty), a mansion (came from multiple children)...

So I guess all I need to do is sell the awesomely wonderful, perfectly touching, radical beast of a book I've written, so I can buy.... :)

How about you tell me what you would buy if you got a million dollars?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The 20 minute sprint

I’m a runner.
Though you wouldn’t know it from the number of miles I’ve actually run in the last…um…year or so? But we won’t go there. Oh man, let’s just not go there.
But I ran a lot in high school and it’s still my favorite form of exercise. I was a mid-distance runner then, though I’d been roped into running sprints as well as distance on occasion. Usually when Coach needed someone to fill a spot. Which is how I probably ended up doing hurdles as well. I don’t remember. All I know is that out of everything I ran and placed in…the hurdles were my best event.
But it’s a killer on the knees.
Well, today I found myself facing innumerable hurdles and subsequently thought about my poor aching knees. My house needed some work. Badly. Especially considering the serious neglect it had suffered over the last four months. On top of that was all the Christmas decorations I’d been trying to put away–though it was really nice to have them out for an entire month. Then there was the laundry, the kitchen, the shopping, the laundry, the school papers I needed to throw out (the kids, not mine…well, yeah. Mine too.) and did I mention the laundry? Multiple times? Well, I have multiple children, so…. Anyway, there was lots to do. And one major problem.
I was tired.
And there’s something awful that happens when you’re running and tired. You fall down. A lot. And when you’re running hurdles and you trip? Well, let’s just say I still carry around the battle scars from such a thing happening to me. Multiple times.
So don’t mind me if I’m a little hesitant to start jumping over hurdles again. Give me a sprint. Nice and sweet. I don’t even care if I come in last. I just want to get it over with quick. And that’s when the light went off. Or on. Or whatever it is the lightbulb does when you get a great idea.
Today I’ll sprint. 20 minutes. Each room. That’s it.
When the timer goes off I’m done. Because folks, there’s another race to be run and if you don’t get out of the way…well, it can get kind of ugly. Just like my mood when I spend all day in a room and STILL don’t feel like I’ve gotten anything done. And then I look around at the rest of the house and realize I’ve made no progress there either. Makes one not too enthused about running another race.
So I set the timer and attacked the kitchen first. Well, attacked is the wrong word, because I tend to break dishes when I get in a hurry. But I knew that the timer was going to go off so I found myself working a little faster than normal. And enjoyed it, because I knew that in 20 minutes I’d be done. One way or another. And after twenty minutes the timer indeed went off. And I wasn’t done. And I didn’t care.
Next room. Another timer. This time I tackled the Christmas Houses, figurines, and all that wonderful stringy fake snow that I added for ambiance. Well, that ambiance cost me a few extra minutes in my attempts to detangle it from the figurines, but my kids loved it so…. And I was putting the last few figurines into their papers when…
Beep. Beep. Beep.
No. Way. I was so close. No way was I giving up now. I needed to keep…
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Grrrr. I kept working during that annoying timer on the oven, which pressed me to move faster so I could go turn it off. But I wasn’t going to turn it off until I finished wrapping the last–DONE! I ran into the kitchen and reset the timer for the next room.
See, that’s the beauty of a time limit for me. Don’t know why I haven’t put it to good use before now. I mean, hey I’ve used it on my kids before so why not with myself? Because when I know someone’s coming over to my house I can clean it lickity split. But when there’s no pressure? Well, I just kind of…don’t care. I moved back into the kitchen feeling refreshed from my break in there and almost started humming as I finished the rest of the dishes. The timer went off about a minute later and I moved onto laundry, finding myself oddly at peace.
Now I’m taking a break. Because folks, you can only sprint for so long before you have to stop and get a drink. Or use the restroom. Or blog about the wonderful time you’ve had sprinting. And I can see by the clock that my 20 minutes are up. So you know what that means…


Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!
2010 was full of a lot of ups and downs in my life, and in retrospect I discovered that THAT was a very good thing indeed.
If things stayed the same all the time, we’d never learn. Never grow. Never realize what we were meant to do. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s not painful; and that I’d just assume never learn some things if it meant enduring the kind of torture I’ve gone through this year. But how on earth do I know what I want and don’t want before it happens?
Thank goodness there’s a higher power at work that does know what I need. AND want.
I wanted to make a list of all the plus and minuses of this past year before I realized that I’d probably end up putting everything on both lists anyway, so here’s my year in a nutshell.
January–started a new budget with the enthusiasm and anticipation of a fiscially fantastic year. Then promptly broke the budget by buying two plane tickets to my parents missionary farewell. A good expenditure if I do say so myself. Especially considering February.
February–My Mom and Dad entered the MTC. Two days later she got sick. A week later she was gone. Another set of plane tickets, funeral flowers, and no interest in fiscal responsibility whatsoever. BUT…I had a great support group having just joined American Night Writer’s Association the week before her death. My new literary group turned into a support group like no other. My struggle to write was quickly swept away with my first chapter meeting and helped me pick up momentum faster than I would have expected. They wouldn’t let me fall!
March–My struggle to move forward was met with fasting and prayer; And a decision to go back to school. I had taken a few months off after working on my associates degree (something my mother had encouraged me to finish and celebrated with me but a few months before–love you Mom!), and I felt the desire to take some time off and try and get published. The Lord had other ideas. He knew I wanted to finish my degree someday and that it would be especially hard if I got caught up in the world of publishing at the same time. Plus, the instruction via classes would give me further insight through more varied reading.
Then my daughter got sick. I waited for my admissions to be finalized while sitting in a hospital room with my laptop. I felt hopeless. Lost. That no matter how much I pushed forward, there would likewise be a setback. Then my daughter got better and the Lord reminded me who is really in control. That he doesn’t just take. He heals.
April–I spent a blissful April relishing in my acceptance to the University of Houston and making hard decisions about which foreign language to pursue. I grew up studying three different languages, but wasn’t fluent enough in any one of them to test out of it. I’d be starting from scratch.
May and June went by in kind of a blur. With no ill memories to pull up I’m going to say those were pretty good months. Lots of writing and thinking about my mom I’m sure.
July–My family stopped calling me Karen. Actually they just gave me a pen name for my YA writing. I love it!
August–December was a time of beauty and chaos. I started back to school and in a few months learned more about organization than I have the whole 20 years I’ve been married. November I was admitted to the Creative Writing Concentration and offered a writing opportunity for an auto magazine. By December I had succeeded in my personal and educational goals, but not without a few tears and a lot of prayer. Even having two car accidents in two weeks made me realize a few things about myself. No, I wasn’t a bad driver–neither one was my fault. No, it wasn’t time to get rid of the truck. I LOVE that truck. Two accidents and damage only to the bumper both times? Woo hoo! I’m keeping it!
What I learned was that no matter how much we delude ourselves into thinking we’re in control…we’re not. Even when we’re organized and are pursuing matters around us, we are NOT in control. Any one person’s actions could affect us at any given moment and we need to learn how to roll with the changes. Given the year I had undergone this was a profoundly important principle for me to learn. Yes, I could organize. Yes, I could plan and carry out. But to think that I had “control” over any given situation was unrealistic.
I gained a lot of personal freedom as a result and a lot more confidence. To the point that I’ve decided to close out the craft business my girls and I started a few years back. Instead of trying to mass produce our products for sale, we’re going to give them away.
You heard me. We’re going to be running a series of contests over this next year and sharing what we’ve designed with all of you. Cause…you deserve it!!!! We love having you as part of our lives! Now I just need to come up with a good contest to start this venture off right….
Any suggestions?

1 Comment

Liz Adair says:
Happy New Year, Karen. You had quite a year in 2010.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! and welcome to The Most Epic Wish Ever!

My daughter has this thing whenever the time does a repetitive number thing. If it's 3:33, she makes a wish. If it's 4:44 she makes another wish.  I know her well enough to know that it's one of two wishes every time, and that consistency is oddly reassuring to me.

She has hope. She has fun. And so I figure it's "time" I had a little of that myself. :)

It's 1:11 on 1-1-11.  And I'm making a wish.

Okay, done.

Guess what I wished for?