Monday, June 29, 2009

I spy something new

Nearly four years ago I moved with my family to north Texas from the St. Louis area. We'd lived there for seven years, and I had accumulated friends whom I treasured as lifelong companions.

So, when we arrived here, I was in no hurry to make new friends. My old ones would do just fine and, with emails and phone calls and annual girls' weekends planned, I felt connected still.

But then I started attending writing groups and, at my third attempt at finding one that best suited me, I sat inconspicuously in the back row. Right behind two women. I overheard their mentioning how they sent chapters of their manuscripts to each other for comments via email and hesitantly asked if I could also weigh-in. They (reluctantly, I later learned) agreed to take me on. Those two women still speak to me today--Kim writing her great grandfather's colorful life story and Joan becoming my writing partner in a novel, with another one in the works.

From Joan I met Elizabeth (we carpooled to a conference), and Julie found me via this blog. I picked up Susan in the restroom at a conference just this past May. We find time to meet for lunch or coffee and send countless emails back and forth, sharing comments on each other's works and musings about the writing industry.

One day about a month ago, it occurred to me that we all have learned so much about the business of writing, that it might be fun to have an account of our shared experiences. At this point in our lives, we are all either finishing up manuscripts and/or seeking agents to help us find publishers. So today we kick off a new blog (or glog--for group blog) with the six of us alternately posting, three days a week.

And just as a mother's heart grows with each child she has, my life has benefited exponentially with each new friend I meet. I hope you'll stop by and see what we have to say at What Women Write. (click here for the link)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

As Seen on TV

My daughter has become a constant source of information. Or rather, info-mation.

Unlike her brothers who zip past commercials while watching television (how did we manage before the DVR?), she sits mesmerized by every ad that comes her way.

Her favorite show du jour is The Magic School Bus. For some reason, Discovery Kids seems to be widely sponsored by those annoying mini-infomercials. Every time she watches an episode, I’m hit with, “Mom, can I have some Bendaroos? They come in magical colors and you can make Bendaroos do almost anything.”

My response: “Put it on your birthday list.” Since her birthday is in July, half the year I tell her to put useless crap on her Christmas list, the other half it goes on the birthday list. The Lists are mostly kept mentally, since, until recently, she couldn’t write them herself, and she’s usually too lazy to get up and find a pencil and paper.

For Mother’s Day, I was gifted with AquaGlobes and a knock-off Slap Chop. Now my plants have a constant source of hydration (when we remember to keep the Globes filled), and anything that was once too big to be chewed safely, can now be chopped into a powdery consistency prior to consumption.

This week she tried to convince me that we needed to book a vacation to a Beaches resort “Before the end of June to take advantage of their special offer,” she said. I told her we’d already been to a Beaches resort. “Yeah, but I was too young to remember it,” she retorted. Not my fault you were born a few years before the economy tanked.

I did break down and buy her a pair of Fun Slides Carpet Skates. I looked them up online, checked the reviews and only one person reported her child’s sliding out of control across the den and crashing through a window. I figure we have some old skateboard padding in the garage we can strap on her. Plus her bike helmet. She should be good for a few rounds through the house.

My only hope is maybe the Fun Slides will keep her too busy to watch TV.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Inspiration in the dark

Last night as I was putting my daughter to bed, she said, "Please, Momma, leave the lamp on so my imagination won't run wild."

Her comment makes me wonder if there's something mysteriously creative about the dark.

I've had friends tell me they've turned their dreams into stories or scenes for their books. And the opening scene of my first manuscript came to me one night just as I was falling asleep. I closed my eyes and, for some reason, pictured the lobby area of a building at my college. I saw this girl, studying her schedule and then a young man rolled up to her in his wheelchair and asked if she needed help. I spent the next month writing their story.

This week I had a dream about a woman who dies and meets God. During my dream, I pictured myself getting out of bed and writing down their conversation. When I awoke the next morning, I was surprised to learn that I hadn't written anything down. Luckily I remembered much of it and now have the first half of a short story titled: "Margaret's Last Day."

Another dream I had this week involved a family dinner. Present were my grandparents (both deceased) and assorted family members. When I went to a closet to get something for the table, there sat my great-grandparents (both deceased for a really long time) in ladder-back chairs, just waiting to be discovered as surprise dinner guests. Unfortunately I don't remember anything more, but I'll bet that was some family gathering.

So, perhaps there's something eerily inspirational that happens once the light goes out, and the brain enters its shut-down mode. Maybe neurons fire and the imagination runs wild. But unlike my daughter, I'm not about to leave the lamp on.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm your biggest little fan

My daughter is a huge Beyonce fan. Or at least as huge as you can get when you're only 45 inches tall. Upon hearing she was coming to our area for a concert, Mia asked if I would take her. So, with her on my lap, we looked up tickets.

As the page loaded, I asked, "So, you want to see Beyonce?" (The price: $118 a ticket. The security word to enter was, no joke, "sybil." I'm sure you'd have to be crazy to take a five-year-old to see Beyonce.)

"No, I don't want to just see her, I want to meet her," she said. (And, yes, for only $1000 we could fulfil that dream and purchase a meet and greet.)

Secretly, I think she wants to show BK her take on "Single Ladies." She calls it "Naked Men." And the lyrics are: "All the naked men, all the naked men, all the naked men, all the naked men, put your hands down! Uh oh oh, Uh oh oh oh oh oh, Uh oh oh."

If you have to ask why she says for them to put their hands down, you get an eye roll and a, "Because...they're naked?"

So, I closed the Ticketmaster site and instead switched the screen to Webkinz. After a few minutes of Smoothie Moves, she forgot all about B-Town and started shooting ice cream onto a conveyor belt.

I'll just have to keep listening to the radio and see if someone gives away tickets. I'm sure Beyonce is looking for a follow-up hit.

"All the naked men, all the naked men..."