Friday, January 30, 2009

Anyone Want to Buy My House?

We just learned that we will be unemployed at the end of June, so if anyone wants a nice two story four bedroom 2.5 bath house with a pool, new roof, new stove, new dishwasher, new water heater, great location, great schools, and the best ward ever, do let me know.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Review Blog Launched!

Because I love to read and review books, and because web traffic looks good on query letters, I've launched a new blog just for my book reviews. I'll be posting a new review every day, focusing on literature for young readers - picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult fiction. I've labeled all the reviews by category so you can quickly find what you want.

Please stop by! Tell your friends! I'd love to help you find a good book or two.

Rebecca's Recommended Reads

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Don't Mind Inflation

I don't mind inflation. It makes my mortgage look smaller.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fully Operational Battle Station- ah- er- Bathroom!

There it is! Tonight we hung the towel bars. A few cosmetic details remain - some paint touch-up and a new toilet seat. But everything works, nothing leaks, and the floor is waterproof.

I think.

Friday, January 16, 2009

World Building

With four drafts and an encouraging letter from the editor in my back pocket, I'm ready to take on Earthcrosser my way. My teacher at the writing workshop told me to finish the book and submit it as soon as I could, before the editor forgot who I was. That meant my habitual three or four years of world building had to be skipped so I could get on with things and write the prose. No, I'm not going to make the editor wait three years for a re-write, but I'm no longer in a desperate rush. I can let the ideas distill into my brain. I can ask thousands of questions about the world and wait for my imagination to answer. I can think things through until my alternate world approaches the complexity and intensity of real life.

So today I'm having lots of fun figuring out how to destroy modern civilization and keep it down for fifty years. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I Voted for McCain

Apparently, President Elect Obama plans to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which, as I understand it, makes abortion a right just like freedom of speech. Underage girls will not need to get parental consent. Partial birth abortions will be legal. Please do your own research on this issue:

If there ever was a time to write your congressman, here it is. We need to focus on preventing unwanted pregnancies, promoting adoption, and supporting women who want to carry their babies to term. Making any and all abortions legal sounds like giving up to me.

Abortion is not an easy and pleasant procedure. I believe convenience abortions degrade women because they invade the sacred wellspring of life. On the other hand, I do not think all abortions should be illegal. There are medical reasons to have an abortion. There are also some instances in which I think an early abortion could be justified for social reasons, such as in the case of rape or incest. But an attitude of "who cares if I get pregnant, I'll just have an abortion" shows a lack of understanding of the significance of the power, the gift, the honor that it is to create human life within ourselves.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Thousand Words an Hour

I got an e-mail back from the editor yesterday. She said she enjoyed my manuscript, gave me some suggestions, and said she'd look at a re-write. That's all I needed to hear. I'm still a million miles away from selling a manuscript, but I feel like I've already crossed a light-year or two.

Today I finally returned to something like my normal routine. My husband had meetings all day, my older children are in school, so it was just me and the three-year-old. At last, a little time to write!

After taking a long holiday vacation from writing I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it. During the quiet afternoon I sat down to work on a funny little folk-tale adaptation and spat out 1000 words in a little over an hour. They were first-drafty-words, but they came rolling out as easily as ever.

I love writing!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Amazing What a Lick of Paint Can Do

On Monday I came home from picking up my elementary school children to find my responsible daughter reading "Spindle's End" by Robin McKinley and my three-year-old drawing on the windows with permanent markers.

The windows were not the only thing he redecorated. The wall that faces the front door had brown and yellowmarker scribbles all over it. Scrubbing would be no use - the wall had never been painted. Ten years ago, long before we bought the house, a fire gutted the interior. The man who bought the place from the bank and tried to fix it up never finished. One of the things he didn't do was paint the walls.

Why didn't I paint the walls when we moved in? Because I was trying to eliminate the deadly hazards like the lack of a stair railing on the inside and the presence of rickety wooden stairs up to a rotting deck on the second story outside in the back. Once I thought my children would survive in the house I unpacked and started living. Had another baby. Wrote a couple of novels. No time to paint.

The permanent marker was the last straw. With no way to wash it off, I got out the brushes, the roller, and the Kilz. After three coats the yellow permanent marker stopped seeping through. Then from my paint collection in the garage I chose a nice light grey brown color that would hide greasy hand prints and dust. After dropping a paper cup full of paint on the tarp, then tracking some onto the carpet (scrubbed it out with rubbing alcohol), then thinking I was going to die of frustration as I worked around all the corners and odd edges, I finally put down the brush and started in with the roller.

Once I had the wall painted I stepped back to look. Tears came to my eyes. It was so beautiful! It looked like a real wall, in a real house! Now I just have to paint all the rest of it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rebeca's Reviews: Someone Named Eva

I love World War II historical fiction, and this is one of the best! Chilling, almost science-fiction-like, it deals with a relatively small Nazi program that kidnapped children from occupied countries who fit the Aryan mold, "reprogrammed" them, and then adopted them out to good Nazi homes. Of course those who couldn't take the reprogramming got shipped off to prison camp.

Clear, unaffected prose let the power of the story shine through. As I read I had to keep reminding myself that this really happened. Sixty years ago in Europe, modern civilization went very, very wrong. Could it happen again? Could it happen here?

I want my children to read this book and see the spiral of destruction that blind hate and bigotry can lead to. This book is a memorial, a warning, and an offering of hope. As I read this book I had the benefit of knowing that the war would end, that Germany would surrender, that some time in 1945 the skies would grow quiet again and the Nazi regime would crumble. I could urge the characters on - hang on, survive a little longer, and the night will be over, and once again you will have a chance to live. If I should ever face such dark times myself, I will remember - the night ends, the sun comes up in the morning.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Don't Forget to Do Your Homework!

My three-year-old son came charging around the corner. "Don't forget to do your homework!" he crowed.

"Hi, E," I said absently as he hurtled past.

"No, no! I'm mom! Don't forget to do your homework!"

Oh brother.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

No More Patch!

After about seven months of patch therapy, my three year old son now has two equally strong eyes! He was diagnosed with amblyopia back in May. When he first started wearing his patch he was so blind in his left eye that he ran into walls and couldn't do his wooden puzzles. Now his left eye works just as well as his right. I'm proud of him, and of myself because I was the one who had to make sure he wore the thing for two hours every day.

But now the doctor says no more patch! In a few weeks we'll go for a check up to make sure his eyes are still equal. Now I have to make sure he wears his glasses every waking minute, but that's easy compared to the patch.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Resolutions for 2009

In reviewing my goals from last year, it looks like I did pretty well. I got about half of them. I didn't manage to finish the upstairs bathroom, but I did install a drip irrigation system in the front yard. I finished interviewing my grandmother for her life history, but I didn't catch up on printing out my photo-journal. I never transcribed any more songs out of "Ancient Music of Ireland" but I did build another 29 string harp.

I completed both of my writing goals for 2008. I went to the BYU Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop AND I finished my second novel. However, my second novel was NOT the novel that I thought would be my second novel. Irony, irony.

My goals for this year:

  1. Get in the habit of saying a prayer the moment I crawl out of bed
  2. Find someone who wants to visit with the missionaries (anybody out there? Just let me know!)
  1. Toilet train my youngest child (Last one! HOORAY!)
  2. Take a family relationships course with my husband
  1. Finish a third book, start a fourth
  2. Read and review one recently published book every week
  1. Learn to sing full voice in my upper register
  2. Practice the harp - learn some new songs
  1. Do ALL the bathrooms - new tile, new paint, new fixtures
  2. Plant spring, summer, and fall gardens, and keep the plot tidy
  1. Learn to express how I feel before I get so angry I'm about to burst.
  2. Do less and be more