Monday, February 17, 2014

Yer Crampin’ My Style, Kid

I can’t help but feel a little jipped this morning. It’s a Monday. And I’d usually have plenty of time to sit down and blog and work on my current manuscript on a day like today.

But I can kiss that ‘me’ time goodbye because my little angels are on another two-week vacation thanks to France’s six-weeks-on, two-weeks-off school schedule.

I said 'au revoir' to my peaceful morning the moment I awoke to blood-curdling screams because ‘Lucy’s bugging me!’ – this was the only real explanation I was given.

My middle child, Julie, then came in and informed me the baby had peed through her diaper and her crib was wet. Great. With eyes still closed, I grabbed a diaper and new onesie and pj’s and headed into their room. After stripping the baby down and changing her diaper and onesie, I realized everything was perfectly dry and I just changed her clothes for no goddam reason. Thank you, Julie.

I grabbed a much-needed cup of coffee and sat down to relax when Lucy, my six-year-old, came bounding up to me, hands, mouth and pants covered in white-out (which I told her about 2.5 seconds ago not to play with, all while needlessly changing the baby’s clothes).

“I don’t know what happened!”


Her words.

She was really upset. So, naturally, I took a picture with my phone before rubbing her down with olive oil to help remove the white out. I finally sat back down to my (now cold) cup of coffee, looked out the window only to realize my oldest daughter, Lily, left her brand new coat outside in the back yard yesterday. And it had rained. Son of a…!

Out I went, bare foot, with barely a half cup of coffee in my system, to recuperate her soaking mess of a jacket and hang it up to dry, thinking there must be military camps out there with less physically and mentally stressful wake-up calls. And maybe I’ll go there. In any case, this is starting out to be another lovely, long vacation.

What irks me most isn’t even all the calamities that can happen within the first 15 minutes of any given morning. It’s that my writing was actually going really well pre-vacation. I’m nearing the 15k mark and becoming more and more addicted to the story and characters. So taking time out at this crucial point is hard.

But, hey. Guess this is one of those times where I have to remind myself ‘they’re only kids once!’ so best to try and enjoy our time together while I can:)

What’s been keeping you from your writing lately?

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Birthday Party

It has been decided by the fates that Wednesday blogposts just ain’t go’ happen. So, I guess Monday is my day! And what do you know? Here I am! On Monday. Writing a blogha. postah!


Okay, I’m more than a little off my game this morning. You see, my oldest daughter turned ten this weekend. Which marks a decade of parenting for the hubs and me. So, like any normal mother, I spent most of Saturday looking at photos of her (and our) evolution and sporadically bursting into tears.

There was no time to dwell on Sunday, however, because my big 10-year-old decided this year she wanted a party with all of her friends. And not one hosted at school, or our local indoor park, or a restaurant, or anything involving a couple of giant golden arches.


She wanted a themed makeover party done the old fashion way.

At our house.

*insert the sigh that never ends*

There is a reason why I’ve never thrown a class birthday party at our personal dwelling before and some of you who have thrown such a party and lived to tell the tale may know exactly what I’m talking about.

It takes about 80x the preparation, brain power, physical energy, and clean-up that a public-place party does. There are decorations to buy and hang and blow up and hang and roll out and hang. There’s food, cupcake baking, activity planning, and gift bags to prepare. There are awkward phone calls and emails clarifying the theme, and appropriate gifts, and directions to the house. And let’s not forget the eventuality of jubilant, dancing, candy-crazed children doing the cancan while stomping chips into your living room carpet. Yes it was worth it. No, I won’t be repeating the experience for a long long while.

The way I feel this morning, it might as well have been an all-night keger. Emotional milestones + class party = one drained mama.

*yawn* I think it’s time for me to curl up on the couch with some coffee and zone out on guilty-pleasure CW shows...

How was your weekend everybody?

Monday, February 3, 2014

'You Look Older Than You Sound'

I was doing some thinking this weekend about ‘voice’ and how authors use it to capture and reflect the age, background, and perspective of their main characters throughout their stories. And I found myself wondering what aspects contribute most to a main character’s ‘voice’? Is it the vocabulary they employ? Their observations or opinions? Or simply the tonality and pacing of what is written?

When I was preparing this blogpost, one of the things that struck me most was how often an author mentions their MC’s age right there in the very first page. It makes sense, really, since it’s the fastest and easiest way to convey a mental image to the reader.

But what if they hadn’t mentioned age right away? What if there was no outside blurb, physical descriptions or indication of who’s telling the story and all we had to rely on was ‘voice’? Would we still have an accurate image of who’s telling the story? I’m curious. Below I’ve taken three different extracts from the first page of three fairly well-known books; each one written from the point of view of a different age group.

Based on voice alone, how old would you say each character is?

Example 1 - ‘Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge. The Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, although I have no idea what the function of either actually is. Napoleon, Marie Antoinette, and a lot of kings named Louis. I’m not sure what they did either, but I think it has something to do with the French Revolution, which has something to do with Bastille Day. The art museum is called the Louvre and it’s shaped like a pyramid and the Mona Lisa lives there along with that statue of the woman missing her arms. And there are caf├ęs or bistros or whatever they call them on every other street corner.  And mimes. The food is supposed to be good, and the people drink a lot of wine and smoke a lot of cigarettes.’

Example 2- ‘It has not been the rip-roaring spectacular I fancied it would be, but neither have I burrowed with the gophers. I suppose it has most resembled a blue-chip stock; fairly stable, more ups than downs, and gradually trending upward over time.’

Example 3-‘We moved on the Tuesday before Labor day. I knew what the weather was like the second I got up. I knew because I caught my mother sniffing under her arms. She always does that when it’s hot and humid, to make sure her deodorant’s working.’

Did you get an impression of how old each narrator was? What aspects do you think contribute most to a character’s ‘voice’? 

(I'll include the answers to these in the comments section later on today :)


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