Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Annual Christmas Tradition

It's that time of year again, Loyal Readers--the time of year I'm too danged busy writing a new book, addressing Christmas cards with the wrong ZIP codes, and hiding presents from The Kid so well that I can't find them either. 

Yes, that's right--annual traditions abound! And what's becoming one of my favorite annual traditions here at the ol' Authorial Mom blog is "How to Wrap A Present in 29 Easy Steps." I first posted it on Dec. 4th, 2008, and again on Dec. 17th last year. And I still think it's just about the funniest thing I've written. And I don't have anything else to blog about, so we'll just go with the classics. After all, I've been watching Charlie Brown Christmas for decades now without complaint!

Without further ado (as if this hasn't been enough ado!), I present "How to Wrap a Present in 29 Easy Steps" for your reading enjoyment!

In my capacity as Authorial Mom, I thought I would offer these 29 steps to easier, more beautiful presents. Just follow this easy program to achieve the same kind of Christmas Satisfaction that the Authorial Mom basks in practically year-round.

1. Buy awesome gifts that your child(ren) will love, like the aircraft carrier complete with die-cast planes and helicopters, real aircraft sounds, and a control tower.

Yeah, like that one.

2. Hide it in the garage and pray your child(ren) won't notice it.

3. Assemble your wrapping supplies: Festive paper, sharp scissors, and clear tape.

4. Realize someone used your best scissors to mutilate crayons. Decide to forge ahead anyway.

5. Heft aircraft carrier out of garage. Realize that it's 2 1/2 feet long and 9 inches tall at the tower. Not exactly regularly shaped. And because you bought it for a song at a thrift store, it did not come with in-store wrapping, or even a box. Its only covering is a garbage bag.

6. Begin frantically tearing through your insane stash of boxes accumulated over a lifetime of hording for something big enough to fit an aircraft carrier.

7. Repeat process with festive holiday bags. Again, come up short - literally.

8. Decide to make your own box, just like your father-in-law does.

9. Mutilate six boxes trying to find enough matching parts to encase an aircraft carrier.

10. Give up trying to match box sizes after giving yourself the mother of all paper cuts. Go get a glass of wine and a band-aid. Several band-aids.

11. Newly fortified, return to the battle scene. Begin taping box parts around aircraft carrier.

12. Realize control tower isn't removable. Remove it anyway (using the tips of your ruined scissors) and tape it to the side.

13. Run out of tape.

14. Get another glass of wine while tearing the house apart for more tape. Settle on packing tape. It's still clear, after all.

15. Return to the battle scene. Experience a pang of liberal guilt for giving innocent child a war toy for Christmas. Finish wine and get over it quickly.

16. Begin wrapping festive paper around jerry-rigged box-like covering.

17. Run out of festive paper, leaving a three inch gap between edges.

18. More wine as you debate how to cover the gap.

19. Settle on using different festive paper. Reason that Santa has to improvise, too.

20. Another paper cut.

21. The secret to beautifully wrapped presents is the crisp creases on the edges. Realize that there are no edges on your aircraft carrier you can crease the paper on without poking the tower out through the side.

22. Poke the tower out through the side.

23. Begin rooting around for Christmas ribbon to wrap over the hole the tower made.

24. Find acceptable ribbon. Begin wrapping around carrier.

25. Run out of ribbon.

26. Realize that all children like bows. Dump out whole bag of bows and apply liberally.

27. Stand back and, glass of wine in hand, admire your dedicated handiwork.

28. Overcome by holiday spirits, go lay down until Christmas is over.

There! Wasn't that easy? And the true reward for all your hard work will come Christmas morning, when your child(ren) will rush down, see the highly festive package under the tree, demolish the whole thing in under three seconds, and spend the rest of the day building sheds for trains he already has out of the mutilated box parts and bows, leaving the aircraft carrier to collect dust in the corner. Finally arrive at:

29. Next year, all the presents will be in garbage bags. With a bow.

Update: The child 'drives' the air-craft carrier around the dining room, landing planes, trains, and occasionally automobiles on its deck. Despite the scars left from wrapping the damn thing, it was still the best five bucks I ever spent at a thrift store!

The Authorial Mom will be taking next week off and spending it with as many of the child's grandparents as possible. So, let me take this moment to say, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The BEST Christmas Pageant EVER

So, a while back, The Kid--my baby!--was in his first every big-league theatrical production.

Okay, so it was my sister Leah's high school show, but still. (Leah is the teacher/director, not a student.) Being on a big stage in front of a lot of seats with people sitting in them is not something that my boy has experienced before. I think the closest he's gotten to performing for a crowd is the daycare Christmas parties, where the children would stand up as a group in front of their mommies and daddies in their normal daycare room and mumble their way through a three-song holiday medley.

Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. Of course, since that was my baby up there mumbling, it wasn't bad--it was a priceless piece of performance art (read: awful).

But this was different. Rather than 17 other little children singing different songs at the same time, this was 25 teenagers performing lines that they'd memorized. While following stage directions. And navigating costume changes.

Let's pause and take a moment to give thanks to my sister, Leah--a dedicated woman who manages to make directing plays look less like herding cats and more like the youth of today actually doing something productive and artistic with their time. How do I know? Not one of the cast members texted during the whole performance. Yes. I'm just as shocked as the next person.

Anyway, Leah decided to do The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, based on a movie with Loretta "Hot Lips" Swift back in 1983.

Yeah, that one.

Well, Leah needed shepherds and angels, and she didn't have enough to go around. So she wooed The Kid with big talk of fame, fortune, and ice cream after the show, and he jumped on board. There were two other children, aged 5 and 7, who were also going to be in the play, so my boy wasn't going to be all alone up there.

But here's the catch--we live almost 3 hours away from Leah's school, which is just a shade over two hours too long for commuting to practice. Leah told us to work on "Silent Night," pack a bath robe, and get to the play as soon as possible on opening night.

Yes. My kid made his stage debut cold. NO practice. NO planning. NO idea what the second verse of "Silent Night" was. NO clue what was going on.

And you know what? It wasn't awful. It bordered on cute--good, even.

Leah, as I may have mentioned, is a wonderful woman, and planned for this improv performance. The other two little kids had their parts down pat--all my boy had to do was stick with them. Leah also assigned The Kid a handler for each scene--a chorus member who was in charge of making sure my boy got where he needed to go.

He had an hour of prep time. Half of that time, he was learning stage direction while eating a hot dog. The highlights:

First Scene: The Kid is holding the little girl's hand. When he gets to where he's supposed to sit, she jerks him back into his seat and he lands with a plop. Five minutes later, everyone on stage is supposed to 'agree' and nod their heads 'yes.' The Kid misses the cue entirely, so the little girl reaches over and nods his head for him. Two minutes after that, everyone is supposed to freeze during a soliloquy. My boy sits up there and looks around, wondering what the heck everyone is doing until the lights go out.

Second Scene: All he has to do is walk onto stage, see the 'bad guy,' turn, and run the other way. He fails to do this--he's too busy watching the bad guy stuff someone in a locker--so his handler jerks him off so hard he drops his pretend books--which works perfectly for the scene.

Third Scene: The children cower in pretend fear from the bad guys at the edge of the stage. My boy looks out, sees me in the front row, and gives me the smallest, cutest little wave. It's the only time he broke the fourth wall all night.

Fourth Scene: He's in his bathrobe now, and since all the other shepherds have crooks or canes or whatever, they've clearly scrambled to get something he can hold. Ergo, he's walking around with a carpenter's "L" square. There's some running back and forth in this scene--and a lot more yanking and hauling that goes on.

Final Scene: All the other shepherds are so busy remembering where to go that they leave my boy behind. He wanders around the middle of the stage for a few moments until someone realizes he's lost and come gets him. His lips appear to be moving in time with the song.

End: He bows out of rhythm--but smiles the whole time.

The second night was much smoother. He managed to nod at the right time, although he forgot to freeze for the soliloquy. All was well until the bad guys came out, dressed as Wise Men. These Wise Men come out like secret service guys, defending the baby Jesus with imaginary guns and bazookas. Well, The Kid decided that this gun thing looked more fun than being a shepherd, so he started firing at the audience with his "L" square. The other little shepherd saw this, hooked the "L" square with his cane, and yanked my boy clean off the stage.

So, to sum up, Leah's cast and crew put on a heck of a fun show, The Kid will one day pay for my retirement will all of his movie paychecks, and everyone had a good time--especially my 95 1/2-year-old Gram, who giggled through the whole show--both nights.

Thanks to the Bayless Theater Company!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Editor

I blush to even say that out loud.




The following is a super-condensed version of the conversation I had with the lovely Stacy Boyd, Senior Editor of the Harlequin Desire line. Super-condensed, that is, because it happened two weeks ago, and I had enough turkey during the course of the last week to render some parts of my brain permanently soporific. Plus, the parts of my brain that are not in a continuing turkey-coma are toting up a to-do list that is stunning--as in, I keep walking around with a stunned, I-can't-believe-it's-almost-December, do-you-have-any-idea-how-much-crap-I-have-to-do? look on my face. Do they make a concealer for that?

Whoops. Just realized that what followed "The following" in the previous sentence was not actually the super-condensed conversation with My Editor. Did I mention the soporific stunnedness going on over here? My apologies. Onward to the highlights!

1. Stacy said, and I quote, "If I don't write it down, I don't remember it," as she worked her way down the long list of things she had to tell me. This is the exact moment when I knew Stacy and I were going to work together well, because I say that about once a week.

2. Stacy needed a list that long because she's used to working with published authors. I'm the first 'new' author she's signed in some time, and there's a lot to know.

3. She was going to pitch Indian Princess to a different line at Harlequin--but on the second read, decided to keep it for herself.

4. It won't be called Indian Princess for a lot of really good reasons, including but not limited to the fact that there's no actual princess in it. The title will be determined by a lot of factors, most of them out of my control.

5. Indian Princess won't be out until 2012. This is an eternity to anyone not familiar with the publishing world, but here's the two main reasons--it takes time to get a book ready for publication (I could be off, but I counted about seven hands/departments it's got to pass through), and they already have the 2011 releases lined up.

6. The Wannabe Cowboy is a great concept--but wrong for the Desire line (because my hero is dirt-poor). Stacy wants to build me up as a Desire author first, so the Wannabes are going to have to wait a few years before they make it to the great wide world.

7. If I can do it, she'd like to release two books from me in 2012.

8. Since she liked the ideas I'd been kicking around for two weeks, maybe I could plan on three books for 2012.

9. I should go ahead and send her the first three chapters and a synopsis for the next book.

We talked about a lot of stuff--over an hour of me pacing and her going down her list--but those are the highlights. I'll have more details as I either remember them or as they crop up.

Now excuse me, but I've got some chapters to crank out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Yes, this is a week early, but Thanksgiving week is kind of crazy around the ol' Authorial Household, so HAPPY THANKSGIVING a week early!

Thanksgivings are a time of comfortable, familiar traditions. For instance, if you read my blog from last Thanksgiving here, or the one before it here, you'd know exactly what I am and continue to be thankful for.

This year, I'm going to flesh out the list of things I'm thankful for a little more:

1. Patience. Not so much in me, of course--patience is one of my revolving New Year's Resolutions, something I always need to work on. No, I'm more thankful for other people's patience. I'm thankful for my husband's patience when I babble on about imaginary people's lives at dinner. I'm thankful for the Lovely Mary's (Grammar Goddess) patience to put up with me at work, and willingness to read every single book. I'm thankful for my family's patience (and willingness to bite their tongues) when I do something they think is stupid--but they support me anyway. And I can't begin to tell you how thankful I am that The Kid has a wise, patient kindergarten teacher. Patience. It's a wonderful thing.

2. Those who are here. Gram is now officially 95 1/2. Every year we get with her is another year to be thankful for. Similarly, my great-aunt just broke her hip at age 90--but is improving every day. I didn't go to a single funeral this year. In a time filled with war, terror, and random acts of violence, I'm thankful that my family has been spared from tragedy.

3. Those who aren't. A large part of my free time (HA!) recently has been spent on my other grandmother's manuscript. I never knew her, but she raised my father and his eight (count 'em) brothers and sisters. After living with her written words for so long, I feel closer to her now than I ever have. Similarly, I've been talking about Gram's husband, my grandfather, to The Kid a lot recently (he likes the pictures of Grandpa holding all the fish on the wall). Even though these people and others have gone on before me, I'm thankful for them nonetheless. They make me more whole as a person.

4. Those who are coming. This upcoming year, I figure to be an aunt, twice over. The Kid is dying to be a 'big brother,' and cannot wait to meet his future 'little bears.' (We read a lot of Berenstein Bears.) He's got big plans for those babies, just as soon as they can sit upright. I think racing Hot Wheels and trains figures prominently into his plans.

So, remember--there's a holiday that comes between Halloween and Christmas, and that holiday is called Thanksgiving. Make sure you stop and give thanks.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Call

I got The Call! Here's how it went down:

Thursday, approximately 1 p.m.: Laurie McLean emailed me to say that she had a phone appointment with Stacy Boyd, Senior Editor at Harlequin Desire, scheduled for Friday, and when would be a good time for Laurie to call me?

Thursday, approximately 1:15 p.m.: Screaming and dancing occurs. Gater participates with barking.

Approximately 1:17: I suddenly become paranoid that I'm counting my chickens before they hatch, and therefore jinxing the whole thing. Maybe Stacy just wants to say 'hi' to Laurie, check on the weather in San Fran.

1:19: I start emailing people. I call my mother. Various levels of screaming and dancing occur with me in the background yelling, "don't jinx it!"

1:27: I email Laurie back that I'll be home from work and picking up my son at 3:15.

Thursday Evening: I spend the rest of the night not counting my chickens, fighting a massive sinus infection, and trying not to panic.

Friday morning: Wake up going "Today's the DAY!" Sing loudly until my head tries to explode. Spend rest of morning trying to get The Kid to STOP singing loudly. Fail.

Side Note: Sinus infections are a mixed blessing for those of us who are a little OCD. I spend the day getting really excited, really nervous--then getting really tired and puny for half an hour or so. Once I rest up a little bit, I get really excited, really nervous--and then puny again. This semi-vicious cycle goes on all day long.

Friday, 2:57 p.m.: Leave work, race to get The Kid from school.

3:02: Inform any mom within listening distance that Today's the Day! The mother of one of my Kindergarten Mom friends goes home and tells her daughter (that would be my mom friend) that I'm "cute."

3:07: Inform the kindergarten teacher that while I'd love to chat, I have to get home to get a call from my agent about one of my books. The lovely woman latches onto my arm, demands to know what I write, and when I tell her I've GOT to go for a call--The Call--she hugs me. That woman is getting a hell of a Christmas present.

3:09: Buckle in The Kid. Just as I get in the car, my cell phone rings. The Kid blithely informs me my phone is ringing. (You may well wonder why this matters--well, I'm a luddite who rarely uses my cell for anything. I don't even text. The fact that it rang and scared the heck out of me was entertainment for a good five minutes for The Kid.)

It's Laurie--but I'm driving. Here's a 'fun fact' about me (and by 'fun,' I mean 'weird')--if I'm nervous and I have to talk on the phone, I simply must pace. Not operate a several-ton vehicle with my son in the backseat and a audio book blaring on the radio. I tell Laurie I must go home and will call her back.

3:11: Arrive home. Of course, I now have to let the jumpy dogs out, get The Kid a snack and get the heat going in his toy room so that he will leave me be for 20 minutes, and--this is important--change my shoes. I was still in my cowboy boots. No sane person paces on hardwood in cowboy boots. It's just not done, darling.

3:14: Call Laurie back. Commence pacing.

Laurie has great news! Stacy Boyd is going to buy The Indian Princess! Plus, she'd like to build a career for me. She wants me to write four books a year--two for her in the Desire line, and maybe two for the Special Edition line.

I have to be honest--Laurie said a lot of stuff, but my brain and my mouth completely disconnected--I'm not sure what my ears were doing. All I said for maybe 15 minutes was, "O-okay. Um, o-okay. O-okay." At some point, Laurie realized I'd apparently checked out and asked if I'd like her send a sum-up message. To which, of course, I said, "O-okay."

3:27: Stand in stunned silence for a moment, until The Kid demands more pretzel sticks. Realize I need to do a load of laundry, and that the dishwasher is full. Do two minutes of mom stuff.

3:29: Commence calling people. My mom (Hi, Mom!) starts crying; I'm still in a stunned, non-functional moment. Pacing re-commences. Alternate between cell phone and land line. Drop land line when cell phone rings again. The Kid laughs. Again.

At some point, I start crying. I think I was on the phone with my husband at the moment.

7:00: The Kid's first Slumber Party (see last week's blog) begins. Thankfully, The Kid's guest, The Friend, his mom Leah and I go way back. Thankfully, I say, because this is the kind of emotional sort of day that can often overwhelm humans from Mars but that humans from Venus love. Spend the rest of the evening babbling at top speed (another side-effect of excitement).

8:40: Remember all that puny sinus stuff from earlier? It finally catches up to me, and I almost fall asleep standing up. Plug in a movie for The Kids and collapse.

So that's it. That's the whole story. The sinus infection has dampened my ability to celebrate, and, like all newly famous authors, I spent the whole weekend scrubbing very old, very stinky goo off of our bedroom floor so that we could walk around barefoot again.

But never fear, I'm going to celebrate today! A la Heather Snow, I'm going to go get a celebratory manicure and pedicure!

And then? Then I'm going to get to writing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Slumber Party

We're going to do something fun and exciting around the Authorial household tomorrow. The Kid is having The Friend over--for the night.

The first sleepover. The Kid said to me, "He's going to come over for a play date and to sleep--and playdate plus sleep equals sleepover!" He was real proud of this social math.

I have mixed feelings about this. I've been friends with The Friend's mom since sophomore year of college, and we've gotten our boys together whenever we can. We always hold kid-friendly Super Bowl and New Year's Eve parties--the kind of laid-back get-together where everyone understands that if it all goes south by the end of the first quarter and you have to bail, no one will hold it against you. The sleepover has only been a matter of time.

But that's not why I have mixed feelings. This is why:

Photo: Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm Studios

What? You don't know what the heck that is or what it has to do with slumber parties? Well, this is my blog, so I'll tell you.

I went to my first slumber party when I was in first grade--about a year older than The Kid. I think it was Jessica P.'s birthday party, but I'm not sure about that.

I was a sheltered little girl (okay, the 'little' part is debatable, as I was the tallest kid in my grade for a long time), one who spent a lot of time reading books that were four grade levels above 1st. My folks let me read almost anything I wanted, but I didn't see a lot of movies or watch that much TV (except for Wheel of Fortune). Part of this had to do with my parents 'weird' ideas about parenting (most of which, sad to say, I've replicated with the kid--thereby completing the Circle of Parenting Life), but part of it undoubtedly was self-defense on my mother's behalf. I would get nightmares from Donald Duck cartoons. Really. I still can't watch suspense movies.

As the result of being a sort-of huge giant brainiac who liked to read, I didn't have a lot of friends. I'm sure my mother felt this slight personally, which is why she probably let me go to the birthday/slumber party. I'd been invited, after all. I don't remember much about the party until . . .

Photo: Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm Studios


For some reason I've never fully grasped, Jessica's (?) folks popped in a VHS of Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant. At a first-grade girls' slumber party. Really. Perhaps the 'newness' of the technology demanded that it be demonstrated--VHS players were still very expensive back then, and there had to be a "WOW" factor involved with having one in the house. (Yes, I'm old. Get over it.)

I don't remember much of the movie--until people started melting. Sure, they were bad guys and all, but that didn't change facts--they were melting.

Keep in mind that not only did I not have the ability to suspend disbelief--I was six--but that the imaginary world was shockingly real for me. I lived in make-believe worlds (and, surprisingly, still do). I had no concept that this was not real.

Everyone else at the party barely seemed to notice, making my terror that much more socially awkward. No one else was scared; therefore, I could not possibly admit to being horrified. And to have the parent on duty call my mommy to come get me? I already didn't have a lot of friends. Even I knew that bailing on the party would be the equivalent of social death-by-melting.

Photo: Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm Studios

Indeed. Ah, the memories!

So I spent the rest of the slumber party curled in a ball in my sleeping bag--not sleeping--and praying for morning. I think I did doze off close to dawn, only to have my head stepped on when everyone else got up all perky and happy. In other words, the only way it could have been worse would have been if I had wet the sleeping bag, so score one for not sleeping. 

Thus marked a turning point in my social development (or lack thereof) as a kid. Years later, when I finally watched The Ark of the Covenant again, I had to hide my eyes through the whole scene. At least now, no one steps on my head in the morning.

So now I'm an Authorial Mom faced with hosting my first sleepover. It'll be loud, toys will be scattered to the four winds, but movies? Toy Story is as scary as it's going to get around here. 

I don't want to scar the kids for life!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


So, a while back, I decided that, in addition to entering The Indian Princess into a couple of contests, I was going to trot out the latest book I'd finished, The Wannabe Cowboy. It had only been through my mom (Hi, Mom!), Mary the Grammar Goddess, and my critique partner, the Lovely Laurel--no one else had read it. But hey, it's contest season, and I wanted to see if it got enough positive feedback that I could feel good about entering it into the granddaddy of all contests, the Golden Heart (more on that later).

When I first started this crazy journey, I entered a whole bunch of contests without a whole lot of thought. (This, if you're just joining this career in process, is how I pretty much went about everything back at the beginning--the throw a bunch of stuff against a wall and see if it sticks method.) And I got a whole lot of helpful comments--and a whole lot of really bad scores. But those contests were good for me--all those judges who suffered through that first book of mine really helped me see where the (major) holes in my work were.

I didn't enter another contest for a year, and when I did, I took second in the Chicago-North RWA's Fire and Ice contest for a book no one actually liked, Warrior, Lawyer. (It's on a shelf somewhere, gathering serious dust.) They were so nice to me that I wound up joining their chapter.

I then got it into my head that I was going to sell a book VERY SOON--and stopped entering contests for another year and a half. I also didn't sell a book in that year and a half.

Which brings us back to the present. I decided I needed some independent readers, and hey--being able to say "Finalist" wouldn't hurt, either. This time, however, there was a method to my madness. This time, I've learned the secret to entering contests. It's not the contest so much, but who's judging it.

As you may (or may not) remember, The Indian Princess was a finalist in the Golden Rose contest a few weeks back. I entered the Golden Rose because the judge is an editor for Special Edition--one of possibly four lines where my books would fit at Harlequin. I've already entered Princess in the Golden Heart--and had an editor express interest in it.

I picked the Hot Prospect contest from the Valley of the Sun RWA chapter because the judge is an editor for Harlequin American, which specializes in American-set stories--and features a lot of good-looking men in cowboy hats on the covers. So when Linda Andrews from Valley of the Sun called and told me I'd finalled, I assumed she meant Princess.

But I was wrong. She meant both.

So, if you'll excuse me, I must now go forth and dance around the house with The Kid and the dogs (Gater loves to dance!) and then do a little bit of revision before I send Wannabe back for the finalist judges--and off to the Golden Heart.

I'm feeling lucky.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

All At Once


So, on Monday, I received a phone call from a lovely lady named Paula Gill, who was with the Rose City Romance Writers (up yonder in Portland). In a delightful conversation, Paula informed me that my book Indian Princess had been named a finalist in the series category in their writing contest, the Golden Rose.

I have to tell you, it's been months, if not longer, since the last bit of Authorial Good News. But suddenly, I'm a finalist with a decent shot of not only winning a one-of-a-kind handcrafted rose pendant for being first in my category, but also winning a real gilded rose if I'm the top scorer. Top it off--an editor for Harlequin will read my entry.

Needless to say (but I shall say it anyway), I was thrilled. Hyper thrilled. Dancing around the house with The Kid thrilled. After a long, demoralizing drought of nothing happening--the kind of drought that makes a girl question what she's doing and why she's doing it and if maybe she wouldn't be better off doing something else--I suddenly felt Authorial again. I am a real author, and I write real books. People--three judges, to be specific--said so. One judge, God bless the woman, gave me a 149 out of 150 and her comment was that the book was "ready for the bookshelf!" I love that woman, whoever judge #16 was. LOVE HER.

So that was exciting. I felt better about the world and my Authorial place in it. Then, unexpectedly on Tuesday, I got an email from Laurie McLean of Larsen/Pomada. She'd gotten Indian Princess in front of an editor--and miracles of miracles, this editor loved it. She totally got my story.

After a year and a half of searching and sending and hoping and praying, an editor gets it. I had to call the neighbors and apologize for all the screaming coming out of the house.

Nothing is set in stone right now--nothing. The editor wants me to make a few changes--nothing so major as killing a character or moving the sex scene to page two or anything--but she wants to see how I handle the revisions, both personally and in terms of writing. Then, if she likes what she sees, she'll present my book to a senior editor with the intent of selling it--and maybe more. Laurie is handling this negotiation, obviously.

So, right now, I'm revising (and I mean that in a literal, time-based sense). This offer could fall through; it could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Part of what happens next depends on me and my ability to revise and handle myself in a professional manner (which means, basically, that I have to stop jumping around and yelling at the top of my lungs long enough to do some rewriting). Part of it is out of my control--the senior editor could pass. (But I hope she doesn't.)

It was, hands down, one of the more insane, eventful, action-packed 18 hours of my life.

Now, I know--this is Thursday, where I normally blog about the Mom part of the Authorial Mom, so to tide you all over until my head comes down out of the clouds, I am including a photo of Pooh Bear, wearing his Halloween costume--he's dressed as 'Alvin the Munk'--while he plays battleship with The Kid:

There. That's better!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"World's Finest Chocolate"

I'd like to offer my many thanks and simultaneous apologies to all the friends, family, and neighbors who graciously took part in our school fundraiser these last few weeks. By purchasing some "World's Finest Chocolates," you helped my kid get the bribe--er, prize--of a free ticket to a magic show while scoring some supplies for our favorite kindergarten teacher. Trust me, that wonderful woman needs all the help she can get.

Did you notice the quote marks in that title? In case you didn't, I'll repeat it. "World's Finest Chocolate." Yep. Normally, misplaced and misused quote marks are my major grammatical pet peeve. (Yes, I'm dorky enough to have a grammatical pet peeve.) Here, the only people being quoted here are cynical marketing people who were charged with test-marketing brand names. This chocolate is, in fact, not only not the world's finest chocolate, I'd hazard to say that it's not even in the top twenty.

Frankly, I'm surprised to discover that it's even made with actual, real chocolate. I thought for sure that it would be made with "chocolatey favored" ingredients. Yes, it's just that "good." (Who am I quoting? That's marketing for you!)

Why "World's Finest Chocolate"? I get a flower catalog that advertises bulbs for school fundraisers. I could sell the HELL out of bulbs. I would personally buy enough bulbs--300-500 bulbs every fall--to win that kid every prize they had. But no. "World's Finest Chocolate." At least we got caramel. That seemed to help.

This school fundraiser has been a challenge for me. A long time ago, in a place far, far away--Missouri--my mother (Hi, MOM!) was president of the PTA. And she got it into her noggin that, as PTA president, she needed her adorable children to be the top-sellers of fundraising merchandise. Not that I, personally, sold any of the junk. Mom was all about twisting the arm of everyone in the world. And she got results. I won a bike. And a year later, my sisters split the top prize. While I loved that bike, the pressure Mom put on herself wasn't a lot of fun.

The Kid's school had a lot of cool prizes The Kid could win for selling "World's Finest Chocolate." I had to break it to him that he wasn't going to win the remote-controlled cars or any of the other fun toys, because I'm not going to spend two weeks of life pushing subpar chocolate onto the world. But if he sells one box, he gets a free ticket to a magic show. (Parents must purchase their own, so we're still out). So we sold a box.

But we had an unexpected ethical dilemma crop up. Two wonderful people--my sister Hannah and our neighbor Donna--bought large amounts of chocolate--$7 and $5, respectively--and then refused to take their chocolate. They told us to keep it for our own uses. Which is sweet and thoughtful--or it would be if the chocolate were really worth eating. The Kid, ever resourceful, wanted to resell the chocolate at a direct profit. Perhaps we should stop telling him bedtime stories about Warren Buffet and Daddy Warbucks. But, ethically and morally, that's kinda wrong. So we aren't. If we have any of it left by Halloween, some "lucky" trick-or-treater will get some "World's Finest Chocolate" in their treat bag.

I may have missed my "calling" in marketing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pitch or Publish?

So, I'm almost done reading my grandmother Goldie's manuscript for Eleanore Gray. And I'm not sure what to do with it. It's a lovely book, about 83,000 words. In book language, we call that 'single title.' Goldie captures the poetic beauty of the world in sentence form in ways that make me jealous. For example:

"The leaves that had ornamented the hillside with inspiring jewel colors faded and dropped to the ground, spent and weary from artistic labors."

Wow. That's just beautiful. This isn't really surprising--Goldie was a nationally recognized poet. Still, when I reach a sentence like that one, I'm floored by it.

The plot is a little slow to develop, and the characters don't have much internal monologue. My first question is, How much should I change it? Should I edit to make all point-of-views consistent? Should I try to speed up the plot developments? Should I get into each character's heads more during the emotional turning points?At what point do they stop being Goldie's words and start being mine? It's not a romance novel--if I start adding things, will it come out as overly-romantic, since that's my strength?

Regardless, it's a beautiful book, and I'm going to publish it. The next question is, How? Eleanore goes to the Ozark hill country and in her quiet, Christian way, works to save some of her neighbors. I don't know if I should take the time to pitch this to an inspirational, Christian publisher, like Barbour Publishers, or just go ahead and do it myself.

I'm open to suggestions here. What do you think?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

An Open Letter to the Manufacturers of Bridesmaids Dresses

Dear Sirs and Madams:



What did I ever do to you?


How can you expect me to take you seriously when your products do not even look good on the stick-thin models you've chosen to showcase them?


Are you aware that heavy, shiny, tight fabrics only magnify the imperfections of the wearer?


Are you aware that not everyone wants to--or should--be in a sleeveless, even strapless--gowns? And that those who want sleeves are not always mothers-of-the-brides?


Are you aware that real women have to pay real money for these dresses?


Where--on God's green earth--would I EVER wear this again?


I implore you. Please, please make something I can wear. I only have eight shopping months left.

Thank you for your time.
The Authorial Mom

(Note: While these dresses are not, shall we say, to my taste, I would like to point out that you may love them. And I'm sure that, on you, they will all be stunning. Really.)

(Note, pt. 2: Also, this is not an all-encompassing list. These are just dresses from sites that would let me copy their pictures. There are many, many bad dresses on certain sites (I'm looking at you, Dessy Group!) that would not allow irritated bloggers to copy and paste their images. You'll just have to gawk at the awfulness on your own.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Doing a little cleaning, a (very) little organizing around the ol' computer, and discovered a crazy collection of photos of stuff the Authorial Family did this summer. I got nothing else but insane workloads going on right now, so bring on the photos!

We explored sidewalk art (which, clearly, is also wearable art):

We got new windows in the kitchen--after the old ones literally fell off the house. Whoops!

And discovered, in the process, that the kitchen used to have really* ugly wallpaper:

We hit a County Fair:

Does anyone else find the name of this kiddie ride hilarious? Just me? Nevermind. Carry on.

We explored tanks:

had a front-row seat for a demolition derby:

and ate funnel cakes:

Oh, yeah. That's the good stuff.

We played hard-core family mini-golf:

'Hard-core' meaning, of course, nearly beaten by a five-year-old boy who kept getting distracted by traffic:

I edged him out by six points. HA!

We toured Lincoln's home, and saw dioramas with squash plants that were about a quarter the size of my pinkie finger nail:

And I debated making incredibly small, accurate miniatures when I grow up. Then I decided to stick with cowboys. (Seriously, the trees are smaller than my hand.)

We saw this sign as part of a display:

And spent the next half hour cracking E-Harmony jokes.


I wore the hat in Lincoln's home. So there.


Not in his Presidential Museum.

Gater is . . .


I mean, really.

How is he even doing that?

We battled ants:

and fleas, mosquitoes, and fruit flies.

And then, when summer ended?

The Kid--my baby--grew up and went to kindergarten.

The end.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Here She Is . . .

(singing in a baritone voice with orchestral background music)

. . . Ms. Sarah M. Anderson

(wild applause and some happy sobbing)

Yes, the Judges** have spoken, and Thoughtful Yet Serious Sarah is the Winner!

Let's have a warm round of applause for our runner-up: Bug Bite Sarah!

Should Thoughtful Yet Serious Sarah be unable to complete her reign as Ms. Sarah M. Anderson (or if an editor casts a trumping vote), Bug Bite Sarah will assume the crown.

The Consolation Prize (which is nothing but another mention in the blog) goes to Tree Girl Sarah.

An Authorial Mom favorite, Tree Girl is going to spend her new-found free time polishing her hand waving and Vaseline-slicked smile, just in case a horrible 'accident' should befall one or more of our winners.

Well, that wraps up the 2010 Ms. Sarah M. Anderson Beauty Contest. I'd like to thank all of our Judges** for casting their votes. It was a difficult choice to make, but the people have spoken.

So, on behalf of Ms. Sarah M. Anderson, I'm Burt Hasselhoff, signing off!

(singing in a baritone voice with orchestral background music)

There She Is, Ms. Sarah M. Anderson . . . .

(Fade to commercial)

**That would be you, Loyal Reader(s)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Panel Presentation Proposal

Yeah, I'm still struggling with the ending of my current Work In Progress, The Wannabe Cowboy. And true, my grandmother's book, Eleanore Grey, is still just sitting on that hard drive, waiting to be polished and self-published so my father and aunts and uncles can read it. Oh, I got two more books to review in the mail the other day, with revisions on the last review I wrote coming back in the next few days. Let's not forget about the one-on-one tutoring, the freelance editing job, the day job, or the Mom job.

I haven't been working on any of that this week (excepting the day job and the Mom job, of course.) No, this week, I've been working on something that won't come to fruititon for another ten months--my RWA Nationals Panel Presentation Proposal.

I love me some good, old fashioned alliteration, but even "Panel Presentation Proposal" is a mouthful. I think I bit my tongue the other day.

This proposal is a classic example of "hurry up and wait." Proposals are due by October 15th; the National conference isn't until June 28th of next year (because if it was June 28th of this year, I'd be somewhere in the neighborhood of 'screwed'). Along with the fabulous Kaki Warner, I'm putting together a panel discussion on western romances. Everyone has said that having handouts will better the odds a proposal gets picked, so Kaki's trying to nail down a few Big Name Authors and Editors to join us while I pull some fantastic handouts out of mid-air and make them all pretty.

There's a couple of good reasons why a as-of-yet-unpublished author such as myself would want to pull off a presentation. First off, it's good blog fodder. Oh, the tension--with Big Name Authors say yes? Will the handouts be in a readable font? Will the proposal get accepted???

Second, it gives me another outlet for my nervous energy--there's been too much of that around recently.

Third, it gets my name out there, and keeps Kaki's name out there (although her books are so wonderful, she doesn't need as much help).

Fourth, it helps build a community of like-minded western romance authors.

And lastly, (this is the big one), those who present at the conference get "financial consideration"--i.e. a reduced conference fee. The 2011 RWA conference is being held in New York City (which, by law in this household, must be said in a Pace Salsa ad from 15 years ago kind of voice--you know the one I mean). NY ain't cheap, and it's even less cheap when the loving Hubby and adorable Kid are going to tag along so we can make a family vacation out of it. (Toss in tickets to a ball game, a Broadway show, and possibly dinner someplace insane, like the Waldorf Astoria, and NY gets less cheap all the time.)

So I'm hurrying up on the Panel Presentation Proposal, so that Kaki can have a look at all my fabulous (?) handouts before the deadline. And then, we wait.

Luckily, I've got things to do to keep me busy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Round Two

WARNING: The following blog post contains WAY more photos of me, Ms. Sarah M. Anderson, than your recommended daily allowance. View at your own risk.

Friends, welcome back to the annual* Ms. Sarah M. Anderson Beauty Contest! We rejoin our contest after some intense voting and back-room bargaining. I'm your host, Burt Hasselhoff. Let's find out which Sarahs made the cut, and which ones went home early. Again, let's give all the Sarahs a round of applause!

(cue applause)

Give a warm welcome back to Thoughtful, yet Serious Sarah:

Many judges liked the thoughtful, but serious nature of this Sarah. Our next semi-finalist is Good-Time Girl Sarah:

A few judges wanted to see more from Good Time Girl Sarah, in the form of cropping and a warmer tone, and Good Time Girl Sarah was only too happy to meet the challenge! 

Now welcome Serious Cowgirl Sarah back to the contest:

She's still very serious.

Wait! We have a late entry, Serious Cowgirl Sarah's cousin, Semi-Serious Cowgirl Sarah!

Judges**, I'd just like to remind you that we have many Serious Sarahs with us today. Please be sure to specifiy which Serious Sarah you're voting for.

Bug Bite Sarah took an early lead in the voting and stayed near the top.

Yes, those biting ants didn't get her down! Finally, we have the Authorial Mom favorite, Tree Girl Sarah!

She got enough sympathy votes to squeak in under the wire.

That concludes Round Two of the Ms. Sarah M. Anderson Beauty Contest! Ladies and Gentlemen, another round of applause for all six of our lovely Sarah M. Andersons!  Judges**, please keep the rules in mind:
1. Keep it positive. Negative comments will be deleted.
2. All Sarahs can be made color, black and white, sepia, or washed tones. Do not let any Sarah's current coloring affect your opinions.
3. Remember, this is for an Official Author Picture, which you, loyal reader(s), will have to look up in the corner of this blog, on Facebook, on the Sarah M. Anderson website, and, good Lord willing, on book covers (hopefully sometime soon). Keep these mediums in mind when choosing.
4. Judges may choose only one Sarah for the Final Vote.

So tune in next week to see which Sarah will be crowned Ms. Sarah M. Anderson! I'm Burt Hasselhoff, signing off for the Ms. Sarah M. Anderson Beauty Contest. Until next week, judges! *waves to audience*

(cue applause)

*not really
**That's you, Loyal Reader(s)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Ms. Sarah M. Anderson Beauty Contest

WARNING: The following blog post contains WAY more photos of me, Ms. Sarah M. Anderson, than your recommended daily allowance. View at your risk.

Yes, friends, it's time for that annual* tradition, the Ms. Sarah M. Anderson Beauty Contest! Welcome to the first round of judging. I'm your host, Burt Hasselhoff. We have a lot of lovely Sarah M. Andersons with us today. The judges** have their work cut out for them! Let's give all the Sarahs a round of applause!

**(that would be you, loyal reader(s))

(cue applause)

Well, let's get started! First up, we have Thoughtful, yet Serious Sarah:

She's thoughtful, but serious! Next up, we have Great Cleavage Sarah:

I think I speak for a lot of our viewers when I saw, Wow, what great cleavage! Next, we have Gentle Breeze Sarah.

Isn't it amazing what a little wind can do for a gal? Now please give a warm welcome to Seriously Demure Sarah!

Yes, much more demure than thoughtful! For a change of pace, how about Good-Time Girl Sarah?

Yes, Good Time Girl Sarah looks like she know how to have some fun! Now let's welcome Sunny Day Sarah.

She's going to miss that sun this winter, folks! Now give a big hand to Serious Cowgirl Sarah.

She's serious about being a cowgirl, don't you think? So is Tree Girl Sarah.

Tree Girl Sarah is an early crowd favorite, but so is Sitting Pretty Sarah!

What a sweetheart. Now take a gander at Bug Bite Sarah.

Yes, you'd never know it to look at this Sarah, but she was being attacked by ants not happy about sharing the tree with her. Now welcome Sweet Sarah to the stage.

She's an early contender for Ms. Congeniality.

Ladies and Gentlemen, another round of applause for all of our lovely Sarah M. Andersons!  Judges**, please keep the rules in mind:
1. Keep it positive. Negative comments will be deleted.
2. All Sarahs can be made color, black and white, sepia, or washed tones. Do not let any Sarah's current coloring affect your opinions.
3. Remember, this is for an Official Author Picture, which you, loyal reader(s), will have to look up in the corner of this blog, on Facebook, on the Sarah M. Anderson website, and, good Lord willing, on book covers (hopefully sometime soon). Keep these mediums in mind when choosing.
4. Judges may choose up to their top three contenders to return for Round Two next week.

So tune in next week to see which Sarah made the cut, and which Sarah was just cut! I'm Burt Hasselhoff, signing off for the Ms. Sarah M. Anderson Beauty Contest. Until next week, judges! *waves to audience*

(cue applause)

*not really

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The First First Day of School

Did you cry when your baby stepped into that school for the first time?

Last Thursday, The Kid--my baby boy--donned his six-sizes-too-huge backpack and the most stain-free, collared shirt I could find, and went to school. For real--not this 'daycare-is-school-too' stuff. No, a real and true school with all the accoutrements. Music room crammed into the basement? Check. Old-fashioned, subterranean gym? Check. Metal detector in the entrance? Um, yeah--check. I'm still scratching my head on that one, but check.

I was not going to cry. Really. I've been successfully dropping The Kid off at daycare for almost three years. We have a quick hug, I remind him to keep his hands, feet, and all other objects to himself (really), and he's off without a look back, as am I. No drama, no hysterics. Just a quick and painless morning. That's how I like it. Why should the first day of kindergarten--a mere nine days after his last day of daycare--be any different?

Well, for starters, I'm something of an emotional sponge, and there were more than enough teary moms hanging around school to start to get to me. Luckily, we met up with my friend (not sister) Leah's husband and their two boys. Men, if you didn't know, do not get all choked up about the first day of kindergarten. Walking to school with a man was surprisingly calming. I was good to go.

So The Kid, the man, and the boys and I all roll into school on what is, hands down, one of the craziest days of the year. The line to get through the metal detector was about 30 deep. The kids don't have to go through it, but the grown ups do. Ironically, my purse set it off. The guard took my purse and handed it to me around the detector without checking my purse. I'm not yet clear how this makes The Kid any safer. Maybe I'm just rocking the 'mom' vibe extra hard.

Anyway, we go to class. His teacher is standing the hall, directing the children (read: herding cats). She's also handing out little baggies to the parents. I take mine and immediately forget about it as I work on getting The Kid to hang up his backpack, get his name tag, and remind him to keep his hands, feet, and all other objects to himself (really). Quick hug, quicker" love you," longer "BEHAVE!", and I'm out the door. No tears. Not even a lump.

I'm halfway down the block, musing on where the time has gone and also how much longer until I can eat a snack, when I realize I'm still holding the baggie. Upon closer inspection, there's a cotton ball, a tea bag, and a single tissue in it, as well as a note. The cotton ball was for something soft, the tea bag was to relax, and the tissue--well, that's just self-explanatory. I'm still good. Until I get to the last line on the note.

"Thank you for entrusting your child to me. I will take care of all them."

Oh, that was low. LOW.

So, by this time, I'm almost a block away from the school. I'm wearing business casual attire, and I am not holding the hand of a young child. To the rest of the world, I don't really have a good reason to cry in the middle of the morning. I manage to hold at 'teary' and make it to the car, where I sing along with Lady Gaga until I'm good enough for work.

The next weekend, I find out my loving, caring family had a pool--a pool, I tell you!--on whether or not I would cry. And not a single darned person picked 'teary.'


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Keeps Me Up At Night

There are authors in this world who understand the publishing business. They follow Publishers Weekly, know which editors have been promoted, which have moved to a different house, and which have left to become agents. These are the people who have 'dream' agents and editors because they carefully research each, looking for the best fit. They know the market, where their books fit in the market, and, in general, what's going on.

I'm not one of these people. At first it was just sheer ignorance--I didn't know what I was doing, and approached procuring an agent in the same way I would pepper the side of a barn with buckshot after a long night drinking (not that I would do that). I had good reasons for doing this--in addition to being clueless, I was mothering a two year old boy, starting a new job, and learning how to write books. I did not have time to internalize the world of publishing.

But I'm farther along that curve now. I've reached the point where I should know which editors are a good fit for me (luckily, I'm all good in the agent department!). So what's my excuse?

I've chosen to engage in a profession that is undergoing massive, fundamental changes. The authorial path I want--a major publisher putting out paperback books on a regular schedule that are available in bookstores--is disappearing faster than the rain forest in Brazil. This sysmic changing upsets my stomach and grates my nerves until I've worked myself into a first-class tizzy and my husband (God love the man) no longer wants to put up with me.

Case in point: In August--less than 24 days--of this year alone, things have gone haywire. On August 3rd, Barnes and Noble put itself up for sale after bleeding too much red ink. Okay, that officially gave me indigestion.

But then it got worse, as horror author Brian Keene summed up in his blog. Three days after B&N put themselves up for sale, Dorchester went 'all e-book.' However, it appears that, in fact, the publisher is in a death spiral. They let go of all but one person on their editorial staff.

I think I had a book under consideration at Dorchester once. This took the indigestion B&N started and led to a series of vivid, disturbing nightmares, some of which included me living in a box under a bridge and writing stories in the dirt.

Yes, I should know more about the publishing industry. But I'm raising a five year old now (Good heavens, where has the time gone? And when will I break through?), in addition to working three other paying part-time jobs, and taking care of the house and the marriage and the extended family and all that stuff we call 'life.' I do not have the time, energy, or inclination to spend sleepless nights worrying about the publishing world and what my place in it will be.

So I choose to remain clueless. And the only things that keep me up at night are chatty characters and obstinate kindergarteners. It's better this way.

Trust me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programs . . .

I'm not ignoring you, faithful reader(s). I think about you a lot. I take pictures to share with you. I plan great blogs for us to be together with (over?).

But life keeps happening.

Everyone's finally healthy in the house, and the war against the fleas is down to small border skirmishes. The Kid finished daycare, so he was home with me for three days before school started. We had fun things planned, plus 'homework time'--to get him into the habit of doing it, and to give me a chance to check facebook and write a quick blog.

But then My Gram had a small medical emergency, the pools closed a day before I thought they would, and . . . life just happened. Unfortunately, not often in the fun way.

School started yesterday. Hopefully by next week, I will have adjusted to the new schedule, where I don't have to leave my house before 8, instead of by 7 every morning. I know that sounds like a good thing, but not much productivity happens when The Kid is still in the house.

So tune in next week, when we will return to our regularly scheduled life, filled with crazy Authorial happenings and rocking fun Mom things!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How To Write A Panel Discussion Proposal

No, I'm not telling you. I'm asking you.

The Romance Writers of America's annual conference just ended in Orlando, Florida--which means it's time to start preparing for the RWA next year! I'm especially keen on preparing because I didn't go to Orlando this year--and given how sick The Kid was and how flea-ridden the dogs were, turned out to be a mistake on my part. (Okay, yes, it's a good thing I was here to take care of the stomach flu and strep throat. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.)

I'm going to New York, baby. And I'm taking The Husband and The Kid with me. They'll run around and do crazy things like see Mary Poppins on stage (The Kid's aunt Weet is a drama teacher. We've raised him to appreciate musical theater!) and a Mets game while I meet and greet, and then we'll spend three days together climbing several thousand stairs to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

Here's the thing, though. New York ain't cheap for one person. For three people? Plus conference fees? I need a plan to help 'defray my costs,' which is Husband-speak for 'make it cheaper.'

So I've got a plan. I'm going to submit a proposal to present a panel discussion on the current state of Cowboys in Romance today. Obviously, I write 'new' westerns, with a fresh take on contemporary Cowboys and Indians. I've already gotten the wonderfully talented Kaki Warner to agree to do it with me--Kaki is a 'new' voice writing historical westerns, and her books are amazing. My Agent has also agreed to sit on the panel, and Kaki was going to see if her agent would join us. We are good to go. All I have to do now is submit the proposal for the panel discussion.

Um, help? The previous proposals I've submitted for conferences were basically me calling up the organizer and saying, "Do you want me to do a presentation?" and the organizer going, "Could you? That'd be great." But RWA gets hundreds--possibly a thousand--proposals. What should I do to make my proposal stand out?

I'm so open to suggestions. Thanks!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Week, Same ...

Stuff. I was going to say stuff--really!

Last week was not good here. As you might have gathered from last Thursday's post, The Kid got the stomach flu, and just for good measure, Jake threw up some too. And don't get me started on the fleas. Our yard is infested--which means Gater is infested, which means our house is infested. I try to be an organic, all-natural kind of girl, but after two weeks of fleas? Bring on the chemicals--all of them.

A sick kid plus fleas is a bad, bad thing. I was ready to put last week behind me and get on with some prime-time summer fun--county fair style.

Remember Charlotte's Web, the book everyone has to read or you go to middle school jail? Sure, the messages of life and death were touching and all that, but what I always remember is Fern going off with Henry Fussy to ride rides and fall into serious like. Yes, that's right. I consider county fairs to be a place of innocent romance.

I had several great blogs lined up for today about all the fun at the fair. Our local Adams County Fair is going on, and we were going. First up, we were going to the bull riding, which was last Friday night. Oh, I was ready. I got my hat out, broke out the boots, and had the camera in my hip pocket for easy access so that I could get some great shots of bulls--and bull riders. After sick kids and fleas, were a few cowboys too much to ask?

Yes. It rained for several hours, starting in the afternoon and going well into the evening. True, bull riding is just about the most dangerous sport out there--but bull riding in knee-deep mud? Too dangerous. After all, the bulls could get hurt, and no one wants that.

Okay, so the cowboys were a bust. No worries, though, faithful blog reader(s). I had another blog lined up for you. The demolition derby was Wednesday night. So demolition derbies are just not as fun as bull riding. No cowboys are involved, after all. But it's still a testosterone-ladened event, full of men grunting in a deep, manly voices as the best cars Detroit had to offer in 1972 crash into each other in slo-mo. Mud? Ha! Demolition derbies laugh in the face of mud! Ha! HaHa! It was going to be 97 degrees? No problem--that's what lemon shake-ups are for! I was so ready for a little fun that I was willing to sweat in public. Bring on the destruction!!

Or not. You know what's almost as much fun as a demolition derby? Strep throat. Yes. With 103 degree fevers. Really. You know your child is sick when he doesn't want to spend his sick day watching movies. "Turn it off," he mumbled--and then stared into space for an hour. That's when I called the doctor's office.

And, of course, you know what the perfect complement to strep throat is--fleas. I feel like a chimpanzee right now, spending my day picking fleas off of my poor puppies. Jake's fur is so short that I can see the little suckers running up and down his back. We had to get a comb for Gater, which turned up way more parasites than I wanted in my entire house, much less on one dog. Oh, and Jake threw up again.

So I'm trapped in my own personal Groundhog Day from Hell, with a sick child; sick, flea-ridden dogs; and oppressive weather.

But lo! Hope is on the horizon, in the form of my wonderful in-laws. Assuming The Kid can keep those internal body temperatures at a nice and regulated 98 degrees, he's going to spend five fun-filled days with Grandma and Grandpa. While he's gone, we're going to flea-bomb the entire house. The Kid is mildly concerned that we're going to blow the house up, but we promised him it'd still be here when he got back.

So, please, cross your fingers for me. Or get Bill Murray on the phone.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Golden Rose

I got an email from my agent the other day, saying, "Feel like entering a contest?"

When your agent suggests entering a contest, it's probably a pretty good idea to break out the ol' credit card.

So I've entered The Indian Princess into the Contemporary Series category of the Golden Rose contest, brought to you by the Rose City Romance Writers chapter of the RWA, based in Portland, Orgeon. The final judge for that category is Susan Litman, an editor at Harlequin.

If I win, in addition to having a Harlequin editor reading the first 50 pages of my book, I'll also get a "one-of-a-kind handcrafted rose pendant necklace" and a free membership to the Rose City chapter. When I told my husband I was entering, he said, "Do you get money?" I told him about the necklace, and I actually think he liked that better.

I haven't entered a contest in almost two years. The last contest I did enter was the Chicago-North RWA's Fire and Ice, where I took second place for Warrior, Lawyer--a book that died on the shelf shortly thereafter because no one actually liked it. This time, everyone--including my agent--likes The Indian Princess (now with a new and improved ending!).

In a few months, I'll be entering the Big One, the Golden Heart. The Golden Heart is the nationwide contest for unpublished romance authors. I skipped it last year, and pretty much spent the rest of the year kicking myself, especially since they just handed out the awards last Saturday.

The contest deadline for the Golden Rose is August 7th, if you're interested, with finalists announced on October 11th and winners announced on December 6th.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What I'm Not Doing

There are many things I'm not doing today. Today, I'm not:

1. Meeting and greeting 2,000 other authors, editors, and agents and trying not to fawn over the stars.
2. Running all over parts of whatever Disney compound is down in Florida (I am incapable of keeping them straight).
3. Worrying about my hair, makeup, outfit, or whether it's too hot to pull of cowboy boots in the middle of summer in the ol' Sunshine State.
4. Hanging out with fellow authors around a pool, sipping delightful adult beverages even though it's only lunchtime.
5. Attending invaluable presentations on craft, marketing, and surviving the publishing business.
6. Getting truckloads of free books.
7. Offering words of advice and comfort to pre-published authors who are new to all this.
8. Seeking words of advice and comfort from published authors who have been there and done that.
9. Cheering for Heather Snow at the Golden Heart Awards.
10. Overpaying for tea, and really overpaying for wine.
11. Eating banquet food.
12. Having a hell of a good time.
13. Wondering how tomorrow could possibly be better.

No, instead, what I'm doing today is this:
1. Wondering if I should shower now, or if The Kid will just throw up on me again in fifteen minutes.
2. Laundry. Again.
3. Scrubbing carpets.
4. Scrubbing floors.
5. Scrubbing everything else.
6. Wondering how a child who has consumed nothing more than three sips of water can produce so much liquid.
7. Wondering if it makes me a bad mother if I think about paragraph transitions while The Kid throws up. Again.
8. Wondering if there is such a thing as human/canine stomach bug transmission--and then scrubbing the carpet. Again.
9. Counting the hours until my husband comes home.
10. Watching movies all day long--not the ones I want to, but still. Movies.
11. Rationing crackers.
12. Not getting paid because I didn't go to work.
13. Praying that tomorrow will be better.

So for all you authors living it up down there at the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Orlando, Florida, please--I'm begging you--have a little fun for me!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Done Enough

I pronounce this project "done enough." Experienced remodelers know what I'm talking about. It's not done. No home improvement project is ever really, truly done. The touch-ups alone will probably take another 2 days, and we still need to put a new coat of poly on the interior of the windows, which could easily take weeks--if we get to it at all. But functionally, that room is done enough for The Kid to move in and set up camp. See?





(This is but a small selection of the toys in our living room.)


My Gram is coming to look at the new, improved sun/toy room this weekend. She thinks it's going to be pretty. She doesn't realize a five-year-old boy has already moved 85% of his stuff into it, or that Gater has already permanently wounded that cute little chair by eating part of the dust ruffle off of it.

But it's done enough. And that's good enough for me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Romance Novel News!

Exciting times here at the Authorial Mom blog!

No, not so exciting that six-figure contracts are being slipped under my front door by editors so enthralled by the thoughts of hunky shirtless cowboys and Indians on horseback that they are battling it out on the lawn. That wouldn't be merely exciting. That would be so far beyond exciting as to be a coronary event waiting to happen.

Still, I'm excited! I've officially joined Romance Novel News as a reviewer!

What is Romance Novel News? From their website:

Romance Novel News is an independently-owned online site dedicated to contemporary, historical, erotic and paranormal romances.  RNN will provide trade news, features, debut author spotlights, Q&As, reviews and reader polls.

Mainstream media does not review mass market or trade paperback romance novels - even when they make the best sellers list. Most publishers rely on blogs to promote their titles.

While romance blogs ultimately promote the genre, the experience-level and posting frequency run the gamut.  RNN will provide consistent and fair reviews to inform readers of the latest romance releases. All reviews submitted are professionally edited and checked for accuracy prior to posting.

RNN aims to bridge the divide between romance fiction and mainstream media by treating the genre with the same respect as other works of fiction. 

RNN is not affiliated with any trade organization or publisher of romance fiction. 

All books reviewed have been provided by the publisher.

Note that last line--All books have been provided? That line is just about the best part of the whole thing. That line means that free books now show up in my mailbox for me to read. The first two, Awakened by a Kiss by Lila DePasqua, and Infamous by Suzanne Brockmann, arrived today. That's more than a good-enough reason for me to be excited!

My goal is to do one or two reviews a month. I've requested first crack at the westerns and after that, whatever catches my eye. All my reviews will be on the RNN website, and I'll be sure to link to it here, so you'll never have to worry about missing all my brilliant insights.

So stay tuned for more from Sarah M. Anderson, professional reviewer!