Monday, December 22, 2008

I saw fairies!

How cute are my cousins? They're also very cool. They came to a Tulsa book signing to help me. Max loved hanging out with them when they weren't working. They handed out bookmarks and talked to customers. Thanks to them, we sold out within two hours. Actually, customers were lined up for books after we ran out due to their cracker jack salesmanship. Check out how few books are left in the picture below.These two wore fairy wings. They all wore t-shirts. Get one of your own by clicking here.These guys are one of the reasons I'm looking forward to moving back to Oklahoma.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Journal: Find a word

This time of year is always chaotic. No matter how much we plan, it seems like the best stuff and most fun comes from unexpected places. So, it's a great time to have a little fun with your journal.

Journal: Grab a dictionary, magazine, or book. Open it randomly. Without looking, place your finger on the page. Next, write down the word to which your finger points. Repeat this at least five times. Now, create a story or poem using all those words. Enjoy creating order from the chaos!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tulsa Book Signing Tonight!

Come see me in Tulsa tonight at the Barnes and Noble on 41st. The signing begins at 7:00. It's a great opportunity to do some last minute Christmas shopping. Glamour makes a great gift for the teen or tween in your life--or the gal of any age who likes fairies, glamour, and glitz.

Max may or may not be there. I was up with him all night. He alternated between shrieking and collapsing into my arms. We think that either his tummy hurt or his ears are messed up from the flight. It's so frightening. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he doesn't complain unless there's something to cry about. He seems a bit improved this morning, so I hope it's all over.

So, please come by and see me...and you might even get to meet Max.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Journal: The suitcase

Lots of bags are packed this time of year as people travel to see family and friends. I always glance at the room of unclaimed suitcases at the airport and wonder what happened to prevent their owners from collecting them. I wonder how they're managing without the things they felt were important enough to take with them on a journey--things that were too important to leave behind even for a short time. You can tell a lot about a person by looking at what is in a suitcase.

Journal: You've found a suitcase that includes the following items: a framed photograph, a scarf, a pair of sneakers, a walkie talkie, a box of cards, granola bars, and 12 pairs of socks. Write a character sketch of the person to whom this bag belongs. Show this character using the items. Don't forget to give your sketch a sense of completion. Make sure it has a beginning, middle, and end.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Glamour slumber party

The Pope County Library in Russellville, Arkansas, knows how to throw a party...a slumber party, that is.The youth are lucky to have Lauren Drittler as their enthusiastic young adult librarian.

Following a writing workshop, girls ages 10 and up hung out in the library in their jammies. I totally wish I'd brought mine. Believe me, if I'm invited to any other Glamour slumber parties, I'm wearing pajamas. Some of the girls had the most amazing slippers. Way fun.

The organizers did their homework. All of the activities were inspired by my novel Glamour. So, I started the evening by reading a story. Mine of course!

A fairy feast took my breath away.
In the center of the table stood a figurine of a girl looking down on four little fairies. Rita Chisum, who found it, thought that it was similar to Kat with the Fayes and Naturals. When I saw it, I thought They get my book. I was touched because I recognized it as inspired by a painting that I looked at on a daily basis as I wrote my book. The girls were in awe, too. The table was perfect. I overheard a few marvel at the sparkly mini cupcakes. The petits fours were adorable. Fruit and marshmallows and cheese abounded.
Plus, there was a chocolate fountain fit for a Faye Midsummer's Eve festival. Can you believe it? A chocolate fountain. It was so cleverly done and beautifully displayed. If you're ever in Russellville, you've got to check out Jan Townshend's Reflections tea room. If you do, you'll know what kind of delightful treats I'm talking about.

Because the moon and stars have so much to do with the story, Georgia Beavers gave an interactive astronomy presentation.

American Indian storytelling was a part of the evening, too. Below Jeannie Stone supervises a few of the girls as they make dreamcatchers.
And what slumber party is complete without a manicure? Terri Williamson joined the girls.
I met Jeannie Stone when I spoke at HAWK's writing conference last year. The weekend was her brain child, and she has lots of creative and energetic friends who care a lot about their community. Jeannie even thought of the tiniest detail. Check out the pins we're all wearing--they're fairies. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone. Thanks for the good times!
Terri Williamson, Rita Chisum, Lauren Drittler, moi, Jeannie Wichmann, Jan Townshend, Jeannie Stone.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Journal: Throw a party

When we packed to move to New Jersey for a year we didn't know we'd have a baby Max, so packing Christmas decorations wasn't a priority. Since every baby needs to enjoy lights during the season, the hubby and I took Max shopping for a tiny tree to decorate our tiny apartment. Some may say that it's a bit of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree--especially since I wrapped a scarf around the base--but I think it's just right. Considering we bought all the trimmings at a dollar store, I think it looks pretty snazzy, don't you? And Max loves the lights.
Tomorrow we're hosting an ornament exchange to kick off the holiday season. Many of our friends have had a happy year, and we want to be sure to remember it. By having a special ornament, we'll do just that each year. I have a holiday trivia game planned as well as a fun activity to swap the ornaments. Something tells me that some Guitar Hero may occur as well!

Journal: Write about a party. What kind of party is it? Who is invited? How do they interact? What is served? Parties are great settings for stories because you have potential for lots of conflict. Also, with so many people, the writer can evoke a variety of emotions: friendship, love, disgust, anger, embarrassment, etc. Believe me, I've attended parties where I witnessed all these and more!

Harwelden Mansion Book Signing

On November 20, I joined about 20 other Oklahoma authors at Harwelden Mansion in Tulsa for Oklahoma Ink's fourth annual book fair. Not only was the location beautiful, but also some proceeds went to a good cause. The money benefited the Tulsa Press Club's Scholarship Fund.

The evening was lovely. Friends came I'd not seen in ages, plus I got to make new friends. Lots of pictures were taken, but I've not seen them. (I've decided I'm not very photogenic and my pals just didn't want me to know.) The picture above was sent to me, and I had to post it. Aren't these girls beautiful...or should I say glamorous?

As I mentioned, other Oklahoma authors were there. Billie Letts, William Bernhardt, Teresa Miller and more sat at tables and signed books. I was honored to be in their midst.

But I felt COOL to be at the same event as Ally Carter. You know Ally Carter. She's the one who wrote I Could Tell You I Love You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You. I've mentioned her books before as Hogwarts for spies. The National Spy Museum in Washington D.C. sells her books in the gift shop. Why? Because they're that cool.

And I got to meet her. And she bought Glamour. The latter, of course, completely increased her cool factor in my opinion. Most of all, she's a really nice lady. She seems like one of her characters you could pal around with...even though she just might know 120 ways to maim you with a paperback.

All in all, the Tulsa event was better than I expected.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Release Party

Upon entering the library, people encountered this beautiful table filled with books about fairies. Since EMHS is the home of the bulldogs, even the dogs on the table had wings! It couldn't have been any cuter. Beside the table are my friends Brenda and Carole.
As soon as we arrived, Max's fans mobbed him. Below are some of my dear friends from book club and the teaching days: Carol, Mary Jo, Brenda, and Cheryl. For weeks I'd been quizzing Garrett about what he was supposed to do that night. His instructions were clear. He was expected to stand guard beside Max and not let anyone touch him without slathering hands with sanitizer. His mission totally failed. Before I'd even handed Max over to Carol, Garrett was mingling...far away from his appointed position. The ladies pictured below knew their business, though. I saw them ordering Max's admirers to rid themselves of germs before sharing him. Ah, I love these women.

This angle doesn't do justice to the treats prepared by the book club. I mentioned on my website what great cooks the members are. Do I even need to mention that these were no ordinary cookies? When I told my parents that they were all homemade, they couldn't believe it. I swear, the table looked like something out of Martha Stewart Living or Family Circle. It was beautiful. An adorable frog hid out below the centerpiece and tiny frogs were sprinkled like confetti all over the table. Even the impressive floral arrangement was created by Sandra, who is a college professor, not a florist. These women have skills. Below, Elizabeth is checking out the goodies while Cheryl supervises.
After catching up with people and reading the first chapter of Glamour to my captive audience, I signed books. It was so fun. Best of Books sold books...until they ran out. (I heard they ordered more, though, so you can still get your copy in Edmond.) I loved seeing so many people I care about in one room...and they were buying my book! The experience was surreal. I was blown away with kindness. How cute are the girls in the picture below? The visable adults in the pic are Cheryl, Debbie, Sandra, Amy, Christy, Cheryl, and Susan.
Here's a picture of Garrett mingling with our friends Derek, Jenni and their kiddos--instead of guarding Max from germs. Jenni was one of my first readers for Glamour.
Over Garrett's shoulder is my dad. Unfortunately, this is the only photo of him that I have from the evening. I don't have one of my mom--even with the writing group! How did I not get a picture with my family?

Below are part of The Inklings: Lisa, Kelly, and Sonia. Not pictured are Martha, Dee Dee, Shel, and moi. Kelly and Brenda helped put together the whole release shebang and did a great job. Doesn't Kelly look relieved that it's almost over? By the way, study the faces of the ladies below. Each are talented writers who will be famous one day.

Dee Dee is another talented Inkling. She's the lady in the middle of the picture below. Sandy and Sharee are sandwiching her. They are two of the hardest working ladies I know. And funny. Oh, yeah. If you need a good laugh, wander the halls until you run into one of them.
Let me first say that I'm not as fat as this picture makes me look. However, I had to include the picture because Amy Tebow is in it. When I lived in Oklahoma, she was responsible for making me feel pretty. I miss her so much. But there's no reason you should have to. She's at 33rd Street Salon in Edmond. Amy is the fastest cut this side of the Mississippi...and amazing. So, go to her. You won't regret it.
Hey! I just noticed my dad is in the background of this picture, too! It's kind of like playing Where's Waldo?, isn't it?

This picture showed me that another party was going on outside the library. Max is being held by Garrett's mom Mary. The other little boys in the picture are Johnny and Jennifer's twins who were born on the same day as Max. Aren't they adorable? It only makes sense that they were wanting to hang out and get started on their friendship.
To all of you who made this night one of the best in my life: Thank you!

To all of you who have photos: Please email me!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Journal: Thankful in 2008

I keep calling this year two-thousand-great.

Why?

Because it is.

And I'm so grateful.

I could list all the wonderful things that have happened this year, but there's really no point in you reading it. Besides, you could spend the time making a list of the things that made it two-thousand-great for you.

Journal: Make a list of things for which you are thankful.

Glamour at EMHS

After two weeks away, I'm finally back in NJ. If anyone has any pics from recent book events, please send them my way. I'd love to post them.

Glamour's official release was November 18. I kicked off the day with a writing workshop for students at Edmond Memorial High School. It was a lot of fun to teach again. However, I'd forgotten just how exhausting it could be.

The students' enthusiasm was impressive and inspirational. Several students told me about novel ideas they were working on. I didn't hear a single idea that wouldn't make a fantastic book. Those teens are creative. Here they are during the workshop.
The library has been renovated since I taught at EMHS. Doesn't it look magnificent?

Outside the library was a bulletin board about my book. So cool.

Creative writing teacher Kelly Bristow and librarian Brenda Price organized the visit. Back in my teaching days, I organized a few author visits so I know how much work it is. From my side, everything appeared seamless. They did a beautiful job. I loved that I was able to return to where so much of Glamour actually started.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Journal: novel

The idea of Glamour began by a professor giving a pretty easy final. It was a question. Let's see how you answer it.

Journal: If you could write a novel, what would it be? Write a synopsis.

THANK YOU!

This week has been great.

Tuesday night's release party was incredible. Thank you to all the people who rolled out. I can't wait to share pictures with you. If anyone has some, please send them to me and I'll try to post them.

Kelly Bristow and Brenda Price hosted me as a guest author with Edmond Memorial High School students during the day. These students were incredible. They loved reading and writing. Plus, they asked great questions. I was impressed. (When a boy told me my shoes looked like Elphaba's from Wicked, I knew I was among my people.)

As if the workshop with the kiddos wasn't wonderful enough, the release party that night was even better. The library was decorated with fairy wings and frogs. Circle of Friends book club had delicious treats for people attending. Best of Books was there with stacks of Glamour--and the sold out! I heard they're ordering more, though, so drop by to get your copy.

Tonight was a signing at Herwelden mansion. Authors from Oklahoma sold their books. I was hanging out with the likes of William Bernhardt, Ally Carter, Kim Donner, and Billie Letts. Yeah, I felt pretty cool. Best of all, lots of pals from my hometown dropped by to get a copy of my book. It was great to see them. Again, if anyone has any pics, I'd love to post them on my blog!

Thanks to everyone who has made this week a total success.

Now, if Max will go to sleep, I can get some beauty rest. We need to leave Tulsa in just a few hours. I get to meet the students at Russelville Middle School in Arkansas tomorrow morning at 11:30.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Today is the big day!

I'm so excited!

Today is the big day of the official release of Glamour. Apparently, you've been able to purchase it online for a while, but today is official.

In a few hours I'm going to Edmond Memorial High School to give a writing workshop. I heard 70 kids signed up and they turned others away. It will be fun to "teach" again.

If you're in the Oklahoma City metro tonight, please drop by EMHS in Edmond. They're hosting a release party and book signing in the library. It's at 1000 E. 15th. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Read the book...wear the shirt

My hubby helped me set up a shop online since I don't know how to convert my ideas to jpg files. I still have more plans, but we went ahead and posted the shirts already created.

A link to the shop is on my website. Check it out: www.brandibarnett.com/buystuff

You may think they're just t-shirts, but I think you'll be surprised at how versatile they are. Here are some ideas for where to wear your Glamour swag:

a Glamour booksigning
a first date
the prom
a job interview
a slumber party
the gym
a voting booth
a basketball game
summer school
a canoe trip
a shopping spree
your cousin's graduation
a book club meeting
a study group
during standardized tests
a PTA meeting
a college visit

so...basically...do I have this straight?

any school event
any work event
any social event

Yep. Enjoy.

I hope to see you at one of the Glamour events. More are planned, so keep checking back here for updates: www.brandibarnett.com/events If you'd like to arrange an event, contact me at brandi at brandibarnett.com.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Reasons I love my iPhone

I'm slow to embrace new technology. I find something I like and stick with it. So, I wasn't in a rush to get this iPhone thingamajig Garrett was so pumped about.

But I totally see the light now.

Here are a few reasons I love my iPhone.

1. It has a nightlight on it.
2. That can look like a lighter so I can wave it above my head and pretend I'm at a concert when music plays.
3. It has a light saber application so I can battle evil and hear the cool sound as I kick Vader's butt. (And no, I don't feel stupid pretending my iPhone is a light saber. The Force is with me.)
4. It has a Magic 8 Ball app. All I have to do is ask a question, shake the iPhone, and my future is secure.
5. I can check out movie times and watch trailers anywhere at anytime.
6. I can read the New York Times in the middle of the night while I'm feeding Max.
7. I can learn a vocabulary word daily.
8. I can find my way way to the closest subway station with its cool GPS.
9. It has a white noise sound that also has the sounds of fire, crickets, fans, rain, etc.
10. I can keep my calendar on it.
11. I can keep my address book on it.
12. I can talk into it and it types a semi-accurate list of things-to-do.
13. I can take cute pics of Max with it.
14. I can listen to music.
15. I can hold it up to a song that's playing and it will tell me the name of the song and who is singing it.
15. I can read novels on it.
16. I can look up reviews on a product online while standing at the store.
17. I can check my email.
18. It's a phone.
19. It looks cool.
20. I'm sure there are many more things I'll love that I don't even know about yet!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Journal: Magic 8 Ball

One of the apps that I love on my new iPhone is the Magic 8 Ball feature.

Yep.

It's very similar to the little round ball that you shakeshakshake to get an answer to your yes or no question. Except instead of shaking the ball, you shake the iPhone.

Which makes it much cooler.

Don't worry, though. I promise that the iPhone version is just as accurate in predicting the future as the original.

Journal: If you could have one question answered about your future, would you want to know? Why or why not? What would that question be?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New moms can save your job

The mall was eerie. Few people were shopping. It made the recession that's all over the news when they're not talking about politics feel very real. Workers stood around at kiosks with no one to talk to as they passed by. Some store employees were so accustomed to doing nothing that they didn't offer service when they saw an actual customer. Too bad. Before long I fear many will be out of a job. Some of the shops were already closed.

Here's a suggestion for anyone working in the retail industry:

If you see a woman pushing a stroller containing a tiny baby, wait on her. Make suggestions. Bring her anything you think might look good on her. She's gone to the trouble of getting out of the house. She will buy something. If you work on commission, this customer is your dream.

Why? Because if that baby is still little, she's aching to get out of her maternity clothes but probably can't get any of her pre-pregnancy clothes over her hips. None of her tops will fit either because things are bigger there, too. She has no idea what her size is. If she doesn't have to look at the sizes--which are so much larger than they were several months ago--and can put on clothes that actually fit and that have a real, not elastic, waist band, she will be happy. Happy women buy stuff.

No one offered to help me, so I didn't buy stuff. One of these days, I'm going back to some of those stores carrying lots of shopping bags like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman so I can say, "Big mistake. Huge."

So, remember...new moms=easy targets.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Facebook

Eek. My pals have pestered me about it for a loooong time.

I've finally done it.

I've entered the world of Facebook.

I have no idea what I'm doing.

But...um...wanna be my friend?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Glamour: I'm in the news!



My friend Lisa just sent an email sharing that an article had been in her local newspaper.

Read it here.

If you're in the Oklahoma City area on November 18, please come by Edmond Memorial High School at 7:00. I'd love to chat and sign a book for you!

Do you NaNo WriMo?

November is National Novel Writing Month. People all over the world make the effort to write a complete novel in ONE month. This crazy, busy experience is known as NaNo WriMo.

Okay, sure, the work is not going to be ready to send out to agents. Revision will definitely be required. However, if you commit, then you'll have a completed rough draft by December.

NaNo WriMo can lead to bigger and better things.

My friend Sonia participated in Nano Wrimo last year and spent time polishing the manuscript. Just last month she learned that more than one agent wanted to represent her. How cool is that?

So...give it a try. Maybe your book will be in the hands of a publisher this time next year!

Learn more information here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Glamour: Order yours today!

Out of curiosity, I went to several bookstores online and typed in my name. I squealed when my book popped up. This is really happening!

Although the official release is November 18, you can order yours now.

What stores carry it?
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, Hastings and other fine establishments.

Would you guys help me out? Garrett keeps telling me he wants a Maserati and doesn't seem to believe me when I tell him there are more professional baseball players making it in the U.S. than professional writers. With your help, though, I may be able to get him the Matchbox version for Christmas.

Here's how you can help:
  • When you read the book, please post a review online (I'm all for constructive criticism, but in this case, if you can't say anything nice....) at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books a Million, and anywhere else that has them available.
  • If it's not on the shelf, ask for it and help me get it there.
  • Let me know if you or your group is interested in having me for a book talk, writing workshop, book signing, school visits, etc. I'd love the opportunity to sell more books and meet people who will actually read them. Contact me at brandi at brandibarnett.com
  • Remember that Glamour will make a great holiday gift for some lucky tween!

Journal: Cribtonyte


Everyone has a weakness. Superman has Kryptonyte. Superbaby? Cribtonyte.

Journal: Write about a weakness.

And have a happy and safe Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tale of Superbaby

In the spirit of the season, Max decided to visit Sleepy Hollow and Washington Irving's home, Sunnyside, last Sunday. He expected a calm outing.

He took this photo of his grandmother by a bust of Washington Irving.
They all checked out the house--and were slightly annoyed that they weren't allowed to tour the upstairs because it was "a busy weekend." Geez, what a waste of money!

But the land around the home truly was beautiful and exactly how The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is portrayed on film and imagination.
It was a nice day.

But then Superbaby heard the call. Someone was in trouble.

Thanks to cell phones, no one uses phone booths anymore. Yet, he managed his transformation.

Look! Up in the sky!

It's a bird! It's a plane!
It's Superbaby!


While attending a Ragamuffin Parade where kids all wore their Halloween costumes, this woman thanked Superbaby for keeping her from going near that raging river seen in the background. Instead, he made her cuddle him. Thanks, Superbaby!
It's all in a day's work for Superbaby.

Still, he was happy to go home and relax in his chair.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Journal: sleepless nights

Lately, a baby boy who whimpers every few hours has caused me to lose beauty sleep. For some reason, he insists on diaper changings and feedings several times during the night. Sleepless nights aren't new to me, though.

Every Christmas Eve was difficult when waiting for Santa's arrival. I thought if I stayed awake I might get to meet him. I remember hoping to ask him for a baby brother. Even though my teacher helped me put it on my Christmas list, she said I needed to talk to my parents about it. I figured if I talked to Santa in person, he might grant my wish. Of course, I fell asleep--but it couldn't have been for long. I was always groggy when my big brother jumped on my bed, whispering loudly, "Brandi! Santa's been here. There's presents! Go get Mama and Daddy!" I guess he was too "big" to share his complete excitement and wake them himself.

Other times I remember being so happy with anticipation I had trouble sleeping. Strangely, they had to do with uniforms. In elementary school, we wore our Blue Bird uniforms to school on the day of the big meetings. In middle school and high school, we wore our cheerleading uniforms to school on game days. Each of these were placed over a little red rocking chair in the corner of my room. Before prom and before my debut in the marching band, the corresponding clothes hung outside my closet door. Instead of sleeping I stared at them.

Of course, I've lost sleep to less happy times as well. I've spent a lot of nights awake with worry. Whether it was a test I didn't study for or a meeting I dreaded or simply something I knew wasn't going to turn out well, I've fretted my night away.

But lately, getting to sleep isn't the problem... it's staying that way.

Journal: Write about a single sleepless night. What caused it? How do you feel? What do you notice about your environment that differs from during the day?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The first rule of Fight Club is - you do not talk about Fight Club.

I loved the movie. I loved the book even more.

So, when I was looking for address labels at Staples, imagine my surprise when one of the packages caught my eye.

Avery 8293 Matte White High-Visibility Labels for Inkjet Printers shows a sample address:

Tyler Durden
420 Paper St.
Wilmington, DE

If you don't get it, I'm sorry I can't explain. "The first rule of Fight Club is..."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Journal: Fall for the weather

Outside my window, bright yellow and orange leaves are falling. The squirrels who have played in the tree all summer are busy gathering nuts. The air is as crisp as the crunchy leaves on the street.

I hate winter because I hate being cold. However, autumn can be nice. My favorite kind of weather is when you can wear shorts and a sweatshirt or jeans and a tank top and feel perfectly comfy. Right now, we're in that zone.

I have great memories of this time of year. Football games, school spirit, and hot chocolate were major parts of my autumnal experience in high school. My class had only 103 students in it, so we were fairly close. Working on the homecoming floats was always fun. The fact our float never won was entirely beside the point.

Although I still refuse to watch scary movies, I always gave in once a year to being terrified. Near Halloween, a group of friends inevitably gathered for a "howl" of a time . Although we went to "haunted" houses a few times, my favorite frightening adventure was the hayride. I loved breathing the fresh air mingled with the sweet scent of hay. The fact that a masked man with a chainsaw jumped from behind a tree and inevitably grabbed me as his "victim" was a small price to pay. But like I said, I only did it once a year.

In college, my hubby's fraternity always had a party called Barn Dance. The pledges built a barn in the frat house yard where we two-stepped to country music and wore western wear purchased for the occasion. Most of the guys, including my husband, didn't like country music but they embraced it that weekend. Whenever I feel the temperature chill, I feel a bit nostalgic and listen to country music.

I'm hoping to explore pumpkin patches in the next couple of weeks. I want to get a picture of Max surrounded by pumpkins. If I can find a Halloween costume for him to wear--well, even better.

Journal: Write about a fall event.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Washington DC day 1

We took a road trip to Washington D.C. last week. Congress was in session and everyone was trying to figure out how to handle the economic situation. We, however, were tourists.

We spent the first morning trying to take a tour of the city's memorials. Apparently, there is a fabulous trolley tour that you can hop on and hop off of around the city for 35 bucks/person. We stood in line for at least half an hour. While Max and I hung out, Garrett went to Starbucks and returned. I downed a chai frappucino before we reached the front of the line. They assured us that taking a stroller on board wouldn't be a problem.

Yeah, right.

We went outside and stood in yet another line. We missed the first trolley because it was rather crowded, and we didn't think we could break down the stroller in time. Soon, another trolley arrived, but we weren't fast enough. People raced past us as we wrestled with the stroller and all of our baby stuff. The trolley was full and we were left standing on the sidewalk with our useless tickets and time wasted.

Garrett said, "I knew this wasn't going to work."

That did it.

"You did, huh?" I snapped, "Well, you should have said something earlier."

My husband isn't one to complain much, so I should have just ignored it. I'm sure he'd already ignored several of my snide remarks by that point.

Even so, I took off with Max and the stroller, and Garrett must have thought I was crazy. I marched us right up to the line we'd stood in for so long and started selling our tickets. Guess what? No Americans carry cash these days. I'd reached a mother and daughter visiting from Italy before I was able to sell the tickets. I'm sure everyone thought I was some sort of lunatic ticket scalper using my baby as an angle.

Still, the morning wasn't a complete waste. Check out who we met in Union Station:



After fortifying ourselves with lunch, we hopped on the Metro again and headed toward the Mall. Garrett had downloaded an app to our iPhones that located all the station stops and told us how to get there with GPS technology. It was cool and helpful. After a stressful morning, we finally arrived.

We saw where Forrest Gump ran into the Reflecting Pool.
We saw the Lincoln Memorial.
We saw the Vietnam Wall.
We saw the WWII Memorial.
We saw the Washington Monument.

We saw other memorials as well. D.C. really is a beautiful city. A line from America the Beautiful kept playing through my head as we walked around: "Thine alabaster cities gleam...."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Journal: road trip

Road trip!

As a kid, my family traveled the highway on all our vacations. (Whether this was because my dad really loved to drive or because my mom was really afraid of heights remains a mystery.) I remember the late nights as they drove around looking for a hotel room--who needs to plan for these things? My dad just drove until he couldn't drive anymore. It was always an adventure.

One year we wound through the smoky mountains. Signs abounded that told us not to feed the bears. Suddenly, traffic slowed. A woman had her KFC lunch box opened and was dangling a chicken leg out the window of her car to an adorable baby bear. As we passed, I remember someone saying something about not wanting to be there when Mama Bear showed up.

On another trip, the whole family and our dog Yoda piled in our supercab truck to go to Florida. After our third flat tire/blowout, my dad yelled at my brother and me to take down the sign we had posted on the vehicle that said Disney World or Bust.

And he claims he's not superstitious.

In high school, I loved short road trips with pals. Whether it was driving to Tulsa for prom dresses or hitting the open road for various camps, I relished the freedom. As an adult, I've enjoyed road trips with friends and my hubby.

There's something about being in a car for an extended time period that really makes you learn about people. Do they take snacks? Are they frequent pit-stoppers? Do they plan a play-list on their iPod? Do they pack a book of questions? Do they go catatonic as soon as the engine revvs? Do they pull over to see local sites? Do they sample local food or stick to chain restaurants? Do they create an agenda or wing it?

Journal: Create a scene that occurs on a road trip.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Who belongs in the White House?

Politics can be dull.

Politics can also be confusing.

Luckily, this looooong election has been exciting. Each presidency is historic, but this time I can almost feel it on my skin--the very real-ness of it. I love how so many Americans are involved and interested in our next leaders.

Maybe you've watched all the debates and heard the media's spin on each little thing. But do you know the basics?

Do you know who you're supporting in November?

Do you like taking quick tests?

Do you enjoy cartoonish pictures of candidates in silly situations?

Try this link.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Were you born in a barn?

I'm thrilled that the new television season has arrived. It's great to check out what our DVR has stored up when we get time to watch. Watching the returning shows is like reuniting with old friends.

Yet, these "friends" bring their bad habits. The one that peeves me the most shows up in show after show season after season. There must be a reason for this absurdity. Whether a blizzard is going on outside or someone enters a therapy session, the same annoying thing occurs...

Have you ever noticed peope on tv don't shut doors behind them?

Watch. They don't.

I bet it will drive you crazy, too.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Journal: having it all

"Having it all doesn't necessarily mean having it all at once."
--Stephanie Luetkehans

For the first time in my life--aside from my first year of college--I do not have access to a washer and dryer in my home. For that matter, I no longer have a garbage disposal either. And this was by choice! My husband and I decided to move to the northeast before we knew we were going to have a family. We signed a lease on this little apartment before we knew we were pregnant. We thought we were being adventurous. We dreamed of taking long weekend trips to France, Italy, Spain, and Greece. We planned on trekking up and down the coast. I planned to see a Broadway show at least once a month and check out all the top rated tearooms in NYC. Who needs more room when you plan to be "out" most of the time? Four days before we moved we learned we were going to have a baby. Now I think "adventurous" is not the right word to describe us. Impulsive? Naive, maybe?

We moved from a home that had a backyard and a deck where we grilled. We placed pumpkins on the front porch in October and potted flowers there in the summer. Inside was enough room to entertain. Guests slept over in a real bed with a private room and their own bathroom. Stockings hung from the mantle at Christmas. One room was set aside as a library/music room where I shut the French doors and played the piano or curled up with a book. In one corner of the house was a bedroom that never really had a purpose except to store random junk, but it had a pretty window and always seemed to be set aside to be the perfect place for a nursery. We hoped to create a shelf along the top perimeter of the room and place a model train on it. When we bought the home, the only picture in the entire house was a framed ultrasound on the mantle. It seemed like a good place to start a family.

Who knew it wouldn't happen that way?

Our apartment is...an apartment. The laundry is in the basement--when it works. (The washer and dryer both broke one week before Max arrived and wasn't replaced until he was almost three weeks old. Do you know how much laundry a baby creates? Because of his overzealous spitting up and bathroom habits, he goes through more changes of clothes than a gal preparing for a first date.) Every wall in this place is white, rather than a cheery color. Limited space has tapped out my brain for storage ideas and there is more clutter than I prefer. Guests sleep on our fold-out couch that I hear gets less comfy each night. Perhaps because of this, we have fewer visitors than I'd hoped. I miss the dinners with friends and my regular writing and reading groups. I also miss calling up a pal and meeting for tea or a movie. However, we're close to The Big Apple, and our love for the city was a motivation for moving. Wonderful dining experiences and Broadway shows are just a train ride away. We're also a short drive from many exciting places to visit. From our windows we can watch the changing seasons--yes, there really are entire seasons here! The bursts of color in the spring and fall give way to lush greens and peaceful whites respectively. And we haven't had to mow the lawn once.

Is this the ideal home where I wanted to start my family? Absolutely not. Is this an experience that is totally mine? Absolutely. Before the year even arrived, I pledged that 2008 would be two-thousand-great. With my new baby and new book, it looks like that's happened.

Some say it's the little things that matter. But keeping the big picture in mind helps me get through the day.

Journal: Write a response to the quote at the top of the blog.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Influences In Utero

I've been thinking.

And worrying.

My friend Alison has a thing for sharks. Her mother watched Jaws and went into labor.

I am rather fond of snakes. I mean, I don't want them hiding in my pillowcase or anything, but I don't freak out the way many people do. Before I was born, my family was fishing and either my brother or dad reeled in a snake. They claim that's when my mom went into labor with me.

So...I'm a bit concerned.

I avoid scary movies, books, etc. They give me horrible nightmares. For some reason, though, I am consumed with my affection for the television show Dexter. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the protagonist is a serial killer--who only murders bad guys. (Perhaps this is why I can watch the show: I feel fairly safe from the killer.) We Netflix them and had a marathon going before Max was born.

What was I thinking?

How will this affect him?

Maybe he'll be interested in forensics. Okay, I can handle that possibility. Of course, I was actually trying to make breakfast when I went into labor. Maybe he'll be fascinated with food. Or maybe he'll combine the two and be a butcher.

Why couldn't I have been obsessed with something completely wholesome at this time?!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Journal: money, money, money

With the financial market taking a nosedive this week, it's time to fantasize a bit about money. My husband and I like to do this. We have a plan if we win the big jackpot lottery. The fact that we rarely ever purchase a ticket is completely beside the point.

Here are some of the things we'd do:
1. Contact a lawyer.
2. Set up a college fund for Max and all of our little cousins.
3. Purchase homes on Lake Tenkiller and Central Park.
4. Travel with family.

We also have different things we'd like to do with the money. For example, he'd like a really, really fast boat as well as a really, really fast car. I've always had a dream of setting up an organization that makes the world smaller for kids who want to pursue artistic interests. I'd love to be able to send kids, who might not otherwise have the opportunity, to the Louvre, Broadway, etc.

So, what would you do?

Journal: Imagine you just won/inherited a bundle of money. You decide the amount. What would you do with it?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm here!

I've not blogged much in the last couple of weeks because my little guy arrived September 2. Heeeeeere's Max:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Journal: grandparents

Sunday celebrated Grandparent's Day. My parents are both visiting and getting to know their first grandchild. I grew up knowing my mother's father and my father's mother. They've both been the subject of my writings.

Grandpa was ancient. Even my mother claims she can't remember when he didn't have white hair. He was ornery, too. Being with him was like crawling inside a time machine. He made me view life in a simple way. Whether it was savoring a corn dog or simply communing with the earth from his garden, he found joy. I think of him often and try to remember that happiness can be found as easily on a porch swing with a glass of sweet tea as it can by juggling a jillion different social engagements. He also taught me to pay attention to dialect. It took a long time to explain my trip to Italy because his version only had two syllables: Itlee.

Grandma is spunky. Contrary to my grandfather, her hair has never turned white. Actually, I don't think she's allowed her hair stylist to even allow a grey hair to escape. Grandma is a yellow dog Democrat and a committed Baptist. As a child, I was convinced she was related to Santa Clause because she mostly wore red and always showed up at Christmas with big bags filled with gifts. Instead of a ho,ho,ho, though, her constant laughter is a "Wheeee!" She's always been a trailblazer, modeling what a modern woman can do--run her own business, travel to her heart's content, be active in politics, participate in the community, love her family and much more.

Grandparents are special people.

Journal: Write about a grandparent. It doesn't even have to be your own. Perhaps it can be you as a grandparent. Remember, journals don't have to be true stories. You can write fiction!

Friday, September 5, 2008

journal: learning

Call me a nerd. I've always liked learning new things. Most people do.

Classes have been a big part of my life. I still remember my very first piano lesson. I was in the first grade. I also remember the first time I met my dance instructor. I was four. Later, I learned to play the flute, the drums, and yes, even the pipe organ. Among others, I took classes in writing, acting, cheerleading, skiing, snorkeling. As an adult, I took singing lessons, which unfortunately, has not increased requests for my a capella. Since I'd only learned tap and ballet as a kid, I took jazz. And I'm not finished with lessons yet. There are a lot of things I still want to learn.

My husband wants to learn to scuba dive. He also wants to fly a plane by himself and stay overnight in Antarctica on an expedition.

I want to learn to create pottery and hang glide. I'd also love to be bilingual so that I can travel and effectively communicate with the natives. Somewhere in there, I should probably learn to cook and garden, too, but those things seem so much better in the mind than in practice. If I really want to be practical, I should probably learn how to text message more effectively.

What do you want to learn how to do?

Journal: Write about a lesson/class. Use your imagination. It doesn't even have to be of this world.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Order Glamour



If you want to order Glamour for your library, school, bookstore, reading group, etc., you can do so now.

The book's distributor is Atlas Books. The number is 1 800 BOOKLOG.

Go ahead. Order yours before the rush!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fashion in Politics

I recorded the Democrat National Convention so that I could fast forward through all the political commentaries and just watch the speeches. I'll do the same with the Republican Convention. I believe it's important to draw my own conclusions before listening to all the media mumbo-jumbo.

During my marathon viewing session, one thing jumped out at me that I didn't expect.

Michelle Obama.

Remember how I commented on the fashion of Sex in the City? You may recall I predicted roses would be popular. Well, check out Mrs. Obama.

Obviously, brooches are a signature of hers. Did you notice, though, that each night those brooches were floral? Since some are comparing her classic style to Jackie-O, perhaps she's one to watch.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Journal:sultry summer

As I write this, the weather has been beautiful in New Jersey. The sun shines and people can still go outside and enjoy it. We're told that back in Oklahoma the temperatures climb to the triple digits daily. As a result, most people don't dare venture far from their air conditioners.

Surprisingly, this was always my favorite time of year to be on a boat. We could go fast and let the air cool us off or hook up some fun contraption and get pulled behind the boat as the water splashes in our faces. Usually, I enjoyed simply lazing about in the middle of the lake on a Jetski, boat, or raft before jumping into the water to cool off.

Journal: Describe a sultry summer afternoon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Les Mis

I saw Les Mis yesterday with my friend Alison and her friend Nicole.

Since I've not read the book, I only knew what I'd read about the book and musical.
Here's the extent of my knowledge:
  • Some guy was imprisoned in France for a long time for stealing bread.
  • A kid plays a role in the motivation of the story.
  • It's historic and rather depressing--but who'd expect a comedy with a title like that?
As I watched it, I realized my expectations were correct. The music was beautiful and required talented voices. The backdrops effectively enhanced the power of the story as well as the setting.

But I was a little confused about the timeline when the characters began enacting a revolution.

See, I'm really not very good at history. The trick I've always used to connect to a time period isn't the politics or inventions--it's the fashion. So, when it seemed the musical was talking about revolution, I was seriously confused. Didn't the French Revolution occur not long after our very own? The guys onstage wore long pants, but our American rebels wore breeches that stopped at the knee. Was it a French thing to indicate class? And didn't the French of the French Revolution wear fabulous, fancy clothes with elaborate wigs? Marie Antoinette lost her head during the revolution, and she was a fashion diva, right?

So.... I was confused that this started in the 1800s and the clothes didn't look right for the French Revolution. The musical supposedly began in 1815. My mind remembered that the turn of the 18th century was the time of Jane Austen. Where were the empire waists? Hmmm. Maybe society was over those by the time 1815 rolled around.

I was confounded.

So, I came home and looked up Les Mis online. It's not about the French Revolution. My search taught me a lot about the time period. No wonder it was a rather depressing novel. Well, go ahead, read for yourself here and here.

I'm so thankful I live when and where I do.

Friday, August 22, 2008

How cool do I feel?

Sonia Gensler, my friend and critique group member, told me about this fascinating blog she learned about while at SCBWI in LA this summer. She's now a contributor.

Kidlit Central News provides all sorts of useful and interesting information regarding children's publishing--especially by or about those in the central United States.

Yesterday, August 21, Sonia was the contributing blogger. She offered an idea that was useful for her about how to critique online. Guess where she says she got it?

No, really, guess.

Moi!

She's so sweet and provides a plug for Glamour (coming to a store near you November 18), my website, and my author blog. Great advertising.

Learn more about Sonia by going to her website and her blog. You'll be glad you did. When her novels get published, you'll be able to say that you knew she'd make it big.
The above is a picture of Sonia from the OWFI conference this year. For the last two years, she's won 1st place with two different novels in two different categories. Yeah, she's one to watch!

journal: school days

School is back in session in some states. In others, the time is coming soon.

Kids have new clothes. Teachers flash bright smiles. Teens rev car engines.

There's nothing like the smell of Crayolas in the morning.

Every year at this time, I have a compulsion to buy school supplies or at least walk down the aisles and pick up the pretty folder, lovingly touch the Elmer's Glue, admire the array of pens. Does anyone else do that?

Ah, nostalgia.

Usually, I'm brought back to reality by something in the store--maybe a clean up on aisle 9. Then I remember that strange smell and funny orange powder stuff the custodians poured on the carpet where some kid in class got sick. Or I recall the heartbreak of a boy liking some other girl while not even noticing my existence. Or that sinking feeling when the teacher passed out the multiplications test on 7's and 8's and I'd not studied. Or the experience of making new lunch friends because my regular pals were away on a field trip. Or the horror when five other girls wore my prom dress in five different colors.

Okay. That one was funny. We even had our picture taken.

School days. There's definitely a story in there somewhere.

Journal: Write about a school moment.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Girl Scouts Rock!

Girl Scouts rock!

When I spoke at HAWK's writing conference this summer, I met a friendly writing group from Arkansas. Later, I received an email from my publisher that Jeannie Stone, one of the fun-loving members, is a Girl Scout leader and wanted to work with Glamour to help the girls achieve their Bronze Award.

I'm thrilled to get to be a part of it. They've scheduled so many fun activities for Glamour's release. The best part is that even if you're not a Girl Scout, you can still attend.

Here's what I know so far.

Friday, November 21 in Fort Smith, Arkansas
I'm not sure of the details on this one.

Saturday, November 22 in Russelville, Arkansas
11-3 Booksigning at Hastings 11-3
5-7 Writing workshop given by yours truly at Pope County Library. We'll focus on journal writing and "Finding your Fairy Voice"
7-midnight Slumber party at Pope County Library. Lots of fun activities are planned that relate to Glamour. During the evening, attendees will receive special patches made just for the event!

Contact Jeannie Stone at 479-747-0210 for more information on the slumber party and writing workshop.

Jeannie's ideas are fabulous, and I can't wait to see her and the girls in action. She's incorporating some of the ideas found on my website as well as coming up with her own. I'm not sure what's been decided, but all of her ideas are based on the novel. I've heard there may be a Native American dancer, an astronomer, a doll maker and much more.

Monday and Tuesday, November 23-24 in Little Rock, Arkansas
I think they're planning more of the same, but I'm not sure of the details.

Contact Meredith Poland at 501-758-1020 or 800-632-6894 ext. 224

If you're in the Arkansas area, I hope you stop by for the booksignings and/or sign up for the slumber parties and writing workshops. It's going to be a blast.

If you have a Girl Scout Troop in another state and would like to incorporate Glamour into your schedule, let me know. I'd love to meet more amazing people and get to be a part of activities.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Glamour-ous contents in an unassuming brown box

My hubby came home for lunch and asked if I'd seen the box on the front porch. Nope. He carried it inside so I could open it.
Lovely advanced copies of Glamour gleamed up at me.

Seeing a beautiful book with my name and picture on the cover and my story inside was surreal. The cover is even prettier in person than on the computer screen. The font looks friendly and inviting--especially for tween and teen girls. Admittedly, I was afraid to look too closely for fear I'd see a mistake of some kind even though the publisher sent word that everything is perfect, "glamorous even."

For now, I'm content with admiring the book from afar. I've got to get used to the idea that I'm a published author.

With a hardcover novel.

That you can buy.

At a bookstore.

Yep, this should sink in by November 18--when you can buy a copy of your very own!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Journal: life list

I don't think The Bucket List is a stellar movie. The film doesn't say anything new and is as predictable as any Nicholas Sparks' book. Yet, similarly, it still has a good message. Perhaps that's the reason the movie found moderate success.

A Bucket List is a list of things you're supposed to accomplish before you "kick the bucket."

I've always called this a Life List.

In high school, my English teacher (also my mom) assigned the task of creating a Life List. There were no limitations. Nothing was too outlandish. If I wanted to do it, I should write it. I still have mine. It's fun to look at it from time to time. For example, "Go to Australia and meet an aborigine" is on there. Guess what? It's checked off. So are many other items I'd never really thought I'd do.

As a teacher, I also gave the Life List assignment. Students seemed to enjoy it. I wonder how many tasks they've already accomplished.

Journal: Create your own Life List/Bucket List. Take a piece of paper and number to at least 20. The items can be as simple or complex as you wish. Consider the near future as well as years and years from now. Don't edit yourself. Simply wish.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shiny new apple

I have a new computer.

Garrett spent hours this weekend transferring things from my old laptop to this one. He's been telling me I needed a new one for almost a year. A plethora of reasons, including the desire to complete Glamour without having to learn a new system, kept me from yielding. Although the blue screen of death appeared frequently, Garrett always resurrected my little laptop for me. This week I consented to a new computer because my old faithful IBM Thinkpad was doing strange things a little too often.

Change isn't easy. I like my old laptop.
Sure, only one of its closure clasps works.
Okay, so the keyboard is coming apart from the rest of the computer.
Yeah, the letters are missing from most of the keys from daily use.

I'm a big fan of The Velveteen Rabbit. Loving something makes it real. Just because it's not shiny new anymore doesn't mean it should be thrown in the fire.

I still don a plaid, pleated skirt I've had since the 8th grade.
I still date the guy I met as a college freshman.
I still drive a dented Taurus with the check engine light on.
Why? I love them.

However, I have a lot of work and photos saved to that laptop. If it decided one day to eat them all, I'd have thrown the thing in a fire myself--after running over it with my car and bludgeoning it with a hammer. When I realized that possibility was close, I consented to the new computer.

Since it's a Mac, a definite transition period is to be expected.

But I'm sure I'll grow to love it.
The flat keyboard feels rather nice beneath my fingertips.
The white color is bright and cheery.
The features seem exciting--once I learn how to use them.

Yeah, maybe I'll like this newbie after all.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Journal: travel

My friends are getting married in Paris today. I wish I could be there. Congrats, you guys!

I love Paris.

I've always loved the idea of Paris.

A long time ago, my grandmother asked me where I wanted to go on vacation. At six years old, I immediately responded, "Paris."

I took French in high school so that I could speak it when I one day had the opportunity to visit. When Garrett and I went, it came in handy. We enjoyed the culture, the food, the sights...everything.

I definitely want to return. And a wedding would have been a good reason, but I'd hate to go into labor somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. My French isn't good enough to say, "Take me to Nice and get me Angelina and Brad's doctor. I want to deliver at the same hospital as the twins."

Journal: Write about visiting a foreign land.