Monday, September 29, 2008

Party On

We had a great birthday weekend.

Precious daughter got more toys than she'll ever be able to play with (THANK YOU everyone!), and some of the cutest little outfits I've ever seen.

She loved her birthday cake, and opening her presents. The cards were especially yummy!

And now, I will continue my breakdown of the 2008 ACFW conference experience.

The first morning (Thursday) I took the books I wanted to consign to the bookstore and met a young lady named Janna Ryan. Her sister is Cara Putnam, the ACFW Publicity Officer, book signing coordinator, published author, attorney, mother of three, and all around superwoman. And Janna is following in her sister's footsteps: her own dance instruction business, possibly aspiring author (not sure about that, so don't quote me), the mother of six, and she home schools too! Gotta respect that.

I take my books to the store, tell her my name, she starts looking for my paperwork, then stops.

"Oh, you wrote that book. The cow one."

I got hot and twitchy. "Yes, I did." I expect head shaking and tongue clucking, "What were you thinking, trying to write a book? And how much did you have to pay off that publisher to print it?"
She smiles and places a hand to her chest. "I loved your book. It was so good." (And I am paraphrasing here. I don't want to put words in Janna's mouth, but she was complimentary.)

I teared up and laughed at the same time. "Thank you so much. I think you're the first person outside my hometown, or not related to me, to say that."

She laughed, and I said, "Oh, you did a review on Amazon, didn't you? The one about 'How old am I?'" And she laughs again. "You memorized your Amazon reviews?"

Hot and twitchy again. "Well, I have no life, and those reviews are all I've got."

We finished up the paperwork, and I floated out of the bookstore, and downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.

Then I met up with a few writers from Tulsa, and got to spend the morning hanging out at the Mall of America with them and Mary Connealy again! Yay!
And I breezed through the rest of that day with my head in the clouds, just waiting for the bubble to burst.

See ya Wednesday!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Random Thoughts and the Conference

Hello, all.

Sorry this post is late today. We had a doctor's appointment for precious daughter (shots, ouch!), and I forgot that as I was picking up the twins at school yesterday, my gas light came on. So I had to leave the house extra early this morning to stop by the gas station before driving to the clinic.

And now I have a rant: When did bottles of coke become so expensive? And this is not directed at a specific soda company (Coca-Cola or Pepsi or Dr. Pepper), but at ALL of them. I ran out of my second vice in the world, Diet Coke, yesterday, and decided to stop by the dollar store to pick up a two-liter before getting my sons from school. It cost me $1.25 for the bottle.

This morning, while getting gas, I ran in to grab a 20 oz. bottle of Diet Coke . . . $1.51! What gives? That just seems nuts to me. I will pick up the two-liters from now on because I just can't see the point of paying more money for less product. Ridiculous.

Okay, rant over.

Now on to the weekend. We are having a party for Precious Daughter on Sunday afternoon, so I will spend the day tomorrow cleaning the house. And the truly sad part is that even if I clean from sun up to sun down, it still won't be that much better because I have let this place get into an atrocious state. Oh, well. We'll see how it goes.

And now to rewind a bit (and I will post more next week as well) the ACFW conference in Minneapolis. Oh my gosh! Fabulous.

I went to the conference with low expectations. I knew I would have an agent appointment, and an editor appointment at some point. I knew I would have a critique from an author I had submitted sample pages to. I tried to keep my hopes to a minimum because when you get yourself too psyched up before a conference like this, and place too much pressure on the outcome of these meetings, you'll inevitably be crushed. Keeping it in perspective is the main goal.

So the first night MIL and I get to our hotel, and the first people we see in the lobby are a well-known author named James Scott Bell, my mother-in-law's agent, and the owner of that agency. If you're not a writer, this is like, "Yeah, so . . . big deal." As a writer, this meeting in the lobby is the equivalent of seeing celebrities, musicians, or star athletes.

After a brief introduction, we hurry upstairs to drop off our stuff and get back downstairs to eat because we are both starving. We order and wait for the food as more and more people are arriving. MIL sees some people she knows, waves them over, and they join us at our microscopic excuse for a table. Then one of the new arrivals motions for another woman to join us. She sits down, and I am trying to figure out why she seems so familiar.

Then I recognize her . . . Mary Conneally.


Mary Conneally. She is one of my absolute favorite authors.

Her books are hilarious historical romances, and I am trying not to slobber all over myself because she is sitting at MY table!

I tried not to be so obvious in my worship of her, but alas, I not known for my subtlety. So I oohed and aahed her for the rest of the night, until we all retired to our rooms.

And on Monday, I will continue my tales of bumbling my way to a great conference.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Baby

Happy Birthday to my dear, sweet baby girl!!!

Precious Daughter turns 1 year old today, and I am all in a flutter. I'm so happy she's growing up and watching her discover her surroundings is priceless. She is getting so big, and stirring up trouble with each new move.

She crawls at super-speed; she can pull up on the furniture and take shaky steps while holding onto those objects; she stands independently, but has yet to take those first unaided steps across the room.

She has two bottom teeth, and two more on the top trying to break through, which means lots of drool and chewing on hard, plastic items. Kind of like a dog, but less growling.

I think she is going to have her daddy's ability to eat anything that doesn't eat her first, but she also has her mother's insatiable craving for chocolate. It's a genetic thing.

She loves to destroy all structures (castles, animal kingdoms, pirate ships, garages for cars, railroad tracks, etc.) that her brothers have labored to create, and delights in their cries of outrage. She usually joins in, so all three are screaming at once, and I can't figure out who is upset about what.

She is a joy, a trial (aren't all children?), and a treasure. I am blessed by all three of my children.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Home Again

I have returned from the wilds of Minnesota to the . . . well, to the wilds of Oklahoma. Functioning on four hours of sleep, I have been trying to manage my unruly children, who are somewhat interested in my return.

"What did you bring me?" was the battle cry this morning. But at least I got a hug out of the deal.

The conference was too fabulous! I will post more on that in the next few days, but I wanted to put out the good word for my friend, Christy Barritt.

I posted a review of her books Hazardous Duty and Suspicious Minds a few weeks ago. I don't usually do reviews of books, mostly because I don't know what I'm doing, but also because I have to REALLY enjoy a book to say anything about it. I have my favorite authors, who you've probably seen me mention a time or two in my posts, and even they don't always get a mention.

I read all the time (probably less since I've had kids, but still, several books a month), and I have to say, Christy's books are two of the best I've read in a while. I love Janet Evanovich's sense of humor, and Christy captures that same hilarious quality in her stories, without the language or sexual references.

The main character, Gabby St. Claire is feisty and fun. The secondary characters are wonderfully weird, and add superb spice to her mystery/humor recipe for a great book. I cannot say again how amazing these books are, and if you haven't read them, go out and get a copy RIGHT NOW! If you like books, you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Off to the Conference

Today is the day. In a few hours I will be on a plane and flying off into the great blue yonder, destination: Minneapolis!

The twins crawled into bed with me this morning to discuss my impending absence, and one twin kept asking why I was going to "Mini-apples". And would I bring some tiny fruit back for him.

They wanted me to walk them into the school this morning so they could give me great-big good-bye hugs. We got though the doors, and I was bending down for the much anticipated embrace, when a friend from Twin A's class called to him. Bam! Gone like a bolt of lightning. I barely got a good-bye and a wave over the shoulder. Twin B, torn between Mommy waiting for her hug, and his brother escaping down the hall, voted for an air kiss in my direction as he hurried after his sibling.

I'm standing there calling, "But, what about my hug?!" when a teacher monitoring the hallway gives my a sympathetic smile.

"I think they'll be okay. They look like they're adjusting fine." Obviously she was convinced I just couldn't let go of them now that they are growing up.

I tried not to roll my eyes. "I know they're fine. I'm leaving for a trip today, and the whole point of my coming inside was for hugs before I leave."

Then she became sympathetic for a whole new reason. "Oh. Isn't it sad how fast they grow up and leave us behind?"

Yeah. Just terrible.

So, anyway, I'm off to finish up the last minute details, and then I am gone! Keep hubby and children in your thoughts.

Monday, September 15, 2008

And a happy Monday morning to you all.

I am SO tired! I spent the last two days pounding away at the keyboard, and I am still not finished with my book. But yippy-skippy I am on the LAST chapter, and hope to type the magic words "The End" today!

However, I ask that you keep my poor, over-worked, under-appreciated husband in your thoughts. He had all three kids under his watch the entire weekend, and I think he was glad to be going to work this morning, just to get a break. Usually you hear, "Aww, Monday. I gotta go to work." Dear Hubby said, "Ohh, Monday! I get to go to work!"

And beginning mid-morning on Wednesday, he will have them all again until Sunday evening. Bless my dear, sweet mother (Hi, Mom! waving!) she will be coming out Thursday night and helping most of the weekend.

And bless my dear, sweet mother-in-law (Hi, Carla! waving!) because she will have to put up with ME for five days! We are off to the ACFW Conference together, and let me tell ya'll, when it comes to traveling and conferences I am the most neurotic, whiny, pathetic thing you ever saw. And that poor woman is going to have to drag me around two airports, a hotel, and then pick me up off the floor of our room when I have to pitch my story to an editor and an agent (or she'll at least have to drag me out of the bathroom from the floor if she wants any privacy in there!).

So wish her luck, too.

And now it's back to work. Later!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Here We Go Again

You'd think I would learn my lesson one of these days, and stop posting about "Things are fine."

Since the last post, we have hit Chaos City in our house. We have a leaky roof that needs to be fixed. Called the home warranty people, and they sent someone out. "Sure, we can fix that. Fix the roof around the chimney (cause that's where the leak is), fix that drywall, repaint, we'll have you fixed up good as new. Send someone out tomorrow." That was last week. No one has been here to repair the roof, and I am only gone for one hour during the day when I pick up my sons, so I have no idea what the hold up is.

The baby is spitting up again, though not much, as we have started the process of switching her over from formula to whole milk. Although this morning I got to clean up a huge pile of puke that she decided to slap her hands and feet in. Major fun . . . NOT!

Twin A has a urinary tract infection, and the poor little guy is just miserable. We were on our way home from school on Wednesday when he informed me he had been going to the bathroom a lot today, and needed to go again. We were halfway home when he started wiggling in the seat, practically crying, telling me he couldn't hold it until we got home. Since we are out in the country, I pulled off on the first road I came to, which happened to be a muddy mess of a dirt road, and he hopped out, trying not to land in a mud hole.

And nothing. He strained for a few minutes trying to go, but couldn't. RED FLAG!

After we got home, he went 50 times during the evening, with results less than ten percent of the time.

The next morning we called the school to tell them he was staying home (which he was upset about, he really likes Kindergarten, YAY!), and called the doctor's office to get him into the first available appointment. So at 8:30am I am loading the boy and the baby into the car. We didn't even get the seat belt buckled, and he had to go to the bathroom. And again. And again.

I finally had to strap him in and go so we wouldn't miss our appointment, and we had to stop twice on the way, still with no results. So the last half of the ten minute drive I had to make him hold it, even though there was nothing left to hold, and my poor baby screamed and cried the whole time, afraid he was going to have an accident in his pants.

I still get teary-eyed thinking about him crying so hard over something neither of us could control. So I was treated to a healthy dose of being a helpless parent while your child is losing it. Not a pretty picture, never want to go through that again, although I'm sure I will.

I understand now why my dad threatened to throw a computer, and a nurse, through a plate-glass window after my brother broke his arm. The instinct to protect your child is STRONG, whether the danger is real or perceived.

But I am happy to report that the sudden urges and frequency of the bathroom visits have started to diminish with just one day of antibiotics, but we will be finishing out an entire round to make sure this infection is gone. He is at school today after talking to the teacher to make sure it was okay for him to be there, even though he will have to get up and go many, many, many times. But she seemed fine with him being there today, so we'll see if I get a call later or not.

I hope we have an uneventful weekend, and I hope you all have a great one. See you Monday!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Regular Old Wednesday

Hello, all.

Not a whole lotta shakin' goin' on around here. I am filled with maternal pride as I watch my daughter sitting in her play-yard, flipping through baby books, engrossed in the pictures. She talks to the picture, turns the page, then tries to take a bite. But at least she's interested in books, if only because they are so tasty.

I am still striving to finish the book by the weekend, but I have a feeling it's going to be more like over the weekend. I want to type those magic little words "The End" by Friday night, but it looks like it will be closer to Sunday night. But it still gives me a warm, gooey feeling to think how close I am to finishing. Very excited.

Conference prep is well underway. I still have packing to do, although I do have all my clothes picked out (thank you, Mom for the fabulous outfits on loan). I have to get my Conference Notebook put together, but I have a list of what needs to go where. I need to get my appointment materials printed and organized, but again, I have a list of everything that will go into each folder. So it's all coming along. WooHoo!

Different topic: pray for the hurricane victims, both at home, and on the islands.

See you Friday.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Eating Crow

Eating crow is not a pleasant thing. It’s a bitter, tough, stringy morsel to choke down. I placed my great faith in the belief that the Colts would emerge victorious over the Bears, but sadly, my faith was misplaced. My beloved Colts lost, and I was forced to eat the despicable crow by my husband, whose beloved Dallas Cowboys defeated the Cleveland Browns.

I am comforted by the fact that my other favorite teams, the Giants, won, and in college football the OSU Cowboys won.

Other items of interest that happened over the weekend:

I do, in fact, get to participate in the book signing. The book ordering glitch will not matter, and I will be able to consign the books through the book store, and therefore, sign at the Mall. YAY!!

One of my sons sat up late with me watching cartoons Saturday night, and we discovered we LOVE Bugs Bunny.

“That rabbit’s funny,” he kept telling me.

“Yes, he is, baby.” I told him, doing my best not to laugh.

The ACFW Conference is less than two weeks away. I am SOOOOO excited. I went to the WIN-ACFW meeting in Tulsa on Saturday, and actually practiced my one-sentence pitch for the first time to another person.

For the last couple of weeks I've been sitting in my car waiting to pick up the boys from school, and practicing, but of course, I look like an idiot talking to myself. I've considered just taking out my cell phone and pretending to be on a call, but I talk so much with my hands, I'm finding it difficult to hold the phone. Plus I'd hate to get into the appointment, and have to hold the phone up to my ear to be comfortable talking to the editor/agent.

Well, I am off to write a few thousand more words on the manuscript. My goal is to be finished by the weekend. We'll see how that goes.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Some Days are Just a Bummer

I can't believe I almost forgot about posting on my blog this morning.

Well, actually, I can believe it because I have been distracted all morning by Miss Merry Sunshine (aka The Baby Princess of the World) screaming happily in my ear since she woke up this morning. We have found our voice, and we're not afraid to use it! She most definitely gets this from my dad's side of the family, as they were all robust, loud Danish/German hybrids. The men and the women.

The other reason I am distracted is because I found out last night that, unfortunately, it doesn't look like I will be able to participate in the MAJOR book signing event at the Mall of America in Minneapolis two weeks from now. I'll still be going to my conference, and can still sell books at the conference bookstore, but some kind of glitch is going to prevent the MOA signing. So I've been pretty bummed (the empty bag of chocolate chip cookies beside my bed can testify to that). But I know these things happen, and still look forward to seeing all those authors and getting some of the books I buy from them signed.

This weekend will be filled with writing, cleaning out the boys' toys, writing, cooking a huge pot of chili, writing, watching Peyton Manning (waving at Jan again!) tromp all over the Bears on Sunday, writing . . . just a busy weekend all around.

Hope you all have a great one! See ya Monday!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A House Divided

Here's the skinny.
I'm about to violate the sacred vows of marriage, and air our dirty, domestic laundry to the whole world.
I am annoyed with my husband.
Over the silliest argument in the world. Fantasy football. Yes, you read that right. Fantasy Football.
And I will explain. My dear hubby loves sports. L-O-V-E-S them! Football is, by far, his favorite. I also happen to enjoy football, and can blame my dad for that one. By the time I was five I could name every NFL team. We ran drills and everything. I was the only girl in my kindergarten class who knew how to run down and out patterns.

Anyway, over the years my husband and I have discovered some interesting (aka horrifying) quirks about our mutual appreciation of football. Like it's not so mutual. I like OSU (Oklahoma State University for all non-Okies reading this post). My husband, and his entire family (waving at the in-laws) love OU (anybody who doesn't know OU, well you've just been living under a rock, and need to crawl out of there).
I will cheer for OU in every game of the year, except one. Bedlam. OU vs. OSU. Then it's every man for himself, and most of the time, to my disappointment, OU wins. But I do get the rare victory, and it keeps me going.
Then we have the NFL. (And again waving at all my in-laws, please don't hurt me later) I cannot stand the Dallas Cowboys. This is another incident in my football education that can be laid at my dad's feet. I heard nothing but the wonderful, glorious, amazing (gag me) attributes of the Cowboys my entire childhood. All other teams existed solely for the purpose of being crushed by the Cowboys on Sunday afternoons from September thru November. And thus I came to loathe the team.
Now my husband has two Fantasy Football teams this year. One with his brother, and some of his in-laws, and one at work. We discussed his picks all the way to my mother's house, all weekend long, and all the way home. I had two requests: get Peyton Manning, and get Michael Crayton. Crayton is a wide receiver for the Cowboys and yes, this seems contradictory, BUT he played for the teeny, tiny college I went to: NWOSU. So I like him.
And they are both good players, obviously Manning is AWESOME, but they're both good, and would be good additions to the team. Now, here is the annoying part. My dear hubby had the chance to get Manning and PASSED HIM UP!
He picked some clown-shoes receiver from the Rams (the Rams! people. I mean, come on!), and my new sister-in-law's father got Manning instead. (Waving at Jan!) And he got Eli, too!
So I have decided to cheer for Jan's fantasy team! My hubby did get Crayton on one team, and after being drilled by me, managed to get Manning for his work fantasy team. But still, it's the principle of the thing.
This is just another example of our mutual, yet totally opposite, love of football. I'll keep you posted on how the teams are doing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Quick Post

Sorry. Short post today.

We just got back from Mom's. Dear Hubby is off picking his fantasy football team, and the kids are coming down off a weekend of fun, sun, and junk food (although we did sneak a few healthy foods into their diet).

It's going to be crazy for the next few weeks, and hopefully I will stay sane in the process.