Book Birthday!

Today The End or Something Like That officially comes out! Yay! To celebrate I’m having a little contest. In the book, the main character’s best friend is very specific about what food she wants served at her funeral. I know that at my funeral, I want chocolate covered cinnamon bears. From the BYU bookstore. They are the softest and most luscious and I hope everyone is stuffing their mouths with them while they sing songs.

What food do you want  at your funeral? Two winners will receive a signed copy of my book and a bag of chocolate covered cinnamon bears. One winner will be picked randomly. The other winner will be chosen because of their culinary picks. I have a panel of food people who will be picking.

Good luck!

Dear People,

  1. I have a blood blister on my heel from stepping on a Lego. When it happened, it felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. How can something so small have such a huge impact.
  2. I am tired beyond belief and the troubling thing is that I have realized that the book I am writing needs a whole new layer. A thick layer. One I’m not sure I’m capable of writing and it needs to fit exactly perfectly on top of the layer I’ve already written. Like a fancy cake. And I don’t make fancy cakes.
  3. Why are my feet always cold?
  4. My five year old has decided he will be making two movies. The first one is called “Victim” and is pretty sad. The second one is called “Trash All Good Things.” He hasn’t written them yet but he has begun practicing.
  5. I hope love lasts forever.
  6. It’s springtime.

Love,

Me.

On runny noses

Right now, for the briefest of moments, my two younger sons are playing with blocks. Quietly. One building. The other taking blocks out and putting them back in.

I think: I want to write something beautiful every day. I want to sit and think and read and ponder and write.

I think: These children fill up my days.

I think: Can I do both?

I have been trying for many years. Sometimes I tell myself, you have not really been trying. You are  lazy. You watch TV when you have spare time in the evenings rather than doing research. You eat chocolate and read rather than figure out what it means to plot. You vacuum badly and pretend like you’re cleaning the kitchen when you could be working on a first draft. You sit in the bathtub and cry about your fat when you should be make revision notes.

I am hard on myself. Or I am lazy. I don’t know which one.

My dear friend gave me Ann Patchett’s writing memoir How to Have a Happy Marriage. In one essay, Ms. Patchett says:

Knowing that I wanted to write made my existence feel purposeful and gave me a sense of priorities as I was growing up. Did I want to get a big job and make a lot of money? No. I wanted to be a writer, and writers were poor. Did I want to get married, have children, live in a nice house? No again; by the time I was in middle school I’d figured out that a low overhead and few dependents would increase my time to work. While I thought I might publish something someday, I was sure that very few people, and maybe no one at all would read what I wrote. By ninth grade I was drawing from the Kafka model: obscurity during life with the chance of being discovered after death.

I think about this. I wanted to be a writer when I was young. I told people in elementary school that this was my destiny. I wrote stories, I won a few contests, I even got to spend an entire day with Dean Hughes (along with fifty other kids). I wanted to be a writer. But I never thought I’d have to give up other things in order for this to happen. Things like getting married, having children, maybe even publishing. Being a writer to me meant telling stories. I always wanted to tell stories. Could I have children and tell stories?

Now the two are fighting. The baby one (eleven months) keeps putting his head on the two year old (almost three) and the two year old thinks it’s funny and wraps baby’s head into a headlock. I say: Stop. He giggles. The baby cries.

So I can’t finish my thought. I can’t keep writing because the baby is crying. I think I am neglecting my children. I also think I am neglecting my house. My husband. My toes. My garden. My car. My scriptures. My whole world just so that I can spend time in make believe worlds.

But I don’t want to give it up. Does this mean I’ll never be a great mother and I’ll never be a great writer? Do I have to give up one, to be the other?

I guess I’ll never find out.

There will always be chapters to write and there will always be noses to wipe. And despite how slow and messy they are, I hope I never have to stop doing either one.

Today

Today my seven year old came home in a near panic. Someone mysterious (with a man’s voice! It was not the secretary, I repeat NOT the secretary because is a girl. And so is the principal. And we are getting a new principal but both of the people who might become principal are girls so it MAKES NO SENSE!!! ) had come over the school intercom and said, “Violet Baudelaire (admittedly the last name was muffled), please come to the main office.”

Shocking. It’s probably Count Olaf. It probably is.

And if so, what can we do about it? Should we get involved? How would we even if we wanted to? Is it smart? Irresponsible? Or maybe it’s irresponsible to not do a little sniffing around. This is a very serious situation. Updates to come soon.

In other news, PW gave my new book The End, or Something Like That a star.t I wonder if Count Olaf knows. Is it tied together? What does it mean?

A dental rant

Here is a thing I want to talk about: The day I went to the dentist WHICH I HATE AND HATE AND HATE.

I think I’ve spoken of this before. I hate going to the dentist.

Anyway, it couldn’t be avoided so I went. First thing they asked me was what show I was wanted to watch. Last time I picked some sitcom and then there were extended sexual jokes ringing throughout the office as I sat there with peoples’ hands in my mouth and I wanted to say, Turn it off. This is uncomfortable. But I couldn’t because their hands were in mouth.

So this time I picked a cooking show–the barefoot contessa to be exact. I have never watched this show but I have her cookbooks and I didn’t think it could get racy unless she cooked naked which I have heard is a thing, btw. So they put on the show. I was incredibly tense because that’s how I am at the dentist so I was watching the show as hard as I could so I wouldn’t be distracted by the hygienist yelling out numbers about my gums.

Here’s the thing about that show: Ina Garten kept saying that her friends were stuck in traffic coming in from the city and they were supposed to be hosting a dinner party so she agreed to cook for them because she owes them. Then they cut to her friends on the freeway saying, “We are so so late. This traffic is awful. We are so glad Ina said she’d cook something. It will be awesome. I cant’ believe we are stuck in traffic.”

Here’s my thing. Why is this the premise of the show? We know they’re all lying. How did they get the camera crews at her house and in her friends’ car so they could say how late they are? Why doesn’t she just do a cooking show? It felt very very fake and contrived and almost got me mad enough to forget the horrible stuff in my mouth that I was trying not to swallow and then I wondered can you die from not swallowing? Maybe. But back to the show, it was horrible story-telling. Really horrible.

I’ve read this in books. When the heart of the book is buried under silly things. Maybe the author is trying to be clever. Or maybe they are trying to teach us a lesson about friendship. Or maybe they think it’s boring if they don’t put in a bunch of extras.

Here’s what I want to see: The cooking. The meat of the story. I want that to be the focus. I want everything else, all the scenes and dialogue and descriptions that have NOTHING TO DO WITH braised beef or whatever she was making (there was a plum crumble that looked fantastic) to go away. It’s distracting and makes me lose focus. I could hardly concentrate and therefore I will never go back and finish the episode.

Also I had no cavities this time.

The end.

Dear November

If you have tried to come to my website in the past few weeks, you would have been greeted with a malware warning. Fortunately, Cam has saved me and my meager online presence once again.

Here’s an update on my life and my writing. My book The End or Something Like That  is coming out from Penguin May 1st. This is very important and will change the whole world.

Also, my sweet firstborn threw up all last night. My sensitive second born “no duh’d” me about three times today. My chubby-cheeked third born started following me into the bathroom at all times. And finally, my always-happy fourth born, a perfect baby, has started throwing his food and spitting rice cereal.

I have some ideas of features I’d like to start . and things I’d like to say. And pictures I’d like to post. love and candy.

SUMMER 2013 TOTALLY RAD CHALLENGE

As a kid, I spent hours at the local library. My mom took us every week and as soon as we got home from our trips, I’d hide in a basement room and read entire books in one sitting. My mom was always reading and taught us to love the adventures we could find in books. She was a teacher and an elementary school librarian for years. For her funeral, I decided to compile a book list of the books she used to read to us–the books I remember her loving. My siblings contributed. I am happy to report my mom read Corduroy, The Little House and Drummerhof to all eight of us.

So books and reading have always been a big part of my life. Along with that, each summer I loved the local library reading challenges. Read 100 books, get a candy bar!!! Read every day for an hour, get a certificate!!! Read on a topic all summer and create a poster, get to pick out your own book!!! I may sound sarcastic but I really really did love them. Now my kids get to do the challenges and I’m equally excited for them. As they were signing up and checking out books, I decided that I wanted to do one too. The library has one for adults that I might try but I also want one geared toward my own writing goals.

So I came up with this awesome title for myself:  SUMMER 2013 TOTALLY RAD CHALLENGE!!!! I think it’s totally rad. My challenge will have three parts and will change weekly:

A reading challenge. Because my attention span is about two minutes long, this week I will read at least one essay from Brevity. This is an online creative non-fiction journal that I like for a few reasons. 1. all the essays have to be under 750 words. Writing beautiful things with few words is a important skill to have. it’s good to see strong examples 2. the topics are varied. I need a lot of variation these days. 3. I like reading personal essay/memoir and I want to write it. So at least one essay every day for a week.

A writing challenge. I haven’t been able to write anything really since the baby and my mom. For this week, I am going to try to sit down for fifteen minutes (at least) a day. It’s more than nothing. I’m also not going to be sad if nothing productive comes from it. If I can do this all week, next week’s challenge may get more challenging. If not, I may go down to five minutes.

A fun challenge. I want to get some magic going on around here. So this week’s fun challenge is a. get in a swimming pool (AHHHHHH!!!) and b. see how many flips in a row I can do underwater. I used to do this at DT pool every summer and I think I could do about seven. We’ll see if I can beat it. Or even come close.

So do you want to join me? you can do the same challenges or come up with your own. You can post them in the comments for the week and we’ll see how we do. Next week we’ll update and come up with new ones. I want to read essays, short stories, maybe a book or two this summer. I want to start small with my writing and then hopefully get in a groove and maybe get a new novel really really going. And I want to have lots and lots of fun. If I keep up with the challenges all summer I’m going to have an end of summer bash! Where there will be candy bars, certificates and books! Do it with me.

love you all and love to Carol who is without internet as she moves into her fancy new house.