Tuesday, May 6, 2014

on small business and being wrong.

Yesterday I shipped out my very first Etsy order! I was all aflutter, a mixture of nerves and excitement and worry. This is the first time I have made artwork to sell. For a stranger. I even felt a little anxious about how straight my packing label was (not very). But there was something very thrilling and satisfying about holding that thick envelope filled with something I made that someone else wanted for their wall!

Thennnn I had the heart-sinking realization that my descriptions were inaccurate. Ugh. (Apparently "archival" and "acid-free" don't mean the same thing. Or so says this guy.) So I had to backtrack. I just finished writing an apologizing-and-explaining email to the very nice man who bought a portrait from me. I pretty much felt like a moron/charlatan. Not great.

Anyway. Being wrong gives me a stomach ache. But this whole small business thing is all a learning process, right?

My baby is awake and needs a snuggle. At least I've got that skill down pat. :)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Your heart home.

Do you have a place where your heart feels at home?

I'm not talking about the place you grew up, the place you called home for the first time or even the house where you keep your honey and your pillow and your stash of chocolate hidden in the corner of the pantry. I'm talking about that place that, when you go to it, when your body crosses a border--city, county, state, country--into it, its like your whole soul breathes a sigh of relief.

I grew up in Orange County and for the past five (five?!) years we've lived (and worked, schooled, dreamed, snacked, loved, befriended, played, and grown by two babies) in North Carolina. And while home to me at almost-twenty-nine is really more a person (or people) than a physical location, I have to admit that sometimes my heart longs for a cool summer breeze blowing in through the car window as we drive down an almost-empty Saturday stretch of the 5 freeway into San Diego.

I don't even want to calculate the years it has been since we were last there. It is too many. Life is good here--spring, birdsong, green trees, and sunshine--but tonight I am homesick for my heart home.

If you happen to be crossing the county lines into San Diego sometime this summer, please eat a taco for me. Make it a good one.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


A few years ago I sent a facebook message to Rachel Kelly, a woman from church who I didn't really know all that well. I'd heard through the grapevine that she had written a couple of (unpublished) novels, and since I'd been working on my sweet (and seemingly endless? haha) book for a while at that point, I was curious how another mom was finding time to write. I asked her a couple of simple questions, she responded with some book recommendations and her thoughts about publishing (she would probably do it someday), and that was about it.

Fast forward to autumn of last year. The hubs and I were traveling a lot as he enjoyed the simultaneously harried and relaxed schedule of a fourth year med student, and as we were preparing to leave for another looooong trip, I got a message from Rachel. She'd decided it was time to get her book out into people's hands, and she needed an editor. She'd read my blog. She liked my writing style. She wanted me. (!)

It was both a daunting and an exciting proposition. I've always loved editing papers (I did it freelance for other students in college, did critiques in round tables in all my upper division writing classes, and edited a magazine my father-in-law had for a short time) but oh man--to edit an entire book? AND be a mama! I wasn't sure I could do it. And, okay--what if her book wasn't good? How can you tell someone you know (but not well!) that you think their book needs a lot of work???

But Rachel sent me the first twenty pages so I could take a look. And (*phew!*) they were very promising. Her story was was different than anything I'd read before. In fact, I was kind of excited to take the job just to see where her plot lines were going.

So we worked out the businessy stuff (deadline, fee, expectations) and she sent me the full manuscript of Colorworld. I was one of the first people to ever get to read it. Like, I got to read it before her husband did. (But he's cool with that, don't worry.) Still, that is a pretty cool thing, right? And then I was going to get to talk to the author about her book. In detail. In excruciating detail! I was a Lit/Writing major in college, so that is basically my version of heaven. :)

I printed it out (several hundred pages), picked out a red pen, and got to work.

 I helped make that manuscript into this book!!! Yay!!!

I can't tell you how much fun it was to read a book and then get to tell the author what I thought: what I liked, what I hated, what made sense, what was confusing. Yes, I made grammatical corrections, pointed out inconsistencies, and added punctuation suggestions. But as Rachel's editor I also got to go through her story line by line and help her cut out the fat, dig deeper into her characters, and basically play devil's advocate. When I boxed up her copy and mailed it out to North Dakota, I was relieved and exhilarated. I couldn't wait to hear back from her, to talk more about the talented/cursed Wendy, overbearingly educated Gabe, quirky Ezra (he's my favorite character), and the freaky-calm-yet-terrifying Louise.

Over the last year I've had the privilege of editing two more books in her Colorworld series (yes, I know what happens next! It just gets better from here--book 3 is my favorite so far!) I finished marking up the third installment in the series literally hours before I went to the hospital to deliver my now-9-week-old-baby. (Since she was induced, it was an item on my last-day-of-pregnancy to-do list: Rachel's book!!!) We've written countless emails arguing the merits of comma placement, engaging in intense philosophical discussions about the realities of real-life relationships, and even going over potential changes in the structure of individual sentences. So I feel pretty confident in telling you that Rachel has written and rewritten, refined her stories and the way she tells them, until it is glaringly obvious that these books were a labor of love.

Colorworld was released on Amazon on December 24th! (SO EXCITED FOR RACHEL!) And guess what? She actually put my name on her title page, just below hers, with an editing credit. Not tucked in the acknowledgements at the back--on her title page. Isn't that the sweetest, most generous thing? I was floored. I am still kind of in shock. It was an amazing feeling to see my name in print like that! I've always wanted to have a book published--and eventually I will get my own out there--and Rachel gave me such a lovely, thoughtful gift in lending me such a prominent credit on something she worked so incredibly hard on.

My name! Is on! The title page! !!!   !!!!!

Rachel is self-published, which means word of mouth is incredibly important to help her book find its audience! So if you're looking for a new read--something fun and engaging, a paranormal/sci-fi-style love story that makes you ask questions--you should give Colorworld a look. It's available for Kindle here (it's only $2.99), and it will be out in paperback in late January 2014. (Or you can borrow it for free if you have a Kindle and Amazon Prime. Or I think I can lend it to you through Kindle...?) And if you read it, help my girl out by giving it a star rating and quick review on Amazon and/or here at Goodreads!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

{motherhood} things I love, and don't

things that are hard

Discipline. I hate disciplining them. Gracie has been going through another testing phase lately. Pushing against the rules that bind her to being three-almost-four, trying to be more independent, assert her own desires and will.

That is natural. It is understandable. I don't like being bossed around either. But I had to have my turn there, and that is how this part goes. So there have been lots of consequences, lots of time outs, and I even sat on the floor and cried after she went to bed one night. Where is my sweet, lovely girl, and what have I done to force her away?

Steve told me I haven't done anything wrong. That it is just a phase. I know that, in my mind, but so much of mothering goes on in your heart, doesn't it?

She is already talking about how I won't be in charge of her when she is eighteen.

And I just keep thinking... don't be in such a hurry to grow up....

those things are hard. But there are so many things I love.

things I love

The smell of their hair when its all dried off after a bath.

Their laughter in another room; that it means they are playing happily together, unrefereed, and that their love has lit the other up from the inside.

How Charlie backs up into my lap now with a book in his chubby hands and says, "Book! Book" until I read, and, when we finish, says, "Book! Book!" until I read it again.

Finding toys set up around the house after bedtime or during naptime. Last night a plastic horse stood sentinel outside Charlie's bedroom door as he slept.

When they are kind to someone else, on their own, when they don't know I am watching.

How Gracie worries for anyone who is injured.

When she makes a connection between a word we've read in morning scripture study and the real world and shouts something like, "WILDERNESS!?!?! THAT'S LIKE IN THE SCRIPTURES!!!!!!!!"

That pleased little smile babies get when they accomplish something new. Proud of themselves. The I-did-it smile.

Their cheeks. I could kiss their cheeks all day long. I do. Every time I pick them up, I kiss their cheeks.

How they lay their heads on my shoulder when they're tired.

How they both insist on cramming themselves onto my lap--together--when we read.

When they lean back against me during a good story and relax into the moment.

How Gracie wants to be like me, dress like me, wear chapstick and brush her hair. How she beams under praise. How she loves hard and fiercely, like I do. How I know her so well, because she is so much like me.

Charlie's mischievous smile, the aw-come-on-just-one-more-time! smile that steals across his face when I've caught him climbing up the couch or pushing the button on a forbidden electronic device.

How they hug my legs.

How Gracie draws pictures of me, and tells me I "look like a doll" and tells her daddy that he "looks so handsome."

How sweet they look when they sleep.

How happy/bubbly/energetic they are in the morning.

How Gracie always tries to climb into bed with me when she wakes us up (the MINUTE her clock says 7:00).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

can you think of nothing?

I find myself in need of an outlet.

Which is funny, because sometimes I think all I do is outlet. I sew, I draw, I write, but more importantly I talk talk talk to anyone who will listen.

I think it is because my brain works so fast. It is a constant whir of thought, drawing connections, daydreaming, worrying, making lists, making comparisons, remembering, forgetting, forgiving and occasionally beating myself up, but not so much of the latter anymore.

If I don't talk and write and draw and sew and shop, it all just stays in there whirling around and, quite honestly, making me tired.

Sometimes I will be laying beside Steve on a lazy morning when the kids don't make us get up too early, and I'll ask him that ever present question, "What are you thinking about?" and he will say, "Nothing."

I used to not believe him. Not because I thought he was lying, but because I didn't think it was possible. But after five years of marriage and plenty of discussion, I realize that it is possible. Just not for me. I am a little envious of that talent.

What about you? Can you think of nothing? It seems like it would be very nice. :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

not really writer's block.

I've stumbled through writers block before. Sometimes months at a time. But now that I've surpassed my 60,000 word goal, I'm finding not so much that I can't think of anything to write--I've actually finally got a TON of things to put on paper, and I can feel the plot pacing speeding up to a thrilling speed--but that I can't seem to get things down fast enough.

This is its own kind of problem. I know I have places to go now, things for my characters to do and say and discover, but I am so discouraged by all the many tiny steps it will take to get there. 60,000 words seemed like such a huge accomplishment, but not I realize I've done that much, and I'm still not finished. I feel a little deflated again.

Sitting down to write, getting through the backstory to get to the good stuff, is even more frustrating to write than it is to have to read. You know those few pages you skim because you know something good is coming? You can't really skim it when you're writing it. :p

This is just part of life, this feeling, but it is terrible to be discouraged, nonetheless.

I think that might be another reason to pour yourself into lots of things you love. I'm cutting together family videos, working on new sewing projects, taking photos (I'm doing pictures for two families tomorrow) and daydreaming about art projects. Little victories make this long haul part seem not so bad.

I love writing it, but I also kind of wish it was just done.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

refashion #1 + tons more words

Change freaks me out.

It's not that I consciously think about how things are changing, but just, when I feel a big change creeping up on me, I get a ton of nervous energy, which, if I don't channel it into something productive, will just demolish all my good intentions. And since we have a lot of change on the horizon (tons of our friends are leaving, and a year from now, we will be, too!) I've had a lot of that energy! So, I've been doing lots of projects.

One of them is refashioning! I am obsessed with one of our local thrift stores--I sneak over there at least once a week to browse by myself for name brand clothes for pennies on the dollar (GAP jeans? $2.50!) or search for things that could be cute, with a little help. I really just needed some easy dresses to wear in the summer because it gets HOT here. So they don't have to be perfect, just wearable-to-the-grocery-store.

My favorite find so far is this lovely number, which the hubs eyed suspiciously and (aptly) called a "mumu."

Sorry I'm not wearing it and that the floor has stuff on it and that this picture is terrible. But I think you can tell it is HUGE.

I paid $10 for it, which is A TON by my thrifting standards, but I just loved the buttons and the print so much, that I decided it was worth it.

And a little pinning and some time with my 1970's sewing machine, and I decided I was right.

Oh, and in other news, today I hit 60,000 words. Which is novel length (mine doesn't have an ending, though, so it will be longer than that, obviously). But no big deal... Just kidding. BIG DEAL!!! I am excited. :)