Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Best Decade Ever

I was looking through some old pictures and came across one of my favorites. My girl (yes, it's a girl in spite of the hack job I've done with her hair) is one year old and my son, three years:

And it makes me think of what an amazing decade it has been. I became a mother. I became a writer. I became a teacher once again. And best of all, I found my way back to God; I became a Catholic, along with my husband and children. I think I'm finally doing what I've been called to do. Hallelujah!


May you all follow God's plan ... it's not always easy to discern but I believe when something gives you great joy, you are meant to do it.


Peace and Joy in the New Year.


A New Year!

I love this time between Christmas and New Year, where I get to take stock of the year gone by, and see how I can improve. I know many folks don't like to make New Year resolutions, but I typically make them twice a year. It seems to be my natural rhythm to assess whether I'm living my life the way I want to and should around the New Year and sometime again in the summer.

Last year I made daily goals.

1. Have one-on-one time with each family member every day.
2. Pray every day.
3. Walk every day.
4. Write every day.
5. Be kind every day.

I'm happy to say that I did well, but I could've challenged myself more. This year I want to stretch and reach higher so in addition to my daily goals, this is what I'd like to see happen:

1. Finish YA WIP (Damaged)
2. Polish shorts and send them out at least once a month.
3. Lose weight.

How about you? What would you like to see happen in your writing/personal life? Care to share?

Have a happy, healthful and joyous New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lips Touch

I am not a big fan of fantasy anymore the way I was in my teens, but even then I read more sci-fi than fantasy. However, LIPS TOUCH is by far the best collection of modern folktale fantasy. Laini Taylor has a most exquisite storyteller voice. From the very beginning, I trust her to trap me in her web of stories. I have spent three late nights reading her book, instead of getting to bed and the characters linger. This is a book I will read again ... and again ... and when my children are old enough, share with them.
She says that she is no scholar (neither am I) but she is true to the essence of the religions she borrows from. I am familiar with them and yet, I could never have dreamt up these tales. They are wholly her own creations, beautifully imagined and written. This book ought to be read aloud because the language is so lyrical. Like a picture book, every word counts in Lips Touch.
The illustrations by Jim di Bartolo are gorgeous. I only wish they were interspersed throughout the book instead of in chunks. They add to the atmosphere of this book.
I am a huge admirer of Laini, for all that she does (arts & crafts, mothering, writing) and with such aplomb. She has a terrific site where she shares her writing process. It's long but well worth the read. Congratulations on being an NBA finalist, Laini! It's very well deserved.
The upshot of reading this amazing book is that many books that I was previously excited to read are falling flat, flat, flat. And it scares me. Will my books ever be good enough?


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Holidays

Christmas vacation officially started a few hours ago as we walked home from school. No homework, no papers, no worries. Just time with family and friends, singing Christmas songs, baking, playing games, watching movies, and celebrating the birth of Christ the Lord.

Matthew 1:18-25

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold,the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009


I've always prided myself on my excellent memory. I seem to have a continuous memory since I was about four, when I started school. Before that, I have snatches of memories -- seeing a turtle in the water tank, sitting on my father's lap reciting the two times table, and loving the smell of the cheroot he smoked. I remember my mother bathing me in the backyard, feeding me peeled oranges. Smelling my mother's roses in the front yard, while I waited for my brother and sister to come home from school. So many memories.

Yet, when Julie, a long-ago friend from my Convent school days contacted me, I couldn't remember a thing about her, including her name. Same with Ruchi. Now I have very specific memories of sitting in the tree eating our lunch, running about and such, but I cannot recall their faces. I asked Julie to send me a picture, and she did, but nothing is coming back. I spent a great deal of time talking to these two girls, yet my sharpest memories are of girls that I wasn't even friends with. Julie was very kind, saying that we could start on a fresh note, but I'm disappointed that the two people I spent time with every single day, I cannot remember. How fickle.

I do have very clear memories of our home life and friends in the neighborhood -- the day to day stuff. I'm surprised that as much as I loved going to school, I only have scant memories of the girls I spent the most time with at the Convent. I remember many of the nuns, the school yard, the great big brush-land in the back, climbing trees, putting my hand out for a rap with the ruler, but not my friends, Julie and Ruchi. Deep down, I must remember something because these are two of my favorite names and they have made an appearance in some of my stories.

This makes me realize that I must hurry up and write down some of the stories about my mother. I have already written about half a dozen of them, but I want to have a little book of stories about her for my children, so that after I am long dead, the children will have something tangible about her. Although they know many stories about her, I don't know whether they'll remember after I'm gone.

I'm curious, how many of you write family stories? For yourself or to give as gifts?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Poetry Night

The fifth graders did a marvelous job of reciting poetry from the greats such as Shakespeare, Frost and Williams tonight. They also shared their original poems. I was so impressed with the quality and delivery of the poems.

Here is my son's poem titled: BELIEF

What is belief on Earth?
Singing, shouting, never ending
Worship, quiet, new birth
Faith forming, always sending.

Singing, shouting, never ending
Love and credo, everlasting
Faith forming, always sending
Trusting, confidence, praying.

Love and credo, everlasting
Worship, quiet, new birth
Trusting, confidence, praying
What is belief on Earth?


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Write Stuff

It's good to reach a goal and Molly's Golden Coffee Cup was exactly what I needed this month. Heck, I'll be going back to my favorites when I need a boost of inspiration.

I did finish the first third of my book and I can't wait to read my instructor's editorial letter. I know she will help me to re-vision my story so that I will dig deeper and better. I've been working slowly on the next chapter. And it's good to share pages with my friend Jen Heger.

This is going to be a busy month but I will take a few moments each day to write and pray. These ground me like nothing else.

Some good books and movies that I'd like to recommend, considering that you might be doing some Christmas shopping:

Because all my books are little movies playing in my head, I've decided to study movie structure so that I can use it to improve my novels. Save the Cat! is a wonderful little book that is concise and useful. Plus, it's got a killer title. And the writing style? Well, you have to read it for yourself. This guy is good. Very shortly after I bought this book, I read that he died. My heart goes out to his family. He has a sequel called: Save the Cat Goes to the Movies in which he analyzes many different types of movies. I think this is very, very useful. I've done this with many short stories and a couple of novels and it's a great way to learn structure.

I'm reading Days of Little Texas by R. A. Nelson and enjoying it tremendously. It's about a boy who has the power to heal. I've always wondered what it would be like to have powers ... but always worried that what if the power came from the devil. How does one know the difference? So this is an interesting read for me. There is a love interest, Lucy, and my gut feeling is that she'll have something to do with the devil. But I won't spoil the book for you.

United 93 is a beautifully made memorial movie about the events of 9-11. It was the one plane that didn't reach its target because the people on board chose to fight the terrorists.