Saturday, December 15, 2012

On saying stuff

I was Christmas shopping at the mall today when my other half looked as his news feed and commented that there'd been a shooting in CT.

Then he started to give me the details and I just felt sick. 

I teach kids that are only a year younger than these victims. I teach kids that believe the gingerbread men missing from the oven must've run into our classroom of their own accord. I teach kids who think my daughter is either going to phase through my belly or just be picked up at the hospital when she's ready to be born, because, hey, how else would it work? I teach kids who talk about the day they'll be "all grown-up" in reference to the day they enter third grade. And I think about what happened yesterday and I just start crying. 

People are angry, shocked, and devastated right now. People say a lot of stupid stuff when they are like that. If we don't do anything else in these coming days, let's at least be patient with each other and remember that. My heart breaks and my prayers are with the families and communities that are suffering right now.

P.S. Someone shared this link with me and I think it needs to be passed around some more:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Last update before a break

Just voted for Humankind Water in Get On the Shelf: Best of luck, guys!

Update: Okay, I knew I was going on hiatus for a bit, I just didn't expect it to be that long of a bit. Most of my Facebook friends know this already, but yeah, there's another baby on the way. So I hope everyone accepts my very-delayed apology for putting my focus into my novel right now.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fanfiction 101: It's About Having Fun

I've been wanting to write a series of posts on fanfiction for a while now. (My rant against fanfic haters before doesn't count). I believe fanfiction is a great exercise for writers, kids and adults alike. I also believe that fanfiction can help develop great original fiction. So I'll be sharing some fanfiction prompts in hopes that it'll not only encourage writing moms and dads out there, but also give some good ideas for those stuck-inside, home-from-school, heaven-help-us-the-game-console's-broken sorts of days.

A little bit of history, first off. Fanfiction is, of course, fiction that takes place in another's author's universe or uses another author's characters. I wrote fanfiction throughout high school and college, and the fandom I wrote the most for was Sailor Moon. I even bought the domain name thinking I would use it to create a massive archive of Sailor Moon fan characters. That never happened, and when a much more dedicated fan named Sakura asked for the domain, I gave it over freely with best wishes. (I'm assuming most people reading this have no idea what an "otaku senshi" is, but as a hint: that's one in the picture there.) The fanfiction community is massive, and I had a great time being a small part of it. Here's the thing, though. Fanfiction isn't just limited to groups of obsessive fans writing anime stories. It's way bigger than that.

Odds are, if you've got kids in preschool, they're constantly acting out the fanfiction ideas in their heads: "Okay, I'm Cinderella, and this time an alien is eating the school and I'm going to tell its mommy!"

Odds are, if you have kids in elementary school, they've actually been given fanfiction assignments in class: "Write the ending to this story in a different way" or "write about what you would do if you had powers like George the Super Bunny."

Why fanfiction? It's a creative exercise that gives you the starting material to work with. Of course, your seven-year-old might've very well hated George the Super Bunny, and would've been much happier writing a comprehensive essay about which prime number is his favorite. All the more reason to sit down and write a fanfic based around a character he actually cares about. I think one of the worst things we can teach kids is that writing is a chore and you just have to push through it. Writing can be anything: a painful chore or a delightful fun time. It all depends on what you're writing.

So, pencils (and keyboards!) out:

Kid-centric assignment: Pick a character from a book, TV show, movie, or comic that you liked. Start a story that begins with one of these two lines:
1) One day, [character] came to visit me.
2) One day, I went to visit [character].
(If you can't think of any good ideas, feel free to pick a different character that gives you better ideas.)

Adult-centric assignment: Pick a character from a book, TV show, movie, or comic that you may or may not have liked, but who, in any case, made a decision you felt was incredibly moronic. Write a story in which you somehow meet the character or, alternatively, write the character a letter. Either way, let them have it and be ridiculous. The only goal in this exercise is to have a good time.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Why Funny Kid Quotes are Funny

99% of the time when people share funny kid quotes, the reason they are funny is because the child lacks some sort of understanding about the world and acted on whatever information he/she had.

A few days ago at bath time, JT demonstrated his lack of understanding on two things:
1) When a substance is in liquid form, it's not really possible to pick it up with a pincer grasp.
2) We say "thank you" when we receive something, not when we're handing it over.

It was bath time. JT reached out towards the little jets of water coming from the shower head and pinched one of them. Satisfied that he must've been holding the stream of water between his fingers, he held his hand out to give it to me. I decided to humor him and held out my hand and he proceeded to place the water that was not there into my palm. "Thank you," I told him.

"Da oo!" he replied. Then he did it again. Only he seemed to think that "Da oo" is either the word for water or the word for handing something over. So he sat there, pinching the water and thanking me as he handed it over.

It'll be interesting to see what odd lines this kid devises when he has more than a six-word vocabulary.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Impromptu Retreat

It's writing conference season again and for the first time in I think four years, I'm not sure I'll be going to one.

For a couple (good) reasons, I don't foresee myself having a manuscript available to pitch, which is one of the main reasons to go to a writers' conference. The workshops sound nice enough, but I can't argue myself into spending money to stay the weekend listening to them when there's several local writers' events for less or even for free. (Yeah, I'm cheap.)

So I started looking at a writers' retreat in my area. And I discovered, to my disappointment that it was basically a conference too. (To emphasize: Writers' conferences are awesome. It's just that I was looking for something else.)

You know what would be nice, I thought. A day or two away from everything to just relax and write. Maybe a nice view of the outdoors. Just me and my laptop. And maybe some chai tea.

You know, something that was right there at home.

Seriously. It was a snowy day, the baby was at Grandma's, and I had a bottle of chai tea latte and a big fuzzy blanet.

Yup, it was a nice morning. And I didn't even have to pay conference fees.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

First Post of the New Year

Hope everyone had a great holiday, I know we did. (Yes, holidays take extra long with us. What this blog post didn't mention is that we have one more birthday in the family shortly after New Years, and everyone got together to celebrate that too.)

Now, I feel weird typing this post because so many people have asked how holidays went with the baby. While he was technically born this time last year, he wasn't interacting much, and the holidays were still squarely in that, "Just try to get as much sleep as possible" part of his life.

So, while I've told the story several times already, here it is again: The holidays were fun. The baby did open presents. I didn't think he knew how to open presents, because he kinda floundered with it on his birthday, but as he crawled about the house and came to the tree, he decided to play with the brightly-colored boxes and learned that wrapping paper rips. He tore one-inch segments off, got tape stuff on his fingers, and made hilarious expressions because of it.

Oh, and he walks. Not well, but he does. I didn't even get to announcing that he could crawl, and now he walks.

Now, the other one of us really needs to get things in gear, because so help me if I'm still on the agent hunt when my kid goes to kindergarten.