Month: January 2010 (page 1 of 3)

Plodding (it’s nothing like Plotting, I fear)

We’re working on BeccaWilhite.com.

I know, right?
Everyone is as excited about this as I am (and as Husband is – he’s providing all the beauteous photos). So what that means is that I have to learn something new.
Darn it.
I’m transferring to WordPress (because… I don’t know why. I just have to, so they tell me) and it’s sort of science-y.* There’s lots of cool stuff I could spend hours learning. Or I could work on a book. See my dilemma? So what I think I’m going to do is this: For every thousand words I write (in an actual manuscript) I can do half an hour of messing about with my new site. Have I mentioned lately that I’m WAY more at home in the kitchen than on the computer?
So stick around, and when something really official happens, you won’t miss a thing! Happy weekend, y’all.

*This is a word I’ve loved forever – remember that Johnny Bravo cartoon parodying “The Fly”? “Whoa. Science-y.”

BookLove

Do you have a favorite book you’ve EVER read? One that you remember with some deep emotion, or come back to over and over? (Or am I the only re-reader around here?)

I was thinking about some of my favorites, and that there are a bunch of books I’ve read many times. Let’s say Five times. Or more.
Les Miserables: (I don’t know how to make French letter thingies on my computer, and Blogger doesn’t know that “thingies” is a word. Silly Blogger.) I read this every year for the first ten years Husband and I were married.* The whole Romantic style with its overly long sentences and dramatic descriptions is hard for me to take in general, but I love this story so, so much that I’m willing to wade through it.
Pride and Prejudice: This is a favorite bathtub book. The newsprint pages of my copy are all bendy and thick from tub-induced humidity. I could read this three times a year and not get tired of it. My favorite reading ? When I read it out loud to the Kids. I did the voices. They laughed a lot. Mmmm. Happy books + happy Kids = goodness.
If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits? (Do you know Erma Bombeck? If you don’t, do yourself a favor and see if any of her books are at your library. Had there been blogs in the seventies, she would have been the Queen. Well, she WAS the queen, but of newspaper columns instead. Go on. Try her. You can thank me later.)
Harry: I love me some Harry Potter. And don’t get all up in my grill if you hate it. Yes, there are too many adverbs in these books. Yes, nobody can just “say” anything – they have to say it “somehow” – and yes, that does bug. A little. But not enough for me not to love the books. You don’t have to agree, just please be kind.
The Fountainhead: Ayn Rand could write. And spookiness – she has characters that are so convincing that they could make me rethink how I felt about something I ABSOLUTELY knew.
Walk Two Moons: Sigh. My vote for Greatest Kids’ Novel Ever. I kneel before Sharon Creech and bow my forehead to the floor.
Where the Sidewalk Ends: This was my favorite book as a kid. I have my parents’ copy, all loved up and a little stinky from thirty years or so of kiddish affection. It makes an appearance in RRO, along with Grandma Jennie’s oatmeal butterscotch cookies (and her name).
The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Did I tell you that Kid 4 ate our copy? He really did. Bites of board book, ingested. Mmmm. I’d long since resigned myself to never being Mom of the Year. But next royalty check, I think I’ll finally re-buy the Caterpillar.
The Great Quillow (by James Thurber): I have a copy of this one that’s illustrated by the magnificent Stephen Kellogg. The pictures are magical, and so is the story. One part David and Goliath, one part Morality Tale, seven parts tongue-in-cheek sweet, ironic humor. LOVE.
The Book Thief: Honestly, does anyone else have to tell you to read it? Just do it if you haven’t. I’m not kidding. It may change your life. And I will personally give you a dollar if it doesn’t make you cry. (Next time we hang out, you read me that second-to-last chapter. If you don’t produce a tear, I give you a dollar. Promise.)
This is in no way a thorough list. There are more, lots more. I even read nonfiction, occasionally. (Usually cookbooks.) But not five times. Never five times.** I want to know what you read, over and over. Or if you don’t, I want to know that, too – because I might understand. There are some things that are great, once, and that greatness diminishes upon further viewing (remember Mission Impossible? I hope you only saw it once).

*We’re still married. It’s a weird tense thing. A time-tense thing. Not a stress-tense thing.
**Okay, except Scripture. That’s not on the list, but I do read it over. And over. And I love it, too.

Bossy?

I don’t particularly like being in charge. I love having other people I can turn and point to, either when something is great or when a major disaster happens. I love having Husband – for so many reasons, but also so I can say, “Ask Dad. Tell Dad. Go cry to Dad.” I am not bossy, because I don’t crave the backlash.

But.
I am always right.
See where the problem comes in?
Even when I’m not in charge, I know exactly how everything should be run, and done, and carried out.
It’s a curse.

FAQ

I love when writers post their FAQ. So I’ll give you all a little important information. Here are the things I get asked most frequently:

Q: Do I have any clean pants, Mom?
A: Did you put them in a hamper? Because if you did, I washed them. If they were carefully wadded up under your bed, they’re still there.
Q: What’s for dinner?
A: Check the calendar. I wrote it down.
Q: What do you think I should do?
A: (tearing my hair)
— Oh – were you expecting writing questions? Those come, too. —
Q: What do you do with all your extra money?
A: (Laughing maniacally) Is there such a thing as extra?
Q: But don’t writers make lots of money?
A: Writers who write lots of popular* books make lots of money.
Q: Here’s a great idea for a book. Want to write it?
A: Probably not. I’ve got ideas – that’s the easy part. The actual writing is where it gets a little tricky.
Q: What’s the best part of being a writer?
A: Daily naps. Second best? Writer friends.
Q: How do you find the time to write?
A: Every day comes filled with twenty-four hours. I choose what I put in those hours (and how long each thing will take) – at least to some extent. I prioritize. I wake up early. I never clean my house if I can help it.** I have 4 kids in school. I minimize other commitments. I don’t answer the phone. I do much less PTA than my guilt tells me I should. I hit my daily writing goal and then I move on to something else (like a whole lot of picking up and dropping off of adorable kids).
Q:Your characters sound like you.
A: That is not a question.
Q: Okay, I’ll try again. Do you write yourself into your books?
A: There has to be something autobiographical in every writing – even if it’s to say: This is what I don’t really believe. It’s natural to put yourself into your writing, because you come with a certain viewpoint, a set of lenses through which you see the world. It’s good to change lenses when you write, but recognize that the lenses are there. Also, um, yeah. I do write myself.
Q: Do you write fiction because you’re scared of the Truth?
A: I write fiction because it’s my favorite vehicle for Truth. The True parts are what remain after the story is over.
Q: When is your next book coming out?
A: Technically March 4th (I think). Really? Any time. (You can already pre-order on some sites!)
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Something that’s starting to take shape after 15,000 useless words. Sometimes I have to write for the sake of writing – flex a muscle every day. That leads to a whole lot of useless c-r-a-p. But maybe eventually the character will emerge and demand her story to be told. That’s the magic part.
And there you have it – some of the things people ask me regularly. Want to know anything else? Your socks are under the couch. You’re welcome.
*I almost said “good” books, but that isn’t necessarily the same thing.
**I’d love for you to think that’s a joke.

Itchy?

You know that feeling where you’re itchy in your own skin? Where you have some huge stretch inside and you can’t get it out? Where everything is fine, but you still feel just a little… off?

I’m here to tell you that cleaning the house doesn’t fix it.
Staring at the computer because you don’t have any words? Also not fixing it.
Taking a shower doesn’t fix it either, but at least you’ll smell nice.
Exercise helps, a little, as long as you’re actually doing it, but it’s not a solution so much as a temporary patch, a band-aid.
But do you know? Listening to 3 kindergarten-aged boys chatter over their plates of lunch (mac-n-cheeze, carrot sticks, apple juice and those pink-and-white frosted animal cookies with sprinkles), giggling and planning and plotting and snorting? That helps. A lot.

Ready, Set, Practice

I went to my first rehearsal for “Joseph” tonight, and it was fun. Fun, I tell you!

We sang songs.
Lots of loud songs.
My throat muscles are tired.
Music makes me happy. Funny music makes me happier. Groovy music? Happiest. This is going to be good. And now if I could only get all my Hawaii laundry finished and take time to write something longer than a blog post… (Let’s not hold our breath, shall we?)

Talking to Strangers

So today I went to the bank. I may or may not have needed to cover an overdraft, and if I did, that’s none of your business. So I’m in the bank, and I hand over the business to the cute teller girl. She said, with a shy smile, “Um, I need to tell you something.”

Not my favorite words at the bank.
Then she says, “I just read your book. I filled up a huge bubble bath on New Year’s Day and read it all at once. I loved it!” (Totally her exclamation point, okay?)
I have never seen her before. This is maybe the first unsolicited (as in Not at a book signing or other author event) “stranger feedback” and it was fun. Kids 3 and 4 were with me. Kid 3 asked as we left, “How did she know who you were? Oh, because your picture’s on the cover, right?”
Right. Riiiiight.
But definitely fun, right? Right.

Rice Krispies Treats

A friend Becky* once said, “I can’t see myself eating a cube of butter**. Or a bag of marshmallows***. Or six cups of Rice Krispies****. So why can’t I keep my hands out of the pan when I make Rice Krispies Treats?”

The sum, Becky is greater than all the parts.
So much greater.
* I’m not leaving her name out for anonymity or protection or privacy or anything like that. I just can’t remember her last name. This is causing me shame. Shame. Why do I have this compulsion to remember everyone I’ve ever met? Um, possibly because I come from a family of freakishly good memories. My dad (hi, Dad!) remembers everyone he went to elementary school with, everyone he’s ever taught, and all the people he’s met traveling. Ever. And my brother (hi, OmaHeck!) remembers the names, faces, social security numbers, and fictional girlfriends of all the guys on the football, baseball, and basketball teams he ever played on. Plus everyone we ever knew growing up, child or adult, and all their pets. I do not make any of this stuff up.
**Um, no. Certainly not. No matter how good the bread it. Never.
***No, of course not. Not that, either.
****Well, duh. That’s not even tempting.