Becca Wilhite Blog

May 3, 2012

Catching

Filed under: books,bookstores,events,food,happiness — becca @ 11:33 am

Name a cliche with “catch” in it, and I’m trying to do it. Up? Yep. Catching up. With my life that’s trying to run away without me. A Break? Yep. I’m always trying to catch a break. A Tiger by the Tail? Why not? My Breath? Always.

(But so far I’m not catching a wave or catching hell. Let’s hope that all stays that way.)

New York was perfect in almost every way. I adore the upper East Side of Manhattan. I became a total pro at the subway business. I would live there (Manhattan, not in the subway) for a year. (Husband’s not convinced. I’ve got time to work on him.) It was cold and rainy and sunny and windy and cloudy and cold again, and that was great. Everyone in New York wears a scarf. Everyone. Man, woman, child, and dog. Not kidding. I was glad I had a couple of scarves, because otherwise I did NOT blend in, clothingwise. Remember how color is back? Nobody told NYC. It’s all black, all the time. I stood out like a proper tourist in my orange and blue. Ah, well. No worries.

I spent a great many hours wandering. Museums, book shops, Union Square, Times Square, Park Avenue, Madison Avenue, streets in general and specific. You’d think I’d have come home skinny, but for this: The white-flour based foods. Oh. Yes.

And now it’s time to work on my revision. Because Agent Meredith is excited about submitting, but she’s holding the reigns until I get it right. Whatever. (JUST KIDDING. I WANT IT TO BE RIGHT, TOO. THAT WAS JUST A LITTLE IRONY.) So I’m working on it in chunks and pieces. And it will be great. Because she has good, good, good ideas. And she asks important questions (like “So, what happened to that character who was so important for the first 2/3 of your story? Where did he go?” Oh, that.)

But today, and tomorrow, and also Saturday, it’s time to conference. I’m ready to party with the LDS Storymakers’ people. I’m helping with an intensive workshop critique today (in a few minutes now), and I’m teaching a class on overcoming the things that keep us from writing. That will be Saturday. Right before lunch. Also I made a presentation. Like Powerpoint, sort of, but not. Because it’s different. And nothing flushes off the screen. (The Flush transition always makes me disregard any further points of interest in a PP presentation. You’ve been warned.)

And if you’re in the direct vicinity of Provo, Utah, there’s a massive book signing Friday night (I’ve heard that there might be 100 authors there) at the Marriott at 100N and 100W. I’ll be there. Wearing orange, so you can find me. Maybe that trick won’t work so well in Provo as it worked in Times Square, but I’m trying it anyway. If you come, come say hi. I’ll sign a book for you. Or your arm. Or whatever you stick in front of me, You’ve been warned.

 

April 18, 2011

I’m not old. I’m thirty-seven.

Filed under: body image,bookstores,Dads,spring is coming — becca @ 9:48 am

(If the proper accent with which to deliver that title doesn’t come directly to mind, never fear. We can still be friends. It just means I’m … old.)

Is thirty-seven really that old? My Kids think so. They’re quick to reassure me – “You’re cool, Mom.” But it’s the following eye-roll that sort of negates the compliment, you know? My knowledge of obscure eighties music might win me points with some of the Kids’ friends, but it always comes back to “Wow. You’ve been around here a while, haven’t you?”

Yes. Yes I have.

I recently reported that I’m annoyed with my old-lady eyesight. Update on that: I was waiting for Husband to meet me for lunch last week. I went into a bookstore and browsed through a section of biographies and memoirs, which I don’t read enough of these days. I would read a back jacket copy, put the book down, and read another jacket cover. After seven or eight of them, I looked up toward the exit door. And I couldn’t find it. I knew it was roughly that-a-way (the shafts of sunlight were a pretty good clue) but I couldn’t see the door. At all. I stood staring at it for a while, and it gradually came into focus. Whew. I was simultaneously relieved and annoyed. Which is pretty much where I live these days.

And then there’s movies. I love movies, remember that? I love going to the movies. I love watching films at home. I love it. Really. But why is almost everything c-r-a-p now? I think it’s because I’m old. My Dad said once (or maybe a thousand times) that a PG-13 rating translates to “Guaranteed to offend your mother.” Oh, shoot. I’m that mother. But I have to say, as offended as I’m likely to get by a PG-13 rated film, I stay far away from anything R-rated. It’s one of those commitments I made a long, long time ago that has proved itself useful to me. And now that I have teenaged daughters, I am glad I’ve stayed true to my commitment. Glad, that is, until “The King’s Speech” came out. I pounded my fists and whined. I moaned. I may have even cried. I got on every one of those websites for parents that tell you precisely which material you might find objectionable and why. I shook my head at ratings people. I moaned some more. But when it came right down to it, I said, “Here is my choice. It’s a movie that is – by all reports – stunning and uplifting and spirit-building. Except for that one scene. And even then, it’s only language. But there’s the principle of the thing.”

Principles.

Sheesh.

And so I didn’t see it.

UNTIL… the film company re-released it with some comically non-creative dubbing in That One Scene, which brought the rating down to a solid PG-13. (Which, under the circumstances, totally did NOT offend this mother.)

I went. I saw. I cringed for poor Bertie. I shook my head in wonder and awe at Mr. Firth. And Mr. Rush (oh, my). And Ms. Bonham-Carter. I cheered (inside). I adored this story and this film and the acting and the historicity. (I think that is a real word. Even though I might have made it up if it’s not.) I wasn’t even tempted to reach up and pull the camera down to actors’ head-level (like maybe Husband was).

And I was glad I’d seen it. And I was more glad that I’d waited.

Is that a sign of being comfortable in my old skin?

Speaking of my old skin… Oh, must we? No. We needn’t. So let’s move on.

For most days in the past several months I’ve replaced 2 meals with green smoothies. Want to know how much weight I’ve lost?

None.

Not a bit.

It kind of makes a girl crave some caramel popcorn, if you want to know the truth.

Question of the day? How can you tell he’s a King? (If you choose to answer, keep it PG-rated, will you?)

Also it’s raining. Not snowing. And daffodils are coming. I see yellow parts. Yipee.

February 11, 2011

Storytelling and Links

Filed under: bookstores,food,recommendation,word count — becca @ 9:30 am

There are as many ways to tell a story as there are stories to tell. You know, I like books. But I also like oral stories. And film.

http://www.youtube.com/tellyawards?x=8wROsZqZvKo

The link above tells the story of a young woman from Hong Kong who, when she was sixteen, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her parents disowned her, sent her away, and left her on her own. Through the next ten years of struggle, she made it to a safe place – BYU-Hawaii. Take a couple of minutes, if you would, to watch the video. If you think it’s great, give it a vote. (This is a Peoples’ Choice contest for the Telly Awards. In an ongoing effort toward transparency and honesty, I should tell you that Husband is the writer/producer/director – and the one that makes Cute Yoko cry. It’s a gift.)

LDS Storymakers Conference is coming up the first weekend in May. You are hereby invited to attend. See the pretty new badge on my sidebar? Click on it, and you can find all kinds of information about this great conference, including a glimpse at the editors and agents (they’re big ones, guys) who are coming. And a list of presenters! I’m listed almost last! Because it’s in alphabetical order! (Did you know I used to be an Anderson? Life was different then.) I am getting really excited about my Saturday class (about Truth and Fiction) because it’s coming together and it’s pretty great and also there are quotes. From famous people. I love famous people. Even though the ones I am planning to quote are, in fact, dead famous people. So my love for them, although strong and true, is fairly theoretical.

My word count goal is 750 today. Husband is working at home. Right over there <– on the red chair. I am not a woman of quite enough character to get much writing done when he’s sitting right over there <–. But I will try. And if when I make my goal, I will have a reward. I will research photo tutorials on The Pioneer Woman’s website. Because I love her. And I will do some cybershopping for a new Mac laptop. Just window cybershopping today. Because if I find a laptop that 1) suits me and 2) I can afford, I will be slightly more able to work on writing projects when people are home. Because I can hide in the mudroom (which is clean) or my closet (which is behind several lockable doors).

Tomorrow (Saturday, the 12th of February, don’t-you-know) there’s some Big Fun in Salt Lake City. I know what you’re thinking. There’s always Big Fun in Salt Lake City. And you are correct. But specifically tomorrow, there’s the Breathless Reads Tour at the SL public library downtown, featuring our Very Good Friend Ally Condie. Who will be signing copies of MATCHED.

I stole this from Ally's website. Thanks, Ally's website.

Also, other fine YA authors who (whom?) I am excited to meet. Here’s the deal – you need a ticket, but you can pick up one for free at The King’s English bookshop (which I love) at 15th South and 15th East in SLC. Or you can get to the library tomorrow about 1:00 (instead of 2:00, when the event actually begins) and ask the nice TKE people for tickets. I know this because I called and asked how I could get a ticket (or six) if I was too lazy to drive to SLC in advance of the day.

I do so hope the weekend is sunny and lovely wherever you are. And, for you reading pleasure, here is today’s haiku.

Smoothies

I made a pink one.
The Kids said, Oh, thanks. We love
The ones with no veg.

September 20, 2010

Ahhh. I needed that.

Filed under: bookstores,cuteness,familyness,food,happiness — becca @ 8:22 am

Kid 1 and I took a little road trip this weekend. And very little patience was required for at least thirty hours. Wow, right?

Here’s how it went down. My sister who is NOT Betsy in BBM has a daughter who turned 16 this weekend, so for a surprise, she arranged for us to meet half way between our houses (in exotic and fabulous Boise, Idaho) for a girls’ night/day out. Kid 1 and I left in the middle of her last class (choir, anyone? Let’s go.) and drove with one small suitcase and a whole lot of car snacks.* We were all sneaky checking into the hotel (which was very lovely), telling the cute hostess that this was a top-secret check-in and under no circumstances should she tell our cousin that there was anyone else in the room. She was awesome about it, even though the room was reserved in my sister’s name, and that might not have been entirely legal to let us check in. But hey, we look as honest as the day is long, right?**

So we hid our bags and went out in search of balloons. Which we found. Note: 8 well-filled helium balloons is about the limit for the back seat of Husband’s Mini Cooper. Not sixteen. Just eight. We also hit a bookstore, where I schmoozed up the adorable workers and signed the store’s stock (but only of my books – not anyone else’s). We’d had a top-secret text telling us that they were another hour away, so we got sandwiches and kicked back in the now-decorous hotel room. Then we got the phone call.

Sister: I blew it!

Me: What?

Sister: We’re an hour away, and I told her!

Me: Bozo.***

Sister: (Funny description of the telling, which is inappropriate for polite audiences, which you all are.)

Niece in the background: They’re really there? Meeting us? (*squeals of teenage joy*)

An hour later, we squealed some more, and hugged, and giggled, and stayed up way too late talking and squealing and giggling. When it came, it was a nice quiet sleep, until some annoying alarm started honking. I thought it was a car alarm, except every 8 honks was longer. I dragged my body out of bed and crashed into my sister, who was also seeking the source. Which she found. In her purse. Phone alarm. Fie. (I couldn’t go back to sleep, because I’m trained like that, even after staying up WAY too late.) But everyone else managed to go back to sleep, so I waited politely until I was too excited to wait anymore. After I showered and dried and applied at least 2 beauty products, I woke them all up and channeled a scout master (“We’re burning daylight, people!”) and we started some more fun.

We ate omelettes. Yumminess. We went to the mall, because teenage girls enjoy malls, as a general truth. We tried on clothes. Some of us more successfully than others. We ate smoothies. Good ones. We got pedicures. This was my second time trying that game. I like it. I should find reasons to sit in a massage chair while someone beautifies my feet, just a little more often. Want to see the cousins’ toes? Sorry. I tried. But the wordpress security monkey won’t let me upload the file. So you can take my word for it – the toes are adorable. All forty of them.

In the early afternoon, we had to bust out of there, so they could make the slightly longer drive before too late, and so I could get home before dark. Did you know I hate, hate, hate to drive in the dark? But I love, love, love to drive with my Kid 1. We listened to many musicals, including music from “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Promises, Promises,” “Evita,” “Newsies,” “Hairspray,” “Legally Blonde,” and “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” We may be nerds, but we’re nerds who can carry a tune.

So, to sum it all up, it was a lovely weekend-night-day full of good food and fun conversation and pretty toes. And very little patience required. Thanks to the Husbands (both mine and hers, we each only have one) for making it happen, and Happy Birthday, sweet Niece!

*Here’s what keeps Kid 1 and me happy in the car: Bugles (original), homemade oreos, drinkable yogurt (just me), red vines, carrot sticks and celery, black grapes, those yummy multi-grain crackers (Breton, I think), and Gardetto’s deli-style mustard pretzel mix. Also Lemonheads. And salami.
**I’m referring to mid-June, long, long days. Natch.
***I didn’t really call her that.

September 14, 2010

Stuff

Filed under: bookstores,events,word count,writing — becca @ 8:22 am

Hey, remember that I have a blog?

Nah, me either.

Okay, so it has been nearly a week, and I was hoping that I’d catch up on a whole lot of blog reading (has it really been that long?) but instead I’ve been helping neighbor lady divide some plants, and baking rosemary bread, and working on revisions, and washing copious amounts of blue jeans, and trying to finish “Gone with the Wind” before it’s due back to the library, and making peach jam, and occasionally vacuuming something, and eating as many fresh tomatoes as I can handle, and watching episodes of PSYCH with Husband.

Have we all seen Psych? We should. Netflix. Love it.

Also, I have another appearance to talk about. Barnes and Noble is teaming up with the Murray (Utah) schools, and is having events. We love events. Having events is much pleasanter than having issues. So the events in question are happening next weekend. Thursday night (September 23rd) the Murray B&N is hosting kid-book authors for a book fair and signings. Friday night, they’re hosting teen authors. Nine of us. I only know me. I could ask for a list, but I might grow neurotic at all the surrounding authorial awesomeness and do something stupid like obsess about my shoes or wardrobe instead of just showing up to have a few hours of book-related fun. Visit my appearances page for all kinds of details. Or don’t. But consider yourself invited, either way.

Have I told you the name of my main character in my current project? She’s Ivie. I have (had) a great grandma (she was really Nana) named Ivie. Awesome, huh? Ivie runs. I don’t know if my Nana ran. She fed us Ritz crackers, though, and made driftwood sculptures, and had a heavy, dark curtain on her living room window, which let in slants of dusty light only at the corners. Nana lived on the hill in Oakland California, right down the street from Grandma Jennie. This is all you need to know. Wait – this is a great deal more than you need to know. But you’re welcome, anyway. I have gone past my minimum word-count goal, and I’m still moving forward on it. This is good news. Not that it’s going to be a long book. It’s not. I enjoy writing short-ish books. So I will continue to do so. But this one is slightly less short-ish.

Today is my last day to be 36. Just saying. More on that tomorrow, I believe.

August 19, 2010

Doing Stuff.

Filed under: books,bookstores,events — becca @ 9:37 am

I like doing fun stuff. So maybe you do, too. Consider yourself invited to join in the following fun (which you can always check on the SIGHTINGS tab, right up there in the middle, yeah, right there):

August 28th (that’s next Saturday, peeps) – In the morning and afternoon, there’s excellent fun to be had with the ladies and gentlemen from Tooele’s Purple Cow Bookshop. Here’s a link. Today is the last day to buy tickets for the brunch (because who wouldn’t pay to watch me and Lisa Mangum eat?), but there’s big fun all afternoon for free, too. Party from 10:00 till 4:00. (I’ll be there until 1.)

Later in the day (but also earlier, if you see what I mean) there’s the KSL Book Festival. That one goes from 10:00 – 6:00, and I’ll be there at 3:30, talking it up and laughing at my own jokes. Teen stage. Be there. Bring confetti. (At the risk of going all fangirl, I have to tell you that Avi presents at 12:30. While I’m in Tooele. I’ll be having a great time, but if Tooele is out of the question, get yourself up to the University of Utah campus for some Avi. I know.)

Then there’s this: If you’re a writer, or a reader, or a teacher, librarian, bookstorian, or even if you’re not, there’s the Book Academy at UVU. It’s a one-day conference on September 30th, jam-packed with great classes and lectures. I’m teaching about comedy, natch. (That was not irony. Not at all.) The bedimpled Brandon Mull is keynoting. Keynoting is a word. Bedimpled, apparently not.

So do you want to come do stuff with me? Because it’s fun. And we lurve fun.

April 7, 2010

A Bit of Random

* You know staying home at night? With your family? Those people you like, and who live in your house? You know staying home and eating dinner and having a bowl of popcorn and maybe watching Pixar Shorts? Yeah. I miss that.

* I wrote 1800 words on Monday. That is a lot of words. I may keep them all. Every word. I know, right?

* It was 27 degrees when I picked up Kid 4 from Kindergarten.

* But the sun is shining, so I have hopes for warmer-ness this afternoon.

* I won’t hold my breath.

* The King’s English is awesome, crammed full of shelves and shelves of great books, lots of little staircases, and blank notebooks that make me want to buy pens. Also great staff who (get this) love books and readers. Also writers. *sigh of contentment*

* Kids 3 and 4 started with a new piano teacher yesterday. Remind me if I’m ever a teacher (but not a piano teacher, that’s just crazy talk) that I should be like her – happy to see progress, quick to correct the lazies, sincere and appropriately complimentary. Ahhh. Lovely.

* Do you know that although all six-year-old boys are NOT the same, I’m pretty sure that, across the board, they find the word “underpants” amusing?

* Have you heard of  a garden product called “Wall of  Water”? It extends your plants’ growing season. This is exciting for me, since here in the frozen mountaintops we get a real frost the first week in June and another one the end of August. This bodes ill for deliciousness like tomatoes. So this Wall of Water thing, it insulates. The plants grow inside it and you can put things out in the garden 4-6 weeks before the end of the last frost. Also they can stay after the first frost. Like the Plant that Kept on Growing, see?  I bought nine today. Bruschetta, here we come. But not today. Because there’s still snow on the garden. But soon. Soon.

* “Keturah and Lord Death” by Martine Leavitt. Read it. Then we should talk. But read it. (She has True Truths there, about death and pain and love and lemon pies. And the relationship between Gretta and Tailor? Brought tears. It was that good.) And now I want Mrs. Leavitt to be my friend.

February 15, 2010

Irony

Filed under: books,bookstores,character,events,irony,visiting — becca @ 4:33 am

I did a fun event this weekend – at the lovely Purple Cow bookshop. Loads of cute families, and even one of my favorite families from Many Years Back! The crowd was delightful, and the women who work that shop LOVE their books and the kids who read them. Thanks, Isa, for having me! *Sigh* It was lovely.

And something funny happened.

By funny, I mean… odd. Strange. Well, I’ll just tell you.

This really nice lady who was there being an author talked about being a young girl and wanting to write. What she loved was Historical Romance. Swoony period stuff. She was so excited to write and share that she took a manuscript to her grandmother. She was in sixth grade. The writer. Not the grandma. So her grandma read over her work and said to her, “Why in the world are you writing this kind of trash?” I know, right? Heartbreaking, soul-crushing, disastrous. But what this woman learned (eventually, I’m guessing) is that you can’t listen to critics. Criticism kills. I’m totally with her at this point. Nodding my head and everything.

Then.

She introduced her daughter, also working at  being a writer. And she said that this daughter (maybe she was in High school, at least that’s how old she looked to me) is really into paranormal romance. Actually, she said “vampire love fiction” and she said it with a Very Noisy Sneer in her voice. And then she actually said, “I hate that stuff. Hate it. I won’t read what she’s writing.”

And didn’t even seem to sense the irony.

Part of me wanted to laugh. Because, duh. She is her own grandmother. But another, bigger, maybe more sensitive part of me said, wow. That is so, so sad. She has no idea what she is doing. She has no idea that she is criticizing a whole genre, and more importantly, a very important person (hello, her own child!) for participating in it. She sneered at her for reading it. For writing it. I had to sit on my hands to keep myself from walking over to that daughter and saying, “Hey, guess what. Lots of people like the thing you do. And maybe it’s a phase. But write it anyway if it’s in your head and in your heart, because maybe you’ll come out of this phase a better writer than you went into it, and someone (even if it isn’t your mom) will read and like some of the work you do.”

But of course, I didn’t say any of it, and that’s probably because it’s none of my business. But hey, writers? If you’re writing something someone thinks is dumb, or overdone, or lame, or copy-catty, or fluffy, or too pop-u-lar, here’s what to remember.

1. Writing (writing anything) makes  you a better writer. Write. Write. Write.

2. Criticism kills. Don’t let it kill your important relationships.

3. If you love it, write it. Because nobody else’s love is going to validate your writing like your own love will.

End of lecture. But I just have to wonder, what am I doing that I totally miss on a regular basis? What deep ironies of my character are invisible in the mirror?

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