SLOWED to a crawl? How inaccurate.

I’m trying to decide if I should dust the cobwebs off my blog or allow them to stay as festive Halloween decorations.
Probably dust them… I don’t do scary.
Last time I wrote that the twins were starting to crawl. At that point it was *wobble, wobble, move a few inches, beam at me.*
Now it’s ZOOOOOM, CLIMB, STAND, FALL, WAIL – in the same amount of time.
Plus, The Wild Imp is stubbornly convinced that he can stand unassisted.  He SO can’t. He also believes it’s a brilliant idea to hang from the top of the babygate and then fling himself backward.
I spend much of my day diving across the room trying to prevent traumatic head injuries. As a result I wear the bruises instead of him. Many, many bruises.
But, there’s bedtime and naptime and my writing stays alive in these snatches of time. SEND ME A SIGN’s revisions were approved and it’s been moved on to copyedits (HOORAY!) and I just finished revisions on my second book as well. (Lots of Revision Skittles were consumed in the past two months. LOTS).
And my work in progress is a thing of love. I adore it. Everything about it. Even its writing playlist, which I have to stop myself from listening to when I’m not working on it.
The song I play most often is this one:

And while I won’t tell you what it’s about just yet, a HUGE hint is that this band’s name would be a fabulous title for the book.

A SWEET Winner

The wonderful thing about being at a writing retreat set in a hunting lodge in the middle of the woods is… well, almost everything. There’s great company, time and space to write, conversations that fuel creativity, discussion that challenge and stretch, and beaucoup laughter.
The downside of being at a writing retreat set at a hunting lodge in the middle of the woods was missing the Schmidlets. And, that every time someone entered my SWEET Giveaway, I had a new candy craving and no way to satisfy it.
·      Whoppers & Bottle Caps! I hadn’t thought about them in years.
·      Twix! I used to try and convince my mother those weren’t candy, but a form of granola bar.
·      Milk Duds! Delicious and a handy way to tear out fillings.
·      Licorice! I always bite the ends off Twizzlers & use them as a straw. Tasty & functional.
·      M&M’s are clearly the chocolate version of Revision Skittles – Wasabi peas are the healthy version.
·      Peanut Butter Cups! I recently heard that these can be used to make S’mores – have any of you tried this? I need to ASAP.
·      Kit Kat, Almond Joy and Heath lovers – I challenge you to try S’mores with your candies of choice too – make sure to report back to me with your results.
·      And gummy-lovers (both sour and not), you people are my tribe. Let’s all get together and ruin our teeth with chewy deliciousness.
Initially I had big fancy-pants plans about how I would choose a winner – writing all the numbers on gumballs and then filming the winning one coming out of the gumball machine.
But we don’t have a gumball machine, I’m still in my pajamas, and am quite busy making up four days of Schmidtlet-snuggles. So, I defaulted to a random number generator.
Without further ado – the winner is: Loralie! 
Rock your Revision Skittle Boombox with pride – I highly encourage recreations of the scene from Say Anything.
Thanks, everyone, for entering and stay sweet!

A SWEET Giveaway

There are a few awesome things on my desk right now.
1)   My Edit Letter! I think this makes it official. Well, MORE official. It also makes my head spin in the very best of ways.
2)   A bag of Revision Skittles  – No, I’m not sharing. I NEED these.
3)   This fabulous Revision Skittle boombox
 
      And this could be yours. Well, not this one, it’s mine.  But there’s another one downstairs still in its box that could have your name on it.
Music plays a large part in Send Me A Sign, and Revision Skittles played a large part in my writing of it – it seems only fitting that I should pair the two and give one of these away.
The boombox is made by Terracycle  – and this is their description:
“Groove greener with this portable boombox made with up to 80% recycled materials. With its 3.5mm universal plug for you can play music from your iPod, iPhone, MP3 player, laptop, or computer. Batteries not required.”
To enter – leave a comment below where you list YOUR favorite candy.
I leave tomorrow at early o’clock for the Goldblatt Agency retreat – aka Camp Barry – and let’s just say that I’m having some major separation-from-Schmidtlet anxiety. Cheer me up by entering.
I’ll leave the contest open until I get back and will draw a winner on Monday.
Good luck and stay sweet!

Something to Celebrate

I discovered recently that not everyone dyes their milk pink for Valentine’s Day, or green for St. Patrick’s Day. This baffles me. Excluding those with dye allergies, why wouldn’t you?

 

I’m a big fan of celebrations. For big things, I know how to make a BIG fuss… but I like to make a BIG fuss for little things too.
Each year in my classroom I read the kiddos Byrd Baylor’s I’m in Charge of Celebrations because I love the narrator’s mentality of searching out the extraordinary in the ordinary and finding a way to honor it. 

With writing I honor the start of each new project by buying a set of my favorite pens – Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. And don’t forget about Revision Skittles — they’re a tiny celebration for every page completed.

Babies are made for celebrating. Everything they do is miraculous; they are snuggle-sized bundles of magic and love. And each day they grow, learn and change. If I don’t stop and celebrate their discoveries as they happen, it will be too late.
So St. Matt expects the phone calls at work:
Today Asher cooed at the ceiling fan.
Brad just rolled over onto his side – twice!
Oh my head, Brad’s learned how to smile, and he hasn’t stopped doing it all day.
Did you get the pictures?
When I sing Twinkle Twinkle to Asher and twinkle my hands, he twinkles back.
Guess what?! I was burping Brad, and every time I patted his back, his wee little hand patted mine.
We celebrate the ounces they gain and the clothing they outgrow. St. Matt celebrates when they sleep through the night… I mostly want to wake them up and cuddle.
And today we celebrate something momentous – they are 100 days old.
I know that celebrating a baby’s 100th day is a Korean and Chinese tradition, but I’m borrowing it. These past 100 days have been filled with more love and happiness than I have any right to deserve, but they’ve also been tinged with some terrifying moments too.
The twins were two months early. They were little. They both had trouble breathing. And maintaining steady heart rates. They spent their first month in the NICU. They’re both still on apnea monitors that go off with heart-shattering regularity and send St. Matt and I flying across the room to check for color changes and chest movement.
That first month left some physical scars on them and emotional ones on me.
It’s not possible to gaze through the Plexiglas of an isolette at the mess of gauze, tubes, wires, sensors and bandages covering your newborn and walk away whole.
 
 After just looking at those pictures and writing those words I had to wake little Brad up, snuggle him close, and reassure myself that he’s nearly tripled in size and is thriving.
So today, we will celebrate. 100 days. They may be little, but it’s no small accomplishment.
And tomorrow?
We’ll celebrate then, too.

Revisionland

Confession: I love revising. Love it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love drafting too – the suspense of becoming acquainted with new characters and the surprise of figuring out what they’ll say and how they’ll react. ª

I get the whole Girl Scouts’ song “Make new friends…” but I’ve never had a problem with “but keep the old.”

Revisions *contented sigh* are like going home to my friends-since-elementary-school, sitting on a porch and drinking apple cider while we chat and chat.

It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. And it’s engaging. Uncovering new layers, ambitions, motivation. Tightening and interweaving. Discovering threads of nuance I’d already included that need to be enhanced.

Give me colored pens, a large bag of Revision Skittles, and a quiet place to work and I’ll stay happily sequestered until St. Matt or the puggles demand some attention or life intervenes. Emerging for bathroom breaks and refills of my mug and Revision Skittles, pausing for Inspiration Walks, Inspiration Workouts and Inspiration Bubble-baths, my mind is full of beloved characters and trouble spots in the manuscript.

And even when I’m away – 26 sixth graders demand a lot of my attention and energy for much of the week – there are scenes and scenarios bubbling away on the back burner of my brain.

So when I’m lacking on Twitter, slacking on my blog and being a delinquent about returning phone calls, don’t worry. I haven’t been kidnapped by pirates, gotten lost in the woods or come down with an incurable strain of porcine flu.

I’m just ensconced in my revision-cave, sugar-fortified, ink-stained fingers, scribbled-across pages and a smile.

Be back soon.

Write the Rainbow…

I have a tendency to develop little routines. You could call them traditions – St. Matt calls them obsessions. But they’re just little habits that help me get stuff done.

For instance, I’ve listened to DMB’s “Dancing Nancies” on the first day of school for the past 13 years (since my sophomore year in HS). Before I serve in tennis, I have to bounce a few times in place – not the ball, mind you, I bounce me. Every night before I go to bed I have to check that the closet door is shut so I don’t get sucked into another dimension, Poltergeist-style.

Completely normal little routines.

With writing I have many of these. My latest one is Revision-Skittles. I’m not sure when it switched from being that’s-fun to that’s-necessary, but at some point between January and now I started the habit of allowing myself one Skittles Core per page revised.

Skittles really are the perfect candy for revision –besides being made of rainbows, creativity and inspiration – they’re small. Individually they don’t pack much of a calorie wallop, and if I ate enough to have a detrimental affect on my sugar-level, my worry was overshadowed by the thrill of knowing I’d had an excellent revision day. Plus, Revision-Skittle sugar-high carried me through a couple of extended elliptical hours.

Somewhere along the line Bruschi became a Revision-Skittle addict too, and now he will gladly curl up next to me during late-night revision sessions and wait semi-patiently for his loyalty to be rewarded with a circular piece of sugary goodness. And if I’m taking too long with any individual page, he’ll let me know this with a wet nose to my calf or an impatient paw on my arm.

Last week I finished up my second pass on my WIP (currently titled TBALMCSAP, but I seriously need to come up with something better soon). In a minor revision-miracle, not quite as impressive as Chanukah’s 8-days of light, my last bag of Skittles lasted to the final page of TBALMCSAP. I ate the last one as I pressed *SEND* on the e-mail to my first reader & did a happy dance. Tra-la-la!

After church today we stopped at Wegmans to do our weekly shopping. I smiled through the Wonka-esque candy aisle and skipped over to the shelf where Revision-Skittles wait for happy lil’ people like me.

It was empty.

Panic didn’t set in immediately, but it didn’t take longer than 5 minutes either. There are many other revision passes that will need to be made on TBALMCSAP! What about the WIP I began outlining last night. I WILL need to revise again. Soon. The rainbowful flavors began to fade from my memory, my head began to spin…

Before we were even home from Wegmans I was Googling the number for other supermarkets and calling out the digits to an indulgent St. Matt.

As I whimpered, “What if they’ve stopped making them?” He patted my leg and tapped the numbers on his keypad.

“Hello, I was wondering if you had Revision-Skittles in stock?”

Panic = Gone!
Laughter = Extreme!

As I giggled and tee-hee’d St. Matt shot me you’re-in-trouble-looks, corrected himself and managed to ascertain that Giant did stock Skittles Cores but only in large bags. “Oh, that won’t be a problem. Thanks so much.”

So now I’m stocked up. I’m good to go. And someone just sent me something awesome to revise… I don’t know who’s more excited, me or Bruschi!
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