Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ten YEARS ago...?

I can barely remember ten MINUTES ago.


The last ten years have been so packed with stuff that every time something new happens, it pushes something old out of my brain. It's like this--you can really only fit so many clowns into the clown car before they eventually start pouring out the other side. You know?

Let's see... I do know that I didn't have a publishing contract ten years ago... I don't even think I had a finished book. John and I didn't have a house. We didn't have a herd of cats....

We did have the theatre company. I was writing. We were as acutely busy as we are now (well... maybe not quite--but close). But the rest is kind of a blur--a continuum of activity that I find hard to differentiate into 'events'. Believe me when I say that I would make a terrible memoir writer.

That's why it's hard for me to think in terms of a linear progression of what has happened in those ten years. I know the decade started with the fact that the world didn't end with the dreaded Y2K flip-over, much to the chagrin of the disaster-preparedness people in the office where I worked. They were so sure. Heh. Buncha clowns...

What's happened in the interim? Things have gone on.

I know we lost people from our lives.
And, along the way, we gained some too.

I know that all the significant things that happened to me over the last decade have led me to this place that I'm at, even if I can't list specifically what all those things are. But I have a suspicion that, even more than the significant things, it's the utterly insignificant (seeming--at the time) things that have led me here. I guess that's why it's impossible for me to catalog them. I don't really do milestones. I'm terrible at remembering birthdays and anniversaries. Sometimes, I actully have to ask other people how old I am. Because I honestly can't remember.

What I do know, beyond all shadow of doubt is that the last ten years have been extremely good to me. As I sit here in my nook, working on my revisions for my third book, contemplating the fact that I just announced my deal for a fourth in a whole new project, I cannot help but think that the next ten have got some pretty big shoes to fill. Clown-shoes big.

Shiny red clown-shoes. And I kinda like that idea--even if clowns do kinda freak me out.
Cue the circus music... and ask me again in another ten years.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Year of Milestones

When I think of my life in ten year chunks, it makes me feel insanely old, especially because, looking back, 2000 was a big year for me, and it doesn’t feel far enough to be ten years in the distance. So here I’ll recount for you some of the milestones that happened for me that year:

Ten years ago I. . . graduated college. Exactly ten years ago from now, I believe I was just starting my final semester of my senior year which was a pretty easy one, if I recall. I think I only took three courses and one was a fiction workshop and one was my honor’s thesis credits. I can’t remember what the third one was, but it might have been a women’s studies class that focused on women writers. This was the life, I’ll tell you! In addition to these three classes, my only other responsibility was a job I had tutoring at the campus writing center!

Ten years ago I. . . got married. We got married in the summer, so it hasn’t been exactly ten years yet, but almost. This time ten years ago I was in wedding planning hell, which included a bunch of family fights whenever my now-husband and I would attempt to coordinate things with both families and/or do something “simple” like decide where people were sitting during the reception. Ten years later we both still concur that if we had to do it all over again, clearly an elopement would’ve been the wiser and more fun choice.

Ten years ago I . . . moved across the country. Also, this happened in the summer, so it hasn’t been exactly ten years. This time, ten years ago, I was weighing my graduate school acceptances and trying to decide where to go. I ended up picking Arizona because they also offered me a teaching position, and so my husband reluctantly agreed it was my best choice. Neither one of us were big fans of Arizona when we first came to visit, and we swore we’d only be here for two years, tops. Ten years later, and we are still here. What can I say? It grew on us!

Ten years ago I. . .hadn’t ever written anything longer than a short story, and I was working on a small collection of them for my honor’s thesis. My writing goal was to go to graduate school, write more stories, get some published in journals, and then get a story collection published. (I never did any of this, by the way, as I would soon discover that I liked writing novels much better.)

Ten years ago. . .my only “child” was one mildly overweight two year old grey tabby. Today, he is one of four cat children, mildly obese, and prone to some senior moments. (Also, he’s very frightened of the two human children in the house!)

It was a big year, a milestone year. I think I spent a good portion of it stressed (Graduating college, moving across the country, and getting married all at once will do that to a person), but I also spent a good porton of it elated, excited for the future, feeling as if my life were just about to begin.

So what about you? What were you doing ten years ago?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What A Difference A Decade Makes

I love this week's topic. I'm not even sure who suggested it but here's a big huge thank you to my fellow brilliant Novel Girl.

Ten Years Ago I . . .

Worked as a personal assistant to a very talented singer/songwriter, Michael McDonald. He's the former lead singer of the Dobbie Brothers, you know "What A Fool Believes," "Taking it to the Streets," "I Keep Forgettin'."

Arrived in Los Angeles for a huge tribute concert for Michael. Yamaha Corporation, who makes a fantastic grand piano, honored Michael by producing a concert with all of his fellow musical friends and contemporaries. It was a dynamic evening with Ray Charles, Kim Carnes, Patti LaBelle, The Doobie Brothers, Jeff Bridges, Steve Windwood, Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross, James Ingram and many more. In fact there's a video of the event floating around out there called "A Gathering of Friends." You can see me dancing at the very end of the show.

Juggled life, work, and raising two young boys who were 9 and 11 all by myself. Whew. Need I say anything more?

Moved two weeks earlier into a new home in a "neighborhood." My young sons had been begging me to move from our historic 120 year-old-home and move to a more kid-friendly place. It was a tough one for me since I love older homes but I've never regretted making them happy. Plus I moved in next door to my PIC and one of my very best friends in the world, Kathy "G" Peabody.

Wrecked an old boyfriend's sports car while on the way to the local Federal Express office to send him an overnight "Dear John" letter. Whoops, I won't go into more detail about that one for obvious "World Wide Web" reasons.

Had a hard time accepting my age. (What in the world was I worried about?)

Had a half-written manuscript called Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter that spent all its time in my drawer.

Spent the millennium New Year's Eve in the ER because I slammed the tailgate of my jeep onto my head.

Enjoyed a full ten days in Hawaii, jumping off cliffs, surfing, snorkling and making my sons happy. . . a nice, big perk of my job with Michael McDonald.

Missed all my girlfriends from Memphis as I still do - every single day.

Dared to dream of one day becoming a published author. Oh what a difference a decade makes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So Very Different

10 years ago, in January of 2000, I was in the second semester of my junior year in college. And yes, my life was SO very different! I hadn't met my husband yet--that would come the following year--and I lived on a diet of beer and pizza. I viewed an early bedtime as anything before two in the morning, and a night out was always less than $20. I had a horrid fake ID that I bought on the internet, that said I was from Vermont, but was never questioned.

I remember that I laughed a lot, as I had some of the best roommates and friends. Five of us lived in a two-bedroom apartment with a tiny walk-through kitchen. Sure we'd have fights over who didn't do their dishes and the amount of the electric bill, but it was a small trade-off to be continually surrounded by my best friends. And yes, many stories from this time period have made it into my books, in one incarnation or another and I gave my roommates proper credit in the acknowledgements of both.

At twenty years old, my dreams of publication continued to grow. I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation, but I knew someday, I would be a writer. I figured I'd write a book when I had something more to "say" and when I had more free time. (Insert laughter here, as I had about four million more minutes of free time than I do now!)

I was an avid reader, although that nasty thing called school work often got in the way. It was around this time that I first read Marian Keyes' Watermelon, a book that really changed the way I viewed the publishing industry. Her book reminded me that writing should be fun, rather than a vicious, difficult process. (Although it still is, many times.)

I think the most surprising thing is that, although my life has changed in so many ways via a husband, toddler, mortgage, book deal, I'm still pretty similar to the girl who sat in her apartment ten years ago, eating Papa John's pizza and watching Friends. When I recently visited my sister at school, the same school I attended, I wanted to ask all of her friends what they were doing on campus, as they were clearly too young to be in college. My friends and I are supposed to be the ones bar-hopping and walking to class, right?

But then, true to sister-form, she reminded me that I'm thirty years old now, and have a child, so I should feel lucky that I even blend in with the real college students. I think I ignored her and ordered a pizza.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A List of 10!

This is going to be a quick one, as I'm literally going to type the first 10 things that come to mind. Ready? Okay, then:

10 years ago, I...

  1. Had just moved back to Ohio from Oregon. I miss Portland, but I'm also happy here. I like that my family is close, and I like that my kids get to experience family holidays, grandparents at their birthdays/graduations/etc.
  2. Bought a black lab puppy from a local breeder. Sadie is still with us and doing pretty well, but the poor dog has some arthritis in her hips. She's also the size of a small bear (thyroid issues), but she's loving and sweet, and she's an important part of our family.
  3. Had a wedding. It was a small wedding, but attended by those closest to us, and with our 10-year anniversary approaching (we were married on my grandmother's birthday), I'm trying to plan something special.
  4. Worked a full-time job as a manager of a CPA firm (I do not miss tax season at all, btw). Seriously. Not at all.
  5. Only had 2 children (my boys are 7!). It's difficult to imagine our family without the twins, but ten years ago, they weren't even a thought in either of our minds. And honestly, if someone had told me ten years ago that we were going to have twins, I think I would have choked on my coffee. But wow, they make me smile every single day.
  6. Had yet to go to my first RWA conference (though I'd been a member of RWA for several years). I always thought I shouldn't go to the national conference until I thought I was close to publishing, and back then, I worked way too many hours to fit much writing time in, so I kept putting it off. My first national conference was a mere three years ago, and I sold less than a year after that. Hmm, maybe I should have went earlier!
  7. Had yet to join my local RWA chapter. I can't imagine not being a part of this terrific group, but a decade ago, I don't think I even realized there was a local chapter here.
  8. Watched very little TV, but never missed Friends. Sigh. I still miss this show.
  9. Hadn't yet read any of the "In Death" series by JD Robb. This is one of the very few series I'm happy to buy in hardcover the minute a new book comes out. But ten years ago, I didn't think I'd like the futuristic component of these books, so hadn't even given them a try. Silly me.
  10. Was 10 years younger... Yeah. Enough said!

When I think of all the changes this last decade has brought, I'm amazed. When I consider how quickly that decade went, I'm shocked. Time really does fly!

I can honestly say that I'm *mostly* pleased with where my life has gone over the past ten years. Sure, there are a few things that I sometimes wish I'd done differently, but who knows where I'd be today if I had, and right now, my life is good.

What about you? Share a few things about you from 10 years ago! Would you change anything if you could?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Launch Week Mayhem and Madness!

It has been a week of crazy for me. Maybe the most crazy, ever.

Not that I'm complaining.

I had my launch party for DARKLIGHT last week and it was one of the best nights of my life! Not only was it my birthday, as well, but my mom was able to fly out from British Columbia to help me celebrate and we also premiered the book trailer for DARKLIGHT at what turned out to be one heck of a party!

I'm immensely proud of the work that was put into this video and I really want to share it with all of you. So, without further ado, I give you.....

DARKLIGHT: the trailer

Here are some shots from the party:

Check out this cake made of pure awesome!

The party in full swing!

Me trying to sign legibly (with varying degrees of success!)

Reading from the book!

And that's the back of my mom's head in that last shot as she watches her daughter read from her second published novel. Thanks for all your support through out the years, Mom! I couldn't have done it without you!

(PS - for the record, TNG Readers, my top books of last year spots were all thoroughly occupied by the works of my fellow girls. But I also enjoyed Suzanne Collins HUNGER GAMES books, Jim Butcher's TURN COAT, RJ Anderson's FAERY REBELS and Adrienne Kress's TIMOTHY AND THE DRAGON'S GATE! ANd right now I'm reading a lovely MG novel by Helen Dunsmore - THE CROSSING OF INGO which I started in late December - so I'm counting it!!)