Thursday, July 23, 2009

Naming My Novel

Dear Readers,

Help! I need your input on what to name my novel. I haven’t landed on anything I absolutely love or that I feel truly represents the story. Here is the description of the book—possibly what would be printed on the back:

For seventeen-year-old Tessa Monroe, surviving the hurricane that destroyed her ship and killed her father was only the first step in staying alive. Now an unwilling captive on the ship that rescued her, Tessa joins forces with Nicholas Holladay—a charismatic sailor with uncertain loyalties—to fight for a future that may not exist anymore.

When I ask an agent for representation, they read this and see the title of the work and pretty much base their decision on that. So the book’s name needs to be catchy, compelling, and accurate. I’m not sure if the title I was using before was catchy or compelling.

Now, for a little inside info that may help you help me. This book is set in the Spanish Main during the Golden Age of Piracy (specifically the early 1700’s). Tessa is from a wealthy British family. Nicholas is an outlaw. We have a lot of ships, swordfights, swashbuckling, clandestine kisses, star-crossed passion, bad guys, and bravery. I classify my book as a commercial young adult novel with elements of romance, adventure, and historical fiction. It is narrated by our heroine Tessa.

I think it’s important for the title to allude to romance and the ocean/Spanish Main/piracy aspect. But I don’t want it to sound like a Harlequin romance novel—you know, the kind with the half-naked man on the cover with long, flowing hair and perfectly shaped nipples.

I created a poll on the right with some titles I am considering. Just by title alone, what book would you pick up? Is there a title that jumps out at you as being the most compelling? Is there a title that tells you that this book is going to be romantic, fun, and full of adventure? Please vote and also leave any comments with suggestions.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pray for Camden

My 2 1/2 year old nephew Camden needs your prayers. He had an accident a week or so ago where his hand got caught in a treadmill and he suffered from some pretty nasty third degree burns. Yesterday, he had an arterial bleed in his hand and ended up in the ER and he lost a lot of blood (read the full story and see gory pictures on Julie's blog). He is going to have a skin graft on Friday. There is concern that without physical therapy, his hand will heal with contracture - permanent curvature of the fingers - and that the physical therapy loosens the blood clots and cause him to bleed. Hopefully the surgery will help. At 2 1/2 years old, this kid is already addicted to basketball and sports, so I truly hope his hand will heal and he will have full use of it in his future. Please keep him in your prayers.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Free Weekend at Yellowstone

If you like free stuff...and you're reading this before your Sunday is over...and you have no plans for the rest of Sunday...go to Yellowstone Park because it's free this weekend.

We found this out by a happy accident. We met up with Justin's parents and grandmother in Yellowstone for a picnic and a day of fun. We had such a good time we think we'll actually go back tomorrow because, hey, free fun!

Here are some pics from today:

Hanging out in West Yellowstone, Montana, in a park. An actual grass and jungle-gym park, not the bears and trees and geysers park. :) (also, what do you think of the dark hair?)

We had a picinic in West Yellowstone: Justin, Grandma, Joci, Great-Grandma, and Grandpa.

Grandma was very possesive of her time with her grandbaby.

Grandma bought Joci this cute Yellowstone onesie. Too bad she can't wear it for a few more months or else I would put her in it tomorrow.

Great-grandma playing with Joci

Justin, Joci, and Grandpa

the very rare Yellowstone big horned beetle on our windshield

Joci at the paint pots area

a geyser at the paint pots area

This water is so blue because it's over 170 degrees - too hot for any algae or bacteria to grow in it.

After a long day, Joci just wanted to cuddle. Awwww...I love that.

Friday, July 17, 2009

3 Months Old and Daycare

What a week!

I thought that my first few days back at work would be slow. No such luck...or maybe it was lucky. I was swamped right away and as busy as a bee, so I didn't have too much time to mope about being at work or missing Joci.

Taking Joci to daycare was hard. I cried and cried every day my last week home with her. I was bawling as I was getting her things together Sunday evening and labeling them with a permanent marker. Tears streamed down my face as I did the paperwork.

Monday morning, Justin and I dropped Joci off together. I held it together pretty good. Didn't really cry too much at the daycare, but I did have some tears for the first half hour of work. Luckily, Joci's daycare is onsite at my company. She's just across the parking lot and I can go see her any time, so I go over every day at lunch. Of course the teachers there love her. Joci has adjusted well. I always worry that she won't get enough attention because she's so quiet, but I know they take care of her and they always have so much to say about her, so they must adore her almost as much as I do.

I'd forgotten how much I liked my job. I love what I do and the people I work with and being surrounded by all that fun stuff has made it easier to be back to work. If I hated my job, I can't imagine how I could cope with it. I've had fun writing speeches lately which is something new for me, but cool.

Today Joci is exactly 3 months old and exactly 13 weeks old. This is the first time her month marker and week marker have been on the same day. Here are some facts about her at 3 months old:

  • She finally has a "birth mark" (though it wasn't there at birth) - a red mole on her left ring finger
  • She sleeps for 8-9 hours at night
  • She loves to suck on her fist
  • She doesn't seem as interested in rolling over as she when she was 6 weeks old
  • She eats 4 ounces of formula every three hours during the day
  • She has "coo conversations" with us and is very smiley - especially for Daddy

Last week I had my own "photo shoot" with her. Nothing fancy, but here are some cute pictures I got of her.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Not That Classic

Oh how I want to be an intellectual. I want to be that charming, sophisticated - yet incredibly beautiful - woman who surprises you with scintillating conversation about neoclassic architecture and the geo-political ramifications of bioengineering.

I want to spend at least an hour every day in my mahogany paneled library, sitting in a plush high backed chair near the fire reading literature that shaped and changed the world.

I think classic literature is important. Perhaps even classic movies, too. And if I am ever to be important (and I would be lying if I said I didn't) then I need to be current on important stuff, right?

Lately, I've been trying to read a lot of classic books that I've never read before. To round myself out and experience these masterpieces that have touched the world so deeply. And here's my confession: most of them are so boring I have to gnaw my fingertips off to stay awake!

What is wrong with me?

Don't get me wrong...I've enjoyed some of the classics. The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite book. I loved The Inferno by Dantes. I ate up Wuthering Heights. And Huckleberry Finn was a great read, too. Heck, I even enjoyed The Iliad and The Odyssey.

But I couldn't get through Sense and Sensibility. Fahrenheit 451. Robinson Crusoe. Seriously, is something wrong with me?

As much as I want to be a classic snob I have to confess that I'm not. I'm commercial. I like the murder-thriller-mysteries you can buy at the check out line in Wal-mart. I like flippant chick lit. I really like young adult novels about the rough teenage years.

And movies are the same way. One year Justin and I decided to watch every Oscar-nominated movie. Holy boring! Not that there wasn't some merit to those movies. Not that they weren't a good experience. But I didn't have fun. Give me some slapstick comedy or a total formula-driven rom-com instead. I'll eat it up.

I think a lot of people will agree that Oscars always go to the "weird" movies. And I think books that get labeled as classics are also a little on the "weird" side.

And now that I am acknowledging and embracing my nature, you'll find me in my mahogany panelled library in a plush high back chair sitting by a crackling fire re-reading Twilight or thumbing through the latest issue of People. And guess what? I could honestly care less about the geo-political ramifications of trashy literature!

P.S. Fifty-eight percent of adults haven't read a book since high school. That's more than half! Is it because we feel judged for liking Harry Potter better than War and Peace? If that's what it takes, dump the boring classics and get lost in something juicy, fun, and -gasp!- commercial.

Today's Top 10

It changes every moment, but here are my top ten favorite things about Jocelyn at this second.

  1. The way she smells

  2. The adorable coo sound she makes when she yawns

  3. When she's sleeping and you touch her lips, she juts her bottom lip out in an extreme pout

  4. She always holds my hand/finger when she eats

  5. The funny noises she makes when she is really hungry

  6. In her swaddler, when she's waking up, she lifts her toes so high and her head, so she's shaped like a banana

  7. When she smiles, her eyes smile. You can tell when she's grinning even if a binky is in the way.

  8. Her long eyelashes

  9. How she smiles at the sound of my voice.

  10. When we have skin-on-skin time and how cozy she gets in my arms for hours

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, America!

Stephanie, Jeff, and their kids came up to spend Independence Day with us and Jordan and Cindy and Afton. We had a lot of fun with everyone. Ellie loves Jocelyn. She would hold her for hours straight and she is very good at taking care of a little baby. She never got bored of holding her.

Friday we went to Blacktail Park. Jordan took his boat up there and went fishing with Afton in the morning. They caught three fish. Justin and I and Fredericks arrived aroun noon and we had lunch and watched the kids (and Shiloh the dog) play in the water. We played a fun game of truth or dare and Jessica loved daring everyone to run to a tree and shout "I'm a monkey!" three times. A fast moving thunder storm blew us away and we were hit by rain.

It sure was green and the water was high.

Mason was the bug man. He found this huge beetle. Earlier a butterfly landed on his hand and he walked around with it for a couple minutes.

Justin found a comfy spot to take a nap.

Actually, he dozed in this chair with Jocelyn.

Jessica dancing. This was one of her dares.

Jonah with a Twizzler mustache.

Afton, Ellie, Jocelyn, Jonah, and Mason. Jessica was playing in the water.

Ellie held Jocelyn all afternoon. We had to really convince her to put the baby down and go on the boat once.

Saturday morning, we went to the parade. Justin and I went to Reed's Dairy for ice cream afterwards. Then we had a barbeque at my place and almost got rained out. We moved the grill into the garage and the girls put on their bathing suits and ran in the rain and jumped in the gutters. When life gives you in the rain! Jordan brought over his dry ice and his "cannon" for more homemade explosives. After only three dry ice bombs, Jordan and Justin blew themselves up. Justin was just surprised but Jordan's hand was cut up pretty good. It was a little more short-lived than last year. :)

Miss Independent

Waiting for the parade to start

You're a grand ol' flag...

Jonah in a tree watching the parade.

Afton and Ellie

Then we went to the fireworks. Jordan is friends with someone who owns a house on the river right across from where the fireworks are lit. The show was VERY LOUD, VERY LARGE, and VERY EXCITING! A little bit dirty too! We got showered with bits of ash and the occassional piece of firework debris. Mason and Ellie kept their heads under a blanket most of the time. Afton wore her sunglasses and Jordan's hunting ear protection, so she was prepared. We put cotton in Joci's ears. She is just like her mom though! She loved the fireworks. The loud noises and vibrations made her smile and she liked watching the lights. It was a good weekend. Thanks for the memories, Jordan and Stephanie!

Here are some recent cute pictures:
Katie wasn't sure if she liked to be swaddled.

Katie curled up on the bouncy chair.

Jocelyn's brand new "toy" poodle.

The dogs love all the baby blankets laying around.

Jocelyn dressed up for church. Justin picked out this dress when we learned we were getting a baby girl.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

50 Goals and Accomplishments

My dear friend Meagan posted about making a list of 50 goals and accomplishments in life. I thought that was a fun idea. And besides, my mom is nagging me to have a "life plan/timeline." While I am against the rigid structure of a timeline, I'm not against setting goals and acknowledging my accomplishments. Here goes:


  1. Go to the opera

  2. Have a food fight

  3. Ride in a hot air balloon

  4. See the Egyptian pyramids

  5. Ride a gondola in Venice

  6. Have a novel published

  7. Go to New York City

  8. Learn to saddle and ride a horse all by myself

  9. Become fluent in another language

  10. Have no credit card debt

  11. Have 3 months salary in savings

  12. Have some form of residual income (preferably royalties from a best selling book!)

  13. Learn to can food

  14. Make a quilt

  15. Be present at a birth

  16. See the northern lights

  17. Learn about ancestral cultures and integrate their customs into my life

  18. Record a song

  19. Learn to ice skate

  20. Run a half marathon

  21. Spend the night in a castle

  22. Fit into my wedding dress again and have portraits taken

  23. Go on a safari

  24. Plant a tree

  25. Build a treehouse

  26. Solve a Rubik's Cube

  27. Learn to play the guitar

  28. Identify seven constellations


  29. Be a mother

  30. Adopt a child

  31. Donate blood

  32. Write a novel

  33. Get a Bachelor's degree

  34. Be a paid writer

  35. See Chichen Itza

  36. Learn to paint and display the art

  37. Cook well

  38. Kiss someone in the rain

  39. Sing karaoke

  40. Regularly donate to a charity

  41. Catch, cook, and eat a fish

  42. Get married

  43. Own a house

  44. Grow food in a garden

  45. Learn to shoot a a rifle and a handgun

  46. Skinny dip

  47. Take a pilates class

  48. Ride a train

  49. Visit Rome

  50. Be in a play/musical

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Night of Power Ballads

I was tired last night. It was midnight and I was tired. I finished my daily writing goal and was getting all nestled into my bed. Justin was on his side of the bed with his laptop, downloading his favorite Air Supply album - one that, until recently, was not available on anything but an LP. He then had to share his favorite Air Supply song with me (I Can't Go On). I then sang mine (Making Love Out of Nothing At All). He shut his laptop down and we laid there in the dark and we started singing another great Air Supply song, I'm All Out of Love. Oh, that's a good one. That one got everyone born after 1970 through a breakup.

Oh, songs that got us through breakups...

All By Myself by Celine Dion
You're a Hard Habit to Break by Chicago
Hard to Say I'm Sorry by Chicago

Oh, Chicago songs! I had their album. I snuck it into girls camp and played it on my walkman and reveled in my unrequited love for...I'm not gonna say who.

And Chicago led us to Peter Cetera...
Glory of Love
Next Time I Fall
After All
I Wanna Take Forever Tonight

Ah, the power ballads...

And then I told Justin about Tape Number Four.
Growing up, our video tapes were numbered. Tape Number Four had recorded several hours of MTV in the eighties. And oh those videos! We loved them! Julie and I memorized the "dance moves" on Robert Palmer's addicted to love. Stephanie watched "Love of a Lifetime" over and over and over again (something must have been going on that I was too young to pick up on then). And Kokomo...with John Stamos...that pink tank top. That heartbreaking smile. Oh, how I wished I were those bongos.

So at 3 a.m. I broke out my laptop and we looked up some of these videos. And my favorite MJ video which was SO COOL when it came out because of the computer effects. (These videos won't imbed. Follow the links.)

I dedicate this one to Stephanie Glenn Maderios "A Long and Lasting Love."

I dedicate this one to Julie. Remember how we'd try to pause it when Mr. Stamos smiled?

And I dedicate this one to the memory of the King of Pop:

We had a fun, silly night singing power ballads until 3 a.m. Justin and I are still like crazy lovesick school kids and it's the best!


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