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Just a few minutes to chat

Well, hello!

I thought I'd take just a few minutes to chat. I feel like we haven't all caught up with one another in a while. Possibly you're at NCTE or some fun "Con". Maybe you've been away somewhere but just got back. Maybe you haven't been anywhere in so long that life is just wearing you down. But I figured that before I sign off the interweb and start my evening writing session, maybe just maybe we could catch up a bit.

I'll tell you what I'm up to, and then you can tell me what YOU are doing in the comments. And I hope you'll also talk amongst yourselves. (I'll give you a topic: Tell us what you're up to.)

Writing-wise, I've been a busy girl. I am still really loving my WIP, which is now around 11,000 words - longer than anything I've ever written, and written in a shorter time than most. Weird, but true. I'm only in chapter five of a planned 23, so we'll see how things fare, but still . . .. I've also sent a few things out on submission - poems to journals, for instance. And Jane to agents. And so forth. Plus I'm working on interview questions for the Winter Blog Blast Tour (WBBT), which is gonna ROCK - I'll be interviewing Marilyn Singer, Linda Sue Park, Sarah MacLean and L.K. Madigan, not necessarily in that order. And I've been coordinating stuff with the poetry panel for the CYBILS - the first panel is still tracking down books (a major task, since some of the larger publishers were unable to send review copies to the panelists this year) and reading, but they've started their discussions, which I'm ignoring, to be frank - I just need to know they're happening, not what's being said!. And I've been tracking down a copy of a Steampunk book I've been meaning to read since it came out because the week after the WBBT is going to focus a bit on works of Steampunk/Alternate History. And I'm working on a few single poems (mostly grown-up ones) and still trying to brainstorm ideas for Picture Book Idea Month, and we have Volume III of Sense & Sensibility to go, and so forth. Lots to do, yet it's all good stuff.

Reading-wise, I've been a bit of a slacker. I've been re-reading books by the folks I'll be interviewing for the WBBT, you see, in order to think up my questions. I've also been reading other interviews of them that I can find on the Web, etc. But I do have Linda Sue's newest book, A Long Walk to Water queued up to read - also part of my prep, but at least it's a new title (and one I'm very much looking forward to reading!).

Other-wise, I've been keeping up with laundry well, housekeeping and cooking only passably, and I really need to make lists for both groceries and holiday shopping. I'm hoping that S gets into James Madison University, since she applied early decision and reallyreallyreally wants to go there. I'm looking forward to Tuesday night, when the kids will both be dancing as part of their school's Spirit Week competition. This year's theme was "classic Nikelodeon shows". S is a senior. The seniors chose first and went with Rugrats. Boy did I love that show. I still quote it now and again, actually. M is a sophomore. They chose third, and went with Rocket Power. I'm looking forward to seeing Love and Other Drugs when it comes out, and thinking that I really, truly need to clean the garage out one of these days.

See how quickly that turned into lists of "things to do"? Weird, isn't it? Yet if I don't make the lists, not all that much gets done, or so I've found. I've also figured out, however, that while I take satisfaction in knocking things off the list once they're done, the things that are really, truly most satisfying are the ones that I've actually dedicated my energy to. Going through the motions doesn't lead to the same bone-deep sense of wellbeing and/or satisfaction. Not that I ever get that particular level of satisfaction from doing the laundry, come to that.

So, tell me: What have you been doing? And what has given you the greatest satisfaction lately?

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( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 21st, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
Writing-wise, I've managed to finish a revision and dip my toes in to a new project. But it's slow going.

Reading-wise, I'm doing okay, although I'm a good 100 books behind last year's reading total, so I doubt I'll catch up before the end of the year ;)

Other-wise, I'm hanging in there. Life gets so busy, and I'm trying to enjoy the day-to-day moments in between the overwhelming busy-ness.
Nov. 21st, 2010 04:17 am (UTC)
Slow-going is fine. When readers eventually read it, they will not know which words came fast and which came slow.

I think my reading is off-pace, too. I engaged in altogether too much comfort reading (re-reading, really) this year, which has kept my overall totals down.

And I hear you. Trying to find those still, small moments is hard, and something I need to do more of.
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Nov. 21st, 2010 04:19 am (UTC)
Germany is indeed fascinating. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich alone (both book title and topic) is huge, let alone the Weimar Republic and the rebuilding and the two Germanys and reunification . . .

Fingers crossed on your other WIP. And if that editor doesn't like it, another one will.

Sorry to hear your kids moved so far away, but hopefully they are all happy in their new home.

All the rest sounds good. Love your "Am not reading" comment!
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Nov. 21st, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
What I'm not reading (but could be) is a terribly long list.
Nov. 21st, 2010 01:41 am (UTC)
I saw Deathly Hallows and want to blog about it but I think I will wait until I see it for a second time. Bottom line: I was WEEPING at the end of the movie.

I am still loving my students this year but I had to write some referrals this week. I think they are ready for our three-day Thanksgiving break, and I am too. The thing giving me the most satisfaction at work right now is that they are actually reading independently and connecting with their books, and we're having good discussions during our end-of-the-week share time- I think the reading response journals I introduced this year are really working to some extent. I even see kids recommending books to each other, love that!

My NaNoWriMo project is getting really strange and I'm just going to keep going, because I want to prove to myself that I can finish a long piece of fiction. I just keep getting ideas for other stories, though, and getting distracted- I was able to push a medieval werewolf idea out of my mind because I think the world has enough werewolf books, but now I think I'd like to write a middle-grade or YA story that would pretty much be written for kids like my reluctant readers who don't like SF, horror, or fantasy and have already read every Gary Paulsen, Jerry Spinelli, and S.E. Hinton book in the library. The main character I have in my head is a really outdoorsy kid, either a hunter like most of my kids or a fisherman (I could write more convincingly about fishing than hunting!) BUT I want to finish my NaNo first so I don't just add to the folder of stories that died halfway through. I'm at 14,107 words right now.

I finished my re-read of Order of the Phoenix and the book at the top of my TBR pile is Eighth Grade Bites, only because my students are begging me to read it.

Good luck to S on getting into JMU!
Nov. 21st, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
First, thanks for that wish of luck!

Wasn't Deathly Hallows spectacular? Did you read tessagratton's post about it? I commented in far more detail there, since she went ahead to the spoilery place and I didn't. I wasn't sobbing at the end, although quite a large percentage of the theatre was, although I was teary. I thought Hermione's "obliviate" spell at the start was nearly as painful as Dobby's funeral, if I'm being honest. Seeing it happen, rather than her relating it, was sososo much worse somehow. But what a fantabulous film!

I'm glad you're enjoying teaching, and I'm POSITIVE you have earned a much-needed break soon! The reading journals was a terrific idea, I think. And your NaNo progress is excellent. I know just how you feel about fearing yourself unable to finish a long project. I started my current WIP in the usual way - by starting the text, and partway through the third chapter, I froze up, panicked that I'd never be able to pull off a full novel. So I downloaded the Scrivener for Windows Beta and made myself write the shortest possible version of it - it's very much like a plot summary you might find in, say, SparkNotes. Only I prefer to think of it as a "chubby outline", because the phrase is funny. And I finished my story that way, and have now doubled back to flesh it out. It's not always easy, but I am able to make consistent progress, and I'm nearly done writing chapter 5. Hee.

But this was meant to be more about you, and I have to say that your ideas of tabling things is a good one. Write down the bits that just won't leave you alone and promise to come back to them, but prove to yourself that you can finish that long draft. Because you will be happily surprised to find that you can. (I cannot claim to be prescient usually, but in this one case, I am certain I am right.)
Nov. 21st, 2010 02:33 am (UTC)
"Maybe you haven't been anywhere in so long that life is just wearing you down." <---- Yes, that. Not that I necessarily need to go anywhere (I just blogged about how traveling freaks me out!). I think it has more to do with the day-to-day grind. I *hate* working full-time. I also hate WHERE I work! I'm looking forward to the holidays, but not so much the winter.

Writing-wise: I'm working on a major revision on my YA thriller, Altered, which I'm supposed to have to my agent first week of December. Eek! It's coming up so quickly. Then, in January, as long as the book is where it needs to be, we're going out on submission. This also freaks me out. I'm hoping to work on a new project to keep my mind off Altered's journey in the Big Wide World.

Reading-wise: I'm currently reading The Replacement and it is GOOD. I've slacked off in this area, too. I had a goal for 50 books this year and I'm only at like 28. *sigh* Oh well, life has been busy!

Great post, Kelly!
Nov. 21st, 2010 04:35 am (UTC)
I very nearly put my Yoda icon on your response, because I fully intend to remind you that once you have handed your revisions over to your agent, you are not going to HOPE to work on a new project. You are going to DO it. (Quoth Yoda: "Do, or do not. There is no try.") I am 100% convinced that if you commit to doing that new project, you will, in fact, make progress. And progress will help to settle that frantic feeling that can come along when you feel helpless, as we all do when we are simply waiting for other people to do things. And since there will be little you can do for Altered at that point, you will find something you can do, be it reading 22 books or starting something new. No surprise, but I know more than a little bit about being a control freak, and just the ability to have something under your control is vastly stabilizing. ;)

And I haven't read Brenna's book yet (*slaps own hand*), but I will get to it before the end of the year.

And I saw your post about hating your job, but at least you know it's not a forever thing, which puts you ahead of quite a lot of other people who also hate their jobs but have no end in sight. Yes? Or too "glass half-full" for today?
Nov. 21st, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
Oh no, I'm definitely a glass half-full kind of person. It makes it a little easier going to work everyday. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I know everyone says not to plan on being able to quit your day job once you sell a book, but hoping for it can't hurt. Plus, I don't make that much as it is! So it won't be hard to replace. :)

Plus, if I sell one book, then I have my foot in the business door! And I WILL work on that new project, so hopefully I'll have something to fall back on if Altered doesn't work out. Or maybe I'll sell Altered, then New Book too? Maybe that's hoping for too much, but I'm willing to put in the work to give it a go!

Nov. 21st, 2010 10:20 am (UTC)
I'm currently at PhilCon, having a blast :)
Nov. 21st, 2010 01:31 pm (UTC)
I knew about the "at PhilCon" part, but I'm exceedingly glad to hear the "having a blast" bit!
Nov. 21st, 2010 11:58 am (UTC)
thanks for the update! Sending good agent-love thoughts for Jane!
here's really hoping S gets her first choice.... my son also applied early decision to his school and is counting down the days...
I am revising a project and not keeping up with laundry or housekeeping very well and now facing getting the house and pantry ready for Thanksgiving (2 of 4 voting against turkey, so not even sure what I will cook!) while sniffling into tissues (due to a cold) and wanting to retreat under quilts to read. Hmmm. this is really boring stuff!

Sending you very best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving....
Nov. 21st, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
Which school is your son pulling for (if you're allowed to say), so I can send specific good thoughts his way? And I'm glad I chose my tea icon for this, since you seem to need some tea - a cold is no fun at all.

A few years back we went to Thanksgiving at one of hubby's relatives's houses and they served roast chicken - someone in the family didn't like turkey. How would that fly? (Fly? GET IT? *groans at own joke*) Thanks for the good agent and Thanksgiving wishes, and know that I am sending you get-well and Thanksgiving wishes back, along with "early admission" wishes.
Nov. 21st, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
Oh thank you!
Cornell School of Industrial Labor Relations , which is a good fit for his economics/public policy/quest to take over the world (or at least tell everyone what's wrong with it) brain. :)

I went ahead and bought a good local turkey but also good gruyere for fondue and am well stocked on local veggies from the farmer's market.... so it will be an "interesting" meal at least.

thanks for the good wishes!
Nov. 21st, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
Son's trying not to leave home, I take it? (I'm nearly positive that's not why he picked Cornell, but I couldn't resist . . . ) I very much hope that he gets in!

Also, I now picture your son as Brain.

Pinky: What are we going to do tonight, Brain?
Brain: Same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!
Nov. 21st, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
yes, that conversation was oft repeated round our house, long before I realized it was prophetic...

I was hoping he'd look further afield @ schools -- he looked, but keeps coming back to this as his top choice -- despite the gloomy winters :(

It's a big year, that's for sure, and hope it's progressing calmly/well for you & S
Nov. 21st, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
I have a lot going on but I can't talk about it on Facebook! Part of it is good news (did I tell you all my good news?) and part of it is the private stuff you know about. Mostly other than that I am doing nothing because that takes all my time. I am learning a lot about executive function deficits.

I did discover and adapt an amazing buttermilk bran muffin recipe which I've been enjoying.

I picked up C from boarding school Friday and am picking up M today. So we will have a full house again for a week or so. :)
Nov. 21st, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
Did you and C enjoy Harry Potter? And no, you haven't told me all your good news yet. EMAIL, PLEASE!

Nov. 21st, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
We did enjoy it (see my LJ for deets about C and HP).
Nov. 21st, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I really hope S gets into JMU because then you will be an hour away from all the time!
Nov. 22nd, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
That would be a lovely perk. Not that I'm allowed to be there all the time, but still . . .
Nov. 22nd, 2010 12:10 am (UTC)
You know what I mean.
Nov. 22nd, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
I do indeed.
Nov. 21st, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I love this sort of chatty, catching-up post!

Good luck to S for JMU and to you for agents to love the Jane project!

I finished Part I of my new project, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from her best friend's pov, yesterday. It's at about 11K too. Now I'm going back to revisions on Thrice-Blessed, with the hope of getting it back to Agent Awesome by the end of Nov.

On the reading end of things, I've been enjoying Fever 1793 and am going to read Forge next. I'm at 71 books, so I doubt I'll quite make 100 like last year, but I'm going to try & read a lot in December.

I have also chucked my diet to the winds. I shall try not to be a glutton, but who can be expected to pass up these caramel brulee lattes?

Nov. 22nd, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
Caramel brulee lattes? You mean I have to leave my salted caramel hot chocolates behind and try something new? (You know you're the reason I tried the salted caramel, yes?)

Thanks for the luck - I'll take it on both counts. And good luck with your writing - your retelling sounds good! My current WIP is a retelling of sorts, too, although I'm not quite ready to announce it publicly yet. I hope your Thrice-Blessed revisions go smoothly.

I've got a copy of FORGE in my TBR pile, of course. I'll be reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park next, though.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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