Friday, December 21, 2012

My Wish List

It's that time of year again, where we give.  And get.  If I were a better person, I'd list here all the wonderful ways to give.  But I'm not a "better person."  I'm barely your average good person.  So instead, I've decided to post my wish list.  Just in case anyone's looking to please me. 

I won't bother putting the really big things I want for the world  (like no more war or roofs for everyone or easier air travel or the absence of abuse and violence, especially towards children).  No, this is my totally selfish list.  For me and me only.  And so here goes, in no particular order:

1.  A personal chef.   The gods had a good old laugh when it came to me and my talents.  It is utter cruelty that someone who loves to eat as much as I do has such difficulty making dinner.  Life would be good if I could just eat and leave the cooking to someone who can.

2.  For my children to go to bed without giving me a hard time.  That's it.  I'd just like to be able to read a story, give a kiss and know they will brush their teeth and get on pyjamas without acting like it's the apocalypse.

3.  To find white popcorn in Geneva.  Yellow's good.  But white popcorn is better.

4. For cellulite to be sexy.  (No comment.)

5.To be a flamenco dancer.  I look ridiculous in ruffles and polka dots.  So what?  I'd give anything to be able to dance this from the gut.  Next to writing, it's the only thing I'd ever want to do for a living.  

6. Three extra hours a day.  I'd be freaking superwoman if I had three extra hours to do what I'm not using the regular 24 for.  

7. Some exercise/computer/writing contraption that allows me to burn calories while sitting on my butt in front of the keyboard. Preferably one that works but doesn't make me sweat.

8. A waterbed.  I feel like I've been run over by a truck when I wake up in the morning. I had a waterbed when I was 19 and I miss it.   But I believe those things are illegal in apartments.  Crap.  Then I will need --

9. A house.  But only if it comes with a gardener and maid service.  Otherwise, it's not worth it just to hold my waterbed.

10. For my books to be best-sellers!  I'm hoping to get Untethered out there in March.  And I'm hoping to get the next one out not long after that.  This wish is something you can help me attempt.  Just buy my books when they come out and tell every single person you know to buy them, too.  Simple, right?  You will know in your heart what a good and wonderful person you are for giving me a hand.  Think of all the warm fuzzies you'll get from that.  Ahem.

Happy holidays.  I hope you get everything on your wish list.  And if you don't?  Oh, well.  There's always next year.  At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Page 150 Time Warp

Physics has never appealed to me.  Stuff like the greater universe or atom splitting or time travel only mildly piques my curiosity (probably because I can't even comprehend it).  But now suddenly I'm scouring the internet for articles on the space-time vortex and definitions of what exactly a time warp is.   Why?

This is why:   

I sit at my computer, open my current document and scroll down to the last page I wrote.  Page 150.  Huge sense of déjà vu.  Yeah, for a novelist this is normal, right?  All I do is sit on front of that document.  But the sense of déjà vu is there not because I've been working on the same novel for months on end. It's not even there from being in front of the computer.  No.  It's the page number that keeps repeating.  Page 150.  All the time.


The first time I noticed I was stuck on page 150 was back in May.  Yeah, way back then.  And, yeah, a lot happened this summer so I didn't progress like I intended to.  But I have written.  Practically every day since September.  And guess what?


I write and I write and I write and all I see is page 150.  Will I never, ever finish this damn novel?

So, I figure there are two possible explanations:

 1.  My critiquing group would say this is the correct explanation : Writing first drafts is NOT my favorite part of the job.  What I really enjoy is rewriting.  It's so fun.  So gritty.  So...savagely satisfying.  Almost as soon as I've written something, I'm at it with a hacksaw, amputating its parts until it's nothing but a quivering, bloody mass that needs to be reassembled.  I write twelve pages, then slash away until I'm left with three.  I write ten more pages, then decide the head's on all wrong.  I throw everything out and try on new parts like I'm creating Frankenstein's monster.

That kind of writing is time-consuming.  And wasteful.  And messy. (But if you ever saw the state of my bedroom as a teenager, you'd know that's who I am.)  I do write outlines for my novels in order to keep on track and cut back on the waste -- problem is, I just can't seem to follow them.  Instead I end up trying to give life to my literary offspring at the same time I'm shooting them dead.  The pages then creep along all too slowly.

2. The other explanation is the one I'm going with: That I am in some sort of time warp.  That in fact, I've actually written the novel.  I'm on page 302, typing in THE END.  But this warp or vortex or whatever the hell it is just keeps folding over on itself and puts me again and again on page 150.  Every single day.

It is the same vortex that keeps me opening my closet thinking, "Time to clean this out" but then has me closing it again without ever doing anything.  Same vortex that has sucked down and spit out all my plans to organize and file our papers, print out my favorite photos, clean the oven, and learn how to speak German.   All of this must be due to some strange phenomenon.  Because theoretically, I have the time.  I know I do.  But it keeps turning to nothing in my hands, leaving me exactly where I started, like some bad dream on repeat.

Anyway, I will keep fighting the 150 page time warp.  I will battle every day, teeth clenched, fingers pounding on the keyboard, until I manage to set myself free.  One day soon.  One day I will cry, "VICTORY!"

And stumble on to page 151.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Shortlist Cure-All

I've had the kind of week after which perfectly sane women pack their bags and hop on a plane.  You know, the kind where you're ready to leave everything, forever.  Because one more second spent living your particular life will short-circuit your wiring, causing an extremely toxic and messy meltdown.  Five hours ago, I was there.  Battery acid was dripping out of my veins and bubbling on the floor.

And then I checked my e-mail.

Congratulations!  You've been shortlisted for the Mslexia novel competition.

The message was brief.  To the point.  And unexpected.  I mean, I know I had gotten long listed, but still.  I never thought I'd be shortlisted.  That must mean like seventy-five of us are on the list, right?  Because the shortlist can't be that short.  Not with my luck.  Not with the week I've been having.

My friend Paula ordered me to pick up the phone. "Call them.  Ask.  So you know exactly what it means."

And when Paula talks, I listen.

So I called. 

"Uh.  Yes.  Hello.  I just got a message that my YA novel was shortlisted for the novel contest.  Ummm.  Could you tell me how many are on the shortlist?"

"Yes, of course."  The woman responding had a lilting accent.  Everything she said sounded joyous.  "Twelve of you.  That would be down from nine-hundred."

"Oh!  Uh. Wow!"  (I'm so freaking elegant when I have to be.)

"Yes." She chuckles.  "It's a big deal.  Congratulations.  Best of luck to you."

I hung up, checked my e-mail again (Yes, the message was still there.  No, I hadn't stumbled into someone else's inbox.  Yes, it was still there the next three times I opened it).  The message was real and it was meant for me.

And suddenly my week changed:

The little savage monster that had possessed my youngest daughter's body finally wore itself out and fell asleep without a violent fight for once.  Sleeping, the little monster was beautiful.

The epic silence that had stretched for days between my husband and I lost its hold.  We let our frustration down long enough to kiss each other good night and mean it.

My oldest daughter actually did her homework.  I only had to ask her seven times.

The cat stopped meowing. Usually she's at it constantly. Now suddenly she was sleeping quietly in the corner, not even a squeak.

I wasn't named best writer of the century or even of the day.  I didn't win the lottery.  And that sore throat and stomach bug that have been creeping up on me are still there.

But I'm not leaking battery acid anymore.  And I've unpacked my bags.

Because my novel got shortlisted.

And it made my day.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dames and Daggers

"So, Mr. Misogynist Editor, you're afraid of strong women, huh?"  I purr the words at him, the point of my dagger resting on his nose.  Sweat trickles down his fat forehead over the pitted surface of his cheeks and drips off his chin.  "What on Earth is there to be afraid of?"

Flash of metal while I slice through his papers and plant my blade in the unmarred surface of his mahogany desk.

Ahem.  Yes, well, this is only a sick fantasy involving the idiot star of my last post.  I've cut my fingers just pulling a knife out of a drawer.  There's no way I'd use one for anything other than slicing bread. 

And that is my point.

Just to make things clear: I think YA authors are writing strong female characters  -- a backlash after the reign of characters like Bella Swan who fall for protectors/control freaks.  We're seeing a lot of warrior-type protagonists who literally kick ass and who are tougher than steaks cooked by yours truly.

Awesome.  I love it.  However...

The whole idea that having muscles and weapons makes you tough is based on the male archetype.  Wielding knives and knowing how to throw a punch may make you an übercool she-warrior, but it doesn't (necessarily) make you a role model.  Or a feminist.  Or a strong main character.  Not if the rest doesn't follow suit. 

Most of us in the real world don't know how to gut an enemy (and wouldn't anyway) or win a fight against a 300 pound soldier.  It's fun to read about.  Fun to fantasize about.  But solid strong female characters are also ones whose skills translate into the real world:  these girls stand up for what they believe in, learn to trust themselves, love themselves and most of all respect themselves (and others).  They may start the novel as strong or come into their own over the course of the book.  Doesn't matter.  What matters is that readers can identify with that character in a tangible way.  In a way they see and live day to day, even if the novel itself is fantasy. 

Those books where the protagonist cowers behind the fangs or wings or fur or over-developed pecs of her honey?  Good riddance.  I have nothing against romance and love a good pair of pecs. But now I want to see the male character as partner, not protector.  To be honest, it's not always easy to write them into that role.  And to be sure, it can be even harder to get that kind of book published, thanks to people like Mr. Misogynist Editor there.  

But it's happening.  With or without the weapons.  Girls are getting tough.

And they're coming your way.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Lion Sleeps No Longer

I am woman.  Hear me roar.

This week I stumbled across articles and tweets that woke the beast in me.  Right now, the beast is pacing and growling and gnashing its teeth.  Time to let it loose.  Or at least loosen its leash a bit.  What I want to do is rip through and tear up everything with pointy fangs.  I want to rant for pages.  But to keep things digestible I'll be nice and I'll take it easy.  Very, very easy.  One blog post at a time. 

Jezebel published an article the other day revealing one movie critic's experience with an editor who refused to publish any reviews in which females played strong leads.   In an e-mail that was heavy on the hatred, the editor basically called movies with empowered women "moral rot" and said some seriously heinous stuff that completely floored me.  If you want to go into a rage, read it here. 

Then on Twitter, writer Shannon Hale was quoted as saying, "No one ever asks 'Why do you write strong male characters?'"  An excellent point.  One that touched a nerve in me.  One that woke the beast.

And one that got me paging through the piles of YA books on my shelves, examining how authors and editors portray strong female protagonists.   I discovered that, in my opinion, even those authors I love sometimes do things that drive me crazy.  Things that don't always help the young female reader find herself.

Go ahead.  Look through your books.  Write down what makes that character a kick ass character and not a limp lettuce leaf.  Next blog post that's what I'm covering.

Until then, I'll be sharpening my claws.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Character Flaws

A while ago I sent an early (read: way too early) draft of my current novel to my agent.  A week later I got a note back saying, "You know we love love love you and your work, but--"


Okay.  The draft had some issues.  I agree.  And the biggest problem I had (and have always had) is writing the protagonist.  For some reason, even if I manage to get "in the zone" while writing my mood always bleeds through.  If I'm in a good mood, I go wild on the setting -- painting sunsets and flower gardens where there were none.  But when my mood is black?  It's the main character who takes the brunt of it.

When I get stalled in the manuscript, so does she -- suddenly she's passive.  Things happen around her and she sighs into her handkerchief.   When I have doubts about my writing and wonder why the hell I didn't become a plumber, the protagonist gets whiny.  She complains about everything.  And when ideas won't come and writing feels more like misery than pleasure, my main character gets just plain hostile and lashes out at everyone. 

Ooof.  Like me.

But it's fiction, remember?

So that's what second (and third and fourth) drafts are for.  Trying to figure out what eating me and fixing it.  And trying to figure out what's eating my character and fixing it, too.  Or not.

Because nobody's perfect.  Not even on the page.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Anatomical differences: An ode to my critiquing group.

My anatomy is a bit different from others'.  No, my head isn't screwed on backwards or anything like that (but with little kids in the house that could be convenient).  It's my brain.  From what I can tell, it has the consistency of chewing gum -- sometimes things just get stuck there and I need help pulling them out.

Thank God for my critiquing group.  To be completely honest, I don't understand why they let me stay in it.  The members have changed over the years but, regardless, the others have always been more intelligent, more worldly and well...more everything than me.  And, unlike me, their brains are normal.  They know how to force themselves to move forward. Their brains aren't made of Hubba Bubba.

I'm more than halfway through my new novel and at a pivotal place in the narrative.  All had been going well; I was whipping along at an amazing pace, feeling the wind in my hair, the bugs in my teeth, when WHAM!  A glass wall.  I could see THE END -- there, right there on the other side -- but this stupid wall was blocking me from getting there.  And because I'm me, I saw no way around it.  Instead of writing through the wall, I whined.  I complained.  I spent a lot of time on Twitter.  I opened that bottle of wine from 1999 and drank it with three greasy slices of leftover pizza. 

None of it helped.  Not even the wine.

Which is where my kickass critiquing group comes in.  Last night they sat me down. They drew me a diagram.  Threw out suggestions.  Unstuck those thoughts stuck in my bubble gum brain.  I know they were irritated with my whining and with my self-imposed helplessness -- God, who wouldn't be -- but they swallowed their annoyance and fed me ideas.  They told me I could do it.   And that I could do it well.

And I want to thank them for it.  Really, those women should be canonized.  Total saints.  Yes, they are tough.  Yes, they are demanding.  And they are brutally honest (both with themselves and me).

But their souls shine in pure awesomeness -- bright and white as Joe Biden's teeth. 

Thanks, ladies.  You are the best.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Surprise, surprise

I sat on the couch last evening with a huge bowl of popcorn and a new download on my Kindle.

And woke up this morning with puffy eyes and a blotchy face.

Let's get this straight:  I'm not a reality fiction reader.  I know that there's this backlash against paranormal in the YA world right now and everyone is pushing writers and readers to "get real", but I like paranormal and I'm not giving it up.  I stay away from reality fiction because: 1. I live reality.  I don't need to read it, too.  2. I really, really wish I had magical powers  3. Paranormal is fun!   4. Most reality fiction novels are SAD.  I don't seek out something that brings me to tears and  5. Did I mention I wish I had magical powers?

Okay, okay.  Some of my favorite books are reality based (like Looking for Alaska or Story of a Girl) and left me feeling gutted at the end, both by the excellent writing and the intensity of the narrative.  But, despite how good these books are or can be, I usually steer clear.

So I wasn't expecting my new book to make me cry.  I started reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and about ten pages in I considered putting it down.  Yes, it was paranormal, but it was for a younger audience than I'm used to.  Plus, I had a sneaking suspicion that reality was going to take a bigger role in the novel than I cared for. But I kept on and a few pages later, the story, the writing, even the illustrations, hooked me.  The book had the edge of reality along with the punch of paranormal.  Like mixing buttered popcorn with peanut M & M's -- seems odd, but the end result is awesome.  By midnight I was closing my Kindle and bawling into my Kleenex. Sobbing but satisfied with the ending.

And when I woke up this morning, I thought, YES.  There are still books out there that take me by surprise.  Books I wouldn't have picked up on my own (thank you, Goodreads), yet that touch me deeper than I would have imagined.  Books that force me to think further on what I want to read, and more importantly, what I want to write.

No.  I'm not taking the leap to pure reality fiction.  But that doesn't mean I can't learn a thing or two from it. 

And maybe surprise myself.

How about you?  What books out there surprised you?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monopoly doesn't help you write

I'm on vacation.  Rain today.  But a gorgeous view.  Good food.  Good people.

Five girls, age three to ten.  So, so cute.  They beg to play board games and even I can't resist.  More board games.  More and more board games...  

I take a break.  Pull out my computer to a blank page.  Blank page.  Still blank page.  Crap.  

Then...more board games.  Maybe there will be sun tomorrow.  The games are doing nothing for my word count. 

But for now, I've got Park Place.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Confessions of a (fairly) mature YA reader: Part 2

Why do I like YA fiction?

Short answer:  Pffft.  Cuz it's cool.  

Long answer:
In high school I had a crush on a boy named Dave.  He had a worn leather jacket, a seriously sexy Mohawk and ...a girlfriend.  So I started an intense love affair with someone else -- Lois Duncan.  Well, her books, anyway.  Titles like Killing Mr. Griffin and Stranger with my Face formed my passion for reading.  And kept me busy while Dave made out with his girlfriend.

In college, I studied writing and women's studies and encountered some of the best voices in literature: Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Dorris Lessing and Margaret Atwood among others. Their plot came off as poetry.  I could flip to any paragraph and find a sentence so wonderfully wrought it made my chest ache and my eyes prick.  But while I'd long gotten over Dave, my love of Duncan didn't diminish, even in the face of these giants. She was a giant in her own right. I would read Alice Munro for school and enjoy it.  And I would read Lois Duncan, or Judy Blume or Christopher Pike for me and enjoy it.

Thing is, I've kept on with the YA stuff -- from Meg Cabot to J.K. Rowling to Libba Bray to Cassandra Clare.  I devour these novels with a hunger that I don't have for literary fiction.  Offer me a literary prize winner or a paranormal teen adventure and I'll pick the teen adventure every time.  The question is, why?
Like any other category, the quality of writing in YA is all over the board.  But, for me, what good YA has is this yearning -- a character's desire to understand life, the self, the world -- all while trying to deal with an over flux of hormones as well as quizzes for calculus (and sometimes a zombie or two). I'm attracted to that part of growing up where we're almost adult, but we are still figuring things out, still have huge hopes for the future and new experiences still astonish us.  Plus, I find that YA fiction doesn't (usually) take itself too seriously.  Add something otherworldly and you've got me.  For good.

I sometimes wonder what the Dave I had a crush on in high school is doing.  Has he packed away the punk attire, gotten a classic haircut and a job selling life insurance?  Has he kept his leather jacket, his combat boots?  Does he hide them at the back of his closet and pull them out when he's feeling nostalgic, remembering the days when life wasn't bills and house headaches and the occasional movie out?  When having fun meant riding around in a pick-up truck with his friends, music at an ear-splitting level, and yelling, "Whoa, baby!" to girls as they passed?

Does he do any of that? 

Or does he pick up a YA book and relive it all?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Confessions of a (fairly) mature YA reader: Part 1

Five years ago:

I am in the bookstore, surreptitiously checking out the YA titles.
The saleswoman comes up behind me.  "Anything I can help you find?"
I jump like I've been caught stealing.  "No.  Yes.  Well, what are some really good YA books?"
"Hmmm.  Depends.  What age is the child you're buying the book for?"
"Age?  Thirty-something."
"Excuse me?"  Her painted lips have gone slack and one of her eyebrows disappears underneath her bangs.
"Thirteen...something... like that.  You know, around there."
"Oh!" Obvious relief registers on the woman's face.  "I thought you said...never mind.  Let me show you these..."

Two years ago:

I'm at the YA shelf again.  The saleslady comes up.  "Can I help you find something?"
"What's good?"  I motion to the stacks of books on angels and werewolves.
"Depends.  Who is it for?"
I hesitate a millisecond.  Then I say, "Me."
The woman whips her head around to see who else is in the store and squeezes my shoulder excitedly.  "Oh my God!  Wasn't The Hunger Games just fantastic!?!?"


I still make my trips to the bookstore, but they are now trips born out of guilt:  I don't want to let my local business down.  But most of the time I turn on my Kindle.  Do the one-click.  Buy as many books as I want immediately, no matter how inappropriate for my age.

According to the latest news, I'm not alone.  Over 50% of YA readers are more adult than young.  It's no longer something to be embarrassed about.  Go on Goodreads and you'll find thousands of "mature" adults listing YA as one of their interests. (And to respond to a comment made by an acquaintance:  many of us have degrees and hold down jobs at places other than Dairy Queen, you literary snob!)

So what is it?  Why does YA attract not only high school students, but college graduates as well?

I'll talk about why I like it in the next post.  Right now I'm wondering: how about you?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Living History

So this post doesn't really have anything to do with writing.  And it's not YA.  It's a post to celebrate my father's life:  he is 90 years old today (Yes, you read that right.  He had me late).

To me, he's the man who tucked me in at night when I was little and sang me to sleep, his voice crackling on the chorus of "Massa Dear".  He's the one who entertained my best friend and I by writing our names backwards on fancy paper name tags. He's the one taught me a real man is gentle with children, respectful to his wife and isn't afraid to unplug a blocked toilet.

But he's also living history:  A young boy who learned to love lard sandwiches during the Great Depression.  An artistic airplane mechanic in WWII who painted the naked woman onto the 84th bomb group's B-24 bomber.  A father of six who managed to give his kids a happy childhood on a Parks & Rec department salary.  A man whose life has spanned nearly a century. 

There is so much I do not know about my dad's past.  So much that I never bothered to ask because he was just "Dad"; I guess I never saw him as his own person.  But I won't let another year go by without finding out who he was, really, before I came along.   There are stories there to be told, to be understood, to be cherished.

What are some memories that should not be forgotten?

Love you, Dad.  Happy Birthday.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bigger Word Count= Bigger Pant Size

Has anyone invented a desk/stationary bike for writers who do nothing but sit?

I used to walk back and forth to the kids' school and now I'm walking back and forth to the coffee pot.

What's awesome is that I've written an average of 2,000-3,000 words a day since switching roles with my husband.  I was lucky to do that in a week before.

What's not so awesome?  I've gained an average of 2 - 3 ounces a day as well.  I can't say I was thin before, but geesh.  My half-hour Just Dance sessions aren't cutting it anymore.

Maybe I just need to look at those pounds padding my hips differently.  It's not fat, it's a feat.  Yeah.  I've got to work hard writing to get so wide.  Success=Spread.  

It's the risk one takes being a writer. Ahem.

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Addiction

Up until a couple of months ago, I never understood the attraction to coffee.  I'd had what people call "good" coffee and found it nasty.  I'd had what people call "bad" coffee and found it nasty. I tried it with sugar or cream or both or black or mixed with chocolate or cinnamon.  Still nasty.  It was a mystery why anyone would drink this bitter stuff.

And then I started falling asleep while writing.  At first it was every once in a while.  But by the end of the summer, all I had to do was sit at a keyboard and I'd start snoozing.

My first worry was:  My God, is my writing THAT boring?

My second worry was:  No, really, is it that bad???

"Pfftt," said my friend, Paula.  "Your writing's fine.  What you need is a half-hour nap or a hefty cup of coffee."

I've always had a hard time with naps.  It feels like cheating somehow -- an irrational idea that's stuck with me from God only knows where.  But it's stuck.  If I nap, I do it in secret where no one can see me. (Okay.  Yes. I may need therapy.)

Coffee, however, is not only a drink but a social event.  It'd be good, I thought, to be invited to coffee and not have to say, "Oh, but I only drink tea."

 If only it didn't taste so bad.

I started off soft; I bought a cheap package of instant coffee and put a teaspoon of it in a cup of hot water every morning.  When I was able to tolerate that, I moved onto two teaspoons and two cups. Teaspoon by teaspoon, I forced myself into a new addiction.  And it worked.  My coffee addiction is on almost equal par with my popcorn addiction or my licorice problem or even my love/hate relationship with Diet Coke.  I'm toting around ten ounces of terrible coffee wherever I go.  And I like it.  I look forward to it.  Awful, bitter taste and all.

Easing oneself into addiction is twisted, I admit it.  But it's made a difference.  I now drink coffee before I write. While I write.  And I've stopped using the keyboard as a pillow.

In fact, I've almost stopped using any kind of pillow.

 All that coffee's got me up at night.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Role Reversal

Swapping Lives

I've had a hell of a summer.  I'd just made up a plan of action for attacking my new novel when my husband had an aneurysm.  I'll spare you the details, but let's just say scary doesn't cover it.  Luckily for my husband (and me and the kids!) someone up there has his back.  It's been a long haul, but he's made it through practically unscathed.

I say practically.  He's still got some health issues related to the aneurysm and is stuck home from work for at least a couple more months.  Despite loving the guy, the thought of trying to catch up on three months of lost writing work with him in the next room on the X-Box gave me chills.  I knew I'd get pretty resentful trying to keep up with everything while watching him recuperate.  And he'd surely go nuts with my annoyance stomping around the apartment like a whole other person.  So I asked him for a favor: a life swap.

Normally, I'm the stay-at-home parent.  Here in Geneva, the kids go to school four days a week and have off from 11:30-1:30 for lunch.  Believe me, that really cuts into everything.  After the shopping, the cleaning, the cooking and the school run, I only end up with a couple hours writing time.  My fantasy (other than that one with Robert Downey Jr, of course)?   To be able to go off all day and work on my novel non-stop.

To my surprise, my husband jumped on it.  He's been doing the school route four times a day and cooking lunch without complaint.  Yes, when I get home it looks like someone spewed junk everywhere and I can tell what they had for lunch just by looking under the table.  But I'm writing and he's recovering.  And that's what counts in the end.  My goal is to get a rough draft done by November.  Any tips on how to keep the momentum going?