Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A little sumthin'

Well . . . . I've still kinda got nothin'. I'm here figuring out all the different things that I can make from a turkey carcass . . . turkey gumbo, curry turkey salad, turkey tetrazinni, turkey soup (yes Shelli, I'm sounding very Bubba Blue from Forest Gump).
Naturally, my children are sick of turkey, so I'm making grilled cheeses.

We're in the after Christmas groove over here. It's kinda worthless fun--we've got new board games, wii games, art supplies, books . . . Plus, my daughter is learning tons of new songs to play for me on her guitar (I've finally figured out that I can download the chords for songs that I like and she'll learn how to play them!!!!). She's serenading me with a little Lady Lenka right now :-)

Here she is at my in-laws' house the day after Christmas playing with my niece Julia (who hung the moon, as far as I can tell). How cool to be a guitar playin' girl?

Here I am holding up my phone where I have downloaded chords and lyrics for Anne to play requests. She's playing our requests!!!

Oh, and speaking of my in-laws . . . my mother-in-law, aka Anne Mama, was interviewed this morning (all morning, in fact) by a group who is making a documentary inspired by Kathryn Stockett's book The Help.

The filmmakers are traveling through the South asking people for their stories about relationships with domestic help in the sixties. The film is not connected to the book in any way, it is just a glimpse into the true-life stories that were happening in the sixties. I wasn't there to hear my mother-in-law be interviewed, but I heard that she was amazing (she IS amazing, after all--and ninety-years-old!!). Here's is her picture with her housekeeper and best friend Irma.

They actually hooked mikes up to the two of them this morning and recorded them as they went through their day. And, yes, we have totally been teasing Anne Mama and calling her "Miss Daisy."

Gone to break up a Wii fight. Ugh.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

We've got nuthin'

I just hung up with SF. Here was our conversation.

Katie: You wanna post? I got nuthin'

SF: Nah. I'm going out of town. But, I'm taking these delicious Kahlua brownies.

Katie: Mmmm, that sounds divine. I need the recipe.

SF: I don't have it. Someone brought them to us. I'm cutting them into squares and they look awesome.

Katie: I have to do laundry and get groceries. Can you believe Wal-Mart and Kroger were closed yesterday? I mean not everyone is christian? I'd be so mad if I were jewish or something and wanted to make latkes.

SF: They're always closed on Christmas. Have you heard back from your agent?

Katie: No. Maybe I should write a post about waiting.

SF: Yeah. Waiting would be a good post. You know that awesome toy I just got?

Katie: Uh huh.

SF: The pen broke. I'm devastated.

Katie: Oh man, that sucks.

SF (speaking to her eldest) No! You can't wear that.
I have to go.

Katie: I think I'm gonna make a buttermilk pie.

SF: Okay - I'll call ya later.

SO dear readers, you get the idea. We don't have much news. I did get a new idea this morning for making my second book richer and more interesting, so I am off to do some research. But, it's top secret, and therefore, I can't blog about it. Sorry.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


We hope that all of your Christmas wishes and dreams come true!!

You can probably guess what ours are . . .

Love to you all,
Sarah Frances and Katie

Friday, December 18, 2009

Random Thoughts. Vol. 623

1. I have been loving my two new GLEE cds! (Look at Sue kickin' butt) If you watch GLEE, you must go get these. There is nothing funner than belting out old favorites with Mr. Shue and Finn and the gang on a daily basis. But, I must warn you... do NOT, I repeat, do NOT play aforementioned cds in the car with non-Gleeks because they will stare at you funny and ask you why you are playing Kidz Bop. Seriously, it sounds like Kidz Bop if you don’t know the show.

2. I read a great quote on Sherrie Peterson's blog the other day. Go follow her if you don’t already - she’s fab. Here's the quote. It's by Michael Crichton.
"Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it..."
OMG so true!!!

3. I heart Poochie Prints. I'm telling you - if you wanna order someone a gift that is totally original, and personalized, and beautiful, and gorgeous, ORDER them some poochie!!! I did and am wanting more!

4. I am sitting in the coffee shop, writing this post and staring occasionally at the two women across from me, who are sitting at a table, wildly planning something. They are very animated and often speaking in hushed tones as if this plan of theirs is super cool and secret. They also seem to be diagramming a lot. (?) I am wanting to go see what they're up to, but I can't. But it's obvious that they are planning some sort of new business venture.

New business ventures always intrigue me. I think because I used to sell commercial real estate and am very in tune with what will work and what won't. But what strikes me more is that I am watching them as I sit here rocking out on Pandora, proofing my book and feeling overly grateful that I have found my calling and no matter how cool this business is they're planning, it doesn't hold a candle to what I'm doing. Well, at least not to me. So, I hope they love their new job as much as I love mine.

5. Lastly, I love my coffee shop's new snowflake cup things that wrap the cardboard cups. They make me feel happy. I'm thinking they should have one for every season.

Oh wait.

6. And finally, I think I might be alone in this - But, I laughed out loud at this bizarre and stupidly hysterical trailer. I give you THE HOT TUB TIME MACHINE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Crazy Weekend

Because, clearly, the normal Christmas rush isn't enough of a time suck for me, I added a lil' something into the mix this year . . .

Last weekend, I opened my home for the first ever Christmas Tour of Homes here in Oxford. All of the proceeds from ticket sales went to the Jr. Auxiliary of Oxford whose sole focus is on helping children in our community. Sooooo . . . about 400 people tromped through my decked-out house on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. And, I have to say that while the preparation was tough (I repainted all the baseboards in my kitchen last week and dusted all the fuzz from the high-up cabinets and light fixtures . . . not to mention the decorating!), the actual event was tons of fun. I mean, no one is going to say anything mean about your home when you're standing right there. So I got to hear lots of great comments like "homey" and "happy".
I feel like I should mention that our home was by far the homiest house of the five that were on tour--no marble or crown molding or huge fancy rooms. We live in a historical area, and we restored (saved, actually) our home about seven years ago. It had been chopped up into apartments and was about to implode. We tried to be as true to the house as we could be--the house is a very simple house with cozy, small rooms. Our house is nothing grand, but it feels good. We love it. And, we love living right in town.

Oh, and to add to the chaos, my oldest daughter was in a tennis tournament all weekend and my other two girls were in the Nutcracker. Plus, they were all in our church Christmas pageant. I had lots of quick wardrobe changes and frantic shuttling of girls to rehearsals. Crazy!!!

Here are a few pix:

I made this of my girls about three years ago from treated plywood. It's funny how they've grown up to actually look more and more like these choir girls!

My kitchen is not particularly "decked" but look how clean it is!!!

My creche set I bought at Chartres Cathedral when I was in college.

Now I get to hang out in my clean house . . . until the stacks reappear and the fuzz bunnies reroot.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nancy Meyers

As a screenwriter, I have always admired Nancy Meyers. She is my total fave. She wrote The Holiday, Something's Gotta Give, the new Parent Trap, The Father of the Bride I and II, Baby Boom, Jumpin' Jack Flash, and Private Benjamin. Yeah. Impressive.

It's been a while since one of hers came out but the wait is over. I cannot wait to see It's Complicated :-)

I shall be watching this Christmas day and loving every minute of it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Unofficially Official Agent Day

In this season of blessings, we feel so grateful for our agents.

SF and I haven't been agented for long, but we can definitely say that we ADORE ours!!!!

KATIE: Cheryl makes me feel like the most inspired soul on the planet. She's a terrific cheerleader and my brainstorming twin. We tend to think just alike which makes it oh so easy to trust her judgement when submission time rolls around. Not to mention the fact that she's crafty, strategic and uber creative. And... She just ran the NYC marathon, making her just about the coolest chick I know! Thank you so much Cheryl!!!

SF: Well, I just have to say that I adore Joanna. She is enthusiastic, encouraging, and dead-on with her comments and suggestions. I can't say enough about how wonderful she is, but the very best thing that she has done for me has been to bring the FUN back into this whole process. I mean, I'm writing and illustrating picture books for children--it's supposed to be a wacky, wild ride . . . not something to sit around and ponder over while sipping cognac.

Jo has given me such a boost of enthusiasm, and I am once again pumped about working on my books. After a bit of a crazy agent search, I feel like I have met my perfect match!

This is what we used to think agents were.

Now we know better :-)

And we're not the only thankful chaps. Check out all these writers who love their agents too!
And thanks Lisa and Laura for posting the master list!!!

And a HUGE thanks to Kody for organizing this blessed event :-) Thanks y'all!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Katie's Biggest Dream

Since it's Christmas and all, I thought I'd tell you my biggest dream.


Get ready. This one's big.

Being a bestseller would be nice, but that's not it.

And seeing my book on screen would be cool too, but that's not it either. (However, both would have to happen for my dream to come true.)

Because my dream is to have an original score written and recorded for my book. And I want to fly out to the recording.

That's it. My musical dream. I want an original score. All mine. Just for my book. And I want to watch it being recorded and cry.

This is my buddy Jo's recording :-)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Look what I've got!!

As a reward (or actually an early Christmas present) for signing with super-agent, my husband bought me a Wacom tablet.

On this gorgeous piece of plastic, I can draw just like I'm using a pencil, and my drawings will appear on my computer screen . . . where I can EASILY edit them and move characters around within scenes in my story. EASILY. Right?

Okay, so learning how to use a new piece of technology always involves me spouting out words that you will never see in one of my children's picture books. But, once I get this thing figured out, I'm going to be streamlined as I work up my book dummies.

I still plan to use good old fashioned paper with pens, watercolors and gouache for my final illustrations. But there are forests worth of trees that I would normally use just to plan what those final illustrations will be--plus, until now I've been going through the time-consuming process of drawing on paper, scanning into my computer, redrawing the image a tiny bit differently, scanning again, over and over again (the whole time spouting out words that are not appropriate for children . . . )

Wait a minute. Let's think about this. I'm saving hours of time and reams of paper. This thing has already paid for itself. I mean, I'm saving so much money, I'm practically making money. Maybe I should buy myself another gift . . . suggestions???


Friday, December 4, 2009

Realizing Joy

I am ready to sell my book. And when I say "sell" I mean, "sell BIG."


If I don't sell it, I will still be happy. Make that joyous. I'm not sure I realized this until a few days ago, but the fact remains that writing this book, pursuing publication, attending conferences, and meeting loads of people in the process has brought me more joy than I have ever experienced in my life. Seriously. Outside of the normal joys of being healthy, having a wonderful husband and two beautiful children, writing is the single biggest love of my life.

Over Thanksgiving I found myself getting into bed one night and pondering my characters as if I had a secret lover. I laid there and wondered what I might have them do, or say, and what plot angles I might use. The next morning I took some notes and thought, "I can't believe I'm lucky enough to get to do this." I mean how many people discover the career of their dreams? Ever?

Therefore, although it's my greatest desire to be able to walk into a Barnes and Noble and buy my book (off of this table - or have it made into a giant Christmas tree :-). I will try to remember that the real joy has come from simply being allowed to write it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Random Honesty, volume 1

We have been awarded the "Honest Scrap" award by the two lovely bloggers, Ms. J and Shannon O'Donnell!!! Thanks, Girls! We love us some awards :-)

So now we have to tell you ten honest things about ourselves.


1. I have serious comma issues. I have no idea, where to put them. See?
2. I rarely watch TV and am jealous of Lila's knowledge of all things Bravo. But, I do watch movies. And it is truly a sickness. Anytime I even have a glitch of writer's block, I instant download a movie. And not a scary, or faced paced, or even popular one, usually. Yesterday, it was Kate and Leopold. You remember that one? It probably got crummy reviews, but I will happily watch it again and again and again. I adore it.
3. I know SF and I talk about southern food a lot, but I seriously love it. When we lived in Orange County, we almost went buck wild trying to find mashed potatoes and BBQ. It was impossible to find.
4. I love public speaking. I sometimes day dream about it. But it also makes me nervous, and I sometimes cry mid speech.
5. Just like my character, I am a makeup fanatic. I don't wear a ton but I have always owned a bunch and used to think Sephora was as good as Disney World.
6. SF will be funnier on these and make me second guess all of my answers :-(


Ooooo! The pressure . . .

1. I hate confrontations (sad that I used to be a lawyer). I hate them to the point that I nearly have a panic attack complete with nausea, heart-racing, and crazy convulsions. It's embarrassing.
2. I also hate public speaking--Katie, I'll tag you for help with my, ahem, KEYNOTE! (sorry about the private joke shared by our LA SCBWI crew--I'd try to explain it, but like most private jokes . . . ya had to be there, and it just wouldn't be funny).
3. I am currently addicted to Weeds which stars Mary Louise Parker as a pot-dealing soccer mom. I'm way behind the curve and still on Season One, but it is my favorite guilty pleasure.
4. I have a gigantic crush on Jack Nicholson. Huge.
5. I'm buying lavender bath salts at the Walmart (Dr. Teal's), repackaging it with raffia and cute bags . . . maybe a seashell as a scoop. And, I'm going to give these to all of my friends for Christmas, swearing that I got them at some fabulous spa in Chicago when I was there last month.
6. Uh. Maybe I shouldn't have spilled that last one? If any of our readers are also on my Christmas list, just know that your gift was packed with LOVE. Besides, if you've never tried Dr. Teal's lavender bath soak, you should. His eucalyptus one is dreamy, too.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My Secret Weapon

I firmly believe that you can't write a book without a highly qualified support team. I have blogged about KISS, Inc. before, but it's true - without the support of a large group of friends, family and other authors, I feel that no one can write a good book. Keep in mind, within this group, I also count those supportive peeps who give kind and helpful rejections. Yep, I am more thankful for these people than almost any. Any, that is, except for one...

... My Secret Weapon.

The main weapon in my arsenal of tricks, is none other than my mother.

Having just finished reading my book for the umpteenth time, she is not only encouraging and persistant in her good advice, but, she's a grammatical genius, helping me locate rogue commas and overused words that pop up like evil terrorists. Her background in poetry and English makes her an indispensable tool for getting my manuscript in tip top shape before it ever even crosses my agent's desk. Mom has single handedly made me a Revision Goddess, a title I flaunt proudly.

Dear Mom,

I could never have done this without you. And for this reason, when I DO sell this sucker, it will be dedicated whole heartedly to you. Thank you so much! I love you :-)


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Speaking of good food...

I took the chickens to my beloved Chevron for lunch today. That's right, you heard me - the Chevron gas station has some killer food - old country kind of food.

Occasionally, when I tell my yankee friends (which my husband thinks is anywhere outside of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Louisiana) that we're lunching at the gas station, they laugh at me. But today, while paying the lady for my gas/food, I noticed the cover of Bon Appetit magazine, sitting up in a frame on the counter, in which my dear Chevron was written up as a hot spot for food :-)

I said to the lady, "Well isn't that cool!"

And she said, "We were in that Gentleman's magazine a couple of months ago."

"GQ?" I asked.

"That's the one," she said with a smile.

So there, distant friends, I'm not crazy :-)

OH!!!!!! I forgot to mention the fact that Coach O mentions my Chevy in the new movie The Blind Side too!!! Which, by the way, is utterly fantastic! And great for the entire family. RUN, don't walk to see it! It's incredible!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009



See you next week!
SF and Katie

Friday, November 20, 2009

Competitive Yoga??

In yesterday's New York Times, there was an article called "Is the Spirit of Competition in the Soul of Yoga?" It seems that the Choudhurys, the couple most famous for creating Bikram style yoga, are trying to promote yoga as a competitive sport here in the U.S.--with hopes that it will be included in the Olympics someday. Whhhhaaaaaaaaaat??

My favorite quote from the article is this:

“We are not trying to judge any kind of spirituality when they are out there,” Mrs. Choudhury said.

Well Mrs. Choudhury, that's good news. Could you imagine? Ten points for the perfect downward dog. Ten points for an excellently executed side crow. Five point deduction for the slightly spotted aura. Sorry, hon. You must work on your karma if you want to make the 2020 Olympic team.

This whole idea of yoga as a competive sport sends me spinning. Isn't yoga about INNER peace? Isn't the focus on what your body can do--not on what your body can do as compared to everyone else in the room? Doesn't this notion run counter to the entire premise of yogic practice?

As I sat in my kitchen enraged by this article, I realized that by taking this very deliberate step with my writing--the step towards becoming a published writer--I am treating my art the same way. Haven't I introduced competition and the marketplace into my world of quiet introspection and self exploration?

Most of you who are reading this blog are either seeking publication or are already published. So, how do you keep your zen and stay true to your art in the face of the realities of competition and the cut-throat realities of the marketplace?

I guess it's all just a matter of focus and intention--cultivating an ability to keep the art and the marketing separate. Thoughts?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Passing Time

Well, as today is my birthday *happy giggles* I am torn between wanting time to stop, and time to fly by. Why? Because I, of course, don't wanna be 39 (Great Balls of Fire!!!) But I also REALLY want to see this - which means hurry up Friday! Bring on New Moon!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

So at least that's done . . .

So, I spent Sunday decorating for Christmas.

No. I'm not one of "those" people--you know the ones who send out their Christmas cards the day after Thanksgiving and have their shopping finished in June. I am the crazy person who has agreed to let her house be on tour for the Jr. Auxiliary's Christmas Tour of Homes. And, today a local magazine came over to take some photographs of our dining room mantle.

As I was climbing down from the attic with an armload of whatever was on top of my rubbermaid bins marked "Christmas", I looked by our back door. This is what I saw:

Yes. It is leftover from last year. I never put it up.

So, at least that's done. The mantle has to be reworked when I get all of my stuff out--I just stood in the dark attic and grabbed at random and (in the words of Tim Gunn) "made it work." But the doormat can stay. Maybe even for another year.

And, surely I'm setting myself up for some good karma in the world of children's books. All of the proceeds from the tour go to projects that help children. It's all for a good cause. Keep repeating that to yourself, sf. It's all for a good cause . . .


Saturday, November 14, 2009


If you're looking for keynote speakers on revision...

We're your girls.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's all good.

At Bible study today we learned that God never wastes our pain. That in his infinite and loving wisdom, He is able to use our suffering for our own good. What a fantastic reminder - and oh, how I thought of my writing journey.

Today, a week or so before Thanksgiving, I am taking this opportunity to remind you (and me) to USE those rejections and disappointments for your benefit! Learn from them! Try to use the comments and the feedback you receive to make your book better! And if not your book, yourself!

And, if you come across a really hard to handle person, use that experience too! Remember that God never wastes these challenges. You are growing in character, and wisdom, and grace and you will be all the better for it!

Relax. It's all good.


P.S. My first comment, Tamika, won the Karmic Kindle!!! Coincidence? I think not! Yay Tamika!!!!!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Free Books!!

Did the title get your attention?

I am a HUGE Gregory Maguire fan (he's most famous for writing Wicked), and I have just discovered that a friend of mine from college lives down the street from him. They have children the same age and talk about catching the school bus and ballet lessons and birthday parties . . . Can you imagine having conversations like this with Gregory Maguire--I mean, talking to him as if he were a mere mortal???

My friend has hooked me onto a really cool publisher called Concord Free Press, and you can have a Gregory Maguire book for free. You just pledge to donate any amount to charity.

Now, I know most of us are not in a position (YET) to give away our books, but I love this whole concept. And, we can all participate by donating what we would have spent on a book to charity. I'm going to give to our literacy council here in Oxford.
My copy of The Next Queen of Heaven is on its way.

And . . . stay tuned. I've had a crazy week--one that ended in snoopy dancing and champagne sipping!!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Win a Kindle?!

Leave it to Lisa and Laura to come up with the hottest new contest on the block. They are giving away a KINDLE next week to one of their followers!!! (and don't worry, it's not too late to become one. Go! Join the fun!)

Check it out here!

And save the date for their new book!!!!!!!!
From Publisher's Marketplace: Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker's A Kate Lowry Mystery: THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN, a quick-witted mystery starring a private-school sleuth with attitude and pearls, who receives an email from her dead best friend, to Daniel Ehrenhaft at Sourcebooks, for publication in Spring 2011, by Catherine Drayton at Inkwell Management (NA).

May the best man win! (And by that, I mean me :-)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Some books to consider

I just watched this video because of our friend Kathryn Stockett's book, The Help - and because, according to Ms. J, "John Searles is a wonderful man who knows his stuff." As it turns out, he does. I was interested in several of these titles and may pick them up over the holidays. (I realize it's an older video but I had never seen it.) Check it out. Good stuff :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Katie's gone Extreme.

I have fully applied to be on Extreme Home Makeover! Wait. Not to receive a home (My house is more wonderful than I could ever imagine.) I want to be on the show to help build a house for someone else - someone who really does need a new house.

It all happened Sunday night as the chickens and I were eating grilled cheeses and watching the show. Right before our eyes they announced a contest to "get on the bus". Well, faster than you can say turnip greens, we made a b-line for my computer and wrote ourselves a doozy of an application.

Now, do us a favor and cross your fingers so we can say -

Move. That. Bus!


P.S. Those are gonna be my new buddies. We'll be hammerin' together if I get on the show.

And finally for the FAB NEWS OF THE WEEK, Lisa and Laura Roecker just sold their first book!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love them so much I have literally cried over their news thrice! (is that even a word? If not, it should be!) Go Lila! We are so excited for you!!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Revising, too . . .

Okay, so it's another post about revisions, but Katie and I are both knee deep into them. Since it's November and NaNoWriMo, I have decided to follow The Intern's lead and commit to NaNoReVisMo. The last thing I need to do is start another novel when I've got three of them sitting here begging me for heavy duty revisions . . . not to mention my picture book.

Anyone else in??

Katie's last post referenced a great revision post by Stephanie Perkins. I just read one by Elana Johnson on querytracker that is every bit as helpful. My favorite thing she says to do is "chunk" your manuscript. By this, she does not mean for us to "chunk" our babies into the recycle bin to be turned into newsprint and cereal boxes. No, she suggests that we divide our manuscript up into "chunks" and work on them that way. Great stuff--be sure to read her entire post here!

So here's where I've been all week.

Working on my picture book revisions. Again. Yes. Again. I've changed the ending and a few things at the beginning of the story. This, of course, means that my sketches have to be redone. Again.

I'm not complaining. It keeps getting better with each revision.

I've got my thumbnails on index cards so that I can look at the entire book in one glance and see where pictures need to be changed for variety in pacing or general flow of the story.

And, yes. That is my Tim Gunn bobblehead lording over my revisions. He says things like "Make it work" and "I can't want you to succeed more than you do". He just may be the force to push me through this.

A few more days of sketches and then it's off to novel revisions. See you on the other side.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

So, I'm revising...

People say to me everyday, "Hey Katie! What's up?" And I know they're bored when I say, "Still revising."

But seriously. It's all I do. I wake up, drink coffee and walk up to my husband's office where I revise. End of story.

I will say, though, it's gotten fun. It was tearful there for a while. I don't know about y'all, but changing the entire storyline of my book was terrifying initially. People told me that changing plot is much easier than changing character or something else, but I whole heartedly disagree. Changing plot is like someone telling me, "You know how SF lives in Mississippi and is married to John and has 3 girls? Well, we want you to make her a lesbian accountant living in NY with 2 dogs."

Also, revising has given me the sad side effect of blog block. Yep, I can barely read them, much less write one. The only entertainment I take in during the week is Modern Family (which was FRIGGIN' hilarious last night!!!!!!!) and GLEE :-)

Beyond that it's words, words and more words.

BUT, I did read a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Stephanie Perkins and it was wonderful, especially for those of you who are revising, so I will link to it here. Do go meet her. She's hysterical. I can't wait for her book. It's one of the few I'm pretty sure I will adore, just by reading her blog.

Peace Out,


Monday, October 26, 2009


This year, I turned (gulp) forty and my mother turned seventy. We decided that we needed to go somewhere to celebrate, and she suggested a girls' trip to Chicago. Now, I've always been a New York gal--I spent a summer there at Parson's School of Design when I was in college, and I've been hooked ever since--but I'd never been to Chicago. Ever.

We hit Michigan Avenue Thursday afternoon and spent a chilly, rainy, WINDY weekend in Chicago. I don't feel like I got to really see the city because the weather just didn't work for a stroll around Navy Pier or Millenium Park, but mom and I did a whole lotta shopping, ate some great meals and saw Jersey Boys (so fun!).

The highlight of my trip was the Art Institute of Chicago. I have never in my life seen so much incredible modern and contemporary art in one building. I could have spent days in that place. They were even having an exhibit of Caldecott winners and honorees artwork. It was such a treat to get to see original illustrations from some recent winners and to really spend some time examining their technique. The most incredible were Brian Selznick's illustrations for The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The originals were tiny--3 x 5 postcard sized--and so amazingly rich with detail.

Here are my mother and I as we are leaving for the airport on Sunday morning. It's not the best picture, but it's the only one we took the entire trip!

So, to answer the question: New York or Chicago?? I think I'd still have to say New York. There is such an incredible pulse to that city that you feel when you touch down at LaGuardia. I love New Yorkers, and I love watching the city street trends and wandering into galleries and bodegas.

But, Chicago is a close second--especially if you are going on a shopping trip. Everything is right there in a gigantic, capitalistic clump. And, the sidewalks were clean.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mad, Sad, Glad (volume one)

Pay attention Bloggers. I'm about to teach you a little game I play with the chickens called Mad, Sad, Glad. Feel free to play along in the comments. It's real easy. You just say one thing that made you mad, one thing that made you sad, and one thing that made you glad. Here I go (I'm gonna give you two):

Mad: I was mad that tonight during hot yoga my arms and feet kept slipping in my own sweat, making me completely unable to do the scorpion pose. AND, I made the mistake of taking my pre-teen to look for some boots and now have boot lust and no money to buy any.

Sad: I'm sad that my same fashion-minded pre-teen is struggling in English. Why? Because her teacher wants them to learn how to write. Not only does she hate reading worse than mosquitos, but she detests writing like bad seafood. Nice. And secondly, I keep seeing this one legged man selling collard greens out of the back of his truck?

Glad: I'm glad I got a fab new washer and dryer and my clothes now smell like bliss! But most importantly, I am continuing to discover fantastic new ideas to work into my revision. *squee!!!!!! (It is nightmarishly slow, but going good). Slow and steady wins the race, right?

How 'bout Y'all?

P.S. How friggin' crazy is it that I can type mad, sad, glad into Google Images and get a ready-made banner???

Monday, October 19, 2009

An Inspired Life

Six years ago my husband sent me on an exotic trip to Oaxaca Mexico with a world famous chocolatier to study mexican cooking in the birthplace of chocolate, itself. Also on my trip was an up and coming (now major) yogi who led us through incredible yoga every day as well.

These two peeps became my constant companions for nine glorious days.

What I remember most, is what it was like to be in the presence of creative minds all day. The chef, for example, was constantly jotting down notes about various flavors or random ideas for her numerous stores all over the world. The yogi, a music man, did the same kind of creative brainstorming for his business, weaving music and theory throughout our days.

After we got home and the NY Times interviewed us for a four page article that started with the words, Katie Anderson, a housewife in Mississippi.... (Seriously! It was friggin' crazy!) I told my mother that being around inspired people all day was the most energizing thing I have ever done in my life.

Until now...

Discovering writing and our vast web of writer friends is a world I feel so happy to be a part of. How blessed we are that we do this thing called "creating stories" all day. I live in constant awe of the creative capacity God has given us as artists. It is the same exact feeling I had in Mexico, but has lasted years, rather than nine short days.

God, I love this job! And I love y'all for allowing me to live in that energy ALL THE TIME!

Even when I have "Plot Fail" as Heather calls it, or "Brain Bleed" like Shelli says :-)


PS I don't know what that kooky image is, but it looks like what I imagine my creative synapses might look like...?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What's for Dinner?

Is anyone looking for Halloween costume ideas? If so, you must see this one from our beloved Martha Stewart.

Complete instructions for creating this mouth-watering creation can be found here. Be sure to read the warnings about "when you put the baby on the table". I don't want to be responsible for any mishaps!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

David Sedaris

Saturday was a big day in Oxford, Mississippi.

The Ole Miss Rebels began this year's football season ranked in the Top Ten. After Saturday's game against Alabama, it was clear that whoever ranked us was, well, wrong. I hate it for the team--it's hard to start high--there's nowhere to go but down. I think the ranking was a curse, and I hope that they can pull through the rest of the season and show their talent. Regardless of the outcome, it was HUGE game. I've never seen so many people invade, I mean, visit our sleepy little town.

Immediately following the SEC bloodfest, I ran over to the Ford Center on campus (yes, the same campus where the football game had just ended) to see the one and only David Sedaris.

How badly did I want to stuff him in my pocket and take him home with me? He was hilarious, and he somehow manages to be caustic and cute at the same time. How does he get away with it?

He read several essays to us--my favorite was about his dad, slipping out of his pants at the end of the day like a woman slipping out of her high heels, and walking around the house in his underpants. Every day. Those were his "house clothes." It made it hard for David and his siblings to take him very seriously--you know, because of the underpants.

But my favorite quote came from his visit to Little Rock, Arkansas, which is where he went after leaving Oxford. My friend heard him speak there, and he said that the most common billboards that he saw on the road from Oxford to Little Rock had to do with Jesus and catfish.

Love him.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

LIPS TOUCH!!! The Timeline...

Let me tell you how much I heart Laini Taylor's new book Lips Touch. Beyond being a lush collection of three tales in which the action all hinges on a kiss (and we all know how much I love kissing), this is how Laini's book rocked my clock:

Within seconds, I called my mother and said, "RUN out and get this book!" The prose is freakishly gorgeous in a way that only Laini's brain could write. Truly stunning!

Within minutes, I sat my 12 year old down and said, "Let me read you something."

After about three pages I said, "Good, huh?" To which she replied, "Yeah. Keep reading." I tried not to freak out that she was loving an actual book, but she was.

Within hours, I called SF and told her to go buy the book "because you will want to own this one." And then I did something I have never done before. I told her that if she didn't LOVE it, then I'd buy it back from her. Did you hear that?! I offered a money back guarantee!

Within a day, I was skipping Glee to read it - Not to mention emailing Laini an embarrassing amount of times.

Within a week, I was updating Twitter and Facebook telling everyone from friends to editors to race out and read it. AND, I ventured over to Laini's husband, Jim's blog to see if he had anything else interesting to say - which he did! One of those items was a description of the process of painting the beautiful illustrations found in the book. Did you hear that?! Jim did all the illustrations! In Credible. What a team.

Within months, I expect to purchase several for Christmas presents. *Jingle bells*

Within a year, I'm not sure yet - but I am thinking big here.

Look - Just take it from me. This is a must "own" book! Not since Harry Potter have I savored a book like this. Laini makes me want to be a better writer.

For real.


Read it.

Your welcome :-)

Friday, October 9, 2009

This is NOT a drill

I love the Oxford Fire Department. I go to spin class with these guys on Thursday mornings, and they are such a cool, close-knit group. I love being in the middle of their good-natured ribbing with each other. Plus, they spend a good part of the year planning how to make the fire station super spooky for Halloween trick-or-treaters. My middle daughter Sallie is the only one who will brave their haunted house with me.

Yesterday, I walked with my kindergardener to her fire station field trip.

While we were there, we had a REAL fire alarm. The guys went from talking to a group of children about "stop, drop and roll" to jumping into their gear and taking off in the fire truck (an electric transformer was on fire). One of the parents timed them, and it was literally 60 seconds from the time of the alarm to them hopping onto the truck, fully dressed. A few more seconds and they were on the street with the sirens blaring.

As you can imagine, the children were mouth-gaping, awestruck, and many future firefighters were created that day.

Only about five of the firemen left to go on the call (they have different teams that handle different types of fires), leaving the rest of the group to show the kids how to dial 911 and talk to an operator. And, to meet Sparky, of course.

Then we walked to our house for popsicles because our house is located right between the school and the fire station. My new spider friend had created an especially lovely web for the kids and was perched just high enough to be out of reach.

It was quite a day. And, no. I didn't get any writing done.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I don't outline. But neither does my new BFF Stevo, so there!

As I have started my revision I have struggled over this whole outlining thing. The truth is that I have never outlined. It’s not that I don’t know where my book is going - it’s just that I find it impossible to be creative in an outline. I can only think out of the box while I’m writing (or chatting on the phone).

I have great friends, like Shelli, who are incredible outliners and are able to get way creative during that process, but me? 'Fraid not.
Those short sentences feel like jail bars. I can’t do it. I just can’t!

BUT, by God’s grace, I picked up On Writing, By Stephen King, this week. This book has been sitting on my bedside table in a big stack of books for over a year. I was hesitant to read it because the truth is that I can not read horror books - or watch horror movies. They scare the crap out of me and I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to relate to his book. But boy was I wrong!

It’s a book about process. It's not scary at all! In fact, it's rather fascinating.

And guess what? He doesn’t outline either, so I’m a new fan.

Therefore Dear Readers, I give you the FREEDOM to be the creative souls that God made you and write however it flows out. Perhaps I am a strange breed of savant, whose creative process defies logic like Chris Martin’s. And perhaps so are you! (His "process" is about 7 minutes in and it's almost exactly like mine - fragmented and random - but the whole interview is great.)
I wonder what else lies in wait on my bedside table?


PS. Speaking of “FREEDOM”, I use this now and love it! But you have to have a Mac to use it - sorry. (Did I punctuate that sentence wrong?)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Gulf Shrimp and Spiders

My husband got an email from the "shrimp man" while he was in Atlanta for a continuing education conference (which does not sound like it's nearly as much fun as our writer conferences, poor guy)". The shrimp man was driving up to Oxford from the coast with fresh shrimp Saturday morning, and he'd start selling at 7:00 a.m. at the farmer's market. Hubby was getting home Saturday afternoon and thought fresh shrimp sounded pretty good. So, I sent my daughter bright and early with a pocket full of cash to the farmer's market, just a couple of blocks down our street.

Dinner tonight on our front porch:
Shrimp drowning in butter, garlic, worcestershire, cracked pepper and lemons . . .with a baguette to dunk into the mixture, of course.

And then, after dinner I looked over to my right and look what I saw:

Yes, Lisa and Laura, it is a gigantic wolf spider. Right there. Watching me eat dinner. I must admit that if I'd run into this creature in my bedroom or den, I'd run screaming. But, seeing her sitting in the middle of her gorgeously spun web, made me say ahhh. And, yes, I took that picture of her about 10 minutes ago.

Of course, I think she's paying us a visit because of this spider

which is hanging from a nearby tree in our front yard. My girls and I have spent the last couple of days blinging up our house for Halloween, and I think our friend the wolf spider found a place where she felt welcome.


Our Motto

Our Motto