Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Website!!

Thirteen years ago, I hired a high school student to design a basic webpage for me with nothing more than a couple of images and some contact information. If people wanted to see my artwork, they could email me and I would send current images. It was enough. Everybody didn't have websites back then, anyway.

A couple of years ago, I decided to join the modern age and create the ultimate website. One of my babysitters had just finished a class in web design . . . so I traded her my kiln to help me design a website (I love a good barter, and the kiln had become a coffee table in my studio). I bought tons of expensive software--plus the software reference books as well as Web Design for Dummies. My babysitter helped me when I had questions and helped me get everything set up, but I really wanted to do this MYSELF. I wanted to know what I was doing so that I could update and switch out images whenever I wanted. Sounds awesome, right?

I wish that I had left my old site up one more day, just so you could see the before and after. Let's just say that my website was pathetic. It was too busy, too slow--oh, and it only looked right on a Mac. MY Mac. On anyone else's computer, nothing lined up correctly, and there was a strange floating lavender box on the right side of the screen. I would sheepishly hand out my business cards at conferences saying, "My website is still kinda under construction, but you can sort of see some images on it. I hope to have a new site up soon . . . "

Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the hair-pulling frustration that I experienced every time I tried to change anything (to fix one typo in the text for some reason always resulted in a good eight hours of trying to fix every single page and reload the entire thing). Just thinking about the whole experience is making my heart pound. Breathe, sf. Breathe.

Enter my guardian angels . . .
Thanks to Lisa and Laura who posted about their new fab website that they created in a weekend using a TEMPLATE, I now have a new site. Just in time for conference season. I can't wait to proudly hand out my business cards and say "Check out my website. No really. You can actually look at it. It will load. You can email me. You can see images. I can fix a typo in five minutes. I can upload new images in the time it takes me to reheat a latte."

So . . . pay me a visit at www.sfhardy.com. And, let me know if you see any typos. I can fix them!


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Back from the Beach

We have returned from our annual trip to Destin, Florida - a blast, as always. For those of you who love a good beach trip, Destin is the ultimate. The water is crystal clear, the sand is white as snow and there's tons to do. Here are a few pics.

(including the annual wrapping of a strand of hair with colored thread for $25.00. This event was later regretted when she discovered she could have spent her money on beachy t-shirts and hermit crabs like her sister and cousin.)

And yes, I warned her. She's an impulsive little sucker :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Illustrations, Braces and The Help

How's that for a random title?  Sounds about as scattered as my brain, right now.

I've been taking a little break from my middle grade so that I can let it simmer before I do some work on structure.   I'm working on illustrations in an attempt to beef up my portfolio to (hopefully) have the courage to display it at the portfolio showcase in L.A.  

Yesterday, my daughter got braces.  Here she is at the orthodontist's office.

Then we went here:
For these:

And for those of you who missed our post about my friend Katherine Stockett's amazing book The Help, check it out.  Corey Schwartz pointed out to me that she is #12 on the Amazon ranking.  She's also been on the NY Times best seller list (ahead of Stephanie Meyer, ahem) for months.  Katie and I hope that Kathryn's friend, the actress Octavia Spencer, will join us for the L.A. SCBWI conference this year.  She is the voice of "Minnie" on the audio version of The Help and is a writer herself.  

Anyway, if you're looking for a great summer read, pick up your copy.  


Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer's in Full Swing

Katie's at the beach this week--without her computer!!!!  She did take a paper printed version of her manuscript so that she can continue with her revisions, but she decided to make it a real vacation and leave the Mac at home.  Of course, she's not completely out of touch . . . she has her iphone.

Katie reports that the water is turquoise and the beach is wonderful which makes the waiting game for her submissions easier but revisions really, really hard.

I'm here in Oxford.  At home.  With my girls.  Trying desperately to keep them from killing each other.   I know, these angelic faces couldn't ever utter a cross word.

I think the Mississippi heat is getting to all of us--100 degrees and 500% humidity.  It's almost too hot to swim, so I think we'll watch Wimbledon.  Whew, I'm thankful that I had last week to get some work done.  

And, today we are going to make a strawberry-rhubarb pudding cake.  

When we were in Nashville last week, we visited the non-profit food distribution center, the Second Harvest Food Bank, where my niece is working this summer.  It is an amazing operation, run by volunteers (mostly)--many of whom are former caterers and restaurant owners.  They are fixing healthy meals to distribute to homeless shelters throughout Nashville.  For a sampling of some of the foods they are cooking up, check out Nancy Vienneau's blog.  She was cooking Greens, Straw and Hay for lunch when we were there on Friday.  Yummers!!!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Coffee Shop Hop

I am in Nash-Vegas this week (that's Nashville, Tennessee).  My girls are all in Spanish immersion day camp having a blast playing games in Spanish and cooking Mexican food.  

This means that, yes, I have all day to myself--all day to work on my middle grade that has been simmering on the back burner for several months now . . .

Before I came to Nashville, I did some asking around and discovered that the coolest coffee shop around was Fido--a coffee shop that used to be a pet store.  There are doggie prints in the concrete and other cute leftovers from the building's pet store days.   I love this place--great coffee, great local organic food, great atmosphere (a little loud, but fun) . . . but there is one tiny problem.  There are no plugs.  And, my laptop battery lasts about two-three hours.  Tops.

So, I did some more sleuthing and figured out that there was another really cool coffee shop owned by the same people (so no guilt about switching loyalty or infidelity or anything) called Bongo Java. I set my GPS and found my new digs.  Again, a problem.  The only parking spaces that I could find were for two hour parking.  Bug!!

Anyway, today I went back to Fido and turned off my airport, dimmed my screen light, and worked furiously on my middle grade.  I didn't get to stay all day and work as long as I liked, but I'm getting a ton of stuff done.  And, I took some good breaks and read some other middle grade books for help with voice.

Plus, I got to spend a little time at Anthropologie (after my battery died, of course).


Sunday, June 14, 2009

They're baaacckkk

My two weeks of blissful solitude are over.

Lindsey and I drove nearly 16 hours to Missouri and back yesterday to pick up the chickens and we are back in the swing of things already. Life moves fast when the kiddos are around. I'm already exhausted and they've only been home twelve hours!

Today, I am headed to the laundromat to wash the seven or eight loads of clothes they brought home (yikes!!!!). This is key because you can load seven washers at once and be done in one cycle :)

I am taking the last chunk of my KISS revisions with me. I got quite a bit accomplished on the book last week but there's still a large section left to revise so I'm hoping to finish it this week before we go to the beach.

SF is on the road today with her chickens too. They are going to an incredible Spanish immersion camp in Nashville and I am secretly jealous. I heart all things Spanish. I should have been born in Spain, I tell you! Sadly, since my girls hear me speak it all the time, they think nothing sounds worse than going to a camp their mother would love. *sigh...

I guess that's it! More revisions for me, and Sf is back at work on her novel too.


P.S. We are counting the days until LA! Soon, Babies, soon!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Random Ramblings and Muddy Monsters

Okay, so I am going to send in my revisions tomorrow. 


Thanks to all my cyber critiquers (as well as my in person critiquer, Katie).  Whatever happens, this whole process has made my manuscript and illustrations SO MUCH BETTER.  

And, now I feel like I can come up for air.  

Kind of. 

 I still need to totally revamp my website and get kickin' on my middle grade.  Oh, and did I mention that my children are here, there, and everywhere?  It is a desperate clutch for time around here, and I'm learning how to be "on" for fifteen minute blocks--jumps and snorts, basically.  

My older girls have been at camp this week, so Julia and I are home.  Just the two of us.  All day.  Every day.  And, she's five.  And, really doesn't like to be alone.  Yesterday, we both worked on illustrations for my book together.  


I think I'll frame hers.

Last night, I worked on one of my illustrations, and the monster in the picture kept turning into a muddy orange mess.  I finally fixed him, but Corey Schwartz pointed out that my facebook update which said something about "making muddy monsters" sounded like a great picture book.  Hmmm.

And, Christy . . . guess what I scored today.  

Give up?  Tickets to see David Sedaris.  He's going to be here in October, and I got an extra ticket (on the fifth row!) if you want to hitchhike down here and join me!

How's that for a brain-fried post?  Yum.  Fried . . . pickles anyone?


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Katie Parties Alone...

Oh Lawsy. What was I thinking. It is Saturday night and I am home in my blissful reclusive state when I recall that SF's and my friend Neil White is having a book launch party. Neil has written an incredible book that we will discuss in detail soon, so I really wanted to support him and go to this party.

But alone?

Mistake number one.

First of all, I don't think I have ever gone to a party alone. This fact hit me as I was parking, so I called my friend Mimi and made her talk me into the party. I was pretty sure I would know no one. Inside I made another fatal mistake - I ordered Sweet Tea Vodka. Now, some of you may know that I have an addiction to Iced Tea. So, to have the new Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka was quite a treat. But sadly, it did nothing for my people meeting skills. I'm telling you what, I must SUCK at meeting people. Who knew I was such a scaredy cat?

Within the first five minutes a nice man (shown here) called me over to tell me that I was the cutest girl at the party. I explained to him that I was alone and was dared to get a photo with John Grisham. He said, "Well, John isn't here (obviously) but I was his college roommate." Excellent (snap photo). However, he was almost the only person I spoke to all night. No sooner did I approach the Harper Collin's table, were they all called outside for a photo. And the publicist that I met...well, nevermind.

Now, I must excuse myself from typing this to down some water, lest I have a major headache come early morning.


P.S. In my complete insecurity (as I sat alone at a table for a LONG time) I played on my iphone. What else could I do? Talk to my plate? When I left, the adorable girl from Harper said, "Nice to meet you, Katie iphone!" Oh kill me now... Could she have not come over and talked?! Maybe I was supposed to be the initiator. I am the southern gal after all - all sweet and talky. Make that sweet tea'd and tragic :-)

P.P.S. Don't mix the Sweet Tea Vodka with Peppermint Schnapps and water as was recommended to me. Frankly, it's terrible and will burn your lips. If this occurs, DO pass it back to the nice bartender and ask him to mix one with a little Sweet and Sour mix, water, and a lemon. Like real Tea lovers do it.

Here is a recipe I found:

The Delta Martini
2 ounces Firefly
5 ounces Country Time Lemonade
splash of simple syrup (That's sugar in water, Y'all)
turbinado sugar to rim glass and lemon wedge garnish.

Maybe I should call ahead to the Hyatt in LA and make sure the bar is stocked with this stuff. We can all do a celebratory Sweet Tea drink and call it the Plot This. What do ya think?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Land of the Lost

If any of you were children in the 70s, you will surely remember the cheesy Saturday morning show The Land of the Lost.  The theme song, the horrible special effects, Wesley Eure with his shirt unbuttoned to his waist (more on him in a minute), the Sleestaks with the crazy synthesizer music and their rubber darts . . .  
This show truly represented the seventies at its finest.

And, I just found out that this hottie is from Hattiesburg, Mississippi--one of my friends met him at the mall when she was seven.  I would be jealous, but I saw Elvis in concert when I was seven.

Anyway, we've been watching the seventies version of Land of the Lost from Netflix for the last couple of years.  My children love it, even though I have to say that as an adult, I just don't get it.  But guess what??  The Will Ferrell remake hits the theaters tomorrow.  You can see from the trailer that they have significantly upped their budget for special effects, but I doubt that they can ever replace Wesley.


Monday, June 1, 2009


So I droppped the kiddos off this morn and watched my mama friends tear up. For a microsecond I felt bad that I wasn't crying, but my girls are so excited to be going that I am more happy for them than sad. After that I invited the moms to breakfast and thought, Huh. I could sit here all day. I literally have nowhere to go and nowhere I need to be.

An hour or so later though, I had a mini panic attack in Wild Oats wondering if I will actually be able to achieve all that I want to with my book this week.

Luckily that only lasted about four minutes.

Then I drove home and got tired. I counted on my hands the eight hours that I have already been awake and it was only 10 a.m. Maybe I should take a nap, I thought. But then the panic came again that I would sleep my 13 days away and get nothing done.

Back at home I made a salad and sat on the front porch and realized that I was still racing around like I had to go drive carpool in 2 hours or something. It was a strange feeling knowing how rushed my life feels on a daily basis. I rolled a tomato around in the balsamic vinagrette and thought, "Mmmm... this is why Italians mix these two." And once again it dawned on me that I rush through eating without really tasting my food most of the time.

Calling people crossed my mind, but then I thought, No, I just want to sit. I don't need to do anything yet. Not even write. I will just try to enjoy nothingness today.

So that's what I'm doing.


No talking.

No laundry.

No dishes.

No writing.


Until Lindsey gets home and then I might play tennis. But I need to warn him that I intend to live without a watch for the next thirteen days and that means I will write late into the night and might sleep in the afternoon. And I might fix chocolate chip cookies for dinner, or pizza for breakfast. Who knows.

We'll see. I might end up doing laundry, but I'll keep you posted :) And don't panic if you call and I don't answer. I'm probably just doing nothing.

Our Motto

Our Motto