Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Kitties

This is a post totally unrelated to writing, but I'm excited about it, so I'm blogging about it. ;) Hubby and I decided last month to get the kids kittens for Christmas. I am a total cat person; I adore kitties, and it's been a while since I had one around.

Anyway, hubby wanted to give cats to the kids on Christmas morning--wrap them up as soon as the kids woke up so they could unwrap them and be surprised. I wasn't sure how that would work, but in the end, here's what happened: we found a wonderful woman who had just moved into town with her husband and two kids, and had brought two cats and a litter of seven kittens with them. I talked to her and she agreed that if we came and picked out the two kitties we wanted, she would hold them for us. So last month, hubby and I went and picked out two kitties, and in the process, I made a new friend! The woman with the kittens has gotten together with me and another of my friends a couple of times for playdates, and that's been tremendous fun.

Last Wednesday, I went over and picked up the two kittens. They were the last two left, and as such, they've bonded and they play together and fall asleep cuddling and do all sorts of cute kitty stuff. So I packed up the kittens and took them to my sister's house, because my sis volunteered to kitty-sit until Christmas Eve.

This was when I first picked them up:

My kids have already named the kittens, though they don't know it. We asked, hypothetically, if they ever got female kittens, what would they name them? I've been reading the Harry Potter series to my kids at bedtime for the past eight months or so (we're currently on book six), and my daughter immediately said Lily, and my son decided on Tonks. So Lily and Tonks it is.

Lily is the gray and white kitty here (held by my three-year-old niece, who is thrilled to have them at her house right now):

And Tonks is the tortoiseshell here:

My sister keeps giving me updates on them, and I'm so, so excited to bring them home next week and to see the kids open them on Christmas morning. (The kids know they're not allowed to go downstairs on Christmas morning this year; they have to come straight to us and wake us up. I just need to remember to add in that it should not be four in the morning when that happens. ;))

So that is what I am going to be doing on Christmas Eve night--picking up kitties. :D

Do any of you have special plans for the holidays?

Friday, December 16, 2011

how Taekwondo is like writing

My son has been taking Taekwondo since we moved to Tennessee this year. He did karate a little bit before that, but there was no karate dojo here that did the same form he had been learning, so he switched to Taekwondo. He loves it, and I've been watching him learn more and more and taking him to belt tests and a tournament and a gazillion classes.

Well, my husband and I recently decided to start taking Taekwondo, too. Hubby's been wanting to do it forever, and I always thought it would be neat, but didn't know if I had the motivation for it. However, I suck at exercising on a regular basis (I really, really do), and I have a heart condition (a mild form of it) and my cardiologist tells me I need to be exercising several times a week. So doing Taekwondo, I'll not only learn self-defense (which I've wanted to learn for ages) but I'll be holding myself accountable to the exercising.

After a couple of classes (and giving my legs time to adjust--all that kicking made them soooo sore), I'm fumbling with where the heck I'm supposed to put my feet and how to hold my arms and the teacher keeps saying, "Relax! Taekwondo is all about relaxing!" and I'm O_O.

I do have a point to all of this.

I went to a Taekwondo class to do it with my son, and he was in the back of the room, working on his moves with someone else, since he's several belts down and learning all sorts of patterns. And he always makes it looks so easy. The kicking, the punching, the various blocks and turns...and there I am, flailing my way through the basic moves and growing ever more impressed with how much my child has learned.

I got to thinking about how it's like writing. How when a person first sits down to write their very first book, it's a lot of flailing around and trying to find your footing and figure out what in the world you're doing. You read published books, or you read a friend's manuscript, and you wonder how you're ever, ever going to know how to do it that well. Or do it at all. And it doesn't always end with the first book. Maybe you're writing your tenth novel and you read something amazing and you realize how much you still have to learn and you wonder how your books are going to stand up among all of the books that are so incredible.

Sometimes it all comes back to perseverance, and determination, and knowing that there's always room for improvement, and you're going to make mistakes. It can be overwhelming when you think of how much you still have to learn, so much of the craft you still have to know. It's okay. You'll get there. One step at a time, one key stroke at a time. You'll slowly learn the movements and how everything fits together and why you're doing certain things and avoiding other things. You'll push yourself to new limits and learn and do things you didn't think you could before. If you give up because things look hard or you don't think you'll be able to push yourself that much, who knows what stories you'll miss out on? You have a story (or stories!) to tell, and only you can tell it. You'll figure out how if you just keep at it.

Now I just need to remind myself of this when I go to the next Taekwondo class...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Also: "Confessions" Christmas Sale on Smashwords

From now until December 28th, I'm having a Christmas sale on Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) in ebook format on Smashwords. Smashwords sells it in pretty much every type of ebook format--Kindle, EPUB, PDF, RTF, and more.

With a coupon code you can get the ebook for $0.99. If you're interested, you can click on the link below and enter coupon code WV49Y at the checkout.

Confessions on Smashwords

For a reminder of what the book is about:

 Write what you know.

Persephone "Sephie" Benson scoffs when her creative writing teacher throws that little gem out there. Maybe this advice would work for a professional skydiver or a baseball star or a ninja princess. It's not so great for a high school student who doesn't even know what to do with the rest of her life. Add in being the oldest of six girls, having Responsibilities with a capital R, and living in a town the size of a tick, and you've got a recipe for boring soup.

At least, that's what Sephie thinks until her senior year. Now, her grandfather is losing his house. One of her sisters plays a starring role in the local high school scandal. Even things with her best friend Joey aren't the same.

As Sephie deals with the changes in her life, she finds that nothing is quite what she expects—and that sometimes, the most extraordinary life can be the one that seems the most ordinary.

Grammar Daze - breath/breathe

I am long, long overdue for a Grammar Daze post. November and December have been insane—November because of all the writing, and December because my kids have a gazillion holiday activities. My son takes Taekwondo, my daughter does dance, and between the two of them, there are potlucks and testing and performances and parades. I haven't been this busy with activities for them…well, ever, I think. Hello, December!

I never even said how November ended up going for me: it was fantastic. I got two books finished—well, I finished one and my co-author and I finished a second. I only have one novel left to finish now, and I made a lot of progress on it.

How is December going for you? 

And now for today's Grammar Daze:

breath vs. breathe

I come across breath and breathe being done incorrectly quite often. You know that grammar rule that says if you add an "e" to the end of a one syllable word with a short vowel, it makes the vowel long? Pin becomes pine, mop becomes mope, quit becomes quite, and so on and so forth. And then you learn about words like have and come and you realize that it's a bunch of crap because for every rule in English, there are a million exceptions.

Or maybe that's just me. 

We're not going to even get into the fact that "ea" can say EEEE or EHH or AY.

Anyway. This rule of adding an "E" at the end to make it long applies for breath. By itself, the word is short. Breath is said like bread. But, voila, add an E to the end, and breath becomes breathe with a long EEEEE sound.

Breath and breathe are not interchangeable.

Breath: noun (Person, place, thing, idea.)

Breathe: verb (It's what you do.)

To remember this, we can use the example that breath sounds like bread. There is no E on the end of either word. Both breath and bread are nouns. If you can change out breath (no E!) for bread and it makes sense, you've got the right word.

Likewise, if you're trying to make someone breathe (what they do), try substituting "bread."

If you're saying, "Just breathe, honey, it's going to be okay," then try putting bread in that sentence.

"Just bread, honey, it's going to be okay."

This doesn't work, so we add an E to make it 'breathe'.  This might get confusing because when you say "breathing," you're dropping the "E" at the end of "breathe" to add "ing". The word you're using is still breathe, though.

Happy writing!