Live Blog: Monday

Beth Revis and I are still working together, we still have a mutual goal, and it's still due this Thursday. But this week? I only waited four days to begin instead of six.

That's called PROGRESS, my friends.

This will be a mini-version of what I did last Wednesday. It's really just for my own benefit, so there's a place where I can be publicly held accountable for reaching my goal. (Er, some of us need more motivation than others.)

Instead of sharing our actual word count with you, this time we're working with percentages-of-goal-reached. According to her last blog, Beth is currently at 24% of her goal. Me?

9:30 a.m.

We all have to start somewhere.

The Thursday goal is 100%, and today's goal will be to hit 42%. Because I like the number 42.

By the way, if you're wondering why Night Owl Me is awake at such an UNGODLY HOUR as NINE-THIRTY in the MORNING, the landscapers are here again, plus now there's someone else installing a new bathtub/shower.

(This was not planned. OF COURSE the best time to install the new tub was this week.)

Ah, well. I'm just glad it's happening!

Updates to come throughout the day . . .

* * *

10:18: Oh, man. Starting is the WORST. I've already had breakfast, but I think I'll go get a snack.

10:25: The landscapers are covering my lawn with cardboard so it can be mulched. The tub installer is drilling and banging away at my old shower. I am eating potato chips.

10:30: Send Maureen Johnson various pictures via Twitter. Think about snail sex scene in Microcosmos, thanks to this tweet.

10:35: Need to use the bathroom, but water has been turned off! Visit next-door neighbor. Beg for toilet.

10:45: Turn on Freedom for Macs, because otherwise NO WORK will happen before noon.

12:00 p.m.: Frick. I lost two hundred words. Today's goal? Currently in the negative. Also, I'm tired. I SHOULD STILL BE ASLEEP.

12:10: Realize I've spent the last ten minutes thinking about sleep.


12:22: Realize Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto is being released in America today. Hurrah! Download it. Perhaps I won't die today, after all.

I love you, Chris, but we're gonna have to talk about those new earrings.

12:35: Lunch time! Look out kitchen window and discover tractor in backyard.

12:43: Wait for cheap Alfredo noodle mix to cook. Accidentally turn on faucet for third time since the water has been shut off. Obviously, it's still not working.

12:47: Two more people arrive! Plumbers! I had no idea plumbers were coming. This brings the total number of workers around my house to nine.

1:00: To combat fatigue, drink protein shake. Tastes like chalky mango.

1:05: Stare at novel. Want to delete whole stupid thing. Eat fruit snacks.

1:10: Tractor-thing shovels gravel in my driveway. Mulch truck arrives. Tractor forced to move. Beep! Beep! Beep! The plumbers laugh about something in my bathroom. More drilling. Perhaps this is not an ideal writing environment.

1:25: Pop over to neighbor's house for the bathroom again. Sit with her on her porch and study my yard. Discover a tenth worker. Amazing.

1:50: Water! The water is back on!

1:55: Email Kiersten White about the usual: how tired I am, how much I don't want to write today, etc.

2:03: ESPRESSO. I will never get into the positive percentage range without ESPRESSO. I love you, Nespresso Pixie! SAVE ME.

2:15: Bathtub installer and plumbers leave for the day. They'll be back early tomorrow, emphasis on the early.

Well. At least my toilet works again.

2:30: Landscapers sing "Blue Moon" to each other outside my window.

2:42: Cat sneaks outside of hiding place in bedroom. Sneak sneak sneaks around. (It's okay, Mr. Tumnus! No one is inside our house anymore.)

3:45: A few hundred words gained, a few hundred words lost. Still not in the territory to use the percentage meter. Arrrrghhhhhh.

4:10: More chalky mango protein drink. More wanting to die.

4:15: Phone-talk with editor Julie. Work! This is legitimately work-related!

4:40: Reopen manuscript document. Deep sigh.

5:20: BOOK SO HARD. WHY YOU SO HARD, BOOK?!? STOP LOSING WORDS, BOOK!!! Five hundred more words bite the dust. Word count reaches new daily low. Time to stretch my legs and feed my dogs.

5:30: Jarrod comes home. We stare at our beautiful, beautiful yard for nearly an hour. We break out the champagne and walk around it for another hour. OUR YARD IS SO PRETTY. And it's not even done yet! Happy, happy. (But now it's too dark to take a picture. Sorry.)

7:30: Call Dad. Tell him about awesome new yard.

8:00: Delete five hundred more words. Rewrite five hundred more words.

8:30: Pizza and an episode of Party Down.

"Are we having fun yet?"

9:00: Back to work. Whee. Feel my excitement.

9:25: Espresso. We meet again, friend.

10:15: Cut, cut, cut. I'm currently -1,100 words from where I started. I SWEAR, I AM WRITING. There's just an unusually high percentage of muck to wade through today. Trying not to get frustrated. Pushing forward . . .

10:20: Okay, obviously I'm not going to hit 42% today. I wasn't prepared for this type of work. New goal = get something on that percentage graph. Anything on that percentage graph.

10:30: Succumb to nap.

12:05 a.m.: OH, LOOK. I'm working again.

12:55: Snack time! Wasabi peas.

1:09: Rewriting continues. Words deleted, words rewritten. I'm actually making good progress, and it's frustrating that I don't have numbers to show for it.

2:00: Finish another big section. Now I'm only -800 from where I started today. (Woo!) I hate to throw in the towel without having reached any of my goals, but I have to get up early again tomorrow. Bummer.

Thanks for checking in with me today! No doubt I'll see you here again soon.


Fresh & Honest

Backyard, this afternoon

It's a happy Saturday. My husband and I have been saving our pennies, and we've finally — finally — been able to hire landscapers to fix our yard.

A wonderful crew of four (plus an adorable eight-year old playing on a mound of flagstones) is removing the grass and debris and overgrown mess, and replacing it with evergreens, maples, fruit trees, berries, and flowering bushes. There will be mulch and boulders and curves instead of a square lawn, new privacy from our neighbors, and sitting areas to relax and take tea.

Yes. I am happy.

Years ago, when we moved into this house, I had fantasies of being a cottage gardener à la Tasha Tudor. (THIS BOOK, you guys. Heaven.) And we had a head start! Our home used to be on the local garden tour. So I figured we'd continue the tradition and have a beautiful yard filled with perennials and lawns and rambling roses and organic vegetable beds and everything lovely I'd ever seen in an English miniseries or classic children's novel.

And then a funny thing happened.

My husband and I discovered that we didn't enjoy yard work. (Not. Even. A little bit.) There are mosquitoes and humidity and weeds and pruning and sunburns and mowing.

Ohmygod, mowing.

So we let the garden go. First the perennial flowers disappeared, overtaken by the lawn. Then the older, stronger bushes grew up against the side of our house. New weeds arrived—tall, hardy weeds on weed-steroids. Several of our trees died. Our raised vegetable beds filled with wild grass, our planters filled with clover and moss, and our weeping cherry beat its arms against everyone who dared walk beside it.

But now. Now!

A fresh, honest start. When we spoke with our landscaper about ideas, we were honest about what would could and could not do, even when it was embarrassing: We didn't want to mow. We didn't want anything that required vigilant pruning. (But we didn't mind hiring someone once or twice a year to clean things up.) We wanted fewer people to be able to see into our backyard, so when it DID get out of control, we would have no witnesses.

But . . . we still wanted it to look pretty. Was this possible?

Yes, she assured us. It's possible.

I'm a huge believer in fresh starts and in being honest with yourself. For years, I was ashamed that I didn't have this magical gardening joy, that I hated something I thought I would enjoy. But I've grown content with this knowledge. That's how we learn, by trying new things. You discover what you can do yourself (I actually enjoy painting rooms!) and what you shouldn't be afraid to ask for help with (yard work, yard work, yard work).

There's a good metaphor in here for life and writing and such, but I think you already catch my drift.

Happy Saturday, my friends. I hope your gardens are growing strong.


Life Is Hard Before Noon

10:45 a.m. — Greenlife Grocery, Asheville

I hand FRIENDLY CASHIER a bottle of juice and a small brown bag.

Good morning! What's in your bakery bag today?

ME: Ohmygod. What DID I put in the bag?

FC: *smiles*

ME: ?!?!?!?!?!

FC: *waits*

ME: *peeks inside bag* What's that called? What's that even called?!?

FC: *waits*

ME: ?!?!?!?!?!

FC: *smiles*


Mornings are too hard, you guys. I'm going back to bed.


Live Blog! Today! Author vs. Author Edition!

12:30: "OH, SNAP, REVIS. It's on!" — me, in a Twitter DM

Okay, so you have to read this post first for the following to make sense.

Yes. I'm the other half of Beth Revis's bet. I have 15,000 words due to her tomorrow. We've both been dragging our heels. She has 8,400 words left, and I have . . . wait for it . . .

15,000 words.


Also, the worst bettor.

I'm reasonably confident that Beth has already won this match, and I'll be the one purchasing the coffee and treats at our get-together tomorrow. (And you'd better believe that authors can consume A LOT of coffee and treats.)


That doesn't mean I'm happy to sit on my tush today and let her SHOW OFF how AMAZING and ON-TASK she is. I can be on-task, too! I swear I can!


9:09 a.m.: My alarm — set to give me a jump up on today's work — goes off. I snooze that bitch.

9:19: SNOOZE.

9:29: SNOOZE.

9:39: SNOOZE.

9:49: Screw you, alarm! I am turning you OFF.

11:04: Jarrod calls to see if I'm awake. I don't answer.

11:50: Jarrod calls again. I put the phone underneath my pillow.

12:11 p.m.: My phone bings. A text from Kiersten White. It makes me laugh, and I somewhat wake up.

12:12: Check Gmail and Google Reader on my phone, from bed.

12:15: Jarrod calls. I answer, but the call is short as my brain is fuzzy.

12:17: Back to Google Reader. Yay! A new comic from Kate Beaton!

12:25: Check Twitter and discover a direct message from Beth: "Be afraid. Be very afraid." + link to her live blog.


12:27: Pace in manic circles around kitchen. Decide to skip breakfast. There's WORK to be done.

12:30: Blog.

OMG, I've spent too long blogging. Wake up, brain! Wake up!

I'll be updating this post all day. (And all night?) Back in a bit.


1:20: Change my mind. BREAKFAST IS A MUST. Espresso (caffeine) + an English muffin covered in peanut butter (protein) ought to do the trick.

1:30: Return to the kitchen for bunny-shaped fruit snacks and cheddar-scallion sourdough twists. Why not?

1:35: Engage in a bit of friendly Twitter/blog trash talk with Beth. Eat pear-flavored Jelly Bellies.

1:45: OH. I should probably work, huh?

BETH'S WORD COUNT: 2801/8400

2:10: Music. I'm missing the music. Everything will be better if I have the right music. Turn on the Sunshine soundtrack, because it has the appropriate balance of drive and paranoia.

2:18: Phone-talk with my agent Kate about various stuffs. All is good.

2:30: Back to work.


Back to kitchen. Chicken salad on crackers, because: (A) more protein, (B) fast/easy.

2:40: Back to work.

2:41: Gum. I need gum. Dig out Trident Xtra Care Cool Mint, because: (A) need gum, (B) it has Recaldent, which helps strengthen teeth, which my dentist strongly recommends for me. Because I chew too much gum.

2:42: Back to work.

3:15: Change iTunes playlist to Girl Talk, a.k.a. musical crack.

4:10: SLEEPY. Nap time. But first, blog.

CURRENT WORD COUNT: 632/15000 (HA HA HA! *sob*)

6:21: Sense a disturbance in the force and wake up from the pallet on my office floor. All of the animals in the house are moving. Ah-HA! Jarrod is home! YAAAAAY! Jarrod Jarrod Jarrod!!! I love him! He is so much fun!

CURRENT WORD COUNT: 632/15000 (Well. Just wait until my NEXT update.)
BETH'S WORD COUNT: 4475/8400 (11,175/15,000)

6:30: Way gross and stinky. My Secret Weapon (a.k.a. Jarrod) puts the kettle on while I shower.

6:45: Emerge from the shower like a new writer. Energetic! Clean! Inspired!

6:50: Don battle gear — fresh pajama bottoms and a NaNoWriMo shirt, for luck. Grab GIANT mug of tea and head back to work.

7:00: Check Beth's blog. She's been quiet for the last hour. Is she working or sleeping?!? Fingers crossed for sleeping, but all bets are on working.

7:02: Back to work.

7:40: Jarrod brings me First Dinner, which is more like Breakfast, Part Two. Scrambled eggs and another English muffin.

8:00: Blog. Maybe I'll try to do this every hour, on the hour from now on?

CURRENT WORD COUNT: 1035/15000 (Quadruple digits! Finally!)
BETH'S WORD COUNT: Still no update! What is this madness?!?

8:14: Realize I've spent too long updating/hunting for Beth online. WORK! Must get back to work!

8:35: Scene suddenly becomes sexy. Ooo! This bodes well . . .

9:00: Check Beth's blog for an update. Discover she's PLAYING DIRTY by calling on her readers to send me pictures of HOT BRITISH MEN via Twitter. Heh. A worthy effort, Revis, but perhaps you UNDERESTIMATE ME.

9:02: Discovers Twitter @replies filled with Wee James McAvoy. Eep! Gulp.

9:06: NO MORE! NO MORE!!!

BETH'S WORD COUNT: I think it's still the same??? Can this be TRUE?

9:07 - 10:00: Write the entire time. Do you believe?? Things are HEATING UP.

10:01: Discover Beth has resorted to killing off characters. Unsurprising, since I have resorted to make-out scenes.

CURRENT WORD COUNT: 2562/15000 (Crap-it-all! I so thought I'd written more.)
BETH'S WORD COUNT: 5448/8400 (11872/15000)

10:05: Back to work.

10:50: Jarrod brings me an espresso and bowl of trail mix. OHMYGOD, MY TEETH. What the heck is wrong with my teeth? Eating suddenly hurts. SO UNCOOL. Beth, did YOU do this to me?

10:52: Teeth okay again. Phew.

11:00: Check Beth's blog. She's resorted to gifs to express her frustrations! Is this a sign of hope? Or will she come back from her break with a vengeance?

5553/8400 (11997/15000)

11:10: Text from Kiersten. I MUST REPLY. Has Beth discovered my weakness?? Is she behind this?

11:13: Need to pee. NO! I NEED WORDS! I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE MY CHAIR! Whyyyyyyyyyyy??? I hate you, espresso!!! This is YOUR fault. And so are all of these exclamation points and ALL CAPS!!!!!


12:00 a.m.: Check Beth's blog. "Did you know that this is the longest time I've ever continuously live-blogged in one day? And it's soon to be the next day..." Yikes. Me, too. Welcome to the new a.m.

12:07: Look at clock. Feel weary for the first time since nap.

BETH'S WORD COUNT: No new update. Hopefully, no new word count?

12:25: Thanks to advice from Twitter, I chug all three half-drunk caffeinated beverages currently sitting on my desk. HOLY CRUD, THAT WAS DISGUSTING. Why did they ALL have to have cream in them?

12:27: Realize I've been goofing off on Twitter for last twenty minutes. #$%^.

1:00: Delete several hundred words. Arrrrghhhhhh.

1:28: Beth is going to bed! Beth is going to bed! HURRAH! She'll still win, but maybe I can at least beat today's seven thousand word count? Must. Push. On.

7174/8400 (13598/15000)

1:35: LEGS. KILLING ME. How did I not realize that I've been sitting in the same position for two hours? Decide to move around for a bit. Take near-empty mugs to kitchen, but accidentally spill dregs onto living room rug. Find myself humming, "I like the nightlife. I like to boo-gie," as I clean up the mess. Also, Jarrod is asleep. Sad.

1:50: Back to work.

1:52: Ooo! Text from Kiersten.

1:54: Back to work.

3:00: Bloggity blog blog.

7174/8400 (13598/15000)

3:50: Finish gut-wrenching scene. Sad and exhausted, like the characters. Better switch to something else, and quick, otherwise I'll never beat Beth's score today.

3:52: Find sexysexy scene to tinker with. Yes. MUCH better.

4:00: Internet sooooo quiet. Bloggity blog blog.

CURRENT WORD COUNT: 6316/15000 (less than 1k away from *new* goal)
7174/8400 (13598/15000)

4:10: Thoughts: Yes. I'm REALLY still doing this. And I feel like I'm talking to myself now. BUT I SHALL MARCH ON.

5:24: Getting. Sleepy. So sleepy. Met new goal. But also came up with EVEN NEWER and BETTER goal . . . 8,401!

7174/8400 (13598/15000)

6:21: DONE. BOOM!

6:22: Aaaaand I'm off to bed. Because, er, I'm meeting Beth in less than six hours. And even though I've reached her daily goal, I still owe her those treats. ;-)

FINAL WORD COUNT: 8450/15000
7174/8400 (13598/15000)


Two Event Thingies + The Piemaker

Join me here tomorrow?

Hi-ya! This is last minute, but if you're an SCBWI member within driving distance of Asheville, NC, there's a schmooze tomorrow in the loft of the Battery Park Book Exchange. I'm the special guest, and I'll be discussing writing and publishing in the children's/teen market. You don't have to be an SCBWI member to attend, but you do have to be serious (or curious) about publishing. It's from 2 - 4 p.m.

Also, the place serves champagne. Just throwing that out there.

Also also, Beth Revis will be in attendance!

In other event-related news, I am NO LONGER ATTENDING the Vegas Valley Book Festival this November. Something incredibly important in my personal life has come up over that weekend. I'm very, very sorry for anyone who had been planning to see me there. I will make an effort to visit Las Vegas in the future! Thank you for understanding.

And now . . . three gifs from Pushing Daisies, because, hello, it's my blog. And I can do that.

I love how many people have told me how excited they were to see the show mentioned in Lola and the Boy Next Door. If you haven't seen it and you like colorful, romantic silliness with a dash of amazing wardrobes and delicious pie — in other words, if you liked Lola — you MUST check it out. It's one of my all-time favorite television shows.

Also, I *may* have just purchased this Piemaker print by Nan Lawson:

The idea was submitted to her by my friend Connie. How could I resist?!?

Oh, Piemaker. I still miss you.



Maureen Johnson and I adjusting our pirate hats before an event in San Francisco. We take our jobs very seriously.

I find it odd that whenever I come back from a trip, and I have dozens of fun stories and photographs to share with you, I drag my feet and ache to talk about anything BUT the trip. I suppose it's similar to why I don't outline when I write; it's as if I've already told the story, and I'm a bit bored to tell it again.

Hats in action! (Photo: Alison Bogy)

Hat winners! (Photo: MJ)

So, today, I'm not going to talk about my first official tour (which was fantastic) or any of the related Lola stuff going on in my world right now (also fantastic).

I'm going to send you around the internet:

• I don't recall how I ran across MTV Iggy, but I'm so happy that I did. If you're like me — an American who sadlysadlysadly gets little exposure to world arts — check it out! (Why can't regular MTV be this music-based? I always sound like an old person when I yearn for ye olden days of MTV, but there it is. Sigh.) A nice place to start is this contest for the Best New Band in the World. Lots of interesting musicians in there!

Rainy Mood. My new go-to website. All it does is make it sound like it's raining outside. Simple but perfect, no?

• "The Internet is not to blame for your unfinished novel: you are." I just rediscovered this great article about Twitter by Colson Whitehead, who is, perhaps, my favorite author to follow on what is, definitely, my favorite social media platform. (His hilarious Twitter feed can be found here.) (Okay, @horse_ebooks is amazing, too.)

Kiersten White is on tour this week. If you live near Lynnwood, WA; Huntington Beach, CA; Highlands Ranch, CO; Boulder, CO; or Naperville, IL, you should go see her! She is sparkly and funny and wonderful. Tour details are here. Bring Anna and Lola, and she'll sign beside her name in the acknowledgments. She'll also sign, you know, her own books. So you should bring those, too. ;-)

• Finally, this is the best advice I've seen in ages.