Five for Friday

Hello, friends — how was your week? Mine was only semi-productive (writing-wise, at least), due to doctor’s appointments and errands and a parent-teacher conference. But I did manage to cross a few things off my To-Do list, and I am only coughing a few times a day now, so I consider that a win.

And speaking of winning, I just got some fabulous news — THE INFAMOUS RATSOS received a CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) nomination!

Since I am in a particularly celebratory mood, here are five fabulous links for you, PLUS a little bonus:

  1. Amazing Agatha Christie stamps. Sadly, only available in the UK. Why don’t we get to have the nice things?
  2. I am so here for this. Though I still love the movie version; I watched it almost daily when I was going through chemo. Laughter really is the best medicine.
  3. Toy Story + Vans? Yes, please. (Get a load of the “ANDY” written on the soles.)
  4. Four words: Golden Girls action figures. This is not a drill, people!
  5. All I want to watch is these tiny food videos.

And finally…my contribution to the month-long drawing challenge that is #inktober:


I call this Portrait of a Tired Writer. (Medium: black Crayola marker on copy paper.)

Have a great weekend!

Falling Behind

I’m the kind of person who likes to deliver ahead of schedule, so you can imagine how I feel about falling behind in my work. But that’s where I am now. A combination of unforeseen (though totally necessary) additional rounds of revision on two projects and a nasty bout of pneumonia has left me with a lengthy To-Do list and an abiding feeling of panic and dread.

The way I see it, the more work I have ready to send out, the more potential earnings I have coming in. Stagnation = starvation. And I’ve told you all about my mantra; anything or anyone that might get in the way of “making it happen” (even myself) is intolerable to me. So the state I’m in right now is excruciating.

But, you know, everything is a lesson. Being a creative person — or any person with any kind of life goal, really — requires hard work and determination and perseverance, but it also requires resilience. So I’m learning from this less-than-ideal experience, figuring out just how I’m going to regroup, and trying to work out a new schedule that accommodates my past-due projects and some new deadlines on the horizon. Through it all, I keep reminding myself that all I can do is my best. That’s all we can ever do, right?



The Weekly Peek

Hello, friends, and Happy Monday. How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was pretty low-key; I finished my course of antibiotics for my pneumonia, but my husband got sick on Thursday just as I was starting to feel better. It’s always something.

This is a short work week for me, as my son’s preschool is closed on Thursday and Friday for parent-teacher conferences and my husband has taken those days off. But in the meantime, I’m hoping to finish revising my new chapter book and hand it off to my agent. Fingers crossed that I can make it happen!

Other stuff going on this week…

  • I’m just about finished bingeing on LUKE CAGE, and sweet Christmas, you guys, it’s so great. If, like me, you loved Jessica Jones and Daredevil, you are in for an ass-kickin’ treat.
  • Since I was sick over the past month and a half, I’ve fallen WAY WAY behind schedule on all my projects. More on this on Wednesday, as I regroup and figure out how to catch up.
  • I just want to take a moment and appreciate how nice it feels to NOT feel like crap. Since August 24th, I’ve been coughing, phlegmmy, and extraordinarily fatigued, and this morning, I finally feel…normal? Healthy? Like I actually have energy to do things? I’ve spent so many weeks muddling through everything in my life; now I can’t wait to get back to operating at 100%. Look out, world!

And how’s YOUR week shaping up?


Five for Friday

Hello, friends, and Happy Friday. I just finished my antibiotics today (yay!), so hopefully the phlegmmy coughing will (finally finally finally) stop soon. In the meantime, here are a few choice links for you:

  1. I can’t get enough of McMansion Hell. It’s a truly addictive (and horrifying) feast for the eyes, and a great lesson in architecture.
  2. As I’ve been convalescing, I’ve also been binging. Highly recommended: One Mississippi, Longmire, Transparent, Fleabag, and And Then There Were None. Next in my queue: LUKE CAGE.
  3. I’ve been reading How Not to Die (so far, so good) and Emotional Agility (just purchased; hope to report shortly)
  4. I knew there was a book called Crap Taxidermy, but didn’t realize it started with this glorious (and continuing) Twitter feed.
  5. Now that autumn’s in the air, I want to eat apples and bake bread.
Have a great weekend! 🙂

Making It Happen

Hello, friends. So, as I mentioned on Monday, I ended up taking a vacation last month, and then getting a terrible cold on said vacation. Because I can never leave well enough (or sick enough) alone, my cold morphed into viral bronchitis, which then morphed into pneumonia. I just started taking antibiotics — fingers crossed that they clear things up FAST.

Unfortunately, my revision of the second Bland Sisters story was due last month, when my bronchitis was at its worst; while my wonderful editor did give me a few extra days beyond my original deadline, I still felt awful and foggy-headed, AND it turned out that my husband was away for the whole weekend prior to my revised due date. I ended up hiring a babysitter for the duration, locked myself in the bedroom with my laptop and a big box of tissues, and got to work.

This is not to say I didn’t take care of myself. I ate lots of soup and applesauce, and took naps whenever I could. Also, I stopped caring about the fact that the house was messy, or that I never really unpacked our suitcases from our trip, or that I was basically living in my pajamas. BUT. I also knew I had a job to do, and that job was writing. So I summoned all the physical and mental strength I had, and I made it happen.

Many (many!) years ago, I ran for Student Council President in high school. My slate’s slogan was “We won’t just watch things happen — we’ll make things happen.” Since then, “make it happen” has been my mantra. It’s what I say when I really want something. It’s what I say when I’m facing any kind of adversity. It’s why I get frustrated when I encounter people who live passively, as if they’re sitting by a river, waiting for whatever they want to float by. Sorry, friends, it doesn’t work that way. Not only do you have to jump in, you have to be willing to swim against the current. You have to be willing to get swept away. You have to know you’re going to get knocked down, over and over and over again, and still get back up each and every time. Sometimes, you’ll get back up and realize your bathing suit is missing and feel like everyone is laughing at you. Sometimes, the water will feel SO COLD and it will get into your lungs and you’ll start coughing and sputtering and feel like you’re maybe drowning. But still, even then.

Come on in, friends. The water’s fine. (Well, it seems fine now. But if and when it isn’t, you’re strong and you’re ready and your bathing suit is securely fastened.) Let’s make it happen.

The Weekly Peek

Hello, friends, and Happy Monday. How are you? I hope autumn has been a lovely, pumpkin-spice-flavored dream for you so far.

As to how I’m doing…well. My pneumonia-like symptoms went away a couple of weeks ago, so I declined to seek medical attention at the very point when I probably should have. Because last week, it came back big time — if it were a movie, it would be called COUGH 2: NEVER STOP COUGHING (ALSO, HOPE YOU LIKE PHLEGM). In addition, I started experiencing seasonal migraines, which left me wanting to pull out my own eyeballs to relieve the pressure, and only went away yesterday. And not to be tmi, but my hormones have been a nightmare, and my cramps are OFF THE CHAIN. I’m having a chest xray tomorrow to confirm a pneumonia diagnosis; looking forward to being prescribed some aggressive antibiotics so I can shut down this phlegm party once and for all.

In spite of all of this, I do have a few updates for you. As follows:

Somehow, I managed to hand in my final revision of the next Bland Sisters story. More about this experience on Wednesday…as long as I can get some antibiotics before then.

Last week, we received a review of The Jolly Regina in Kirkus, and (relatively speaking) it is pretty darn enthusiastic! The final line says it all: “‘Shanghai’ and ‘charming’ don’t usually go together, but here they do.”

Good news: I finally got a spot at renowned children’s books retreat Kindling Words East! Bad news: unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend. We just took our (remaining) cat to the vet this weekend, and I ended up having to spring for quite a few tests and was told that some expensive kitty dental procedures are on the horizon, all of which pretty much sapped my discretionary fund. Oh, well…there’s always next year. And I have quite a few friends on the KWE waitlist, so I will be happy knowing that my misfortune has led to someone else getting good news.

So, *coughcough* how’s YOUR *coughcoughcough* week looking *cough*?



The Weekly Peek

Hello, friends, and Happy Monday. I’d love to give you a full update on everything that’s happened over the past week, but I am actually SICK SICK SICK. While my family and I were in Maine, we all came down with terrible chest colds, and it seems as if mine has morphed into another bout of pneumonia. I’m hoping to receive some delicious antibiotics  so I can be on the mend and back in the blogging saddle soon.

Be well, and enjoy the last few days of summer!