Monday, December 31, 2007

I Am Really Psyched About 2008!

I really am! I just have this feeling that this year is going to be a great one. I have all sorts of reasons why I think this, but for the purpose of this blog, I will stick mainly to talking about me. It’s my favorite topic, anyway, and I always have lots to say about it.

Here’s one of my goals for the new year… I plan to publish Book Two: The Chronicles of Anaedor ~ The Return to Anaedor. So for those of you who have been asking about the series, here’s your answer. Yes! Clarification: Yes, there is a series. And yes, I will be publishing the next book in 2008. In the meantime, while you wait anxiously for it to come out, pick up a hobby. Stamp collecting, perhaps. Or learn how to groom cats. They’ll thank you for it!

Okay, so I’m getting slap-happy. That’s just how excited I am about 2008! So what are you going to do to make this your best year ever? How are you going to make your dreams come true? I truly believe in the concept of baby steps, in taking one tiny step at a time to accomplish your goals. Before you know it, you’ll be tap dancing all over the place! Or at least, not falling as much.

When thinking about starting a project, you can’t think about it in its entirety, you have to break it up into manageable pieces, and then start with the very first little step (sometimes it’s as simple as looking up a phone number). That’s how I got through grad school. If I thought about trying to accomplish everything I had to do (4 years of classes, a thesis, a dissertation, an internship, passing the comprehensive exams, teaching, counseling, and making enough money to have a place to live and maybe some food to eat), I would never have started.

So whether you’re an author wannabe, or want to start your own business, whether you want to lose weight or make more friends, start small, but dream big!

May you have a glorious New Year, filled with success and joy…

Kristina the Optimistic

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Love the UK!

It has recently come to my attention that The Chronicles of Anaedor has been doing fairly well in the UK (for those of you thinking uck, no. UK stands for United Kingdom). Say, "hurray!" Hurray! I have never visited these countries, yet I feel as though I have. I just know I would love them at first sight. The thing is, I am your typical American mutt - no pedigrees here, you see. My heritage is a mixture of Irish, English, and Welsh (along with 4 other ethnic groups). Could it be that I have inherited this love through my collective unconscious (i.e., memories from our ancestors that have been genetically passed down)? It’s possible. I’m not sure about the Scottish part since I’m not Scottish, as far as I know. But I have watched Monarch of the Glen and loved it, so maybe there’s a hidden Scot in my ancestry just trying to get out.

Anyway, my point is that I live for the day when I can actually go to these countries rather than only visiting them in my mind or on the BBC. Maybe I could manage to finagle a book signing over there and write off the expense! Yeah, right…I’ll probably just have to go the old-fashioned way. As a stowaway, or an au pair.

What is it about these countries that inspire the romantic in us (or in some of us, anyway)? Is it the colorful characters? The moors and mountains? The endless green? The ancient houses and haunted castles? I imagine it’s all of that and more. In my American mind, I think of the UK as the land of fairies and druids, elves and magic. To us Americans, these countries offer the possiblity to find fantasy in reality. There is also something so enduring about these cultures that our country does not yet have (and may never, with all these depressing strip malls we have). I think we are searching for roots. We look to connect to something deeper and more ancient than we could ever find in our own culture.

Mostly, I think we just like the way that they speak…

I was recently asked to write a blurb for someone’s book (a cool fantasy) written by a Scottish author. He said that I didn’t need to write anything if I thought the book was utter "tosh." Tosh. What a great word! I’ve decided to steal it and make it my own. Don’t be surprised if it shows up in one my books. He also uses the phrase, "ye numpty!" in his book. Priceless! Now I can say to people, "That’s absolute tosh, ye numpty!" I can only imagine how awed they’ll be at my command of other languages.

So when you read my book and you happen across an English housekeeper and an Irish cook, a Dwarf with a Scottish accent, or some welsh-like character (I’m sure I’ve got someone in there who’s welsh-like), don’t be surprised. It’s just my inner UKer trying to express itself.

Cheerio, mates!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

This is an example of someone wimping out on her blog. It’s Christmas Eve day and I have many, many things yet to prepare for tonight and tomorrow when I attempt to make Christmas dinner. There’s so much to do - including this blog - that I even have my family helping clean. My 8-year-old is vacuuming (I hate spelling that word), my 5-year-old is dusting and my 3-year-old is giving directions. Last, but certainly not least, my husband is cleaning the toilets.

Come to think of it, I could probably crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy the day!

Anyway, I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah (which is already over, but what the hey!), Happy Kwanzaa, and a Wonderful Winter Solstice (that’s over, too, I think)! Did I remember everyone? I hope so. If you don’t celebrate anything, then I wish you a pleasant end of the year, full of wonder and joy just because you’re alive.

Happy New Year, too!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Little or a Lot

It all depends on how you look at it, I guess. The other day I was doing my holiday baking. I was rushed, as usual, trying to get six things done all at the same time. While making gingersnaps, I had to measure out baking soda, among other things. I typically double the recipe, which called for 2 tsp. of the stuff. So, doing the math, I figured I needed 4. Not a lot. So far, so good.

So I go to open the drawer where I keep the measuring spoons only to find that my 3-year-old had struck again. All my measuring spoons were gone, except for a tablespoon and a 1/4 teaspoon. Have you ever had to measure out 4 tsp. worth of ingredients with a 1/4 tsp.? It’s 16 of those babies. Not to mention all the spices I had to add. It took a while.

We have yet to find my measuring spoons.

So what seemed at the time like only a little turned out to be a lot. Here’s another example: If you read my blogs, you know that we just bought a tractor. When we got it, my husband and I both had visions of clearing our driveway in half an hour, whipping around on Bobo like there was no tomorrow. That didn’t happen. We kept slipping and sliding. So we got chains, and another chance to try out Bobo. On Sunday we got a snowstorm of about 9-10 inches. Not a lot of snow, but enough to keep us busy, we thought. We went out to clean it up. Now that we had the chains, we were cautiously (or should that be foolishly?) optimistic that this day would be the day we’d be whizzing around cleaning up snow and making snow hills for the kids with the greatest of ease.

Boy were we wrong about that. What was only a little bit of snow turned out to be a lot. We were out there for 5 hours taking turns plowing and shoveling. Five very long, very hard hours. Needless to say, we went out and bought a snowblower the next day, with our sore muscles cheering us on, and very loudly, I might add.

Bobo, as it turns out, has been yet another of our very expensive follies. My husband and I seem to learn things the hard way. One time we tried to change our own oil and ended up draining the transmission fluid, which of course means that we couldn’t shift our car into drive. We had to call for a tow. That was the most expensive oil change we ever had. It seemed like such a little thing, and we wanted to be self-sufficient and save ourselves some cash. But man did it cost us a lot.

It’s funny how life can change our perspective on things. They say that all that matters is our perception of things. You can either see things as a little or a lot. Of course, it can also come down to the tools you are using. I felt like we were trying to move all that snow with a 1/4 tsp. measuring spoon. Actually, come to think of it, I think it would’ve been faster.

Monday, December 17, 2007

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

It’s true. What glitters around our house is glitter. You know, the little sparkly stuff that you can’t vacuum up. We’ve got it everywhere. But I guess that’s what happens when you let your 3-year-old play with it. And the 5-year-old, too.

I tend to be a neat freak, so when I see glitter all over the place, it makes me a little nervous. I like my house to give off the illusion of being under control. Glitter on the table, on the floor, coating chairs, in my hair, and on my kid’s faces, does not demonstrate control. It demonstrates chaos, it demonstrates anarchy. But glitter is pretty, you say. I should embrace the sparkle within, I should welcome its presence in my home.

I don’t.

As some of you might have guessed, I am a control freak. I’ve tried to evict the little turd, but it is a stubborn old goat, clinging to every available, clingable surface inside my brain. When you think about your brain, you will probably realize that there’s a lot of that sticky stuff to stick to. I’m trying, though, to be more relaxed. I don’t want to get upset about spills and messes and things going awry. If you live your life that way, you’re going to always be peeved. Especially if you have little kids. They are masters of chaos.

We do have rules, but they aren’t inflexible. My kids know that if they spill their milk accidentally, I won’t get mad. If they spill their milk because they keep leaning across the table and trying to steal their brother’s food while laughing hysterically, then I will get mad. Luckily, sometimes it’s hard to get too mad at them. My children are learning to master the art of comebacks. For example, the other day I told my oldest son to put some clothes on (he was running around in the buff) and he says, "But mom! This is my culture!" I don’t know where my children get their sarcasm from…it’s a complete mystery to me. But it’s good to be reminded of the humor in life.

I’m learning to let go of some of my neurotic baggage. I’m not old, but I wear purple. I’m learning to stand up for myself when other people are rude to me or mine. I’m starting to just leave the glitter on my face. I might get some weird looks, but it’s worth it, and it makes for good conversation, better than just discussing the weather or your latest case of hemorrhoids.

So take that bottle of glitter and sprinkle some on your head…It might do you a world of good!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Never Really Knew You At All

I’m starting to realize that I don’t share a lot about myself. Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t told many people that I’m a writer. Lately I’ve been telling people I know around town - but may not see too often - that I’ve recently published a book. Their response:

"I didn’t even know you were writing a book."

Hmmm. I thought that I did talk a lot about myself. I’m at home most of the time so my conversation is generally limited to discussions with my kids about their yelling too loud, or I’m pleading with them not to fart around me, or I’m being told how they handle stubborn boogers. So when I see an adult, the words just come pouring out. Of course, we often end up talking about our kids. At any rate, I guess my being a writer just doesn’t come up.

Or maybe I didn’t want them to know about my secret life until I’d done something successful with my work. Once people are aware that you’re writing a book, they naturally want to know if it’s been published yet. Since it took me a long time to get my first book published, I must have figured that I would soon get tired of saying, "I’m still sending out query letters." Nervous laughter. "No interest yet." More nervous laughter. "I’m keeping my fingers crossed." Then I run out of the room.

On the other hand, my family and any of my friends who are lucky enough to receive my Christmas letter, are quite aware that I’m a writer. They hear about it annually. For years, I kept writing the same thing. "Well, I’m still working on my books. Still attempting to find an agent. Still failing." It was nice this year to actually be able to say something positive.

It never occurred to me to give up on my writing. I love it too much; it keeps me sane; and I hate not succeeding. I either keep trying or change the definition of success. I absolutely, unequivocally, refuse to accept that I won’t be able to make this work. I’m kinda stubborn that way.

In sum, feel free to spread the word that Kristina Schram is a writer. I’m turning over a new leaf, my friends!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fantasy vs. Fantasy

The other day I came across a forum dedicated to discussing the fantasy genre. While perusing it, I found some interesting insights, several helpful suggestions, and a few complaints. There was one particular complaint that caught my attention: About the direction the genre is heading. I decided to check this one out.

While reading the different posts, I came across one person in particular who was complaining that all the fantasy books out there now are boring, mundane, or just plain more of the same. This individual wanted to see some more cutting edge writing, something that didn’t just follow the same old pattern. I saw his point. There’s nothing wrong with wanting something new, something different.

However, that doesn’t mean the old ‘tried and true’ has nothing to offer.

In my opinion, there are two broad categories in the fantasy genre: Classic Fantasy and Cutting Edge Fantasy. Both, I feel, are very important to the genre and its continued development.

Classic Fantasy, as you might imagine, sticks to a formula. You have your average, everyday main character who is up against fantastic odds but somehow manages to overcome these odds. I like classic fantasy. As a kid, I liked believing (well, I still do) that someone like me, pretty average and mundane with no special talents to speak of, can do extraordinary things. I think we all need to believe that on some level we are special. Classic fantasy gives us that hope. I have also learned with age that each person and each generation needs to be reminded of certain things, even though these things have already been said many times, many ways. Yes, themes repeat themselves, but it’s a necessary repetition. I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of certain wisdoms or I find myself going astray, forgetting that I can do bigger things than I believe I can.

Cutting edge fantasy, as with all new twists, is also important. Much as I like my standards, I find that I still have much to learn about life. So when someone comes along who challenges my beliefs, makes me question what I think, I love that, as well. Cutting edge fantasy points out directions we might need to go in our fantasy worlds. It breaks through barriers we have erected with our safe, warm and cozy classic fantasies. Sometimes, we just need to be shaken up.

While I feel that what I write (at least for now) is more classic fantasy, maybe someday I will challenge myself to go beyond the old formula - maybe create something entirely different. The question is, do I have the imagination to come up with something new and groundbreaking? I’m not sure. You’ll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Well, I was. That was before our first storm hit and we had to clear the snow with our new tractor, Bobo. We got about 8 inches this time around. Not too much - perfect for giving our new tractor its first run at plowing. We were optimistic about it, thinking how quick and easy this was going to be compared to using our snoblower. That was before the tractor got stuck several times, one time almost for good. That time my husband finally conceded that maybe I wasn’t exaggerating when I said the tractor felt like it was going to tip. Empathy always blossoms within us when we experience what someone else went through. It’s the one true way that people can understand what others feel. I felt panic; so did he. I felt like jumping; so did he.

Anyway, the problem is that we have a long, narrow driveway with not much room to manuever because there’s a bit of a ditch on one side and more of one on the other. Plus, the tires kept spinning on us. "We need chains," my husband kept telling me. "No, doy," I kept replying as I grabbed the piece of wood I had pried off one of the kid’s forts and stuck it under a tire. We were out there for 3 1/2 hours and still didn’t get the whole driveway plowed. The funny thing was, it started to snow when we were out there, giving us another inch. It was supposed to be done by the time we headed out. Someone, somewhere, was having a lot of fun at our expense.

So we ended up shoveling the rest. My husband did most of the work because he broke one of the shovels, leaving only one snow shovel and a spade, which was just about useless. This is the same husband with the injured wrist that he’s supposed to be wearing a splint-like thingie (yes, I’m a writer) on to protect it. He took the splint off before going outside and forgot to put it back on. He was supposed to wear it so that in 2 weeks, the doctor could see if it’s healed (or have to do an MRI). Well, there goes that theory. Of course it’s not going to feel any better. He was manhandling a tractor and shoveling for 3 1/2 hours. You do the math. Anyway, not knowing he didn’t have his splint on, I attempted to help with half a shovel when I should’ve taken over with the regular one. Needless to say, I’m going shopping for new shovels soon. My 3-year-old will love the half-shovel, though. It’s just his size.

What does all this mean? I really do try to relate this stuff back to my writing, though it isn’t always easy. I hadn’t expected to spend so much time on clearing the dang driveway, which means I’m not much farther along on my editing. It also means that we’re going to get tons of snow this year in New England because we don’t know how to plow without getting stuck, and I’m sure there’s something else that this is all supposed to mean, but I can’t remember what.

On a nice note, yesterday my son brought home a card signed by all the 3rd graders thanking me for coming to their class. That’s what makes this job worth it. The adulation of my fans.

Modestly yours,

author of The Chronicles of a Writer: Descending Into Madness

Monday, December 3, 2007


I just realized that tomorrow is Monday - my typical blog release day. I also just realized that I have no idea what to write about. You see, all is right with our world. We had a lovely, non-stressful weekend where nobody broke any bones or burned themselves or lost limbs. Although maybe I shouldn’t say that yet…my kids are outside right now working on their forts. I have armed my 3, 5 and 8 year old with hammers and nails.

I imagine there’s bound to be some problem…

Actually, they’re pretty good about being safe. They’ve lost about a million nails in the process of their construction - they drop one and don’t bother looking for it, just go fetch another nail. I gave them a lecture about that (I was out there taking pictures of them in their forts before the big storm we’re supposed to get hits and covers everything up), and about leaving nails sticking down through the wood in their roofs just waiting to give them a free lobotomy, and about nails sticking up through pieces of wood lying on the ground hoping to start a little tetanus. They are slowly learning to be more careful. It isn’t easy allowing them the freedom to do things, but they are proving to be pretty responsible. And it keeps them busy.

It doesn’t take long, however, for them to invade my world, asking for stuff. Usually in the form of food. My 3-year-old just came in asking for his snack - I don’t know where he puts it all because he is not very big. Ten minutes later the rest came in, along with the neighbor kid, and started a lego war. I took a second to yell at them to knock it off. Then spent several more trying to figure out what I was writing about before I had to stop and negotiate peace.

Maybe that is part of why it’s taking me so long to edit book 2 of the Chronicles of Anaedor series. The constant interruptions. But there are other reasons. There are times when I spend a half hour on one paragraph. A part of me likes this exercise in insanity; another part of me wonders why I continue to torture myself like this. If this were a race, the mighty snail would long since have passed me. But I shall carry on with my work, because I cannot think of any other way to live my life. I can be persistent and stubborn, you see. And I love what I do, despite the hurdles.

Now I have to go…the peace talks have broken down and it’s up to me to take them all out in one mighty swoop. Then I’ll get us all something to eat.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Broken Barrier

Update on the bone breaker: My husband did not break his ankle. I guess that nurse practitioner knew what he was talking about. So my hubby is now up and walking around. Woohoo! I’m glad he doesn’t have to wear yet another cast, and thrilled that I won’t be the one doing all the plowing this winter on Bobo (our son named the tractor). The word is still out on the wrist, though. We shall know for sure on Friday…hopefully. You never know with these things. You think you can just go and get the problem fixed but they reroute you and have you go to three different places before somebody can do something for you. It’s crazy, I tell you. I just got a recorded phone call a moment ago telling me we have to fetch the x-rays, too, before the appointment. Being inherently lazy, I’d just as soon not make another trip. But I shall do it because I am running for sainthood.

Which leads me to my next item of news.

I went to give blood today. This is my third time. The sad thing is that this outing was a social event for me (typically I only get out to go to the library or grocery shopping). I even dressed up for the occasion. Put on my new shoes. Combed my hair. I was stepping out, my friends. It might have been fun. Unfortunately, I tend to get dizzy after giving blood. Most people don’t seem to be affected by the process. They pump out their pint, roll down their sleeve, and leave the building without looking back. I, on the other hand, nearly pass out.

The nurse told me I shouldn’t do it anymore. Then she told me to come back when I’d gained some weight. A couple years ago, after having my first child, the doctor told me I could stand to lose a few pounds. I had gained 40 pounds during the pregnancy, you see. I was eating for two…elephants, that is. So I can’t seem to win. I’ll tell you a secret, though. I’d rather have to gain weight than lose it. It’s more fun and much easier. So here I am, trying to cut out the junk food (being a stay at home means I’m able to get up and get something to eat at any time) and exercising to stay in shape, and I’m told to put on a few. I guess I’ll just be flattered.

On Tuesday night my husband came upstairs to fetch me. "Come and look!" he shouted, urging me to follow him. "You’re under 60,000!"

What am I talking about? Well, if you order books through, you can look in the book information and see where the book ranks in sales on Amazon. The number changes daily. I can’t help myself…I have to look at it every once in a while to see where I’m at. There are books that are over 1 million, down to Harry Potter, which is probably #1. I have been ranging from the 200,000s to the 8 or 900,000s, depending on the day. These last couple days I actually dipped under 200,000. And then, on Tuesday night at 10:49, I went down to about 55,000. I shall remember this moment for a long time because I’m sure the number’s back up again. And really, I should not watch it. But I can’t help myself (I think I’ve said that already). It’s like finding out your kids’ weight and height percentiles. When they first start out in life, it’s all you’ve got to talk about. Otherwise, they’re just a potato with arms and legs.

I know it’s not about the numbers. Well, I try to know that. But it sure felt good to finally surpass The Mating Habits of the African Shrew - A Love Story.

Even if it was just for "one brief shining moment…"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One Book At A Time

I did my book signing today. My first ever. I signed and sold three books! Considering that I was not expecting to sell any, I am thrilled! If you are a local to the Northwood, NH area you might have heard of the shop, Beginning of Time. That’s where I had the book signing and plan on doing more there in December. It’s on Route 4, on a corner, and sells the neatest crafts! There was only one slight problem… I actually ended up spending all my profit, and then some, when I was there.

The best part of the day for me was that someone saw the ad about my book signing in the local newspaper and came with the sole purpose of checking out my book. The next best part is that they actually bought the book once they saw it. I am so psyched about that!

It went well, in my opinion. But, of course, my life cannot be without adventure, so I’ll tell you what happened the night before…

I ended up driving my husband to the emergency room. He had hurt his ankle that morning, knocking against wooden steps as he was climbing the stairs. There was a scrape, but no swelling or anything, so I thought he was fine. That evening he comes hobbling up the stairs (his computer is in the basement) and I demanded that he show me his foot because I couldn’t believe that a simple scrape was causing him that much agony. Naturally, it was all swollen up. I called my mom. She strongly advised that we go into the emergency room that night instead of waiting another day. Why? Because my husband is a breaker of bones.

Unfortunately, he had something wrong with his wrist, too.

He had already had an x-ray on the wrist, which has been bothering him for a month and a half, but the x-ray technician, who was new on the job, didn’t actually x-ray the right side of the wrist. So, while we were in the emergency room for his ankle, we had them x-ray his wrist. So far they are saying that they don’t see anything broken. Big relief, right? Unfortunately, x-rays can’t see cartilage. The attending nurse practitioner thought that there might be broken cartilage. The ankle is supposedly only bruised. I won’t believe that until my husband sees a specialist. I had a niece who was told she didn’t have a broken wrist by the emergency room physician, but since she’d had broken bones before she was pretty sure her bone was broken. The specialist took one look at it and told her it was broken - before he even examined the x-rays. So excuse me if I’m a little skeptical, nothing against the nurse practitioner - he seemed like a nice guy.

I am hoping against there being anything broken, not only for my poor husband, but because I would be the one who would have to plow the driveway with our new tractor that I nearly killed myself with.

That just wouldn’t be cool…

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

I have been a busy little beaver these last several days. Thanksgiving is looking very attractive right about now. I can’t wait to eat and eat and eat, then sink into a food-induced coma. My wonderful mom is making the pies. Her specialty is French Chocolate Pie. It’s got eggs, whip cream, chocolate and butter, and you put it into a graham cracker crust. Ahhh, yes. The good life. My poor son, however, got a stomach virus last year, on the day of Thanksgiving, and now cannot stand the sight of turkey or French chocolate pie. The mother in me says, poor kid! The glutton in my says, "Yes! More for me!"

Okay, so first this weekend. I nearly died. I was driving our new tractor for the second time - I have never driven a tractor before this - and I wanted to scoop up some leaves that were in a ditch along our driveway - get in some practice before the big snows came. Well, needless to say, the whole thing got a little wobbly trying to navigate the incline and almost tipped over. Ever the survivalist, I nearly abandoned ship, readying myself to jump. Well, the tractor somehow managed to hang on and keep going, so I nonchalantly put my hands back on the steering wheel and my feet on the clutch and brake, hoping nobody noticed. My husband told me afterward that I couldn’t have picked a more difficult place to learn how to drive a tractor. I told him he could have told me that before I started to drive into the ditch. He’s also threatened to delete this blog, stating that I didn’t almost die and was being melodramatic. I told him: I am not being melodramatic; I’m being interesting.

I told him that if he deletes this blog, I will delete him.

On Monday night, I attended a Selectman’s meeting. They are actually rather interesting. I got to see all the people who are hoping to build a house. I got to hear about how the town workers are getting stiffed in their pay (the committee is looking to rectify that situation) and then I got to hear people talk and talk and talk about things I knew nothing about. I really only went to support the library and ask that their purchasing budget not be decreased by $3000. I was there from 6:30 until 11:00, and I never did get to say anything. As it turned out, nobody on the board wanted to second the motion to cut the money. Hurray! I felt power; I felt joy; I felt pain. My butt was sore. So maybe my being there made a difference. Who knows? I’d like to believe it did because the library is very important to me. Go Democracy!

Today I went into my son’s school and did a book reading and workshop for his class and then, later, for another 3rd grade class. Those kids rock. They are so bright and ready to learn. It makes me sad to see kids as teenagers lose all interest in learning. I think if more people in the community went into the schools and talked about real life stuff, I think we’d save more kids. Anyway, I had a lot of fun and hope to do more (possibly the other 3rd grades classes. Maybe the 4th graders will have me, too. Then the middle school. And after that, maybe the world!).

What did I learn from all these experiences? Don’t drive tractors in ditches on only your second attempt at driving one. My husband has no respect for my near-death experience. Getting involved may actually make a difference. And the women and men who teach are incredibly brave and should be awarded accordingly. Of course, they typically get next to nothing and are blamed when our kids don’t behave. But to somehow manage 25 kids for an entire day for 5 days a week is amazing.

Have a Happy Turkey Day, my friends!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Workshop Workout

Well, I ran my writer’s workshop on Wednesday. I spent the whole day running errands so I wouldn’t have time to get anxious about it. At lunchtime I drank a diet coke, which I don’t normally do because caffeine gives me the shakes–like I need more of that. I told myself that drinking it 6 and 1/2 hours prior to the workshop should keep me perky and alert without the whole body convulsions that can happen when I’m nervous and have caffeine in my system. When I got home, I went to visit the neighbors for a little while, hoping to keep my mind off my upcoming ‘performance.’ While I was there, I thought that time seemed to be moving awfully slowly. This is great, I thought. For once I don’t have to rush!

Then I realized my watch had stopped.

Aggghhh! Realizing my error, there was a mad dash for home. I had just enough time to get supper on the table and to change into nicer, cleaner clothes. Then off to the workshop I went.

Being a good little girl, I came prepared. I had my papers to hand out, my little exercises for demonstrating an important point I wanted to make about the idea of flow, extra pens, tape, name tags, and my book to show off. I was good to go. Unfortunately, I drank too much water at suppertime. But I managed all right in the end (i.e., I didn’t pee my pants).

Four people showed up and I was very grateful to see them. You can run a workshop and get nobody–that has happened to me before. And I cried. Well, I didn’t, but I might have wanted to.

Of course, half of the attendees who showed up were related to me.

But we had fun. The workshop went well (according to my relatives, anyway). I was able to keep things on track, for the most part, and conversation flowed. Everybody participated and contributed. I even learned some things myself. They say that when the teacher can learn from the pupil, then the pupil is ready. Ready for what I’m not entirely sure about, but my workshop attendees are ready for something now!

It seemed that the biggest issue that came up for the writers who came had to do with getting motivated (or not being able to, that is). I see that a lot with writing. When I first started out, I thought to myself, this is a LOT of work! But I kept at it, and kept at it, and kept at it. And now, I can’t imagine going a day without writing. It has become a passion for me. What has helped, however, is that writing has gotten easier. You pick up a lot of tricks along the way. That’s why I did the workshop. I thought I could pass along what I’d learned the hard way and maybe make it easier for people struggling with the process now. I could have been evil and kept all my secrets to myself, but I wasn’t. I was full of love for my fellow human beings. Though you’ll notice that I didn’t bring any donuts to the workshop.

While my workshop focused mainly on the editing process (something I realized as I was presenting it), editing is not something you should worry about when you first start writing. If you do, you will never get past page one. I ended up redoing my first Anaedor book many, many times–especially that all-important first chapter. So when you first start out writing, just go for it. Get stuff on paper. You can fix things later.

However, typing over and over again, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" doesn’t count.

We also discussed fantasizing about your story before you start writing it down. Put yourself into the story and imagine how it would all play out. You’ll be surprised at what happens, what twists and turns come in that you hadn’t even thought of, what characters show up and demand to be included. It’s a fun and wonderful process…So don’t forget that!

Make Jack a fun boy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Tractor Makes a Comeback

We are now ready for snow. The tractor has started! As my 3-year-old tells us when we are not being enthusiastic enough about his accomplishments, "Say, Hurray!" Okay, I say hurray! Our neighbor helped us with his handy-dandy battery charger that probably could jump start the space shuttle, it’s that big. He had to bring it over in his truck. We got the tractor going, but according to him, it started ‘hard’ so we might need to tighten the belt. I notched mine one tighter, but that didn’t seem to help. Ha, ha. Anyway, when we tried it again the next morning, our lovely orange beast started right up, belching smoke and everything. So all it needed was a nice, juiced-up battery. A little coffee might help, too, when the time comes. For the moment, however, it’s resting in our yard covered in a brown tarp.

It looks strangely like Snuffleupagus.

On a side note, I have to say that I feel sorry for anyone searching the internet for information on tractors. They’re going to find my site, and it will be useless to them. But maybe they’ll see my book and think, well, I guess there are reasons for everything in life because this exactly what I was looking for to make my life complete. Of course, I still can’t get my tractor running, but who cares? I’m getting my own copy of The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies by Kristina Schram (I have to put that in my blogs once in a while to help out those internet spiders - I don’t like spiders, but these are the good kind, like daddy long legs).

Can you tell that it’s getting late in the day?

Tomorrow I am presenting my first writer’s workshop at the local library. It’s on how to make your writing flow. I am looking forward to doing it, but I’m worried that I might not be very awake at the time. During the day, I have a doctor’s appointment and shopping to do with my youngest (I can’t stand the idea of wasting gas so every trip I make has to involve more than one errand). I think I can pull it off, though. I used to teach classes from 6-8 when I was in graduate school and not once did I get egged. My main goal is not to end up sounding like the adults in the Charlie Brown shows. You know how they talk… "Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah…" Egad. Maybe I should do the entire workshop in mime. That could be fun. Of course, then I might finally end up getting egged.

I have also scored a book signing at a local store on Thanksgiving Saturday. I imagine I will be overrun with excited patrons, hoping to buy a signed copy. It won’t be easy, I’m sure, but I will try to keep my strength and courage up throughout the onslaught. Ha. If I’m smart, I will bring something to do, like macrame or origami (more confusion for web searchers looking up macrame and origami).

So wish me luck, or not. I’ll let you know how the workshop goes. Or you could come, maybe fly in from California or wherever, for the hour and a half. It could be worth your time. Especially if I get egged. So be sure to bring some paper, a writing utensil and a dozen or so eggs!

Talk at ya later!

Added later… Um, strike that part about my workshop coming up since I’m publishing this the day after the workshop (I like to publish on Mondays and Thursdays, you see). Anywho, I just got back from it. Sorry, but I kinda lost track of the time/space continuum for a while there. Please find it in your heart to forgive me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Moving to the Country

Well, we’ve gone and done it… We have bought a tractor! I’m so excited! Our sno-blower gave out at the end of last winter and we needed something other than shovels to clear our long driveway. I’m too cheap to hire someone to do it so we started looking at Craig’s list for possible sno-blowers. Then we decided, why not just go for it? We’ve wanted a tractor for a while, why not get one now? Sure we don’t have anywhere to store it, but that’s just a detail, right?

You see, eventually we want to move to a farm-one with a big barn. Our goal is to be self-sufficient, growing our own fruits and vegetables, raising chickens, and canning our food. I want to have a windmill and solar panels and get as green as I can get. And part of having that kind of farm is owning your own tractor. Its going to be great…

Unfortunately, we can’t get the dang thing started.

Apparently, diesel tractors need to have a fully charged battery to start well. Unfortunately, we went about starting the thing up like you would a car that doesn’t want to start–we pumped the gas. Bad idea. That runs down the battery. Then, we did a big no-no and accidentally left the battery connected. Not only does it drain the battery, but if the kids were to climb on the tractor and push the start button, off they’d go!

And of course, it’s freezing out. It’s dark and we can’t see because the cheap flashlight we bought (one that you shake to charge) produces very little light. If you know anything about charging a battery, you know that you have to put the red on the positive and the black on the negative. We had it backwards…because we couldn’t see. Good thing we didn’t electrocute ourselves.

At this very moment, we are charging the beast up and hoping for the best. The guy who sold it to us is being very helpful and told us where we went wrong (I’m sure he was chuckling at us farmer wannabes the whole time he wrote his email). The sad thing is that my husband grew up on a farm. But it’s been almost twenty years since he’s had anything to do with that kind of stuff, so he’s a little rusty. He keeps asking me if I think what he’s suggesting is right. Why would I know? My dad never even let us near his machines, much less taught us about how to work them.

Anyway, so far, so good. The little indicator is actually going up. I was worried I didn’t get it on right. As long as I don’t manage to blow things up, we should be okay.

Old MacDonald, look out!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm a Mac Girl Now

Here’s a little update on my computer problems, because I’m sure you’ve been waiting with bated breath to find out. Current Status: All is well with the world. My husband was able to save all my documents and I only lost a little bit of work. Unfortunately, my computer was hosed (not completely, my husband is using it to put Linux on…or is it Linus? One of those Charlie Brown characters…). As a replacement, I have now inherited his old Mac, which is actually not that old (2 years - ancient to a techie). And I am loving it!


Mac computers are so clean and pretty and aesthetically pleasing to me. Plus, they don’t have the virus and spyware problems PCs do (or at least not nearly as many). I can change desktops with the click of my mouse - I love how the whole desktop spins around. Weeee! I can make all my documents small so that I can figure out which layer I’m working on (you know when you open up a bunch of stuff, then need to get back to the first thing you opened, but can’t find it? Well, this helps a lot!). The Mac is just plain easier for me to figure out. I need that in my life…simplicity.

My husband told me that he’s never seen a problem where a person can bring down the entire operating system and he’s seen a lot of problems and crashes and whatnot in the computer world. So I guess I have something I can be proud of. The thing is, I was hoping to add to the world through creativity. Unfortunately, it appears that I’m better at destruction.

I shall try to resist the lure of the dark side, though. As soon as I destroy the world, that is! Bah ha ha ha ha!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Scream Heard Round The World

So I was working away, editing book two of the Chronicles of Anaedor series when my computer ate my document.

Then, without so much as a by your leave, the stupid thing shut down. I stared at the blank screen for a minute. As I watched in glaze-eyed fear, the computer then kicked back on and proceeded to start up again. Okay! Things were working. I could get back to editing my book! Whew! So, when everything was fully loaded on the desktop, I double-clicked my little bookmark icon and my computer promptly went black again, shutting down, then starting up again. This happened several times (I couldn’t seem to make my mind comprehend that doing the same thing over and over again wasn’t going to make a difference).

What the heck was happening to my computer? Would I ever see my document again? Oh, the humanity!

The scary thing is that this has happened to me before. Like my mother, I’m very good at finding the bugs in software. One time I managed to freeze a video game I used to play back in graduate school 3 different times, right before I was almost to the end (once you reached a certain stage you couldn’t save, so if it crashed you had to start over again - ah, yes, the good old days). I don’t know how I did it. This time, all I did was try to undo a caps drop and my computer freaked out. Maybe I should have given it a little warning, or asked for permission, speaking softly and calmly. Little did I know that such a simple procedure would send my computer into a hissy fit.

Now, like I said, this same thing has happened to me before. Each time, my husband was able to retrieve my documents by transferring them to his Apple computer (mine’s a PC). Some kind of magical hoo-doo voodoo process happened on his Apple, and there was my stuff back again, right as rain. I’m hoping and praying that he’s able to work his magic again. I do have my stuff backed up on a disk, but I did that a week ago. I’ve made a lot of changes in that week. I do not want to lose those changes.

If you hear someone screaming in the night, you will know that I did lose those changes.

In the meantime, I am sitting here writing this blog, hoping to relieve some anxiety. I didn’t know what else to do. I even spent some time making banana bread for supper. But, until my husband comes home from his techie job and fixes this problem (he’d better be able to fix it), I have to find something productive to do. I might even clean the house.

Oh, dear Lord, now I know I’ve really flipped.

Strangely enough, I do love my computer. Can you imagine hand writing an entire novel? I can’t even comprehend it. But I pay a price for the ease in my life. Unless your house burns down, your handwritten copy is pretty safe. If it your computer eats your document, you may never see it again.

Ever. So pray for me, please, or send good vibes. We don’t need another insane writer in the world.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Book Release Limbo

I am in Book Release Limbo. What is BRL? Well, it’s that time between releasing your book and hearing reviews on it. It’s a bad time, let me tell you. Symptoms are increased anxiety, increased food consumption (usually cookies), checking email constantly, staring at the wall, depression, doubt, and a desire to freak out.

You see, being in BRL, you don’t know yet if people like your book, or if it is total crap. People have said good things about my website, which my husband and I worked like mad to finish (he’s a genius, BTW). That’s gratifying to hear. And they are saying good things about my book readings on Youtube (other than that the picture is a little dark), so that’s positive. But what about my book? I can’t help but wonder. Do you love it or hate it? Worse, are you only indifferent? What, what, what?

Excuse me while I go lose my mind…

I could have the best website and the funniest, most entertaining videos in the world, but if the book is bad, the book is bad. I won’t know this, though, until people have time to actually get it and read it. And with everyone being so busy in this day and age, that could take forever!

I find myself relying a lot on family and friends. Thank goodness I have such a supportive group to get me through this time. It’s nervewracking! It doesn’t help that my ego seems to have the toughness of a bubble.

So anyway, I just wanted to warn you that if you plan to publish something, just be prepared to go through BRL. Before the big event, make sure to get plenty of comfort foods, gather with family and friends, prepare your happy place for frequent visits, and hope for the best!

Good luck!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Never Judge A Book By Its Cover

Yeah, right. I wish. In today’s society, that’s pretty much all we do. It may seem shallow, but this snap judgment is actually linked to a survival mechanism, especially in the past when we had saber tooth tigers and giant sloths. But even today (when our biggest predator is other people), in order to stay alive, a person has to make quick decisions about any new stimulus or object. Is it safe or dangerous? Can I stick around or should I get out of Dodge?

Nobody wants to end up getting eaten.

Well, the same goes for book covers. In the publishing world, the book cover is very important for drawing in potential buyers. That cover has to look good, it has to grab people’s attention. A picture of a grasshopper probably won’t pull the potential reader in. Have a grasshopper with a top hat and cane…now that might do something for people.

Which doesn’t say much for our taste.

I would rather that people judged things by what’s on the inside, whether we’re talking about another person or a book or whatever. I would rather we didn’t have war or pain, too. But, like everybody else in this challenging world, I want to survive. So I’m going for that eye candy cover.

I’ll admit it, I judge a book by its cover. I figure that if the outside is dark or spooky or eerie or weird, that the story inside will appeal to me. However, just to show that I’m not too terribly shallow, I will also pick out books with plain covers. Usually, though, those books are already proven classics, recommended by someone else, or I am desperate for something to read.

So here’s my advice: If you plan on self-publishing your own book, pay the money to have someone who does this for a living make your book cover for you (unless you also do that kind of thing for a living or you’re an artist who knows how to do stuff on the computer). Case in point… I asked my sister to do a drawing for my book as a potential book cover. I love the drawing. Unfortunately, as novices, we didn’t get the dimensions right, plus we had to scan it into the computer and it lost clarity in the process. The colors probably weren’t as bright and vivid as they need to be in this shiny, happy world of ours, either. In the end, I went with my publisher’s book cover, which I love, too, and I put my sister’s drawing on my website (see my homepage). All was not lost. Now I have two great pictures to represent my book.

To sum up… Pick a good cover for your book, be kind to strangers, and keep it green.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Churlish Churro

Raise your hand if you’ve ever made churros… I, myself, have wanted to try my hand at making them for a while now. They’re a simple food, basically fried dough rolled in sugar. A Spanish treat, they sounded like just the perfect thing to make for our annual pumpkin carving event. Unfortunately, as I was about to find out, they can also be lethal weapons.

Okay, so here’s the story. I should warn you, if you’re looking for something about my book or about the writing process, you won’t find it in this blog (a nice break, hm?). No, this is about my near-death experience with the churlish churro.

Cue dramatic music…

I’ve had the recipe to make churros for a long time but finally decided to give it a try recently. It was a Saturday and we had planned that day to carve our pumpkins and drink fresh New England apple cider. But, of course, we needed something to snack on. Pumpkin carving is hard work.

So I start making the recipe along with the help of my 3-year-old. He loves anything to do with cooking - he actually starts to salivate when we pass the aisle in the grocery store where they display their cooking utensils (he’s also constantly ‘borrowing’ mine). Anyway, the first part of the recipe is easy. Bring water and salt to a boil, then add flour. Stir it up until you make a ball. While you let it cool, heat up a half-inch of oil. Easy, peasy. I was loving these churros…

Then the problems began. I didn’t have a pastry bag to use to push the dough into the oil, but I did have a frosting decorating tool. So I carefully shoved some dough into the small tube and put on the cap with its handy-dandy plunger. I was set to go! When the oil was hot enough, I pushed on the plunger so that the dough would drop into the oil and begin to fry. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, frosting decorating tools are not made for pushing dough. After some heavy-duty shoving and grunting on my part, the front part popped away from the plunger and fell into the oil. Immediately the dough inside began to sizzle and cook while the plastic began to melt. While frantically trying to scoop the mess out with tongs, I thoroughly mangled the plastic part. So much for my frosting decorating tool. Into the garbage it went.

So now what was I supposed to do now? Well, I thought to myself, I could just roll up the dough and put it in the oil. It sounded easier than using a pastry bag. Why didn’t they recommend that in the first place? It was a mystery, but I started the process and soon the little rolls of dough were cooking up quite nicely. My 3-year-old was watching from about two feet away, standing on the little green stool he uses when he helps me in the kitchen. About a minute after I’d put the first churros in, one of them popped, spraying us with hot oil. It was only a little bit but I thought maybe my child should remove himself from the vicinity. He heartily agreed.

Okay, back to work. I had returned to rolling up some more churros when another one popped. More oil spattered about, but I was okay, if slightly singed. I decided to stand a couple feet away while they cooked and continued to roll up more churros.

That’s when the big one hit. One of the churros literally exploded. First I heard a tremendous popping noise (like a firecracker, gunshot or atomic bomb), then felt hot oil spattering the top of my head. "Ow! Ow! Ow!" I cried out in pain. It kinda hurt, you see. I dashed away from the stove to what I hoped was safety. When I turned to see the damage, there was oil EVERYWHERE! Oil on the ceiling, oil on the floor, oil on the cupboards, oil on the door. The churro itself was lying on the floor by the dishwasher, which is about five feet away. There were even bits of churro on the ceiling. My churro had become a deadly missile.

Oh, crud.

Have you ever tried to clean up oil? It’s not easy. Normally I would’ve started sobbing and cursing and maybe shouting for my husband to help me, but I just went into the bathroom and began to douse my head with cold water. Then I returned to the kitchen, my head dripping - I still had to turn off that burner. I made a few false starts - with some stutter stepping and some bobbing and weaving - but finally I was able to dash up and turn the thing off without slipping in the oil and knocking myself out. Then I slowly proceeded to clean the entire very messy, very slippery mess up.

Pumpkin carving, I decided, would have to be delayed until tomorrow. My children accepted the news gracefully, bless their little souls. Instead of churros, I would have to make chocolate chip muffins. They don’t explode, or at least they haven’t in the past. It turned out to be a good decision, both in the delay and in the muffins, as it was a lovely day on Sunday, even though my head still burned in places.

So where did I go wrong? I have decided that by rolling the dough, I was allowing too much air in the mix, creating air bubbles, which then expanded and popped once heated. I never saw that coming, I tell you.

As I write this, with my head still sore in spots, I sit here thinking…What if I were just reaching in with the tongs to fetch a churro when the explosion happened? I would’ve gotten oil all over my face, maybe even a churro up the nose. Even worse, what if my little boy was still standing on that stool? He would have been terribly burned.

After my little incident, I could have complained and been grumpy for the rest of the day (which is my typical m.o. when something goes wrong), but this time I simply was grateful that it hadn’t been worse. Maybe I’m finally growing up. Or maybe I was still in shock.

My husband, who had been downstairs at the time and hadn’t heard a thing, told me that from now on, if I want anything fried, to stick to Dunkin’ Donuts. He may be right. For now, I must say adios, my churlish churros, and muchas gracias for not taking me down with you.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nobody Knows The Troubles I've Seen...

Recently I’ve been discovering that there is more to publishing a book than simply publishing a book. There’s really a lot of busy work to do. I have to take orders for signed copies, actually sign the copy and finally, send it out via snailmail (it’s terribly taxing, but I do what I can for my peeps). Then there are these blogs that I need to produce two or three times a week. I have had several demands asking when my next blog is coming out (it’s been about 4 or 5 days since my last one). Okay, maybe it was just one person doing the demanding, and maybe she didn’t exactly demand. Perhaps I made her read, "When’s your next blog coming out, Kristina?" in front of a bunch of people, or else I’d egg her car.

It’s possible I might have done something like that.

It gets even crazier…

Over the last couple weeks, I have had to spice up my amazon account (I had to create my profile and pretty up the page where my book is displayed). First, I had to apply to become a member of AmazonConnect. That sounds simple, right? Well, things got messed up and disconnected or whatever, so I had to email them to find out what’s wrong. Luckily they fixed the problem quite quickly and I was set to go. Then I had to find a decent picture to put up there that I haven’t yet used (I don’t have that many good ones of me where I can say, yes, that looks like me and not a pile of manure). On top of that, I had to write yet another bio (though mostly I just refer to my website bio so I didn’t suffer too much on that one). After that, I attempted to talk about my boring interests. Who really cares that I like photography? Anybody? I can’t imagine why… I’m not sure that I even care.

I’m also editing my next book in the Anaedor series (Book 2), which is actually getting a bit tedious being that it’s about the 100th time I’ve gone over it. And I’m still finding problems. However, on the plus side, the revision process has helped me prepare for a workshop that I’m doing on writing (yet another thing to do, wahhh!). What has been much more fun has been starting work on my next book series (I’ll give you a hint — it’s not about rocks).

Somewhere between eating breakfast and losing my mind, I’ve needed to contact my hometown and alma mater newspapers/newsletters to hopefully publish a blurb on my book, which I wrote myself so that I could make my life sound completely fascinating. Basically I lied. No, I didn’t - I’ve truly led a fascinating life (in my head, anyway).

And then there are my three children who apparently want to be fed at regular intervals. Plus I must attend to their schoolwork and book fairs and open houses and doctor’s appointments and illness (from September to June it’s just one long stretch of it), not to mention bills to pay and yardwork to do. Soon the leaves will need to be removed from my yard. They don’t do it themselves and I can’t just let them stay there because we need a pile of them for our annual leaf pile/s’mores party. Ah, well. It will get me outdoors and give me some much-needed exercise. I am turning into a potato.

I find myself multi-tasking a lot. While talking on the phone, I clean. I even clean the phone. Just a minute ago I got up to see why my 5-year-old was crying. Since the kitchen was on the way, I made sure to grab my snack dishes and drop them off. I knew by the sound of his crying that he wasn’t terribly hurt (or at least was still conscious) so I figured I had a second to accomplish this task. Currently, my 3-year-old is half-lying in my lap, rolling back and forth, saying, "I’m still getting hungry." It’s 4:30 so I told him that he would probably eat a big supper then. He doesn’t like this answer, but eventually he wanders off in search of food. Boy this multi-tasking is hard work!

What I really need is a secretary. But I can’t afford a secretary. I make, like, a dollar off each book I sell (if that). I could sell 400 books (which would be fantastic) and only make $400. That’s why publishing companies reject so many books. If they don’t think you can make them big bucks, you’re not worth the time and money. It’s frustrating, but understandable - though only if you’re a saint.

So what’s my point in all this? I don’t really know. But it sure felt good to vent! Now I better go find my 3-year-old. I think he might be stuck in the refrigerator.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How Can A Person Be Original When Everything’s Already Been Done?

There’s a reason I’ll never be the next Shakespeare or Tolkien. They beat me to it. You see, I think I could have created great works if only I’d been born at an earlier time. Okay, so maybe not. But I tell you it’s awfully hard being unique in today’s age.

Look at the fashion world. Every twenty years, they recycle a look. The only way you can be unique in fashion today is to paint your outfits onto your body - ha, ha, ha. Oh, wait. That’s already been done.


It’s a real dilemma for us wannabes. And one I have no answer to. I thought I was being quite original with my book idea. But really, I suppose if you look at the theme, it’s been done. I’d like to think that I’ve added a unique perspective with a unique character, but probably not. Other people have told me they think it’s a wonderful and unusual story, but I paid them to say that.

It’s depressing, I tell you. I even tried hard to avoid having my book resemble anything close to the Harry Potter books. I hated the idea that people would think I was trying to ride J.K. Rowling’s coattails by copying her work (though technically I am doing that just by including her name in this blog - oops). The same thing could be said about all the authors I’ve read over the years. What I write is going to be similar to what they have written, simply because we have a similar way of thinking (yes, there are a lot of us out there who think strange things). Anyway, there are certain themes (good vs. evil, courage, growing up) that are hard to go without when you are writing in a specific genre, or writing anything at all. It isn’t easy to avoid similarities. There were times when I just had to say, forget it - do what feels right!

So I’m going to have to accept that I may never come up with anything truly unique. It’s a hard and bitter pill to swallow. Or maybe I should look at it from another perspective (I like manipulating reality to make it look how I want it to look). No one will ever write a story exactly like mine. And maybe I did something worthwhile that will affect someone in just the way they needed to be affected. Or, maybe certain themes need to be repeated for each individual and for each generation for us humans to finally fully understand them. Why not? I do so like that explanation much better than thinking I’m just a sheep, a drone, or a drudge.

In the meantime, I will keep on writing, searching for that elusive twist… Just don’t beat me to it, okay?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Celebrity Isn’t What I Thought It Would Be…

The other day I was at my two boys’ open house for school when I was recognized. "Aren’t you a writer?" the woman asked, bless her heart. I stared dumbly at her. "You were at Jeremy Robinson’s book reading, right? You’ve got a book coming out, right?" I continued to stare at her. "You’re not a writer?" she said, less enthusiastically now.


Yes, folks. That’s how I handled my first instance of being recognized. When I finally managed to say that yes, I was a writer, she brightened again, glad she hadn’t gotten it wrong. Of course, then she said to my son, "Your mom’s a celebrity!" I then proceeded to turn bright red. She was just being funny about it, but I had no idea how to handle the whole thing. If I ever become better known, I guess I won’t have to worry about fame going to my head. You know, getting arrogant, getting cocky. Not when I am stunned to immobility and become unable to speak when people approach me.

When I think about my future as an author, maybe getting fans, being recognized once in a while, I always imagine myself coming across as gracious and witty, clever and wise. Instead, I say, Guhhh…Sigh. Fame isn’t easy. But I shall try to handle it the best I can and maybe practice in the mirror what I should say if anyone ever recognizes me again. In a way, I hope they do. We all have are dreams of appearing on Letterman or Oprah and just wowing everyone with our sense of humor and insight. But in a way, I hope people don’t. At least not until I have something else to say besides…well, you know what.

So, if we ever meet, please be patient with me. I am not at my best socially. But I do try. Maybe this time I will manage to say hi without looking like a deer caught in headlights…

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Curse of the Galley Copy

I got my galley copy the other day and let me tell you…it was great! I loved seeing my work bound between two covers. It made everything seem so real, like I was finally a real writer. So I picked up my solid, very real book. I viewed it from different angles, held it up to the light, bit it to be sure it was solid gold (oops, not that last part). It was a glorious experience. All that hard work had finally paid off. I was an author.

And then, I made the mistake of starting to read it…

Oh, dear, I thought to myself as I read along. Did I use the word ‘exceptionally’ too much in this paragraph? Is rear window spelled as two words or is it all one word? Why am I seeing this all now? Why not when I was editing it, for the love of Pete!

That’s the curse of the galley copy. Really, once you have your galley copy, you should only be looking for big mistakes - glaring errors. Because any changes from that point on cost the publisher money. And no one is going to spend money because the author is freaking out about her word choices. And I was definitely freaking out. I e-mailed my publisher at midnight the day I received my book - I couldn’t sleep. "Can I make any changes at this point?" I pleaded. "They’re all very small. Not very noticeable. Except to anyone with eyes, that is!"

He said no. Actually, he clarified that no. Unless it’s a big one, he wrote, don’t sweat it. Easy for him to say. He’s not the one with his name on the book! This is my baby! And my baby wasn’t absolutely perfect! What was I going to do?

Okay, I do have a point here. Make sure that when you are done editing, you are done editing. Maybe it’s different when you’re dealing with big publishing companies, but for the little presses, every penny counts. If you’re self-publishing, as well. Though maybe you have the money to fix the mistakes. That’s great. But as my publisher pointed out to me, I could spend forever fixing mistakes, and then my book would never get published. He had a point, even thought it was one I desperately wanted to resist. But, for the sake of money and my sanity, I didn’t.

In summary, I will give you an extra bit of advice… If you find any mistakes in my book, blame my publisher, not me.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

My Publicity Campaign: What the heck am I doing?

My latest project involves trying to get the message out. No, I’m not running a political campaign, I’m trying to sell my book, The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies (see how I stuck that in there, repeating it yet again? That’s marketing, my friends!). My book hasn’t been published yet, so I guess what I’m trying to do is build up "hype." That’s the latest lingo for getting people really excited. Too bad I don’t have a big merry-go-round. That tends to get people excited. Or maybe I should get myself a posse. People with posses always attract attention. Right now my posse consists of an adult male, 3 small boys, 3 cats (one with an attitude problem) and a fish that refuses to die. Those are my peeps.

Hm. I think I’m going to need to try another tactic.

So I’m heading for Youtube. The place where all us hams can let out our inner hammyness. It’s a great forum for all those talented people in the world to go to express themselves. It’s also where less talented people (such as myself) can go to "hype" themselves. So I am going to release 3 videos on Youtube of me reading Chapter One of my book The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies (Here’s that title again–I’ll bet you didn’t even know you were being marketed to…that’s just how subtle I am). Instead of a reading, I’m going to call it a video reading. Clever, huh? The hard part is that Youtube only allows 10 minutes or 100 somethings (MB?) per video. So I have to split the reading up into 3 parts. I am also going to release a couple video commercials to advertise the book. I hope they’re at least entertaining. I’d hate to put out boring videos. Doesn’t say much for me, does it?

I’ve already videotaped the book reading. It was an interesting process. Why I decided to do the taping when it’s 90 degrees outside, I don’t know. Here I am, trying to look intellectual (or at least not too dense) and all I want to do is scratch my nose which is itching like mad, push up my glasses, which keep sliding down from all that sweat, and wipe my upper lip because of the aforementioned sweat. Then, when I’m reading the book, I spot a typo. I’ve got to remember where that typo is so I can fix it later! Of course, I’m thinking about this while I’m trying to read the book out loud. Then I hear a noise outside. What’s that? Not a raccoon, I hope. Or a bear. Focus, Kristina! But it’s getting harder. Can bears break through screens? Of course, they can!

Then there were all the kid interruptions. I should have done a blooper reel. Take one. I’m sitting there reading to the camera when my kids, who are supposed to be in bed, decide to come down for a visit. There’s me on the videotape, reading in dramatic style, then saying, "What are you two doing down here? Get back up to bed! Shoo, now. Go on!" I look mad. Take 2. Oops, I forgot to say the title. Take 3. Oops, I forgot to say my own name. Dang. Take 4. Things are going well… Then one of my cats jumps up right in front of me, sticking her backside right in my face. Take 5, and so on…

So, progress is slow. I wonder how the commercial taping will go. Being that I’m the actress (and not a very good one), the sound and light crew, the videographer, director and producer, I’m not going to be able to do that many takes. The end result could be quite interesting. Or end up looking like some amateur production…

Friday, October 5, 2007

Off to the Printers! Or, The editing process stinks.

My publisher sent my book off to the printers yesterday. I feel sick. I am a bit of an overachiever, you see. And the idea of sending off my work, to transform it into permanent ink on paper, freaks me out. I edited the living bejeebers out of that book. Then other people edited it. Then, a person who gets paid to edit it, edited it. So, after making changes, putting back some ‘thats’ that I had taken out because I thought you were supposed to use as few thats as possible, I was done editing!

Then my publisher changed the book’s font and its formatting, too…

Which meant new problems. I suppose everyone else out there knows that Word does automatic hyphenating? Well, I didn’t. So, being the overachiever that I am, I manually hyphenated my work after justifying it. If you don’t hyphenate, some of your sentences will look gappy (that’s an extremely technical term that means lots of space between words). So guess what happened when he reformated the work… Yepper, lots of words in the middle of sentences looking like this: Auto- matically. He was very diplomatic about it when I told him what I’d done. I think his response was, "Huh?" I could feel the sympathetic waves coming off him.

There were other spacing problems, as well, of course. I just hope I found them all. I did the spell-check and grammar check yet again. I looked it over one last time. But I just know there’s a typo in there somewhere, lurking, waiting to expose me for the fraud that I am.

So, yes, I’m a bit of an overachiever.

Being an overachiever has its advantages. It means I’m going to do a lot of editing to get things just right. I actually kind of like editing. That is, until I have to present my work to other people in the form of a published book that they paid money for. They’re going to react just like I do when I find typos in a book. Didn’t you spell-check this? Jeez! It’s, like, the easiest thing you can do! You didn’t re-read this! I mean, you couldn’t have! Look at all these mistakes! Where happened to your brain, girl? Did you leave it in a jar somewhere?

Don’t get me started on the actual content of the book. I can’t even think about what people who don’t like it are going to say. That’s why I will probably be heading to my happy place for a while (starting November 1st, when my book’s supposed to be published). I will also remind myself of the concept of the Persian Flaw. The Persians purposely included a mistake in their carpets to show that only God is perfect, and that they, themselves, aren’t trying to be God. So if you find a mistake, I did that on purpose. To show that I’m not God.

I think, by now, that you’ve guessed where being an overachiever has its disadvantages. I’ve been working on mellowing out, but it’s hard. I want to present a perfect picture to the world so that you have nothing to beat me over the head with. But it’s awfully difficult to be perfect when you are searching through a book you have already searched a thousand times, looking for that needle in the haystack. So I think I’m going to just have to take a deep breath and…Pass out!

Remember…When it comes to life and its little foibles, you’d better laugh hard, otherwise you’re going to be sobbing like a baby.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Doing Too Much

Okay, so I’ve told you I’m trying to publish a book, set to come out in November. While I’m doing that, I’m also attempting to raise 3 boys, so that they’ll reach adulthood before they end up killing themselves. School’s starting soon and I’m trying to put together this website. My husband’s doing all the technical work, thank you, dear! But it’s my job to sound interesting and clever.

Let me tell you, it’s not easy.

I imagined myself sitting down and writing amusing anecdotes about my process. And while I am writing about my process, it’s not as amusing as I thought it would be. But I will keep trying. You know what they say about a thousand monkeys typing away…eventually they’ll come up with something intelligible. Or is that one monkey typing for a thousand years?

See how hard this is?

I recently participated in a Writer’s Festival at a mall (see Press for full coverage and a picture to prove I was really there!). Several writers joined the group and most of us attempted not to look too desperate as we sat there with our precious books (well, mine was just a book cover, so I probably looked more pathetic than the others), hoping people would at least notice we were sitting there.

In preparation for the big event, I made up about 30 color posters of my book cover and created a card with the book’s blurb, along with the release date. Then, after I printed out all those mini-posters, I realized there was a misspelled word on it. Agh! To calm myself, I ate some cookies. Then I changed my perspective. Years from now, when I’m famous, those posters will be worth at least twice what it cost me to make them, simply because there’s a mistake on them. Just like old coins and stamps somebody screwed up on! I felt better, then I ate some more cookies.

At any rate, I think I gave out about 4 book covers and a couple blurbs. Success? I’m not sure. My mother took 2 of the posters. I did get my picture in the paper, along with a quote that made me sound more intelligent than I think I really did. The reporter started asking me questions and I started babbling inane, nonsensical answers. He must be a pro, since he was able to find something logical in what I said.

It was nice to get out, though, and do something productive for my book. I’ve heard so many writers say that writing is the easy part, what comes next is the difficult hurdle. I think they’re both hard. I’ve reached a point where writing has gotten easier, but it’s still a lot of work.

I wrote in my first blog that I was going through a small publishing company ( I don’ t have an agent–not a one wanted to represent me and my book. Sniff, sniff. And believe me, I sent my book out to a lot of them. I’d like to think that it’s because the children/young adult fantasy genre is a bit saturated right now, not that my book stinks.

So it was encouraging and heartening to have Breakneckbooks like what I’d done and want to publish my work. They’re small, but they get a lot of submissions. However, the company doesn’t have a big marketing budget, nor do they get into bookstores (bookstores won’t buy POD - publish on demand books - because they can’t send them back to the publishing company and get their money back). Maybe someday that will all change, but for now, we’re just going to have to work our behinds off to make a difference for the little guy, or gal!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blog, Blog, Blog

Hello and welcome to my blog. I was going to call this, Writer’s Blog, but thought someone must have come up with that clever play on words by now (Writer’s blog, writer’s block, get it?). Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking… Keep your day job, Kristina.

So why am I blogging? Well, I am about to become a published author. Woohoo! I am a wee bit excited about the big event, which you might have picked up on when you read the ‘woohoo’ part.

But I really am psyched! Though maybe that’s because I’ve been plugging away at this writing stuff for over 10 years now (writing books, that is. I’ve done plenty of bad poetry and soulful journaling). Prior to the book that I’m publishing in November, I wrote 4 other books. Maybe someday I’ll go back and fix them, but for now I must consider these mere scribblings as practice (yes, I know, that sounds like a lot to just ‘write off,’ ha, ha, but it was necessary, believe me). I wrote these books for an adult audience, but when people read them, one of the major criticisms they made was that my heroine seemed rather young (a nice way of saying she was immature, obnoxiously so).

So I had to rethink my focus…

That’s when I came up with the idea of writing for young adults. I love fantasy fiction so I decided to focus on that genre (being, of course, inspired by the Harry Potter books, like the rest of the writing world–or so it seems now). But I also read this kind of genre as a kid (The Chronicles of Narnia come to mind) and into adulthood, as well. I guess I never grew up, which might explain why all my heroines aren’t very adult-like.

My very first book is called (speak the following part in a loud thundering voice)… The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies. It’s due out November, 2007. Be sure to check my website for updates on the release date, since I’m not sure of the exact date yet–it’s in editing right now (I love saying that). You can find the book on (that’s my publishing company) and But I’ll be doing some more shameless plugs in the future, when my book is actually available, so don’t worry if you forget. I’ll be there to remind you.

I will be blogging several times a week, talking about the process of writing and publishing, all while trying to have a life. Ha! My goal is to relate the grueling process of trying to publish my book, market it, and not want to jump off a cliff at the end of the day. Because I’m going through a small press, I face a larger challenge of getting my book out there in the public eye. So wish me luck!