Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Hopes of Getting Lost

Sometimes knowledge can be a bad thing.

Before you throw your virtual tomatoes, read on a little further.

A couple of years ago I completed the first novel I thought was worthy of publication. I still think it's a great book, but as a writer, as a reader, I was blissfully ignorant. I knew a good story when I read it, but I didn't look for character arcs, I skimmed over plot holes and if the pace dragged a bit, I attributed it to being a more "literary" type of book.

Not anymore. These days when I open a book, I have a hard time pulling myself out of critique mode. And it's spilling over into other parts of my life. As I watched The Fairly Odd Parents with my kids on Saturday morning, I found myself following an internal checklist.
  • Okay, there's what Timmy Turner wants for this episode. Check.
  • There's the first obstacle to getting what he wants. Check.
  • Oh, now they've given him an inner conflict. Check.
  • Mommy's finally gone over the deep end. Check.

I'm not trying to be critical. I want to enjoy what I'm reading or watching. But the bar has been raised. It takes more to impress me. And maybe that's why it's harder to catch the attention of agents and editors now than it was even five years ago. Because they're looking at a LOT more stories than I am and it takes way more to impress them.

I'm not sure how to stop analyzing everything I read (or watch!), but I do know that when a novel pulls me in to the point that my editorial pen disappears, it's a really good story. It's a story I can get lost in, a book I want to tell my friends to read because it's THAT good. It's the kind of story we all dream of writing.

Here's hoping we can all get a little lost.


You have until Thursday night to leave a comment on the post below and win a copy of the Roald Dahl book of your choice.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rebel With a Cause

I LOVE Banned Books Week. I suppose it's just the rebellious child in me rearing her laughing head, but seriously, if you read the list of books that have been challenged over the years, you have to wonder...WHY??!!

First off, anytime a book is challenged, it gets more attention. People are naturally curious. They figure if someone doesn't want me reading that book, there must be something good inside! So the person trying to get the book removed usually ends up increasing sales for the author. Which could actually be a good thing.

In fact, when I'm a published author, I might PAY people to challenge my books. Because based on some of the past challenges, I'm quite sure every book in print has something offensive in it.

Take for instance one of my son's favorite authors: Roald Dahl. I think we own every book the man ever wrote because in 3rd grade, my son was obsessed with Dahl and read his books multiple times. I never would have guessed that Dahl made the banned list. But back in 1995, a mother in Virginia tried to ban him from her child's elementary school library because in Dahl's books, “children misbehave and take retribution on adults, and there’s never, ever a consequence for their actions."

So obviously this woman has never read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Because last time I checked, each of those obnoxious children paid huge consequences for misbehaving. HUGE.

But of course, the banners don't notice details like that. And this isn't the first or last time Dahl's books have come under fire.
  • James and the Giant Peach was challenged four times in the 90s for crude language, encouraging children to disobey their parents and promoting drugs and violence. Apparently there's a dicier copy floating around than the one I read! 
  • The Witches has been banned for its depiction of women and witches. Personally, I adored the cigar chomping grandma :)

Believe it or not, as recently as 2002, Roald Dahl made the top ten list of most frequently challenged authors. Crazy, right?

Last year I had a belated Banned Books Week celebration where I gave away a copy of And Tango Makes Three, an adorable picture book that was #2 on the list of most challenged books for the year. This year, the choice is yours. Leave a comment on this post and I'll send you your choice of any children's book written by Roald Dahl. Because sometimes it's fun to rebel, even if it's just a little :D


And now, drum roll please...

According to, the winner of Matthew Kirby's book, The Clockwork Three, is...

Susan Mills

Congratulations, Susan!! Email me with your address and I'll get this book in the mail to you!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Writing Compelling Characters

I just spent two hours writing a post on what makes characters compelling. And somehow, Blogger deleted it. And I want to cry. Which isn't very compelling.

So, let me try to summarize:

Allow your characters to make mistakes. Perfect people are boring and frankly, most of us want to kill them when we meet them in real life. Or at least splatter some strawberry sauce on their perfect white outfits. Humans are flawed. Characters who are perfect will feel flat and one-dimensional.

Let your characters be larger than life. I might not be brave enough to turn around and tell a stranger in line to back off and give me some personal space, but characters who speak their mind will live in the mind of your reader long after they've finished the last page. Being larger than life doesn't mean that your MC has to save the world (although that's good too!). It can be as simple as letting your character stand up for herself when others would be scared.

Show your character's inner conflict. All of us struggle with choices. If you can show your character being mentally torn apart, especially if his choice adversely affects himself or someone he cares about, you've created a compelling inner conflict that will make readers sympathize.

Be consistent. Real people are full of contradictions, but your characters shouldn't be. They need to act "in character" even as they grow and change. If your reader stops to think, "Wow, I not sure that X would really do that," then you've pulled them out of the story. Make sure that your characters are acting consistently within the world you've created.

Know what your character needs. Characters who have a strong need for something pull us into their stories right away. The more apparent that need is, the more they struggle to get what they want, the more we want to see them succeed.

Make things difficult. Readers want to see the hero win, but not without a struggle. Working hard for something builds character in more than one way. Give your MC obstacles, limit their ability, then show how they can overcome.

I know I left some out so tell me in the comments: what other ways can writers make their characters more compelling?

Read what other bloggers have to say. The full list of people participating in The Great Blogging Experiment is here.


And don't forget, you have until midnight on Sunday to leave a comment on the post below and win a copy of Matthew J. Kirby's debut novel, THE CLOCKWORK THREE.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Author Spotlight on: Matthew J. Kirby

A few months ago, Kathy from the Book Loft gave me a stack of books, including an ARC for one called THE CLOCKWORK THREE by Matthew Kirby. The cover fascinated me with its golden automaton and as I dug into the story, I was pulled into the imaginative world Matthew had created.

So you probably won't be surprised to hear that when I met him at SCBWI-LA this summer, I may have gone a bit fangirl. (Yeah, shocking, right?) Unfortunately, I didn't have my book with me. Fortunately, Matthew said he'd be happy to do an interview on my blog.

One of you will be lucky enough to win my (unsigned *sniff*) ARC (read through to the end to find out how). First, let's talk a little to Matthew...

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and I still have copies of a few stories written in those old composition notebooks with the covers that look a little like TV static.  But in terms of serious writing as an adult, that is, writing with the intent to be published, I’ve been at it about ten years.

Did you query other stories before THE CLOCKWORK THREE?
For a while I tried breaking into science fiction and fantasy for adult readers, and during that time I accumulated a lot of rejection letters, and a drawer full of short stories that will never be read.  When I switched to writing for young readers, I attempted my first novel-length story, which I submitted to my agent.  He didn’t sign me for that book, but he did sign me for the second novel I wrote, which became THE CLOCKWORK THREE.

How long did it take you to write THE CLOCKWORK THREE, from idea to sale?
The ideas for THE CLOCKWORK THREE had been simmering for quite a while before I sat down to write the book.  For the two years I was in graduate school I put active writing aside, though I kept mulling over the ideas and the stories to which I wanted to return.  That time and distance helped me in the end, and after I sat down to write THE CLOCKWORK THREE, I had a draft ready for submission in about 10 months.  It sold really quickly after that.

I'm impressed that you had it ready for submission so quickly. But I guess it just goes to show how important time and distance are for writers.

You’ve said that the character Guisseppe was inspired by a real boy named Joseph who was imprisoned in New York in the 1870s. How did you find out about him and what went through your head when you got to visit the place where he lived?
I first read about Joseph in a book on child street musicians that I checked out from my university library.  Then I went to the original newspaper articles to learn more about him.  I knew there was a story there that I wanted to tell in some way, even if it didn’t turn out to be strict historical fiction.  When my publisher flew me out to New York City, I got to go to the real Crosby Street where Joseph was imprisoned for many years (Crosby Street is actually just a block or two away from the Scholastic offices, a fact I didn’t know until I got there).  The original building at Number 45 where Joseph lived is long gone, but the street still has the old cobblestones, perhaps the same stones Joseph walked over.  Standing there, I imagined the sound of his young footsteps echoing as he returned to his master every night.  It was a very touching and sobering experience.

Scholastic seems to be putting a lot of promotional effort behind your book. As a first time author that has to feel great. Has the buzz been growing for this book?
Scholastic has been amazing to work with, and I’m so grateful.  The marketing and publicity teams have some great promotions planned that you should start to see in the next few weeks.  One of the things I’m most excited about is a website for the book, which will go live when the book is released on October 1st of this year.  As a debut author, I could not be more thrilled.

I read about your epic trip to New York. Can you talk yet about the video you were filming there?
Scholastic flew me in to film a promotional video for the Scholastic Book Fairs.  If you want to watch the video, you can see it here. Scholastic is also making a book trailer that will be out soon, and I’m really excited to see it.

Me too! Sounds like they're putting together some awesome promotions for your book.

The cover illustration for THE CLOCKWORK THREE is awesome. I read the ARC which didn’t have the children on the front. Why’d they decide to make that change?
The artist, Brian Despain [no relation to Bree], and the book’s designer, Elizabeth Parisi, did an amazing job, didn’t they?  You’re right; the original cover did not have the children.  They were added later to appeal to a wider, younger audience, and I think to also illustrate or reflect the title of the book.

You work at a school, right? Do your students realize that you’re now a famous author or are you still just Mr. Kirby?
I’m a school psychologist, and I have the deepest respect for teachers.  I work with them on a daily basis, and witness first-hand how much they do for the children in their classrooms.  Teaching has become a sorely undervalued profession. A few of the students I work with know about the book.  I suspect more will realize it as soon as the Book Fairs come to the school.  The kids who know all think it’s really cool.  But yes, I’m still just Mr. Kirby at the end of the day.

How cool that your book will be at the book fair! Yeah, that will pretty much blow your cover as the mild mannered school psychologist :)

You’re such a fan of Dr. Who and Battlestar Gallactica. Have you ever written sci-fi?
Yes, as that drawer of stories will attest.  I like thinking about possibilities, and implications, and extrapolating from our world today into the future.  But those same impulses also inspire me to take a different look at the past.  When it comes to science fiction, or even fantasy, I prefer the term “speculative fiction,” because I feel it better captures the broader sense of what I’m trying to explore when I write.

On your blog you wrote about taking some graphic novel workshops at SCBWI this summer. Will that be your next writing project? If not, what are you working on?
I do hope to one day write graphic novels.  I love the medium, and the opportunities it presents for storytelling, but I don’t think I’ll write one for a little while.  I have at least two other novels I plan to write first.  One of them I’m currently revising with my editor.  It’s a Viking story, and it will be published next year in the fall.  I have an idea of what my third book will be, but I haven’t started writing it yet.

I'm excited to read that one. I live in Solvang so I'm partial to Vikings :)

Utah seems to have such a great writing community. How do you think being part of that community contributed to your writing?
Utah’s writing community is truly remarkable, especially the children’s writers.  Everyone is so encouraging and supportive of one another.  For most of the time I’ve been writing, I wasn’t actually aware of what a great community it is.  But since selling THE CLOCKWORK THREE, I’ve gotten more involved, and my fellow writers have been so welcoming.  I truly feel like I’m a part of something bigger, a group of authors and illustrators who are all devoted to making the best books for kids.  That’s pretty inspiring and motivating.

Thank you so much, Matthew. I have a feeling THE CLOCKWORK THREE will capture a lot of young readers.
Thanks for the great questions. You really put some thought into them, which I appreciate.

You can keep up with Matthew
  on his blog, Kirbside:
  on his website (after Oct. 1):
  or watch the trailer:


Matthew mentioned how supportive his writing community is. If you would like to win my ARC of THE CLOCKWORK THREE, leave a comment telling me where you find support for your writing journey. Get your answer in by midnight (PST) on Sunday, September 26. One winner will be randomly selected and announced on Monday, September 27.

Here's the blurb for THE CLOCKWORK THREE.

Three ordinary children are brought together by extraordinary events. . . Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician from Italy, who was sold by his uncle to work as a slave for an evil padrone in the U.S. But when a mysterious green violin enters his life he begins to imagine a life of freedom. 

Hannah is a soft-hearted, strong-willed girl from the tenements, who supports her family as a hotel maid when tragedy strikes and her father can no longer work. She learns about a hidden treasure, which she knows will save her family -- if she can find it. 

And Frederick, the talented and intense clockmaker's apprentice, seeks to learn the truth about his mother while trying to forget the nightmares of the orphanage where she left him. He is determined to build an automaton and enter the clockmakers' guild -- if only he can create a working head. 

Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Danish Days

When the Vikings start pitching tents and cleaning their spears in Solvang Park, it can only mean one thing: it's Danish Days!

Every September Solvang lures gullible tourists into town celebrates its Danish heritage with a weekend of parades, Æbleskiver, Danish dancers and entertainment of all kinds. (My kids were entranced by the woman on an 8-foot unicycle juggling lit torches. Okay, so was I.)

Usually we stay away from town when big events like this are happening. We love the peace and tranquility of Solvang and it's insane on Danish Days weekend. This year, my son's class had a booth in the park to raise money for Science Camp so for the first time ever, we spent two days hanging out downtown for the event. And I have to admit, it was kind of fun.

The guy carving bears with a chainsaw was pretty amazing to watch. Flying cedar chips were a bit of a hazard and it was LOUD. But it was pretty incredible to watch him create something out of a log. With a chainsaw. I'm pretty sure I'd have mutilated myself if I tried to do something like that.

 The Æbleskiver breakfast is probably one of the most popular events. Æbleskiver are a Danish treat, kind of like a pancake ball topped with powdered sugar and raspberry jelly. Yum!

Then there are the amazing papirklips created by Rick Marzullo. This Danish art form, using tiny scissors to cut paper into intricate designs, is simply amazing. The detail doesn't show up well in this photo but if you can imagine, creating this mermaid with nothing but a pair of scissors...I was always the kid who ended up with a holey diamond instead of a snowflake, so Rick's talent leaves me in awe.

And while this has nothing to do with Danish Days, it does have to do with Solvang and my friends Ted and Peggy Lane who own the fabulous Apple Lane Orchard. Jennie Garth (who has a home in this area) filmed a couple of promos for Pillsbury at the orchard last week. Jennie never says where she is, but in the background of one segment, you can see Ted's antique car with the Apple Lane logo on the door.

Trust me, I'm NOT schilling for Pillsbury, but Peggy was so excited that they filmed at her place and I think it's pretty cool, too. Perfect Apple Pie with Jennie Garth is the promo that shows Ted's car.

As for my son's booth at Danish Days, his class earned $309 which is more than enough to send one kid to Science Camp for four days. Not bad. Now we just have to raise money for the other 17 kids in his class :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why I Quit Facebook

If you lost me as a friend on Tuesday, don't be too alarmed. We're still friends, just not on Facebook.

When I first started using Facebook it was such a blast. I caught up with people I hadn't seen in years. Friends from high school and college. People I used to work with. Cousins in other parts of the world. It was amazing to be able to connect with all these people who had been a part of my life.

And then of course there were the games. Word Twist. Word Challenge. Word Whomp Derby. (Notice a pattern here?) Yeah. I was sucked in. Big Time.

A few writers started sending friend requests and because I knew them from conferences or from blogging, I approved them and had fun getting to know them better.

But then I started getting requests from people I didn't know. Some were writers, and I guess they could have been friends of friends, but I had no connection them. We didn't read each other's blogs. We hadn't met in real life. It felt weird. Because I had personal stuff on my Facebook page. Pictures of my kids, photos of me with friends from school, pieces of my life that were never meant to be on view for the entire world to see. I stopped posting as much, thought twice before I put up any pictures.

There are plenty of people that I've struck up virtual friendships with and I had no problem friending them on Facebook. It was kind of fun to see them as more than just a smiling head on the side of my blog or a name in my inbox. But complete strangers? I wasn't trying to build a fan base or network. I was just connecting with friends and family. Knowing that random people wanted access to that, finding out that strangers could see my photos even if we weren't friends, it felt wrong. So I quit.

I don't miss it yet. I might go back at some point, with a personal page for my friends and family, and an author page where total strangers are perfectly welcome. But for now, Facebook and I are done. Friends who want to stay in touch will have to do it the old fashioned way.

By email.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Look Who has a Book Coming Out...

No. It's not me.

In fact, my Monday in the writing cave was not uninterrupted. I think the evil gods of writing must have read my post and decided to blow that dream to smithereens. I got a bit done, but between the phone, the doorbell and my own frazzled lack of focus, it didn't add up to much. Next time I'm leaving the house.

Of course, I shouldn't complain about a busy schedule or multiple interruptions. I mean, President Obama probably has a WAY busier schedule than me, and still, in between tax cut battles in congress, redecorating the oval office and running a war or two,  the man managed to write a children's book.

Seriously. It's coming out in November.

And here is why I love the women in my critique group. When I groused about it in an email, this was the reaction I got from one of them: And I'll just go ahead and run the country for a while!

Well. She'd probably do a really good job :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

In Search of Structure

I've always believed that structure is good for kids. They need to know where the boundaries are and how much freedom they can have within those guidelines.

Turns out what's good for kids, is good for writing, too.

I will probably never be one of those people who plots everything down to the last detail. It's just not in my nature. But I think knowing some of the boundaries of my story will help me write a better book. (And just for the record, I'm completely jealous of you people who can plot everything down to the last detail!)

I've already blogged about the wonderful screenwriting book I read, Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. I also subscribe to Martha Alderson's newsletter and read her blog, The Plot Whisperer. Martha has taught classes and written books on plotting blockbusters. Last week she sent out an email announcing her new YouTube channel where she has started "teaching" a series on plotting your novel, memoir or screenplay. So far there are five episodes up. Each one is less than ten minutes. And did I mention, this is all FREE?!

Here's what she's covered so far:
Just to give you an example of the brilliance she shares, in the second video she explains that not only should your character be flawed. That flaw should also keep them from getting what they want. I've always known that perfect characters are kind of boring to read about. But giving the MC a flaw that makes it harder to reach their goal is great advice!

If you're starting something new, or trying to revise a second draft, I highly recommend watching these videos and reading Martha's blog.

And now,  I return to my cave for a (hopefully!) uninterrupted day of plotting and writing...

I can dream, can't I?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Where Ideas Come From

Some authors don't like to be asked where they get their ideas from. Not that it's a big secret or anything. They just aren't always sure. They can't pin it down. The idea could have come from a number of little things that grow and mutate until they become this BIG IDEA. Or it could have come from a dream. The idea could have been sparked by a tv show or a news item. Or it could have just been formed in the deep recesses of their creative mind.

My ideas usually come from a specific moment when I'm smacked between the eyes with an idea that won't let go. The more excited I get and impatient to write, the better I know it will be.

Secret of Undine came to me on a camping trip. My daughter asked why the water sparkled in the late afternoon sun and I told her it was the water faeries just under the surface. From there it was easy to come up with the story of these kids who meet trolls and water faeries in a place where they would least expect it: a campground.

The title, Wish You Weren't, came to me on the way to Writer's Day. As I drove to Thousand Oaks I jotted down the title and a one line summary. (You don't want to be on the freeway near me when a story idea hits. Just sayin...) Once I started writing, the story changed. A LOT. (Can you say pantser?!) I got stalled. But my breakthrough in the middle came from reading a nonfiction book on the power of wishes. It helped me figure out what I wanted to say.

My current WIP came from a single line in a nonfiction book about a process used on...well, I'm not going to spill. But suffice it to say, a story was born, from truth into fiction. And I'm very impatient to write more.

What about you. Where do your ideas come from?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Notes from Gennifer Choldenko

Gennifer Choldenko went to her first SCBWI conference after she was under contract for a picture book sixteen years ago. Now with more than eight books published, she is about to release the final book in the trilogy that started with, "Al Capone Does my Shirts." Here are my notes from her keynote address at the summer conference.

Just because a kid appears outwardly sophisticated, doesn't mean that they are inwardly mature. Growing up is just as hard today as it was when we were kids. If everybody is growing up faster, how come nobody gets there?
Kids need to see stories that reflect their own circumstances. Twelve years ago heard that YA books are dead. Now we've swung to the other extreme. But kids don't start reading at age 14.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid started off online, blog to book. There are more ways to get your foot in the door these days.

Human beings need stories. We always have, we always will. The delivery system is expanding. Need to be more selective of concepts and make sure that every word is working hard.

The best novels teach us something about ourselves.

Childhood is a lot harder than it looks and to write well for children, you need to conjure up the whole spectrum of feelings. If you're stuck in the nostalgia of your childhood, dig deeper.

What you experience while you're writing, we will experience while we're reading.

Each character should reflect a different part of your main character. If your character looks the same way from every other character's eyes, something is wrong.

Jot notes on how people walk, facial expressions, snippets of dialog.

Every detail must work within the context of the world you have created, not just in fantasy. It's an essential part of every novel.

Each scene must be gratifying in and of itself, not just be a setup for a later scene.

To make your novel fulfilling, you have to get to the emotional core.

Trust the sticky, weird images that come out of your dreams. Cultivate the between state, between waking and sleep, during a walk or a swim, the moments when you aren't stressing. Keep a notebook to capture ideas that come when your mind rests and you let go of the intense effort and focus.

If every risk you take pans out, then you aren't really risking very much. Give yourself space to take risks.

Take care of your writer self with time spent reading, writing and distance from toxic people.

Give yourself a block of uninterrupted time to write every day.

You can't think your way through a novel, you have to feel your way. It has to come from your gut.

Push your protagonist. Your readers want to see what would happen if your character does something they would never do, something they have only thought about. See who your characters are by the choices they make under pressure.

Be careful of competing story lines. Remember who is driving the scene. Don't allow yourself to be distracted by the other characters.

Don't let promotion overwhelm your work. You can't market your way to success. Get your work out there and get yourself out there, but make sure you have books worth marketing.

Just because a novel needs work, doesn't mean the book stinks.

There is a kid out there who needs your book. Write for that kid.

No one can teach you how to write, you have to teach yourself. Write yourself from that side of the podium, to this side.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Playing on Labor Day

I'm here

playing with them

and reading this.

Have a wonderful Labor Day!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Delicious Rewards

September is the most delicious month in Solvang.

As I drove my kids to school the other morning, it made me smile because in that short two mile stretch I pass by Ted and Peggy's apple orchard (Apple Lane), Rosa's strawberry stand (where she sells corn, tomatoes, blueberries and raspberries as well), Fred's place where we get the most amazing peaches and pears, and Tiffany who sells avocados. Just past the turn off for school we can pick our own raspberries and blackberries at the Morrell's, get different apple varieties from the Dittmar's and someone new has joined the bounty with a sign out for plums. And then there's the grapes. We are in the middle of wine country here!

Right now I'm reading Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver, a nonfiction book about a family trying to grow their own fruits and vegetables and eat only locally produced food. And I'm realizing how lucky we are every September to have this incredible farmer's market of friends and neighbors.

Knowing where your food comes from is becoming a rare thing in this country. Kingsolver's thesis, if you will, is that our food system is based on petroleum because so much is transported across the country, exported to other countries and imported back to us.

For two years I was in charge of the lunch program at my kids' school along with my friend Dana. (Trust me, the lunch lady jokes knew no end in my household!) As "lunch ladies," Dana and I worked hard to make sure the kids were getting fresh, healthy food and we tried to provide local produce with every meal. Dana took things one step further: she revived the school garden. That small connection to food, growing things and then tasting what they'd created, made a huge impact on those kids. Mine were always excited to bring home what they'd grown so we could use it in a meal.

Sorting dirt to mix with straw and water to build a cob house.

This past spring she helped the sixth grade class build a cob house that will serve as a greenhouse for starting seedlings this year. Those kids got dirty. Really dirty. For a few, this was traumatizing. Seriously. But what a science lesson they got from that project!

Not everyone can make as huge an impact as Dana. But we can all make more of a conscious effort to support our local economies by eating food that's raised right where we live. Trust me, the rewards are delicious.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wax on, Wax off

So we're sitting at the dinner table and my daughter tells me her class got two new boys, Joshua and Jackson. She wasn't happy about this because now the boys outnumber the girls by far.

Thinking I would make a joke so she would smile, I made a play on one of the boys' names. My daughter loves the Karate Kid (the 80s version, thank you very much!), so in a Mr. Miagi-type voice, I said, "Jacks on, Jacks off."

My son and husband literally choked on their lasagna.

I didn't even get it at first (maybe since it's really a guy thing!) and poor Jasmine was completely bewildered. She repeated what I said which just sent the boys in our house into painful fits of laughter. Her father begged her NOT to repeat that at school and of course this just reinforces why I'm so much better at writing than at speaking.

Ever had one of those tongue-tied moments where what you said wasn't exactly what you meant?
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