Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Cautionary Tale

Last year my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. (Because I got married young, not because I'm ancient!) We had talked for years about going to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas and decided that for this anniversary we would splurge. We got ourselves some fancy new passport cards, packed our bags and headed off with the kids on a late-night flight across the country.

We were in high spirits as we prepared to board the plane for the last leg of our trip. The flight attendants advised everyone to pull out their passports along with their boarding passes.

And that was when the unthinkable happened: they pulled us to the side and told us we couldn't get on the plane.

I was sure I had heard them wrong. Right up until the moment when the plane pulled away from the jetway I thought someone would admit that this had been a cruel joke, that they'd made a mistake, anything to keep this dream vacation from slipping away.

But, no. We were stranded in Atlanta, all because we had the wrong passports. (Note to future travelers: passport cards are only good for travel by boat or car, not by plane. This would have been good information to have when we APPLIED for the passports, not when we were trying to board the plane!)

Fortunately, my husband works in customer service and thinks quickly on his feet. (I was busy trying to comfort the kids and not have a meltdown myself.) The airline apologized profusely and said they shouldn't have let us board in Los Angeles when they saw our passports and our final destination. They told us to pick another spot and they'd fly us there, as well as give us vouchers to fly again within the year. My husband was able to transfer our resort reservation to a place that he figured would make the kids nearly as happy. And at that point, I was too frazzled to care where we landed. An hour later we were on our way to Orlando, Florida, where we wound up having a wonderful time.

It took a LONG time for the shock to wear off from that aborted vacation. (Side note to the lady at the post office who "helped" us get those stupid passport cards: I can finally say that I've forgiven you without gritting my teeth. Barely.) And now, just over a year later, we're ready to try it again.

We've packed our bags, cashed in our vouchers, and gotten the CORRECT passports. Although I can guarantee you that each of us will be holding our breath when we go to board the plane in Atlanta. Please let us on this time. Please don't break our hearts again.

I won't be posting next week. I plan to spend a lot of time going down waterslides that shoot me through shark tanks, snorkeling, eating, watching the sunset over the ocean. And reading and writing, of course. You know, assuming I actually get there this time.

Cross your fingers for me...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Defining the Draft

I am not a fast writer.

It pains me to say it, but it's true. Those people who can write four books a year, they're superhuman in my opinion. Even two books a year seems to be beyond my capabilities. Because even when I set aside time to write, the words come slowly. Five hundred in a day is a lot. A thousand, huge. So while I've tried to do NaNo, on more than one occasion, I always end up failing because I simply cannot write that many words in a day. And here's the reason why:

I'm an editor.

When I sit down to write, I read over the stuff I wrote the day before, in part to remind myself where I am in the story. Often I'll think of a better way to say something, flesh out sensory details, add a line or two to make things more clear. And THEN I start adding new words. Sometimes I'll go back even further, to a section that was giving me trouble and try to work it out. Sometimes I'll spend my entire writing time doing edits like this.

There are people who say not to do this on the first draft. Power through. Get it done.

I can't. It obviously works for plenty of people, but it just doesn't mesh with me. And frankly, I'm tired of hearing rules. I've decided that there isn't any right or wrong when it comes to writing. There's just getting it done.

One good thing about writing this way, is that by the time I get to the end, I have a pretty well written first draft. But if I've done that many edits on it, is it still a true first draft? Judging by the number of revisions I've made on one story in particular, I'd say yes. Because every time I think it's done, I find myself rewriting it. Again.

What about you? Do you power through or are you more of a writer/editor?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book App for iPhone Geeks

I've always been kind of a Mac geek, but I'll admit that since my husband gave me an iPhone for mother's day, my geekiness has reached new heights. I use my phone for everything. On our recent trip to New Mexico, I mapped all our routes on the phone, looked up authors and titles at the book store, checked on menu options for a restaurant we planned to visit, found a bike store, a place to get my son a haircut and a Sears where I could return a pair of boots I had bought online in California. And that was just on Saturday!

And the apps? Oh, the apps! Here's a new one, releasing today: Teen Book Finder. Designed to "enable access to the best literature for teens," the app is searchable by author, title, year and genre. And since it's a project of YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association), you can also search their database by award/list. Even better, a Find It! button, powered by WorldCat, will direct users to the nearest library where they can pick up the book. Pretty cool, eh?

No, it's not perfect. With it's focus on "the best literature for teens," a lot of indie and small publishers will not be listed. And it only covers titles released in the last three years. But hey, it's a start. Hopefully, other developers will see the potential and come up with similar apps that cover a broader base. You can read more about the app and it's development at An Android version will be released later this year.

What cool stuff are you geeking out about?
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