Friday, January 20, 2012

A Date! A Date!

No, not with St.Matt – though we'll be going out tonight to celebrate.

This is a date YEARS in the making. Years and so many pages and hours and words.


READY? (and, by ready, I mean: do you have your calendar out and pen uncapped? Or, more likely, do you have your calendar app open and your thumbs poised to type?).

Sounds like a pretty good date, doesn't it?

*Things that make it even better? I get to share a release date with one of best friends in the world – Emily Hainsworth.

** Info on release parties and such will be forthcoming, but, seriously we've got some time. Even uber-planners like me don't have all the details hammered out 37 weeks early.

***If you don't want to miss any updates, make sure you *Like* my Facebook page 

****Shamrock border from:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Concentrated Doses -- In Memory of Morgan

I met Morgan years before she was a name on my roster. I met her, unofficially, in the hallways of the elementary school where I taught because her older sister, Taylor, was in my class. These meetings were a shy wave and sweet smile on a little blonde peanut. They continued even after Taylor had graduated and moved on to middle school.

And then there was the June day I got my class list for the following September and saw that Morgan would be mine for an entire year. Which meant I got another year with her mother, too. For everyone who's met Jill, you know this was a bonus treat—though teaching either of the Mysza girls was its own reward; both are the type of polite, respectful, diligent, and kind student that you wish you could clone.

It was the spring that she was in my class when Morgan found out her brain tumor was growing. That it was malignant. This was the week the students came back from their spring break and I remember standing in my classroom after hearing the news. The kiddos were in art—and I just stood. Took a reflexive sip from the travel mug in my hand and then couldn't remember how to swallow the coffee that was growing bitter in my mouth. I spat it out in the sink.

For about a week Morgan, one of her best friends, and I were the only three people in that classroom who knew she was ill. Her friend and I cried. Pretty constantly. We'd excuse ourselves, or I'd find a reason to face the board for an extra few seconds before I turned around to face the class again.

When she was there that week, Morgan smiled. She laughed. She did her school work, and joked and chatted with friends. She continued to be the sunshine she was.

It was courage like I've never seen. This peanut with more composure in her pinky finger than I had in all of me.

Her attendance was patchy from then to graduation—dependent on her treatment schedule and how her body reacted to treatment. But when she was in the room, it was a different place—a better place. A happier place. A place full of tiaras, since that's how my class—both boys and girls—decided to honor her.

She was one student amid a group of 26, but she was the cornerstone of that class. When she wasn't there, we were thinking of her. When she was there, we wanted to be around her and soak up her presence.

Morgan was a keeper, and in the years after graduation she didn't leave my life. She never left my thoughts. I'd decided the day I heard her diagnosis that if the book I was working on at the time—one I hadn't even finished yet—were ever to be published, I'd dedicate it to her. Send Me A Sign and finally sold last spring and will be published next October.  I'll never forget Morgan's excitement and enthusiasm when I told her about the dedication: "That sounds amazing. I can't wait to read it!" And I'll always regret that she'll never get that chance.

I'm sitting here right now on the night she passed away, cycling through all my memories of her and trying to make sense of it. Needing to make sense of it. Knowing there's no way to make sense of it.

Why take her—someone so young, so brave? Someone who unified a community and brought out the best in people. If my words aren't enough, check out the more than five thousand people who have supported her Team Morgan page. Sending prayer from around the country and around the world.

My heart is broken. And in my mind's need to find logic in the illogical, all I keep coming back to is concentrated doses. That some people live their lives in concentrated doses. Morgan was one of those people. She may only have had fourteen years, but her impact in the lives of others cannot be measured. Cannot be matched by many who lived a lifetime of a hundred. I was lucky to have known her, privileged to have been her teacher and her friend.

She is beloved. She will be missed. But more than that, she'll be remembered.

And when I remember her, it will be with a smile.


I am writing.

My mother-in-law is watching the twins and I am writing.

I'm writing out of my house. Out of my pajamas. And without one eye on the baby monitor.

I know this is a little bit a so what? How is that a big deal? Except it is for me. It's the first time I've done this in the fourteen months they've been mine.

Recently I commented on a handful of writer friends' New Years blog posts about my goal for the year: Focus, I said.

Which inspires a little bit of a *gigglefit* because Focus and I have never been friends. Just ask my parents or twelve years of teachers. Or the legions of Distraction Fairies who are always willing to pluck my attention away from the task at hand and lead me on a wild goose hunt—let's make cookies, organize the spice rack, is the mail here?, I should write a letter to my great aunt, did I finish Christmas thank you notes, oh! I meant to put the boys' photos in a new photo book. Let's Google ideas for formats. Let's Google character names. Let's open the WIP. Is there any coffee left?

What was I saying again?

Oh, yes, Focus!

I've long since accepted that I'm a Distraction Fairy magnet and I'm never going to rewire my brain to think in a linear fashion. But, what I can do is Focus on a task while doing it. While reading books with The Schmidtlets, I'm not going to worry about laundry or my word count. While spending time with Saint Matt, I'm not going to obsess about the length of our to-do list. When sitting at my computer during precious naptime, I will stay off the Interwebs and make the most of that time with my WIP.  While on the phone with friends, I'm going to be less multi-tasky. The toys can stay on the floor for another few minutes and I can give all my energy over to listening. 

And now, while sitting in this coffee shop, I will appreciate the baby-free writing time, stop calling to check-in every few minutes, and FOCUS on the words on the page in front of me.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Feeling Apocalyptic

I was lucky enough to spend the moment 2011 gave way to 2012 at a wedding surrounded by friends and in formal wear. I'd almost, almost made it to 12 o'clock in my heels.

But when the countdown hit one and people cheered and toasted and kissed, the moment felt extra, extra exciting. And not just because of St.Matt's midnight kiss.

It's 2012.

SEND ME A SIGN comes out in October 2012. So, this means it's FINALLY my publication year.  How could that not add an extra sizzle to the ball-drop countdown?

Yesterday, when The Schmidtlets woke us up after not nearly enough sleep—5 a.m., really? Couldn't they tell we only got to bed at 2?—I had another  moment of IT'S MY YEAR.
In which The Wild Imp says: Who needs sleep? And check out my cute Apocalypsie shirt? Auntie Em gave it to me.

I know that realistically, 1/1/2012 is only ONE day nearer to October than 12/31/2011, but it feels so much closer. And I've always valued feelings more than facts.**

So, Happy Twenty-Twelve!

And while you're waiting for October, do what I plan to do — keep yourself distracted by reading fabulous books by all the other Apocalypsies.

In which The Pip Squeak says: Go read Apocalypsie books RIGHT NOW!

What a fabulous year it's going to be!
In which The Schmidtlets demonstrate how 2012 has shoved 2011 out of the way and The Wild Imp goes splat.

*This is what we've agreed to call it, right? Not Two Thousand and Twelve?
**Much to the dismay of my sainted engineer.