Merry Christmas Eve!

We're off to the Christmas Eve service tonight to hear our Dickens Carolers and then spend some time with family. The kids are rearranging all the presents under the tree and counting down till Christmas morning.

I hope you are having a lovely day, whether you're wrapping presents, finishing up work, last minute shopping, or visiting the pyramids in Giza like a friend of mine.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Time Is Here*

This is not an official "you won't hear from me till the new year" post, but more of a "it's entirely possible you wont here from me till the new year" post. ;) Something may jump out at me that I just have to tell you about. But *probably* I'll be wrapping presents, finishing knitting, taking pictures, mailing cards and all that.

And here is where I confess that no, I do not feel one little tiny smidge of Christmas spirit right now, despite the tree being up, the music being on, and downloading the Christmas version of Zombie Farm. (Haven't you??) I know a lot of people are saying that, blogging that, writing about that, and I know a lot of people will tell you to slow down and enjoy Christmas, but here is where I zig where the other's zag.

Don't worry about. I'm not. I have three kids. They come with lots of work, lots of stuff, lots of activities, despite my efforts to keep it simple. There's just A LOT! I've got presents under the tree, I've made cider, organized their parties, attended their concerts, Daddy is reading them A Christmas Carol, and I'm ok with being tired and a little stressed. Someday the Mystery Man won't throw a fit when I start the dishwasher without his help (or the dryer or the vacuum). Someday Boop won't beg me to paint her nails and Red won't walk around with her nose in Harry Potter bumping into walls because she can't see where she's going and I'll have more time to think, and more time to appreciate the season.

Right now, I'm appreciating the chaos.

So merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! I hope you get more sleep than I will. ;)

*Mystery Man has watched so much Charlie Brown around here, sometimes I only speak in Charlie Brown.

If Santa wore brass goggles...

What to my wondering eyes should appear today on Twitter, but a shopping list for the steampunk among us. Thank you, Tor/Forge, thank you! So I'm passing on my absolute favorites to you.

Some favorites... and you know, these things are hard to come by. You can't just buy a zeppelin cookie cutter at the mall. But...

You can buy it here!

Or perhaps steampunk alphabet blocks? The Mystery Man does have a birthday coming up...

Or a parasol?

But I think I went the most crazy over all of these little parts: clock faces, buttons, dragonfly charms, brass butterflies, clock arms...

Just, ah, don't buy *all* the paris clock face buttons, ok? Thanks! ;)

Word Count and Counting My Marbles

My blogging time has been a little hard to come by lately as my little Mystery Man is taking forbidden naps and staying up till midnight. I'm blogging during a nap right now. And it's 5:30pm my time. That is not good. So I'm not only tired, but fraying a little around the edges as I have had zero kid free time in... oh way too many hours to count.

But, I did want to pass on this fun tool for you in the meantime. It doesn't take too much mental acuity to post a link (or does it - we'll soon find out).

This little guy tells you the word count of any published book. That's right! No more googling "how many words is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone?" (77,325)

It's a little confusing looking. Just click on "Quiz Store" then type in your book, and select it from the list, and voila!

Editing and Outlining

I'm on page 100 of edits tonight - with 163 looming out ahead of me. The hard 163. ;) I think I said I was going to take a break, and I'm sure I'll look at it again after a break, but I'm jumping in with the things I know need fixing.

I'm also sketching out the next book. I love having a next book. A new idea makes the whole world seem more hopeful. I don't plan to talk much about it here, because I'm keeping most of my focus on my steampunk story, but I did want to share with you one of the photos I'm using as inspiration. Enjoy!

Steampunk art

Some pictures make me want to just jump inside. This is one of those pictures. Marisa Erven is a concept artist that makes art for games and cinema, and I've had the pleasure of chatting with her about what goes into her art. I'm always amazed at how similar the creative process is, no matter what the medium. We discussed giving and receiving critiques with almost exactly the same language- including words like "character" and "story".

I hope you enjoy looking through her site as I have!

In which she types, THE END

I've managed to fill in all the blanks, connect all the dots, move seamlessly from the first scene in the book to the last scene in the book which means that, yes, I'M DONE!

I will need to edit. I've done a lot of editing, but I have more to do, but still, I'm basking in the wonder that is a *finished* draft. WHEW!

Everybody needs a theme song

1) I think you all know I adore Jack Reacher. If you don't, then I've been remiss, and it's entirely possible that I've only discussed my devotion to all things Lee Child on Facebook.

2) Let's assume you *now* know that I love Jack Reacher. Moving on. I just heard the Zac Brown Band sing their new song, Colder Weather, with Amos Lee.

3) If you happened to miss the Country Music Award follow up show honoring the people that won, and really, how could you... I offer up this link.

4) You may swoon now.

Also on that show was Darius Rucker (you know how he hates to be called Hootie) and Adele singing that song by Lady Antebellum that I can't stand. Oh wait - you don't know about that either... I tend not to vent about about annoying country songs on my blog. It's called Need You Now, and it's about a girl who gets drunk, calls up her ex and tells him she misses him. Inspiring. I can't stand it.

Except when Darius Rucker and Adele sing it, and then suddenly it's fraught with meaning and emotional depth.

The lesson? It's all in the execution. A thought that scares me as a writer, because I've got lots of bright, shiny ideas, but they need to be done right. I think that's why artists go a little crazy sometimes, because they can see the gulf between the vision and the reality.

Unless you're Lady Antebellum and somehow go on to sell tons and tons of records, and maybe then you're fine with it. Or maybe not. Maybe it drives them crazy that Adele sings it better. But I don't mean pick on them. It's not really fair in a world that offers up Ke$ha... it's just that Adele hasn't sung any of her songs.


I tucked my big ten year old in a few hours ago and settled in with a cup of licorice tea (thank you, DH), a big cozy Mariner's blanket, and the Tivo remote on the sofa. I'm tired. Birthdays are tiring. Lots of baking, and shopping, and wrapping, and cleaning, and cooking again, and cleaning again, and keeping very excited little people as calm as can be expected from event to event.

I sat down thinking I was as tired as I could remember in a while... and then my mind flicked to the day ten years ago when my beautiful daughter was born. And I thought - there are deeper levels of tired. It was a long day - 21 hours of labor, an epidural that didn't work, back labor, and a sweet little baby that only whimpered when she finally saw the light of the OR room. I was afraid to hold her because I was so exhausted I was sure I'd drop her and I made them take her back - I still remember the look on the nurse's face. I know she thought I was a terrible excuse for a mother - already.

Later I heard a nurse whisper to my husband, asking if I was always this pale. I'm pale, he said, but not this pale. I heard whispers of losing too much blood. I stayed an extra day in the hospital and it probably should have been an extra week, and when I say I felt like I might die I'm not being facetious, I really thought my body would just give up. It was tired with a tinge of fear.

But, of course, I got better. It took weeks - years really, but I managed to do it again, two more times and get here, ten years later, sitting on the sofa with my tea and my Tivo and a basically whole body thinking that I'm tired because I stood on my feet all day and managed munchkins.

Which is fine. I'm not about guilt-tripping myself or anyone else. Tired is tired and I know I'll have more tiring days, and I'll need more tea and cozy blankets, but it made me wonder about the contrast. If I hadn't known that day giving birth (to the cutest red head on the planet) I wouldn't have a point of reference for today. This might be as tired as I thought people got. I would be at the pinnacle of being run down. And it made me think about who in the world, at this very moment, is exponentially more tired than I am, or even than I was.

It made me wonder when I'm hungry and I'm feeling a little light headed because I forgot to eat lunch or the gluten free bread was so awful I just gave up, I wonder who's really hungry right now. Or really scared and out of control -- more scared than I was ten years ago, and more out of control. Because you know on this globe someone somewhere is truly tired, and truly hungry, and truly scared. And I just said a prayer for them, and for myself to remember, not in a "oh you have it so good quit complaining" sort of way, because I'm a big fan of venting, but just to remember to use how I'm feeling as a trigger to think about the other people out there - like the me from ten years ago that would have given anything to be only this tired.

Happy Birthday, Red!!

Today my Red Head turns ten!

This is one of those days I'm sorely tempted to break the "I don't post pictures of my kids on my blog" rules, but then I'd need to repent of something or other because I'd be doing it so you could all oo and ah over what a beauty she is and I'm sure that's a slippery slope to gluing false eyelashes on her (not that she needs them, truly) and buying her sequins and being on a reality show about what a horrible stage mom I am. So I'll just say that I've been incredibly blessed with all of my children in many, many ways. One of them being the copper-gold hair I get to look at every day on my little Red. ;) And I've already bragged about her poetry...

I'm having a bit of trouble with the hi hat cupcakes - largely owing to not being able to find a hand mixer. I might go with the Barefoot Contessa's chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing for today. That wouldn't be such a horrible switch, would it?

**She loves steampunk, too, hence the steampunk birthday cake that can be found here. Please note that I did not bake her a steampunk cake... but the red velvet is bound to be delicious!

December Madness Begins

The frenzy that is December in my household has begun. It's my favorite month, and so I've subconsciously worked to squeeze nearly every important event into that month. I've got an anniversary (ok, I chose that one, but originally it was supposed to be September) and two kids birthdays. One of those was supposed to be January, but I involuntarily scrambled some eggs in a magic potion and now he's a December baby...

Anyway - I've got presents bought and wrapped for Red's birthday tomorrow. I ordered a cake, but somehow committed to baking treats for school tomorrow. I'm still not sure how that happened. The next couple of weeks will be a blur of Christmas concerts, holiday hula shows (because everyone does that, right?), Christmas parties, baking, shopping, wrapping, and trying to remember the real reason I'm celebrating *all* of it.

Here's a preview of the cupcakes I'm hoping to pull off for tomorrow*

Also, here's a fun link to the underground caves, dungeon, and apparently bowling alley found under Nottingham. Red really couldn't ask for a better birthday present than that. She's in love with both Robin Hood and archeology. And I'm pretty happy too, because now maybe she won't move to Egypt.

*Compliments of my friend Katrina, the brilliant baker, who inspires me with her recipes.