Thursday, September 30, 2010

Author Interview - Michael Grant

I had the opportunity to interview - via email - bestselling author Michael Grant. He wrote the Gone series and last month released the first of his new fantasy adventure series, The Magnificent 12 - The Call. He's written fiction for children for all different ages and shares some excellent insights about writing.

Q: How did you decide to write for younger kids after having written for teens in your Gone series?

A: I've actually gone back and forth a lot of times. My wife (K.A. Applegate) and I started in kidlit by ghostwriting for middle grade series like SWEET VALLEY TWINS. Then we wrote three YA series in a row. Then we did the ANIMORPHS series, which was middle grade. Most recently I've been writing the GONE series, which is YA. At each step people would ask whether it was hard to make the change.  The simple answer is:  nope.  It's all just making up stories.  That's what I do:  I make stuff up.  And amazingly, I get paid to do it.  

Q: How do you balance being relatable to kids with being an adult writer? There were a couple things in the book that I wasn't sure a 12 year-old would really get. 

A: The truth is I almost never think about genre or age level. GONE is dark and intense, THE MAGNIFICENT 12 is funny and less intense. But when I'm writing MAGNIFICENT 12 books I never, for example, dumb-down a joke because I think readers won't get it. I write whatever I think is funny, and some kids will get it, and some kids won't, and some adults will get it and others won't. I never condescend to readers, and I never make assumptions about readers that just because they may be 10 or 14 or 25. No offense to adult readers, but they miss a lot of things that kids get.  

I suspect a lot of adult readers think they have an edge over younger readers. It ain't necessarily so. Adults read an awful lot of Dan Brown or The Secret, while their kids are reading (Phillip) Pullman or Lois Lowry or Louis Sachar or (J K) Rowling. As a writer for kids I have the advantage of working for an audience that still has imagination and passion and a degree of idealism -- attributes in somewhat shorter supply in the adult readership.  Sometimes adults back-handedly deride what kids have as "innocence." It's not innocence, it's imagination.  

Q: What do you think is the key for creating a likable character? And what parameters do you use for the "bad guys" so they're not too scary? 

A: I think the key to a likable character is that he or she be real. Which may mean not being obviously likable.  In THE MAGNIFICENT 12, Stefan Marr is a bully. And not terribly bright. But readers like him. Probably because he's not working at being likable. In the GONE books people like Caine and Diana -- two rather horrible people -- precisely because they aren't safe and predictable and likable.  

I don't pull my punches with evil characters who I intend to be genuinely evil. In the GONE books Drake is an absolute psychopath. He enjoys hurting people. He's a murderer. Not nice. Not even a little. But of course in MAG 12 books, I'm doing humor.  I'm not looking to give anyone nightmares.

So I guess the answer is that I try to do exactly what I set out to do. If I set out to scare the reader then that's what I do, to the best of my ability. If I'm creating a more comic villain - say, Risky from MAG 12 - well, then I signal that she's evil, but she's not evil evil. Evil evil wouldn't be funny.

Q: Any advice to writers just starting out?

A: Write. Look, everyone will tell you to read a lot, and that's excellent advice. And you may want to read some of the books on writing, or take courses. But the best way to learn how to do something is to do it. Sit down and write something. Read it back, realize it sucks, and rewrite it until it doesn't. Unless you're some kind of prodigy your writing will be pretty lousy to start with. Your job is to "hear" what's lousy and figure out how to fix it. Do that over and over again. Keep writing and rewriting until you start to notice that your writing isn't entirely awful anymore. It's kind of like learning to ride a bike: you fall down a lot until you don't.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Featured Blogger - Natalie from Mommy of a Monster

Today's featured blogger, Natalie, can be found running around like a crazy person after her three little kids over at Mommy of a Monster (I mean toddler) & infant twins.

1. Tell us about yourself: Hi everybody! I'm Natalie, a 36 year-old stay-at-home mom to three. I have a 3 year-old son who goes one hundred miles per hour from the time he opens his eyes in the morning until the time he closes them at night. I also have 1 year-old twin girls who are as different as night and day, usually run in opposite directions to cause trouble, and keep me on my toes.

I'm a shy, quiet, reserved woman until you get to know me; then I'm loud, outgoing and I talk non-stop! I love everything about reading, gardening, cooking, my kids, my large, extended family, and wine! Since I stumbled into the world of blogging back in March, I have realized that I could never again live without writing. Though I'm far from calling myself "a writer", I'm working on it, one baby step at a time.

Prior to having kids, I worked in several managerial positions, specifically in human resources. Although some days I miss working outside of the home and the adult interaction, I wouldn't trade staying at home to raise my children for anything! This stay-at-home mom gig is the hardest job I've ever had, and in my last job, I worked for a boss we referred to as "Satan" working 65+ hours a week. These kids are much tougher to deal with than he ever was!

2. Give us a 30-second elevator pitch about your blog:  Mommy of a Monster(I Mean Toddler) & Infant Twins started as a place for me to capture the day-to-day chaos that comes with raising three kids under three to share with family and friends. It slowly has developed into my private retreat...a place for me to write about anything and everything. From being a mom to watching the kids grow and develop to memories of my childhood and family, nothing is off limits. I occasionally blog about my struggles with infertility and my battle with depression. I've been told that I write from a humorous angle. Well of course I do! If I don't laugh, I'll cry! Being at home with three young kids all day is enough to drive anybody crazy!

3. If you could be any literary character, who would it be and why?: This one is easy...Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyer. Although very tied to Rochester, she's strong and complex. She's courageous and bold (traits I admire). And she always wants and tries to do the right thing while also retaining her independence. She had flaws and was not always confident in herself, but that's what makes her so real and relatable.

4. If you could carve your name on a tree, what kind of tree would it be and why?: If I ever carved my name in a tree, I would want to carve mine and my husband's name (Natalie + Jason), but I guess that's beside the point. I would carve our names into a Japanese Maple. Although slow growing, the Japanese maple is beautiful, graceful and elegant; similar to the way our love has grown. But its trunk isn't always smooth and it does have some bumps, just like all relationships.

5. What animal does your husband look like and why?: 
I wouldn't say he looks like one, but the animal that reminds me the most of my husband is a dolphin. Before you laugh, let me explain! He loves the ocean. Dolphins are free-spirited, strong, intelligent, and love to be in groups (like a family). They always seem happy and carefree. Now I'm not saying my husband skips around with a big goofy smile on his face singing "Kumbaya" all day long, but he is a pretty laid-back guy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Red Writing Hood - Pictures

This week's meme is going to be something a little bit different.

Below you fill find two links to photos. Your assignment? Chose one. If you're a fiction writer, write a piece inspired by the photo. If you're non-fiction, write a piece on a childhood memory the photo inspires in you.

Remember, your post doesn't have to be a literal translation of the photo.

The link-up will be Friday. Hope you guys enjoy this change of pace!

Here are your choices:

Beating the Heat

Royal Ascot

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Calling all writers

We are always looking for content that is both interesting and practical. Truth is - and I know this will be a shocker - we don't know everything there is to know about writing.

We're learning, too.

So we're putting out a call for guest posters.

Here's how it'll work. If you're interested, and you have something to say about writing - the process, inspiration, useful advice for publishing, finding an agent, etc. - please submit your idea to us. You don't have to give us the actual post. Just send the idea and if we think it will work, we will contact you. And then we'll want the whole enchilada!

We hope you will find other voices helpful.

In other news, we've gotten questions about whether this is a fiction-only club. It is definitely not. In fact, for those of you who belong to the private blog, you've seen the non-fiction submissions.

We encourage all writers to participate. For the Red Writing Hood, we are going to have prompts for both fiction and non-fiction writers. We're going to try, anyway!

Thank you for your patience while we continue working to make The Red Dress Club a fab place to be.

Weekend linkup

Thank you to everyone who linked up for The Red Writing Hood, both regulars and newcomers. We had a fantastic time reading everyone's posts and hope you all had a chance to visit everyone, too.

On with it. Time to link up a favorite post. Happy weekend!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Red Writing Hood

Time to link up! This prompt was based on a kind of Mad Lib-ian (not to be confused with Mad Libyan!), fill-in-the-blank type thing. We can't wait to read We're I'm From.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Big changes, and an introduction

Red Dress Clubbers,

As you might have noticed, Ericka hasn't been around much.

There's a reason. She got a real (paying) job that's keeping her busy, along with her very active one year-old. And so she's decided to step down as co-host of The Red Dress Club.

I'm very sad, as Ericka brought a ton of energy, ideas and fantastic writing to our group.


I'm thrilled to announce a new host. Nichole from in these small moments has graciously agreed to come on board. She's an academic, but a down-to-earth one. And if you haven't read her blog, check it out - especially if you want to read beautiful prose, such as this one and this one.

Before I let her introduce herself, I want you to know I remain committed to growing and making this place even better. Nichole and I have some fabulous ideas. We want to hear from you, too. Please feel free to email or to leave your comments below and let us know if there's anything you'd like to see here. Know that we are working on getting you all into the private blog.

And now, here's Nichole:

When Cheryl invited me to join her here at The Red Dress Club, I thought that she was surely teasing me.  I kept waiting for her to say, “You didn’t really fall for that, did you?”

Once she assured me that she was serious, I felt like one of those contestants on The Price Is Right. You know the ones, the exuberant souls who run wildly to the stage, jumping up and down like they’re on fire?  Yeah, like that, complete with my “I LOVE The Red Dress Club” T-shirt.

That’s how excited I am to be here.

Until I had my children, I was an English professor and was passionate about my work.  Seeing my students grow and expand upon their skills and confidence fueled me.  The look in their eyes when they were successful, when they learned through the act of writing, energized me. 

The beauty of writing is so often found in the process itself, as opposed to the final product.  Both are important, of course, but the process, while hard work, is exhilarating. 

After staying home, focusing completely on my family, I came to recognize that I needed something more, something that was just for me.  I wanted to use my brain in those familiar ways.  I needed to write, to exchange ideas, and to grow.  To fulfill some of these needs, I began blogging in April of this year and it has brought me surprising fulfillment. 

But now, I’m ready for a bit more.  I yearn to be a part of a writing community, one that fosters creativity and growth.  I hope to share what I know and learn from you all.  I want to feed off that creative fire that can occur only in a group. 

Thank you, Cheryl, for this opportunity.  And I thank each of you for allowing me to join your group.  I’m eager to get started. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Featured Blogger - Nancy from Away We Go

Today's featured blogger can be found - with her papal son - over at Away We Go.

1. Tell us about yourself: I am presently a stay-at-home mother, although I call myself a "writer" when filling out school/medical forms. I was born in Arizona, which makes me the only person I know who dreams of a dirt-brown Christmas. 

Presently, I live in Maryland with my husband and two boys. We're a ten minute walk from the Chesapeake Bay. Despite my older son's pleading, I refuse to let him bring home dead fish or partially decaying Blue Crabs. I'm mean like that. 

When I'm not herding preschoolers, I enjoy running, yoga, reading, writing, and consuming coffee.

2. Give us a 30-second elevator pitch about your blog:  Away We Go is my place to ramble about motherhood, creativity, friendship, and food. It's funny, lovely, goofy, and imperfect---much like life itself. I don't blog to earn money or to develop an army of followers---I blog because there is nothing more joyful than living a perfect moment twice--in person, and on the page. 

3. If you could be any literary character, who would it be and why?: Besides Jessica Wakefield from Sweet Valley High? I suppose I am partial to Penelope from The Odyssey. Yes, she waits for Odysseus all those years, but she also keeps all those suitors in line without ever, ever, letting them gain control. She's crafty. Even when her long-lost husband returns, she makes him jump through a few hoops for her. I like that in a woman.

4. If you could carve your name on a tree, what kind of tree would it be and why?: I'm from Arizona, and therefore do not know the names of trees. Maple, Oak, Poplar? Couldn't tell the difference. So, I'll just say I would carve my name into a cactus, because a wise, prickly tree that has survived war, drought, lightening, and rednecks with rifles would certainly endure my pathetic, furtive carvings. 

5. What animal does your husband look like and why?: Oh, this is easy. My husband is a marathon runner. He looks like a stork. A lean, fast, prison-legged stork. I outweigh him on most days, and I weigh 138 pounds. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Red Writing Hood

This idea I stole after reading this post from The Never-True Tales. She linked to the writing prompt, and I've decided to do it for the Red Writing Hood this week. Be as creative with your answers as you want.

I hate to do this to you, I do, but please go to this link for the prompt. It's filling in words on a template to describe "Where I'm From." You basically will have to copy the template onto your blog (it's not hard!) and I also wanted you to read the explainer about it.

I think you guys will enjoy this - I'm excited to try it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Getting out of your comfort zone

Last week for our Red Writing Hood meme, Ericka asked us to write a fantasy story with the theme of forgiveness.

Judging from the lack of link-ups (five!), my guess is this was an area with which most of us didn't feel comfortable. Myself included, as I started and stopped, started and stopped, and ultimately didn't finish.

That's right. I gave up.

I haven't the first clue how to write fantasy. I went and visited all of you who did participate and I was so impressed by all the different directions you took.

I just really didn't know how to come up with something for my own post.

Fantasy? Is so not in my comfort zone. I don't read it (although some of my favorite childhood books are fantasy: James and the Giant Peach, Net to Catch War, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, even the Wizard of Oz).

But as an adult, I don't have any familiarity. I have no clue what makes a good fantasy book.

I didn't push myself. I gave it a good go, but in the end, I let it go.

I'm not proud of that. I think it's really important, as writers, for us to push ourselves. To challenge ourselves and try new things. Maybe it will even inspire us to go in new and unexplored directions within our own (more comfortable) writing.

Think about the times you tried new things in your life. Not with writing, but with anything. A new food, for instance. You were a little nervous, maybe, but once you tasted it? AAAAAAH! New doors opened.

Get over the intimidation factor. Because what's the harm? You're not getting graded. You won't get fired. So what if it sucks?  What if you hated that food you tried?

At least you gave it a shot. And now you know: it's not for you.

But you won't know for sure until you try.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

We're the Poop!

The Red Dress Club is being featured over at Scoop on Poop today as the Best Scoop of the Week. Come check us out!

Weekend linkup

Link up a favorite post of yours, and try to visit as many as you can. It's a great way to get to know each other and discover new blogs!

Also, the linky from the fantasy meme is still up if anyone (ahem, me?) hasn't done theirs yet and would still like to.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Red Writing Hood

Sorry for the delay!

Link up your fantasy stories!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Do you write children's stories?

There's a contest being run by Planet Fassa that looks pretty cool.

If you think you have a great kids story to tell, consider entering. The winner gets an Amazon Kindle (I LOVE my Kindle!) and a $100 Amazon Book Gift Card and their story will be published as an illustrated interactive book.

Here's what you need to do:

- Submit a working title (and subtitle, if desired) and a 300 word overview of your story (main plot, theme, lesson).
- You may submit more than one story (submit entries by September 25).
- Planet Fassa will review all entries and choose five (5) finalists on September 27, 2010.
- Finalists will then be asked to submit their complete story for a chance for the grand prize!

This doesn't give you much time, so get going! Enter here

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Featured Blogger - Kirsten from Nilsen Life

Today's featured blogger's lovely prose can be found at Nilsen Life.

1. Tell us about yourself: Hey Red Dress Club!  I'm Kirsten, a thirty-something-old person married to an extremely funny Norwegian, with three off-the-wall children. I have traveled all over the world, lived in 4 different countries, and have an accent that's an odd blend of all of this, with topnotes of Baltimore.  I love to read, love to scrawl long letters to be mailed overseas, and love my kids (8, 5 and 2) to distraction.  I do all sorts of sports, but am no natural athlete. I am funny, but sometimes get a little intense by accident. (Sort of like those small dogs that pee when they get excited.)  I'm a writer, and yet I'm still waiting for the day when I resist the urge to hit backspace 13 times whenever I type out the phrase "I'm a writer."  I am a blogger by accident: the ol' Blogger site was created to show friends & family overseas photos of the offspring.  Then, as I started to emerge from the comatose fog of Baby 3, I found I had a lot going on in my head, and my ever-patient husband was becoming increasingly unwilling to stop organizing his sock drawer to listen to my complicated trains of thought.   I found myself hogging the keyboard more and more often, and he finally found himself relegated to occasional guest-poster.  

2. Give us the 30-second elevator pitch about your blog:  NilsenLife is about writing - I write because I have to, and I am way more comfortable with wordy-nonfiction than terse poetry. I'm an observer of both absurdity and complexity: my favorite posts are those that combine both. I write about life, love, and trying to find a path leading to Simple.  Often I find the smallest things that happen in my day-to-day life lead me to thoughts about the Big Picture, and I try to blog about these happy accidents.  It is a blog about Faith - not only mine, but the kind of Faith that is possible for all of us to claim, regardless of creed or calling.  But sometimes I just blog about dirty jokes and getting hit on by the guys at Trader Joes.

3. Who is your favorite literary character and why?: Lizzie Bennett from Pride and Predjudice, because, well, how can she not be every thinking woman's favorite?  But on dark days, I tend a little more towards Mrs Dalloway, and equally, on the happiest days I lean towards Jo March of Little Women.  

4) If you carved your initials on a tree, what ree would it be and why?: Now, what do you mean IF I could carve my initials into a tree? Ahem. IF I were to do it today, it would be in a white birch tree, as it's speckled, mottled bark evokes such strong childhood memories of tiny birch canoes crafted by my brother for his plastic army guys,  as well as instant associations with Scandinavian forests and midsummer nights. I'd want to be part of that continuum of memories and evocations.

5) What animal does your husband look like?: Let me just say, I'm not an animal lover.  I mean, I don't hate animals.  I would most definitely open up a can of whoop-ass on any child being cruel to animals. But animals and I.... well, we respect each other from a distance.  So I don't tend to think of my guy in animal terms, typically.  But, to answer your question, I would love to say my husband looks like a bear, because his name - Torbjorn - means, literally, God of Thunder and Bear. (Of course on hearing this my brothers instantly nicknamed him Thunderbear.  Neither Torbjorn or I thought that was particularly cute. Anyway.)  After almost sixteen years together, I'd have to settle on him looking most like.... an American buffalo. Yep.  A bald one (which is really some mental image.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Red Writing Hood

Let's think outside the box again and of course by "let's think outside the box" I mean "it's time for Ericka to torture you all and if you don't like it then tough cookies".  I know my strong points when it comes to writing and a fantasy buff I'm certainly not.  So why don't we try to write a morality tale based on forgiveness but written with the fantasy genre in mind - create a whole new world comprised of supernatural phenomenon.

Easy, right?  Bwahahahahaha!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Book or Not a Book

I came across this post at It's about how you know if your idea is a book - or instead, if it's an essay or a magazine article or a short story.

Do any of you struggle with this?

I have a lot of ideas. I mean, a LOT. And yet, I don't know if any of them can be flushed out enough to cover 200-300 pages. Or, whether they SHOULD be.

The post talks about the idea of a universal theme. Is it relatable? Is it larger than just one person's experience?

Because when you're writing a novel, a cigar can't just be a cigar. It also needs to contain the meaning of life.

Okay, not really, but you get my drift.

It's also crucial to have passion for your idea, and obviously for writing. Because you're going to be spending much of your day if not writing, then in thinking about writing. Not everyone can pop books faster than you can say "Stephanie Meyer." So to be in it for the long haul, make sure it's a labor of love.

And you must really, really have the need to tell this story - and not because you want to be, well, the next Stephanie Meyer when it comes to commercial success. How can you be authentic otherwise?

So I'm wondering what YOUR moment was, when you realized your idea was, in fact, right for a book.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend linkup

Got something you want everyone to see? I'm talking about a favorite post, people - what were YOU thinking?

Red Writing Hood

Time to link up those lovely letters to your younger self!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Featured Blogger - Kerri from Kerri's Klutter

1) Tell us about yourself.

Talking about myself makes me incredibly anxious. I have always dreaded new hire orientations because you can almost guarantee that there will be a round the table tell us a little about yourself discussion.

Until recently I used to think I feared it so much because I'm by nature, a very quiet and private person.

The truth of the matter is I am much better at writing then talking.

In general I am 32 years old; I've been married for 8 years and am a Mommy to two little boys ages 4 and 2. Besides being the household manager at home I have also worked on the weekends as a receptionist for the last 4 years and am now also taking on an early morning job helping a mother get her young ones on the school bus.

I am addicted to coffee, making lists and planning. I love karaoke, dancing and my lap top. I enjoy cooking, baking and grocery shopping.... alone. I dislike expectations, assumptions and people who wave you on at a 4-way stop even when it's not your turn to go.

I pretty much always cry when I get really angry, my boys making each other laugh always makes me smile and even though I say I can't stand being busy I think I secretly thrive when I am.

Life is disorderly so I blog in an attempt to organize it.

2) Give us a 30-second "elevator pitch" telling us what your blog is about.

Kerri's Klutter began as a personal journey to write honestly about life, to convey true feelings and relate to others. We all have things we're working on, dealing with, and growing from, all too often clutter gets in the way, clouds our judgment and confuses our direction. At Kerri’s Klutter it’s about not having all the answers and being okay continuing to look for them. Kerri's Klutter is where being a work in progress is not only accepted but expected.

3) Who is your favorite literary character and why?

One of my favorite books and one I always recommend is "She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb.

Dolores Price is a woman who simply struggles to live.

She survives her life with fierceness, determination and perseverance.

She is a little bit of every woman; I have ever met, including myself.

4) If you could carve your initials on a tree, what kind of tree would you pick and why?

My parent’s house, where I grew up, has a few beautiful white birch trees that I used to play under. When I was little I always pretended I was a Mommy because back in those days I was certain I never actually would be one. I remember I would sit at their knobby bases peeling the paper from their trunks and I would talk to my pretend husband and order my pretend children to finish their dinners.

Looking back I don't know if I ever carved my initials there underneath the drooping branches that I would sometimes pull down and weave into pretend diamond necklaces around my neck.

If they don't exist already I would carve them there now with my non-pretend children’s initials right underneath.

5) What animal does your husband look like and why?

What animal does he look like? Are you trying to get me in trouble here or what?!?

Oh my.

What attracted me to my husband was his eyes so I went in search of an animal that had similar eyes. I probably spent way too much time clicking through photos but I think I found it.

And, it's husband approved!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Red Writing Hood

Epistolary novels work as a concept because they are a series of documents (often letters) written to reveal a story.  Let's try and give this a go, shall we?  For this week write a serious letter to your younger self. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Weekend linkup

It's the weekend. The last weekend of summer. Unless your kids don't start school for another week.

But enough about me. This is about you! Your favorite post - link up!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Red Writing Hood

It's that time! Link up your post from the perspective of a broken inanimate object. Try your best to read and comment on some of the posts!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Writer's Envy

My last post I wrote about writing anxiety, the feeling that the walls will cave in if you don't write but ironically enough, seems to creep up at the most inconvenient times, namely when putting pen to paper is out of the question.

This week I want to talk about envy.

Jealousy can easily creep up on an unassuming writer.  You've just written the best story in your life.  You have proof of this because your mother can't stop talking about it.  So you're attending a creative writing work shop, writers group, etc. when it happens: the chick on your right reads her stuff and it's good.

It's way better than yours.

I figure there's one of two things you can do in this situation: 1) rip up your work, throw it in the air and storm off, claiming you'll never write again OR 2) take notes.

I don't know if you've realized this yet, but I'm not the best writer in the world.  I know, shocking.  Truth be told, I have A LOT to learn about the craft and I do so by reading my fellow writers and taking note of their strong points.  For example, I'm so-so at story line.  Now if you want me to set a scene or develop a character, you'll get your money's worth.  Allowing the characters to live their life in a creative fashion that will capture my audience is a whole other animal.  But fortunately, I have many opportunities to study the ways people move seamlessly from one scene to the other whether it be from reading a novel to critiquing my fellow members of The Red Dress Club.

Envy can be stifling in any situation.  It can make you doubt yourself and waste your time wishing you were better than you are.  But envy can also be the kick in the rear you need when mired in mediocrity.  After all, we all have room to grow.

Have you suffered from writer's envy?  In what ways have used it to your advantage?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Featured Blogger - Kristy from Pampers and Pinot picked lucky #4 from the Red Writing Hood linkup last Friday. And it's Kristy from Pampers and Pinot. We asked her five questions:

1.  Tell us about yourself. 

Following the birth of my son, I desperately needed a creative outlet that was my own.  I have always had dreams of being a writer, but would lament about never having any time for it being a full-time working mother.  I was up-and-down with my feelings about pretty much everything in my life – including my job, my role as a mother and wife, and even my leisure time.  I was a bit lost.  I began to blog.  I now call myself a writer and have concrete goals for my future as a writer.  Not to sound dramatic or wax poetic – I do not intend to say – “I was saved by blog” – but once the writing muscles were exercised and the creative juices began to flow, I started to enjoy everything in my life a little more.  I was following my passion and that made everything sweeter.

I love to laugh, write, and drink wine (not necessarily always in that order).  I love my hub and my bub (also known as the little maniac, among other names).  Sometimes, I mask my fears and anxieties with humor.  And then I hope others have enjoyed my sense of humor.  I walk a thin line of self-deprecation and self-preservation.  Don’t we all?  Or is that just me??  There, now you have a glimpse into my neuroticism as well.

I suppose a typical “About Me” would include some of the other following facts: I am a 34 year-old married mother to one (yes, only one).  I am a school psychologist in Colorado Springs and love my job more and more every year.  I’ve been married for 11 years and love to torment my husband on a daily basis.  I dearly love my small family and extended family.  I have enjoyed living in Arizona, Iowa, and Colorado.  If I could do anything right now, I would be on a beach in Mexico with my family.  So far, I have loved getting older.  If I could eat cheese in great quantities with no consequences, I would.  I am fiercely loyal.  I have an insatiable need for relaxation.  I have a hard time turning my mind off.  Can you tell?

2.  Elevator pitch – describe your blog in 30 seconds.

My blog is a testament to the idea that Supermom is a myth.  None of us is perfect.  The more we embrace that idea, the more comfortable we’ll be mothering from our own hearts.  I want to connect with others, have a good hearty laugh, and RELAX about this thing we call motherhood.

Above is what you could call an “elevator pitch” for my blog.  I would just like to explain that I have described my main purpose for my blog and the reason why I started it.  It has now evolved to include pieces of writing that expand beyond the above “pitch.”  When writing, I aim to be a STORYTELLER.  My hope is that my writing reminds people that we are all awkward in our silly, amazing HUMAN-NESS.  Life happens all around us and is never short of surprising us with SOMETHING, anything…unexpected.  Life is right around the corner just waiting to be seen.

3. If you could be a literary character, who would you be and why?

I would be PRINCESS LEIGH-CHERI from Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins.  I love Tom Robbins because he PLAYS with words.  (Tom Robbins is the author of other great works like Jitterbug Perfume and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.)  Because Princess Leigh-Cheri may not be a popular choice, here is an excerpt of her stream of consciousness in the beginning of the book:

“I’m a princess,” she reminded herself, with a minimum of conviction, “a princess who grew up in a blackberry patch near Seattle, who’s never so much as set a tennis shoe in the nation where her royal blood was formed, a princess who doesn’t know diddly squat about princessing, a princess who’s behaved like a twit and a twat; who’s been well, disappointed in men and romance, who’s a bit confused, who’s got a lot to learn, but a princess, after all; just as fucking much as Caroline or Anne, and although in the last quarter of the twentieth century the very idea of royalty may seem artificial, archaic, and somewhat decadent, I insist on my princess-hood because without it I’m just another physically attractive woman with that I-went-to-college-but-it-didn’t-do-me-any-good look and nothing much to offer anyone.  If I’m lost as a lover, I’m still right here as a human.  I feel the pain of humanity inside me, in my tummy, about eight inches above the peachfish.  Whether I’m unduly sensitive to this pain because I’m a princess-could the whole world be the pea under my mattress?-I don’t know, but because I’m a princess, I might be able to do something to help lessen humanity’s pain…”

This girl ends up having ADVENTURES, and I love it.

A close second and third would have to be the Star from Stardust by Neil Gaiman (because, well, she is a STAR that has fallen from the sky, and she is witty and wildly independent) or Ada from Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (because she likes to play with words as well).

4.  If you could crave your name into a tree, what tree would it be and why?

If I carved my name in a tree, it would be to tell it that it’s mine.  It would know that I would return.  It would know that I would come again and so would my son.  We plan on moving into a home surrounded by forest soon.  I will choose a tree and circle our initials with a heart.  Pine or aspen will do.  It will know that it is part of our home and part of our family.

5.  If your husband was an animal, what would he be and why?

When I was first thinking of the answer to this question, I thought of things like gazelles and horses – things with strong legs that run and keep running amidst obstacle.  You are amazed by their strength and grace.  And you also know that a gentle heart likely resides within.

I asked my husband, “If you were an animal, what would you be?”

He quickly replied, “A mountain goat.”

So, there you go.  But I would have chosen something with a little more…strength, and beauty, and grace.