Listen to the Mustn'ts, child, listen to the Don'ts.
Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts.

Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.

-Shel Silverstein

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dives and Diners of Lehi

We moved to Lehi about 6 months ago. We are only 20 miles from our old house but we may as well be half way around the world.

Nothing is the same around here. And I mean nothing. Sure, there is an Olive Garden but the bathrooms are on the left of the lobby instead of the right and their booths are green instead of brown. Its all very disorienting. It makes me homesick.

So, being a three-day weekend we decided to have a "Stay-cation" and visit a few new restraunts we have seen around town. We tried 3 places and all three were colossal disappointments. Our Dine Around Lehi felt a little something like this...

Delicious, right? I only wish I were joking.

Anyway, despite the bad food and ambiance we had a great time with our family.

I spent some time writing my synopsis and working on my 15 pages for the upcoming WIFYR Conference. My synopsis looks and feels a little like this...

But at least I got some words on the page and that is half the battle. Synopsis are hard. You have to give a summary of your entire book in 1 to 3 pages. Which wouldn't be that hard if you had already written the book and knew how it ended. But trying to work out the entire book in your head and write an interesting summary can be hard. But I managed.

Now...for the revisions! Revision is a glorious thing. Nothing is ever beyond fixing. There is always a chance to delete, improve and embellish. I only wish life were that forgiving!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Censorship Sucks

I received an email this week that the 15 pages of my new novel are due June 4th. PLUS...a 1 page and a 3 page synopsis of the novel. I am a little freaked out by the synopsis part. I've never written a synopsis, let alone a 3 page one that is interesting.

Guess what I will be doing with my Memorial Day weekend? It should be a nice break from cleaning my doggie-floors!

This week I have been thinking a lot about censorship.

I used to be very open, bold even, in my blogging. I used to LOVE blogging. But I received a lot of criticism, enough that I stopped blogging altogether for a few years because, if I couldn't say what I really thought/meant/wanted...what was the point?

I am finding that is true with my writing as well. I am worried about who will read it and what they will think, that they will frown upon me because I am too...me. Because "Me" is not like anyone else around. Not even close.

I have wanted to quit writing altogether because of self-censorship. It is hard to hang one's metaphorical heart on one's sleeve and keep from being made a fool in the process. In fact, I daresay it's impossible. I am trying to write my entire new manuscript without using one swear word or edgy, inappropriate theme. And I'll be honest. It ain't easy.

The real question is--am I brave enough to keep writing AND stop the self-censorship?

I don't know if I am. I can see myself getting published and then being ridiculed beyond what I can handle. How dare I write books for young adults that are truthful and raw and still call myself a "good person"?

They tell me to change what I think, say and write and then they will accept me. Did they ever think that perhaps it's not me that has the problem? But it doesn't matter. I'm still the one that has to live with it.

Censorship sucks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Birthday Dilemmas

I am blogging from Ontario, Canada. I will be traveling here two or three more times this summer so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

This week I am having a motherly dilemma. Thing 1 is having a birthday next week. Want to know what she has asked for?

1. An iPhone
2. A plane ticket to Austin Texas to visit her cousins
3. A pair of roller-skate shoes
4. A disco light
5. A razor and shaving cream

We usually keep birthdays very small—just a small gift from each member of the family. Most of you would look at this list and laugh at me, as you should, and tell me the answer is simple.

But let me explain my dilemma...
1. I want her to have an iPhone so she will STOP using mine! And, we are in the process of renegotiating our contracts so it would be relatively feasible to get her one. Except Daddy has insisted he is higher up the iPhone food-chain than she is so Option 1 is out.
Plus. Come on. An iPhone for a 10 year old? I can’t bring myself to do it.
2. I would love to send her to visit my sister. In fact, I would love to go with her. I think that is an awesome birthday present. And, thanks to my travel for work, I have enough frequent flyer miles to buy her a ticket.
But just because I have enough miles…should I? Is that too extravagant? Shouldn’t I save those miles for a family vacation instead?
3. I hate roller-skate shoes. The dog running around my hardwood floors is bad enough. Roller-skates? No.
4. A disco light? Seriously? Where am I supposed to get one of those? And…ew.
5. A razor? Heaven help me. She needs to, don’t get me wrong. She is starting to notice and getting self conscious so I can’t put it off much longer.
What is a mother to do? I have a bad habit of overindulging my children. I want them to have things. I do. But I’m afraid this time it’s gone too far.

I think we will end up with a razor, shaving cream and…WHAT?

Please give me some ideas!

I know. How about a Diet Pepsi and a kick in the butt?
There. It’s settled.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dog Dayz

Several months ago my kids suckered me into getting a puppy. My husband and I hate dogs. We vowed, at the alter, we would never have a pet.


And yet, somehow there is a mangy dog living in my brand new house.

I overlooked the accidents, because she was a baby.
I overlooked the chewing, because she was teething.
I overlooked a lot of things, because.

Ben keeps asking me what she gives in return. To which, I answer...

Um. She's cute? And she stink? And she has nasty dog breath and jumps all over me? She is always in the way? She costs lots of money? She gets my floors all dirty?

Yeah. That's what she gives in return.

So far, the only benefit I can see is that my yard is going in much faster because of her.

Today she crossed a line. Today she chewed a hole through my very best, my very expensive area rug.

So, she is grounded today while we debate her future. I am hiding in my room, enjoying a dog free morning, working in my warm cozy bed, watching daytime television, listining to the rain, and writing.

What could be finer?

Oh yeah, not having a dog.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Discouragement and Perspective

Discouragement is a disease that has touched all of us at one time or another. For me, it takes many forms…

It’s a rejection letter

It’s a bad day at work

It’s a harsh word from a loved one

It’s an ungrateful child

It’s a pair of running shoes sitting in the bottom of a closet, taunting you

It’s bad things that happen to good people

It’s bad things that happen to you

It’s a pair of jeans that are just a little too tight

It’s a sleeve of Oreo’s and a half gallon of ice cream

It’s a dirty house

It’s a sink full of dishes

It’s a dirty dog

It’s an unfinished project

It’s an empty bank account

It’s an unwritten story

How do we overcome discouragement when it’s so prevalent, up in our grills 24/7/365? I believe who we are as a person is a function of what we do in the face of discouragement. Life will never change, it’s our perspective when life happens that defines us.

Last night, I came home from work and felt sorry for myself. I stuffed my face with comfort foods, laid on my bed and watched TV, slept, left the house, children and dog to themselves, and wallowed.

Today, I am ashamed that I let the little things in life get the best of me.

Today, I won’t let that happen again.
Will you?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Creating Things...It's How We Roll

After following my own advice, I finally finished my retaining wall.

Isn't it beautiful? There is something to be said for creating something yourself, with your own hands. Thing 2, my 8 year-old, decided she wanted to learn how to create pancakes all by herself. So, with a sophisticated recipe in hand, she did just that.

That's how we roll at our house. We create things. Now, keep in mind--we aren't creative, but with a good formula and a little instruction, we know how to create.

The same can be said of writing. Most people are crippled with the idea of writing because they don't feel creative. You don't have to be creative to write, you simply need to have a desire to create.

If you have ever thought of writing, open that blank Word Doc on your computer, dust off that journal and start. There are many great books and websites available to help you along your journey if that's your thing. But it's not necessary. The most important part of the creation formula is merely to do it. To start.

Here's to pancakes and brick walls. Here's to writing a novel.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How Building a Wall is Like Writing

I tried to build a retaining wall in my backyard yesterday. It took me about fourty-five minutes and looked something like this…

I realized I don’t know the first thing about retaining walls. Just like I don’t know the first thing about writing a book! But, here are five things I have learned about writing, as taught by Amateur Landscape Hour.

The Foundation is the Most Important Part

I couldn’t even begin to start on the rest of the wall until I had the foundation blocks in place. The foundation of your story is the beginning, middle and end, the Conflict, the Character’s Emotional Arc. All those components must be thought out and solidified before you can even begin to write your story. Some people can vomit words on a page, one after another, and have a book at the end of it. I don’t operate that way. I have to think out the basic core foundation of my story before I begin the word vomit.

Take Your Time

I was in too big of a hurry with my wall and as a result, it was crooked and uneven with gaps all over the place. As with writing, I have learned if you are too rushed, too worried about your word or page count, too worried about finishing to care about what you put into it, the finished product will suffer. It will be very evident that you didn’t take time along the way where it mattered.

Do Your Homework

You can save yourself a lot of rework if you simply do a little leg work to begin with. If I had asked some questions, if I had taken accurate measurements, if I had bothered to check my work along the way I wouldn’t have ended up with a wall that looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Tear it Down and Start Over If Needed

Because I didn’t take my time. Because I didn’t focus on the foundation. Because I didn’t do my homework, I now have to tear down my wall and start over. And you know what? That’s okay. Rework is an important part of getting things right. I am learning that with INSIDIOUS, thanks to the agent critique I received a few weeks ago. Sometimes starting over is the best solution. You can never, never, never be so attached to something you’ve written that you aren’t willing to scrap it and start over.

Don’t Give Up

I could leave my wall the way it is and live with mediocrity because it’s okay. It’s not great, but it’s okay. I don’t know about you—but I don’t want my work to be just okay. I want it to be great. Something I am proud of. And because of that, I can’t give up. You can never give up improving; trying to build your story and make it the best, strongest story you can write. Just like I can’t give up on my sad little wall, I can’t give up on my sad little book.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Last year, when we decided to move, I spent weeks I decluttering our old house and packing boxes. Then I settled us into our temporary house in about 24 hours flat. Then I spent 6 months meeting with contractors, running errands, checking on the job, picking out colors—everything that goes into building a new house. When the construction was finished, we spent several more weeks getting settled. I wouldn’t let a soul rest until everything, even the garage, was put away and every last picture was hung.

I was a woman possessed.

Before I changed jobs last May, I was working 80-100 hours a week and I was on the road about half of my life. I thrived on the deadlines and the work. You know…until I had a mental breakdown.

Last November, I got a burr up my kiester and decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. I finished the book that I had been working on for the prior 22 months. It was incredible.

How did I do all that? How did was I so busy and yet utterly happy with it all? How was I able to accomplish so much?


That’s how.

And now? The house is settled, I have a new job that barely requires a solid 40 hours a week and I am completely and utterly bored. I can’t seem to find my MOTIVATION.

I need my motivation more than ever right now. I have committed to write a second book and run a half marathon with my sister.

But alas, I am finding it hard to train.
I am finding it hard to write.
I am finding it hard to go to work.
I am finding it hard to clean the house.
I am finding it hard just to get out of bed in the morning.

Do any of you ever feel that way? Of course you do. I know I’m not alone in this. What do you do to stay motivated? I’m the kind of person that requires a life event, some kind of drama or goal, to motivate me. I’m a sprinter. I sprint for a short period of time and then fizzle out. The problem is, life isn’t always full of drama or big events. Sometimes it’s the same thing, over and over, for weeks, months, even years!

How blah.

I feel like an old man looking forward to the mailman each day so he has a reason to get out of his chair, walk to the mailbox, and hope for something exciting only to be disappointed with a pile of “Resident” mail and bills.

So how? HOW do we find motivation when there is no external force pushing us? How do we create motivation out of nothing other than what we have inside?

Here’s how. We get over ourselves, pull up our big girl panties and just do it.

Shel Silverstein, my favorite poet, said…

All the woulda-coulda-shouldas
Layin’ in the sun,
Talkin’ bout the things
They woulda-coulda-shoulda done…
But those woulda-coulda-shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little did.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a woulda-coulda-shoulda.

I’m a DID.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Writer's Block

I have been suffering from writer’s block since last November when I finished INSIDIOUS. Today I finally Googled writers block and found some helpful information from About.Com “Getting the Best of your Writers Block” by Ginny Wienhardt.

Ginny suggested a way to overcome writers block was to think of writing as a regular job, and less of an art. If she only knew what kind of an artist I am…

Wienhardt had a few other suggestions, which I have decided to try.

1. Have a schedule, and stick to it.

I will write sometime between sun-up and sun-down on someday of the week.


2. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Camille Ballou, you are good enough, you are smart enough, and doggonnit, people like you. You don’t in fact suck rotten eggs.


3. Don’t panic.

Oh no! Oh no! Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no!!! I can’t think of anything to write. My mind is blank, my creativity is goo and has leaked out of my ear and into my hair. Ew! Ew! Ew! Get it off of me!!


4. Take time off

Uhhh, yeah. Check, check and check.

5. Set deadlines and keep them.

During said hours of sun-up and sun-down I will write 1,000 words a day on some 5 days a week.


6. Examine any deep-seated issues

Made an appointment with a therapist.


7. Work on more than one project at a time.

Putting in a yard. Training a new puppy. Mopping.


8. Try writing exercises.

There once was a girl from Nantucket...


9. Get away from the desk for a while.

Desk? What desk? I write in my lap. Can I get away from my lap for awhile? I’d love to. Does that mean liposuction can now be a write off?


10. Remember why you started to write in the first place.
Because I’m an idiot and wanted to prove something to myself.
 And now…I am proud to say my writer’s block is cured. You should try this, it’s better than chocolate. 
Here’s to 1,000 words a day, 5 days a week!!