Saturday, November 22, 2014


My brain is fried. I haven't had much sleep, and the girls have been absolutely exhausting (no idea how they can switch from adorable to nightmare and back so quickly). I was too tired to face the dishes tonight. I was a little on-edge, and there was no way I was going to be able to focus long enough to write, but I really needed some time with no screaming children, so I wasn't ready to go to bed yet (parents, you understand this paradox of being exhausted yet unwilling to retire).

Not gonna lie, I thought about spending the evening watching Youtube videos.

But when I walked into the office, I saw our piano.

As some of you know, I teach piano lessons. I used to play a lot--two or more hours a day. But it's been a long time now since I've really played for myself. Lately, though, as I've watched my daughters' moods swing, I've been remembering how my mom said I was so much more manageable as a teenager when I had played the piano for two hours. I thought maybe it would still work.

I wanted sing-along music tonight, not classical, so I started out with "It Is You I Have Loved" and "You Belong to Me" from Shrek. Then I moved on to Phantom of the Opera, and there I remained until my voice gave out. (It's been a long time since I've sung that much too, alright?) My fingers are now tired, my voice is froggy--but my heart is happy.

While I didn't have the soul-enlarging, perspective-altering experience as last time I wrote about playing the piano, my brain's working better now. I was able to focus enough to write this, if not work on my novel, and I'm feeling like I could sleep.

I need to remember to recharge my batteries more often. I need it, and my family deserves to have me functional.

So if you're walking by my house in the next little while and hear slightly off-key high notes, know the dishes probably aren't done, but the kids are alive and mom is smiling. In the end, that's a lot more important.

What helps you recharge?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why I Wrote the Book

Once upon a time (if I'm going to tell you about my fairy tale novel, I might as well start properly), my husband and I were on a road trip. As was often the case before we had kids and the car became too noisy, I was reading a book aloud. This particular trip, the book was DEALING WITH DRAGONS by Patricia C. Wrede.

I, of course, had read this book several times before, but this was my husband's first experience with it. Two things came of this particular read-through:

  1. We decided to name our first daughter Cimorene (a year later, we did).
  2. I had a realization that led to writing the novel chosen this summer as an alternate in Brenda Drake's Pitch Wars contest. 
The realization was this: Princess Cimorene, the heroine of Wrede's book, is a tall, dark-haired, kick-butt princess. This was unusual for the time this book was written (published in 1990). Now, however, nearly 25 years later, nearly every princess you see is what I call an "empowered" princess. They're all out beating the villains and saving kingdoms. 

Now, I relate to a lot of these princesses; I've always been stubborn and adventurous, and I may have kicked a little butt here and there. But the trope-breaker has become its own trope. So it's time to break it again.

In my book A FROG, A WHISTLE, AND A VIAL OF SAND, Princess Ellean is considered old-fashioned because she has blond hair, blue eyes, and likes needlework. When her parents kick her out of the castle, the adventure she's always dreaded leads her to the love and friendships she's always needed. But with kidnappings and a sorcerer along the way, surviving long enough for happily-ever-after will require all the skills she does have--including embroidery.

As an alternate, my pitch and first 250 words will be put in a showcase November 6th where agents have been invited to browse and make requests. Wish me (and Princess Ellean) luck! Also, check out some of the other books that were selected for the contest. There are some I definitely hope to read. 

Tracie Martin: WILD IS THE WIND