The Never-Ending Bunny Project is finished. (Almost)

My daughter loves animals and is in the Animal Science Magnet Program at her high school. Which is all well and good except for these year-long projects that somehow involve the whole family. This year it was rabbits. I can truthfully say that I’ve learned more about rabbits than I ever planned to know. She submitted the paperwork and essay yesterday and carried the trifold poster out to the bus stop this morning.

Every parent knows this trifold poster, right?

This year’s project had two parts.

1) The science experiment part. In this case she had an adult female rabbit named Storm produce a litter with Butterscotch and a litter with Opie and then compare the phenotype and guess at the genotype. <— See, I’m speaking science already.

2) There had to be an entrepreneur aspect. In this case, selling the offspring (to loving, committed homes with the understanding that babies would be returned to us if something didn’t work out).

She wouldn’t let me read her essay about what she learned this year, but we had some adventures. Remember this? Bunny Soap Opera

I learned a couple of things too.

  1. Even if student starts the project in June of 2017, the student will finish the night before it is due.
  2. Baby bunnies really are that cute.
  3. One orea bunny, two white with caramel markings, one striped with a Harlequinn face, one striped with solid face, and two fawn colored with gray bellies.

  4. There are dog people and cat people…and there are bunny people. And, bunny people are some of the nicest, most generous people you’ll meet. Pam, the alpaca farmer, has been so kind with lending us Opie and giving advice. The young women who lent us Butterscotch. The couple who adopted Clover when Clover turned out to be a boy and then they came back and bought little Luna from us so the bunnies could be a bonded pair (after Clover was altered).
  5. The phrase “herding cats” should be “herding bunnies.” Once they turned two weeks, bunny eyes opened and suddenly seven adorable fur babies were jumping into and out of their nesting box and hopping in seven different directions. This made for a very challenging picture. Also, they have no problem “bunny piling” and there is a brown bunny beneath these six. I think. Either that, or we lost one.

    Three weeks old

     

  6. If you feed a large carrot to a bunny, perhaps as a “thank you for having this second litter so the project is almost done” present, they will have red urine the next day that looks like blood and may freak you out. This time, before rushing to the Bunny ER, you check the internet.
  7. If you need to give bunnies an oral antibiotic you wrap them in a “bunny burrito” with a clean towel and approach from the side, not the front.
  8.  

    Also, pick up a bunny from underneath and support the legs, cradling the animal to your chest — do not swoop down from above because then you will seem like a hawk and they will hop away and they are fast and you will land on your face.

  9. Once you bring hay into your house for the bunnies, you will never get all the hay out again. There will be little pieces stuck to your socks and in your hair. Like Christmas Tree pine needles that you vacuum up until Thanksgiving…and then you start again. 
  10. Perhaps the most important thing I learned (beyond how to battle botflies) is that bunnies are cute, sweet, adorable, cuddly…blah blah blah. I am a dog person.

 

The babies are three weeks old and three have already been reserved. Four more to go and then Storm will return to her owner and this chapter will be over…until my daughter needs to start next year’s project. AHHHHHHHHH!

Love,

Sherri

 

 

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Three-Legged Dog

I took Gabe to the dog park on Thursday, December 22nd  to run off some excess energy. Within five minutes another dog attacked him. The other owners and I ran over. I pulled off the first dog, but behind me the rest of the dogs had piled onto Gabe. When my dog got up, his hind leg dragged behind. My daughter was with me. I carried him to the car and we rushed to our vet. The vet squeezed us in, shoehorning an exam and x-rays between all the other appointments right before the holiday.  The news wasn’t good: Gabe had puncture marks in his throat, in his shoulder, and a dislocated hip.

I sat, stunned, as my mind flashed through everything supposed to happen between December 23- Jan 3rd . We are hosting Christmas and New Year’s at our house. My niece Izzy from Germany is visiting. Between her and the twins we have three birthday celebrations. I’d already arranged a trip to Virginia with each day over-scheduled: ski trip for seven people, a visit to my mother-in-law, our annual New Year’s visit to our friends the Perrones, and we’d even bought tickets to tour Monticello. My wedding anniversary is January 2nd. And, perhaps the most important celebration for our family: on January 3rd my daughter will return to Hopkins for her 5-year post-chemo check-up.

The vet said that Gabe would need to go to the emergency animal hospital. That way the doctors wouldn’t be rushed through the surgery and then he’d stay overnight for observation. I looked at my watch. My daughter and I had already been there three hours.

“Can’t you do it here?” I asked. I’d seen the movies where you put the cloth around the joint, pulled, and that sucker popped back into place: easy-peasy. The vet sketched a picture for me and said things like “shallow socket” and “cutting off the femoral head” and “false joint.” So….NOT easy-peasy.

I nodded my head. “I get it.”  I called Izzy. She’d already stepped up to drive my oldest daughter to drivers ed and my son to basketball practice. Now she drove over to pick up Syl so the three of them could have dinner before she picked up the older kids, who were literally in opposite directions. I waited with Gabe.

The vet came back in. I knew she felt bad about his being attacked, but by now the office was closing down. She said, “I’m not making any promises, but I’ll try.”

My mouth dropped open. If it worked, her doing the procedure would save me a lot of money and a lot of time. And it would get Gabe back together that much more quickly because his dangling leg was…upsetting. To both of us.

I waited. The vet and the vet techs stayed late as they tried to fix my dog. I pulled up my feet to get out of the way of the mop. I moved from the exam room to the waiting room and back again. It was super quiet. I waited.

And then…the vet said, “It worked. His hip is back in the socket. We’re just waiting for him to wake up from the anesthesia.”

I hugged her. He was fixed! She explained, “I had a horrible experience with a certain company. They’ve been so frustrating…well, I just couldn’t be that company.”

Here’s Gabe. He’s taking his antibiotics and anti-inflammatory and pain medication. He’s moving around and learning how to navigate the stairs. Hint: going down is much easier than going up. I called the dog sitter to let her know about his situation and my niece will stay behind to take him to his follow-up and then join us in Virginia.

But, my friend Lyn always advises to look for the lesson in situations. What was I supposed to learn here? How wonderful animal lovers like vets and vet techs are? I already knew that. That emergencies happen even when you already have plans? I already knew that too.

I think the take-away is what I noticed yesterday, after Gave was tired of laying around. He got up and I hovered over him with my arms outstretched so he wouldn’t fall and his hip wouldn’t fall out of the socket. I worried about if he was going to fall down and how he was going to use the bathroom outside and whether his bed should be down in the family room so he could see what was going on or up in my room so he could be by himself. I berated myself for deciding to go to the dog park and for him getting hurt.

Gabe gave a quizzical look at the leg in the sling and then stood on three shaky legs, figuring it out. He didn’t think of himself as crippled or needing special treatment. In fact, he was very confused when I gave him a treat “for free.” Instead of taking it he went through the “sit, shake, down” sequence he is familiar with and today we walk-hopped two half-miles instead of two miles but that was because of the rain, not because he wasn’t willing.

Gabe’s simple acceptance gave him the freedom to move forward, to literally get up and hop around without embarrassment or blame or anger. He didn’t have an idea in his head of how he wanted to be; he wasn’t disappointed when he didn’t match that idea. Maybe that’s the letting go and surrendering to each moment AS IT IS that I need to learn.

I wish you a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate, and a season of light.

Love,

Sherri

PS Just to make sure that we didn’t get too comfortable, our dishwasher broke today too. Did I mention we are hosting Christmas AND New Year’s here? Bring on the paper plates.

The Great Bunny Soap Opera

Friends, we are stressed about Hurricane Harvey. We are stressed about school starting. I invite you to read something that was also stressing and also bizarre. Also, a little gross, but I won’t post the graphic pics here. If you want to see you can email me privately and I will be happy to share.

On Thursday I got home from work intending to take the kids to the pool so we could enjoy a couple hours of sunshine in what has been a pretty wet and cool summer season here in Maryland and then head to Open House at the elementary school. Except….(drum roll) my high school daughter calls for me. Her voice tells me this is a “real” situation, not to be confused with her screaming when there is a stink bug in her room.

BACKSTORY: We have seven rabbits as part of her Animal Science project for her magnet high school. Two adult females and a litter of bunnies who are three weeks old. The mama of the bunnies is a black mini Rex and her name is Storm. The other female is a white Hotot-Lionhead mix with “fancy” eyes named Clover.

PROBLEM: “There’s something on Clover’s chest.” Sure enough, there is a spot on Clover’s chest without hair and the tissue underneath is hard and about the size of a silver dollar. My guess is that it’s an abscess so I call the vet. Meanwhile, the other three children are in their swim suits asking me where their goggles are and the oven timer is beeping because the chicken nuggets are done and I’m still wearing my workout clothes and the vet says, “It’s almost Labor Day and we’re totally booked, but if you come right now, THIS SECOND, we can see the bunny.”

What am I supposed to do? The day before I’d sat with the younger kids waiting and waiting in the orthodontist’s office for my son.  I was NOT taking my bathing suit kids to hang out at the vet’s office when I didn’t have time to run around and get books and pack the chicken nuggets. But, if I did take the time to pack then maybe the vet wouldn’t see the bunny and she would die. Nope. Not doing it.

So, my daughter and I put the bunny in a tupperware bin for travel, text my neighbor to ask if the three kids can swim at her pool with my son as lifeguard (she graciously says yes), and we’re on our way. Now, my daughter’s project is to breed both Storm and Clover with Butterscotch (aka “the boyfriend”) and then compare the litters for dominant and recessive traits. Also, this year the project has a financial component with the goal being that you not lose money and maybe even make a little. Twelve days before we’d taken Clover to visit Butterscotch so we could start this second litter.

MENTOR VISIT: The vet immediately tells us what is wrong: our poor bunny has been attacked by a parasite called a Bot fly. It laid a larvae, warbel, inside the bunny’s chest. THERE IS A GIANT MAGGOT INSIDE MY RABBIT. The vet showed us the breathing hole in the skin. Repeat: We saw the maggot breathing from inside my rabbit. Have you fainted yet?

She, the vet, said they could fit Clover in for surgery immediately. I understood this to mean that this is life threatening. She shows me the cost. I nod my head because our rabbit is a living thing, she will recover 100% from the surgery, she was in our care when this happened, and THERE’S A MAGGOT INSIDE OF HER CHEST AND IT NEEDS TO GET OUT.

I say, “Wait, do you think she’s pregnant?”

The vet squinches her eyes at me and says, “No, I don’t think HE is pregnant.”

PLOT TWIST 1. My head explodes. Although that does explain why Clover and Butterscotch didn’t really….I mean, they hopped around each other when we put them in the same play yard, but didn’t, you know. We thought maybe “she” wasn’t interested or too young or we missed “it” because we weren’t trying to stare. Moving on.

COMPLICATION: my daughter and I look at each other. With the nice weather we’d been putting Storm and babies out in the year WITH Clover. Like, as an aunt. Aunt Clover who might be pregnant getting some time with the nieces and nephews to get some practice.

FORESHADOWING: “Is it possible,” I swallow and continue, “that Clover got Storm pregnant even though she is still nursing the babies?”

Vet tilts head. “Maybe.”

Me to daughter: “I’m sure she’s not pregnant. It’s too soon. They were only together a couple days. Storm’s still nursing and hormones and such.”

Daughter: “She’s pregnant.”

*If anyone is counting I’ve now missed the fact that my bunny has boy parts AND I’ve tried to use “nursing as birth control” logic. So, really being a great example of sex education here.

Vet takes the bunny away for surgery prep; we go home and get ready for Open House.

Check on Storm.

FORESHADOWING PAYOFF/PLOT TWIST 2:

She’s stretched out in the grass, snoozing. Her side undulates as the bunnies inside of her stretch their little legs.

My daughter: I told you so.

Me:

My daughter: I TOLD YOU SO

Me: There’s a lesson in this.

My daughter stalks away.

We leave Open House early to get to the vet to pick up Clover post-op. His whole chest is open. A gaping wound. They had to cut away all the compromised tissue. And they saved the warbel for us. A white maggot crawling around the specimen jar. We took pictures for my daughter’s project. Then we get bill. Total= $300.

I blink. “That seems higher…”

Vet tech: “Yeah. We’re about to explain the antibiotics that you’ve purchased.”

Me: “Uh huh.”

We’ve got syringes to flush out the area and Rx ointment and needles to inject penicillin into this boy and pain reliever and twice daily oral antibiotics and other stuff.

PLOT TWIST 3:

Husband, rational and analytical: “You paid $300 for surgery for a $25 rabbit. That wasn’t in the budget.”

Me: “It wasn’t in the budget because I didn’t even know that Bot flies were going around injecting larvae in bunnies. This is new information.”

Husband: “And he’s a boy. The project doesn’t need him. If Storm is pregnant, then the project can shift to same mother with different fathers instead of different mothers with same father.”

Me: “Right, so we can sell him now.”

Husband: “For $300? How else are you going to make up the deficit you caused with the budget?”

Me (continuing): “Find him a good home.  Maybe he could be a classroom pet? He’s a sweetheart, outgoing, and not even six months old. (Thinking out loud) Although we’re going to need his hutch for the current litter so the new litter can stay in hutch with mom. Oh. This is getting crazy.”

Husband: “No, it got crazy when you paid $300 for a male rabbit that blew the budget that our daughter spent so much time making.”

Me (petting Clover-the-boy to sooth myself): “AHHHHHHHHHHH. THERE’S ANOTHER ONE. THERE’S ANOTHER BOT FLY WARBLE THING ON HIS FLANK. THERE’S THE HOLE.”

Husband: “Ew. Is that it’s head poking out?”

I called the vet and left an emergency message. My daughter and I had a serious conversation about our options. Then I got on the internet. I read articles about the Bot Fly (cuterebra). I watched Youtube videos. I made my plan.

Yesterday we smeared Vaseline on the hole so the critter couldn’t breathe. We waited about thirty minutes, watching while it came partway out of the hole and the going back in. You can’t rupture the larvae or it releases toxins and the rabbit could die of anaphylatic reaction. That’s why the vet is safest option. But, we’d studied and talked through it. We were going for it.

CLIMAX

I held Clover against my chest, a light shining on the wound. My daughter used sterilized tweezers and grabbed the larvae behind the head as it came out. She pulled slowly and steadily, just like the video said to…and it came out in one piece. SHE IS A ROCK STAR.

We flushed the site, packed it with ointment, and gave Clover spinach and carrots.

Here are the two larvae. The vet removed the small one (left) and my daughter pulled out the HUGE one (right).

CONCLUSION

Clover is doing well, taking his meds and chilling.

Prognosis: Full recovery.We’ll take him to vet for final check in a week and then we’ll try to find him the perfect home. This boy deserves it!

Love,

Sherri

 

Fear of the Week

Hey Friends,

Just wanted to give a quick update on my own private NaNoWriMo. I made the last goal so I’m at 20,000 words. The way I’ve been doing it is a hybrid method. That is, I’m not writing every day because that doesn’t work with my schedule. Instead, I’ve set aside a week where the writing is the number one priority and gotten 10K words. Then I had to stop and make up all the things I didn’t get done. Then I did another week of 10K words. I’m about to start on my third week.

One of the things that some of you might say is, “Lame. The whole point is to write every day until you get 50K. Taking breaks isn’t NaNoWriMo. You’re a cheater and I don’t care about you.”

Okay. That’s a little harsh, but fine and fair. And, this is my version. Whether or not I’m doing it wrong, I have learned that there is a specific fear associated with each week of writing.

Also, to come back to that whole “lame bit” here are some of the things I’ve done the past two weeks to make up, catch up, and try to triage to prepare for next week long sprint:

One Times: I finished my Christmas Letters. (Now are you getting how overwhelmed I am?)  My daughter Evelyn participated as a cancer survivor in the “Pantene Beautiful Lengths” experience by cutting the ponytails of students donating their hair to be made into free wigs for cancer patients. Dog had to go to vet to get nails clipped, and fresh orders of heartworm preventative and flea/tick meds. Lime disease is terrible in Maryland. Son had to go to orthodontist. He needs braces.  I went to Baltimore for critique group at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Had several stories come in from The Potomac Review that I need to read and get responses back to editor. I called my senators about the cuts to the EPA.

Regular: Post office, bank, drycleaner, grocery store, laundry for six people, I wrote my bills, went through mail I hadn’t looked at in over a week, and then the sports. This is the overlapping of winter and spring sports. My son is regular basketball, all-star basketball, lacrosse. My oldest daughter finished her volunteer hours at the horse stable and then started Track and Field (which is EVERY DAY that I have to pick her up from school). My little ones finished science club but still have gymnastics. They also have birthday parties to attend on the weekends. I wasn’t teaching as many classes this week, but I had to finish the session with all the attending paperwork to be filed and moved around.

Now that I’ve been nice and defensive, let me throw away all the little sticky notes that I write my daily to-do lists on and tell you about FEAR.

The first week fear is: DO I HAVE A NOVEL IN ME? That is, you’ve thought of a premise, you’ve got a hook and a setting and some characters, but do you have enough for 85K words? You kinda know what’s going to happen, but what if it all happens too quickly and this is only a short story?

The only way to get through this fear is to try it. Take a deep breath and keep asking “what if.” What if my character wants A, but then B happens? What if my character chooses to do something stupid when someone else has A and doesn’t appreciate it? What if my character gets A, but realizes she wanted B?

The second week fear: THIS ISN’T INTERESTING. I’ve got too many characters, too many pets, the conflict isn’t threatening enough. All my sentences are subject-verb-direct object with no variety so that EVEN MY SENTENCES ARE BORING.

That’s okay. I’ve read NaNoWriMo pep talks. The authors all say the same thing. You can’t edit something that you haven’t gotten out of your head. You must get something onto the paper and then you can change it around. Also, this writing is so fresh that you are not a reliable indicator of whether there is an engrossing story. You’ll need beta readers and TIME.

As I’m getting ready for my third week (tomorrow is an elementary half-day so kids are getting home as I’m getting home from teaching yoga and my son has three basketball games Saturday because they are in a tournament and I teach Sunday School on Sunday morning, but after that. Monday, March 6th)…

I have another fear: THIS ISN’T WORTH IT  All those things I listed above that I had to get done so that I could write something that no one is ever going to want to read. My premise is stupid, my characters forgettable. I’m stressed and irritable because I have no time and it’s all going to be forgotten, recycled, a waste of paper.

Maybe I’ll have some insight after I make it through this writing week. But, this one seems to be the hardest to fight because I KNOW I’m out of balance. My day, each day, is scheduled down to ten minute intervals and that is not how I want to live. I’m nervous when practice schedules don’t come in ahead of time because I am constantly doing logistics. I’m short with the kids when they want to play instead of sticking to the schedule. I live in the minivan and dread dinner because I didn’t have time to make anything that they’ll all eat. The situation makes me very unhappy.

My guess is this is where the author says he or she had to dig deep and have confidence that the novel will help other people, that the story will connect and resonate with others.

I don’t know. We should have an answer by March 13th.

Love,

Sherri

 

Attempting to Critique Group My Teens

Happy Halloween!

Today means two things: 1) You should go and buy your copy of Pantheon Magazine, Hestia Issue right now so img_2942you can read some scary stories. My story “1416 DeForested Lane” is included and I’m honored to be in this issue.  Here’s the link: Amazon  And, if you enjoy it, please post a review. It helps the writers to get noticed by other readers and spreads the love.

AND…….

2) I now officially have two teenagers. Count them. One. Two. And they are nuts. Absolutely crazy, but they are also the same. And that took some getting used to. My daughter is in high school, but I didn’t realize it until August when I drove her to the sports tryouts and the parents lined up court side and then the coach came and ushered us all out and thanked us, very nicely, for coming, and said she’d see us when tryouts were over. Then she shut the door to the gym. That’s when I took a deep breath and looked around and realized that zooming toward me were driving lessons and formal dances and college and BIG decisions. Like, the kind of decisions that were going to affect my daughter’s LIFE. It seemed a good time to go and get myself a coffee. And maybe ice cream.

She went to Homecoming with friends. I thought I had until Junior year? Nope.

She went to Homecoming with friends. I thought I had until Junior year? Nope.

Today is my son’s birthday. Yup, he’s a Halloween baby.

img_2941

He turned thirteen. In some cultures he would be considered a man. I was telling my friend who also has a son about how I was having a conversation with my son, just talking about whatever, and he reached over and lifted me up. WHILE I WAS TALKING. He set me down like nothing had happened. My friend goes, “What? My son did that to me the other day, too.” So, maybe it’s a thing? Like, how adults are always like, “You’ve grown so much, you’ve gotten so big, blah blah.” Maybe teenagers are like, “I’m going to randomly pick you up and set you down again because now I can.” Maybe it was the trend that predated that throwing-a-bottle-in-the-air-and-landing-it-thing that is now happening EVERYWHERE.

Anyway, I’m no parenting expert, but I figured I’d take what I’ve learned in my writing critique group and see if there’s a parallel.

  1. In Critique Group it’s less about “fixing” someone’s writing than asking questions so they can see their way to the answer. Same with teens (although so much harder). I no longer get to be in control. I have to step back, offer guidance, and also listen while my child gets to a right answer. Sometimes it won’t be the answer I was thinking. Sometimes it will be worse because NO COMMON SENSE, but sometimes it will be BETTER and then I get to be proud.
  2. Have food. And beverages. In critique group we all stop and get our treats before we start working. With teens, this is beyond important. You will seriously not even believe how much my son eats. I double recipes for NORMAL around here. These articles are like “just double and put the extra in the freezer for a day when you’re rushed.” SHUT UP, non-teenager parent person. THERE ARE NO LEFTOVERS. And, if food is not available, there will be tantrums or tears or both. I promise.
  3. Realize that we will have off days. My critique partners and I have given apologies, accepted apologies, and are the stronger for it. This is how I need to be with my teens. My teens are hormonal. I don’t always communicate what’s in my head. There are going to be bruised feelings, but we will get through it with as much grace as we can.
  4. Commitment. Our critique group has met once a month for two years. We show up for our work and we show up for each other. Even when we know what we’ve submitted isn’t the best. Or it’s two pages instead of ten. We show up. That’s what family is. That’s what relationships are. That’s the work. I’m going to show up for my teens.

 

That’s all I’ve got for now. Except a HUGE shout out to middle school teachers. You guys are amaze-balls.

Love,

Sherri

 

Too much stimulation

Today is the first day of spring break and I’m already going nuts.

Despite the fact that every school day I’m dragging kids out of bed, threatening everything that can be threatened if they miss the bus, today they are up. One child has gotten into the cookies and is eating them as she reads in bed. (a no-no in our house. CRUMBS, PEOPLE). The radio is blaring from a bedroom with no one in it. The twins are on my bed, jumping on me because they want their iPads. One twin is okay with waiting until later in the day, but the other has a meltdown complete with kicking legs and screaming and I look at the clock and just wonder why. The puppy wags his tail. He’s ready for his morning walk.

The computer is on downstairs and I yell, “No technology until after breakfast, please.” The answer: “We’re reading on the computer.”

Breakfast. Somehow I started the tradition of every snow day and first day of any break we have blueberry pancakes, and eggs or sausage or something else that requires actual cooking. So, I could bust these out by myself pretty quickly, but no. Supposed to be a teachable moment so I let her do the measuring and the stirring and I bite my lip when there is mix all over the counter and floor and she over-stirred the blueberries so that the mix is purple and little deflated blueberry balloon skins are all that’s left.

The oldest girl comes down and flops on the couch, turning on tv. And, now I’m annoyed because I can’t leave the kitchen, but I can’t seem to win against technology. And, I want my kids to go outside and like build a tree fort or something, but without my needing to supervise and without them using their father’s tools and messing anything up. Can’t they learn a foreign language or how to type? But, that would require my finding the program on the computer. And so I don’t say anything except to call the youngest when it’s time to flip the pancakes.

The laundry is going today too because, despite being spring break, there are buckets of dirty clothes. And I ask, is everything REALLY dirty? Even this shirt that I see is still folded? Did you really wear it? Yes, Mom. Three cherubic smiles. (The boy is still in bed. I don’t ask if his clothes are dirty. They are.)

And I start the dishwasher too, but have to stack the breakfast dishes in the sink, syrupy and sticky because there is too much. Too much of everything.

I dump the egg shells in the flower pots outside, tiny bit of composting, and later I see the puppy eating them. Mental note: Take the dog for another walk because who knows what that will do to his tummy.

My agent has sent me notes about the synopsis I need to get done. The kids want to know if they can watch a movie. I suggest they ride bikes. They want to know if they can play DS. I tell them they need to take the puppy for another walk. He’s going nuts because he normally has daily playdates with our neighbor’s dogs. They are all besties. The three of them run and jump over each other and do ridiculous acrobatics and then puppy comes back in and sleeps. But, the humans are on vacation and I texted the dogsitter to find out when the dogs would come outside, but don’t have a time yet.

This is him watching for his friends.

Gabe looking for Gracie

And then the doorbell rings and I realize I’m still in my pjs and my older daughter brings in a package from Fed ex or whatever. I go upstairs to get dressed. And I’m trying to decide if I can make it to critique group tonight. I haven’t been in so long, but I haven’t worked on the story I wanted to work on and I have something else, but it’s handwritten and I’d have to type it up. On the other hand, the babysitter is arranged and I don’t want to cancel on her and my husband won’t be home until late anyway and the coach is picking up the boy for lacrosse practice…and I’m thinking all these things when I hear a man’s voice. In my house.

And one of my kids wanders into my bathroom where I’m half-dressed and I say, “Is there someone here?” Which is stupid, BECAUSE I CAN HEAR THAT SOMEONE IS HERE. And the kid says, “Yeah. The bug guy is spraying.”

Which I kind of hate anyway because I don’t like chemicals all around, and I hate strangers showing up at my door. Especially when I’m not dressed. I throw on the rest of my clothes and hurry outside, but the bug guy is gone. So, the one place we need sprayed is the door in the basement because we get these huge black spiders that lurk in doorways and the bug guy didn’t spray the one spot we needed. And I’m pissed and rushed and the kids tell me that they are done playing Polly Pockets and want to know if it’s time for lunch.

And I tell them no and run to the internet to type these words so I can get my head on straight and figure out what is going on. Not just with the day because nothing really terrible has happened, but I’m frazzled and feel karate chopped.

And, here it is. Too much stimulation. I’m an introvert. I like calm and even silence. I like to drift in my thoughts thinking of story lines or images. And now I feel defensive, attacked. Crazy to make all these demands STOP.

And, I’m tired of feeling guilty. Like every break or holiday from school is supposed to be an opportunity for Pinterest. Why do I have to defend my need and my desire to work on my dream (the synopsis for my novel and a story for tonight’s meeting)? But, I do. My kids work me constantly. The boy literally spent thirty minutes last night quizzing me on his favorite things to show that I don’t spend enough time with him.

Example:

Him: You don’t even know my favorite color.

Me: Orange.

Him: MY OTHER FAVORITE COLOR.

Me: Dark Blue.

Him: (huffy breath) Well, you don’t even know my favorite….

The girls are manipulative.

Me: Go play something real with your Monster High girls or your shopkins. Make up a story and act it out with the characters.

Them: Why DON’T you WANT to play WITH us?

Me: I do. But I have to work.

Them: So you don’t love us. We understand. (Slumped shoulders and eyes that slide away)

Me: We just made breakfast together.

Twin 1: No, you just did that with Twin 2.

Me: Okay, you can help me make lunch.

Twin 1: You always want me to work!

 

And now it’s lunch time. Hope you’re enjoying your spring break!

Sherri

Still Revising — a conversation

Hello, Friends.

I’m still revising. The good news is that I’m in the final act. Here’s my favorite sentence:

If Scott was right that energy paths ran across the lithosphere of the earth connecting land forms and significant natural monuments, and Emesh was right that the earth was overflowing with antediluvian energy activated by Shamash’s dying body, and The Weatherman was right that energy was the key to understanding the post-firestorm changes, then…Rachel’s mind stopped here. She didn’t know exactly what it meant, except that this LaPorte place was something like a nuclear reactor.

It gets readers all on track for Act 3 when everything both falls apart and pulls together, based on the clues and action in the preceding acts. No pressure.

Here’s my bad news. IT’S HARD. You want everything to SHINE and MAKE SENSE and just because a scene is fun or develops character, it doesn’t get to stay. It has to WORK. And sometimes that’s hard to decide.

I agonized over a chapter (chapter 30) this weekend, used my agent’s feedback, talked to everyone I encountered about it. Then, I send my revision off to my critique group. We meet this Friday to discuss and exchange notes.

This morning I realized that I can cut the scene. Just cut it out. Skip the agony. Boil the scene down to the three things I need to keep and move that to a different chapter. But, I’m scared. I’m over-thinking. WHAT IF THAT WAS THE CHAPTER WITH ALL THE BRILLIANT WRITING THAT READERS WERE GOING TO UNDERLINE ON THEIR KINDLES?

(It isn’t)

WHAT IF THIS IS WHERE READERS FALL IN LOVE WITH MY PROTAGONIST?

(If they haven’t by chapter 30 then you have a problem that revising chapter 30 isn’t going to fix)

BUT THIS IS THE CHAPTER WITH A HISPANIC CHARACTER WHO SPEAKS SPANISH AND I CONSULTED BOTH MY HUSBAND AND GOOGLE TRANSLATE TO MAKE SURE I GOT IT RIGHT. I NEED TO BE DIVERSE.

(There are many languages used in this world. Many languages that have been used. Many that will be. Are you going to have each one represented in this particular novel? You might want to check both the word count and your readers’ patience if this is your project. Instead, maybe concentrate on the story?)

BUT NOW I HAVE TO WRITE THAT CHAPTER, AND THE BEGINNING OF THE NEXT, ALL OVER AGAIN.

(Yeah, that’s called revising.)

Next month when I post, I hope to tell you that I’m finished revisions and have sent to my agent….then I get to attack my next novel that is almost there. It just needs some….wait for it…revisions.

Love,

Sherri