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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Girls, you are best friends!"

My girls.

I can't begin to express how much I love those two. They are precious. And crazy beautiful. And smart. And creative.

And 95% of the time, if they are together, they are fighting. (And that is a conservative percentage.)

Oooops. Wrong picture.

When I found out Estella Dru was on the way (when Belle was only seven months old), I was shocked to say the least. When we learned we were having another girl everyone... and I mean everyone... said something along these lines.... "Oh----! How exciting. They're going to be the best of friends."

Well, folks... shows how much you know.

I know.... I know.... They're young. The best friends part will come. But there are days when I find myself in tears at how my girls are constantly at one another. No joke--on Sunday we took them to see Santa, and they got into a fight while sitting on his lap. Then last week, I confiscated a picture from Belle she had hidden in her room. It was a drawing she made of her sister, with a thought bubble that read, "I'm Dru and I stink."

Ok, it's a little funny. But it does wear on me. I grew up by myself with Grandma and Grandpa. I remember feeling so lonely in that house. And my girls never have to feel that way. They always have each other, and most of the time, they fight their time together away or spend it incessantly tattling. I wonder how many times a week I point my finger at them and say, "Girls! You are best friends whether you know it or not! Do you hear me? Now act like it!" I'm sure that's doing wonders for the situation.

I have been praying so much for them lately--praying for them to realize that their life-long, die-for-you-without-a-thought, loyal, best friend is right in front of them and to treat each other with respect and love. They are so blessed to be sisters, and I'm hoping they realize that blessing soon. I would have given anything for a sister.

Until then I'll keep soaking up those moments when I see their love for each other peek out. An unsolicited hug here and there. Sharing a piece of gum without prompting. Those nights when we go to tuck them in and they're in bed together. Those are the moments that make my heart soar.

So maybe we're not to the best friend part yet. But I'm praying those two will grow into beautiful young women, leaning on each other, praying for each other, and loving each other through all of it. I have a feeling it's going to be amazing to watch.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Rejected Writers Club

Well, it happened.

I feel like I am now part of a club. The Rejected Writers Club.

Yes, I received my very first rejection letter. (Wah. Wah. Waaaaaaaaaaaah.)

I had only sent a proposal, not my actual manuscript. (In case you didn't know, NO ONE will accept an actual manuscript. NO. ONE.) And I'm pretty sure it wasn't a good proposal. Still, it stung a little. For maybe half an hour I had a little knot in my throat. No tears. Just a knot. I didn't call anyone. I just sat by myself in my car (I was on my way somewhere when I got the email) and let it all sink in.

It hurt to be rejected. Even though it wasn't my actual manuscript they were rejecting, it hurt. But at the same time, I felt like I had cleared my first hurdle. I was rejected. And I lived through it. And at the same time, I joined an elite group of novelists who had received similar letters and lived to tell the tale.

I think I read somewhere that John Grisham was rejected by sixteen publishers before finally being signed. That is just crazy to me. How could anyone reject A Time To Kill? I'm a hardcore Grisham fan, so I may be a bit biased. But A Time to Kill is like... un-rejectable. It's beautiful and brilliant, and I can't begin to fathom someone thinking otherwise.

And I'm pretty sure James Patterson told us at the breakfast I attended with him last year that he was rejected somewhere around thirty times. Thirty times. That is mind boggling to me. I love Patterson's work and can't imagine if he would have thrown in the towel on himself.

I felt so humbled to be in Mr. Patterson's presence. Can you see the stars and rainbows shooting from my eyes? And that noise you're hearing in the distance is a choir of angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

I'm thankful that he has a story to tell. Not that I'm glad he was rejected so many times.... but that I can draw inspiration from him. And Grisham. And so many like them.

So one little rejection isn't going to do me in. And it actually feels nice to be part of the club.

But I want my own story to tell.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ten Extremely Intellectual Black Friday Observations

1.) If the temperature outside is hanging out around freezing, a store's open door may be inviting to those on the outside, but it's cruelty for those on the inside. As if people want to chatter and shake while perusing your merchandise. And it's also stupid. And also I will not shop there. And also use your head. And also it's stupid.

2.) Keds shoes are back in stores.

3.) If you purchased a pair of Keds shoes, you shouldn't have. Trust me. I am somewhat of a Keds connoisseur. Ask anyone who knew me in junior high and high school. It wasn't pretty. Learn from my mistakes. You can never take it back.

4.) An early morning Starbucks before shopping tastes so good.

5.) An early morning Starbucks before shopping shaves at least half an hour off valuable shopping time due to the necessary restroom breaks. Maybe more.

6.) No matter how many pairs of boots are in a store, I will always want the pair the cute little salesperson is wearing.

7.) Stores who sell glitter sweaters to women of a certain age know better. And they do it any way.

8.) Target needs more mirrors.

9.) When you walk in to Bath and Body Works, be prepared to hear a five-minute narrative about the day's sales and what is included in the $20 VIP gift bag from at least seven employees... some twice because they forget your face five seconds later.

10.) When you walk out of Bath and Body, make sure you have not shoplifted a $20 VIP gift bag. (We're taking it back, ok!)

Do you have a Black Friday observation? Please share.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from the Slaughter House.

A "Thanksgiving" joke by Estella Dru

Monday, November 22, 2010

Candy Cane Kisses Cookie Bark

Remember when I raved about the Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses? Well, I loved them so much I searched until I found a recipe HERE that used them.

This morning, I grabbed my always-ready-to-help-Mommy-in-the-kitchen helper...

... along with:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted, room temp butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
2 ounces white chocolate

And we got started.

Preheat oven to 350. Then spray a 13x9 metal baking pan with non-stick spray. Line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper so that there is overhang on the sides. (This will help you remove your bars later with ease.)

Whisk together flour and salt. Jeb took care of that.

Next, beat butter in mixer until creamy. Gradually add in sugar and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla, egg yolk, and finally flour/salt mixture until all is blended nicely. This is what ours looked like.

Drop by rounded spoonsful onto the parchment paper and using, moistened fingertips, press down in pan to form even layer. Pierce all over the top with a fork and place into oven for 30 minutes or until top becomes light, golden brown.

When done, remove from oven and immediately cover top of cookie layer with your chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips) and let stand for 3-4 minutes so they can melt. Then using a spatula or spoon, spread the now melted chocolate into a thin layer all over the top.

Now immediately sprinkle your chopped Kisses over the top of the chocolate. Don't spread.

Next melt 2 ounces of white chocolate and drizzle it all over the top. Pop into fridge and let set up, probably 30-45 minutes. Jeb grew quite restless and bored during the waiting period. The Slaughter children do not possess the virtue of patience. I have no idea where they get that.... or don't get that, rather. (Yeah, he's wearing an apron. Don't judge.)

Once chilled, remove from fridge and, using the parchment paper overhang, transfer to a work surface.

Cut into irregular pieces, and you're done. Serve away.

Aren't they just beautifully festive? And they're yummy, too. Let me know if you try them!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's the shoes, Man.

Belle made her first basket ever in a basketball game today. So stinkin' exciting for her mama. In fact, she got the ball through the hoop not once... not twice... but THREE times in game one. That's six points.

I would like to attribute her talent to my excellent basketball pointers and maybe a little genetics, too.

But Belle's explanation for her mad skills on the court today is much simpler.

Apparently, her new basketball shoes from Gigi and G-Pops made her faster and all-around better. Nothing to do with Mommy.

It's the shoes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kisses of Kahlua Giveaway Winners.

Thank you to EVERYONE who entered the giveaway. It hurts me not to give a cake to every single one of you. The winners (selected by random number generator) are:

1.) The Turnipseeds
2.) gina
3.) Gretchen

Congratulations to the winners! I am so excited for you to try these cakes. And if you did not win, don't fret. Kisses of Kahlua is baking for the holidays! Order your awesome cake today, slap it on one of your nice plates, and politely thank people when they tell you it's the best cake they've ever eaten. (A little holiday deception never hurt anybody? Right? Right?)

Another day with Jeb....

I thought the front of Jeb's undies looked a little... ummm.... full.

When I questioned him about it, he acted as though he had no idea what I was talking about. I knew there was a story there. Camera, please.

When questioned a second time, he flashed me this smile. I'll give it to ya', Kid. You're cute. But Mommy knows when you're hiding something... in your crotch.

So, he started digging around....

... and pulls out one of the girls' favorite toys.

Thanks just sick, Son. But wait.... There's more.

Poor toys. Poor unsuspecting Slaughter sisters.

All in all, the excavation uncovered four of Belle and E Dru's favorite Pet Shops.

I do not understand the male psyche. Who carries around toys in their underwear? When asked, my son faked a hand injury and said, "Hand hurts." Ohhhhh. Well, now, that explains everything. How else is a boy supposed to transport his toys with an injured hand?

But seriously... who could stay mad at this beautiful little face? Well... excluding Belle and E Dru, that is. They were less than happy when they saw these pictures.

Today, the Pet Shops are under lock and key. I don't blame you, Girls. I don't blame you.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Funniest Jeb Video Ever

{Don't forget to enter our Thanksgiving Giveaway for a cake from Kisses of Kahlua. The giveaway closes tomorrow (Friday) at noon, so there isn't much time left! Enter away!}

Bit of background before viewing: Faulkner the Cat has his bluff in on all the Slaughter children. He may go months without an unforeseen, yet ruthless attack, but when he finally has enough of their antics and decides to exact his revenge, Slaughter child beware. He comes flying out of the shadows with his clawless paws and scares the living daylights out of them. All my kids have a healthy fear of Faulkner the Cat. And rightly so.

Jeb clearly remembers his last run-in with Faulkner. I believe it had something to do with a jumprope. Faulkner didn't want to play. Jeb thought he should and forced the issue. Faulkner waited a few days, then took a flying leap onto Jeb's head from out of the laundry room. Traumatic. Very traumatic.

So when I asked Jeb to remove the cat from the bed so I could make it, he was less than confident. I thought maybe I might be able to get a Faulkner attack on video. (I know. Worst mother ever.) But I got this instead, and to me, it is quite possibly the funniest Jeb video to date.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Apple Pie Contest: The Results Post

{Don't forget to enter the Thanksgiving Giveaway. You don't want to miss out. Click HERE to enter.}

As I was saying yesterday...

Belle woke up very excited about entering her pie in the 2nd Grade Apple Pie Baking Contest. In fact, I only had to tell her to get out of bed once.... as opposed to four or five times on most days, along with lots of poking and prodding.

When we arrived at the school, I was shocked to see over thirty pies waiting for judging. I was expecting maybe ten. I was wrong. Here's a shot of Belle and her adorable little friends while they waited for the contest to begin.

The pies were kept "anonymous" for judging. There we are. Y13.

I felt so sorry for the distinguished panel of judges. Can you IMAGINE sampling over thirty pies, some more than once? And all at 8 in the morning? Ugh. Makes me nauseous just thinking about it.

But when all was said and done, Belle Slaughter took home the SECOND PLACE PRIZE! And that little girl was over the moon excited. She is still talking about it, and I think it has even made her excited about baking in the future. She keeps asking what we can do together next. Here she is getting her prizes.

Yes, I spent an entire Sunday afternoon helping her bake those pies. But this smile made it all worth it, even the Sunday nap I missed.

She even made the Shiloh blog. Click here to see. (It's totally irrelevant that her daddy does that blog, right? I mean, there is absolutely no favoritism there. That's just crazy talk.)

So if you see my girl, congratulate her for a job well done. I promise, you'll see that smile.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Belle's Apple Pie

Remember my apple pie post? Well... it came back to bite me. (No pun intended.)

I believe it was the very next week, Belle came home telling me that her second grade class was having an apple pie baking contest. I laughed. Out loud. Totally figures. BUT... we were not deterred by the fact that we couldn't procure Grandma's recipe. Instead, we set out in search of our own awesome, unique apple pie recipe.

On Sunday after church, we baked all afternoon. And I do mean 'we.' Belle does not tend to volunteer in the kitchen, but on Sunday, she was all over baking with Mommy. I found a similar recipe on two separate websites and tweaked them into a recipe Belle named, "Belle's Apple Pie."

We used a roll out, refrigerated crust. (Lazy, I know, but it worked great.) I let Belle 'crimp' the edges.

Next I cut up four large Granny Smith apples and sliced them in thin slices. To them, Belle added:

1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons flour
a dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon allspice

Then, Belle mixed it all together. She found this process to be quite disgusting. I love the look on her face in this picture. (Umm, excuse me, Matt? Could you please be more considerate with your comings and goings in your own house? Trying to get good blog pictures here.)

Then Belle dumped her apples into the pie crust.

Next, we made the crumb topping. Belle put together in separate bowl:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup butter

If we would have had a pastry cutter, we would have used it to integrate the butter, but since we didn't, we used our hands and mixed it all together until it resembled small crumbles. (Waaay more fun that way.) Then we sprinkled our crumb mixture evenly on top of the apples.

We covered the edges of our pie with foil so the crust wouldn't get too brown and baked at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. After the 35 minutes were up, we removed the pie, got rid of the foil, and baked another 20 minutes.

While our pie was baking, we put 1/2 cup whole pecans and 1/2 cup Heath brickle into a plastic baggie and crushed them together. Again.. if I had a food processor, we'd have used it. Since we didn't, we used Daddy's hammer. (Again... waaay more fun.) This is what it looked like when we were finished.

We covered the top of our pie with the pecan and brickle mixture. But wait... still not done.

The recipes we found said, "Top with caramel topping." But the Slaughter girls don't do well with store-bought. Sooo.... we made our own caramel sauce. It's a Pioneer Woman recipe, and you can find it here.( This sauce is amazing and multi-purpose. Last night, I had a bunch of girls over to my house, and we used it to top our hot chocolate and coffees. Yum.)

Now does that not look dreamy?

The contest was yesterday (Monday) morning, and my girl woke up super excited to enter her pie.

How did she do? Since this post is already novel length, I'll save the surprise until tomorrow. (Just call me Ryan Seacrest.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kisses of Kahlua Thanksgiving Giveaway!

I am EXTREMELY excited to announce a Slaughterhouse Rules THANKSGIVING GIVEAWAY!!

My friend, Pam, local baker and owner of Kisses of Kahlua, has GRACIOUSLY donated THREE of HER LARGE CAKES to THREE LUCKY WINNERS!! Yeah, I said THREE. Because that's how we do it. Three people. Three prizes.

A few months ago, I won a little contest on the Kisses of Kahlua Facebook page and received a sample package of all the different kahlua cake flavors Pam offers. I was just super excited to win something. And then I got my hands on the cakes. OH. MY. GOSH. I'm gonna be honest. I'm not a cake person. I don't even do cake on my birthday, but these cakes, y'all.... I'm dramatic by nature, but I have a REASON to be dramatic over these cakes. They are absolutely, deliciously, amazingly amazing. I don't know how she does it, but they are the moistest (Is that a word, moistest? Doesn't sound right. Oh well. My blog.) thing I have ever put in my mouth. Simply awesome.

To enter your name once in the giveaway, this is what you must first to do:

* Go to the Kisses of Kahlua site and take a look around. Check out the flavor selection, then come back and leave me a comment telling me, if you won, which flavor of cake you would prefer. (I'm partial to the lemon flavor, but that's just me. Not trying to sway you. Sway. Sway.) This step is a MUST for giveaway entry. For more entries, read on.

For additional entries (ONE EACH): You may:

* Get the word out about the giveaway via word of mouth, tweet, Facebook, email, blog post, etc. Just leave me a SEPARATE comment and let me know how you did it.


* Go to the Kisses of Kahlua Facebook page and "like it." Then come back here and leave me a SEPARATE comment, telling me you "liked" it.

That is THREE opportunities to enter per person. Wow. Three is a theme today.

I have sent these cakes out of gifts, I have devoured them all by myself in my kitchen in the middle of the night, I have dreamed about them in my sleep. They're that good. And I am THRILLED to have the opportunity to introduce you to Pam and her heavenly cakes. You will not want to miss out on these, Friends.

So enter now. Go on. Hurry up! You only have until Friday at noon. HOPEFULLY, the winners will receive their cakes in time to be on the Thanksgiving table. They will be shipped on Monday, but please don't yell at me if they're a little late. We'll do our very very best, but I promise, they'll be worth the wait no matter when they arrive.

(No international entries, please.)


Big day tomorrow on the blog. Be sure to check back for the announcement of a super fun giveaway with THREE winners! YAY!

Jeb is dying to give away the surprise today. Patience, Son, patience.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Heart Kitty Resurfaces

{First things first. 1.) Thank you for all your sweet, thoughtful comments yesterday. I read every single one and am crazy thankful for every single one of YOU. 2.) My scripture project was a sad, sad flop. (Insert background sound effect... Wah. Wah. Waaaah.) I haven't given up. I'm simply moving on to plan B. 3.) Grandpa was admitted to the hospital yesterday. He was severely dehydrated and had very low blood pressure. Today, he is doing much better. God is good.}

Estella Dru has a stuffed cat. I blogged about it once. His name is Heart Kitty. Actually, his full name is Heart Kitty Blasty Space-off. Don't ask. I have no idea. She was three. That's what her three year old mind came up with. But as I explained in the previous blog post, bless her sweet little heart, Estella Dru had some speech issues back then. So every time she said, "Heart Kitty," it came out "Hot Titty." (Sorry if that offends you. She said it, not me.)

Somehow Hot Titty, ummm, I mean, Heart Kitty, has resurfaced. I have no idea where he has been all these years, but this morning, I found him sitting next to Estella's cereal bowl.

Poor Heart Kitty looks rough these days. That's what happens when you take on a sultry alias and live a fast, crazy lifestyle. Let that be a lesson to you, folks.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Your thoughts....

Matt told me a few months ago that he is 'working' on a new blog look for me. Yesterday, he gave me a little preview of what it will look like. I'm excited about it, and at the same time, it has made me really think about this blog.

When I started, I did it to be a cool kid. All my friends were doing it. I loved sharing pictures of my kids, and of course, I love to write. Today, I still love to share pictures of my kids, but for me, writing every single day is a must. And when I write, knowing others are going to be reading my words, I want to write about things I'm passionate about... things that other people can become passionate about like how fun interacting with our kids can be, how life can be amazing and exciting even when it's hard, how to come face to face with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and conquer them, and most of all, I want to tell about how Jesus is the ONLY way I get up out of bed every day and do this life.

I had someone say to me the other day, "Your life is so perfect. Sometimes it's hard to read your blog." And I almost laughed. Ok, I did laugh. I wanted to ask, "Have you ever READ my blog?" I'll be honest, I love my life. I believe with all my heart that I have the most generous, caring, protective, gifted, God-loving, committed, honest husband in the world. I don't deserve him, but God gave him to me anyway. My kids are good. Ok, they're really good. They have their problems... oh my gosh, do they ever, but they are really good kids. I could sit here before this computer and cry my eyes out if I stop long enough and think about all God has given me... but if I went back to the beginning....

If I went into detail about all the nights as a child I cried myself to sleep wondering if I would ever feel adored.... If I told you about how I never really felt worthy of love until I met my husband.... If I talked about my crazy "abandonment" issues and how I irrationally worry every single time someone walks out a door that I might never see them again.... If I really delved into the pain and loss I feel every single day when I so badly want to hear Grandma's voice and just ask her if I'm doing a good job.... or how thoughts of Grandpa alone in that house day in and day out plays on my heart.... MY LIFE IS FAR FROM PERFECT. I touch on all those issues here, and I think that's important. But I do not let that stuff direct me. It's hard. I wish I didn't have to do battle with it, but I do. And that's ok. I have a hope much bigger than all the yuck.

Last year was one of the hardest years of my life. The diagnosis of this disease was insanely difficult for me, and it came in the midst of some already dark days. But very soon after I made a decision. I wasn't going to let that darkness take control of my life. I sought the face of God probably more than I ever had, and in doing so, I completed a major goal and also became very intentional about pouring into my children whether it be baking (which we all love), little projects that make them happy, or just being their crazy mommy. I'm passionate about it. I'm passionate about life and living it for the One who gave it to us. I'm passionate about making the best out of our circumstances and being happy even if it doesn't make sense to be happy.

And I blog about those things.... the things I do that make me happy... that just might make someone else happy. But I want to know from those who read this blog, what sort of things do you enjoy on here? I don't want to bore people. I don't want to do this for nothing. If I'm going to do this, I want to do it for a purpose. I would love to hear the reasons why you read. Do you most enjoy the baking/recipe posts? Family stuff? Spiritual views? What?

I don't get hung up on comments like others might. In fact, Matt is usually the one who tells me that I have comments to read. But this time, I honestly, genuinely want to hear from you. Why do you read and what would you like to see more of?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Christmas Candy Dispenser

Don't pack away that Candy Corn "Gumball" Machine. Christmas-ize it. (My blog. I can make up words if I want.)

I took off the fall colored ribbon and added some Christmas colors, then filled it with yummy Christmas candy.

I am a sucker for the big, soft peppermints. It's the only peppermint I like actually. Well... that was until today and I bought and sampled the Hershey's Peppermint Kisses. Y'all, it's just obnoxious how good they are. They have just the right hint of sweet peppermint, and as a bonus, little bits of peppermint candy. I wouldn't steer you wrong... they're crazy good. Better than the candy corn kisses, and you know if I'm sayin' that, they're good.

The other kiss flavor I used is called Mint Truffle. Also very very good. Definitely worth a try. Here's my new Christmas-ized dispenser.

Speaking of Christmas candy, I also feel like I have to buy those chewy Christmas tree candies every year. Oh, I don't actually like to eat them. Let's not get crazy. But it's not Christmas without them.

What's your favorite store-bought Christmas candy?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Scripture Project

Thank you so much for all the names you gave me yesterday. Wow. I laughed. I wrote them down. I called Matt and said, "You've got to hear this one" at least five times. I love being a southern girl who can appreciate our rich culture. Honestly, thank you. I promise, many of those names will show up again. And if you keep thinking of more, please don't hesitate to go back and post them. I will be checking.

I have had an insanely busy day of cleaning, writing, and trying to get ready for a banquet tonight. I had planned on finishing a project to share with you today, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I know you're just heartbroken, right? Right?

I'll give you a hint about the project. Scripture. I love to pray scripture over my children. I've talked a little bit on here before about Estella Dru's verse. This is how I pray it: I pray that Estella Dru will do everything without complaining or arguing, so that she may become blameless and pure, a child of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which she shines like stars in the universe as she hold out the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16a

And Jeb's: I pray that above all else Jeb guards his heart... that he will put away perversity from his mouth; keep corrupt talk from his lips. I pray he lets his eyes look straight ahead, fixing his gaze directly before him. I pray he makes level paths for his feet and takes only the ways that are firm. I pray he does not swerve to the right or the left, but keeps his foot from evil. Proverbs 4:23-27

I haven't found Belle's yet, and I don't want to rush it. The other two came to me, and hers will, too.

We also have a family verse. I found myself saying this to my girls over and over, and finally it dawned on me... that's your verse. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord, and not for people. Colossians 3:23

Once I knew that was our family's verse, I wanted to display it prominently in our house. I realize you can commission artists to do stuff like this.... But with our budget, we don't "commission" anyone for anything. In fact, the thought of it makes me laugh a little. Someday, maybe. Someday.

So I came up with a solution that I can do myself. I hope turns out as well 'for real' as it is in my head. I'll share it with you tomorrow, hopefully. Here's a little teaser picture, complete with my straight-from-school-middle child. How I love her and that dirty little face.

Do you pray scripture over your children? Or your family? Which verses do you use?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Help a girl out... name a character (or two)

Novel update.... I have only sent a proposal out to one agent and one publishing house. I know. It's not very aggressive. But I just want it all to be 'right'. And strangely enough, I'm not stressing. If the One who gave this to me wants to give it to others, He will... in His time. No need to stress.

I have asked only five people to read my manuscript, four of which are related to me. And the other I have never met (in person) but to whom am so very grateful. (Have I said 'thank you' today, M? Thank you.) The reviews have been more than I expected, and I am grateful and hopeful. (Did I mention four of them were related to me?) All that said... I am pursuing publication, and hope I realize that goal very soon. As always, prayers are longed for.

As I have been thinking through and working on publication avenues of the book I'm calling (for now) A View from There, I've been praying for Him to give me a new story to tell. Praying hard. And the answer.... a big fat NOTHING. A few times I thought I had something, then trashed it. And so I prayed more. But not even a glimmer of a storyline came by way. Not a theme. NOTHING. Until last week.

Last week, a story began forming in my head--one that I couldn't get away from. Once it came, I've barely been able to think of much else. Today I started writing an outline. An outline! Yay! I'm very excited about this new project and have some serious goals in place that hopefully will ensure I finish this project much faster than the last.

And that brings me here, asking for some help. A View from There is set in the south. Many of the characters are colorful and loud and as southern as we get. They are pictures of people I've known... variations of their personalities or my take on it, anyway. And almost every character in the book has a name with some sort of meaning to me. Don't worry. I'm no Taylor Swift. If we dated, and you broke my heart, I didn't name an ax murderer or the family dog after you in the book. But I do draw from my own life in every area possible.

This book I'm working on now is also set in the south, and I need some names, y'all. Some SOUTHERN AS IT GETS names. In A View from There, I used my great aunt Modean's name for one of my key characters. It doesn't get much better than Modean. Although I saw a name the other day I absolutely fell in love with. Ready for it? Billie Wanda. How awesome is Billie Wanda?

So I'm sincerely asking for your help. Give me those southern names in your family... Uncle Cletuses or Cousin Billy Rays. Or just a name you've heard and it just drips with southern charm. I want to hear them. All of them. And if you want... tell me about that person... a character quality that is unique or special or downright insane. And who knows? If this thing ever gets put in writing, you may be the one who named a character.

Give me what you got. I promise, everything will be perused and considered!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oh no. I'm that mom.

Belle had her very first basketball game ever today. And it was quite the show. I don't think I've been to a "pee wee" sport since I was the pee wee, so I had forgotten what to expect. It was absolutely adorable. I mean... who needs to dribble? Or shoot at the right goal? Such trivial matters to worry with.

We had so much fun watching our little gals battle against the other teams. They tried so hard and did such a good job for their very first go at the sport.

Belle got off to a shaky start, but once she got the groove of things, she was aggressive and a force to be reckoned with on defense. At one point, she pulled out this crazy kung fu/ninja move that scared the ball right out of a little girl's hand. I was so proud of her. I shouldn't be surprised. She's good at everything she puts her little mind and heart to.

Who I WAS surprised at... was me. I always assumed I'd be that mom who sat quietly and cheered from the bleachers. Barely noticeable. But no... I'm not that mom. I started out ok. I was quiet enough. But once the game got going, I found myself yelling things like, "Get your hands up!" "You better get that rebound!" "Get that girl!" And my favorite of the day, "Belle, you have to dribble!" Sigh. Who knew I was that mom.

Here are some pictures from the games. The thing I immediately noticed is that there are very few shots out of at least fifty that my girl isn't smiling. I love that. (Well, except for maybe the last one. She wiped out but hopped right back up. She's a tough little thing. Cute, but tough.)