Making the Move to My New Site

Well, it’s been a fantastic run here on my wordpress.com blog. It’s been my home through name changes, merged secondary blogs, changes in content, and periodic redesigns. I even owned the domain name at one point. But I needed to have a web site for business, so it was time to own my own real estate.

You can now find me here: amleibowitz.com (that’s my author name—it’s a combination of my first name and married last name initials plus my birth name). Today’s post, my WIPpet, can be found here: http://amleibowitz.com/2014/08/06/drumroll-please-and-a-wippet

Thanks for sticking with me, and I hope to see you over at my new home!

Deep Thoughts with My Kids

I’m stalling today. I desperately want to do a dozen things, all of which are distractions from the novel I’m supposed to be working on. I’ve also charged myself with writing a blog post a week that isn’t WIPpet Wednesday or a ROW80 check-in, so at least this particular distraction is legitimate.

I played around with several topics, including throwing in my two cents on the whole Mark Driscoll fiasco that exploded this week. (I’m rejecting that one on the grounds that I have no real dog in that fight and there are much, much better people to listen to on that subject. Here and here are two of my favorites, if you care to find out what I’m talking about.)

I mentioned needing to write a post to a friend in an exchange that went like this:

Me: I need to do a blog post some time. But I need a topic first. LOL!

She: Why open conversations with children are necessary to the betterment of their lives and yours.

I did chuckle a little at that because yesterday, I had one such conversation with my kids over lunch. I had just come back from J’s appointment with his ADHD doctor. At the appointment, I mentioned that the bullying J experienced at school was largely of the “you’re not boy enough” variety. What was sad to me was how unsurprised his doctor was, although I was pleased when he said, “That should bother us on so many levels.”

When we returned home, J brought it up again, and he, S, and I started talking about what makes a person a girl or a boy. It’s interesting to me that people feel we can’t talk to kids about gender identity because they’re “too young to understand.” Let me assure you that my kids have a very good idea about gender identity, and talking with them was not difficult.

We talked about a lot of things, including how girls can often get away with being “tomboys” and wearing their brothers’ clothes but it doesn’t go the other way. I suggested that needs to change, and both kids said, “Yeah! That’s not fair!” We continued talking about the full range of identity and expression, and at no point did either of them act confused or upset.

Throughout the conversation, they were at the helm. I did very little other than answer questions and let them say what they wanted. Interestingly, both of them said they truly feel—inside and out—like a boy and like a girl, respectively. But apparently they already know kids who don’t feel the same.

This is why we need to talk about it. I am one hundred percent happy to talk with my own kids, to reassure them that whoever they are, they are loved by their dad and me. They are free to express themselves any way they choose. But that’s not the only reason to open that conversation. Surely over time, they will have friends who defy what society says is acceptable—not just gender or sexuality but many other things that are part of a person as a whole.

When that happens, I want my kids to be the sort of people who are loving, open, and understanding with all people. I want them to be able to tell their friends that if they don’t feel accepted in other places, they are always welcome in our house. Here, they will find people who don’t merely “tolerate” or even “accept” them but who actively take an interest and care about them.

Having these conversations with our children is absolutely not just about us or our kids. It’s about making a better world for everyone.

WIPpet Wednesday: Genie on the Doorstep

Happy Wednesday! I’m thrilled to be back. We took a trip to Cooperstown for the baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I’m back, better rested than I was on Monday. But I’m still very, very sore from the sunburn. Note to self: 5 hours is too long without reapplying sunscreen.

ROW80 Update:

Due to travel, I missed my writing goal, and I’m not sure if I’ll get to a blog post this week. We’ll see.

  • Write in Passing on Faith one hour/day: Nope. Missed Saturday and Sunday due to travel.
  • Read 30 min/day: √ Yep! Finished the book I was reading. Go, me!
  • Write one non-ROW80/WIPpet post/week: Not yet. I’ll let you know Sunday.

On to the WIPpet!

For this week, I’m sharing part of Chapter 2. Micah is surveying the horribleness of the house he inherited and wishing he didn’t have to deal with it. I tend to think he’s avoiding dealing with a lot of things at the moment. This is still fairly lighthearted, but the story itself is overall taking a somewhat more angsty turn than I expected. This is a good thing, I think, but we shall see.

My WIPpet math: (7 + 3 + 0) + (1 + 4 – 2) = 13 sentences.

Although he knew he should get to work, that was the last thing he wanted to do. He flopped down on the couch, sending a puff of dust into the air which caused him to cough. Surveying the rubble from his meltdown the day before, he curled his lip in disgust. He leaned back, groaning, and ran a hand through his hair. It would be the perfect time to discover a magic lamp in among the knickknacks. If only he could produce a genie to make everything disappear.

A knock on the door startled him out of his miserable reverie. Hauling himself up, he slumped over to the door and opened it. There stood his new neighbor, notebook and cell phone in hand. This time, Cat was dressed in a vivid orange t-shirt—how he got away with that given his hair color was anyone’s guess, but it looked surprisingly good—and a pair of well-worn jeans. His Converse were the same shade of orange as the shirt. Under the v-neck collar, a thin gold chain peeped out. He still had the same dangling leaf earring he’d been wearing before, and now Micah had a better look, he saw exactly what it was.

I’ll bet you can guess. ;)

Thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting, as always. Don’t forget to check out the other entries and add your own. Just connect it to the date (see my math above for an example) and link up with us. Happy writing!

WIPpet Wednesday: Fix ‘Er Up

Hooray! It’s Wednesday! Time for a new WIPpet and ROW80 check-in.

My goals:

  • Write one hour/day in Passing on Faith The plot bunny still won’t leave me alone, but I used it to my advantage to work out a key plot point. So, win.
  • Read 30 minutes/day Haven’t missed any since last check-in.
  • Write one blog post/week other than WIPpet/ROW80 Yep, posted it on Monday.

I’m skipping my Sunday post because we are going to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame inductions. That’s going to derail my goals for the weekend as well. I’ll still get my reading in, but no writing and probably no extra blog post next week, since I’ll be catching up and the kids will be done with camp.

I admit I’m struggling with this novel. I’m over halfway through, and this is the point where my last one hit a bump, too. I began having it beta read in order to overcome the slump, but I’m not at that point with this one for a number of reasons. Consequently, today’s snippet is a little dull. I’m just posting what comes immediately after last week’s. Part of the problem is that I don’t want to reveal too much too soon, and some things I’m not sure about revealing at all. This damn story has too many potential spoilers!

Boring math, too: 7 + 2 + 3 = 12 paragraphs. Sigh.

Cat’s eyebrows shot up, but he didn’t ask for more information. Instead, he looked around. “This place is a dump.”

“Tell me about it,” Micah grumbled. “That’s part of the problem. It’s truly not livable. I have to go back to town and get a hotel room until I’ve cleaned out most of what’s in here.”

“You want some help?”

“With what, finding a room? I’m an adult. I think I can manage.”

Cat rolled his eyes. “No. I meant fixing this place. I’m actually pretty handy with a trash bin, and I know just about everyone in town. We’ll get your house in shape.”

Micah desperately wanted an excuse to say no. He wasn’t anxious to get acquainted with the locals, nor was he interested in being indebted to Cat for his help. On the other hand, he had no idea what he was doing. If Cat—or anyone else, for that matter—could assist him, he might be able to get the house ready by the end of summer.

He found himself saying, “All right.”

“Good.” Cat stood up. “Let me make a few calls, and I’ll tell you what I’ve got. We can at least figure out what needs to be fixed.” He cringed a little. “Um, can I have my glass back?”

Micah laughed. “Sure.” He drained the last of the lemonade and handed Cat the glass. “I’d wash it for you, but I’m not sure what would come out of the tap.”

“No problem. See you around?”

“Yeah.” Micah offered a real smile this time, and Cat returned it.

Maybe, just maybe, he could get through the summer after all.

I’ll try to find something a bit more interesting for next time. If you want to read some less dull entries than mine, go here. Feel free to add your own, associated with the date however you choose. Thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting, as always. Happy writing!

So…what exactly is it you write?

I had the *ahem* fun of trying to explain myself as a writer yesterday.

You know that special moment when you aren’t quite sure what to say to people when they ask you about your job? No? Well, perhaps you have a nine-to-five desk job and your very own cube. That’s nice—people relate to that. But maybe you do something at your job that’s hard to explain or doesn’t fit in a neat box or is potentially embarrassing. Maybe you’ve gone to a family or class reunion with a bajillion people you haven’t seen in twenty years, and they all want to know one thing: what you do for a living. Only you have a sudden case of nerves when telling them because you have no way to gauge their potential reactions.

Yeah, it’s like that for me as a writer. Don’t get me wrong—I love, love, love telling people that I write. The magic of saying my book is due to be published has yet to wear off; I still glow just a little every time I think about it. You know what I don’t like, though? Answering people when they say,

So…what’s your book about? I’d love to read it.

My typical reaction goes something like this:

Um.

Well…

It’s kind of…

There’s this guy, see, and…

Oh, shit.

There is absolutely no good way to tell some of my friends, “No, you most definitely do not want to read this thing I wrote.” Because realistically, of course I want people to read it! I want to sell lots and lots of copies! I don’t relish the idea of explaining to my friends that perhaps it wouldn’t be their cup of tea.

My husband covered for me, which had me laughing so hard I thought I might drop off my chair. He just flat out told one person, “No, you probably don’t want to read it.” He explained it wasn’t the kind of thing he would want our kids reading. Which, no shit, Sherlock. I don’t write kids’ fic or YA, so even if it were so clean you could read it out loud in church, it probably still wouldn’t be for children.

The difficulty is in explaining to certain adults why they wouldn’t read it. That brings a new level of awkwardness when you’re sitting in a church basement, enjoying a pizza lunch, surrounded by your children and their camp counselors and your friends of varying levels of conservative Christianity—and you aren’t quite sure which ones are at which end of the spectrum.

(Taking off my hat and placing it over my heart. Please trust me when I say I have only the most love and respect for these folks, regardless of our political and theological differences. *Deep breath*.)

So I finally settled on just telling people that I write romance novels. Which in one sense is kind of true, it’s just not the whole picture. The good news is that it’s highly effective in getting men to stop asking questions; not so much with women.

I made that mistake exactly once before yesterday’s hemming and hawing. A friend at church asked; I answered, hoping she was one of those super-religious types that would just shut the hell up because she knows what’s in most romance novels (hint: the characters are not “playing tent” under the sheets). Instead, she had verbal diarrhea about some friend who writes those nauseating Amish romances. I guess the good news is that she, too, finds them crappy, but it didn’t help when I had to tell her, “That’s not what I write.”

Which brings me to the sad conclusion of this tale: I still don’t know how to answer people when they ask that question. It’s my own failing, really. I have trouble navigating the social contexts in which it would be safe to be fully open and honest about the content of my novel. It’s clearly not a great idea to explain to a room full of people with more…traditional?…values what it’s about. But there are people of a more liberal stripe who would be equally displeased with me. What’s a writer to do?

I guess all I can say is, if you bother reading my blog at all, and have done so any time in the last six months, you know damn well what my novel is about.* You know what the next one’s about, too, more or less. And if you still like me after that, well, then you are a pretty special person, and I’m lucky to have you in my life.

Also, yes. You should read my book. Even if you’re a dude or conservative or just really, really straight-laced. Even if it makes your cheeks flush or your jaw drop or your eyes pop out of your head. Even if you turn to the nearest person and mouth, What on God’s green Earth was she thinking? Even if you throw the book out a window (when you’re done, of course). Because if I haven’t put you off with the snippets I’ve shared, then you aren’t likely to be too upset with the rest of it—or with me, for that matter. Heck, you might even end up enjoying it. ♥

____________________________

*If you’re still in the dark, pop some popcorn, settle into your favorite chair, and click here for all my WIPpets. They’re in reverse order, so find the oldest one and start there.

ROW80 Update: Sunday Edition

I’ve been super productive with both kids in camp. One more week of camp and then I may regret making my goals. Ha!

I’ll make this quick, as I don’t have much time. I need to make dinner. As my writing partners can affirm, I’m always eating whenever I write. Apparently, it makes me hungry!

To sum up:

Write 1 hour a day on my current WIP, Passing on Faith. Started a new project as well, which I won’t keep up on. It was just a way to let the plot bunny have a say without compromising the novel.

Read 30 minutes a day. Only missed one—didn’t read yesterday because I didn’t have time. We went to one of those murder-mystery dinners.

Write 1 blog post per week that isn’t ROW80 or WIPpet Wednesday. Yep, accomplished earlier in the week.

How are your goals going?

WIPpet Wednesday: Lemonade and Sympathy

Big news this week: I’m about to have a web site of my own! My amazing graphic designer finalized my banner this week, so as soon as everything’s in place, I will do the big drum roll and reveal. Stay tuned, because my web site (and its name) are a-changin’.

On the ROW80 front, I managed to meet my goals so far. (You can read other updates and join in here.) Refresher course:

  • Write in Passing on Faith for an hour a day: Also wrote a bit on a short story
  • Read a book for 30 minutes a day: I have two going now
  • Write a blog post that’s not WIP/ROW80 once a week:  Posted my review of Across Worlds: Collision, an erotic sci-fi novel

For today’s WIPpet, I’ve got another bit between Micah and Cat. In case you missed it, ages ago I posted about Micah discovering the inside of the lake house is pretty bad. He made it worse by smashing stuff his father and stepmother were packing up before Dear Ol’ Dad died. Let’s just say he’s not in a good mood. Maybe Cat will cheer him up…or make it worse. WIP math is 7 – 1 + 6 = 12 paragraphs.

Micah stood up, wiping his eyes with the heels of his hands. He sighed and yanked the sheet off an old chair. He flopped down in it and buried his head in his hands, still sniffling a little. He decided he would sit right there until he was struck with a brilliant plan for how to manage his misfortune. It might have been a whole two minutes before someone knocked on the front door. Huffing, he rose and went to answer it.

He held back a groan when he saw who it was. Cat, his oddly chipper neighbor, was back. He had a glass of what might have been lemonade in his hand and a lopsided smile on his face. When he looked up at Micah, his expression changed. His smile slid away and his eyes widened.

“You okay?” he asked.

Micah ran a hand through his hair and contemplated telling Cat it was just allergies. Instead, something made him say, “No. I am not okay. But if you want to come in and sit down on my couch, risking black lung from all the dust, by all means.” He stood aside and swept his hand, indicating Cat should join him.

Hesitantly, Cat stepped over the threshold. He extended the glass to Micah. “Thought you could use this. Maybe you need something stronger, though.”

Micah snorted. “Yeah, probably, except I don’t drink.” He accepted the lemonade and took a sip. The tart liquid was refreshingly cool against his burning throat. “Thanks for this.” He tilted the glass toward Cat.

Cat grinned. “I was a little worried for a minute there. Want to tell me about it?”

“Not really.” Micah dragged the sheet off the couch, and Cat perched on the end as though he thought it might contaminate him.

“Fair enough.” He continued to watch Micah, though.

Micah sighed heavily. “I inherited this house. My father just died.”

“I’m sorry,” Cat said, his voice soft and warm.

“I’m not.”

And I’ll just leave it there.

On a completely random note, here is a video for your amusement.

WIPpet Wednesday is hosted by the excellent K. L. Schwengel. You can read the other entries and add your own here. Just post a bit of your work-in-progress, connect it to the date any way you can, and share it with us. Happy writing!