Fear and goals, or What the heck was I thinking?

Don’t hate me. This is my view.
I’m about two minutes away from buying a warm mocha.
Snow is falling.
Yesterday, a few minutes were not so idyllic. Some background, I didn’t learn to snow ski until my late twenties. I grew up on the water, have even barefoot. Where you lean back instead of all this forward business. Now, My husband took me to the top of the mountain yesterday, and although I was fine physically, my head screamed one part was crazy steep.
Enter irrational Kristin.
My voice reached that croaky high pitch. Tears brimmed the corners of my eyes. Five year olds zipped past. (Which made me feel worse, as cute as they were.) But then I realized something: The only way I was getting down the mountain was to just do it. One turn at a time.

So I took a deep breath, and I made my way down just fine. Not pretty, but fine.
Then I did it again.
That experience got me thinking about fear. Although I didn’t know it, I was eating the elephant one bite, or turn, at a time.
If you’re writing, or revising, or dealing with anything that seems too big, too overwhelming, remember to ask yourself, “What’s the smallest step I can take?”
You can either stare at your goal and let your brain tell you it can’t be done, or you can start moving, bit by bit. Movement creates inertia. Action makes momentum. If you’re bogged down in procrastination (often stemming from fear), make yourself work for five minutes. You might be surprised when fifteen have flown by. Before you know it, you’ll have eaten that elephant, written that novel, skied that mountain.
I’ll be the one in the aqua hat at the bottom, holding out a mocha.
But for now, I’m off for re-writes.


It’s been years since we gave this dog away.
Funny, I never got around to finishing.
Don’t think I want to.
I loved that dog. She was horrid.
Which makes me wonder.
How can I be sure about leaving that work but not other creative efforts?
Maybe knowing when to walk away boils down to knowing when you can’t.
Now, the sun is dallying. The days are longer.
Can I have a hallelujah?
Maybe I’ll pick up paints. Do something crafty. Play with the kids, outdoors.
Finish a few things.
You know that I’ve been meaning to.
If something strikes my fancy, I’ll post soon enough.
As a family, we’re entering a whirlwind season. I hope to come out with my mess of hair relatively tame.
But tonight, I’m just thankful.

Where does the heart crack open?

“Here’s the thing . . . where the heart cracks open is where our deepest longings lie, and that is what Story is all about.”

If you write, please read this post by Kathi Appelt. Then be brave enough to ask the same question.
I am trying.
It’s not easy.
But who said anything worth it is?

Friday Five

1. We had a mini-blizzard in my corner of the world, where they cancel school for a few flakes and are not accustomed to such blustery-ness and frigid temps (-18 F).
2. That’s right. I made blustery a noun.
3. My family has experienced LOTS of togetherness. And there’s only 4,141 minutes until Monday morning. Not that I’m counting.
4. My new picture book critique group is lovely, and friend Tammi Sauer‘s latest book, MR. DUCK MEANS BUSINESS, is out.
5. A little late to the party, but I’m reading – and adoring – COSMIC by Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Make a Superlative Book

by Mo Willems.*

• Biggest thing one needs to do…decide whose side your on…the key: BE ON THE KID’S SIDE. • Realize that childhood sucks. • Life is filled with restrictions for kids. • Keep in mind that the book must be read aloud…it’s like a script or play. • Study improv comedy. • Our picture books are THEATRICAL PERFORMANCES. • Sound of the words is very important. • Mo says…if he can read a ms and understand what’s going on, there are too many words. • Take out as much as possible and let each word do as much as possible: Nouns and verbs are important. • The more words you have on the page, the faster it’ll be read and vice versa…example: in Leonardo the Terrible Monster there is one page that contains only one word…Sam. When a teacher reads this page, she reads it slowly. • Characters who are enemies are so b/c they are essentially the same. • It only takes one moment of empathy to turn enemies into friends. • Storyboard your ms so you can see what happens in the page turn. • Work for an audience…always keep the audience in mind. • Once you care about the audience more than yourself, you are a writer. • Develop a loud sense of empathy—how would I feel if I were in a kid’s position? • Mo says, “Their [kids’] misery is HILARIOUS. Just be on their side.” • With ideas…the easy part is coming up with one…the hard part is keeping it alive. • Look for emotional truth in a story. • Seeming effortless is KEY. • “Books should not be read. They should be played.” • He plays with characters and situations. • He explores characters before putting them in a story. • He designs the star of every book so a kid can easily render the character’s image.
*I was cleaning old files and found this fantastic list saved from August 2006. My apologies I cannot properly credit the note-taker. 🙁

Preparing for the Winter Apocalypse, 2011

If meteorologists are correct, this will be the third consecutive year we’ve experienced an ice storm the last week of January. In my neck of the woods.

I remember, because every year I go to bake my oldest a birthday cake. Yet we have no power.

In 2009, this lasted. For. Days. (Whimper.) For others, weeks. We were the lucky ones. But this year, I wised up. I bought his cake.

I must admit, the first 48 hours of hunkering down are fun. Practically pioneer-y.
There’s something unifying about camping out in your living room, walled off from the rest of the house via quilts nailed to the wall, shivering in front of a wood burning fireplace with your pajama-clad kids and flashlights and open books and boardgames and a mutt with chronic halitosis.

I think that was a run-on.

And don’t forget the snacks.
Necessary snacks.
Everyone knows being snowed or iced in, is made better with proper snackage.

Like caramel popcorn.
A handed down family favorite.
I made ours last night.
Old Man Winter, we’re set.
As soon as I round up all the flashlights.
Caramel Popcorn
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
16 cups popped popcorn
1 cup nuts or M&Ms (optional)
Stir together first 5 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stir constantly.
Remove mixture from heat, and stir in soda.
Place half of popcorn, and if desired nuts or candy, in each of 2 lightly greased shallow roasting pans. Pour sugar mixture over popcorn. Stir well with a lightly greased spatula.
Bake @ 250 for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on wax paper to cool, breaking apart large clumps. Store in airtight container.
Photography courtesy of my husband.

Merry Christmas 2010

From our house(s) to yours!

It’s hard to let the ever growing pile of rejections get me down this time of year. Shoot, I even missed the lunar eclipse, but Candy! Baked goods! Everywhere! (We even have a birthday thrown in the mix.)
Twinkling lights, Christmas carols, live nativities, hot cocoa, fires, and reading late at night.
Movies, family, health, and warmth.
I’ll see you in January. (My goal is to make significant writerly progress, chock-full of madcaper-y fun.)
And if you’re needing a holiday treat in a pinch, I insist you try Graham Cracker Goodness. My favorite – from editor Cheryl Klein.
I honestly. *crunch* Can’t stop eating. *crunch, crunch* Them. Excuse me.
Happy Holidays, and God bless us every one.
“For unto YOU is born this day, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Heads up: Meteor Shower & Total Lunar Eclipse

The massive Geminid meteor shower, the year’s best display of shooting stars, will peak during the overnight hours of Dec. 13 and 14th.And the total lunar eclipse on the night of Dec. 20 promises to be the best lunar eclipse show until April 2014.Lunar eclipse skywatching tipsFor the Western Hemisphere, the eclipse will “officially” begin on Dec. 21 at 12:29 a.m. EST (9:29 p.m. PST on Dec. 20) as the moon begins to enter Earth’s outer, or penumbral, shadow. It should last 72 minutes.That’s my Public Service Announcement of the week. JAnd, I’ve got nothing. I just dipped 200 plus pretzels in chocolate coating and crushed peppermint. For dear son’s school project. He owes me big time. 🙂