Author Archives: anndeecanndee

About anndeecanndee

I write books. Sometimes. Mostly I just throw up words.

I’m a really good cleaner person.

When I pick up I tend to put things in my pockets. Legos. Coins. Socks. Lint balls.

I also put things on my head. Barrettes. Elastics. Hats. Headphones.

And on my body. Sweatshirts. Towels (around the neck). Belts. Sunglasses.

And sometimes I put things in my mouth. Skittles. Half a pancake. An orange slice (healthy). Bread.

Cam might walk in the room and it will be clean at that point. So very clean.

He’ll look at me and say: Wow.

And I’ll say: Thank you. Yes. I deserve a medal.

And he’ll say: You know you just put the entire room on your person.

And I’ll say: Look around. Have you ever seen this place so spotless.

And he’ll say: What are you going to do now? It’s time for church.

I’ve been thinking about this habit and how maybe I do the same thing with my writing (when I treat it like a gift (or maybe a battle?) and actually do it). When I revise, clean up a manuscript so to speak, I collect a lot of things. Beautiful scenes that have to go. Pages of research that end up not mattering. Entire plot lines that lead to nowhere. It can be painful to cut and carry all these things. Or at the very least, heavy (a lot of sweatshirts and coats lying around these days).

But the beauty of it is that those things aren’t thrown away. They aren’t for nothing. No no no. Instead they go on my body. They go in my pockets. On my head.  And even into my mouth.

I have found that weeks or months or even years later in some cases, those scenes, those hours of research, those unused plot lines have inspired or reappeared or helped me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. When I thought, I don’t know how to solve this writing problem, or I don’t know how to write this scene or I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m going to quit, I’ve been able to reach into my pocket and pull out something that is exactly right.

The moral: Embrace revising. Embrace cutting. Embrace making your manuscript better even if it’s painful. Embrace “time wasted” for the good of the book. And put all those bits and pieces and hours and sweat on your person. You’ll find their place later.

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A few weeks ago my niece who is also my virtual trainer and one of my best friends, she texted me and asked if I had done the workout I was supposed to do for the day.

I laughed.

I hadn’t done the workout for the day in about two weeks.

I texted back: Wearing the same clothes from last Tuesday. Not exercising. Not eating kale. Just stepped on a banana.

A few days later, a box arrived in the mail.

It was a small stair stepper. The kind you can keep under your bed. The kind from infomercials. The kind that would make all my dreams come true.

I was thrilled.

Here are the reasons:

a. it was new.

b. it looked so easy.

c. I could do it in my bedroom where no one could see me.

d. it meant I was going to become fit and get dressed regularly and start eating kale.

Um.

Guess what happened?

I kept waiting for a chunk of time to do it. I kept looking for my sports bra and my dumb yoga pants. I kept waiting for the kids to be occupied. I kept waiting for the perfect time and the perfect atmosphere and the perfect feeling in my heart and soul to begin my journey to physical fitness.

Today I took the stepper out of the box. Finally.

I also got on the stepper. In my nightgown and underwear and barefeet and no bra (don’t picture it–please) and for ten interrupted (but I did squats during the interruptions) minutes, I did the stair stepper.

And, I felt amazing. I looked awful. My hair kept getting in my mouth. I didn’t have a protein drink hand and it wasn’t for sixty minutes. But amazing.

I still feel amazing. Ten minutes! It’s a start.

I sometimes do this with a new project. Or even an old project. One that I love. One that has so many shiny prospects. It’s going to be so easy! It’s going to be the novel of my dreams!  I would write and it would flow out of my  fingers and I wouldn’t stop until it was done. 2000 words a day just like Mr. Stephen King!!!!! But first I need time to write. I need a place to write. I need to feel like writing. I need everyone to LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!

But then . . .

Two weeks later.

Three weeks later.

And a new piece of workout equipment or novel idea looks so much better, so much more promising

I’m going to try ten minutes a day on my new stair stepper.

I’m also going to try ten minutes a day on my book that this killing me and that I’m a champion at avoiding. Ten minutes! Ten interrupted minutes even! Without wearing a bra!

I think I may be the only person with this problem. Oh well.

 

 

 

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Post Christmas Pudding

My dear friends,

Today as my kids were fighting and my baby crying and my dishes piling, I wondered if it might be a good idea for world leaders like Putin and Obama and Isis and Kim and all of them to take three weeks and watch five kids (or more or less even) full time.

All day long.

Change poopy diapers of kids who hate getting their diaper changed so they twist and scream and try their hardest to run away half wiped.

Mitigate fights over of legos and lego handbooks and lego instructions and legos being thrown all over the room and lego sets being destroyed and GET SAMMY OUT OF HERE HE’S BREAKING IT!

Have piles and piles of laundry that never get done and sometimes they get folded but they don’t get put away and then the dirty get mixed in with the clean and then there’s no distinction between the two so it’s start over time.

Spend time reading stories and chapters and novels.

Lose socks and mittens and favorite minecraft figures and hair clips and coats and the flour (???) and  jeans and keys and phones and the youngest child and homework and wedding rings and the book you were reading and an entire bag of potatoes.

Have people sit on your face at three in the morning.

Go sledding in the backyard.

Have other people brush your hair while you try to help someone else do a puzzle while the baby is throwing oatmeal.

Listen to one child say Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Over and over and over again with no regard for any answer you give them. Yes? What? How can I help you? Doesn’t matter.

Have a birthday party with ten boys where they make paper airplanes and run around the house and scream and you say things like, let’s keep it down. Be careful of the stairs. Don’t break your face!

Go to the bathroom with one or more kid standing next to you talking to you, asking what you’re doing, trying to climb on your lap, etc.

Lay in bed in the morning with five people wrestling and laughing and kicking your stomach and yelling and wanting cereal and pancakes and bacon and milk.

Feel a general ache in your bones because you love your children and you want them to be happy and work hard and learn and eat healthy food and get a lot of fresh air and become responsible adults and kind people who aren’t jerks but you also know it might not matter so much what you do or maybe it does matter but you’re tired and you’re kind of a jerk too so good luck to them.

Feel another less general ache. One that is centered right above your heart where your creative center beats and you want more than anything to be able to write. To read. To think. To take more than ten minutes at a time to spread your thoughts out. To let them marinate and connect. To write without it having to amount to anything because you have the luxury of time. Time to let the crap out and the good out and time to figure out which is which. Which ideas should rise to the top and which are just stepping stones to getting there.

Do you think it would change them? Would they be different? Would there be less wars? More wars? More compassion? Less compassion? Would they curl up in beds? Take the kids to museums, Bjorns and all? Get the bathrooms clean using environmentally safe cleaners and dinner made with grass fed beef all while cutting health care? What would it be like?

Someone is crying now that’s it for me.

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Violent Video Games are Bad

The semester is almost over and I’m starting to finally feel like maybe I can breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. I decided to teach freshman English this year and it was harder than I expected.

But also better than I expected.

Here is a list of the research topics they chose:

Music

Violent Video Games

Pro-Eating Disorder websites.

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) syndrome associated with Facebook etc.

Body Image

Anonymity vs. Security

New Media in Elections

Parent/Child relationships online

Truth vs. Untruths spread by social media

Women and Pornography

Pornography and the brain

Hashtag Activism

Race and Social Media

Sports and Social Media

And more. While these papers were long and long and long (I required them to be long) and I had to grade them (my least favorite thing in the whole wide world), they were also interesting. Fascinating in some cases. And gave me lots of writing ideas.

Question for the writers: Do you ever consider writing non-fiction? If so, what kind of non-fiction? What about a novel for adults? How would your brain have to shift to do that kind of writing? Why did you decide to write the things you write?

Question for readers: What do you read and why? Do you ever read outside your preferred genre? Why? When? Have you ever gone a historical fiction binge? A self-help binge? A graphic novel binge? When? Why?

I love how life can inform my profession. The good. The bad. The sad. The happy. All of it can make me a richer writer.

xoxox hastagloveandcandy

 

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The goose is getting fat

Hello my friends,

It’s been too long. And I should be making lunches for the kids and making people practice and maybe changing into real clothes. But instead I am here to say a few things.

  1. I love this book review of Anna Quindlen’s book How Reading Changed my Life. It’s written by my good friend Tracy who I admire and who is smart and funny and true. Here is a quote: Reading is a balm for loneliness.  It diminishes human isolation as much as it expands our knowledge or offers us entertainment.  “Part of the great wonder of reading is that it has the ability to make human beings feel more connected to one another.”
  2. My seven year old had a nightmare that he forgot all his lines for the Gingerbread Man (he got the lead!) and he came into my room sobbing. It reminded me that things that seem small to me–“just say ‘You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!'”–are actually very big to him. And really, if I can put things into perspective, that would be a nightmare. Can you imagine forgetting in front of all of those people? When we write for kids, we should acknowledge how big and real their problems are. Not getting picked for soccer. Losing your homework. A girl always putting your dang backpack off the hook and on the ground. Losing your mittens. Not having anyone talk to you at recess. Those are things are real. Just as real as getting 100% on the spelling test. Or making it across the monkey bars. Or getting picked to help in the office all day.
  3. I wonder why at the core of my novels there is a fundamental sadness. This is what an editor said to me recently. Why do I do that? what does that mean? And does that say something about me? What is at the core of your novels?
  4. My sweet baby is toddling all over the house. It seems so strange that somebody so small, those tiny little legs, could be walking and laughing and hitting her brothers. It’s a wonder and a miracle and I am grateful for every second of it. This is my plug for you and for me to write more things down. To practice your writing by using your family as subjects. Write down what they say. Write down what they do. Write down what you feel. For you. For them. For all of us one day.

That is all and Merry first day of December and may we all love each other.

 

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Assignment today is to read The Veldt. 

I am putting together a reading and study list. Ray Bradbury is my first study subject. You can join me if you want.

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Gut

Today, as I take another bite of chocolate covered cinnamon bears, I feel myself physically get fatter. Like the adipose tissue in my stomach globbing and growing and I wonder, does a body get tired?

Are you tired of all the sugar and the sadness? Is it fair to heap everything, my worries and my stresses and my disappointments and even my joys on one helpless frame of bones and tissue and blood and organs, one body that works and works and works to keep me going.

We went to Yellowstone Park last weekend. I told Cam to be prepared.

Prepared for what?

I’m probably going to be discovered for a movie.

He looked at me. What are you talking about?

One time I heard Winona Ryder walked into a cafe where a movie casting director happened to be eating french fries and when he saw her, he knew it. He just knew she was going to be a star. He talked her into being in a little film called Lucas (which I love, P.S.) and the rest is history (I just googled Winona and it turns out that that the story isn’t true which is a little devastating because I feel like my daydreams for the past thirty years have been based on this legend).

I tell Cam that probably at the Old Faithful Lodge, probably while I’m holding my baby and trying to calm down my two year old and my bum is hanging out of my mom jeans and my bangs that were supposed to be cool and ironic but which most of the time look puffy and eighties, my bangs are at their worst, probably right then, a famous director will see me, he’ll see through the exhaustion and the wrinkles and the belly and the screaming children and he’ll say: Excuse me.

And I’ll say: Me?

Yes, he’ll say, You. I can’t help but notice you’re different.

Me?

Yes, you. You. There’s something about you.

He’ll study me. I’ll blush. The babies will keep screaming but no matter.

Have you been in films? He’ll ask.

Why, no. I haven’t.

He nods. That’s what it is. It’s rawness. It’s real gut. You’re what I’ve been looking for.

And then he’ll tell me he’s got a project going in two locations Toronto and Rome with a final scene in Hawaii–blast the budget he needs that shot! An independent film and he’d love to fly me out. He’s already got Viggo Mortensen and Helen Mirren signed up. Would I consider? It would only be three months. I could possibly bring the family but it would be long days for me, a lot of hard emotional work. I have to do it though. I have to. Because he’s been looking and looking and looking for just the right person and he’s sorry. I am so sorry, but you are her.

What should we do? I ask Cam.

He stares at me.

I mean it’s only three months.

He keeps staring at me.

The baby is happy now as I hold her on my hip the others are hitting each other as they wait for Old Faithful.

Do you think we can do it? I ask. Can we make it work?

Cam nods then. He says, I think we can. I think it’s probably the right thing to do.

And you guys, it is the right thing to do. You just have to make it work, is what I say.

And that’s all for today.

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