Author Archives: anndeecanndee

About anndeecanndee

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

Today

A few things:

1. Praying for Rick. Such a wonderful man and writer.

2. My baby rolled over.

3. My sweet neighbor decided to be me for her fifth grade wax museum which is so nice and strange and kind because she was supposed to pick someone famous and  I’m nobody and there’s jam on my shirt:

Autumn wax museum

4. I’m trying to get a revision to my editor by Friday and that’s why I’m eating saltines with strawberry jam on them like I’m 11 again and blogging and taking pictures of my baby and eating saltines with jam on them.

5. For writing practice, please list all the after school foods you ate including jam and saltines. Do you still eat them? What does your character eat? Does their mom know? Is it payback that my kids now eat cereal with hot chocolate mix in their milk?

xoxoxo

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my bald head

Dear Friends,

I’m typing this with a one year old on my lap. He doesn’t say many words. He does have a lot of opinions, however. And he makes sure everyone hears them.

Sometimes I wish he would grow up faster so that he could communicate and there wouldn’t be so much screaming.

But then I try to pick up my eight year old and I can’t because he’s so big and I want to bawl my eyes out.

Time goes so fast. I feel like I’m a 100 years old. I also feel like I’m 13. Just yesterday I was learning to drive a stick shift on the steep driveway of a church by Timpview, my mom making me practice with the clutch over and over again until the smell of burned rubber and metal was so bad, she said, “Okay. I think we better stop for today.” Today I’m driving around a orange peel infested Odyssey full of people hitting each other and yelling for me to change the song.

I’m nostalgic for my childhood.

I’m nostalgic for right now because I know it’s going to be gone before I know it.

What does your character miss?

What does your character wish would end?

Does time go fast?

Does time go slow?

Does she want to buzz her head?

I want to buzz my head. Or at least cut it very very short. But I also don’t want to look like a mom even though I have five kids. I have five kids and I wear the same clothes for days in a row and one time my only hope was for a boy to hold my hand at the movies.

My one year old is trying to type now. He’s yelling about it. And we’re fighting. My baby is crying now too. I guess I’ll go.

Love

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The shoe lady

Dear Everyone,

Today I wore a embroidered Mexican dress.  I love it and it feels like I’m in my pajamas all day but also not in my pajamas.

I went on a walk with my kids and a neighbor saw me and said: are you the old woman who lived in a shoe?

This struck me as funny and for a brief moment I stepped outside and looked at myself. A girl. A lady, really, I guess. Am I a lady? I feel like a girl.

A girl.

Holding a baby.

A toddler toddling.

A little boy running.

Two older little boys arguing.

The six of us walking down the sidewalk.

The sun coming down.

No make up.

Barefoot.

In this dress.

I thought, I am the old woman who lived in a shoe.

I also thought, I’m so grateful to be her.

I also thought, isn’t amazing that a nursery rhyme can say so much.

It’s poetry.

Poetry that’s been passed down and over and under and all over. Poetry that has many meanings. Poetry that teaches kids to read. Poetry that evokes an emotional response.

It seems so simple but it does so much.

I love words.

The end.

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My kids are obsessed with Mr. Dahl.

Things about Roald Dahl that were discussed this weekend with my kids:

1. He never let anyone in his writing hut so it never got cleaned and never got dusted. It was white with a yellow door and tiny. (Dreamy)

2. He had a chocolate bar every day (which is probably the secret to his success, I believe).

3. He probably was pretty rich. They wanted to know how rich. I said I didn’t know. They wanted to know if Roald Dahl had a battle with JK Rowling in riches, who would win. I said Ms. Rowling.

4. He wrote on American yellow legal pads which were sent from New York City and every week he’d have a bonfire and burn the papers that didn’t make it into the book.

5. No. I was not as rich as Roald Dahl.

6. He crashed his plane when he was in the Royal Air Force, hitting the sand at 75 mph.

7. He wrote for 3.5 hours a day. 10:30 to noon and 4-6. That’s it. But it was every day. Look at the beauty he created in a 3.5 hour workday.

8. He always had breakfast in bed (lucky guy).

9. No. I would not ever sell as many books and Roald Dahl.

10. The Gremlins was his first short story (my husband was excited when he heard that. Hey! I’ve seen that movie. I said, sadly no. Not that Gremlins, which is a creepy creepy show).

11. He has a cookbook, written/compiled by him and his wife the last year of his life which I want. I also want chocolate.

12. He made a magical world. “I really like his books,” one of my boys said. And I agreed.

We all agreed that we wanted to visit Roald Dahl’s house and his writing hut and his museum and we wanted to see Matilda the musical and we wanted to live in a world where we got to go to a chocolate factory and get revenge on mean adults and kids alike. We wanted to get magical worms that made peaches giant and we wanted to be entranced by Giants who were friendly and scary.

I have read most of Roald Dahl’s writing for kids but barely touched his stuff for adults. And in writing this post that should be whimsical and happy, but is really tired and slow, I have come to suddenly want to read everything he’s written. Maybe that will be my reading goal for 2015. Read all of Roald Dahl’s writing. And eat some lollies. And try to have more fun when I write.

As a family, we just finished Matilda and we’re starting on James and the Giant Peach. You can join us!

10.

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Carol got them right except for the Caldecott . . .

Book cover: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary FriendThe Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, illustrated and written by Dan Santat and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
In four delightful “visual chapters,” Beekle, an imaginary friend, undergoes an emotional journey looking for his human. Santat uses fine details, kaleidoscopic saturated colors, and exquisite curved and angular lines to masterfully convey the emotional essence of this special childhood relationship.
“Santat makes the unimaginable, imaginable,” said Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Junko Yokota.

2015 Honor Books

Book cover: Nana in the City
Nana in the City
, written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Castillo’s evocative watercolor illustrations tell the story of a young boy’s visit to his grandmother, and the reassuring way she helps him to lose his fear and experience the busy, loud city in a new way.

Book cover: The Noisy Paint Box
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art
, illustrated by Mary GrandPré, written by Barb Rosenstock and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York
Abstract artist Vasily Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds and sounds as colors; he created work that was bold and groundbreaking using colors from his “noisy paint box.” His process is reflected beautifully by GrandPré, whose paint flows across the page in ethereal ribbons of color..

Book cover: Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, 
illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett and published by Candlewick Press
Klassen’s use of texture, shape and earth tones in this deceptively simple book invite readers into the experience of two boys, who, accompanied by their dog, set out to dig a hole. Readers will find an unexpected treasure and be challenged to ponder the meaning of “spectacular.”

Book cover: Viva Frida
Viva Frida
, illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales and published by Roaring Brook Press, a Neal Porter Book
Using a unique variety of media – puppetry, printmaking, painting and photography – combined with an intoxicating use of color and unfailing sense of composition, Morales celebrates the artistic process.

Book cover: The Right Word
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant and published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Sweet’s inspired mixed media illustrations illuminate the personality and work of a man passionately interested in many things. Her collages combine disparate elements to create a cohesive whole, echoing the ways in which Roget ordered the world into lists that evolved into his groundbreaking thesaurus.

Book cover: This One Summer
This One Summer
, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki and published by First Second
Intricately detailed illustrations in shades of indigo are masterfully layered with the text in this graphic novel. The pacing and strong imagery evoke myriad emotions and ground this poignant and painfully realistic coming-of-age story.

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My House is Cleaner than Yours.

Often people ask me how I keep my house so clean.

Just kidding. No one ever, in the history of the world, has ever asked me that.

In fact, no matter how hard I try, my house is perpetually a mess. And I know I’m supposed to write that it’s okay and we all should let things go and be content. A time and a season, etc. but right now, it’s not feeling okay. Like I am literally wading through laundry and boots and spilled milk and not-so-clean-underwear and legos and banana peels and bags for goodwill (I’m triying!!) and bags for recycling (I’m so responsible!!) and towels and backpacks and cords (why are there so many cords?) and little men and crayons and on and on and on.

It will never end.

I get that.

But you know what will end? The book you’re working on.

IF

IF

IF

you’re willing to tear it apart.

Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a draft, a revision usually, I’ll think that the mess I’ve made with my manuscript is so big, so unmanageable, that the thing will be a mess forever. One small change messes up other things down the road and once I fix those, I have to go back and fix things in the beginning again. Over and over and over again. It gets so bad, in fact, that at times, I’m tempted to quit. To think I can’t finish it. To decide the idea was no good in the first place or to talk myself into moving to the newer shinier novel idea.

If you are at this stage, where the book is so messy and no matter how hard you try, it just seems to get worse and worse and worse, take heart! There is an end. It’s one of my favorite things about writing. Sometimes the book has to get messier to get better and if we’ll have courage, be willing to deal with mess after mess after mess, the end result, when it’s “done” will be so much better than you ever dreamed it could be.

It’s not like laundry at all, thank goodness. It’s like tearing down a pretty good house and getting all dirty and horrible and then, with the help of writing friends and editors and our own gut, putting it back together again–seeing  possibilities, cutting unnecessary scenes and creating new avenues in the process.

So worth the effort.

Do not give up and be grateful for revision. GRATEFUL! I feel like books become what they’re supposed to be in this part of the writing process.

The end.

Off to do laundry as she steps on an orange slice.

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Still Alice

On Friday, this movie comes out.

I have watched the trailer three times. I have also cried three times.

My husband asked, are you going to see that?

Of course I’m going to see it, I said.

And he said, Why? Why would you do that to yourself?

My mom died after a long long long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Before that, she’d talk about her mother’s early onset Alzheimer’s.

Her mother was very proper and very private.

Mom would tell how grandma would show up in the front room with curlers in her hair and a housedress on when church ladies stopped by to visit.

She would have been mortified if she’d known, Mom would tell us. Absolutely mortified.

I hope that never happens to me, Mom would say.

She did everything she knew to try to prevent it:

1. She exercised every day.

2. She tried to eat healthy foods.

3. She played Rummykub as much as she could.

4. She bought us men’s speedstick because it didn’t have aluminum in it (some say aluminum contributes to memory loss).

5. She tried to do hard mental things, things she normally would have and could have ignored.

6. She played the piano.

7. She traveled.

8. She tried to learn a new language.

9. She worked in the temple.

10. She kept up on the lives of her nine children and 35 + grandchildren.

She got Alzheimer’s.

And when she realized it, she called each of us and told us that she wanted to jump off a cliff.

I bawled after that call. Bawled and bawled. I remember it like it was yesterday. The oscars were on TV. My first baby was little. My heart was broken.

So why would I go to a movie about it? Why would I want to watch something so painful?

Many of us watch movies and read books to escape. We want to get away from the hard things and get time to relax, live in another world. Eat popcorn and watch people fall in love. Or fight space battles. Or wear iron suits.

Some of us watch movies and read books because we want to know that we aren’t alone. That other people know what it feels like to suffer. To see our loved ones suffer. We want to know that we are all different but in many ways, we are all the same. We all go through hard things, we all have our hearts broken, we all have to figure out how to keep going.

Some of us watch movies and read books so that we can experience things we’ll never have to go through, so that we can understand a small part of the lives of those who do. So that we can empathize and reach out and say, I’ve never had cancer or depression or divorce or this kind of loss, but I can imagine it and I want you to know that I’m here for you.

As writers, we have lots of different motivations for the stories we decide to tell. I think it’s wonderful to write about light and funny things. To write about dreams coming true and happy happy things. I also think it’s important to write about the other side of life. About heartache and pain. About alienation and suffering. About hope and light in the midst of all this.

I came on this quote the other day and I loved it.

“The Greeks sensed that the best art does not take us away from reality into the dreamy realms of fantasy–though some may do that. On the contrary, the best art penetrates the hard shell of habit to reimmerse us in the depths of experience, ‘refining the sense of beauty to agony,’ ‘making the stone more stony,’ creating ‘anew the universe, after it has been annihilated in our minds by the recurrence of impressions blunted by reiteration.'” –from The Crucible of Doubt by Fiona and Terryl Givens.

I think it’s our responsibility to try to create the best art, art that connects us all to each other over and over again so that we will never forget, and so that we will be able to reach out and love over and over again.

What do you think?

Why do you read? Why do you write? Would you go see something that brought up hard things from your life? Or avoid it forever?

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