Valentine’s: Yay or Nay?

Happy Valentine’s Day! In our house, it’s pretty much an average day, except that the kids come home from school with armloads of candy and cards. Feels to me like a waste of paper in most cases. There’s nothing particularly sincere or sentimental in these cards; in fact, they usually aren’t directly addressed to my children, only signed by whichever classmate handed them out. That’s how they do it now. Saves time if you can just drop it in whatever bag or box the kids have decorated without searching for the exact one addressed to the right person.

Aside from the economy and marketing, I’m not sure why school kids celebrate Valentine’s Day at all. Sure, as they get older and begin to form real ties of friendship and affection, it makes sense for them to give the people they truly care about a card or token. But other than that? My third grader really doesn’t care. Except about the candy, of course.

And yet, it’s my third grader whose class is having a party. My fifth- and seventh graders are completely disinterested in Valentine’s Day because it is uncool and embarrassing. So even though they are the ones with strong social circles, they won’t be exchanging valentines.

It’s all just a bit backward.

But I’m hardly one to talk. My husband and I also do not usually observe Valentine’s Day. This is the night when, if you do go out, places are crowded and the food isn’t as good. We’d just as soon go out some other night. Which is what we do anyway when we have date nights. For Valentine’s Day, we don’t buy cards, and with my diet restrictions, I can’t have candy. Heck, I probably can’t even eat from the “Valentine’s Day Menus” at most restaurants. So why bother?

On the flip side, Valentine’s Day (and the days surrounding) is a cluster of my friends’ birthdays. For whatever reason, I seem to draw to me people born around this time of year. So I’m just as happy, or happier, to give them all the attention. As someone born near to Christmas, I know what a pain it is to have a birthday near a holiday that eclipses your day. Romance can happen any day of the year, but birthdays should be special.

How about you? Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Am I just taking my marriage and husband for granted by not making a bigger deal of the day? Do your kids care about Valentine’s Day, or are they over it? And how do you feel about birthdays that fall on or near holidays? Let me know in the comments!

17 Years

<— I haven’t seen my natural hair color in years!

Seventeen years ago today, in the garden of a little Victorian “mansion” (let’s face it, it was a house), we were married. It was Mother’s Day then, too. We hadn’t known when we picked the date that it would be Mother’s Day, but oh well. At least my best friend Tara was also our florist and got us the flowers at cost.

It was a small ceremony, not even 100 guests. We wanted to be able to talk to everyone at the reception. So many of our friends and family contributed in various ways—my dad’s best friend is a professional photographer, and he came and took all our photos as a gift to us; Scott’s cousin works in the film industry and was our videographer (using the camera we’d been given as a wedding gift). He did this amazing thing where he went around and spoke to people to ask them how they knew me and/or Scott and to give little memories about us.

We were married by a Reform rabbi who incorporated both religious backgrounds into the ceremony. (When people ask, “Oh, are you Jewish?” I answer, “Only by marriage.”) It was sweet and personal and unique and very us.

So here’s to 17 years of holding it together. And also a happy Mother’s Day, which we will spend at a haunted house. Should be fun?

A Random Pile of Thoughts

Well, 2018 is 25% finished. How have you done so far this year? How are you feeling? Looking at the goals I set at the start of the year, well . . . Um . . . I’ve had to rearrange a few things. Here’s what I originally set:

  1. Finish Changers 2. Deadline: 1 March
  2. Find an agent for Hamlette. Deadline: 1 May
  3. Lose 15 lbs. Deadline: 1 June
  4. Finish Faebourne. Deadline: 1 September

Changers 2 is not anywhere near finished. In fact, it’s been backburnered in favor of Faebourne, which now has a pub date of 7 August. So that’s been prioritized.

As for Hamlette, based on feedback from agents, my hopes for it have dimmed considerably. I’m now at the point where I need to decide whether to trunk it or self-publish.

But I’m pleased to say I’ve lost some weight! I now only have 10 lbs to lose.

Revised goals:

  1. Finish Faebourne. Deadline: 20 July
  2. Lose 10 lbs. Deadline: 1 June
  3. Finish Changers 2. Deadline: ???
  4. Decide what to do with Hamlette Deadline: ???

Today is Easter as well as April Fool’s Day. I’m not one for pranks. I don’t have the patience for that kind of thing; I guess I’m too serious-minded. It’s why I don’t watch movies with juvenile bathroom humor. I just don’t find that funny.

Still, the kids hunted eggs this morning. One of the plastic eggs had been eaten through by a squirrel, which makes me worry the squirrel went away with a stomach ache. Eating plastic like that can’t have been good for him. But bravo for the determination, little guy. (And he did take some of the candy out of the egg, too. So it wasn’t entirely for naught.)

We went to a Passover seder last night, too, at my in-laws. So there are just a lot of holidays stacked this weekend. And it’s spring break for my kids as well.

It occurred to me recently that my kids have somewhat posh hobbies. My daughter takes horseback riding lessons, and the boys do fencing. And this morning they were all out back doing archery. I suppose it’s all good until one of them decides they want to take up tennis.

Here is hoping you have a wonderful holiday, whichever you may celebrate, and a wonderful spring in general. And I hope any goals you set for 2018 are beginning to bear fruit—more than mine, anyway!

BTW, tune in to the Indie Beginning podcast tomorrow to hear some of Brynnde! And the following Monday, April 9, will feature yours truly!

The Naughty List: A Holiday Writing Tag from Jenna Moreci

Find it for yourself here.

THE RULES:

1) Provide a brief description of your novel before beginning. NO MORE THAN 5 SENTENCES.

2) If your cast is fewer than 15 characters, you can’t use the same name more than twice. If your cast is larger than 15 characters, you can’t use the same name more than once.

MY NOVEL:

16-year-old Nerissa Dey is the daughter of an A-list actor. When her dad dies unexpectedly, Nerissa hurries home from boarding school to discover her mom has married her dad’s brother. Now she’s living out a Shakespeare drama and trying to avoid the tragic ending.

THE QUESTIONS:

#1 Which character is SO into the holidays, they nearly cause a street-wide power outage from all their Christmas lights?

Mrs. Polley. Hey, she bakes cookies practically every day.

#2 Which character attends the office new years party with ONE date… and goes home with someone else?

Liam. He’s not a player or anything, he’s just easily distracted by a pretty face.

#3 Which character is more than happy to steal Hanukkah gelt from poor, unsuspecting children? [Note: Hanukkah gelt = chocolate coins]

Uncle Eoin, of course.

#4 Fill in the blanks: I saw ____[character]____ doing a whole lot more than ____[verb]____-ing Santa Claus. They were full on ____[action]____.

Rosalind; kissing; snogging.

#5 One of your characters decides to pregame before church and passes out in the middle of the Christmas service. Which character is it?

Ophelia Chase (Nerissa’s mom).

#6 Which character hasn’t been seen since winter began because they refuse to deal with the snow?

Nerissa!

#7 Which character completely forgot about the holidays and ends up regifting to everyone?

Also Nerissa.

#8 Which character has such crappy luck, they only discover their potato allergy after pigging out on latkes?

Gwendolyn. Poor girl.

#9 The Krampus has arrived to punish your very bad characters. Which character is kinda into it?

Rosalind.

#10 One of your characters should be on the naughty list, but has convinced Santa to clear their name. Which character is it, and what was their means of persuasion?

Nerissa’s mom Ophelia. She paid Santa off.

IWSG: Regrets?

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Question of the Month: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

I recently posted a retrospective of 2017 in terms of my writing, and overall it’s been a really good year. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do some things a little differently! For one, instead of releasing one book in February and another in May, I’d have spread them out more. I had strong sales over the summer, but due to a lack of anything new (except my Moriarty story), things began slumping come October. Well, I attribute at least some of that slump to having no other big release. I know part of it is probably holidays, too. I really should write something seasonal . . .

WIPjoy #30 & 5 More Answers

30. How do your characters celebrate Halloween (or other holiday) if they do?

Nerissa isn’t much for parties, though she doesn’t mind dressing up. She thinks it’s kind of fun, actually. But she’s too old to trick-or-treat. Her ideal Hallowe’en is hanging around a bonfire.

 

***

 

11.Your first MC.

Uh . . . I don’t remember. Back when I wrote those Fanta-C magazines, I wrote about characters from movies and television. I’d give news on what Han Solo and Indiana Jones were up to (they were identical cousins, you know, because my mom would come home for lunch and we’d watch Patty Duke reruns).

My first original MC would have been the Hemlock sisters? My best friend and I made them up: a pair of sleuthing sisters who lived with their Aunt Miranda. Their parents had died under mysterious circumstances, so the running thread was to discover how and why their parents had died. In the meantime, they solved other mysteries in their small town.

12. Favorite trope.

I use metaphor a lot. Really, though, I’m not sure I have a favorite trope (if by “trope” you mean a common theme or structure seen in many books, television shows, and movies). I have a lot that I dislike, but few that I think: I love that! I guess maybe the repressed personality that is moved to express emotion? Because I identify with that.

13. Least favorite trope.

Oh, here it is! I don’t have a least favorite because I dislike them all equally. The chosen one/snowflake (yes, even though Cee is kind of one of these); the overwrought love triangle (again, even though Cee sort of has one); the perfect MC who still somehow thinks she’s ugly or stupid, even though guys are tripping all over themselves for her. I’m sure there are a ton more that I’m just not thinking about this minute because I try not to think about them ever.

14. Least favorite OC.

Of mine? That I made up? That’s just mean, asking me to pick on one of my literary children. I love them all, though probably not equally. I think Akkad—the MC of my thesis—might be one of my least favorite characters. If I ever go rewrite my thesis, I’ll flesh him out a bit more and make him less whiny.

15. Worst writing habit.

Procrastination, often in the form of doing just this kind of thing: blogging, tweeting, faffing about online instead of writing.