Monday, May 31, 2010

Marisa the Writer (or a post in which I pour out my insecurities and talk about what I REALLY do all day)

I rarely blog about the fact that I'm writing a book. I know it has been mentioned the last two Novembers as I worked my way through NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I've even slipped it into a post or two when I've written about my future goals and added "become a published author" at the top of the list.

But when it comes to blogging about being a writer, I always end up feeling self-conscious, embarrassed, inadequate and just plain icky.

I've written countless posts about my life as a writer during the last few years. I've never once pressed that little orange "publish post" button. And it makes me sad that I'm so insecure about it, because writing is a HUGE part of my life.

In fact, other than being a mom, a wife, and an avid bookworm, writing IS my life. I do it every day. For hours. I open my word doc and begin tapping away at the computer as soon as I wake up in the morning. When I'm doing the laundry or cooking dinner, I'm also listening as my characters jabber together in my head. After the girls are in bed, that word doc opens again and I spend two, three, four+ hours hacking away at my book again - through the night, often into the early hours of the morning. My awesome friend Alyssa has even been known to call me just to say, "HEY! Step away from the word doc and join the living world for a moment!"

My girls know me as Mommy the Writer.

My husband hears me blather on about my book for hours nightly.

Writing is what I do.

I have an awesome support group of writer friends all hacking away at books of their own and sharing their process publicly on their blogs. I admire them like crazy and leave all sorts of gushy comments in their comment boxes... but as for me? Its just not something I've ever been confident enough to blog about. Sketching out a picture, scribbling it in with colored pencils and then blogging about it is a piece of cake for me. Sitting at my computer, typing away at my book and then blogging about it... impossible. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because my writing process is a disastrous mess. Or maybe because I don't tend to blog about my insecurities and when it comes to writing, I am nothing but insecure.

But I am currently on the very last leg of the first draft of the book I have been working on solidly since last summer and man does it feel good. And while I'm not sure I'll be blogging about it often, I can't not blog about it anymore, because hitting those final keys as my story wraps up is just too exciting to keep to myself. Its been a rough road, getting this book out of my head. And I'm darned proud of myself, despite my insecurities.

This is what my writing process for this book has been like:

July - Story spark! WOW, I love it. Like, as far as I'm concerned, its the best. idea. EVER.

August - Outline and character write-ups. I think it sounds great. Love my story line, love my characters, love the random bits of dialogue that keep popping into my head which I scramble to get on paper so I don't forget them. Super excited about jumping into the writing of this book (which I wasn't ready to begin b/c I was working on another book at the time)

September - Begin writing book. Um. It sort of sucks. Huh. Wasn't expecting that.

October - Have completed a few chapters. Have deleted ten times more than I've written. Feel completely incompetent.

November - Write. Delete. Write. Delete. Only on Chapter Four. Hate every word of it.

December - Eat lots of dessert. Filled with book-hate and writer self-loathing.

January - Write more. Delete even more than that. Find that I hate my characters with a passion and think my MC (main character) is annoying and sort of want to kill her off so I don't have to keep writing about her.

February - Toss entire manuscript into the garbage. Stare at what I used to think of as my perfect outline and cry. Start over.

March - Wow, this is finally starting to work. I'm really getting into the groove of things. My story is working exactly the way I wanted it to back in the summer and my characters are everything I hoped they would be. YAY!

April - Oh wait. Just kidding. Back to book-hate and writer self-loathing. Discover that, despite writing 60,000+ words, I'm still deleting double that. Deleted scenes folder is now at 140,000 words. Angst, angst, angst some more... then keep plodding away at the computer.

May - What? Am I really at the end of writing my first draft? And... can it be? My first draft matches my original outline and story spark 99%? And... is it true? I actually like what I've written? YES! It's a MIRACLE!

Yup, that's right. I like my book. Yes, its only the first draft, but at this point, I'm happy with it. I've put in the hours and I'm about to step away with a book I am proud to call mine and look forward to finishing so I can share it with the world someday. Tomorrow, I might be back to feeling insecure. But today, I like it. Very, very much. I might even go as far as to say the L word. Love. Oh man, yes. I love my book.

I still have a long road ahead of me. Even after I type and they all lived happily ever after (which isn't actually my last line, though my story is a fairy-tale retelling), I'll have countless hours of critique partner feedback to sort through and revising, revising and more revising...

But when all that is done, I will pop open the champagne and celebrate.

And you better believe I'll be blogging about it!


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Vacation Keepsakes

Hey! Come see what me and the kids have been up to this week,
as we share our vacation keepsake book at:

The Mama Dramalogues!


Monday, May 24, 2010

The Boss

This is how we spent the 8 hour drive to Port Aransas last week:

Listening to Annelie sing along to her favorite song. I wonder if I should be concerned that she loves singing the "I see a BAD MUTHA!" part the best...

Especially as she thinks it is: "I see a BAD MOTHER!"

Hmmm... Well, I find her amusing, anyway!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Vacation Time!

We're all getting ready to go off on a family vacation tomorrow, to Port Aransas, along the Texas coast for a week... which means I'm packing and cleaning all day, which means I'm listening to Matt & Kim all day, because when doing boring things, such as packing and cleaning, peppy music by Matt & Kim is a necessity.

Hope you all have a great weekend, and a great week and I'll see y'all soon!

(PS, I don't say y'all in real life, I just wanted to throw it in there to add some Texas flavor to my post. Did it seem flavorful?)


Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Hopkins Family Goes Camping

Last Friday, Will said to me, "Want to go camping?"

"Sure," I replied. "When?"

"How about today," is what he said back.

Well. That was a little out of the blue. Did we have a tent? Uh, nope. Did we have sleeping bags? Also, nope. Did we have camping food, or a cooler, or anything? Nope, nope and again, nope.

But life is short and meant to be enjoyed, so we threw some clothes and toothbrushes into a backpack, packed the kids and dogs into the car, and went to Walmart, which I hate, but which sells 8 person tents for only $50. That is pretty great. Then, after stocking up on sleeping bags, a cooler and food, we headed for the Abilene State Park 15 miles away.

Let me just say, driving 15 miles from home to go camping is 100% awesome. Especially when you're with a 3 year old and a 5 year old. We didn't even hear a single, "Are were there yet?" until we were pulling into the park.

(this is my attempt at being nature-y and taking flower photos...
yeah. I'll stick to drawing flowers, in the future)

And the campground was beautiful! All woodsy with cute little wild flowers all around, and nature trails for walking, and trees for climbing. Twenty minutes of driving and we were in the magical land of campfire smoke, chattering squirrels and chirping birds. Can't beat that, right?

We did have to make sure that Gracie
wouldn't get eaten by wild animals.

But the girls had the best time ever.
Annelie got to climb trees to her heart's content.

Also, the girls were extra excited because we filled the cooler with stuff they don't usually get to have, such as junk food and sugary "juice." I was excited because I hadn't had s'mores in about eight years, and Will and the girls had never had one at all.

(they liked them very much)

Will was excited because he's all nature-y and couldn't wait to go hiking. He calls it casually walking along a nature trail.

I call it hiking up a freakin' (flatish) mountain. Let me just say, I'm not the worlds most outdoorsy person. Not that I don't like the outdoors - I do. But I think outdoorsy people are the kind that like going on long nature hikes and river raft trips and stuff like that. Like my husband.

Me - I like to sit at the picnic table with birds quietly chirping around me (I tend to shush them if they get too loud) and draw in my sketchbook, or read. I sort of take after my mom, whose idea of camping is hanging out in a five star hotel.

And something I forgot about camping - when the sun goes down, it gets dark. When you're waiting for the kids to go to bed so you can read the book you brought along, and then the sun goes down, and you're like, "Oh wait. I didn't bring a flashlight," you don't have a lot of options. In fact, you have two options. Not read, or sit in the car. The stars at night may be big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas... but you still can't read by them.

Luckily, Will offered to hang out in the tent while the kids went to bed and I sat in the car, reclined in my seat with the little side light on, and enjoyed my night. A camping success, if you ask me. Then, once the girls were asleep, Will came back out and got the campfire going again and we had some kid-free hang out time.

In the morning, we hung out around the campsite for a little while, sipping on sugary "juice" and eating breakfast-y things. Then we packed up our tent, sleeping bags and dogs, and off in the direction of home we went.

But not before stopping in the historic town of Buffalo Gap (seriously, how Texas is the name of that town?) for some lunch.

And in only 15 minutes, we were back home, and thoroughly exhausted. A less-than-24-hour camping trip and it felt like we had been gone for ages.

In case you were wondering, the camping trip won
Gracie's Arm Heart of Approval.
Always good.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fun with Photos - Before and After

I wasted some time - er... I mean, I had FUN with FREE photo-editing software-

Come on by and say HI!


Monday, May 10, 2010

Annelie the Writer

Three year old Annelie has decided she wants to be a writer.

So she wrote me a book, all by herself. It's about a princess.

I'm particularly impressed that she used complementary colors - orange and blue - my favorite combination.

And, what fascinates Annelie the most: the fact that people drawn in profile only have one eye showing at a time - something she figured out entirely on her own.

These are her mermaid princesses. I love how their hair isn't actually attached to their heads. My hair looks like that some days, too. Like some crazy toupee.

Is my daughter a genius, or what?

My kids never fail to amaze me!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day!


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Now On Sale - The May Cookie Jar

The May Cookie Jar - handmade goodies put together by moms, for moms (and organized by Holly, at The Mama Dramalogues) is now for sale, proceeds going to the most popular charity voted on the sidebar of The Cookie Jar (please click to help us choose a charity!!)

Here are the items in the May Jar - and if you would like to be included in future cookie jars, please head on over and contact Holly!

Glass Pearl Earrings
Classic white glass pearl beads topped with smaller, delicate silver plated filigree beads. Made with hypoallergenic ear wires. These earrings measure 1 1/4" from the top of the earwire to the bottom of the bead.
Jenny M Jewels

Dapper Dan Neck Tie
Neck ties are made from 100% cotton designer fabrics. They are the perfect weight to hang well and will go with anything, the bold, fun prints makes them ultra mod with an edgy urban street style. Size 6-12 months.
Candy Stick Lane

Embellished Handmade Card
Handmade card using scrapbook elements such as trims, buttons and cutouts. Fun saying on the front and blank on the inside to add your own personal message.
Scrappin Madness

Fabric Rose Headband
Fun fabric rose attached to a metal headband, and because the rosette is tall, it sticks up off the head, almost like a little hat, very cute!
Mary Poppins Presents

Flowers in Mason Jar Handmade Card
Flowers in Mason Jar handmade card with envelope.
Image is hand colored with copics. Inside is blank to include your own message. Perfect any occasion card.
Scrappin Ashley

Stoneware or Raku Pendant
Beautifully hand formed and kiln fired stoneware or Raku pendant. Each is strung on a silk cord with silver lobster clasp closure. All pendants are glazed, front and back and include artist's signature.
Lisa D Pottery

Card and Tag Gift Pack
These note cards feature prints of colored pencil illustrations, as well as coordinating gift tags. All artwork created by Marisa Hopkins.
Elegant Snobbery

Korker Alligator Clip Bow
Grosgrain ribbons korked and attached to alligator clips. Great for really fine hair. All bows are hand-stitched to ensure durability and that the ribbons lay correctly.
Winklepots Clothing & Accessories

Support handmade, working moms, and a very good cause!

Go to The Cookie Jar {HERE}


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Random Q&A About Me

Me and Holly at the Oregon coast,
where I hope we'll be again, in five years from now.
My head looks abnormally huge. I'd like to say its just the picture...
but I suspect I might have an abnormally huge head.

I was tagged by my awesome friend Jonathon Arntson (which will be a household name someday, as he is a brilliant writer and bound to wow the world with his brilliance) with a five questions meme. Though I frequently ignore these things, I feel obligated to answer this particular questionnaire, because Jon posted on his blog that I'll choose our friend Dena when I have to tag five more people. As he chose Dena by association, I just can't leave her hanging.

So. Some of these answers might be surprising, because I don't really blog a lot about the fact that I'm a writer, working on a YA (young adult) novel, but it consumes my daily life and will hopefully consume my future, too.

Where were you five years ago?

1.) In the hospital with my one-day-old baby girl, husband and the millions of friends and family who I couldn't wait to show off my new baby to.
2.) Living with my mom because of immigration laws (which I explained in my comments), and wishing Will and I had our own apartment.
3.) Getting my classes ready - Five years ago, I taught several Art Fundamentals and Knitting summer school enrichment classes for 4th and 5th graders.
4.) Painting with my friend Brian Nishimoto (who is AMAZING), and so thankful I had him in my life, because I probably never would have built up my illustration portfolio to what it is today, if it wasn't for Brian's encouragement.

Where would you like to be five years from now?

1.) I'd like to be a published author, working on my second or third book.
2.) Will and I talk about moving to Portland all the time, and I can't wait until I can live near my friend Holly someday, so hopefully in five years we'll be there.
3.) Um... I guess read question five. I'd like to be one of those...
4.) I'd like to be just as happy in five years as I am now.
5.) Um. I honestly don't plan ahead with my life. Will and I are too impulsive for that, so I really don't know.

What is on your to-do list today?

1.) Several times a week I join my awesome writer friends for an unpluggage convention, where we all post what we want to accomplish in an hour, then unplug from the internet to write, and then get back together to chat about our progress and such (though we usually get off topic and chat about everything else under the sun). Today there are two unpluggages scheduled, so YAY. And if any of you are writers (or considering being a writer) and want to join us, here is where we meet up: The Practice Room.
2.) I'm a critique partner for several people and I have quite a lot of critiques to catch up on... so today I'll be critiquing chapters in two YA paranormal fantasy books from two fabulous soon-to-be authors.
3.) Dishes. I hate doing the dishes.
4.) Package and ship my recently sold items from my shop.
5.) Call Gracie's pediatrician to get the paperwork ready for the rest of her vaccinations before we finish her kindergarten registration.

What five snacks do you enjoy?

1.) Sour Cream and Cheddar Cheese Ruffles
2.) Air popped popcorn with melted butter (okay, I use Smart Balance - to keep my weight in check)
3.) Frozen Reeces peanut butter cups
4.) Bakewell tarts, although I only ever get them when I'm in the UK.
5.) Anything cheesy and creamy.

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
I would do a lot more than five things, and some include giving to charities (ones that involve kids and art/writing/music) but here are my purely selfish answers:

1.) Buy a house in Bath, England and then invite everyone I know for a super awesome month-long house party. All of you are invited, btw. We'll have tons of fun.
2.) Buy my family a vacation home in Cape Cod, which was my favorite place to vacation when I was in high school.
3.) Build a library that looks like the one from Beauty and the Beast, and stock it with books that I love (I love a lot of books).
4.) Hire a chauffeur to drive me around everywhere.
5.) Hire a staff to do all the things I don't want to do (cook, clean, garden).

Man. I want to be a billionaire.

Okay, I have to choose five people. Such is the way of a chain-blog. Here goes.

1.) Dena, who is one of my crit partners and awesome friend.
2.) Holly, who I always tag. Can't let her down this time.
3.) Alyssa, who I also always tag.
4.) April, who also always tag (what can I say, I'm a creature of habit)
5.) Edward Cullen (or his human, Kearsie) because I want to read Edward's answers. And also, Adventures with Edward is my favorite blog.

That's all for now. Have a great day!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Crafty Project: Little Fairy Peg Dolls

Click the above image to be magically transported
through the fairy door, to The Mama Dramalogues, and my post!

Today is 5th Gracie's birthday, and I shared one of her presents
(something I have spent the last few weeks slaving over)
over at The Mama Dramalogues.

Come on by and see!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Best Thing About 5-Year-Olds...

Okay, so remember three days ago when I all like, "Awwwww! My little baby is almost five and growing up and I wish she would stay teeny tiny forever!"


I changed my tune. And spent the whole day yesterday jumping with joy over the fact that in only two days, Gracie will officially be old enough to fly unaccompanied, which means when she spends the entire day giving me nothing but attitude (like yesterday for example) I can book a flight to Austin for her and call my mom to say, "Hey, can you pick up Gracie? You'll find her at gate 6, waiting for you. You can send her back next week. Or next month. Or next year. Or whenever this humongous attitude she's developed goes away."

That would be really great.


A mom can dream, right?

It's Monday, which means Mama Drama day over at The Mama Dramalogues. If you've got a kid-related blog post, come on over and link it to ours!


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Alphabet Print Giveaway Winners!

Giveaway winner announcement time!

I wrote every entry down on slips of paper, and let Annelie do the winner-picking... so if she picked you, you have Annelie to thank.

And if she didn't... hey, she's only three! Don't hold it against her!

First winner, for the $25 gift certificate to my shop (Elegant Snobbery, in case you don't know) and alphabet letter-of-choice print: April

Second winner, for the $15 gift certificate to my shop (yes, its still Elegant Snobbery, in case you don't know) and alphabet letter-of-choice print: Marie

Third winner, for the alphabet letter-of-choice print: Catherine

And that is all! I'll contact the winners and you can choose which letter you want!

Thanks everyone for entering!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hannah Tinkerbell Hopkins

Something to know about me and Will: we are ridiculously impulsive. Also, when we see a pile of rescue pups in the shelter's last ditch effort to find homes before termination, we tend to go, "Awwwww... we can't let them DIE!"

So we bought Gracie a dog for her birthday.

Haha, just kidding.

Sorta. We did technically buy a dog (if you can call a chihuahua a dog) and she does looks like a hyena, but a smaller-than-a-cat version. Gracie picked her out and named her Hannah. And then Annelie gave her the middle name Tinkerbell.

So, here she is: Hannah Tinkerbell Hopkins

And she's really, really tiny, which was a huge surprise. She was in a little cage and Gracie pointed and said, "Awww, I want that little doggie!" The shelter people pulled her out and put her in my arms and Will filled out the adoption papers and when that was done I put her down on the ground... and stared at her.

"Wow. That's a really small dog," I said. The shelter people only smiled their smug little smiles.

When I brought her home and set her down next to the kittens, I stared again. "Wow. She's smaller than the kittens." Will only raised his eyebrows as if to say, duh Marisa, its a freakin' chihuahua. What did you expect?

I'm sure my cat-loving friends are like, *gasp* "A chihuahua? WHY??!!"

And my dog-loving friends are like, "That's not a dog. What the heck is that?"

And my small-dog-loving friends are like, "Whoooo! Welcome to the world of being followed 24 hours a day by a shivering, little four-legged shadow! Have fun!"

But I do have to say Hannah is pretty cute.

Cute like a cuddly Gizmo.

But I'm also a little nervous that I'll accidentally get her wet and she'll turn into the scary gremlin.

Honestly, though, she doesn't seem like a dog. She's two years old and full grown, and sort of reminds me of a martian. Like, if she were to suddenly sprout antennae and command in a high-pitched squeak, "Take me to your leader," I probably would take her to my leader without question.

Does anyone else feel this way about chihuahuas? Please say I'm not the only one.

But Hannah likes me. I guess that is okay. And she doesn't bark, and that is definitely okay. Life with two kids, two cats, a German Shepard and a chihuahua should be interesting.


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