Sunday, September 30, 2012

Release Party and Giveaway - "The Dragon's Call" by K.W. McCabe

Just wanted to let you know about the upcoming release party for K.W. McCabe's novel "The Dragon's Call," on Friday, October 5th beginning at 4pm. Check out the official facebook event page for more info:

Here's a little blurb about the book: In a thoughtless final act of destruction, humans awaken the one creature of legend they have no protection against. Years after the complete subjugation of the human race, Derek, heir of the Dragon Queen, and Cecily create a tentative friendship. But something or someone is stalking the human enclave. Cecily and Derek must find out who and why before she's next.

I couldn't wait to start reading, so I just bought a copy on Amazon. Want to win a free autographed copy? Entering this giveaway is oh-so easy: a Rafflecopter giveaway

my brief and bloody tour of political duty - summer of 2004

I have come to decide that most of us live two lives: the one that exists beyond each mouth and the one that exists somewhere behind it. That first world, the one where the sounds of our words do in fact fall on real, listening ears is one of constant edit; nipping and tucking. In protecting the longer future we water down the immediate reaction. Sometimes this bodes well for long term goals, and the censorship pays off. But sometimes it seems a mere beginning of the storms rolling in to toy with the boat of world number one. And as a bright-eyed, idealistic college junior, I headed into the sea of politics without a map or a compass. 
Four days into a hard-won internship at the Department of Education for a state that shall remain nameless, the Chief of Staff assigned me my first editorial. Only it wasn’t mine, it would be signed and therefore claimed by the Superintendent, and she had a whole lot more at stake than I did. So I contemplated this balance as I began outlining the editorial that covered a roundtable she’d hosted with a group of high school students from her state. The students had spoken with passion and zeal, demanding to know why their teachers weren’t paid enough and why they didn’t feel as challenged by their classes as they should have been. Now, I recognize that schools want to represent themselves well when sending students to meet an elected official, but I was immediately put off by the fact that this roundtable hardly represented any true student body. I would contest that over-achievers needs are different than their struggling peers, and to cater to one group alone starves the other. But as someone who was only there to take notes, I’d sat silently in the corner and jotted down the memorable questions and answers.
The next day I poured over their words and began developing my theme for the editorial. Now, obviously, I’ve never been elected to anything except for the editor’s position of my high school literary magazine, but I’d suffered through enough media campaigns to know that people were elected because of promises of change. With that in mind, I began crafting the students’ questions into one voice that spelled out the fact that the school systems needed help, and that there were two ways to do it: deal with the fact that higher taxes were necessary, or be smarter about the money already budgeted for the year. It challenged everyone from citizens to businesses to government to accept and rejoice in the responsibilities we all have in raising and educating today’s youth; and couldn’t we all agree that we all benefit from a society in which more members are prepared and productive?
As I finished my own editing I sat back and smiled at the screen, proud of my first piece, and proud that I felt like I’d really said something. My advisor read it and loved it too, and after gaining his approval I handed it off to the Chief of Staff for his review. Returning to the cubicle I shared with Jenny, an anal-retentive tree-hugging feminist, I relaxed for a moment and let the feeling of accomplishment soak in. She immediately began chattering on about some statistic that affected the ozone layer, and I nodded along, grinning like a fool, registering not a single word. I spun my chair around as I heard the chief approach (his hurried, heavy footsteps were very distinct) and smiled at him. But the happy-haze began to quickly burn away as I noted that no smile was coming to congratulate me. He slammed the paper down on my desk with his open hand spread across the draft that was marked from top to bottom in bright red.
“No, no, no!” he barked. I felt my back push hard against the chair, hoping it might open and hide me inside of it. “Have you lost your mind? This isn’t what I want at all. Did you read any of the samples from other writers?” he yelled. His cheeks were tinged with pink and a vein bulged above his right brow, filling out a couple of the lines on his too-young face. I shrank away from him as he dissected every word I’d been so proud of moments before. “And what the hell does this mean?” he exploded, pointing to a section I couldn’t see through the tears I was blinking back. Do not cry, I ordered myself. Not a single flipping drop. “Do you have any idea how many people this would piss off?” My fingers wrapped around the arms of my chair that had failed me as a hiding place. Somewhere behind my tongue I leapt up and met his fevered face with my own, raising my own hands and voice in protest.
“People elected her because of what she said she was going to change, not because they thought she wouldn’t piss anybody off,” I’d start, even and cool. “No one elects someone to ride the freaking fence. She’s here to lead, to help, and to make changes. Not everyone is going to like everything all the time. So if you’re not pissing anyone off it’s probably because you’re not doing anything at all. She got elected because of what she said she was going to do, not keep the same. She’s got four years to take a stand and follow through on the platform she was elected for, regardless of how it’s received. If she’s more worried about the next election than helping the schools then she’s a sorry excuse for a Superintendent. If she’s not pissing someone off then she’s not doing her job.” I’d finish, throw my papers in the air, storm out, and take the first flight back home. Instead, in the world beyond my tongue, I swallowed hard and tasted my own salt as he spun on his heel and left. I turned my chair slowly back to my desk and looked down at my bloody draft. The fact that Jenny wasn’t talking roared in my ears as I stared blankly ahead and tried to compose myself.
“He’s not usually like that,” Jenny said quietly as she placed her hand on my shoulder. As if she pushed some magic button I erupted into tears, weeping openly and bitterly in our cubicle. Ashamed, I looked up at Jenny through burning, drowning eyes and cried harder when I saw her own wet and shiny eyes, as if the recognition on her part that what just happened was really, really crappy validated my grief and made it easier to express.
We left early for lunch, and with no fore-mentioning, we didn't speak of the chief or the editorial. By the time we got back, I had myself back together and was ready to do my job: make the people of this nameless state love their Superintendent. As I put my bag down I glanced at the green post-it note stuck to the middle of my screen. “Check your email,” it said. I did, and found a brief, professional apology from the chief admitting he’d gone over-board, followed by an outline of how he thought the editorial should read. I shrugged to us both and began patting the students, the parents, and the Superintendent on the back as I redrafted the happy, shiny, fence-approved editorial.
On my final evaluation two months later, he noted to my internship advisor that I didn’t take criticism well, and that I should be more confident in my ability as a writer.  Eight years later I still mull over what those two comments together could possibly mean, and I still don’t have a flipping clue. But I did learn one thing. Okay, two. First: I do not belong in the world of politics. And second, there's nothing wrong with taking the edge off of sharp words, but there is something wrong with swallowing the truth.
p.s. Whether or not it would've rocked the proverbial boat, I still like the first draft of that infamous editorial much, much better.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Editing - part one

I have a really embarrassing secret to tell you. Before WiDo Publishing picked up my manuscript, I really had no idea how the "editing" part of the process went (wait for it, this wasn't the embarrassing part.) The only example I had to go on was an episode of Little House on the Prairie that I saw in third grade, where Laura sends her book off to a big New York publisher and the editor inserts the changes and sends it back for dear Laura's approval. Or something like that. Anyway, I really - really - (and please don't think less of me) thought that editors literally changed the story, and then sent it back to see what you thought of the changes they'd made. I know, right? Totally wrong. And I'm so glad that that's not how it works. Sidenote: I tried really hard to not run two "thats" concurrently and clearly failed. But I digress.

By the time I was querying WiDo and several other publishers, I was certain that my manuscript was as good as I could get it. And that's true. It was as good as I knew how to get it at the time, but it wasn't even close to a finished product. And then my editor sent me the first round of "overview" edits, and it was like a lightbulb went off, revealing not only the gaps in my pacing and plot, but also a sidekick to help me see how to fix them. I sent the revisions back to her a few days ago. Were they all for the better? Only time (and my editor) will tell. But I do know that the kind of writing she liked and said: do more of this, came easier. The changes she asked for made sense, and that helped educate me not only for these edits, but for future drafts. And I'm so glad that I was the one who sweated out those changes.

Even if you don't have an editor, find people you trust to review your work. You'd be amazed at who sees what holes. My husband even helped me rewrite the ending to my YA fantasy novel. A friend from high school helped me see through my muddled first draft to the key parts of the story. Another critique partner threw a stark raving looney fit when I tried to make a big change. And she was right. Make sure it's people you trust to be honest, and people who have your best interest at heart. And then be prepared for them to find things they want to see polished, because that really IS why you gave it to them in the first place, even if secretly you hoped they'd come back and say: don't change a thing! I'll admit it, I had a itty bitty baby hope every time I sent it to someone to critique and even when my editor read it for the first time that they'd declare it the best thing they'd ever seen. But thankfully they didn't say that. For starters, I'm glad I have friends who love me enough to tell it like it is. But even better: they care enough about the story to say: this part/dialogue/character/whatever needs some help.

And this is where I feel a need to plug my fantastic publisher. In re-reading that version of the manuscript that I sent them, I can see how much work it still needed, and it made it obvious to me that they believe in the story and in Tanzy just as much as I do. They took a huge chance on a brand new, unrepresented writer, and that's a source of inspiration for me to put in whatever it takes to bring this great story to life in the best possible way. I can't wait to share it with you :)

I'm kind of fangirling all over my editor right now. So I'll conclude by repeating what I tweeted upon receiving that first round of overview edits: there is no better education for a writer than an editor who believes in your story.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review - My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris

Rachel Harris's debut novel "My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century" - or MSSSC as it's been dubbed in the social media stratosphere - was a huge departure for me in terms of what I normally read: dark, twisty, who's going to die before the curtain call kind of books. And I have to say, not only did I get caught up on some serious teen verbage, but I definitely enjoyed the carefree ride.

Description: (provided by On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly soon-to-be stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family's trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze. Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore. Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

Characters: Cat Crawford is our time-traveling protagonist, and honestly was the character I had the hardest time getting to know. It took me a minute to make her take off her big, hollywood-style sunglasses and see what all was underneath. But as the secondary characters come to life around her, Cat truly begins to shine. I really enjoyed her interactions with her servant and with Alessandra. I think Alessandra's voice was definitely my favorite - and I heard that the anticipated sequel is going to be from Alessandra's point of view. Yay! Love-interest Lorenzo was a bit of a mystery to me. I like how he always watched Cat's back, but I'd like to see more from him in the sequel (at least i hope he'll make an encore performance.)

Plot: What surprised me about the plot was how easily Cat accepts that she's somehow been sent via gypsy voodoo back in time. There's very little panic. She assesses the situation, considers a couple of possibilities, and then rolls with it. I didn't expect the uptight Cat Crawford to suddenly become laid back about something pretty "frickin" major. But it's kind of nice that the author didn't spend a lot of time on the reaction and instead moved straight into the journey. The ending is a little more neat and tidy than I'm used to, with one great surprise at the end. However, there were so many characters at play that I'm grateful Rachel Harris decided to tie up most of the loose ends. There is one I'm very curious to see where she goes with it... and if you ever read this, Rachel Harris, I love and loathe that you left one very critical piece wide open.... I'm sure you know what I'm talking about :)

Voice: Rachel Harris does a fantastic job staying in the voice of Cat Crawford throughout the book. Not only does she create a very authentic feeling 16th century Italy, but it's very clear that we're experiencing it through Car Crawford's eyes. From her thoughts to the language in dialog to her goofs to the things she pays attention to, Rachel Harris stayed very true to character to the last page.

Setting: Just wanted to note how much research Rachel Harris must have done for this book. I loved all of the bits of history - like working in excellent references to how people at that time thought the Black Plague was spreading - and experiencing some of the cultural rights of passage, both pleasant and unpleasant.

In Conclusion: a strong 4 1/2 stars. There are a couple of angles that I wish were a touch more developed, but I'm totally hooked on the story and the characters, and am very interested to see where she takes the sequel "A Tale of Two Centuries," which is still in the works.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A pic in the life - my desk during deadlines

I am about 2/3 of the way through my first round of plot and big picture revisions, due to my fantastic editor this coming Monday. With two other jobs and a toddler, let's just say sleep and basic cleanliness have flown the coop.

(read between the lines: I'm totally stumped in a particular scene and I can't write my way out of it so I'm procrastinating... and noticing just how messy my desk is. I promise I'll get back to work as soon as I post this.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review - "Defiance" by C.J. Redwine - Five stars

This was a book that, after the second chapter i thought: I can't WAIT to review this book. It's not just an excellent story, but the writing is refreshingly talented. Sorry, I'm fangirling all over the place. Let me get organized.

Plot summary from CJ Redwine's blog ( Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

Story: what I liked most about the story is that protagonist and courier's daughter Rachel reacts 99% of the time like I would, which is so nice to read. She has authentic reactions and thoughts to things that happen to her. CJ Redwine also does an excellent job of having two different POVs with chapters being told either by Rachel or by love interest Logan. Each character had a very clear, distinctive voice, and moved the plot forward very well. Also, CJ Redwine went for broke - every time i thought: is she going to go there? She did. And how. This is not a light and fluffy happy ending read, so if you're of the faint of heart or get spooked at a little grit, this one might not be for you. But if you want one hell of a story that keeps you up til you finish it, then this is it.

Love: I found the relationship development between Rachel and Logan to be one of the best I've seen in YA novels to date. The dual-perspectives work really well, getting inside each of their minds and working through their doubts. It's fun to see the misunderstandings and the intentions that go quickly awry.

Writing: Author CJ Redwine has a vocabulary of words a rung above commonplace language, and uses them simply, sliding them into the sentences with ease. Loved this aspect of the writing. Her writing is also very visual, so the Dystopian world she creates is very easy to see and well developed.

Gripes: To be thorough, there were a couple of things that made me stumble every now and then. There's a big bad beasty that lives underground, dueling out fiery death whenever vibrations make it ornery. It's called "the cursed one," and while i started to accept the name towards the end, every time it came up in a sentence it took me a minute to move past it because I kept thinking of different things it could be called. It doesn't seem to cursed to me - seems like it's the one doing the cursing. Also, while the characters are most excellently developed, sometimes the emotional descriptions went a bit overboard for my taste. (Even though they were still supremely articulated.)

In conclusion: they better make this into a movie. And I can't wait for the sequel. A solid 5 stars.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Curses! - the use of "bad" words in YA novels

Now that our daughter is 18 months old, we've got to watch what we say down to the letter, because she makes a go of repeating anything and everything she can. One of my more frequented F words has been replaced with "foxtrot," and we say a lot of "seriously?" around here. Of course, I don't necessarily consider expletives the worst words there ever were. In our house, words like "fat," "stupid," and "retarded" evoke a much more fiery reaction than words I can't write here for fear my grandmother might read them.

But what about our young adult readers? To be fair, if an author aims to create a world that their teen fans can relate to, dialog is king. Gossip, chatter, lies, secrets, confessions - these kinds of things are what drive a teen novel. And expletives are now so commonplace it's cooler to abbreviate them that to use the whole word. Still, it bears mentioning that potty mouthed young protagonists may put off older readers in our potential crossover markets. And there are some that think bad language takes the integrity of the writing down a notch - and yet there are others that would argue if it's true to cause, a character cussing a blue streak would infact validate the integrity of said book.

Is there a right or a wrong answer here? Honestly, I'm not sure. But I do think it's most important to stay true to your characters. I'm drafting the sequel in the Tanzy Hightower fantasy series, and there's a point at which one of my characters realized another has set her up for an epic fail, and everything in me wants her to scream: "b#tch!" (sorry, Nana.) But I haven't used language in either book thus far, and to drop a word bomb might detract from the scene as a whole - not because it's a bad word, but because it's out of character for the novel itself. But in a YA fiction book I'm working on, one character is particularly crass, and no words are off limits for her. So my opinion is this: to thine own self be true, and no matter what words you decide to use, make them count.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Review - "Fallen" by Lauren Kate

To start, there are a lot of elements I really liked about this book. For starters, the writing was very well done: descriptive and artful. It was also a very different concept for a YA fantasy book from what I've read, from start to finish. Luce, our protagonist, is sent to reform school after her bystander-involvement in the fiery death of a would-have-been boyfriend. It's there that she meets a few new friends, a couple of mean girls, and, of course, a couple of boys that make her heart flutter (in very different ways.) Without giving too much away, I also really admired the concept of the fantasy element in this story. It was a big undertaking, and for me it made the story.

Unfortunately, although it's hinted, this element doesn't really come to light until the last 40-50 pages. It piques my interest about the sequel, but I never attached to the protagonist. I liked all of the other characters better than her. Luce's reaction to things great and small usually went against my own instinctive reactions. Because it's written in third person, the author can get away with using more omniscient descriptions in Luce's reactions, but it became distracting and almost aggrevating for me. At one point, something really horrible has just happened and Luce is in pieces, and then she's thinking about scrubbing her fingernails.

Daniel - love interest #1 - has some epic mood swings, and gave me emotional whiplash. His reasonings are well explained towards the end, but if I was Luce I would've told him where to go and how to get there after the first interaction. I like a little volatility, but it was a little too much of a roller coaster for me, especially because so much is a mystery or just hinted out throughout most of the book. Maybe it would've read better for me if it was done in 1st person, because although it's in 3rd, it's a very limited POV.

All in all, I would still give it 3 1/2 stars because it is well written and the fantasy element Lauren Kate tackles is EPIC, to say the least. I also really like a lot of her secondary characters. I just didn't hit it off with Luce. I know I'm in the minority here, obviously, because it's a New York Times Bestseller and has several successful sequels behind it. I can see why the teen market would eat it up, it just a little confusing for me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Making time

Finding time to write... an age old quandry. Because it's more like making time. Let me back track. I used to get my panties in a bunch because the world wouldn't give me a window to get whatever story wouldn't leave me alone out of my head and onto paper (or screen, as it were.) Don't you people/job/chores/husband/daughter/etc.etc understand that I need to write? But here's the thing: there are a whole lot of other things that I need to do too. Things that pay the bills. Or ensure I'm not wearing the same pair of socks two days in a row. Yes, I now have a publishing contract so writing has been gloriously bumped up the priority list, but I'm still not getting paid to do it, and likely won't for a good long while. Even though I feel a strong need to write, I have to face the facts: right now, it's still just a "want to." And it sure was just a "want to" for all the years I got in a twist about the proverbial seas not parting between my life clutter and my desk.

I had to realize that it was me that needed to give something up - another "want to" in order to work on my book. Unfortunately, that thing is usually sleeping. Or eating. Or actually folding and putting laundry away once it comes out of the dryer... but hey, it's clean. It wears the same no matter where you grab it from. Now that I've signed a contract with WiDo Publishing, my other want-tos are practically nonexistent: again with the sleeping and eating, but also my vegetable garden, which has gone the way of the dinosaurs as crabgrass and dandilions have taken over the neglected plot. But getting this contract feels like a green light to let other things get put on the backburner, at least for the time being, while we get this story ready for release.

Balance is more important now than ever. We have a rule that we eat dinner together as a family whenever possible, and we don't allow cellphones or laptops in my daughter's playroom. Last week I realized I was way too in the "zone" and literally made a note to myself on a post-it as I finished writing for the day: remember to be a wife. I'm a better wife and mother when I'm given free rein to write, and I'm a better writer when I remember to take a break and pay attention to the most important things in my life.

So how do you make time? What do you give up in order to write?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review Kharma

I love to read almost as much as I love to write. As an author I met at the Decatur Book Festival last weekend says about books: "They're the cheapest vacations you'll ever take." And it's rare that I come across a book - especially in my YA/Fantasy genre - that I don't like. The plots are usually addictive enough to pull me through any sluggish scene or awkward run of dialogue. But I've got one I struggled through for a few nights in a row, and then finally called it quits and put it up for a rainy day. It's not that it's not good, necessarily, but reading it felt like work, and I've already got three jobs and a toddler. I've got work in spades.

The thing is, I really wanted to like it. I loved the concept. The beginning was non-formulaic in a great way, but I never connected to the story. There was no one to root for early on, and I love to be a cheerleader. So here's my quandary: do I write a review about it?

Let me start by saying there's a difference between a negative review and a nastygram. One of my jobs is as a social media specialist for small businesses, and I see hundreds of examples of both types of reviews every day. There are customers that didn't get their way and so they're mad and they want the whole world to know exactly how mad they are, and then there are those not-so-favorable reviews that can actually be extremely useful - despite how painful they feel. These reviewers care about the business/product and about its well being. They noticed a problem, and they want the problem to be fixed because they believe in the overall mission of the business/product. These reviews and the customers who took the time to write them are priceless.

But then there's the other side of the coin: I really don't want to hurt the author's feelings. I know how hard it is to a) finish a manuscript b) get it accepted by a publisher, and c) be willing to bare your heart and soul and risk people tearing it to shreds. And, to be perfectly honest, I also really don't want to brass the author off either. I'd like to think I will be able to be so objective about the inevitable negative reviews that will come up once my book is released. Okay, lets get real. They're going to haunt me like a second piece of cake. But I also do want to know the truth. If I don't see my mistake, I'm just going to keep making it, and that's not good for me or potential readers. But I don't want to set myself up for a nastygram just because I wasn't the biggest fan of a book. So the questions remains: to review, or not to review? Opinions welcome...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Decatur Book Festival

I'm about to admit something I'm not proud of. Don't think less of me, okay? I grew up in the Decatur area, but this is the first year I've ever been to the Decatur Book Festival. I know, I know. I live an hour away now, and in the 2 years since I moved away I've seen more of Atlanta's attractions than I ever did when I lived there. Maybe it's like those blurry pictures where you can't see what it is unless you're standing further away... but I digress.

The Decatur Book Festival is, in a word, bliss. Surrounded by fellow writers and people who really dig the fact that there are writers in this world is an amazing feeling. Authors get face time with current and potential readers, and they even have several stages set up where authors have an allotted time to tell an audience about their books. Talk about awesome exposure. Not to mention, I think many writers - and I'm included in this - like to hole up in our offices and stories. But that makes it easy to turn into a hermit. The Book Festival is a great way to get face time with our supporters, to say thank you in person, and then to go home and curl up with wine/tea/cake/etc. and continue brainstorming.

I bought several books and have plans to buy a whole lot more on my nook once I finally get brave enough to set it up. (I know I'm making it way harder than it is, I am just terrified of new stuff.) I regret that I missed meeting C.J. Redwine - her novel "Defiance" was released last week - and Lori Ann Robinson, author of "Bimini, the Romance."

I can't believe that next year I might be on the other side of the table, talking about my book. I got to tell several other authors about Tanzy and her shenanigans, which was such good practice for me, and they all seemed very enthusiastic about the story. Speaking of which, Wido Publishing posted a little write-up for my first book - to be released next year - and here it is:

When it comes to horses, Tanzy Hightower knows she has a gift. But Tanzy also has a secret, and it threatens to rip her world to shreds. When a routine night ride turns into a nightmare, she narrowly escapes with her life. But Tanzy’s reality is destroyed, and she is forced to question everything she thought she knew – from the freak accident that killed her father to the very blood coursing through her veins. In order to find the answers, Tanzy must put her faith in Lucas, a scarred, beautiful stranger, and Vanessa, a new friend with a secret of her own, as she travels a thousand years into the past to discover the deadly reason her soul was first created.

Check out the full write up here:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

a plot change close to home

I've been begging my husband to move since the day after we bought our first house. Well, maybe I waited a whopping 36 hours. Anyway, the first night we spent here is still etched in my memory: a woman screaming in a language I didn't understand at a man in the middle of the street in front of our house at 3am. Welcome home.

The next day I found out I was pregnant - and no, we weren't expecting it. We quickly placed what minimal furniture we owned in the two rooms we used the most and then got to work on the nursery. We poured heart, sweat, soul, and our last dollar into that little room. I repainted my husband's childhood dresser at least four times before I was happy with it. We ordered butterfly and flower decals off of Etsy and painstakingly peeled and stuck them in spirals and swooshes across the fresh coat of chocolate colored paint. We hung up little baby outfits or folded separates into tiny squares. A row of impossibly small shoes. Crib, changing table, lots and lots of diapers, a glider refurbished by my aunt. You get the idea. We cared about that room. And for the better part of my daughter's first two months of life, I practically lived in it. Even now it's one of my favorite places on earth.

I tell you all of that to tell you this: I can't wait to move, literally counting down the minutes to get the heck out of here. But today we found our *hopefully* new house and the idea of leaving behind this little room makes my heart hurt. When we put her to bed tonight, I got defensive for our house that I detest: So what if people whiz by our stumpy driveway at 45mph? So what if the main reason people go to our neighborhood pool parking lot is to trade illegal substances? So what if someone tried to get in to our house through our basement door while I was home last week? This room is worth it. Then I realized what I was comparing and wanted to smack myself. Yes, some of my favorite memories in life are in that room, and we'll take them with us when pack up and move somewhere we can thrive. But we've gotten the best out of that room, and it's time to move on.

I'm sure I'll take a few pictures for posterity and fight it though I might, I'll probably shed a tear or two when we turn off the light for the last time. (My daughter will probably attempt to say "dark" and it'll make my throat tight.) But this is the best thing for all of us, for the good of the whole, my mother says. And I'm sure there's a tie-in to a literary lesson somewhere, and it's either so obvious I don't need to point it out or so abstract and philosophical that it can't possibly have been intentional on my part.