Thursday, April 26, 2007

Shy No Longer

Man, I've been slammed this month. My WIP hasn't been touched in two weeks and I get very antsy when I only have a few chapters left to draft and I'm forced to put it aside. But it's also been a great month, too.

While in Arizona visiting my husband's mother for her 88th birthday (who still lives by herself and exercises on a treadmill no less!) we went to see Body Worlds in Phoenix. My oldest son is taking an anatomy/cadaver class and made a great tour guide. The displays/show of human bodies, embalmed in this plasticene process was stunning and mesmerizing - all these actual, REAL human bodies in various dramatic, athletic and *dance* poses to show how the human body works; the organs, the nervous system, digestion, lungs heart, the brain - everything. I thought I'd be more freaked out, but it was fascinating. Since my boys are older and have had so many biology classes they loved it, but my kids have had a lot of influence on me, like how I would never have gone to see all the action flicks over the years on my own, but how I adore those kinds of movies now because I experienced them through my boys' eyes and heard their excitement and talk about how cool and awesome the X-Men are or Spiderman. In fact, LOTR have become my all time favorite movies besides Gone With the Wind and Somewhere in Time. (Yes, I'm a romantic sap. And I watched all fifty hours of the "making of LOTR" on the extended DVD editions.) But I digress.

One thing I didn't expect at Body Worlds were all the very young kids in tow by their parents. I'm not sure I would have taken my children when they were that age. I kept thinking it was a little too much sensory stimulation and kind of scary to see the human body so exposed and gory even, although that's not the right word. For example, one of the plastinated cadavers was a woman on display upside down with all her reproductive organs open for inspection. There was also a room with embryos and fetuses from early conception to premature babies born at 32 weeks that did not survive. You get the picture. At the same time, the preservation is such that they almost seem *not* real, like store models or dummies except skinned and just muscles and bones. So you don't know what these people looked like when they were alive or how old they were when they died. I do highly recommend the show. Makes you look at your own life and body in a whole new way and I once again appreciated and admired the true miracle of life.

SCBWI Handsprings conference: The first page of my WIP was read/commented on by a First Pages editor's panel at the Friday evening reception and the visiting editors from Dutton, Random House and Holt did a fabulous job. I was so nervous listening to my work read out loud in front of a room full of people (the authors were kept anonymous) and then having it critiqued by Real Live Editors made me sweat. Later I knew I should have double dosed my deodorant. Anyway, I got GREAT comments and one of the editors gave me his card and asked to see the entire novel and even gave me the name of an agent to try! I was flying high with excitement, especially since I'd brought along my husband and youngest son who likes to write. We've had some great visiting editors before but these three dug into more details about their work, the process and what they are particularly publishing more than anybody else which is so nice because after a few conferences and couple dozen books on writing it's easy to tune out the basics of submission guidelines that you've heard a million times before.

Last week's Middle Eastern Belly Dance Show!!! Yes, I actually performed TWO dances (tribal cane dance and a more traditional veil/cabaret number) and did a presentation on the meaning and origin of the ancient dance and the women of the Bible at church for all the moms and teenage daughters. We created a Bedouin tent, sat on the floor on pillows, ate Middle Eastern food, enjoyed fabulous background music I compiled from my CDs and at the end I taught some basic belly dance moves. It was a blast and everybody loved it, even the skeptics in the group who thought belly dancing was like stripping or pole dancing (!). This has been in the works for about three months and I was so nervous I almost backed out. The next day I collapsed with the flu and then took off a day after that to pick up my son from college. Just got back yesterday and I think I'm done with laundry and shopping and errands and bills, although I'm still coughing.

I keep telling myself that the performance last week was good experience for when I sell my novel Secret Rites of the Goddess and go on tour doing belly dance/booksigning events. Ha, ha!

Tomorrow we do the wisdom teeth surgery and then please, after that can I write again?

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