March: A Photo Diary

When you think about it, it’s totally appropriate that I would post on April Fool’s Day after not posting for A WHOLE ENTIRE MONTH. But look! I have pictures! Here’s how we occupied ourselves last month (and I promise I’ll be better about posting from now on!):

I guess the first thing of interest from March would be our trip to New York. We drove to Atlanta on a Tuesday night and stayed with our dear friend Robert.

Our friend Robert, who has been friends with my husband since the dawn of time.

Robert has been friends with my husband since the dawn of time.

Then we woke up at 3:30am EST (which was actually 2:30am to our CST bodies), fell into a cab, stumbled through the Atlanta airport, and eventually ended up on a New York-bound airplane.

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We sent this photo to Agent Emma while waiting to de-board the plane. Pretty sure the caption was something about our imminent approach. #CreepyTourists

Once we reached New York–and this probably goes without saying, but–the very first thing we did was try to find Jay-Z.

Spoiler alert: We didn’t. *sigh*

But we DID have an amazing hotel in Times Square, so we got settled in and then ventured into the city to hunt down some lunch. The great thing about this trip was that each of us had already visited New York twice, so there wasn’t any pressure to do any of The Things You Do In New York, which meant we contented ourselves with pizza and walking and coffee and napping.

Yes, it was lovely, thanks.

Anyway, part of the reason for our visit was the NYC Teen Authors Festival, which happened at various locales across Manhattan, but was mostly focused at the public library and this little gem of a bookstore.

I got to visit a panel/book signing at Books of Wonder!

I got to visit a panel/book signing at Books of Wonder!

I was able to attend several panels at the library and hear a lot of great authors talk.

I also got to attend several panels at the NYC Teen Authors Festival! This was one being moderated by David Levithan.

This one was moderated by David Levithan. Great picture, huh?

But the highlight of the whole trip was definitely meeting my dear Emma Patterson in person! We had dinner in Manhattan with Emma and her fiance on our first night. Then we were able to snag her for lunch the next day, and on our last night in New York, she actually MADE us dinner and invited us to her home!

I don’t know a lot of people who get to visit their agent’s house, do you?

Me at the Brandt & Hochman office.

I got to visit my agency, Brandt & Hochman, and see their offices…

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…and hang out with Emma!

Okay, I kind of lied when I said we didn’t do any touristy things. We did spend one entire morning in Central Park because it was absolutely GORGEOUS and we just couldn’t help ourselves.

Me and the hubs at Belvedere Castle.

Me and the hubs at Belvedere Castle.

And then we also sort of accidentally got a private tour of the American Irish Historical Society, mostly because I’m not afraid to randomly ring doorbells and ask if I can come in and look around.

My husband's family hails from Ireland, in case that wasn't clear. O Raghailligh = O'Riley = Riley.

My husband’s family hails from Ireland, in case that wasn’t clear.
O Raghailligh = O’Riley = Riley.

Oh, and we saw this on one of the trains, and for some reason it just really got me tickled.

Written in careful Sharpie print just after the paragraph about how the subway system is always improving: "Hard to look up though, when late for work again."  It's just so painstakingly done.  I'd swear on my life this person was probably English... I don't know why, but it just seems like they were.

Written in careful Sharpie print just after the paragraph about how the subway system is always improving: “Hard to look up though, when late for work again.” It’s just so carefully written.

So we had a great time, and it was kind of hard to come home until we saw these little peanuts…

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And we realized how worn out we were…

Yeah, I took a little nap on my laundry.

Yeah, I took a little nap on my laundry.

And since then, we’ve been playing outside…

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…getting tubes in Baby J’s ears (thank you Jesus and hallelujah)…

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…and just generally living our wonderful lives.

I hope your March was equally as fun, and here’s to a fantastic April!

Reality Check

Listen, y’all. There is a MISCONCEPTION going on in Internet-land, and it centers on this one idea:

Everyone has it together except me. 

Now, I’m not talking about ME me. I know for a FACT that I don’t have it all together. But this is a thought that has zipped through all of our heads at one point or another, am I right?

Everyone else’s kids behave better than mine. 

Everyone else’s house is cleaner than mine. 

Everyone else is more attractive than I am. 

LIES.

“Oh, sure,” you say. “It’s easy for you to call these lies, but you don’t know what my kitchen looks like. You don’t know what my kids said to me today. You don’t know what’s in my car, or how terrible my skin looks, or how long it’s been since I cleaned my bathroom.”

DON’T I?

FACT: I recently found hard-as-a-rock French fries wedged between the seat and the gearshift console in my car. HEAVEN KNOWS how long they had been there. And I regularly discover old sippy cups full of what used to be milk that have rolled under one of the seats. It’s all I can do to launch them into the trash can without gagging.

FACT: 90% of the time, I look like this:

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Literally took this picture right now.

Please notice lack of makeup, multitude of blemishes, and Katniss braid that MIGHT be cool except that whenever I get pregnant, I lose the hair around my hairline, so now–a year after Baby J’s birth–I have this ring of 6-inch long, scraggly, weirdly curly sprigs of hair right around my hairline. You can see some coming out from behind my ear, and then also on the corners (?) of my head. Yeah…those aren’t bangs. And they look a lot better NOW than they did when they were only an inch long. Holy mother of pearl, that was a pain.

FACT: Only one of my children can talk, but–well, let’s just say we’re no strangers to discipline. The three-year-old might put on a good front when she’s in public, but believe me when I say we have had some CHATS about what comes out of her mouth. My husband once had an entire conversation with a friend at the grocery store while M. kicked and screamed on the tile floor. Don’t get me wrong–she is precious, and we love her and Baby J more than life itself. But just about every morning, we have about a thirty-minute window of screaming and crying while they get ready for school. Lord have mercy at the drama.

FACT: This is my kitchen sink, right now:photo 2

See that heart decoration? It’s been up since Valentine’s Day. I just now decided it was probably time to take it down. And if you’re thinking there aren’t that many dirty dishes in the sink–well, you’re right, but it’s only because we have already done dishes TWICE today. And oh look, the trash needs to be taken out, but instead of actually taking it out, I’ve helpfully pulled the trash can out onto the floor.

That’s just great, Anne Riley. Thanks so much for your servant’s heart.

(If you look closely, you can see that I did not bother to paint the inside of the cabinet doors when I was repainting all the cabinets. This is mostly because I want to line them with some cool wallpaper and therefore didn’t feel it was necessary to paint them, but it’s also a little bit because I was TIRED OF PAINTING, MY WORD.)

FACT: This is where we keep our clean laundry:

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I mean, sure, we sometimes get around to putting it up. But generally, we end up wearing things again before they ever make it to the dresser, so unless someone’s coming over, this is where we get our clean socks.

And then I threw in a picture of my dresser, just for funsies:

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Can we please take inventory of the things lying on top of it?

1) LED flashlight gift box

2) Baby Owl hat for winter (does not currently fit either of our children)

3) A pair of high heels I borrowed from a friend that didn’t fit because my feet grew an entire size during my first pregnancy and I have yet to accept it, so I keep trying to wear shoes in my old size, but it never works, but I keep denying it because I am a nutjob

4) Deodorant (hey! a sign of personal hygiene, that’s always good!)

5) A sweet picture made by M. a couple years ago

6) An interesting musical juxtaposition: The Black Keys sitting on top of Veggie Tales “Hosanna.” Because gritty rock n’ roll paired with cartoon vegetables singing about Jesus is just how we roll.

7) Three different lip balms, a fancy bobby pin whose mate I can’t find, and a flash drive with basically my entire life on it. Good thing it’s just lying around where literally anything could happen to it.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. A reality check, courtesy of yours truly. My house is not clean, my skin is not clear, I’m irresponsible with my possessions and Lord knows what you might find if you ride in my car.

Happy March, everyone, and I hope you have a fabulous week free of pressure and lies!

Surprise! I Have Not Been Eaten By Zombies

So! It’s been a while, eh?

I can explain.

I knew February was going to be a freight train o’ crazy, and sure enough, it delivered. First of all, my deadline for first pass edits (the big stuff that needs to change before we get into the more nitty-gritty details) was March 1, so that, just by itself, was a giant red flag with BUCKLE UP, SISTER printed on it in a 4,000-point font. Something bold and intimidating, like Engravers, maybe.

(I can name most fonts on sight because I spent four years learning the art of advertising and graphic design. So if you’re ever out in public with me, there’s a solid possibility I’ll point at a sign and yell APPLE CHANCERY! or PAPYRUS! and you will have to decide whether or not to pretend you don’t know me.)

(But really, who CAN’T instantly identify Papyrus?!?)

Look, I never said it was my FAVORITE font.

Look, I never said it was my FAVORITE font.

ANYWAY.

Aside from the revisions on PULL (which, by the way, I finished ONE WHOLE WEEK EARLY, CAN I GET AN AMEN AND A HALLELUJAH and maybe also a nap), I’ve spoken at three different events.

The first one was the Birmingham Local Authors Expo. I did a seminar called “How To Write While Having A Life,” and yes, I can send you the Powerpoint if you want it.

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Werkin’ the table.

The second was this past Friday at the Write Connection, which is an invitation-only writing event for high schoolers in the Shelby County public school system. I did four sessions about how I got published and what it takes to become a published author. The students were delightful and I only smuggled three of them home in my backpack.

OH FINE, I didn’t smuggle any of them home. But don’t you think for a minute I didn’t consider it.

And then, just yesterday, I conducted a query seminar/workshop thingy for the Southern Magic chapter of the Romance Writers of America. They were also delightful, though a bit sassier than the high schoolers, which was definitely not a bad thing. I do enjoy a healthy dose of sass here and there. But the really cool part was that I recognized several faces at the workshop, and it turned out they had heard me speak at the Authors Expo back on Feb. 1. And they had decided they wanted to hear me AGAIN.

So that was humbling and really cool, and basically I love them and think they are awesome.

Don't you love pictures of yourself in the middle of a sentence?

Don’t you love pictures of yourself in the middle of a sentence?

Other things I’ve been up to:

–Attending birthday parties, most recently at Build-A-Bear, where the 3-year-old got to take home a multicolored bear that she promptly named “Rainbow.”

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I approve wholeheartedly, having named most things “Rainbow” when I was a kid. (Or “Treetop,” which for some reason sounded like the most beautiful name in the world to my four-year-old ears.)

(Incidentally, I also referred to nostrils as “hippopotamuses.” For some reason I feel like that’s important to note.)

Forward and onward to other things we’ve been doing…

–Cutting the satellite TV. We hardly ever watch TV anyway–not because we don’t want to (WE DO), but because we simply don’t have the time. And if the TV did happen to be on, it was on Nick Jr, and who needs DJ Lance yelling at them about eating their vegetables on a daily basis? NOT US, THANKS.

YOU'RE DONE, DJ LANCE. DONE.

YOU’RE DONE, DJ LANCE. DONE.

So once we figured out that we were paying $48 a month for cartoons, we decided to cut the satellite out of our lives. Now we’re doing Amazon Prime (which works out to $6.33 a month) and I’ve just ordered a Mohu Leaf indoor HDTV antenna, which has come highly recommended by many people. The one-time cost there is less than our monthly satellite bill. So that seems like a win, provided it works and all.

–Enjoying my new author photos! Have you seen them? Click on my “photos” page, and you get a whole bunch of MAH FACE. You’re welcome.

–I’ve also been approved as a guest/panelist for the Alabama Phoenix Festival, which is sort of a very small, Birmingham-based Comic Con. I’m SUPER EXCITED. That’s going to be in May, but I haven’t added it to my events page yet because I am still recovering from whatever happened in the past four weeks.

–I know I bring this up all the time, but Yellowhammer has REALLY taken off. If you’re not sure what that is, click on the “Yellowhammer” tab at the top of this page and check it out!

And finally…

It’s official–I’ll be in New York from Wednesday, March 19–Saturday, March 22 for the NYC Teen Author Festival (and also (mostly) to meet my amazing agent IN PERSON!!!)! I’m not appearing as an author or anything–just going as an attendee! There’s a great lineup of authors and a wonderful selection of panels, not to mention a Teen Books party on Thursday night and a MASSIVE book signing on Sunday (which, obviously, I will miss). If you’re going to be in the area, holla! I’d love to say hello!

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope to be around a bit more often now that I’ve finished first pass edits, but until next time, have a wonderful week!