Getting Crafty

So my relatives this year decided to revive our old “Sipka Family Craft Exchange.”

It’s something we used to do when I was back in junior high, and my mom and all her sisters (who were, like, my age now I guess!) would do their Christmas crafts every year.

They began the “Sipka Family Craft Exchange” where each crafter would send a number of crafts to all participants in the mail, and we’d end up recieving a great big box from Ohio with fun hand-made gifts each year. Most of my aunts made Christmas-themed crafts, like ornaments (or, of course, my mom’s 1970s macrame and rug-loom items).

When I got to be in high school, and had about 7 cousins all in high school too, we jumped into the fray some years. I was quite a crafter back then, so I’d always try to keep up with my mom and aunts (I made lots of wreaths, ornaments, and bells with too many ribbon roses …).

But my greatest memory of the Sipka Family Craft Exchange was when my two teenage boy cousins, Donny and Mike, sent their own package in the mail. Continue reading

‘ello, Cupcake!

Hello, my lovely.

Yes, I’m talking to you, you gorgeous cupcake.

As amazing as you look to me right now, you and your friends (eclairs, buttermilk doughnuts, and brownies) need to stay away from me this holiday season and stop tempting me with your delicious good looks. You need to stop lounging around in my refrigerator, calling my name, AND getting to that just-right room temperature on our kitchen cutting-block table. I simply can’t be trusted around you.

Because I’m trying to lose weight, here.

(Trying really, really hard. …)

Thank you ahead of time for your cooperation.


L. Afraid-to-Look-at-the-Scale Sanchez

How To Find Good Names for a Character

One the hard (and, simultaneously, fun/ intimidating/ nerve-wracking) parts of writing a new book is coming up with the characters’ names.

Misnaming a character from the beginning is a difficult mistake.

I’ve written several chapters, or in one case an entire manuscript, and then gone back and changed a character’s name. And believe you me, it’s not done without angst. (Like a child you’ve named, your character begins to embody his or her name, and changing it midway through the book can make the whole story seem “wrong” somehow.)

I changed both characters’ names of my very first romance (after the first draft was completely written). Why? Because I read a blog post by a well-reputed agent making fun of the names. Apparently, I wasn’t the only person who’d thought “Emily” and “Jake” were great-sounding names in 2006. So did about 85% of other romance writers. She said if she got one more story with an “Emily,” “Jake,” “Max” (one of my supporting characters in the same story!) or “Luke,” she was tossing it out the window.  Continue reading