Parties, Martian Adventures, and Growing Trees

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Whew. Another kid birthday party has been successfully completed! As someone who struggles with domestic organization in general, running birthday parties for my kids (in partnership with my husband) has turned out to be a surprisingly intense challenge for me as a parent. But our four-year-old loved his day, and I love him, so it was totally worth it.

Now I would collapse in post-party relief…except that, whoops: DEADLINES! The kids only have a few days left of school (one day fewer than I’d realized until last week, actually, which was slightly scary to discover as a working mom with a writing schedule!), my edits are going well but sloooowly, and we leave for our yearly trip to the U.S. to visit my family next week. In other words, there are about a zillion things I ought to be doing right now and not nearly enough time (or energy) in each day.

However! I am really, really excited that Patrick’s second book, The Emperor of Mars, is coming out in the US and Canada tomorrow, along with the paperback edition of Book One, Secrets of the Dragon Tomb. These are fabulously zany MG adventures set on Regency-era Mars, complete with pterodactyls, clockwork butlers, and one of my favorite-ever fictional families. (Ohhhh do I love the hero’s sisters!) They’re full of adventure, imagination and real heart. I can’t wait for you guys to be able to read both of them!

(You can read Chapter One of Secrets of the Dragon Tomb and Chapter One of The Emperor of Mars on Patrick’s website now.)

One thing that’s been helping me get through my own edits despite a whole bunch of competing distractions and different pressures has been this app that was recommended to me on Twitter: Forest App. It builds on the Pomodoro technique for getting work done in cycles, which has REALLY worked for me over this past month (you work for 25 minutes without any interruptions; take 5 minutes off to relax; then work for 25 minutes, take 5 minutes off, etc, for as long as you can). The app makes it easy to time yourself for the Pomodoros but also turns it into a fun game (you grow trees on the app while you work), which honestly does help me to lighten up and feel more creative even when I’m worrying about deadlines, other pressures, etc. Highly recommended! And I’m looking forward to earning enough points on the game to finally grow a lemon tree. :)

(My paternal grandparents owned a lemon farm until I was in my mid-20s, and I spent a lot of wonderful summers there. So lemon trees have a lot of personal significance for me! If only the app could recreate the smell of a lemon grove, too, I’d be in total bliss.)

For the next few days, I’ll be using that app a LOT as I get through the last few days of the kids’ schooling for the year. Then I’ll spend the weekend frantically running around trying to remember everything we ought to pack for our trip…and then we’ll head to America! We’ll be there to visit with family, but Patrick and I will also be doing events at two different bookstores (one in Okemos on August 9th and one in Ann Arbor on August 15th) along with our friends Jim Hines and Merrie Haskell. I’d love to see you guys in person at either of those! You can find all the details here.

Please wish me luck with my writing for the rest of this week! And I’ll pop back in tomorrow to post one of my favorite excerpts from The Emperor of Mars. :)

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