Saturday, May 18, 2013

What do you do?

Life is all about change, right? As much as we might hate it, it's inevitable. Nothing stays the same forever.

So what do you do when the path you're on takes a sudden detour--and it's not exactly the one you want to be on?

As an example, let's take running. A couple of my friends were talking about running and races on Twitter today and so running is really on my brain right now. Anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows that I am (was?) a runner. I've run a few half marathons, and I loved it. Don't get me wrong, they are hard, but there's nothing quite like that high when you blast past the finish line and realize you really did it.

But the last one I did (when I PR'd by 28 minutes) really jacked up my knee. It's almost been a year, and I still can't run more than about 2-3 miles before it starts to hurt. I finally caved in and went to a sports medicine specialist a few months ago and found out I have arthritis in my knee and the more I run the faster it'll progress. I just turned 30 and I have arthritis. THAT SUCKS. Talk about a course change. He gave me some exercises to do to see if it helps, but he told me, "you might want to think about taking up biking or swimming."

It was devastating news. I'm not a natural runner. Yes, I have long legs, but they don't seem to want to take me places very fast. I've had to work REALLY HARD to get my speed up and break that two hour mark for my last half. I was thinking I'd finally attempt a marathon after that race, and then this happened. Sudden detour, much?

Running was more than just about beating a clock, or doing races, though. It was an escape. It was an accomplishment. There's something powerful about pushing your body through the pain and desire to quit and finish 13.1 miles running strong. I can only imagine what 26.2 would be like now, since he told me there's no way I should ever do a marathon unless I want to have (another)
knee surgery. It's been a rough adjustment not being able to get out there and pound out the miles. To not get that runner's high once in a while that keeps you lacing up and heading out, even in the snow or rain or cold or heat. I still worked out, but it's not the same.

So what now? When you get thrown a curve ball, what do you do?

I've heard the saying that when God closes a door, he opens a window. I'm still waiting for my window. Maybe once we can buy me a road bike and I can start putting in the (non-impact) miles, I'll find it. Maybe if I pull out my old swim team suit and goggles and get back in the pool, I'll find it. I don't think God just sets those windows right in front of us, so that we can find them while we're stuck moping on our behinds. Do you? Or maybe I'll adjust to only running short distances and find joy in that. Whatever it might be, I'm not going to give up.

My path to getting published was full of unwanted detours. Years to get an agent, years with the wrong agent (who was wonderful, but just not the right fit for me), nine more months to get another agent... it was rough. It was full of potholes and re-calculations and adjustments. But I kept going, I kept altering my course and trying, and wow. I am SO SO happy now. That window I found? It's been absolutely a dream come true. But it took seven years to get here. SEVEN YEARS. Oy.

So what detours have you been forced into taking in your life? Were you able to find joy and happiness, even if the path wasn't what you thought you originally wanted to be on?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

TBT - the awkward teen version

Well... you asked for it. A throw-back-Thursday post to prove that my teenage years were OH SO AWKWARD. (And since this is me we're talking about, it got long. And attempted to be inspirational. Feel free to ignore the words and just look at the pictures. I won't blame you.)

Oh my word, I'm seriously so regretting offering to do this. Okay. Deep breaths. Everything is going to be okay. Right? 

There seemed to be quite a number of you who didn't believe I had any awkward photos. My worst years were definitely 5th-8th grade. By 9th I was starting to kind-of, sort-of feel a bit less like... well... a total geek/freak. Which on the social hierarchy of middle school = loser. I was 5'9" by the end of 5th grade. Do you know the average height of 5th grade boys (and girls for that matter)? It is NOT 5'9". Add to that naturally curly hair (that I didn't have a clue what to do with because I didn't realize just how much curl I actually had), massive glasses (I was afraid they'd hide my eyes, so my mom got me really big ones so people could see my eyes better), very, erm, interesting clothing (did you know that K-Mart and Shopko don't really sell the greatest fitting pants for a scrawny girl that is 5'9"?), and the fact I constantly had my nose in a book or was writing a book? Yeah. Those were the glory years. 

Okay. No more procrastinating. Here you go:

I really LOVED to dance... in spandex. And layers. Flashing non-offensive signs.
 See the big glasses? Nice.
 Here I am with my rat.
 Here I am with my horse.
Here I am with my door. (What the...????) As you can see, I eventually did get contacts. And I also kind of figured out how to fix my hair--when it was curly. But then there were the pathetic attempts when I would spend an hour and a half trying to straighten it because everyone else had the "Rachel," and I had this weird, lame curly hair. This was the end result of all that effort.
 Yep, here I am in 9th grade with very frizzy, somewhat straight hair. (On a rainy day which was an unfortunate choice because, hello! What happens when naturally curly hair gets wet? It gets curly and/or Also, the camo shirt is a nice touch, right? This was a very subtle attempt to get a picture with the boy I liked (who I cropped out to save him embarrassment). My friend finagled it so we were walking by each other and then oh-so-sneakily pretended like she was only taking a picture of me. I'm sure he had no clue. Yep. Uh huh. At least the glasses were finally gone so I could see in the rain without spots everywhere.

I don't even know where to start with this picture. Other than I've gotten a lot better at looking dramatic in pictures without also looking scary. But hey, there's my curly hair! And a t-shirt. Tucked into khaki pants. And big bangs. And I'm randomly sitting on a staircase. Awkwaaaaard. I think it's safe to say that we are all glad I didn't pursue photography.

 So this is actually in high school, on a "Close-up" trip to Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas. (This is Gettysburg.) Can you find me? I'm the one with the blonde Afro. My hair + humidity = whoa. Gotta love the socks halfway up the leg look. And the jean shirt and khaki shorts. Oh, and my contact tore, so I had to wear glasses the whole trip. Haha. Good times.

Okay, this one isn't actually too awkward. (Except for the super dark eyebrows and roots with the blonde hair. During my junior year, I was informed that I had mousy brown hair and should highlight it back to being blonde, how I was as a child. So I did. Totally looked natural, right? It was fun to be blonde though, I still toy with going back to it sometimes. Also, notice how the lack of humidity really does make a difference.) Anyway... the point of this picture is not to embarrass my friends who apparently didn't have dates to the zoo (I believe the caption below this one said, "so I shared mine" with a picture of us three with the one boy who came, who probably wasn't actually my date either...), but to say things eventually got better. I figured out that my hair was VERY curly and that it actually made me kind of unique. I got a job as a lifeguard and started buying my own clothes. I still read a ton and wrote books, so I never did shake the whole "being a nerd" thing. But that's okay. In case you hadn't noticed, that's kind of worked out great for me now. ;-)

So what's the point behind this (other than sharing some embarrassing pictures)? The point is that if there is anyone out there reading this that felt like I did--that I would never be pretty enough, popular enough, cool enough, or (fill-in the blank) enough to be happy/successful/get the boy/fill-in the blank---don't let yourself believe it. Figure out what makes you unique and embrace it. OWN IT. Dream big and then do something about it. Don't let yourself get boxed in by the lies or false expectations media/other people/fill-in the blank feeds us. You don't have to have the Rachel haircut to be pretty. You don't have to be short and bubbly and naturally blonde to fit in. And if you are short and bubbly and naturally blonde with the best haircut ever, then Yay! Try not to dwell on wishing you were tall and had longer legs or whatever else you wish was different on you. We are all different--and we are all beautiful and awesome in our own ways. OWN IT.

All those things I was embarrassed about and tried to change about myself? Ironically, now I love them. I love being tall, I love having curly hair. I love that I love to read and write and well, okay, I never did embrace the glasses. I got Lasik and it was a miracle. And I no longer have any desire to have a pet rat. But the rest--LOVE. Hang in there, and learn to love what makes you YOU.

(P.S. I think I should have made you do a lot more than just say "yes" in a comment to earn these pictures. Wowza. Now where is my spandex so I can go dance?)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

LDStorymakers Recap (aka how many ways can Sara humiliate herself in two days?)

Yep, that's a long title. But it's a pretty good fit for this last weekend's conference. So if you enjoy hearing about public humiliation, by all means, read on... read on... But hopefully you're not eating something right now. Because the theme for LDStorymakers this year was: "Don't make Sara laugh when she's eating or drinking." You shall soon understand why.

And hey, there's some pictures, too!

 So the conference started off on Thursday with Boot Camp (which I didn't take part in this year) and a big dinner at the Provo library (which I did take part in, see above). So fun to see friends from near and far! That night I stayed with cute Jacqui and her sisters by BYU. Oh, the memories.... my old stomping grounds. Go Cougs! *ahem* Anyway...
 So my first humiliation occurred here in this room, but not until later in the afternoon during the keynote address, so we'll get to that in a minute. First, do you know these awesome ladies? That's Kathryn Purdie and Kimberley Griffiths Little. We are all repped by Adams Lit (Katie and I are repped by Josh and Kimberley by Tracey). Adams Lit unite!
 I had to sneak out at 11 and rush to get my kids from my sisters, and take SonB to the preschool for his Mother's Day Tea/performance. I got to watch him practice a little bit, which was good because when performance time came, he pretty much just did this. (See above) Yep, he just sat there. Except for after each song when I'd whisper, "SonB, come on buddy, just sing!" and he'd look at me and say, "I can't sing that loud!" Considering that the two kids next to him were yelling the songs, I guess I understand his reasoning.
 Love this crazy, kooky boy of mine!
 Then I hurried back down to Provo to catch the keynote address by Anne Perry. Hey look, it's Kimberley again! Not only are we agency sisters, we are editor sisters!

So, this keynote address was absolutely wonderful. I was listening in rapt attention. Not only is Anne's voice mellifluous and her accent incredibly soothing and I could listen to her for hours, her speech was very powerful and thought-provoking. I was doing just that--thinking, absorbing, contemplating what she had to say.... or so I thought. James Dashner found me afterward to tell me that he'd tried to catch my eye a few times to make fun of me for looking so bored! Whaaa??? I quickly asked my friends if I'd looked bored, and they all agreed! GAH! I was not bored. Note to self: my contemplative face = boredom to others. Not sure what I can do about it, but in the future, if I look bored, assume that I am actually deep in thought.

This was also the scene for my humiliation part the second. They had snacks for us before the keynote, so I grabbed a brownie and some water. Before the speech started, I noticed my friend Jacqui had an apple. Where did she find an apple? I wanted an apple, too! So I went back out in search of my own apple. I came back with not only an apple, but another brownie and a cookie for Jacqui. Why all this detail? Well, because I obviously somehow found the Wicked Witch's basket of apples, because it almost killed me! After the keynote, they were doing a giveaway, and I was eating my apple (apparently looking bored) when a friend said something that made me laugh. Never do this to me. Because the next thing I knew, I could no longer breathe as I had somehow managed to inhale the piece of apple UP INTO MY NOSE. Much flailing, laughing and blushing ensued as I tried to dislodge the apple without making any horrid noises and without any success. It became apparent that a bathroom trip was in order. GUYS, I nearly pulled a Snow White in the middle of a major writing conference. And could it happen when I was in a small class with few witnesses? No, of  course not. Let's do it at the keynote address with 450 witnesses. Nice.
 So, moving along... Jacqui was tired. She was channeling Sleeping Beauty. Next time I want to pick the sleeping princess instead of the one who gets killed by an apple.

 That night, there was a massive book signing. This is the cover for Jenn's book INSOMNIA that comes out next month. So creepy-cool right? But Jenn just might be standing on wet carpet, and she didn't know it. Yep, this is the scene of humiliating moment #3. It was just me, Katie and Jacqui sitting in some chairs talking. I innocently tried to drink some water, and just as I managed to get a huge mouthful, one of them said something funny. DIDN'T THEY GET THE MEMO?? NO MAKING ME LAUGH IF FOOD OR DRINK IS INVOLVED! Well, anyway, I didn't swallow the water, nor did I choke on it, and I began making many frantic gestures for them to stop being funny so I could stop laughing and swallow the dang water. But did they listen? No, of course not. Just when I thought it was safe to swallow Jacqui said, "Don't be funny, or she's going to choke!" Which, of course, made me choke. And realizing I was about to spew water everywhere (and there were authors signing books in the aforementioned EVERYWHERE, which do not mix well with water), I dropped to my hands and knees and kindly spit the water all over the floor instead of on their books. All of this happened in about two seconds. I had very little time to react, but my instincts were strong. SAVE THE BOOKS. You're welcome. And I hope you didn't see me. Yes, you, meaning anyone who was anywhere near me.

Pretty sure I'm still slightly red in the picture above, even though that was at least fifteen minutes later. I really rocked the "face-on-fire" look that day.

So the next day, I was so exhausted, I felt the way Jacqui looked in her Sleeping Beauty picture. But I hid it well... for a while. By the last few classes, I'm pretty sure my "bored face" had transitioned into... I don't even know what. The very last class of the day was in an amphitheater classroom. Jacqui was on one side of the room and Katie and her posse were on the other. But Jacqui was leaving early to go rock her pitch at Alyssa Henkin (woot, woot! Way to go girl!), so I decided to go sit by Katie et al. She was getting advice for her pitch, and one person told her to trip on her way in to make a great first impression. Apparently you also shouldn't give people bad advice in front of me. Because as I turned to walk away, I somehow didn't realize I'd climbed up two stairs. I stepped forward, expecting flat ground and nearly fell. I barely caught myself but then immediately did it again on the second (also unnoticed) stair and that time I rolled my ankle and literally fell on my face. I'm sure no one noticed. Except everyone in the room. I think I might have said, "someone just shoot me now." Seriously! 

Well. That was long. And possibly only funny to myself. (Yes, I do laugh at myself... even when I'm embarrassed. And trust me, there was plenty of laughing and embarrassment to go around!)

So. Yep. It was a fun weekend, and hopefully next year, I will refrain from spitting, choking, looking bored, inhaling apples, or falling. But I can't make any promises. 

Hey, if you're still around... I recently found some old pictures from middle school and high school. I thought about doing a post where I posted some of them, but I'm not so sure I can handle anymore embarrassment at this point. I'll tell you what. If I get at least ten yes's in the comments, then I'll do it. It's up to you guys! :-)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

So, this happened...!

Anyone who's been around here for longer than a week probably knows what a long road I've had getting to publication. But the interesting thing about all that struggle, all the low times and pain, is that it's made me that much happier when good things happen.

And you guys--something REALLY, REALLY HAPPY has happened!

This announcement was run in PW's Children's Bookshelf today:

Lisa Sandell at Scholastic Press has acquired two YA novels from Sara B. Larson, including a sequel to her January 2014 debut, Defy, in which the fiercest member of a prince's elite guard (actually a girl disguised as a boy) realizes she has deeper feelings for the prince than she thought possible. Josh Adams at Adams Literary sold North American rights. 

Here's a link to the week's rights report:

I am SO SO SO over the moon to be working with Lisa and Scholastic on two more books! I already felt like the luckiest person in the world, first when I got Josh as my agent, and then when I nabbed Lisa as my editor. It has been an absolute dream working with her. I seriously adore her! And now I KNOW I'm the luckiest person in the world since I get to keep working with her! Thank you Lisa, David, and the rest of the team at Scholastic for believing in DEFY and my writing enough to sign up two more books!!

Now excuse me while I go do my happy dance!


*sneaks back in* Pst. Did you notice a little detail in that announcement? Yep, you saw right. DEFY is slated to come out in January of 2014!  That's in, like, eight months. SQUEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!! *sneaks back away to dance some more*