Monday, August 31, 2009
As suggested by Crow Productions
So much to do
so much to say
I don't know what
to pick today!
I'll write a book
I'll write a song
I can't go wrong!
I'll clean my room
I'll sketch, I'll weed
I'll teach my kids
just how to read!
With no limits
I'll start it all
after one email...
And some blogging
a touch of Twitter
That's what I'll do.
What is the time?
You're kidding, right?
Not a thing done
and now it's night.
But then again
no need to fear
Soon enough now
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Kiersten White's PARANORMALCY, following a 16-year-old girl with the unique ability to see through paranormals' disguises, who works for an organization called the International Paranormal Containment Agency, to Erica Sussman at Harper Children's, in a significant deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, for publication in Fall 2010, by Michelle Wolfson at Wolfson Literary Agency (World).
See? No ghosts! Yay!
And, in a solemn promise first made to Stephanie Perkins, I hereby vow to use whatever power and influence I might obtain, however small, to organize a synchronized dance in which writers everywhere perform Bret's Angry Dance, hereby known as BAD.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
For the uninitiated, the idea of getting published seems simple. You write a book, make a few phone calls, and voila! You're the next [Stephenie Meyer, JK Rowling, Stephen King, Agatha Christie]! Alas, it's not quite that easy. I'll break down how it actually works.
Step One: Write a Book
There are millions of people out there who think, "Hey, I could write an awesome book." And then they never do. Which is great--I hate competition.
Then there are millions of people who try but never finish. I also like these people.
Then there are those people, now numbering in the hundreds of thousands, who say, "I'm going to write a book." And then they do. I love these people. It's not easy--go you!
Step Two: Congratulate Yourself and Daydream about Book Signings
So you've got your fancy, shiny new manuscript you finished last night. STOP. Do not research agents, do not send it out to Random House with a big heart sticker on the envelope, do not start booking library tours. Edit it. Trust me.
Don't edit it so much that you never do anything else, but really, make sure it's in the best possible condition. I highly, HIGHLY recommend a writing group (such as my dear and fabulous MoMos). Preferably people who are writers, but definitely people who will be honest with you. Your mom? Probably not going to be honest with you, as she'll be too busy bursting with pride that her darling wrote a book.
A good writing group will not only tell you what is best about your book, they'll help you figure out what isn't working. And they'll help you figure out how to make it work. I can't tell you how much I improved by working with my critiquers--they are truly invaluable.
Step Three: Figure Out What You're Supposed to Do Next
Promise you edited it? Okay then. You probably started this whole process thinking you could print off your baby, send it to a huge publishing house, and get an offer within days.
Well, I mean, maybe you can, but here's what the rest of us have to do. You sit down and write a query letter, which is basically a one page description of your book. It's hard. Maybe harder than writing a whole book. After you've written it, you have your friends look at it. And really, spend a lot of time going through Nathan Bransford's basics he has on his blog. He has very detailed, specific information that I don't provide because I am lazy.
You'll also want to include a short bio in your query letter. For mine, I simply stated that I had a story published in a journal and work as a freelance writer. It's brief, but to the point--someone has seen something in my writing worth publishing. However, if your only publishing cred is the poem you wrote in first grade and decorated with sparkles that your teacher displayed on the chalkboard, well, you're probably better off leaving it out. The bio = not actually very important if you're a newbie.
So, now you've got your query letter all polished and pretty.
Step Four: Send Your Tender Heart Out into the World to Get Trampled
You can't send your manuscript directly to most editors or publishers anymore. They get so much stuff, they simply don't read it. This is where literary agents come in. They act as a filter--if they think your book is good enough to represent it, an editor is willing to give it a chance. Agents are awesome. My agent is the most awesome of all awesome agents. Just sayin'.
You'll want to do some extensive research. I recommend Agent Query. Put together a list of potential agents, then google them, check their blogs if they have one, check out their website. Most agents want slightly different things, and all agents like queries to be personalized. Don't waste your time and agents' time by querying them for things they don't represent.
Then, after putting together your charming, well-written, and error-free email or letter to the agent, you send it out. But don't email every agent you've ever found. I recommend having ten queries out at a time on a rotating basis. That way, if you get nothing but no, you haven't ruined your shot with everyone on a bad query. If you don't get any requests at all, pull back, take another look at your query, and fix it.
After sending out your letter, you wait. Sometimes you wait twenty minutes for a "No thanks." Sometimes you wait two months for a "No thanks."
And trust me, you'll get a LOT of "No thanks." A lot. Really? A lot. And it's not easy. Sometimes it's downright heartbreaking.
However, sprinkled in with all of those "No thanks," you'll probably get some "Yes, please." And those are awesome. Agents will request either a partial, with a specified number of pages, or a full, meaning they want to look at the whole manuscript.
And then you REALLY get to wait. Nervously. Nail-bitingingly agonizingly. Checking your email every five freaking minutes because maybe maybe there's a response (there isn't).
And if you thought getting a no on your query was sad, wait until you get a no on a partial or, worse yet, a full. Because then they aren't just rejecting the idea of your book--they're actually rejecting your book. It's rather crushing.
(I recommend Dr Pepper and M&Ms for self-medicating. Some people like ice cream. Comfort eating is a must during this stage. And whether you are querying for an agent or on submission, you MUST have supportive writer friends who actually understand what it is like. Normal people don't get it. Crazy writers are the only ones who will. Also, please, for the love of all that is good and sane in the world, DO NOT query or go on submission while you are trying to get pregnant. Trust me. That's just asking for a world of hurt.)
But here's where you set yourself apart--you don't give up after that first generic partial rejection. You send out a new query for every rejection. If you aren't getting any requests, you reevaluate your query again. You find new agents to contact. And you DON'T GIVE UP. I think the best example of this is my darling friend Cindy. She sent out well over a hundred queries. And you know what happened? She got an agent and a three book deal. It might not happen with your first book. But if you keep writing, and if your book is good, someone, somewhere out there is going to realize it.
Step Five: Hit the Jackpot
Maybe on your fifth query, or your fiftieth, or your one-hundred and fiftieth, you just might luck out and find that agent out there--your dream agent--the one you've been waiting for who it just so happens has been waiting for you. You freak out.
Then you get to work. You take your awesome agent's advice on any edits that need to be done before submission. You talk strategy. My agent has me write the cover letters; some agents do that for you. Some agents will want to do an edit or two before they officially sign you. Every agent does things differently, and this is why it's so important that you sign with an agent a) you like and b) you trust.
After you've got everything set to go, your agent calmly and gently takes your baby and sends it out into the world, aka the desks of editors. Know what that means? Yup. MORE WAITING. And probably more rejection. Awesome.
Every agent goes about the submission process a little differently. I know some that offer it to just a couple of editors with a strict deadline for response. Some send it out to more at a time hoping to generate some competition. Regardless, make sure your agent follows up regularly, since, as we learn from Moonie, a lot of the time that's the only way to make something happen.
This is where I think Agent Michelle is fabulous. I felt like I got so much more time and attention than I might have with a bigger agency (and I'm not saying bigger agencies don't do this as well, this is just my experience). Michelle only takes projects that she's really, truly passionate about, because she spends a lot of time on them. And it shows. Even when we were out with Flash and nothing happened, I never doubted that she was invested not just in my books, but in me as a writer.
Step Six: Hit the Next Jackpot
Your awesome agent, after persevering and being all around wonderful, gets you a book deal. Seriously! This can happen any number of ways--auction, pre-empt, a great offer from your dream editor, etc. (Can I just say how much my agent rocked my deal? You should have heard her, it was so sad. She had a horrible sinus infection and could barely talk, but was on the phone ALL. DAY. For two days straight. For me. See what I said about finding an agent who is invested? I honestly feel like I could not have gotten a better deal, and it was all thanks to Michelle.)
This doesn't always happen the first time around. No one wanted poor, third-person Flash. But, once again, I had an agent who was invested in my career, so we reevaluated, went out with something else, and, well, if you're reading this you know what happened.
And what happens now? Besides lots of euphoria and blissful disbelief? I'm just waiting to get my edits, at which point I'll get back to work. And the work doesn't stop there. I'm making marketing plans, budgeting for publicity, and plotting out the next two books. My dream came true, and now I've got three years of very hard work (and lots of waiting) ahead of me. I'm just so glad I'm doing it with Agent Michelle and Editor Erica.
I couldn't be happier.
So there you have it. My long, long guide to how this stuff actually works. If you read it all, you deserve a cookie. And a book deal. But you should probably go for the cookie, first, because in my experience those are a little less work to get your hands on.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
723 Frontal Lobe Lane
From: Kiersten White
To Whom it May Concern:
I was recently in for my 26 year check up at my local Jiffy Lobe. Although I purchased the extended warranty and was assured that my fluid levels were all normal, synapses in full working order, and that I had at least 200,000 miles left in each hemisphere before replacements were necessary, my brain has not been functioning up to par lately.
Where I should have something akin to a DSL connection, lately it's felt more like dial-up--complete with that horrible beeeeep EEEEEEEEEEEEE breee bree bree EEEEEEEEEEE noise while connecting.
Aside from far slower speeds than normal, there's also a strange weight that seems to hang around right behind my eyes, pressing down on them and making me feel dull and tired all the time. I have reason to suspect that during the routine inspection one or more tools were inadvertently left behind in my skull. I've compiled a photo illustration to demonstrate:
As this problem is vexing, I'd appreciate a prompt reply. Hopefully we can work together to get my brain back up to speed as soon as possible.
To: Kiersten White
123 Not Telling Lane
San Diego, CA
From: Brainular Maintenance Inc.
Re: Your Recent Service Complaint
Dear Ms White,
In compliance with your recent complaint we have undergone an extensive and complete inventory of all our tools and found nothing missing. With our unparalleled Jiffy Lobe service history, we feel confident in saying that our assessment was accurate at the time given and that we are completely blameless in your recent slowage issues.
If you'll check the fine print in your service agreement, you'll find that any and all problems having to do with children and related sleep-deprivation are not covered in our warranty, and anyone who knows your kids will agree with us when we say that they are the more-than-likely culprits.
Have a nice day.
The Brainular Team/Jiffy Lobe
Friday, August 21, 2009
Umm, is this a specific category or type? Like, you've got haiku, limerick, revenge, sonnet, etc. News to me. But since so many people seem desperate to find poetry on revenge, I thought I'd oblige them.
by Kiersten White
"Vengeance is mine, you fiend!" quoth he,
raising his dagger sillily.
"For everything you did to me,
to the depths of hell I banish thee!"
Fiend frowned, and raised his eyebrows two
"Dude, what the heck's got into you?
This 'fiend' and 'thee' stuff's something new.
It's your turn; what're you gonna do?"
Sharper than the blade he glared
Aghast at how the fiend now dared
to question, after he had bared
his true intentions: evil squared.
But there was nothing left to play,
Revenge would have to wait today.
And so he sighed, now forced to say:
"You sunk my battleship, you stupid jerk."
Thursday, August 20, 2009
A vampire looms up out of the darkness in all of his traditional glory--fangs, cape, viciously seductive face. Smiling wickedly, he leans in for the kill and...
She sighs and tases him.
Wait, what? This is the point in the daydream that I suddenly sat up in bed, frowning. Why on earth did she tase him? Why not stake him? Because let's say she was there on purpose--why keep a vampire alive? And, if you were to keep a vampire alive, how would you then prevent said vampire from killing anymore?
And that, dear friends, is how the idea for Paranormalcy started. It spiraled out from there as I figured out just who Evie was, where she worked, and that vampires had very little to do with anything, after all. The whole thing was, quite frankly, a blast to write; who doesn't love Tasers?
If you write, where do your ideas come from? Do you start with a scene? A character? A premise? Or do you have some ridiculous trigger that demands you spin a story out of it?
(I promise this blog is not all about Para, really! Usually it's just plain nonsense. But Natalie suggested people might be interested where the idea came from. And if you weren't, well, yell at me in the comments and I'll tell you a joke, instead. Coming tomorrow: I answer all of the people who click over to my blog looking for Revenge Poetry*.)
*Note to self: Buy dagger to lift dramatically in the air, because any blog post on revenge poetry pretty much requires brandishing sharp, deadly things.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Alright, now that you've wiped the drool from your face, I thought I'd break it down. You'll notice the numbers attached for your convenience.
1. Laptop. Of course, my faithful companion, without whom I could accomplish nothing. No writing, no wasting hours upon hours every day skulking around online instead of writing, no watching interviews of people with Irish accents, or old Flight of the Conchords clips. Laptop, do you have anything to say?
This is quite possibly your worst post ever.
See? What would I do without him?
2. The outlet. Which is also essential because Laptop's battery lasts about three minutes.
Who's stupid fault is that?
It's true. They can't all be macs.
I hate you.
If you can't say anything nice I'm going to disinvite you from contributing to this post.
Oh. No. The horrors. The horrors. Yawn.
Sarcasm is not an attractive trait in electronics, my dear Laptop.
3. Dr Pepper. Enough said.
4. Popcorn. You'll notice the bowl is empty.
5. Random crap, including but not limited to a notebook for (shockingly enough!) taking notes, whatever book I'm reading at the time, a whole mess of wires and cables, and a stuffed koala bear that has no business whatsoever being there, but that I simply don't care enough to remove.
6. Snow Patrol playing on Laptop. Speaking of which--I get to go to their concert in October! My very first concert! I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so...so...scared! I mean, whoa, channeling Jessie Spano for a minute there. Just excited, not at all scared.
You'll notice that Word is also open in the background. I like to open up my work in progress during the day so that it sits there, blinking at me, mocking my inability to get anything done while Dojo is awake.
7. My favorite feature--the dishwasher! Right in front of me to constantly remind me that I have not, in fact, done the dishes yet today. It's also a really fun activity for my kids when they get annoyed with me to come over and pull it open, smacking me in the stomach or whacking me in the shins. Of course, just to the right is the dishwasher's companion, the sink. Lovely.
She keeps me next to the kitchen sink, for the love of DOS. THE SINK.
Sorry. It's true.
And finally, in another pleasant feature, you'll notice something conspicuously missing from this picture--that's right, no chair! If I want to get anything done during the day I have to stand at the counter. The moment I take Laptop to the couch with me Dojo is climbing on both of us, his body magically transformed into nothing but elbows and knees, viciously finding any soft spots to dig themselves into while he makes his best efforts to break Laptop.
Still, he's cute.
Agreed. Someday I'll have Hot Stuff take a picture of me when I'm actually writing, but all I do is curl up in the corner of our hand-me-down of a hand-me-down couch, typing furiously away while Laptop singes my thighs.
I do that on purpose.
I know, my love. I know.
Monday, August 17, 2009
1. Are you totally and completely freaking out?
Yes. Really, really yes. Suddenly my dream is my reality, and it's surreal. I'm prone to giggling at random moments, and having trouble sleeping because the instant I wake up at all, suddenly my brain is screaming, "HOLY CRAP I'M GOING TO BE PUBLISHED!!!"
2. When is your book coming out?
Fall of 2010.
2A. (From people who don't know how publishing works) Isn't that a long time?
No, it's really quite fast.
2B. (From people who understand how publishing works) Wow, isn't that really fast?
Yes. I should have my editorial letter in about two weeks, and then I'll have a couple of weeks to turn in edits. It's a good thing I'm obsessive and work very quickly. But I'm so thrilled with the pace and think it's amazing that my book will come out in about a year. I wouldn't have it any other way.
3. How did it all happen?
As I mentioned in my announcement post, we had a lot of interest and had about five houses ready to go to auction. (In an auction, interested publishers bid against each other for your book.) The day before HarperTeen came in with a pre-empt (meaning they make an offer good enough to entice you not to go to auction), and after some back and forth, Michelle and I both agreed that we would rather take their offer than go to auction. And, as I mentioned before, I couldn't be happier since Harper is the publisher I always hoped would want me. Plus, Erica, my editor? Freaking. Awesome.
The whole thing happened amazingly fast, since Paranormalcy had only been on submission for about three weeks when editors started calling Michelle about it. It was one of those right-manuscripts-at-the-right-time I guess.
Also, if you're curious, I wrote Paranormalcy in January, edited it in February, then spent all of April and May editing it more. Para is the fourth book I've written.
5. Do you have the sequels written yet?
No. I have the second book completely plotted out and have started writing the first draft. The third book has a general (if vague) plot line and a definite ending.
5A. Does that make you nervous that you've sold books you haven't written yet? Will that change how you feel about writing them?
Honestly, I don't really think so. I'm excited about it, even more so than I was before.
6. Can I ask how much money you made?
No. Sorry. Keep in mind that this is my profession, and it wouldn't be very professional to go around blabbing about money and such. I understand being curious--because I'm always curious what other people make--but I'll just say that I'm completely happy.
Here's why, and here's why you shouldn't look at what other people make as a guage to how well you might do if you get a book deal: all deals are different, and the money isn't what matters. And I know that sounds smug now that I'm actually getting paid to write, but really, I would have been happy with anything. Because money isn't the dream, and it certainly isn't something you can count on. If you are writing to make money, you should stop right now and start freelancing. I read recently that the average advance for YA books is $8,000. When you average in the time you'll spend writing and editing, and the amount of time it takes to get published...well, it doesn't make much sense financially, does it?
But that's not why I write, and that's not why you write. The dream is the book. The book, on shelves, that anyone can walk in and pick up and read. The dream is a teenage girl in Milwaukee seeing your book, liking the cover, taking it home. The dream is that girl getting lost in your world and your characters the same way you did when you were writing it.
Money is great--it's fabulous--but it's not why we do it.
7. But seriously, you're freaking out, right?
Heck yes I am.
Feel free to ask about anything else in the comments!
Friday, August 14, 2009
Many of you know that I'm coming off of one of the worst years of my life. Scratch that. THE worst year of my life. I mean, hello, almost died. Things happened that varied from disappointing to devastating. It kinda sucked. Of course there were bright spots--my family, signing with my fabulous agent--but overall it was very, very frustrating.
Let me tell you a story. When I was just about to graduate from high school I had everything planned. My best friend and I were going to the same school and registered to live together, like we had planned since we were ten. It was going to be perfect. And then my dad forgot to pay the deposit. I couldn't believe it. All of our plans, all of my dreams--what on earth was I going to do? Luckily another good friend needed housing, so we found a crappy apartment off-campus, liked it for some reason, and moved in at the end of the summer.
I met Hot Stuff my first week there.
I don't want to get all philosophical on you, but sometimes bad things work out in the best possible way. If I hadn't lost my pregnancy, I wouldn't have written two extra books. If Flash had sold, I wouldn't have learned and grown and become a far better writer and self-editor.
And if I hadn't buckled down and made Paranormalcy the best possible book, Michelle wouldn't have gotten me a three book deal with HarperTeen.
Wait, what was that?
HOLY FREAKING CRAP A THREE BOOK DEAL WITH HARPERTEEN.
Laptop here. Kiersten just swooned and is lying in an inert heap on the kitchen floor. Let me take this time to congratulate her and hope that she gets a new laptop so I can retire. I'm tired.
Whew. Okay. I'm totally going to bring swooning back into style. I won't go into all of the glorious, gory details, but we had a lot of interest and were ready to go to auction when HarperTeen swooped in with a pre-empt. And I was so, SO glad. Because as wonderful as the other publishers were (and really, any of them would have been great), HarperTeen was the one I had always hoped would want me. I love their list, their books are so fun and pretty and well-edited, and they really support their authors. And my editor (MY EDITOR) Erica Sussman is FABULOUS. She's funny and charming and brilliant and I can't believe she loves me as much as I love her. (As evidence of her awesomeness, during our first ever phone conversation today Dojo was being Dojo, and eating my toes. I explained it to Erica and she said, "Well, as long as he leaves your fingers and your brain, because we want those." Ha!) I am so excited to work with everyone at HarperTeen, and really, I mean
Things worked out in the absolute best of all best possible ways, and I'm still spinning. And randomly breaking into uncontrollable fits of laughter. I can't quite believe that this dream I've had since I was a very little girl is actually going to be a reality.
You guys, I'm going to be an author. And it's amazing.
I would be remiss if I didn't offer profuse thanks and praise to my agent, Michelle Wolfson.
She's incredible. That's all there is to it. I don't know what else to say here, otherwise I'll just start gushing about how much I love her and what an incredible, savvy, hard-working, loyal, genius agent she is, and then I'll probably swoon again and
She swooned again. Weirdo.
Sorry. Anyway. And now the other people I need to thank: Hot Stuff, especially, for making me start writing and supporting me even when I got all crazy obsessive. My parents, who always bought me books even though I read them too fast. My kids, who keep me from writing but are awfully cute. Natalie (my ultimate cheerleader), Stephanie (who taught me to really edit), Renee (who gave me excellent pacing advice), and Carrie (who is a ninja), for being my readers. Janey, Ashley, Megan, Kristen, Fara, and my siblings (Erin, Lindsey, Lauren, and Matt) for being such enthusiastic and encouraging test subjects. And of course everyone who supports my ridiculousness by reading this blog and commenting and being my friends!
So. Let's sum up: Paranormalcy. Three books. HarperTeen. And that popping sound you hear? That would be my brain exploding from joy.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Make of that what you will. I think the most puzzling part is the "next time." Is he implying that he has been a butterfly before? Was this change recent, and I failed to notice the wings and antennae? Or has he spontaneously developed a belief in reincarnation and is referring to his next life?
Man, my three-year-old is deep.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The Idea is everything. Find it, and you are set.
I hate to be the one to tell you, but Flash? It was my Idea. The day I finished the first draft, I remember going to the bookstore, looking at the YA section, and barely being able to breathe. I was going to be there. Flash was going to take me. I had finally, finally found the magical portal into my dreams.
It took longer than it should have (after all, MAGIC, people!), but I got a fabulous agent. This was it. I had made it. I was going to be an author, all because I found The Idea.
Guess what? Flash didn't sell.
Let me repeat: FLASH DID NOT SELL.
But you know what I did in the meantime? I wrote another book. Oh, scratch that--I wrote three other books. And then, having realized that Flash was never as good as it could have been, I picked just one of those books. It wasn't The Idea, it was An Idea. And it had potential, but it wasn't there yet. So you know what I did with that Idea?
I worked my freaking butt off.
I edited it. I sent it to friends. I finally let myself accept advice and was willing to make major cuts and changes. I lucked into a wonderful friendship with Stephanie, who is the kindest, gentlest, most ruthless editor I've ever known. I learned. I improved. And I worked, worked, worked, worked. I stayed up late. I took it on vacation. I spent time I could have been relaxing or SLEEPING on edits. I set aside a first draft of another book that I very much wanted to finish. When my eyes blurred so much I couldn't focus on the words, I read it out loud to myself to make sure I wasn't skimming.
And you know what? When Paranormalcy went out to editors, I wasn't terrified. Well, okay, I was terrified, but none of it was quality related. I knew--and know--that I was sending out the best possible manuscript, and that if it didn't sell, it wouldn't be because I hadn't done the work. It was An Idea that I carefully and painstakingly crafted into The Idea.
So here's the point. You really want to be a writer? Your Idea isn't going to sell. Your WORK is going to sell.
Get back to work.
Monday, August 10, 2009
With poems far too late, it's true
but three hours today
I whiled away
In doctor's offices--boo hoo.
As suggested by Whirl:
The shop in which I buy the meat
has products that are very neat
Bloody, gristly, tough to chew
Still, I think that haunch will do
I've got a new pet, my Lupus
And he's bound to be ravenous
so I'll take a whole side of fresh cow
Got to feed my pup somehow
What breed you ask? You'll find out soon!
Ask me at the next full moon.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
"A show SO AMAZING, it will leave you QUESTIONING THE EXISTENCE OF REALITY."
After laughing at this hyperbole for several minutes, I realized that I was failing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I mean, for all I know, the entire circus show is based on the philosophies of Descartes, forcing people to ask themselves how, indeed, they can know that anything exists outside of their own minds.
I Think, Therefore I Am--CIRCUS STYLE!
"Does this elephant balance on a ball because he exists, or because you think he exists and therefore should balance on a ball? But, if, as we have demonstrated, God is not a liar, then surely these FLAMING TRAPEZE ARTISTS are actually DEFYING DEATH! Assuming, of course, that death exists! And now, our dancing girls, 'The Cartesian Fallacies' will perform 'This Dance is a Lie!'"
Man. I'll bet that is an amazing show. Studying Descartes is always interesting, but learning his philosophies by watching someone stick their head into the gaping maw of a lion? Now THAT is philosophy in action.
(What? No, I'm not going on eight hours of sleep total for the last two days! And no, I don't have a raging head cold leaving me equal parts incoherent and hyper.)
(Oh, wait, yes I am and yes I do! I also have THIS:
along with one child screaming "I WANT TO WATCH BOB THE BUILDER!!" and the other one guarding the TV so she can't. Hrm. I think I'd like to question the existence of this reality and put in a request for one with less congestion and more well-rested, pleasant children. Do you think going to the circus would do that for me?)