Frying Up Some Mock Turtle, and Other Shenanigans

I know. I KNOW. You haven’t had a real, honest-to-goodness, grit-in-your-teeth blog post from me in ages. I KNOW. And I’m sorry. Yea verily and forsooth, I mourn this even more than you do. Especially since I recently had an apostropheIthinkyoumeananepiphany and I’ve been dying to share it with you and I haven’t been able to.

So, even though I can’t expound much upon it, here goes:

It’s not that I lack the time to write.

What I lack is uninterrupted thought.

In order to write effectively — okay, let’s be honest, in order to write at all, whether it’s noveling or blogging or even emailing — I need a certain amount of uninterrupted thought. If I don’t get it, what I’m doing is what Aaron calls “context-switching.”

mockturtleIn my case, when I try to write at home during the day, I’m constantly switching between two contexts: WRITING (NOVEL OR BLOG) and MAKING SURE BABY SURVIVES AND IS HAPPY AND HEALTHY.

That second one is a doozy of a context.

Context-switching isn’t impossible, but it does come with a price (mental and spiritual exhaustion). And the more I try to do it, the steeper that price becomes. Honestly, I’ve given up trying to pay it for now. The context called BABY has won out (and rightfully so).

For now, I get to write once a week, when my mom comes to babysit and I can leave the house for a few hours. Sometimes, like right now, I’ll decide to sacrifice sleep in order to write while the Itty Bitty is sleeping. But this latter solution also comes with a heavy price, so you won’t see me paying this one willingly often.

In the meantime, do enjoy what I have written. And if you’d like to see how a recipe for Mock Turtle Soup relates to writing a novel, head on over here for a scrumptious taste!

Schadenfreude Unicorns and Dropping Acid

So, when you’re a writer, you get together with other writers.

When you get together with other writers, you talk about writerly things together.

When you talk about writerly things together, someone mentions the genre “dystopian.”

When someone mentions the genre “dystopian,” conversation concerning the various types of dystopia ensues.

When conversation concerning the various types of dystopia ensues, “dystopian fantasy” comes up.

When “dystopian fantasy” comes up, the consensus is that it should contain unicorns who are happy about everyone’s sadness.

When the consensus is that “dystopian fantasy” should contain unicorns who are happy about everyone’s sadness, you say, “They would be Schadenfreude unicorns.”

When you say, “They would be Schadenfreude unicorns,” the whole tribe of writers starts plotting a novel entitled The Unicorns of Schadenfreude.

When the whole tribe of writers starts plotting a novel entitled The Unicorns of Schadenfreude, the protagonist of the novel is a little girl who brings pain and misery to her world so that the Schadenfreude unicorns will come back to it.

When the protagonist of the novel is a little girl who brings pain and misery to her world so that the Schadenfreude unicorns will come back to it, the novel ends with the little girl ripping open a portal and the Schadenfreude unicorns prancing happily through the portal into a world filled with death and destruction.

When the novel ends with the little girl ripping open a portal and the Schadenfreude unicorns prancing happily through the portal into a world filled with death and destruction, the writers decide that they could only write The Unicorns of Schadenfreude if they were on acid.

When the writers decide that they could only write The Unicorns of Schadenfreude if they were on acid, you realize it’s time for a blog post.

NOW I NEED ONE OF YOU TO DRAW A PICTURE OF A SCHADENFREUDE UNICORN.

GO.

Your New Writing Coaches

Hey y’all,

Just FYI, I’ve been writing a lot of blog posts. You’re not seeing them here because they’re not for my own blog. They’re for the writing advice site UnstressedSyllables.com.

unsylbanner

For those not in the know, I used to write a regular column for Unstressed Syllables. I believe my last post was in October 2011. Then NaNoWriMo hit, I got pregnant, and my UnSyl column kind of got shoved onto the back burner. (Mea culpa.)

But no longer. UnSyl’s owner, Aaron Pogue, is in the process of revamping the site. Starting in February, Unstressed Syllables will begin publishing all new material and new columns from a handful of excellent writers and a talented graphic designer. I’m in the process of reading all the upcoming posts, and lemme tell ya: This stuff is CRAMAZING. UnstressedSyllables.com is about to become your one-stop shop for fiction writing and publishing in today’s adventurous new market.

You’re welcome. I’ll let you know when we’re ready to go. : )

On Censorship

“The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.”

~Henry Steele Commager

“Anytime you censor people, you are deliberately breeding weak people.”

~Aaron Pogue

This is really a propos nothing in particular; I happened to stumble across the Commager quote, and it reminded me of the Aaron quote. Both are worth sharing, and since blogs tend to be good places to share things and my blog has remained neglected of late, I decided to do my sharing here and now. : )

Your Novel Is Missing Something

Greetings, my lovely inklings! I hope your day is fantabulous thus far.

Since I’ve been posting on so much various and sundry of late, I thought it well to pen for you a few whats concerning writing today. This is also by way of an update on my own Writing Life, i.e. my work-in-progress, i.e. Rethana’s Trial (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #2).

Background Particulars

If you recall, I recently mentioned in passing that I’d submitted the final draft of Rethana’s Trial to my indie publisher. I did not, however, make note that while I considered the draft complete, I did have a few minor bits and pieces to clean up. I figured that I could just work ahead of Aaron and have all of my fantastical ducks in a row before he laid eyes on whatever section of story I’d just finished polishing.

Said polishing, by the way, was to consist of fact-checking Book 2 against Book 1; fixing some linguistic errors in Lirren Eamnaya, the language I invented for this series; and making sure that the redhead in Chapter 2 wasn’t a brunette in Chapter 17. Things like that.

I write my stories in Google Docs, so I’d left myself comments all over the place. And as I went through the document, checking and fixing and comment-resolving and congratulating myself on how well I was keeping ahead of Aaron, I came across the following:

Note to self

Do please click to embiggen and feast your eyes on the note I left myself on the right-hand side of the screen capture.

Yes. I had managed to “complete the final draft” and had left out an entire chapter in the process.

*le sigh*

I sent Aaron an email with the subject line “oh crap,” detailing the lack of finishedness. The good news is that in the Google Doc comment, I’d left myself an outline of the missing chapter. It’s a very rough outline, but at least I’m not racking my brains trying to remember what it was I intended said chapter to contain and accomplish.

The bad news is that I could go into labor at any moment, and if I don’t get that chapter written before this happens, I likely won’t get it written for at least another month. (I am trying to be optimistic.)

How to Add Necessary Wordage to Your Novel

So. Now the goal is to add 4,000-6,000 words to the story. How to accomplish said feat? I know I can’t be the only writer out there to be facing such a task, so I thought I’d delineate a few steps for all of you writerly people. This is by no means an exhaustive how-to; this is just how I’m approaching the problem. If it works for you, too, then I’ve done A Good Thing. : )

How to Add Necessary Wordage to Your Novel

1. Have an idea of what those words need to be.

As I mentioned above, I’ve already got a rough outline of what needs to go into this chapter. Now, by “outline” I do not mean a point-by-point bulleted list, although that might be helpful. I mean I have three or so run-on sentences that say “first this happens and then this and then someone says that and the MC responds and then they argue and blah.” Yes, the “blah” is a direct quote. When I wrote the comment, I needed to remind my future self of the thoughts that had inspired the idea that the story needed this chapter. The Run-On Blah serves as my “oh yeah, that.”

2. Know what the extra words need to accomplish.

In my case — and without providing spoilers — my entire extra chapter serves a dual purpose:
(a) It fleshes out a side character as one of the main antagonists of the story.
(b) It provides my main character with extra motivation for her decisions over the course of the next 2-3 chapters.

Unless you’re in the throes of NaNoWriMo and are trying to pad your word count, you’re never just adding words for the sheer heckuvit. This is not a thesis paper to which you’re adding fluff in order to get your letter grade. This is a novel, in which every word must be absolutely necessary. (Really, you should approach thesis papers the same way, but who does that?) In novel-writing, if a word doesn’t need to be there, you have to cut it. Conversely, you shouldn’t add a word unless you need it, either.

So, before you go adding a couple thou of wordage to your story, be sure of what function you want those words to perform. Fleshing out character? Adding motive? Clarifying action? Tying up subplot? Giving main character another delicious obstacle to overcome?
Decide. And then move on to the last step.

3. Engage butt-to-chair and write the darn thing.

I discovered my lack-of-a-chapter on Thursday. I didn’t get around to sitting down to the story again until Monday. Granted, in the meantime I had baby-related necessaries to accomplish and away-from-keyboard activities in which to engage. But still…I’m a big enough girl to admit to the possibility that I might have been procrastinating a little.

Do as I say, not as I do. In every step of novel-writing, plunking your butt in your chair and just doing the work will ultimately be the only thing that gets your story written. It’s the only thing that will get your story finished — and I mean really finished, not just ready for someone to start reading while you frantically work ahead of said beta reader and hope they don’t catch up to you before you’re done.

———

So, there ya have it. My three steps on how to add necessary words to your novel. Comments, questions, and even disagreements are welcome. What would you add to the list?

New Fantasy Novel Out: Rethana’s Surrender

Nightmares and Dreamscapes

 

When I was 15 years old, I had a dream about a yellow telephone booth.

No, that’s not a Dr. Who reference. ; ) In the dream, I was standing inside the phone booth, holding the handset. (Yes, this was a rotary phone. Let me know if you don’t know what that is. *grin*) Outside, it was dusk, and fog was rolling in. I couldn’t see any farther than about twenty feet from the phone booth. And as I watched, dozens of yellow eyes with slitted black pupils appeared in the fog.

That dream gave birth to the universe in which I set my latest novel, Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1).

What’s the Because?!

If you’ve already read Rethana’s story, you’re probably wondering how in the name of all that’s good and writerly I got from {fog + yellow eyes + relatively modern phone booth} to {epic fantasy universe + magic-wielding heroine + semi-political love triangle}. Well, my dear inklings, that story is a rather long one, and tell you it would take a series of novels in which I invite you to explore this whole universe I have built and am building….

Oh. Wait. I guess that invitation would be what Legends of the Light-Walkers (LLW) is all about. ; )

So, the books themselves are the long explanation. The short version is that the phone booth dream turned into a scene in my LLW novel Legend’s Heir (working title). Chronologically, that one takes place before Rethana’s story. But I finished Legend’s Heir (working title) more than ten years ago…and, perhaps needless to say, it needs quite a bit of work before it sees the light of day. Thus, you get Rethana’s story first. Y’all seem like you’re okay with that, though.

And What’s the Big Idea?

The big idea for Rethana’s story grew from a cold, snowy visit to a small town in eastern Germany back around Christmas of 2002. The husband and I were living in Chemnitz, Saxony, then. Some friends took us to the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) in a little town called Annaberg-Buchholz.

I could wax nostalgic on how much I miss the German Christmas markets, but that’s not why you dear people are here, and it would make me cry besides, so let’s just skip that part and move on.

Belltower of St. Annenkirche

On that cold, snowy evening so many years ago, our friends insisted that we visit St. Annenkirche (St. Anna’s Church; please note that I’ve linked to the German Wikipedia article because it has more pictures than the English version). Thus, we traipsed up the hill — there was much slipping, sliding, and sniggering — and entered the church building, where we proceeded to get an unexpected tour.

We ended up climbing the belltower.

If you’ve read Rethana’s story, you know where I’m going with this.

Near the top of the tower, we stepped from the wooden staircase onto a wide, circular platform spanning the width of the tower. About thirty feet above our heads was a wooden ceiling. Another staircase led up to it. The tour guide explained that we were looking at the underside of the apartment housing the bellringer and his family. And above that apartment hung the bells.

These people lived in the top of the belltower. They hauled household goods up to their apartment via lifts that had been operational for hundreds of years. They were in charge of the bells, the largest of which was named Anna.

Images flooded my mind. Characters, scenes, plots, dialogue. In my head, I saw a bellringer family in medieval dress, and I knew they were hiding from something. I saw soldiers and magic-users in the town below, and I knew they were hunting this family. I saw a mischievous young girl using her magic to tease her friends, who were sneaking up the tower staircase to play a prank on her.

All of this flashed through my head within the space of about 20 seconds. In the meantime, the tour guide was still talking. I had no idea what he was saying — but the next thing I knew, he was handing out earplugs. I stuffed them into my ears just in time.

Somebody rang Anna.

Anna of St. Annenkirche is a big girl. Even through earplugs, the noise was deafening. Without really thinking about what I was doing, I wandered over to the stone wall of the tower and laid my hand on it. The wall was vibrating with Anna’s song, and I could feel the reverberation all the way up into my shoulder. And I knew what my next story would be.

Writing Rethana’s Surrender

The mischievous bellringer girl became Rethana Chosardal. Anna became the sacriligiously-named Lirrenae. Annaberg turned into Saemnoth. I started writing the story for NaNoWriMo 2003.

It would take me more than 4 years to finish the first draft. By the time I was done, I had close to 230,000 words. I knew very good and well that no publisher would consider reading an unpublished author’s 200+k words, so I spent the second draft trimming. My mom read it. Another beta reader read it. Both made suggestions, and I trimmed some more. When I hit 210,000, I knew I couldn’t do anything more with the story, so I shelved it and moved on to the next project.

By now, I was living in Oklahoma again and had recently re-met Aaron Pogue, a college acquaintance and fellow writer. We fell to talking of fantasy (because really, why wouldn’t we?), and he asked to read my fantasy novel. I let him.

Aaron had feedback. Part of that feedback was that I should split the book in half so as to achieve a manageable word count. The moment he said it, I knew where: right after the fight scene in Terllach Caverns. Right after Rethana almost admits to Allasin that–

Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it. ; )

Aaron said, “That’s a doozy of a cliffhanger. Your readers will hate you for it. Or they might love you.”

Aaron might or might not have actually used the word “doozy.” Either way, I decided to take the risk. And, once he got his indie publishing company, Consortium Books, up and running, he decided to take the risk of publishing it.

So far, so good.

Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1), is now available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

If you’ve read the novel, you can post your review at those two links as well as at Goodreads.

Advance Reading Copy of Rethana’s Surrender!

Cover art by the cramazingly talented Adele Lorienne

NOTE: Some of you have been expecting this book to come out under the title Schism or Schism’s Daughter. After much debate and debacle, my publisher, our marketing director, and I have finalized the title as Rethana’s Surrender. But it’s still the same story, I promise! : )

Dearest readers!

As you might already know, my newest novel is coming out within the next two weeks! This one is epic fantasy: another world, magic, intrigue, danger, swords, and fantastical creatures. I’ve been writing stories in this universe for twenty years, and this particular novel has been in the works since 2003.

So you can probably imagine how close this story is to my tender little writer’s heart. ; )

But in spite of my possessiveness, I am excited to let you read it. Early. As in, before it’s published.

That’s right, dear inklings! I have Advance Reading Copies available!

If you’d like to get an ARC of Rethana’s Surrender, leave a comment (with a valid email address) on this post before the end of the day Wednesday, June 20th. You don’t need to say anything besides, “Me too, please!” in your comment — unless, of course, you want to tell me how excited you are to get your ARC. : )

I only have digital copies available, but they should be readable on whatever you’re using to read this blog post. On Thursday, I’ll send review copies to the first hundred people who comment below. All I’d ask in return is that you write me a review at the digital vendor(s) of your choice. Blog posts are welcome too, of course.

Aaron is going to send his horde of fantasy readers over here to get their ARCs from me, so get your bid in early!

For those of you who want to know a little more about the novel:

Legends of the Light-Walkers: Rethana’s Surrender is the story of 20-year-old Rethana Chosardal who can use fun and visually cool magic, but she’s not supposed to use it. For one thing, it freaks the natives out. For another, her family has spent the last ten years in hiding from the ruling class of magic-wielding clerics.

When the magic-wielding clerics show up and take Rethana and her sister captive, this is not a good thing.

Also, Aaron recommends that I tell you: In grand The Princess Bride tradition, *this is a kissing book*.

Finally, a shout-out to Adele Lorienne for the lovely cover art that completely blows my mind every time I look at it. Adele, thank you for your stunning work!

UPDATE: The ARC request deadline has passed. But if you want to get your hands on a copy of Rethana’s Surrender, it is now available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

If you’ve read the novel, you can also post your reviews at those two links as well as at Goodreads.

To those who have already read and reviewed the novel: THANK YOU SO MUCH! I very much appreciate all of your positive feedback so far. It’s encouraging to hear that so many of you connect with Rethana as deeply as I do. : )

Help an Artist and Get Cool Stuff! WOOT!

Click to embiggen cramazingness!

Hey kids,

If you’ve been paying attention (and I know you have, because that’s just the kind of splendiforous dears you are), you know that I belong to a non-profit organization designed to support artists to support the arts. The goal is to pay artists for the time they spend putting beautiful, wonderful, silly, and cramazing things into the world — so that they can continue putting beautiful, wonderful, silly, and cramazing things into the world.

The artists get resources and the means with which to live, and communities all over the world get fantabulous works of art.

EVERYBODY WINS.

In keeping with this, ’tis my pleasure to recommend to you the Kickstarter campaign for author Aaron Pogue’s The Dragonprince’s Heir (Book 3 in The Dragonprince Trilogy).

Kickstarter is a fundraising platform for creative projects. If a project meets its fundraising goal within the allotted time, then the project is fully funded. If a project doesn’t meet its goal, then none of the donors are charged for the amount they pledged.

Each donation amount has a reward attached to it. For instance, if you pledge $20.00 toward Pogue’s The Dragonprince’s Heir, you’ll get digital copies of the entire Dragonprince Trilogy, as well as Pogue’s dragonswarm short stories. Pledge $55.00, and you get a signed paperback copy of the trilogy as an omnibus edition. A pledge of $250.00 garners you a visit to The Consortium offices and an afternoon of picking Aaron Pogue’s brain. And so forth.

But, alas, no one gets any of these nice things if Aaron’s project doesn’t get fully funded by Thursday, June 21, 2012.

The funding goal is $30,000.00. There are nine days left.

Why $30,000.00 for the publication of one novel?

Because once the $30,000.00 goal is met, Aaron intends to release the novel into the public domain. Any money the book earns beyond that will belong to The Consortium and to its artists — who, if you recall, are making more beautiful things for you. Once again, everybody wins.

To see the rest of the rewards and to read the full story behind all of this, visit Aaron’s Kickstarter page. The hows and whys of donating are all there and easy to follow.

Support this artist to support the arts!

Paaaaperbaaaack Wriiiiiterrrrr (sing it!)

Greetings, hardy readers!

This message is brought to you by the letter “P”! As in, PAPERBACK! As in, I wanted to let you know that we’re close to having the paperback of Stains of Grace ready. : )

“But, Courtney,” you ask, “why is the paperback coming out so much later than the e-book?”

Well, my loves, I’m so glad you asked. You see, the file we upload to Amazon for the e-book is not the same file we upload to Amazon for the paperback. The formats are different. And when we change the e-book format over to the paperbook format, all sorts of fun little errors crop up.

Such as font changes where there shouldn’t be font changes. Plain text where there should be italics. Oh, and random bullet points, as though the document suddenly thinks I’m writing a PowerPoint presentation instead of a novel.

Yay!

So, my job over the past few weeks has been to scour the paperback file of Stains and find all those pesky little weirdnesses that weren’t there before. Lemme tell ya, ’tis great fun. I’ve been trying to get it done while getting hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books; finishing acquisition edits and painting cover art for Aaron Pogue’s latest fantasy novel, The Dragonprince’s Heir; and finalizing edits for my own soon-to-be-released epic fantasy novel, Schism Rethana’s Surender (retitled since this post originally went live).

I love my job(s), but it’s been a rather tiring few weeks. (If you recall, I’m also putting together a baby inside my body. So there’s that.)

BUT. I’ve finally finished reviewing the paperback file for Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch #3), and it is now in the hands of the publisher. As soon as I find out that the Amazon sales page has gone live, you lovely people will be the next to know!

In the meantime, happy reading to all (here’s the Stains e-book if you wantiz it, and please watch out for unexpected and unusual salt formations. ; )

P.S. Did I mention I got hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books? I got hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books.
😀

Decoding Pregnancy: 5 Secrets Revealed

Hidey-ho, O Faithful Readerly Ones!

In the land of Court Can Write, we have now reached Week 22 of this thing they call Preg Nancy. I don’t know why or how Nancy gained such predominance in the naming of this condition, but there she is and there’s naught I can do about it. We carry on*.

Things have been quiet around the blog lately because what little spare energy I’ve got, I’ve been pouring into painting the cover art for Aaron Pogue’s The Dragonprince’s Heir, as well as finalizing my Monster Epic Fantasy Novel, aka Legend’s Artisans: Schism (working title). I remind me that the so-called MEFaN needs its own full, explanatory post not long hence, since it’s coming out in just a month. BANGERANG for sure — but also, OY VEY.

For now, though, I’ll share with you some recent revelations I’ve had concerning this Preg Nancy thing. I’ve concluded that humanity speaks in code about this, and one doesn’t get to decipher said code until one enters the state of being with child.

Some of these decipherings have come as a great surprise to me, and I wish someone had let me in on the secrets long ago. As I enjoy doing nice, informative things for you, my sweet inklings, I’ve decided to reveal five of the secrets to you, that you might be better prepared for your own future or at least come to a deeper understanding of certain apparently crazy women of your acquaintance (i.e. the pregnant ones). So…

Decoding Pregnancy: 5 Secrets Revealed

1. Glowing Skin
Oh, how the second trimester hormones are supposed to make a woman’s skin extra soft with that dewy glow of fertile, robust youth! A few people — a few, mind you — have said something to me in passing about how I’m “glowing.” But when I look in the mirror, I see a different picture. “Glowing skin,” my dear readers, is code for “acne.” It’s not terrible at this point, but it’s definitely more than the occasional pre-pregnancy zit. Ah, joy.

2. Ultrasound
My first ultrasound took place during Week 5 — quite early, because I was having complications and my doc just wanted to see what was going on. She showed me the screen and pointed to an amorphous blob and said, “Here’s the amniotic sac.” Then, she pointed at a teensy dot. “And that’s your baby.”

At Week 8, the ultrasound showed us a lighter amorphous blob within a darker amorphous blob. Light blob was baby, dark blob was amniotic fluid. This time, my doctor pointed out the “head” and the “rump” and two little protrusions she called “feet.” We nodded wisely. Other than that, the cool part was seeing and hearing the heart beat, which stunned the husband and made me burst into tears.

At Week 19, because I am 35 and therefore of “Advanced Maternal Age” (sheesh), we got to see the high-risk doctor for a 3-D ultrasound. By this time, Amorphous Blob had grown into Indentifiable Tiny Baby, and the 3-D ultrasound showed us an itty-bitty face with actual eyes, nose, lips, and chin.

In the non-3-D part of the ultrasound, the tech got a fabulous shot of my daughter facing the “camera.” Pardon my irreverence, but that shot just looks freaky — because most of what you see is the skull showing through. My child looked like a demonic Halloween mask**.

“Ultrasound” is code for: trust the doctor that what is growing inside you is actually human.

3. Kicking
I first felt movement on the first day of Week 16. At first, it felt like gas bubbles in places where I knew there couldn’t be gas bubbles. Within days, this progressed to little flutters like muscle spasms. On the morning of Week 19, Day 4, I looked down and saw my stomach twitch.

Feeling my baby move inside of me is the most cramazing experience in the entire universe.

It is also what I imagine it would feel like to have a baby alien of Ellen Ripley fame preparing to burst out of one’s abdomen.

4. Tiredness
“You’ll be tired during pregnancy.” = “You will feel like you’re climbing a mountain every day.”

“You’ll get your energy back during the second trimester.” = “We are pathological liars.”

5. Placenta
So, when we went in for the 3-D ultrasound, I asked the tech where inside my uterus the placenta is attached. She told me it’s right under my bellybutton.

And then she said, “It’s about the size and shape of a pancake.”

REVELATION.

In German, most commonly-used medical terms aren’t Latin-based the way they are in English. You don’t have tonsillitis, you have a “Mandelentzündung” — which, directly translated, means “almond inflammation. If you have sinusitis, you’ve got a “Nasennebenhöhlenlentzündung” — an “inflammation of the caves next to the nose.”

If you’re female, you don’t have a uterus. You have a “Gebärmutter,” which means “birthing mother” whether that organ ever births anything or not.

When you’re pregnant, what nourishes your baby is not a placenta.
What nourishes your baby is the “Mutterkuchen.”

That’s “mothercake” to you.

Yum.

* Pun intended? You bet your sweet patootie.

** Don’t be fooled by my cheeky demeanor. If I could, I would totally go in for an ultrasound every single day. Seeing my baby — her face, her arms, her legs, and her incredible little heart — is a joy that beggars description.