emergency! is there a doctor in the hou…you mean me?

despite the fact i’m a very calm person on a day to day basis, i’m the one who comes unglued in an emergency situation. maybe that’s one of the reasons i love katniss from HUNGER GAMES or katsa from THE GRACELING. they’re both super strong, lead the way, take charge kind of gals. they rise during an emergency while i? i slink behind the nearest tree.

except for sunday. my friend C was in town this weekend for a conference. the conference was in providence, but due to its proximity to boston (and her 3 friends who live up here), she opted for the free hotel room, aka my apartment. she called on sunday to let me know she was heading back from the conference. when she called again not even 15 minutes later, i jokingly answered the phone “leave a message at the beep.”

i flung the silliness aside when her voice, near tears, said, “my car is smoking and i’m pulled over on the side of the road.”


and then, i spewed every calm and rational thought i had/could have had about what to do when you and your car are broken on the side of the road. because i had to. because she was freaking out. because i wasn’t allowed to. because two girls freaking out is about an constructive as eating soup with a fork. after she calmed down and after i promised to come get her if need be, we hung up since there wasn’t much else for me to do/say while she waited for the AAA tow truck to come and tow and assess the damage. plus, i’m sure she wanted to call her dad (or BF) for more soothing thoughts on what to do when it looks like your car has suddenly developed a smoking habit.

she called back 10 minutes later to say that yes, her car was kaput and she needed me to come get her. i got some vague directions from her (via the tow truck guy) that i should take 95 to this exit to 2 lights to a left turn to look for the mobil station. i was 100 % calm as i said “sure thing. i’m leaving now. sit tight.” i hung up the phone, took a deep breath, my towel fell and i properly freaked out (what? i had just gotten out of the shower) about how i was supposed to get to her. i scrambled into some clothes, swiped on mascara, and called another friend to confirm that to get to 95, i have to take 93 first.

i hop in my car, eye the 1/4 full tank of gas and begin the battle with Rudy*, my GPS. i had the directions from the tow truck guy which, albeit a bit vague, seemed easy. except for the part where i didn’t know how to get there (95) from here (my apartment). i didn’t have an address for where C was, except that it’s a mobil station in between boston and providence. Rudy wanted me to go this way and then recalculating and then take take exit and then recalculating about 53 times. i only had a wisp of a notion of where 93 and 95 met up, but i suspected those highways were my best bet rather than the circular side streets the GPS wanted me to take. and then began the battle with myself. hello?! i have a GPS, follow it. but really? can i trust Rudy? or should i trust mr. tow truck? i decided to go for the latter even though it meant i had to listen to “recalculating” every 5 minutes.

did i mention my car was basically on fumes at that point? this is really rare for me because i’m paranoid about running out of gas. if my car is under 1/2 full, i fill it. i don’t drive that much and with both coaching and playing lacrosse seasons over, i’ve been driving even less. the last time i was in the car, i was only going .5 miles down the road to pick up heavy groceries and thought, hmm, i should fill up. “next time” i thought. and you see? see what happens when i procrastinate?

i have to don my savior cape and rescue C.

what a nightmare that would have been if i had run out of gas. and i had to say to my tow guy, “could you drag me to the mobil off route 160? cause that’s where my friend is and i need to get her.” a classic comedy of errors that was narrowly avoided. *phew*

but what’s my point about all of this? (besides reinforcing to myself that i should never, ever, ever procrastinate again). my point is that when i HAD to be calm, cool, collected, i was. i was still able to freak out (after talking to C and before driving to get her) because she wasn’t able to see that (well, except for when i told her). which translates to my next writing project. i’ve been so scared to start it because, well, i don’t know where to start. i don’t have a plot. i don’t have a firm character in mind. i’ve been frozen. hiding in the bushes. like i usually do when emergencies come calling. but sunday’s adventures showed me that i can do it. i can find 95 without the help of Rudy. i can be calm enough to convince C that everything is going to be alright. because it is. and that’s this next project will go because i’m the only one who can write it. i need to stop being scared and start driving, err, writing.

another lesson learned during all this? it’s really nice to be able to call your mom and/or dad and say “help. what do i do?” and let them do their mom/dad thing and hug you through the phone. because as grown up as we have to be sometimes, there’s still nothing better than allowing yourself a moment of adolescent wallowing to mom/dad when the adult world is too scary to deal with.

*why’s my GPS called Rudy? that’s thanks to my roommate. during one long, delirious drive, she starting laughing to herself. in between giggles she asked if i had named my GPS. i said no. she pointed to it and said you should call her Rudy because she gives you the ROUTE. (so technically, the spelling should be ROUTEY). and that’s that.



my alarm went off to the tune of a simply sweet song. but then it broke down into a rap.

i woke up smiling because i understand. on an average day, i’m like the first portion of the song: nice, sweet, and melodic, but sometimes, oh yes, sometimes you just want to unleash your gangsta side.

playing sports does that for me. especially when my team is the underdog and we’ve made it to the playoffs.

like tuesday night.

my work (beer league) softball team was up against the #1 team. the competitors played not to lose. we played to win. and guess what? we did. even though it was the first round of the playoffs and in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that monumental, we celebrated like it was. we all rushed the infield. we threw our gloves in the air. we screamed. we yelled. we cheered. we high fived. you see, we had taken down the #1 team. but more importantly, we had made it past the first round of playoffs. this hasn’t happened, well, ever, so our celebration was completely warranted.

but my point was not that impromptu celebration, but rather what came before it.

there was an incident on the field where one of our players was trying to stretch his hit into a home run. maybe he should have stopped at third. maybe he shouldn’t have. either way, he motored around third base and headed home. the ball flew in from the outfield. the catcher, blocking the base, caught the ball but bobbled it. our player ran into the catcher because there was no other way to get to the base. the catcher, who, since he didn’t have complete control anyways, dropped the ball. the “coach” of the other team came flying over quoting the rule book that this is a no contact sport, etc. etc. it’s true. this is a no contact sport, but we’re playing to win, buddy, and we need every run we can get. and your player was blocking the base. there was nowhere to go but through. so why are you now reciting softball regulations when you were jovial and jolly a minute ago? why are you suddenly so uptight? when did you become an expert on rule 3.459-1/2? is the score getting a little too close for comfort? are we making you nervous?

if i had a better grasp of what the rule book said, i probably would have gone out there and yelled. i know, me, yelling. HA. but this is my team and i have to defend our actions. as luck would have it, i happened to be on the mound pitching when one of their players ran into our catcher the very next inning. we didn’t have a play, so that wasn’t the issue. the issue, for me, was that how come rule 3.459-1/2 of the “no contact, no sliding” that was implemented an inning ago is all of a sudden off the table? i don’t care if we weren’t making a play. no contact is no contact. at any time. at any base.

and i told him so*.

*in a passive aggressive way where i was talking to my “coach” in an intentional-i’m-trying-to-be-overheard loud voice saying “what was that about no contact?”

but seriously, if you aren’t going to play fair, you can’t be surprised when i break out my rap girl attitude.

i know, threatening, right?

yeah, you should back up now, son.


write on con

i know, i KNOW, it’s thursday and i’m posting. it’s practically illegal, but i felt compelled to write because there’s some amazing stuff going on in the kid lit community and i wanted to express my gratitude (in a manner that’s longer than 140 characters).

even if you’re not part of the kid lit community (and i mean, i’m only a peripheral part), please join me in extending a HUGE thank you to the founders of WriteOnCon: Jamie Harrington, Elana Johnson, Casey McCormick, Shannon Messenger, Lisa and Laura Roecker, and Jennifer Stayrook for providing this amazing opportunity for all writers.

note: click on picture for instant access to amazing advice, talks, seminars, and vlogs.

the gist is this: these ladies gathered the most fantastic and smart and funny and influential and talented people in the industry to provide talks and speeches for an online writer’s conference. and the best parts? because it’s online, it’s FREE and there weren’t any room reservation squabbles or bad hotel coffee or flight delays. all you had to do was pop over to the blog (august 10-12), as each “seminar” and “keynote speech” and “talk” was posted there. oh, and also? everything is archived on the blog, so if work was too busy or you got sick or your kid turned into a butterfly and you had to chase him across the neighborhood or your car broke down or you fell asleep or you converted the time zone difference wrong, you didn’t miss anything! you just have to click and bam. instant access to a vast array of literary and humorous treats.

judging from the fact that i find it difficult to plan dinner 7 nights a week not to mention it takes me about 5 hours, i can’t even begin to imagine how much time it took to plan something of this magnitude. which is why i am SO grateful they did. because i’m a prime target of a conference like this. i am on the bottom rung of the ladder and the only way to climb is to learn. and one way to learn is from the benevolence of others donating their time and wisdom. and to think so many people offered to do just that? well, i can’t help but thank them and slurp up all the goodies that are flowing out of their brains.

that makes me sound like a zombie.

trust me. i’m not.


so before the zombies attack, get thee over to writeoncon.com and partake in the literary feast.


blogging 101

i’ve been doing a lot of forward thinking lately. (forward in the sense that i’m thinking of the future, not that i’m working out the complicated math problems teachers leave up on their chalkboards overnight.) this thinking has lead me to make changes in both my blog and twitter sites. most of these changes involve my name because that’s the most simple step i can take right now and, after all, doesn’t a journey begin with a simple step (after you’ve showered, dressed, eaten, and put on your shoes)?

what’s my journey? the path to publication.

which is why i’m known as myself on twitter and now, here, if you look up at the URL, what does it say? yup, abigailmumford.com. i did have to give that one a little thought because since i’m now known as abby everywhere on the interwebs, should i have made that domain name? well, my thought was this: IF i ever reach that elusive holy grail of publication, i’m going to use my full name. the name my parents bestowed upon me when i was a wee tot. (and boy, do i mean wee. i was premature and weighed in at a mean fighting weight of 2lbs, 6ozs.) so anyways, that’s why i registered my blog as abigail. but don’t be skird, just because my blog is getting all dressed up and looking spiffy doesn’t mean it’s going to be all serious and stuffy and boring. just sometimes. when necessary. but not usually.

another thing i can/have begun to change is the content. i’m sure you’ve already noticed the differences (what? you’ve haven’t read EVERY SINGLE POST from 2003? i’m shocked.) so, umm, for the laymen, i originally started cataloging my digital thoughts as a blahg. (a what?) (oh, sorry, read this post by kiersten white, which includes a very important quiz about one’s blogging style). so it started as superficial, but when i moved the O.L.D over here to wordpress, i started to whip it into shape. to whittle its waist and fine tune its tummy so that when it steps on a scale, BLOG is the read out instead of blagh. i’m not entirely sure i’ve always been successful, but what rookie is?

and so the research continues. and since i’m nice and stuff, i figured i’d share my findings with you:

*how to get more followers

*every post by tawna fenske from the week of August 6, in which she celebrates her 6 months of blogging by telling all us schmucks how she’s so darn successful. except, she does it in a much nicer and yet, dirtier, way: friday. thursday. wedneday. tuesdaymonday.

*make sure you create signature content by giving your readers YOURSELF. cause there are a lot of blogs out there, but only one YOU. so infuse your blog with eau de ME (except the me isn’t me, but you, you know?)

*natalie whipple’s take on HOW TO for social media (blogs are a part of that, you know).

in semi-related news (the news referring to growing up and stuff), i got an email from a friend (hi, hoss!) who is preparing to change apartments. she’s moving into a place where she’ll be living on her own. a very adult move, if you ask me (and her). but the most awesome part? how she ended her email:

“i hope you are well and on the verge of a life upgrade yourself.”

a life upgrade. i like it. and, you could say, i’m working on it.

book club


this book, oh this book. the title + the dark cover creeped me out.

and the premise (A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard — and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret) didn’t do much to thwart the chills running up and down my spine. but i should know better than to judge a book by its cover.

because once i started reading, i couldn’t stop. the characters are so lifelike and flawed and confused and youthful and smart and scared and awesome. the plot grabs you and never lets you go. and this idea that everyone can hear what every male is thinking, but more specifically, every thought that passes through todd hewitt (the main character)’s mind, (a side effect of the noise germ) is played out beautifully through the narration and the random commentary by the other characters. in fact, it was written so believably that when i went for a walk after a couple hours of reading, i was very careful about what i was thinking because i didn’t want anyone to overhear anything inappropriate.

yeah, you could say i got sucked into the story.

and i come to find out it’s a trilogy! goody gum drops. i can’t wait to get my fingers on those books to see how this Chaos Walking series wraps up because the ending of the first book leaves you hanging. the most intense cliffhanger i’ve ever come across. it’s not even a cliffhanger or the end of a chapter, but the middle of the action. i can’t believe ness did this to me. how could you end it right there???

although, silver lining, if you’re like me and waited to read these books, we don’t have to wait long to find out how those turn out because the second book in this trilogy (THE ASK AND THE ANSWER) is available now and the third book (MONSTERS OF MEN) will be available in September.

FTC Full Disclosure: My review copy was a free book I received from Candlewick Press.  I did not receive any candy or teddy bears or money for writing this review (dang!).