Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, July 23, 2007

Not Copping Out. Not!

By Jeffrey S Savage (Who is not using this as a cop out while he and his fam read the HP book together. Not, I tell you. Not.)

While Kerry is deciding whether or not to cry over on the playground, (don’t cry Kerry, we’ll all come play with you) I am at the outer edge of the school property, walking along the fence with a metal trashcan. See, there is a chain-link fence out there and all the trash blows up against it. Are you the world’s youngest janitor, you ask? Nope just in trouble again. For what? Couldn’t say. Could be anything. I spent a lot of time on the wrong side of the law in grade school. Nothing exciting like hijacking the milk money. Usually it had something to do with not paying attention, not doing my assignments, forgetting my books—that kind of stuff.

The good news about being in trouble so much is that I know how it all works. I’m kind of like the guy in the prison yard who can smuggle you in a Rita Haywood poster for your cell. (What book is that from?) Except what I can actually do is tell you where to fill your trashcan the quickest—which is what the popular punishment is. So now that I’ve filled the can, I can come join the game. Except by now, everyone’s probably gone on to kickball, and I really suck at kickball—absolutely no depth perception. But that’s okay, because I almost always have a book with me, and I also know where the best places are to read.

What were you doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago, I had recently celebrated my tenth anniversary. I had just moved back to California from Chicago and was living with my wife—who was pregnant with our third child—my two kids, and a cat in a three bedroom apartment in Roseville, CA. I was working for a Utah software company and spending about three days of every week there. I was not writing anything and I would’ve given you a blank stare of you said that ten years later I would be contemplating making a living doing such a thing.

What were you doing one year ago?
When my wife and I were much younger, you used to play a game called, “If someone told you.” It wasn’t actually much of a game; no rules, dice, or scores. But we’d look at our lives and say, “If someone told you a year ago that we’d be [fill in the blank]” Then we’d both laugh and shake our heads. We’ve lived kind of a gypsy life, living in something like 19 houses in 3 states over our twenty years of marriage, and more jobs than that. However, over the last six years, life has been a little more stable—same house, only three jobs. But if a year ago, someone had told me I’d be publishing Dark Memories with Covenant or a YA Fantasy series with anyone, I’d have thought they were up in the night.

A year ago, I was working on my second Shandra book. I’d started having occasional lunches with James Dashner, who was all excited about Shadow Mountain, his new agent, and a book called Maze Runner. I was also working on a national horror novel—which has taken a back seat for a bit. We had been to Disneyland twice already that year—some things don’t change.

Five Snacks you enjoy
Since the end of April I’ve lost twenty-five pounds, and feel worlds better for it; so I really don’t eat all that many snacks these days. But my favorites are: macadamia nuts, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread with barbeque chips inside, Dove Bars (the ice-cream not the soap), dark chocolate Milky Way bars, and cold leftovers (chicken, ribs, roast beef, potatoes.) My grandmother always preferred a last bit of dinner over a formal dessert. Her phrase was, “A piece of meat for chewing gum.” I don’t use that phrase, because it sounds kind of disgusting. But I agree with the sentiment.

Five songs you know all the lyrics to
I really don’t know all the lyrics to anything. This doesn’t stop me from singing though. My wife gets really ticked off at me when I’ve the sung the same two lines of a song over and over for the last two hours without thinking about it. Her not so subtle hint is to turn on a radio really loud to drown me out. She also hates that when I do sing more than two lines, I often sing the wrong words. My response is, “Who says my words are wrong? They may not be the original words. But I think mine are better.” So maybe they didn’t write the sing correctly in the first place, and I’m just correcting them.

I also make up words to songs. Like this version of “My Favorite Things.”

Dead cats on roadsides and dog doo on shoe strings.
Fathers with shotguns and girlfriends that throw things.
Sitting on wet paint and falling off piers.
These are a few of my favorite fears.

When the kids puke.
When the Reds nuke.
When my zipper’s broke.

It’s then I remember my favorite fears.
And then I wish I could . . . croak.

Things you would do if you were a millionaire
When I was a little kid, I always used to tell my grandmothers I was going to be a millionaire and take care of them. Of course I also said I was going to be the Prophet one day. Neither of those things has happened, and both of my grandmothers are now dead. Of course, if I ever do become a millionaire, I wouldn’t put it past them to come back and advise me on how to spend my money. The grandmother on the Shepherd side was pretty frugal and the one on the Martin side liked to go out to dinner and shows, so it could get interesting. Personally, I think I’d just take it one day at a time. My idea of splurging is a really good dinner and blowing a hundred bucks at a bookstore, so I may just do that more often.

Five bad habits
The aforementioned singing or whistling almost constantly (the same song over and over, until it is stuck in everyone’s head), throwing my socks at the bedroom ceiling fan to see if I can make them flip into the hamper, forgetting things, making fun of people in church (see if you can find the guy who combed his hair with a weed whacker), lying to my kids (last night after I tucked you in I could have sworn I saw an amputated hand crawl out from under your bed.)

Five things you like to do
Honestly I could almost take Kerry’s list verbatim. I love to read, anywhere anytime. I always go to sleep reading, and I hate to be without a good book. Doing anything with my wife—especially long drives to nowhere. Being in the woods—I love the relaxation of sitting or walking by a babbling stream under the shade of pine trees. Writing. I love, love, love, having uninterrupted time to write. If I get the chance to write full time, it won’t be about the money, it will be about the writing. Making my kids laugh. Nothing lifts my spirits more than hearing my kids laughing their heads off. But why does it always seem to be about something inappropriate? It can’t be my fault.

Things you will never wear again
The smelly, dirty, felt, Indiana Jones style (pre Indy) hat with the bullet hold in it, which I found when I was about ten, and which mysteriously disappeared one day while I was at school. Mom, I know it was you. The A’s t-shirt that was more holes than cloth that my wife wouldn’t let me wear anymore. Pants called Angel Flight or polyester shirts. Necklaces.

Five favorite toys
My antique typewriters and cameras. My convertible. My laser printer. The D&D set I’ve had since high school. My Disneyland annual pass.

Where I will be in ten years
Well, my youngest will be seventeen and my oldest will be twenty-nine. I’ve been terrible at predicting where I’ll be in one year, so I am really walking in the dark with this one. I’d like to think I’ll be writing full time, spending the summer at my cabin in the woods, looking out at the lake, and reading a good book. But Disneyland would definitely be just as likely.

PS The answer was the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. You guys are either bad guessers or I’m bad at contests.


At 7/23/2007 1:08 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I love your list, but I hate long drives to nowhere. There must be a purpose!! :)

That poster thing sounds like Shawshenk Redemption.

At 7/23/2007 1:17 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

I think it might be my way of rebelling against the type A schedule I have at work, but I LOVE things that have no purpose. Jen and I just get in the car and drive, taking turns whenever something looks interesting. Little towns, no towns. Greasy burger joints in the middle of nowhere. Fruit stands on long empty roads. Awesome. We never run out of things to talk about. Of course this is without kids. No one to ask, "When are we going to get there?" Because there is no where to get.

Of course I also like vacations with no itinerary.

Shawshank is correct!

At 7/23/2007 2:17 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Jeff, you are my bosom friend. That's how my wife and I used to vacation (before we had kids weighing us down): we knew generally where we wanted to go, but never made reservations and went wherever sounded good. (Last year, for our anniversary, we nearly died because we tried a dirt road in the San Rafael swell--in our crappy little Korean sedan--and ran into forty miles of twelve-inch-deep mud.)

At 7/23/2007 3:22 PM, Anonymous Marlene said...

You guys both ought to come to Massachusetts/New Hampshire. My husband with Jeep literally does the don't-know-where-you-are-going thing, except in New Hampshire you can do that following the roads on the map. Suddenly they just aren't there! They start out paved, then two pathed, then a no tree/brush zone between stone fences that slowly disolves into--well one time it was a steep, imbedded-boulders slope which you could slide down, but not climb up, another time is was a beaver-built creek swollowing the road (and nearly the Jeep). Pity the wives on these though. I have to take rice cakes along so I can eat something to keep from squealing. Then there are the cellar holes in the midst of gigantic, unmaintained stone fences mazes that just call to be explored... You'll want to kick the kids out so you can take this vacation. I'm thinking it beats Disney land rides, but not having been there, can't say for sure.

At 7/24/2007 4:03 AM, Blogger Candace Salima . . . the LDS Nora Roberts said...

Flipping socks at the ceiling fan . . . oh, please don't let my husband read this blog. Have you ever actually hit the hamper?

Loved the blog and list.

At 7/24/2007 10:48 AM, Blogger Josi said...

I'm with you Candace--when my hubby and I first got married he would throw his socks at me. I hated it and told him over and over to stop it, it was gross and rude. he thought it was hilarious and kept throwing. After a few months I told him I would take all his socks if he did it again. he didn't believe me, and was forced to wear the same pair of socks for four days straight. He no longer throws socks at me--but the ceiling fan might reopen his bad habits, though the hamper would not be his aim I am sure.

At 7/24/2007 1:54 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Marlene: I want to go to New Hampshire! I sounds divine. Well, everything except the rice cakes. You actually eat those things? I thought they were supposed to be crumbled up and used for packing material when mailing boxes to Iraq.

Rob & Jeff: Will you explain wanderlust to my husband? Please! He tends to plan "vacations" down to the minute/milepost. Once, and only once, did he deviate from a road map and that was in a new car with a new GPS. Following it faithfully (despite protests from me and my daughter in the backseat) he and my son navigated from Salt Lake City to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. (At which point I suspect the GPS, which had been calculating a direct route to Phoenix) expected us to just flip the Batwings switch and glide across.

At 7/24/2007 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is Nora Roberts?

At 7/28/2007 8:26 PM, Blogger Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

Okay, "anonymous" just proved he's NOT a woman!


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