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Monday, November 30, 2009

Progress

Only three hours until midnight, here. My husband, the story-prince-consort is kindly washing the last of the dinner dishes so I can finish the writing projects I took on this month.

Well...

Project 1: Picture book, working title Mugly Ugly, the Cemetery Dog. Status: Complete!
(Yay!!! I hadn't even envisioned this book until I needed a break from the other two things I was working on. I like the draft. A lot.)

Project 2: Chapter book, working title Nix the Naughty. Status: Complete! This is the one I finished tonight, with my eyes propped open so the last few pages probably don't make much sense, but I don't care. I can always fix it, right?


So, um, two out of three ain't bad, right Meatloaf?

Project 3: YA Novel, working title Wren Faire (Yeah, the girl's name is Wren and she works at a Renaissance Faire where she meets and falls for a cursed boy from the sixteenth century. Cheesy title, I know, but I think it kind of works.) Status: Er, um, well.....See, I just wanted to finish this. I was already about 30 k into the story (28k actually) and I thought I could finish it...but, well, I couldn't. I got about 20k more, but I still need about 20k more on top of that. I really wanted this done before December so it could simmer for a while before I'd touch it again. But alas, 'twas not meant to be. The most I could get on this story was 1000 words a day, without rushing it. I hate it when my writing sounds rushed.

So, I am going to try and continue with my 1000 wd goal and hope that I finish it soon. I would love a break from longer pieces then, and Chicken Wizard has finally consented to let me write his story. Mighty big of him, considering he's a chicken and all.

Happy December!

hrh

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why Jane Yolen Rocks / Where I Will Be

Why Jane Yolen Rocks:

If you have not been to Jane Yolen's online journal, well, you need to go.

Read it.

She is awesome because she is so honest. She writes of her process, her ups, her downs, and amazingly, she does not flinch when writing in regards to rejections.

(Seriously, who in their right mind would reject a book submitted by Jane Yolen???)

But I guess it does happen. She wrote a great poem about it on her blog.

Captures it all, don't you think?

I love you, Jane.

(Owl Moon is my favorite, in case you wanted to know.)

Where I'll Be:

Tuesday, December 1st- Barnes and Nobel, Oceanside. 4-9 p.m.

This is a fundraiser for my school, Jefferson Elementary, in Carlsbad. B and N will donate 20-25% of money spent back to the school...in the form of books. How great is that? I will b e signing and doing storytimes at 5:30 and 7:30. If you are in San Diego's North County and feel like coming by, I'd love to meet you. (The photo on the top of the page was taken at last year's event.)

Saturday, December 5th- Del Mar Fairgrounds 2:00 p.m
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I'll be at the Head to Toe Women's Expo doing a reading and signing (I think I'm supposed to entertain kids while their mom's do spa-like things?) I have yet to find out where I'll be when I get there...I think it is with the Every One A Reader booth/area, but I will post more when I know more.

If you are in the area and come to either event, introduce yourself. I'll even tell you the secret of how not to sign a book (I can't post it here...wayyyyy to embarassing).

hrh

Monday, November 23, 2009

Random Things I'm Thankful For

I was going to post about middles, having posted last about beginnings, but I just got out of the car after an 18 hr drive (yes, folks, 18 hrs.....supposed to be 16, but there was the whole snow and ice thing outside of Denver.....) and if anyone asks you if it is completely insane to drive from Denver to SoCal in one day, well, the answer is yes. (And I'm sorry I was unable to visit any blogs whilst gone...no computer. I missed you guys!)

So, since my brain is loopy and I feel like the chair is still moving under my butt, I think I'm going to save that post and just list a few random things I'm thankful for, what with Thanksgiving and all:

1. Tea bags. You know, those little tea ball things are cute and it does feel very grown up and Victorian to put your tea leaves in around, metal ball and then hoist that ball over the side of the teacup/teapot and let the magic happen, but what a pain. Messy and, well, too much work when you just got out of the car and all you want is a cup of peppermint tea.

2. Food processors. As I prepare to make stuffing, I am grateful that I have a food processor to chop the onions and celery finely enough so that I don't have to listen to people (as in 3 daughters) complain they found a chunk of onion. Blasted onions!!

3. Beds at Home. Far better that hotel beds or beds made on hotel floors with lots of pillows and such. (Hey, Hotels, just so you know, some people have 3 kids, not just 2. Whatever happened to the roll-away???)

4. McDonald's Dollar Menu. Dude, you know I love you. And I want you to know that I still love you, even though I'll not be visiting you for a very, very, very, very, very looooooooong time. (There is such a thing as too much of a good/cheap thing.)

5. Toilets That Don't Automatically Flush. Okay, so when they flush three times when you are just opening the door to the stall, well, that just makes them seem possessed. And no one, NO ONE wants to sit on a toilet from the dark side.

6. My Blogging Buddies. It is late and I have been trapped in a car longer than it took the pilgrims to cross the Atlantic yet here I am, checking blogs when I should be off in slumber land. It was hard being gone from my cyber/writing friends. I can't wait to finish reading more in the morning!

Happy Thanksgiving.

hrh

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beginnings

Beginnings are hard...like the first time I tried to begin this post and blogger ate it.

Thank you , blogger. It probably was a cruddy way to start.

I was going to go on about how much I struggle with beginnings, but instead (since I am packing for a trip to Denver in the morning.....yikes, not ready at all) I am going to leave you with a little snippet of a chapterbook I hope to finish by the end of the month, Nix the Naughty.


September 1

My name is Nixoll Wolfric Abernathy and I am too smart for my own good. At least that is what the Lesson Master says. He has a crooked nose and crooked teeth to match.
“You, boy,” he says, for he will not call me by name, “how is it that you know these letters?”
“You taught us to them last week, Lesson Master,” I say.
“But why do you remember, boy?”
I do not know what to say, so I say nothing. The Lesson Master gives me a whack .
“I shall have a talk with thy parents!” he threatens.
So now, because I am too clever, I am to be sent away early to become a page at Castle Lemmingshire. This stinks like the moat on a summer’s day!

I will not go.

They cannot make me





hrh

Friday, November 13, 2009

Make Lots of Mistakes!!!

I've read lots of posts lately by other bloggers on blogs I love to read, answering questions from readers about how they know when their manuscript is ready, how important it is to have a critique group, things they wished they knew when they were starting, things never to do....etc...Well, this is not one of those posts.

This post is going to encourage you to make mistakes.

Big ones.

See, the thing is, even learning the ropes from other writers isn't good enough. It's like someone telling you how to ride a bike, or your mom giving you advice about love and crushes when you are a teen-ager. You just won't know how to do it until YOU jump on that bike and fall off, until YOU feel butterflies in your stomach every time you see him walk by and then he dumps you before Valentine's Day so he won't have to buy you a gift.

You have to make you own mistakes to learn. Because, really, you will NEVER understand what you need to do to be a better writer until you do. Sorry, but you're probably going to have to query too early with a manuscript that in a few years will make you cringe and become known as "the Drawer Novel". But that's okay, because you will never believe that it is a drawer novel until the publishing world claims it is. (And sometimes, people have been so good in their past lives or something like that, and they don't even HAVE to go through the drawer novel stage. but you will never know, NEVER unless you just take risk and send it off.) Take your character down a new path. Try writing in a new POV, or a new genre. Don't fear the unknown. Don't you want to be like Indiana Jones and have a snake story? You'll never have a snake story ("Why did it have to be snakes.....") and get to shake your fist in despair at the sky, while knowingly winking at others, unless you take the chance and follow your heart.

So, go ahead.

Make the mistakes that only you can make. Learn from them. Embrace them. Take them to lunch and buy them a nice salad and a carrot raisin muffin.

You have to be willing to risk to learn.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

hrh

P.S. Yes, I make lots of mistakes. I'll post about them another day. But know this, I have several books published and I still love writing, so the whole mistake thing seems to be working out for me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Writing Lessons from Stevie Wonder

Sunday was my eldest daughter's birthday. Twenty. Whoa.

We went to Disneyland because if ever there was a girl meant to be a Disney Princess, it is Noel. Anyway, as luck would have it, they were filming for their Christmas morning parade broadcast and we got to see Stevie Wonder perform. THE Stevie Wonder.

So, aside from the amazingly coolness of the experience and because I am ankle deep in NaNoFiMo, I found Stevie my unlikely writing mentor for the weekend.

Stevie Lesson Number 1: Don't be afraid to expect more from yourself.

When they were shooting the take (which they meant to film twice), they ended up doing it four times because Stevie expected things from his performance. Great things. If he wasn't happy with his sound (Sorry, folks, I want to do it again. I didn't like my sound...) He did it again. Now, I can tell you that every single take was amazing......but Stevie's yardstick for measuring is different from mine, and he is not afraid to ask himself to measure up.

Stevie Lesson Number 2: Love what you do.

Stevie's passion for music was more than evident. In between takes, he played songs we all knew and made up new words on the spot to crack us up. He was extremely appreciative of his fans, but the performance wasn't about the size of the crowd or the noise we made. I think there could have been a crowd of five kindergartners (instead of the hundreds of families) and he would have been equally happy and engaging. He was not some SUPERSTAR gifting us with a song. He was a guy who loves music and shared it with us, and that is what made him a superstar.

So, there you go. Writing lessons from Stevie Wonder. Hold yourself to a high standard and love what you do.

hrh

P.S. We also saw Michael Buble....at least we think we did. That's our story and we're sticking to it. (Lucky day, all around. Not since I saw the back of Jamie Lee Curtis' head last October have I been so close to famous people. )

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Magical Me! (Apparently, I'm at it again....)

Okay, so my special magic touch has struck again! Good things are again happening to those whose blogs I read.....yes, it's true.

Stephanie now has an agent!
Andrea just received her contract from Penguin!
Lisa and Laura sold their book!
Laini's Lip's Touch is a finalist for the National Book Award!

Who will be next???

Leaving you with this gem from Evan:

Black is what you see in a villain's eye.
Black is the shadows of the night
or a bloodhound hunting you down.

hrh

PS. I just got a lucky horseshoe in the mail from PJ Hoover!! Oh, the magic of me!

Edited to include that the amazing Corey just sold her Ninja Pigs!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNoFiMo/ Brain Research (because everything's always really about writing anyway.)



NaNoFiMo



Okay, yeah, I changed some of the letters....wanna make something of it? Actually, the Fi stands for finish. I just want to finish my YA by the end of the month. Not a lofty goal, not crazy like the rest of you folks out there who are busting you tails to complete an entire novel. I just want to finish one measly lil' book. (Of course, it needs about 35k more words.....sigh)

And, because I am crazy, I am also trying to finish an easy chapter book and EVEN started a picture book today. WHAT AM I THINKING??? It is like there's all this crazy writing energy in the air and with every nostril full, my brain conceives new junk which my hand must dutifully jot down on paper. And, even though we got that one hour back over the weekend (Thank You, God) it's just not gonna be enough to finish this stuff.....

Or is it?

Am I crazy enough do manage it? Or will I just burn out.

Time will tell.

On to the scientific part:

Part of my job at my school is that of International Baccalaureate Coordinator. (More impressive sounding than Crazy Lady in Velvet Robes with Crown and Fake Diamonds). Anyway, I am running a study group of fellow teachers and the topic is Inquiry (with a capital I).

What does this have to do with writing?

Well, I'm glad you inquired. According to research by Berlyne (cited in Kashdan, Rose and Finchman, 2004,) "whatever possesses novelty, complexity, uncertainty and conflict invites curiosity, exploration and investigation."

Think about it.

Novelty

Complexity

Uncertainty

Conflict

These are the secret ingredients of stories that are impossible for our brains to stop reading.


I am still contemplating all this, but I think it's pretty fascinating.


hrh

P.S. I'd like to thank blogger, again, for the big font. Gee, blogger, if you could give me a little warning before you thrust the old big letters at me, it might make me stop and try to write something worthy of the largeness.