Monday, May 31, 2010

Some Things I Tell Kids....

Sometimes I get asked what makes someone a writer.

First response: You have to have the imagination.

But it is not enough. I mean, every kid has imagination, right?

When I look around the faces of children who consider themselves writers versus those who do not, when I look around at blogs that feature wonderful news from aspiring/established writers, when I look at my own thing stands out--


The kids who write don't give up.

The bloggers who move from aspiring to established continued to climb the mountain, even when it was hard.

And every story that I manage to finish is a battle well fought and won.

Those who make it as writers do not surrender. They do not lay down their pens nor close their laptops in disgust when the right words do not come. They stay and fight.

And when you fight to get the words down, when you don't give up, you realize it's not a war at all. (Well, the war is not with the's with yourself and your own will. )

No one who ever made it gave up.

So, if you know in your heart of hearts that you are a writer, then you know what you have to do. You have to stand tough. You have to write strong. You must let no one tell you that you can't do it.

Because you can.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Two Feet, Two Worlds, One Person

It's funny, but whenever I am with a group of teachers, I feel more like I am a writer.

But wheneveer I am with a group of writers, I feel more like I am a teacher.

Two different worlds.  Each one an enormous part of my life.  Each one pulling on me to jump all the way into its ocean.

And yet...

When I am wading out into the one world,
I feel more like I belong in the other.

Maybe it's that never-all-the-way-fitting-in-thing from childhood that I've somehow managed to carry along into my adult life.  I mean, hasn't every kid felt this?  (Hello....Harry Potter?  Not at home in the muggle world, but doesn't fit in with the other wizards.....yes, I DID need another Harry Potter reference, since you asked.)

Anyway, that's where I am today.  Today I am a teacher......
but I pick up a shell and the ocean of words is calling to me.

Just calling.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Crown Jewels

I have this program I created for my second and third grade writing club kids called the Crown Jewels.  Participation is optional.  The gist of it is that the student earns a jewel each time they write in a different genre, thus encouraging a little risk-taking, a little try-out-something-new-for-a-bit.  There is no limit to the number of jewels a young writer can earn, but the program only runs for one semester.

Some kids are completely unmotivated by external rewards and are too busy writing their epic graphic novel, the next Harry Potter, poetry, or whatever that they collect a complimentary jewel with a smile and that's that.

But some students are really chomping at the bit to challenge themselves.

Third-grade Jairus wrote dilligently each week, trying out different genres, pushing himself harder and harder.

Writing Club had its last meeting today and Jairus took home twenty-two jewels.



One of my parent voluteers asked him one time if he thought he'd be a writer when he grew up.
Jairus' answer?  "It's what I dream about every day."

My crown is off to you, Jairus.  I know you'll make your dreams come true.


Saturday, May 22, 2010


Number of words in synopsis:  572

Number of thing on Saturday To Do List:  20

Number of things removed from back of fridge:  28

Number of stifled gags:  2

Number of sneezes due to hideous cold:  9

Number of times Glee Volume 3 has been played:  3

Number of holes in the sweater I am wearing:  3

Number of pages complete on the WIP:  1

Number of laundry loads so far:  2

Number of laundry loads projected for today:  7

Number of time I have taken a break from cleaning and checked the internet:  Too Many

Number of times I wished I was in Paris:  a billion


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Where No One Has Gone Before.....

My mission:  To create a synopsis for a book that is only half written,(which is a sequel to a finished book) and mini-synopses for two other planned books in the series that have yet to be boldly write where I have never written before.....

The thing is, if I write a synopsis before I write the book, which I have always kind of wanted to do (remember the fake query contest idea....??) will the synopsis kind of be like an.....OUTLINE???


Will I feel married to the synopsis?  Will it stifle the creative me?  Will the seat of my pants feel neglected?

(I think I need to trade in Indiana Jones for Captain James T. Kirk on this one....)


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quickie Link!!!

Okay, you have to go to Ms. Booksniper's blog where she not only answered my question, but leaked out a very important secret concerning my identity:

I am Neil Gaiman's clone sister.

There, I said it. Make of it what you will.....

AND she gave a great explanation of author branding that every aspiring writer should read.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Busy, busy weekend

In a few short hours, the Multicultural Festival at my school begins.


(That is the noise you are making if you are a kid....the noise you are making if you are a grown up is a combination of an oh-my-aching-back-groan and a will-this-day-ever-end-sigh and a holy-cow-I-can't-believe-we-have-to-clean-up-all-of-this-stuff-up-whine....but I digress)

Actually, this is one of those events that gives you hope for the world.  You see these bright, shiny faces, singing, dancing about their planet, and well....yeah.  We are a better world because of our children.

Which is why being a writer for children is one of the greatest things.  Ever.

So, check out these  very cool author websites...especially you picture bookers out there.  This is how it's done.   Jennifer is the illustrator of the Good Knight (and his dragons). She illustrates for lots of people and even her own books, too!  One word description:  Sweet.   I just stumbled upon this site this morning and all I can say is WOW.  She has a wealth of information in her side bars.  It's not a "Fancy" site, with singing icons and such, but I love it because it is so useful.  One word description:  Prolific.

So check these out if you have a minute...and have a great weekend!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Interesting Experiment

For the past two days, I have conducted an interesting experiment with my after school writing club.
I decided to read  the beginning pages of several middle grade novels (not mine) to them and then asked them if they would continue reading further or not.

The results:

Very, very mixed.

For every student who raised his hand and said that he would continue to read, a hand went up saying that the snippet just didn't do anything for the listener and that there would be no further reading.

Then, I asked them why.

Reasons to continue reading:

"I was curious about what would happen."

"The writer made me wonder."

"I like stuff like that if it's about __________________"(insert snakes, scorpions, animals of any kind)

"It was exciting."

Reasons to stop reading:

"The book looks really fat."



Most interesting find?

What I could have predicted, but was encouraged to have the data to back it up, was that one person's "creepy and boring" is another person's "exciting and intriguing".

Same words.  Different opinions.

Lesson:  Write YOUR story, the one YOU would want to read, and there is probably a kid out there who will want to read it, too.  (Of course, the opposite holds true....some kid out there is probably going to hate it....but don't think about that kid.)


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Yes, as a matter of fact, I would like some cheese with that.....

Warning:  Whine ahead.

Advice needed:

When life is too busy, too full, when there is not the time you need to do the things you need to do, how do you slow down?

Even if it's just small, little things, I could use a litle inspiration in the slowing down department .

Right now, I feel caught in the middle of an epic battle between my writing life, my regular life and my sleeping (or inability to do so) life.


P.S.  I've really no right to whine.  I am the luckiest person in so many ways....but time is whooshing by and leaving me in a scrambled state of crankiness and disorganization and, well, it's just uncomfortable.

Edited to include:
Note to self....the best way to slow down is maybe to stop worrying about your own life and start thinking of others.  Do the Write Thing for Nashville .  Go there.  Now

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May the Fourth be With You

I cannot believe I didn't know that today was Star Wars Day!!!

(Get it....May the 4th....May the Fourth....May the Force.....)

Anyway, Han Solo will never forgive me.

Sorry, Han.

Anyway...just gonna throw it out there that the Star Wars Saga is one of the coolest things in the universe.  I remember seeing the first movie a time when I NEVER saw any movie twice.  So cooooooool.  (I even bought the paperback and read it a billion times).

George Lucas = good storyteller.  (Especially in the first three, which are actually the second three....)

Favorite Star Wars character?  Well, before Han Solo signed on as my inner editor, I kind of had a special thing for C3PO.  I know, weird, huh?


P.S. I just realized that I missed out on an entire day of speaking like Yoda!!!  Disappointed, I am. I am probably going to have to read The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda just to make me happy again.