Thursday, April 28, 2011

Naughty Boys that I Love

No, I'm talking about Bad Boys.  Not those sultry, dark, broody types that attract girls like certain substances (that I will not name here) attract flies. (But if you are every interested in finding or picking up some of that substance with a small shovel, I have a whole bunch in my backyard. Have at it!)

I am talking about naughty boys.  What IS it about a naughty boy that is just so delightfully compelling?  When I was working on a book that had a very, very naughty boy for a character, I pretty much laughed myself to sleep each night.  Honestly, it was the most fun I ever had writing. The surprising thing is that I never ran out of naughty ideas for him to enact.  Perhaps that is why we love them so much.  They do the naughty things that we cannot.

Here are a few of my favorites:

 I love the Weasley Brothers.  And they are just so pea-picking naughty!  They jokes, the pranks, the devil-may-care attitudes.  Sigh.  They are just awesomely naughty.  I actually might have cheered aloud when I was sitting on my couch reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and I came to that scene where Fred and George drop out of Hogwarts and fly off into the sunset.  I reread it many times.

I love these guys, too.  Harold and George from the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey.  (Is there something innately naughty about the name George???)  They are awesomely naughty AND continue to save the world on a regular basis.  Stellar combination.

These guys, too.  Bill and Ted are neither egregious nor heinous.  They are just awesomely naughty.  Be excellent to each other, boys.

 And then there is this guy!  Zachary Ruthless!  I am so excited to read this book, because I do have a soft spot for the awesomely naughty.  My treat for myself this weekend (if I get my other stuff done) is to get to read it!  Ooooooh!  Just look at him and his ginger sidekick. Are they saving the world?  Or blowing it up?  The suspense is killing me.  Can't wait.

(And congratulations to Allan Woodrow, the creator of Zachary.  His book just released this week!  Yay!)

So...who is your favorite naughty boy?  And you don't have to limit it to one......


Monday, April 25, 2011

Bob the Donut

Whenever I have the kids in class do a writing warm-up, I do it with them.  We right side-by-side, elbow to elbow, trying to wrangle our thoughts down into words on paper.  Usually, I just write whatever comes to mind, but before we began today, a student asked me, "Mrs. Thomas, what are you going to write about?"

I replied (quite truthfully, I might add,) "I really have no idea yet.  I hope I get one before I start."

"Here is an idea," said the student. "You can write about a donut named Bob."

The music started.  I was NOT going to waste my precious writing time writing about a donut named Bob.  I just wasn't.

But then....I did.

Bob the Donut 

Bob was a donut.  An ordinary donut.  He did not possess super powers like the ability to fly or to shoot firebolts from his eyes.  He could not lift two elephants at a time or anything like that.  Nor could he become invisible...unless someone ate him.  Then he couldn't be visible at all. That's because he would no longer exist.

But Bob still wanted to exist.

So, what does a donut with no super powers do if he doesn't want to be eaten,( especially one as tasty looking as chocolate glazed, rainbow-sprinkled Bob?)

He escapes.

And that is just what Bob the Donut planned to do.

Okay, it's official.  My brain has been invaded by fifth grade boys.

This post really doesn't have much point except to say that when you can't seem to jumps start your own writing, there is usually a fifth grade boy somewhere with a strange little idea.


Is it crazy that I am picturing Bob using  part of an old buttermilk twist to create a lasso?  Or that I can hear the theme song from Rawhide in my brain as I picture Bob rolling off in the sunset?  "Rolling, rolling, rolling...keep those donuts rolling....."


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Winners and Chickens

First off, the winner of the three ARC (Demonglass, Like Mandarin, and Warped) is:

 Susanne Drazic!

 Susanne, drop me an email at and let me know your address and I will ship those books to you!  Enjoy!

Hmmmm....there are lots of things I have been wanting to post about, but for some reason the words won't come tonight. 

 That has been happening a lot lately...the whole lack of words thing.  

I wish they would.  I wish I could open the doc or the notebook and the words would come pouring out, hot and fast, like soup in a bowl.

But lately it's been kind of like oatmeal.  Cold Oatmeal.

Sadly, I know the reason why.

I am afraid.

I am afraid that I am not ready to write the story I soooo want to write.  Or worse, not worthy.  I know, it sounds so stupid.  But these are the true feelings a writer goes through.  We have times when the rush of words is awesome.  And other times when....not so much.

The worst part, the absolute worst part is that I just don't know what to do about it.  I mean, maybe I can't write the words because it is the WRONG idea for me right now.  Maybe instinctively I know it in my gut, but I don't want to admit it.

Or, maybe I am just being lazy.  Or a chicken.  I like to think that I am strong and brave, you know.  But really, it's a mix of chicken and brave.  

But mostly chicken.


What to do?

Any of you out there who are in the struggle of words that won't come, well, obviously I can offer no valid advice.  But please know that you are not alone.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Elegantly, Ruthlessly and Honorably.....and an ARC Giveaway!

I was driving down to San Diego to watch the final show choir competition of the school year and I had the radio on.  The annual  Coachella Music Festival was happening somewhere out in the desert and I was hoping to find out who was there.  It's kind of ultra-cool to go to Coachella and so, not being cool myself, I have never been.  But if you are into up-and-coming, awesome bands and the like, then sweltering out in the desert for three days of concerts is the place to be.

But again, I was did not go.  I went to the show choir competition.

However, the DJ on the radio was interviewing the members of a British band called Foals. I have to admit, I am a sucker for an accent.  So, these two boys were talking about their artistic process (I am a sucker for artistic process) and saying that they were changing the way they were creating music*.  In the past, they took a very calculated approach.  They knew just what they wanted in a song.  They knew just what there needed to be in that song for it to be "successful." But they were frustrated because they weren't creating.  They were just producing stuff.

The gist of their conversation was that they stopped thinking so much about what the song needed and instead tried to let the music unfold itself.  They said the music should emerge Elegantly, Ruthlessly and Honorably.

Of course, it made me think about writing.  I want to write elegantly, ruthlessly and honorably.  And I want my books to reflect that.  I don't want to list ingredients and pour them in a bowl and hope that a book comes out.  I want to rely on the format** less and the story more.

* I am paraphrasing.
** yes, ironic coming from a writer of easy readers.  But I am nothing if not a contradiction.


Now that you sat through my weekly inner-writer turmoil, you get a prize.  In January at ALA, I got some great ARCs and I promised to pass them on (but I had to read them, first!)  so that other folks can read them and get the word out about them.  This week, I am giving away these three books:

If you would like to be entered in the drawing for these three books (that's right, winner take all!) then just leave a comment below.  I read and enjoyed all three of them, however please note that they are from my stack of YA ARCs.  YA stands for young adult.  Middle Grade ARC giveaway to come soon.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Flirting With a New Idea

It's kind of magical when you first get an idea.

You see it looking at you and so you look back, yet it looks away quickly.

Was that idea just looking at me? It was, wasn't it?

So you chase it around a bit, discreetly of course.  I mean, you could have imagined it, right?  Maybe it was an idea meant for someone else, not you at all.

There it is again.

It just winked.

And so now you are determined to meet up with that idea.  You are going to find out what it is up to.  So, you kind of stalk it a bit.    You hang out where it hangs out.  You listen to the music it likes.  You pretend that you  are having a great time with your other don't really need this idea after all.  It's not like you are desperate.  You have plenty of other ideas that would be happy to have your attention....and yet there is something about this idea that is Just.So.Compelling.

And you really don't want to scare it away.

It just might be the ONE.

So, anyone else out there chasing a new idea?


Okay, usually I KNOW my idea will work when the title is right (even if I end up changing the title midway through...I have to have the title first.)

Confession:  I do not have the title for the new idea.  It's killing me.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Real Life GLEEKS

Hello.  My name is Shelley.  My daughter is a real life GLEEK.

By this I mean she is in Show Choir.  I should say EXTREME SHOW CHOIR.

I had the pleasure of chaperoning her choir at a recent competition.  Let me tell you, honestly I was not looking forward to it.  I mean, we are talking teenagers.  Lots of them.  Don't get me wrong, teens are awesome.  It's just that there would be so many of them...and I would have to make certain they stayed out of trouble until competition time.

Oh, and I had to ride on the bumpy, old yellow school bus with them.  Did I mention it was bumpy?

My worries were totally misplaced.  These kids were great.  They knew just where they were supposed to be and just what to do.  In addition, they all really cared about doing well in the competition. A passionate bunch they were.

And regardless of how much they wanted to win, they were SO supportive of the other teams.  All of the teams were hooting and hollering for each other when something cool happened on the stage.  I was so impressed by them.

But what impressed me the most were the performances.  Folks, you have no idea what really happens on the stage of a show choir competition. (I know this because I sure didn't).  I thought it would be kind of like GLEE.  But GLEE totally underplays it!  I mean, the competition I went to had lasers!  And smoke!  And Star Wars!  And Harry Potter!  And levitating people! And star-crossed lovers!  And 5 second costume changes! and brilliant, brilliant singing.


Here is a little PSA about the importance of show choir which was filmed at one of the comps.



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What's on My Desk Right Now?

What is on the old desk?

1.  A laptop on its last leg (I fear).  Backing up everything with this:

2. A Darth Vader Flash Drive. (Also on desk.)

3. A Mickey Mouse watch with a scratched up crystal.  (How do I do that to every watch I own?)

4. A fat plastic canister of clicky ball points in three colors.

5. An awesome green desk lamp that matches cheapo green desk.

6. A red moleskine waiting for more words.

7.  A rainbow houndstooth composition book filled with too many words.

8.  A baseball cap from Killarney Golf and Fishing Club.

9.  Bookmarks from Across the Universe, Incarceron and Sir Gawain the True that I got at ALA in January.

10. A huge blingy ring I wore last week.

11.  My wand.

12. A small yellow notepad that I keep by the computer upon which to write important stuff.  The top page has a quote I copied from one of your blogs, but I don't remember which one!
                                "There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.
                                   That will be the beginning."

                                                          Louis L'Amour
(So if I copied the quote from your blog, let me know!)

13.  The best thing in the world:  A retractable Sharpie.  Seriously, best pen EVER.

14.  And ewwww, fingernail clippers left here by SOMEONE.  Gross.  Now I have an image of someone using my precious space to clip their long toenails.    Someone is going down.

Soon, the desk will be lustrous and tidy, for I am cleaning today!

What's the strangest thing on your desk?