Saturday, July 30, 2011

The LIKE Button

Okay, I 'll just say it.

The LIKE button drives me crazy.

 It reminds me of back long ago when I was in junior high and one of my friends passed a note to a boy that I liked asking him if he liked me and there were boxes he could check.  I NEVER would have been so bold as to write such a note.  But my friend did.

The boy checked "no."

Well, of course I got over it. Eventually.

But guys, (and I am speaking mostly to you, former students of mine who read this, but maybe I am speaking to me and other writers as well), do we really need that button on EVERYTHING?

I am going to be bold now and say no.  We don't need it. You don't need it.

You don't need anyone to tell you that what you are doing is likable all the time.  You don't need someone else to approve your dreams.  You don't need the constant approval from others as long as you approve of yourself.

That's right.

You have to like yourself.  You have to believe in you and what you want to accomplish.  What you CAN accomplish.

I know many of you are dipping your toes into the social networking careful.  An artist takes inspiration wherever he/she finds it, but don't become too needy for the approval of others.  I cannot imagine an email from Vincent Van Gogh popping up in my inbox.  "Just posted new painting!  Click over and LIKE  Starry Night!"

I dunno.  I mean, Vincent sold only one painting in his lifetime.  If he cared too much about pleasing everyone, sure, he could have painted differently and sold more.

 And the world would be without some of its most incredible works of art.

Trust yourself.

Trust the artist/writer/singer/whatever that lives inside of you.

 Develop a group of friends/family/professionals that will nourish your soul and your art.

As for the masses with their fingers poised over their LIKE buttons, don't worry so much about them.

Maybe to create we need to go to that place that we can only get to when we journey alone, armed with just our courage and our dreams.  The LIKES can't go with you.  And the LIKES couldn't help you when you get there anyway.  You have to be brave to face your own creativity, to pull from it the bits and pieces of wonder, to hack away at the overgrown vines of what-everyone-else-does-or-thinks, to weave, coil, wrestle, wrangle, those pieces into something the world has never seen before.

Good luck, my friends.  Adventure awaits.

See?  This is too much awesome for a LIKE button!  Now, if they had a LOVE button......


Monday, July 25, 2011

Speaking to Crows in Pig-Latin

You know you've been revising too long when you have this conversation with someone:

Sean-- What did you just say?

Me-- I said, "Ut-shay up-yay upid-stay irds-bay."

Sean-- Huh?

Me--I told the crows to shut-up in Pig Latin.  They are being far too noisy outside.  I am trying to concentrate.

Sean--Why Pig-Latin?

Me--Why not?  (mumbles to self as I open the fridge to find the remnants of over cooked* roast beef from last night.  Why not Pig-Latin?  It's not like they were going to understand anyway.  Sheesh.)

So, yeah.

I've been talking to crows and revising.

This is what revising looks like:

Notes to self on pages that aren't working right...lots of arrows and such. Makes me feel like I'm doing something when I make an arrow.

The dreaded yellow legal pad.  This is where I write down a brief note about what happens in each chapter.  (Shh..I  write the whole story as one giant story pretty much and divided it into chapters later.  So I really have no recollection of WHEN something happens to a character (as in WHAT CHAPTER) until I make a little cheat sheet for myself.)  Cheat sheet is four pages long.  (55 chapters.  Don't worry.  They are short.)

So, you can see why my poor brain is a jumble and I find myself talking to birds, can't you?  (And crows, if you are reading this, you could help the whole situation by being a little quieter.  Just sayin')

I will be done with this round** before I sleep tonight. That is a promise.

And then I will look like this:

Art by Jennifer Plecas...totally captures my future mood!


*over cooked the meat because I wasn't paying attention....revision and all that.
**These revisions are not for The Seven Tales of Trinket.  That is off to copy editing!  Yay.  These revisions are for something new.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ode to Middle Grade Writers...With Links!

Okay, so I'm not really writing an ode today. Oh, I could.  But I don't think you really want me to do that.

What happened is that my handwriting on the legal pad near my computer is so illegible that I thought Link to Middle Grade Writers said Ode to Middle Grade Writers.  It took me five minutes to figure it out.  Oh, I know what you are thinking.  Nobody's handwriting is that bad.  

Yes.  Mine is.  You would not believe how many teachers in high school were thrilled when I learned how to type.

And it's hard when you have messy handwriting.  People (especially teachers) judge you by the messiness of it and, well, they tend to think you are not as smart as you might be.  On the upside, teachers were often surprised that beneath the sloppy Bs and the what was going on here Ws, there was a kid with a bit of a brain and a large amount of creativity.

I liked to think that I wasn't lazy.  I liked to think that Mrs. Sanders, my fifth grade teacher, was right and that my brain just moved too fast and my hand couldn't keep up with it.  (Thank you, Mrs. Sanders!)

Oh, how I longed for lovely was not that I didn't practice.  It was not that my fine motor skills completely stank (or is it stunk?  sorry.)  It was just something that was beyond me.

But just because the handwriting was awful did not mean I couldn't grow up to be a writer.  And any of you kids reading this who have handwriting like mine (you know who you are), fear not.  If you are a writer in your heart, then your hand will eventually follow.  (And that's why they have keyboards:)

But this was supposed to be about links!

Some middle grade authors have gotten together and created some group blogs.  I love to read group blogs because you get a taste of several different writers at one place.  One stop shopping! (Click on the words, not the pictures for the links!)

Lots of new middle-grade authors and writers post here.  Don't you love the soap?  You'll find out about lots of new books here.

Okay, this one is not strictly middle-grade.  It's emphasis is fantasy, so they welcome all children's fantasy writers, picture book to young adult.  Some really fascinating posts here.

Okay, so I was a little naughty on this one...I directed you to a page where there is an interview with my editor, Beth Potter (no relation to Harry, she assures me...but I think she has at least a little bit of magic!) And she mentions my book!!!  ( the end!) I would squee, but it is early and I don't want to wake the sleepy heads, so I'll just do a happy dance.  There.  Be glad you didn't have to see it.)

So, enjoy your foray into middle grade blog land. 

And, since I am linking stuff, I really liked this post by Jane Yolen about her on-line journal and why it is a journal and not really a blog.  Good stuff.  As for me, my blog is a journal/blog, I suppose.  I write in order to think and process...but I write to communicate with you as well.  

Jane Yolen. I just love how honest her posts are about the writing life.  Just love.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Potter Envy and Night of the Giving Dead

I miss Harry.

And I am envious of JK Rowling.  Oh, I don't envy her cash (richer than the queen..richer than this queen for sure!) or her fabulous life-style or her fame or really anything except this one thing.  This one Special Thing.

You see, Jo connected with readers (middle grade and up) in a way that no one else had before...or likely will again for a long time.  She resonated with the hearts and minds of her readers in such a close, close way.

Harry, Ron and Hermoine....they are like family.

What a gift to be able to touch so, so many readers and make them wish for an owl, clutching an acceptance to Hogwarts, flying down the chimney flue and into their lives.

My kids grew up with Harry.  And in a way, I did, too.  Reading Harry's story made me admit to myself that someday I wanted to write more than just picture books.  JK Rowling made me feel like such a dream was worth pursuing.

So, Harry and Jo, thanks.  From the bottom of my heart.

And yes, I went to a midnight showing.  It.Was.Awesome.

Speaking of AWESOME, hilarious author Carrie Harris is doing something really cool.  Yes, this is even cooler than her year of Give Backery.  This time, she has organized an auction called Night of the Giving Dead.  The auction will benefit the children of CS Mott Children's Hospital.  This event is very close to Carrie's heart and WOW, she certainly has a lot of support from the writing community!  She got donations from MANY great authors including some NYT Bestselling folks (I am not going to tell you who they are...just look at the list, my friends.  Look now.)

Again.  WOW.

And, somewhere in there is little ol' me.  (Okay, stop twisting my arm...I'll give you the link!) Here it is.

So, help Carrie help some kids who are dealing with stuff we all hope we never have to deal with.  (And you don't have to bid on my on something...ANYTHING!) don't bid against me on anything.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011


What are you doing?

Throwing pennies from the top of the stairs on to the map of the United States at the bottom.  Duh.  What does it look like?



Well, they keep bouncing off.  I am hoping one of them will stay on.

Do you know what time it is?

Six...maybe six thirty.


That's a very annoying sound.

Yay!!  Finally!

That would be Colorado, my friends!
And that makes our winner Jess!  email me at and I will send you the perfect road-trip book...A GOOD KNIGHT'S REST.  You'll have to let me know what you think of it!

And on to other things....

Remember my list of books I wanted to read this summer?  Well, I still cannot find it.  However, I remember a few of them!  (The reason that I remember them is that they are written by bloggers of wonderful blogs that I visit often.  Naturally, that makes me curious about their books.  I mean, you get a taste of their writing personality on their blog, but a whole book!  Now that is very exciting!)

Now, this is not my whole list.  Just a few titles.  These also happen to be YA.  It helps me sometimes when I am DEEP into a first draft or a very complicated revision NOT to read in my genre.  I don't want to inadvertently pick up the wrong voice.  My brain just shifts into a different gear when I am reading out of genre and that seems to work for me (and not effect my own writing too much.)

Summer 2011 Want to Read List 1A: (If you click on the covers, it will take you to the author blogs.

Why do I want to read this?  Because Carrie is warped and funny and I could really use a little bit of warped and funny these days.  

Why do I want to read this?  This one is probably a wish fulfillment  kind of book.  Who wouldn't want to go off to some fancy schmancy dance world and be the muse of an enigmatic choreographer?  Plus, Stasia herself has lots of experience in the dance world.  She is choreographing the dance for her own trailer.  

Why do I want to read this?  Well,this seems to be the buzz book of the summer and usually I am so out of the loop on these kinds of things, but I got to read an excerpt online (which is an evil but brilliant way to get you hooked on a book) and I am excited to read more.  Plus, Veronica is one of the most honest bloggers out there.  I love the simple truths she often blogs about.

Why do I want to read this?  It's an e-book and I want to give it a try!  I mean, why not, right?  Plus, PJ dressed up as a goddess at a book event and, well....I mean....I wear a crown and stuff.  Gotta stick together.

Why do I want to read this book?  Well, Elana just goes for it on her blog.  That's the kind of person she is.  So I am expecting that she will just go for it in her book.  

So, that is the beginning of the list.  All books freshly out (as in within the last few months.)

However, today I will not be reading.  I am off to Yellow Book Road to be part of their Summer Literacy Camp!  And tomorrow I am off the the libraries of Camp Pendleton for the day.

But the next day.  I.Am.Reading.   (When I am not revising, that is.)


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Road Trip Give Away!!!

No, I am not giving away a road trip.

However, to celebrate the fact that my new book baby has been in the world for a month, and also to acknowledge that it is the ultimate going-on-a-trip-in-a-confined-space-with-kids book, I am going to give away a copy of A GOOD KNIGHT'S REST.

Here's all you have to do to win:

1.  Leave a comment telling me where you are road-tripping to this summer by July 11.
2.  When I have all the entries, I will take a map of the US and I will throw something at it (like a dart if it is hanging up, or a penny if it is on the floor--I don't quite have the logistics figured out yet).  Wherever my flung-object lands will determine the winner of the book!  (So your road-trip must be somewhere findable on a US map.)
3.  And if you want to tell me about your favorite road trip ever and it makes me laugh, cry or sigh wistfully, I just might be giving away a another surprise something as well.

And I don't want to brag or anything...but Jennifer did an AMAZING job with the illustrations.  Every time I read the book to kids, I notice a little something different she put into the pictures.  I am so lucky to have such a talented artist bringing the little dragons and their every faithful knight to life.

Aren't they cute?  They would just love to travel to your long as you have potato chips...and bushes.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Mystery of the Missing List and the Too Quiet House

So lame.

I had a post prepared (kind of...well, actually I had a list made) of something really cool I wanted to share with you.  And actually, share with myself as well.  See, I use this blog not only to talk a bit with whoever is out there from time to time, but also as a way to talk to myself--to remind myself of stuff I need to remember, or to mull over how I am feeling about my writing, or to maintain a record of my progress on certain WIPs.  Whatever.

But I have been thinking I ought to post about the books I REALLY want to read this summer.  The books I have been making a list of since Spring so that once I FINISHED my latest set of line-edits, I could prioritize my BOOKS of SUMMER list and get started.

Except that now I can't find it.  Lame.

I am certain it will turn up, though.  And I ought to be able to find it in this newly quiet house.  (shhhh...yes, it is so quiet here.  That's because I've got one kid at a sleepover, one at a movie and one in PARIS. And yes, skype is a life saver!))

And since I have finished my huge writing chore,( and also a re-read of the 7th Harry Potter in prep for the movie), and it is so calm and peaceful here, I am all ready to hunker down with my list and start deciding what mood I am in...what will the first book be?

Except that now I can't find it.  Lame.  (this is like a refrain or something!) anyone has any good ideas until I find my list of new(ish) books that must be read this summer, feel free to let me know.


P.S. If the kid at the movie or the sleepover moved the list, I might have a chance at finding it.  If the kid in Paris moved it, I am in a pickle.  Or should I say I vill be in zee pickle, non? Yeah, I know.  My fake French stinks.