Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why My Kids Rule!

My birthday was over the weekend and this is what I got:



Is my family awesome or what?  I mean, I cannot believe that I now actually own the Falcon!! (Shh...the best part is that I didn't have to build it!  They built it for me.  It's not that I stink at Lego building or anything, so don't think that.  AT ALL.  Because I bet I could build an awesome Millennium Falcon...once I undid the mistakes and tried again for like the third or fourth time.)

And it came with these:


A tiny little Han Solo!  He can play with my other Lego guys!  I bet he will be besties with:

Uh-oh.  Wait a minute.  Han Solo and Indiana Jones are both alter-egos of my inner editor--Harrison Ford.


Because what I am supposed to be doing right now is focusing copy edits, not playing with my new little Lego guys and searching for internet pictures of them

I hear them from the other room.  They are probably talking about me.



Indy- (cough) this is awkward.....

Han-Where is the cheese?

Or not.

Off to edit more, before the boys come and get me.


p.s. What was your favorite birthday gift ever?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Small Things That Make the World Better

Twitter is an interesting world.  Just last week, a professor/friend and I reconnected and he had linked to a fascinating article about some mysterious book/art/gifts that were turning up around Edinburgh, Scotland.  Here is an example:
I love this little guy!
You can read the whole story if you click here.

I mean, how cool is that?  Awesome book sculptures mysteriously left at places that value literacy. (Okay, so I have a tiny problem with the books being cut up--but it is a tiny problem.  The art that springs from the pages and the message from the artist is...well....I don't quite have the words, actually.)

What I do know is that when I see things like this, when I see someone doing something completely unexpected and beautiful, perhaps even anonymously, I am filled with hope for our world.

I know we all have our own ways of touching the lives of others.  Some (like the dragon maker) create art, some write poetry, some help children, some wipe tears away, some heal wounds, some make chocolate cupcakes. some plant trees and flowers...I could go on and on.

The important thing is that all of these little things make the world a better place.  Imagine if every person did one awesome, unexpectedly beautiful thing tomorrow...the world would be billions of times better in just one day!  (yeah, I know, my math is off, but you get the idea.)


Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Things You Find on the Internet...

So I was taking a quick break from revising (only 15 more pages to go...considered cutting them, but then the story just doesn't really end, and as much as I want to finish, I can't just whack off the culminating moment, now can I?) and so I was playing playing with google and look what I stumbled upon.

Yes.  Some completely humiliating photos taken whilst I was in Chicago this summer.  These are from my visit to Plainfield Public Library.  I found them on the flicker feed from plainfieldpubliclibrarydistrict.

Me and Oreo.  I kind of look more like a monkey than he does.

Look!  I am even putting myself to sleep!  What is up with that?

Forgot to feed the crown that morning so it ate my head.

Elvis the Alien and I look strangely like twins.  Ugh.
And what is the lesson, boys and girls?

I will tell you:  When you are supposed to be revising, do not surf the internet as a way to procrastinate or you, too, might stumble upon embarrassing photos.

(Actually, as goofy as I look, I am grateful to Plainfield for recording the event.  When I am presenting to kids, I can't take pictures, and usually I am so focused on getting ready for the show that I forget to hand my camera to someone else.  Thank you, Plainfield!)

And now my crown is hungry again.  Must go feed it before it eats my head.'s that revising thing I still have to finish.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Muse

This is my current muse--a Glen of Imaal terrier.  I have named this one ^ Mungo.  (Although I don't know what its real name is...but I have never seen a dog look so much like a Mungo in all my life.)

One part adorable + one part gruff + one part strong + one part stout = Mungo.

You know, sometimes at night before I go to sleep, I kind of wish I could live in my stories for a while.  Maybe I am just hopeful that the dream faerie will allow me to visit my story-land for a bit.  Usually by morning, theses fanciful thought have disappeared, gone with the last star.

However, I find myself wishing these days for a little terrier named Mungo....(and also wishing that if I did have one, he could also happen to shape-shift into an otter!)

What is your current muse?


Friday, September 9, 2011

Why Everyone Needs a Head Lamp

Yesterday all of the power went out.  I mean, really went out. No street lights, no nothing.

It was supposed to be Back-to-School Night at my school, but of course it had to be postponed.  So, when I finally got home (horrible traffic) I was trying to figure out what to do.


Not knowing how long the blackout might last, we ate pretzels from the pantry for dinner.  (Luckily the neighbors came through with campfires and smores and hotdogs for the kids.)

But I  have this miserable cold and just didn't feel like socializing. So my husband gave me his headlamp (for, of course, he is prepared for stuff like this.  Me?  I've got a plate of five tea light candles I'm carrying through the house.) And I got to sit and READ.

There were no revisions to work on.  No email to answer.  No paperwork on the computer to do because we were totally cut off!

It was a little bit lovely.


P.S.  This has nothing to do with anything, but I noticed this recently when I was reading TAKE CARE, GOOD KNIGHT to some kids.  Look...right THERE:
LOOK!  I am selling icecream to the Good Knight!!! There I am!  Right in the middle of my own book!
(I bet Paul didn't even know he put me there!)

Monday, September 5, 2011

So, How Many Times Do You Revise a Book?

I am talking about chapterbooks/novels right now, for picture books are a different kettle of revision fish for me. Anyway, this is kind of how my process goes:

Step 1:  Write a first draft.  (Not the easiest step, but my favorite.  Usually, there is no time limit or deadline unless it is self-imposed.  It can take a while to finish. For example, The Seven Tales of Trinket took 5-6 months to write--even though I started to try and write it in 2003 but the computer crashed and I figured the story must be cursed* so I did not attempt it again for several years)

Step 2:  Revise for clarity of story.  (This is my first revision and it is just for me.  This is when I try to decide if the story even makes sense, and if it doesn't, I've got my work cut out for me.  I usually try to finish a revision like this in a few weeks.  It is far more intense than a first draft, but easier in some ways, since the ground work is laid.)

Step 3: Revise for Chapter Breaks.  (I usually write the book as one giant lump, except in cases where there are natural breaks, as in Trinket where there were 7 tales which were already broken up.  This is the revisions where I am deciding where to break the chapters and how to frame them, and if framing the chapters is even necessary.)

Step 4: Revise based on Agent's Feedback.  (This might happen three times.  My agent, Jo, first works on the Big Ideas of the plot with me.  Then she might do a round of line edits or two, depending on how much sense I make as I revise.  For Trinket, we did three rounds.  None of the rounds were incredibly difficult, but each time we went a bit deeper until the story held together the way we envisioned it.  I am on my second revision for Jo for my book, Keelie of the Lake.)

Step 5:  Revise based on Editor's Feedback.  (This also might happen several times.  My editor, Beth, approaches revision in a similar manner to Jo, wherein they both look at Big Ideas of the plot first, then work they way down to sentence fluency/story consistency and the picky word choice edit is saved for last. For Trinket, we did about 3 rounds.  The book is in copyediting right now, so I suppose when I get it back that will be the 4th round.)

If you count all of those up-- 2 for me, 3 for Jo, 4 for Beth, that gives us 9 revisions. Sheesh!  That seems like a lot of versions of the same story.  The funny thing is, it doesn't really FEEL like a lot of revision.

It feels like getting closer and closer to the way the story is supposed to be.

How many revisions do you do?


*Truly, it was a good thing that those 80 pages were lost.  I can still see a few of them in my mind.  I was not a patient enough person to write the story back then and I think I would have botched it.  I know I did not have the strength of heart to revise 9 times back then, I can tell you that much!