Monday, December 28, 2009
Cuppa Jolie has gone a bit festive over the holidays. Cheers!
I hope every one's past week has been merry and bright.
We had a lovely Christmas here at Chez Cuppa, although we also experienced a loss. Gasper, my 9 year-old girlie's pet gerbil, died. Gasper was a lovely, little rodent. He really was. He was white and charming and friendly and never a problem--at least not until the last month or so.
Here's the thing, Gasper was a senior, well over his expected two years of age. He was showing NO signs of slowing down. In fact, just the opposite. In the past, this was a gerbil that stayed within his boundaries, never once trying to escape. We could even leave the top to his aquarium off and feel safe that he would stay put. It did have a lid that we kept on it, but we never took precautions to cover the gaping holes up top (a removed door and gerbil tube).
However, several weeks ago we discovered him standing on top of his cage, and noticed the picture frame hanging above it had been nibbled on, like he'd been getting out regularly to stand on top of his roof and take a look around, enjoying the view. Then, about a week later, he was loose and running around. Needless to say, his tank had to be reinforced. We were seriously surprised because he was so old for a gerbil. Then again surprised when I discovered his strategy. He wasn't climbing up his water bottle to get out. No, he was leaping. He could leap up and grab the edge of his tank, like a little super rodent.
So, we were very saddened when, the day before Christmas Eve, he slowed down. A lot. It was obvious that he was dying.
That Gasper had grown on me, darn it. Not only was I sad that I had two little girls who were broken-hearted, but I was sad myself.
Here's the part I didn't tell you. If you would have told me two and half years ago that I'd have a gerbil in my house, I would have told you NEVER. NEVER! An emphatic NOT EVER.
Let's just say a horrible-hamster experience as a child made me CERTAIN that a rodent-type pet would never be for my family. Nope. Wouldn't happen. I was certain of it. 100%-like!
But somehow two girls (crafty ones I might add...including a crafty daddy) convinced me to think about it, to just consider. They thought carefully about it and somehow I found myself at the pet store speaking to a knowledgeable person about gerbils. I still wasn't sure, but two brother gerbils (Gasper and Niblet) came to live with us.
And those fuzzy, little fellas won my heart. They weren't stinky (usually) or naughty or violent (like those horrible hamster bros). Unfortunately, we lost Niblet before his first birthday (too soon), but Gasper stayed with us for a full-gerbil life.
And we will (I will) miss him.
What is something your character was certain of, but then later (and probably very unexpectedly) changed there mind about?
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Jenn, graphic designer and professional blogger (and so much more), will be presenting three break-out sessions at the upcoming 11th SCBWI Conference in NYC.
We both donned our festive caps, grabbed a cuppa something, and sat down for a long winter's chat.
Here our transcript!
Monday, December 21, 2009
A GOLDEN MOMENT.
And no, it's not Olympic thing (but a medal would be fun!).
It's 50 Monday Moments!
Not a Monday missed.
And I so appreciate you all coming back Monday after Monday to see what you might get out of it, whether it be getting to know your characters better or having a good giggle (it's okay, I'm fine being laughed at, when appropriate).
You know, when I started this all, I wasn't sure it fly, if people would get anything out of it, or if I'd want to keep it up. But I've been pleasantly surprised. I've always felt that if it seemed even just a few people were getting something out the Moments, I'd keep on keepin' on. You all have blown my expectations out of the water. It's been a real treat to share with you each Monday.
So, fifty is a milestone. And here's to fifty more.
What's an important milestone for you character?
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Jump over to Lee Wind's for an exclusive interview with Laurent Linn. (Honestly, he's one of the nicest and coolest guys in the business! Oh yeah, and he's an Art Director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Reader.)
And set your schedules for a live twitterview I'll be doing with Jennifer Bailey, Graphic Designer and Professional Blogger, on Tuesday, December 21 at 1:00 pm pac time via Twitter (use #scbwi). Should be fun!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
'Tis the season to be jolly
Fa La La La La La La La La
Ah, 'tis the season for carolling. What a joyous, lovely thing.
At least not for me.
But hold on. I'm not going all bah-humbug on you, it's just that, as much as I like listening to holiday tunes, I don't want to sing them. (Please don't make me!)
I have singing issues. There you go. I said it. Fully admit it. I don't know where they come from, but I almost don't remember a time I didn't hate to sing in public. It's truly cringe-worthy for me.
Even Happy Birthday. The only time I ever really belt it out is for my daughters, even then, I'm like, UHG, that's going to be on video.
So, when last week's school concert started with a sing-a-long, well, I'm sure you can imagine how I felt about that. As almost all other parents joyful belted out the holiday fa-la-las, I sat and smiled or whispered in the ear of my youngest. If I would have sung along, I'm sure I'd be mouthing the words.
What is a cringe-worthy activity for your character?
Thursday, December 10, 2009
You can also find photos of the cookies which took home the prize for most-creative cookie. Not only were they beautiful, but they were yummy. Thanks for sharing, Lida! Go and look! And, Lida mentioned she'd soon post the recipe.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Singing in the Freezin' Cold Weather: One Seattle Writer Talks About How to Defrost Your Vocal Chords
Wow, is it cold in Seattle right now. I so appreciate everyone who came out last night, braving the cold weather and slick roads. (Sometimes it hard to believe I grew up in Montana. I'm such a wimp about the cold.)
I must say, once inside it was festive and yummy. There were cookies and books and friends galore. And I got to judge the cookie contest. Yum! And, oh my aching gut. But I'm still dreaming about the winner which some sort of awful yumminess in the form of a gingersnapish whoopie pie. Oh my!
Now I'm coming down from the night, back at home, typing this little post to you, while I munch on popcorn and Junior Mints. Yes, that's the truth, popcorn and JMs.
Just a brief report on the evening, however I plan to do several post related to my talk in the near future (very near, promise).
The evening kicked off the two fantastic YA authors, Lisa Schroeder and Liz Gallagher. So great to hear about their journeys. They were both warm and charming and full of good knowledge.
So, as many of you know, I posted yesterday about the fact that I was speaking and that I was tad nervous about what I had planned in regard to my use of technology and music. But, I went through all the step to be prepared: the room was checked for my needs beforehand, I arrived earlier in the day to test everything with tech people on-hand, and joy of joys...it all worked wonderfully. Whee!
Okay, backing up even more. My day hadn't been going so great. No need to elaborate, things just not going my way. Once I got to SPU and tested everything and saw it worked flawlessly, I was certain it was all turning around for me. I was ready for a great night and a fun, informative (I hoped) talk. I even called my hubby, who knew I was worried about it all, and let him know everything was on point. Woot!
Then off to dinner with one of my dearest friends, Sara, who later introduced me before my talk: the nicest introduction a girl could ask for. AND, it was mentioned that Sara postponed having her baby (you can come out now, little one) just so she could be there to intro me and hear my talk. What a friend! And she truly is.
So there I am, starting my talk (a little on the late side and feeling a bit like I need rush and skip over some things) and then WHAT? WHAT IN THE WORLD? The power point suddenly does not fit the screen at all. The top 30% of the slide was cut off. Ugh. But, we all powered through, and I was relieved I still had my sound. But I felt a little muddled and not on top of my game. That said, everyone there was a wonderful audience and it was a pleasure.
I've heard from many today with the most lovely words. Some of my favorites: that the talk was original and an out-of-the-box way to think about voice. That totally makes my day. Plus, the many who mentioned it sparked an idea for them. Gotta love that.
Because of the time crunch, I missed saying some of the things I'd hoped to and we didn't get to do the writing exercise that I had planned for the end. People ask if I could still share, so hopefully soon (with a little help from my techie Jaime friend) we'll get it up on Cuppa Jolie.
I also plan to do a post or two about the talk, as well as post my talk playlist. That will be fun. Yes?
Thanks again for all of your support. This community of writers is truly a gift in my life.
NOW, why didn't I take any pictures? Sheesh.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Here's the blurb...
SINGING IN THE RAIN: ONE SEATTLE WRITER TALKS ABOUT HOW TO TUNE YOUR VOICE, with Jolie Stekly. We hear it over and over from editors and agents, “I’m looking for a strong voice.” And not only that, but “I know it when I see it.” But what does that mean? How do you know you have it? And how can you make yours stronger? In this interactive and rollicking session, Jolie will use music to define and discuss what voice is, and how to tap more clearly into yours so that you can make your writing sing and strike a chord with readers. Come prepared to warm and stretch your own vocal abilities, but Jolie promises she won’t make anyone stand up and belt out a tune.
And I follow this amazing trio:
THE ABCs OF CRAFTING A CAREER IN YA, with Lisa Schroeder, Liz Gallagher, and Jen Bradbury. Lisa, Liz, and Jen share their journey on writing successful YA, focusing on the importance of craft, wisdom about agents and editors, and the differences between a commercial and literary approach. Lisa is the author of FAR FROM YOU and I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME; Liz is the author of THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE; and Jen is the author of SHIFT.
You can find us here:
Our Professional Series Meetings take place at Seattle Pacific University - Demaray Hall, Room 150. Registration at 6:45 p.m., program at 7:00 p.m. Get Map and Directions here. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month. To see the complete meeting line-up, please visit our Monthly Meetings page.
I hope I see some of you there!
I have made this as complicated for myself as possible: adding in technology and music. Crossing my fingers it all goes as planned and that my tongue and brain cooperate.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Last week I attended a holiday, school concert. There's almost nothing cuter than a group of 6 to 8 year olds singing, except when one of their two-year old, little sisters dances with joy in front of the stage to every song. *melting* Too sweet.
Two classes of fourth graders followed my daughter's group. As a writer, observing kids is always fascinating, and this age of children in a concert setting didn't disappoint. It's such a mix of size and shape and style.
There was one particular girl who stood out that evening (to me, at least). She obviously had some color in her hair, wore a bit of makeup, dressed in a black dress, and wore heels. While most of the kids, the girls in particular, still looked much like kids, she looked a bit grown up...too grown up for me. That said, I'm sure as she got ready and arrived to her concert, she felt pretty and grown up. I could see it in the way she smiled and stood tall. But, it made me feel a bit sad.
A few songs into her concert, the piano accompaniment started the intro of a new song and one child belted out a note too soon. I'm sure you can guess which child it was. Of course, she was sandwiched between two boys: one in his jeans and t-shirt spending much time being silly, and a kid in his jacket and glasses looking smart, in more ways than one. Both boys sent whispers her way after her goof. I knew the smile on her face was now one meant to disguise the embarrassment she was feeling, she was laughing it off.
But then an even bigger embarassment: those heels got the best of her! Down she went, from her spot on the top riser, right into the person in front of her. I can not even begin to tell you how this pained me. She'd already been embarrassed once, but now she had to stand herself back up between those two boys, who again sent whispers her way. Another smile was on her face, but I had a view of her from top to bottom. That smile up top was forced into place and her feet...well, let's just say she shrunk about two inches as she rolled onto the sides of feet until, I'm sure, her ankles could not take it another minute and she had to stand back up on those heels. All the while she continued singing as she swiped tears away from her eyes.
I so felt for her.
When did your character go from feeling their best to feeling their worst?
Thursday, December 3, 2009
And you can the Official Conference Blog HERE.
Monday, November 30, 2009
On Saturday my family went to the theater to see Fantastic Mr. Fox. We smuggled in our little baggies of popcorn and our ginormous boxes of store bought candies. This has nothing to do with the story, but I've decided to confess my cinematic sins right here and now. (Although I did purchase a large soda to share with the girls. For $5.75 I might add. Plenty spent there!)
As we waited for it to get rolling, a family sat next to mine. The mom, with a toddler on her lap, leaned over and said, "This is his first time in the movie theater." I'd guess the boy on her lap was three-ish. As the movie played he was wonderfully quiet (you never know with a little one). But at one point in the movie, Ash gets out of his bed and runs his toy train. That's when the little boy next to us shouted out, "Train! Train! Train!" It was obvious he was thrilled by it. It was sweet.
It got me reminiscing about my little ones' first movie theater experiences. Especially my youngest who had two very funny outbursts. Even though we have told the story once, twice, and even three times, it had to be told again.
My youngest was two. In one scene, Shrek and Fiona are staying at her parents' castle and are getting out of bed. When Shrek emerges from under the covers, he is in his boxer shorts that happen to be, well, let's say in pretty bad shape. At this image our girlie says in her two-year-old volume (that would be shouting out for the whole theater to enjoy), "Look, Daddy, Shrek has underwear just like you." And yes, there was laughter. (However, please don't think my hubby wears ogre-like undies.)
March of the Penguins
Our youngest was three for this one. But as Morgan Freeman delivered that wonderful opening narration, he made a statement that threw our girlie for a loop and she was sure to share with everyone in attendance. I might not get the words exactly right, but he said something about how the film was about love. As soon as our girlie heard that, she said, "Love? Love? I thought this movie was going to be about penguins."
Now we, as her parents, must retell these theater stories each and every time they come to mind because it delights us. However, it may not delight her.
What story is brought up over and over about your character and how do they feel about it?
Monday, November 23, 2009
"That's not fair!"
Really, can anything ever really be fair?
But if I had a quarter for each time that phrase is utter in my house, I'd be loaded. Oh, yeah! That's right. We now have a fine jar and a quarter must go in each time it's said (even by the grown ups). Too bad it works so darn good or I would be rolling in the coinage. Instead, they figure out other ways to complain about it.
With two daughters, only a couple years apart, it's amazing how much is compared. All. The. Time. Really, everything's compared: the soda level in their cups, the size of the rice krispy treat, even the size (or parts) of an english muffin. I mean, really! The other day, my youngest swore I gave her big sister the two fat halves (you know how there's always a skinny side and a fat side) of the muffin. oy
Do you sense a food theme here? However, it's not just about food. My youngest was upset the other day because her older sister gets to earn points to get a "prize" at the orthodontist. IT'S NOT FAIR! Right? Because the youngest doesn't go to the orthodontist, at least not yet. sheesh
There's this constant comparison and measuring and jealousy. But really, I think this happens at all ages, in different ways (even for us grown-ups), we all just handle it differently.
How about for you character? What do they think "isn't fair" and how do they react to it?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
I've been B.A.D.!
Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but I was certainly bad for me. Just not making the wisest of choices. And yes, I'm calling myself out on it.
Last night Derek and I were invited to a cocktail party. It's not often we get out, so these sorts of things are exciting. And it was going to be my kind of night: a nice gathering of friends from 5:00 to 8:00. Okay, so what? I've never been a all-night sort of partier. Come to think of it, I've never been much of a partier at all, especially when it comes to cocktails.
Don't get me wrong. I love a glass of wine or a tasty, grown-up beverage, but not one after another. I actually hate the after-effects of too many drinks, and typically, I'm very careful to avoid such a thing.
You see where this going, yeah?
But wait, there's even more to the story. So, I went to the cocktail party, all the while knowing I was teaching a Bodystep class the next morning. But no problem, I thought. It wasn't going to be a late night and I'd only have a drink. Right?
There were YUMMY drinks. Three cocktails, to be exact: gin and tonic, blueberry cosmo, and a basil martini.
Okay, yeah. I drank one of each. Yes I did. And yes...I do know I am a light weight. Totally! Plus, I think those cocktails were on the strong side. (Can you say bad choice?)
I did make it home early (before 9:30, sort of embarrassing) but man, all of sudden the impact of those three cocktails was taking over.
I drank water and more water, took some Advil, and had even more water. But when I woke up in the middle of the night still feeling the full effects...well, I started to worry. What was I thinking? Because, really, no matter what, I knew I had to teach Bodystep in a matter of hours with all it's up-down, jumping around, and making you feel like you could hurl--on a GOOD day.
Morning came faster than I would have liked. I drank my coffee, ate some toast, and it was time to head on my way.
There are consequences to our choices, friends! Like having to step outside and puke in between songs through the class. No, no, no...that last sentence was all fiction. BUT if I were writing about this stupid choice for a character, FOR SURE she'd end up ralphing out the back door and trying to hide it. She'd be miserable.
Luckily, I made it through just fine. Hard? Yes. But it always is, yet still fun.
What choice(s) does your character make even though they know it may (or will) have a bad result?
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Where does your main character find escape or wish they could go to get away?
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
A lady of the 40's.
"Why, honey, can I get you a something to drink before a I pull a hot meal from the oven?"
And, how about these cool family creations? The first is the haunted gingerbread house my entire family made for a school project with the girls (it took about three weeks). And the feather hair clip I wore was made by my sister-in-law. She makes the cutest stuff for kids and adults called HairCandy. You can find her on Etsy HERE.
Monday, November 2, 2009
(I promise I will tell you all about Halloween soon. Pictures included.)
Firsts can often be really, really hard, challenging, scary, yet exciting.
Think of all the firsts there are in life: kiss, taste, flight, child...the list goes on and on.
And, it's funny how we can put off firsts, sometimes too long, because we fear an outcome or we're just not sure about whatever the first may be.
My family struggled with a first this past week: our puppy's first fur cut. It sort of felt like a parent needing to cut their child's hair for the first time. It can be so hard, like it will change something about them, like it's something you have to protect.
I can still recall when I was around ten years old and on vacation with my aunt and uncle. My cousin was just a little over the age of one and they'd yet to cut his hair. But as we travelled about, people continually commented on cute "she" was. Well, that tipped them over the edge. His first haircut happened during that vacation.
We've hesitated clipping Luna's fur because it's so pretty and soft and lovely (I know she looks a bit straggly above, but she's really beautiful). However, her fur had become impossible and started matting in an instant. And as much as the entire family moaned and groaned, it had to be done.
And done it was.
Then what happened?
Well, pretty much what happens with most firsts. Hey, that wasn't so bad. Actually, I kind of like it. Or, man...that was worth it.
How about your character? What is a first they experience? And what is it that pushes them to their first?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
*slams on brakes*
Let me explain.
Between sitting at my computer for hours and hours, and the time I put in in the gym, I end up with screaming sore shoulders; so sore and tight they give me tension headaches. As much as I think about getting a massage, I rarely do it.
Moral to the story, make sure you stretch those chest muscles.
Monday, October 26, 2009
A big weekend ahead, friends! Are you all set? Made all your plans? Do you have your costume(s) in place?
Is it just me or does Halloween on a Saturday change the whole holiday? It has for me. It seems there are more parties (lots more parties) which increases the pressure to dress the part. The focus is usually on the girlies, but this year it's on the whole fam.
Our Halloween costume experience has been ALL OVER THE PLACE.
First, we thought we were set. We were inspired by another family who was going as a family of vampires. Great. Let's be a family theme. Even my parents were game. We had a plan. Alice in Wonderland. We thought it would be fab, and it would have been if it was easier to pull all those costumes together. The worst was trying to find an Alice costume for my seven-year old. I mean, really! Have you seen the costumes for little girls lately. Horrible. And inappropriate.
As Alice in Wonderland fell right down the rabbit hole, my 9 year-old girlie went back to her plan A: be a zombie! Which meant my 7 year-old girlie went back to her plan A: be what big sister is planning on being.
That left hubby and I with NO plan at all.
But then I had several thoughts, all for different reasons.
Since plan A...
...is toast, that means I could go with:
Yes! I'm serious.
(I found this cute little number HERE!)
Friday, October 23, 2009
If you want all the deets about the upcoming SCBWI winter conference, now's the time to check it out and to start making your plans. The schedule, and all other pertinent info, is posted right HERE for you perusal (a perfect pairing with your morning cuppa!).
Brochures will hit your mailboxes soon, but take note of the registration date above (October 28th at 10 AM PST). I hope you'll put it on your calendar, and set your alarm, so that you can have your fingers positioned above the keyboard to get the registration done in time to not miss a thing! Do it now if you like, I'll wait...
I'm your friend, yes? And I wouldn't steer you wrong. The main conference (Saturday and Sunday) is preceded by a day of intensives that are NOT to be missed. I can tell you, from experience, that the intensive are so worth it BUT the spots get gobbled up. * So, if you plan to be part of the writer or illustrator intensives, then be ready to jump on registration (which will mean I'll see YOU there!).
SCBWI Team Blog, that's what! We'll be hard at work, once again, and we can't wait to bring the SCBWI community live blog posts and tweets from the conference floor (plus provide you special insider goodies). *happy cuppa*
So, did you check it out already? I hope so, 'cause if not, I'm going to spill some beans. Like the fact that Libby Bray (Libby Freakin' Bray, friends!) is keynoting! You've got to go just for that reason alone! It will be both great and terrible, right? Great if your there, terrible if you miss it. (sorry, couldn't help myself) Who else? My agent, that's who. The super fab Rosemary Stimola. Yay! Plus, so MANY more: much more than you will see on the faculty list, because so many editors, publishers, art directors, etc. are there since we'll be on their turf. That's part of the specialness of a conference in NYC. Love it!
*A note about the intensive: They really are a great opportunity. You may have the same reaction I did two years ago when I attended. Whoa! An extra $175-$225. That's a lot of moola. But when I said those words to my hubby, he said, "Hey, you're going to be there. You should do it. Don't pass up the opportunity." And even though the $dollars$ were a tight, I did. That particular intensive kicked off my journey, no doubt. But I will say, especially for writers, the key is to have a submission-ready piece to share.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Ah, shucks. Thanks for asking. You're such a good friend.
Let me answer in pictures...
Am I missing them or eating them?
Sniffing cupcakes or snarfing them up?
The threat of losing my coffee and sweets for a week was plenty threat for me.
I was craaawling along. Paaaiiinful. I have to say, it was more than the threat of no coffee and no sweets for a week that got my outlinin' rear in gear. I had to give myself permission to be messy, to just do it, no matter the results.
Would I want someone to read it as it is now? NO. But that's easy enough. It just has to cleaned up. No biggie. And really, I'm almost done with that part, too. ZING.
What did I consume to celebrate?
My favorite fruit is finally back in stores.
I heart you, pomegranate.
I can eat them breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!
But hey, how about you? Does it help you to give yourself permission to be messy?