Thursday, January 29, 2009

Big Apple Dreamin'?

Are you wishing you were in New York City? Gearing up for the SCBWI conference? Ready to network and party with the who’s who of the children’s publishing industry? Prepared to wear a great outfit each and every day, shoes included?

If that’s your wish…it’s come true. In the form of one Ms. Alice Pope. Alice is the official SCBWI conference blogger. Really! I think this is a first and such a great idea. Follow her HERE!

I will be.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Moment #3


We all experience pain in many ways for various reasons. I seem to have been in a lot of it lately, especially this weekend. (Skip to the next paragraph if you wish to avoid a bunch of whining ala moi.) I have been dealing with a sinus headache, non-stop, for 2 weeks now. I’ve about had it! Then I made the bright move of trying to pick up my 55 pound child—and not in a good, safe way. I was sitting on the couch twisting sideways to lift her from where she sat next to me. Uhg! Not smart. Backache…headache…but still writing (not saying I’ve been doing it well). But that’s love, when you persevere through the pain.

Okay, whining’s over…and after all of that, it’s not the story of where the thought for the next prompt came from, but it did seem appropriate, as I looked through my list of choices (yes, I keep a list of these).

I don’t think my love of a hard workout is secret. And I’ve shared with you that I’m now a Bodypump instructor, and I am loving it. I loved going through the intense training. And recently I loved the day I taught two classes in one day. It was an exciting challenge to me, even though I knew it would be difficult. And it was…and there was pain…but I loved it. I figured that I did squats for about 20 minutes, with approximately 40 pounds on my back, in that one day. Was I sore the next day? Sure was! But that night, I thought, you have to love doing something in order to work through the parts that hurt that much. And I believe a really hard workout is a whole lot like writing. I do both, even though, at times, it hurts. A lot.

What will your character do until it hurts?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Should Not Be Posting Right Now

I shouldn't!

I have too much to do. But I can't help it.

I need to have strong beginning pages and an outline prepared for my WIP--work I’ve yet to share with anyone. Eek!

Do your new projects ever scare the crap out of you? like your idea and you're just hoping others will too? And pulling it off feels a little intimidating? (Please tell me yes and I'll feel lots better.)

I like my title. I like the idea. Now I’m afraid and hopeful of the verdict that will come back when I share it. First, I'll send it to my critique group. Then a couple other trusted writer friends. Deep breath...Cross my fingers and hope that what I’m trying to do is working for them and that they want to see more.

But...onto other things...
I'm excited for tomorrow. Not because I'll post Monday Moment #3. But the BIG award announcements are made by ALA. I love reading through the list of winners over and over again, and then I realize how much I've yet to read. sigh

Two years ago, I had the honor and pleasure of attending when Midwinter was held in Seattle. It was SCBWI's first time at ALA and we had a great time featuring local writers and illustrators in our booth, all the while looking forward to Monday morning's big announcements. I stayed with Sara for the weekend and I'll never forget our drive to the Convention Center. We were giddy girls, anticipating the excitement of it all. (I'm certain we squealed.)
It started with everyone lining up outside the ballroom, of course we got there early!

But look how far back in line we were. You should have seen how many people were behind us. (And yes, I know I look tired, because I totally was. It was a long weekend and very early in the morning.)

When the doors finally opened we got ourselves some great seats and we waited. The energy in the room was wonderful and by the time the announcements began, people were sitting on the floor.

Here I am, sitting with Meg Lippert and Sara Easterly. Later, Laura Kvasnosky slipped in and sat with us, too.

The announcements began and it was great fun to hear the room explode in cheer for the books people loved. But it became most exciting for us as the Theodor Suess Geisel Beginning Reader Award was announced and it went to Laura Kvasnosky's Zelda and Ivy: The Runaways, and she was sitting right there with us. Yahoo! Then...THEN we got to scream and whoop for Kirby Larson when Hattie Big Sky received a Newbery Honor. YES!

Here's a group of us later, gathered around Kirby, so happy to celebrate with her.

Then, immediately after, Laura was at the SCBWI booth, being interviewed and surrounded by people who were thrilled for her.

A wonderful weekend that I'm so happy I was able to be part of.

Tomorrow, others will get to experience the same in Denver, CO. The cool thing for those of us who aren't in Denver, we have the opportunity to sort-of be there. There will be a webcast starting tomorrow morning at 6:45 a.m. (pacific time) HERE. I know I'll be watching.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Letter of Apology

Dear Person (who should be) sitting to my left at this year’s SCBWI Intensive:

I apologize I can’t be there. That I can’t sit by your side, your right side, during this year’s Intensives. I attended the first. I attended the second. Both were a great experience, and you shouldn’t miss it for the world. But both times, the person to my left, hit the big time in our writerly world—you know, with one of those elusive book contracts (oh yah, and an agent).

In 2007, an adorable woman sat to my left and shared the first 500 words of ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER (May 2009). I loved her writing and we hit it off, even in such a strange and stressful situation. Ann Leal Haywood and I bumped into each other constantly over the weekend and struck up a friendship. We then realized we had an enormous (scary enormous) amount in common. Like the fact that we were both teachers. And that we both used to teach in the same school district. And that we student taught at the same school. And that we student taught the same grade WITH the same mentor teacher. Crazy, huh? Talk about small world. Well, I knew that Ann was going places, so when I saw in Publishers Lunch that she sold her book, the same one I heard at the Intensive, I did a little dance for her. Really, I did.

In 2008, another adorable woman sat to my left. I read first. It went well. Very well. Liz Szabla (Feiwel and Friends) was the editor leading our table. She asked if she could keep my writing sample. My time was over (phew!) and ended on a great note (yay!), so I sat back and relaxed, listening to the others. Jill Alexander, sitting to my left, was next. She read the first 500 words of her novel THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTRY (titled something different at the time) and I knew I had another star sitting to my left. AGAIN. Two years in a row. After that first session, I told Jill that I had no doubt things would happen for her and that she was sitting in a good spot. Literally, it was the spot to my left, the lucky spot. Sure enough, Jill met her agent later that day and sold her manuscript to Feiwel and Friends. Watch for her book to hit shelves this fall.

Okay, person-who-should-be-sitting-to-my-left this year. I know it’s not me, but this has been fun. And I really, really wish that I was meeting you this year. Both of these wonderful woman have stayed in touch and had faith that I would get there, too. And I am getting there. Because of last year’s Intensives, specifically Liz Szabla, I now have a complete manuscript and have signed with Stimola Literary Studio.

So to the person who should be sitting to my left in 2009, I’m so very sorry I can’t be your right-hand-good-luck charm. But GO and ENJOY. SCBWI conferences are amazing events, filled with possibilities. And when you’re there, take a breath and don’t be afraid to chat with your fellow writers and illustrators. You never know who might be sitting to your right (or left!).


PS. Go read Jill’s latest blog (a new blog!) post about last year’s intensive and read about the other super-cool writer Kristin O’Donnell Tubbs who was sitting at our table, too.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Monday Moment #2

Something a little new was started here a week ago. A new weekly feature--Monday Moments. You can check the first post out HERE.

Monday Moments are a chance for you to see some of the randomness that happens in my brain and with my writing. I've never been particularly fond of in-depth character profiles, where you answer question after question. But thinking about character and story as life happens around me is something I do often--no, all the time. Even strange, little quirks, like...

Monday Moment #2

So, I told you I would always let you know how the idea for the Monday Moment prompt came about. With this one, I sort of can and sort of can't. The other day, some thought or memory (that's the thing I can't remember...what was I thinking about?) came to me about something that makes me crazy. I don't mean in a major-worldly-issue way, but in a bizarre way that makes me cringe, or as I say, gives me the oogies (like for many, nails on a chalkboard).

For me, a nails-on-the-chalkboard moment, is eating out of Styrofoam (especially when the utensil has to scrape it). It's the scraping of the Styrofoam that gives me the oogies. I also hate eating off a wooden spoon. So you can imagine how much I love those little cups of ice cream that come with the flat wooden spoon. Together they equal major ooginess! I hate even thinking about it. OOG!

How about your main character... What's their nails-on-the-chalkboard? What gives them the oogies, making them want to shiver out of their skin?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Two Talents...Feed Your Genius...Twilight Theft

I went to The Vault today to attend the Jesse Watson and Patrick Jennings event. Art, books, coffee, cool people...what could be better?

I'll tell you what?
If I would have remember my CAMERA! No, no...I did remember my camera, but it had NO batteries in it. Smart, huh? So now you can't see Patrick in action, captivating kids with lies. (No kidding. He even said that he lies to kids and gets paid for it.) Nor will you see Jesse on display with his kickin' art (and hair). And there is even more art there than I had realized! I never walk into the bank seating area, Jesse's art is there, too (and in offices).

Patrick will be speaking at the upcoming SCBWI Western Washington conference--registration is underway. This is a conference NOT to be missed. Just ask Betsy Bird if you don't believe me. Actually, you don't have to ask because she said it right HERE on her blog. Plus, if you go, you can chat with me, because I'll actually have a time to chat since I won't be running the thing. If these few sentences can't convince you to go, well then, you can't argue with the conference poster. Us Creative Creatures must FEED OUR GENIUS!

Come on!

All the coolest creatures will be there!

Now, upsetting news to report: There has been a Twilight robbery in Forks. I know! I couln't believe it either, but it made the nightly news. Someone stole the gas cap off of Bella's "staged" truck in Forks. I can't help but wonder, where/ how do you display that little memento if your the one that stole it? You can read about it HERE.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I just returned from an elementary school band/orchestra/choir concert.

Oh, my middle grade writing friends, get thee to a concert just to watch and witness 8-11 years olds in action.

My eight-year-old girlie was part of the choir, where the height of the kids varies by about 2 feet--maybe more. She was supposed to dress dressy and festive (red or green). Black velvet skirt (check), pink/blue argyle tights (uh, check), orange top (uh...), green polka dot rain boots (whoops). She was BEAUTIFUL.

The voices were sweet.

The strings in the orchestra--tender and new.

Then there was the band...oh, the band...well...the band was...uh....

The band was loud and chaotic and clumsy. In other words, they were FANTASTIC. The band made me smile and laugh because it was so good and so bad all at once. Weeee!

When it got back to the choir, three soloists were featured. Can you imagine being 9 years old and singing in front of a packed house. Impressive!

Each of the the three young girls took their turn at the mike, singing so soft and so sweet and so pretty.

Except for the, "Hack...Hack...Hack."

"Uh, excuse me, lady. I can't hear my kid sing over all that coughing."

Of course that lady was me. Well, okay, maybe no one said that. But I've been battling a cold for the last three days, and as these sweet, soft voices started to sing, I began a horrid coughing fit. HOR-RID! I tried so, so, so hard to stop it. To cough soft. To swallow. Until tears were pouring down my cheeks and air was ready to explode from my lungs. I had to fight my way down packed bleachers, all the way across the gymnasium, into the hall, where I ran for the bathroom because the coughs were so loud and hard and wouldn't stop. I mean, mamas, it was a cross-your-legs kind of coughing. You know the kind.
Hoping my head clears enough and the coughs quiet enough to write tomorrow.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Moments: Prompts for our Works-in-Progress

At the end of last week, I dangled a carrot. (Yah, go ahead and call me a tease.) I told you to come back on Monday for a new Cuppa Jolie feature.

And here you are! So, here it goes.

Not too long ago, after one of my big holiday-eating binges, I wrote a post about traditions. I mentioned that often events and situations in my life make me think about my characters. Often, when I do, the thoughts (or writings) have brought about great scenes or details that make my writing/character stronger.

I'd love to start sharing these thoughts that turn to prompts with you each Monday (just like in the tradition post). Perhaps, I'm doing this for myself, but I'm hoping you'll come along for the ride.

Now introducing...
The Monday Moments image was illustrated by my eight-year-old girlie. Thank, Sweet Girl.

Each Monday I'll give you a bit of the background as to what brought about the particular thought, present a free-write prompt, and then we all just go for it. Yes? Yes! What would be fantastic is if you all share if you used it (or plan to), or even better if you post what came of it (the actual writing or how it went). I'm not sure I'll ever be brave enough to post the actual writing, but some of you may be (I hope).

Here's to what I hope is many Monday Moments with you!

Now to kick it off...

This week I had critique group. I LOVE critique group. Not only does this talented group of writers give me great feedback, but we have a great time sharing and chatting about reading, writing, and life. I'm not sure what took us to this particular subject, but a fellow critique group member told us a story about herself as a child reader.

Marion loved the library and books. She could only check out a few books at a time, but she got to know her librarian, and, more importantly, her librarian got to know her. Eventually she could check out as many books as she wanted and her librarian would have suggestions for her (the best kind of librarian).

Marion had a favorite reading spot--her bed. But she would always read with her feet at her pillows and her head facing the foot, all propped up on her elbows, lost in her books. She read so much and so often that she wore faded circles into her bedspreads (the reason they had to be replaced) where her elbows rested.

Don't you love that? Can't you just picture the faded, thread-bare circles surrounded by a pretty girlish fabric?

So here's the first prompt. What "mark" has your character made in their room (or other personal/important space) that speaks volumes about who they are?

My hope is that you'll take the prompt, let yourself free write (even if it's just five minutes...those five can turn into 30), and see where it takes you in hopes that a new tidbit will be revealed about your character or story. Let me know.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Moonbows...Vault Event...Dangling a Carrot

So, I'm on my way home tonight, it was early evening, the moon was bright (almost full), and I noticed there was a rainbow around it. It completely encircled the moon, which was covered by the thinnest layer of clouds. I love spotting cool things that like, those times when nature makes you stop and think, "Man, this world is pretty dang amazing."

Of course, I had to google it when I got home and I came of with THIS: a moonbow. Actually after looking around a bit more, I believe this type is called a moon corona.

Was there any point in me telling you this? Not really...just felt like it, and wanted to share. There...done.

Switching subjects, there's now an official date: Jesse Watson and Patrick Jennings will have their signing/reading/art show at The Vault in Port Townsend on January 17th at 2:00. If you're near Port Townsend or need an excuse to visit this cool, little town, then this is the perfect reason.

And now for a carrot dangler (with this group it should be a candy carrot, since I know we're all fond of sweets)...

On Monday I plan to introduce a new feature (a weekly feature at that) to the Cuppa Jolie blog. I'm looking forward to it and hope it's something you'll enjoy, too.
So, you'll have to come back on Monday to see what I'm up to. (And hopefully, I haven't just built it all up so that when you actually do come back you'll be like, That? That's was the carrot dangler?)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Power Through...A Lass is Lassoed by Licorice...and a 30 Day Challenge

I'm powering through. I am. That's this year's theme for me.

HipWriterMama has me busy...and thinking...and challenged!

My first reaction--Power Through!

And I don't mean that in a muscle through life without thought kind of way. I want to power through with all my heart, energy, and passion. Giving "it" all I've got.

Power Through

-creating great family time
-new writing projects
-office hours
-my workouts
-finally getting around to announcing the La La winner (oh, good idea!)

At long last I will name the La La winner! Drum roll, please!
Congrats to Miss Martha Brockenbrough.

All right, everyone. I thought those who posted their results did fan-flippin'-tastic. I mean really, what a productive December (even for those of us who had to make the leap by choosing to take a step back).

So, sometime soon I'll post the actual awarding of the Licorice Lasso (when I figure out the when, where, and how). It's sure to be a swirlin', twirlin' good time.

Need a new push? I'm always looking for one. Try HipWriterMama's 30 Day Challenge (told ya she was keep me busy, thinking, and challenged!).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Port Townsend Talents...Jesse Watson and Patrick Jennings

Back at The Vault. Day Two. It's been such a long time, two days in a row feels, well, I guess...special.

As are the pictures of Jesse Watson's art hanging on the wall at The Vault.

It's hard to see in the above photo, but there are three more on the far back wall. Eleven faces total. Here's more.

It's as if all those eyes are on me, motivating me to get to work, or at least keeping me accountable. That's what I've asked them to do.

Jesse's show is titled MUGSHOTS and can also be seen in this youtube video.

Jesse and fellow Port Townsend talent Patrick Jennings will be having an event right here at The Vault (I'll let you know the date when it's official) to celebrate Jesse's show and Patrick's new book WE CAN'T ALL BE RATTLESNAKES (in stores today!). Patrick will also be a speaker at this year's SCBWI Western Washington conference.

Today it was Patrick I had the pleasure of bumping into at The Vault. What a cool town, eh? One day it's Jesse, the next Patrick. Who will it be tomorrow?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to It!

Wow, has it been forevah or what?
It feels great to be back at The Vault. I’d like to say it’s good to be back at The Vault WORKING, but that’s not exactly happening, at least not today. There’s a sort of settling back in that needs to happen after a break. A reorganization. A cleaning up. A clearing of the mind. A getting refocused.

But as I walked back into The Vault, it was nice to see the same friendly faces. Plus, amazing new artwork from Jesse Watson. I’ll bring my camera tomorrow and take some pictures. I think his work is going to help inspire me this month, help to push me through the work that needs to be done.

For now, I’m catching up on blogs, Facebook, email filing and deletion, and I need to figure out this Twitter business. Because when you’ve got a few people who are following you on Twitter and you don’t actually post anything on Twitter, then one should probably figure it out. Yes?

But next, I’m off to the library to do some research for a new project I’m working on with Sara. I mean, now that we’ve taken off our SCBWI regional advisor hats, we can’t actually stop working on something together. I mean, really! Hopefully the project will come out of the hibernation phase soon so I can tell you all about it.

Oh, and I haven't forgotten about awarding the Licorice Lasso. Coming soon...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Additions to the 2009 Hopes and Wishes List

So, last night I took the leap (my extra second did go to the kiss at midnight) and 2009 is already rolling! Rolling fast. There's already not enough time in the day to get it all done. What's up with that?

The girlies are back to school on Monday, which means I'm finally back to Office Hours (phew!), but until then, my days are packed. Packed!
My family started off the New Year with getting our hopes and wishes for 2009 down on paper (oh, and by eating steak, garlic mashed potatoes, and blueberry crumble with vanilla ice cream). The whole family partakes, even the girlies. Just nice paper, some crayons and markers, plus our hopes and wishes. Not as cool and fancy as the vision boards produced by a few of the readergirlz divas, but I must say, my 2008 wishes and hopes paper did pretty darn good for me.

But at the end of this day, this the first day of 2009, I can't help notice that the first week of the New Year is looking a bit wild. (I mean, I've even been invited to two parties on Saturday night when I'm not even usually invited to one.) It's making me wish I would have added a few more things to the wish list.

1. I wish I could make the line breaks I make when I'm writing a post look the same as when I actually post. I mean, what's up with that? Is it just me? (Probably!) I put a space, there's no space. I don't put a space, there is one. You just spacing will be all wackadoo. (Except now, just like kids, Blogger will make a liar at of me and the spacing will be perfect.)

2. I wish my inbox didn't have 2712 messages that need to be filed or deleted.

3. I wish that just once, when the laundry's finally done, the laundry basket wouldn't already be full again.
4. I wish my toenails were always perfectly painted.

5. I wish the house could undecorate itself.

6. I wish my DVR box wasn't broken (or that it could ship faster than the end of next week). Good TV starts again soon.

7. I wish I wasn't perpetually behind on reading. I completely confess to not being up-to-speed. Sometimes it seems I'm still reading 2006 favorites and award winners when I should be reading 2008's. (Speaking of...the Cybils finalists went up today!...Now I'm even more behind.)
Here's to wishes come true in 2009 and a smooth start to your year.