Wednesday, October 28, 2009

2010 SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC: Registration Is Open

Registration for the upcoming SCBWI winter conference is now OPEN!

And please let me know if I'll see you there.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hazards of the Writing Life




That's a lot of 'shuns, huh? Well, it's none of those hazards I'm talking about. I'm talking about...

...tight pecs.

*slams on brakes*

Seriously? Seriously!

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.

Well, I promised myself that after finishing bodystep training, and because it was my birthday, I'd get myself to the massage therapist at my gym (I get a discount for sore-ness sake!). Although a couple weeks late, I got my rear in to Martin yesterday. Or I should say I got my torso in to see Martin because once he started working on me, he said, "Yeah, we'll be spending the whole hour on your torso."
Yeah, trouble in the torso. That's me.

So, I can't fully explain the science of the body (like Martin did for me), but all that writerly slouching in we do sitting at our computers with our head pushing forward creates tightness in our chest (it's like an opposite pull thing). And that tightness just rolls our shoulders forward more and more, making us all rounded in our back. Sexy, huh? Who knew.

Moral to the story, make sure you stretch those chest muscles.

Oh, and get thee to a massage therapist now and again. You deserve it.
Because, really, we don't want to end up looking Coraline's dad.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Moment #42: a writing prompt for your work-in-progress

(If you’ve already read this then skip past all the italicized blah-di-blah and start writing.) Monday Moments are writing prompts for your work-in-progress. They are questions that come from my experiences and are my favorite way to find out more about my characters. I find I learn a lot. Some of it I use. Some of it I don’t. But I always, always get to know my character(s) better just by answering the question. I hope you do too.

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... toast, that means I could go with:

Yes! I'm serious.


(I found this cute little number HERE!)

D.(You can find the cute cowgirl coloring page HERE.)

There's a different motivation for each choice.

A. Family unity.

B. Funny! (really funny).

C. Pretty, and it helps me for reasons I won't yet disclose.

D. I have a cute new hat (but K-rap...I don't have boots
You'll have to wait until next week to find out, because I too have to wait to find out my decision since it's yet to be made.
That said, getting to our writing, character motivation is so important.
I know that a Halloween costume is not critically important, but it brings me to pose the question:
What's your character's motivation when making a critical decision?

Friday, October 23, 2009

2010 SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC

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!).

What's more?

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*

Back with great-blogger strength are: Alice Pope, Jaime Temarik, Lee Wind, Suzanne Young, and ME. Go, Team Blog.

Follow their blogs and then follow them on twitter... @alicepope, @jaimetem, @leewind, @suzanne_young, and you can find me at @cuppajolie, so you don't miss a thing.

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

Has She or Hasn't She?

Last week has come and gone. How goes the outline you ask?

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?
Did I crack the whip so I could eat it?
The answer is in my coffee cup. Look!Yip-Yow! I FINISHED. And I'm THAT happy about it.

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?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Moment #41: A writing prompt for your work-in-progress

(If you’ve already read this, skip past all the italicized blah-di-blah and start writing.) Monday Moments are writing prompts for your work-in-progress. They are questions that come from my experiences and are my favorite way to find out more about my characters. I find I learn a lot. Some of it I use. Some of it I don’t. But I always, always get to know my character(s) better just by answering the question. I hope you do too.

Hey, yeah! That title looks different. More wordy.

Sometimes it takes 40 times to learn something (for me, at least). And to finally make a change. That's what happens after you (in this case I mean me) spend four hours with the social media savvy-one...Greg Pincus.

Put it in the title! Hey, good idea. These Monday Moments are writing prompts. Oh yeah. And they are for your work-in-progress (unless you have a different idea).

Thank you, Mr. Pincus.

I also bought my domain names! Have you? Because, if you're like me, you know you need to, but you haven't done it. Do it. Go on now, before it's too late (or maybe it already is).

What does you character finally get after 3, or 30, or 300 times of not getting it? Or, do they never get it? Or, are they already too late?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Herd of Critters and an Outline Update

I'd be so much more efficient if Blogger would get a feature that could tap into my brain while I'm driving. Because then, this post would be all *brushes hands* done and I could just get to work. Someday.

Obviously, this is not what I should be doing if I would like to be drinking coffee and eating anything sweet next week, but it's been an interesting morning and I thought it would be appropriate to tell how the outline is moving along.


Have you ever been stuck in your car by a herd of animals crossing the road in a never ending stream?

That was ME this morning. But the herd was not elk or buffalo, it was middle schoolers. Ha! The most entertaining herd...ever!

When I dropped my girlies at school this morning, I was informed there was a fire drill in progress (aka, some kid pulled the fire alarm) and all the kids (which included middle schoolers) were out on the softball field. So, after delivering my girlies safely to their teachers, they all started to head back in...the middle schoolers (the majority of the kids) bringing up the rear. Well, their path was the parking lot where I was parked. So, I sat and watched as about 300 plus 6th, 7th, and 8th graders moved on through.

Fascinating creatures. Truly.

Man, skinny jeans and black hoodies are all the rage right now. Did you know?

But now, time to get to work because I do believe that I can get this outline finished in then next three days. Yes I do.

Thought I'd share something that freed me up a bit; a twitter gift really. Debbie Ridpath Ohi posted on twitter about a phase outline she was going to try. I clicked on the link and it took me HERE. Then to the article HERE.

It's really got me moving. I'm 2/3 there. Pretty good, no?

But, I CAN'T leave without saying a huge congrats to Laini Taylor (and her lovely love Jim DiBartolo) because LIPS TOUCH was named as a National Book Award Finalist! YES!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There's a Lot in This Post (Martha Brockenbrough, Arthur Levine, Greg Pincus, and Me)

I have so many things I want to tell you today, but since I don't want to put you to sleep with too many words AND because I have an outline that MUST get done (or else!) I will do my best to move fast. Deal?


This brilliant friend of mine just sold her picture book. Blow the horns. Throw the confetti!

That is the lovely and talented Martha Brockenbrough (and an image I swipe from Jaime Temairik).

Martha sold her picture book to the freaking fantastic Arthur Levine. Personally, I think this a perfect pairing and I can't wait to hold the book in my hands.

Speaking of Martha...she's SPEAKING! Tonight! Yes, tonight at SCBWI WWA's professional series meeting. I wouldn't miss it, and actually, I'm doing my best NOT to; trying to figure out how to get back across Puget Sound later today to soak up all her grammar brilliance. Oh, and humor, because the girl is ridiculous!

Martha will be the opening act for this guy!

No, that's not George Clooney, but some might think so (just ask him). That is the wonderful Greg Pincus. And in the photo he's bookended by the beautiful Holly Cupala and me!

Yesterday, Greg presented a FOUR hour workshop on social media and it flew by and was over as quick as I suck down my first cuppa in the morning. Good stuff. If you EVER have a chance to listen to Mr. Pincus share his knowledge, don't miss it.

I think so highly of Greg that when I was at the SCBWI conference in LA doing my Team Blog thing, I armed wrestled Lee Wind to decide who would get to do THIS post-conference interview with him.

(The fantastic action shots were taken my the wonderful Rita Crayon Huang. You can see lots of her great conference photos HERE.)

Take that Lee Wind (xoxo)!

The cherry on top of going to any SCBWI event is seeing people whom I'd like to shrink and put in my pocket so I could play with them all the time.

I was able to snap a photo with a few.

Again, the lovely Holly Cupala and the amazing Bonny Becker (I attempted to inhale her talent as I stood next to her).

And a girl who always cracks me up, SCBWI WWA's assistant regional advisor Kim Baker.

Why am I blogging right now? That MUST be what you're thinking, right? Because, yes, I did say I would finish my outline this week OR ELSE! So, if you missed it in the comments, the "or else" is...


That's big for me, my friends. I'd better finish or my family is not going to want to live with me.

And, of course, I didn't get much done yesterday, given that I spent it in the city soaking up Greg's brilliance.

So, better get to it, eh?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Moment #40

Some days I think I come up with the most random things. Especially for these Monday Moments. But hey, life's random, right?

Yesterday was my birthday. If you are a facebook friend (fb friends, thank you so much for all the overwhelming b-day lovin') then you know that my digits now equal 10. (If you're not a fb firend, you should be...twitter too).

My grandma called to wish me a Happy Birthday (Hi, Grandma! Love you. Give Grandpa my love too.) So, my grandma is new to the Internet, and now that she's online she can read my blog (yay, Grandma). Anyway, let me get on with this. She asked me what I was going to write about for my Monday Moment (she also wanting to know if I'd get it posted early) but I had to tell her I had no idea.

You know, some days I know exactly what I want to write about. Some days I think I do, but then it changes. And days like today, I don't. Not until the fingers begin to type. Then I think...random.

I can be so random.

And look! I'm not even on topic yet.

Question: What kind of cake do you think I requested (and typically request) for my birthday? Go on! Take a guess.

I bet you won't get it! (Grandma, you already know, so you can't guess.)




Think you've got it?

ANGEL FOOD! Yup. Angel Food cake with seven minute frosting. Imagine me singing out, "Heaven!" Love the stuff.

Here's the thing, I've always loved Angel Food cake. Typically as a kid, my mom made a birthday cake and an Angel Food with no frosting (I think because there was a lot of family...but maybe I should ask). BUT, my favorite thing was when she would later toast me a piece under the broiler. I thought that was most tasty morsel I could set on my tongue. That said, when I've tried it as an adult. Meh! It's just not the same. And that's so disappointing.

Does your character ever have high expectations for an experience, only to be disappointed by it?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Help a Girl Out

Man! What's my problem?

I've been tired this week. Just plain tired. I'm sure a result of the insanely physical weekend I had. I didn't feel like I was in any sort of zone. Oh wait, yes I did. I was in two. The Spaced-out Zone. And the Distracted Zone. I guess I could add one more: the Utterly Ticked Off Zone (over the Washington Times article which you probably read too and if you didn't it's not worth your time...goodness knows I wasted way too much of mine because of it).

Spending time in those ridiculous, unproductive zones meant the Writing Zone was completely avoided/ignored.

I did attempt. Really. But here's the thing: Jolie & outlining mix together as well as toothpaste and orange juice.

So, I need some help. Heeellllppp! I need the outside pressure. So all week (12th-16th) I will be check in and report my outlining progress. If I'm not to "the end" in a week, well then...

You tell me! If I don't get it done, what should my consequence be? Leave as many ideas as you like and together we'll all pick a favorite (well, probably not my favorite, but you know).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Moment #39

Ah! So late! So late I am today. I have good reason. And I did warn you.
I've been gone all weekend, friends. I went through my Bodystep training module, worked my tush off (I wish that was a literal statement), and I PASSED! It was a fun, challenging, and rewarding weekend, for sure.
So, you'd think that's what I'd write about, but NO...instead DOUGHNUTS! That's right.

Ooh, did that get your attention?

Okay, so this is still a weekend story though. After a very late night on Saturday (class ending at 8 pm, a 45 minute drive home--plus I got pulled over--and I had an entire track to learn) and a very early morning (leaving at 6 am) I was tired and had had no coffee on Sunday morning. *painful* My ride picked me up, but we found NO latte places open along the way. Luckily, we ended up arriving early and had time to stop at Starbucks.

Ah, the glory of Starbucks...thank you consistent giver of caffeinated beverages.

Back on track...I started chatting with the fellas behind the counter because they were doing their brew vs. instant taste test. (Anyone do that?) I was like, "Bring it on."

As the guy made my two drinks, two other gentlemen walked up to the counter and they already had an opinion (I'll let you judge for yourself. I guessed right!) but basically they said they had the chance to give it a try because they have a connection with Starbucks. Cool.

Then one asked me, "Are you going to get one of those apple fritters."

Now, let me tell you, I love those fritters. I do. But I told him that I would basically be working out non-stop for the next 7 hours and that my stomach couldn't handle a fritter. I also think I told him they were very naughty. Yup, pretty sure about that.

Warning...I'm probably not getting his words just right but this is how I remember it.

He said, "Those are my fritters."

So I told him he was a naughty-naughty man. Yes, I did. Then he order all three types of doughnuts.

I asked, "Are you Top Pot?" And, he was! Cool, huh? He said I needed to get into one of their stores and have one of those fritters (the real deal) if I thought the Starbucks's ones were good (ooh, now I so want to). He was in quality tasting the frozen ones that come from a California bakery for Starbucks.

Cool, no? Well, I thought so.

Especially when he pinched off a tiny corner from each and then said, "I don't eat them. Only taste them. Here. Would you like them?"

Heck, yeah! Thanks, Top Pot guy! I took his yummy baked goods and I ate that fritter on my way home from training...without one ounce of guilt! Deee-lish. (Those are the three doughnuts to the right. I grabbed the photo from the Top Pot site.)

Oh yeah! This is all supposed to tie back to writing and story...I'm getting there. Here's the thing. That was such an unexpected encounter. I was in a completely predictable spot and so was he! But our path crossed and I got a sweet treat because of it (not that all unexpected encounters end in sweetness).

Does your character(s) have an unexpected encounter?

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Eyes On Me...

Earlier in the week it was the cat.

The cat was very accusing. I'd look up and those unblinking, round, saucer eyes were all like, "Seriously? You're on Facebook again? Oh, now it's Twitter? Really, Stekly? You've got stuff to take care of. Get to it!"

Now it's a pig. A very Wilbur-esque pig. He's very endearing, but that just makes it worse.

He's constantly looking over my shoulder, a bit of disappointment in his glance. "Do you really want to be doing that, because I don't think you do. I know the outline is really hard, but I think you should work on it. You're making me sad, Jolie. Don't disappoint yourself. Please."

OUCH! Okay, my piggie friend. I'm getting to work...but first can I tell my bloggy friends one more thing? Hey, don't give me those eyes! I promise, I'll be quick.

I have stayed healthy! Yip-yow! And let me tell you, there has been much hacking and snuffling in my house, there still is. But tomorrow, I'm off to Bodystep training, and bizarrely looking forward to it. I'm thinking of tweeting throughout the weekend, but only if it's possible. Several things could potentially keep from it, including the fact that I may be too tired to even use my thumbs.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Get thee to the CYBILS site!

Nominations opened up last night at midnight. Many of your favorite books may already be nominated. Really!

Awards, likes these, always remind me of HOW FAR I'M BEHIND ON READING!

Why fight it? I probably always will be.

But I had the HUGE pleasure of nominating two books I love...



LIPS TOUCH by Laini Taylor, illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo