Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Heart

I am thankful for so many things this year. So here, at Cuppa Jolie, I just want to say thank you. I appreciate the writing and blogging community so very much. I am truly thankful that I started blogging and became part of this big, wonderful, kidlitosphere world.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Licorice Lasso

A lot of people say, "I'd do NaNoWriMo if it wasn't in November. November is such a bad month. February would be better."

You know what? I completely agree. And that's why I think it's great to have it happen in November. Even if I don't get to 50,000 words, I know I will have written so many more words than I would have if I wasn't playing along.

November's so full of family situations: school conferences, music concerts, half days at school, and two kids with strep throat. And that's just been in the last two days. But I will find time to write where I can.

Today, I will pull out my licorice rope, but instead of using it as a whip, I will fashion into a lasso and pull in as many words as I can. I have four hours today. Four hours to spend at The Vault. Four hours to write as much as possible.
I'll let you know how many words I'm able to capture in my licorice lasso. And feel free to join in.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pick Myself Up, Dust Myself Off, and Start All Over Again

...Well, not all over. But a new shot at a different 5,000 word day. That's a good thing.

Some days are not meant to be. Yesterday was one of those days. Responsibilities of mommy-dom came first and unexpected twist and turns to a day will just do that to you (or me)--sink 5,000 words that is.

I had a decent start. All my stickies lined up. A pretty latte next to the computer. I even removed that first sticky before the day disinigrated.

I knew I was officially done when, at the end of the day, I really wanted to try and knock the words out, but I was getting nowhere. I was at a point where it all felt too hard and not fun. Once you get into a not-fun space, it's time to be okay with not meeting the challenge. Although, I have to admit, that wasn't what made me say, "It's okay, Jolie. You don't have to do it today. Give yourself a break." What made me realize I needed to hang it up was when my husband walked in the room and told me it didn't have to happen today and that I was starting to LOOK LIKE HANK. See below:

Nuff said!

When one starts to look like Hank, one needs to stop worry about 5,000 words and start to think about putting one's self to bed.

Another Crack of the Whip

Do you hear it?


The 5000-word whip is cracking once more. I still think of it as a licorice rope though...soft and sweet. It's working on me and it seems more and more are joining in.

INSPIRED! That's what I am as so many have commented here or with Holly or on their own blogs about hitting amazing goals. What started out as two friends trying to give each other a nudge has turned into a Word Fest. I mean, Steph wrote 10,000 words yesterday, friends! 10,000...that's a 1 with four zeros (that would be 10 sticky notes for me)!

My sticky notes are on hand and ready, and writing (for me) will begin today around noon.

We'd love to have those playing along check in on comments throughout the day. Or at least let us know you're in so we can check your blog and your progress plus offer a big Woo-Hoo when you cross the finish line.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Can I Win? Can the Dawgs?

I think I could actually be a NaNoWriMo winner this year. Personally, I've never felt it was about getting to the 50,000 words, more about pushing forward in the writing; turning off the internal editor. But, I think I could actually get to 50K. How many words do I have now you wonder? I must be nearing that lofty goal to proclaim the possiblity of winning. No...I'm so not. I'm far from it with a total of 22,660 words. But, BUT...10,000 of those words came from just two days of writing. The NaNo timer says that nine days remain. So, if I can get in 5 more days with 5000 words, plus one more day with just a bit more, I could actually WIN. How 'bout them apples?

During the last 5000 word marathon, Kim called me a machine when I finished. I was racing the clock and wrapped up in about 4 hours. But really, it wasn't being a machine, it was getting the beginning ideas of the story While I was at my Weekend on the Water Retreat, Patti Gauch had us do some free writing. At one point, she said to write, don't stop, don't even use punctuation. She made us completely shut down the that internal editor and censor, to just let go and write. What was interesting was when one person shared what she wrote, there was a particular part that many people said stood out--in a good way. She then shared that she almost didn't read that part, she almost left out the best words, the ones that connected with the group the most. Interesting, huh? Sometimes when our internal editor and censor is on, we shut down some of the ideas that might be our best, the ones, for some reason, we're afraid or unsure about.

Holly seems to think this 5000 word challenge should occur again on Monday AND Tuesday. Care to join? Check back in...
On a completely different topic...Anyone watching the big game today? What game you ask? Really? You're unaware?


What's that you say? Both teams rank at the bottom, and this year's Apple Cup is being referred to as the CRAPPLE Cup?

Dawgs...oh, Dawgs. What has happened to you? What happened to the days when I bled purple and gold and you went to the Rose Bowl?

I'm still pulling for you, UW. Beat the Cougs!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Crazy Day Ahead in So, So Many Ways

A quick CRAZY post coming right up!

First Crazy: I'm going to bore you tears with this's another day of 5000 words. Or at least I hope it is. But when a whip is cracked (I keep thinking of it as a licorice rope for some reason) by THIS ONE I can't resist. I think it's the throw down of the challenge. A sort of, I'm doing it...can you? And now I know I can so how can I say no? Right? As soon I finish this post, the thousand-count sticky notes will be made and stuck to the side of my computer once again.

Plus, today...others are coming out to play! Follow comments...hopefully we'll be checking in with updates.

Second Crazy: I'm pretty sure my body is channeling the fact that tonight at midnight Twilight hits theaters. No joke. I'm a little pasty, and dare I say sparkly? Like I applied a bit too much powder this morning. And to make it even more dramatic, I'm dressed in black. Plus the weather here is totally pulling a Forks today one hundred percent.

Third Crazy: I've got other things I MUST get done or at least work on at some point. I'll fill you in on this one later. (A teaser so you'll be back. I'm not beyond it! Really, I will tell you, just not today.)

Final Crazy: After marathon writing today, I teach my Bodypump class tonight. Not only that, but I'll be recorded for my assessment. I think I may be a wee bit exhausted at the end of the day...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Made It! 5000 Words Today...

My fingers flew for sure. And no joke, I had a sore arm after finishing. The whip cracking provided by the wonderful Holly Cupala certainly got the job done. I still would have done some writing today, but I bet (without the challenge) I would have gotten only half the words down in the same amount of time. It's kind of like cleaning the house; if you've got the whole weekend to get it done, it'll take the whole weekend, but if company's coming over in three hours, it'll get taken care of--and quick!

So many things helped me get it done.
First, Holly mentioned (somewhere along the line) about being at a macro level instead of micro. Keeping this in mind helped me bunches. It's the big picture story I'm working on. I can go back later, when I'm more in tune with the story and the characters, and add the details that will make all the difference. Right now, I need to make the character walk and talk and doing that helped me get to 5000 words.

As soon as I sat down, (I had 12,495 words)I wrote out what my word count would be for each 1000 added. You can see I added five extra (making the goal 1005) on the last round because it just made sense to get to 17,500 words.

Each time I finished I removed the sticky, wrote down the time and the word count I stopped on. Here's how it went.

I started around noon. Sticky one came off at 12:52 with 13,616 words.

Sticky two was toast at 1:30 with 14,523 words.
Then a cup of coffee and caramel Kiss was had--by me, of course.

Sticky three was ripped off at 2:20 with 15,653 words.
I believe there was more coffee and another caramel Kiss (for moi).

After the fourth sticky came off at 3:03 with 16,575 words, I have to admit I was feeling a bit weak and needed something to get me through. I barely had the chance to get a picture of it. But there it is (below) an almost completely devoured chocolate chip, macadamia nut, and coconut cookie. And it worked! more more cookie.

Sticky number five disappeared at 3:52 with 17,636 words. That's 5,141 words. Yipee!

Oh, did it feel good to removed those little, green stickies over and over.

But what really helped was the back and forth I had with Holly all afternoon. We didn't plan to write at the same time, but it ended up that we did. And throughout the afternoon we checked in with each other on our word counts. Somehow, it was a friendly back and forth that kept us both moving ahead.

And now Holly (crazy girl that she is) has suggested we do it again on Thursday!

I'll Only Blog Today If...

...I write 5000 words. That's right. You can blame Holly Cupala for this little (I mean enormous) challenge.

Cross your fingers for me. I hope you'll check back later to see if I made it!

Let's hear it! "On your mark...get set...GO!" Jolie's fingers flying....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Needed: Outside Accountability

I need to get me some...I need it bad.

I can hold myself accountable for getting writing in each day. I really can. But I can also let myself get away with checking email, reading blogs, poking around in Facebook, and writing blog posts. This is a problem, friends. And I'm letting myself do it more and more.

Bad, Jolie, bad writer.
I think it sort of parallels myself as a swimmer (although I hope I'm a better writer than a swimmer). I write the same way I get into a pool. The not heated variety, that is. I'm an easer-inner. You know the type. I never just dive in and get it over with. One big plunge and I'm swimming around. No, I ease in and it's the easing that's hard. But once I'm in and moving about...hey, I'm swimming and I'm happy.

It's kind of the same with writing. I ease in. I start writing down some wonderings. Start typing out a scene. Then all of sudden, I'm writing and happy. On a sort of writer's high.

But back to that outside accountability. If I let myself putz about too much, sometimes I never fully get into the pool. You know? But I know what's been lacking in my Office Hour world. You know, the one at The Vault. Mallory is GONE! Ever since she left The Vault, no one peers over my shoulder and says, "Whatcha doing? Are you writing? That better not be email I see." I need you, Mallory. With you around, I had no choice but to ease in and get to work.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Which My Shower Ideas Fall to Pieces

Some of you will remember back to my post about brilliant ideas that happen in the shower. So many helpful comments followed. I was led to these cool tile pencils and three of them (black, white, and red) went to live in my shower. But here's the thing! I have yet to have a brilliant idea in the shower since. I bet if I removed the pencils, the ideas would be back full force and I'd be wishing for those pencils once more.

Not only have I stopped my shower ideas from forming, but the pencils have caught the attention of another hubby. Although he did leave me a nice "love you" message one morning, I now have two eyeballs just above my shower head that stare at me...just a wee bit creepy and odd.

On to other things creepy and odd. Anyone feel the excitement in the air? A big film is about to hit theaters. You know the one...based on that little-bitty book...the one set very near my home...a place I hear young girls are fl0cking to. Yes, it's Twilight. As I was driving last night, an ad for a news segment was played about how teen girls are traveling to Forks, WA where they are now giving Twilight tours. Amazing really. But here's something more amazing...funny really...hilarious. If you can't wait for the movie, here's Martha Brokenbrough's take on the Twilight script. Go have a read.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend on the Water

Guess what I’m doing right now. No, no. Scratch that. Instead, guess what I should be doing right now. (That ones easier.)

It’s not the laundry because I’m not even at home.

It’s not sleeping because it’s the middle of the day.
I’m guessing half of you already know. You should scream at me, “Jolie, you should be writing. Your NaNo word count is, well...not so hot.”

I know, I know. It’s bad! But it could be worse. I’ve actually been pretty tied up, and even though I haven’t added significantly to my NaNo word count, I have been focused on writing. And right now—well not exactly right now because I’m blogging—but just prior to the blogging and again after, I was and will be writing. From right here…look:

This is a very nice spot to write. I'm sitting on a cushy window seat, drinking Orange Spice White Tea, while looking out at Puget Sound. Ahhhh!

We just wrapped up the SCBWI Western Washington Fall 2008 Retreat. It was a Weekend on the Water. It was also a weekend in the rain, because, holy raindrops from the sky, did we get dumped on.

The focus of the weekend retreat was voice. You know, that thing that editors say they are looking for, that thing they say they “know when they see.”

So a group of about fifty writers spent the weekend, tucked into the beautiful Alderbrook Resort, playing with voice: trying to define it, discover it, and hone it with the help of Patricia Lee Gauch and Darcy Pattison. A pure treat is what it was!

Some brief highlights follow, in pictures and words:

Yes, that's the rain. But nature also showed off in other ways that I couldn't photograph, like salmon swimming up stream and harbor seals just off shore. Lovely!

Then there was this cool creature:

That's Brook, a resident cat with the most amazing eyes.
Friends of the human variety were there, too!

Friends...old and new. That's me and my partner-in-crime, the other Co-planner, Sara Easterly. See, when we stack up like a totem full we make a whole instead of half a Co-. I have to say, an amazing group of people sure helps make a retreat go from great to spectacular.

In a brief moment of dryness (very brief), Patti and I posed for a picture on our way to lunch. Not many minutes later, our waterfront tent had a small river running through it (no Brad Pitt in this show) as the rain came down in sheets.

Patti is a little-thing packed with massive quantities of wisdom (and generosity). It rained down on all the retreat attendees as hard as the actual rain. And just like the ground all around the resort, it was almost impossible to soak it all up. But we did our best.

A little taste of what Patti said about voice (really, one has to experience Patti to benefit fully): A good voice is aberrant. The writer doesn’t go out to meet it, but goes in to meet it. Voice has modulation. It’s conversational. It should have asides, phrases, strong use of particulars, and be full of attitude.

Here's an exercise Darcy gave us. While writing, try getting your body in different positions, or a different spot in the room. Use a different instrument; put away your laptop and use a pencil or vice-versa, or how about using different sized paper. There was one attendee who wrote in a spiral (just for five minutes) and she remarked about how it forced her to turn off her internal editor because it was too hard to go back and revise. She could only keep go in and in and in.
If any of you have a chance to go to an event where either of these two women are presenting, don't blow it, get'll thank me!
*You might be wondering about the asterisks. I've been fighting with Blogger because it wouldn't let me put spaces in two spots (no matter what I did). So I tricked it to by putting an * there and making a point.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Look Who's Having a Cuppa Jolie Today!

Cuppa Jolie is being featured as Blog of the Week over at Alice's CWIM Blog. How cool is that? Go HERE to read an interview with moi.

In the interview I mention learning about the importance of commenting from Mother Reader (plus lots more). So how appropriate that this morning I read a post that lead me to Mother Read and Lee Wind who have issued a new challenge--oh, I love a challenge--The Comment Challenge: 21 Days to Community. Love it! I'm playing. You should go check it out, after you read my interview at Alice's CWIM blog, and then COMMENT (here and there).

(And if you're interested, go HERE to read my previous post A Comment About Comment.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Manuscript...Teens...Scratch My Back


Proof that I did finish the revision.

So, I’m leaving The Vault the other day, heading on my way out to get my kids from school. I walk out a door which is next to a table of four teen girls, probably 14 or 15 years old. It all happened very fast (because I squeezed out ever last second I could in order to increase my NaNo word count). As I’m pushing open the door, practically halfway out, one of them says, “Bye.” As the door closes, I can hear them giggling and I realize that bye was meant for me; a silly, teen girl farewell just for me. I should have realized, because I hear through the closed door (we all know how the teen voice carries), “I can’t believe she doesn’t know you…” followed by a comment about how often she’s there, in that spot, her spot. I really wanted to stop and eavesdrop outside the door, but I did have kids waiting on me, so I chuckled to myself on my way to the car. I LOVE reminders of how teens act in public. To them, that table, that place is theirs (and I should have known).

My kids taught me a cool, new trick last night. They think it’s fun to draw or write words on people's backs (did we do this as kids?). So, as I did my usual bedtime reading, my six-year-old girlie wrote me messages—on my back. This is nice! Like getting your back scratched. Unfortunately, the first message she wrote on me was “the poop.” Okay, that wasn’t very nice, but if you switch the "p" word with the other another four letter word that sort of means the same thing, well…then it’s was a compliment. Right? I made her erase it. Good move on my part, because erasing is great for a tired mama's back, too.

But I have to tell you, her last message was lovely. She wrote, “To Mommy, Peace to the World. Love, S_!” Great message, sweet girl! Great message!

Monday, November 3, 2008


I’ve been addicted to the best reality T.V. show yet—the presidential election. I find myself constantly returning to my favorite news programs (and comedy shows) to see what’s been happening. Anyone else? I can’t be alone.

There’s tense excitement swirling in autumn air. The kind that every person experiences during times in their life while waiting for a big event to arrive—graduation, a new baby, a big test, that call from someone who wants to buy the book (had to add that one for all the writers out there), the list goes on and on. The difference? In this moment, our entire country is experiencing the waiting and anticipating together. And the world is watching.

Election Day is upon us, and as citizens of the United States of America, it’s our right and our responsibility to VOTE.

I hope, with every ounce of my Polly-Positive nature, that each and every registered voter—age 18 to 108—will get to the polls and make their choice.

As a writer of young adult novels, I can’t help thinking about new voters, those who turned 18 just in time to register and go to the polls. Are they as excited as they were the day they turned sixteen and could get a driver's license? Will they be as excited as the day they turn twenty-one and can finally consume their first legal drink? I believe, more than ever before, they are.

This is exciting, America!


Check out many other kidlit (and other) bloggers reasons to Blog the Vote!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I've Come Full Circle and Starting Again

Time for a revison update...
Yaaaaa-hooooooo! (back flip, back flip, toe touch, high kick) I finished. I did it! I'm done.

What was my sad, little NaNo novel rough draft has now gone through its first major revision. Phew! And now it's like it grew up and is a a real book; one that has a beginning, middle, and end. How 'bout that?

So, as I move into November and a fresh new NaNo season, I thought it was the perfect time to call out my total nerdiness. This morning I was trying to figure out what to title the folder that will hold this new novel. And since this is a fresh project, I don't have a title...yet. Sure, I could make up a working title, but I haven't. Last year I had a NaNoWriMo folder, but as soon as I realized I HAD to get the draft finished, I renamed the folder Will Get this Novel Done WELL. No kidding. I guess it was my way of giving myself some sort of postive message each time I opened it up to work. Then there's my folders within the that folder...once I got to the revision, I titled it, Revision 2_Will Rock It! Can't believe I'm admitting that to the world, but it's true.

Now two days into this NaNo season, I've yet to get started. Can I blame it on folder-title writer's block because I have yet to figure it out? When I come up with something, I'll let you know.
Until then, if your NaNo-ing, feel free to add me to your buddy list. I'm lattewriter.