Friday, May 29, 2009

Are You Ready?

Check out what Holly is doing to get ready for the big day! I completely relate to this need (you'll have to read it to know), which is why I almost NEVER work at home.

And those of you who live in the Seattle area know that making yourself work RIGHT NOW, while it is THIS gorgeous, is not easy. But since I have this view...

I really can't complain.

I spend time at my little table next to the window, and when I need fresh air, I go to the beach right outside the door and pull up a piece of drift wood (along with my notebook and pencil)...

Stay tuned as we kick it all off on Monday. We'll have daily features and more yummy graphics (ala Cupala!).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bring It On...Summer Revision Smackdown

Ah...the lure of licorice. We knew it was strong, but it's bringing you out in droves. Yow-yow!

If you've already declared your participation here on Cuppa Jolie or on Holly's blog, make sure to find us on Facebook ,too (if you haven't already). But if you haven't let us know you want to join in yet, it's not too late, please tell us your goals here or here.
So, I've already started my journey and have been busy at work. Even sometimes working when I'd rather not be, like when I'm taking my girlies to school. It's not like you can tell your brain..."Hey, knock that off. I can't do this right now." I mean, if you started jonesin' for jog but you were in the middle making dinner, you could always put it off until later. But when your brain is writing, even though you don't have pen and pad, too bad. That's how my morning went. And the thoughts were coming like crazy. I continually repeated key words over and over in my head so that I would forget. Whee!

Okay, time to declare my own goals. But I'm feeling chatty (ah, so many friends!) and I thought I'd tell you why I personally needed this wherplash so desperately--it's too easy to WASTE TIME! Right? It's like when you're trying to make good food choices so you keep a food journal. It makes you accountable, especially if you have to show it to a dietitian or personal trainer--you must list the good and the bad. Creating this public lashing forces me to make "healthy" writing choices, meaning Facebook, Twitter, and emailing are the equivalent of candy, ice cream, and cookies. Yes? Yes. I can tell it's already going be a huge aide.

I will out myself right now...I had ice cream at dinner (literally ice cream, not a Twitter session).

*Finish revision of my young adult novel (this will mean working through about 40 pages/week).
*Outline 3-5 chapters a week of my work-in-progress (yes, I know that this is not revision, but it's the accountability I want to make you rule-breakers feel better).

Let's let the licorice fly!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


So, I teased that Holly and I had something revion-y up our sleeves. Well, here it is!

Summer Revision Smackdown: The Process and the Perks

  • Declare that you will crack the whip during the month of June and revel in revision with us.
  • State your own revision goals (pages per week, hours/day, picture book/dummy drafts). What do you want to accomplish by June 30?
  • Check in with us at the end of each week (Friday or Saturday) and report your progress by commenting on our blogs. We’ll alternate where to post, starting with Holly’s at the end of week 1, then over to Jolie’s at end of week two, then back to Holly, finally back to Jolie). No worries, we’ll remind you where to post every Friday.

Each Monday, Holly and Jolie will award THE WHIP OF THE WEEK to one Smackdowner who they feel has cracked the revision licorice whip the previous week.

During the month we will link to great spots to have a read on revision. Plus, you may just hear from some special guests, sharing tips and thoughts on revision.

At the end of June, Holly and Jolie will give one Smackdowner THE WHIPLASH AWARD for excellence in revision during the month of June. And that just might come with a cuppa something and your own personal licorice memento.

Don’t feel like you need to wait until June 1st to start…ready, set, werplash!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday Moment #20

Before I get to today's Monday Moment #20 (I can't believe we're at 20), a couple of things:

Stay tuned for BIG stuff (okay, big for me because I need it!) Holly and I will be announcing this...

Oh yah! That's right, SMACKDOWN--licorice style. If you're living with revision angst like Holly and me, then we hope you'll join us. We'll tell you more soon--real soon! Promise.

Also, my guess is that many won't be reading today. I'm even getting to this post later in the morning, it being a holiday weekend and all. And it's a gorgeous, sunny weekend here in Seattle at that--a real treat.

So on this Memorial Day weekend, I just want to send my respects to those soldiers (and their families) who've lost their lives so that I can enjoy this beautiful weekend with my family.

Onto Monday Moment #20.

This long holiday weekend has me thinking food! Because what long weekend doesn't involve some food love?

I was reminded last night how powerful taste and smell memories are. After a homemade spaghetti and meatball feast (a favorite for this Italian family) we had Family Movie Night, which included popcorn and candy. Hubby did the shopping with the girlies and they brought home Sour Patch Kids--love them! And the second I went to open that bag of sour yumminess, I felt that twinge in the back of my jaw and my mouth started to water--sour style. I hadn't yet touch the candy to my tongue, but it was reacting--all taste memory. Fascinating, no?

Taste and smell are often the senses left out of our writing. Don't leave it out today.

Describe a taste/smell experience or memory your character has.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Revision Measuring Stick

While I was feeding my genius at the SCBWI WWA conference over the weekend, I was chatting with the lovely Holly Cupala.

You may remember back to the good ol' days of NaNoWriMo when we pushed each other by cracking the whip (in our case a licorice whip) to crank out BIG word counts. We even accomplished some 5 K days. Ah, those were good times.

It just so happens that revisions and those gratifying 5000 word days have been on my mind, because you can't get that same satisfying feeling (5000 words is 5000 words no matter how crappy they are) while revising.

So, I've been wondering, how do you measure revision progress? (I'm really asking the question.)

While I was chattering away with Holly, she said that we need to crack the licorice whip (in regards to our revisions). But I was all-like, how do we do that? What does it look like while we revise?

Anybody else in the same Revision Boat?

Let's crank it up, get it twirling, so we can crack it with a big loud WHERPLASH!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Better Living Through Coffee

Better Living Through Coffee! Isn't that just the truth. Not only better for me, but for the people who want to (or have to) be around me.

I love coffee. It is my friend. It wakes me up in the morning. It encourages me through my working day. It is the nap, I can never take, in a cup. Thank you, coffee!

So, I've been needing to shake things up a bit. And, yesterday a coffee house friend pulled me aside and in a hushed voice asked me, "Have you heard about the new place in town?" I so hadn't.

Guess where I am today? But I sort of feel like I'm cheating. I love The Vault. I love Debra, the manager there. But I also love a change. And how can you NOT love this? Just look...

This is the new coffee spot in Port Townsend...Better Living Through Coffee! It's literally right on the water.

It lured me in and then welcomed me!

I know the picture's a bit dark, but just look at that view. Water and mountains and boats. Oh my!

And this place isn't quite like any other I've been to. First, look at the adorable-ness (not sure they'd want me to refer to them as adorable, but I think they are) at the counter. This is Sadie and Stormy...
And just look at how you get your drip coffee! It's dripped to order!

Everything is fresh and local and fantastic. I can hardly wait to try the soup!

How badly do you want to come and have a cuppa with me!?! Of course, the invitation is ALWAYS out there. Let me know if you are ever in town.
UPDATE: I have now had the soup. De-lish! Wild Salmon Chowder.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SCBWI Western Washington Conference

I left you on Friday starving. So off I went for the weekend to Feed my Genius. And what a weekend it was. And feast I did! Yes...I returned stuffed (full of fun, great info, witnessed talent, and the joy of friends)!

A favorite part of any conference is reuniting with friends from near and far and making new ones.

Suzanne Young came to town. Look at her, all cute-like, in her surprise-here-I-am way! Does the girl EVER take a bad photo? I suppose it's impossible with a smile like that.

And this girl's talent goes far beyond being able to write a dozen novels in one night. She has the impressive ability to take a self-photo AND make it look good. She should be on the new reality show called America's Next Top Model when You're Your Own Photographer.

Here's Suzanne photographing half of SCBWI Team Blog! (Me, Jaime, and Suzanne)

And here's the photo she took (swiped from Suzanne)!

What about the new friends? Yes, what about them. Here's one!

Jennie! (You should check out her winning news.)It was so cute when I met her. I introduced myself and she said, "Hey! Are you Jolie of Cuppa Jolie?" That was pretty cool and I was surprised by the number of times reading my little ole blog came up with others a t the conference...even from one of the editors. It's kind of funny because so often (even though I realize that there are many of you out there I don't know) I'm just thinking my buddies, grandpa, and mother-in-law are reading. You know what I mean?

The faculty was unbelievable! Really. Don't believe me? Then take a look HERE!
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the weekend:

Jon Scieszka talking about the process of writing and getting published: "What a long-ass process this is." and "It's not magic. It's like digging ditches. It's hard."

Then later, I had the pleasure of planning a marketing strategy with him for Suzanne's NAUGHTY LIST series. Here we are (again swiped from Suzanne...that's Sara, Jon, Suzanne, me)...
A couple other quotes:

Adam Rex: "Said is like blue jeans and you should all write that down." He was speaking about the tag said's ability to go with anything, just blend in and be unnoticed.

Patrick Jennings: "The motor of writing is question."

After Patrick's session it was funny when people asked, "Do you really eaves drop, I mean write, in the same coffee shop?" And, yes, we do!

Nancy Pearl: She said the first line of her memoir might be, "I went to Mukilteo to get digitized." Can you imagine being ask to go somewhere in order to be digitized? But then again, how many of us will ever get the chance to be action figures. Too cool! And let me just say this about the wonderful Nancy Pearl, she is one hundred percent delightful!

And now I ask myself, "Where was MY camera? Why didn't I take a photo with Adam (in his jeans) and Patrick and Nancy and so many others?" I learned a lesson from Suzanne and will have my camera ready to go for the L.A. conference.

But here are a couple more photos of the fun...

Me between two baby bumps (Sara's and Laini's). Too cute.

And hanging out with best-seller and Golden Kite winner BonnyBecker.

Very Full. Very Happy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday Moment #19

I'm so very late in posting this, my 19th Monday Moment. But all with good reason.

I've been away for the weekend feeding my genius! (I promise to post about the conference tomorrow.)

It was a rather long trip home last night with the closure of the Hood Canal Bridge. Travel required a ride, a big ferry, a bus, a little ferry, another bus, and one more ride. I made it home a bit tired and not at all feeling well. But, I have to say, I was welcomed with huge, enthusiastic love.

My pup (Luna) started tearing around the house and when her excitement over me being home became too much, she ran and leaped up onto the couch. However she didn't stop there, no big love would. She continue up onto the back of the couch and superdogged through the three large candlesticks on the table behind the couch, as if she was a fuzzy bowling ball. Let's just say she got a strike. The candlesticks went crashing into the wall (taking chunks out, I might add) and Luna went rolling off the table, falling into my daughters' empty laundry basket (which happened to be sitting right there) until she they both tipped over and I could scoop her up. Ahh...the love!

We all do crazy things for love, no?

Describe an action, reaction, or thought your character has about something or someone they love.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm Seriously Starving!

I'm off to Feed My Genius for the weekend!

I can't wait to tell you all about it.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Character Whisperer

Don't you love it when you get that little whisper of an idea. Whether it's brand new or just something an already existing character has never said to you before.

I love that. Love it, love it, love it!

It's like, you're minding your own business, bopping to some tunes, driving down the road, and then a that little voice (or sometimes really loud voice) pops up in your head and tells you something, making you go, "Don't forget that. Do NOT forget. Okay, So-and-So just said, X, Y, and Z. Oh, crap. Wait! How did she put that again? Her words were so way better than mine. Oh, yah! That was it."

But then, while you are trying to get the words down, you hear, "Mom! Mawwww-hm."

So you scream, "Just a minute."


"Honey?" Then comes from the hubby.

So you groan and shout, "Please. PLEASE! Give me just a minute. One minute!"

Tap. Tap. Tap. You get what you can down because you know, for certain, you will forget it if you don't have the key words somewhere (computer, notebook, hand, bathroom wall).

Ah! Deep breath.

But the best part? When it is once again time to work, you're excited to get back to those whispers you frantically jotted down. Wanting to avoid Facebook and Twitter and email and blogging (unless you have to tell friends how excited you are about the whispers) and get straight to the work because you know there is something there. Something fresh. Something exciting. There will certainly be other days of painful prying in which social networks are a lifesaver.

But not today. Today is for the whispers!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Real Life: Movie Night, Bird Rescue, Combat, and Blue Pills

What do all these things have in common?

They are part of my Real Life.

Let's start backwards! With a rant. To the people sending me emails for little blue are not who I want to hear from first thing in the morning while I'm sipping my coffee.

But before I happily slurped up my coffee this morning (and growled at the blue-pill email), I saved a little bird. I did. After keeping it warm while it recovered (probably from hitting a window) it flew off into the trees.

I started my day (after the coffee) with a session of BodyCombat even though I taught Bodypump tonight. It was needed...after I consumed all that movie popcorn last night (more on that soon), it was necessary. And it felt good. Especially when I got to pretend to punch someone on the ground (someone who stole my purse). Now, I'm not a violent or aggressive person, but that felt mighty good.

So, last night it was time to see Star Trek. Getting to a movie is rare, but it just so happened that my kids were on an overnight field trip and, well, we needed to take advantage. AND STAR TREK WAS AWESOME! I loved it from the opening scene.

Plus, we watched it in the one the coolest movie theaters around--The Rose! If you are EVER in Port Townsend you should experience a movie in this quaint and unique venue. Check out the website (and then visit) and you'll see what I mean, but to tell you a little something-something, each feature is personally introduced by an employee. Plus, it seriously has the BEST theater popcorn. EVER!

All right, I may not have gotten photos of any of these things, but they definitely fall under my Real Life umbrella.

But a brief writerly life topic...It's Children's Book Week! Not only that but The Ambassador, that's right...The Ambassador is coming to town. Jon Scieszka, National Ambassador for Young People's Literature is on his way to Western Washington to celebrate. Plus he'll be keynoting at the Western Washington SCBWI conference (hope to see you there).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Moments #18

This morning I have pets on the brain (a particular puppy to be exact).

Yesterday was a full day: Mother's Day, my husband's birthday, packing for a big trip for my girlies, and then there was Luna. I think Luna might have had the biggest day of all.

Ah, look at her. She's now 5 months old. They grow so fast.

So, we went for a long walk yesterday, down to the beach (a family and Luna favorite)! But check out that fur. Everything, and I mean everything (except for the good stuff, like money and jewelry) sticks to it and in it. The girl needed a bath when we got home--big time. We scrubbed that fluffy thing down to pure scrawniness (she's so petite under all that fur). The pup has so much fluff we have to literally wring her out before taking her out of the tub. But the story is not in the bath, it was the after part. As we toweled her off, I noticed blood--on her CLEAN, white fur! She was losing a tooth (a sweet, sharp, little puppy tooth)!

And another...

And another...

And another...

A total of four teeth. So, straight out of the bath, she was a bloody mess--a bit tramatic, I must tell you.

We recovered and moved onto birthday party-ness. Surely, the puppy part of this story should be over. But as the cousin's all gathered to put on a little show (and all attention was diverted away from the table), Uncle Todd shouted out, "Hey!"

There was Luna, up on a chair, face in my homemade carrot cake! (You can see that hubby doesn't get fancy looking cakes like the girls, just plain delicious.)

Thank goodness Uncle Todd noticed the cake theft action or we may have lost more than a corner!

So after all that puppy business, and having just finished reading THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY to my girlies, I was thinking about pets in books. Two dogs play very key roles in Lucky's story (Short Sammy's dog who has an unfortunate run-in with snake and HMS Beagle). Both dogs are characters in the book. Both dogs play key roles in the story.

Does the pet(s) in you story have a it part of a scene(s) rather than scenery?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek (The Trekkie in me may be coming out)

Audrix Dax, that's what Facebook says my Star Trek name would be. I'd be a Trill. I guess that's okay, but only if they let Trills be part of the new Star Trek.

Because have you seen the new Star Trek cast...they are hot!

The new STAR TREK looks young and fresh and sexy. I can't wait to see it.

I grew up watching Star Trek and even The Next Generation, but they lost a me a bit after that.
But, I can say this, I was never watching and thinking...

Whoa! Look at him...

And him...

And her!

And hey! I am almost related to one of the originals cast members.

That's my hubby there, second from the right. My sister-in-law's uncle is married to George Tekai (She even got to go to the wedding!).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Writer's Block or Not

My time away from writing got me thinking about writer's block.

Here's what I think. I don't believe in it. Not one bit. But, hey! That's my personal opinion, if you feel differently, that's cool with me.

But I can tell you this, at the moment, I'm riding the Revision Roller Coaster. And, at times, I feel like I'm going over the top then flying down with a hands up, screaming kind of fun. But then there's those scary climbs that feel like they drag on and on, making me feel more and more afraid. OR the feeling that I've been on far too long and that I've had enough because my head hurts and I just might hurl!

Anyone else? Is it just me?

But back to the BLOCK. I can honestly say, I just went through a period of time that I could not write. I couldn't. Not only did life not give me the needed time, as family took priority, but even if I found an hour here or there, I couldn't progress. I did manage to jot a few notes, but that's all I was capable of. It wasn't writer's block, it was stress and exhaustion, and when you've got that going on, getting your brain to create isn't the brain's priority.

But then there are working days like I had yesterday, where I feel like things are clipping along. Wheee! Followed by a day like today when it feels like I'm walking through mud--thick, gooey, deep mud. I know (and have to remind myself) another clip-of-a-day will come, but I've got to keep taking one step at time through muck, no matter how heavy my legs feel (or how messy or ugly it gets), in order to get there.
You know?
I think part of the reason I love to write novels is because they are a lot like jigsaw puzzles. You know how you can sit and stare at the pieces but just can't seem to make any connections AT ALL? You're ready to pull your hair out and slide the whole thing, in one big sweep, right off the table and onto the floor. Just give up. But then you walk away and when you come back, one piece finds its place and that leads to many others, until finally you have a whole section done and you feel sweet victory. And Happy Dance!

All right, thanks for letting me get that out. I think I was in need of a little personal pep talk. I needed to remind myself of those things (and the Happy Dance), because today was a day of walking through the mud...and the mud was deep.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Today's the Day...Get Registered!

Not only does registration open for the 38th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference in L.A. today, but the new is unveiled. Go on...check it out. And while you're there, register for the conference.

According to the website, registation opens at 10:00 AM Pacific Time. Don't forget, if you want one to attend one of those Premium Workshops, you'll want to hit register the second the little hand hits the ten (get your atomic clock out so you're not a second too late).

Oh yah! Be sure to let me know if you'll be there.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday Moment #17

I was way busy with Real Life this weekend.

I threw a ninth birthday party for my oldest girlie and I made her a crazy cake. Just like my own mom, I make my girls their cakes each year based on what they ask for. It's not always easy, but I do my best. The request for this nine-year-old girlie's cake was a silly cake covered in white frosting and then scribbled all over with lots of colors of frosting. Okay. That's not one I expected, but I had to come up with something.

Here goes...

I went BIG! And it was a hit. A silly cake, for sure, literally exploding with color.

But that's not all that was exploding this weekend. More Real Life for me...

Oh yah! There's Mt. Clothesmore. Remember it? Not only did the girls have one in their room, but I had one in mine. (Airing my dirty laundry, I guess.) So, yesterday it was time to get that laundry mountain reduced to ant hill size again (at least for a couple of days).

This brings me to this week's Monday peeves. You know, those little ones. The kind that when they really get under your skin, enough to make you want to lose it (even just a little), probably have way more to do with something far bigger. So, what's one of mine? Of course it's tied to laundry. It truly makes me crazy when my hubby (love you, Babe) drops his dirty clothes so close to the hamper that they're touching it (or almost touching it) but it doesn't make it in, like he can't lean over an inch or two more to hit the target. Grrr! Now this can bother me (peeve me) in an everyday way, but if I'm irritated about some bigger issue, and then have to encounter this smaller one. Double Grrr!

What is one of your character's pet peeves and what bigger issue might it highlight in your story? off to fold!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tickets Booked, Real Life, Crow, and Celebration

I just booked my flight to LA for the SCBWI conference! Woo-hoo! Tag, your it. (Seattle friends, there are some great fares out there right now.) Need some more convincing? Fellow SCBWI Team Blog member, Suzanne Young, just posted her first Friday Temptation: SCBWI LA 2009. Each Friday Suzanne will be giving you lots of reasons to make sure you join in the fun (or to see what you can look forward to).

Man, I’ve missed this place. It’s so nice to be back blogging, writing, and in touch with friends. I’ve actually posted every day this week. How ‘bout that?

The writing has been interesting (the fact that it's been happening is most important). But, it's had me thinking about writer's block (I’ll post about it some time later) and stamina (the writerly kind). But, it is nice to know, that when you’re ready to get back to work, you can get there.

But getting to the writing has not been easy this week with all the sunshine we’ve been having here in Seattle. So today, after I got some needed screen time with my computer, I took the rest of the day out of doors. Oh yes I did! I was encouraged by BAM (Blogging Alternatives in May). Check out what LK Madigan has going on—a contest. I love me a good contest. Now, I won't stop blogging, but I will join in the fun by posting about my Real Life (photos included...except for today. Read on).

So, today I left The Vault (and my laptop) behind to dive into some Real Life stuff. (Man, why do I always forget the camera?) I quite honestly live in one of the most beautiful places. Since the sun was shining, I grabbed my writing bag—sans laptop—and headed to downtown Port Townsend. I picked up some Thai takeout, a bubble tea (haven’t had one of those in long while) and plopped down at one of the waterfront parks. I enjoyed my lunch, the view, and did a little writing with my pencil—of all things! And while I was there, a crow talked to me. Really, I swear it did. Not just in its big kaw-kaw way, but with a much softer, almost cat-like croon (sweet, soft and friendly). I’ve never heard such a soft sound come out of crow. It’s was lovely, unlike the time a crow took off from atop a stop sign and whacked me in the head!

And finally, a very happy anniversary to my Mom and Pops on this beautiful May Day.

How cute are they?

Then tomorrow, it’s time for my sweet eight-year-old girlie to turn into a nine-year-old girlie. *sigh*