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Good grief, it takes me a long time to get into the flow of writing.  I used to blame it on my sporadic writing schedule, but I’ve been writing pretty regularly for a while now and I still can’t just jump into it.  I have to warm up for a while and then slooowwwwwlly I get into a flow.  Once I get into it I can go as long as time permits, with a few dud days here and there. I was discussing this with a certain ambassador at our regional conference.  First, he laughed and made fun of me (in a warm, ambassador-y kind of way).  Then he said most of his writing is in spurts of a few minutes, whenever he has time to spare.  Parenthood and teaching conditioned him to work this way.  I’ve got the teaching and the parenthood, but I don’t have the ability to work in short surges.  Oh, well.

How do you work??

I just received a new computer (!!!), so there should be more pictures and video in the near future.

Look what Nathan Bransford just did.  Amazing.

I want to go to Peru!  Over the next six weeks I’ll be in Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, and Colorado.  I might not want to go anywhere after that.

Jen Robinson made a pretty great list of series’ featuring adventurous girls over at Booklights.

The Vermont College of Fine Arts has added a children’s literature section to their Hunger Mountain journal with the likes of Sara Zarr and Susan Patron.

What happens after your book is acquired? Check out the new blog by someone in a publishing house’s sales department- Pimp My Novel.

Everyone is twittering. The Shrinking Violets made a long list of publishing pros last month, and now, even the Pigeon.

I don’t know why I’m blogging.  I finally have a copy of When You Reach Me to read!

Let me know about your process!

Holly Cupala and Jolie Stekly are putting a group together to whip revisions into shape- with licorice whips, of course.  Do I need this?  You betcha I do.  Do you?

summer revision smackdown

So I blogged about seeing a possum (blech.) in the yard a few months ago.  If my blog hits are any indication- possums are hot.  No single post or word (with some bizarre variations like “possum ghost,” “”possum love,” and “possum recipe”) has drawn the amount of blog hits that the possum post did, thanks to Google searches.  So…I don’t know.  I’m not a fan, but maybe there’s a need out there for more possum?  Are possums the new vampires?  Picture book writers and editors, take note.

Do you know a 2010 high school graduate-to-be? Perhaps they’d like to pen a little essay for Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go College Scholarship Program.

I am bad at grammar.  Bad, bad, bad.  I think something like this might help.

Last thing- I have a question for you, internet.

My six year old boy  loves to read.  He’s zipping through Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine books right now, and Saturday morning he whipped through a couple of chapter books before we even woke up.  He likes light stuff (easy on the dead parents, snarkiness, and scary monsters), but he tends to shy away from series.  Does anyone have any suggestions?

I am going to daydream that I’m on my way to BEA now.

If I was there, I’d be looking for an ARC of When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead because it sounds fantastic- and it’s not out until July.  sigh.


Are there any rules about blogging in a thunderstorm?  I kind of like it.

Holy noodles, that conference wore me out.  I haven’t blogged for two weeks because I was wading through conference prep.  I’ve barely written a thing.  It’s taken two days to get my brain back.  My feet are still sore, but I’m kind of excited about all the newfound free time.

I swiped this picture from Laini's blog.

I swiped this picture from Laini's blog.

I have something to show you from the conference, but someone who had to miss it has to see it first- so you have to wait.  I’ll post it around the end of the week, after I’ve heard this person has seen it.  Is that vague enough?

Let’s see… I think people who saw/met me at the conference who don’t know me might think I’m a little crazy.  I was sooo busy, and I didn’t have time to eat much, and I was drinking A LOT of coffee to keep myself going.  I might have looked a little wild eyed and been a little wound up.  Ok, I know I did.  Try me again on a regular day and I promise to be more serene.

It started with the kid lit drink night, which was a blast.  So much fun, in fact, that I stayed much later than I should have for a girl that had to wake up at 4 am the next day.  Ouch.

I loved meeting so many new people, and seeing friends.  I only caught bits and pieces of the breakout sessions, but the ones I saw were all aces. I did see most of the keynotes by Adam Rex, Grace Lin, Ellen Hopkins, and Jon Scieszka, and they were each unique and inspirational.

We raffled off a free registration for next year’s conference (won by Nuria Coe) to benefit Bridget Zinn, who couldn’t make it this year.  We kept it kind of secret, because I wasn’t sure how it would go- but our lovely attendees raised $1560!  Thank you, lovely attendees! The online auction is growing as well.  Jone added my bag a couple of weeks ago.  There are tons of other items available to bid on like a basket of middle grade books or a FULL manuscript consultation from the blunt (but still charming) Jody Feldman. Go bid on a fabulous prize, and support a writer to boot.

Ok, I have some revisions to get back to- so this is what you get.

Want to read more about the conference from people who could sit down and take it all in? Try here, here, here, here, here, here, here, or here.

By the way, a great big congratulations to our portfolio show winner, Jennifer Mann! A big shout out to the first and second runners up, too Lisa Mundorff and John Deininger.

See you in a couple of days!

First, meet the chickens.  This picture is a couple weeks old, and did you know chickens grow fast?  They do.  Now, they’re teenage chickens.  The feathers are coming in and the down is coming out.  They’re all legs, long necks and big feet. They are blase about finding the bottom of their box through the bedding, and now just practice stunts like sitting on top of the feeder.

Meet Margie, Specky, and Liz Lemon.

Chicks

I took a break from the care and feeding of chickens to make a little something for the auction I mentioned for Bridget Zinn.  I found this super easy pattern for a fun bag, and tweaked it a little bit.

p42700451

But the bag wasn’t enough.  So, I tried to make a bag for a writer.  I sewed a few bits of matching fabric to a Moleskine notebook and threw in some pens.  Then I made a little tissue holder, because writers are always weeping tears of joy when they finish a draft, or find the perfect phrase, or sell a manuscript.  I imagine.  That stuff never happens to me, but if it does- I will need tissue. Writers also need silliness and sustenance, so there are some stickers and Fran’s chocolates. A writer’s goody bag!  It could work for an illustrator, too.  Anybody’s goody bag!

handbag inside

I believe it will be available at the silent auction for Bridget at the Lucky Lab Pub in SE Portland on May 29th. Fear not, if you’re not going to be in Portland there are lots of great items you can bid on right now at the online auction.

What else is happening on the internet?  People are feeling inspired by the month of May.

Paula Yoo is declaring a National Picture Book Writing Week (“NaPiBoWriWee”).  Can you write a picture book a day for seven days, starting today?  Try it!

French Toast Girl would like to try to do something creative every day in May, and you’re welcome to join her.  There’s even a Flickr pool.

Laini Taylor has an excellent post about authors who feel they’re slumming if their book is picked up as YA.

Last night we came across a contest for Lego loot, and my kid is first and foremost- a Lego maniac.  Per the instructions, I snapped a picture of some family Lego building on my way out to meet my favorite newlywed illustrator. Want to see the poor souls who live with me?  Here they are.

I met YA writer, librarian, & blogger Bridget Zinn at the Kidlitosphere conference last September.  She’s lovely, so it made me sad to hear that she’d developed colon cancer.  Jone MacCulloch (aka Deo Writer) is organizing a couple of fundraisers to help Bridget and her husband with the expensive treatment.  There will be an online auction starting next week that I’ll keep you posted about, and a silent auction in Portland on May 29th at the Lucky Lab. You can help by contributing something for the auction, or making a bid. Like the Holms!  Jennifer Holm is offering to name a character in an upcoming book after some lucky bidder, and Matt Holm is offering a school visit!

More details on Jone’s blog.

SCBWI’s 38th Annual Summer Conference is right around the corner, and they’ve posted the details.  It looks like a great time! Registration begins on May 5th, and the conference is August 7th-10th.  I will be there, will you?

Ambassador Jon Scieszka is rolling into town in a couple of weeks for our conference.  Have I mentioned that here?  Hmm, I can’t recall.  Anyhoo, if you’re not going to the conference, or even if you are but you can’t get enough of the ambassador (Who can?  He’s delightful.), than you should attend the soiree that Secret Garden Books is putting on with the CBC to celebrate Children’s Book Week.  It’s on May 14th at Secret Garden, and more details are here.

When you see George Clooney, do you think Kermit the Frog?  I did not.  Here’s a little editing exercise, via Michael Stearns on Facebook.

Do you know how I like to blog?  I like to share things.  I like to pass things on that I find interesting, that you too might enjoy.  In order to do that, I need time to peruse the internet.  I haven’t had so much of that lately, and all signs point to the next six weeks being even busier.  I’ll try to blog when I can, but I’m warning you now that it will probably be sporadic.

You know where I would really enjoy blogging?  Marrakech. I would blog the heck out of Marrakech.  Especially if I had a lovely office like this.  I covet.

A “friend” sent me this “blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks and it gave me the “giggles.”

Contests!

Lee & Low is holding a contest for unpublished writers of color with a picture book manuscript. Details here.

Delacorte is holding their annual contests for a first middle-grade or YA novel. Details here.

Fairy Godsisters Ink are a few collaborating writers full of goodwill offering a scholarship to someone interested in going to the SCBWI International Summer Conference in L.A.  The deadline is next week, so giddy up!

I have to tend to our newest pets now.  When I get really busy, I tend to pile even more on.  I seek out more responsibility.  It’s what I do.  I’m neurotic.  So, in typical maladjusted fashion, I became intrigued with urban homesteading. I’ve added to our population.  Do you know that it is chick season?  I did not.  Right now there is a makeshift brooder on the other side of the room.  Three downy little occupants are peeping away.  I suspect they found the bottom of the box under the shavings again, and that is the MOST EXCITING THING EVER.  They do, in fact, have bird brains.  As do I, apparently.

I’ll post a picture soon and then you will see how I was unable to resist. Stop judging!

I received my wonderful pressies from the book blogger swap and actually waited until Christmas to open them.  My Secret Santa was the Bassett Knitter,and she should win some type of award for giving gifts to strangers. In my little “about me” email I mentioned that I wrote middle grade and suggested that a my person could send a copy of their favorite book from 5th grade.  She sent a copy of A Wrinkle in Time (which I haven’t read for years), a lovely tote, a hand knit ornament, a pioneer craft book, some candy, and a handmade box of writing prompts!  It was a sweet and lovely package.  Thank you, Paula!

Xmas pressies

 

 

 

 

 

Xmas pressies 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A ping pong door.  Genius!

 

peaAmy Krause Rosenthal writes fine picture books, like Little Pea and Little Hoot.  That should keep her busy enough, but she also has a social experiment to illicit more loveliness from the world.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s starting a new phase of her experiment, a conglomerative documentary of loveliness.  Want to be a part of it?  The deadline is in a couple of weeks, and the info is here.

Writing.  Ugh!  I’m sick of my manuscript.  I feel like I’m treading water and it will never ever be finished.  I thought I would feel better once I finished my draft and sorted out a few things, but the more I dig into it…the more problems I find.  The before the X, and after the X feel like two different stories.  The pacing, the action.  I just feel a really long way from making it work.  I don’t know if I can be objective anymore.  It probably needs a new set of eyes, but it’s too muddled to show anyone.  Ugh.

There aren’t enough blogs devoted to middle grade writing.  YA and picture books kind of dominate the kidlitosphere.  Every time I find a new one, like Welcome to my Tweendom, it makes me happy.

Way #3795 to avoid writing:  A blog devoted entirely to animal babies born in zoos.  Cuteness abounds.

I’m uploading a few shed pictures this very instant, so those will be up shortly.  I promise to post them by the end of the year.

Ok, I was browsing craft blogs this morning and I came across a couple of things that might work for a crafty writer and/or illustrator.  We can be pretty crafty, right?

First:  You can make your own cookie cutters (instructions are here).  camel_cutter

“What? What does a cookie cutter have to do with kid lit?”  You say.  

“Book launch.”  I say.  Stay with me.  

What’s your book about?  Squirrels on motorcycles take a cross country trip and fight an evil blob?Okey dokey.  You are baking cookies to give your book launch that personal touch, right?  And sending some to your editor?  And your favorite librarian? Great.  Now, are you going the chocolate chip route, or the custom-squirrels-on-motorcycles-kick-ass-sugar-cookie route?  Alright, then.  Thank you, Craft blog.

They also posted a lovely photo of a knitted up tree by Carol Hummel.

treecozy

pobag1Ok, one more.  Do you carry big piles of manuscripts to the post office in a multiple submission bonanza?  Do they slip out of your hands and land in the scummy gutter?  Do you think muddy manila sends the right message to the editors and/or agents you wish to woo?  Whip up this handy dandy Post Office Bag (via Sew Mama Sew).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This post is totally random!”  You’re muttering.  Yes!  Let’s keep it going, shall we?  Are you writing a story with a scene about a small child seeing a live lobster for the first time?  You’ve probably been wondering how such an interaction would go.  Here is the answer.

If you don’t read Fuse #8, you should.  That Betsy Bird is always posting great information and I think about linking it here, but then I assume that you already know because you read Fuse #8. Right? Like today, she pointed out that Bowen Press has a blog.  

Last but not least, I’m going to make this TWO POSTS IN A ROW relating to kid lit, philanthropy, and hair.  I’m guessing this will be the last time that ever happens.

Adam Rex (Author, Illustrator, Nice Guy, & Keynote Speaker at the upcoming conference) is growing a mustache to help underfunded students in Philadelphia, but he needs pledges!  Go support Adam’s commitment to cultivate face whiskers.

Go on, there’s nothing else happening here.

I thought my Google Reader was as full as it could be, but the Comment Challenge is pointing me toward more blogs!  So far, I’ve been easing in to commenting mostly by responding on blogs I already read regularly, but I’m branching out!

Crooked House is a blog I check often.  It’s a great combination of kid lit, art appreciation, and family life that’s pretty simpatico for me.  This week, she posted a cardboard city, made by artist Ana Serrano, which I think is marvelous.

Sara at Read, Write, Believe posted a lovely video that captures the feeling of writer’s block quite nicely.

Laini Taylor posted a preview for a movie, Slumdog Millionaire, that looks right up my alley.I love movies set in India.

I got a haircut last night.  The good news is, there is a foot of hair headed for Locks of Love.  I asked for your basic, under the jaw bob.  I have a round face, so picture a Campbell Soup Kid.  I just went to a walk-in place (Character detail: I lack planning.), and I wasn’t really watching (Foreshadowing!), and from what I did see I was hoping it would be alright in the end.  He FEATHERED my hair, and sprayed it.  When he was done I looked like Kate Jackson, circa Charlie’s Angels.  And he was proud.

I’m pretty busy this week, so I’ll be rocking the barettes until I can have someone fix it.  I was going to dye it a funky color when I got home, but I lost the mood.  Soon.

Ok, I’m not going to dwell on that.  Back to the kid lit!

The Longstockings have an interview with Matt Phelan, illustrator of Newbery winner The Higher Power of Lucky, among others.

Alright, I’m distracted again.  It’s dreary outside, and don’t noodles and gloom go together?  Have you tried the Noodle Soup Oracle?  Slurp up some inspiration!

Jay Asher challenged we of the kid lit world to post our senior pictures.  Jolie posted hers and challenged the rest of the Seattle gang.  She practically triple dog dared me, so here it is.  It took me a while to find one.  My hair was aqua net auburn and the make up was thick, but it’s not so bad in comparison to how I looked as a sophmore.  My hair was HUGE, permed, and blonde.  I was a bit of a rocker girl, and those pictures you won’t see.

Here are a few good links-

Cheryl Klein talks about plot problems.

How to build your own press kit.

Plus, a good blog about promoting your book.

Guys Lit Wire talks about 826- one of my favorite organizations.

And Bookshelves of Doom sews up a Harriet the Spy pillow- with a pocket for a book!  Genius!

I write stories for kids while volunteering as the Assistant Regional Advisor and Conference Coordinator for the western Washington chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

I live in Seattle with my family and a small zoo of animals. I drink copious amounts of coffee and assign complicated life stories to passing strangers. I'm currently working on a middle grade novel.

There's a wee bit more on my website. You can also follow me on twitter.

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