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Carrie wins! Congrats, Carrie!  Send me your address and I’ll get those lovely cards out to you Monday.

Here’s a  short video of Maurice Sendak on Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are,  shown at ComicCon.

I finally read The Hunger Games this week.  Am I the last one in the world to read it? It feels like it.  I’m not generally crazy about futuristic, dystopian settings, so I kept resisting the recommendations.  Silly me. I couldn’t put it down.  She lost me a little bit with the mutts, but otherwise I was totally engaged in the story.

My writing weekend went very well.  My goals were a little lofty, so I didn’t actually finish the draft, but I’m much farther along and the rest is pretty much planned out. What a fantastic gift to have such a big block of time just to focus.  It was wonderful. My goal this week is 10,000 rewritten words, and I think I’m getting pretty close.

Publisher’s Weekly has their Fall Children’s Books on stands now.

PWK72009cover

That clever Martha Brockenbrough made a new blog for SCBWI Western Washington, The Chinook Update.

Sometimes I like to write with a different font in my working draft, just to mix things up and tweak my perspective a little bit.  I’ve been playing with the free fonts at Font Squirrel lately.

If you’re marketing some kid kit this year you should probably pick up the 2010 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market guide. Even if you don’t need it for marketing, look at the list of fabulous features and articles.

Do you use iGoogle?  They have a new group of comics themes, like American Born Chinese and Robot Dreams.  Also, Ziggy.  You know, if you’re into that.

Justine Larbalestier addresses the controversial cover choice for her new novel that has everyone upset. Grrr. Whiskey tango foxtrot, Bloomsbury?!?

The Horn Book gets the blue ribbon for speedy printing. I received my copy in the mail on July 20th, complete with acceptance speech transcripts from ALA on July 12. Well done!

I’m going to bed now, so I can kayak tomorrow with both eyes open.

Do agents get more candid when you ply them with Mexican food and wine? Yes!

Daphne Unfeasible shared that link while live-blogging queries again. 

The Newbery has been kicked around a lot lately, and now a Newbery winner is responding.  Susan Patron wrote an op-ed piece for the L.A. Times this weekend, and what an eloquent response it is.

Barbara O’Connor reflects over some dead matter, and is that much wiser for it.  

That’s it.  Nice and short today.  I’ve been trying to do things the hard way lately, and it’s been sucking up my time.  This morning I whined to my husband, the video game programmer, that I’m having trouble with spreadsheets and websites.  Sometimes I get so caught up in a project that calls for some technical brain power that I don’t have, I just try and sludge through and  forget who I live with.  He knows these things!  A few tap, tap, taps and I’m back in business.  We’re a good pair!  Together our left brainedness and right brainedness make a complete, functional brain!  Now if only the kids had inherited his British accent, but I guess that would require another move.  I don’t think so.

I dreamt about grizzly bears last night.  I’ve had a weird insomnia lately that leaves me with a night of wakefulness and vivid dreams.  Last night I was on a trail in the woods in what I already knew was bear country.  I don’t remember where I was going, but I knew that I had to get there.  Around every few curves there would just be a bear or two grazing, and I would tread softly past with my heart hammering against my ears.  I woke up feeling edgy and anxious.  It seemed like one of those dreams I was supposed to grasp some symbolism from, but I think I’m just too tired.  

So, the obligatory resolutions post.  I am a sucker for new year resolutions.  There’s so much hope in the prospect of change and success.  I always make the cliche’ ones with exercise, more veggies, blah blah blah.  I’m going to list three here that are directly related to my writing that I can review in a year.

  • Fix up my work-in-progress
  • Sell it.
  • Fix up work-in-progress #2.
  • Repeat.

Simple, right?  Let’s come back in 2010 and see how it went.

Let’s make a simple resolution just for January.  I resolve to get out of my writing funk and devote at least two hours every day just to revisions.  Starting today.  That should get me in ship shop shape for the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York.

Nathan Bransford asks you not to mention the SASE you’ve included in your equery, among other things.

Indy bookstores need to stay competitive.  How about the Seminary Co-op in Chicago? They’ve started a blog with the covers if books from their front table, thus titling their blog- The Front Table.  When you hover over a cover you get a mini-window of information, and you can click to buy the book online with Booksense (via Slog).  Neat-o!

Kirby Larson has a new blog!

A teenager in Chile is making flipbooks from animations she made in Flash (via Drawn.ca).  Wouldn’t that be a nifty promotional tool for an illustrator to use? I seem to be a little obsessed with illustrator promotions lately.  Oh, well.  I’m in an artist mood today.

Jen Stark is a sculptor.  One day she was brainstorming for some budget-friendly material, and started cutting up a stack of construction paper.  

jenst

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can watch her talk about her process in this video.

New blog feature:

Hook of the Week!

“In the late 17th century,  famed pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with the dust of 100 dogs. Three hundred years later, after one hundred lives as a dog, she returned to a human body—with her memories intact. Now she’s a contemporary American teenager, and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.”

Intriguing, no?  That is from the soon-to-be-released The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King (via the Flux blog).

Do query letters stress you out?  Michael Stearns and Firebrand Literary want to help.  Forget the query and just send the first, fabulous chapter of your completed manuscript from December 15-January 15.  You can find more details here (via Cynsations).

It’s pretty standard for agents and editors to request that you submit only after your manuscript is polished and complete.  Seems logical to me.  I’m neurotic enough to wait until I don’t think I can make it any better.   Then I’ll send it or shelve it.  I’ve been hearing some nice success stories of people getting deals based solely on partials, rough drafts, and outlines.  So, here’s a poll…

 

If you did, how did that work out for you?  Spill!

 

Here is one for the illustrators:  Swissmiss shared a link to over 40 Wacom tablet tutorials.  

When do you know if you should give up on a manuscript?  I’ve been stuck on mine, but I’m not sure if it’s just the manuscript blahs or a deeper issue.  I have other ideas for books that are sooo inviting, but Laini reminded me that those inklings to be wooed by exciting new plans are just sirens leading to doom.  I know me.  If I put a project aside to work on something else, I won’t go back to it.  

I spent last Saturday gaining lots of new inspiration and ideas (and hand cramps) at Writeorama, and then Laini shared lots of good advice on finishing your novel last night.  Sooo…I’m going to give it another shot.

farBy the way, I read an advanced copy of Joni Sensel’s new book The Farwalker’s Quest (Bloomsbury USA, 2009).  I am not a book reviewer, but when I really like something I like to mention it (Full disclosure: Joni and I serve on the SCBWI WWA Advisory Committee together).

 

The Farwalker’s Quest is a light fantasy that’s going to appeal to any middle grade reader who enjoys a good adventure.  It’s definitely a page turner, and I think it’s Joni’s best book yet.  I’m excited to have a sneak peek, because I predict this book is going to be a smashing success.

I.N.K. makes a recommendation for the non-fiction writer in your life.

Books for the holidays!

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.

Time for….another poll!

I typically do not. I spend my days with two small children and (usually) write at night.  I get distracted by music and lose my train of thought.  Once in a while I’ll play something without lyrics (like classical), or an album that I know very well that can sink into the background and help set a mood.  Rachel Cohn mentioned in her keynote at the SCBWI conference this summer that she often listens to loud rock and punk while she’s writing.  I’m thinking that I’ll regain the focus to be able to rock out while I write in a few years when the kids get bigger.  When the kids get bigger I won’t have foggy brain all the time, right?  Right?!?

Craftzine features a quilt for the painter in the house:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week Mitali Perkins blogged about race in novels and whether or not an author should describe a character’s race. Good stuff!  I have a mixed heritage (Hispanic and Caucasian, if you’re curious.), and as a kid I was hungry for characters and settings that I could relate to on a cultural level.  

There wasn’t a lot.  There still isn’t.

I am all for authentic ethnicity in characters, and it’s nice when it’s obvious.  I was thrilled as a child to come across a Hispanic character in a book, and a hell of a lot more thrilled when it was a character that wasn’t a stereotype.  On the other hand, when a writer decides to give their protagonist a best friend/sidekick with ‘cappuccino’ skin, it is irksome and clunky.

M.T. Anderson over at Through the Tollbooth, with a contest!

You need an agent, and not just any agent. One that follows up, says Moonrat.

Writers of Seattle- you should sign up for the Write-O-Rama at Hugo House.

I am giving myself a deadline!  I declare to have this draft of my manuscript done by Halloween.

Just a note-

Editorial Ass, Moonrat, is helping out a friend with lymphoma and no insurance by holding a SUPER AWESOME RAFFLE.  Want a full manuscript consultation?  Query letter critique? A book from her library?

Go win one, and support a good cause.  

That’s it.  I’m going back to my revisions now.  Good luck!

Carl Hiaasen and Mike Lupica are making a pilot for HBO?  You had me at Hiaasen (via The Longstockings).

Speaking of Longstockings, Cynsations interviewed editor/author/supermultitasker Lisa Graff.

Sara Crowe, kid lit agent at Harvey Klinger, has started a blog.  Go visit Crowe’s Nest.

Neil Gaiman works out of a shed, too.  

I’m not working out of a shed.  Yet. The shed is still in progress.  Our carpenter said he’d be done in a week, but it was not to be so.  They should finish the roof today, and start working on the interior.  I’m ready to move in!  I bought a lamp!

Ok, here are some more progress shots.  I’ve lost track of time, but this is what’s happened in the last ten days or so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My shed has a porch! And it will have a green roof.  Yay!  We’re debating what color to paint the outside.  My husband says he should get input on the exterior colors.  HA! HA, I say (Hi honey!).  I want it to be bright and artsy.  I’m thinking periwinkle blue with a yellowish green trim.  He likes red.  What say you?

Off to exercise, and then write. My manuscript is shaping up nicely and I’m anxious to get back to it.

I have been reading a few picture books lately that remind me how important it is to be in touch with what is truly happening with your reader at that age.  My son started kindergarten this month and has been gobbling up the new fall releases about starting school.  If you’re writing a book with this type of setting you should know what many writers do not:  Preschoolers and kindergartners are not typically snarky, sarcastic, or cruel.  There is a common theme of mockery, namecalling, and belittling, that is becoming popular.  It is false.  I’ve spent my share of hours in classrooms as a co-op parent and a teacher, and the early classrooms are not that hostile.  Really.  Middle grades?  That’s another ball of wax- and another age.  

Just had to get that off my chest.

Alright, moving on.  

The Cybils have a new category, and have announced the new panelists for it.

Ask Daphne liveblogs her reactions to a whole lotta queries.  Take notes!  Part one, and Part two.

Writers are not the only ones that get neurotic when the rush of new love with a manuscript wears off.  Editorial Ass outlines the editorial cycle.

Loose your page?  How about Orange has origami bookmarks that are easy peasy.

Shed update:  The carpenter took the weekend off, so there was no progress on the shack this weekend.  I’ll post some more progress pictures in a couple of days.  I hear sawing and hammering as I type. Yippee!  I did get some flooring and researched installing an extensive (lower maintenance) green roof.  We’d probably have to change the pitch a little bit and reinforce it a tad, but it sounds doable.  I found this picture on ecogeek, and now I can’t stop daydreaming about a herd of tiny goats troptroptropping over the roof of my tiny studio.  Like chihuahuas, only more likable and with bah bahs instead of yap yaps.

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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