You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2008.

I don’t have much to say today, but I have links!  I can’t write here- I have a draft to finish in two days.  Curse you, self inflicted deadline!  

Time suck alert:  Go make your own Jackson Pollock(via Bookninja).

Here’s an intriguing drawing technique with water from Emmanuel Guibert, author or Alan’s War(via Boing Boing).

Chasing Ray has pointed me once again toward absolute coolness. Did you know Holly Black has a secret library?!?  Just like Uncle Arthur’s!!  Go ahead, and envy away.

Lisa Yee is holding a Book Title Contest.

The October Carnival of Children’s Literature is up.

Want to see what happens to a book when it gets to the library?

This isn’t kid lit, but it’s exciting astronomy!  They found a solar system.

Do you know what I’m going to do when I finish my draft?  I’m going to get my chubby butt into the kitchen and make some celebratory pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting.  Yes.  Then, I’m going to take the kids trick or treating.  Then, I’m going to post pictures of the writing shed, which has a floor and everything!

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.

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 finally figured out how to turn off those snap shot pop up windows when your cursor passed over a link.  If you’re curious, it’s dashboard->design->extras.

Apologies for any annoyance.

I’d been looking forward to Jim Lynch‘s workshop on pulling novels from nature for a long time.  Jim wrote The Highest Tide, so he knows a bit about working nature into a novel.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  There’s a YA version with a different cover (a boy in a boat).

One of the things that really struck me about his workshop was his emphasis on setting.  Jim believes that writers (and those that teach writers) don’t put enough emphasis on setting. Just as where we come from sets up who we basically are, he believes that if you start a novel with a rich setting the story and characters will spring from that.  



And now, to honor a new WordPress feature… a poll!

When you boil it down, what does your story start with?  If it varies, how about your last story?

Do the kids know?  The Scholastic News election goes to Obama.  The election is usually a good predictor.  Fingers crossed (link from Read Roger).

Next Wednesday Deb Lund and Kathryn Galbraith are having a Monster Mash & Bunny Ball at Ballard Library.  Bring the kids!

Tonight I am going to a book launch for my friend Martha Brockenbrough‘s Things that Make Us Sic, illustrated by Jaime Temairik (she of zombies and Twilight sock puppet video fame). Question- if you put a zombie sock puppet on your hand, say “Brains, brains!” in a muppet voice, and 702 people watch it on Youtube, can you get a SAG card?  Just wondering.

Here is the great word of the day:


It means a mixture of all seeds, and it generally refers to the theory that microorganisms from space bring life to planets with good atmospheres.

Speaking of strange science, do you need a calendar and hold an appreciation of carnivorous plants?  Then I have a free download for you.

Wow, I’ve been out of commission for a week!  Sorry about that.  You wouldn’t have wanted me to blog about gastrointestinal issues anyway, so let’s move on….  I’ll try and pick up the slack this week.

Lots of big stuff going on, but you’ve probably already heard that today is the last day for Cybil nominations?  Ok, how about kid lit bloggers signing up to explain why they think it’s important to vote?  Good stuff.  How about the finalists for the National Book Awards?  Then we’re basically all caught up.

Last week I was able to meet Jon Scieszka, the Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, at Third Place Books.  He was the perfect combination of smart, delightful, humble, and goofy.  Even my almost-two year old was flirting with him, and she is not easily charmed.  Anyway, we made small talk for a while and then HUNDREDS OF KIDS poured into the store.  Ambassador Scieszka wasn’t phased at all.  They sat down, he went up to the podium, and he started talking.  He showed them the Ambassador Medal (They “ohhhhed.”) .  He held up a few of the books he wrote (They nodded emphatically.).  He mentioned how he helped with the Time Warp Trio TV show (They gasped in awe.).  He told jokes, and they were rolling in the aisles.  It was a sight to behold.  

If the writing and the Ambassadoring don’t work out for him, he could maybe give lessons on how to talk to kids.  They loved him.

We have a lot of apples right now in Washington.  A LOT.  I’m still learning the varieties, but I’m pretty sure my favorite for snacking is a Honeycrisp.  I usually stick with a Granny Smith for baking, but if any apple afficianados have another suggestion, do tell.   Last week I made this sour cream apple pie yumminess from Posie Gets Cozy.  It was delicious.  Now I see some experimenting with apple pancakes over at Not Martha.  I might need to write an ode to apple country.

More tomorrow…

A combination of something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately (office design) with something I step on a lot (Legos).  Get ready for the Lego Home Office!  

The new Notes from the Hornbook is available here.  

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast has Mini Grey this morning.  We’ve been reading Traction Man Meets Turbo Dog, and it’s a smashing sequel.  

Cynsations interviews agent-who-is-coming-to-Seattle-soon-hint-hint Michael Stearns.  Michael has a blog, too!  Did you know?  I didn’t, until Betsy Bird mentioned it.

I wonder about the other agents coming to the SCBWI Western Washington Conference in May.  I wonder if any of them blog?  Hmmm….


Oh, by the way, why don’t you go tell Nathan Bransford about the worst writing advice that you’ve ever received.  

If Steven Malk has a blog, I’ve never seen it.

Ok, where was I?  

Our contractor is gone, and the shed is almost complete!  He did his part, and now it’s our turn. Our to-do list has some painting, some flooring, some roof planting…All in good time.  I’m going 

to work on the interior first because I want to move in ASAP.  Plus, the weather is starting to get soggy so I’m not sure when we’ll be able to fix up the outside.  I am SO EXCITED.  

Pictures coming soon…

This book has been out for a while, but we were talking discussing it last night.  I picked it up again today and it’s pretty fantastic.  It’s like a crazy wordless graphic novel that can be enchanting for all ages.  The Adventures of Polo by Regis Fuller.  

The sequel isn’t too shabby either.

Adam Rex is having a haiku contest!  Some lucky kid will win a truly awesome grand prize, but you adults can give it a shot, too.

Speaking of winning,  I won a couple of prizes yesterday at Inside Story.  I scored a copy of Things that Make us (Sic), written by the lovely and talented Martha Brockenbrough (with illustrations by Jaime Temairik).  I can’t tell you what it says inside, because it’s not released yet.  I can tell you that she has a blurb from Tom Robbins.  Tom Robbins! Is there a cooler guy to get a blurb from?  Maybe not.





THEN, I won a copy of The Two Bobbies by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery.  Kirby was kind enough to inscribe it for my kid, a.k.a. the animal lover.




I mentioned Moonrat’s raffle for manuscript critiques to help a sick friend the other day.  Since then, Tracy Marchini of Curtis Brown has agreed to raffle off a picture book critique, and a first chapter of a YA/MG book.  Go enter!





A couple more links:

I missed mentioning the September Carnival of Children’s Literature.  

Through the Tollbooth looks at character arcs.

I have been double tagged.  Holly and Jolie each tagged me to share writing quirks and personality traits.  So, here you go:

Writing quirks

1.  I have to warm up before I write.  If I’m on the computer, I’ll browse around the internet for about an hour.  This sounds like procrastination, but really it’s not.  My brain waves just need to get into the zone.  I’ll open my work-in-progress, and work on it in little bits between reading blogs, researching other projects, emailing, facebook…  Then my brain clicks and I can get fully into the manuscript.  

2.  I write late at night while my family is sleeping.  Right now I’m working on the couch, but soon I’ll be traipsing through the dark to the shed.

3.  I have a lemon of a Mac.  The “Genius Bar” hasn’t been able to wrap their heads around fixing or replacing my computer, despite numerous visits.  I was considering making the switch back to a PC.  I’ve started using Scrivener (awesome writing software only for Macs), and I’ve grown much more tolerant.  What’s the big deal with crashing and lap burning when I can organize chapters so sweetly?

4.  I let my husband read the beginning of an early draft- and then he’s cut off.  I’ll let him read the whole thing when I feel it’s nice and cohesive.  He’s been waiting for a while on this one, and he’s impatient.  I think that’s a good sign.

5.  Since I’ve been involved with SCBWI, I’ve become acquainted with a few editors and agents.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  I have a much better sense of who might appreciate my manuscript and be fun to work with, but the lack of submission anonymity makes me more self-conscious and hesitant to send out my stuff.  Neurotic, but true.

6.  Do I have one more quirk?  Hmm, let me think.  Ok- here’s one:  The deeper I get into a project, the more ideas I have for other projects.  Then, I want to start those.  You could call this self-sabotage, but I think it’s just the creative juices flowing.

Jolie tagged me for another thing a couple of weeks ago that I haven’t had a chance to get to yet.  I’ll answer those, and then we’ll just be done with the tags for a while, shall we?

Personality questions

1. What are your nicknames? 

Sparky LaRoux.  Oh…nicknames?  I thought you said stage names.  No nicknames.

2. What was the first movie you bought in VHS or DVD?

The Goonies

3. What is your favorite scent?
It’s kind of seasonal.  Roasting chile, lilacs, earth, garlic.

4. What one place have you visited that you can’t forget and want to go back to?

One place?  Geesh.  I’ve been thinking about Scotland a lot lately. I feel like being in Edinburgh.  The last time I was in the U.K. was pre-kids.  It’s time for a trip!

5. Do you trust easily?
Noooooo.  Not at all.

6. Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think?
I seem to bounce back and forth, without falling upon a reasonable balance.

7. Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days?
That my shed isn’t finished.  Arrrrrgh.  And the election.  Come on, November!

8. Do you have a good body image?
God, no.

9. What is your favorite fruit?

10. What websites do you visit daily?
Google reader, Facebook, Apartment Therapy, Craft

11. What have you been seriously addicted to lately?

Shed conversion/office organization.  Reading Kidlitosphere blog reports.  Salads with greens, kidney beans and artichoke hearts.  Yum.

12. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?
She is helpful, glamorous, fit, creative, and fun.  She is an inspiration!

13. What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?

“On the Radio” by Donna Summer

14. What’s your favorite item of clothing?
Yoga pants and a sweatshirt.  The perks of working from home.

15. Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy?

16. What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground?
It depends on where I found it. That might give me a clue as to how it was lost.  I’ve been known to lose money, and I know how rotten it feels.  I might keep a twenty, but if I found a big amount that couldn’t be returned I’d probably donate it to charity and turn the loss into something good. This makes me sound new agey, doesn’t it?

17. What items could you not go without during the day?
My computer, pens, paper, calendar, coffee…

18. What should you be doing right now?
Finding the baggie of screws to assemble my kid’s bookcase.  It’s been unassembled since we moved.  In December.

There you go!  I’m going to bed.  Toodles!

My blogroll seems to have disappeared.  Archives, too. Hmmm.  I have a few blogs to add, so I’m going to have to get to the bottom of this.

It’s time to nominate books for the Cybils!  There are categories galore!  Give your favorite new books a couple of shout outs, and then get lost in the blogs of the awesome panelists and judges. I nominated A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker in picture books and  Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix in fantasy.  I read Found last week and I had to stay up late to finish it.  Check out the book trailer.



Also on the bookshelf…

I just finished reading Bunnicula by James Howe to my kid.  He’s been reading the new early reader versions to himself, which I thought might ruin it for him.  It just enhanced the story, and got him through the bits that might be over his head.  I picked up the book Sunday at Powell’s in Portland, and we devoured it.  He identifies with Chester, which isn’t surprising since we had to address him as ‘Cat’ for a year or so when he was three.  Yesterday we started Howliday Inn.  It always amazes me how much wordier books from my childhood are from books that are published today.  I reread Bunnicula, The Westing Game, Ramona– and the pace is so different.  There is so much more narrative, with less emphasis on action and dialogue.  The language isn’t dumbed down either.  There are big words!  I’m sure there were bits I didn’t understand as a kid, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the book.  I had to buy a new copy of Bunnicula at Powell’s because my old one fell apart.  I think it might have been my all time favorite book from childhood.

What was yours?

The Fall 2008 Horn Book Guide arrived yesterday.  Yippee! 

Public service announcements!

SInce I’m having sidebar difficulties, I won’t paste the badge for YA for Obama, but I’ll tell you about it.  

YA for Obama

YA for Obama 

YA for Obama

If you’re not registered to vote, you probably only have a couple of days left before the deadline.  It’s not too late.  Go now.  I don’t even care if you’re voting for them.  I prefer if you don’t, but I also prefer democracy to apathy.

Are you swayed by celebrities?  Watch this.  FYI, there are a few f-bombs.

One last thing about Kidlitosphere.  I mentioned after SCBWI LA how things were a wee bit chaotic back home while I was away (Runaway dogs, floods, Sharpied babies….  I hadn’t been out of town without the family since, and I was a tiny bit nervous.  If anything happened this time I didn’t hear about it.  I came home and the baby was ink-free and the HOUSE WAS CLEAN.  Ahhhh.  Bliss.  Thanks, SB!😉

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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