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Look, I’m back. I can stick with it, I can!
The truth is, the one time I put a water bottle in my computer bag- it leaked. My computer spent some time in a box of rice over the heater (per instructions my husband found on the internet) and then it went to a guru. Everybody kept saying it would be fine as long as I took the battery out- but the new Macbook Pros have nonremovable batteries. Gah! We got it back tonight, and it has a couple of permanent water spots on the screen and needs a new airport card- but everything else is superduper. Yeehah! I will never bag a beverage again.
The Onion examines an authors exploitation of innocent, interspecific friendship.
The Longstockings are calling for a new manuscript to critique.
If you just ventured out from your cave, there were some book awards this week. I did pretty well with predictions. How about you?
Congratulations all around! Great Kid Books has the list broken down by reading level.
The BBC has produced a video about the real toy story of what happens when a teddy bear is home alone. Some people might not appreciate the audio at the end, but I am a different sort of people. Thanks to Minor Details for the link.
If you’re going to New York next week for the SCBWI Winter Conference (or if you’re there already), there are a few extra events happening around town you might be interested in.
Once again Betsy Bird is throwing a Kidlit Drink Night to go along with the conference. I went last year and had tons of fun. Her partner in revelry, Cheryl Klein, will sadly be out of town. But, we’ll live it up in her honor on Friday.
And then back at Books of Wonder on Saturday from 12-2 you can catch the opening of illustrator John Rocco‘s exhibition of Percy Jackson art. His editor will be there as well talking about the process of developing the art for the series.
Closer to home- SCBWI WWA’s 19th Annual Conference registration is OPEN! I’m so excited! Peter Brown! Jay Asher! Laini Taylor! Mitali Perkins! and LOADS of other great people. Look! I’m even on there. Under “Distinguished Faculty.” Ha! I’m giving a talk on the very basics of social media for writers and illustrators. People come to the conference from all over, so don’t be shy if you’re not local. Registration is already almost half full- so don’t delay.
Did you register yet??
So, I’m going to have a marathon writing session this weekend. Saturday and Sunday I’m holing up to pound out a draft. Away from the distractions and interruptions of home! My sweet husband volunteered to care for the kids and pets, so it will just be me and my new computer in a hotel room. I’ve never done this before. I’m giddy!
Revision might be too weak of a word. It’s somewhere between a revision and starting from scratch. Same characters, big changes in the story. Let’s just call it a rewrite. Anyway, since I’ve never done this before, I have no idea what to expect. How many words can I possibly pump out over two days, if I’m only stopping to eat (or take a quick brain-refreshing swim)? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out!
I’m not even going to watch the new Harry Potter movie, which I’ve been really geeked out about, until I’m done and heading back home on Sunday. I mean business, people! No more distractions.
Alright, maybe a few for you.
Watch the awesome video Betsy Bird made.
Can you spot the Pacific Northwest authors and illustrators making cameos? Name one in the comments, and I’ll pick someone on Wednesday to win a prize made by yet another talented local author & illustrator! I’ll send one lucky commenter a set of recipe cards from Jaime Temairik‘s new Kitchenette line on Etsy.
Aren’t they snazzy? I ordered a set for myself, too. Now I can transfer the recipes I’ve jotted down on the back of old envelopes to lovely little cards. If you don’t cook, you can give the cards to the loved one who cooks for you. They deserve a gift, preparing all your meals like that. Or pass ’em out to friends and relatives to give you instructions for their tastiest dishes!
I thought I knew my way around the kitchen, but it turns out I didn’t even know the easiest way to peel a banana (via SwissMiss).
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 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.
See you in a couple of days!
Do you know where you will be on May 16th & 17th?
I know where I’ll be. I will be at the same place as Ellen Hopkins, Grace Lin, Adam Rex, Ambassor of Literature for Young People Jon Scieszka, and a whole slew of other marvelous authors, illustrators, editors, & agents. It is truly an amazing line up. We will all be just across the water from Seattle conferring and having a jolly ol’time for TWO SOLID DAYS of kid lit creativity at the SCBWI Western Washington’s 18th Annual Conference. We put on a mean conference. Mean, but welcoming. We’re very friendly. Plus, there’s carousing. I can practically guarantee carousing.
Kevan Atteberry designed this handy dandy poster, with thanks to Adam for lending us his Frankenstein.
I promise it will be fun. Go find more information and register here.
I’m in a very bring-on-the-weekend mood.
I am digging away at my manuscript. I took a little break last night and the ideas kept coming. I think I might have worked through my block! Now, I just have to stick to the two hours per day. This month, it’s a challenge.
Maybe the end is near, and two hours of revisions per day isn’t enough. Maybe I should start typing faster.
Parade Magazine’s “What People Earn” Grimms’ Fairy Tale Edition, ala McSweeney’s.
Do you ever see an artist’s work and bet they could make a pretty gorgeous picture book? You’ll see what I mean.
I have a whole lotta muppet love. I was sad at Christmas because we no longer have a VCR to play my worn out Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas tape. Then I unwrapped the new dvd version (with bloopers!) of Emmet that my sweet sister sent, and Christmas was saved. So, I think it’s pretty amazing that Betsy Bird got to do this.
Cory Doctorow gives advice on writing in the age of distraction.
Excuse me, I need to go miniaturize my kids. May your weekend strike the perfect balance of play and productivity.
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.
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.
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.”
I may have been short-sighted when I named my blog Wagging Tales. It’s a little too cutesy, and there’s an, ummm, animal communication business that has the same name. I meant to think of something better, but then a few people started actually reading it and I got lazy. Now, some sort of wires have been crossed and editors are asking me to review dog books. Not even kid lit dog books- a dog memoir, dog advice, and dog training. Three different houses. I somehow got tagged as the go-to dog lady. But, I am not.
I’m going to reexamine the blog renaming. Feel free to make recommendations.
We usually spend Christmas in Colorado with most of my immediate family. It’s a fabulous 5 days of playing in the snow, drinking, laughing, playing board games, drinking, bickering, eating junk food, name calling (hippie/yuppie/liberal cityslicker/etc.), and laying around. My dad even dresses up like Santa on Christmas morning when the little guys are there. Yes, it’s that festive.
So, we’re staying home in Seattle this year and I’m having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. This month has been a little chaotic with colds and non-holiday tasks, and I’ve been distracted. I have most of the elements. Small children- check. Games- check. Name calling- (Thanks, random man on Pine!)- check. I didn’t have a lot of junk food or liquor, so I stocked up- check. Things were looking up, but I still wasn’t in the yuletide spirit. Add a bunch of snow and some nog, and I’m almost there.
Ohhh, I got my package today from the Book Bloggers Christmas Swap. I think I’m only a book blogger in a broad sense, since I don’t review books (and especially not dog books). Anyway, the package is lovely and I’m going to try and wait until Christmas to open it. I’ll take some pictures, too.
If I was an illustrator, I would have a PDF for downloadable stickers on my site like this.
I was reading an excellent article on transracial adoption (We adopted our daughter from Guatemala in 2007). A lot of the issues that come up around transracial adoption are also valid when you talk about mixed heritage, blended families, regentrification, urban settings… you name it. I have a mixed Hispanic/Anglo heritage. I don’t look Hispanic. At all. But, I was raised predominately around the Hispanic side of my family in Hispanic communities. I felt caught in the middle a lot.
The article quoted a local performer named Chad Goller-Sojourner, a black adoptee with a white family. He gave a pretty good analogy on having a different race than those around you.
“Let’s say I was a gazelle adopted by lions,” he says. “I pranced around happy until I got to first grade and all these lions tried to attack me; it’s like they didn’t get the memo. The other gazelles, they smelled the lion on me and didn’t trust me, so I stood open.”
That’s pretty heavy, right? I think that’s how a lot of kids feel who are not of the dominant race, or who are outsiders in another way. I bring it up here, because I think it needs to be said. There has been a (much needed) push towards more ethnic characters in kid lit. I think sometimes these books don’t connect with the reader because the author fails to tap into that feeling of being an outsider, and how being in the middle somehow taints you a little for either side and takes away the automatic belonging. We don’t just need characters with different ethnicities, we need characters with the complex emotions and settings that go along with being different.
Nathan Bransford has recapped the year in publishing.
I’m making a resolution to post pictures or a video of the shed in the next ten days. There, I said it. It’s been a little hyped up, so bear in mind that it’s a shed. It’s my shed, though, and I adore it. I also adore my new video camera, and that is a great motivator.
I hope however and wherever you’re celebrating the season that you have a lot of peace and joy.