Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New digs

Tip of the day: Hallmark channel has the best cheesiest Christmas movies around and they have tons of new ones this year. Yay!

Not much to post today, but I wanted to share a picture of the house we are supposed to close on later today.

Can't wait till I can have writing retreats here! And I definitely think there might be a book of my set in a castle in the future.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, November 29, 2010

Going to the Dogs and Cats in YA

Tip of the Day: Christmas TV listings! Oh, I love how CBS and ABC put The Grinch and Rudolph on at the same time tomorrow. Scrooges!

Writing about animals in Middle Grade is easy*. Ten-year-olds dream about spending Saturday night with a new guinea pig or kitten. Young Adult main characters have busier lives, but that doesn't mean the family pet can't be very important. The family pet may be the only one at home whose opinion your main character still respects. Look for how dogs and cats are used in the novels you read. Here are some ideas:

1. Building sympathy for your main character. Is your MC the only one taking responsibility for Doggie or Kitty? Especially if there's tension at home, showing your MC is capable of great caring casts suspicion on the other members of the family.

2. Dogs as judge of character. Aren't dogs supposed to love good people and sniff out dangerous people? If that sounds too Disney cartoon for you, think of it in terms of a love triangle. If one of your love interests needs a leg up, the approval of the family dog is huge bonus points.

3. Indicating a big change. When a beloved family pet has to be given away because of the main character's changed circumstances, it's a sure sign that very bad things are about to happen.

4. Using the daily dog walk. Does it take your MC past an ex-boyfriend's house, a graveyard, a park where something awful happened? Or does someone else know her route too well?

5. Humor. I'm thinking of adding a ninja attack cat to my tween novel on its next revision. There's a lot of room for creativity here. For example, have your MC suck up to a smelly dog only to find out it isn't owned by her crush after all, but owned by ...

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

* Well, not exactly easy. How about more obvious? Work with me here, people, I'm trying to make an analogy.

Friday, November 26, 2010

When you just HAVE to talk about it

Tip of the day: I'm thrilled that CHASING BROOKLYN made the 2011 Texas Tayshas high school reading list! So many great books on the list - I'm truly honored to have my book amongst them. Thank you Texas librarians!!

One evening this week, my husband came downstairs and said something along the lines of, I just read the saddest article in National Geographic, about how badly women in Afghanistan are treated. (This woman was one of the ones featured in the article.) Estimates are that 90% of women in Afghanistan face some kind of domestic violence. It's bad. Really, really bad. And the details this article gives about the horrible abuse many women face really, really upset him. I think a part of him wanted me to read it so we could talk about it, but another part of him knew if it upset him, it'd REALLY upset me. I haven't read it yet. I might. We'll see.

His reaction got me thinking about why we reach out to someone after we read a book. Some books I turn the last page and it's over, and that's enough. I'm glad I read it (or sometimes not) but it's nothing life changing and I move on to the next thing.

Other times, after I read a book, I *have* to talk about it. Like if I don't, it feels like something may explode inside of me or something.

What *is* that? Because whatever it is, I want my books to have it. I want a reader to close the last page and tweet about it, or e-mail a friend, or look me up on the internet to find out if I have more books.

I actually think the "need to share" can come about from a variety of things. Here's a list I came up with:

1) A surprise ending. Maybe even something really shocking. Something you don't see coming.

2) Something that touches you on a deep, emotional level. It might be something tragic you can't imagine happening, and you watch a character go through hell and back. Not only that, she does it all with a kind of grace you admire and hope you'd have if you were faced with similar circumstances.

3) A book that makes you laugh and laugh.

4) Characters that are so rich, so well-developed, so real with unique likes and dislikes that it feels as if these people are your friends.

5) The author takes you places you've never been in a book before. He/she pushes the envelope and it's risky, but it's done with skill and it totally works.

6) A setting that comes alive for you, and makes you feel as if you've just went on a fantastic vacation.

I'm sure there's more, but that's what I came up with off the top of my head. What would you add to the list?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Tip of the Day: Don't be a dork and leave your turkey on the steps in your garage all day. Nasty bacteria grows on it and you'll have to throw it out. Boo.

Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope you're planning on having a fun relaxing day today! I heard somewhere this week that 66% of all families have a fight on Thanksgiving day. I'm determined to not be in that 66%! I'm already thinking about the day after. Not the Black Friday shopping (I'm swearing off that this year too) but getting ready for Christmas. I want to get our tree and start the marathon of Hallmark and Family Channel cheesy Christmas movies!

But first, things I'm thankful for right this very second:

My sweet family! Everyone is happy and healthy and silly as ever!

Warm home, food, and income! The economy is seriously depressing and I hate that so many people are struggling. We are donating to as many food drives, toy drives, coat drives etc. as we can.

Writing Goodness: Meg Cabot blurbed my book, I sold German rights to My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours, the Japanese version of The Espressologist just came out, and I started writing a new book!

And finally, our big Disney trip last week went wonderfully! We survived the 20 hour drive there and back and had so so so much fun at all the theme parks. In fact, we are suffering from serious Disney withdrawal and want to go back as soon as possible. Here's just a few shots:

(The castle lit up for Christmas. Isn't it SO pretty? It changed colors too-- blue, pink, green etc. LOVED it!)

(The Osbourne light show at Hollywood Studios. This was AMAZING! Loved the "snow" falling too.)

("Germany" at Epcot. The kids loved all the different countries!)

(The tree of life at Animal Kingdom. So cool and huge!)

What are you all thankful for? Have a wonderful holiday!!

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

For YA Publishers: Bundling (or Librarians Love Read Alikes)

Tip of the Day: Want to know what books are already published that may be like your wip? Ask your local librarian! We're happy to provide read alikes and reader's advisory.

*A post inspired by the YALSA Symposium*

Guess what? Many YA librarians LOVE book lists. We make our own, steal from other libraries, compile from listservs, etc., all in the name of giving our teen readers more of what they like, and making readers advisory transactions quick and smooth -- and with more suggestions for their next library visit.

And we're not snobbish in how these book lists are organized or titled. We love to be "clever!" Zombie Books, Vamps Don't Die, Books with HEART (titles with the word "heart" in them), Make a Splash (water themed), Get A Job (MCs who work), Dead Parent Syndrome (MCs with dead parents), Jewish Themed, Asian Inspired, etc.

So what would be cool is if YA publishers "bundled" some books from their lists together for us. Not just in what is coming out by season, but maybe some backlist books that could be pushed with newer big releases ("Here's our BIG BOOK for the season! Fans of this may like THIS BACK TITLE!" (and the back title may be in paperback so it is affordable for us poor libraries)).

This would also be useful at conferences. If a big display of new releases has the BIG BOOK of the season front and center, they could provide a book list of read alikes from previous seasons to help with collection development which leads to readers advisory once the books are on the shelf.

So many times it seems that publishers jump ship from their "not as successful" books in favor of putting ALL their effort into the current BIG BOOK -- when in reality promoting the "smaller" books as read alikes to the BIG BOOK could help sales all around.

Is there a reason this isn't done?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wanting just to want...

Tip of the Day: hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Yesterday I saw on the news that people are already stationed outside of several Best Buys for Black Friday. A whole five days early! Considering that all the deals are usually kept under lock and key, I find it a little odd that people are already lined up. Because they really don't even know what they are waiting in line for. They could really be wanting a cheap TV, but instead all the appliances are all sale.

Sure some stuff might have been leaked online, but most places probably don't have all there deals listed yet. So what's the point?

The woman interviewed apparently just wanted to be first in line, to say she was first in line. Well...I guess that makes sense.

I know I'm guilty of doing the same thing with my writing. Sometimes its hard to forget what you want to be published for, except that it sure would sound cool to tell people you're a published author. So I guess we'd both be doing it for the thrill of telling others.

But just like the lady sleeping in her tent outside the Best Buy, I might be wasting my time if I have that attitude. There's really got to be other reasons to write. Maybe you just like the challenge or do it for the love. Whatever it is, this thanksgiving I'm going to try to remember why I write. So I can be thankful for all the opportunities it's given me, even if I've still yet to be published. That way, I can feel like my time hasn't been completely wasted.

Photo from: http://www.newstimes.com/news/slideshow/Bargain-hunters-brave-Black-Friday-92.php

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Hands, I Can't Feel My Hands!

Tip of the Day: Since it only rains when I don't bring my umbrella to work, I think you should all pay me to carry my umbrella when you need a sunny day.

So what's with this carpal tunnel syndrome? I'm assuming most of you are writers or at least work around computers a lot. How do I know if I need to do something about the state of my arms?

The right arm has had pain shooting through the elbow towards my fingers for about 2 weeks now. And now my left hand has been asleep for 24 hours.

Normally this would be cause for concern, but it's been busy season at my day job so I just figured when things calmed down at work, this would go away. So I've been treating this by ... well, I haven't been treating it at all, unless you count swallowing ibuprofen with my morning coffee.

Obviously this has been impacting my writing, i.e. giving me another excuse to slack off.

Has anyone tried ace bandanges? Heat treatment, cold treatment? Or do I just need to suck it up and go to the doctor already?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, November 19, 2010

What makes a good school visit presentation?

Tip of the day: Saturday, December 4th has been declared Take Your Child to a Bookstore day. Here's the post from the woman who had the idea.

Yesterday, I got an exciting e-mail. I've kept in touch with this sweet woman named Jen over the years after I met her when I was a Pampered Chef consultant. She brought her daughter to my launch party for It's Raining Cupcakes and her daughter is just the sweetest thing. Here's a picture of me and her:

Apparently when Cupcakes was spotted at her book fair, she helped to sell many copies! And then, Jen reached out to me and asked if I ever do school visits.

I've done some writing workshops for kids and teens, but as of yet, I haven't done a full day school visit at a school. But it's something I'd love to do more of.

Anyway, yesterday Jen let me know that she decided to go to the PTO and request some money to have me come to her daughter's school, and yesterday they approved the request. So next spring, I will have my very first school visit!

I am excited about this prospect, but also a bit nervous. I told Jen my goal will be to provide entertainment, education and inspiration - all three rolled into my presentation(s).

I'm going to have to figure out 3 different presentations: one for kids K-1, one for kids grades 2-3, and one for kids grades 4-5.  I want them to be interactive in some way. I don't want to just stand and talk at the kids for 30-50 minutes. I want to find some cool props to take along.

I've been scouring the web for information, and once I finish a draft of my WIP, I'll need to get my three presentations ready on Powerpoint or Prezi, and maybe go shopping for some props or costumes or something.

Have you been to any school visits that you thought were fantastic? Or any that were horrible? I'd love tips on what to do and what not to do, if you have any!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, November 18, 2010

ISLMA Conference

Tip of the Day: I tried Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter this week and it's actually pretty good! Check it out!

I've been meaning to post about the Illinois School Library Media Association conference I attended a couple of weeks ago. I was invited to be part of their author showcase and it was really cool! Honestly, it was probably one of the smoothest run conferences I've attended yet. Whenever you get 40-50 authors in a room to sign it always seems a little chaotic to me but they had everything set up and organized well before we came in and there was a huge bookstore in the middle of the room so librarians could purchase the book and then easily find the author along the perimeter to sign.

(There I am)

Prior to the showcase I was invited to attend the breakfast where Mary Downing Hahn (former children's librarian, now author) was presented with the 2010 Rebecca Caudill award.

(Mary Downing Hahn)

This is the second time she's received the award. The first time was twenty years ago. I thought the longevity of her career was really inspiring and I loved hearing how she comes up with ideas for her spooky books.

And I have to say, I loved the key note speech by Simone Elkeles!

She is just so funny and witty and you can't not laugh during one of her speeches. I've heard a lot of authors speak and usually the people giving the key note speeches have some incredibly moving story to tell about how their book was inspired by a teen dealing with autism or cancer or suicide, drugs, divorcing parents, death in a family and so on. And I've heard a lot of speeches about books based on some part of history. But this is the first time I've heard a speech about the importance of teen romance! And being that I write teen romance too, I loved it. Yay for Simone representing!

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Falling Leaves (or Down By the Bay)

Tip of the Day: Want to spend time on a crisp Adirondak mountain with a beautiful clear lake? Visit Silver Bay!

I am back from the Falling Leaves Eastern NY SCBWI Novel Revision Retreat and am overflowing with revision ideas and inspiration. Wow. What a fantastic weekend. Not only did I connect with some lovely writers (including a few from Verla Kay's Blueboard), but I enjoyed the sunny weather, peaceful lapping of the lake, and insightful workshops by five kidlit editors.

[We stayed in this cool inn]

I should be working on my revisions, so I'll just quickly post some of the take-aways I gleaned from this weekend:

--Not every book has the same kind of hook or purpose; decide if your book is driven by character, voice, plot, or setting (or a combo of two of these)...

--then ensure that your pitch and synopsis make it clear which part of your novel is the key or hook of your book. (Thanks to the wise Wendy Loggia, Julie Tibbott, and Mary Kate Castellani for approaching these elements in a different way, a way that spoke to me.)

--Aka, don't try to make your book something it's not; let the story and characters speak to you. (Thanks to Kendra Levin for reminding me to take the time to listen to my characters.)

--Also write the first page of the novel in a way that enhances what your book is driven by. (Thanks to Noa Wheeler for the opening session on beginnings.)

What was so cool was how each of these sessions related to the others despite their independent development. They also tied into the 20 page editor crit I received, and the AWESOME peer crit time. I seriously LOVE my chapter one now, thanks to the focus I was able to put on it this weekend.

And here's some more Silver Bay pics for good measure:

If you have a chance to attend a Falling Leaves retreat, I highly recommend it. My advice for attendees: Go in with an open mind, focus on one manuscript all weekend, listen and absorb without constantly taking notes, accept what is offered instead of getting hung up on what you *think* you want before you're there, connect with other writers and listen to their stories and advice. Oh, and remember to thank the organizer. Thank you, Nancy and company! :)

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Library conference: the good bits

Tip of the day: warm apple cider is great on a cold morning!

All day today I will be in Indianapolis at a library conference (it must be the season for conferences--check Deena's posts for more great info). Most of my sessions are geared toward marketing. But there will be some authors speaking and general book talk.

Since typing a full blog entry on my phone seems like an unproductive use of time, I thought it might be fun to update the blog throughout the day (when I get a second) with twitter-like comments I think might be of interest.

8 am: Will Manley: (retired librarian and columnist for "American Libraries" and "Booklist"): funny reference questions: "need a book on inventions that haven't been invented yet" and "need a murder mystery where no murder takes place."

10am: "the accidental marketer" -- understand your audience, otherwise you can do all the promotion you want with no success. Because without a good product it's pointless.

11am: "community partnerships"-- find what you have to offer a business before approaching them with an idea.

2pm: most popular ya book the presenter had read recently was "I am Number four"

3pm: letterboxing is apparently fun!

Not too many author tips. But tomorrow Avi, Richard Peck and a few other authors are speaking. So I'll wait to give you the good stuff when I don't have to type on my phone :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Write, Submit, Repeat

Tip of the Day: Check out this great blog post excerpted from Claudia Suzanne called Plot Your Novel in 15 Minutes or Less.

Last week I told you all that I volunteered at the fabulous Rochester Children's Book Festival. What I didn't tell you was that Bruce Coville was there. Bruce Coville was my mentor at Chautauqua back in 2007 and I run into him from time to time because we are both Upstate New Yorkers, but apparently I still feel odd calling him just Bruce.

Anyway, he asked me what I had out for submission. I was like, uh, nothing. You know, I write almost every day, I stammered. He stared at me. I had stuff out for submission earlier this year, I stuttered. Okay! I admit it! I have nothing out there! Nothing in the mail, snail or electronic. Yikes. So he flicked me in the arm.

So. This was a good reminder. I'm supposed to write stuff and then send it out. I don't like sending stuff out. It gets rejected. This makes me unhappy. Also, after a few rejections, I figure out how to fix the story. But by then I am immersed in a different project and lack the enthusiasm to stop my new project and go back and fix the old one. So I don't send it back out. I'll get around to that next revision "someday soon."

Do I wait until I have a chance to really fix it? Or do I send it out anyway, hoping someone will like it as it stands? If I do that, will I burn through all the promising editors and agents before I get that necessary revision done?

-- Kate, Miss Nothing in the Mail

Friday, November 12, 2010

Journey from Idea to Book

Tip of the Day: Thanksgiving is just 13 days away. I don't want to know how many days until Christmas, because it's not enough. I should start shopping now!!

On Monday, I finished line edits on my upcoming middle grade novel, SPRINKLES AND SECRETS. This is a companion novel to IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES, and will be released 9/2011.

This book has had quite the journey, and I thought it'd be interesting to share that journey today.

Back in February or March, I decided to pitch a sequel to Aladdin, the publisher of IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES. I wrote 5 chapters and a proposal. But, in April, my agent received word that my editor thought we would be better going with a companion novel, rather than a sequel. I think the reasoning is that with a companion, new readers can pick up the book and jump right in, without having read the first one. There is a connection, but the book can easily stand on its own. My editor suggested a book told from Sophie's point of view. Sophie is Isabel's best friend (Isabel is the main character in CUPCAKES).

I was a bit disappointed at first. I liked the idea I had for the sequel (although, now, all of these months later, do you know I can't even remember what I had planned). And I had no idea what I could possibly do for a plot in a book with Sophie as the main character. I mean, without a plot, you don't really have a book!

So, I whined to my friends, including my buddies here at Author2Author, trying to figure out what a story about Sophie might entail. In CUPCAKES, we learned that Sophie is a real go-getter. She loves to sing and act and her dream is to be an actress someday. Deena suggested - what if she has the chance to be in a commercial? And that got the wheels spinning. I made some connections from the first book to create some conflict - and a new book idea was born. (Thank you DEENA!!!)

I wrote another five chapters and we sent it to my editor. She didn't love them, but thought the book had the potential, so they made an offer. I couldn't stop worrying about whether they might not like the whole book though. And I *really* wanted to make this idea work. So I sat down and fast-drafted the rest of the novel in a matter of days, after I briefly outlined the whole book. That was key - knowing what each chapter was going to be about (in a very general way).

When I got my editorial letter, there were some major changes I needed to make. The beginning just wasn't working. I had to find a way to show the kind of person Sophie is and get readers up-to-speed on what happened in CUPCAKES, if they hadn't read that book. But it needed to be fun and interesting, so people who had read CUPCAKES wouldn't be bored. I don't think I've ever had to change a beginning of a book before - I seem to have more trouble with endings. With this revision, I also needed to eliminate one sub-plot entirely and make a minor character more of a major one, and bring out a sub-plot with him. I decided the best thing to do was open a brand new document and start writing.

I was able to use probably 50% of the existing manuscript, but I added another 50% that was entirely new. Did this make me regret writing the entire novel like I'd done? No. I think having an entire novel to work with allowed my editor to really figure out what she liked and what she didn't like, so she could give me some good editorial direction.

So much of what we do is rewriting. We worry we won't be able to come up with new scenes, new sub-plots, new characters, and yet, we do! And often, they're better than we ever imagined they would be.

I love how this book turned out, and my editor does too. The journey had a lot of twists and turns, but I never let myself doubt that I couldn't get where we needed to go. I've gotten a lot of notes from readers of IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES who want another book about Isabel and Sophie. And I just kept thinking - I have to make this work for them.

And it feels so good to have made it to the finish line!!!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Tip of the Day: Check out Meg Cabot's Fiction Club.

I haven't been able to write in weeks. Does that ever happen to you? It's like my family life takes over and things are crazy and I just can't find any time to sit down and write. And I really need to! I'm supposed to be revising one book. I need to work on brainstorming new ideas. I started a book months ago, which I love, and I'm only like three chaps in so I really need to get back to writing it. But I'm so freaking distracted! I can't remember the last time I went into the coffee shop to write. So sad.

Maybe you can help me with one of my issues. My two-year old, my darling sweet two-year old, has gone loco. He's pummeling people with toys (balls, toy trucks, really anything he can) every chance he gets. The day care (he's only in there while I work out for an hour) is about to toss him. He's given my daughters bloody lips. And this weekend, we went for our Christmas pictures and the poor photographer was jumping around the room dodging the boxes and ornaments he was pulling off the tree and whipping at her head. I've discussed this with him repeatedly but he's two and, well, not paying any attention to what I say. SIGH. Any ideas? Is duct tape out of the question? I'm kidding. I promise I won't duct tape him. But I've got to do something!

Kristina, Miss See me on the Shelves

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Mexico, New Friends (or YALSA Rocks!)

Tip of the Day: Be nice to your local librarian. Remember that her day does NOT comprise of sitting around reading. :-p

OK, as much as my return to the reality of my job has been a bit hectic after being away for 5 days, I can't really complain bc the YALSA Symposium in Albuquerque that I attended was FANTASTIC!

In the next few weeks, I'll be posting specific thoughts about the publishing industry that I gleaned while in NM, but today I just want to do a quick conference wrap-up with pics.

Three other lovely MCLS YA Librarians went to NM and our first night we of course had to hit up some Mexican food.

Friday was the pre-conference and the afternoon session on "Fat Lit" was especially entertaining for me bc a former Brighton High School student (the school down the block from my library) was there! If you haven't read Allen Zadoff's award-winning and hilarious YA novel, FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE, you must for laugh-out-loud goodness.

Megan Frazier was on this panel as well, and I really enjoyed her book THE SECRETS OF TRUTH AND BEAUTY.

Friday night was the "social" where I met Selene Castrovilla in person! We've been online friends since her novel SAVED BY THE MUSIC came out last year. And of course, Terry Trueman needed to butt into the pic so we let him. (Have you read his Printz Honor STUCK IN NEUTRAL yet? It is hauntingly brilliant.) If you have the chance to hear Terry speak, you must attend. Funny and real.

Both authors will be at the Rochester Teen Book Fest in May 2011!

Saturday was another full day of panels, including one that was highly relevant to my library, on diversity vs. commercial appeal of YA novels. Malinda Lo, Cynthea Liu, Neesha Meminger, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez did an excellent job of showing the difficulties in getting multicultural stories into the hands of YAs. It was great to see these authors in person!

Next I attended a panel of YA editors who discussed the process and challenges of publishing books in translation. My pic came out pretty bad, but the knowledgable speakers were Kaylan Adair, editor of Winter’s End (Candlewick); Francoise Bui, editor of A Faraway Island (Delacorte); Diane Landolf, editor of The Century: Ring of Fire (Random House); and Susan Van Metre, editor of Fell and Tiger Moon (Abrams).

The final panel of the day was on poetry and novels in verse. Five poets talked about their processes and read from their works. It was great to hear them recite their own work. Margarita Engle, Pat Mora, Jen Bryant, Ann Burg, and April Halprin Wayland did an excellent job talking about this format that is popular with teens (will novels-in-verse ever be popular with adults?).

That night was the author happy hour where I picked up some awesome books, including an ARC of the March 2011 historical novel, BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY by Ruta Sepetys, who was on the panel the next morning about Historical Fiction. Her book is about the mass murders of Lithuanians under Stalin in the 1940s. Wow. Powerful, scary stuff, and so well written. She presented with Christina Gonzalez, whose RED UMBRELLA was a fantastic novel as well.

The final keynote speakers talked about censorship and book banning: the funny Lauren Myracle, and the tear-inducing Ellen Hopkins. For as many times as EH has been to the Rochester TBF, I've never had the chance to hear her speak. Sunday afternoon was my time, and wow, when she read some of the emails she gets from teens after they read her books? Just wow. I'm so glad she's been able to take her difficult life (re: her daughter's drug addiction, which spawned CRANK) and turn it into something that can help these kids. I'm proud of both of these authors for standing up for their books in the face of fear and opposition.

Overall: WOW. Amazing weekend, amazing presenters, amazing organization by YALSA. If I had more time, I'd go into extra details and add pics of all the books I walked away with, but I have to get working on my materials for the Falling Leaves Conference that I leave for on Friday!

Were any of you readers at the Symposium?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I SPY...the strange ornament

Tip of the Day: it's not a good idea to search for a house right after you just move.

This week has been a bit crazy, which means trying to be creative has been put on the back burner. In it's place has been dealing with home inspections, mortgages, relocation companies, packing again, and a ton of other very non-creative stuff that's built to make you go crazy. Not that I'm complaining. Buying a house is very exciting! Just saying it would be nice when the next few weeks are over with. Anyone know of any packing fairies for hire?

I did, however, manage to complete my last assignment to spice up my writing. This week was to hang found objects from a tree. I'm not entirely sure how this helped with writing, but it made for an interesting project this evening.

And since I love Where's Waldo and I SPY if you want you can play a game out of what all you can spot hanging from a grass-like plant in my apartment (which if you squint, kind of looks like a tree :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Legacy Writers: What Will Your Kids Do?

Tip of the Day: The best way to get a good night's sleep after the Daylight Savings Time switch is to break out the cozy flannel sheets for the season.

On Saturday, my daughter and I volunteered at the 14th annual Rochester Children's Book Festival. We had a blast! We were stationed in the Read to Me corner, setting up picture book authors to read their books to happy kid audiences. My daughter was Technology Girl, clipping the authors with microphones. I introduced the authors and timed their talks to make sure they didn't go over, and a local children's librarian helped me with introductions and had the hard job of entertaining the little ones in between authors. The three of us were a great team. At the end of the day, my 12-year-old got to do her favorite job: giving out helium balloons to the kids.

It got me thinking: my kids have a leg up on this literature thing. This year, my daughter is disappointed because her English class is reading The Westing Game, and she's already read it with me and knows the answer to the mystery. Both my kids have lots of books (I've never resisted the pull of a book sale), and in fact, they both have lots of personalized, signed books. I read to each of them several times a week. They meet my writer friends. I look over their homework for spelling and punctuation. And I expose them to events like the Children's Book Festival. Add to that all the times they listen to my rants on revision and how "one day the rivers will run red with the blood of those who can't spell," and I think if they ever wanted to be writers, it would make sense. They're all primed for it.

It's probably similar for your kids. It makes writers who run in the family seem reasonable. (Not so much politicians. I suppose it's the same principle, but it seems too Divine Right to Rule for America somehow.)

My parents weren't writers, but my mother dragged me to the library every other week. Both my parents are readers. My mother is an artist, and when I decided to be a writer, she congratulated me on my willingness to take criticism and told me that would be the crucial factor in my success. (Neither of them can spell, but I suspect they'll be spared when the revolution comes and the Phonics rises from the ashes.)

How did you get primed in childhood to be a writer? What do you do to prime today's kids (your own or somebody else's) to be tomorrow's writers?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, November 5, 2010

Juggling with the WIP

Tip of the Day: Want to see the cover of my next YA novel, THE DAY BEFORE? Go HERE and check it out!!

So, I'm a little worried that my WIP has too many things going on. I think it has like 4 different sub-plots going on. ACK!! But I like them all! And I have plans to tie them all together and bring meaning to each of them, so it's okay, isn't it?

Isn't it???

You might be wondering, is it making it hard to write, having so many things going on? Um, kind of. It's a lot like juggling. Don't drop that ball. And wait, what about that one? Haven't thrown that one up in a while, better do it now.

I'm 26,000 words in, so I can't worry about it now. I just have to keep plugging away, and see how it all turns out.

To make me feel better, can you think of any YA novels that have a lot going on and it really works well?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shock Factor

Tip of the day: Hungry-Girl.com has a no-guilt choco-pumpkin muffin recipe that is soooo easy. Mix a 15oz can of 100% pure pumpkin and an 18.25 oz box of devil's food cake mix. That's it! Put it in the oven at 400 degrees for twenty minutes. Makes 12 muffins (181 calories, 3.5 grams of fat).

I took my kids (2, 4, 6, and 8) trick-or-treating Sunday and we had a blast! There was one house in particular that I absolutely loved though. Throughout the neighborhood people have set up all kinds of scary decorations outside of their homes. So the kids were pretty used to seeing all the decor. When we approached this house:

my kids were walking ahead of me so I was just coming up the sidewalk when I saw them peering into the huge bowl of candy that said take some. The outside lights were off (indicating not home during trick or treat time in our neighborhood) and the oldest was reading the sign to the others and deciding what to do. Do we take one or two candies? Which one should we choose? and so on. All four kids were hanging in the bowl though. Suddenly, the "prop" on the chair jumps up with his hands over head and screams RAHHH!!!! Oh. My. God. I about lost it. I was completely hysterical on the man's lawn at how good he got my kids. My kids giggled but were mostly shocked. I won't lie, one peed her pants. But still, it was so freaking funny! And unexpected. And I looooved it!

Of course this makes me think about writing. And I recalled something Deena had said after getting back from the NY SCBWI conference and how Libba Bray had said not to use the first idea that comes to mine because it's the same one everyone will automatically think of. And how awesome surprise is when reading. I think I need to work on that harder in my writing. Take what the reader thinks is going to happen and completely turn it around on them.

Do you guys work on that with your writing?

Kristina, Miss See Me On the Shelves

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Sympose (or A First Class Ticket to Albuquerque*)

*With apologies to Weird Al Yankovic

Tip of the Day: Doing NaNoWriMo? Tether yourself to your keyboard by plugging a pair of headphones into your PC and clamping them to your head. Works for me when I need to stay BIC!

Tomorrow morning I am heading to the Second YALSA Symposium on Young Adult Literature and I am psyched for a number of reasons:

1) I've never been to New Mexico before and it looks lovely
2) While the temps here in Rochester will be near snowy, the Albuquerque forcast is in the mid-60s and sunny
3) A keynote speech by Lauren Myracle and Ellen Hopkins, amazing writers and speakers
4) Free books! I'm remembering my empty suitcase this time
5) A breakout session featuring the hilarious Michael Zadoff (FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE) who grew up in Rochester
6) A fascinating breakout session "Commercial Success and Diversity: Are Both Possible, or Are They a Contradiction in Terms?" that is highly relevant in my diverse library population
7) Time to work on my November goals in the evenings

Is that enough reasons? Will any of you be there?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The wonders of chalk!

Activity of the Week: hang found objects from tree branches (ha...should be interesting)!

This will be my final week for awhile of trying to Spice Up My Writing. It's been fun, and I think everyone should try it. If you want ideas of ways to get creative with your writing, here's the link to the original list of 100 ideas to try.

For this past week my task was to write in a journal in a different medium (such as paint, charcoal, old typewriter, crayons, etc). I normally don't keep a journal, but I do write down lots of ideas throughout the day. Some of them are writing related and some of them are not. So I attempted to take some time and write down ideas using chalk this week.

The results weren't pretty (enough so that I won't share), but the idea itself proved useful in tricking my brain into being creative. Somehow using a different medium--even just chalk--makes your brain start to think differently. It breaks it out of its normal, everyday cycle and gets it to think of new and exciting things. Probably works much like when you print out a paper to edit you catch many mistakes you don't recognize on the computer.

But who knew something as little as what you write with could make you much more creative?

I think I'm going to start doing this at least once a month, to keep pushing my creativity. This month it's chalk, maybe next month it will be calligraphy...or maybe chocolate! Who wouldn't be able to get creative writing with chocolate :)

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, November 1, 2010

November the First, Pass Me the Sudafed

Tip of the Day: This weekend is the fabulous Rochester Children's Book Festival! Check out the list of visiting authors and drool with envy. Come if you can; it's free!

Deena noted last week that our local crit group is into November goal setting. NaNoWriMo is awesome if your goal is a fast draft, but my goal this year is discipline. My life has been more hectic than ever this year, so here's my November goal:

I will write something every day, even if it's just a paragraph, on a work in progress.

I was actually doing very well in October, but wouldn't you know it, I woke up Saturday morning with a killer cold. I spent yesterday on the couch watching the Buffalo Bills play the longest football game ever. (My son wore his Bills jersey, and we told him he'd be better off dressing as something more believable than a Bills fan, like a Martian or a crazed robot.)

And did I tell you about my Tuesdays? Work all day, drive out of city to pick up boy so young and adorable he still roots for the Bills, cook dinner super fast to get both kids to piano lessons, run them home so daughter can get her karate gear, get son set up for homework, drive daughter to gym, work out, find daughter gossiping in lobby with karate friends, drive home, and oh look, it's 9 p.m. and I need a shower desperately.

Ahem. I will write something every day, even if it is just a paragraph.

I don't have a kitchen. Did I tell you I don't have a kitchen? My husband tore it out. There were sledgehammers involved. He told me this morning that he threw his back out and has to go to the doctor's, so I'm guessing that's a work stoppage situation.

Every day! Just one measly paragraph!

I found in October that sitting down to write one paragraph usually turned into writing two or three pages. I'm thinking that won't be my experience this week, but that's okay. It's developing the habit that counts. Care to join me?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages