Tuesday, June 30, 2009

opinions are key

Last week I sent my sister, Katherine, the first chapter of my book, Avondale, to read aloud to her class of fifth graders. After she reads it she is going to have them answer 7 questions that I compiled in a questionnaire. I wasn't easy on myself with the questions I asked, they're not all geared toward eliciting positive answers, one in particular was - Is there any part of the first chapter that you think needs improvement? What part and why? What would you do differently? But nonetheless, I am looking forward to hearing their answers, particularly to the question above, and also to the last question, which was - What is your favorite kind of book to read? (i.e.: mystery, suspense, science-fiction, fantasy, funny-stuff, scary, romantic, silly). This should be interesting to know.....
So while I understand that my questionnaire isn't a complete scientific study- it's only a small part of California, one classroom, one grade - I am excited/nervous to hear the results!
Stay tuned for what they say and to read the first chapter yourself!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

it's good for you...wotw

(going with the apple theme here)...

Salubrious: (adj) favorable to health.
Used in a sentence: The cunning hag convinced Snow White to eat the bright, red apple noting the fruit was a salubrious snack.

twilight time

Yes, I am one of those people who have not read the Twilight series yet. Numerous friends of mine, and my nieces are huge fans of the series and have told me that I'd better get to it already. It's not that I don't want to read them, it's just I haven't gotten around to it what with all of the other books I'm constantly trying to get to. But, having just finished Susan Patron's, The Higher Power of Lucky, (which, I hate to say, I had higher hopes for considering it was a Newberry Medal winner- pun intended) I'm ready to embark on the Twilight series. According to a description of the books from one friend - it's like being back in high school and having a sweet, all-consuming crush on the cutest boy, butterflies and all. That doesn't sound so bad. So if you don't hear from me for a few days, it's because I've fallen under the Twilight spell. :)

(Cover Image of Stephenie Meyer's book, Twilight.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

the power of art

I love the power illustrations have to transport your mind to another place – a cloudy sky darkens the page and elicits the smell of rain, or a little face peering out from behind a tree evokes a sense of mischief – whatever the story, illustrations help to bring it to life. I wish I could draw well, but what I picture in my head isn’t always what comes out through my hand, that’s why I appreciate people who do it so beautifully. Since I was a kid I’ve loved the mysterious, bizarre characters found in fairy-tales, and as a writer I find endless inspiration in them. So without a doubt, I had to add this classically illustrated, Aesop’s Fables to my catalogue of books. The illustrations are from the late 19th century and early 20th century, and are so whimsical it’s hard not to be carried away to a magical place.

Images from: Ash, Russell, and Higton, Bernard. Aesop’s Fables: A Classic Illustrated Edition. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1990).

Friday, June 19, 2009

yay green!

These are the types of signs I really like to see - no, not the For Rent - look below that! "Green Business Only"! HOORAY!. When I see something like this I start to believe that us human beings are finally starting to get it. We have a huge responsibility to our planet to keep it clean, or rather, stop the damage, and this is a good start.
Not to sound greedy...but I'd like to see more signs like this all over our country!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

you lost me at... wotw

Pedant: (n) A person who makes a show of knowledge. A learned bore. Overly concerned with minute details or formalisms, especially in teaching - Pedantic (adj).
Used in a sentence: Claudia Kincaid’s ongoing, pedantic description on Michelangelo’s works had Jamie falling asleep and bored.

(Characters in sentence inspired from the timeless children’s book: From the Mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler; by E.L. Konigsburg).

even geniuses have quirks

I love reading fairy-tales, and Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) is one of my favorite story tellers (The Emperor's New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling). So I was interested to learn that this poetic genius had some quirky traits of his own. Apparently he always carried a thick rope with him on his travels to help him escape from hotel fires. This infamous rope is rumored to be on display at the Hans Christian Andersen museum in Odense, Denmark, which is now on my list of places to see.
(Image from: The World Treasury of Children's Literature, The Emperor's New Clothes. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1984).

Monday, June 15, 2009


I'm starting to think that Sadie should have her own blog. I've never seen a dog get so much attention, really! Yesterday she took a trip into town with me and my sis-in-law, and practically everyone who saw her petted her and asked a million questions, ok, maybe that's a tad over-dramatic, but seriously, by the time I got home her fur was slicked back against her head. In fact, her fur is what draws people to her. People ask me all the time if I dye or highlight her hair. I have to hold back my laughter because they're actually being serious, but no, I don't highlight my dog's hair.... (I do dress her in cute sweaters sometimes though, guilty!).

Here are some fun facts about Sadie: she's a Norwich Terrier. She's 4 yrs old. She loves to eat, and eats so fast in fact that she burps a lot, and very loudly at that. She loves to run in the grass at the park (I let her off her leash even though I'm not supposed to...shhh). She absolutely can't get enough belly rubs. One time she was told that she looks like a hedgehog. Another time she was told that she looks like a porcupine. When she sees my sister's dog, Happy, she attacks her with kisses and hasn't learned that when Happy growls it means stop. She sleeps, a lot. Her breath is pretty bad, I need to work on that. She can sit and shake (only shakes if you have food to give her). And finally, when she sees the white neighborhood cat in our yard she goes crazy!....oh, and yeah, she's really pretty darn cute!

(Photo of who else, famous Sadie, above).

Saturday, June 13, 2009


A good friend of mine told me the other day that if you’re not getting lots of rejections, you’re not trying hard enough (no response is a form of rejection, right?). Well I’ve gotten a few of those, silent responses that is, but she’s right, it’s time to start greasing the wheels and begin my own little production line of sending out queries to publishers.
It takes time to write a book and a long time to write a really good book, but it takes a really, really long time to write a decent query letter and synopsis – a writer’s main tools in catching an editor’s eye. So now that my second novel, Avondale, is revised down to the bone, I’ll be querying until my head spins and rubbing Sadie’s belly for good luck.
Here’s an excerpt from Avondale, a sci-fi/fantasy novel with heart for tweens:

It once has been told it once has been sung
That the birth of a Double would
one day be sprung
A girl and a boy their heritage true
Will grace thee
fine land, the multiple two
I’ve heard from the wise ones the blessed the
The younglings be hidden so as not to their graves
Pure blood they
will have and minds so intense
One day weakened Avondale will need their
The girl will be quiet, serene and gifted with sight
The boy will
be hardy, bold and ready to fight
When the sun in the sky is round and bright
The eleventh year of their existence will bring forth the said

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

bow down before the one you serve... wotw

What kind of blog about writing would this be without a word of the week!? Everybody needs to expand their vocabulary, right? Well I know I do. So in order to help all of you who have at one time or another been in the situation where a conversation goes south because someone says a word you don’t understand and then you stop listening and you get sweaty and a look of confusion pulls down your face.....I give you..... The word of the week.
Obsequious (adj): humbly or exceedingly attentive (as to a person in authority): Fawning, Sycophantic.
Used in a sentence: When Audrey spotted her favorite author at a book signing, she did not fail to voice her obsequious observations about her brilliant new book, and her adorable, yellow sweater, and her cute new hairdo and... she would have said more, but security dragged her away.
(I didn’t say the sentence would be any good, but you’ll probably remember it now!)

Monday, June 8, 2009

quirky character inspiration

Would you ever tell your aging mother that she was starting to look like a lizard? Not to her face I bet, but perhaps to a stranger? When people drop what I like to call, the TMI bomb (too-much-information), and reveal random things to complete strangers – I, as a writer, appreciate this very much.
Character inspiration can surface at the most unexpected of places. Just last week, for instance, I attended a workshop where admittedly, I found myself repeatedly drifting off, but one person managed to drag me out of my bored slumber by providing anecdotes about himself and his family. Yes, he did say that by the time he was in High School his mother was so wrinkly that she had started to look like a lizard - then he stuck his tongue out and made slurping noises. But the best was when he described her “anti-aging” technique, in which she would pull the loose skin hanging at her chin around to the back of her neck, where she would tape it, together.
I’m sure my mother wouldn’t appreciate if I went about telling tales like this about her (not that there are any), but my point is, it did give me a great visual for a potential character. Can’t you just picture her as the evil Grandma who comes to stay for the week, or the vain, older neighbor on a budget?
Ideas for quirky characters abound all around us...you just have to keep your ears open... and be thankful for the TMI bombers~
(Photo from greennature.com)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

plastiki expedition

Just last night my sister and I were talking about the plastic bags we use to pick up our dogs', well, poop....(I know, fascinating, right!). But if they're not biodegradable, those bags, along with millions of other people's bags, will sit in landfills way past our lifetime. So when I read about someone trying to ignite environmental awareness, by building a boat made out of plastic bottles and recycled waste products, the Plastiki, http://adventureecology.com/ I was intrigued. David de Rothschild and crew are actually sailing this boat from San Francisco, California, all the way to Sydney, Australia. They'll be sailing through the world's largest waste dump and other places of environmental concern along the way. I haven't made it over to Pier 31 to check out the boat yet, but I'll be following along and posting updates on this endeavor. Image above from http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/04/david-de-rothschild-plastic-ship.php ...read more about this massive undertaking there.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

richard peck

Photo I took of author, Richard Peck (mentioned in post below) at the SCBWI 10th Annual Winter Conference in New York city this past January. He's receiving an award from SCBWI Executive Director, Lin Oliver. (sorry about the quality, I was sitting toward the back).

flipside find character

It's a fact, I don't know every tween/YA writer there is, and I haven't read every single book; the truth is I'm discovering new authors all the time, so when I attended the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) http://scbwi.org/10th Annual Winter Conference in New York this past January, I was thrilled to hear award-winning writer, Richard Peck speak (A Year Down Yonder, A Long Way From Chicago). I had read A Year Down Yonder before the conference and fell in love with his character, Grandma Dowdel. She's a fiery, no-fuss widow who isn't scared of anything or anyone, and gets things done her own way. So hearing the man speak who created this formidable woman was, in my opinion, the highlight of the conference, especially when he talked about working on a manuscript (quote may not be verbatim because I jotted it down later):

"A manuscript is like a sick friend, you stay up late at night with it, you
take it out for fresh air, you don't leave it alone for too long." (Richard

Last night I was up past mid-night with my own manuscript, Avondale, and my dog, Sadie (and friends who know me, know that, for me, this is late). So when I finally turned off the light, Richard Peck's words once again rang true; for some reason or another, when you're excited about something, sleep, doesn't really matter so much and fatigue never really catches up with you..... Well, perhaps it did for Sadie, she's sound asleep and snoring~