Oh, and Happy didn't want to be left out! She's the magical Halloween Fairy with glowing wings!!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Oh, and Happy didn't want to be left out! She's the magical Halloween Fairy with glowing wings!!
Friday, October 30, 2009
The T.V. show the Vampire Diaries, by the way, was born from a series called Night World written by L.J. Smith. These books are now on my list to read!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
As a writer, I don't think there's anything more difficult than characterization. It's easy to find yourself swimming through murky water when attempting to morph an unlikable character into a vulnerable, likable one (think Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets), you have to hit all the right notes to get your audience to actually feel sympathetic for this person who makes it so hard to love him. And in the case of Michael Cera, sometimes it's even harder just to maintain a consistent personality, such as he did, in portraying Oh, a Gatherer (as in Hunters and Gatherers) in Year One. His soft voice, slouched posture, controlled facial expressions, and perfect comedic timing, all helped to make his character believable in an utterly ridiculous, unbelievable movie. In fact, I was so engrossed in this movie, that when I went to check on the brownies I was baking, I didn't stop and think, hmm, they're still soupy looking after 20 minutes -yeah, the oven wasn't on. But my point is that, Michael Cera's consistency of character made me, as the viewer, feel a familiarity with his speech, actions, thoughts, mannerisms...traits, essentially, that I could almost predict what he would say or do in the next scene. That's what good writing is, connecting your readers to your characters so that they feel a bond with them like they're real people.
So thanks, Michael Cera. And if you want a good laugh, go rent Year One ~
Monday, October 26, 2009
First off, cheers to all of the writers and illustrators who attended the conference, because they truly helped to make the day a more fulfilling, enjoyable experience. And kudos to the agents and editors who presented. I'm sure that putting yourself at the mercy of a bunch of eager writers can be a daunting, potentially draining task. In fact, I think it's safe to say, that most of the industry people who attended, have probably been hounded one too many times by relentless, pushy writers, which in turn, can make it kind of difficult for someone like me, a non-pushy writer, to have a "normal" conversation with them, without scaring them away....
That said, I learned lots; everything from how to capture a child's voice - a tough task on its own, as it's easy to forget the quirky, yet surprisingly insightful things kids can say; to five lessons on how to plot your book; and, how to (hopefully one day) promote yourself and your book once it's published. One of the highlights of the conference though, was when an editor from the imprint of a big publishing house, picked random manuscripts from a basket, which conference attendees had added to at registration that morning, and read them out loud, then critiqued them on the spot. Eeck! First of all, let me say, what a brave editor for doing this and for thinking quickly on her feet, literally, and, although I found this exercise helpful, it was also a tad nerve-wracking, even though my manuscript was not read. Maybe it was just me, but I could feel the tension in the room as writers sat clenched with anticipation that their manuscript could be the next one read. The editor was nice with her critiques though, and kept her criticisms light and constructive. Finally, to end the day, Teri Sloat, a very creative, enthusiastic author/illustrator, showed us how inspiration and imagination can lead to creativity. She presented an animated video of her illustrations come to life, which elicited many "oohs and aahs" from the audience.
So, where is my mind today? I'm a little distracted, to tell the truth, (this post took me way too long to write and I almost scraped the whole thing) because in the back of my head, actually the front of my head, I'm reminded that I have a ton of competition out there, even though I don't like to look at it as so, it is, to be realistic, competition. Going to these conferences can be very inspirational, but, at the same time, part of me feels extremely overwhelmed. I know in order for my manuscript to sell it needs to be tight, entertaining, attuned to the current market and appropriate age group, and most importantly, very well written - this is no easy thing. I really hate when anxiety creeps up on me like this, but when it does, I try and take a deep breath, go for a run or take Sadie for a long walk, and hope that it runs its course through my system. But, then again, I know that I wouldn't be doing this if I weren't passionate about it. After all, what is it they say? No risk, no reward. amen.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I'll report back here on Monday with all of my conference highlights, and let you know how it goes. And, oh!....speaking of the power of support amongst children's book writers, check out this hilarious blog post from literary agent, Brenda Bowen, on why SCBWI is like the changing room at Forever 21...well said!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
One year, Yung Soo had been allowed, for the first time, to join his grandfather on the trip. Grandfather had traded a bushel of nectarines for a skinny little piglet. Yung Soo carried the piglet home and cared for him, feeding him from a bottle, holding him like a baby, and scratching behind his ears. ...."Someday," Grandfather warned, "when that pig gets fat, we will have to kill him for food."
A general riding on a horse came up the path, followed by his army of foot soldiers.... Yung Soo was about to stand and bow to this great man when the general shouted, "Come morning, we will kill these villagers and take their food..." ....Lugging...bundles of food and blankets on their backs, the people followed the head villager...to a cave.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Fudge-A-Mania, by Judy Blume (Berkley Books 1990). After reading a section of her website on how Judy Blume got started writing, a friend of mine said she noticed some similarities between me and this amazing author. Being compared to Judy Blume on some aspect, any aspect, I'll take it, and I can only hope to be as successful as her one day, but after reading about her myself, I did feel like we had some things in common, like; having to write everyday and feeling the burn of a story inside of you just waiting to get out. And, that Judy Blume had a huge imagination as a child but didn't write down her stories until later. As a kid I too was always coming up with stories and ideas of games to play with my three sisters, one summer I even choreographed a music video to George Michael's song Faith along with my sisters, which my step-dad recorded with a camcorder he'd borrowed from work - when I was 17, my sisters, by the way, thought it would be funny to show that same video to a boy I had just started dating, I don't think I could've been more embarrassed! But anyhow, I can't wait to re-read Fudge-A-Mania!
And lastly, the exceptional, classic, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Signet Classics 1959). Originally published in 1884; I haven't read this book since junior high or high school and I'm so glad I picked it up again. I love how the gritty, crude, coarse storyline between Huck and his dad, even though at times hard to read, makes me clench my fists and feel anxiety in the pit of my stomach. After I'm done with this book I plan on reading more "boy books" so I can get into the mindset to write a gritty, coarse book myself. So far I'd say that the three novels I've written are for girls and boys, but since they all have female protagonists, I'd like my next book to have a male protagonist with real "boy" issues. I can't wait to start writing! What are your favorite "boy books" reader?
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This is the type of art that inspires me to want to write a magical-realism book with dark characters who have lost their way, or with creepy villains who give you the chills.
Monday, October 19, 2009
My roomate and I made cupcakes last weekend for my step-dad who came up for a weekend birthday visit. The icing called for gel food coloring (Martha Stewart is fancy) but the only gel food coloring they had at the store was neon....so much for stickin' to traditional yellow, blue, red and green.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Honestly I am glad that balloon boy is not hurt, but what a terrible stunt to play and amazing how thirsty we all were to drink it up.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Sorry for the terrible pictures, I really need a better camera, but I wanted to show my writing wall for my latest book, Trevelyn's Shimmer, before I take it down and start on the next one. I haven't done a wall before mostly because I never had the space, but having done it I must say it's been a huge help. The drawing above shows the details of the balloon that my main character Marie discovers. It really helped to zone out on it between breaks while keeping my mind in the right place.
My main character Marie travels far and wide and meets a musician who sings about the Blue Ridge Mountains in Tennessee, which are part of the Great Appalachian Valley. Since I've never been there, it helped to have this map.
I'm a huge fan of Google Maps as they assisted me with plotting Marie's course over the United States and Europe. Researching parts of this novel allowed me to learn more about the Mediterranean Sea which I've never been to but would love to go one day. Learning and studying new topics about the world is one of my favorite things about writing.
Now that I'm done with Trevelyn's Shimmer, I'm starting on a couple of other projects and working on some short stories for adults. Writing short stories is really hard for me but I enjoy the challenge. I read quite a few short stories, and while I give major props to the creative writers out there who create them, it seems like many stories are about turmoil, or loss, or death and heartache, especially the ones that win awards. I know these stores are hard to write because I've tried, and my recently finished book is no cakewalk either, so that's why I'm determined to try and write something funny. Maybe writing humor is harder and that's why so many people stick with other themes, but laughing feels good, don't ya think?
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I joined some friends with kids at a shopping event the other week called Just Between Friends, where you can buy second-hand items like clothes, toys, and books - my favorite - and picked up this Mother Goose book for five dollars! My own mother used to read these fun stories to me when I was a child. Five Toes was one of my favorites. I loved when my mom pinched my toes and made the wee!wee! noise. I read it to my friend's daughter the other week and she really loved it too. Plus, the illustrations by Blanche Fisher Wright are adorable.
This little pig stayed at home;
Monday, October 5, 2009
I know I'm supposed to be reading Newbery Medal books right now, and I am - I just finished Holes, and started The View From Saturday - but I also love the Jessica Darling books by NY Times Bestselling Author, Megan McCafferty. Her prose and characters are witty and intelligent, and the storyline is one that almost every teenager and adult who used to be a teenager can relate to.
I read the first book, Sloppy Firsts awhile back, but I need to get over to the library to check out Second Helpings and then the remainder of the series. The fifth book just came out so I have some reading to do. Go to her website (the link is above) and check out her (retro)blog where she posts excerpts from her diary from when she was a teenager - hilarious!