Wednesday, August 10, 2011

a fur princess turns seven

Sadie turned 7 years old today. And I did something I've never done before...I bought her an orange, frosted birthday treat. Maybe I sang Happy Birthday to her, maybe I didn't. She was delivered her sugary surprise at the dinner table where she's never ever been allowed to sit before. After sniffing her biscuit with a look of longing, I told her to take it, and what did she do? She left it untouched on its plate and looked up at me with her ears turned down. The voice in her head must've been saying, Is this a trick? What's this lady up to? Am I really allowed to eat off the table? I nudged the treat closer to her mouth. She sniffed and looked up again fixing her brown eyes on me. All those doggie training classes where we practiced the leave it! command must've actually paid off. Who knew! Finally, I picked the cookie up and popped it in her mouth. She sat holding it there as in the picture above, not believing her luck. Eventually, I set her down and she ran like hell to her room where she could enjoy her treat in peace. And now, the carpet where said birthday biscuit was devoured, has never been so clean.

Happy Birthday Sadie!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

poor little reject

Here's a poem I wrote that has yet to find a home in a children's magazine. It's a poor little reject, but I still like it. And until a door opens to let it in, I thought I'd share it here. I hope my little reject makes you think of summer...hint hint.


by Samantha L. Hagar

Stuck between your fingers,

Glued to your feet and toes,

Itching the bend in your arms,

Scratching inside of your ears and nose.

It can be smaller than a crystal,

Or even tinier than the tip of a pen,

And if you mix it together with some water

You can recreate London, England’s Big Ben.

It can be coarse enough to polish wood,

Or as silky soft as Baker’s flour.

It’s found in glass, paint and concrete,

And it’s also used to tick down the hour.

It runs rampant in the Sahara,

Covers dunes in New Mexico,

And comes in many different colors,

Brown, black, pink, or white as winter snow.

I use it to build castles, mermaids and towers,

Or to bury my brother’s legs just within sea’s reach.

I love to jump and splash at the sparkling, foamy edge,

But mostly I love sand, and I find it at the beach.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

love of outdoors

This is a picture of Sadie from this past Memorial Day weekend. Sadie's become quite the little hiker logging just under eight miles in two days. Those three inch legs were moving fast causing people to point and laugh. Funny how we openly tease animals but you'd never point and laugh at a person with really short legs. Anyway, this past weekend being outdoors and soaking up the sunshine made me so happy to be back in California - my home state. I'm getting all nostalgic on you, but I never, or rarely I should say, hiked when I lived in NYC and I always felt like something was missing. I'm glad to be closer to nature again, and glad I have a cute lil' puppy to share it with - even if I do have to carry her up the hills.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

sadie, second cutest pet in the east bay

The votes have been cast, the winner announced, and Diablo Magazine's cutest pet of 2011 is....Duke. But, Diablo Magazine's SECOND cutest pet is...Sadie! Whoo-who! Second by a mere whisker! She's still number one in my book, though. Which means that I'm still going to brag about it. Read all about the winners here.

And a BIG THANKS to everyone who voted. Until next year....

Samantha (owner of the second cutest pet in the East Bay)
Sadie a.k.a. Hollywood (second cutest pet in the East Bay)

Monday, March 21, 2011

vote for Sadie because she likes treats

(the photo that got her paw in the door)

Something very exciting is in the, not for my writing, but for my dog! Today I learned that Sadie is a finalist in the top 16 of Diablo Magazine's cutest pet contest! My friend Bronwyn took the photo one day when we were goofing around and dressing Sadie in baby socks. We had a laugh at poor Sadie's expense, but she's a good sport...she got treats afterwards too, so don't feel too bad for her. If Sadie wins she'll get an awesome prize at a local dog store and I'll get to brag with more vindication. So please take a second and help us out. Vote for Sadie here. And vote once a day everyday until March 28th.

Sadie says "ruff-roo" and I say thank you!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

snowy mountains

The first day of spring is just days away, so let's see winter out with the tip of a hat and a few snowy peaks. Pictures from photo pops and the mountains near his home in Colorado.

(All photos property of Richard Hagar. Any unauthorized use is prohibited and illegal).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

birthday wishes to my mom

Happy Birthday to the beautiful woman who gave birth to me. I'm so glad she was born because without her there would be no me! Thanks for being so great and supportive and for teaching me everything I know.

Friday, February 18, 2011

superstar molly shannon

Image via EW's Shelf Life (Jeff Christensen/AP Images)

I love Molly Shannon, so I was super excited to read that she's written a picture book called Tilly The Trickster (Abrams) scheduled to be released in September of this year. In an interview with EW's Shelf Life, Shannon talks about being raised by a funny dad who encouraged goofiness, and says she feels it's important to pass on a sense of fun and silliness to kids. She also talks about how writing a picture book was harder than she thought, how it took a lot of trial and error, and that it's important to keep it simple. If you've ever tried writing a picture book I'm sure you can relate (I can) because you may have a spectacular idea, but that means nothing if you can't make it fit within 32 pages and make it compelling and unique.

On a personal note, I saw Molly Shannon once, a few years ago when I lived in New York City. I was at a restaurant/bar near the Hudson River, eating a hot dog and drinking beer, when she zipped by out on an afternoon run. I started laughing when I saw her - you know how some people make you laugh even when they're not doing anything at all? - well that's how adorable she is. I wanted to run out after her and say hi, but that would be scary and weird, so instead I told all my friends but nobody had seen her except me!

Anyway, now we all have something funny to look forward to in September. And if you want to read more about her inspiration for the book - like how when she was little she told other kids waiting for the school bus that the bus had already come so they walked to school while she rode an empty bus - then read the full article here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

a day of love

My good friend is moving back to New York City. It's always so sad when a friend moves away, especially to a place so far. But I'm happy for her and excited to see what the next step in her life brings. Above is a special piece she created for Valentines Day.

Today is about smiling, being happy and sending out love....and giving Sadie as many belly rubs as she wants.

Monday, February 7, 2011

sadie cakes

It's time for a new picture of my little animal that I talk about so much, don't you think? Here's Sadie from this morning. This face either means, "Give me food" or "Stop kissing me mom!" Either way, she's pretty darn cute.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

overused ideas and themes in kid's lit

I'm sure we're all guilty of at least one of these - both newbie writers like myself and the more distinguished - the overuse of common ideas and/or themes. Oh, don't raise your eyebrow at me Dwayne Johnson, you know what I mean!

(Yeah, sure. There's a character in my book who raises an eyebrow. He peers over his spectacles, too. And he calls them spectacles, not glasses. So what!)
Photo: Dwayne 'The Rock" Johnson. Google Images

I've been meaning to post about this topic since I read a very informative article in the SCBWI bulletin called, "The New Red-Haired Best Friend" by Joelle Anthony. In one year, Anthony read 3 to 4 books a week and was struck by the common themes threaded throughout most YA or MG novels. She says the idea behind the list was "to point out areas where authors seem to think they are being unique, but actually aren't."

In my own reading and critiquing, this is something my writing buddy and I point out to each other all the time. For some reason it's so easy to fall into these cliche-traps, but we all do it. Sometimes people will even unknowingly offer up suggestions to revise a manuscript so that it follows one of these overused patterns. There's a lot of the same out there - book ideas can be like fashion trends, once they catch, they spread like wildfire... to use a cliche.

So what are some of the overused ideas that topped the list? (below, as shown in the Nov/Dec 2010 SCBWI article):
- Stories of irresponsible parents with main characters who end up paying bills, cooking, cleaning, etc.
- Main characters who hate math. (Guilty!)
- Mean cheerleaders.
- Main characters who are the only ones in the world without a cell phone.

Are you guilty of any of these? Want more? The list goes on. Read all about it over on Anthony's red-haired list, here.

(Joelle Anthony's debut YA novel, Restoring Harmony, was released in 2010).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

your manuscript's musical score

(Does it mean I think highly of my novel if I want this soundtrack as its musical score?...or maybe it's just my crush on Johnny Depp)

Last night I was attempting revisions on my manuscript while listening to various Hans Zimmer scores on Pandora, and I got to thinking, if my book Trevelyn's Shimmer was ever made into a movie, what would be its musical score?

After listening to quite a few selections, I decided that The Pirates of the Caribbean might just do the trick. I liked The Last of the Mohicans, too, and the soundtrack for Inception - but both seemed a little too...intense...although, there are a few hairy scenes in my book where they'd probably work well.

(I haven't, sadly, even seen this movie yet. But I can get a real good sense of what happens by listening to the musical score - well, all those trailers on tv helped, too.)

Do you listen to music while writing? Ever day dreamed and thought about what would be your manuscript's musical score if it was made into a movie? Up? Far and Away? Lord of the Rings (that was a good one, too).

Try going to Pandora to test drive a few while writing. Close your eyes and imagine your characters in real life with the score of say, Gladiator playing in the background. You might find listening to music takes your writing to a different level and you might just be surprised by what you create.

(I mean, come on, the last scene in the movie when Maximus is drifting off to Heaven and the Celtic music is playing, it doesn't get better than that!)

Friday, January 14, 2011

today show pulls newbery & caldecott interviews for...snooki

Reality tv star Snooki

Wow. Okay, where to begin... I watch reality shows on occasion, I won't lie. I've never watched Jersey Shore....well, that's not true, I tried once, I turned the channel after one minute, that doesn't really mean anything, but it means a lot to a devout group of followers who don't turn the channel after one minute of Jersey Shore, the ones who don't think Snooki's 15 minutes of fame are over and never will be.

2011 Newbery award winner Moon Over Manifest

NBC's Today Show is pulling interviews with the 2011 Newbery and Caldecott award winners to interview reality star Snooki. I don't want to assume the reasoning for pulling the winners of the highest award a children's book writer and illustrator can receive (the Academy Awards, if you will) for a reality tv star, but if I had to assume, it would be because the executives over at the Today Show believe that Snooki will bring in better ratings. If you have children or you read or write children's books, then you know how much precedence is put on Newbery and Caldecott winning books. They are the best of the best, they are the books placed on their own special shelves at book stores. They are the books you purchase when you want a guaranteed good read.

Executive Director of the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Lin Oliver expressed her disappointment in a letter to the NY Times and LA Times. If you feel disappointed too, then send an email over to the Today Show letting them know how you feel:

Letter from Lin Oliver to NY Times/LA Times

Dear Editor:

As the Executive Director of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, a non-profit international organization of 24,000 professional children's book writers, illustrators, publishers, editors and agents, I have to express dismay at the decision this week of NBC's Today Show not to run the traditional interviews with the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott Medals. The books that are granted these prestigious awards represent the best of what we have to offer children---great storytelling, strong values, a legacy of literature and hope and high-minded ideals. What they elected to run in that spot, an interview with reality star Snooki, represents the exact opposite.

In choosing not to run the interviews with Clare Vanderpool and Erin Stead, television has once again underestimated the intelligence of its audience. Parents are dying to get their hands on good books for their kids. Booksellers are eager to sell and promote good books for kids. It's good business, good broadcasting and good ethics to honor the best books for children.

Lin Oliver

Executive Director, SCBWI

Monday, January 3, 2011

naivete and art

If I could write music I would. I wish I hadn't quit piano in 8th grade - I wish I remembered a key, any key! I'm continuously fascinated by musicians and how it seems they so effortlessly piece together a new song. How they stack note after note on top of one other to create the perfect melody for their lyrics. I do love my rhymes. And there's really nothing more raw and sincere than poetry.

So in that roundabout way, I suppose, I wanted to share this sweet, little quote from musician Landon Pigg (coincidentally, Landon is the name of the boy in my book Trevelyn's Shimmer...but that's neither here nor there)... Also, this made me think about my own journey into writing children's books. Perhaps you'll find it sweet, too.

"Maybe there is a naivete in my approach. I never had a guitar lesson when I started out. I've always felt that when you don't learn all the rules, you're much more inclined to break them with a smile." - Landon Pigg

Sunday, January 2, 2011

nincompoop: a foolish or stupid person

As I begin the process again of looking for an agent or an editor to represent a manuscript I've recently finished, I'm taking lots of time to research agencies and write query letters where I don't come off sounding like a total nincompoop. It can be real easy - sounding like a nincompoop - when you're trying to impress someone...I like to try and avoid nincompoopesy if at all possible - ok, I'll stop using that word now. So when I read examples of query letters that are far worse than mine, something inside of me starts to feel better. Now I'm no query expert, and maybe it's just me, but one should probably avoid use of the word "hungry" in a query, unless it has to do with the synopsis of the book. Check out "One Way Not To Get Published" over on the Writer Beware's blog, here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

sometimes and always

Sometimes and Always ~

Sometimes clouds don’t part in the sky.

Sometimes water comes up chin high.

Sometimes snow doesn’t melt on your face.

Sometimes life seems no colder place.

But always you should know that the worst is almost over.

Always the storm passes and the wind blows over.

Always you will find that things fall exactly into place.

Always the sun will shine with a smile on your face.

So keep your chin up, your luck’s about to change.

Keep your chin up, my friend, a new beginning is in range.

happy new year!!!