Dec 1, 2009
Nov 25, 2009
I know it has stars that talk to him, and a sky that stoops
down to his face to amuse him with its silly clouds and rainbows.
Those who make believe to be dumb, and look as if they never
could move, come creeping to his window with their stories and with
trays crowded with bright toys.
I wish I could travel by the road that crosses baby's mind,
and out beyond all bounds;
Where messengers run errands for no cause between the kingdoms
of kings of no history;
Where Reason makes kites of her laws and flies them, the Truth
sets Fact free from its fetters.
Nov 22, 2009
These two things have been good friends to me over the years, but now I find myself relying on them more than ever. However, there is one problem with the chocolate. I've been eating Reece's Cups to get my chocolate fix, and with all the sitting I've been doing, let's just say the Reece's have added some extra padding to my posterior. It's noticeable enough for my six-year-old daughter to ask, "Why does when your belly get bigger from the baby, your butt gets bigger too?" My answer to her, "Hormones honey... hormones."
Nov 4, 2009
What have I been going with my time? Writing, writing, and more writing. NaNo is keeping me very busy, and as difficult as it is for me to write as much as I am every day, I have to say I am really enjoying it! When working on picture books my challenge is to stay under 1000 words. Now my challenge is to write over 1600 a day! BIG difference.
So, what have I learned so far? Well, one thing I already knew about myself- I have to have a deadline in order to complete my work in a timely manner. Also, it's good to have a regular writing routine. I've been writing in the morning while my little man is in preschool. AND--- I FINALLY (I'm in to all caps today) broke down an bought a digital voice recorder. I've been meaning to do it for years, literally for years people! It's so helpful to have something to record my thoughts and ideas when I'm away for the computer, or that time right before I fall asleep where my mind goes into idea hyper-drive. So I want to know, what have you learned so far from NaNoWriMo? What has it taught you about yourself? If you're not doing NaNo, share some of your favorite writing tips!
Oct 28, 2009
Oct 20, 2009
Oct 17, 2009
Well, you did it. You've gone and pledged your November to the pursuit of the month-long novel. Whether this is your first or eleventh NaNoWriMo, we're thrilled to have you writing with us."
What have I gotten myself into? Well, this was my thinking....
What if I were to write something without constantly editing myself? What if the goal was quantity not quality? What if I ignored all my responsibilities- husband, house, children- and just wrote my little heart out? What if instead of writing a picture book, I wrote a 50,00 word YA novel that I could later edit and cut down to a reasonable length?
Are hormones making me crazy? You betcha! But does this actually make sense for me to do? Yes, it does. If I'm going to grow as a writer I have to challenge myself. What better way to do that than a 50,000 word, one-month writing marathon? National Novel Writing Month- take up your pen and join me!
Oct 6, 2009
Oct 4, 2009
- Whenever the slush pile starts to tip over is when the editorial staff starts to deal with it.
- Your ms has 20 seconds to impress an editor.
- It cost about $30,000 to bring a book to market; most books don’t make that money back.
- You are going to be rejected! Even award winners still have manuscripts rejected.
- Focus on your craft and the rest will follow.
- Only 2% of the slush pile is worth looking at.
- Focus on character. Let your character get in to trouble, don’t spare them pain and suffering. Your main character has to change- or why would the reader care?
- Your main character must want something! Their situation needs to get worse before it gets better. Put a fire under the feet of your main character!
- Keep moving the story forward.
- Make the reader laugh, make them cry- make them WAIT! Pull your reader along; don’t give it all away too soon.
- Chapters for novels: if one starts out positive, end it negative and vice versa.
- Don’t have more than three characters in the first chapter, you’ll lose the reader.
- Read like a chef eats, taste for the ingredients and how it was put together.
- Revision is like a quilt, rip it apart at the seams and redesign it.
- Read. Write. Repeat.
- KEEP THE FAITH!
* A picture of an actual slush pile that Tracie used in her power point. It scared me when I saw it!
Oct 2, 2009
Sep 21, 2009
Baby mine, don't you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part, baby of mine
Little one when you play
Don't you mind what you say
Let those eyes sparkle and shine
Never a tear, baby of mine
If they knew sweet little you
They'd end up loving you too
All those same people who scold you
What they'd give just for
The right to hold you
From your head to your toes
You're not much, goodness knows
But you're so precious to me
Cute as can be, baby of mine
~Ned Washington, from the movie "Dumbo"
Sep 17, 2009
Aug 31, 2009
Aug 21, 2009
The author, Abby Cocovini, does a terrific job at mixing fun with facts. The kids love her size comparisons for the baby, such as, "The baby is as big as a baked bean." Right now, our baby is as big as a baked bean, and looks like a tadpole!
Somehow we have avoided the BIG question..."How are babies made?" I haven't found a good book for that one!
Aug 4, 2009
While I'm waiting for my books to arrive from Amazon, I need to send out a package of my own . I finally registered for the 1st Annual Scarlett and Gray Writers and Illustrators Conference, and for the first time I am having a professional manuscript critique done. Thank you to Casey at Literary Rambles and Corey at Thing 1 and Thing 2 for their advice on manuscript critiques. Now, where is that postman? Doesn't he know I'm waiting!?
Jul 31, 2009
I do love giving books as gifts! What is your favorite book to give as a gift, or what book do you think would make a great baby shower gift?
Jul 15, 2009
From Dayton, Ohio, to my parents house in Michigan is a pretty nondescript drive. I've driven that route so many times I could do it with my eyes closed. I may try it some time, so watch out people on I-75! Listening to E.B. White read Charlotte's Web while I drove, made me feel like I was settling in a comfy spot to listen to a dear old friend tell a tale. There are some amazingly theatrical people out there who read books on audio, and do a wonderful job. They have unique voices for each character, their villains are chilling and their heroines are charismatic. E. B. does none of this, except for his voice for Templeton does have a sneer to it, and forever more his voice for Templeton is my voice for Templeton. No, there's no theatrics from Mr. White, just his own voice, reading his best-loved story in his even, east coast accent. (I love the way he says the word barn, it's very New England sounding in its pronunciation.) I've cherished E. B. White's writing since I was in the third grade and my teacher read aloud The Trumpet of the Swan. Now I love him even more for telling me his tale in his own voice. What audio books do you love? Send me your recommendations.
Jul 2, 2009
On the way up to Presque Isle, we stopped in East Tawas at a little bookstore I remember visiting on my previous trips. East Tawas is a quaint town on the shores of Lake Huron. The Book Nook is just what you would expect in a small tourist town. Sorry, they don't have a website to link to. I went there with the hopes of finding a picture book about Michigan history or folklore. I was not disappointed with the selection. I eventually chose M Is For Mitten: A Michigan Alphabet because it covered a spectrum of all things Michigan, from petoskey stones to Vernor's ginger ale. It's almost two books in one, because part of each page is devoted to the letter of the alphabet and is written in rhyme, while another part of the page is a small history lesson. M is For Mitten is one book in a series of alphabet books for each state, so you may want to check out one for the state you live in, or will be vacationing in! I also picked up a fun, little book called I'm a Michigan Kid . It looks like a passport, but is more like a journal/record keeper of things children can do or see while visiting the Great Lakes State. My kids couldn't wait to write down which lighthouses we visited.
Jun 17, 2009
In four days I will introduce my children to the magic that is Michigan in the summer time. Of course a week at the beach would not be complete without some summer reading. I think I'm going to finally get enough down time to start the Twilight series. For the kiddies, I bought my son, A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever. It's a great book for boys, and a great book for a trip to the beach! My daughter gets one of my all time favorites, The Secret Remedy Book. So, those are my kids' beach reads. What would be on your list for your kids?
Jun 10, 2009
My daughter just finished kindergarten, and one of the last things they studied was the life cycle of butterflies. What a treat for her and my son when my dearest friend Christine ordered a Butterfly Pavilion for her kids, letting my kiddies experience it too! The Pavilion is a pop-up, netted habitat that comes with the caterpillars and some other supplies. The kids were able to watch the caterpillars form chrysalises and then waited for them to "bloom" (that's what my son was calling the hatching of the butterflies, and I think it's great terminology for it!). After they bloomed, Christine put orange slices in the pavilion, and the children rubbed their fingers on the oranges to attract the butterflies. They loved being able to have the butterflies land on their fingers!
There are numerous picture books about butterflies out there, but I'd like to recommend two in particular, Hurry and the Monarch and Butterflies on Carmen Street/Mariposas en la calle Carmen.
What makes Hurry and the Monarch stand out is the beautiful watercolor illustrations, the pages almost drip all those amazing colors of butterflies in bloom. The story itself is the tale of the journey a monarch makes to lay its eggs. Along the way, one of the butterflies meets a tortoise, this sets up a nice juxtaposition of the briefness of the butterfly's life with the longevity of the tortoise's life.
I came across Butterflies on Carmen Street while researching publishers for my own book. This charming book is about a girl named Julianita who is studying butterflies at her school (much like my own daughter). Julianita's homework is to bring home a caterpillar, watch it form a chrysalis, hatch it, and release it when it's ready to make its journey to Mexico. With the help of her wise grandfather, Julianita is able to let go of her butterfly (which she named Tiger) so that it may make its journey over Carmen Street and on to Mexico. I loved seeing Julianita's town from Tiger's eyes. Even more, I love experiencing the world through my children's eyes, their joy is contagious!
May 28, 2009
So, I'm looking for recommendations on picture books about camping. We currently have two books about camping, and while the kiddies enjoy them, I'm always on the look-out for a good book. The first book is an easy reader, PJ Funnybunny Camps Out. I like this one because my daughter can practice her reading with it. The other is a Dora book, and what kid doesn't love that little Latina adventurer? Dora's Camping Trip was a good introduction for my kids first year of camping, but we're looking for something new. Send me your recommendations for favorite books about camping!
May 22, 2009
I can't wait to read E. B. White's Charlotte Web to my kiddies! What's your favorite farm book to read with your kids?
May 8, 2009
To prep our girl for the arrival of the tooth-fairy, we read Twinkle the Tooth Fairy. There are two reasons I like this book. 1) It was a gift from my grandmother to my daughter (my grandmother passed away two years ago) 2) It comes with a little "velvet" pouch for the tooth (no need to worry about losing those little suckers in bed- and oh-my, they are little!)
Earlier in the year, to encourage good oral-hygiene, we purchased The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums. The kiddies love this one; it's detailed and informative without being boring or over their heads.
It's looking like the tooth fairy will be putting in another appearance here this weekend. My daughter will be one dollar closer to her goal of buying that laptop she wants. Yes, a laptop. I know it sounds like an extravagant purchase for a 5 year-old, but check out my link to One Laptop Per Child, it's a beautiful thing!
Apr 29, 2009
Good-bye National Poetry Month. Thank- you Joyce Sidman for Red Sings from Treetops!
Apr 16, 2009
Apr 13, 2009
Here is the rejection letter (I left out names because I'm not sure what professional protocol is for such things).
Thank you for submitting your manuscript entitled Does Your Nose Remember? Tu NarizRecuerde? to A--- P-- Press. Unfortunately, your submission was not selected for publication.
If you wish your materials returned to you, please send us a self-addressed, stamped envelope () with the appropriate amount of postage. If we do not receive your SASE within a month, we will shred and recycle all materials.
We appreciate your interest in A--- P--- Press. Please feel free to submit other selections of your work for our consideration in the future.
Apr 12, 2009
Apr 6, 2009
I grew up in Michigan with a large garden in the back yard. As I child I did not like gardening, it seemed like so much work. My poor mother was always trying to get the six of us (yes, six children) to help plant and weed. Oh, how we hated to weed! My two kiddies love to help garden. Most times their "help" makes more work for me, but I don't want to discourage them. In fact, to encourage them, my dear friend, Christine, and I decided we should build a"secret" garden for our children. Well, it's not really a secret, and we didn't build it, Christine's husband did.
But, it was our idea. Oh wait, technically we got the idea from a book, but I know we should get credit for something along the way! Basically, the secret garden is a teepee made of branches with peas planted at the base to grow up . After the peas are done growing, we can plant pole beans in their place. We got the idea from a wonderful book called, The Kids Can Press Jumbo Book of Gardening. The book is a practical guide on gardening that offers easy projects that kids will love, like how to design a fairy garden, creating a wildflower meadow, and planting a rhubarb patch (rhubarb pie, yummy). One of my favorite projects is how to make a Victory Garden- it makes for a gardening and history lesson in one! For a more whimsical approach to gardening with your children, check out Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots. (I have to thank Christine for finding this treasure of a book.) While its project content is similar to the Kids Can book, Sharon Lovejoy has populated the book with the sweetest water color illustrations, and dotted throughout the book are poems, recipes, and historical tidbits that add to the overall magical quality of this book. Ms. Lovejoy took the teepee idea one step further by making it a "Moon Garden," which calls for planting night blooming and heavily scented flowers. Imagine sitting in your back yard with your kids, star gazing and inhaling the sweet smell of jasmine tobacco from the door of your garden teepee. (Please come soon summer!)
Speaking of magical books, I would be remiss if I didn't encourage you to read or re-read The Secret Garden. What can I say that hasn't already been said about this beautiful classic? Nothing. Go read it, and be inspired to create a secret garden of your own!
Apr 3, 2009
The problem with having children
They steal your very identity away. Instead of witty banter, you begin to speak in “goos” and “gaas,” and other nonsensical things. They torture you with sleep deprivation until you feel like some kind of wraith or zombie, stumbling about the kitchen in the morning for a cup of coffee. Coffee, your once morning company will now be your all day partner. You think of ways to have it administered continuously, like a drip bag with an IV, no more brewing cup by cup. Oh, and that book on your nightstand is no longer a book, but a dust collector, and it will be for the next three years. Deep and impassioned poetry will be left to the academics. You’re too busy counting fingers and toes and writing drivel about how God kissed every one of them when he created your little “miracle.” Forget about stories of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches being shoved into movie playing appliances. It’s worse than that. It is the never ending hell of potty training, of knowing that you once taught a mere puppy to piss on a newspaper, but you can’t get your own damn child to “tinkle” in a toilet. (Yes, you will use words like “tinkle.”) And, after a long day of power struggles, tantrums, and whining, you will set your cup of coffee on top of your dust collector, crawl into bed exhausted, and cross, praying to God for another miracle- sleep. But, as you give yourself over to the darkness, a small shape climbs up beside you, sweaty and sniffling. You curse them, then kiss them. Very soon, small sounds emit from the sleeping child- quiet, steady breathing and heart beating. You want to roll over and fall asleep yourself, but you can’t. Instead you snuggle closer, smelling something similar to strawberries and honey. You run your finger over the round, warm cheek, cursing, then resolutely kissing your identity good-bye.
Mar 26, 2009
You look longingly out the window
and wait at the door
Impatiently searching out
the one who knew you first
You’ve worn a path in front of the fireplace,
sometimes stopping as if to warm yourself
But you know I don’t light fires in March
The first days of spring are meant for open windows
and airing things out, not stoking old flames
I tried to teach you something new,
to show you there is more
I tried to help you remember what’s worth remembering,
and forget all the regretful things that transpired before
But thoughts of an overgrown garden and rhubarb pie
have taken you miles away
So I bide my time with laundry and planting pansies
I stop digging when I hear your heavy sigh through the screen door
Even before the sighs, and the pacing, it was your eyes that gave you away
Looking ever north, to the day I’ll drive you home
to the one that holds your true heart
The one that loved you first