Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekend Recommendation #8

Hey there!  Today is the day to sign up for PiBoIdMo if you are going to do it!  And really, why wouldn't you?  Click on over and sign right up!

On to my recommendation for the week!

I think this week I'm going to recommend a few that you can probably only find second-hand or at your library.  Earlier this week I mentioned that I collect Parents Magazine Press books and, sadly, they are no long around.  But if you ever come across them my top five Parents Magazine Press (in no particular order) books are:

1.  "Popcorn" by Frank Asch
2.  "Pets I Wouldn't Pick" by Susan A. Schmeltz, illustrated by Ellen Appleby
3.  "The Man Who Cooked For Himself" by Phyllis Krasilovsky, illustrated by Mamoru Funai
4.  "Dirty Feet" by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Toni Hormann
5.  "Miss Mopp's Lucky Day" by Leslie McGuire

This is just a small sampling of the many books I just LOVED as a little girl.  If you find any Parents books, pick them up!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekend Business

Two things today (and my weekend recommendation tomorrow).

First, for a little Halloween fun, hop over to Girl, Unpublished and join in Jessica's contest for a great Halloween picture book and some Thriller dancing!  Fun!

Second, sometime today Su will be posting my guest post on her blog, Cheekyness.  So mosey on over there and check it out!

Have a great Saturday everyone!
Time to carve some pumpkins!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Who Wrote This?

A few weeks ago I dusted off my journal and decided to record some of my deep and meaningful thoughts.  But, before I did, I took five minutes to read all of my previously recorded deep and meaningful thoughts (it only took five minutes because I'm terrible at keeping a journal).  And the first thought that came to mind was, "who wrote this stuff?"

This does not just happen in the journal that I remember to write in twice a year.  It happens with my other writing too.  I've come across things I've written in my writing notebooks from just a few months ago and I think, "oh this is good...I don't remember writing it at all" or "what the heck was I thinking...this makes no sense and whoever wrote it may have only recently learned English."

Isn't that amazing?  I mean, the brain I've always had is still a mystery to me.  I don't even recognize it sometimes.  Whenever I feel like I may be running low on ideas, I can reassure myself that my brain will be a totally new creation in a few months, days, or even minutes.  The ideas will come (oh yes, they will come PiBoIdMo!).  I may just have to become someone different than who I am at this second in my history.

P.S.  How cool is it to have a written record of who you are at any given moment?  Totally cool-tastic.

P.P.S. The me at writing this post at the beginning didn't know that the me at the end would invent a lame word like that.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

10 questions for me

Head on over to Su Wilcox's blog Cheekyness today for her interview of me!  I was interviewed as the winner of her "700th Post" contest.  : ) 

I'll be guest blogging over there on Saturday too.  Stop on by!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Where-Oh-Where-Wednesday

First, I wanted to take a minute to thank Christie Wright Wild over at Write Wild for awarding me a "Lovely Blog Award".  Thank you, Christie!  Her blog is quite lovely and really helpful, so please pop on over there if you don't know her already!

Second, thank you for all the solidarity on yesterday's post.  I think we'll have to get a few more couches in the room of self-doubt.  But the nice thing about our community here, is all the words of encouragement to combat that doubt.  Write on, everybody!

Now to today's topic:  Where to write?

If you write, where do you write?  Do you have to be at your computer?  Do you write things out by hand first?  Do you have to get away from your house?  Do need to be somewhere to be inspired?

I find that I do my best brainstorming away from my house.  There is just too much to distract me here.  Even if I am here all alone, I find that I read blogs or do dishes or sneak off to watch Project Runway.  No, if I want to make my brain calm down enough to have original thoughts, I need the library or some other quiet place.

Now if I'm writing, I can be anywhere.  I think I'm engaging my neurons enough when I'm actually writing that I don't get as distracted.  Or, when I am distracted, I'm anxious to get back to what I was doing and I can pick it back up again quickly.

This does not bode well for PiBoIdMo!  I need to be able to get my brain to focus on idea formation anywhere.  I hope that PiBoIdMo helps me tackle this wandering-brain problem!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The I-submitted-too-soon Syndrome

I had a lovely manuscript.  Just lovely.  I had revised it completely about 5 times and made minor (yet extensive) revisions another 10 times.  So I did my research and sent that lovely little piece of writing out to five publishers.

And then regretted it a week later.

I thought of a different way to tell my lovely story.  Wait!  I can do better!   I can do better!  Come back, manuscript.

Much like my cats and children, it didn't come back when I called.

So, I re-wrote my manuscript and now I'm actually holding my breath hoping for rejections to come quickly and the allotted time for "assumed rejection" to pass.  I want to send my new and improved loveliness out into the world.

And then I'll probably regret it a week later.

Welcome to the wonderful world of self-doubt!  Come, have a seat on the sofa of can't-stop-revising!  Rest your feet on the ottoman of my-brain-won't-shut-up-about-it.  I'll be the chick sitting next to you.  : )

Monday, October 25, 2010

Crusade Challenge #2

The second of our crusade challenges is to write a post starting with "You may not know this about me, but..."
 
I collect a lot of stuff.  I have no room for skeletons in my closet, because it is full of all this other stuff!

I collect Parents Magazine Press picture books.  I think I've mentioned before that I have very fond memories of getting books in the mail as a child.  These books were from Parents Magazine Press and I LOVED them (and still do).  Sadly Parent Magazine Press stopped producing picture books, so I scour book sales and Goodwill and garage sales for copies of my favorites.  In fact, one of the first things I did when I found out I was pregnant with my first son was create an eBay account so I could buy a copy of "Popcorn" by Frank Asch, which was my favorite.  Anyone else know and love these?  Like "Miss Mopp's Lucky Day" when she forgets her umbrella on the way to sell her baked goods?  Or "Pets I Wouldn't Pick"?  Or "Septimus Bean and his Flying Machine"?

I collect John Deere tractors (the toys, not the real things).  This all began when my high school band did "Bohemian Rhapsody" as their halftime show at football games.  They would bring the percussion stuff out with a little John Deere and I was so excited for the show I would yell, "Here comes the John Deere!"  My friend took this to mean I loved John Deere and started giving me the little toys.  I've been a John Deere enthusiast ever since.  My dad arranged for me to help with the harvest last fall and drive a real JD Combine (that's me in the pink hat)!




I collect jobs.  Now, these aren't taking up room in my closet, but still.  Jobs I've actually been paid to do just go on and on.  I've worked in a Deli/Bagel Shop. I worked in shop called Natural Wonders.  I was a land surveyors assistant.  I've been a babysitter for anywhere between one and nine children for extended periods of time.  I've worked in a fitness center.  I worked the front desk at residence halls.  I was a secretary.  I was a youth minister.  I did transcription work.   I did research.  I worked in the costume jewelry department of L.S. Ayres.  I once even waitressed a catered event at the Jewish Community Center (I really served people gefilte fish and latkas - that's kartoffelpuffer for you of German-descent).  And I'm sure I could think of more if I wanted to continue down memory lane.  But I'm tired just thinking of all that work!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weekend Recommendation #7

I have a book that is actually written and illustrated by two DIFFERENT people!  Crazy, right?

I've actually had this book recommended to me for many years, but it was one that I always forgot about until it was staring me right in the face.  It is I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff and illustrated by David Catrow.  It is not a rhymer, despite the name.  It is a series of notes between mother and son about the addition of an iguana to the family.  It totally reminds me of the little notes my oldest son leaves me!  It is very cute and a clever and unique way to present a book.  Check it out!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A poem: Writing in rhyme takes a lot of time

Have you every tried to write a really good rhyme?
And what should take a second, takes much more time?

The rhythm's wrong, you trip on each word.
Your brain makes up things you thought you heard.

Counting syllables and drumming out a beat.
It makes you want to turn and retreat.

A poem should be easy, a piece of cake!
But each stanza is awful, you're a poetic fake!

Take this rhyme, that I just jotted down.
Yes, it may rhyme, but a poet would frown.

My attempts are clumsy and elementary, my dear.
I just don't have a true poet's ear.

But does that stop me?  Oh, no!  Not I! 
I'll keep plugging away, give it the ol' college try.
And when I get stuck, I'll just give a sigh.
Until all that's left to say is "Bye-bye!"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

50+ Followers! Woot!

Virtual lollipops all around!  And I'll throw in an imaginary cube of modeling clay and a pretend necklace I made of invisible macaroni noodles!  Just imagine what delights await when I get to 100 followers!  : )

Housekeeping Notes

Okay my whole "I don't post on Thursday" thing hasn't really been true the past few weeks, but I'm just overly chatty, I guess!

I wanted to just point out a few things on my site that I've updated recently.

First, I've added buttons at the top.  You will find a button for the Writers Platform-Building Crusade with a message from Rachael Harrie at Rach Writes... about this awesome opportunity.  And right next to it is a button for the list that used to be on my sidebar of all the participants and their websites.  Please click around in there and visit some interesting and wonderful blogs.

I've also added a button that will be a running list of my weekend recommendations so you don't have to go back searching through posts to find what you are looking for when you want to buy me...er...someone a book.

Finally, on the sidebar I have added in a "popular posts" feature that puts my most-visited posts over there for easy access.

Hope you find the new features useful!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Natural Enemy

What is the natural enemy of the mother?  What is the natural enemy of the writer?  Surprisingly they are often the same in my world!

Enemy #1: Corn flakes.  Whenever I pour milk on a bowl of corn flakes, no matter how slowly or carefully, the milk splashes one or more flakes at the perfect angle and causes the milk to shoot from the bowl in a high arc.  The mom in me has to clean it up.  The writer in me is annoyed it splashed on my manuscript I was about to mail out.

Enemy #2:  Phineas & Ferb.  This show is just too hysterical.  It took them days to figure out all the mimes were trapped in real invisible boxes?  Genius.  The mom in me has a hard time saying "no more TV" when this is an option.  The writer in me wants to ditch anything I'm working on to watch it too.

Enemy #3:  Blogs.  I want to read them & write them all the time!  The mom in me wants to ignore the pleas of my children to play board games/get snacks/clean up the mess the cat just made.  The writer in me wants to learn/network/comment to a fault.  Self control is essential here!

Enemy #4:  The Library!  Plain and simple, the library has taken over my life.  I spend all my free time trying to figure out if I have time to go to the library, if the books are due back to the library, if my hold is in at the library, if all of our library books are in our library bag, trying to find my library card so I can renew things on-line, and on and on.  And to make matters worse, the library is having their semi-annual book sale this week and my kids are on fall break!  This means I'm going to have to take them with me and have a knock-down-drag-out fight with my mother self and my writer self about how many books the kids can get and how many books I can get.  Oh, library, you evil den of booky goodness!

Any one care to add to my list?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

PiBoIdMo

That stands for Picture Book Idea Month and I'm going to participate in it come November (hence the snazzy badge on my sidebar)!  If you click on that snazzy badge, you will be taken to the PiBoIdMo home, which is Tara Lazar's blog.  She came up with this plan last year to have picture book writers come up with one picture book idea a day for a month. We aren't writing a book a day, just coming up with a idea a day.  How much fun is that?!  And I understand there will be inspirational posts from all kinds of guests to keep us going and even some prizes of some kind. 

This is a take off on NaNoWiMo, which is National Novel Writing Month where people churn out a first draft of a novel in one month (with daily word count writing goals).  I'm very glad I'm not a novel writer!  But I'm very excited to be a picture book writer and have this structured challenge to get the old creative juices flowing.

So, if you are a picture book writer (aspiring or published) or maybe you are just starting to think about trying to write one - sign up!  Join in the fun and get ready to be blown away by your own awesome ideas for books about the mold on a PB&J or an elephant who wants her toenails painted or a little girl who wants to dig a moat around her house to keep out the purple pickle people of Paraguay!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oh, look! Almost at 50!

Hey there followers!

I just noticed that I'm almost at 50 followers!  Fun!  Be sure to "follow" on the sidebar over there --> if you don't already.  I'll have to come up with something totally fun for when I reach 50.  Do you all consider virtual lollipops fun?  : )

Do I look lonely?

A very strange phenomenon has been occurring lately.  Wherever I go, strange children come and sit with me and engage me in conversation.  Is this some mysterious side-effect of gearing part of my life toward the entertainment of children?  Does something about my aura tell children that I need interaction with them?  Perhaps this has always happened to me and I never really realized it before?

Beats me!  But it is amusing and delightful, to say the least.

A few weeks ago at the zoo, I was sitting at the side of the playground watching my three boys run rampant up the ramps and ladders and then down the slides and poles.  To my surprise, a four year old girl came and sat next to me.  She started telling me about how nice she is and how un-nice her little brother is most of the time.  Her parents were sitting across the playground and I could see them pointing her out to each other and laughing at their daughter's overt friendliness.  Then, the un-nice little brother came and sat on my other side.  He just sat there smiling at me (I'm guessing he was only about 2) as I smiled at him.  Finally, another sister came and sat down when the little brother left my side.  All told, I spent a good 15 minutes just chatting with the children of some totally random zoo-going people.  When I got up to leave, the parents smiled and waved at me with a chuckle and said, "they sure did have a lot to tell you!"

Another example.  A little boy in my son's Sunday School class came up behind me when I was dropping my son off and said, "do you have other kids?"  I told him I did.  Then about 45 seconds later, I feel a little hand on my shoulder as I lean down to hug my son good-bye.  I turned and found this same little boy with a fake spider.  He grinned up at me and said, "you had this real spider on you!"  I was totally surprised that he would just jump into playing with me on the basis of our simple exchange.

I could go on and on with examples, but you get the idea.  I've seen my own children do this.  It is what gives mothers everywhere fits and launches many "don't talk to strangers" speeches.  But the fact of the matter is, if a person is friendly to them, that is the only invitation a child needs to be friends.  Wouldn't it be nice if friendship was always so simple?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekend Recommendation #6

Hey there!  Well, I survived the preschool garage sale yesterday and I finally have time to sit down for a second to write my weekend recommendation!  This week is another author/illustrator book (maybe someday I'll branch out).  This week it is The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee.  Marla is a two-time Caldecott Honor medalist and it shows!  I think this fun book would be perfect to give as a gift to new parents!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The things we do for love

I'm in a semi-comatose state right now because I just spent 12 hours lifting-hauling-dragging-sorting-moving-arranging stuff for my son's preschool's garage sale.  And I'm about to go do it again today!  And then the actual sale happens on Saturday.  Bring it on (she says while yawning)!

So, my post today is just about what we do for what we love.  This really applies for both the people we love and the things we love doing.  We work ourselves silly.  We try to fit everything into our day.  We push ourselves out of our comfort zones.  We sacrifice.  We put our hearts on the line.  We are vulnerable.  And we often do it with a smile on our faces.  Or we should.

Just something to think about today.  Are some of the hard parts of your life because you are doing something for someone or something you love?  Doesn't that make it a little easier to take?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oh, you lovely bloggers, you!

Well it seems that the delightful Jessica Stanford, over at Girl, Unpublished has given me another "One Lovely Blog Award"!  And even though I don't usually post on Thursdays, I thought it was high time I passed on the love (like I said I would last week when Alison gave me one). 

Once you receive the award, you are supposed to give it to 15 people, but I'm going to do 11.  First, because I'm lazy.  But second, because I'm trying to give it to folks who haven't gotten it before (though I could be mistaken in some cases).  Third, I'm trying to stick to writing-type blogs (I follow a bunch of IndyCar blogs, but I doubt any of those guys want a pink lacy tea cup award - right George & Roy?)  So, in no particular order, here are my choices for lovely blogs :

Some illustrators:
Jannie Ho at http://chickengirldesign.blogspot.com
Tom Lichtenheld at http://tomlichtenheld.wordpress.com/
Kristi Valiant at http://kristivaliant.blogspot.com/
The team of talent over at http://thesketchables.blogspot.com/

Some writers:
Miles McG at http://milesmcg.blogspot.com/
Kat at http://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/
All those teaching authors at http://www.teachingauthors.com/
Corey Schwartz at http://coreyschwartz.blogspot.com/
Adina West at http://adinawest.blogspot.com/
Stina Lindenblatt at http://www.stinalindenblatt.com/
Karen Collum at http://www.karencollum.com.au/

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chores vs. Writing

Life is always a balance.  Some of the balancing acts in my life are as follows:
  • A balance between junk food and healthy food.   
  • A balance between the kids having free time and having organized activities.
  • A balance between "I want that purse" and "But college is expensive"...stupid responsible saving
  • A balance between "it's not worth the fight" with my kids and "I'll fight this all day long with you"
But now there is a new balance as well...housework and writing.  Turns out I love sitting down and writing for hours on end and I do not love laundry, dishes, mopping, sweeping, toilet cleaning, toy straightening or litter-box emptying.  Amazing revelation, right?  But even though this is an obvious revelation, it is still an important one.  Because if I don't acknowledge it, I won't be able to balance it.

The weird thing is that my family and I seem to need clean clothes, dishes to eat off of, non-sticky floors, and so on.  Another weird thing is that I NEED to write!  So, I make up schedules.  I love schedules.  I love grabbing an index card and writing it out like, "9-9:15 Dishes, 9:15-9:30 Laundry, 9:30-10:30 Real Job stuff, 10:30-11 Write".  Of course, inevitably the air conditioner stops working at 9:07 and the whole day is shot, but I tried!!

P.S.  I make a cameo appearance in Esther's blog today!  Go see!  Click here!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Esther Hershenhorn!!

First, allow me to gush.  I just adored meeting Esther!  She was funny, full of great information, approachable, wonderfully friendly, and I totally dug her scarf (I am incapable of wearing scarves - since I have no chin they make my nose look connected to my chest - not attractive).

Now I just want to give you some bullet points of her talk, which was entitled "Rx for Children's Book Creators: Getting your Stories Straight".  I can obviously not do it justice in my short-form blog, so I'm just gonna hit some key points/phrases.  She broke down three elements of a story and related it to both the stories we write and our personal writer story that we are living. 

Character: 
  • Plot comes from character
  • Character is everything
  • You have to know the character's heart way before the story starts
  • What the character wants is the physical plot line
  • Why the character wants it is the emotional plot line
  • Why do you write for children?
  • What are your nouns and verbs?
Setting:
  • The setting gives the reader a framework, a reference point
  • What are the settings in your life as a writer?
    • For example:  the world of children's literature, publishing, other writers, etc.
Plot:
  • Plot is when the character is in action - confronting and overcoming obstacles
  • An interconnectedness of events should be present
  • There needs to be action and reaction and the accompanying emotion
  • A chronology is essential to the plot
  • What are the actions, obstacles, emotions in your own story as a writer?
I apologize for the overly simplistic breakdown.  I just knew that I wouldn't be able to capture the vibrancy of the speech, so I went for the bare bones.  She certainly gave me a lot to think about and analyze and work into my writing.  It is a challenge to be more introspective and aware of my own story and how it plays out in my writing.  I can't thank Esther enough for such inspiration!

Monday, October 11, 2010

SCBWI Indiana Event!

On Saturday I attended my first local SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) event at the beautiful Benton House.  I had been eagerly anticipating this event for some time and it fully delivered!  Don't you love when that happens?  I did my patented in-car happy dance moves the whole way home!  I apologize to any other drivers who had to witness them.

First of all, I had been aching to meet some other writers in person.  I've made great connections via the internet, but I was really ready to smile into some faces and shake some hands.  There is definitely something to meeting others who have walked this road before and are walking it with you now.  So, I took the time to straighten my hair, put on some real big-girl makeup and dress like member of the real world (instead of the mom uniform of workout pants & a tee-shirt).  I wanted to grab each one of the attendees and say, "tell me your story!"  Lucky for them, I restrained myself...for now.  Watch out next time!  I won't be as timid!

Second, I was anxious to see how this organization has taken shape in Indiana.  I'm excited to report that it is a vibrant organization that has obviously been on the rise the past few years and there are many plans in the works.  They were saying goodbye to their previous Regional Advisor, Trish Batey, and welcoming the new RA, Kristi Valiant.  After seeing the devotion and excitement of the leadership, I'm ready to hop in and get involved!  They even had one member, Janna (I hope I got that right) get up and play a song on the piano and sing it to us because it is a song that gives her a lot of inspiration.  I was too much in awe to remember to write down the name of the song, but Jenna did a lovely job and I was touched by her willingness to share, her grace, and her talent.

But the biggest highlight of the day was our speaker, Esther Hershenhorn.  I knew of Esther from Teaching Authors, a blog written by six authors who also teach writing.  Esther teaches at the University of Chicago Writer's Studio and at the Newberry Library.  Since I don't have any writing classes under my belt yet, I was itching for this talk!!  It was wonderful and just what I was hoping for when I signed up.

Since I try to keep my posts short (in case you only have 30 seconds of free time in any given hour - like me) I will go into Esther's talk on tomorrow's post.  In the mean time, check out her blog, if you don't already.  And look at her latest book, S is for Story: A Writer's Alphabet.  It's wonderful!

Check back in tomorrow for a run down of the workshop!  Thank you SCBWI Indiana!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weekend Recommendation #5

In keeping with yesterday's post, I've got two funny writer/illustrator books for you this week:

First is Pigs To The Rescue written and illustrated by John Himmelman.  These pictures really make the whole story move and work.  Brilliant!

I love this one so much I asked for it for my birthday this past week!  I got it and read it to the whole table (of adults) as soon as I opened it.  So, run out and find Children Make Terrible Pets written and illustrated by Peter Brown.  You get the idea from the title and it is executed perfectly.

Oh!  I just realized today is my blog's one month anniversary!  Yippee!  

Friday, October 8, 2010

Those Wacky Writer/Illustrators

I am noticing a trend in the picture books I really enjoy.  I am finding that I am really drawn to picture books by writer/illustrators.  These overly talented people are churning out some of the funniest and most clever books.  This is upsetting because my drawing talent is limited to proportionally challenged stick figures and this squiggly line thing I used to draw in high school on all my folders.

The writer/illustrator has an awesome humor advantage in my mind.  They can create a book where the pictures and words play off of one another beautifully.  They can be even more sparse in their word count and let the pictures do the talking.  They can be funny in two ways at once.

So far my picture book writing has not been overly funny and that troubles me.  You may have picked up by now that I'm big on the funny.  I am a strong advocate of laughter and laughter shared between child and parent is of special interest to me.  So, writing a picture book that would be funny to both parent and child would be a total dream come true for me.

But as a writer only, I almost feel my hands are a little tied.  I have to hope that an editor can see the potential comedy in just my words and then pray that an illustrator is chosen that also gets it (or has even better funny ideas of their own).  It is really a tremendous leap of faith to put your sense of humor out there with no supporting visual for someone else to build on.

Oh, to be an illustrator!  I lament!  You hysterical talented bums!  : )

P.S. Picture Books Only will be having a chat related to this topic this weekend!  Click here to get the info and join in!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thursday lull

I don't post new material on Thursdays anymore, so check out some of my previous posts or visit some blogs from my sidebar!  See you all Friday!

Juggling writing & parenting? Use the same strategies!

In an earlier blog post, Erica & Christy commented that they wanted tips for juggling writing and parenting.  They may have been being sarcastic, but it gave me an idea for this post, so I'm taking it seriously (kind of)!

I started ruminating (oh yeah, I totally ruminate) about the similar strategies you can employ for both parenting and writing.  Here they are in no particular order...

1. Illusion - When you feel like you are getting nothing accomplished, make it LOOK like you are!

Parenting:  Kids destroying the house?  Clean just the front room.  Forget the rest of the house.  Only allow visitors to see the front room (no, you may not use my bathroom).

Writing:  Stories going no where?  Create a new file every time you write an opening paragraph.  Just churn those suckers out!  See?  Now it looks like you are working diligently on 20 different stories at once!

2.  Guilt - I'm Irish Catholic, so this strategy works really well for me!  Let other people know what you are doing (or intend to do) and you'll have to stick with it or the guilt will be unbearable.

Parenting:  My kids only watch one hour of TV a day!

Writing:  I'm going to write blog posts every day!

3.  One-handed wonder - Learn to do everything one-handed.  By my third kid, I had this down pat!

Parenting:  I can pour a glass of juice with one hand and make cheese and crackers with the other.  At the same time!

Writing:  I can print a self addresses stamped envelope with one hand and file my letters with another.

4.  Distract your audience - um...

Parenting:  Look, son!  Chocolate!

Writing:  Look, reader!  Chocolate!

5.  Laugh - Some days I totally lose my cool and end up screaming and stomping around like a lunatic.  Other days I laugh at what life throws me.  In either situation, I still end up with all the same stuff waiting to be taken care of/done.  So why not laugh?  That is my new mantra.  Why not laugh?

Housekeeping Day!

I have some housekeeping to do here at The Write-At-Home-Mom!  I thought I was avoiding housekeeping by blogging, but apparently not!

First, I want to thank my lovely new friend and critique partner, Alison Stevens, for giving my blog an award.  It is a nice virtual high-five and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for the acknowledgment.   Part of the award is to bestow it on 15 others that you enjoy.  Stay tuned next week for that list!

Next item on my list is to mention the Dear Editor picture book edit contest that is going on now!  You can win an edit of your picture book from Deborah Halverson, the author "Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies" which will be coming out in 2011.  This is a great opportunity for a professional look at your manuscript!  Trot on over to Dear Editor to check it out!

Next is to give a shout out to my new friend, Quinn, over at his blog, "seeing, dreaming ... writing".  He is having a contest to celebrate his 100 followers.  I have to say that his blog is obviously the result of a lot of hard work, dedication, creativity, and passion.  I've really enjoyed his posts as he delves into the paranormal and supernatural worlds.  He has a unique voice that I think you'll enjoy, so go check him out, follow him, and maybe enter his contest!

And finally, I just wanted to point out my posting schedule that I have in the header.  I'm finding that posting all weekdays except Thursday is fitting in fine with my "real" work schedule, so I'm going to go with that.  I can write at night and post first thing in the morning before I "go" to work (a.k.a. walk into the room next to my bedroom).

I think that is all for now!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Co-Op Shout Out

For five years now I've had a child at a cooperative preschool.  This is a school run by the parents and it requires a lot of parental involvement.  We do employ real teachers, but the parents help in the classroom, pay the bills, fund-raise, fix broken toys, order the paper and paint, plan for the future, set the goals, advertise for new members and on and on.

It is not an option for everyone.  Many work schedules won't allow for the time commitment.  Many parents may not want to be that involved!  But for me, it has been a perfect way to start of my children's education and it has brought me so much more than I could ever list here.

So, what does this little plug for Co-Ops have to do with writing?  A lot!

First of all, I think if you want to write for young children, you need to be around children, and preferably not just your own children.  It is beneficial to be a fly on the wall when kids are just being kids.  You probably don't remember what it is like to be 3 or 4.  I think I have a grand total of 3 memories from that time in my life.  So, you have to be able to tap into that in some other way.  Simple observation and interaction is priceless.

Second, you have to have friends.  Being a stay-at-home-mom can be a lonely enterprise sometimes.  You can lose yourself in just being "mom" and not being "me".  Having other grown-up friends is essential to sanity.  Even just a shared look of sympathy from a friend when your kid trips, screams, and launches a paint-filled paper at your newly-washed car interior helps.  You don't feel alone.  Having friends in similar circumstances as yourself allows you to be yourself.  They support you, cheer you on, pick you back up, and nod knowingly when you whine.  And my Co-Op friends have been very supportive and wonderful as I start this writing journey.

Finally, the Co-Op reminds me why I write.  I am writing for the kids who come and ask me to read them a book during free play time.  I am writing for our awesome teachers who rejoice in finding new books that illustrate their lesson.  I am writing for these dedicated parents who spend a lot of time and energy making sure their kids are off to a good start in their education.  I write for the joyful noise of play, the quiet of story time, the chaos of art work, the cheerful exclamations of discovery and the tears that come sometimes.  I write for childhood.

I love you, Co-Op Mommies (you crazy-amazing women)!

Monday, October 4, 2010

First Crusader Challenge!

As some of you may recall from earlier posts, I'm taking part in the "Writer's Platform Building Crusade" spearheaded by Rachael Harrie.  You can read about (or sign up for) this great blog-sharing-for-the-sake-of-building-followers idea here.  And check out my sidebar for links to all my fellow crusader's blogs!

Anyway, we are being issued a challenge this week.  And it is to write a post that starts with

"I sat down to write the other day and..."

my cat, Alex, jumped into my lap.  He nudged my hand and looked up at me and said, "just who the heck do you think you are?  You aren't a writer!  You are Megan the mom, the wife, the sister, the daughter, the participating parent, the dutiful employee, the friend.  Isn't that good enough?"

"Geez, Alex!  You weight as much as an elephant and you're a buzz kill.  Get off my lap."

"No way.  I need some attention and love and if you are going to be all distracted with this crazy new idea that you can write a picture book or two, I'm going to demand my fair share of your time."

"Look, cat.  I know I can be all of those other things and write too.  It is a juggling act, but I'm good at juggling.  Besides, I need something for me."

"I thought your family and friends and everything else were already for you."

"Well, I suppose they are.  I'm blessed a million times over.  But another one of my blessings is my creative self and it wouldn't it be wrong to deny myself that?"

"Whatever.  What makes you think you can write anyway?  You've never been a person who creates, you interpret.  Theater was just building off of someone else's creative work."

"I don't know for sure that I can create whole worlds.  I mean, I would never come up with a world that involved quidditch, paintings that move and interact, and invisibility cloaks.  But maybe I can tap into my childhood imagination and have something interesting to share.  And maybe encourage other children to tap into their imaginations.

"You have lofty goals for someone who doesn't know what they are doing."

"I'll shoot for the moon and maybe land on Mars, but at least I'm out there!"

"I'm tired of your lap.  I need to go take a lengthy bath in the hallway and then chase an invisible bug."

"I'm changing your name to Freud."

"Meow."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Weekend Recommendation #4

Happy Saturday everyone!

I've been particularly interested in good rhyming picture books this week because they are SO hard to write!  So, I'm going to recommend one I found at the library called Bear In The Air by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Amy Bates.  It has the amazingly rare qualities of not tripping you up while reading it out loud, it actually rhymes all the way through like it should and it is an adorable story to boot!  So check it out for a good rhyme!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Celebrate!

Just thought I'd do a quick celebration for hitting 25 followers!  Imagine me throwing confetti and giving each of you a hug, high-five or fist bump (depending on your level of germophobia).  And you each get a really awesome or really lame (depending on your level of imagination) pretend star sticker!  Cheers!

Where is the bleepin' mail?

A huge part of the adventure of trying to be published is not adventuresome at all.  It is waiting.  Waiting for some kind of response to those envelopes you prepare so carefully and kiss before you slip them in the mailbox (do editors and agents know we all do this? They may want to wash their hands after opening submissions).

I have no clue how an acceptance would come.  Mail?  E-mail?  Phone call?  I'm hearing that often agents call to offer representation and I know from experience that magazine rejections come via mail (hence that self addressed stamped envelope we include in the submission).

But regardless of how an acceptance or rejection would come, I have become obsessed with the mail.  I have always been a big fan of mail.  My best friend and I tried to send an actual physical card or note to each other on a regular basis in college because non-bill-non-junk mail can totally brighten your day.  And I mentioned earlier this week how receiving books in the mail as a child turned those books into my favorites instantly.  Now mail has a whole new importance in my life.  When it is a half hour later than usual, I get all testy!  At this point I'm excited for any word (good or bad) about my writing, so I need that mail carrier to be prompt! 

I wonder if there is any way I can get them to re-do their route so I can get my mail in the morning instead of the afternoon...
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