Thursday, February 24, 2011

I am a writer.

Tuesday night I finally got back to writing.  I hadn't done any writing (other than blog posts) since my Grandmother passed away two weeks ago.  I wasn't avoiding it on purpose.  There was just too much to do, too much to feel, too much to think about, too much to figure out.  I simply did not have the time or energy or creative spark necessary to tackle writing.

But last night I opened up a Word document, gave myself a writing exercise to do, and wrote.  I started and stopped about 10 times.  It was really awful stuff.  It was like I had forgotten how to put words together on paper.  It was stilted and abrupt and disjointed.

Then I had that magical breakthrough.  I'm sure many of you know it.  That wonderful relief when the words start to flow, the ideas click and the easy joy of writing takes over.

And I felt my brain sigh with relief.  Even though my writing had absolutely nothing to do with my Grandmother, my emotions, what I've been dealing with, or anything remotely close to it - it was therapy.  In that moment I wasn't worried about being published or proper comma placement.  I was just able to be me again.  I was in my comfort zone.  I was happy.

That is when I knew...I am a writer.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Puzzling Parenting Surprises

My five year old son is surprising.  He routinely catches me off guard with the things he does and says.  Today was the perfect example.

In the morning we did a jigsaw puzzle that I thought was way too hard for him.  I barely had to help him at all.

While we were playing Monopoly, he had to pay my eight year old rent on a property.  The eight year old started bragging and the five year old replied with, "I don't care, I don't care, I can see your underwear."  Which caused a good five minutes of hysterical laughter from all at the table.

At lunch we had to leave a playground early because the three year old put too much food in his mouth at once and puked (this is a totally normal occurrence).  I was sure the five year old would have fit about having to leave, but he just grabbed his coat and got in the car with no complaint.

In the afternoon, the five year old built a tower out of blocks and wanted a specific block to top it off.  The three year old had the block and would not surrender it.  My eyes about popped out of my head when my *normally* easy-going five year old did this warrior like yell and run at the three year old in an effort to claim the block.

And at dinner I told the eight year old he needed a shower before bed to which he replied, "I love showers."  The five year old came back with, "yeah, showers are like your girlfriend."  Once again, a good five minutes of laughter ensued. 

I often wonder where this kid came from.  He, even more than my other two, surprises me in (mostly) good ways.  He is an ever changing target and he really keeps me on my parenting toes.  It makes life fun and interesting to be surprised by your children.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekend Recommendation

Happy Saturday everyone!

For the new folks, this is my mostly regular feature "Weekend Recommendation."  It is purely a I-think-you-might-enjoy-this-book type of thing.  It is not a review of a book and I'm not being compensated in any way to recommend these books.  When I get around to it, I periodically go back and add them into the "Weekend Recommendation" button at the top of the page for easy reference.  That way, if you are ever looking for a gift or standing at the library wondering what to get, you have a ready-made list of fabulous picture books to choose from.

So, on to my recommendation already!  This week I'm suggesting a book that came out in 2008.  It is A Couple of Boys Have The Best Week Ever, written and illustrated by Marla Frazee.  The characterization of the grandparents in this book cracked me up.  To me, it pointed out the need to have great personality shine through in all of your characters (even the secondary ones).  Pick it up and have a laugh!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Inspiration Elsewhere #2 & An Award

One of my favorite blogs (Thing 1 and Thing 2) had a guest post yesterday from Aaron Zenz about where his inspiration came from for his latest picture book.  Great story!  And it looks like a fabulous book!  Click here and check it out!

And I want to thank Heather Hellmann at Pen, Paper, Lots of Coffee for the Stylish Blogger Award!  I'll have to fulfill the requirements of passing it on and sharing 7 things about myself  next week.  But I didn't want to wait any longer to tell her thank you!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"My Favorite Picture Book" Blogfest!!

So, I'm a picture book person.  I not only love writing them, I LOVE reading them.  For many of us, picture books started our love of reading.  They ignited our imaginations, they opened up new worlds both real and not-so-realish, they encouraged, they empowered, they comforted, they became a part of us. 

In celebration of this unique art form that combines two art forms (writing and illustrating), I wanted to host a blogfest!  On Thursday, March 10th - three weeks from today - I challenge you to blog about your favorite picture book.  It can be what your favorite was as a child or what your favorite is as a parent, as a writer, as a teacher.  Tell us about it!  What made (or makes) you love it?  Tell us in two sentences or fifteen paragraphs.  Be creative or plain.  Just celebrate picture books with me!  Sign up in the widget below, grab my sad attempt at a button above, post on March 10th, and enjoy reading all the other posts as well!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inspiration elsewhere

As part of my inspiration-based blog initiative, I like to find posts about inspiration elsewhere and share.  And one of my new Crusader buddies posted about inspiration today!  So, run on over to Craft Junkie, Kerri, and check it out!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ha! I'm magical!

Okay, I'd been working on that all day and then I posted that last post and they all came back.  I am magical.  You can all tremble in awe at my power now.  I'll wait.

Not Funny!

Okay, when I go to my Blogger dashboard, it says I'm not following anyone and I don't get the little updates at the bottom of my screen.  I am very unamused.  I'm following a bunch of people and I don't want to reconstruct it!  If I've disappeared from your follower list, I'm working on it!!  *punches computer and does traditional bring-back-my-blogs dance*

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kid-joy shines through

Good morning everyone!

After taking a week off for family reasons, I'm back!  I'm sure it will be a few days before I've caught up on everything, but I'll be digging in whenever I have a spare moment.  I miss my online friends!

Many of you probably guessed, I took the time off due to a death in the family.  I don't want to get into it much here, but please know I've appreciated all of your concern, virtual hugs and real prayers.  You all rock and I'm doing fine.  Sad, of course, but also thankful and joyful.

Joyful?  Well, yes.  I have many faith-based reasons to be joyful, but I wanted to talk about the joy that comes from my kids.  As a parent, I think we often become immune to our kid's joy.  We're used to it.  We see it all the time.  And often it manifests itself in annoying behavior (jumping from room to room, giggling loudly when you are on the phone, inability to sit still during dinner) so we overlook it.

But this past week, I payed more attention and drew strength and my own joy from my children's exuberance.  For kids, emotion lives in the moment.  If they are immediately faced with a sad situation, they are sad.  But, they move on quickly.  Funeral home...not fun.  But cookies in the "family" room?  Fun!  Grown-ups standing around talking quietly...not fun.  But rows of chairs to run up and down and count over and over again?  Fun!  A long procession of somber people into a building at a cemetery...not fun...but oldest said, "hey, it's a funeral conga line!", I guess it was fun!

While some of these may seem inappropriate to you, I know the person we were celebrating would have loved it.

And to kids, nothing is inappropriate yet.  We impose those standards on one another as we grow up.  There is nothing wrong with living in the immediate "now."  As parents, we can draw inspiration from our kids joy - no matter what form it takes.  And as writers, we can remember this kind of kid-centric view of the world.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'll be MIA for a bit

Due to a family issue, I'll be away from the internet until next week.  Please don't think I'm ignoring all you wonderful new Crusaders who are stopping by!  I'll come around to your blogs next week.  I will most likely be silent on Twitter and my critique boards as well, so I didn't want people to worry about me!  Talk with you all soon!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An award!

Last week the delightful Carole Anne Carr gave me the "Life is Good" award.  First, I have to tell you to venture on over to Carole's blog.  Carole is a simply lovely lady.  She is always encouraging, very responsive to her followers, and a full time writer to boot!  I get a lot of smiles from her blog.

The "requirements" of this award are linking to the giver (um, yeah, see above), telling something about myself and passing it on.

So, something about me.  I think I'll address my overly sunny online persona since it is the "Life is Good" award.  I've devoted my blog to trying to lift up spirits and inspire others.  Am I this happy and upbeat in my "real" life?  Well, yes and no.  I try to be this person everyday.  I believe wholeheartedly in the goodness of life and people.  I am blessed a million times over and I try to remember that.  For every bad horrible thing in life, there is an awesome beautiful thing and why not focus on the latter?

I get down.  I have horrible days.  I have awful stuff happen.  I scream at my kids sometimes when I should be patient.  I have pity parties for myself when things don't go my way.  I actually get stress-induced hives when I don't deal with stress in a good way.

But online, I can be the best part of me.  I can be optimistic.  I can be a cheerleader.  I can be helpful and happy and enthusiastic.

It comes down to this.  Shortly after I had my second son I was having a conversation with someone about bringing children into a world where there is so much evil and so many problems.  I said, "the only way the world will get better is if good people raise children to be good people."  The more good we put out into the world, the better.  And that is what I try to do with my writing online and in picture book form.

So, I'm passing this award to a couple folks I think understand the "Life is Good" philosophy.

Julie at Write Up My Life
Susanna at Susanna Leonard Hill

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I've Joined the Crusade Again!

You may remember last year when I participated in Rachael Harrie's "Writers' Platform Building Crusade."  It was so much fun and so helpful, that I've taken up the banner again for her second crusade!

Rachael had the brilliant idea of getting writers to support each other's blogging efforts.  Last time, 55 writers signed up and we participated in challenges, promoted each other's blogs, visited those blogs, commented on those blogs, and many of us became friends.  I admit I wasn't as good about checking out blogs toward the end of the crusade, but I got a little overwhelmed.  This year Rachael has thought of that and will breaking people into smaller groups (although large group participation is encouraged as well).  But this time, if you want to get to know more picture book writers, you can be in a picture book group.  Or YA writers in a YA group and so on.

But before I get carried away, you have to sign up!  If you are a blogger/writer, consider joining this great "pay it forward" movement.

Click here and check it out!  C'mon!  All the cool kids are doing it.  And me too!  Ha!

(My "Weekend Recommendation" will be back next weekend!)

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Blogfest!

There are many blogfests going around these days.  For those of you who don't know, a blogfest is when people sign up and blog about a specific topic on a set day.  Then people can go down the list and read entries that day.  I've only participated in one so far (I think).  But my friend Alison Stevens has a great one coming up that I signed up for immediately.  It is called the Super-Snooped Blogfest and it will be March 2nd.

This one really caught my eye because I think it is an excellent writing exercise for any genre.  The idea is to write about a character's possessions and setting in order to give the reader insight to the character.  Isn't that great?  What a fun way to explore your character!  And the best part is, I think it will work nicely for any character of any age.  So picture book people, sign up!  MG/YA people, sign up!  Adult writers, sign up!  It will be great fun!

Click here to go to Alison's blog and sign up!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Inspiration from each other

When I started writing I knew to take inspiration from the "little things" and from kids and from the funny things my children say and the look of a sunset and my personal experiences and memories and so on.  I was most shocked to find another vast source of inspiration though.  Other writers.

Now, I'm not talking about plagiarism here.  I'm talking about the wonderfully generous and friendly community of writers and the information they routinely share.  Thanks to blogs and Twitter, I have a vast and ever-expanding network of writer friends.  I read an astonishing number of blogs in a week.  I don't comment on a huge number of them, but I read a lot.  Writers are just so willing to share tidbits about writing, the publishing industry, agents, their own journey, and a million other things.  I also use Twitter pretty regularly.   Twitter lets me chat with many of these blog authors, leads me to other blogs and articles of interest, and gives me a place to vent my random thoughts.

But what do I really get from this glut of information and socialization?  Inspiration.  I'm inspired to keep writing when I know I have this community to support me and ask how I'm coming along.  I find little nuggets that inspire entire stories in a phrase someone uses or a writing exercise someone recommends.  I get loads of inspiration from all my critique buddies who give so generously of their time to comment on my work.  Inspiration abounds in a community made up of creative and persistent people!  If you are looking to find some of these great blogs and great folks, check out my tab at the top of blogs to check out.

And a little plug for one of the people that inspires me...

My good friend, Christie Wild, is having a contest you will want to check out.  She is celebrating her "bloggiversary" with a fantastic giveaway.  She is giving away some critiques!  I can vouch for the fact that she gives very thoughtful, insightful, and helpful (not to mention inspiring) critiques.  You will love to have her input on your manuscript.  So click on over and check it out!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We interrupt this blog

I'm shuttering the ol' blog for the next few days due to the ice storm.  We are expecting that we'll probably lose power some time in the next 12 hours, so I'm not taking time to type anything up.  We're hunkering down!  Our power lines are already a foot lower than normal and we haven't had the "bad" part of the storm yet.  So, stay safe everyone, as we will here.  Catch ya on the flip side!