Sunday, January 24, 2010

New York State of Mind

The SCBWI Winter Conference is this week! It'll be awesome.

On Friday, I'll be attending the Writers' Intensive. Participants will be placed in small groups, each led by an agent or an editor. There will be one morning session and one afternoon session. We'll get the first 500 words of our manuscripts read and critiqued at each. I'm so excited! I hope they like my pages. Cross fingers! The big thing, obviously, is just getting feedback. I can hear what industry professionals think of my new and improved beginning before querying and revise accordingly. Priceless.

The rest of the conference looks really cool, too. SCBWI conferences always offer so much information and inspiration; I can't wait to soak it up, bring it home, and apply it to my projects.

It sounds like a bunch of people from my region, SCBWI-WWA, will be there. I also hope to meet some of my bloggy friends in person. I'll bring my camera and take pictures to share with everyone.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Guest Post at Becky Levine's

I'm doing a guest post over at Becky Levine's blog! Becky, the author of THE WRITING & CRITIQUE GROUP SURVIVAL GUIDE (Writer's Digest Books), invited me to post about how I've evolved in my critique group. Come on over and say hi!


Dawn :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Happy 101 Award

Deb at Ranch Girl Ramblings gifted me with the Happy 101 Award! Thank you, Deb! If you haven't checked out Ranch Girl Ramblings, you should. Deb is a lovely writer with a lot of heart. Plus she really is a ranch girl! At the end of 2009, she posted a pic of a calf wearing ear warmers. So cute!

The rules for the award say I'm supposed to list ten things that make me happy. Hmm, let's see...

1. My family and friends - they make every day special.

2. My dogs
Thistle and Pepper, brother and sister, are five-year-old partners in crime.

3. Writing - I truly enjoy it. I think it keeps me balanced.

4. Reading - YA and MG are my favorite genres and the ones I read most often, but I enjoy other genres, too.

5. Eating out - I've mentioned my husband says my species is
hotelus restaurantus. The hotelus part of my species is because I detest camping, but love staying in hotels!

6. Happy faces and LOL's on returned manuscript pages.

7. Frappuccinos - I'm not just saying it. I have a serious addiction to them. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? Thank goodness for Costco and my husband, my enablers.
(I've posted this photo before, but nobody minds looking at a thing of beauty twice, right?)

8. Beaches - especially the warm, sandy variety.

9. Movies - I love movies. My daughter and I have been having so much fun watching the romantic comedies my husband and son are happy to miss!

10. Followers - you guys rock! Bloggy friends really make blogging more fun, meaningful, and educational. Thank you!

I'm passing the Happy 101 Award to:

Jen Chandler at Woolgatherings
Jody Hedlund
Niki at Wool'n'Nuts
Simone at The Romantic Query Letter and the Happy-Ever-After
Stephanie Haefner at The Writer's Cocoon
Tabitha Bird at Through My Eyes


Happy writing, everyone! :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Got Drama?

I gave my uber revised manuscript to my final reader on Friday. First, however, I took a picture of it.

Turn up your speakers (unless you're at work)
for maximum drama.

Brings tears to the ol' eyes, doesn't it? *sniff*

(Hope you guys don't mind me milking this for all it's worth!)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Conflict: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Self, Man vs. Society, and Dog vs. Squirrel

In this cor-nah...weighing in at thirty-two pounds: Thistle VanderMeer!

In that cor-nah...weighing in at thirty-two ounces: Chester the Squirrel!

When Chester first started raiding our bird feeder, it was cute and funny. Then it was irritating. He'd scare away the birds we hoped to feed.

I kept trying to write, but he'd drive me batty. Actually, my dogs would. Once Thistle and Pepper spotted Chester, my peace and quiet went down the toilet.

I have smart dogs. Really. And we've established their cuteness. But why do dogs' brains roll out their ears when they see squirrels? Mine throw themselves at the glass in the back door.

Of course, Chester is not just any squirrel. He's a
super squirrel. He's quite large (I don't actually know his weight--he's never shared that with me), he has a white chest, and he taunts my dogs. He disappears when they, barking their flippin' heads off, scratch at the glass, but then he comes back within seconds.

One day in early December when all I wanted was some quiet, the dogs were making me nuts with this. It went on and on. By lunchtime, the dogs had worn themselves out and curled up on the couch (the couch belongs to the dogs, so this isn't naughty behavior). I sat at the table to eat, and there was Chester on the bird feeder, right outside the window. I looked from my sleeping dogs to the ever-growing squirrel.

Feeling a bit tense, I knocked on the glass to scare him away. All he did was look me in the eye and lift his left arm (I know they're legs, but squirrels use them like arms), so he was on his hind legs, standing the way Bugs Bunny does when he's leaning against a tree or something.

I felt like he was double-dog daring me to show him exactly who had control of the bird feeder. Yes, now it was personal.

I woke up my dogs. "What are you doing, sleeping? Chester's out there!" I let them out back to run around barking like wild things. Whippets can run thirty-five miles per hour, but I knew they'd never catch ol' Chester. I was hoping to scare him away.


After a couple weeks of this, I mentioned Chester in a post. Then, that very day, he returned with an evil twin. Okay, not evil, but a twin. And maybe not
exactly a twin, because the second squirrel was smaller. Let me try again: that very day, he returned with a Mini-Me Chester. I braced myself for what was to come.



He disappeared. They both did. And the house got quiet.

We have coyotes around here, and I heard them a couple times over Winter Break, barking their creepy barks late at night. One night, we heard them attacking an animal that actually screamed. I was glad we were all safe inside: Jim, the kids, the dogs, and I were all in our beds.

After a couple days, I started to worry about Chester. Ridiculous, right? I wasn't losing sleep or anything, but I felt sorry for him. I hoped a coyote hadn't found him. I hoped squirrels didn't scream when attacked.

Jim went out to reload our bird feeder yesterday. I thought about Chester. I told Jim I wished he'd come back soon.

My son was home from school with a nasty cough and I was upstairs, writing. My son said, "Mom! Chester's back!"

The dogs and I were so excited.

I kept trying to get a picture of him for this post, but every time I went toward the door with my camera, the dogs would peek outside and see Chester. They'd bark and yowl. They'd scratch at the door. Then he'd hide, and I'd stand there shaking my head. I told my son we'd have to figure out a way to get a picture when the dogs weren't looking.

Today the dogs were sleeping up in the den while I wrote. When I went downstairs for lunch, there was Chester. I took lots of pictures with my new camera (it's hard to get a good photo through glass--but notice the clarity in Chester's pic; Thistle's was taken with the old camera). As soon as I put away the camera, Mini-Me Chester showed up too. I didn't bother to get the camera again. I just watched them. While the dogs snoozed and I ate, I watched Chester and M.M. Chester raid our squirrel feeder.

The dogs are still sleeping--they're behind me right now. They'll start stirring soon, and they'll go downstairs and spot Chester through the glass.

I'm glad things are back to normal.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New WIP Progress!

I'm excited because I'm having fun playing with the first chapter of my new novel. I began to brainstorm it months ago and have been making notes about it since, but I never really started it until this week. Well, there was actually one false start, but it was all wrong and turned out to be more of a writing exercise than anything else.

As I revised PERFECT VISION, I continued to dream up details about the characters in my new novel. I won't get the feedback on the last chapter of PERFECT VISION until Thursday, so I decided to play with voice on the new book. It's super fun and I really like my first pages! Of course, these are the very first pages of my sh**ty first draft, so who knows if any of it will ever see light of day. I'm sure it's over-written, containing details only I need to know as the author. Still, I'm thinking of turning it in to my critique group this week to gather first impressions. (I never used to do that, by the way--turn in such raw material. When my group started, I only wanted to share chapters from a completed manuscript; I needed to know the first draft was all me. Note to self: post about my critique group evolution in the near future.)

After I get back and revise that last chapter (revise it
again--PERFECT VISION has already been revised), an author-friend will read the full. I'll work on my new WIP while I wait. My reader is a smarty-pants, and I hope she catches all the flaws. I also hope she catches nothing, meaning it's perfect! I'm not holding my breath on that last part, but I'm allowed to wish it, right? :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

What I'm Reading

I just read two awesome books. They're both uber popular, so I'm betting lots of you have already read them.

I'll start with
came out in 2006, so I'm a wee bit late on this.) As I was reading, I kept getting blown away by the story and the writing. I'm giving an elephant-sized recommendation to read it.

My first read of 2010: CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins.
CATCHING FIRE is the second book of THE HUNGER
GAMES, and I think it's just as great as the first. The nearly tragic part: we have to wait until August 24th for the final book in the trilogy! Aah!

My cheery news is I got a camera for Christm
as! It's little, orange, and it takes nice pictures. I'm really excited about it! Let's hope my blog photos are more impressive now that I have a camera that isn't dying.

I'll end today's post with something fun that has nothing to do with writing. I'll stretch it by saying it's relevant because of my WATER FOR ELEPHANTS recommendation. It's a YouTube video my daughter saw at school and it shows an elephant who paints. It
's a long video, but it's cool! If you don't want to watch the whole thing, slide the little ball to the eight-minute mark.

Hey, do you think that elephant might get an agent before I do? Ack! Feeling insecure...must up caffeine intake...

How about you? What have you been reading?