Sunday, April 25, 2010

Blog Award-ebration

Some wonderful people have gifted me with blog awards. I'd like to share the first two with all of you. I usually pass each one individually, but I really want to include everyone in today's blog award-ebration. So if you're here, consider yourself an award recipient. :)

The Sunshine Award was given to me by Jemi Fraser at
Just Jemi, Marsha Sigman at Marsha's Musings, and my new friend Susan Fields. All three of these ladies have great stuff going on at their blogs so you should totally check out each one if you haven't already! Thank you, Jemi, Marsha, and Susan, for sharing such a pretty award with me.

Amy Holder at
Written in Lipstick passed me the Sugar Doll Blogger Award. I really like her blog
and I think the cover of her YA debut novel THE LIPSTICK LAWS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - coming out in spring 2011) is awesome. Thanks, Amy, for the Sugar Doll Award. You're a sweetie! (Yes, pun intended.)

Medeia Sharif gave me the Prolific Blogger Award. Thanks, Medeia. I love the title of Medeia's YA debut novel: THE BESTEST RAMADAN EVER (Flux - coming out in summer 2011). This award actually has rules. I've copied them from Medeia's blog.
1) Pass it on to seven prolific bloggers.

2) Link to the person who gave it.

3 & 4) Link to the Advance Booking
post where it originated and sign in to Mr. Linky there.

I'm passing it to these prolific bloggers:

Jolie Stekly at
Cuppa Jolie
Tere Kirkland at
The Lesser Key
Kelly Polark
Jackee at
Winded Words
Kristi at
Random Daily Thoughts
Beth Revis at
Writing It Out
Hema P. at
Wading Through Words

Congrats, guys!

I hope everyone has a fabulous week! Happy writing!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

SCBWI Western Washington Conference 2010, Part II

I enjoyed all my sessions at the conference, but I'd like to focus my second post on the social side of things. Let's face it: a very cool aspect of conferences is just hanging out with so many like-minded people.

I roomed with my buddy
Brenda Olson. We roomed together last year, too, and we had a blast both times! We met a while back--when I don't even know--volunteering for a writers' community, Field's End. Brenda is awesome. She's a wonderful friend.

Nancy Coffelt came, and it was so special seeing her again. While we'd kept in touch via email, I hadn't seen her since we met in 2007. Nancy is an amazing artist, illustrator, and author. I love her blog--the art and the words.

Nancy and I together; Nancy's book LISTEN

Here is a group of us at the wine and cheese reception during the Juried Art Portfolio Show.

From left to right: me,
Stasia Kehoe, Sara Nickerson, and Jolie Stekly.

Suzanne Selfors was also there. She writes middle grade and YA, and she's a total sweetheart. I wish we'd taken a picture together! Darn it! Oh, well. Instead, I'll show you the adorable cover of her book SMELLS LIKE DOG.

I was extremely excited to meet
Molly Hall in person for the very first time. Molly and I are blog soul sisters. When I had my first blog contest, Molly's name was drawn and I asked her to email me her address. I was super surprised to see she lives in the Pacific Northwest. We exchanged a few emails and found we had a ton of stuff in common. It was cool because, even though we'd never met in person, I just knew I'd really like her!

Fast forward to last weekend. When someone called my name at the KidLit Drink Night, I turned around and there was Molly! It was so fun, you guys! We talked and I got to meet some of her friends. We continued bumping into each other and even sat together in one of the sessions. Then guess what happened?! On Sunday they announced the names of a group of people some of the faculty members felt had the most promising works-in-progress. Molly's name was called! Yay, Molly! Congratulations!

Here Molly and I are the night we met:

If you haven't already, check out Molly's blog. It's like reading sunshine. :)

I met another bloggy friend for the first time last weekend: Ben Watson! He was one of my very first followers! When I was just starting my blog, he'd come and comment, which made me feel like someone was listening. Thanks, Ben! After we met at the conference, we kept seeing each other. We meant to take a picture together, but we never got around to it. Bummer. Next time, Ben!

Seeing writer friends, new and old, was one of my favorite parts of the conference. I'll have to take more pictures at the next one!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

SCBWI Western Washington Conference 2010, Part I

Last weekend was our regional conference. I know I've said it before, but our Advisory Committee is amazing. They always manage to put together a conference that's full of positive energy and valuable information on the craft and business of writing.

Laini Taylor
gave the first keynote address. I've heard Laini speak before and she has impressed me every time. Her talk, My Own Personal Labyrinth: Finding My Way As a Writer, was about her emotional life as a writer. She said she's a perfectionist, which so many of us can relate to. She's warm and intelligent, and she expresses her points in unique, wonderful ways. For example, she talked about bringing perfect ideas to execution, and she compared the attempt to getting fingerprints on a glossy photo: she said soon the fingerprints are all you see. Wow, I loved that!

I bought her book
LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES, which I've been dying to read. She and her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, both autographed our copy to my daughter. Jim also did illustrations for her keynote! How sweet is that?! LIPS TOUCH was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award.

Jay Asher
's keynote provided attendees with oodles of fun, hope, and inspiration. His talk was called How to Sell a Book in Twelve Years...or Less! He said that while he was on his journey to publication, he repeatedly saw signs that told him, "This will be my year." Since I've been thinking this will be the year I make it for about seven years now, I immediately felt a kinship with him. Hee! Just think, this is Jay Asher. All that time he invested more than paid off. It can for us, too, bloggy friends! Persistence!

Mitali Perkins
's talk, Risky Business: Not Your Mother's Publishing Industry, was also great. She spoke about changes in the industry. She shared her experiences, and she talked about vision statements and adapting to today's publishing world. I really enjoyed her. At the conference, I heard her blog is excellent, and it's true. Check it out!

The very talented
Peter Brown spoke about The Realities of Being an Author/Illustrator. He read us a book that he'd written and illustrated as a child then led us through his career. The book he created as a child, by the way, is something he shares at school visits. What a neat idea, showing kids even illustrators, once upon a time, drew pictures that looked like any child could have drawn them.

It was a fabulous weekend! I'll share more next time!

What are some of your favorite conferences? If you haven't been to one yet, what is the first conference you'd like to go to?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

SMALL CHANGE Contest Winner and How Gardening Is Like Writing

My friend Debra happily jumped in to help with the drawing for Sheila Roberts's new book, Small Change. We did it just like last time.

The winner is...

Marsha Sigman!

Marsha, please email me with your mailing address and I'll send you the autographed book ASAP!

Moving on to today's topic... (how's that for a transition?) I was working in the yard yesterday, and I got inspired to do a post comparing gardening to writing. Hubby Jim loves working in the yard and spends lots of time there. He's really good at it. I, on the other hand, don't usually enjoy yard work. At all. While reading
The Secret Garden might make me feel like tending my own section of our yard, working in the fresh air and nurturing plant life in the soil around our home, the inspiration never lasts. In this way gardening is nothing like writing to me because I love writing, I look forward to it, and I spend as much time as possible writing or doing something that is writing-related. Writing is my passion while gardening, for me, is a chore. (I hope those of you who love gardening will still respect me in the morning.) Still, I can be found in the yard on rare occasions, enjoying myself.

Keeping in mind that my gardening knowledge is oh-so-limited, tell me if you think I'm on to something here.

How gardening is like writing:

You can't be afraid to get your hands dirty.
When you're writing, everything will not simply fall into place. To fix plot holes, to build on your theme (and you may not even be fully aware of your true theme the first time through), or to be open to revision, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty. How this is like gardening is a no brainer since, you know, plants live in the soil (a.k.a. dirt), and if you're going to mess with them...yeah.
You get it.

2. Not everything we grow is fabulous. Or even go
In writing, we sometimes get excited over something we've written that...well, sucks. These little darlings must die before they spread their little roots and choke the life out of our good stuff. Be willing to kill your darlings like weeds.

3. If you can't tell your weeds from your plants, ask for help.

Last year, I almost ripped out a dahlia thinking it was a weed. Luckily, I only garden on occasion because the little bugger blossomed into something beautiful before I got to it. I clearly need a second set of eyes in the yard. I also need experienced eyes to look over my writing.

4. If a plant is dying, maybe it just has to be moved--or nurtured.

When I kill my darlings, I often cut them out of my manuscript and paste them into a file labeled "snippets." They'll probably never see light of day, but they may make it back into the manuscript in a different spot. There's also the slim possibility that they'll take root and transform into a better idea with a little love.

5. Don't expect a miracle over night.

It takes time to make your yard beautiful. Same goes for your manuscript. Invest in your passion for the long haul.

Rather than leaving you with pictures of plants, I'll show you a few of my favorite yard sights.

This is Jim working in the yard. He's rolling out weed blocker before spreading mulch.

Isn't my little frog adorable? I saw him at the grocery store a few years ago and knew I had to have him. (Jim's story is similar, only we weren't at the grocery store and it was more than a few years ago.)

These are my yard chickens. I *heart* my yard chickens. Again, Jim's story is similar because I *heart* Jim too. Way more than the yard chickens.

What do you think? Is gardening like writing?