Saturday, April 30, 2011

This and That

This may be a bit premature, but...
Once I finally land my first book deal, will I be morally obligated to include the fine people at Starbucks in my acknowledgments section? I'd hate to think what my word count might look like if Starbucks, the masters of tasty caffeinated beverages, never invaded our planet. Too. Frightening. To. Ponder.

How many of you saw The Voice this week?

It's a new TV show where people sing their hearts out, trying to get the show's coaches to sit up and take notice. The coaches are looking to "discover and develop" new voices.
Oh-my-gosh-doesn't-this-totally-remind-you-of-the-agent-quest-bloggy-friends? I've heard industry professionals compare American Idol to the query process. The Voice fits the analogy as well.

Listen to this part: If more than one of the coaches (Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, and Christina Aguilera) select a singer, the singer suddenly has the power. Then the coaches must compete. Think multiple offers, people. Yowza.

One of the things that make it extra fun to watch? Each coach can't see a performer until he or she is ready to offer a spot on his or her team--or when the song ends, and it's too late to make an offer. This prevents coaches from judging singers by anything but their voices. Pretty cool. In summary: I'm hooked, I'm intrigued, and I'll stay tuned to see if the rest of the season measures up to the sample chapter. Tee-hee.

Those of you with Kindles will soon be able to check out library books with your e-readers.

This was in
PW on April 20th.

I have a Nook, but I still haven't used it to borrow a library e-book. I love my Nook, though. I'm currently reading WICKED LOVELY on it.

What random things would you like to share, bloggy friends o' mine?

Happy writing!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

SCBWI - Western Washington's Conference 2011

Last weekend, I attended SCBWI - Western Washington's 20th Annual Writing & Illustrating for Children Conference. It was fabulous. One attendee told me she thought the sessions, panels, and keynotes provided the perfect mix of craft, business, and inspiration, and I totally agreed. We have an amazing Advisory Committee, and the faculty was first-rate.

SCBWI-WWA blog is the place to go to get the full scoop, but I'd love to share some highlights, too!

I really enjoyed the keynote by
Deborah Wiles. She said story comes from three places: what you know and remember, what you feel, and what you can imagine. She said if a story is lacking, it's probably missing one of these things.

I was super eager to hear
Emily Jenkins speak. She writes for people of all ages, but it was her young adult work, books she writes under the name
E. Lockhart, that put her on my radar. My daughter introduced me to her books years ago, and I love them! I've read THE BOYFRIEND LIST, FLY ON THE WALL, and THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS. While I think THE BOYFRIEND LIST is my favorite so far, a writer at the conference told me she loved DRAMARAMA. I bought it and asked Ms. Jenkins to autograph it for my daughter.

Here I am with Emily Jenkins/E. Lockhart.

She encouraged us to be stylists--even in third person omniscient. Angelina Hansen did a great job summing up Emily Jenkins's keynote, so take a peek!

There wasn't a dry eye in the house when
Dan Santat spoke about his journey in his talk, "Getting to Point B." Watch this to get a feel for Mr. Santat and his incredible work.

Holly Black gave our final keynote. She had all sorts of interesting and helpful things to say about plot. One of my favorites: talking out loud about a story. She said talking out loud engages a different part of her brain. It allows her to take a step back from her work and try out crazy ideas. She said talking feels less committed, less isolated.

And those were just the keynotes! The breakout sessions were awesome, too!

Now for more photos!

Emilie Bishop and I

Emilie and I met a few years ago at her very first SCBWI conference. She is such a sweetie! I always love catching up with her at meetings and conferences.

The rest of my pics require some explanation. We had a dance party this year, and the theme was 2011 Dance Odyssey. We were invited to wear silver or a futuristic costume. I had neither, so I did the logical thing: I asked my teen daughter to help me make a duct tape dress!

It was hilarious. We made it a few days before the conference. Actually, she made it. I just stood still or rotated whenever she told me to. We taped a couple shirts together for length, cut the top the way we wanted it, then taped. Scissors were snipping by my neck and tape was coming very close to our heads as we peeled long strips off the roll. My daughter's quote: "I feel one of us is going to end up stabbed or bald by the end of the night." Thank goodness she was wrong! My husband, by the way, was thrilled. I spent very little money
and he ended up with extra duct tape in the house!

Molly Hall and I

Jennifer Mann and I
Jennifer is one of my uber talented critique partners!

Tina Hoggatt and Molly Hall
Molly, Tina, and Brenda Winter Hansen (not pictured) made up the Dance Committee. They planned a very successful event! Everyone seemed to have a blast!

How about you? I went fangirl over E. Lockhart. What author or illustrator would you love to hear speak?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Reaching for the Stars

My son needed a few photos for school this week, two baby pictures and one current one. I wanted him to help me choose, so we pulled out albums and flipped through pages that showed him in his early years.

Even after the photos were selected, I kept oohing and aahing, gushing over pictures. I called my daughter into the room, too. I caught the two of them rolling their eyes at each other and they acted as though leaving the room was an escape from my sappy clutches, but the photos served as a reminder. Time passes quickly. Not that I needed the reminder...

Sometimes the thought of how fast time passes makes me feel guilty about the amount of time I spend writing. My kids understand, though, and they encourage me.

When my son was in third or fourth grade, he started checking the acknowledgments sections of books he enjoyed to find out who the authors' agents were. I never asked him to do this, but he did. You know what? I've heard about some great agents from him! Pretty cool, especially since I didn't know anything about literary agents until I was already an adult.

My daughter was in fifth or sixth grade when she told me I inspired her. She said seeing me never give up on my dream inspired her to never give up on hers. Wow. Priceless.

My kids have grown up with writing. I write at home, and they try not to interrupt. They give me ideas, and I bounce stuff off them. They're happy for me when I get to attend conferences or have other learning opportunities, and they're willing to juggle their schedules to make these things happen. They're right here with me every step of the way.

Children grow fast, which is all at once beautiful, miraculous, and sad to me. While I reach for the stars to chase my dreams, I don't have to keep my eyes on the sky. I can look right in front of me and see my kids who lift me higher than any other dream ever will.

I won't be posting next week because I'll be at the SCBWI Western Washington conference, but I'll be back the following week. Happy writing, everyone!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

WIP Update

I'm super close to finishing the current draft of my WIP. I'll definitely be wrapping it up this week! Woo-hoo! My next draft should go much quicker because of the amount of manuscript surgery I've already completed.

I've decided to change the title. I've already bounced my newest idea off critique partners, but I'm still test driving it. I liked the first title I came up with, but I wasn't sold on it. The second one, refreshingly different from the first, wasn't quite right, either. Now I'm on the third title, and I think it's "the one." We shall see.

I'm fully aware titles get changed, and I'm fine with that. Still, I want to have a title I'm proud of when it's time to query agents. I think a good title can:

*give a positive first impression

*hint at or tell the topic and/or theme

*share a bit of the book's flavor

*fit the age group of the book's intended audience

*reflect the genre

*be one more place to show our creativity

No pressure, right? Hee-hee.

Off topic, but I'll end with a photo I took Friday of my wingman, Thistle. He's often right there, behind my chair, when I'm writing. In fact, he's there now.

Instead of pulling Gs, my wingman pulls Zs.

How are your projects coming? How important do you think it is to have a good working title?