Monday, March 26, 2012

Have you seen it?

Today's Wall Street Journal says THE HUNGER GAMES movie grossed an estimated $155 million opening weekend in North America. Holy post-apocalypse, Batman. That's a lot of dough. Isn't it awesome that a YA novel fueled the excitement behind those ticket sales, that it all started with a book?

I went to the movie Saturday afternoon, and I loved it. I thought the casting was phenomenal, and
Jennifer Lawrence channeled the soul of Katniss. The movie generally stayed true to the book and, without giving any spoilers, I liked the way they worked in the important pieces of backstory. Of course the Reaping scene made me cry.

Have you seen it? If so, did the movie measure up to the book for you? If you haven't seen it, do you plan to? What film adaptations do you think were done well?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SCBWI WWA's March Professional Series Meeting

SCBWI Western Washington's monthly professional series meeting was last week. Kim Baker, one of our region's fabulous leaders, kicked off the evening with the mini-session "What's So Funny? A Look at Humor in Children's Books and YA." Kim spoke about the many ways kid lit authors and illustrators use humor in their work. Talk about learning from an expert! Kim is hilarious in real life--and super sweet! Her debut, a middle grade novel titled PICKLE, will hit shelves in September.

Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan
September 2012

YA author
Denise Jaden led our main program, "With a Heavy Heart: Writing Grief in Fiction." She said grief isn't a story in itself, but writers can use it to push things further. She spoke about which stages of grief can enhance a story and which ones can bring it down. Denise knows about writing grief authentically. Her first two YA novels, LOSING FAITH and NEVER ENOUGH, deal with grief and loss.

Both speakers gave us plenty to think about, things to apply to our own work.

Does your work-in-progress have humor in it? Grief? Both? What is the intended age group?
Mine is a humorous middle grade, but it has a thread of grief I'm weaving through it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Have you hugged your critique group today?

My husband and I went to Old Navy yesterday, and an employee handed me a rolled up piece of paper in honor of an event they were having for women. The paper said, "We think you're perfect just the way you are."

Very nice sentiment, though it made me chuckle. I realize I'm missing the point, but it's completely meaningless. Nobody there knows me, my little paper scroll was one of many that said the exact same thing, and it was handed randomly to me.

That said, nobody wants to be critiqued as they walk into a store. Imagine how traumatic shopping would be if store employees handed out slips of paper that said things like "You really shouldn't have been so grouchy this morning," "Tweezers are your friend," or "Ever heard of a breath mint?" Yeah, I'm totally fine with my "We think you're perfect just the way your are" note from Old Navy. But at critique group? That wouldn't fly. That's tweezer-, breath mint-, Clearasil-,

This week I have a critique group meeting. I love my critique group! Like you in your groups (or with your beta readers), we read each writer's pages, really think about them, and give thoughtful feedback on what's working and what's not. It's meaningful, and we learn from it. I leave our meetings fired up, eager to improve my work-in-progress as soon as I get home. I hope to give as much as I receive, though that's a tall order since I receive so much.

Critique partners support us and guide us whether we're soaring or sinking in a business that can have the highest highs and the lowest lows. They're priceless. Thankfully, our critique groups
critique and make us better writers. They don't blow sunshine our way and tell us our work is perfect the way it is.

Here's to our critique partners, the awesome people in the trenches with us, the ones who are watching our backs--and our saggy middles! Feel free to give a shout-out to yours!

I'll start! Thank you, Margaret and Jen! You two are brilliant! xo

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Five Things That Made Me Smile in February

1. When my husband went on a business trip to Egypt, he found time to visit pyramids,

buy me a necklace that has my name written in hieroglyphs,

and get special gifts for the kids! The pashmina I photographed my necklace on was a gift he bought for my daughter. (While he came back almost two weeks ago, I didn't blog last weekend because I just wanted to chill with him whenever we had a free moment.)

2. I won two blog contests! Thank you,
Stephanie Thornton and Amy Sonnichsen, for the fabulous prizes!

3. We attended an event that featured one act plays written, directed, and performed by high school students. There were also students singing, playing music, and working behind the scenes. One of the plays was written by my daughter, and it was extremely cool to see teen actors in the roles she had written. (Note: She had no help from me. I didn't even read her play until it had already been submitted.) Sooo many talented young adults! They blew me away.

4. When my husband was away, my son helped me with a difficult project that I couldn't complete on my own. I will forever remember my son's kindness and maturity. It was one of those moments when you see the man your teen is becoming, and your heart swells up inside your chest even faster than the Grinch's.

5. I earned my teaching credential back in college, but that was in California and we now live in Washington. I'm in the process of getting my teaching certificate up here. The last step was an endorsement test. I studied and studied and studied (with help from my kids), and I took the test in February. Now I have
more writing time!! I plan to start subbing in the fall so I can have a job that allows me to set aside days to write and attend critique group meetings. Plus, I'll get to hang out with kids and keep up with their interests as my own children grow.

How about you? What has made you smile lately?
Update: Medeia Sharif is giving away a copy of BEWITCHING by Alex Flinn at her blog. The contest ends March 6th. You can check it out here!