Monday, March 31, 2008

Michael Jackson Sighting?

No, just DH after a hard day of sanding and painting.

On this date: In 1889, the Eiffel Tower opened.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Early Readers

I wish I were one of those parents who long for school vacations. The kind of parent who relishes time alone with the kids - no schedules, no rules. Yeah. School vacations drive me crazy. When you work from home, everything that you have to do falls completely by the wayside and all of your focus is on the kids. Why not? You didn't have anything else to do, did you? My web writing has suffered during this Spring Break and the YA revisions? Fuggedaboudit.

I do love my kids - and yes I completely realize how quickly they're growing up. But 24/7, everyone gets on everyone's nerves and they spend as much time fighting as hanging out. Not to say, we haven't done anything fun. We drove down to SoCal to see the cousins, went bowling (I beat everyone he he he), played up at the playground and introduced them to the wonders of Forrest Gump. Several times.

The revision is nagging at me right now. Agent E gave me the thumbs up (along with several emailed pages of suggestions :) and has asked successful author that I really admire to read the revision when I'm done with it. Gulp. That alone is stressing me out almost more than sending it out to editors. I think in my hazy state I agreed to have it done by April 10th. When do they go back to school again?

On this date: In 1998, the FDA approved Viagra.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It Takes A Village... write a book. Before I started writing, I thought that fiction writers shut themselves up with a strong cup of coffee and didn't emerge until they had penned a masterpiece. Maybe some do (nobody that I would ever hang out with), but for most writers, it is done by committee.

Writing the first draft is indeed lonely work. Nobody can really help you get the words out on the page - that you have to suffer through by forcing your behind into the chair to type stuff every day. Once you have a beginning, a semblance of a middle and an ending, the fun begins. Right now, I've finished the new YA and have eight people reading the whole thing, and another four reading bits and pieces. I get input from my agent, my critique group(s) and people who know more than I do about what needs to be included in the book. What is so interesting, is that there are always things that several people will point out, and then there are a few things that maybe only one person will bring up, but they are so spot on that you have to make the changes.

I've had people say to me that they couldn't possibly change what they had written. Bull. The only way to make a good story great is by collaborating with other people. You need to get some distance from the story and let other people read it who don't love the characters as much as you do. I love it when my readers come up with angles I hadn't thought of, or point out a glaring mistake in chapter four. I hope that someday I get a sizeable acknowledgments page in this book, because I'm going to need it.

On this date: In 1955, the film Blackboard Jungle was released.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rubbing Elbows With The Stars

As most of you know, I'm a wannabe Disco Mermaid. They are so cool and supportive and have been great when I'm freaking out about something (thanks Robin). That's why I was sooo happy when I heard yesterday that Jay Asher:

author extraordinaire of this book:

has now landed hisself on the New York Times Bestseller list! He worked so hard on this book and nobody cares about his audience more than he does (and he gives great speeches). It has really resonated with teens all over the country and is a book that is not just a great read but serves a higher purpose without being preachy or annoying. Yay Jay!

On this date: In 1852, Uncle Tom's Cabin is published.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

If You Teach A Boy.. make origami...

...he'll use that knowledge to make Freddy Krueger fingers.

On this date: In 2003, the war in Iraq began.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Front Page Secrets

I've been keeping the subject of my new YA under my hat for awhile now. It is just such a great theme that I don't want to give it all away too soon. Then, what do I see on the front page of a national big-city newspaper (thanks to Dad and Cassandra for drawing it to my attention - who actually has time to read the paper anymore?)? A big article on the subject of my YA! The subject is definitely in the air these days and every time I see something on it, my heart starts to race and I feel the urgency for getting this out there even more. But first, it has to be perfect.

On this date: In 1852, Wells and Fargo start a shipping and banking company.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Things Never To Say To A Picture Book Author

1. Isn't that book out yet?
2. I thought that (insert random celebrity name here)'s book was great.
3. Did you know that your main character was going to be a (dog, bunny, alien)?
4. How did you pick your illustrator?
5. Are you rich now?
6. Do you know J.K. Rowling?
7. I've got this great idea for a book about my son learning to tie his shoes. Can you give it to your editor for me?
8. Are you going to write a real book next?
9. Why doesn't it rhyme? All children's books should rhyme.
10. Isn't that book out yet?

On this date: In 1879, Albert Einstein was born.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

If You Ever Hire A Contractor...

...hire one with seven kids! He gets what it is like to live without appliances. Nobody else with studs for a kitchen has all of these amenities:

Yes, that is the old washer, dryer and portable dishwasher. When the floors go in, we'll lose them again, but it is heaven right now.

Conversation of the day:
T (bored because his brother is at baseball practice): I don't have anything to do.
Me: Well, just think about what it would be like if you were an only child.
T (sniffs): But Mom! I wouldn't be the only child. J would.
Spoken like a true younger brother.

On this date: In 1946, Liza Minelli was born.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Into the World

So far, some of my crit partners have seen the new YA, but there are a couple of readers that I'm waiting on pins and needles to hear from. The new book is based on a particular psychiatric disorder and I've "met" a few people online who are grown children of parents who had it. They've really helped me with the details, and one even suggested the ending - which at first I was totally against, but in the end, she won me over. I've put a lot of effort into getting it right, and I can't wait to hear from them so they can tell me if I did or not. I'd tell you more about it but then I'd have know.

On another topic entirely, T just had a birthday and wanted a drum set soooo bad. Well, in our teeny tiny house, that just isn't going to happen anytime soon. So we got the next best thing:

Yes, we are now the proud owners of Rock Band! I have to practice when they're not home so I can keep up and I will only work the microphone if the doors and windows are closed. Bring on the Ramones!

On this date: In 1926, the first Book-of-the-Month selection is published.

Friday, March 7, 2008

You Know You're In Trouble When...

...there's a fridge in your dining room...

...and a porta potty in your driveway.

On this date: In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

They Took the Walls Too!

So far, although I'm failing to see how this remodel is benefitting me, I have gotten something good out of it. On Sunday, I was using old newspapers to wrap dishes for storage. I don't usually read the paper anymore because I listen to a lot of talk radio and that's about as much news as I can handle. As I was wrapping, an item caught my eye and I stopped to read. It was a bizzare item about a baby in India who had been born prematurely on a train, had fallen through the hole in the toilet and onto the tracks when her mother passed out, and was later found alive on the tracks miles from where the train stopped. An interesting story you say, but how does that relate to children's books? Welllllll.

Sometimes the best ideas fester around in your head from a weird little piece of news. The YA that I'm finishing up was triggered by a magazine article I read on an airplane. This story gave me a good "situational" character - and no it has nothing to do with Indian baby girls. I just started turning angles over in my head and giving it the old "what if". The character is still there and still bouncing around looking for a foothold and a story to go with his situation. The only thing I know for sure is that it is a "he" and it is firmly middle grade. Everything else has to come to me in its own time.

On this date: In 1963, the Hula Hoop was patented.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Just A Little Stressed Out

Now you see it:

Now you don't:

Yes, after ten long years, we are getting rid of our disgusting, nasty old kitchen. As some of you may know, I have a neatness problem and a touch of OCD. Having my entire kitchen residing in the dining room is only mildly stressing me out so far, but it's been less than a day. We'll see how things are going six weeks from now. Breathe in, breathe out and focus on how good it will look when it's all over. Whew.

When my neighbor saw the giant trucks and bits and pieces of cabinet chucked out the back door, she asked excitedly: "Oooh. Did you sell a book?"

"Nope," I told her. "Let's just say I'm optimistic." And tired of having the drawer fronts come off in my hand.

On this date: In 1887, Helen Keller met her teacher Anne Sullivan.