Friday, October 29, 2010

Wisdom of a Five-year-old

"The first rule of the game is to not get killed by the bad guys. Cause if you get killed, you're dead. And that's bad."

Happy Halloween everyone! Have a great weekend, and don't get sick eating too much candy. (It's the mom in me. I have to say it!) :D

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

GPS-ing Our Plots

Last weekend I went to the beach with my kids. I'd never been there, but I looked it up on-line, plus I got an address to enter into my handy, dandy GPS.

Fortunately I had google-mapped it, because the GPS wanted me to go straight through DC (which EVERYONE knows you avoid if you can). I went around.

But on the way home, I was in no rush. The kids had a movie going, so I thought, why not? Let's see where the GPS takes me.


A path I NEVER would have taken in a million years. Still, it got me home and it only took 15 extra minutes.

When I started my now-complete novel, I had a plan. The basic chapters laid out. It was to be a short, funny jaunt through fairydom. Apparently my internal GPS had a different idea. All kinds of elements and subplots snuck in there, and the book went a different direction than I had planned.

Was that a bad thing? I don't think so. Was my first plot-line terrible? I don't think so either.

That's what's so great about writing. Our books can go so many different directions, and it's all up to us.

How do you decide where to go with a book?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Story time: When I was little, I wanted to be a cheerleader. Doesn't every little girl?

I told my mom and while she smiled, I saw the worry in her eyes. "It's really hard to become a cheerleader."

I told my friends who looked at me with skepticism. "Why?"

I told my older sister. "You have to be popular to be a cheerleader. I wouldn't count on it."

The thing is, I'd always been taught that I could do whatever I decided to as long as I was willing to put in the effort.

So in 7th grade I convinced my mom to sign me up for a cheerleading class. I learned to do kicks and jumps. I learned how to hold my hands just right. I learned how to chant loud and clear so everyone could hear. I learned how to do back-handsprings. I tried to learn how to do the splits.

The day finally came, and I awoke to a single rose in the vase. A note was attached. "We love you no matter what happens."

I was nervous! I knew I wasn't the prettiest, the skinniest, the most graceful, or the most popular, but I had worked hard. When my number was called (22), I went out there and did my best. I was thrilled when I was given a call back . . . right up until I flubbed the dance in a major way.

They started calling the numbers. The first, second, . . . . when the seventh was called, I knew in my gut I didn't make it.

But my gut was WRONG. I was the last one called. My years of work had paid off. I had done it!!

 (I'm on the bottom, second from the right)

I tell this story because as a kid, I never doubted my abilities. I KNEW I could do anything I put my mind to. Even if it was hard. But now, as an adult, I let doubt seep in. Worse, I let it influence me. And really, what's different? NOTHING.

Nothing has changed but my attitude. So I'm telling myself now: I CAN write, and I CAN succeed . . . even though it's hard and takes lots of work and practice. It may take years of effort. But I CAN do it. And so can you.

How do you overcome doubt?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Query and Thanks

I'm getting ready to query. I've been polishing my letter, and after some fairly major changes (thanks to an amazing critique by Carrie Harris), I was wanting some feedback.

Disgruntled Bear happened to be offering query critiques last week, and I snuck mine in just in time. I wanted to thank her for all the time she's generously giving to do this. VERY nice of her! If you're curious or feeling generous with your time, I'd love to hear what you think. My critiqued query is here. :)

Also, I recently won an Animal Encyclopedia from Connie Arnold

She has a new book coming out called Animal Sound Mix-up. I wanted to thank her for the beautiful book I received in the mail yesterday. Can't wait to read it with my kids. :)

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yesterday, my 6 year-old found a notebook and a pen and started writing. When I noticed, he showed me what he had written: A bunch of squiggly lines across the page.

"I'm writing a book," he informed me.

I asked him to read it to me, and he launched into a story about his little sister playing with a friend. Then he stopped. "I haven't decided what these two squiggly lines say. I still have to write the next chapter."

After that, he started writing all the words he knew. And may I just say how giggly it makes me that he knows the word "Bob"? Right up there at the top. If you're writing a book, 'Bob' is an essential word. N'est-ce pas?

This, more than anything else makes me feel like a writer (okay, maybe getting published would top it). My kids see what I do, and accept it as the way it is. Not only that, they want a piece of it. (Little do they know what they're getting into!)

What makes you feel like a real writer?

P.S. Happy Birthday Lenny! Eleven is a lucky number. :D

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fulfilling My Promise

Friday, I promised to finish off those awards by sharing 5 tidbits about myself then passing them along. So here goes:
  1. I once dressed up as a piece of gum on the bottom of a shoe for Halloween. My roommate and I had matching outfits: pink sweats with a sneaker-shaped slipper for a hat.
  2. I played soccer on my high school soccer team. All three years. SO much fun.
  3. When I was two, I fell out of a second story window and walked away without a scratch. I CRIED like a banshee, but otherwise, fine. (And I better not hear any "THAT explains it!" comments.)
  4. My thumbs are double-jointed. Pretty cool, eh?
  5. I hate chili. Like a lot. Sorry to all my Texan friends, but I think this disqualifies me from ever living near you.
Okay now for the more interesting part. Just so you know, I only give low-stress awards. You need do nothing with it. I'm good with that. This is just my way of telling you that I think your blog is cool. So you can choose the Versatile Blogger or the Creative Blogger Award. Or none, of course. :)

First, Shallee McArthur at Life, the Universe, and Writing. I recently found her blog and have been loving the open friendliness I can feel shining through her writing. Go visit. You won't be disappointed.

Next, Terri Tiffany Inspirational Writer. I'm always so impressed every time I visit. Her words really are inspirational and uplifting. Her title fits just perfectly. And she gives some pretty awesome advice, too.

Jemi Fraser at Just Jemi. You should see the buckets of awards she recently got. And all deserved. She isn't afraid to share her frustrations, and she's everywhere with her upbeat comments. Who couldn't help but love Jemi?

Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares. This is who you WISH you had as your English instructor. She is hilarious! Under her tutelage, grammar is no longer scary. It is fun. I see the doubt in your eye, but seriously. You want a laugh? Go visit.

Finally, with two days from his birthday, how could I not include Lenny Lee at Lenny's World? A little spot of sunshine and happiness that is incredibly infectious. His posts and comments always, always, always make me smile.

Honestly, I could give you all awards. It was really hard to choose just 5. But thank you so much for being my friend and visiting my humble little blog, and thinking what I write is worth reading. I don't know how I made it so long as a writer without the support of the amazing writing blogosphere (that's you).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

First 250-Words Blog-Fest

I've never participated in a blog-fest before, but couldn't resist Elle Strauss' offering. This is one I can do! 

The first 250 words of my novel have changed so many times (hopefully improving with each draft!). I'd love to hear your comments. Don't worry, I can take a hit! Hope you enjoy. :)


After an hour of drills, Prince Bob felt like a rug on beating day. Repeatedly falling off a horse will do that to you. 

Instead of concentrating on the exercise, he debated excuses to get out early so he could sneak off to the library. Forgot to make his bed? Ate some turned meat at lunch? Or keep it simple by fainting?

"Go!" Commander Peter called.

The line of cavalrymen shot forward. Bob dug in his heels, already several paces behind. He raised his sword, leaned in to strike . . . and miscalculated. Again.

Bob struck air. His balance shifted, and the dummy smacked him in the head. For the fourth time that day, he landed flat on his back.

Laughter echoed from his comrades. 

"Who knew a dummy could fight so well!" Friederick called. 

Bob sucked in the pain that pulsed from his back. He thought of Charming, his brother, telling him to stick up for himself and forced a grin. "Is that you, Friederick? Well I'll be." He jerked a thumb toward the dummy. "I could have sworn that was you."

Silence spread as Friederick’s posse congregated around them.

Friederick scowled down at him. "We'll see who's laughing when they appoint new captains. Or will king daddy pull strings again?"

"Like Lord Léon does for you?"

In a practiced move, Friederick leaped from his horse and unsheathed his sword. "Why don't we just see who deserves to be captain right now."

Friday, October 15, 2010


Yes, this is a lot of what I have been doing today (housekeeping), as I've neglected it for the better part of a week. I swear laundry increases exponentially when you ignore it for a day or five.

Not to break my stride, I'll keep up with the housekeeping here.

First, I wanted to let you know that while I don't normally blog on Saturday, I have joined in on Elle Strauss's First Page Blogfest. I couldn't resist. The darn thing keeps changing, so I thought I'd appreciate hearing others' reactions. (Especially from those of you who have read a previous version!). So I'd love it if you would weigh in . . . any comments to help me make it better would be greatly appreciated!

Second, I won a couple of awards a while ago, and I've been meaning to publicly thank them for a while now.

Heather at Buried in Books gave me the Versatile Blogger Award.

And Amy at The Green Bathtub gave me The Creative Blogger Award

While I don't post pictures of awards I've received, I'm always so flattered when people think of me and my little blog when bestowing them. It brightens my day to know that I was being thought of in such a nice way. So THANK YOU!

I know the rules require tidbits about myself and bestowing it to others. Since I don't have the particulars, I'll just pretend that 5 is a good number on both counts. However, this is getting long, and I have a rule against long blogs, so you'll have to wait until Monday. Cruel, I know. ;)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It came!

I'm sure you remember my book with the missing pages, right? Well, my new copy with ALL the pages arrived today! So it's not that I don't love you all, but I've got some reading to do.

What was the last book you read that you HAD to finish before you could become a functioning member of society again?

Friday, October 8, 2010

License Plate Deciphered

I know you've all been dying to find out what kind of car had the license plate SUSHIBX. I admit, having seen the car, I didn't realize how hard this one would be. But all the more fun, right?

Okay, so we had a couple of great guesses:

Sandy Shin randomly guessed (her own admission) a dark-blue Toyota Highlander. She got two of the three features right. It is not a Highlander.

Lenny Lee deciphered the coded license plate with the skills of a true detective. Sushi for a Japanese car, and Box for a box car. I know you've seen them . . . Honda Element, Nissan Cube. Literally boxes on wheels. But it's neither of those.

For the candy bar, Bob, the answer is a dark-blue Toyota Scion xB!

I have contacted both of the winners, and gleaned their favorite candy bar. Twix for Sandy, and Reeses PB cups (minis) for Lenny. However, in a twist, he has chosen the surprise option. Sorry, you'll have to wait until he gets it. I can't spoil the surprise.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Doing the Impossible

I know I said I'd follow up on the guessing from Monday's post, but I'll do that Friday. Promise.

So, I have this yearly tradition. Just before Halloween, I break out the sewing machine and sew a costume for one of my kids. The others get store-bought, because one is all I can handle.

The thing is, I am no seamstress. Like at all. I avoided sewing like the plague. Even the bookmark I had to make in Home Ec didn't look like a bookmark. Pitiful, I know.

Then three years ago, my friend was doing her annual frenzy of sewing FIVE costumes. Amazing! But dangitall, it looked fun. So with the promise of help (that I could call her with every little question, no matter how stupid), I took the leap. It took me a month to make it, but here are the fruits:

Yes, yes, I know, you're all impressed. ;)

This tradition isn't just about saving money on a costume (because it costs me more to sew one than to just buy it). It's about reminding myself that I can do the seemingly impossible when I put my mind to it.

What impossible feats are you accomplishing?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Guess that car!

It's been months since I obsessed (publicly) about personalized license plates. But I certainly haven't stopped finding fun ones. Yesterday I saw:

BZE GMA (any guesses?)


LOVE NBA (obvious, huh?)

Seriously, they're like the ultimate twitter. How much can you say about yourself in 7 letters?

But I digress. So here's the game: Guess the car make, model and color.

Simple enough, right? Last time it was WAY too easy. And I foolishly gave a hint. *snort, cough* This time it will be harder. Maybe.


First person to get it right, I'll mail their favorite candy bar. Or they can choose to be surprised. *big grin*

Ready. Set. Go!

Friday, October 1, 2010

National Book Festival

One of the perks of living near DC is the National Book Festival held every year on the Mall. There are scads of authors who all do book signings and speak to the masses.

And PBS kids comes with Miss Rosa, and Steve Songs, and they give out all kinds of free stuff. I went last Saturday with my 3-year-old, and he was so excited to choose a free book compliments of Penguin Inc., receive a free book and book-making kit from Scholastic, and carry his free bag of goodies from PBS.

I so wanted to go hear Suzanne Collins speak, and get a signed copy I could give away, but alas my 3-year-old wouldn't have it. However, I was standing 2 feet away from Margaret Peterson-Haddix (Among the Hidden series) before they rushed her off for her speaking gig. And I hear Michael Buckley (Sisters Grimm series) was excellent. One of these years I'll actually get to hear the speakers. In the mean time, I basked in the glory of being there with my son who was just as excited about the books as I was.