Friday, October 30, 2009

2010 SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC



Uh-huh, I'm going. And I registered for the writer's intensive the Friday before, much to the chagrin of my wallet.

My husband may even accompany me this time and sight see during the day.

Anybody out there going? Come on. It's fun. And you're in NYC.

p.s. I can not wait till November 1st and NaNo. This new book is scratching to be released.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another New Job & Another New Book via NaNoWriMo

I haven't blogged about my old new job for a number of reasons. I guess the biggest reason is because I quit two days after I fell. The fall had nothing to do with it. I'll be cordial and say it wasn't working out for me.

Don't shed any tears for me because I got another new job the very same day I quit. I start tomorrow. I'm a wee bit nervous to begin on crutches, but I don't have a choice. Shoot me some good vibes tomorrow would ya?

As you can see from my public declaration to your right, I'm doing NaNo this year. I spent yesterday perusing my idea file and I didn't like any of my ideas. So I broadened my perusing to include other writing files, and I came to a brief piece I wrote the year after my dad died, called Secret Lesson. It was me justifying why I save life's memorabilia and why the relationship with my dad, when he was alive, was empty. I go pretty deep in six pages flat.

I re-read it.

Whammo. The recipe emerged.

I've spent today cooking up the characters and plot in my head. As in all day. I can't stop thinking about it.

I can't wait for November 1st!

Anyone else out there doing NaNo?

Even if you've never heard of it - check it out - that's for all of you non-commenter followers. You know who you are. If you've ever had the dream of writing a novel, well, NaNo just may be the thing you need to go ahead and, DO IT.

Checka-check-it-out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Makes a Great Story?

Since Time and I have been so cozy lately, I'm able to intelligently wrestle with life's big questions.

Who invented fat cells?

What is the attraction of eating one's boogers? I'll never understand it.

Why do young people from California elongate the end of their words and up-talk? Like thissssss? Like whyyyyyy? What-everrrrrrrrr.

Why does wearing Chaptsick only create the overwhelming need to re-apply more Chapstick?

Why do LOST fans have to endure such a painful wait until its premier? Why, god of TV, why?

And then, yesterday, I received an email from my brother-in-law's sister, which effectively stopped all of my cavernous thinking. Hey Alison!

It's a funny little video. Watch and then come back to me...

video


You know how us blogger/writer types process.

I immediately thought to myself, "Hey, self. How's it going today with your fine self?"

Then, I thought,"Self, you know what? That video would be a great post on your blog!"

Myself said to...myself, "Damn, that's a good idea."

What makes a great story? What makes a grrrrrrrrreat story? Obvious answer, duh, the writing. It all goes back to the writing. Which points a big ol' finger at the writer. The writer makes a great story.

I'm of the ilk that great stories possess great characters, great events and great chapter endings.

I know what I know, but I'd also like to know what you know. And, share...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Bit of Inspiration ~ Thanks Diablo Cody

Like any good woman, I'm an emotional being. I have days where I know I'm smart or funny or going to land an agent. My cells know it. You know?

And then I have days like yesterday. Doubt, ick, boo-stinkin'-hoo, and it's never gonna happen thinking. My cells then sabotage me and torture each thought I have. You know?

I guess it's the ol' ying & yang thing. The good angel and the devil on my shoulders. The good vs. evil plot line.

I love, when in those low moments, Inspiration crawls under the blanket with me, snuggles up and whispers in my ear, "See this, Kate? Watch it. It's good, right? Well, she started out unknown. Come on now, cut the crap, you can do this too. You can. I promise. This movie is freakin' brilliant isn't it? Okay, I'll stop whispering now."

What movie you ask? Only a brilliantly written movie would be able to inspire me on a doubt-filled day. Only a movie with a wicked sense of humor could fit the bill. Only a tear-inducing movie would cut the mustard.

Behold the movie that inspired me yesterday. As a writer. I love it. I felt like I could land an agent after the credits rolled. Why? Because I am a good writer too. I just have to find one agent that agrees with me.

Just one.

Enjoy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Firsts

We all have them. Firsts are just a part of life. Even plants have firsts. The first time they sprouted. The first time they felt sun. The first time they were pruned.

If you follow my blog you know I have some time on my hands, and time = thinking. I started to think about some of my firsts. The obvious ones pushed to the front of the line and occupied some of my thinking. First kiss with a red headed boy in my driveway in 8th grade. First public vomit in Sister Katherine's 5th grade (first and last, thank god. It was Campbell's Chunky Sirloin Soup. All over my math test. Yah, ick.) First car accident in my baby blue Pontiac T-1000 hatchback and it wasn't my fault. All the people in McDonald's told me so.

Some more sentimental and sweet moments crept in line. First time I laid eyes on my husband. He sheepishly walked past my dorm room and my cousin/roommate shouted, "Hey! Who are you? Get in here!" He did. I liked him immediately. And I told all of my friends not to like him, because I was going to make him my boyfriend. They all obeyed. Turned out he liked me back. We've been together 22.5 years and counting.

First time I held each of my boys. If you're a parent you know the magical moment that is. Perfection and happiness and holy-crap-I'm-in-charge-of-this-creature'ness and the purest love on the planet. Two freakishly fabulous firsts.

First time I sent a query letter out. I'll take you back in time. Waaaayyyyy back. I ditched my home state of PA, packed up and went on an adventure. I lived in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Year, 1994. I wrote my very first children's book called Theodora's Dream. Apparently I had my own personal renaissance down there because I wrote two more books, started painting, making crafts and flower arranging. If only they were real flowers. Ahhh, the 90's and the height of the silk flower's popularity.

I'm in a sharing mood today, lucky you. So, here are two golden nuggets for your entertainment. My very first query written by a 25 year old me. I didn't know anything about anything back then.

And of course, my very first rejection. But, let me brag a bit. I got a request, from the VP of Harper Collins. And yeah, I know, I got a rejection from that same VP.

Aww, heck, my letter is funny, request or not. Enjoy.

























And, it's a no...

























I'd love to hear about your favorite first. Share away in your comments...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On The Bright Side

I've cooled down since my hissy fit over the weekend. What can I say, I'm saucy. I am going to look at my critique papers today and see if I feel any differently, we'll see. I'm a Scorpio, and that means I am one stubborn chick if I feel strongly about something. My passion has always done me justice and I'm not saying I'm unconvinceable, it's just that I trust my gut a lot and it takes a lot more than an opinion to sway me. No matter who you are.

I believe in myself on one hand. And then I have this other part of me that whispers things like, "You can't do that. You can't write another book. You can't sing in front of people. You can't..." It's quite an annoying part of me. It tends to get me when I think I can do something new, something different and exciting. Each tiny thought nibbles away at my Scorpion bravado, reducing it to a pile of mouse crumbs.

A funny thing usually happens though. That other hand, the one that believes in me, the one that stays clenched tight not allowing the doubting rat to gnaw its way inside, well, that hand opens wide. It flicks the rat away, scoops up the pile of doubt, tucks my hair behind my ear and gets me going.

I'm not alone in this phenomenon. I know other people out there feel doubt or fear. Let's all make a pact right here, right now, to trap the rat, silence the doubt, and do what we KNOW we are capable of doing. No matter what it is.

Now, I caught up on my music this morning over coffee. I heard this little ditty today. When you watch the video, put yourself in there, insert your dream, your goal, your hope into the lyrics. It'll make you feel good.

Now get to tackling, people. Go on...

On The Bright Side

By: Never Shout Never

I met a man of two feet tall
This man was quite ambitious
In a world that is so vicious to us all
I said, \"Hi,\" as he replied
He said, \"Listen to these words
That I have lived by my whole life

\"You're only as tall as your heart will let you be
And you're only as small as the world will make you seem
When the going gets rough and you feel like you may fall
Just look on the bright side - you're roughly six feet tall\"

I met a man of 12 feet tall
He towered like a giant
In a world that was defiant of his height
I said, \"Hi,\" as he replied
He said, \"Listen to these words
That I have dreaded my whole life

\"You're only as tall as your heart will let you be
And you're only as small as the world will make you seem
When the going gets rough and you feel like you may fall
Just look on the bright side - you're roughly six feet tall.\"

I am a man of six feet tall
Just looking for some answers
In a world that answers none of them at all
I'll say, \"Hi,\" but not reply
To the letters that you write
Because I found some peace of mind

Cause I'm only as tall as my heart will let me be
And I'm only as small as the world will make me seem
When the going gets rough and I feel like I may fall
I'll look on the bright side - I'm roughly six feet tall

Saturday, October 10, 2009

SCBWI's Fall Philly Conference

I never hated this injury more than I did today. I struggled to find comfort in my banquet chair. Comfort never came for a few reasons.

Had a manuscript review first thing. I silently and respectfully disagreed with most of what the reviewer said. I won't bore you with the nitty gritty. I crutched back to my table to catch the opening speaker, illustrator/picture book author, Lee Harper and his editor. It was -- oh, I was having trouble concentrating on his lovely family of dogs in a snowstorm illustrations, because my ankle was throbbing and so was my ego.

Next came the author of Dairy Queen, Catherine Gilbert Murdock. She was honest and funny; I paid attention, sort of. One thing I learned from her talk is that it helps to be sisters with the chick who wrote Eat, Pray, Love because it can get you a BIG agent and a BIG deal.

I sense bitterness in my typing. I choose to blame it on my injury.

Now, her book is great. Her book is really great. But, the crazy thing is, I think my books are really great too. I sense frustration bubbling up. Must. Squash. Down.

Moving on.

I crutched my way out to the lobby, bought a few Bailey Kids books for my third grader, and listened to Debbie Dadey share her journey towards publication. Fascinating. Great. So happy for her. (I really am)

Then I called my husband and said, "I'm done here. Please come get me."

He did.

I left.

I came home and made a new book trailer for my new book, EVERYTHING'S NOT LOST.

In your stupid face, Frustration and Bitterness!


video

Friday, October 9, 2009

Zoom Zoom

Hey everyone, how's it going out there? Good. Good. Glad to hear it.

Me? Oh, well, you know, the regular stuff. Yeah, just the regular. Today? Well, let's see, today I went to Target with my super-cool-super-fantabulous mother-in-law (and I'm serious here, she rules). And I rode around Target in one of those electric cart thingies.


Zoom Zoom. Uh-huh, yep, yes I did. I got looks from just about every human being in the store. I found out that some of the aisles in Target are definitely not big enough for the electric cart. Yeah, I crashed a few times.

Funniest thing, when I put the cart into reverse, it beeped like I was a trash truck backing up.

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

We laughed so hard that I snorted. I kept putting it in reverse just so I could hear the beeping noise.

I mastered that baby in five minutes flat, and I whipped around Target like I was a professional 97 year old.

Speaking of whipping around, tomorrow is the Fall Philly SCBWI Conference and I've been signed up since summer. I'm gonna have to crutch-it, and I am not looking forward to that aspect of the day. My upper body is already killing me from carting myself around.

Click here to read about how much I love exercise...not.

Anyway, I'm also signed up for a manuscript review/critique. I am actually looking forward to that part of the day.

Wish me luck. I'll post details and any interesting information I gather, soon.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Courage

It ain't easy being an aspiring writer. Can I get an, "Amen!' from my colleagues? If you were in the room with me, I'd high-five you. But, you'll have to settle for a virtual high-five...

It takes guts to write the book, ask people to read the book, hear critiques about beloved book, revise the book - like a zillion times, edit the book, research agents to query the book, write query letter (aka beloved book effectively shrunk down into two or three teeny tiny paragraphs), put query letter out there, hear critiques about query letter, revise query letter - like a zillion times, finally get enough courage to send query letter out to researched agents, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, each chocolate, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, cry, wait, wait, wait, talk incessantly about getting published, wait, wait, wait, wait, check email as if you suffer from worst case of OCD, wait, wait, wait, wait, send a few more queries out because you're tired of waiting, get some requests, dance/jump/scream/dream, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, get some rejections, cry/doubt self/re-read book and convince self it's complete crap, wait, wait,wait, wait, wait, continue checking email - considering talking to psychologist for this obsession, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, read fellow writers' blogs - everyone is getting signed - selling books - you cry, wait, wait, wait, write another book, start whole process over again.

My guts hurt just reading that. I know a lot of you feel the same.

Well, you know I like to laugh. And I have a pretty cool story to share, a courageous story. See, my sister Nikole has a dear friend named, Jennifer. Jennifer had found a great guy, fell in love, got engaged and then some little tid-bits of info made that all go away. For one, he was still married, as in still living with his family. Two, he was a compulsive liar.

What did Jennifer do? Did she shrink into the black hole of despair? Hell no. She took a comedy class and just debuted at a Philly comedy club on Friday night. To me, that's courage at it's finest. Go get 'em Jennifer. p.s. if the video below doesn't cooperate, click on this post's title and it'll take you directly to the youtube posting. Enjoy.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

...With All of My Free Time

I've been able to unwrap the sprains on my right leg and put pressure on my leg, fairly pain-free pressure I might add. My left ankle is still mangled. But, I'm choosing to look at it through optimistic eyes and I say, "At least half of me is partially healed."

I officially had had enough of my bedroom, so I decided to try and make it downstairs. The way my staircase is laid out is actually very conducive to a 41 year old woman trying to navigate down with an aircast on her left ankle. Weird. I hobble-jumped down to the bottom. My boys cheered when I made it down and my husband was waiting with...my walker. True love.

With all of my free time, I've been furiously revising the query for my latest YA. Fellow writers helped critique it on Absolute Write, and I'm still in the queue on Evil Editor. I'm on draft 5 right now.

Aren't query letters so hard to nail? I mean, writing the dang book was nothing compared to shrinking it down, effectively, into one interesting, captivating, request-producing, page. I never liked summarizing when I was little, and I guess I still don't. I always think I've written a killer query letter and then when the feedback rolls in it tells me different.

Plug away I will.