Friday, February 26, 2010

Hope (is it the same as tenacity?)

I have some hope to share. The publisher interested in our math book is taking it to the next phase: review. Our book goes out to six reviewers in the field, and we wait 4 -6 weeks for their feedback. It's going to be a long month.

A month filled with a bit of hope.

But hope if a fickle, fickle creature - sometimes elusive and mystical and sometimes obvious and glittery.

Trying to land an agent for my novels has been exhausting. And taxing. And not for the faint of heart. Of course there are writers out there that experience instant query success, and to you I say kudos (but inside, if I'm being honest, I'm pretty jealous - and I'm not the jealous type, trust me).

Lately I've been examining the idea of hope. Hope comes in many forms, both human and object, real and imagined. An email, a request, a compliment, a dream. Can people create hope? Believe in it so much so that "it" happens?

Hope means different things to different people; it all depends on what you're hoping for.

Someone to get well

Someone you love to find love

A new job

A relationship to repair

Someone to believe in you

Someone to believe in what you do

What we hope for is individual - part of who we are or who we want to be...or wish to be. Sometimes I find myself daydreaming through my amassed moments of hope and I come-to with a renewed sense of certainty. I know I am close. But then time passes and more puzzling rejections end up in my inbox and certainty is sprinkled with the evil dust of doubt, each bit that lands sears a hole straight through. Certainty is left in a deflated pile.

My journey (and many others out there) has been such a mixed bag. One good nugget effectively squashed by ten ugly nuggets. Over and over and over again.

In an effort to attract more and more and more good nuggets I'd like to propose an idea. Sort of good attracting good.

I know I'm technically a publishing nobody, but If there is anyone out there reading this who can think of a way I could help them on their journey towards publication or promotion, I'd like to offer my help. Beta reading, query critiquing, linking to something - I don't know. You don't have to win it or earn it. Just email me and ask. That simple.

I'm offering and I'm serious.

But, I'm also humbly asking. Anyone out there who can lead an agent to my writing sample website or this blog, or plant the idea of me in someone's head - someone in the industry... Thank you.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Other Book and the first request

My former teaching colleague and I have spent every single Sunday since September 2009 writing our first research based book for math teachers. Yeah, whoa. I'm a language arts teacher by nature and she's a math teacher by nature, so we make the perfect educational team - in our humble opinions.

We have thirteen pages of references. Again, whoa. And our book is going to set American mathematics on the path to deep thinking. You just watch.

We spent the past two weeks working on our proposal - it ended up being 32 pages long. More whoa. Since September Margie has compiled a list of publishers to submit to - our dream list of master educational publishers. Our number one choice was and is Corwin Press.

We sent our very first proposal/query out to the senior acquisitions director at Corwin Press at 4:21 p.m. today and by 4:24 p.m. she wrote us back and asked to see THE WHOLE ENTIRE BOOK!!! All 280 glorious pages of it. She said she found our proposal "intriguing" - infinity whoa.

Maybe this book will actually get published, and I will finally get to see my name on a book.

Any fingers you'd like to cross for us would be awesome. We'd be forever grateful. Whoa.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Honest Scrap

I was over at A Broken Laptop seeing what the wickedly cool Mercedes was up to. Turns out she got tagged to produce some "Honest Scrap" - aka ten honest things about herself. I inadvertently made it into #8 on her list. Cool, huh?

I'm all about honesty. So here goes my ten things:

1. I love lipstick. I have a problem. If you were to look into the makeup case in my purse, you would only find lipstick. Like 17 different tubes and kinds, to be exact. And a lip liner. The 17 tubes is not including the other 30+ tubes in a basket on my makeup table.

2. I have the very bad and very painful habit of picking at the skin around my cuticles. At one point, I was so determined to stop picking, that eight out of my ten fingers had band-aids on them.

3. I have this bizarre cocktail of confidence and self-doubt always churning away inside.

4. My senior year of high school I had a mohawk - not a pencil mohawk, mind you, but I used to stand it straight up for the dance. I wanted to look as different as I could.

5. My whole life I've wanted to "live somewhere else" like Ireland or Australia or an island. But I am never happier than when I'm home, in my house, with my family. Weird.

6. To me, girls or women who do cool things that men typically do - like surf, snowboard, skateboard, or play ice hockey - are the coolest chicks on the planet - and I've always, and I mean always, wished I had it in me to do stuff like that. But I don't. Trust me. I can't even walk across my lawn with out falling.

7. I have eaten an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. All 9,000 grams of fat of it.

8. I love to sing. I've brought people to tears and junk. But, that little voice of doubt squashed my dreams of being all Mariah-Carey-like. Right before I'd either get on the stage or stand up to sing I would nearly vomit. I thought, singing probably wasn't the career for me, because who wants to puke every day before work? No thanks. I still sing, like a freakin' rock star, in my car. If there were try outs for 40+ on American Idol - I would SO be there.

9. I believe in spirits and souls and ghosts and psychics and mediums and reincarnation (read Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss and tell me if I'm wrong - that book BLEW MY MIND).

10. I don't measure stuff when I'm cooking. I just sort of figure it out. Now, not when I'm baking - you have to be precise then. But cooking, nah.

If you are reading this, and you have a blog, or are on're tagged. Go forth and produce ten nuggets of Honest Scrap. Be gone.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Horoscope Today. Hmmmm? Told You I'm Never Giving Up.

February 12, 2010

  1. ScorpioScorpio (10/23-11/21)

    It's an instant replay of yesterday, complete with every last stumbling block, barrier and impediment you could possibly have imagined -- as well as a couple you hadn't. You being you, however, these challenges will only sweeten the pot. You'll gladly jump through every hoop, navigate every obstacle on the course and do whatever it takes to get where you want to be. At that point, feel free to sit, relax and gloat.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Forgot All About This

Back in August of 2008 I posted a short Knol called How to Clean Your Bathroom in 15 Minutes...for real ,and I forgot all about it. I, because I'm bored and currently without something stimulating to do, Googled K. M. Walton, and what comes up but the link to that Knol.


It's been read close to 2000 times!! 2000 times! And it's got 6 five star ratings. That's funny.

I wrote the piece in the late 90's and had plans of seeing it published as either a funny dity in a woman's magazine or one of those little books you see near the cash register at the book store. Neither of those things transpired. Oh well. At least 6 people really liked it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another Awesome Writing Contest

So, I've been telling you I refuse to give up until I land an agent. Don't believe me? Well, I just entered another contest. I'm a sucker for writing contests because I'm under the delusion that I have a chance at winning. Ha. Funny, right? Well, someone has to win!!

Anyway, here's the link. Check it out MG and YA writers. Oh, and thank you Robyn Campbell for leading me to this contest : )

Something Brand New

I honestly can't remember who's blog I was on last week, but I was somewhere, and the blogger had a link to samples of their written works. I liked the idea so much I decided to build my own site with just that - samples of my written works.

You are hereby invite to stop by and click around a bit. Heck, maybe even read a little.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oooh, I Did Something Scary

I was over hanging out at Lisa and Laura's place and learned about this amazing writer's forum over at Teen Fire. Those two cool chicks, that Lisa and Laura, well, you know what they said? They said that if you joined Teen Fire and posted the first 1000 words of your YA that they would critique it.

How cool is that?

I say, very.

Well, I joined.

And I posted.

Let the critiquing begin.

(and the crapping of pants)

Now, since I'm new to the whole Teen Fire scene, I'm not entirely sure if you can comment without being a member. You can try it...on my entry. However, if you are a YA writer, why not join and get some feedback? But wear adult diapers, just in case.

Carrie Harris Contest

The fantabulous Carrie Harris, blogger extraordinaire, has deemed 2010 her year of "Give Backery" and she's having a contest to, you know, give back.

Check it out.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Old Man Winter's Smackdown

We got almost 2 feet!

This was taken when we still had 4 more hours of snow coming our way.
Same with this shot.

Snow storms are one of my favorite things. Don't believe me? Check my list of Things I Love over on the right...scroll'll see. I love snow storms for the obvious reasons: the beauty, the possibility of missed school, the playing in the snow and the hot chocolate. But a deeper reason rises to the top: the way the world is quiet upon waking after it snowed all night ~ it's quiet enough to hear your dreams whispering to your heart.

Snow storms also provide the writer with time. You can't get out and do everything life typically has you doing, so you have time. Question is, will you use it to write? Will I?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm on Suzanne Young's Blog...sort of

Hey, so I was over at Lisa and Laura's blog which led me to Suzanne Young's blog. And I'm scrolling down, checking her blog out and lo and behold...there I am!
This is a photo Suzanne took of the Writers' Intensive. I am at the front table, head down with my black and white sweater on. The man at the table is Eddie Gamarra - who I blogged about yesterday. Suzanne took a great photo that shows the amount of people and the intensity of the experience.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SCBWI Winter Conference Day 2

Day 2

Lin Oliver shared that 1047 writers and illustrators were in attendance this year...SCBWI's largest to date. 14 Countries were represented and 45 states. She only mentioned three of the missing states: Wyoming, North Dakota and Hawaii.

Libba Bray opened up the day with a hilarious and heartfelt presentation. She gave some stellar advice in her remarks:
- Make your characters do the unexpected
- Find the cracks that let the light in (flaws, faults, mistakes)
- Just say no to the hot pterodactyl boyfriend. HUH? She means, if hot pterodactyl boyfriends are the latest and greatest trend, do your best to NOT write a book with a hot pterodactyl boyfriend.
- She quoted Ray Bradbury, "First you jump off the cliff and then you build the wings." Which translates into, take chances, write dangerously, take the fear in and welcome it. If there are no stakes then it's not worth writing.
- Sit at the kitchen table with your characters. What would they like?
- Keep asking yourself, is it true yet?

My three breakout sessions were informative and interesting. Here's a synopsis...

1. Television and New Media with Eddie Gamarra from The Gotham Group
In a nutshell he said Hollywood needs the soundbite, the one sentence hook. Basically, he said it's all about the almighty dollar in Hollywood. Writers make their money from the "merch" like keychains and sheets and toys. If your book has that potential, then Hollywood may notice. If your book hasn't sold in the millions, it is very difficult to get Hollywood to take notice. He said Hollywood would think 500,000 in books sold wasn't that great or Hollywood money.

2. The Truth About Contracts with Edward Necarsulmer from McIntosh and Otis
In a nutshell he carefully took the audience through the process of contracts and negotiations. His presentation gave me a great amount of respect for what agents do and made me realize I really, really want one as good as him on my team.

3. Writing for Teens with Ben Schrank from Razorbill Publishers
He broke down what he feels are common mistakes when writing for teens.
- DON'T write for the market or what you think the market wants
- DON'T try and sound like a teenager. Just create a beautiful voice.
- DON'T query an unfinished book. Ever.
- DO pinpoint what's really important in your book immediately
- DO have a hook in your opening page
- TRY to tell a story that's been told before but tell it in a different way

The night filled up with a "husband dinner" and seeing live music in Soho. We asked the concierge where good live music would be and he immediately directed us to two local jazz clubs.

I asked him, "Do we look like we like jazz?"

He said, "Well, no, but what kind of music do you like?"

I said, "Radiohead, Coldplay..."

He said, "Oh, then you want Crash Mansion in Soho." So we took a cab to Crash Mansion and saw a really good band called Lord Classic. They were the perfect mix of Radiohead and Coldplay. Ha - go figure!

Monday, February 1, 2010

SCBWI 11th Annual Winter Conference

Day 1

The Writers' Intensives

It all started with a bagel. Toasted with cream cheese if you must know. And a coffee. Throw in roughly 300 writers and you've got a hallway full of mingle. The first writer I met was from London and the next from Las Vegas. That's SCBWI, baby. The real deal.

It continued with a panel of three editors (Courtney Bongiolatti from Simon and Schuster, Nancy Conescue from Little Brown and Michelle Nagler from Bloomsbury) discussing how to give and accept critique as well as answering questions from the SCBWI moderator, Aaron Hartzler.

Here's a breakdown of some important points:

Aaron: Every draft you send to an editor is a first draft

Courtney: Every editor and agent is different with different opinions.

Aaron: Once your book is acquired is when the real work begins.

Michelle: We are absolutely looking at the author's attitude and how they receive feedback. Sometimes, we are tough on the things we like the most because we want it to be great because the writer is so close.

Michelle: On revising, welcome to the big leagues. You have to be willing to get rid of a lot of what you write.

My first intensive was with Eddie Gamarra from The Gotham Group, located in Los Angeles. I sat with seven other writers, some YA, some picture book, it was an interesting mix of thinkers and opinions. Eddie provided clear critiques and sound advice. He made a point that is sticking with me. I'll paraphrase: Hollywood is fast paced and you must be able to narrow your book down to one enticing soundbite that would catch the attention of a producer.

He also said something interesting about picture books. If the book is about a trauma, it doesn't have that "read it over again, Mommy" factor to it and probably won't get picked up simply because of the missing repeated-readability-factor, which translates to long shelf life and positive word of mouth. Think about it, what books do you remember your children wanting to read over and over and over again. Chances are, they weren't about the dog dying or losing a loved one. However, he also said that those books need to be written too, but would most likely get published at the smaller presses.

At the end he has us go around and say which manuscript would stay with us after we leave and why. He didn't pick mine, but two writers did. I am going to hold on to that.

My second intensive was with Courtney Bongiolatti from Simon and Schuster. She is also a straight shooter and I appreciate that. She gave her very clear critique with a touch of kindness, but never over-flowered anyone. The point that keeps sticking out from her is: The most important thing is to capture a child's voice when writing for children. A writer from this group made it a point to speak to me in the hall and tell me how much she liked my first 500 words. I am going to hold on to that.

Turns out an agent who has had one of my books was a table moderator for the second round of critiques. Said agent and I have corresponded via email for months now. I decided to introduce myself in a quiet moment. Quiet moments are nearly impossible when you are in the Grand Hyatt's main ballroom lobby with hundreds of other writers. But I found one. The exchange was as expected...sincere and kind.

I was in bed by 9:00 p.m. with a sore brain. It was as the title indicates, INTENSE. But it was a great experience, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Why? Because you have over an hour to sit with an industry insider, a big wig, and let them hear your writing. The moments to make personal connections or create opportunities for yourself are endless and oh-so-exciting.