Saturday, April 30, 2005

Really, it's my own fault

I don't know how many times a week I complain about my messy house. I do know it's a theme that runs through my life. I often wonder why my friends' homes sparkle like a Mr. Clean commercial when mine is looks like the Tasmanian Devil whipped through--even when I've spent all afternoon cleaning.

Really, we're clean people. "S" and "K" take at least two baths a day, and I clean the kichen floor, often on my hands and knees, three or more times a day.

So, what is my problem, exactly? Deep down I know it's because I've raised these creative monsters.

Tuesday, the girls got out markers, scissors, construction paper and glue. They cut their names out of paper and glued them onto a larger sheet. Result: lots of big pieces of paper, and lots of baby-bite-sized papers, all over the carpet. I left this until today because I was too exhausted to clean it up.

Wednesday, I decided we needed more art supplies. I threw paint pens and more paper into my cart at Target.

Thursday, we took blankets, a snack and the small DVD player into the garage to make a movie theater. Not too messy until "K" crawled into the Diet Pepsi with Lime and spilled it on our blanket...twice. Then, there was the whole dragging the stuff back into the house and washing the blanket thing. Just what I need: extra laundry.

Friday, "S" and I set up tents in the house. We zipped everyone inside and "S," "K" and I all took a nice afternoon nap. We kept the tent up and set up two more on Saturday.

Saturday, a friend spent the night after the big school fundraiser (see yesterday's post). The girls painted flower pots (part of their teacher appreciation gifts for next week) and shadow boxes (part of their Mother's Day presents for their grandmothers) and pottery. I had to tend to "K," who has green, goopy eyes, so I left the room. I returned to find they were now using their acrylic paints on paper....and, they'd moved from their craft table to the counter--without any newspaper under their art. Which meant that I needed to wipe up all the paint immediately before it dried.

And, to think that I started this whole thing when "A" was still an infant. We designed the "bar" area of our basement as a craft area, complete with a sink and a laminate floor to minimize permanent messes. We are not big drinkers, although I love the occasional margarita or glass of wine, so our bar drawers and cabinets are full of art supplies. Paper, beads, sequins, water paints, finger paints, acrylic paints, construction paper, writing paper, old cards, markers, window markers, neon markers, pipe cleaners...and any other type of kit that it is possible to buy a kid as a present

Creative messes are a way of life around here. If the kids are not involved in an artistic endeavor, they have the sofa cushions piled on the floor to make a castle...or an alligator pit. It gets to be exhausting, but it all pays off when "S" (who is four) asks me to type a story as she dictates a conflict-filled story about a princess stuck in a dungeon with a dragon or when "A" (who is seven) spends all night on the computer creating a city landscape complete with fireworks in the skyline.

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Coolest Thing I Read All Day

This is the coolest thing I've read all day, maybe in weeks. From Trevor Romain's illustrated blog:

"I had a wonderful experience at a school the other day. I was speaking to a class of second graders about making a difference in other people’s lives. I dared the kids in the class to stand up for those who are being put down and include those who are being left out.
“Have any of you been left out or put down?” I asked.

A little girl named Rachel slowly put up her hand. Rachel was sitting on the side of the class and was all but hidden in her sweater, except for her nose and eyes."

Read the rest. I promise it's worth it. What a way to make a difference in the life of a child! Way to go, "Mr. Trevor!"

Really, I need to get a life. I mean, shouldn't I write my own stuff for my blog? Then again, why do that when someone like Meg Cabot can write about coasters and have me choking on my Nestle Lemon Splash Water Beverage because I'm laughing so hard?

SO, here's a little taste of Meg's blog today:

"Okay, so I grew up in a household without coasters. My mother may have OWNED coasters, but if so, I never saw any, and she certainly never made us use them.A current member of my household (hint: it is not Henrietta), on the other hand, is a coaster owner. AND user. Now, I am not saying coaster-users are wrong. I think, if you own nice furniture and don’t want to get rings on the finish or whatever, you should definitely use a coaster.If, on the other hand, you forget to use a coaster, because perhaps you were not RAISED to use coasters, so it is not exactly second nature to you, should you have to get a mini lecture about coaster use? EACH AND EVERY TIME YOU GET CAUGHT NOT USING ONE????"

You must read the rest, but swallow your drink first. Your computer will thank you.

We had a wonderful time at A's school tonight. It was their annual auction/fun run night. We spent over $50 before we ever got there to bid on anything. Plus, another $90 for some baseball tickets we won in the auction. I can't wait to hear how much they raised. Lots of big bidding on huge items. We got outbid on some items "A" wanted: a chance to read the morning announcements and a chance to be principal for 1/2 day. I can't wait to hear who won bus lane naming rights--the winner gets to name the bus lane after their child.

But, the best part was the race. "A" wanted to blaze a trail, so I told her I'd run the mile with her. "S" is only four, but she wanted to go too. Our sixth grade neighbor agreed to stay with "S" and run at her pace so "A" and I could turn on our jets. We were half a block into the race when I turned around to look for "S" and our friend, only to discover that they were AHEAD of us. "S" stayed ahead of us for about 3/4 of a mile and then "A" and I picked up the pace to the finish line. I'm not much of a runner, but we were pleased with our time: 11:45. And little sister was not far behind. "S" just beamed every time we told the story of her big run.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


I was on my way to the gym, thinking about all this blogging stuff, when I realized I am one big writing cliche:

1) Business writing (the fun kind, not that stuffy stuff) comes more easily for me because it's what I've been doing the longest. And, doesn't that just prove that the way to become a good writer is to write and write and never give up? I've always been a writer, but I've spent so many more years writing about sales, marketing and training issues than I've dedicated to picture books. It happens to be the only area where my articles have been published, and I'm certain that's because I've worked longer and harder at it than anything else.

2) Related to that, my connections got me my first paid gig. I still needed the guts to pitch the column idea, and I still needed a good idea. But, it was the relationship that started it all. So, go to those conferences and meet people. And, read, and write, and study industry web sites and blogs.

I had more, but I think I left them as S's preschool. Instead, more random thoughts:

I forgot to say that one reason I connected with Cynthia's "Riding with Rosa" was that I live in Kansas (the story takes place in Kansas) and my husband (and therefore, my daughters) are a distant, distant fraction of American Caddo Indian. "A" is very proud of her Indian blood and made my husband harrass his parents until they sent us a portrait of their Indian relatives to use in a school project.

And, please...give someone praise today. Your encouragement, however small, has the potential to change someone's life. Pay attention to the "average" kids as well as the slow learners and the gifted students you meet. Each person you touch has the potential to do something big. Give them the inspiration they need to do big things.

Writerly Wisdom

I wish I had some writerly wisdom to share this week since I was linked in one of my favorite blogs today. Thanks, Cynthia! I've been meaning to mention Cynthia Leitich Smith's story, Riding With Rosa, that appears in this month's Cicada. I read it as I devoured the magazines I brought home from the Kansas SCBWI meeting last weekend. It was one of the stories that has pushed me to think about short stories. (My notes from our meeting, filled with my opinions and pouting, are a few posts below, as four separate entries.)

I think one of the most overwhelming things about the SCBWI conference from my newbie standpoint was that I always thought of myself as a picture book writer. Now, I'm doubting that, but I am excited about short stories and non-fiction. So, Cynthia, if you're reading this...if I ever publish a short story, I will owe some of the credit to you for showing me the possibilities.

Another piece of advice that stands out from the SCBWI meeting is that sometimes you have to write what people will let you write, pay your dues. Then, once you've proven yourself, you can write what fills your heart. I've decided to take this advice, and I'm working on a business-writing project, something I'm good at and that comes easily for me. As I write, I'm reading, reading, reading books and all my favorite writer, agent and illustator blogs.

I only wish I hadn't spent so much time writing about my legs and American Idol last night. (blush)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

What's Up, America?

Constantine? Constantine? Where, oh where were his fans last night? I admit, he was not good last night. But, don't ya think he did better than Mr. Dion and Mr. Girl Friend Beater? Come on! So, I'm rooting for Bo. And my girls pick Carrie. Oh boy...I hope that means I'm not stuck listening to country music when they are teens.

Meg finally updated her blog, and she did not disappoint. Lauren did too, and our morning posts were remarkably similar. She mentioned her lack of Idol blogging, Meg Cabot's blog and Lemony Snickett. Did I mention that I happened to buy the girls that DVD today? Not as scary as we thought it would be. "A" thought that Haunted Mansion was much more frightening.

YES!! I also goaded Heather into updating. There's always something to think about over there. Even if she is cheating on us. Actually, I'm about to commit Polyblogamy myself. It may be necessary for this new, top-secret project I'm working on.

Dang--I forgot to mention one of the coolest parts of my day. 1) I took my measurements again today. I weigh the same as last August, but I've lost three inches (on just the places I measured). One inch from my waist. And, half inch from my bust (x2) and hip measurements. Thighs did not change much in measurements. I only wish I'd measured my bicep area. I can SEE it's looking way better.

And, 2) My legs are looking SO cool, if I do say so myself. I remember seeing pics of my cyber friend Sherri and she had such great legs. If I recall, she's not pleased with her "athletic" legs. Well, I am very happy with mine! When I walk, I can see the muscular inverted V where the muscles meet at above my knee. And, I can see the lines down the outside of my leg. How do I know? I saw my cool legs in my reflection in a door today. Then, I had to stare from all angles while I worked out! Goofy, I know!

Whoo Hooo

YES! I've already completed 33 manuscript pages for my new book. Only 300 to go! The coolest part is that, so far, all I've done is copy it from my existing writings. The last time I went through my old stuff, I told my husband that I had enough for a book. My friend Kathy has always told me to write a book with all this stuff. Guess it was time.

Next, I'm going through old articles and columns and seeing what fits into my book structure. And, after that, I'll outline so I have a map. I have only short bursts of time to use for writing, so a map will be important. Everything about this project is so right for right now!

On Idol: I caught myself singing Bo's song from last night. Was he good, or what? Everyone at the gym was talking about it during class today too.

What is it with marketing?

What is it with business and marketing books? Most sound like they were written by stuffy professor types who rarely get out into the world. I mean, have they ever tried to take three kids to the grocery store? Or to McDonalds during the lunch rush with an infant dangling from under an armpit? Or to a children's clothing store while pushing a stroller, dragging racks of clothes behind in the wheels?

Something must be done about what they experience and how they articulate it. Two of my favorite books are Marketing to Women, by Marti Barletta and Marketing to Moms by Maria Bailey. These women get it...and they use interesting language--not that stuff that makes me feel like I'm in a college classroom learning because my grade depends on it. Seth Godin's Purple Cow is good, but even he slips into the stale-cracker-talk occasionally.

Sure, heads of corporations care about metrics and all that blah, blah, blah tech talk. What about the real people, the media account executives dealing with local retailers, the small retailers ... and anyone who is competing against Walmart? These people want straight-from-the-streets, actionable ideas. They don't care about what it took to make Campbell's Soup or Betty Crocker big names. They want to know how to sell NOW, which is why people love Roy Williams' Wizard of Ads books and the Jay Conrad Levinson's Guerilla series.

More later!

Uh...ladies...I need more reading!

Meg Cabot needs to get her blog updated .... fast. It's Wednesday already and I'm still hanging on to Monday's post. And, what's with Heather? Grading is over and I need more of her witty comments. And, uh...Lauren?? Still waiting for your Idol Update. (I think this week's best were Bo and Vonzell. My little girls voted for Carrie. And, please Idol Gods, take that wife beater out this week. He's hardly an American Idol.)

I didn't have much writing time yesterday, but I did round up all my research materials. It's all sitting on our dining room table, which is visible from the front door. I hope I can stand the mess long enough to get started. And, way happens that my old web site will have a use again, and... the One Over-Caffeinated Mom blog name and the mypartyof5 URL for the blog ALL TIE TOGETHER for this project. I'm not much into signs, but it seems this was meant to be since everything is falling into place quite well.

I mean, the mypartyof5 was like my 2000th attempt to get a url without my name in it that wasn't taken. I had no witty name the day I signed up for my blog, so I went with how I felt at the time...strung out on caffeine, waiting for the sunny summer weather remedy my mood. I have an essay I wrote 1 1/2 years ago that I've been wanting to use in a longer piece, but had no direction. Then, it came together like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

So, this idea better work and you better like it....or else!

Oh, yeah...and I have lost 1 1/2 inches from my waist since last August. Hardly a huge accomplishment. However, I weigh the same as I did then, and I've been frustrated. I'll take any indication of progress at this point.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Grumpy Old Bookman

Fantastic article on the blurred lines between books and other media right here:

Grumpy Old Bookman

Brilliant Idea!

I have an idea I am SOOOOOO excited about. I'm ready to start writing it right this minute....except that I have a few other work-related commitments to wade through over the next few days. I hope that I still think this is a fantastic, marketable idea once I've had more time to think about it.

It may take me away from kids' lit for a bit, but WOW--I have a marketable idea, a platform and a unique twist (at least I think I have all those!). You know what "they" say, "Write what you know." It's a fictional story based on what I think is the best thing I've ever written. I've wanted to do something with this piece for the last two years. I can't believe it took me so long to put all the ideas together to come up with this concept. That's all I can say for now. I don't exactly have the whole thing figured out yet.

I'll keep ya posted!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A few updates

I just noticed that Harold Underdown's April Blog has been posted, as has his Who's Moving Where listing.

I just signed up for Publisher's Lunch. If you want to follow the deals, sign up. It's an abbreviated version of what you'll find in Publisher's Lunch Deluxe, which is sent to subscribers of Publisher's Weekly, but it's free! I also learned at our SCBWI conference that PW has two issues a year on the children's market. Somewhere, SCBWI members can get a reduced rate on those issues. Just watch: next week, I'll spring for the real thing!

Pondering your critique

Read this great article from Kids Magazine Writers web site, orginally posted on the Cynsations blog today.

Serve Up Critique Etiquette Like Good Cup of Tea
By Jodell Sadler

I feel the most important part of receiving a critique is owning your story. Taking in the good with the bad and brewing on it, letting it steep like a good cup of tea. .... Read more here: Welcome to the new Kids Magazine Writers web site

Saturday, April 23, 2005

SCBWI - Kansas Update #3

Notes deleted.

SCBWI Kansas -- Update #2

conference notes deleted

Friday, April 22, 2005

Mark McVeigh Hates My Book (Poor Pitiful Me!)

I had my Mark McVeigh critique tonight. He hated my Rudy story. Since most of you haven't read it, the notes probably won't mean much to you. Then again...maybe you can still learn a thing or two on my $35!

*He liked the barnyard setting. (Whatever, he had to say something nice, right? That's how critiques start.)

*Avoid overly poetic language, e.g. "kiss the sky." (Rudy rose from the roost just as the sun rose to kiss the morning sky. -- first line of book!)
*Avoid throwing rhymes into a prose picture book. ( I have little rhymes...The animals tell him, "Haven't you heard, bird? Roosters don't rock!" He replies to each set of animals with a rhyme of his own, such as: "I'll show you silly filly. You'll prance, you'll dance when you give me the chance.")
*Rudy isn't developed as a character. Work on him. (He said that Olivia is a well-developed character.)
*Why does everyone think roosters don't rock? It comes out of nowhere. (He suggested a fix here--maybe the King of the barnyard declares this, and so it is how things are in the barnyard.)
*Climax of story is too obvious. (Rudy prevails. Well...duh!)

Poor, pitiful me! I guess that's what I get to subjecting myself to Writer Idol. Now, I'll really whine....

I'll post another update after we hear the speakers tomorrow!

And another thing--

Heather's response to my Oprah post below reminded me that I really got off track and forgot my other points. She made my point better than I did, and I'm glad she reminded me that I left out a few things:

  1. Where are all the dads? Why are these moms so exhausted? What is the dad doing while she's working her butt off?
  2. Are these husbands acting like selfish little kids? I can just picture them sitting around with puppy dog eyes waiting for Wifey to pay attention to them.
  3. What are these men doing to connect with Her even when time is tight? Does he call her? Take her to lunch? Email? Does he initiate any of the little things--or is that all her job too?
  4. Can't you have quality family time without feeling like you have to choose between your husband and your kids? When you have kids (and get married), you are choosing to share your life with someone else. I see that the couple should have grown up time, but there's nothing wrong with good, old-fashioned family togetherness.
  5. What about all these moms whose kids are the center of their universe? Are these the same moms who are lost on the first day of kindergarten when they suddenly have an empty house? There's a difference between nurturing your kids and losing your identity while trying to become Super Mom. Everyone should have hobbies and interests besides doting on their kids.

I had a few more that I thought of at breakfast, but they've run off with the mailman. Probably because I didn't devote my undivided attention to them right that minute.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

On a lighter note

That last post was a little heavy for me, so I thought I'd better place something a little lighter at the top of the page. A few of my other thoughts from today:

  1. I really like the Hit List station in the digital music station on cable.
  2. I am really bad at paying bills. This month, I forgot the cable bill and the electric bill and my gym bill.
  3. I'm also bad at getting paid. I finally sent an invoice for an article I submitted on February 21st.
  4. Cable is becoming a commodity. Consumers see little difference between DSL vs cable modems and satellites vs cable. They have very few true points of differentiation. These companies must get closer to the consumer and develop a relationship or at a minimum, a connection of some sort. I'm ready to ditch my cable company for something less expensive. This is bad. Really bad coming from someone who spent 16 years in the industry.
  5. Socks. I have a new story idea about socks. I spent two hours typing a bunch of smelly stuff related to socks, still no story. Then, I hopped in the car to get Sarah from school. A sock poem wrote itself as I drove. Good thing I had paper.
  6. Have you seen these socks? They are sooo cute! I bought my niece some for her birthday. Thanks to my cyber friend, Judy, for telling me about them.
  7. We sent my niece four separate packages for her eighth birthday. First, a card that the girls made out of a paper lunch sack. Second, a computer journal and a book on how to create books. Third, a "make your own garden" set--a clay pot, paints and brushes for painting the pot, dirt and seeds. (Yep, actually mailed dirt!) Fourth, some of the Little Miss Matched socks (see #6). The girls want to trade her socks.
  8. We will need to stay busy tomorrow because
  9. I'm a little nervous about
  10. My critique with the editor this weekend! I'll post about the conference when I have time...probably Saturday night or Sunday.

The Moon or the Sun?

Oprah and children and husbands. That's what I'm thinking about today. I didn't get a chance to watch Oprah yesterday. It plays at 4:00 here, and that's during our after-school-rush. They replay it again at 9:00, but last night, I was determined to write. Instead, I read the slides on her site...and an excerpt from the book the show was based on. It saved me time, and I still got the 411.

The show was about mothers who put their children before their husbands. One of the guests was Ayelet Waldman, a woman who wrote an essay in the book, Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race and Themselves, an anthology edited by Kate Moses and Camille Peri.

As with most things, you really must read the whole essay. The portion I'm about to post makes her look like a selfish mom who failed to bond with her children. I'm certain that's not the case, yet I cannot imagine living as she does.

Speaking of her daugher: "I do love her. But I'm not in love with her. Nor with her two brothers or sister. Yes, I have four children. Four children with whom I spend a good part of every day: bathing them, combing their hair, sitting with them while they do their homework, holding them while they weep their tragic tears. But I'm not in love with any of them. I am in love with my husband.It is his face that inspires in me paroxysms of infatuated devotion. If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother. I am in fact a bad mother. I love my husband more than I love my children."

The guests went on to talk about needing to put their husbands first and the kids second, that the kids should not be the center of your universe. They kids should be satellites and your spouse should be the center of your universe.

This may all be good in theory, but let's look at this logically. Who the heck has time to live like this? Or, am I just that disorganized? I spend my day with the two little ones who are at home. Abby goes to school and Chris goes to work. At 4:00, A gets home, and we have serious kid time. At 6:00, Chris gets home, and we eat dinner as a family. After that, he takes one or more of the girls while I do the dishes. Then, we all split up to do homework. One of us takes A and the other takes K and S for special mommy/daddy time. This takes us right to 8:30 when we put the kids in bed. Once the kids are in bed, I get online to score the projects my online students (I'm a sales trainer) have submitted that day. I finally have my own *free time* at about 9:30 or 10:00 each night, which I usually spend scrapbooking or writing or goofing off online. So, just where can I fit in time for my husband? I can fudge a little now and then, but there's nothing in that list I can cut out.

Which means we have weekends. But, who can afford babysitting? I understand that you grow apart if you don't find time for one another. I just fail to see how it works logistically.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sheesh! Now, look what ya'all started!

I couldn't resist--two more.

Your Linguistic Profile:

75% General American English

10% Midwestern

10% Upper Midwestern

5% Yankee

0% Dixie

I must not be a true Kansan. I didn't get the Kansas jokes. For this quiz, I decided that I'd be a Nebraskan again.

You Know You're From Nebraska When...

"Vacation" means going to Omaha for the weekend.

You use your life savings to go to the Nebraska-Colorado game.

You know the Woodmen Tower is not made of wood.

You know you cannot tube "upstream."

You know what the "sea of red & white" i

You wake up when it's dark, and go to bed when it's still light.

You can tell it's really a farmer working late in his field, and not a UFO.

You know the difference between field corn and sweet corn when they are still on the stalk.

You pick up all the free stuff at the State Fair.

You can eat an ear of corn with no utensils in less than 20 seconds.

You fly your American flag at halfmast when the Cornhuskers lose a football game.

You know how to pronounce Beatrice, Norfolk and Kearney.

You think Highway 6 is more scenic that I-80, which you think is the best thing to come out of Iowa.

You don't understand why other states even bother to try raising beef.

You believe that the worst steak in Nebraska is still better than any other steak, anywhere.

You believe that vegetarians should be banned in Nebraska.

You don't have to be told what Aksarben is or that it's Nebraska spelled backward.

You take pride in knowing that on Saturdays, Memorial stadium is the third largest city in the state.

Kitty Clover potato chips and Robert's Milk were are the best part of a meal.

You know that the statue on the dome of the state capital is actually sowing seed - not bowling.

You know what a Runza is.

You call lunch "dinner" and dinner "supper."

You think it's normal to get a side of spaghetti at a steakhouse.

You avoid Omaha because you're afraid of getting mugged.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Nebraska.

What Does THIS Say About Me?

Just what does this say about me? I picked up this quiz at Marianne Mancusi's site where she was talking about a new book, "Cooking to Hook Up." The second quiz I found at my friend Heather's site. I'm pretty sure this all means a) I'm pathetic and boring and b) I am spending too much time on the computer!

You Are a Life Blogger!

Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.
If it happens, you blog it. And make it as entertaining as possible.

So, I think this all means I need a little spice in my life. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Projects, TV Viewing and Earrings

I finished up a version of Snow Day today and sent it off to my critique group. I think I may need to add some non-fiction material to the end, but I'll wait to hear what they think. While I patiently wait, I'm working on my early chapter book, I Send My Love.

Did you watch American Idol tonight? I still love Bo. Constantine, my other sweetie, was horrid. I'll hate to see him go. Carrie, ultra cool last week, was so, so sad. She looked like Tammy Wynette or some other country singer from the 70s whose singing is equally unmemorable.

I'm thrilled now that I know that watching reality TV is actually a writing's pop culture homework...and all writers need to be up on this!

Actually, I watch very little TV. Sad, considering I'm a former cable TV marketing exec. I do catch my fair share of Kim Possible, Raven, Brace Face, and my new favorite--The Suite Life of Zach and Cody.

I remember stating in my life before kids that I thought TV viewing was a waste of time. Who sits around and just watches TV? This was a long time ago, before laptops....well when laptops had as much memory as my cell phone does now.

My how things change. If only I had time to sit down and watch TV these days! Yes, I watched Idol tonight, but it was while I was walking with K, cleaning up the dinner mess, supervising four kids on the trampoline and looking for a lost earring that fell out on the trampoline when it was almost dark. We bailed on the earring and borrowed a new stud (earring, that is...the man I have is all I can handle!) from a neighbor.

Tomorrow, I need to take S out to buy her first pair of earrings! We needed to do that anyway; it's been about six weeks since she got her ears pierced. And, why didn't I have any earrings of my own to give her? Since having A, I'm allergic to mine. Ah, the joys of parenthood.

The fascinating world of blogs

For my writer friends: I must share a few gems I've found in the past few days. I wish I could say I discovered these things on my own, but I did not. I found them through the power of blogging.

There is something about blogging that fascinates me. It's educational in ways that a classroom or textbook could not be. It's interactive and it's viral. I've felt like I've attended a new writers' conference every day for the past few weeks. It's such a different experience from traditional education or communication. And, if you're not blogging, you should be!

For a great education on what it takes to get published, take a look at the journals of Lauren Barnholdt and Robyn Schneider.

These two YA authors are both waiting for their books to be published. Many of their posts are about that process. Robyn also has a site where she's detailed the process it took to get her book to an agent and accepted.

Lauren's agent just started a blog. It's very interesting to see things from the agent's perspective. To get the full effect, you really need to dig into some of the reader responses. She has answered a few reader questions, as have Robyn and Lauren.

Oh, and in case you haven't seen this one yet: YA Books Central -- this writer reviews zillions of YA books, with new listings each day.

If you've been a blogger for any time, I know you're laughing at me. These are hardly new finds, but they are well worth taking a peek at!

Happy writing!

Spent the night in the ER

I spent the night in the ER with K. As we were helping the big girls select their clothes for today, K crawled on over to take a peek. She crawled right into the corner of A's dresser and sliced up the corner of her eyebrow. I wasn't sure she actually needed stitches, but A had stitches twice, one of them a cut that seemed much smaller than this. So, off to the ER we went. Four hours later, K and I were back home. They used Dermabond on her cut. They said it's like Super Glue for skin. It looks like it will heal well; I never liked the "stitched" look when A cut her face (twice under the age of 14 months!), and poor A still has noticable scars from hers.

Monday, April 18, 2005

My favorite kids' musician

We have the good fortune to have one heck of a children's entertainer in Kansas City. As such, we get to go see him a couple times a year. The girls just love him...and well, I think lots of moms think he's pretty good on the eyes too. If you have a chance, check out Jim Cosgrove's web site. And, if he ever tours near you, be sure to go!

To appreciate his music, you really need to see a show and watch how he interacts with the kids. In several parts of the show, he calls kids on stage to be "in the band." A has always wanted to go, but is a little on the shy side. S had her first opportunity a few months ago, and was just adorable. If I can dig up a picture, I'll post one.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

What a Club!

Know what I love about all these author/illustrator blogs I link to? I feel like a child who has always wanted to play with the big kids. I can see their club house, but I'm stuck on the outside...wondering what they talk about, how they spend their days. The club is closed to outsiders, and they won't let me in. Occasionally, the windows and doors are open, and I can peek inside. I'm still not an official member of the club, but I'm privy to their secrets.

Blogging is so cool. I've learned more in the past few weeks than I have in years, and it's all because of the many authors who publish blogs and websites and are willing to share what they know. It's the type of education you'll never get from a textbook because it's real life. I think part of this falls under the "you don't know how much you don't know" category, which is related to "you can't ask about what you don't know you need to know." Got that?

Of course, it won't help me get published if I can't write something worthy of being read!

Other news: the weather has been gorgous here--mid 70s and sunny. We took the girls to the ballgame on Friday night. They were so well-behaved. We saw the whole game, the Royals won, and we stayed for the fireworks. Abby and Sarah think we should do this every Friday night this summer. Gee...ya think it was the popcorn, peanuts, hot dog, cotton candy and Dippin' Dots they each had before they watched an awesome fireworks show?

Our local SCBWI conference is this coming weekend. I can't wait! I have an editor appointment on Friday, and I sent in something for the first pages critique too. Poor Chris gets to handle Sarah's school fair, Abby's soccer game and a birthday party drop off all alone.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Books and Ice Cream

Have I mentioned that each child in A's class had to read 400 books this school year? We have just finished book 305. Only 95 left to read in less than one month! No biggie--except that if we fail to read all these books, she misses out on the first grade ice cream party.

I'm sure we've read more than 305, but I kept forgetting to write some of them down. At any rate, we (I say "we" because in first grade, the parents must read with the child since they are just learning to read) have read a ton of picture books and early chapter books. I've had enough Junie B to last a lifetime--which is not fair since I have two daughters who are younger than Abby. We are enjoying the American Girl books.

It's been great fun for me --with a great side benefit being that it has helped my writing. Personally, I was thrilled to learn that the Harry Potter book I'd preordered at will arrive on release day. You never know what I'll be up to and how easy it will be to get to the store that day. Let's just hope that I'm not on jury duty. Yes, I've been called to jury duty for a "special trial lasting up to 10 weeks." Not good. What stay-at-home-mom has childcare for 10 weeks in the summer? I've applied for the exemption, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Punctuation situation handled

The punctuation situation is handled. But, more second draft of the Snow Day story is done! A few more drafts and it ought to be ready for people to read.

Is anybody reading? I need help!

A brought home this homework assignment today where they are to ask a parent questions and then record our responses using proper punctuation for the quotation marks. The only problem is that the example is not punctuated properly, unless we are suddenly British, that is.

The example: "What is your favorite food?" asked Chad. (correct)
"My favorite food is Mexican", said mom. (incorrect)*

* see this link: for explanation.

So, before I make an *ss of myself and send the teacher a copy of the American grammar rules concerning quotation marks, tell anyone aware of any movement in schools to change the acceptable way of doing things? Or is this a late April Fool's Day joke?

By the way, I learned something interesting while I was double checking. The reason we put the punctuation inside quotation marks is as follows:

There are peculiar typographical reasons why the period and comma go inside the quotation mark in the United States. The following explanation comes from the "Frequently Asked Questions" file of alt.english.usage: "In the days when printing used raised bits of metal, "." and "," were the most delicate, and were in danger of damage (the face of the piece of type might break off from the body, or be bent or dented from above) if they had a '"' on one side and a blank space on the other. Hence the convention arose of always using '."' and ',"' rather than '".' and '",', regardless of logic." This seems to be an argument to return to something more logical, but there is little impetus to do so within the United States.

Highlights Called!

Highlights called this afternoon. I saw the name on my caller ID. My heart raced. I took a deep breath. And, I about cried when I heard the crackle from the telemarketing room. Yep, they were calling to see if we'd like to purchase their new math games book.

It only took a minute for me to remember that I don't have anything at Highlights. But, A did send in a really, super-cool computer drawing about a month ago. It was rejected. They don't print computer-generated drawings. But, she did get a super cool, personalized rejection letter. Some of her best artwork is on doodle paper--lined paper, napkins, the backs of school work, ripped paper. If we ever get another masterpiece, we'll send it in.

A Few Random Thoughts

I woke up thinking about my picture book today. I was editing right where I left off last night. I think I'm on a roll now. I should be able to make lots of progress while S is at school today. I think I just need to look at preschool days as writing days and the others as pre-writing days. Maybe that will eliminate all the anxiety I feel when I'm not composing at my computer???

It's been a busy day already. Chris (that's my husband's name--I guess I just usually call him "my husband.") left for a sales call four hours away at 6 a.m. They'll call on a few clients and then return later this evening. It's a rainy, yucky day. Not a good day for driving.

I had a conference call at 9 a.m. for my real job, that's very much a part-time gig. It was over in 19 minutes, which was good since K and S both started screaming at about that time.

I just took my shower. Now, I'm catching up on my blog. We're off to swimming lessons in a few minutes. Then, a quick lunch and off to preschool. Somewhere in there, K will take one of her famous 45 minute power naps. Let's just hope it's while S is at school because I'm ready to get going on my picture book this afternoon.

I suppose if she's awake, I can always get some shopping done. I'm getting quite a Target list. I hate going there; I never leave without spending $100. I've been spending over $200/week at the grocery store too. That's $800 on groceries, plus about $400 at Target each MONTH. This is not good.

If that's not bad enough, I made three online purchases yesterday within 30 minutes: a game at socks from Little Miss Matched and the Winsor Pilates DVD.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Children's Poetry Week

What timing! I received a fantastic poem written by a seven year old child this weekend. I really wish I could post it here. It was about a cake batter ballerina and the imagery was phenomenal. It was hard to believe someone so young wrote such a beautiful piece. Her mom said that the writer came up with the image while baking a cake. Then, they talked about the steps that took place. What happened next. What happened to the cake batter ballerina, etc. They took notes and then selected the best images and placed them in order. I really wish I could post it here, but I'm going to recommend that she send it to one of the markets that publishes work by children.

I found a wonderful article a few weeks ago that explains how to rhyme properly when writing a picture book. For some reason, this clicked for me. I have no idea why I've made this so difficult in the past.

Check out these great "how to" articles to help children write poetry.

And, these sites with poems for kids.

And, poetry activities and lessons from poets at

Anyone can write poetry. (Well, you might not love your first attempts, but it's not that hard! As with anything, it takes practice.) Contrary to what many of us were taught, poetry doesn't have to rhyme. In honor of Children's Poetry Week, try out these exercises:

For younger kids--try a 5 senses poem about Spring or April or Rain. Describe how it tastes, looks, smells, sounds and what it feels like.

Try an acrostic using any word you like. If you need an idea, start with Spring, April, Rain, Poem, Bird or Nest. When writing an acrostic, list each letter in the word vertically. Then, start each line of the poem with that letter.

Pretty words
Open my eyes and beg me to
Explore the world around
Me in unusual ways.

For older kids, you might try a limerick, a 5 line poem with the following pattern:

Line 1 - A -- (long) usually 7 or 8 syllables
Line 2- A-- (long) usually 7 or 8 syllables
Line 3- B -- (short) usually 5 or 6 syllables
Line 4- B--(short) usually 5 or 6 syllables
Line 5- A--(long) usually 7 or 8 syllables

As in:

I listened as birds made a nest.
The outcome was worse than I'd guessed.
I opened the grill.
And found a straw hill.
Burgers without twigs taste the best.


I ran with my kite in the breeze.
It sailed on air with such ease.
I dashed and I tripped.
I tumbled and slipped.
Now string is wound round my knees.

I'm not suggesting my poems are good, but they are sure fun to write! Have a great Monday!

Oh, and here's a poem A wrote about rain:

Pit. Pat. It sounds like the rain.
Thump. Thump. It sounds like thunder.
Kazzz. Kazzzz. Sounds like lightning.
If it rains and the sun is out, you might see a rainbow.
You might think about flowers.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Sell Yourself

I was reading a blog the other day where there was a conversation about publicists and whether or not a new author needed one. Now, I don't know the answer to that since I don't have a book deal. Not that any of these world-famous author types actually read my blog, but if they did, I'd recommend Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul by Susan Harrow.

The book gives PR advice that explains how to write a press release, how to prepare sound bites that will increase your chances of being quoted, how to pitch the bigger TV shows so you'll be a person they want as a guest, how to prepare for that on camera interview, how to find reasons (seasons, logical tie-ins) the media will want to talk about you...and more. It's like having a personal media coach sitting in the tub, in bed, on the couch...or wherever it is that you read.

I'm sure a publicist is necessary at some point, especially if you don't have the time or energy to market yourself. Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul is a great guide to the PR world, and I'd recommend it even if you do have a publicist. It will help you understand what you are paying for, and it will provide great background information.

Another great read is the Buzz Your series. This series provides do-it-yourself promotion techniques. There's a free e-book download "that gives away some of the best tips we've got on how to get Buzz." And, you can even buy "Buzz Your Book" for just $8.95. Inside, you'll find all sorts of great ideas, including how to get people to your book signing and how to make the most of the audience you have.

Another book I've found helpful is Debbie Allen's "Secrets of Shameless Self Promoters." At her site, you can find dozens of articles on self-promotion.

I could say much more on this topic, but I have two crying babies at my feet. Have a great Saturday!

Friday, April 08, 2005

One Cruddy First Draft

Yesterday, I completed one cruddy first draft of the picture book I've been struggling with. Hooray! Yes, this is cause for celebration. I always have trouble until I can get a framework down--you know the whole beginning, middle and end thing.

I had hoped to start fleshing it out last night, but we had huge internet problems. After my husband spent two hours reconfiguring our whole network, we learned that there was an outage. That'll teach us to call first! But, who would have known? Our wired computer was working fine and the wireless ones were not--before he started.

So, two hours later, my manuscript is freed like a genie from a bottle. You should have seen me pacing the house. I hated that my writing was trapped and I couldn't get to it. I work on three different computers in the house. I sit down and write wherever the girls give me a free moment. You can do that when you have a great network and can pull up your manuscript from anywhere--see my husband is not all bad :-)

Actually, I alternated between pacing, writing poetry and soaking my aching back in the tub (That massage left my back a little sore...OK, if you must know, I read or write in the tub almost every night too.) Now, I have two more little poems to share next week for poetry week.

The new Writer's Digest and the new Highlights came this week. Lots of noteworthy stuff in both, but they are upstairs ( a downfall of having too many computers--your stuff is never where you need it to be) and everyone is still sleeping ... for another 15 minutes, that is. Oops. It was more like 30 seconds--A just walked in.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Fed Up

I'm more than a little fed up with my husband. He's not taking my writing seriously. He keeps rolling his eyes and making stupid comments about the things I do. He gave me a hard time about the web site I want to create. He laughs about the blogs I read. He makes fun of my writing.

Then...he has the nerve to have this conversation with me.

Husband: How many aspiring writers do you think there are in the world?

Me: Lots.

Husband: And, do you think these people do more than just read blogs and think about writing?

(He walks out of the closet and down the stairs. I roll my eyes at him, which he can't see because he's now in the kitchen.) myself...because he's just walked away: You make so much fun of my writing, why would I tell you what I'm really up to? You have absolutely no idea how hard I'm working because you've never bothered to find out!

We had a similar conversation last night where I told him that he has three daughters who will have ideas and he'd better be more supportive because they'll just shut him out.

He prides himself in being the naysayer...the one who always points out holes in other people's ideas. He's quite the pessimist, isn't he?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

10 Things About Me

Happy Birthday to Me!

I'm bummed. I won't be going to see Meg Cabot tonight afterall. But, we're having a family dinner out. We never go out. Three small kids. Crowded restaurants. You can see why we don't go out much.

My massage was fabulous. The best I've ever had. I've been to some pretty pricey spas--who woulda known I could get a world class massage just five minutes from home?

In celebration of my birthday and in honor of Winn Dixie, I'll share 10 things about me:

1. deleted

2. I am a mother of three wonderful little girls. Unlike India Opal's mom, I'll never leave my kids. They'll probably arrive at college and find that I've shipped myself in a suitcase.

3. I am a wife. I've been married for almost 14 years. On our wedding day, my dad promised to hurt my husband if he didn't take good care of me. He's kept his promise to my dad and has done an excellent job so far.

4. I weigh 25 pounds more than I did the day we got married. I still weigh the same as I did a month after K was born...almost 10 months ago.

5. I work out every day, and I don't do a bad job with meals. But, I'm a huge snacker and have a sweet tooth. My downfall.

6. I almost died 2 1/2 years ago when I had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured. I called 911 myself, took a ride in an ambulance, received 5 units of blood and spent the night in intensive care. The doctor said my excellent cardiovascular condition saved my life. I also had a few doctors and a little angel sitting on my shoulder to look out for me.

7. My mom died when I was 25 years old. She loved babies and would have adored my girls. My dad remarried last year. We love our new step mom.

8. I have three brothers, and I have two step brothers. I am the oldest. My dad will have a total of 9 grandchildren next month.

9. I like to bike, take walks, travel, visit museums and zoos and digi-scrap. I spend lots of time outside with my family.

10. I believe 2005 is the year I will finally sign a book contract. It is because I want it more this year than I ever have. I've spent many years wishing and talking about writing, but this is the first year I've actually put in the work to become a real writer.

Dirty Secrets from the Dirty Cowboy

I could not have found this article at a more perfect time. Author Amy Timberlake describes the process she went through to write The Dirty Cowboy. She starts off like this:

Maybe I am the only published writer who needed help to get my story off the ground – but I figure I’m not. If you’re reading this now and you’re one of those published types who wrote your story from beginning to end without hearing a single suggestion that made you think twice or who never had a carrot
(trailing a litany of suggestions) skewering a sentence, or worse, found Post-It notes (written front and back) stacked on your manuscript because your one-inch margins and double-spaced type weren’t roomy enough for describing myriads of difficulties – well, would you mind skipping this article? I’m hoping to reach someone like me. Someone who is sometimes embarrassed by all the help they needed. I’m hoping to make our case, and convince us – maybe me most of all -- that there’s nothing embarrassing about recognizing a good suggestion and taking it.

Check out the link above to see how this story evolves. It makes me feel so much better to know that I am not the only one with a great idea that is struggling to make its way onto the page. I am not one of those lucky people who writes a great first draft, so it's encouraging to see that someone else shares my pain.

Sometimes I feel like I'll never be published. Am I really a writer? Am I just a hack? It's articles like this one that remind me that the only thing separating the published from the unpublished writers is the desire to get a little dirty and to stick with it. Thank you, Amy!

P.S. Note the time stamps on these last two entries. Baby Koala has a thing against sleeping. I got 5 1/2 hours of sleep last night.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sleeping Beauty

K took a super nap today. Dare I admit that I let her sleep in her car seat in the garage? She fell asleep on the way home from taking S to pre-school. I really needed her to sleep today. The kid doesn't sleep. Ever. So, I closed the outside garage door, and left the car door and the door to the house open so I could hear her. The kid slept for 2 1/2 hours. An all-time record. And, boy, was she ever happy this afternoon! Bad mommy moment, but so worth it.

So, with all that free time, I decided to plant my butt in my chair and write. It took a lot of effort to resist going shopping. I've been wanting to read a few books by the authors on my blog list, and the girls need new spring clothes. But, I stayed home and wrote.

We won't mention that I ate a whole package of graham crackers while doing so. Or that all that eating killed the workout I did just a few hours earlier. Ya know...I'd look like a shrimpy supermodel if it weren't for all this binging I do.

Now, 20,000 false starts later, I still have no beginning for the Snow Day Rap story. I do have lots of ideas for MG novels and a few ideas for some science early readers. I am the queen of unfinished projects. Please, call my magic fairy and ask her to put the kingdom to sleep while I catch up.

Tomorrow will be a great day. A power workout. Lunch. A massage and dinner out. I can hardly wait!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Run, Will, Run!

I caught the last few minutes of the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards the other night. I tuned in just in time to hear Will Smith give his acceptance speech for favorite voice in an animated film (Shark Tales). The audience was a little wound up, so I'd bet the significance of his speech was lost on most of the pint-sized fans. But, I thought it was a good one:

He told kids that the keys to success were running and reading. Run because when you run, there's a little voice inside that says, "Give up. I'm tired. It's time to quit." When you learn to ignore that little voice, you can conquer anything. Read because there have been zillions of books written for zillions and billions of years. You are not the only one with whatever problem you have. You are not the first person to have that problem. Someone has written about that problem and can help you.

No, these were not Will's exact words--this is how I remember it, which always means I may be a little off. I didn't tape it or take notes--I was racing through the room, cleaning up after my three little piggies. I thought it was a very inspiring speech. The only thing I would add is: Write. Write because once you master communication, you will never starve. Your mind will be fed and you will be able to put food on the table! Communication and creativity are the keys to so many professions, and writing provides a solid foundation for our future scientists, inventors, engineers, architects, novelists and illustrators.

Ready, Get Set...Rhyme!

Next week (April 11-17) is Young People's Poetry Week. What a great excuse to dig out your Shel Silverstein books. Mr. Silverstein is my favorite children's poet. Heck, maybe my favorite all time poet--at least I can understand what he's talking about!

A somewhat random thought: I pulled out a bunch of my college writing papers last night--I now realize there was a reason I quit writing for so many years. Those professors took all the fun out of reading and writing, which probably explains why I tend to be drawn to...shall we say...less serious reading and writing these days.

The Children's Book Council has these suggestions for celebrating Young People's Poetry Week:

Celebrating Young People's Poetry Week
1. Take a poetry trip to the library.
2. Read and discuss a poem every day. See our list of new poetry titles.
3. Help students memorize a poem and recite it to a family member.
4. Encourage students to write a poem every day. Try our poetry starters.
5. Host a poetry reading.
6. Host a Bad Poetry Reading.
7. Have students create an in-class display of favorite poetry books.
8. Share these crossword puzzles with your students.
9. Have students create a bulletin board of their favorite poems by famous poets, including illustrations.
10. Publish a book of poems by students, each student contributing his or her best work. Give a copy to the library for the shelves.
11. Print and share with your students the Nikki Grimes Q&A, our Young People's Poetry Week poet for 2005 answering a few questions about her life and work.
12. Share the Jane Yolen Q&A.

And, sometime this week, when I'm not writing while holding a baby in my lap (rare), I'll provide my own ideas....along with a few "poetry lessons" to get you started.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Spring is here!

Spring has finally hit the Midwest! Yea!!! I am going to start tracking my mood and accomplishments along with the weather. I am on such a high right now. I'm sure this sounds loony, but I just felt like I was soaking up energy from the sun when I was outside today. I've mentioned before that, at times, I seem a bit manic depressive. I know I'm not really, but I do have such fluctuations in my energy levels and desire to do things. So, if I disappear for a bit, you can almost bet that it's cloudy or raining here.

It was nearly 80 today. We went on our first family bike ride--all 5 of us. A rode S's bike, and K and S rode in the trailer behind mine. My husband rode behind A to make sure she kept up. I've been waiting for soooo long to take a bike ride with the whole family. Did I mention it was beautiful out? A took a spill on her bike once we reached the park. She's all scraped up, but we did manage to get her back on the thing. She's been afraid of riding ever since she wiped out two years ago.

We got S a new bike for her birthday; it's better than A old clunker. A desparately needs a new one. We were struggling with how we could justify buying Abby one for no good reason when S's was a present. Then, the other day, they each opened their piggy banks and we discovered that both kids had over $60 in their banks. To think I was feeling sorry for them because I never give them any change! Anyway, A has decided to use her money to buy a new bike. Problem solved and a great money lesson learned.

We spent a lot of time outside today. In addition to the bike ride, we got in a nice walk. We bought the trampoline at about 7:00. It's partially set up. The girls and I will finish it up tomorow. They can hardly wait to start jumping. Great exercise, in my book!

We did not get far on A's reading this weekend. The weather and Daylight Savings Time are working against us when it comes to homework. I think this will be a struggle for the rest of the school year.

Speaking of reading, this reminds me that it's time to get to writing. I didn't get much of a first draft going last night...but it's still more than I had the day before.

Meg Cabot, My Buns and Other Stuff

Meg Cabot is coming to town on my birthday! She's reading a chapter from the new Princess Diaries book. I want to take the girls, but my girls are 9 months, 4 and 7. While the PD movies are fantastic, I wouldn't let my friend's 12 year old read the PD books. I love the books--they are very funny, for a teenager to read. And, Meg Cabot is so, so funny. You really need to check out her blog.

I worked my hiney off at the gym on Friday. I wish I could say that literally. Wouldn't it have been great to leave one quarter of each bun right there on the gym floor? At any rate, I was in pain yesterday and am in even more pain today. Think I'll take that same class on Monday. It seems to work.

Well, I say it works, but then...I still weigh the same as I did 9 months after having K. What's up with that? I just completed week one (again) of my new (again), and improved eating plan. No Easter candy or any other holiday food around this time to mess things up.We don't use the word "diet" at my house--I have three girls. I think we're in for enough body image issues without making them think mom is on a diet every week. So, we just focus on eating healthy and getting lots of exercise.

I think we'll be taking the big plunge today. It's trampoline time for us. It's great exercise, and I'm hoping it will save the furniture. Maybe S will stop jumping on the bed, the couch and the sofa cushions. I think she's one of the original Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. The girls are thrilled. My husband is cautious, and I'm hoping for a few minutes of peace and quiet a couple of times a day.

Baby Koala (that's what I call K) doesn't give me much down time. She's always clinging to me--and she never sleeps. She takes two half hour naps each day. She does sleep 11 hours at night, so I do have that going for me. But, how on earth does JK Rowling do it? How did she do it? What an amazing woman! By the way, did you preorder your Harry Potter book? I did! I can't wait to read it. It broke a publishing record with 10.8 million copies printed in the first print run.

And one more thought about blogs: I think every young adult author needs one. Really. It may seem trendy or even crazy to some adults, but to the YA author's target audience, it's the way they communicate, share thoughts and gather opinions. It's not a trend. It's the way today's teens think, which means there's no better way to communicate with your YA audience than with a web site and a blog...and maybe a live chat or two.

Make that two thoughts on blogs: Blogging (and web sites) for new authors is a little like the chicken and the egg. To gain a following before having a published book would be huge--it would help sell the book. (Why do you think celebrities get all those book deals while the rest of us struggle? They already have a following, so the book is a sure thing for the publisher) On the other hand, what on earth will I put on my new author's web site? That is ... the one I'm going to start soon, very soon.

And, did I mention that I'm now officially addicted to blogging? I want to *be* one of those writers I have linked on my blog. I mean, I want to be ME, but I want to be published. Was that actually three thoughts on blogs? Blogging could be a good thing for me. Oops. Make that four.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

There's a Problem with My Name

There's a problem with my name. I've known it for many years, but it's been bothering me again lately.

When I got married, 14 years ago this May, I wanted a hyphenated last name. It was a big deal to my husband for me to take his last name and to drop my maiden name. To him, it was a matter of commitment. Why make it easy to get a divorce?

Written that way, it doesn't make a lot of sense. But, it was important to him at the time. My only reason for wanting a hyphenated name was that I was attached to my name. I mean, I'd had it for 24 years! So, I took my husband's last name, and things have worked out well...until now.

I've been thinking about creating my own writer's web site with my name as the URL. The problem? I share a name with a famous person. Said famous person isn't using his name for a web site, but some greedy person has snatched up the name and is holding it for ransom.

So, my problem is this: under what name do I write? Should I use my initials in JK Rowling style? Should I use my hyphenated name, which makes for a long URL? Should I become (deleted), a name that really doesn't feel like me? Or, should I just not worry about it and spend my time writing a book that will sell?

My name is a problem, but right now, my biggest problem is that I still don't have a story to go with the cool Snow Day rap I wrote. If that's all I'm worried about right now, I'd say it's gonna be a great day!

Friday, April 01, 2005

A Little Buzz

One over-caffeinated mom...that means I can have a little buzz and zip and zap around a bit right? I wrote a lot about writing today, but I have not yet gotten into my other really cool hobby, digi-scrapping. It, obviously, stands for digital scrapbooking. My goal is to make each of my three daughters her own scrapbook. I print off scrapbook pages, include journal entries I've written, and scan and print their precious artwork. The idea is that each girl will get to take her own "life story" with her when she moves out, but I'm really falling in love with each creation. Just as I don't want to let my little babies go, I'm not sure I want to give up those books!

It's going to be a really nice weekend here. We're planning on swimming (indoors), inline skating and biking. It's so nice to finally get outside and do something. Of course, the girls are already begging to swim outside. It won't be warm enough for that for another two months--but there should be some good sprinkler days by early May before the public pool opens.

It won't be long until the excitement of parks, swimming, biking and hiking wears off and they are asking, "Mom, what can we do today?" Fortunately, we created our own "Great Big Book of Everything To Do" a few years ago. We used to have about 10 kids that would hang out on our driveway begging for me to entertain them. One day, I pulled out a pen and paper and we brainstormed fun things to do. After that, any time one of the gaggle looked at me with those "play with me" eyes, I pulled out the book and read off activities until they chose one. We have over 100 activities in our book today. Which reminds day, I'll need to write about our fairy tale chalk games and our magic carpet rides.

Addicted to Alliteration

I am addicted to alliteration. I include alliteration and rhyme in all my books, so imagine my horror when I read this article stating,

3) Alliteration should be on the list of the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing for Children. It gets annoying fast.

Yikes! Tell me it isn't so! And, if it is so, why is it taught in EVERY writing book I've ever purchased?

Yes, I know...they don't like rhyme either. But, I do.

When I was doing business writing, I had to start my own newsletter because no one was publishing what I wanted to read and write. In case you're wondering if I'm a total flake...I made a profit and had paying subscribers. I sure hope this isn't the case with children's writing...there must be some editor that shares my taste in children's literature.

It's considered amateurish to say so, but dang it--my kids and their friends like my stories! *I* like my stories. Maybe that's all that really matters. But, I want to be published for another reason. I want to help kids develop a love of reading and writing, and I want to do so with writers' workshops for children. So, although I have been published in business journals, it's children's publishing credits that matter most when it comes to building credibility. More on writers' workshops later!

Which way is up?

I took a great children's writing course by Writers Online Workshops. I had a great instructor. I belong to a great online critique group that is full of talented writers. I finally joined the Society of Children's Bookwriters and Illustrators (SCBWI). But, it is only recently that I seem to be getting the hang of the business side of writing.

I stumbled upon Anastasia Suen's web site, Yahoo Group and blog. I've received more useful information from her in the last week than I have from any other source in the past year. I'm not sure why the world of publishing is so mysterious. You need Writers' Market or Children's Writers Market to find publishers. You need to check their web sites to see who is accepting submissions and who is only accepting agented material. You have to keep on top of which editors are at which houses. You print and pack the manuscript according to each house's requirements. Then, you wait for three months for a rejection letter and start all over again.

It's all crazy. There has to be a better way to try to stay on top of it all. With all my subscriptions and memberships, you'd think I'd know which way is up. I'm learning...slowly. I just sent two manuscripts back out into the world yesterday!

It's a small world

I was reading my friend Heather's blog this morning when it struck me. I've never met Heather in real life, yet I consider her a friend. When I'm still groggy in the morning, after pouring cereal and juice for the kids, I sneak to my computer and catch up on news. Heather's blog is the first thing I read in the morning. I can't wait to see what she's thinking each day.

We met while posting on another board in cyberspace--we both have first graders, and we both have three children. We've shared tales about our children for years, but we've never met in real life.

But, I'm so used to thinking of my cyber friends as real life friends, that I almost slipped up the other day and told someone I knew Harold Underdown. I don't know him at all, but he's a great source of writing information. I spend a lot of time researching on his site.

Which brings me to the point of this post: it really is a small world. When I was growing up, my mom was afraid to fly. She lived in the same city her whole life, and she rarely left her home town. I remember asking for luggage for my high school graduation. I was determined to grow up to be a different woman than my mom. I would travel and explore and meet new people.

I am a busy mom, not so different from my own mother in many ways. I had a very rewarding career for 12 years before I chose to become a stay at home mom. I did my fair share of traveling and met lots of wonderful people.

Although I no longer travel as much as I'd like, technology allows me to travel to interesting places and meet interesting people every day. We can't watch the steam rise off each other's coffee, but I share breakfast and a little quiet time with my friends each day.