Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A computer day!

It's been one crazy day. I sat at my computer for a good part of the day. YEA!

A and S didn't want to go to the gym, so we attempted to go to story time at the park. It was raining, so we went to the grocery store and also got some copies made. A had letters to write to 14 pen pals, so we copied the letter and shipped it out today. She wrote a very nice letter. At first, she wasn't into it. Last night, when she was stalling about going to bed, she added to it--until it was two pages long!

So, as I was saying, I sat at the computer the rest of the day. I had a small writing project I had to get out of here. My former employer wanted me to write an article based on a Power Point presentation of a speech I didn't see. Uh...OK. But, even with the lack of information I had, I think it turned out well.

I'm all caught up on my training work. I have a babysitter coming later tonight so I can go to my writing club. I hope to be able to finish up one more writing project when I return home. Which will mean...that I'll be free to spend the weekend writing and reading (when we're not celebrating the holiday weekend, of course!). I see a light at the end of the crowded tunnel!

Last weekend, I read: Feed by MT Anderson and Rain Is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith. I highly recommend both!

Feed is not the type of book I'd typically select, and I found the lingo distracting (necessary for the characters' world, but it messed with me!). I almost put the book down, but I'm glad I didn't. Once I was sucked into the world, I couldn't wait to see how it ended. A very satisfying ending. This book haunted me the rest of the day.

Rain Is Not My Indian Name was also excellent. I read this in mostly one sitting--late night and early morning at our hotel last weekend. I enjoyed the characters in this book. The romance sucked me in...and made Rain a person teens could identify with immediately. I also enjoyed how the book shattered stereotypes. The unusual thing about this book is that it takes place in a fictional town that is minutes away from where I really live. Landmarks, schools, malls ... and social climbing attitudes that are present here in real life helped create a realistic Kansas setting that also develop the story.

Picture books I read this weekend include Don Tate's Summer Sun Risin'. I loved the artwork in this one, especially the use of perspective. For more samples of Don Tate's art, visit his blog. Today's entry features the just-completed cover for his new book, which looks like a lot of fun!

I also read Black All Around by Patricia Hubbell and illustrated by Don Tate. I loved the words and the pictures with this one! I enjoyed all the personal references that are in the artwork. I think this is a great book that celebrates black all around.

More on my great weekend reads soon! I'm also excited about what's in the mail: Storky, My Sister is So Bossy She Says You Can't Read This Book and Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Could we make this stuff up?

For your "if we made this up, no one would believe it" file:

See if you can pull up this ABC News video. "New trend rewards girls with breast implants for graduation." And, these kids are choosing the surgery over new graduation Jaguars!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A big day in my writing life

We took another road trip this weekend. We went to Nebraska again! My husband was on his way back into town, and wouldn't get in until 11:00 p.m., so we arranged to spend Friday night in a hotel at the airport to shave a little from the overall drive time. We hit the road by 9:00 a.m. and hit my brother-in-law's house just as baby E's first birthday party was starting. The girls are always ready for a little adventure. They thought they were the real life Zach and Cody (Or the modern day Eloise).

I took my pile of library books. The plan was to read the picture books to the kids in the car. They weren't in the mood, so I sat there and read the entire pile myself. Between books, I'd chatter to my husband about a book or an author's blog or a conference I'd heard about.

I seem to monopolize lots of our car trips with book talk these days, but my husband doesn't seem to mind. He usually chuckles and teases me about my imaginary friends in the blogosphere. But, this time, instead of laughing, he said, "I think you have finally found what you are really supposed to be doing."

I knew it all along, but it's a nice feeling to know that my husband believes in me too.

I've written before about the summer I spent helping to check out books at our public library as a grade schooler. I just remembered tonight that I also worked in the "Media Center," our junion high's version of a library, as a helper in 7th and 8th grade. I gave that up in 9th grade when I *gasp* decided to be an aide in the home ec department. Don't laugh! I once knew how to sew well enough to help out the kids in my brother's grade!


I've been tagged by Susan Taylor Brown. Be sure to read the helpful links she has at her own blog regarding this memory game.

Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump every one up one place; add your blog's name in the #5 spot; link to each of the other blogs for the desired cross pollination effect.

1. Okay Seriously
2. life as an urban princess
3. the stories of a girl
4. Write on Right Now!
5. One Over-Caffeinated Mom

Next: select new friends to add to the pollen count. (Obviously no one is obligated to participate).


Then add your memories.

Five things I miss from my childhood:

1) My mom.
2) 4th of July celebrations with our neighbors
3) playing Big Jim, GI Joe and the Sunshine Family go camping with my brothers on rainy days.
4) Playing Donny and Marie and the Ice Angels on my neighbor's deck with the stereo blasted.
5) The paper dolls my friend's mom used to make for us.

Oh, my! This list could go on and on!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Tell me what you want

I just don't get it.

If you have a problem at work and come to me needing help, and I ask you how you'd like me to address the problem, to describe your ideal solution, speak up! Don't go to the boss nine days later and complain that you were cheated.

When I come to you with a solution, and you don't like it, give me a chance to make things right. Don't go over my head.

See, it was difficult to come up with a solution because you never told me what you wanted. When I provided a solution, you were quiet and agreed with the plan. So, tell me...how did your dissatisfaction become my fault when you failed communicate with me?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Blogging in my sleep!

I've been blogging in my sleep again. Apparently, I didn't need much sleep last night. I went to bed at one and was wide awake at 6:00 a.m. A smiling baby K motivated me to get out of bed because she was ready to play. Sometimes, that's the best motivation.

What was so important in the wee hours of the morning?

1) I am just so thrilled that the amazing and talented Cynthia Leitich Smith is coming to Kansas --this year, date yet to be determined.

2) I was thinking about Susan Taylor Brown's blog and what she had to say regarding writing about writing with emotion, through the fear. (Do You Feel Safe Enough To Write the Truth?)

"So we need to write toward that fear, past, through, over, kicking and screaming if need be but we need to face the fear, claim it, make it ours so it will reveal the treasure that is our writing, the stories we were meant to tell."

If you click over, be sure to read her response to me. I've been struggling with this "write what you fear" advice for months. It now makes perfect sense to me!

3) After I read Susan's response to me, I recalled a similar blog conversation I had with Cynthia Leitich Smith and Don Tate. You'll have to check this out once she turns her comments back on. Strangely, when comments are off, all comments seem to disappear. I found it to be another helpful conversation--she explained how she was able to recall feelings and use past experiences to write "Riding With Rosa," a story about a young, gay boy. (March/April 2005 issue of Cicada).

4) Then, I started thinking about bookshelves once again. We do not have enough bookshelves in this house. I hesitate to say that we have too many books. Can one ever have too many books? So, it must be a lack of shelving. I feel so sorry for the books I have stored in tubs in the storage closet. They must be very lonely.

Of course, that reminded me of Susan Taylor Brown's post from yesterday. It's full of writing quotes, my favorite of which is: "I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves." Anna Quindlen.

Have you been to Susan's new web site? A must see for parents, teachers, writers and readers. Way cool!

5) I realized today that I now subscribe to over 50 blogs via bloglines. (For those of us not on LJ, it's a great way to keep up on all the important blogs!) I think I may be addicted.

6) I just received notification from the library that the books I requested are ready for pick up. Yippeee!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Get Involved!

I did it again. I am completely incapable of just being a spectator. A member. An attendee.

My corporate career fried my will to volunteer. When I left that place four years ago, all I wanted was to relax. No commitments. No deadlines. No people telling me what to do. And, especially no people coming to me with complaints.

Two months after receiving my severance, I started a business.
That winter, I agreed to become my subdivision's social chair.
In the spring, I started a work-from-home job as a sales trainer.
A few falls later, I took a writing class.
I got pregnant again.
I couldn't keep my eyes open.
I closed the business.
I had the baby.
I became the lead trainer for the sales training company.

I joined my SCBWI critique group and a summer writing club three weeks ago.
I resigned as social chair two weeks ago.
I went to a SCBWI chapter meeting last week.
I volunteered to edit one of the chapter's newsletters today.

I am a stay-at-home-mom, writer, part-time-trainer and wife. My time is precious. I try to manage my commitments.

Right now, I'm serious about my children and my writing. I want to see my SCBWI chapter thrive. When I believe in something, when it's really important to me, I can't be a spectator watching the scene unfold through binoculars from 50 rows back. I need to be part of the backstage action.

Once again, I'm involved. I couldn't help myself. I have a vision ... and I need to make things happen.

Tonight, I urge you to think about your passion. To think about the opportunities you are presented with. Don't complain. Don't whine. Take action and make things happen!

I don't mean to imply that my role is significant. It's very small. A very small time commitment. But, I'm not whining. I'm DOing something.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Day Full Of Ideas

This has been a day full of ideas and interesting conversations.

There was an interesting side conversation taking place at Agent Obscura's place today. It started out as a discussion about the definition of YA and capturing the voice. I could really relate to the topic of being young and feeling young ... and not feeling old enough to have kids.

I remember when we were first married and I would take my little niece with me to run errands on the weekends. People thought she was my daughter, and I was so embarrassed. Not because she was a bad kid. Because there was no way I could possibly be old enough to be her mom. Yes, I was quite old enough then. I was 31 when I had my first child, and I still felt too young to be a mom. Anyway, good stuff over there about what it takes to capture the young adult voice.

Meg Cabot was on a roll today too. I could have written that post today. She is embarking on a task that I recently completed--going through boxes of precious memories from her youth. There's a reason I threw away so much junk this time around. She seems to have experienced it too. Great insight about the tattoo. Gotta stop by there today, if it's not one of your regular reads.

Thank you to Anastasia and Susan for their book recommendations. I'll add those to my list. I have Kitten's First Full Moon. Would you believe I haven't read it yet? I was looking at my book shelves today and realized we have A LOT of books we haven't read. I was pleasantly surprised that our library system had a large number of the books I wanted. Frightening--they provided my PIN number over the phone without asking for any identifying information.

We went to story time in the park today. The girls preferred this to listening inside the library, but it was pretty hard to hear. The best part--the deer that crept behind the trees as story time was finishing up. We had a frog join us in the pool yesterday and a bunny in our front yard at breakfast. I'm pretty sure there's a story there!

We spent the rest of the day at the mall. HUGE deals at JCPenney and The Disney Store. I think everything I bought was 1/2 price today! I also learned that I need a little bra education. I saw lots of those cute prairie tops and camisole tops...no clue how to cover myself up with those, so I bought a more professional version of those tops. Very cute!

Anastasia's Yahoo Group had a flurry of great emails today regarding trends in Graphic Novels. I wish I could draw. It sounds like so much fun! Shari Lyle-Soffe posted a great piece about taking one's muse on vacation (and jotting quick notes in a notebook along the way) as a source of ideas. Another person responded saying she takes photos of interesting things that might spark a piece. I loved both of those ideas. We are photo people. My daughter, A, has a super eye for the unique and captures things from an interesting perspective.

Keep those PB suggestions coming!

Request for Picture Book Titles

I just hopped on to my public library site to reserve a zillion books written or illustrated by Kansans and my favorite bloggers. I reserved only one YA novel since that will take me longer to read.

I've got lots of good YA recommendations on my list...only one of which I reserved today. At the SCBWI library talk, the librarian recommended (among many others): Feed, Speak, A Great and Terrible Beauty, Whale Talk, A Northern Light, Monster, The Body of Christopher Creed, Big Mouth and Ugly Girl and Hoot.

I'm really stuck coming up with picture books that I'd like to read. So, if anyone is out there, can you share your favorite picture book titles with me? I want to read the new-ish ones. I'm not a big fan of many of the older titles :) I reserved books by Christine Schneider, one illustrated by Don Tate, two books by Cynthia Leitich Smith, a few by Anastasia Suen and Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver.

What are YOU reading?

Monday, June 20, 2005

A busy weekend!

We've had a super-busy couple of days.

On Thursday, I took A and S to our outdoor theater to see the traveling production of Disney's On The Record. They had tons of fun and can't wait to go to the next show in a few weeks.

We took K berry picking for her birthday on Friday because that's what the girls did the day she was born. She loved it. Ate lots of blueberries and crawled around on the ground and practiced her standing and gooed up the stroller with berry juice.

The girls helped make K's cake. We made my mom's old Cool Whip and pudding frosting for it. We ate dinner and had cake with the neighbors because the girls thought the 12 year old next door (the one who helps me with the girls all the time) needed to be with K all day long. My neighbor made homemade dumplings and crab rangoon. Yummy!

I wasn't really wanting to buy a big present for her because we have three girls and lots and lots of perfectly good toys. But, the girls found just the perfect thing--a new art table...something that will come in handy at this house! (The doctor reminded me that I should have her scribbing already! Oh...I am so slow with this baby of mine! I'm just not in a hurry for her to be doing big kid things!)

Saturday, we made lots of recipes with blueberries. A has a new pudding/banana/strawberry/blueberry/cool whip recipe she made up. It was quite good! We also went to the drive in to see Batman. Very good. Very scary. The girls slept in the van during most of the movie. They are so good about that! (which makes for a cheap movie for us--$7 per adult to get in and you bring your own snacks, plus no babysitter!)

Yesterday, we took the girls to the Royals game. They were pretty good. We left in the middle of the 8th inning and A was mad we had to leave early. We had great seats in the shade with a breeze and a parking pass as close to the entrance as you can get. (Tickets we bought at A's school auction.)

I think today, we'll rest! But, A is already asking to go to Chuck E Cheese's, the science museum..."or if we can't do that, can we go to the mall across from it?"

Uh...I think I need to teach them that everyday is not a party! When C left for work, he was teasing me... "Well, you always find something to celebrate. It's Groundhog Day. Think we need a party. Oh, Arbor Day? Better find an activity!"

I'm not that bad...really!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I Think I Shrieked!

The Kansas Chapter of SCBWI is alive and growing! I just returned home from my first SCBWI meeting (the other meeting I attended was the Kansas SCBWI conference in April), and I'm more psyched about writing than ever. The meeting topic was "What Children Read," and the presenters were local children's librarians.

Although the turn out was small, it was inspiring to be in a room full of people who are enthusiastic about children's literature. As I mentioned to one of my critique partners on the way to our cars, I've spent most of my life writing alone. Until recently, writing wasn't really something I talked about with other people--mainly because I didn't know any other writers. I am suddenly surrounded by readers and writers, and it is awesome!

After the presentation, which was quite informative, our RA announced the upcoming speakers. When I heard the name of one of my favorite bloggers, I think I shrieked! I tried to control myself, but I'm pretty sure that dancing feet and a grin the size of Texas followed the shriek. I'm star-struck. I can't believe SHE is visiting her home state and taking the time to meet with our chapter....and that I will get to meet HER. Oh, I think this is better than Meg Cabot coming to town. I've already emailed two friends to tell them they can't miss the meeting (date to be determined) with this sensational writer...and I've only been home for about one hour!

I'll keep you in suspense for a few days. I've planted a few clues, but you don't need to know much about the writers on my blog list to crack the code!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Story Time at the Library

There's been lots of blogging lately about memories and memory mapping and memory triggers. With my upcoming 20 year high school reunion, I've been struggling to remember my youth.

I finally dug out the old yearbooks and photo albums. They helped a little, but mostly scared me. I have some serious memory problems! I can't remember high school! What's even worse is that I was one of our newspaper and yearbook editors. I read some of the stories I wrote; I still can't remember. I looked at pictures I was in; I can't remember many of those situations either. There's even a photo of me with a caption saying I thought of our pet poodle as part of our family. Um...I don't recall ever being a pet person! (The day she died, one of my brothers gave her mouth to mouth and I was on the phone in my dorm room getting the play-by-play from another brother, so I must have cared a little.)

I did have a nice drive down the Boulevard when I was back in Nebraska. I drove my girls past my old elementary school, and even sang the school song for them. My SIL was in the other vehicle and sang the song for her kids too! She didn't even go to our school, but my nutty brother sings the song to his kids. Although we're five years apart, my brother and I are soooo much alike! We drove through the old neighborhood. I wouldn't have even recognized our house--I had to look at the address! It made me sad to see it so run down.

As I drove through, I remembered my friend Eddie. We used to sit on his deck and play our guitars. He'd play KISS on his electric guitar, and I would play John Denver on my classical guitar. I showed the girls where we used to play kick ball and pick up sticks. I thought about the boys who threw me in the dumpster and ruined my coat when I was in second grade. I thought about Lisa who started baton twirling lessons a few years before I did. I thought about our lemonade stands--hers always had Oreos!-- and running half-way around the block alone to play with her when I was five because it was still considered safe.

I thought about how we took our dolls to the park and crawled into a hidden area of the trees to have tea parties. I thought about how we collected Charlie's Angels cards and put all our cards together so we had a complete set and could put the puzzle together. I showed the girls the Kwik Shop that we used to walk to for comics and treats. I showed them the pool we lived at from 12-8 almost daily...back when we wiped Crisco on our bodies to get a good tan--never mind that the towel smelled like rancid grease. I thought about my guitar teacher and learning to cook at her house. And, my fifth grade teacher who taught us to clog dance. And, the girls and boys who went to Bluegrass festivals with us to clog dance. And wanting to get on stage and play my guitar. And, walking home alone from guitar lessons and being afraid to walk past the big kids who teased me. And getting older and becoming self-conscious and giving up playing guitar and singing completely. And having contests with DW to see who could check out the most science books from the library each week.

Then, tonight, I took the girls to the library for story time. I don't know why we've never gone before. It was such an experience. As the librarian read the story, pausing to explain things or to have the kids act out a section, I remembered my mom taking all of us to story time. And, I remembered the summer I volunteered at the library. I think I was in third grade. I got to help check out books back when they still had cards to file. Later that summer, they taught me how to return books to the shelf. And, I remember making the librarian search for more Florence Nightingale books for me.

We'll definitely go back for story time. It was great fun for the kids and I enjoyed watching how the librarian chose to interact with the kids...when did she pause, which words did she change or leave out, what did she explain, what did she have them act out? For most of the books, she had the kids clapping and snapping and moving their little bodies the whole time. With one book, she had about 15 kids up in front, all pretending to be different farm animals.

It's been a memorable couple of days! My recent trip showed me that, although I have so many memories that are buried, I can tap into the emotions behind those memories. I used to wonder if I had anything to say as a writer because I had a nice, normal, not-quite-middle-class- childhood. No drama. No trauma. Just lots of joy. Now, I can see that I can use emotions from my childhood to write a strong, character-driven story for middle grade readers.

Sometimes I think one of the best things about being a writer is remembering how to be a kid. And, I'm thankful I have three great kids who will play along with me!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Not Guilty!

Not guilty does not mean innocent. Let's pray for the man to consider this a close call and change his ways.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Home Again. Home Again. Jiggety Jig.

We're back in Kansas! The trip home was less eventful than the ride to Nebraska. The only problem was that S cried for almost three hours. She missed her daddy. We pulled into the McDonald's for our potty break and she was screaming "I miss my dada" on the way in. I was afraid they'd think I kidnapped her. Instead, the nice lady who was washing the windows on our way in met me at the door of the restroom (on the way out) to see if she could give the girls a free mini ice cream cone. A very nice offer. And, it even shut her up for about 10 minutes.

So, I'm thinking my girls love vacationing. "A" has already asked what we have on tap this week. She wants to go to the botanical garden. (check out the link--they have a treehouse exhibit!) She's also requested a trip to pick blueberries, which we also do every year. Last year, the neighbor took them the day K was born. Most of the berries were rotten by the time I got out of the hospital. But, I'm thinking blueberry picking should be part of K's birthday celebration every year. It's a lot of fun, plus blueberries might just help my failing memory.

I didn't have too many airheaded moments after that trip to Nebraska. It was just so relaxing. I got to hang out with my dad and step-mom. My step-brother met us for lunch at Burger King one day. My sister-in-law and niece and nephews and dad went to the Omaha Children's Museum with us (Totally awesome. I could see myself having a career as a person who solicits donations from businesses and organizations to fund cool, new exhibits.)

It was raining, so we missed the zoo, which now has a new orangutan exhibit. (I try to get there a couple times a year to catch up on all the new things that have been added since we moved 11 years ago.) My step-mom, SIL and niece and nephews went to a Jim Cosgrove concert ( a Kansas City children's entertainer who happened to be playing in Omaha that week...see his site for clips, but don't rat us out as groupies!) at the library.

We bought some balls, chalk and bubbles for the park, but then it rained again, so the kids played in the garage and (when there was no thunder or lightening) they put on swimming suits and played in the rain. As is always the highlight for the girls, they went to my step-mom's beauty shop. K got her first hair cut from grandma. "A" got her ears pierced. S, A and cousin H played with make up and got their nails done. A girl-y girl's dream!

Oh, and I finally got to eat at one of those noodle places! Now, why don't they sell all those awesome sauces in the frozen section of the grocery store? Or even in a jar by the spaghetti sauce? It was yummy, but we don't eat out often. It's just too hard to control kids in a restaurant. And, why are all these places popping up at the same time pasta companies are using the low carb craze as an excuse for declining profits? Hmm...I think excuse is the key word here.

So, no more bad luck until I took K to the store today. She squashed my bread. Then, she spilled a dozen eggs in the cart. As I was putting them back into the carton, I muttered to the cashier that I could only find 11. The lady behind me looks at K and says, "OH, look! The baby has the other one." Sure enough, K was chewing on an egg. It could have been worse. The were cracked, but not runny. The whole runny egg bit would have been really funny in a movie...just not in my real life. Did I mention that my car got egged at my dad's house? Or that my sweet daddy washed it off for his pouty little girl?

It now takes two carts to get all my groceries to the car (one to shop, but two to get them to the car), so I took K out as I paid. Little octopus arms hit the exact right button and cancelled the transaction, so I had to dig out my card and pay all over again.

Again, not a huge problem, but I think K's shopping-with-mom days are numbered.

Ah, glad to be home! Now our summer can officially begin.

I promise writing news this week. Life's crazy here, but I do it to myself!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Safely in Nebraska!

We arrived in Nebraska this evening at 7:00 p.m. My body is here, and I'm hoping my brain makes it here by morning. I performed one stupid person trick after another today. We don't need a repeat of it tomorrow.

My monthly conference call for my real job usually lasts 10-20 minutes. Today, I had to be someplace, so naturally it lasted 1:05, making me 20 minutes late for my writing club.

Writing club was fun. Great writers. No one specifically said they write for children, but many of the short pieces we wrote today wound up being children's stories.

Rushed home. Realized I didn't have money to pay the babysitter. Stopped by the ATM to get money. Got home. Realized I still didn't have correct change. Paid her $20 and told her I'd pay her the other $10 when we got back from vacation. (She's practically my fourth child and personal nanny, so she was cool with that.)

Fed kids. Ran around the house packing. Made a few Mapquest Maps because I still can't get around this town I grew up in. It's changed too much in the 11 years I've been gone.

Hit the road. Babbled with kids about the DVD player (Yes, they had books and reading material too. Cut me some slack; I was traveling alone with three kids!). Missed turn while yacking. (We won't mention that I've driven this route about 8 times a year for 9 years.) No biggie. No need to backtrack. Several routes around Kansas City. Oops! Bridge closed. 20 minute detour.

Made it up I-29. Stopped in Mound City for a potty break and fries.

An hour later, realized we were almost out of gas.

20 minutes later, drove 10 minutes out of way to find a gas station. Bought gas. Realized debit card is lost. Must have left it in ATM machine at lunch time. Called husband on cell. Bad cell signal. Cut off three times. He finally got the idea that I left the card in the machine. He called the card company to cancel debit card.

Currently: at dad's house without cash.

Thanks to everyone for the comments today. Would you believe we're going to a library for our vacation fun tomorrow?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Critique Group Jitters

My new SCBWI critique group met tonight for the first time. I think this will be an awesome group. Our RA joined us for our first meeting and will help us again next month. I wouldn't say they were "tough" critiquers, but they had lots of ideas and insight. I left full of enthusiasm and ready to rewrite my latest picture book manuscript. I've NEVER rewritten a manuscript after a critique. Sure, little words here or there, but not major rewrites. Usually, I'd rather just start on a new idea and chalk it up as a learning experience.

The best news--someone (everyone in our group!) finally told me I've created a great character! The actual story didn't work...but I knew that. I didn't know exactly what didn't work going in, but they really helped me figure it out. I think I'm really going to like working with this group!

The only problem--I came home very, very sick. I'm not sure if I was more nervous than I thought or if I'm really sick. You don't want the details. Believe me. I just hope I'm feeling better in time for our big day tomorrow: writing club with babysitter and a big ol' trip to see my family.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Had a Ball with My Bookworm

It rained all day today. We couldn't go out until late in the day because I had to wait for a charity to come pick up my zillion bags of junk I dug out of closets. Eventually, we made it to the library. It was so much fun watching A select her books. She didn't want any help, so S, K and I went off to the puzzle corner.

I could see her in the stacks just behind us. It was too, too cute! She stood on the step stool to reach the books on the top shelf. She brought her over-loaded book bag to me. She went back to select more books. She finally stopped with 15 books and two videos. She joined the summer reading program and then started reading in the car on the way home.

All this after we went to the book store to use a birthday gift certificate. Among other things, she selected an art book that provides step-by-step instructions for drawing the old cartoon characters. She's already pretty good at Scooby after just one night.

We were looking for the American Girl books and Little House books. I'll either need to buy these used or rely on the public library. Oy! Talk about an expensive collection.

In other good news, I asked the children's librarian how often our branch receives the new releases. She reminded me that I could put in an interlibrary loan request and get any book I want...in time. I may need to do that. I'm spending a small fortune on books!

End of My Writing Break

I think I've been on a bit of a writing break. I'm just going to have to work harder this summer to get the writing in. At the same time, I'm trying to remember that balance is important. Summer is my favorite time of the year. In Kansas, we only get that ideal swimming weather from the end of May through August--three months of heavenly weather. So, I can't let that time slip by without enjoying it. My girls love summer and being outside and have all kinds of exciting adventures planned. I don't want to get so stressed about not writing that I'm not mentally there for this precious time with them.

My new critique group starts on Monday. My summer writing club starts on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I'm taking off with the kids for another mini vacation. Don't try to break into my house--my husband will be home! There's not much time to write in the car, but it's always great thinking time. On the last trip, I came up with lots of strange ideas that I'm sure will find a way into my writing at some point. Uh, we won't mention that part of that fantasy was wanting to buy a fancy RV and tour the country in book-mobile fashion. I never said my ideas were practical!

If you're still thinking about Tom Cruise and Katie and Tom jumping on the couch, here's how it relates to you, my dear writing friends. He's not weird. He's creative.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Painful Past

I've really enjoyed the YA novels I've read recently (Prom, Speak, the boyfriend list). All this reading has made me want to switch from picture books and try writing a YA novel. I've had ideas floating around in my head for days, but I haven't come up with a concept I like yet.

Tonight, I received an email from a former childhood friend. We were best friends from the time we were two until we were in eighth grade. I'm pretty sure there's a YA or MG novel in there. The pain of splitting up with a best friend. I think I could combine her character with another character I've been thinking of (again, somewhat based on a real person). Combining the two would suddenly make this a real, fictional person!

I know. I know. This is hardly a plot. I'm working on it. It seems like, in many of the author interviews I've read lately, the author has stated that the story just grew from getting to know a character and letting her problems spill onto the page. I'm willing to try anything at this point!

Somewhat related to writing, this is going to be one busy summer! We've hardly been home so far. We spent four hours at the gym today, including lunch and swimming time. It's going to rain again tomorrow, so we have a library visit planned. The girls are going to bed later and later, which means I get started with my "other life" later each night. After I get the toys put back into closets, I'll carve out a writing plan so I can make the most of my alert morning hours. This evening writing just doesn't work for me.