Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
This one is for all of you
who feel the fear and do it anyway,
in writing and in life
It's interesting to me, but perhaps not surprising, that my next book tackles the subject of fear when 2010 has been a year where I myself have had to, again and again, feel the fear and do it anyway.
A year ago, I had given notice at the day job and I can't even describe how scary that was for me. I'm not a bestselling author! Yes, I get royalty checks, but they are about ten to fifteen percent of what I made at the day job. I would have to sell not one, but TWO books in 2010 to make up for my loss of income. And the one and ONLY book I had completed had already garnered a number of rejections.
But I believe in listening to the still, small voice and trusting it. And it had whispered to me, after lots of discussions with my husband and prayerful consideration, "It's time."
I'm going to do a month-by-month look at 2010 tomorrow or Friday, but I've learned a lot about myself this year. I've learned trusting God is hard sometimes, but I'm getting better at it. I've learned over and over again, the only thing I can control is the writing, and it's not always easy, but the key is to keep writing. When something isn't working, it's okay to scrap it and start something new. No writing is wasted writing. It is a journey. As I started my new career of full-time writer, I had to shelf a completely good manuscript that took me an entire YEAR to write, because no one wanted it.
Was I afraid? Abso-freaking-lutely
But I dug deep, told myself I didn't have to understand why things happen but needed to trust it was for the best, went for walks, scribbled in my idea notebook, and after even more rejections on other projects, I began writing what would eventually become THE DAY BEFORE.
A book about fears - big and small - and how we can help each other through but ultimately, it's about confronting them straight on and not letting the fear win.
So, my biggest accomplishment this year?
Not that I wrote four books.
Not that two of them sold.
No. I think it might have been - I didn't let the fear win.
Remember this? One of the best movie scenes of all time.
"You must believe." Oh yeah.
Monday, December 27, 2010
I stumbled upon the The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Thank the good Lord, I stumbled upon the The Muppet Christmas Carol! I was smart enough to hit record, since we'd have to leave before it was over. So, later on, we all sat down and watched it from (almost) the beginning, the whole family. And my kids loved it too.
How I've managed to go through almost twenty Christmases since it was released and not watch that movie before this weekend is beyond me. I was mesmerized. Michael Caine was BRILLIANT. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more.
When I was a child, I listened to a record called The Frog Prince over and over and over again on my little record player in my room. Back then, we didn't have DVRs or even VCRs (I know, the horror!), so I saw the movie once, and then it lived on through the record. It's fun to revisit the movie on youtube now. Anyway, until now, that was my favorite muppet movie:
But now, I have The Muppet Christmas Carol. Ahh... love, love, love!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Our sweet little boys... oops. Our teenagers (gulp) keep us on our toes.
So, drum roll please....
Congratulations to Germain, who is the winner thanks to the random generator! Germain, I sent you an e-mail.
Thanks again and I'll definitely participate in another giveaway hop in the near future. Probably to give away one of my own ARCs!!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Since I'm in the giving mood with Christmas just a few days away, I decided it was a perfect time to put my name on the list and give something away!
So... want to know what you can win?
From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
Source of the book: Publisher
Entering my giveaway is EASY. I'm so excited about all the great books coming out in 2011! It's going to be a great year for YA, don't you think? Maybe I'm telling myself that because I have one coming out myself? Nah - it really is going to be great! :) Anyway, all you have to do to enter to win ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is leave a comment and tell me one of the books you are looking forward to reading in 2011. Please make sure you give me a way to contact you if you should win. The contest runs today AND tomorrow, and is open to anyone who has a US address. Deadline to enter is 11:59 PM, December 22, 2010.
I will announce the winner on December 23rd!!
If you're new to my blog, thanks for stopping by! If you're one of my regular readers, thanks, as always for reading!
(Below is the list of blogs participating in the giveaway - click on as many links as you'd like and enter to win many more cool prizes!)
Friday, December 17, 2010
I want to see THE KING'S SPEECH, THE TOURIST, TANGLED, DUE DATE, BURLESQUE and HARRY POTTER!!
Of course, I've had SCOTT PILGRIM VS the WORLD sitting here to watch at home for over a week, and have I made time? Uh, no.
2. Speaking of movies, have you seen the trailer for WATER FOR ELEPHANTS? I loved that book. And the trailer makes me squeal with joy. It looks magical!
3. I just posted my Christmas list on Facebook. Here it is:
FALL FOR ANYTHING by Courtney Summers and FIXING DELILAH by Sarah Ockler
Taylor Swift's Target Special Edition CD
Trip to Paris
4. I'm a little sad today, as I say good-bye today to the girls and readers of the Author2Author blog.
5. My copy-edited manuscript of SPRINKLES AND SECRETS is calling to me. I better get to it.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I hope you were able to celebrate. And if not, well, you have a second chance because today is National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day!! And no, I'm not joking. Would I joke about something as serious as chocolate?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I'm leaving a day early so I can visit a middle school in Umatilla, a fairly rural area, the day before the Cavalcade. I'll be speaking to all of the students for about an hour.
I've been thinking about what I have to offer the students. I'm not a stand-up comedian, unfortunately. I know kids this age love to laugh, and I'll try to throw in some funny lines, but uh, it's really not my strength.
I'm thinking more along the lines of inspiration. I figure I'll share my bumpy path to publication, throwing in things I've learned along the way of pursuing my dreams - things that they can apply in their own lives. I want to inspire them to read and to write through personal stories - that those two things will help serve them well throughout life.
Do you think inspiration is a good goal to have at a school visit like this one? I'm curious how others might approach a one-hour talk like this one.
Monday, December 13, 2010
For me, it's not just the idea that I'm looking for, although it's that too. For example, what is a small element in one book may cause me to go - hey I could do a book about THAT, and take the topic to a whole new level. But more than that, I look for replicating the emotions a piece of music or a book or film might evoke in me.
Because the best stories make us feel something, and especially in my verse novels, I'm all about bringing emotions out of the reader.
With every book I write, it's about finding something that speaks to my heart in such a way that I want to speak to others' hearts in a similar way. This song --- or this book or movie -- made me feel a certain way, so now let me see if I can write a book that makes *you* feel that same way.
When I wrote THE DAY BEFORE, I wanted to write a book that captured the same feelings I had after I listened to Pink's song Glitter in the Air. Pink sings, "Have you ever wished for an endless night? Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight?" The way she sings it, you can feel the longing there, and that is what I wanted to bring to the page for my characters. For them to long for the day/night to never end, and for the reader to long for it as well.
This week, think about your favorite books. They made you feel *something*. What did they make you feel? And how can you make others feel *that* in your own writing? Even if you can't listen to music while you write, try listening to a song that brings out your emotions before you write, and then try to carry those emotions with you to the page.
For each of my YA novels, there is a song I listened to over and over again that helped me write. Is there a particular song that inspired any of your stories? I'm fascinated by how music, especially, plays a part in the author's writing process.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
2. Yesterday my husband was at the NIKE air hanger. The flight director got off the plane, that had just been in Hawaii, and handed him a pineapple as he said, "Mele Kilikimaka!" Okay, what is almost as good as being in Hawaii? Eating a pineapple that has just been in Hawaii. I got up this morning and the first thing I thought was - fresh pineapple!!!
3. We are supposed to get 1-2 inches of rain today and possibly tomorrow too. I watched Sam Champion all bundled up on GMA yesterday as he stood in the snow in Vermont, blue sky behind him, and my heart ached a little bit.
4. I read an adult book this week - APE HOUSE by Sara Gruen. First time in a long time. For the most part, I liked it. Even better, I liked going to book club and when asked if I read the book being able to say, "Yes!"
5. At book club, we were talking about what makes us pick up a book. Well, they talked and I listened because I wanted to know what they had to say! Some said the cover art. Some said the jacket copy. Some said knowing the author's name and having liked his/her work before. And of course, word of mouth. But you know what everyone agreed is important, too? A great title. And the more I'm in this business, the more I believe that to be true.
6. Last but not least, I'm thrilled and honored that my poem has been accepted for inclusion in the DEAR BULLY anthology with so many other amazing writers. Kelly Milner Halls and Carrie Jones deserve huge kudos for taking on this important project!!! You ladies are amazing!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I know it's hard losing someone. The pain at times seems unbearable. Music can be a comfort, whether it's music that makes us cry because we relate to it, or because it's music that gives us hope. The songs on this playlist takes a similar journey we do when we're grieving - from love and loss to healing and hope.
Here are the songs from the Joy Not Sorrow Playlist given to Brooklyn. To take a listen, you can pop over to the "Extras" page on my web site, scroll down, and click on any of the songs in the player embedded there.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
I did it!!!!
I finished my draft! 58,000 beautiful (and at the same time terrible) words. :) I wrote around 10,000 words in 3 days. That's a lot for me! But I was SO motivated. I really wanted to finish by Sunday. I set aside big chunks of time on each of the 3 days and I wrote my little heart out. This book was challenging for me, in a lot of ways. But as I worked hard this past week, I learned that I really can accomplish big things when I set my mind to it.
I think completing a first draft comes down to basically one thing - you have to want it enough to see it through to the end. You have to say, I'm going to do this, and then do it. It's all about commitment - being committed to getting to the end. When you aren't 100% committed, it's easy to quit when the going gets tough.
Of course, there are revisions to be done. The book needs quite a bit of work. I've already started a notebook page of things I need to do when I go back to the manuscript and start revising. But for the next three weeks, there will be no writing. I'm basically "on vacation" now through Christmas! Yay!!!
Have you had any big or little triumphs lately? I'd love to hear about them! We can celebrate together!!
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Deep. Cleansing. Breath.
2. I keep forgetting to mention the auction going on for YA author Bridget Zinn. Bridget is battling stage 4 colon cancer. She is the sweetest thing, always smiling, even with all of the horrible stuff she's having to endure these days. But cancer is expensive. Her and her husband are traveling to Phoenix once a month now for an intensive new treatment at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
There are all kinds of great things to bid on - books, critiques, jewelry.
I have offered up a copy of It's Raining Cupcakes, so if you'd like a personalized hardcover copy to give to someone for the holidays, I will personalize, sign it, and send it off to you next week.
But check out all of the items, there is some REALLY good stuff. You only have until December 4th, so hurry! http://bit.ly/bridgetauction.
The auction ID is: bridgetkicks and the password is: cancer.
If you would like to donate directly to the fund rather than bidding on items, you can! Go to Bridget's blog and on the sidebar on the right, you'll see a "Donate" button. Click on that and you can donate directly into the fund. That's what I'll be doing.
3. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins is out today! What are you waiting for? Go and buy this beautiful and romantic book!! I promise you'll be glad you did.
4. I really, REALLY want to finish the book I've been working on. I think I'm going to try to plow through and finish the draft by Sunday. I need to be done with it so I can get on to the fun stuff of December: decorating, baking, shopping!!!
So... you won't see me again until I've finished. See you on the flip side!!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Here are just a few of the ways I've used them in the past:
A librarian was going to a conference and planned to book talk my book. She asked if I might send her 50 bookmarks to hand out to the attendees of the session. I was happy to do so.
An acquaintance of mine wrote to me and told me how a student in her daughter's English class mentioned my book as a favorite of hers. I asked her if I could send some signed bookmarks for her daughter to pass out to kids in the class. Apparently, they were a big hit.
Anytime I mail a book for a prize, I stick a few bookmarks in the envelope. Many bloggers love collecting swag to include in their prize packs, and I'm happy to send some along to them as well.
If a kid e-mails me, excited about an upcoming book, I'll ask her to get permission from a parent to give me her address, then I mail signed bookmarks for her and her friends.
I always get the bookmarks as soon as I have the cover, so I have a whole lot of months to be passing them out. Yesterday, my order arrived for my next YA novel, THE DAY BEFORE.
I think the designer did a great job. I recommend her and the company she works for ALL the time. She doesn't charge for putting the design together. All I have to do is send her what I want on the front as far as text goes, what I want on the back, and attach a high resolution jpg of the cover. She does the rest.
Their prices are pretty reasonable, I think. (You can go to the web site and see a chart of prices, depending on what you want on the front and on the back). Yes, it's cheapest if you design the bookmark yourself and send it out to be printed, but I don't know how to do that and frankly, don't want to spend the time. So it's worth it to me to just have Kelley do it for me!
The company I use is www.iconix.biz - kelley's e-mail address is kelley(at)iconix(dot)biz.
What about you - are you a fan of bookmarks?
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I am a fan of the mysterious element in a novel.
A big fan! HUGE!!!
I think there's something to be said for having something in your story that isn't known to the reader, something your reader might WANT to know, so he/she keeps turning the pages.
Yes, we need to have a likable main character, yes we need to have an interesting plot that makes sense, and yes we must have all of those other important things that make a story good.
BUT, why not have a mysterious something-something too? It adds to the tension, which is a good thing. A very good thing, in my opinion.
Here's what I've done in my own books:
I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME - How did Jackson die? Why does Ava feel guilty about it?
FAR FROM YOU - Is Victoria dead or alive?
CHASING BROOKLYN - Why is Gabe haunting Brooklyn?
THE DAY BEFORE - What is going on with Cade?
But we can look at other books too:
13 REASONS WHY by Jay Asher - Why is Clay one of the reasons Hannah decided to end her life?
SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson - What exactly happened to Melinda?
LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green - What's going on with Alaska? And later, did she really ????? (in case you haven't read it, I won't be specific, but if you haven't read it, why the heck not!?)
My WIP has a few different mysterious elements. I don't know if I'm trying to do too much, but I'm hoping at the end, when it all comes together, it will be satisfying to the reader. Before that point, I realize I risk frustrating my reader. It's a fine line, I suppose.
What do you think? Do you think a mysterious element can add something special to a book? Do you think it's hard to pull off successfully?
Monday, November 29, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
"For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!"
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
It's Thanksgiving week!! Are you ready?
Whatever your writing goals this month, I hope you take time in the coming days to pause, take a breath, spend time with family and/or friends, and eat some pie!
I know that's what I'll be doing.
Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!!!
Friday, November 19, 2010
2. A Texas librarian broke the news this morning - the 2011 Texas Tayshas HS reading list is out and CHASING BROOKLYN is one of the fifty-some books to make the list. Wow, I'm thrilled! The list includes SO many great books, I'm really honored to be included among them. Here's the link to the entire list: http://www.txla.org/groups/tayshas
3. Thank you, Texas Librarians!! I think this calls for some cupcakes!
4. Look what I'm working on - the first pass pages of THE DAY BEFORE! My last chance to make any changes before it goes to the printer to become a book! Yay!!
5. I admit, I enjoy Susan Miller's monthly horoscopes at astrologyzone.com. Today, November 19th, is supposed to be a "dazzling day" for me! Okay... I'm ready to be dazzled! :)
Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
My son is painfully shy. And so, when he gets the courage to ask a question, or say something in class, I wish you understood how HUGE that is for him. But obviously, you don't understand, because when he found the courage to ask you a question yesterday, you laughed. Maybe the question was funny to you, but my son is struggling to understand some things in your class and he asked the question in all seriousness. Shame on you for laughing at his question. This class is supposed to be for something fun, and I can tell you without a doubt you are making it anything but.
I'm proud of you. I'm proud of you for asking a question when you didn't want to, but knew you needed to. I'm also proud of you for that other thing you did yesterday that was hard, but you knew you needed to do it as well. I'm sorry people aren't always the way we want them to be. Please remember, when someone responds in a way that is hurtful, it doesn't mean you've done anything wrong. And it certainly doesn't mean you are stupid. You must remember that usually a person's response says more about him than it does about you. Hang in there and keep being awesome, okay?
Dear Donut Shop,
I think there is something wrong with your apple cider doughnuts. They are just way too delicious. Like, I don't think it's humanly possible to make something so completely perfect as these doughnuts. I dream about them day and night. See? There is something definitely wrong.
Dear 8-year-old S,
Your mother wrote to me yesterday to tell me your most favorite book in the world is IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES. Wow. That means a LOT to me! She said she took you to the book store to get other books written by me and you were disappointed to find they're all for teens. I'm so sorry. SPRINKLES AND SECRETS will be out next September, but I know that's a long time to wait. I hope the list of books by other fabulous authors that I gave your mom to look for in the meantime is helpful, and that you enjoy them!
Hurry up and finish the YA novel you are working on that might suck but oh well so you can write another middle-grade novel!! Come on. Hurry up!!
Monday, November 15, 2010
It's the little things in life, isn't it? When I think of my grandma, I think of this extremely happy person because every day, she looked for and celebrated the little things. She told my husband, soon after we were married, that it's the little things that bring joy in a marriage. A walk together, an ice cream cone together, a laugh together.
On their hunting trips, she had a special spot where she'd go to watch the sun set, in awe, time and time again, by the colors that would fill the sky.
Sometimes in life, we get all bogged down in waiting for the big things. Or we get discouraged because the big things we want don't happen. We tell ourselves, if only THIS would happen, life would be so much better.
I went to a one-year-old's birthday party over the weekend. There is something almost magical about the way a one-year-old takes joy in every thing he touches. And while I spent time with him, he put me under his spell, and the worries I'd had earlier in the day faded away.
And as I left, I vowed to worry less. To stop wondering and waiting for what comes next, and instead, enjoy the moment for what it is. Easier said than done some days, yes?
After Ingrid Betancourt was released from her captivity (she was kidnapped while campaigning for the Columbian presidency and spent six-and-half years in the jungle), one of the things she took the greatest joy in was going to the supermarket and buying whatever fruit she wanted. A little thing that most of us probably take for granted.
A sweet, Honeycrisp apple. A colorful sunset. The smile of a child. A warm puppy.
All a reminder to me that happiness is here, all around me, every day. Success that I wish for some days won't bring me happiness. It might bring other things that would be nice, but it won't bring me happiness. That is mostly what I wanted to tell myself today.
Friday, November 12, 2010
2. In other writing news, I finished the line edits for SPRINKLES AND SECRETS on Monday and sent them to my editor. She e-mailed me on Wednesday and said everything looks great. I'm REALLY happy with how this book turned out. The journey from idea to finished book had a lot of twists and turns, so it feels especially good to be done! I talked about the journey of this book over on the Author2Author blog, if you're curious.
3. Did anyone watch the CMAs Wednesday night? I recorded most of it, and watched some of it yesterday, and I really loved a lot of the performances. I thought Taylor Swift's was incredible. And wow, didn't she look beautiful?
I also thought Lady Antebellum's performance was fabulous. I teared up, it moved me that much. I'm so glad "The House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert won song of the year. I LOVE THAT SONG!!!
4. Okay - totally random thing, but I need a #4. Yesterday, I walked into my younger son's closet for the first time in a while. What did I find? Shirts all over the floor. I usually bring the laundry up to my room, dump it on my bed, and call the kids to come and put their clothes away. And they are too lazy to hang their shirts on the hangers. Please tell me my kids aren't the only ones who do this. Of course what do I do? I can't stand to see them on the floor like that, so *I* hang them on the hangers! I guess I'm going to have to start babysitting them as they put them away.
5. Finally - Thanksgiving is only 13 days away! Are you ready? Mmmm... can't wait!
Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
This week, I just want to stay curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a good book. It's cold! Autumn is definitely here.
Aren't these cupcakes with trees and brightly covered leaves cute?
Although I have a lot of books that I've bought recently as well as ones I reserved that have come in from the library (why do they always have to come in at the same time?), I don't have time to cuddle up and read. I need to keep moving forward on the WIP! I hit 28,000 yesterday. Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep...
The WIP is straight contemporary. And not in verse. I feel like it has the potential to be really good and I want SO BADLY for it to be really, really good! Do you ever struggle with that in a first draft? Wanting so desperately for it to be good and disappointed with every word that it's not as good as you want it to be?
I revise as I go - I have to. It's what works best for me. But even doing that, this time, I feel like it's falling flat and disappointment is there at every turn.
I know, revision is my friend, and it's too soon to feel disappointed! That's what I keep telling myself, anyway. That and - just keep writing! :)
Have a great day!
Monday, November 8, 2010
Why do we love Charlotte so much? Because she's extraordinary. In her special, quiet ways, Charlotte does extraordinary things to help her friend Wilbur. And Wilbur, like us, is changed as a result of watching the kind and selfless actions of his friend. Extraordinary people (or spiders as the case may be) do that to a person, don't they? They make us want to be better humans (or pigs as the case may be).
These characters are why Charlotte's Web has been and continues to be one of the greatest children's books of all time.
This week, as I write, I'll ask myself, how can I make my main character more like Charlotte? Not literally, of course. After all, there can only be one Charlotte.
That's what I want my main character to be.
Do you have a certain character you think of sometimes, that makes you want to dig deep and write an extraordinary character?
Friday, November 5, 2010
Want to see the beautiful cover my publisher gave me, and a description of what the book is about? Pop on over to my Books for Teens page, and you can see it for yourself!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
If you're on twitter, tweet the following by 9 pm PST, midnight EST today (Thursday), for a chance to enter:
I want to read #TheDayBefore by @Lisa_Schroeder coming 6/11
Yay, can't wait for you all to see it tomorrow!!!
It's a big one. One we take for granted until something happens. I've made huge improvements in the area of exercise in the past six months. Next up, I have to tackle my diet, and be more mindful of what I put in my body. I really, really want to, and that's the first step, isn't it? Wanting to make the change. So we'll see...
And now, I want to point readers to this article about Vitamin D, and if you want more information, this book, THE VITAMIN D SOLUTION by Dr. Michael Holick.
We as a society are not getting enough Vitamin D! I think a lot of it is because, compared to our ancestors, we aren't in the sun as much, and when we are, we're slathering on the sun screen. The effects of that deficiency is HUGE. According to the book above, low levels of Vitamin D are linked to heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain, depression, and more. High levels are linked to greater resistance to viruses, less cancer, higher cancer survival rate, and reduced risk of Parkinson's.
At my doctor's appointment yesterday, she asked if I was being good about taking my calcium and Vitamin D. I admitted I ran out in June and hadn't gotten anymore, but I had just read a couple of articles about the importance of Vitamin D and how most of us aren't getting enough and ordered bottles for everyone in our household. In fact, they arrived yesterday.
I love www.iherb.com, because everything there is reviewed, their shipping prices are reasonable, and let's face it - on-line ordering is SO much easier than going to the store and standing there staring at rows and rows and ROWS of bottles and trying to figure out what you should get. I bought calcium and Vitamin D for me and my husband, and some chewable Vitamin D tablets for my kids.
If you have kids, check out these chewable vitamin D tablets. They are raspberry-flavored, and after my kids took one last night, gave them two thumbs up.
If you decide to order at iherb.com, you can get $5.00 off your order if you're a first time customer. Use this code: WAY926
And here ends your Vitamin D PSA. Have a good, healthy day, friends!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Don't you love it when life hands us a platter and says, sorry, you can't have it all. "You MUST choose."
I think that's what my mom called character building.
So what were my choices, you ask?
Getting this cute little thing good and healthy, after I took her to the vet last week only to learn she had nasty bacterial infections in both ears. The only way to really clean them out without hurting her was to put her under anesthesia. She also needed her teeth cleaned, so they'd do that as well.
Or, renew my web hosting that expires November 10th and commit to a web designer who had JUST e-mailed me back with a quote for her services to get a new site going for next year, when I have two new releases. I was this close [ ] to moving forward. And then I got the news about Stormy.
So... I spent ALL day Saturday trying to figure out what I could do all by myself for a web site. Something that wouldn't cost me a cent. I looked into wordpress, but the learning curve was just too steep. I'm trying to finish a book - THAT'S where my spare time should be spent. Still, I need a web site of some kind. Currently, my site gets almost 2,000 hits a month - and I get notes every week from people who come to my site and then want to get in touch with me about something.
What's hard is that there are many, MANY authors who have amazing web sites. Like I look at them and turn green with envy. Such beautiful spots on the web that they call home. But just like in real life, if I can't afford the beautiful mansion on the hill, that's simply the way it is.
Anyway, after hours and hours of trying to figure out templates, playing around with layouts and colors and a hundred other things, I got to a point late Saturday afternoon where I went - Wow, I think I can make this work! Do you know how relieved I was? The money I was prepared to spend on host renewal and a new web site could now go to getting sweet little Stormy well. (Okay, this makes it sound like I was actually considering not taking Stormy in and doing what needed to be done, which wasn't the case. Maybe I should say - I was relieved I wouldn't have to start going around the house figuring out what I could sell on e-bay to pay for everything).
If you're here, reading this blog - you are at the NEW web site! What do you think?
As for Stormy, I took her in on Monday. While they were doing the procedure, they discovered both her ear drums were ruptured, which is sad, although she still hears somewhat, I know she does. Just not as well as she used to. She is on strong antibiotics plus a mild steroid to reduce swelling, and I have to put drops in her ears twice a day. We have her on a strict diet to see if food allergies were the root of her ear issues to begin with. In two weeks, they want to see her again to see how things look, so this whole thing isn't over yet.
New (FREE) web site. Healthier dog. Yay for happy endings!!
Monday, November 1, 2010
Whenever we go to Disney, I always hope an opportunity will present itself where I can get a picture with a character without standing in line for an hour and a half. I LOVE the characters. But there is enough standing in line at Disney. So each day when we go, I don't think about characters or worry about them or expect to see them. I put it all in the back of my mind. So when I do find one without much of a line, or simply walking along so I can ask nicely, "Can I get a quick picture?" (as was the case above) it's always happy-making. It isn't my goal - it just happens as a result of being in the right place, at the right time.
With our writing too, as Jane says, we must not have high expectations. We must put everything in the back of our minds that might get in the way of the actual writing. If wonderful things happen, it will be because your story was in the right place at the right time. And it's certainly nothing to worry about or even think about NOW.
"Write the damn story. Nothing else matters."
I'm pretty sure truer words have never been spoken.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Francisco is a guest on Matthew Quick's and Alicia Bessette's Quest for Kindness blog. There are many wonderful entries, if you ever need a pick-me-up, it's a great blog to read.
I wanted to quote a sentence or two from Francisco's essay, to whet your appetite, but there is so much wonderful goodness there, you just need to hop over and read it.
I promise, you'll be glad you did. Click on the link below:
The force behind all good writing by Francisco X. Stork
Monday, October 25, 2010
"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return." ~ Mary Jean Iron
A 45-year-old mother of four has been on my mind lately. She's a good friend of my hair stylist. A talented artist. A strong, fit, healthy person. A very kind person - the kind who is always doing something for other people.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend found her on the floor of her kitchen. She was slumped over and couldn't move. She had suffered a stroke. She's still in the hospital, her entire right side paralyzed and she can't speak. Because she is strong and fit, her physical therapy will be aggressive. Sometimes abilities come back after a stroke. I very much hope this is the case with her.
A week or so after being in the hospital, she asked her family to bring her some art supplies. She is right-handed, and yet, that didn't stop her. It's what she missed. What she longed to do with the days stretching out before her with nothing to do but think and worry.
She didn't ask for a computer with an internet connection.
She didn't ask for DVDs to watch.
She didn't even ask for books to read.
She wanted to draw, to paint, to create.
Today is a blank canvas. I wonder, what will I create? And you?
Monday, October 18, 2010
"I believe one thing holds it all together. Everything I've ever done was with excitement, because I wanted to do it, because I loved doing it." ~ Ray Bradbury "How to Keep and Feed a Muse"
Busy week ahead! I'm excited about my WIP and have a big word count goal this week.
I also want to soak up some of this beautiful fall weather we're having.
Plus, my husband's birthday is tomorrow, and I have two Skype visits later in the week.
So as I get to work and say good-bye for now, I leave you with one more Ray Bradbury quote (these quotes are from his book ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING, filled with his essays on writing).
"So again the three signs. Put them together any way you wish. WORK RELAXATION DON'T THINK Once separated out. Now, all three together in a process. For if one works, one finally relaxes and stops thinking. True creation occurs then and only then...At last the surge, the agreeable blending of work, not thinking, and relaxing will be like the blood in one's body, flowing because it has to flow, moving because it must move, from the heart."
See you next week!
Friday, October 15, 2010
2. I had a $5.00 reward certificate at Best Buy, so I went searching for Josh Radin's new CD. It was only $7.99, so wow, I got it for 3 bucks! I really like it.
3. My post this morning over at the Author2Author blog is about characters. Rachel Harris commented that she loves the book THE PLOT THICKENS by Noah Lukeman. Have any of you read it? I just put it on hold at the library.
4. My son is taking the PSAT tomorrow morning. I think I'm more nervous than he is. He's like this about it - all calm, cool and collected.
5. This morning, I'm writing. Want to make some serious progress on the WIP. My working title is CHERISH. Remember this song?
Have a good weekend!!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
a *gorgeous* autumn day yesterday
the ability to spend most of a sunny day outside because, for now, I can
tea and cookies
people who say thank you
Joshua Radin - my new musical discovery and obsession
wonderful books on the Children's NBA finalist list, including Kathy Erskine's MOCKINGBIRD
Portuguese rights sold to I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
All that rain meant I didn't get out for my usual dog walks as often. My husband would offer to take her, and I was happy to let him, since I was busy writing. From January to June, I pretty much wrote non-stop, finishing two middle grade novels and one YA (please don't hate me - they're short. Really.)
When the sun finally decided to show up, I went to put on my shorts, and you can guess what happened with all that butt-in-chair time combined with cutting back on my physical activity.
So, I did something drastic. I recalled that the best shape I'd ever been in was when I was doing body sculpt classes at the gym years ago. But, I didn't want to pay for a gym membership. So, I went to e-bay and found P90X with Tony Horton, that I'd seen advertised on TV. It arrived and when we got back from our Disney vacation, I started in.
There are 12 DVDs and each workout is at least an hour long, some an hour and a half. A schedule for the 90 days comes with the DVDs so you don't have to think about what you're supposed to do - the schedule tells you. Each week is a combination of weights, aerobics, and one day of yoga.
It took me a while to get into the groove. I had to play around with what time of day worked best for me. I write best in the mornings, so those were out. Early afternoon, I'm tired. Late afternoon is when I want to sit around and snack, because I get hungry. THAT is when I figured out I needed to be exercising. So, every day, around 3:00 or 4:00, I put in my DVD and press play.
It is hard. The workouts are challenging, especially for women, I think. And I wasn't perfect. Some days, I'd have a lot going on and would only do 30 minutes. Or it was really nice outside and I'd skip a DVD and go for a run instead.
But I kept showing up. And as Tony likes to say often - do your best and forget the rest. That's what I did, over and over again. I literally took it one day at a time. If I got discouraged one day, the following day was a clean slate. It didn't matter what happened the day before, it was a chance to start over again. I also tried really hard not to compare myself to the people doing the workout in the video. They aren't me. I set my own goals each set in terms of reps, and focused on that, not what they were doing.
All of that applies to writing, I think. It's about showing up. It's about doing your best, even if one day your best is 100 words because there are too many other things going on or your tired or you can't figure out that plotting problem. It's about setting your own goals and remembering that you are different from everyone else. It's about not comparing yourself to other people because it will probably discourage you more than it will encourage you. And it is hard to write, or work out, or pretty much do anything if you are in a constant state of discouragement.
Last week, I'm happy to say I finished the 90-day "lean" program! There were a few times during the 90 days I thought about quitting. But I didn't. I wanted to see it through to the end. What do you know - JUST like writing a book!
Have I seen results? Just like writing, showing up is 3/4 of the battle. So yeah, show up, and you WILL see results. My clothes fit better. I lost some inches and a few pounds. Nothing really drastic. But that's okay. I feel better, and that's the most important thing to me.
This week, I've begun the classic program. 90 more days of hard work, stretching myself, and doing my best.
I'm working on a new book, too. 2-3 months of hard work, stretching myself, and doing my best.
See? It's pretty much the same, isn't it?
Monday, October 11, 2010
"That's the way things come clear. All of a sudden. And then you realize how obvious they've been all along. ~Madeleine L'Engle"
This weekend I went to Wordstock, a literary festival in Portland, and listened to a few YA authors talk about writing and their books. One thing that always fascinates me is how hungry people are for information as to how to get a book written. And it seems to me, now that I've been in the audience a number of times, listening to authors talk and answer questions, that we ask authors to talk about their writing process again and again, as if there is some secret key that will unlock the mystery for us.
I think writers new to the experience of writing a novel believe somewhere in the back of their mind that there must be a right way and a wrong way. And more than wanting to do it the right way, they are very afraid of doing it the wrong way.
Yesterday, Becca Fitzpatrick, author of HUSH, HUSH said she uses note cards and writes scene after scene on them, and shuffles them around, trying to find the right order, then begins writing, only to eventually throw them all away and start again with new note cards containing new scenes. She said she may do this three or four times while she's writing a book.
L.K. Madigan, author of FLASH BURNOUT and THE MERMAID'S MIRROR, defined her process as plunge, persist, and polish. That is, plunge into the story, persist through the murky middle when it gets hard, and use revision (lots of revision, she said) to polish the manuscript when it's done.
For me, every book is different. Some books beg to be discovered as I go along (My first novel, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME was very much a discovery novel). Other books want me to have a good plan in place so I can write quickly and efficiently (with SPRINKLES AND SECRETS, I had a brief summary of what each chapter would be about before I started writing). Some books, like my current WIP, are a combination of discovery and planning.
And it's perfectly okay to begin one way and decide a different way would serve the story better.
So, here is the big news - there is no right or wrong. There is only different. And like everything else in life, it's up to you to figure out what will work best for you.
I know we often long for someone to shine the light and show us the way. Especially when we're in that murky middle. My advice? Trust in yourself. Listen to your characters. Have faith. And as Lisa said, persist. I often tell myself when it gets really hard, there is no way out but through.
This week, you may want to try note cards. You may want to try a chapter-by-chapter summary. You may want to write and discover your story as you go along.
But whatever way you choose - persist!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Here is the Publishers Marketplace announcement:
Lisa Schroeder's SPRINKLES AND SECRETS, a companion novel to IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES, about a 12-year-old who is excited to have the opportunity to audition for a TV commercial, until she learns the company is Beatrice's Brownies, the biggest competitor to her best friend's family's cupcake shop.
The book picks up right where the other one left off and is narrated by Sophie, Isabel's best friend!
It will be published by Aladdin in Fall, 2011.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I'm proud to say all of my copies are signed by the authors! At one of the book signings, I said, when I'm an old lady and books are hard to find, I can sit in my rocking chair, flip through the pages, and remember the good old days.
Starting in the left corner and going clockwise:
THE CANDIDATES (Delcroix Academy, Book 1) by Inara Scott
WILDWING by Emily Whitman
THE MERMAID'S MIRROR by L.K. Madigan
GIRL, STOLEN by April Henry
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some reading to do!!
Monday, October 4, 2010
"...gut-level reactions--following the story where the story wants to go instead of where you intellectually think it ought to go in order to get where you think you need to be--that's where the cool stuff is! If you shut that out, you can miss great opportunities in your story." - Melissa Wyatt, author of FUNNY HOW THINGS CHANGE
I really loved Melissa's post yesterday where she talked about going with your gut when you're writing. She talked about writing one scene where she didn't allow herself to do that, and the writing felt like she was simply "moving dolls around in a doll house." Isn't that *exactly* what it's like when we're struggling to make things happen? Sometimes, we have to do it and come back later and fix it, because there's no other solution. But it's SO much better if we can let ourselves move into that space where we are more inside the story than outside of it - living inside the doll house with the dolls, instead of trying to control them from the outside.
When I was writing my upcoming YA novel, THE DAY BEFORE, there was this huge moment that happened toward the end that I hadn't seen coming. It had been a long writing day. A GOOD writing day. One of those glorious, words-are-flowing and things-are-happening kinds of days that you never want to end. And then, from literally out of nowhere, comes one of those magical moments that we live and write for.
I'm typing along and lo-and-behold, this "thing" that up 'til now had just been a fun little thing between the characters became this BIG thing. My main character had this ah-ha moment and it was so real and honest because it was an ah-ha moment for me too!! I couldn't have planned it better if I'd tried. It was a shiver-invoking moment, and one where I literally stopped and whispered, "thank you."
When my editor sent me the marked-up manuscript, at that special spot, she wrote, "Yes! YES! Love how you take us through all this to get to this point. Yes!"
I almost felt like a fraud. Um, wait, I didn't do it! Did I?
Last Friday, Cheryl Renee Herbsman wrote a post in which she shared five reasons why she writes. Number 5 is my favorite. She wrote, "Because the little magical connections that happen all on their own remind me that I am not alone."
It is hard to not think too hard as we write. To not worry about where we're going, how we're going to get there, if the path we're taking is the right one or not. With every book, every single book, I have these worries. I start out with a general sense of where I'm going, but most of it, I'm on a journey of exploration. And at first I fight it! Everything inside of me says, this is wrong, you don't know what you're doing, this isn't going to be any good, you need to spend more time thinking about this book, blah blah blah.
AND, with each book, there comes a a day, a time, a moment where I get really tired of the doubt and uncertainty and my constant questioning of everything, and I basically say - "Okay. I'm surrendering now. I'm ready to give up trying to know and understand it all right now, and just let it happen."
That's when I set the doll down, look around, and step INSIDE the doll house. OMG, it's so much more FUN in there, you guys!!
Last week, I struggled along on my WIP, trying to move the dolls around. This week, I think I'm ready to set them down and see what happens. What about you? Want to join me!?