Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book signing July 1st

(in case you've forgotten whose 
blog you're reading)
will be talking books, reading
and signing

at Vroman's in Pasadena
on Thursday, July 1st, 7:00 pm

would love to see you!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Motivational Monday - on commitment

photo courtesy of

“There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.” ~ Author unknown

I've been thinking about how we start a book and often, it seems so daunting, thinking about how we'll ever get to the end. And sometimes, for newer authors, they ask, how do you do it? How do you keep going when your head is so full of doubt and there are spots where it's really hard?

Well, that's when the commitment comes in. Are you committed to finishing it? Then finish it. No matter what - sit down, write, and get the thing done.

I write because I love it. Because I love seeing things play out on the page and having the magical moments appear - things that make me go - oooh, where did that come from? But I also write because I am now committed to my career as an author. And sometimes, there are moments that aren't fun, times when I don't want to write, but I have to. That is commitment. Doing it when I want to, and also doing it when I don't.

I think commitment is one of the most important things to have as an author. What do you think? Agree or disagree?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Five

1. School's out for the summer!!!

2. It's been a weird week. And that is all I will say on that.

3. I can't WAIT to see this movie with my kids!! They've grown up with Buzz and Woody! And yay, it's getting great reviews!

4. I'm loving this season of Friday Night Lights. Fridays are always good, but with the show back on, Fridays are VERY good.

5. To celebrate the baby birds in the robin's nest on the back patio pergola, I leave you with a cupcake. And wishes for a happy weekend!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A post in which I'll probably make you drool - sorry!

Yesterday I headed here, because I was in need of a cupcake.

It's the Beaverton Bakery, in old downtown Beaverton. I'm pretty sure it's been around forever. It's the kind of bakery that my grandma used to work in. And whenever I go there, I just want to hang out for hours. I mean, I usually do spend awhile browsing, even though I only buy a couple of things, and generally know what I want when I go in. But it smells so good, and everything looks so good and just... YUM.

So, I find a cupcake and decide that's all I will get (it was for a visual aid for a video I filmed yesterday for, which you must check out if you haven't heard about it yet), but then, I see the mini fruit tarts.

Now, cupcakes are great. I mean, they're pretty and fun to look at, they come in different flavors, and I love trying the different flavors.

But truth be told - if I had a mini fruit tart and a cupcake in front of me and I had to choose? I'd choose the tart every single time. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH I CAN'T EVEN TELL YOU!!!!!

When I was 11 or 12, I went to horse camp. And I remember one day, they served us this slice of what looked like pizza for dessert. Only it had fruit on it. I had never seen anything like it. So I tried it. And I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I went to the lady who helped run the place and asked, what IS that? It's the best thing ever! And she replied - dessert pizza. You've never had it before?

Yesterday, I realized, I haven't made dessert pizza in a long, LONG time. And my kids might actually enjoy it now. The last time I made it, they were little, and I think it just seemed strange to them or something, I don't know. My husband isn't keen on it either, so I'm pretty sure I ended up eating the whole thing and vowing I must never make it again because that's what a woman does when she bakes something and ends up eating the whole freaking thing. Anyway, with summer here, and all the fresh fruit, well, it's the perfect time to try again! So, I've added that to my list of things to do this summer.

In the meantime, I bought one of those mini tarts along with the cupcake. My kids split the cupcake.

And I ate the mini fruit tart and savored every. single. bite.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A look back

5 months ago today, I walked away from my day job and my employer of 5+ years and into the job I'd dreamed about for a very long time. That of full-time author.

I can clearly remember days where I'd sit on the couch in the early morning, drinking my cup of tea as I looked out at the backyard, thinking, I wish I could stay home and write today.

I've written a lot.

Twice I holed myself up and wrote stories for the joy of it. I wrote fast and furious, returning day after day, not wanting to lose the momentum, and thankful I didn't have to because of a day job. One of those books has already sold. I also wrote proposals, sample pages, presentations, guest blogs, and more.

In those 5 months, I've done promotional things too. I did my first ever TV and radio interviews. I've traveled to Texas for the Texas Library Association and to Rochester New York for the Rochester Teen Book Festival. I've participated in author panels, and I've done individual presentations. This summer I have skype visits and a conference presentation scheduled.

This has not come without some sacrifices. We've had to dip into our savings a couple of times. I worry about finances more than I'd like. Maybe someday I'll make enough to stop worrying about it. Or maybe someday, I'll get an idea for a great series and it will sell for big bucks. Then again, maybe not. That's the hardest part - the unknown. There's never any guarantee.

Regardless, I just wanted to say today - I love my life right now. Whatever happens next week, next month or next year, I'm really thankful for this time.

I've lived the dream.

I've sat at my couch and instead of wishing about staying home and writing, I've smiled and thought, today I will write!

And then, that's exactly what I did.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Guest blogging today

I'm guest blogging over at Lindsey Leavitt's blog today. She's doing a month long feature called The Impact Initiative, and I've really enjoyed reading the entries. If you comment, you're also entered to win books! 

I hope you'll check it out, not just today, but every day this month. I think we all need to be reminded now and then that the world is a better place when we do what we can to help others. 

Happy Monday!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Five

1. The sun is coming, the sun is coming!! This is very good news indeed, as we have had a very, VERY wet spring. All of you who have felt like it's summer for a month, I've been so envious and now, it's finally coming our way!

2. This is my favorite time of year, no question. I love the lazier days, the fresh fruit, the fact that I do not have to be Homework Assistant for a couple of months, family vacation time, SCBWI conference in LA, and and and... Yeah. Just feast your eyes on these babies. I'm not even going to tell you how much money I spend on fresh strawberries in the month of June. We eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, pretty much.

3. I just learned one of my favorite bands, Lifehouse, is coming to the state fair in September! Eeeee!!!

4. Got a little bit of good news yesterday... Hopefully it's going to lead to bigger good news.

5. I will mention this a few times in the coming weeks because I want to make sure people know and that I have a few people there (oh please, God, let there be at least a few people there). I will be doing a little talk, reading and signing at VROMAN'S BOOKSTORE IN PASADENA on JULY 1ST AT 7:00!!! So, so excited! And hoping people come.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Yes, let's have FUN!!!

Have you all read this brilliant blog post by Maureen Johnson?

If not, you should. You really should! 

In her manifesto, she says, among other things, "Stop trying to sell everything about yourself to everyone. Don’t just hammer away and repeat and talk at people—talk TO people. It’s organic. Make stuff for the internet that matters to you, even if it seems stupid. Do it because it’s good and feels important. Put up more cat pictures. Make more songs. Show your doodles." ~ Maureen Johnson, author

Yes, on this blog, occasionally I will talk about my books, or good news I have to share. But I never want THAT to be my focus. Because how boring for you!! You want to learn something, or smile, or laugh, or maybe even cry when you are reading blogs. I know for sure you don't want to roll your eyes or mutter under your breath, or any number of other things.

So...yeah. Well said, Maureen. And, as I promised you months ago, because I know cute animals and cupcakes DO make people smile, here are some for your viewing pleasure. (In her post, one of the five things she says her message always is when talking about social networking is "Have more fun.") You know what? I LOVE that!! Yes, writing is often difficult and sometimes sad and perhaps not fun very often (although sometimes it is, yes?) and the publishing business is quite serious, but let's try to remember to have FUN on occasion, k??? 

photos courtesy of

awwwww..... SO CUTE!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A bookish observation

If a book really appeals to me when I hear what it's about, I will want to read it.

If a book somewhat appeals to me when I hear about it, but I'm not really sure, I probably won't want to read it.

BUT, if that same book that somewhat appeals to me gets lots of GREAT reviews, OR lots of people are talking about it, saying how great it is, then I will want to read it.

If a book that somewhat appeals to me is talked about all the time by the *author* versus other people, I probably won't want to read it.

If a book doesn't really appeal to me when I hear about it, I won't want to read it.

And no matter how much people are talking about the book that doesn't really appeal to me, and no matter how much the author talks about and/or promotes the book, I still won't want to read it.

Finally, if I've read an author's other books and LOVED them, I will want to read subsequent books, no matter what.

Conclusion? Writing the very best book you can is THE most important thing you can do to sell books. And no matter how much we may wish that everyone will want to read our books, not everyone will, because not everyone's tastes are the same. C'est la vie!

What do you think? Does your list look differently from mine?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Motivation

"You do what's in your gut - if you've been doing it long enough, what's in your gut will be appropriate." ~ Anderson Cooper

photo courtesy of

I've been doing this writing thing for awhile now. With each book I write, I think, wow, I've learned so much, come so far, and yet, I still have SO much more to learn too!

Last night, after a long writing session where I hammered out 4,000 words over the course of 4-5 hours, and ultimately finished the lean first draft on my latest WIP (yay!), I realized one thing that I think is important.

I've learned to trust my gut. If I'm excited about a story and I feel good about it, it MEANS something. It means I'll be able to finish it. It means that most likely, other people will like it as well. If I don't feel good about a story, if I dread sitting down to write, that's not a good sign. That's not to say that there aren't times writing is difficult. There are MANY times writing is difficult. But when you are excited by the whole, it makes you want to dig in and do the work necessary to get to the end.

I don't paint, although I wish I had that kind of artistic ability, but I wonder if as an artist puts the brush to the canvas, if he isn't going a lot of times by instinct. Yes, it's about skill and what the artist has learned over the years, but I'm guessing, in the end, a lot of it comes down to gut instinct. To do what FEELS right.

I think it's the same with writing. We take what we've learned, what we know, and apply that, but the best books are the ones where we turn inside and listen there too. 

We use instincts throughout the creation of a book in a number of ways. When we get feedback from other writers, for example, we usually will take the comments that feel right and we leave the rest. Again, it's listening and trusting ourselves to know the story we want to write and trusting ourselves to know what's best for it.

I think when we're new writers, this is hard. We don't know what to trust and what not to trust. We want to finish a book - that's the main goal. And along the way, it's all clunky and scary and we sort of ignore any feelings we have about it because, well, what do we know, we've never done this before, or only done it a couple of times, or whatever.

So last night, it sort of felt like this monumental thing because I think I've finally learned to trust my judgement. To know when to move forward, and to know when to pull back based on what I'm feeling about the story I'm writing. And perhaps most of all, to know that if I love a story, most likely, other people will too.

What about you? How do instincts come to in to play with your writing?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Get 'er done!!

Yes sir, Coach

Yes sir!!

Today I write. Tonight I watch! Love Fridays!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Go, Me, GO!!!!!!

I'm still going strong on the WIP. Wheeeeee - having SO. MUCH. FUN!!! It's like this in my office:

Yesterday I took some time to go back and revise some things I was worried about. I am very much a revise-as-I-go kind of writer. I can't help it, it just works best for me. So that took a few hours. Okay, maybe five or six. Then I contemplated a plot point, figured it out, and wrote this great scene that I LOVE. And I'm excited to get back to the story today and add to the word count.

This is a different type of book for me. It excites me and terrifies me all at the same time. But I think that's good. It keeps me on my toes. It makes me stretch as a writer!!

My goal is to have a first draft done by next Friday. It's not going to be a very long book - I'm thinking 25,000 words (middle-grade). I'm about halfway done, and it will require some long writing days to do it, but I want to finish. Very, very motivated to finish.

Thought I'd share just because sometimes reading about others intense writing days motivates me to dig in and do the same!

So if you're trying to get a lot done too, then Go, you, GO!!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Weekend in pictures

Look what we have on our back patio, on the Wisteria vine that hangs from the pergola. Can you see Mama's head peaking out there?

Monday afternoon it looked like the rain had stopped, although we weren't sure for how long, but I was desperate to get outside and away from the computer. So we went to the zoo, where we are members, and hopped on the zoo train that takes you up to the Portland Rose Garden. It was SO lovely outside, and I'm glad we gambled on the sun and won!

Today I'm excited to get back to the WIP! Stay tuned - I may need help with a title though!!

Hope you had a great weekend!