Friday, June 29, 2007

Writing update...

Well, I've sent out 7 submissions this week. Now I'm out of stamps, so I need to make a trip to the post office.

And I have a short story to edit.

And I'm doing some critiquing.

But I haven't felt much like writing. Most of the week was too hot, and then I went to the library and got a huge stack of new MG and YA novels to read.

So I'm having a reading/housework week... until inspiration hits again or I catch up on my thank you notes.

What a day...

Yesterday I had to give the time-out chair a time-out. The kids were fighting over it and I was ready to lose my mind. There's no good way to punish them both at once, so the CHAIR got a 15 minute time out instead.

There were lots of tears and complaints, but it stopped the fighting, and by the time the chair was back "in", they'd moved onto something else...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

In Other news

I made a list of comprehensive list of publishers who take simultaneous submissions, publish the sort of books I write, and have good reputations.

I discovered that there are about ten that don't currently have one of my manuscripts working its way up through the slush...

Since I have three or four PBs ready to go, I'm spending this week in a frenzy of submission....

Once I'm another month or so pregnant I won't really have the energy to write, edit and submit. But if I drop the submitting and cut back on the editing for a while, I'll still have the energy to write.....

Then I can have a whole pile of things to edit, re-edit and submit once the baby's a few months old and I get a free arm occasionally. (My kids tend to be round-the-clock nursers for the first couple months... so my husband and I know we should just assume that NOTHING will happen for the first 8-12 weeks.......)

Anyway, I've got four submissions down... 6 to go.... and then I'll have 35 pieces out there at once.... well above my bare minimum of 20, so I should be covered for a while....

(I read once that Jane Yolen frequently has 100???? different submissions out at a time? WOW! Though it does reinforce the idea that there's never a point in your writing career where you've "arrived" and don't have to work hard anymore.....)

Well, that was odd.....

My daughter was up a bit early this morning and watching Clifford. (7:30 Central time - 8:30 Eastern)


All of the sudden, one of those emergency broadcasts came on.... but it kept repeating... it wasn't a test......

It said that there would be an emergency for the ENTIRE UNITED STATES from 9:30 - 9:45 Eastern time???????

So I hopped online to see if anyone else mentioned this.....

Nothing. The breaking news was all Paris Hilton......

Since it seems unlikely that the govt. could pinpoint the time, but not the location of an attack.....

And since if a giant meteor was headed for us I think someone would have mentioned it by now.....

I'll assume it was just a bizarre typo on the part of the local PBS station....

Besides, if it WAS a real emergency, why would they only do it in text? During CLIFFORD-- a show for pre-schoolers??? That would be WORSE than useless....... =)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Fun!

I like to pick one fun thing to work on every summer. Even though I'm well out of school, it gives me the feeling of a break. (a false feeling, since when your kids are 3, 1 1/2 and T-3 months, there really are no true breaks...)

This summer I've decided to work through "Drawing for Dummies," followed by any other sketching/drawing books that I find suitably intriguing.

I really would like to be good enough to illustrate some day, and since classes are out of the question right now I might as well start small...

I also need to finish my toddler's baby book before the new baby arrives.... So I'm hoping to set aside an hour a week for scrap-booking...

And, of course, the regular cycle of writing, editing, submitting, and rewriting......

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Zoo Comparisons

The National Zoo, on the other hand, was a bit disappointing. Was it always this run-down? Maybe I just didn’t notice as a child? 2/3 of the cages were “temporarily” empty --- the same that have been empty for the last 6 years. The Giraffe has been sent away. The prairie dogs are still missing. Most of the restroom stalls were out of order, and the ones that weren’t were filthy. Water fountains were few and far between, and there was no shade.

The kids were happy about the elephants, though. But even the three-year-old noticed that the zoo was falling into disrepair.

“Why is OUR zoo so much nicer?” she asked. Her Dad and I explained that this was a NATIONAL zoo. That means everyone is supposed to care about it… which means that no one really does. Our zoo is smaller, and the people who take care of it really LOVE it, and work hard for it. (also, our zoo doesn’t need to go through congress to get things… they just ask the community….)

I’ll have to take the kids down to the Indianapolis Zoo some day this summer. It’s a first class zoo AND it has a giraffe for them! Maybe it’s the difference between pay-zoos and free-zoos.

A week with no blogging

I’m sorry about the lack of blogging in the last week. We’ve were on vacation in Virginia, and I’m a little shy about posting notices like “empty house—come and take it all!” on the internet.

We had a nice time visiting the grandparents. The highlight of the trip was a visit to Mount Vernon. Even though I grew up in the area, I’d never been before.

The site is well-maintained with plenty of clean bathrooms and lots of water fountains. Best of all, they’ve made it INCREDIBLY kid friendly! The kids were a bit bored by the house – they preferred the giant doll’s house model, of course.

But they LOVED the “George Washington- Colonial Farmer” exhibit. It’s a small colonial farm, complete with heritage breeds of animals and a working threshing barn! (They got to watch the horses go around and around… a big treat!)

My three-year-old was especially enamored with a set-up that let the kids pound corn into corn meal. The giant wooden mortar and pestle made a satisfying “Thwock” sound with every blow. She could have done it for hours!

I’d like to go back some day when the kids are older… Mount Vernon really takes a whole day, and my kids have a three hour limit before crankiness sets in…

But it WAS educational. The three-year-old listened carefully to the guides and was impressed by George Washington’s tomb. (Behind a high iron fence to keep people from disturbing it.)

As we left, she put the bars and the guide’s talk together and informed us that “George Washington was the first Prisoner of the United States.”

The toddler loved the sheep and pigs, and began a little chant of “Pigs live in piggy house, oink, oink, oink!” until she fell asleep in the car.

If anyone else is traveling to Virginia with kids, Mount Vernon is a MUST SEE.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Highlights Fiction Contest

The for the Highlights Fiction Contest 2007 are now out. So I can stop my "If I win, I can buy a new couch!" daydreams.

Now I need to start working on my entry for next year's contest. The theme? "Stories Set in the Future."

This should be a lot of fun...... and I'll probably get a few other good stories out of it that aren't for the contest too!

I think my submission for 2007 was pretty strong... I've already got a list of other places to send it....

Monday, June 4, 2007

Multi-tasking

My toddler is obsessed with drawing and babies. She follows me around the house all day paper and a pencil. As soon as I sit down, she pounces.

"Draw Babies!" she shrieks.

I oblige by drawing a circle... the essence of a baby.

She then orders me to draw various body parts, backgrounds and accessories.

Then "Draw 'nother Baby!"

If I let it, this could go on for hours.

Recently, she's developed a new tactic. She realizes that Mommy in the Bathroom is a captive audience. And she can open doors. (Our bathroom lock has been disabled... too many small-child-locked-inside incidents.)

So now my five minutes of peace has become five minutes of drawing babies....

I never really knew what true multi-tasking was until I had children.....

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Bye Bye Zebra

Well, I finished my revisions. (I also re-caught a cold in the process... apparently I was pushing a bit to hard...)

The new story is MUCH better than the original, so even if the editor decides to pass on it, I'm grateful for the help....

After all, I got a consultation with an editor and concrete suggestions for improvement....

A lot of people pay for that, and I got the help for free! (It was an electronic submission, so there wasn't even the cost of postage!)

And, in case she does pass, I'm already working on a list of other publishers that might like it.......

Now, all I need to do is write a Latin Final Exam, and I'll be mostly caught up on life! (For the moment, at least)

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Siege of Leningrad Begins.....

Cutting the first 100-words is usually fairly easy. Now I'm in the midst of the head-splitting, tooth-grinding work of serious revision.

I've got 67 words to go before I'm under 1200 (the most I can possibly DREAM of submitting without cringing.)

I'm cutting in 10-word chunks. For once, housework seems like a reward-- at least it gives me a break from wrestling with Zebras!

On the positive side, I'm only making cuts that really strengthen the manuscript. So, even if the editor doesn't want it after the rewrite, I've got a much better piece of work to submit to something else.

And every time I have to really fight with a piece, I become a better writer.

Not to mention, the house gets cleaner as I procrastinate! =)

By the way...

Can you tell that I'm procrastinating on tough chores and even tougher edits? =)

My Top 10 "Read it Again" Bedtime stories!

1. Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman

Great pictures, almost no words.... I can read it to the toddler 5 times in a row and not cringe at the inevitable "Again."

2. Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton

I love the swinging rhythm, the sweet drawings, and the fact that even an 18-month old can mostly memorize it.

3. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Always a favorite, the kids have it memorized, and I do too! (great for car trips where I can't actually bear to look at the page, but the kids want a story.)

4. Babybug Magazine

They're short, the variety of art and writing is refreshing, and my toddler ADORES Clara Vulliamy's "Kim and Carrots." It's like her own, personal, almost-two-year-old soap opera.

5. The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle (Board Book Edition)

The raised illustrations are great for little fingers, and both kids love the succession of barnyard creatures.

6. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle

Another classic. Another rhythmic, easy to memorize story. And it teaches colors, too! How can you go wrong?

7. This Is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten and Delana Bettoli

We got this one as a gift around Christmas time. I'd originally meant to put it away and only bring it out once a year, but the kids LOVE it.

The pictures are gorgeous. The text is both soothing and memorable.
My three year old, when asked where Jesus was born, now replies:
"In a stable, dusty and brown in a quiet corner of Bethlehem Town!"

And the toddler LOVES all the animals... and the baby, of course! =)

8. Where's the Puppy? by Cheryl Christian and Laura Dwight

This is the ultimate, almost indestructible, toddler lift-the-flap book.
Others in the series include "Where's the Kitten?" and "Where's the Baby?"

The photos are very appealing, the text is minimal, and the "Flaps" are actually board/book pages folded over on themselves---there's no glue and no flimsy flaps to rip!

9. Pat the Bunny by by Dorothy Kunhardt

I hate that this book is destroyed anew by every child. (No wonder it's never been out of print!)

On the other hand, the kids ADORE it, and it's so short I can read it 10 times straight without needing a glass of water!

10. Dora the Explorer Mass Market paperbacks (or bound into a single volume...)

Ok... Honestly, I HATE these. But they're short and the kids love them. Also, if I refuse to read them Dora, they demand that I make up NEW Dora stories for them, which is worse. So Dora makes it onto the list, if only because she's the darling of every American girl under the age of 8!

Agonizing edits

I've finished the first draft of the rewrite. The problem? The editor asked me to more than double the number of events in the picture book. Which more than doubled the length.

So now my sweet little just-under-600-words story has...blossomed.... into a 1300 word behemoth.

The thought of a 1300-word picture book pains me.

My husband points out that it reads fine for a K-3 audience, and it's not too long for a book-loving 3 or 4 year old....

All I can think is "If I read this as a bedtime story, my throat would be sore half-way through the first "read it again."

I guess part of my problem is that in my little warped world of pre-schooler and toddler, if a book is too long to be read 3 times in a row, it's too long!