Monday, July 30, 2007

Busy Week

This week, in addition to the usual round of chores, I have:

-1 major rewrite to finish
-1 major rewrite to start
-A last little bit of Latin Grading
-5 evenings at Vacation Bible school with my daughters (St. Patrick and the Trinity... should be fun! How much do you want to be that at least ONE of the crafts involves cutting and pasting shamrocks?)
- Nasty, hot, 90 degree and up temperatures (with no AC) which means nausea, lethargy, and ankles the size of tree trunks.......

And, on top of all of that, I'm waiting with baited breath to hear back from a few publishers that are more good bets than long shots..... So I have to keep fighting the uncontrollable urge to sit, cat-like, staring at the phone......

But I may find the time to blog... with my swollen feet up....

Friday, July 27, 2007

NOW they tell me......

From a review of Wendy Shalit's new book on modesty, Girls Gone Mild:

"Scarleteen offers a “sex readiness checklist” for young girls to help them gauge whether they should plunge into the fun. Among the items: “I see a doctor regularly,” and “I have a birth control budget of $50 per month.” The emotional readiness a girl should demonstrate is “I can separate love from sex.” Shalit notes, “Those who can separate love from sex are mature, like jaded adults. They are ready to embark on a lifetime of meaningless encounters.”




Baby # 3 is coming, and the only one of these things that applies to me is the one about regular check-ups with a doctor......
(Note-- neither the reviewer, the author of the book, or the blogger is endorsing this particular checklist -- obviously, since baby #3 is on the way! =) )

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fun with writing prompts...

So I just finished a first draft of "High Adventure" -- a 500 word picture book written to reflect my daughter's sensibilities.....

I never had so many ideas until I was home with the kids full time....

But now that I've had my 1/2 hour of writing fun for the day, I'm off to the Latin mines.... and the dishes mines, and the laundry mines.....

Though I'm envisioning a whole series of books for my daughter now.... Not necessarily to submit (I have such a backlog anyway) but at leas to have handy when she wants a story late at night when my brain is too fried to think.

Anyway, I'm off to the chores... Though if I make any progress, today will be a library day too......

What do Pre-schoolers REALLY like?

Editorial Anonymous, one of my favorite blogs, said:

"Children like Fancy Nancy too, but I think a significant part of its extreme popularity, like Olivia's, is attributable to the character coinciding with many adults' perception of little girls."


I think the point about Olivia being more for the adults than the kids is really well made--

I know my almost-4-year-old finds Olivia boring. Why should she listen to a story about someone doing things that she can do herself? (try on clothes, pretend to be a ballerina...)

Especially since, for a child, these are not "amusing anecdotes." They're what she does all day. They're deadly serious... fun, but serious...

I've noticed a BIG difference between 2 and 4.... at 2 she liked humdrum everyday stories that reinforced her ideas about how the world worked.

At almost 4, she wants high adventure, or at least strange situations.

We've had to move on to chapter books. She LOVED Little House in the Big Woods. A world with no TV? Only 2 books? and no appliances? And bears???? How exciting!

We're currently working through "Wizard of Oz" --Evil witches, Talking scarecrows, interesting illustrations...... How can we go wrong?

I'd like to see more "High Adventure" picture books for her age... not more than 1100 words or so, lots of good guys, bad guys, mild peril, etc......

Maybe I'll just have to write one....

But then the question becomes: Is she normal? Or is it WEIRD for a kid to want that?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Staying Productive

I sent out a few more submissions today -- I'm up to 27 again, but I'd really like to stay around 30.....

Unfortunately, I also have Latin Exams to grade, and that takes precedence...

I've really become a big fan of having as much out there as possible... especially now that I have a backlist...

I read once that Jane Yolen has 120 pieces out at any one time - if it's important for someone famous with a great writing career to keep submitting, it's got to be even more important for an unknown trying to break into publishing!

I really do have to focus more on my magazine work, though. It actually gets published from time to time, and I've yet to have that sort of luck with the book market...

But I figure lightening is more likely to strike when I've got more lightening rods out there!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ok.. Now I want to read it...

I wasn't sure if I'd read "Deathly Hallows" any time soon.... While I enjoyed the early books, the most recent ones have been a bit of a drag -- too long, too much school stuff, too much making out in stairwells, etc... I read them so that I could talk to other people, but I didn't really ENJOY them.....

(Up till now, "Prisoner" has been my far and away favorite...)

Then I started reading the reviews.... "Best since Goblet of Fire".... "Very Allegorical"... "Tough choices, no school stuff".....

I even read a few of the spoilers which left me thinking "I'd REALLY like to see how that plays out..."

So now I want to read it... I guess I'll have to have my husband obsessively check the express checkout shelf at the library and snag one for me!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

This is Probably pretty accurate....




You're The Mists of Avalon!

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

You're obsessed with Camelot in all its forms, from Arthurian legend
to the Kennedy administration. Your favorite movie from childhood was "The Sword in
the Stone". But more than tales of wizardry and Cuban missiles, you've focused on
women. You know that they truly hold all the power. You always wished you could meet
Jackie Kennedy.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Geppetto and Son

We took the kids up to the Starlight Theatre in Rockford, IL to see "Geppetto and Son."

I enjoyed it-- of course, it WAS the first live show I've seen since December 2003...

My Three-year-old also loved it... her one problem was figuring out where to look... the stage is so much bigger and busier than a TV screen!

The toddler was NOT up to theatre.. she loved the big, all-cast musical numbers, but when people were talking (instead of singing and dancing) she lost interest....

But I think my older daughter will definitely be able to handle the Nutcracker this Christmas.....

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Caillou the Martyr

Today PBS showed the Caillou Valentine's day episode-- kind of out of season, don't you think?

Anyway, my daughter was asking about Valentine's Day, so I gave her a quick account of the life and death of Saint Valentine.

She promptly asked "Is Caillou going to get killed too?"
"No dear, he's just going to make paper hearts."
She actually looked DISAPPOINTED about this....

So then I told her about Cyril and Methodius (Also Feb. 14) for good measure. She was especially fascinated with how they made an alphabet for people who didn't have one.

And before anyone asks, we are NOT going to teach her about the Lupercalia at this point... the LAST thing I need is for her to be bloodthirsty AND pagan......

The Voices

For weeks, my pre-school daughter has been walking around the house saying
"Listen to the voices! We have to listen to the voices!"

My husband and I were beginning to get a little creeped out. After all, we haven't let her watch any horror movies, and this doesn't seem like the sort of thing one would pick up from PBS kids.

Then, finally, last night, we solved the mystery. My husband has a small digital voice recorder. Occasionally he'll let the kids talk to it, and then play it back for them.

All this time that we thought we had a budding axe murder on our hands, she'd just been wanting to play with Daddy's recorder.

So that's one potential Stephen King-like scenario avoided. =)

Monday, July 16, 2007

5 reasons that "No SASE" is no problem

Many publishers are adopting a policy of "don't include a SASE, if we want your manuscript, we'll call.."

And many authors are upset, because they feel like they're submitting to a black hole and who knows if anyone ever even READ their manuscript?

Since I am nothing if not a cock-eyed optimist, I'd like to make a couple of points about why this situation isn't really all gloom and doom.

1. You NEVER had a guarantee that someone read your manuscript. A rejection slip gives no information on this point. For all you know, an intern opened your submission, glanced at the cover letter, said "hmm... we don't need any more 135-word picture books about depressed amphibians" and stuffed your SASE......

At least under the new system, any reply from the publisher would actually MEAN something.

2. Less work for the publisher saves money-- money that can be used to produce more books, thereby INCREASING your odds of acceptance.

3. Good for the environment/landfills/etc. -- Hopefully, most people aren't psychotic enough to save EVERY LAST rejection slip. After all, if they're not personalized, they're all the same (well, different paper colors and weights, and different letterheads -- but not useful) So they go right into the trash/recycle pile, like junk mail. Why contribute to the waste?

*note -- my children are very disappointed by the trend-- they liked using rejection slips as art supplies.... but we have other, much more generous, sources of doodling paper! *

4. Saves the Author money -- the cost of envelopes and stamps can really add up. Do you really WANT to spend .43 just to hear "Your manuscript is not suited to our list. Good luck placing it elsewhere"? You can just recite the mantra to yourself after the deadline day passes.... and save the .43 for another submission!

5. Author Record Keeping is easier -- Now you don't have to wonder as a reply date passes. You don't have to think "Should I send a status Query? Or give them a few more weeks?" Instead, you can just fill in "rejected" in your log and get back to work on something else.


Maybe I'm just unusually cold-hearted and hard-headed on this subject-- but how can something that saves everyone involved time and money be a bad thing?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A day well spent

This morning I woke the toddler up early and we all went to the "Super-Duper Playground!" to meet friends....

Two hours there, followed by lunch, put the kids into a coma. So I got a good block of writing time in this after noon.

I used it to work on my first draft of an entry into the 2008 Highlights fiction contest.

Yes, I know you can only submit in January. And yes, I know it's only July. But I really like this year's topic (Stories set in the future) and I wanted to start working on ideas now, so that I can have something beautiful and polished by the time the new year rolls around....

I've come up with a good first draft for the older readers.... now I'm trying to also think of something in the under-500-word easy-reader category. It's a bit harder....

Anyway, my plan is to do one draft a month until it's perfect, or it's January... whichever comes first...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A sale!!

Clubhouse Magazine just accepted my story "The Easter Prize" for publication.

Now I can breathe a sigh of relief-- the sale means that I'll turn a profit for the year. (a small one, but a profit nonetheless)

That makes 3 years running that my earnings from writing have exceeded my expenses (paper, postage, paper clips, SCBWI membership and a copy of Writer's Market... I'm so glad that this field has such low overhead!)

Now even the IRS will have to consider me a professional! =)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Work in Progress....

I'm still editing and resubmitting some old pieces....



And, just for fun, or practice, or something, I've started work on a mid-grade horror novel.... we'll have to see how it goes.



The pacing is the hardest part, I think... I'm trying for a tone of gradually building Wrong-ness that eventually culminates in something completely horrifying....

I'll have to check out some John Bellairs books when I get to the library today.... I haven't read them in YEARS but I remember how much I LOVED them at 10 and 11.... especially "The house with the clock in its walls."

And, unlike the R.L Stine books I read in later years, I read John Bellairs MULTIPLE TIMES.......

Anyway, even if it doesn't end up being a great horror book, it's a fun summer exercise.... I like to give myself writing assignments so that I have to stretch...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

My Children are trying to KILL me!

In the last 3 days, they have, between the two of them, slept a total of 38 hours. But not at the same time, of course.

They're tired and cranky, but not so tired that I can persuade them to actually go to sleep.

Meanwhile, I'm "functioning" on less than 4 hours of sleep per night. This is not good for a pregnant woman...

I have a feeling this is going to be one of those "Mommy will get you a drink as soon as she's done vomiting" weeks. Argh.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Help me! I've corrupted my child.......


Today my 3 1/2 year old spent an hour with a notebook, "writing a story." A Chapter story, no less.....

Apparently this has replaced "cooking", "dishes" and "baby care" as her preferred form of "playing grown-up."

Sigh.... I feel like a bad mother....

After she was done, she deigned to read me chapter one:

Once upon a time, in a beautiful town, there was a Bad King who wanted to kill EVERYONE so he went into the forest......

She said I had to wait until tomorrow for Chapter 2....

At least I know where she got the "Bad King" thing from.... it wasn't me, it was CHURCH. More specifically, King Herod and the Slaughter of the Innocents.... She LOVES that story..... I think I may be raising a pirate disguised as a delicate ballerina princess......

Thursday, July 5, 2007

When I'm not writing...

I've been spending my writing time for the last two weeks focused on submitting, editing, and critiquing for other people.

Now I've noticed an interesting trend...

The less I write, the weirder and more disturbing my dreams get...

I'd better block in a bit more writing time so I can get a night without nightmares! Or Monastic Chimpanzees, which is almost as bad.....

Fourth of July

We had a great day yesterday. We live in Indiana, and our town really knows how to do the Fourth of July.

We took the kids up to the parade. It's only a few blocks from our house. I'd hate to have to drive in, though -- it would be impossible to find parking!

We set up camp near the Knights of Columbus, mostly because it's a. close and b. has bathrooms (a must when you have a pregnant lady and a three year old!)

We brought the wagon and plenty of food and snacks, and we had a great view and even a comfortable place to sit!

The kids LOVED the parade. They hadn't realized that there were so many fire trucks in the whole world! They also loved the "army guys", the horses, the bands, the gymnasts, the color guards, and... well everything! We stayed 2 hours... the parade was still going, but Mommy and Daddy were ready to go home...

Then we had steak and friends for dinner, and went to the fair grounds to see the fireworks.

All in all, a perfect fourth of July...