Tuesday, November 25, 2008

WOOHOO!!!! DONE!!!!!

All the edits are entered. Now, I just need to inflict it on some critical and snarky friends to see what else needs fixing. Wheeeeee!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Perils of a Good Review

described here....

I especially like PJ O'Rourke's bit.

H/T The Corner


75% done this edit! Soon, I will be able to inflict it on willing but snarky friends and see if my book can entertain non-writers!!! MUHAHAHAHA!

What teenage boys want to read


Hint: Action is good. Sappy morals, and a bunch of whiny introspection is not.

Great! I think I might be able to SELL my WIP! =) (Luckily, I read more like a teenage boy than a teenage girl.... Yay Sci Fi and Fantasy! Teen sex problem novels? meh.)

I want to weep now.

According to this study , our elected officials actually know LESS about Civics, history and government than the average American does.

So why do people trust them to make decisions for us?

(Though, this DOES support my theory that all letters to elected officials should be composed of short, declarative sentences, sound bites, and talking points. After all, you don't want to confuse the poor dears!)

If you want to take the test and see how you score, you can do it here.(I missed 3. But that's still an 'A'!)

H/T to Joanne Jacobs for the link to the test!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Want to be Happy? Go read a book!

This makes a lot of sense to me for a couple of reasons:

1. When my dear sweet little angels watch more than a tightly controlled amount of TV, they turn into a demonic horde. (I do make exceptions when they're sick, because keeping them comatose on the couch is better for healing than 2 hours of hide-and-seek-tag-monster-ballet-acrobatics. )

2. Even though I like TV and have two shows I adore, I don't watch it much. I sometimes think about it--after all, it's easier now that you can watch online and don't have to be glued to the set at a certain time. BUT --- there are other things I'd rather do. An hour of Terry Pratchett gives me more pleasure than an hour of "Chuck." A half-hour of Charlotte's Web is fun for me AND the kids and counts as "Home-Schooling."

And I have books to write, chores to do, e-mail to send.......

People who build their lives around TV and when certain shows come on are destined to be less happy. Because they're chasing after the wrong thing (A new episode!!!!) and, in the end, it will only disappoint.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Writing Life this week...

I'm reading "Predictable Irrationality" by Dan Ariely. It's really cool behavioral economics, with lots of case studies and descriptions of how he designs his experiments. Fun!

On the editing front, I've put half the edits in. So if I should be done by Thanksgiving! Then I can email my WIP to some Genre readers (and my husband) and find out if there are any MEGA problems I'm missing (improbably characters, dragging plot, the sorts of things that will make them throw the book across the room)

Then I can start my agent search.... My top 3 right now are:

-The Andrea Brown Agency (still trying to decide which agent to sub to) because they're top-notch and I've been impressed with how conscientious they are.

-Stimlitz Literary because I've gotten some good feedback about them from other writers who've worked with them.


Nelson Literary - Because even though she doesn't do a TON of MG yet, she's looking for more and she knows editors who want commercial MG with a male MC.... and that's my story! =)

After I hear back from those three, I'll start round two. And if I exhaust everyone? I'll probably submit to a few of my favorite open publishers, and by the time I hear back on THOSE, my second novel will be ready to try to find an agent!

Anyway, that's the plan for the upcoming year. We'll see how it goes.... I'm hoping my book is as good as I think it might be, but the Genre readers will help me there.....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WIP progress!

I finished my mega-highlighter edit and I'm entering the changes. I'm excited. The book seems fun and enjoyable. It's in a high-demand genre (commercial middle grade aimed at boys). Even though I know the odds are against finding an agent for my first novel, I'm hopeful.

(And, anyway, Novel 2 is right around the corner... as soon as I finish Highlights..)

More reading

Kadir Nelson's We are the Ship was awesomeness incarnate. Even my husband, who's indifferent to baseball, liked it. Nelson's illustrations are so beautiful that I wanted to cry. It better win some major awards at ALA midwinter, or I'll just assume that Caldecott/Newberry/etc. have totally jumped the shark.

Now I'm reading Nation, by Terry Pratchett. It's not a discworld novel. It covers some of the same issues he's touched on in discworld, but it's more serious. It's clearly Pratchett, his descriptions are as spot-on as ever, but there aren't many laugh-out loud moments. Still, definitely worth the read.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Right now, I'm re-reading the Screwtape Letters. I hit it every few years and always find something new.

Then, tonight, my husband is bringing Kadir Nelson's We Are The Ship home from work!!!!!! This book just popped onto my radar even though it's been out nearly a year. If it's as good as everyone says, I'm going to HAVE to find a baseball lover on my Christmas list. (Or maybe just buy one for 'Toys for Tots?'

What makes the Highlights Contest So Hard

So, I'm up early today because my son decided that 6:30 was the PERFECT time for breakfast. (His stomach was growling, the poor little thing!)

I've decided to use this unexpected bit of time to work on my entry in this year's Highlights contest. The Highlights contest drives me nuts. I mean, yes, I've sold a story to the magazine, so obviously I can write well enough for them. And yes, the topics are broad enough that I can usually come up with something that fits.

But the DEADLINE! Oh, the deadline!

You only have 6 MONTHS from the time the topic is posted until you have to send it in. I worked on "Poetry Quilt" on and off for a year and a half. I had a bunch of false starts, too.

The contest deadline means I don't have time to let the story simmer on the back burner for months at a time, waiting for the plot to click. I have to wade in there and WRITE it.

(I think short stories are harder than a novel, in a way. Because when I only have 800 words to give readers the mood, characters and plot, it's almost like a logic puzzle. And if you're thinking about it the wrong way, you get NO WHERE.)

Anyway, back to banging my head against the wall. And cutting. And adding. And trying to get enough tension.

And then, if that doesn't work, it's time to put it aside for a few more days and break out the Flannery O'Connor. Reading a few simply divine short stories seems to help me when mine are plodding.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

As for the edit....

There's something dizzying and giddy-making about finally getting to edit my WIP on actual PAPER (140 pages of it!) with HIGHLIGHTERS (color-coded changes, and the thrill of a page that only has one or two minor mistakes!)

Also, as I read, I realize it's better than I thought. It's not perfect yet, but it hums along pretty nicely. And I'm compiling my agent list and working on my query and generally feeling good about a January submission date.

Also, Pubrants said publishers are really looking for commercial MG fiction right now..... which is where my WIP falls! Hooray for fun sci-fi adventures for 9-12 year old boys!! =)

So I'm feeling pretty good at this point... and I can't wait to start book #2 (another scifi, completely different setting...)... Once I finish that Highlights contest entry... grumble...grumble....

The Children's Canon

A fun article by Joseph Bottum on the children's literary canon, how it came about, and how we should rethink it given all the great stuff being published today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Done the Draft that ate My Social Life!!!!

WOOHOO!~ I finished the current rewrite this morning, printed it, hole punched it, and popped it in a binder.

Now I get to use my pretty highlighters (5 colors, Baby!) to go through and find the things that still need fixing.

I am on track for January, and it feels great! (So I'm sure something like a stomach virus will drop out of the sky at any moment!)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What I'm reading..

Every now and then I sit down and try to read one of the random books I've picked up at a book sale. Right now I'm really trying to cull the herd, so I'm plucking books at random from the shelves and seeing if they're any good.

Josef Pieper's Scholasticism is definitely a keeper. So far it is an entertaining history of Medieval philosophy. (I'm up to Don Scotus)

What? You didn't realize I read non-children's books too? Or just bowled over by my incredible nerdiness....

Hooray! Exciting News!

I just signed up to do my first ever school visit, on the strength of my magazine writing!

I'll be speaking on March 7, and giving three 30 minute presentations to groups of young grade-schoolers.

It's so exciting to think that someone is willing to pay me to speak!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I really want to see this...

But I'll have to do it without the kids.....

They've made a movie out of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas!

The book was awesome. But I know I can't expose my pre-schoolers to the holocaust. Not yet. It's too much for children so young....

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Most Surreal Scam EVERY

Thanks to Writers Beware for giving my afternoon that unreal edge that had been lacking.

Now, off to write a grocery list, If I can manage it.

(I got up early this morning and actually got to write for an hour straight! It was dizzying! Amazing! Especially since I'm fixing some really exciting bits of my WIP..... unfortunately, my brain is now TOTALLY fried. I need to find a way to balance writing and life!)

Groceries! Yes! Groceries!