Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Penultimate Day of 2006

2006 is winding down. Here are some of my greatest writing lessons for this year,

1. Listen to your editors and revise your manuscript accordingly.

2. Sprinkle vibrant language throughout your manuscripts like fairy dust.

3. Think of grammar as an art form and use it to subtly shade your work.

4. For me, I should avoid writing lesson plans at all costs!

5. Helping others create has inherent energy that spills into your own projects.

6. Sometimes the stress that you hate is the catalyst that is moving you forward in a project.

7. Focus on the writing and don't worry about the rejection slips.

8. The real achievement is the writing.

9. In the end, our goal should be connecting with our readers.

10. Meaningful stories are created in thousands of little moments.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

About Stuff and Hanging with the Peeps

I'm scoring "the not to be named test". Oh, how it sucks all creative power out of me. I'm also emailing out for permission info for my current working project. This is certainly another creative drain.

On the new project front: I have a good idea for a new picture book floating around in my head. Perhaps I will begin to research it.

On the Novel Push 2007: I'm mulling about what project to write next year. I might finish writing Profit. This book has vast scope and I predict will take up 3 novel writing years. Ouch.

On another note: Hey, post your novel project with me when I officially post my Novel Push 2007. It's fun. You can brag about all your awesome work and drafts get written slowly over months.

On the paying project front: I have rewrites for my easy readers coming up. The permissions are also in response to an upcoming project. I'm hoping for a decent amount of work next year.

Writing is about the long term. I'm much better at writing than dieting. This is a mystery to me. I hope you have had time to hang out with the peeps this holiday week.I come from generations of folks that march to the beat of their own drum.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Santa, Thanks!

Dear Santa,

I would like to thank you for turning back on the electricity. I saw your elves (PSE repair guys, YOU ROCK!). Wow, they put in some awesome power lines. The old ones were pretty much a pile of matchsticks, as you know. You have made me a very happy gal! I am really not a Little House on the Prairie type. I need my heat, lights and reliable Internet. Tell Rudolph (I bet he helped too, with his electric nose so bright) thanks and let all the reindeer know I say, "Hi!" I'm putting out See's chocolates on Christmas Eve and Smith Brothers Milk. You are the best!

May your days be merry and bright!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

All I Want For Christmas...

Electricity! Power has now been out in the Wilds of Woodinville for 48 hours with no change in sight. The local energy company indicates that it will be many days before we have power.

So, how do I write this email? I'm in Colorado with my fab sister Lee Ann Kuruganti. I have heat and light. It's just peachy here. My husband is camping out in freezing conditions in our house with the Js (I believe a few extra teens have also showed up.)

My order is in.

Dear Santa, Please send electricity.

I'm scoring the "not to be named test", and as usual it is sucking the creative energy right out of me. I went to an exhibition at the Museum of Outdoor Art to get an extra boost of creative oomph. I want to go to the DAM too, to get a DAM t-shirt for my oldest son.

Well, if you have power, yea! If not, stay warm!

Anywho, for all, I hope that you are finding creative power during this busy season!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Golden Coffee Cuppers! Take note.

If you're out there and had to revise your Golden Coffee Cup goal and are moping because you did not get your GCC; perhaps you feel like Brimstone Soup author Holly, send me an email ( and let me know. I will happily send you Golden Coffee Cup. We are really about substance, not quantity. Enjoy the journey of writing. Enjoy every last drop of it.

I'm not bothered one bit by revised goals. Most of life is about revision anyway. Did you make a goal? If the goal was too ambitious, did you adjust the goal and keep on working? Well, that awesome to me!!! So Golden Coffee Cup worthy.

Write from your heart each day.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Egg Update and Good Books.

Egg Update. The egg is about to sprout wings and fly. Read about eggs here.

I went to the SCBWI meeting in Seattle last night; a big yahoo to Deb Lund for her insight in how to get a "master plan" going as a writer. I did run into the unfortunate truth that most of my goals fall squarely on my shoulder sand no one can really help me achieve those goals. BTW, no one has an ear for verse like Deb. Check out her books.
Thanks to the fab, fab authors and illustrators who have made a certain elementary school very happy. Kirby Larson, Michelle Torrey, Erik Brooks, Meg Lippert, Won-Ldy Paye, Julie Paschikis and Bonny Becker. You folks create awesome stories.
Hey, Mid-Winter ALA conference is in Seattle this year. I have a sealed list of my Newbery favorites. Let's see if I'm right this year! HBS (yes), F, W, A, and E are all on that list.
Gayle Richardson, a former librarian, shared her favorite books of the year. I appreciated the perspective. And let's hear it for the cookies! A little known fact about children's book authors and illustrators, manynot forgott love to bake cookies and this year's competition was a testimony to the competitive spirit.
Allyson, Valentine Schrier, if I had remembered to bring my Mississippi Mud I would have taken down those Angel Bars! Wait till next year!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sighting on Amazon

I hope you enjoyed the Golden Coffee Cup. If you need your award, go to the Golden Coffee Cup link and look at the last post. There you will find instructions on how to receive the coveted award.

My work-for-hire book is available on Amazon! Rocks and Minerals by Molly Blaisdell, well, rocks. It's just an amazingly beautiful book. Go check it out.

According to Christina Wildson in her article "Will Write for Food: Scribbling for Hire" in Fall 2006 Chinook, some consider our work-for-hire work to be like living in a ghetto." I learned also that I'm a hack -- "one who forfeits individual freedom and action or professional integrity in exchange for wages or other assured reward; esp: a writer who works mainly for hire." Really, teenagers need many pairs of blue jeans and being a hack provides for such needed things. And, I'm with Christina, it's a joy to write these books and a thrill to know that children will read them.

For the record, I've been from the wrong side of tracks my whole life and arrogant folks who publicly look down their noses at the honest work of others need to visit Miss Manners and keep their comments to observations about the weather (Thank you, Miss Austen).

Now, on to news. That rocking egg was bouncing up and down this week and (top secret, shhhhh, editor emails and calls, not saying a word until ink slides against paper, no dancing in the streets, yet) I predict EXCITING news is ahead; furthermore, signs and portents indicate that I will be a hack (nothing wrong with that) no longer.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Last Day of the Golden Coffee Cup!!!

Hi folks, it's been a month of creation, of ups and downs, and another journey on the road of writing.

Hope you are getting all those goals squared away today. Here is a last bit of inspiration, better than fairy dust.

E.B. White on writing. Go to a room with a view and write your heart out. Waah, I want to work by his window.

Dick King-Smith thinks hanging out with friendly hogs is very inspiring. Perhaps you should try that.

Thought David Almond reading a story would help you on this last day.

Perhaps hugging some dogs will help, it worked for Roald Dahl.

Well, enjoy every last drop of the Golden Coffee Cup.

BTW if you worked hard and completed your goal, email me at and I will send you the coveted "Golden Coffee Cup".

Monday, November 27, 2006

Home Stretch!!!

I know it is all cozy, snoozing under that blanket! Take all those lovely dreams and weave them into something wonderful.

Take time during your chores just to conjure up delicious dreams.

Any who, above all things enjoy the journey!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Golden Coffee Cuppers!


I'm happy to report that Paula McDonald of P&G Speakeasy Cafe in Duvall has said that anyone coming into her establishment who can show her their Golden Coffee Cup award will be entitled to one free latte in honor of the occasion. Buy lunch while you're there. Paula loves artists.

Ooh, how fun is that!!!! Thank you, Paula!

BTW, Happy Thanksgiving, Americans!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Uh, The Tree Fell Today

Remember my dream the other week. I should really pay more attention to my dreams. A thunderstorm rolled through Woodinville and a tree fell in my yard today ... and on the roof of the neighbor's house. The deck is fine. But the whole thing is sort of freakish. I mean I just dreamed a similar scenario last week.

On the upside, now that we have established me as a decent prognosticator, I predict many goals will be met and many Golden Coffee Cups are handed out.

On the writing front, I received a lengthy letter from an editor this month and have spent some time pondering.

On the Golden Coffee Cup, yep, I'm moving forward. I've ended up jumping back and forth between chapters. I have written one of the missing scenes and I tweaked that first chapter until I'm a very satisfied author.

Post where you are!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rock on!

Let your inner rock and roll move you forward.

Children's author Julie Andrews thinks the hills are alive with sound of music. Perhaps you need to go for a walk.

Children's author Madonna thinks that children need more meaningful stories. Perhaps you will be the one to do that.

Children's author Dolly Pardon says channel your inner diva and write that book!

Nothing wrong with getting a few writing friends together for a jam session. Think the Rock Bottom Remainders.

Work on those projects and rock on!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Happy Day

Have you ever had one of those dreams where a tree fell into the house, the deck was mangled and another tree had crashed into the neighbor's fence and then you wake up and realize all that wasn't real! I suppose that is my worst fear. Might seem lame but I woke up shaking. My vivid imagination has been a lifetime blessing and hinderance. I can't watch a scary movie, no, no, no - not even the monkey scene in the Wizard of Oz. I can't watch horror films, no, no, no -- not even the Scary movies or the Screams or Slither, humor does not help. It's makes sense that I turn to books. It's not because books are less scary, it's just easier to dole the scary scenes out over days. This keeps the goblins, aliens and demons out of my dreams. Even with that I avoid Mr. King.

Any who, I'm thrilled to realize that the only thing looming on my horizon is a couple of hours of volunteering in a classroom.

I hope you have a chance to write today -- that you let you imagination run wild! Don't hold back at all. Let the great and mighty rushing wind go and see what havoc it will create; how long till it warms and slows into a warm Zephyr?

Happy working toward your Golden Coffee Cup.

I'm almost, almost at the halfway point; where are you?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Need Some Direction?

The late Ellen Raskin wrote The Westing Game. This book won the 1979 Newbery medal. Online for everyone are portions of this manuscript along with Ellen's discussion. The Raskin manuscripts reveal multiple revisions of each draft. One can see not only the role of the literary editor and the copy editor, but the way in which an author shapes her work. Riveting stuff, if, uh, you are a children's writer. Check it out.

Try reading along with Strong Bad's children's book.

Perhaps you need a lesson in epic story telling and really don't want to wade through The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler again. Try Grocery Store Wars.

I'm moving forward with the Golden Coffee Cup goal. I've reached the 1/4 mark. Happy working.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


You just have to keep working day after day. Word after word. You can do it!

One of my favorite books as a child was written by Elizabeth Coatsworth. The book was THE CAT WHO WENT TO HEAVEN. Elizabeth and Henry fell in love, but Elizabeth refused to marry Henry until he finished his book. You can read about Elizabeth here.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

Inspiration is everywhere. Get to work.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Busy, busy, busy

I'm on task after three days. I start Chapter 5 tonight. I hope that you are getting things going. Golden Coffee Cups await! I hope you draw inspiration from this picture. Imagine sitting over there on those logs and scribbling some thoughts. Lend some of that energy to your goal.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Time to work, folks!

I hope that you have taken a deep breath and have taken a first step toward your goal! I'm doing my deep breathing from yoga and am ready to focus on the task at hand. The Golden Coffee Cup awaits.

Here are 5 things I've done to be sure that I keep on task.

1. Set aside an entire Saturday at the library to work. I'd show up when the doors opened and leave when they closed. I'd bring a sandwich, some fruit, water bottle, laptop and bottle of glue. The glue was to remind me to keep the bum in chair.

2. If I'm sitting at the computer staring, I'll unplug it and move to the bed or couch or deck and see if the muse is hanging out there.

3.I've set the alarm 30 minutes early and put the laptop right by my bed to pick up the second I wake up.

4. I've packed up the computer and headed to a coffee shop in town, ordered my favorite tea and worked for a couple of hours.

5. I have worked through more baseball, gymnastics, trumpet, violin, swimming, ballet, track practices than I can name. I always balance the laptop on the steering wheel and work. It's usually a nice chunk of time between 45 minutes and 3 hours.

Please share your favorite "keep on task" tricks.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Deadline!!!

Nov 1st is the last day for to join us on our writing and creating quest.

There are so many great goals. Novels will be revised, novels will begin, hours of pure writing will spring forth, short stories will fly and a girl detective will discover whodunit!!! OOOOH, this is so exciting!

So far there are 17 of us, some have posted and others have emailed me personally. No goal is too small! There are 27 more hours. Join in the fun: The Golden Coffee Cup.

Let's all get something done!

Monday, October 30, 2006

What happens if you are a tea drinker?

This question came from Chris E. You may participate in the Golden Coffee Cup if you eschew coffee and guzzle tea. Go to the link now and post your goal!

The Golden Coffee Cup

This is time for true confession. I eschew coffee. I drink tea in coffee cup. Of course, our golden coffee cups will be virtual and will only hold imaginary tea or coffee anyway.

Seize the day!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Encouraging Thoughts!!!!

Dear friends: The month of Novemember is ahead. Please post a goal at The Golden Coffee Cup. Here is a bit of inspiration to help you move forward.

First, in an interview Madeleine L' Engle was asked, "“Wrinkle’’ was rejected repeatedly before it was published. Were you confident then you’d have a breakthrough?" Her answer? "No, there was a period when I thought I never would. But I kept on writing because that’s what I had to do. I was compelled not to stop."

So let's write and create because we are complelled not to stop.

Here are some thoughts from other writers I loved as a child.

I am writing in the garden. To write as one should of a garden one must write not outside it or merely somewhere near it, but in the garden.
Francis Hodgson Burnett

I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.
Helen Keller

The best way out is always through.
Robert Frost

I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.
E. B. White

Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.
Lloyd Alexander

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.
Louisa May Alcott

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Motivational Coffee Cups

I've had a few folks request a peek at the "2006 Golden Coffee Cup", but you are going to have to make and achieve your goal to do that. However, you may find some inspiration from the black and red coffee cups. Feel the motivation pouring into you!

Back to
The Golden Coffee Cup.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Golden Coffee Cup

In honor of National Novel Writing Month, I'm having a little event on my blog for anyone one who needs an extra boost of motivation to get their current project rolling.If you don't know about Nanowrmo, National Novel Writing Month, this is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. This is a kamakazie approach to writing, it's about quanity and not quality.

The Golden Coffee Cup is a different kind of motivational thingy. This soon-to-be coveted award (an awesome picture of a coffee cup emailed to you that you may display it with pride) will be given to the successful November goal setters.

This is my answer to that "interesting concept" (cough, cough) of requiring writers to churn out 50,000 incomprehensible words in one month.

I’d like to churn less with much more comprehension in my month. I ask you to join me. The 2006 Golden Coffee Cup will be awarded for a month of goal setting and achievement.


1. Post your November creative goals here by Nov 1. That is the deadline, folks.

2. Come back weekly for general cheering and wild ruckus, celebrating your successes. We'll do some holy snappin'. For extra motivation, celebrity guests will be on hand to offer high fives for your achievements!

3. If you reach your goal by Nov 30, you will be eligible for a Golden Coffee Cup. There is no verification process, I believe you. Send in your email address to and your Golden Coffee Cup will be emailed to you. Display it proudly as wallpaper, post it on your blog, print it out and tack it on your bulletin board for year-long motivation.


The Golden Coffee Cup is about making a goal and keeping it.

If you are a novel writer, you can write something new with a realistic word count goal, keeping your life in mind. Your goal might also be making your first novel submission (think Delacorte Contest) or a revision of a novel you've already written. You can do this!

If you are a picture book writer or artist, hey, picture books are harder to write than they look. I don't really care about the word count because if your project is over 500 words that might be a problem. Picture book artists tell stories too. You might be an artist making a dummy and a dummy is certainly as hard to create as a novel. This is about quality not quantity.

Win your very own Golden Coffee Cup.

Let's bring some excellence into that creation!!!!!
Need inspiration: Try the Motivational Coffee Cups.


I'm happy to report that Paula McDonald of P&G Speakeasy Cafe in Duvall has said that anyone coming into her establishment who can show her their Golden Coffee Cup award will be entitled to one free latte in honor of the occasion. Buy lunch while you're there. Paula loves artists.

3:18 AM

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I'm slowly recovering from my Patricia Lee Gauch marathon day. SCBWI Western Washington offered a one day writer's workshop here in Seattle with Patti teaching.

In case you didn't know, Patricia Lee Gauch is the vice president and editor-at-large of Philomel Books. She is the editor of so many wondrous books, but my particular favorites include T.A. Barron's Merlin series, Brian Jacques's Redwall series, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, it goes on. Oh, Patti is the author of almost 40 books too. OK, you get it, she's awesome.

One fun highlight of this day was her threatening to lock us in a room for a week with no permission to leave unless we find our own original voice. The whole day was like a time warp for me, hours passed, but it seemed like minutes. I love listening to her take on writing. I could feel the cobwebs in the unused gray matter of my brain being swept away. Ooh, I always get shivers up my back when someone says know yourself. It's a scary thought. Who are you? Then comes the idea that answering this question is paramount if you want to actually ever say something. I also liked the idea of being gritty. I learned this lesson from Rembrandt, too. In his art, it is the inclusion of every day elements, this fascination with the imperfect, the juxtaposition of light and dark that reveals the "soul" within. The idea that books have soul is very provocative to me. I am so comfortable with the realm of the imaginary. Thought cannot be quantified. You can't measure it, you can't put it in bottle, there is no code for it, no spectral analysis, and yet, the evidence of it is everywhere, books for one.

The last bit, I want to touch on is the idea of sassy characters. Patti shared the heart of what a powerful character is, and I think I get it. For me this is almost a spiritual exchange, like focusing on the miracle of taking your next breath. You stop all you thoughts, and for a moment appreciate the fact that you are alive, that your lungs faithfully inhale and exhale. The best characters are unaffected, sublime and yet thoroughly human. She pointed out conversation is a key to authentic characters. I got the idea that we should slip into our characters, not just into the skin, but into the bones and marrow, and the psyche, and right into their souls. Maybe this is strange; the story of the Velveteen Rabbit came to me. This was a real rabbit, not a stuffed bunny. It was made real by love and a fairy. Perhaps we need to come in with our fairy powers, shake some dust and reveal to all, that this imagined friend is so much more than sawdust and velveteen.

Oh, I feel the warmth of love curling in and surrounding, like incense thick and heavy on a Sunday morning during worship at church. I could go on all day like this. Patti is really a treasure when it comes to the world of children's books. I want the blessing of her thoughts to work like leaven in my writing. I hope some of that leaven spreads to you here.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Followed By Discord

Yesterday's good vibration was followed by today's discord. This is not the best of days. I had such hope for my little pb, but the bean crunchers say my story is worthless. Sadness.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Good Vibration

There was a serious good vibration today. I am totally freaked. Stay tuned for more news!!!!!!!

More Educational Writing

I've received a couple of more contracts to write "lesson plans" for teachers. It's for a reading curriculum. I predict the purchase of jeans and jackets in my future. And I'm trying (repeat) trying to wrap my head around the apparent need of teenagers to own Sevens for All Mankind. I remember my sister had to have this $100 dollar pair of blue jeans with "Willie Nelson" emblazoned on her behind. I did not get it then, and I do not get it now. In this case, it's little gold triangles drawn on your behind. I do not understand this; quantum mechanics and several variable calculus are both much clearer to me.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Odds and Ends

I'm scoring "the not to be named test" again. This always strips the creativity right out of me.

My lunch with GCL was a golden harmonic in time. She has a inquisitive nature that I find so admirable. It was a blessing to really get to chat with someone who loves books like I do and truly feels the tug to say something within her core. I wish I had such a focused mind; my thoughts are always fluttering all over the place.

On the writing front, editor requests have started to flow back in. I've got rewrites in the works. That's always good. Turned in my Picture Window Books on Friday!!!!!

I continue to have the "good" feeling deep within my being. The two thoughts that come to me is that the angels are singing over me and God will lift up my head. I've also been thinking about the broken hearted being healed. I think the most wondrous thing for me is the surprise joy that has flooded my life.

from my journal -- The View from Here

My writing is the best part of me.
It holds my dreams.
My screams.
My ignorance.
My blessedness.
Here, loping, jumping words
tumbling forward, racing around,
trying to make sense of a universe gone mad.

I find writing draws peace into the chaos of me.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Hi, I'm so thrilled to hear that Holly Cupala is the runner up for the WIP grant from SCBWI for contemporary fiction. I'm happy to have high-fived Holly while she was making history. Go check out Brimstone Soup. Kudos to Vijaya Bodach, a HM for WIP grant from SCBWI. She's an awesome writer and in my critique group. I'm honored that both of these brilliant ladies are my friends.

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." Anonymous

"A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked." Bernard Meltzer

My egg is wobbling again. An editor emailed me! All my psychic arghs must have gotten through.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Did the publisher call (after they called me and said they would be back to me in two days.)



So I emailed.

Did the publisher email back.



I will examine the upside of all this. I am on the to-do-list.
I will now examine the downside. I am the last thing on the to-d0-list.


Friday, September 08, 2006


I've just turned in my assignment for an educational publisher. I wrote for adults. Generally write for children. I hooked into the voice of the publisher, but I felt like I was being forced to say simple things in complex language. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever written. I struggled with every line. It's hard to write sensible instructions that are actually readable. Honestly, I don't think I was wildly successful with the whole thing. I will try to begin more intelligently next time.

Here's to all the struggling, hardworking technical writers in the world who have to write mind-numbingly boring text about obscure technical applications in unending techno-jargon with copious footnotes and who want to place the next breakout, mega, multimillion dollar bestseller. You know who you are! I pray the doors open and your treasured novels, written during your breaks, on your lunch hour, and from 2am to 4am, are picked up by world class agents and sold at auction for mucho bucks.

My quote for the day: Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.
Henry Ford

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

School Starts!

When did high school buses start coming at 6:30 a.m. Uh, I would have never survived high school with that kind of wake up call. I remember clearly stumbling in the doors of WHS at 9 a.m. every morning. What has happened to the world! Oh, the humanity!

My two contracts for books and my other educational work is all because of the support of a wonderful writer. Kudos to Mara Rockliff! She rocks! Go buy Mara's books. She's awesome.

I'm supposed to hear back from one of the BIG eggs this week. The head chicken mentioned that the egg had not totally smashed at the bottom of the internet hill. Let's hear it for Humpty Dumpty and all the king's horses and all the king's men. Those guys really know how to put it all back together again.

Fun news, Gail Carson Levine is going to be in town and we're going to do lunch!

I've applied to Western Washington Advanced Class with Patti Gauch. Think happy thoughts, folks. My fairy dust is running low, help, JLC, do you have any extra?

Read books like someone does your dishes and laundry and write books like chocolate and ice cream are calorie free.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer 29:11

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I went blueberry picking over the weekend. There's an abandoned blueberry farm a block from my house out in the wetlands. I live in the rural suburbs of Washington state. I've seen up to four deer at a time on street. I picked over two pounds of berries and the Js ate them like candy.

On the writing front, I've signed the contracts for my new books and am working on the project.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Be Fearless

My new novel just got back from its first read and no major revisions are looming on the horizon!!! Chris Eboch is a fantastic writer and fabulous critiquer. I recommend her services.

I hope new doors swing open this week! I just have a good feeling. No reason why.

A Writing Tip:

Be fearless. Fear is one of the worst enemies of a writer. "I'm afraid no one will like this. I'm afraid that I'll never finish this. I'm afraid I'm wasting my time. I'm afraid my story is boring. I'm afraid to send my manuscript out. I'm afraid because they've always said no before". . . The list is endless.

Here's a question: Do you love to write? This is the question I ask myself when I'm really feeling the fear (lots of bills, four kids, few writing successes)-- perhaps I should stop writing and do something grown-up like work for an insurance company. My answer is always the same. I love to write.

Then I always see this picture in my head. It's a stream bubbling out of the earth that pours into a pool. The water is clear and spilling over the edges of the pool. Streams ripple down a mountain. The water is powerful. It moves sticks and stones and races downward. It finds its way to bigger streams, rivers. It reaches the ocean. I know the water is my writing. It will find its way. It will reach the ocean, then I'm not afraid.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Poor Traveler

I'm in bed and am sick -- fever, chills, headache, nausea. This is my vacation. I do not travel well. I'm staring out the window at blue Texas sky.

The writing is going OK, but the wobbling egg has splatted at the bottom of the internet hill. Waaah. I'm calling all the king's horses and all the king's men, but they didn't really do anything for Humpty-Dumpty and I'm not expecting much help for my poor egg. This is where you get up, dust off your knees, and start saving for a new bike. Anywhoo, my thought for the day:

It is not strength, but art, obtains the prize,
and to be swift is less than to be wise.
'T is more by art than force of num'rous strokes.

Alexander Pope.

I will keep at the art.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Holy Snappin', It's Done!!!!!

Novel push 2006 is complete. I'm jumping up and down. I'll be shaping my new novel for a couple of more months and then out it goes!!!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

How many eggs do I lay?

Poster Joy asked a question: At the risk of getting too personal, can you tell me - how many eggs do you lay?

I’m not exactly laying eggs. I usually lob my eggs over the fence. Don't worry my eggs are sturdy. I hope my readers find the following information helpful, insightful, uh, interesting, ok, worth one or two minutes of procrastination.

I've found goal setting very important. I formulate a business plan every year. There are many facets to this plan. I try to lob an egg a week over the fence into some waiting editor's slush pile. I don't always reach this goal, but I do try. This year I've sent out or have been sent (this means an editor contacted me about a project) 27 eggs. Currently, I've had 8 eggs hatch. I have three wobbling, but to put this into perspective, in 2003, I sent out 52 eggs, had four major wobbles and then one editor turned me down and the other three quit their jobs (not kidding) to go somewhere else (to make money, I presume). In 2004, I sent out 52 eggs, and 2 hatched. In 2005, I sent out 45 eggs and 11 hatched. Please note that I'm counting all hatched eggs regardless of size -- some eggs hatched were very small projects and some eggs hatched were much bigger ones. I can imagine that some years one egg will be all I am able to handle, but that would be a very big egg.

I did work for many years on my perfecting my craft. I made my first submission in 1995 and sent out a couple hundred rotten eggs from 1995-2003. In those years I was too lofty to have an egg goal; I couldn’t be bothered with details like grammar; I certainly didn’t have to research any houses; I was so brilliant – who could turn down brilliant work like mine. I garnered very few personal rejections with this stellar strategy. I remember crying when an editor wrote “nice” in ink on a photocopy of a photocopy rejection form.

Now I never send out a submission that is not targeting a specific house and editor. (Shh, listen, all over the country, trees are rejoicing at my choice to spare their lives. Editors are also rejoicing.) If I'm sending something out now, I've done my research. I've looked at the publishing house's list of books. I know some books the editor has edited. I've read these books.

I'm also very serious about the craft side of my work. I’ve got oodles of creative talent. I’ve decided talent is about 2 % of what you need. 98 % comes from reading and studying and writing and rewriting. I've taken lots of classes. I've attended many children's writing conferences and done major volunteering for SCBWI (btw, a great way to network.) The good news is I have always loved to read, so that part of the process has always been getting done. I've written enough words that an estimate of the number of words I've written would be painful; suffice to say, the number is way over a million.

My business plan includes professional development and networking. I also attend critique groups and read a novel or 5 picture books a week. On top of that, I devote an hour to marketing every week and write at least 5 days a week. I also have to spend time with other business – submission records, blogging, answering email, etc. These activities are all a part of my business plan. In the beginning, my goals were much more modest.

I continue to procrastinate every day, but I try to limit that to 15 minutes. Some people call this 'staring out the window time' an important part of professional development.

Note: I'm starting to call an egg where the editor calls a blue bird of happiness.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Might be getting a paying gig. This is a blue bird of happiness opportunity. I'm a former Blue Bird. I had a troop and we did cool stuff like tour Burger King and get our hair cut at a hair cutting school. The blue bird is in your backyard even though you are searching the world to find it.

I'm reading a slew of books right now. That's what summer is for, right. I've finished The Fires of Merlin by T.A. Barron. I really like this. It has interesting pacing. Merlin is also a strong charater and I so glad he saved that baby dragon. I'm also reading Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. I like it because I'm laughing and snorting a lot. I've got the Beast of Noor going. The book has a brooding energy underneath the surface and a storyline that begs you to turn the page. I'm in the middle of one more more book -- If I Should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan. I love her storytelling; her books say things that provoke me.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Creeping Forward

My novel project has slowed down for the dog days of summer (100 degrees F yesterday). I'm still getting few hundred words a day, so I'm creeping forward. I can see the end over the hill.

On the egg front, there was some wobble action last Friday.

Writing itself is an act of faith, and nothing else. - E. B. White

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Poetry of the Earth

Here are some images from my Lake Mowich day.

"The poetry of the earth runs through this day.
Like green-gold ribbon and like scarlet flame."
Grace Noll Crowell

Here's some images from my Lake Mowich day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I'm being haunted by play. It all started at The Beast of the Noor party. I was munching tasty fairy cakes and a friendly fairy came up to me and threw petals over my head and spoke a book blessing. After that I pulled a petal out of a bag and a word was written on it in a lost language that could only be translated by the fairy. The word was play. I was charged by awesome Janet Lee Carey to go forth and play. After that I went to church and instead of a regular sort of preacher there was a football player -- Ronnie Harris. And what did he say? You need to get out and play more. So I went for a quick trip to Mount Rainer and Lake Mowich and I took pictures of flowers. But I hadn't played enough. No, not yet.

After that I read from a book of essays because I was shanghaied by a bunch of teenagers, forced to drive them to the marina so they could watch the sun set and then wait as they watched. I opened to a random essay in Writers on Writing, Volume II, a collection of essays from the New York Times. I began to read "A Retreat from the World Can Be a Perilous Journey" by Johnathan Rosen. What did I find?

"Keats referred to the poet's 'diligent Indolence,' a state of suspended activity necessary for creativity. . . Play, after all, is hard work; Anna Freud called play the work of children. And perhaps of writers, too.

Play is work; inside is outside; indolence is activity. One might add that the imaginary is real, and introspection is actually a form of social research. No wonder I have to take a nap from time to time. Eventually one must put aside the paradoxes and the explanations and simply write."

I'm going to watch Star Trek: TNG. All this knocking on my noggin by the Universe is wearing me out. After my Star Trek fix, I'm going play AsoBrain at and then I'm going to read more of Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. Perhaps I'm moving toward 'a satori, a mystical, wordless moment of understanding about Music and life'. I feel unfinished like Hector, still in process. I think I still have time.

After all this play, I'm going to snooze. After that, I will drag my bones to yoga, and then I will stare out the window.

Play really is hard work and writers have to play a lot.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Egg Primer

What the heck is a wobbling egg? This question was recently posed to me by local author Holly Cupala of Brimstone Soup. We chatted at the book launch of Janet Lee Carey's new book, The Beast of Noor. Btw, what a lovely evening! I was thrilled to be there! Anywhoo, here is the egg primer.

An Egg is any book project that I'm working on.

I send out eggs in the mail and then they sit in slush piles.

If an egg wobbles, inflamatory rhetoric has been sent to the author of the egg. This rhetoric includes but is not limited to the following phrases.

We have read your book and are pondering.

We have read your book and you made it to the next round.

I have read your book; I am sending it around for editorial review.

If an egg rocks, incinderary rhetroic has been sent to the author of the egg. This rhetoric includes but is not limited to the following phrases.

We have two projects to choose from and yours is one of them.


Girl, you moved me with that writing.

I can't get your story out of my head!

I will be contacting you in two weeks and will give you decision.

Up to this point there have been WFH hatching eggs, but no trade hatching eggs.

Any hatching egg would be defined as moving beyond the rhetoric and into reality -- i.e. an offer for the egg.

WFH - It's like what happened to Batman and Superman on TV, but this is the writer version.

Trade -- In regency England this was bad, but to writers this is R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Monday, July 03, 2006


I'm really fuzzy today, muddled really. I upgraded computers this weekend. Upgrades are a fortutious advantage of scoring "the not to be named" test. I'm going to give Plumber Girl the last push this month. The predicted six more chapters should be easy, but I have run into a pretty serious timeline problem that I have to decide to ignore in this draft or spend the hours resolving the problem. NOT my favorite part of the process.

Well, I've got to get some holy snappin' going. Write your heart out this week.

I've been thinking about E.E. Cummings for the past couple of days. He's one of the voices in my head.

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.
e e cummings

Monday, June 26, 2006

Spit and Polish

I'm recovering from my weekend hike. The youngest J, my husband and I hiked out to the lighthouse on the Dungeness Spit. I was too lazy to climb to the top of the lighthouse. Perhaps it was the 5 1/2 mile hike on shifting sands, bumpy rocks and lumpy driftwood that stopped me from lugging my frame up that tiny ladder to the see the glorious 5 1/2 miles that I would have walk back across to reach the nirvana of the PT Cruiser. I'm still hobbling around and I haven't touched that blobby blister on the side of my big toe. Well, we saw many seals and many more gulls. We all agreed that walking on dry seaweed was similiar to walking on a carpet of crunched up tortilla chips.

The Spit was Saturday,and on Sunday I polished the wobbing egg; and I sent it rolling this morning, just after midnight, down the internet hill and into the open arms of the waiting editor. I haven't heard if the egg made it yet or if it splatted at the bottom of internet hill. I heard back from the editor; the egg is still in one piece; he's rolled it down another internet hill, and I will find out if it manages not to splat at the bottom of the next hill in two weeks.

I hope everyone is having a holy snappin' week!

My goals:

1. Write those last six pesky chapters of my working project.
2. Send out submissions to magazines.
3. Write an article about writing.

Today I'm totally doing nothing until the return of the teenaged Js. They will be back from summer camp around 4. I expect they will sleep for 24 hours before they will venture out for mass quanities of food and then long telephone/im conversations for another 24 hours.

Last night the youngest J said he would never speak to the boy next door ever again. He couldn't forgive him. It was impossible. This morning they rode bikes for over two hours and then they went swimming.

The great man is he who does not lose his childlike heart.
- Mencius

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's Almost Midnight

Yes, it is. I should be sleeping. I spent the day emailing the entire planet again. I needed WORLDWIDE rights not NORTH AMERICAN AND CANADA. How sad is this? I'm not even sure what rights are, but I've obtained them. Anyone out there want to jump in here and explain rights to me? I'm all ears.

Went to critique group tonight. We read aloud. I wanted to change about 5 words out of several thousand. I didn't have to change the words; I just wanted to do some tweaking. I'm like a car mechanic when it comes to writing. I can't stop myself from opening up the hood and pulling out that carburetor. Perhaps I can ratchet up the idle and improve perfomance. Maybe I should overhaul the engine. What about those CV joints. Someone, where's my socket wrench!

Only in my case, it's all about -- I'm going to layer in one more breath of description. I could pull back a smidgen on the emotional reaction there. Oooh, what about having the sister drop the knife instead of the cat-dog-baby-alien-hybrid clone. Maybe this is just a bit too X Files. Should I rewrite the whole scene in 2nd person? Someone, where's my International Thesaurus of Quotations!

So it's really all most midnight now and I need to snooze.

I hope y'all are having a "holy snapping" week and that noone is eating their way into giant pants!

Quote for the day:

“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
Saint Augustine Ancient Roman Christian Theologian and Bishop of Hippo from 396 to 430. One of the Latin Fathers of the Church. 354-430

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sinuses, rocking the egg, and the end of school.

Hi friends, I'm just overwhelmed this week. No writing happening in a big way. I had to contact museums all over instead. Here's the list: the Louvre, The Boijmans, Rembrandthuis, Boston Museum of Fine Art, The National Gallery, the NationalMuseum of Sweden, and The Pierpont Morgan Library. There are more, but this is a good sample. Museum contacting is related to rocking the egg, so is in an offside sort of way related to writing. I drove for 3 1/2 hours yesterday. The carpool is so grueling!

I hope everyone is snapping! I'm going to snap through some tests this week.

Did I mention my sinuses are totally infected with green stuff?

My thought for the day:

All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.--William Faulkner

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Look Greenly All The Time - A Defense for the Lowly Adverb

Here's a blurb I put on the CW list the other day.
I like my ideas and decided to post it here.

I look greenly at people all the time. I'm coming out of lurking
status because of my passion. Oh, the poor misaligned adverb! I
absolutely, unequivocally believe in this lowly part of speech.
Every writer (except romance writers, ahem, my eyes are shifting
left and right) want to give adverbs the boot out of the English
language. I postulate that said book with gal looking greenly at
hottie was really a romance novel in the thin disguise of a thriller
or perhaps a paranormal action drama, but I digress. Personally, I
love the adverb. They are so friendly, cuddly, and absolutely fab.

Oh, children's writers (and others) stop, cease, and back off your
attack on the wonderfully modifying adverb. I ask you --where would
we all be without adverbs? What would we do during our rewrites? I
think I'd lose sleep if I didn't get to agonize every time I wrote
an adverb and then re-agonize when I got rid of it.
Don't think I haven't sought therapy. Once, I even went so far as to
ask "what the heck is an adverb good for anyway" in a communion of
many learned writers.

"Oh, just get rid of them," one author said greenly. Did I mention I
have a mild case of synthestesia? I digress again. (That's the ADD.)
Well, these learned writers agreed whole heartedly with the author.
How pleasant, an absolute consensus among peers.

I went on an adverb deleting rampage. It went on for days. Until
that fateful day I trotted into Barnes and Noble (I usually hang at
the local independent) and I picked up a stack of similar
aforementioned thrillers and paranormal action dramas (cough, cough,
romances in disguise) and found adverb abuse the likes of which
could not be repeated here. I'm sure coronaries would ensue.The
other thing I noticed was that the stack of thrillers and paranormal
action dramas were all bestsellers. Is there a conspiracy? Is all
this adverb abuse talk to confuse us, to lull us into an adverb
slashing stupor while certain "writers" are raking in the millions?
I don't know, but I'm asking questions, or maybe I should write
romances and be done with it.

Postscript: Where's the adverb love?

Here is a real life incident.

I was standing by a window once and it was raining.
A group of people, not facing the window, were discussing the weather.

"There is a 20% chance of rain," one said.
"There will be sunshine all weekend," another said.
"I'm so glad it's not going to rain today."

"It's raining right now," I said.

"That's not what the weather man said," another said in a superior tone.
"You really should listen to the experts when it comes to complex systems like the weather."
"But look out the window," I said.
"You really should stay more informed," yet another said.

I pointed at the torrential downpour, but the conversation moved on to where they planned to eat lunch. Not one of these people ever looked out the window.

This led me to the best advice I can give writers:

Get out there in the words, in the stories --
don't talk about your craft, know you craft.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Why Didn't I Write Last Week?

Oh, the humanity. I have 4 Js and we are at the end of the school year. Band concert last night. Field day, book club, field trip. Mom, I forgot my rocket in the car can you bring it to me? Mom, I missed the bus, can you drive me? Mom, I have a fever and stomachache and headache. Chunks follow. Mom, my eye is red because I hit myself in the head with a stick; I don't have allergies.

The thing about my excuses is they are genuine. I have spent five hours every day for the last three stuck in the traffic gridlock around Woodinville. It took me an hour and a half to drive 6 miles.

I will now rant about "public transportation". Where is my light rail/subway! I voted for it 10 years ago and the brilliant folks of WA are still thinking about it.

My word count for the from May 22 to June 2: 1300. This is a dismal situation that I am working to turn around. I am sorry all you writing folks. I will try to work this week extra hard. Another round of "the not to be named" test grading is looming. I have 7 more chapters to write to finish the Novel Push of 2006. All cheering is welcomed! Holy snappin' is welcomed! Snap! Snap! Snap!

Here's the consolation prize if you are in the boat of those trying to get it together.

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Emily Dickinson

Monday, May 22, 2006

High Five! Egg Rocks! Goal for May 23-30! One More Week of Holy Snappin'

I really didn't think I had a snowball's chance in hell of making this goal, but what do I know?

Goal May 15-22 completed! 5000 more words. I see the light at the end of the rough draft.

I give special kudos to Brimstone Soup YA author Holly. She wrote half of my weekly goal in one day. I appropriately choke on her dust.

So if you are here for your high five. Here goes.

Hayao Miyazaki feels that you have entered a new dimension when it comes to your work! Congratulations.

Tigger, Pooh, Eeyore and Piglet are overjoyed with your success!

Laurie Halse Anderson enthusiastically high-fives your efforts.

Mr. Rodgers' spirit says it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood and is thrilled with the work that you are doing for children. Trolley also is proud of your hard work.

It was a busy week. I even had an egg rock (way bigger than wobbling).

Keep writing. My goal for week May 23- May 30. 3000 words!

Hey, it's a holiday weekend and it's my 18th wedding anniversary. It's more than quantity; it's dedication.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Goal For May 8-14, Done! Check Out the Holy Slappin'. More Holy Snappin' Ahead!

It's done! 5000 more words for the 2006 novel push! Now I'm read to move forward, holy snapping. Snap! Snap! Snap!

Here's the holy slappin' for everyone who had a goal this week!
Mo Willems says, "Pidgeon is proud of you."
Jane Yolen, author of a gadzillion books, high-fives and is pleased to be your role model!

News is getting around about how hard we are working!

My May 15-22 goal -- 5000 words! Snap! Snap! Snap!

Friday, May 12, 2006

I Just Keep Writing.

I keep writing. I never write as much as I want to, but I usually make my goals. Writing is some silent, lonely business. It's about focusing for thousands of hours for the love of the art. What art? For me, storytelling. It's about not procrastinating. You sit in a chair and out flows one word after another. You do this day after. I keep bottle of Tylenol nearby, because my hips can't take the stress. I have an adjustable table, so I can do some of the work standing up. I never let my wrists touch the keyboard for fear that I will get carpal tunnel syndrome. My first drafts are mediocre, ponderous and riddled with plot holes. I keep writing. In the sum of what I am doing -- this is where the brilliance dwells.

For a long time it's just been me. But times change and somewhere along the road, editors have begun nosing their way into my art. And believe me, after you have sat in a chair for a quadrillion hours, stood on your feet for another quadrillion hours, all so you can write a moving story; you really don't want to hear, "What about that elephant in the first scene?. Are you trying to imply all the people in a certain place near Norway have pachyderms?" Uh, no.

It's a shocking feeling when someone criticizes your work. My first reaction is a long diatribe complaining about how I put this through critique. I read it aloud. I had intent and purpose for every word I wrote. I layered in meaning and kept my eye on language. I cared. Really. And who exactly on the planet would think that all the people in a certain place near Norway would have pachyderms? Dude, my readers are smart, savvy folk. My next step is deleting all my complaints and answering the editor's question. I keep writing.

Editors are another part of the writing process. Do they help? Yep. There's nothing worse than an editor who won't complain. Having someone come at my story with a magnifying glass and sharp, critical eye certainly helps me wake up and smell the coffee. I'll try harder next time. I dig deeper this time. It's all part of the process. I just keep writing.

And stories are told.

Like stones, words are laborious and unforgiving, and the fitting of them together, like the fitting of stones, demands great patience and strength of purpose and particular skill. Edmund Morrison

Monday, May 08, 2006

Holy Slappin' , May 1-7 Goal Achieved! More Holy Snappin' Ahead!

It's finished. 5000 words for the week! Thanks for joining me for week one. I'm gearing up for week two, May 8 -14. 5000 more words.

And here's the kudos for all that holy snappin' this past week.

Here's a high five from Steven.

Mr. Spock says, "Live long and prosper."

Mr. Carle says, "Good job!"

And here is a most holy "amen."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Holy Snappin' , Let's Write! May 1-7, 2006

I'm still in the middle of the big novel push of 2006. Join me, list your writing goal here and next Monday I will post again, and we can do some virtual, high five, Holy Slappin'.

Thanks to Martha Brockenbrough for the great idea! Check out her columns for Encarta and The Mommy Chronicles.

My goal for May 1- May 7 is 5000 words. What is your goal?

Conference Recap

Oh, another writer's conference. One migraine and one painkiller later, I'm ready to start back to business. The 'not to be named test' grading is over and I'm back writing full force.

First, I want to share a conference highlight. The biggest moment for me was a conference session with the fabulous Liza Ketchum. I was moved by her discussion about the power of endowed objects in fiction. It was eye-opening. We all place indefinable value on things. This is not a monetary value, but a value that transcends the physical world. This value is related to deep cores with us all -- positive ones like: faith, hope and love and negative ones like: resentment, prejudice and jealousy. Objects also serve for my favorite writing purpose and that is to drive the language of symbol. We use words to communicate to one another but we also communicate in many other ways and using words to convey other forms of communication is a real 'kick'. Of course there is conversation and thought, but the relating the sacredness of objects is a way to shake those cores in the readers and there is always that intention in the back of my mind. I could go on all day.

Here's my recommendation, if you every have a chance to hear Liza speak, go!

Other fun moments, chatting with the friend of Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman, talking to Janet Lee Carey about loss and redemption and the best of fantasy, having a consultation and then having the person I'm consulting with take a few notes, letting George Shannon know that I hid his Tippy-Toe Chick, Go book because I've read it so many times (+50) to my son. I also met Boring, Mel. He's great!

Karen Cushman shared many great thoughts. Follow a path to books that you are passionate about, don't follow popular opinion. Don't be so afraid of failure. Use 100 percent of what you find. Always remember that being published is out of your hands.

Jennifer Brown, book reviewer for PW, stressed that books should be meaningful. She reminded us that a fresh original voice is always welcome.

Agent Rebeca Sherman encouraged us to take a fresh take on things, to think about having books with living, present parents. She felt you shouldn't follow trends, but write your story. She also felt that forming a book club and reading current books together would help you understand the market.

Well, that's my conference recap.

Here's my thought for the day.

If you will call your troubles experiences, and remember that every experience develops some latent force within you, you will grow vigorous and happy, however adverse your circumstances may seem to be.

John Heywood -- English playwright and poet, 1497-1580

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

SCBWI Conference and Stuff

On Friday, I'm heading out to the SCBWI retreat. It should be cool. I'm very excited. The next day is the conference and should be jazzy. The schedule is here.

My eggs are just silent and still. The doors are not flying open at this point. I've got knock on more doors.

Have a blessed day, Miss J2!

"It's not happiness or unhappiness, it's either blessed or unblessed." Bob Dylan.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Egg Wobbles!

Hey, one egg wobbled!

How cool is my Easter egg?
You can't adjust the screen; it's really pink.
Hey, we didn't have red dye.

"With great power comes great responisbility."

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Gnome Correction and Wobbling Egg Update

Gnomes do not move the furniture at Microsoft. I'm told it is Smurfs and what was I thinking.

Writer is in swirling black hole! What is going on with the wobbling eggs? I mean it's Easter, Universe! The eggs fell silent last Wednesday. An ominous silence, like a dark and stormy night. The kind of silence that makes you start making up stories and feeling paranoid. The kind of silence that leads to an unfortunate number of tortilla chips with salsa. The kind of silence that leads to homemade apple pies made with crisp Braeburn apples. The kind of silence that leads you to say a little prayer that aliens are real and hope that they are going to get you off this blue marble (old Zoom fan). The kind of silence that makes you think that they think your work is cr** and they are too nice to tell you.

Today's quote: From the 1964 classic called Mosura tai Gojira (Godzilla vs Mothra) - Reporter Jiro Nakamura: "I'm not as afraid of Godzilla as I am of the editor... he's meaner."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Random for a Writer's Head

1. Justina Chen Headley's book launch was fab, fab, and fab. Her new book, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies ) is touching, provocative and at the same time comforting.

Quote of the hour: "We are all hapas , in one way or another. Not necessarily half-Asian, but trust me, we are all half-something. Half-good, half-bad. Book Smart, street stupid. Math guru, beach bum. . . Couldn't we all be in the 'check all of the above' category? "

Go read the book!

2. Rembrandt's life is a cautionary tale. Did he have OCD?

3. Computers are enough to drive anyone insane.

4. Try my favorite game -- I love this game.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Key update and driving kids.

We purchased a key to the van yesterday. $106. Progress. Technology.

I drove #2 Son and friend to a Microsoft usability study last night. Did you know that that there are two streets on the Microsoft campus called NE 150th and that Building #117 is North of 520 not South. If you are from this area of the world you know that all the streets are all vaguely (I repeat, vaguely) named after the direction they go and are given a number because we recognize illiteracy and are aware spelling is a severe challenge. I only had one panic attack starting at Building # 40 and ending as I crossed 520 on my way to the second NE 150th. They serve Wilcox chocolate milk at Microsoft. The same milk served at every public school for a million miles. #2 son and friend said this was not a good sign. On to other news, gnomes come in every night on the campus and shift around the furniture. And a worn-out futon was provided for employees just in case they needed a nap. I would be demanding a dorm with a real live bed! And exactly why do the employees have to work 24/7? Employees of Microsoft rise up and unite! Please note, there wasn't a scrap of art work (where's the love?) in the whole building just these fabric cubicle walls that were apparently moving (gnome activity).

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into another world.

I'm procrastinating again. I should be working.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow. ~Mark Twain

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Volunteering, Hayao Miyazaki and Word Count

I volunteered as a first reader for "a not to be named" contest. I can't believe I've been roped into volunteering again. I am way too gullible. Oh, this won't take long, just a few manuscript to whip through. Why don't I ever think through things?

Other news: I finally watched Howl's Moving Castle by a film by Hayao Miyazaki. My review : ***** Brilliant! Hey, there were some problems with the plot but on the whole this was visually riveting. Here's my advice if you're a children's writer or illustrator, and you are not aware of Hayao Miyazaki; go now and rent these three films: Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and Kiki's Delivery Service. Soak it all in.

I need to go get in the daily word count. Currently, I'm at 13078. Any cheering on the Novel Push 2006 is greatly appreciated.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Writing Woes

Here is a real life writing woe. I'm stuck at the halfway point. I have made no progress for two days on my new novel. This is way it is always with writing for me. Stops and starts, moving along and then clunking and then moving along again. Life keeps happening. The track meet, the teacher conference, the grocery shopping. All this juggling makes me feel acrobat. I will do the one thing that always helps a day like this -- read a book. :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Whodunit! (Don't read unless you've read The Mystery of the Lost Keys!)

So let's review the facts. The keys were missing. The likely suspects: Teenaged Son #1, Teenaged Daughter, Teenaged Son #2.

Now let's see if we can find a smoking gun or in this case a smoking pair of blue jeans. If you look closely at the picture below, you will see a key sticking out of the pocket.

The jeans belong to this Robert De Niro wannabe =>

The mystery is solved!

Why was it so tricky? Why didn't Mild-mannered Mom look in the clothes hamper in the first place?

She did not take into account the fact that all teenagers chose 3 outfits every day. The jeans were perfect for an early morning trip to the van, but not "cool" for the ultra fab folks in IB English.

Hence Teenaged Son # 1 returned the still pristine jeans to the clean clothes pile by the dryer. Ahhhhh.

Novel Push and The Mystery of the Lost Keys

The Novel Push 2006 is in full swing now. I'm approaching the halfway mark and should reach it today or tomorrow.

And for your reading pleasure - now time for a mystery: The Mystery of the Lost Keys

This morning Mild-mannered Mom did the whole incredible Hulk thing.

"Don't make me angry. You won't like me when I'm angry," says Dr. Banner aka Bill Bixby and later aka Eric Bana .

It was 7:40 a.m. and time to take the Teenaged Daughter to school. But the keys were not on the hook or on the back-up hook or in the dish in the kitchen or in the refridgerator under the luncheon meat or in the underwear drawer or caught in the springs of the couch -- none of the usual places. Where were the keys? By 8:15 there was still no sign of the keys. Mild-mannered Mom was slowly transforming into Raving Lunatic Mom. Tears streaming down her face, a call was made to Programmer Dad at work.

Programmer Dad says, "I don't know where the keys are. Have you looked in the van?"

Raving Lunatic Mom's answer included the words freaking and crap. The rest is unprintable because this a G rated blog.

Needless to say the search continued until 9 a.m.

"Teenaged Daughter, you are already 1/2 hour late for school," says Raving Lunatic Mom.
"You must walk."

Teenaged Daughter's eye twitches, but shortly afterwards, Teenaged Daughter leaves on foot on a two mile trek to school with a note from Mom -- "The keys to the van disappeared." Mom thinks she hears vague mumbles from Teenaged Daughter about how as a poor misunderstood child she had to walk two miles in the snow to get to school, forced to do so by her Raving Luantic Mom. Mild-mannered/Raving Lunatic Mom looks outside. It's not snowing and it is a balmy 38 degrees.

Cleaning crew arrives at 9:30 a.m. The crew finds the loss of car keys amusing and suggests that such impossibly lost keys must have an explanation that includes the behavioral patterns of teenagers. The cleaning crew promises to look for the keys as they clean.

Programmer Dad calls at 10 a.m. and says he felt a mysterious "puff", he repeats,"puff" of cold air this morning in kitchen, indicating someone went out to the van before Mild-mannered/Raving Lunatic Mom got up.

More teenagers are consulted about the missing keys. How many teenagers are in this house, anyway? The official count currently is 3, but this number fluctuates with the migratory habits of afterschool highschoolers and jr highschoolers.

It is determined that the last person to touch the keys was a teenager, but that teenager swears that the keys were returned to "the hook" or was it "the shoe box" or was it "somewhere in the dark cavernous wilderness aka their bedroom." Raving Lunatic Mom grabs a trash sack and ventures into the cavern. A blackened cookie from last Thanksgiving and the last of the Christmas candy were located, but still no keys.

By noon many things have been found - two flashlights, the missing set of ceramic bowls, $12 in change and 14 spoons (two were in the springs of the couch). And on a high note, the last of the outdoor Christmas decorations have been put away. But still no keys. Programmer dad has resigned himself to taking a sick day and drives to the highschool to ask Teenaged Son #1 if he has the keys.

By 1:00 p.m. there are still no keys, but Raving Lunatic Mom has turned back into Mild-mannered Mom. She does purchase a slice of German chocolate cake at Top Foods. Chocolate therapy is recognized world round for its mental health benefits.

It is currently 2:58 p.m. and still no keys. It has been determined that for $300.00 the key can be replaced if a tow truck is procured to take the Van to the dealership. Let us bow down to the ingenuity of Toyota's engineers. What progress! A key that used to cost $1.50 now cost $300.00 . You're awesome powers overwhelm me.

Will the keys ever be found? Tune back in for updates and the amazing conclusion to The Mystery of the Lost Keys.

From Nancy Drew:

“This affair must all be unraveled from within.” She (Nancy Drew) tapped her forehead. “These little gray cells. It is ‘up to them’- as you say over here."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Novel Push 2006, Way To Go, Louise!, and Wobbling Egg Update.

The Novel Push of 2006 is in full swing. I anticipate completing a rough draft by the end of April. It's a good feeling.

Want to read a good book? I keep telling everyone this, but here it is again. Try Louise Spiegler's The Amethyst Road. She was just nominated for the newly minted Andre Norton Award (YA category of the Nebulas) by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Kudos to the SFWA folk for recognizing this worthy book. I'm rooting for Louise. Her book is brilliant, and I now really want a necklace with charms so I can give them away one by one. I am connected to this world, in love and hate, too, and know I must always give. I think I'm a gypsy at heart.

On to my wobbling eggs, I have heard nothing.

A watched pot never boils.- mid 19th century

Sunday, February 26, 2006

More Inspiration and Stuff

I went to the Western Washington University 3rd Annual Bond Children's Literature Conference this weekend. Wow! Amazing! Laurie Halse Anderson is just as "real" as I thought she would be. She was a fun speaker and fab fab fab story teller. I'm a mad woman in the woods, too, so I could absolutely relate. Next up, it was Deborah Wiles. Let's give a hand to those Mississippi roots! Oh, there is some kind of cosmic connection between me and Deborah. She seems a bit more driven than me, but just as connected to place. She made me think about my connections. I grew up going to Nanih Waiya. My ancestors sprang out of the earth there. That was their beginning. It's nice to know that's where it all started. Next up was Jon Agee. I hope I figure out how to stay young in my heart like him. He felt like a kid. I don't think I've ever seen anyone so in touch with the inner child as this guy.

Well, I continue to live a really cool life and my cool quote for the day is:

Greek poet Pindar (522-443 B.C.)

He who this morning smiled, at night may sorrow;
The grub today’s a butterfly tomorrow.

(Odes of Condolence)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Scoring, the Surface and Fatigue

I'm grading tests right now. I score a certain "not to be named" college placement test to help support my writing business. It does help, but it strips the creativity out of me. I'm supposed to have all this power and freshness after I've put in a full day's work.

Enough whining, I'd like to muse for a minute. I'm looking at the surface of writing right now. I lean toward the onion theory of story. Stories are layers. You keep adding layer after layer of character, plot, setting and then you have a book. Here's something weird to me; I don't really keep my eye on the depths of the novel -- theme, imagery, voice. My writing is about the details and that is where I find the saying "God is in the details" really working for me. I think of this like Michelangelo's work. He's got this piece of marble and he knows that David is inside it. He begins to sculpt and eventually the thing he saw in the beginning appears. I wonder if he really saw the finished project in the beginning. I see a mess of evocative, unconnected ideas. For me, in the beginning, story bubbles forth as a glorious muddled confusion, and then over time, it starts to have a definite shape. Later, toward the end is the deep magic, like when the Secret Garden starts to do its thing. And then finally I reach revelation. It is here that I realize the limitation of story; it's finite boundaries. A story is a surface, simple like a ball or complex like a coastline. We humans are the one's that set boundaries. We write beginnings and ends. There is artifice to this. The good writer tries to leave the doors cracked open a bit. There are really no beginnings and no ends. I love it when a writer makes me believe that this character went on and lived a "happily ever after" life or at least an interesting life. It's a joy to create a surface.

I working very hard right now and I'm feeling conflict between the creative process with every day life.

Trifles go to make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
Italian architect, painter, & sculptor (1475 - 1564)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Novel Push, Lost MS, Terrible Horrible No Good VERY Bad Day and Buzz

I'm about to start the 2006 novel push. It's the time of the year where I write another rough draft that I will pick at for the next few years. I'm have a bit of trouble narrowing the focus this year. I am almost to the point where I'm going to flip a coin.

I lost an entire ms this week and had to rewrite the thing! I can't believe I didn't save the thing, but that is the only logical conclusion. My programmer husband, "SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!"

Read my Verla Kay post to find out about my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I'm told I might win free books if I buzz about this :

Lauren Barnholdt has an upcoming chat at .

Here's the info:

Next Thursday evening, February 16, 2006
Lauren Barnholdt's Guest Chat beings at
9-11 p.m. Atlantic/ Canada
8-10 p.m. Eastern
7-9 Central
6-8 Mountain
5-7 Pacific

Go check it out, O tech savvy ones.

I'm off to watch Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were Rabbit!

"Gromit, that's it! Cheese! We'll go somewhere where there's cheese!" - Wallace

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My Starry Night in Crayon

So here it is by request. My Starry Night drawn at the MoMa and brought to you in living crayon!

New York, New York

I'm back from my New York trip. I had the best time ever. I saw Hairspray. It was lots of fun, but I was still on Seattle time. I went to the MoMa. Whoa. There is this black tunnel and you walk down it and at the end is this surreal red twilight room. I sketched Van Gogh's The Starry Night and the guard in the room said I had done the best job he'd ever seen anyone do. -- for an amateur, of course. BTW I only want a little bit of the Van Gogh mojo.

Museum Highlights -- I love Piet Mondrain. Here's my personal fav -- (Dutch, 1872-1944), Composition in Oval with Color Planes . I also love Georges-Pierre Seurat. Especially Port-en-Bessin, Entrance to the Harbor,1888, oil on canvas; this linked photograph doesn't even began to capture the ethereal light on this canvas. It's the world as it should be.

I met David Almond!!!! Rejection is Nowt! I'm holding that in my heart.

Cool chats with many great authors. Carol Snyder, thanks for the illuminating and nurturing conversation. You always bring me back to the heart and soul of children's books. Greg Fishbone has a book on the way. I was able catch a glimpse of Septina Nash -- very cool. A new bride, a new agent, a new book; he's having a very good year. Hello, to Sandy and Liz, Highlights 2005 alum. It was good to see you.

Thanks SCBWI for the best panel discussion I have ever heard. To pull in the publishers of Scholastic, Penguin and Randomhouse all at the same time, mucho illuminating. Brilliant.

I want to say more, but that will have to be later.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Fine Art of Procrastination and Snoozy Books

Blobby is my word for today. I continue my war on this today by dragging my personal collection to my yoga class. I will also be writing in my blog today. For some reason I feel the need to vacuum and shampoo the stairs. I am supposed to pack for NY today, but I'm really not leaving until tomorrow. I think I need to go to Target, too. Aren't my library books due back? Oooh, I have a bibliography to type. I have not typed my conference notes from the last conference I went to, and American Idol is on tonight. Oh, the things I can think to do!

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. ~Spanish Proverb

I have a problem with my current read. Every time I open this book, I snooze. I'm not going to name the book because I write books and I know how hard that is and honestly this book is well written; it just makes me snooze. I'm not sure why. I'm up to chapter 4. Last night I couldn't get to sleep, and the lightbulb clicked on; I grabbed the book and was out in 10 minutes.

I have found this current trend with a whole host of fantasy books I've read recently. I get through them eventually. Some I actually like, but I still snooze.

Wobbling eggs are driving me nuts!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wish You Were a Fly on the Wall?

I had lunch and a great chat with Peggy King Anderson this week. Peggy is my ultimate writing mentor. She's read my books, given me feedback countless times and basically led me to the voices of two of my books. Today we talked about how to create fiction -- of how to be truly inside the character and retain a detailed viewpoint at the same time. We both shared how we utilize details to strengthen story.

We also discussed the value of story journaling. She does this on paper. I just walk around talking to my characters, probably scaring the neighbors. We also talked about not wasting a secondary character. I think the consensus is that great stories don't have cardboard placeholder characters in the secondary or even tertiary positions.

We discussed the danger of defeating yourself mentally by worrying about not making as many sales as peers or not keeping the submission mill at high speed. The idea was to be yourself.

Brings me back to my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Crabtree.

"Molly, be yourself, but don't talk so much." Mrs. Crabtree.

BTW, Eggs keep wobbling.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Rebus Writing, NY, Eggs Still Wobble.

I'm working on a rebus story for Highlights. I love to retell folktales. They are old stories -- bare bones, echoing ancient truth. Just love them.

Yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with a friend. I got to thinking about my motivation to write. Telling stories is what keeps me sane. I could not face the trials of life without telling stories, without remembering how it was, without wondering how it will be. There is something about telling a story that heals, helps us move on, let's us understand.

I had another provocative question in the email yesterday. When do stories begin? I've thought about it. Once upon a time in a galaxy far-far away is a good way to go. I've looked at hundreds of first lines of novels I am convinced there is a toolbox of techniques to start a story. A combination of setting, character and conflict is the general plan. More on this later.

I'm ramping up for the Mid-winter SCBWI conference! And BTW, the eggs are still wobbling!

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

Thank you, Chris Martin. Kudos to Coldplay.

Life is funny sometimes.

I'm not really a big Coldplay fan. Basically Chris Martin is that guy who married Gwyneth Paltrow and has a daughter named Apple. I've listened to one Coldplay album. It had been left in the CD player by one of the teenaged Js. I liked it. Coldplay seemed to care about real stuff.

So here's the deal, my daughter is a struggling high school student. I noticed an ad in the paper about a Coldplay concert. My daughter had worked hard in school and managed to pass all her classes. Her dad scored some cheap tixs and took her to this concert.

Chris Martin sang "In My Place." (Though no one is entirely sure because of general excitement. ) Mr. Martin danced across the entire Key Arena and put a arm around my daughter while singing his song. It was just the kind of boost she needed. Thank you, Chris Martin and kudos to Coldplay.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Great Reads

Kudos to Janet Wong. Her school visit at my son's school today was just fab. I loved her writing workshop for kids. Janet is a very calm and precise speaker -- I thought she was perfect with the kids. Ooh, I commanded my "Year of the Dog" to let a dog have her day! I say!

I read Run If You Dare by Randy Powell today. I just love Randy's writing. He's fantastic. He's written so many great books. Run kind of freaked me out, like he struck about 1000 chords inside me with this one. He like so gets Seattle. He so gets life. Go get his books!

BTW - the eggs continue to wobble.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ouch, ouch, ouch.

I love lists!

My list of stupid recent stuff.

Endured the indescribable pain of watching the Lion King for 1,000,000th time. Maybe I'm exaggerating but it doesn't feel like it.

I endured the indescribable pain of watching the Lion King for 1,000,000th time, while waiting to see the doctor for two hours.

I'm teaching a teenager how to drive.

Catch 22. I have to drive teenagers every day wherever they want to go. Keeping the natives happy is important!

I found a mysterious trail of paper that led through the neighborhood to my house. Never a good sign.

(Unrelated event) Our septic system had a problem. (No words could express the absolute horror of this event.)

Enough stupid stuff. Why ouch, ouch, ouch? I'm sitting on pins and needles and it's top secret. A person should never count chickens before they hatch. I can say that I've got an incubator and the eggs are wobbling.

BTW, let me know the stupid stuff happening to you.

It's a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand. Madeleine L'Engle