Thursday, May 31, 2007

I'm Back

I'm back from a fun-filled family vacation. We went to LA -- Disney, Universal Studios and every museum we could possibly squeeze in -- the Getty, LA Art Museum, the La Brea Tar Pits. I will post marvelous artwork if I can find the USB cable.

I'm back to writing passages. Today's topic? Camels. I'm excited about that. Who knows what will be next!

I read books during my vacation. I finally finished Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey. This book made me squirm, shiver and shake. A girl who is part dragon. A poppy-addicted Mom. Did I mention a whole clutch of Dragons? Yes, go read it now. The first Newbery contender I've read this year.

Next up is Judy Gregerson's book, Bad Girls Club. This one uses POV to chilling effect. It's one of those uncomfortable, makes you think, shift in your seat, reevaluate the way you respond to the world books. Kudos.

I've been thinking about what comforts us. My list is short: my kids, mashed potatoes, books, and letters.

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. C. S. Lewis

I have a shelf of comfort books, which I read when the world closes in on me or something untoward happens. Anne McCaffrey

Like Anne, I keep a box of comfort books under my bed. What's in the box? The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander, Collected Poems by Emily Dickinson, The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle, The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, Three Against the Witch World by Andre Norton, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, The River by Gary Paulsen, Miracles on Maple Hill by Virgina Sorensen, Among the Impostors by Margaret Peterson Haddix, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Chaos by James Gleick, Moon Have You Met My Mother by Karla Kuskin, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card, Austenland by Shannon Hale, The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg, The Amplified Bible.

What are your comfort books?

We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile. Earl Nightingale

Friday, May 18, 2007

Lloyd Alexander ( January 30, 1924 -- May 17, 2007)

I never met Lloyd, but he is one author who reached through the pages of books and whispered, "anything, dear, anything is possible". I can remember like it was today. I didn't fit in school. I was flunking several of my classes and felt worthless. My parents had gone out of town, and I had to get up every morning and milk this ornery goat. I felt as lowly as an Assistant Pig Keeper and just as frustrated, but I knew Taran and whispered against that goat's belly. "Even Assistant Pig Keepers have worth and they might have fight great battles. They might go to far away places. They might be royalty. They might rule a kingdom someday."

I curled up with the Chronicles every night. I'd read all the books over and over again until the spines cracked and then the pages came loose and I kept them together with a rubber band. I didn't have any direction. I thought I would never go to college. I would never amount to anything. A dim light at first, and then brighter and brighter -- I mattered. I would make a difference. I would have a wonderful life. I had a purpose. I had a destiny.

I'm never going to be able to give the honor due here. His stories have served as a guiding star for me.

Dona Nobis Pacem.

Lloyd, thank you for your hard work, for your labor of love.

Angelorum te suscipiat. Aeternam habeas requiem.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Writing Passages

I'm writing passages, lots of passages. This will be the summer of writing passages. Yay for gigs

So here are my top 10 novel writing passages (ha, ha, I love to play with words).
1. The first novel.
2. The first rejection letter.
3. The second novel.
4. The first signed rejection letter.
5. The third novel.
6. The first signed rejection letter with a personal note.
7. The fourth novel.
8. The first signed rejection letter with a one page personal note.
9. The fifth novel.
10. The first signed rejection letter with a multi-page note.

Let's hope that number 6 is the first signed acceptance letter.

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained."

Marie Curie

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Fav Books

This is a list of some fav books that I loved growing up. I don't hear about these gems much.

The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

I cannot imagine life without this book. I never see this on lists of favorite books and I don't understand it. The book was published in 1965 a year after the year I was born. Ms. Snyder has won three Newbery honors, but I just never hear her name when people talk about fab, fab children's writers. She is one of the greats to me.

This is a story about friendship, mystery, being lost and then finding a place in the world.

From Amazon: Robin was always "wandering off" (her mother's words) to get away from the confusion she felt inside her. It was not until Robin's father found a permanent job at the McCurdy ranch, after three years as a migrant worker, that Robin had a place to wander to. As time went by the Velvet Room became more and more of a haven for her--a place to read and dream, a place to bury one's fears and doubts, a place to count on.

Next up is Miss Hickory by Caroyln Sherwin Bailey

This one won the Newbery in 1947. I loved this book that for me celebrated the natural world.

Miss Hicory was a homemade doll made out of a stick with a hickory nut head, she has adventures, including having her head eaten, wherein she becomes a graft on an old apple tree.

Next up is a series of books that I remember throwing against the wall because I was shocked by what the author had to say. Throwing the book is an odd reflex I have. I have no control over this reflex; it is just something that has happened a few times to me. When I think about my books, I want to write books that are emotionally shocking in that way. This is Margery Sharp's series --The Rescuers, Miss Bianca and the rest.

A little girl that Miss Bianca is going to rescue is chatting to Miss Bianca and then we find out the girl is sitting on human bones; well, I tossed the book across the room.

Here are some other gems:

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill
The Girl in the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Potter
Jack and Jill, Under the Lilacs and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars by Ellen MacGregor
Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Robert Heinlein

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Blaakkey, Conference and Gigs.

First up, I'm an AI fan. Go Blake Lewis! Blake is a homeboy from Bothell, Washington. In true creative style, my daughter, instead of studying, created this awesome rendition of this season's American Idol wannabe Blake Lewis. I received permission from said daughter to snazz up my blog with her wondrous manga.

I have a hard time complaining because I think of the notebooks of poetry I wrote instead of filling out my driver's ed handbook. I think of the times I brought in my Robert Heinlein books and put them in front of my geometry. No, I cannot complain, but I will wince when I see the grades. I winced then, and I'll wince now.

The conference was this past weekend. Much sage advice flooded my mind. I can't even get it all straight yet. I'm a good plotter. That seems to be my strong suit. I apparently need to work on writing technique. I loved Bruce Coville. He's Tigger. I'm Pooh the most, but I can be Piglet and Eeyore and even Rabbit. I'm never Tigger. I loved his ideas about children and their basic need for meaningful work. He pointed out children are now consumers, and that this kind of life has no meaning.

Everyone wants to hear about the editors, so I will mention Abigail Samoun, project editor of Tricycle Press. I thought her 12 steps to creating a picture books were very helpful. She mentioned that her list would appear on her website: . Check it out if you are interested.

Gigs are just pouring in right now. I've almost got all the work I can handle for the next few months. Lots of passages and maybe a book or two are in my immediate future.