Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Prayer 2008

Be
Sing
Waltz,spin
Keep it real
Shout Hallelujah
Look on the bright side
Hear the bells, taste sweets
Hold on to the good, toss out the bad
Enjoy the sunshine, weather the storm
Pray, hope, forgive, redeem, remember love
Help me,
O Lord
Amen


My Christmas doodle:



Here's a blast from the past playlist hit, from 1978, Boney M performing "Mary's Boy."



I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. Charles Dickens

Friday, December 19, 2008

Finesse

This week, I was having a conversation with my author friend Louise Spiegler about what it means to finesse your writing. We discussed that once you have a complex story with believable characters that has gone through several revisions; there is still some room for another pass. Refine your manuscript -- add more depths of character, shades of mood, and complexity of feeling.

This kind of tooling is delicate and will take all your artisan skills as a wordsmith to create the textured kind of writing that rises above and has true meaning. This is a time to experiment skillfully. You must make subtle changes in you word choice to bring life to your work. Refine and manipulate your words with savvy and dexterity. Finesse your work.

I hope this discussion informs your work this week and helps you create a meaningful story, exactly what you want.

I call this week's doodle "Catfish".


Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

This week my playlist hit is "Unwritten" performed by Natasha Bedingfield.



Finesse is the best adaptation of means to circumstances. Thomas Babington Macaulay

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Brave: Laini Taylor

What an inspiring week. I heard fantasy author Laini Taylor, this week at the local SCBWI meeting. She offered all kinds of tips how to keep moving forward with your work. She brings a spirit of play to her work and that was sooo refreshing. Follow that link for hours of inspiring information.

I find it takes tons of bravery to write books. You have to sit in that chair day after, seek out your muses, and toss out fresh, brilliant work (eventually). Either you are crazy or you are on a mission. I'm going with the mission.

So these are my steps to bravery. I bring to mind those times when I was sure of what I was supposed to do. I read my journals and they help me remember how I got here and where I'm planning to go. I leap whenever necessary. I revise when I figure it out. I listen to my friends. I hope extravagantly. And this is my favorite thing - while I'm waiting, I believe.

This doodle is really old and sort of a self-portrait.I think was nineteen-years-old. I'm calling it Green-girl.



This is kinda long, but it was the major playlist hit this week. From Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Somewhere over the Rainbow."




Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

True bravery is shown by performing without witness what one might be capable of doing before all the world. François de la Rochefoucauld

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Words

I've been up before sunrise the last few mornings. Not hard to do when the sun is rising around 8 a.m. I don't know how to describe the morning light of these last few days. Above me the sky almost blinds me with brilliant light blue and the clouds dazzle me with their rosy tint that fades to midnight blue. Today, I imagined if I was looking at everything through rose colored glasses that this would be exactly what it would look like. All the colors were such rich hues. I feel this wealth that beyond any monetary system, the wealth that is my right for watching the sunrise.

The sunrise stirs something deep within me, something ancient, something down in core of what makes me human. This elemental connection with the world is part of storytelling for me. The connection creates a hunger in me to reveal the natural world and our place in it. The morning light make me aware of deep core things that bind us together with our world and our sun -- I've always been aware of these things, maybe more so as a child than now, but I've always felt this need to respond to, to praise, to give thanks, to shout at, to imagine, to find the right words for the world around us.

This awareness draws me into words, into a need to find the right words to capture this "sudden drown of knowing". I borrowed this phrase from my dear friend and the wonderful poet, Katherine Grace Bond. You might want to check out her poetry. Regardless, I hope you take time today to find the right word.

I call today's doodle "Olympics from Dungeness Spit".



I'm a adding this little feature go my blog -- my current playlist hit for the week. This week the playlist hit comes from Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte -- "A Beautiful Place."



One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.— Jack Kerouac

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Winners of the Golden Coffee Cup

Hi folks, it's time to announce the winners of the 2008 Golden Coffee Cup! Everyone is a winner who participates, but only four take home that steaming cup of hot java and the coveted golden coffee cup award! Here's this year awesome graphic!




This year the four winners are as follows:

Julie Reinhardt -- She finished up her whole cookbook project. This is Julie's first win since she received "Most Improved" on the soccer team her freshman year in high school. Snap! Snap! Snap!

Kjersten Hayes -- She fell behind, almost gave up, and then kicked into gear, finishing her goal!!! Snap! Snap! Snap!

Trudi Trueit -- She felt like giving up, but kept on going, and in the end reached the spot where there was no going back !!! Snap! Snap! Snap!

Lois Brandt -- She was also a Nanowrimo participant and wrote all 50,000 words of her next novel. She also lead an intrepid group to the same glorious goal. Snap! Snap! Snap!

If you are a winner and didn't make it to Seattle Kid-lit Drink night, email me your address and I'll pop your graphic and java in the mail!

Thank you all for participating. Special thanks to the talented Holly Cupala who offered her special cheer leading skills to this year's Golden Coffee Cup and made the journey way more cool! I hope the warmth of inspiration has gotten a fire going inside you. Have fun creating! See you next year. Until then check out my weekly posts with original doodles, crafts tips, marketing stuff, and, yes, more inspiration. Seize the day! Molly:)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 30 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Huzzah! Hooray! Hurrah!

Snap! Snap! Snap!

This is it, folks. It's been the best of journeys. We've had ups and downs. We've had high five galore and holy snappin'. This month has been an amazing trip. I've enjoyed the fine company -- the spirit of camaraderie. You have till midnight tonight to post how it went, and I'll post the winners tomorrow. :)

Our last smelling the roses high five comes from the inspiring Helen Keller.



I choose Helen because she feels like a friend to me, and she's kept my eye on the possible impossibilities that surround us.

Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourself a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Helen Keller

I hope I see you tonight.

Last of all, think about attending the Seattle Kid-Lit Drink Night.

"Did you do Molly Blaisdell’s Golden Coffee Cup Challenge? NANOWRIMO? Did you make any kind of writing and/or illustrating goal in November?

If you hit the jackpot…if you plodded along…even if you didn’t take a single step…come to celebrate and hang out with your peers at our own Kidlit Drink Night! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar. Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards (Don't worry if you're from out of town, you don't have to be present to win.)"

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 29 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Perspicacity

Hey, folks, things are winding down. You need to post how you did with your goals to be eligible for the "real" coffee award. Click the Golden Coffee Cup link for more info.

Today's hot cup of java high five comes from the a youthful version of the extremely talented Randy Powell.


Randy brings acute mental vision to his work. Few authors can bring such clarity and flow to their storytelling. Randy has powerful narrowed focus, writing about the world he knows -- the Northwest. His writing perspicacity reveals a razor sharp mental awareness of what makes a great story.

The thing I've really gotten from Randy's stories is that entrance into the teen cognition space. I always get the sense while reading his books that there is nothing happening that is not purposeful, layered, and wrought with meaning -- every word, every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter, a unique crafted synthesis.

His most recent title Swiss Mist is another strong addition to his impressive body of work. His books tend to be fine-crafted gems and Swiss Mist is no exception. If you want to really get a look at what it takes to create a cohesive novel, you want to go give Randy's titles a close read. Overall, be purposeful as you create. Don't cut corners. Seize the day.

My breakthrough in writing came when I learned to look inside myself and write about the things I cared and felt deeply about. Randy Powell

Last of all, think about attending the Seattle Kid-Lit Drink Night (I'm pretty sure that Douglas Adams would have been all in for an event like this)...

"Did you do Molly Blaisdell’s Golden Coffee Cup Challenge? NANOWRIMO? Did you make any kind of writing and/or illustrating goal in November?

If you hit the jackpot…if you plodded along…even if you didn’t take a single step…come to celebrate and hang out with your peers at our own Kidlit Drink Night! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar. Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards (Don't worry if you're from out of town, you don't have to be present to win.)"

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 28 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Live and Live

Hey, folks, things are winding down. You need to post how you did with your goals to be eligible for the "real" coffee award. Click the Golden Coffee Cup link for more info.

Today's high five is artistic paintbrush to the palette on from children's illustration legend, Wanda Gag.


This talented creator of Millions of Cats, Wanda is one the first modern children's book illustrators. She has an inspiring story and had to overcome some real stuff. Wanda was 14 when her father passed away. She had to step up and be the family's bread-winner. She took writing and illustrating jobs to support her family. She helped her six sibling through school and finished school herself. Wanda was one tenacious, hard-working gal. She produced books for her entire life.

Let's move on with our work with some of that Wanda tenacity today.

Here is Wanda's motto. Perhaps you should have a motto, too.

My Own Motto—Draw to Live and Live to Draw. Wanda Gag (Age 17)

Last of all, think about attending the Seattle Kid-Lit Drink Night (I'm pretty sure that Douglas Adams would have been all in for an event like this)...

"Did you do Molly Blaisdell’s Golden Coffee Cup Challenge? NANOWRIMO? Did you make any kind of writing and/or illustrating goal in November?

If you hit the jackpot…if you plodded along…even if you didn’t take a single step…come to celebrate and hang out with your peers at our own Kidlit Drink Night! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar. Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards (Don't worry if you're from out of town, you don't have to be present to win.)"

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Day 27 of The Golden Coffee Cup: Thanksgiving

I'm so thankful for my family: my sweet husband, my three awesome sons, my darling daughter, my two sisters, my dad, and my mom. Today's high five is a hug from my sweet mom. She passed away several years ago, and every holiday I feel lost with out her. She was an artist, horticulturist, a poet, and completely creative soul. I'm so thankful that she felt that writing was important work.



I offer one of her poems.

Family Reunion

In a wind so crisp, you taste every bite
the snow geese come on a blue norther
And coast in as the the setting sun
lays its cold, gold hands on
them. They suspend above
the ground, drop down,
and turn into
geese

A joyous family reunion is under way
Food is good, accommodations great
It sure is good to see everyone
All the geese talking at once
A Super Bowl of
sound

Then from the far side of the field
something starts the geese up
An upside down snowstorm
rushes across the field
a wall of sound
goes ahead

They erupt into the sky and then subside
The alarmists who started it all
circle and come back to land
A few stragglers sidewind
off to the south
The party
starts
now


People and love, really one subject, and I believe the only one worth writing about.

Lera Lee Kelly Barlow

Last of all, think about attending the Seattle Kid-Lit Drink Night (I'm pretty sure that Douglas Adams would have been all in for an event like this)...

"Did you do Molly Blaisdell’s Golden Coffee Cup Challenge? NANOWRIMO? Did you make any kind of writing and/or illustrating goal in November?

If you hit the jackpot…if you plodded along…even if you didn’t take a single step…come to celebrate and hang out with your peers at our own Kidlit Drink Night! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar. Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards (Don't worry if you're from out of town, you don't have to be present to win.)"

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day 26 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Crichton

Here we have an elegant high five from the late Michael Crichton.



Michael wrote many evocative books and was a YA author to me because every teenager I've ever known has read his books. Let's just call it cross-over appeal. Anyway, Micahel wrote the Andromeda Strain, a book I read back in 1979 or so. This story is a riveting disaster, and, in a big way, it forever turned the alien invasion story up on a tippy corner.

Good stuff, folks, and an inspiration to me. I create description dense worlds because Mr. Crichton took the time to write complicated, fully-realized stories. I'm going to miss those "alien invasions" and "dinosaurs gone amok" moments -- really going to miss them.

Here are some most excellent journeying thoughts from Michael:

I think people put too much emphasis on the "idea" behind a story, anyway. First of all, there isn't just one idea in a story, there are lots of ideas. And second, an idea by itself isn't worth much until you do the work necessary to get it down on paper. And in the course of doing the writing, the idea often changes. It's similar to the difference between having an idea for a building, and actually constructing the building. The building often turns out differently from the original plan or intention.

Yah, pretty much. Creation is about the work. Real creators are putting in the hours and that's just the way it works.

Here's another little bit from Michael: I experience a lot of doubts when I am working; I never feel confident. About two hundred pages in, I decide the book's no good, and it was a mistake ever to begin it. And I think there is no way to fix it, and I am generally miserable…If I tell my friends about these concerns, they just say, "Oh, I'm sure you'll work it out." This is very irritating.

Ain't this the truth. I'm on page 215 of my WIP, and I can tell you, I'm thoroughly miserable. My friends are also sure I'm going to figure it out. This is also wholly irritating. LOL.

Last of all, think about attending the Seattle Kid-Lit Drink Night (I'm pretty sure that Douglas Adams would have been all in for an event like this)...

"Did you do Molly Blaisdell’s Golden Coffee Cup Challenge? NANOWRIMO? Did you make any kind of writing and/or illustrating goal in November?

If you hit the jackpot…if you plodded along…even if you didn’t take a single step…come to celebrate and hang out with your peers at our own Kidlit Drink Night! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar. Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards (Don't worry if you're from out of town, you don't have to be present to win.)"

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase).

Questions? Go to Holly Cupala's blog or ask me. :) Hope to see you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 25 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Absurd

Today's friendly high five comes from the spirit of the hilarious Douglas Adams.



Douglas Adams is the first voice I ever heard that looked around and asked some fairly decent questions. "WHAT? WHY! You've got to be kidding me. What the blankety, blank, blank?(You fill in the blanks.)I remember the pure joy of reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was one of those books that makes you laugh and laugh as you turn the pages. Adams was my literary guide to the absurdity of life.

That's it, folks. There are these absurd moments in life, like yesterday morning when I was reaching for my cup of tea, and my laptop was sitting on an uneven surface. I hit my computer with my elbow. As I turned back from the tea to steady the laptop, I moved too fast and my computer tipped up and smashed against my lip. My lip began to bleed. I didn't know if I should laugh or cry. Another similar kind of moment, I used to love to drive to town. There was the intersection where I would stop and on clear days see a beautiful view of the Olympics. Now I can see the view of "A Contained Storage Facility." I mean, really.

Mr. Adams gave voice to this lack of rationality and order that surrounds us. I think exploring the absurd can bring vim and vigor to our work. You might try that today.

I totally struggled with which video clip to share. I finally settled on this one.



And now some excellent sage advice from a "pretty good" writer:

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
Douglas Adams

Last of all, think about attending the Seattle Kid-Lit Drink Night (I'm pretty sure that Douglas Adams would have been all in for an event like this)...

"Did you do Molly Blaisdell’s Golden Coffee Cup Challenge? NANOWRIMO? Did you make any kind of writing and/or illustrating goal in November?

If you hit the jackpot…if you plodded along…even if you didn’t take a single step…come to celebrate and hang out with your peers at our own Kidlit Drink Night! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar. Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards (Don't worry if you're from out of town, you don't have to be present to win. "

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase).

Questions? Go to Holly Cupala's blog or ask me. :) Hope to see you!
Posted by MollyMom103 at 6:00 AM 0 comments

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 24 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Implications

A comforting high-five from Mr. Rogers.




Of course, I get angry. Of course, I get sad. I have a full range of emotions. I also have a whole smorgasbord of ways of dealing with my feelings. That is what we should give children. Give them ... ways to express their rage without hurting themselves or somebody else. That's what the world needs. Fred Rogers

I hope that you explore many ways of dealing with feelings with your craft today and in the days to come. For me, books were the key. I learned to navigate my emotions in the pages of books. I hope you take your work seriously and give it the time and attention it deserves. Think about the implications -- your work is going to steady the future of many children. If you don't do it, some child might be less. That ought to light a fire under you.

Here's a little message from one of my life-long friends (I didn't really know Mr. Rogers; watch the video and you will get it.)



Last of all, think about attending the Seattle Kid-Lit Drink Night...

"Did you do Molly Blaisdell’s Golden Coffee Cup Challenge? NANOWRIMO? Did you make any kind of writing and/or illustrating goal in November?

If you hit the jackpot…if you plodded along…even if you didn’t take a single step…come to celebrate and hang out with your peers at our own Kidlit Drink Night! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar. Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards (Don't worry if you're from out of town, you don't have to be present to win. "

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase).

Questions? Go to Holly Cupala's blog or ask me. :) Hope to see you!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day 23 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Dreams into Reality

Today's high five comes to us from Dr. Jonas Salk, the doctor and researcher who developed a vaccine for poliomyelitis:



I think that you might be surprised to find that a brilliant scientist has so much to say to those who create children's books. For me, the divide between artist and scientist is almost invisible in terms of creative work.

Dr. Salk said, "An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's. "

Your work must be your own. There is a time to listen to other voices, but there is also time to move away from all the noise and shoot for the illusive perfection that only you have eyes to see.

Another thought from Dr. Salk, Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.

Think about this. Those dreams rolling around in your head in the morning, those daydreams that you slip into while staring out the window, that's the cauldron that brings our imaginations to life; that's the birth place of hope in our soul. Open up to your dreams today. Open up to your to the full brunt of your imagination.

Here's another thought from Dr. Salk, I have had dreams, and I've had nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams.

All those voices in your head that try to convince you that you'll never finish this, it's a freaking waste of time. All the nightmares that haunt you, you will rise above them all because of your dreams. Dream on, Golden Coffee Cuppers. Dream on.

Here's one more Dr. Salk quote:
I pictured myself as a virus or a cancer cell and tried to sense what it would be like.

You have to do the same thing to write a book, how weird is that? You must slip inside your characters and sense what they are like, what their world is like. Take some time today and get inside your characters. Picture you in the center of the story, become the wombat, princess, foundling, baby, alien, kid, dinosaur, owl etc. This is will help you steer a clear course through the creation process.

I could go on, but again sleep is sounding like a fab idea. Turn your dreams into reality, folks. Let me know how it goes. SNAP! SNAP! SNAP!


Last, you've marked your calendars for a meet-and-greet, here's the info:

Seattle Kid-Lit Drink Night--Did you do Molly Blaisdell’s Golden Coffee Cup Challenge? NANOWRIMO? Did you make any kind of writing and/or illustrating goal in November?

If you hit the jackpot…if you plodded along…even if you didn’t take a single step…come to celebrate and hang out with your peers at our own Kidlit Drink Night! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar. Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards (Don't worry if you're from out of town, you don't have to be present to win.

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase).

Questions? Go to Holly Cupala's blog or ask me. :) Hope to see you!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 22 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Kathi Appelt

Today's high five comes from celebrated author Kathi Appelt.



Kathi has written so many wonderful books; she is a voice for the ages. This is a little article I wrote about her take on voice back 2001.

Kathi Appelt—On Voice
By Molly Blaisdell

A little advice from Kathi:

Voice is first found by listening to the language. Write a list of a hundred favorite words. Explore what sounds are appealing and try defining what motivates this appeal. Define personal strengths, passions, and beliefs, and try identifying with a group or place when searching for voice.

Voice occurs when a character has something profound to say. Motivation and need are paramount in developing voice. Voice is only evident in a story if the characters are strong. A character whose problem is too small or solution is too easy will have a weak voice. Voice comes through when characters solve their own problems and reach personal goals. Characters must overcome or reconcile themselves to their own shortcomings. They need to reach down deep and in the end they must win, not to the whole world, but to themselves.

The only way to sustain voice is by revision. Get the story down, and then go back over it later. Read out loud, listen for pacing. Find active verbs. Introduce metaphor and simile. Cut things that really aren’t needed such as too much description. Finally, take time to stare out the window and mull over things. Gifts of voice come from the heart.

This year finally a few people have noticed Kathi Appelt. Her National Book Award Finalist novel The Underneath is an incredible book. The language creates a world full of wonderfications and marvelments. It's my number one pick for the Newbery and yay! Here is a quote about Kathi's process of creating this wonderful book. In some ways this story was like taffy. I kept stretching it and pulling it and stretching it and pulling it some more, and at times pushing it further and further out. Kathi Appelt

See if your work will stretch today, Golden Coffee Cuppers. See if you can pull it. If that doesn't work, try pushing it.

One more thing... on the 30th of this month there is going to be a real life party, Golden Coffee Cuppers. Holly Cupala has a plan:

"Another idea that has captured my imagination and fueled the fire of my goal-reaching is an upcoming party to celebrate the Golden Coffee Cup, NANOWRIMO, and any other writing or illustration goals made and/or accomplished during the month of November, kind of like kidlit drink night except more like NANO-Cup-O-Cake-A-Drink-Lit Night on November 30th.
"

So if you want to come together with some wonderful creative folks, mark the date. More info is coming soon. Post if you want to come. Thanks.

Post you successes too, folks, so I can SNAP!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 21 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Myth Teller Janet Lee Carey

Today we get a relaxed high-five from the inventive myth teller Janet Lee Carey. (BTW, she's a Golden Coffee Cupper. Oh, yay for the company we keep!)

LitArt Photography/Heidi Pettit

Here is an ethereal high five from Janet's book, Wenny Has Wings.



And here is a provoctive high five from Janet's book, Dragon's Keep.




I don't call Janet a story teller, author, or even writer, for me she is the great myth teller of our times. Myth is a pesky concept for scholars, and few can agree about the exact meaning. For me, myths are stories that aren't so connected to the facts but are exploring the inexplicable and the unknowable. These stories dip beyond facts and theories and into that space where facts fail us, and we are left floundering in depths of the metaphysical. Oh, Janet dives fearlessly into these waters. Her characters are ordinary people, but she's always peeling back the veil revealing them as supernatural beings. This sense that we are all simply more. This is the heart of the myth teller.

I return to Janet's books again and again. She seeks the connections between the beginning, the now and the end. There is something deeply functional about her myth telling, challenging our beliefs and core values about individuals, always widening that to the families, friendships and beyond to communities. She totally gets Koinonia - the intimate participation that we have with one another, the fellowship of humanity. I feel her stories cut through the water of mystery and unknown and in the deepest way reveal what is sacred to us all. Yes, she is reconciling the good and the bad, light and dark, meaning and meaningless. Her exploration of what it means to be, diving effortlessly into the mythic questions, “Why are we here?” “Who are we?” “What is our purpose?” etc., for me is deeply comforting. Her stories call her readers to become the best version of who they can be.

I could really go on for pages, but I'm going to stop now because, hey, I've got to sleep sometime.

I hope that you read one of her books, watch for her upcoming titles, expect to be moved out of your current orbit to one closer to the fiery energy of the sun. I hope that you will consider how myth might inform your work today. I pray you may find the sacred in you writing today.

And for Janet, 'cause I know she's reading this. Stay on course.

Most of us have trouble sticking to our writing when it's not going well. This isn't usually due to a lack of creativity, but an unwillingness to hang in there with the ugly stuff, the unpolished prose, the awkward scene with stumbling dialogue; but hanging in there is key. Accepting good and bad material from the subconscious mind keeps the story flowing. Janet Lee Carey

One more thing... on the 30th of this month there is going to be a real life party, Golden Coffee Cuppers. Holly Cupala has a plan:

"Another idea that has captured my imagination and fueled the fire of my goal-reaching is an upcoming party to celebrate the Golden Coffee Cup, NANOWRIMO, and any other writing or illustration goals made and/or accomplished during the month of November, kind of like kidlit drink night except more like NANO-Cup-O-Cake-A-Drink-Lit Night on November 30th.
"

So if you want to come together with some wonderful creative folks, mark the date. More info is coming soon. Post if you want to come. Thanks.

Post you successes too, folks, so I can SNAP!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day 19 of the Golden Coffee Cup: M. C. Escher

Today we get a big artistic high five from the wonderful M. C. Escher.


Hand with Reflecting Sphere * M. C. Escher, 1935 * Lithograph, 31.8 × 21.3 cm

The 'flat shape' irritates me - I feel as if I were shouting to my figures, 'You are too fictitious for me; you just lie there static and frozen together; do something, come out of there and show me what you are capable of!' So I make them come out of the plane. - M.C. Escher

If your work is irritating you and you're shouting at it, there is an easy RX. Your work lacks drama. It lack peaks and lows. It lacks dimensionality. Let your work speak to you. Let your characters speak to you. My characters tell me stuff all the time. I've learned to love the irritation -- being uncomfortable and unsettled. These feelings lead me to my greatest discoveries every time. They indicate a break-through is coming.

So Golden Coffee Cuppers, look at your work. Have you created a flat shape, a work that is static and frozen? If you have, stretch and reach. What are you capable of?

And another quote from Maurits Cornelis: Here’s a deep truth a lot of success is about the magic of tenacity and perseverance. Work every day and don’t worry if it’s not always your best. If you are working consistently that is the better than the best.

Keep working! Snap! Snap! Snap!

One more Golden Coffee Cupper, Katherine Grace Bond. Katherine is a author, poet and teacher. I've read her YA book that is currently making the rounds, and I will say this about it: I stayed up all night reading - riveting stuff. I love books that make me give up sleep. So three cheers for Katherine! Hurrah! Huzzah! Hooray! I hope she is flying toward her goal.

One last thing... on the 30th of this month there is going to be a real life party, Golden Coffee Cuppers. Holly Cupala has a plan:

"Another idea that has captured my imagination and fueled the fire of my goal-reaching is an upcoming party to celebrate the Golden Coffee Cup, NANOWRIMO, and any other writing or illustration goals made and/or accomplished during the month of November, kind of like kidlit drink night except more like NANO-Cup-O-Cake-A-Drink-Lit Night on November 30th.
"

So if you want to come together with some wonderful creative folks, mark the date. More info is coming soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 18 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Originality

Today’s high five come from the cover of Louise Spiegler’s book, Amethyst Road. Yah, this is the German cover.



Louise has another book, The Jewel and Key, coming in the next year or so. I’ve read it and it is wonderful. Louise writes rich stories which have a unique viewpoint and stand out originality. I always have that sense with her writing that this world is a place I’ve never been before. Her story telling is not fettered by anyone’s conventions. This is a singular viewpoint, an original voice.

Today, I’d like each Golden Coffee Cupper to take a little time to think about what sets you apart as a writer. Ask your critique group partners. Then ask yourself, are you using your strengths to their strongest advantage? The answer to this question might put some wind in your sails.

True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision
. Edith Wharton

I’d like to cheer for another Golden Coffee Cupper,Kjersten Hayes. Kjersten is certainly an original! A talented artist with a unique point of view. You can own a piece of her unique work. Check out her site store.

Last up, some major holy snapping. SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! for Holly Cupala. Using the ancient technology of the telephone, she let me know that she added 5000 words to her WIP in one day. No pressure, folks.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Day 16 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Break the Rules!

Today’s high five comes from the multi-talented Steve Augarde. You might like to check out his blog, too. I don’t even like fairies, but I'm so over it with Steve Augarde’s writing. Here is a cover high five from one of Steve's books.



Talk about a master of mutiple POVs, The Various, Celandine and Winter Wood just took my breath away. Steve will dip into any head fearlessly. Oh, he does not care about the rules and yay for him.

So today’s golden coffee cup admonition is that you should go ahead and break that rule that has been troubling you, holding your back, keeping you from doing what you can do! Go ahead. Jump in! Break the Rules.

Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile. UNKNOWN

Time to celebrate another of the Golden Coffee Cupper, Lois Brandt. Lois dwells near the heart of kids and her books show that. Expect thought-provoking titles to spin out of this writer's universe. Yay, Lois!!!! Go, go, finish NANOWRIMO! ;)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 12 of The Golden Coffee Cup: Mistakes

Today's high five come from wonderfully weird Salvador Dali.



His artwork was about taking risks and seeing things in a new light.


Salvador Dalí. (Spanish, 1904-1989). The Persistence of Memory. 1931. Oil on canvas, 9 1/2 x 13" (24.1 x 33 cm). Given anonymously. © 2008 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Dali was not afraid to make mistakes. He seemed to invite missteps. He was searching for the surprises that seem to spring out of chaos.

Don't be afaid today to try something new, something different. Stretch in a way you've never tried before. open yourself up to the possiblities, the happy accidents, and the unpredictable providences. Yes, it might be a mess. It might not work. But today let yourself be wild. You might be surprised at the results.

Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them. On the contrary: rationalize them, understand them thoroughly. After that, it will be possible for you to sublimate them. Salvador Dali

Last, another Golden Coffee Cupper is the talented Mr. Kevan Atteberry. He is the illustrator of the very first Children’s Choice Book Award picture book, Frankie Stein, written by Lola M. Schaefer. His skewed sense of humor is refresing and inspiring. He is certain to create something earth-shatteringly original.

Hey, I know stuff is getting done out there, so SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! Keep going Coffee Cuppers we are almost half-way there.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 11 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Craft

Today's high five is a prayerful one from famed San Ildefonso Pueblo potter, Maria Montoya Martinez. I added a picture of one her sublime pots.




Once upon a time I thought about becoming a potter. I learned to throw pots on a wheel. I also learned hand-building techniques. I studied for two years. I went to the studio for six hours twice a week. It was enough time to learn how to throw a set dishes in a afternoon. It was messy, back-breaking work, but there was a wild joy in you when you pulled four exactly matching plates, saucers, and cups. Then you hoped, hoped, hoped, hoped, there were no hidden flaws that would break them during the firing. Then there was a glorious moment when your friends sat down to a dinner on dishes you actually made. It's a wonderful feeling. I get a similar feeling when someone says I read your book.

Today, I'd like to see all The Golden Coffee Cuppers opening up to the extensive craft of storytelling either with words or pictures. It takes time, practice, revision, tenacity, and just a lot of elbow grease to create wonderful work. Open up to the journey today.

Maria’s six-step process “…finding and collecting the clay, forming a pot, scraping and sanding the pot to remove surface irregularities, applying the iron-bearing slip and burnishing it to a high sheen with a smooth stone, decorating the pot with another slip, and firing the pot."
Susan Peterson, The Living Tradition of Maria Martinez

Last, I thought I add little bits about our Golden Coffee Cuppers. We are in the company of several brilliant writers. Chris and Holly are both in. Now, I'd like to mention Carole Estby Dagg. She has a historical fiction book coming out down the road. It was entitled From Mica Creek to New York City, One Step at a Time. . I'm not sure if that has held, but regardless, watch for her book. I heard a chapter of it a few years ago. Her careful crafting in that chapter was breath-taking. I knew when I heard it, I'd heard something special, something lasting. Kudos to Carole. I hope her new novel is humming!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 10 of The Golden Coffee Cup: Dealing and Holly Cupala

Today's high five comes from one of our brilliant golden coffee cuppers, readergirlz Diva, the divine Holly Cupala. Holly is a shiny author (yea! Firefly fans). Her first book is called A Light That Never Goes Out will be coming soon from HarperCollins. I have already read this book and it is revelatory.

Holly's advice to us today: Keep trying to do the thing you're meant to do. And here is her heartfelt high five:



Holly is the one writer in this universe who makes me a braver, better person for knowing her. She is proof to me that no matter what big and black and bad evil thing the world throws at you, a loving heart can flip that back with joy, healing, and beauty. Yes, she is one of those souls that has walked right through that valley of the shadow of death and made the choice to not fear the evil. On top of all that genius she writes fab books.

I think a lot of people are afraid of their hearts. They don’t want to feel too much. They don’t deal with their stuff. They tend to carry around big burdens that are better off loaded. I know that I’m one of those people. Holly has helped me be brave.

So, today the golden coffee cup mission is simple. Make the first step on the journey to get rid of some baggage you’ve been carrying. That person you’ve been meaning to call, the broken friendship, hurting family stuff, you know what your stuff is…deal with it.

The secret here is that you unencumber mental resources when you deal with your stuff. Dealing will get words flowing, folks. Only carry the stuff you need. Figure out what direction you want to go in and head out. I'm confident you will find your way, folks, trying is most of the battle.

Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the road which lies ahead and those over which we have traveled, and if the feature road looms ominous or unpromising, and the road back uninviting-inviting, then we need to gather our resolve and carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that one as well. Maya Angelou

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Day 8 of the Golden Coffee Cup: ACTION

Welcome to the eighth day of the Third Annual Golden Coffee Cup.

Today's high five comes from a master of action Geraldine McCaughrean, the author of White Darkness and about 140 other books.
Sang Tan/Associated Press

The White Darkness is an action-packed book with so many twists and turns it feels like a roller coaster ride. It moves from England to Paris to the Buenas Aires and then on to Antarctica and that's in the first few chapters. Then the thing really start rolling. It's a tale of survival and how survival brings you down the to the bare bones of who you are. This is what interested me about this book. Threatening your characters life in big fat action scenes can really inject some powerful discovery into a story. On the edge of death, you have the opportunity to investigate visceral feelings and sink the teeth of your story telling into what it means to be human.

Think about how to energize your work with ACTION. What consequence will this action reveal? Keep working on those goals. Post your frustration! Post your successes!

I'm adding a quote from the greatest master of action scenes Jack London. Try to bring something of his spark into your story.

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Day 3 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Author Chris Eboch and Have Fun or Rethink

Hey, Golden Coffee Cuppers. (No clue about The Golden Coffee Cup? Click here.) Writing books is an incredible struggle and early on in our goals, going forward is like climbing a mountain. Let’s give big kudos for Chris Eboch. Chris is a friend, and she’s really hung in there. Here’s a climbing the side of a mountain high five:



Chris is a former participant in the Golden Coffee Cup, proof positive this little event is part of the journey to better things. Look out for Chris’’ new mystery series, HAUNTED, Aladdin, 2009 - ghost whispering for the elementary/middle school set with a splash of TV glamour and brother and sister interaction. Snap! Snap! Snap!

Here’s a sneak peek at the cover of Chris's first book in her new series:



And big bonus, Chris's best writing advice --

Writing is fun. Yes, it's also difficult and sometimes frustrating and emotionally draining. But first and foremost, it should be fun. If it's not, it's time to rethink what you're doing or how you are doing it.

Enjoy the process!


Well, folks, remember expending all this energy is emotionally draining. Take care of yourself! Take some time to rethink if your having trouble having a good time. Let me know how it is going, and I will do some more 'holy snapping'.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Day 1: The Third Annual Golden Coffee Cup Begins

Welcome, Golden Coffee Cuppers!

I'm so glad you've joined my on this exciting creative journey. I predict there will be ups and downs ahead. I feel that you will find your way, though. Snap! Snap! Snap! I applaud your bravery. You have until midnight tonight to post your goal here! Win coffee. Create superior work!

I like to start out the journey with some high fives and spiritual advice from some folks who know way more than me.

First, a cup of tea of high five advice from from Corrie Ten Boom: watchmaker, member of the Dutch Resistance, and survivor of the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible



Next, wisdom and a joyous visionary high five from the Dalai Lama:

With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world.



From Pope John XXIII, guidance and blessing high five.

Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.



From Mahatmas Gandhi, passion and a heartfelt high five.

You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.



From Albert Einstein, wonder and a dream filled high five

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.



From Mother Teresa, heart and soul with prayerful high five.

God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.



Yay for high fives! Have fun creating. Keep checking back for more high fives and inspiration. I will give so holy snaps for your success. I will help you over the bumps in the road.

I'm honored to be journeying with you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Golden Coffee Cup and Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow

Howdy, peeps, another week has come and gone. Be sure to checkout my yearly blog event. The Third Annual Golden Coffee Cup is on the horizon, my answer to the NANOWRIMO idea of writing a book in a month. Yes, I know some of you out there can do it, but I invite all NANOWRIMO folks to consider me the back-up plan. I think it's hard to make any goal and keep it. I think that a picture book draft in a month is beyond awesome! Post you goals on the Golden Coffee Cup page. Join me for wild ruckus, heartfelt inspiration, and a chance to win a real cup of coffee. Click here for goal-setting tips.

We are heading back to 1977. I watched Star Wars over 50 times and Fleetwood Mac came out with a little album called Rumours. That's the first time I heard Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow.. This song has been rolling through my head all week. I like that forward thinking attitude. I think that writers are really into tomorrow. We are writing for the future.

It's a faith leap, folks. The central hope is that your voice will reach out and connect with someone else. So join all the madmen that have walked out into the wilderness and cried out. Take some time today and just say what you want to happen, say it like it is. I whisper the good days are ahead. I whisper the names of my books. I imagine their covers. I think about what they will feel like. I see them. This is no psychic connection for me; it's just hope. Dear readers, this week, go ahead and hope. Have some faith.

Here is this week's doodle: "Now, Faith"



Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!


Have fun and never mind what anyone else says. PINK

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Third Annual Golden Coffee Cup is around the corner and some encouragement for late bloomers!

Hey, folks, another week has come and gone. Be sure to checkout my yearly blog event. The Third Annual Golden Coffee Cup is on the horizon, my answer to the NANOWRIMO idea of writing a book in a month. Yes, I know some of you out there can do it, but I invite all NANOWRIMO folks to consider me the back-up plan. I think it's hard to make any goal and keep it. I think that half a novel in a month is beyond awesome! Post you goals on the Golden Coffee Cup page. Join me for wild ruckus, heartfelt inspiration, and a chance to win a real cup of coffee. Click here for goal-setting tips.

This is a busy fall for me, and I just ache for a slower pace in life. I'm going to confess the sad truth; I'm not exactly blazing forward with work right now unless you are a snail. I'm sure if we were all snails I'd be in the winners' circle.

I go to yoga every week and at the end we always do a balance series, often including tree pose. I'm always surprised how slowing the pace and breathing will inform the rest of my life. I was feeling a little down this week because freaking everyone races past me in the journey of creation. I see deserving authors start their journey and then move onto big contracts and then national awards, movie deals, and boatloads of readers. As I held my tree pose today, I began to think of all the kinds of trees out there. Some show big glory in the spring like the beautiful cherry trees. Evergreens have a steady beauty that last year round. But for me I love the white aspens and the glorious maples. They put on the big show in autumn. I connected that thought with who I am as a creator. I'm just at the end of the summer of my life and moving toward autumn. I feel within me the power of the sun stored up and starting to seep out into my leaves. My big show is just beginning. I have no words for the great surprise of these days.

Big shout out for my friend Kathi Appelt. Her book The Underneath was just nominated for the National Book Award! Kathi has created one of those books for the generations. Kudos and thanks to her. I'm predicting at the very least, a Newbery honor coming.

So it's time for doodle of the week! I call this one Girl and Tree.

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

Time for action is now. It's never too late to do something. Carl Sandberg

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Third Annual Golden Coffee Cup Is Coming and I Love Your Blog.

Hi, folks, another great week. I've got an event coming up on Tuesday at Woodinville Barnes & Noble's annual Educator Night at 7:00 P.M. on October 14, 2009. I'm going share about art enrichment with a hefty slice of inspiration and practical tips. There is a cauldron of art love within me and I enjoy sharing my passion with others.

The Third Annual Golden Coffee Cup is on the horizon, my answer to the NANOWRIMO idea of writing a book in a month. Yes, I know some of you out there can do it, but I invite all NANOWRIMO folks to consider me the back-up plan. I think it's hard to make any goal and keep it. I think that half a novel in a month is beyond awesome! Post you goals on the Golden Coffee Cup page. Join me for wild ruckus, heartfelt inspiration, and a chance to win a real cup of coffee. Click here for goal-setting tips.

I was nominated by Holly Cupala and Janet Lee Carey this week for "I Love Your Blog." According to the rules, I've got to nominate seven blogs. These are blogs that I have bookmarked. Feel free to pass on the love. Click here for the rules.

1. A Sound From My Heart,
Author Peggy King Anderson. The world best writing cheerleader.

2. Books and 'Rocks, Author Fiona Bayrock. An author ponders the writing life, the process of writing, the biz, the good books she's read lately, and how all that fits into her family, the 'Rocks.

3. Reading Undercover. Linda Johns. Author and Librarian Extrodinaire.

4. Reading, Writing, Ruminating, Vijaya Khristy Bodach. On of the most passionte writers I know. I predict many of you will cherish one of her books someday.

5. Strange Encounters with a Seer. Linda Joy Singleton. Friendly blog by a dedicated children's fantasy author.

6. Neil Gaiman's Journal.

7. Days in the Life. Celebrated author Robin McKinly's blog.

This week turned out to be one of surprising inspiration. I took a graphic novel class from Mark Siegel, the Editorial Director of First Second Books and a visual talented storyteller in his own right. My local region of SCBWI had a special graphic novel class. I started reading comic books in the dark ages of the early 80s. My older sister loved comic books and she had a whole collection. I'm haunted by images of manga and stuff so dark that sometimes I wish I'd never seen it.

I read inventive, hilarious, thought-provoking, wild stories and experienced many fresh voices. My sister's graphic novels were from a brave new world of creators, often produced in some guy's garage. Their genius was generally ignored by mainstream. Yah, you don't forget stuff like that. So I took this class on a whim to connect with that time in my life when I was sneaking into my older sister's room and reading her dangerous comic books, and instead of a whimsical sweet day, Mr. Siegel shook me to my core.

So here is a taste of Mark Siegel, author, illustrator and editorial director of First Second Books. How did such a young guy get so wise? It must be something about France. My first note is this guy is kind of bumbling up there, oh, no!

It all goes uphill from there and then right into the stratosphere. He built up the onion theory of creative endeavor. The outside of the onion is the our face to the world. Our PR or professional manner is our connection with the external universe. Next, was styles ways and means, I guess this means that you get paid and you find what house you fit with.

Going deeper there is craft and then the editorial voice answering back. Underneath that is the unique human experience that is you. This is not about your ego, but your internal worth. What are your dragons? What is your purpose? The deepest levels of that creative onion -- we begin understanding our spirit and inner life. Where do your thoughts dwell? What do you meditate upon? Where are you serving your life? What dragons are you trying to slay? Finally in that white hot core of you, how is translation happening? The substance of you--how are you moving that into your work.

Yah, there's a lot to think about here. I hope you think about the onion of you. Try getting into those layers this week. Create your best work.

I'm having technical difficulties this week and I'm unable to post pictures. I'm sorry about that. I had an awesome doodle.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Third Annual Golden Coffee Cup!

It's that time of year, folks. The 2008 Golden Coffee Cup held from Nov 1 to Nov 30 will be awarded for a month of goal setting and achievement. CLICK HERE FOR TODAY'S INSPIRING POST

In honor of National Novel Writing Month, I have 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 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.

EXTRA, EXTRA INCENTIVE!!!!! Four lucky winners will receive a card good for a real paper cup of genuine coffee. Winners will need to send me(molly.blaisdell@verizon.net)their address to receive their card.

This is my answer to that "interesting concept" (cough, cough) of requiring writers to churn out 50,000 incomprehensible words in one month. I do the judging and it is wholly subjective. You do not have to be my friend to win, really, honestly, cross my heart hope to die stick a needle in my eye.

THE RULES:

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 from Nov 23 to Nov 30, and post on blog, you will be recieve your Golden Coffee Cup picture. There is no verification process, I believe you. Send in your email address to molly.blaisdell@verizon.net and your Golden Coffee Cup picture 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. Write a great post and you might win the real coffee!

GOAL GUIDELINES:

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!!!!!
I can't give you a peek at the THE Golden Coffee Cup but here are the Motivational Coffee Cups. Feel the power pouring into you!


Want to be featured in the 2008 Annual Golden Coffee Cup? Send me (molly.blaisdell@verizon.net) a digital picture that expresses your "High Five", a link to your blog, website or book, and up to three sentences of inspiration. This opportunity is open to children's writers and illustrators only. You do not need to be published. I will fit in as many as I can.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Boost

Hi folks, this was a good week. I received a letter of merit for my contemporary novel from SCBWI. Special thanks to the judges Walter Dean Myers, Donna Bray and Richard W. Jennings who judged the contest and felt there was a spark of something in Plumb, my irreverent take on chick-lit. Jazzy. This is a real boost to my creative heart.

My picture books are due on Monday and I'm ready to turn them in. I'm pleased with what I have and hopeful that my editor will feel the same way.

I think we all need a boost sometimes, so here is a list of those recent moments that have lifted my creative drive. Nature has been inspiring me since I was a young child. Glorious Washington State is chockfull of uplifting scenery. I'm driving my son to school every morning at 6:30 a.m. It's dawn. I see pink tinged mountain, cool morning mists dragging through the valleys and breathtaking vistas. I cannot express how wonderful it is to see the sunrise over the Cascades. In the afternoons, the fall light makes me want to throw down my pen forever and pick up paints. It happens every year. There is the golden hue that makes the air look sliceable. Fall is the fullness of the seasons. The time of the great orange moon, carving pumpkins, and the richness of the harvest -- the wealth of fall fires me up creatively.

The stars inspire me. I’m reading a book about modern cosmology and it makes me feel the great loss that humans have suffered in the century. We’ve invented artificial light and that light pollution has taken the stars away from us all. Our children grow up without looking into the sky to see the milky swath of our galaxy every night. They do not see us rhythmically moving through the cosmos. They do not know where they are. Stars are a great engine of imagination for me. We are star stuff. That connection, well, it's one of the reasons the pen keeps sliding across the paper.

Another big booster in my world comes from the wonderful people that I know. My writing friends endlessly encourage me to keep my eye on my readers, to write out my heart and to believe that my goals are obtainable. I also get a boost from the many teens that come over to our house. I love their open spirits. They always have ideas for stories. Their endless energy and fathomless hopefulness drives me to write more and more. Last, is simple, the power of love. Loving people involves pain and persistence. There’s a healthy sea forgiveness in there too. Loving is the center of life for me and opening myself up to love; it’s like a explosion of imaginative energy that infuses everything I write.

So my message for this week is simple. Open up open up to nature. Open up to love. See how you rise up creatively.

Here's my doodle of the week: Three Trees and Golden Sky.




Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

And last, the quote of the week:

Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding line, and no way of knowing how near the harbor was. "Light! Give me light!" was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour.


Helen Keller

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A space to work

This week's post is about creating a space to work. I'm going to be upfront about this. You do need an office. I have an office. You need place with an in and out box, supplies, a place to stash all your writing books, and working files for various manuscripts -- this space is invaluable to you, so make sure you have one. My office has led to many sales but not to much writing. For me, an office lacks a cerain joi d'vie necessary for creation.

I need a place to work that invites me to be creative. Here's my secret, for me, I write in bed. I don't really like writing while in bed, but my hip is bad and it makes it difficult to sit in chairs for the hours of time required to produce books. So I spruce the area up around the bed to make it feel more conductive to creative energy. I have fancy embroidered pillows and a selection of water bottles and a cell phone within reach. I have a box of my favorite books, a pile of the books I'm reading, and I also have a little computer lap desk to give my little space warmth and specialness. If I feel cozy and content, I produce better work.

I also go to the library for extra creative charging. They have these giant chairs shaped like eggs in my local library. I love these chairs. They surround you on most sides and somehow I feel "cool" in an egg chair while writing books. I'm not sure what it is about that feeling of awesomeness that leads to better writing, but for me it absolutely works. I also like to go to coffee shops. The cool factor is there too. And there is endless tea and cake!

I find that I write better if I when I am cozy. I live in the Seattle area, and we have many of these great days where it all gray and yucky -- cold, blustery, and wholly miserable. The air smells terrific and the weather just screams, "Hunker down and slip off into imaginary worlds." Probably why so many writers live here.

With all my chat of wonderful environments, I must confess that I have written many things sitting at the kitchen table with four kids running around me like electrons around a nucleus. It's not always about environment, but a conductive one helps. You can still write in chaos, but try to carve out some writing time in some corner of the world that makes you feel special, unique, balanced. You might find a super charge of energy and create something out of this world for your readers.

My doodle for the week is "Perfectly Gloomy Seattle".



Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.
A. A. Milne

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Synthesis

This was good week. I received my galley proof of my upcoming picture book If You Were a Comma... (Picture Window, 2009), part of the Word Fun series. What beautiful illustrations! Sara Gray is just such a talented artist. It's always a joy to see what creations spring from the inspiration of my words. The process is always surprising and delightful.

This week I'm going to take a minute about synthesis. One part of the writing job is something I call synthesis. You can have a great story with fantastic characters but that alchemy of putting all the pieces together: this is the heart of synthesis. I often find that I reach a frustrating place in writing. This is the point that you know you have said everything that you have wanted to say within a story arc, and yet something is still missing.

What is the missing ingredient? I find time and again for me it is the lack of synthesis of the piece. Stories need cohesiveness. Each one needs to come around a central structure to create the impact desired by the author. Stories are bounded, and yet they are extremely fluid. Stories are not limitless in their ability to relate information, but are basically containers of a finite portion of simple truth.

I find it is important to take time and shift around the order of events and the fine-tune the voice of characters in stories. This is the kind of crafting that brings a mediocre work up to great work. Take time to mix around the scenes in your book. Don't be satisfied with an early draft of a work. Take time to look at the thing from various angles. You might open up a new dimension. Enjoy.

My doodle for the week is called Abstraction.



Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

Be obscure clearly. E.B. White

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Hero

Hi folks, my book signing at the local Barnes and Noble was today. Fun. fun.

I'm about to dive back into novel writing, and this week I'm thinking about that central character of every story -- the hero. This is going to be my experience with the hero, so a narrow view.

For me, strong heroes must be flawed. A little naivety doesn't hurt either. I think it is important for the hero to suffer. Take the hero to a very dark place, that always seems like a good plan. I also think that true heroes begin with false beliefs and the mix of their journey (i.e. personal experience) and their 'spirit to be more than they are' always results in a refocusing of belief. I love for things to work out for the hero. Yes, a few disappointments are to be expected, but my hero is going to be in a better place to be in the end.

I want to cry with my hero, but I want to laugh too. I want my hero to endure a thing or two. I also want my hero to struggle with dealing with an enemy. Missteps are welcome. I want my hero to feel what others feel. I search for that universal connection, the everyman, not some golden god. I also want my readers to feel like that they are wearing my heroes' shoes. A great hero is going to make a reader say isn't that just the way it is.

I hope that my thoughts inspire you to create believable heroes that readers will follow them to the very last page.

So folks that is the up and down of things.

Here is my doodle of the week. I call it Window of the Soul.

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Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

My quote for the day

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Enjoy

Good week. I hope you are running out to grab Ellen Hopkins' new book Identical. There is probably no author with a bigger heart for teens and her writing is fantastic. I had a chance to hang out with cool writer peeps this Friday, including Ellen and a few others, Randy Powell, Kevan Atteberry, Allyson Schrier, Cathy Benson, Megan Bilder and Conrad Wesselhoeft. We went to Salty's, a beautiful restaurant on Alki Point in West Seattle. The ambiance is perfect. Thank you, Holly, for suggesting it. Everyone shared a bit of their story. It was heartening to find we are all in the same boat really.

I was really struck by something that was said, something that dug into my heart. The question: Do you enjoy the writing you are doing? I do write lots of work for hire. And I do enjoy some of it but not all. It's basically a job, but it's in the neighborhood of what I like to do. I hunger to see my own creative stories in the hands of readers. Inside me it feels like great worlds spinning. It seems like they should spin out of me and who knows what will be drawn into the gravity well created and then what will spring out of it? I really do ache to have children connect with the heart of what I have to say.

I remember once a long time ago, I put out out one of the novels that I've written to a few blind readers -- i.e. some children I didn't know. A few months after I had gotten the manuscripts back, one of the children who had read my book came up to me at a social function. It was a boy about 9 maybe 10. I didn't know him. He hugged me out of nowhere and then looked up at with this big smile and said, "You're the author who wrote the best book I've ever read. Thank you, thank you for writing it."

The chance that there might be more than one child out there that feels that way about my writing; that keeps me going. That's why I have hope. I knew some deep joy in that moment. I find lot of writing is that -- what I enjoy about writing has not happened yet. But inside me those spinnning worlds whisper to me. "There's a force inside you, trust it like you trust gravity, a force of attraction between all masses in the universe; the force within you is going to attract the force in children, and what's next; well, that the glue that holds everything together."

On a last note, we have important work. Get to it, folks.

Here is a doodle I call Girl Under Shooting Stars.

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

Some of the mutations will be good ones--wonderful things beyond our dreams--and I believe this, I believe this with all my heart, THE DAY WILL COME WHEN MANKIND WILL THANK GOD FOR THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL ENERGY FROM AN ATOM.
from The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-moon Marigolds, Paul Zindel

Friday, August 22, 2008

Spin

Sorry this is late, I've been busy. First, my news update, I will be reading and signing my book Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs at the Woodinville Barnes and Noble on Sept. 6, 2008 at 3 P.M. This is a Local Authors Gala and supports Hopelink literacy programs.

I also have some good news -- two more contracts with Picture Window Books for informational picture books. This time I'm writing about circles and quadrilaterals. For those of you who do not know what a quadrilateral is -- it's a four-sided polygon. My very first math books! There is extended glee within me because I'm writing about math.

On the creative front, I've been overbooked for a while. I have too many commitments and not enough me. It's time to switch gears, time to take a breath. I'm going to focus on the novel writing for a while. I need to slow the pace and really think. The only way that is going to happen is going to be by closing down the number of commitments I have.

I'm going to volunteer less. I'm going to sleep all night. No more gigs that suck up all my time and leave nothing of me. I'm going to apply myself to writing a novel -- a story that will make my readers cry with anguish because they are so sad the amazing ride has come to an end. I only have three jobs on the table and after that it looks like a few months of free time. Ooh, I want to spin around with joy. Free time. YAY.

I'll blog about my process over the next few posts.

I call this doodle RED STICK. I drew this over 20 years ago from a wildlife calendar.




Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all. Emily Dickinson