Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Favorite Things -- Cats

Hi folks, last day of November and I am wrapping up my favorite things posts.  This week I'm keeping. I'm speaking at the upcoming Montgomery County Book Festival on February 15, 2014 and an interview question sparked this post. Do I have a pet and do they help me write?

I'm going to put a longer answer here. I have two cats: Mr. Tibbs and Mr. Oreo. I call them the Kings of the Earth.  Both have rags-to-riches stories. They were rescue from horrible circumstances -- one from underneath an abandoned shed and the other from certain death at a shelter. Yes, they are a little damaged because of their journeys. Mr. Tibbs is sort of crazy about killing stuff (starvation at some point in your life does that to you.) Mr. Oreo has to be reminded regularly that he's safe and everybody loves him. That's OK, I'm a little damaged from my journey too. It's nice to have companions who get that.

Cat are fab for the lonely business of writing. I spend tons of time in front of a computer, and it's comforting to have a purring cat in my lap or one bumping its nose against my computer screen.
Mr. Tibbs is the most squishable cat that has ever lived and is fine to hug when the draft is so tangled that I've begun to lose hope. I also like Mr. Oreo for the times when I've got to make a story decision that's freaking me out. He purrs like a motorboat and feels like a hunk of meat. There is something of the ridiculous in him but also solid and comforting. I hug him and put that into my story, and it always works out right.

Who doesn't need help like that? 

Cats are independent souls and the speak to the independence in my soul.  I also like that they love to nap because I am also a big fan of the nap.

Here are is a favorite cat cartoon sites:  Simon's Cat. Enjoy!

I have some favorite cat books.  For the picture books set, I love: Koko's Kitten, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, SkippyJon Jones, Bad Kitty, and Hondo and Fabian. For middle graders, I love the Cat Who Went To Heaven by Elizabeth CoatsworthTime Cat by Lloyd Alexander and The Underneath by Kathi Appelt.  I've written two unpublished middle grade novels, TORNADO ALLIE, with a pretty awesome bestie cat called Jacksboro, and another WIP book, THE BIG THICKET, with a mysterious cat named El Gato. I hope these books reach kids everywhere someday.

I will see you next month with some inspiration!  Keep creating master works!

Pics instead of doodles this week!

Here I am with Mr. Tibbs. He likes to snuggle while I'm hard at work.

Mr. Oreo is more of a cat TVguy.  He's always staring out the window. Very good writing advice BTW.

Here is a quote for your pocket:

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea. Robert A. Heinlein.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Favorite Things -- Wordsmiths.

Hi, folks,  I'm continuing my series on favorite things. This week, my favorite wordsmiths. I'm going to chat about a few and share tidbits of how these connections inspire me, move me, and improve me.

I went to a conference recently (KidLitCon) and I really didn't know anyone.  This is always a challenge for me. You know, new-kid-on-the-block fear.  Happily, as I find time and time again, there are friends everywhere.

There is not enough blog to share every wordsmith I know. I'm just going to toss out some impressions that hit me.  (If you are not here, it's only because I keep my blog is too short.

At Kidlitcon, I had the pleasure of meeting Liviania, In Bed With Books blogger. She was just a bubbling fountain of the good news about books.  I also met Lee Wind,  I'm Here and I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read, blogger --  a man with a mission and  one of those folks who offer a better understanding of the universe at large. I also met fab, Margo Rabb -- Books, Chocolate, Sundries, a deep thinker for sure, and really connecting with joy, I think.  I also met the genius behind -- MotherReader, Jen Robinson's Book Page, Wands and Words, and 5 Minutes For Books.  So many. Jazzy.

Next, I'm going to chat about my current friendly critique galaxy. Kathy Whitehead writes middle grade and picture books and is an anchoring soul who brings steady wisdom with every word she speaks or writes. Ellen McGinty is the author of YA realistic and fantasy. Gosh, she's young and amazing. I will say I knew her when someday. Robin Overby Cox writes for children and adults. She has a clear, salient view of the way books should flow. Yay! Liz Mertz writes YA and digs deep into spiritual side of  story. Amen. I also enjoy the genius of Susan, Angela, Candilynn and Andy, all powerhouse voices who drop in some.

Now my expanded critique universe.  Oh, Vijaya Bodach, author of non-fiction and YA,  an original kindred spirit. We are all better because of her words. Conrad Wesselhoeft writes YA and is "a word master." His writing will change you. It will. Holly Cupala. No words of  to express how grateful I am to know this author. She understands the resiliency of the broken spirit and puts this on the page.  Katherine Grace Bond, author of YA, she has this uncanny knack of revealing profound belief in a relevant way. Amazing. Chris Eboch, author of everything, (it is true). Chris's writing is the intersection of clarity, adventure and the impossible things before breakfast. Louise Spiegler, oh, she's so talented and brings new wind into the fantasy/sci-fi genre. Definitely blazing new trails. I must add Kevan Atteberry --  heart and soul and laughter, all rolled together.  Stasia Ward Kehoe! -- new book alert -- The Sound of Letting Go -- astounding voice. Peggy King Anderson and Lois Brandt...take their classes, Seattle folk. You will thank me. A few more names...Allyson Valentine Schrier, Janet Lee Carey, Cathy B., Shelley, Megan.... so many more...

I think you get it. I am the friend and fan of so many wordsmiths.  I hope you take a minute to reflect on your favorite wordsmiths. (I didn't even get a chance to mention my imaginary friends!)  Be back next week for more of my favorite things.

Here is the doodle for the week. "Another Herd of Turtles."

A quote from my favorite imaginary friend.

When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed. Fred Rodgers

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Favorite Things -- Sci-fi Movie Moments

Hi, folks, I think we take inspiration from what resonates with us. I thought I would chat about my favorite sci-fi movie moments, why I loved them, and what those moments mean to me as a creative soul.

And for extra special fun, I took a simple programming class at Kidlitcon last week from Sheila Ruth over at Wands and Worlds. I learned a nifty trick.

in the movie CONTACT, the beginning scene shows the Earth. The air waves are noisy. We begin to pull away from the Earth. We pass the planets. The layers of sound begin to fall away. We are catching up with sounds that left the Earth decades ago. We move away from the solar system, and there is a great engulfing silence. Our star becomes a point of light.

I feel that silence in my soul to this day, this hunger within. Is there anyone out there? This speaks to faith in me as a creator of good books. I'm on a journey to write something meaningful that will connect with someone, someday, and regardless of the silence, I will find that connection. This belief is enough.

this one comes from a silly movie that to this day still makes me laugh my head off. It's called GALAXY QUEST. I have several favorite scenes in this movie, but I really love the moment with the spaceship is about blow up and the hero and heroine have to travel through a number of ridiculous traps on their spaceship to stop the self-destruct ticking in the ship's belly. When they reach the button, they push it. It keeps counting down. The thing does not stop until it is a second before the last moment. The hero and heroine laugh together.

Of course, the button doesn't work until the last moment. We should know things are going to work out at the last moment, and not a second earlier. For some reason we always forget. Always! It's like a human condition. This sci-fi movie moment resonates.
The Last One,
yes, "Use the force, Luke." I'd be a big fat liar if I didn't include this sci-fi movie. My favorite scene in STAR WARS: Episode IV - A NEW HOPE. I guess tossing a bomb into a hole about the size of a womprat will never get old to me. I have never worried what an epic fail the first Death Star was. Engineers always build Titanics. That's just what they do.

I've always thought of the force as Socrates' daemon. (Lucas should have given me call before he went with midiclorians.) Socrates claimed to have a "divine something" that frequently warned him—in the form of a "voice"—against mistakes but never told him what to do. Ah, Mr. Lucas, this is a force! Big creative rule: Don't explain everything!

When Luke "uses the force" and sends those balls of light into the hole, I cheer. This hearkens to the impossible of the creative journey for me. Yes, writing a book is like blowing up a Death Star. It's a perilous journey with little chance of success and wholly requires divine invention.

In Closing,
I know this is a little silly list, but I absolutely believe that without the flexibility of creative play, creatives cannot find their vision. Think on your whimsy this week. I will be back next week with more of my favorite things.

Here is the doodle: "Dancing Bears."

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. Plato

Saturday, November 09, 2013

My Favorite Things -- Simple Stuff

Hi, folks,

Last week I offered some conference kernels that are my favorite things. This week I'm at the KidLitCon in Austin, TX. There is some simple stuff that moves me to tears. I think these moments are part of why I am a writer.  Jerry Spinelli once said at a conference I attended that you should write down a hundred sensory memories. He said your novel is in there somewhere. He was right.

The moon in the daytime.
The sun shining like a disk on a foggy morning.
Bare feet on hot sand.
The smell of mint.
The taste of water when I'm thirsty.
Stretching out on a soft bed when I'm tired.
Watching giant snowflakes fall.
The sound thunder in the middle of the night.
The sound of a purring cat.
The feel of a dog licking my face.
The sensation of falling when swooshing on a slide.
Fall light in the afternoon.
Hugging my children.
The brown of my husband's eyes.
My father's laughter.
My mother's voice when she was reading me a story. 

I know all so simple but the core of me is in here. I hope you try writing your sensory memories.

See you next week.

Here's this week's doodle. "Stack of Farm Animals"

A quote for the week.

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.'    Elder Joseph Brackett

Saturday, November 02, 2013

My Favorite Things -- Conference Kernels

Hi folks!  This month I'm so busy. Crazy busy! I hope to see a few of you at the the KidLitCon in Austin, Texas on November 9, 2013.  I salute all the Nanowrimos! Good for you.

This month I'm going to share my favorite kernels of creative advice from wherever they have come my way.  This week I'm focusing on conferences.

Liza Ketchum -- Her talk flowed through my work like a spring Zephyr. Her advice? Use endowed objects to show emotional connections between characters.  You can do so much with this. Perhaps there is a ring. The golum has the ring. The hobbit has the ring. Everyone wants that ring.  You know you can get a lot of mileage out of an endowed object changing hands. You don't have to say anything more than the ring changed hands.

Brian Floca -- I walked around mumbling for a couple of weeks when I heard this guy talk. His deal was that you need to seek your best work and go for it.  Don't settle for a less than stellar career. Whatever is humming in your heart? If your soul is screaming, I have so much more to offer. Do it. Jump up. Namaste.

Mark Siegel -- This guy's talk took me by then neck and throttled me. I swear. He shared that the creative process is either dying or being born. You are either are coming from the outside and seeking the bright light. You see it, but it is out of your reach.The trip toward that light is a painful, digging deep process, and you will come to the end of yourself to reach that light.  Death.  The creative process can also work this way. You are in the light, dancing, full of it, but no one is with you. You are alone. You must go a narrow, harrowing journey, to reveal your light to the world. Birth. It's been years, and I'm still thinking.

Well, I hope some of this genius will help you do your thing. I'll be back next week with more of my favorite things.

This week's doodle: "Psalmist"

Here is the quote of the week:

A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A miracle is when one plus one equals a thousand.   Frederick Buechner