Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zippity Do Da

"...Even if you can't see the pictures with your eyes, you can see them in your head." Ray Charles.

This video won't embed, but it'll make your day, Ray Charles singing Zippity Do Da from a 1978 Disney special.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yummy

Some of you may know that I got Invisalign braces a few weeks ago. Some of you might have even seen me whip them out to eat last weekend at NESCBWI. By the end of the conference I wasn't shy about taking them out. However, Monday, I got my elastics. Now my teeth are sore and my jaw aches.

I'm having a hard time eating yummy things:


Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for eXciting

Yes, I know it's a total cop-out.

But there are so many things to be excited about! And I couldn't come up with a good X word.

Kate Messner mentioned me on her blog, I participated in an amazing agent/author panel on Saturday at NESCBWI, and I met my agent last weekend for the first time.

Also have I mentioned that I'm the co chair of the NESCBWI Regional Conference in 2013???? Joyce Shor Johnson asked me to serve with her, and I'm honored to accept. (Okay, who wants to volunteer? We need you!)

I'm back at my computer today, outlining a nonfiction project, trying to generate word count for my novel, and unpack at the same time. But blissfully aware of the eXciting things in my life.

This is me with my agent (Vickie Motter), and Chris Brodien-Jones & her agent Stephen Fraser, and Kate Messner & her agent Jennifer Laughren

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Workshop

As you progress in your writing, you might be asked to share your expertise! And YAY for you, if you are! Whether it's a school group, a group of neighborhood kids, a round table panel at a conference, or your crit group, it's all about sharing your knowledge.

I've got a list of resources on my banner--lots of good stuff there that I've collected over the years.

As far as workshops go, I'm building my repertoire. I'll be working with kids in Littleton, Massachusetts this summer in a kids writing club, presenting at the Chelmsford Public Library about nonfiction on July 18 at 10:30 a.m., and doing a workshop for adults who want to turn their writing hobby into a career on August 16 in Devens, Massachusetts at 6 p.m.

If you need more information about any of those, please let me know!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vacation

I've actually made it to V in the A-Z Challenge.

V could also be for Vickie--as in Vickie Motter, my beautiful agent (see her picture over there?). We just met face-to-face this weekend!

But I had already decided V should be for vacation, which is a very important thing. It's important to take a break from the daily grind, take a step back, look at life from a different perspective. I got back from vacation last week, and immediately went into conference mode, so it doesn't really feel like I got any rest. And it doesn't help that I'm writing this post as a 4 a.m. insomniac.

(Not to say that I didn't come away from NESCBWI inspired and awestruck--post to come later on that!)

But sometimes vacation can be just stepping away from the keyboard to reflect. Or using some writing time to read, or research, or take a walk.

This isn't where I was last week, but it's one of my favorite places to vacation.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Ummmm

I had the good fortune to see Lois Lowry, Jackie Davies, Kathryn Lasky, and Bill Thomson back in the fall of 2011 at an SCBWI New England event (I blogged about it here).

One of the take-aways I got was that NONE of these four creative people believe that writer's block exists. At least it doesn't for them. As professionals, they talked about just sitting down and getting on with it. Or as Jane Yolen says, Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.

No "ums" "wells" or "buts" about it. No excuses. Just sit down and get on with it.

I just wish I had a picture--people, never go anywhere without your camera. Or at least, take a picture with your fuzzy camera-phone. Duh.

Theresa Milstein also blogged about this event back in October...she has pictures. :)

So, what are you waiting for? Get on with it!

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Tortoise

Let's face it, sometimes writing a novel (or creating anything, really) can feel like this:

Thanks to for the great picture
But you know what they say...

Slow and steady wins the race.

If you're writing, you're moving toward the finish line. No matter how few words you write today, even if it's just 200 or 20.

Fifteen minutes. And you'll reach the finish line.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for School Visits

I've had the opportunity to do several in my home town. For the most part, I talk about my nonfiction, but fiction always creeps in a little.

My favorite part is when kids tell me they've read my books. Earlier this month, a friend from book club told me her son picked up one of my books at the library and was excited to report that he'd met me at school.

They ask funny and great questions. How old are you? How long have you been writing? Do you write about your pets? Is your daughter in any of your books?

Before my first visit a year ago, I spent a lot of time prepping. This is a great resource to help you make an outline and plan for your visit. School Visit Experts

If you're prepared, there's no reason to be nervous. And the kids are really forgiving, if you falter. Think about the size group you feel most comfortable with--one classroom? more than one in the library? larger assembly in the gym? I'd suggest starting small, and then moving to the larger format.

This summer, I've got a weekly writers club for kids and a library visit in another town. I'm excited to be able to talk to kids about writing!

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Ron Weasley

Just because, I'm a Ron girl.

Seriously, how much better can it get? Ron Weasley, golfing. I may or may not have a character with red hair and a British accent in my YA novel...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quitting


Unless, of course you want to.

But, to me, as long as you're enjoying the writing, the creating, the process. You're making progress. Keep on keeping on.

Actually, the venerable Miss Snark's First Victim, had a great post about quitting or not quitting back on April 5. Check it out here.

I've also blogged not so famously on Literary Rambles about not throwing in the towel...

Not that we haven't all thought about it once or twice.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Poetry

According to April is National Poetry Month.

So in honor of my teen-self, who wrote poetry almost before she wrote anything else, I'd like to share the following. Go easy on the 16 year old girl who wrote this. At the time, I was proud that it was accepted for publication in the National Poetry Association's "On the Threshold of a Dream" (so excited that it's noted in pen below the hand-written entry), but I now know that that publication was a vanity press. I admit it; I fell for it.

You know those frigid days in January? The ones with the brilliant blue cloudless sky? Without further ado...

Jason Days

From the window he looks tender and warm;
and I imagine his arms around me.
But when I run outside his eyes transform;
And the coldness all but blinds me.

How can he look so warm and bright
yet be so bitter cold?
Inside his heart there is no light,
Though his surface glitters gold.

His face glows like the sun of June,
yet January hides in his eyes;
And if you look into the afternoon,
You're trapped before you realize.

The cold wind blows, yet the sun shines on,
until he passes by;
Seasons change and when he's gone,
wake up to warm July.

Teenage me would be mortified that I shared this. Jason was a gorgeous, hot boy who never spoke to me. And whom I crushed on in a very unhealthy manner for four years of high school. Disclaimer: I did not make a lot of effort to speak to him, and to his defense, he probably never had a clue I existed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Outlining

I cringe when I hear this word. It's not my favorite part of writing.

It's a necessary part of my contract work. Every work-for-hire assignment requires an outline, just to make sure your vision and your editor's vision are in the same stratosphere.

I've recently done a bit more outlining for fiction. I just completed my most comprehensive outline for a novel ever. Literally, at least one (more often two) paragraphs about each chapter. It's almost 10 pages long. This is a feat for me, even though for some of you plotters it may not sound like a big deal.

I'm hoping this will make for an easy road map for my rewrite. Yes, I'm rewriting my novel. Hopefully it won't take five years. I'm aiming for mid-summer. And I hope my outline will help.

Do you outline?

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for NESCBWI

Where some of my favorite people, favorite authors, and best times as a writer co-exist. The Society for Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators (New England).

I look forward to this conference every year--and it's only five day away. Lunch with my agent. Light bulbs going off in my head about my writing. Chatting late into the night with friends. Hobnobbing with industry professionals.

And this year, for the first time, I'm faculty. I still can't quite believe it. I'm sitting on a panel with my agent, and two other authors and their agents on April 21. We'll be talking about agent/author relationships. I'm also leading a special interest group on work-for-hire. This spring, I've been coordinating the Submission Strategy Consultations. Next year, I've been tapped for an even bigger responsibility--I'll make that announcement after the conference.

If you've never been to a conference, I highly recommend it. And if you're going to NESCBWI...find me and say 'hi'!

from the 2011 NESCBWI conference in Fitchburg, MA

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Meeting My Agent

Can I just squee a little? I mean, really?

I'm meeting my agent, Vickie Motter, in less than one week. We're having lunch on Friday, April 21. 

Remind me not to get the spaghetti...

Honestly, I can't wait.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L.2 = Lucky Seven...again

So yesterday I asnwered Cambria Dillon's Lucky Seven challenge...and today found out that Katy Upperman tagged me as well. Go read them, because they are brilliant! Ah, it's nice to have friends. And LUCKILY, I have another WIP to share.

Here are the rules...

  1. Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript (or I guess if you have 777 pages, that’d work, too)
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences AS THEY ARE. No cheating/editing/tweaking/weaving magical word spells!
  4. Tag 7 other authors. I'm not going to tag 7 more...scroll to yesterday to see the Lucky 7 of my YA contemporary.
This is MG. And it's more like nine lines, not seven.


Moth rolled her eyes. How long before the torture ended?
On the stage, Monarch adjusted her robes and cleared her throat. "Classmates. Family members. Members of the Fairy Community. We're gathered here today to celebrate Fairy Academy's 350th graduation and our own long and satisfying journey through the esteemed halls of our school to embrace our newly appointed assignments..."
Right, thought Moth. Embrace my assignment. The world of toenails is just so interesting and fun. Those teensy weensy itty bitty toenails. All curly and sharp. Sometimes yellow. I can't wait to start. I might lose my lunch. Moth coughed into her elbow and actually felt a little vomit in the back of her throat. 
 Click to get my original A-Z post, L is for Limb.

L is for Limb

As in, going out on one.

Seriously, when I googled "limb" I got some really interesting hits. There's a rock band name Limb. Who knew? Lots of missing limbs. Some really horribly images. Shirley MacLaine has a book called Out on a Limb.

But all I was thinking about was taking a chance. Going out on a limb. Writing Dangerously. Going outside your comfort zone.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lucky Seven Tag

I'm stepping up to Cambria Dillon's  challenge...

Here are the rules:
  1. Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript (or I guess if you have 777 pages, that’d work, too)
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences AS THEY ARE. No cheating/editing/tweaking/weaving magical word spells!
  4. Tag 7 other authors
And that’s it. Super duper easy peasy, right? Here are the 7 lines on page 7 of my current WIP (which is actually my rewrite):

“How come Will isn’t helping you?” I shout over the sound of the engine and sneak a look at the mud drying on his calf. “How deep is it stuck?”
We hit a root in the path, and the cart lurches to the side. I’m thrown to my left and my arm brushes his. I’m sure if we weren’t racing down the fairway as though both our lives depended on it, I might have enjoyed the contact. Even so, my heart rate speeds up. Though that could be my fight or flight reaction to the ride of death.
“You okay?” He reaches out to steady me, but he doesn’t slow down

I'm tagging:

Katy Upperman
Alicia Gregoire
Heather Kelly
Jonathon Arnston
Theresa Milstein
Kelly Polark 
Joyce Shor Johnson


K is for Kris

So what do you do when you see a bottle of wine with your name on it. Literally. You take a picture of it, naturally.

And if I ever sell a book, I'm buying a bottle for myself and sending one to my agent.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Job

I'm happy to say I have one. Well, several.

I write grants and coordinate corporate training for a local community college. I'm a mom, cook, chauffeur, etc. And I'm a writer.

I'm lucky. I get paid to write. I'm fortunate enough to have eight nonfiction books under my belt, with four more contracted works in progress. Being paid makes it a real job. And I'm very appreciative of the opportunities I've been given.

As I struggle to make a go of my fiction, I consistently feel blessed to have had the chance to see my name on the cover of a book. It's given me an infinitely stronger appreciation for the work that goes into the backside of the production. And that much more desire to see my name on the cover of my  novel.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Image

What's so important about image or brand?

Well, if you're putting yourself out in the world...or your book, or your art, or's very important. Do people see you as an expert on the topic you've written about? Or are you more the creative free-spirit?

Wikipedia says that "Proper branding can result in higher sales of not only one product, but on other products associated with that brand. For example, if a customer loves Pillsbury biscuits and trust the brand, he or she is more likely to try other products offered by the company such as chocolate chip cookies."

So basically if people like you, your first book, your brand...they'll continue to seek you out. Right now, my brand is nonfiction children's books for the elementary library market. I'm hoping my brand will someday morph into sweet young adult and middle grade fiction.

Hopefully readers will trust my writing, and my style of nonfiction and turn that into love for my fiction.

What's your brand?

image originally from

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Horizontal

But not the way you think...

We've been talking about writing dangerously, and while I'm not ready to go THERE yet with my characters, I did throw them in some mud.

Literally. Well...Literarally, anyway.

They've got a golf cart stuck in a mud pit on a golf course. And one of them falls in. And the other one tries to help...And chaos ensues...and maybe a little stirring of something something...

And I haven't been so excited about a scene in a long time.

What curve balls have you thrown at your characters lately?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Gay Parents in YA

Jonathan Arnston and I are co-hosting (for the second year), a blog series on GA parent (and guardians) in Children's Literature. Specifically this year, we'll be looking at Young Adult books.

Kicking off on May 28 and running through June 1, we've got a number of bloggers and authors who will be joining us. Look for more information as we get closer. In the meantime, for a suggested reading list click here or on the tab at the top of my banner.

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Fantasy

Growing up, some of my favorite books were fantasy. The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle and The Sword of Shanara by Terry Brooks were two I loved. Also, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

Does fantasy exist today in YA? Has it split into paranormal, dystopian, and time travel? I feel like fantasy is alive and well in Middle Grade, but not as much in YA.  Or am I completely off base?

What are your favorite current fantasy books?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Elevator Pitch

This is a rerun post from March 9, 2012


Or log line.

Or pitch line.

Or whatever the heck you want to call it.

Yesterday, for the first time in a very long time, someone asked me what my novel is about. I stalled. I stammered. And finally I blurted out..."it's about a girl who plays golf."

Really, Kris? After all this time? And that's the best you can come up with?

The NE-SCBWI conference is in 40 days (now about 18 days). I really need to be able to describe my novel better than that. Yes, I have an agent. No, I'm not querying. But it's vital that I can describe my book better than that! Because, people WILL ask.

Back in 2010, I won an agent pitch contest with the following:

With the family golf course on the verge of bankruptcy, Kate Anderson decides she's going to be the first girl to win the Junior State Championship to draw the crowds back, but her plans are derailed when her best friend and crush is accused of vandalizing the course with a blowtorch.

Yeah, that rocks. But it's hard to say to someone out loud. It's great written pitch. It worked great in queries, but not so much in person. 

I'm thinking about: 

Kate Anderson has to win a local golf tournament to save her parents failing golf course. Along the way, there are blow torches, British boys, and kissing.

Of course, I've got nothing for the middle grade novel. Best start working on that one...

Do you have an elevator pitch?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Deadlines and Diets

I love deadlines. I work better with them. Give me a deadline, and I'll work my butt off to hit that deadline.

Self-assigned deadlines? Not so much. It's got to be something someone else assigns me, or it's too easy to blow off. A lot like my diet.

Note to self. Work on that diet thing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Conflict

I hate conflict. I avoid it like the plague in real life.

But in a book, it's necessary. Without conflict, there's no motivation. No motivation, no plot. No plot, B.O.R.I.N.G book.

So you've got to give your characters conflict. Inner conflict. Conflict with parents, with boyfriends and girlfriends, with the environment. Conflict up the wazoo. Just keep throwing that conflict at them.

Take your character's worst nightmare, and throw it at them.

And see what they do with it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Butt in Chair

Jane Yolen once famously talked about the key to writing being having your Butt in the Chair (or BIC). If your butt isn't in the chair, you're not typing at the keyboard. And you're not writing.

Sometimes just staring at the screen is half the battle. But what about distractions? Kids? Furry kids? Social media? Real life?

My butt is in the chair sometimes, but my mind isn't on the manuscript. And sometimes when my mind is most productive, my butt isn't in the chair.

I get my best ideas, the answers to my manuscripts most difficult questions, when I'm driving or when I'm showering. Not when my butt is in the chair.

The key is getting back to the chair to write it down. Before you forget.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April is A-Z Month

Last year I successfully completed the A-Z challenge, so I thought I'd do it again. The fact that I'm out of my house and away from my computer for at least ten days in April won't stop me. I'll just set my blogger schedule to post for me. Like an assistant. Or an intern.

If you're visiting for A-Z, hello! If you're a regular visitor, welcome back!

I'm a writer of YA and Middle Grade fiction--I'll try to keep my blog posts semi-relevant to the topic, but...sometimes you gotta go out on a limb for the letter of the day.

I'm so glad it's spring. Happy April! And Happy A-Z Challenge.