Friday, July 29, 2011

Making Ordinary Extraordinary

I had to take this picture. How can you make Twinkies better? By dipping them in chocolate, of course.

How can you make vampires better? By adding werewolves.

How can an orphan boy who is a wizard be better? Make him the chosen one who will defeat the Dark Lord.

How can you make a young adult sweet romance better? Add France.

Okay, so my examples are sort of basic. But seriously, no idea is original. You've got to add something unique twist.

I might have to go back to this candy store and buy one of those Twinkies. For research, of course.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

ARCs on the Beach

I took my friend MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE by Anna Staniszewsi to the beach yesterday. It comes out November 2011 from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. (Don't worry, Anna, I didn't let her near the water, even though she begged).
 She'll be on her way to Laura Pauling's house tomorrow. I dare Laura to show her as much fun as I did.

I might have got too much sun.

Anyone else have an ARC they want me to show a good time to? I mean read and review.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Learning to Write

I've been reading a ton this summer. I've read some great stuff. And I've read some not so great stuff. Adult. YA. MG. Like I said, tons.

And I've realized lately, as I've been reading, how much I've learned about writing over the last few years. From my crit group. From professional critiques at conferences. From books on craft. From online classes I've taken. From editors at Capstone Press. From my own agent (the fabulous Vickie Motter). Every one of them has helped me improve my writing. I know I still have a long way to go.

Here are some links to some of the online courses I've taken.

Margie Lawson
Rose's Colored Glasses
Writer University

Six years ago, I was a reasonably good writer. I'd always been a reasonably good writer. But I had no idea what I didn't know back then. And I'm sure I have no idea what I don't know still. But every rejection, every beta reader, every critique--has taught me something about my own writing.

As I bang out this WIP, I'm trying to put all my knowledge into practice. Use what I've learned. Maybe.

If you're a writer, you have to be open to what you don't know. Be confident in your ability, but not so cocky that you can't learn to be better. No matter who you are, you can always learn to be better.

And you can quote me on that!

Monday, July 25, 2011


I'm so pleased to be able to share my most recent publication. This project was completed last fall and is available as of August 1. I just received my author copies on Friday.


This project was so much fun to research--I learned a lot about colonial times. In fact, as the era spans about 150 years, there are a lot of changes that occur during the period. It's about the same amount of time from Jamestown to the American Revolution as there is from the American Revolution to World War II.

Thanks to Capstone for producing such stellar books for the school library market!

Friday, July 22, 2011


First off, Laura Pauling has a great post today about self promotion. Go read it! One of Laura's tips for self promotion is to promote others! Which fit in nicely with what I wanted to blog about today.

The lovely Anna Staniszewski asked me to be a part of a tour her ARC would be taking (ARC = Advanced Reading Copy). I've seen ARCs, I've even read a few. But I haven't been part of an official ARC blogging tour. So THANK YOU Anna for including me. MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE will be available on November 1 from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

The ARC arrived yesterday.

Isn't the cover gorgeous? I can't wait to dive into it!

Maybe I'll take my new friend to the library today. Or maybe to the beach. Not sure yet. I love Anna's marketing approach--you see she only has a couple of ARCs to spare. So several of us are reading it, and then mailing it along to the next person on the list. She's given us mailing envelopes with postage paid. Each of us is writing a note inside the front or back cover. That ARC is going to make a great prize for someone some time in the fall. :)

Coincidentally, the person on the list after me is none other than Laura Pauling. Isn't the universe delightful?

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Writing Schedule

Anyone waiting for this moment yet?

Much as I love summer--even this heat is better than the frigid cold of January. My regular writing schedule (such as it is) gets thrown out the window in the summer. I have to force myself to find pinches of time to write.

I'm working on an MG Fantasy right now, and it's fun. I wrote 1000 words yesterday in about an hour. If only I could guarantee that every day, this WIP would be done by the end of the summer.

I'm participating in Heather Kelly's Tour deWriting and checking in with a crit partner. I'd love to have 20K written by the end of August. I'm into the WIP about 6500.

Anyone else have writing goals? Anyone else waiting for school to start?

Cartoon used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quidditch for Muggles

So, at camp this past weekend (Mother/Daughter Girl Scout Camp, thank you very much), we played Quidditch.

Yes, you heard (or rather, read, that right). A volleyball, a snitch, four hula hoops on poles (think giant lollipops), and two brooms. Eight girls and two crazy moms. Thank the powers-that-be there are no pictures. Can you imagine a game you invented for a book becoming so real to people that girl scouts camping in New Hampshire play it?

So everyone is blogging about JK Rowling lately. In my house, we've had the audio books on repeat for about a year--or more, I've lost track. And yet sometimes I take for granted how spectacular they really are.

In contrast, I started a new book for bookclub last night. I won't mention the title. The writing is horrible. It's ALL telling. No showing. AT ALL. In other words, "I walked to the couch and sat down." "I told him what happened." "We drank for hours." No rich detail. No deep-felt emotion. I'm struggling through it, but there is no personality, nothing real to grab onto. Nothing to make me care a hoot about the characters.

JK Rowling shows you her world, in deep, rich color. I sometimes forget that certain scenes aren't in the movies because I can see them so vividly in my mind.

Something to remember when I'm working on the WIP.

On a related note, I saw Deathly Hallows Part 2 last night. The purist in me was annoyed about a few missing scenes, but on the whole, it was a wonderful, satisfying ending. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Can you make it out? It's a wish boat. Sort of a camp tradition.

We made it this weekend out of bark and a few leaves. Add a tea light (w/ metal removed) and float it in the lake. Add 50 of your friends and you've got a beautiful sea of wishes.

It reminded me of the pivotal scene in TANGLED, you know the one where they float the lights in the sky? We had a full moon, clear sky, and wish boats on a peaceful lake.

My daughter's wish is to fly.

Can you guess mine?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Word Count and Wizards

Ok, so I want to jump on the HP post bandwagon and I'm not seeing DH until next Tuesday. I'm counting the minutes, but I don't want it to end either. We've had the audio Jim Dale versions playing in the house for months.

On a related note (ok, so not at all related), I've written almost 3000 words on my new WIP this week. And those in only two days of writing. For whatever reason this WIP feels like it's going somewhere. And I even know what scene I need to write next. I haven't written new fiction in a LONG time, so this feels really good.

This weekend, my daughter and I are camping with the Girl Scouts. It'll be fun, and sweaty, and hopefully NOT full of mosquitoes. I've got the netting just in case. But, YUM, s'mores.

I'll be bringing a notebook to jot down any brilliant ideas I get while we're there.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Summer of KISS

This is not going to be post about writing, so be warned. It is a post about going outside what is expected of you, doing something different, living a little.

Some of you may know that I had KISS concert tickets (my Facebook friends have already seen the pics), I was a little dubious--unsure about what the KISS Army would be like, how loud the music would be, etc. You see, KISS is just a tad outside my normal taste in music (which runs more singer-songwriter rock, pop). But it was AWESOME. Yes, it was loud (I did don my ear plugs), and I didn't know all the songs--but I knew most of the songs in the encore and could sing along.

I had to get a little face paint before the show...not sure KISS is changing their look to a nautical style any time soon, but don't you think it worked for me?

The stage show was amazing--pyrotechnics, video, flashing lights, smoke, you name it. It rocked. If know you me at all, you can probably imagine the reactions most of my friends have had when I mentioned we were going. And yes, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

In a couple of weeks, we're seeing America. My all-time favorite band. I won't be painting my face, but I will be singing along to all the songs.

For all you KISS fans out there, here's my favorite KISS song.  Unfortunately the full orchestra was not traveling with them last night, so it didn't quite sound like this...but it was still great.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

All About Summer Reading

I spent the morning at Barnes and Noble. And the afternoon at my local library.

Summer reading programs at both places are huge incentives for my child to read.

I bought her a book for sitting still while I met with a couple of friends at B&N. My only rule was that it needed to be a middle grade novel--something that would challenge her.

She ended up choosing two books: THE FAMILIARS by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson and HAILEY TWITCH AND THE CAMPGROUND ITCH by Lauren Barnholdt. She also chose her free book for the B&N Summer reading program: LIBERTY PORTER, FIRST DAUGHTER by Julia Devillers.

At the library, she put all her tickets into the jar for the prize package of Pirateology: The Pirate Hunter's Companion; Egyptology: Search for the Tomb of Osiris; Wizardology: The Book of the Secrets of Merlin.

As for me, I just finished ARTEMIS FOWL by Eoin Colfer--and just started EARTHSHINE by Theresa Nelson.

What are your kids reading? You?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reading as Research

Last summer, I had an idea for a fairy story. Actually, my working title is older than that, but I wrote the first chapter last summer. In my ::ahem:: spare time over the past year, I've done a bit of plotting and a short outline. It's a fun, MG story about an nontraditional fairy.

"But," you say, "there a a million fairy stories out there."

I know. In fact, I've been asked to review an ARC of one coming out in the fall (more to come on that. I CAN'T wait, this is from an awesome blogger and friend). Is there room for mine? I think so. I think as long as there is a new twist, there is always room for more of anything.

So I've made a list of twenty fairy stories (from PB to YA) and I'm going to be reading some this summer. I just started ARTEMIS FOWL on my iPod, so I can "read" in the car. I want to find out what kind of worlds my writing colleagues have created--not to copy, but to inform my writing. I want to make sure I'm putting my gothish, combat boot-wearing fairy into a world of my own creation, not something that mimics or reminds people of another.

How do you research a new WIP?