Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Positively Kreativ Post or a Kreatively Positive Post!

What a wonderful week in Blogland it has been. Why you ask?

I'll tell you why.

1. I received some awards from fellow bloggers!

Wendy, aka Quillfeather, gave me the Kreativ Blogger award! Per the award requirements, my seven things are listed right HERE! Thanks so much, Wendy, my new New Zealand friend!

Paul Michael Murphy gave me the Silver Lining Award which is all about being positive so this post will be bursting with positivity! Thank you, Murph for the mention.

I bestow this honor to
Anita - She is a fab blogger/reviewer and cheerleader of mine (one of her posts was called An Ode to Kelly Polark - how awesome is that?). She is a positively wonderful (and wonderfully sarcastic), loyal blog buddy.
MG Higgins - This talented illustrator/writer somehow managed to blog after an earthquake and a beloved pets passing, plus she is punny!
Shelli - Shelli always has great interviews or fab links to help market us unpublished and published authors at Market My Words.
Elana - I recently discovered her blog which is packed with fun and great writerly advice! And I want to steal the cool background at the top of her blog!
Donna - Donna has uplifting posts and recently posted a poetry contest where she and another blogger critiqued each entry plus gave out a prize! See her at Word Wrangler!
2. I get Critter next! You may or may not know that Critter, created by artist Ian Sands, has been traveling around the world visiting different bloggers. Christy from Christy's Creative Space started this lil guy on his merry way and Nandini at Notes from New England is sending him to me! I will show Critter the marvels of the Midwest. I may even have to take him to a concert and teach him to headbang. We will see... Plus after Critter's visit here, I will have a contest to see where he goes next (it could be your home!).

3. I noticed I have some new follower friends! Thank you for adding my blog to your busy life! (and thanks to my regular bloggy buds too!)

4. I am having my query critiqued by my writing group tonight, plus Elana had great tips this week on her blog about queries too! I'm so happy to get my query finished this week, and I hope to send it out in early February! I'm happy and nervous...

5. Anita Laydon Miller has declared February 1 "Post a Photo of your Work Area Day." Join us on that day and post a pic of your writing workspace. Details here. And if you are really brave, don't tidy up before taking the picture!

6. I got my personal best score on Word Bubbles yesterday! Go Words!

7. I finished The Lightning Thief. I loved it! It was jam packed with action. Can't wait for the movie which opens February 12!

8. I had two great, fulfilling days as a substitute teacher at the grade school my kids attend this week. I'm so glad that I have a vocation I can ease back into. Days like these confirm why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place. And I got to have lunch with my daughter one day!

9. My pup hasn't peed on the upstairs carpet once this week! :)

10. I hope your week is happy, too! Tell me one great thing that happened this week!

Monday, January 25, 2010

How Writing is Like Dancing

When I am not listening to music or spending time with family, I am writing. I like to write. I also like to dance. And writing is a lot like dancing. Think about it.

1. Practice. Practice. Practice. I started writing for children about four years ago. I look back at what I wrote in that first few months and shake my head. Could you do the zombie dance from the Thriller video the first time you tried it? Me neither. But man, I practiced and now I can thrill you more than any ghoul would ever dare try.
2. Yes, classes do help. I have taken a writing class and a poetry class in the last few years that have led to tighter writing and a few acceptances. Assignments also force you to try styles of writing you might not otherwise. When I took dance classes long ago, I learned shuffle-ball- change, a pirouette, and much more. Should I try the hip hop class next?
3. Keep hydrated. You need to be alert. Get that Starbucks coffee or in my case, fountain pop Coke from McDonald’s or better yet, a nice tall glass of ice water. Now that you are refreshed, get to that writing. Take sips in between paragraphs, and keep going! When it is time to dance, you also need hydration. Ice water is best here, too, but sometimes a margarita is much more effective to get those hips shakin’.
4. You will fail, and you will succeed. Yes, you have had rejections from publishers. But you tried and tried again. And received an acceptance. That made you dance. Then you tried to do the lambada* with the cable guy. Rejection again. But then you did the hokey pokey with your five year old. Success!
5. Once in a while, let loose and freestyle. Don’t outline. Don’t plan. Just let the words flow. You can revise later. Then turn on the music and move. Shake it, baby, shake it! Just move! You can put ice on your sore muscles later.

*Author’s note: No, I really have never danced the lambada with the cable guy. The Macarena, yes. But not the lambada.

Well, looky here. This is how I write.

And this is how I DANCE!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Three Things for Thursday

1. So, my sister went to college and received her finance degree. She became a banker, and received her MBA at Northwestern. Now she owns her own motorcycle apparel business (Vavavroom- check it out!). And guess what else? She is now published in a book! Before her aspiring author sister! What can't this girl do?! (And of course, she's tall, thin, beautiful and a great aunt to my children, too.) No, I'm not jealous (really!). I'm excited for her. She has an excerpt in a book titled "Why We Ride." Congrats, Denise!

2. Thanks to Bish for giving me the Happy 101 Award! I'm supposed to list what makes me happy, but I did a list of Things I Like (which also make me happy) recently, so here's a link to Things I Like! Besides these things, I have completed my final revisions on my chapter book, and that makes me very happy. I'm currently researching agents and drafting my query letter.
Thanks again, Bish! You made me happy! I wish a happy 2010 to all of you!

3. I am STILL addicted to Word Bubbles. (At least my score is getting better!)


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Golden Globes Wrap Up

I watched the Golden Globes last night (well, most of it, I missed the first half hour). Did you? I love seeing the TV stars and movie stars all together in one place, but mostly, I love seeing the beautiful gowns!
I'm not going to list the winners (who do I look like, Billy Bush?) See winners of the night here.
Here's my usual
Random Thoughts While Watching the Golden Globes
1. I adore Neil Patrick Harris! Jane Krakowski's dress is darn cute, too.
2. I read this week that Michael C. Hall has cancer. Great to see him come out and win tonight. I watched the first two episodes of the first season of Dexter this year, and they were awesome! I need to rent the full seasons soon!
3. Darn! Sookie didn't win best actress in a TV Series Drama! Julianna Margulies won for The Good Wife. I have heard that series is well, good.
4. Cher and Christina Aguilera! Both look pretty great (though one has had much more plastic surgery than the other...). "I Want to Come Home" by Paul McCartney was my fave of the nominees for Best Song.
5. Jennifer Aniston looks fresh and glowy! Did she brush off Gerard Butler or was that a joke? I'm thinking they were joking around.
6. Yow! Halle Berry looks hot!
7. Wow! Scorcese has made some tremendous movies!
8. Good to see Jodie Foster. Haven't seen her in a while.
9. The Hangover won! I haven't seen many movies in 2009, but I did see this. It made me laugh, and it kept me in suspense!
10. Who doesn't love Sandra Bullock? She seems like such a genuine person. Purple is a unique choice, but it's a lovely gown on her.

Random Quotes from my children while they watched a half hour with me
1. "That's Han Solo?????" - JD
2. "So many old people on this show." - J-Man
3. "Tell me when Han Solo is on again!" - JD
4. I told them that Drew Barrymore was Gertie from ET. Lil Missy says, "I see that ET is old then."
5. J-Man did get excited to see Brendan Fraser and Mace Windu (Samuel Jackson).

Best Facebook/Tweet Quote during the Globes:
"In that room tonight, how much money do you think has been on plastic surgery (face, boobs, lips) in total. Millions!" by Shelli of Market My Words.

Best Dressed: Ginnifer Goodwin. Loved her cute short do and vibrant blue dress.
Best Dressed in General: I'm an LBD kind of girl, so I loved all the simple, but sexy black dresses on Jennifer Aniston, Jane Krakowski and Julie Bowen.
Best Makeup: Olivia Wilde (though I'm sure she'd look beautiful in no makeup) She is auctioning off her dress to benefit Haiti.
Best Makeup 2: Jennifer Morrison (I am partial to red lipstick if you may have noticed) Didn't love the dress though.
Misses: I wasn't a fan of Julianne Moore's gown nor the ruffles of Chloe Sevigny.

If you watched, who do you think the best dressed celebrity was? What was your favorite movie of 2009?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Poetry Friday

I have a problem.

My husband told me about a cool word game a few weeks ago. I told him I was too busy to try it. He insisted that I would love it and to try it. And so this week I did try it (like a dutiful wife would).
What did I get myself into?! The game is on Lumosity and it is called Word Bubble. I love words, so he knew I would love this game. I bookmarked it. Then for three days I ignored making dinner (thanks, hubby), ignored a few regularly watched TV shows, ignored prime writing time, ignored my children at one point or another (sorry, babies), and I stayed up way too late. My eyes ached from staring so intently at the computer screen. All because of this freaking game.

I would only stop at night because my computer battery would die (I'm not kidding). I'd drag myself to bed and try to sleep, but I only saw words floating in my brain. If I had an extra few minutes, I'd tell myself I'd have time to just do three games. Only three. Three turned into ten. And so on.

Thankfully I had writing group last night, so I didn't play for all hours (and I actually accomplished something. I finished my final revisions on my manuscript. YAY!). So I told myself today that I HAD to get more done. I would not play. But I did. I can't help it. I am getting better. I played less than three tries today.

I wish I knew how to quit you, Word Bubble.

Would you like a love/hate relationship with a word game? The object of the game is to write as many words as you can that begin with the three letter combination given. You can only write so many four letter words, five letter words and so on in a given amount of time. Try it! You know you'll like it. It really is challenging and fun. Here's the link to WORD BUBBLE!
Edited to add: So I've been playing this game over and over, and I just realized the correct name of the game is Word Bubbles NOT Word Bubble. Close, but as you can see my brain is a bit strained...


There once was a game called Word Bubble
I brainstormed words on the double.
I racked my brain.
It drove me insane.
I swear that game’s only trouble!

Find better poetry than this at the Poetry Roundup at Great Kid Books.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Top Tunes for Tuesday

Kelly's Top 9 of '09
9. "Single Ladies" by Beyonce
8. "Jars" by Chevelle
7. "Paparazzi" by Lady Gaga
6. "I Will Not Bow" by Breaking Benjamin
5. "Uprising" by Muse
4. "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon
3. "Lifeline" by Papa Roach
2. "Eyesore" by Janus
1. "Black Heart Inertia" by Incubus

Chicks ruled the music scene in 2009. Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Beyonce (and let's not forget Miley Cyrus, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Rihanna, and Katy Perry) all dominated the airwaves this year. Even this rocker had to download many of their pop songs this year, and two made my top 9 of '09 list.
Other 2009 music trivia:
*"Boom Boom Pow" by Black Eyed Peas was the most downloaded song on Itunes in 2009.
* The best selling album of 2009 was Fearless by Taylor Swift.
*The Grammy's will air on January 31. Yes, I will be watching (even though there is not enough rock 'n roll on it, I still love music). See this year's Grammy nominees. I'm hoping Kings of Leon will win the rock category. My son can't decide whether he wants Lamb of God, Slayer, or Megadeth to win the Metal category. Speaking of my son, look what he got from his grandma for Christmas! This bad boy is a Schecter Hellraiser! (Thankfully my son is not...)

What was your favorite song of 2009?

Today's Tune for Tuesday is my number two song of 2009 (my number one song has already been a Tune for Tuesday). I've played this song repeatedly the last three weeks. I am hoping to see this band with Chevelle in February. Both Chevelle and Janus are bands from the Chicago area. In fact, when I first heard this song, I thought it was by Chevelle. They have a similar sound. And of course they both ROCK!

And for you pop lovers out there, here's "Single Ladies" by Beyonce. How can you not dance to this song? And how many of you have tried out these moves while hearing this song? (Of course, I have! Numerous times! You know you have, too! ;)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Write Stuff

This is a very cool writing meme, and I've been tagged by MG Higgins! Sorry it took me so long! It's a fun tag for us writing folk, so consider yourself tagged if you would like to post your answers on your blog, too!

1) What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing I wrote was a comment on a blog. I'm participating in the Comment Challenge, so I'm commenting even more than usual! I've found some great new blogs already!

I have poetry projects from fifth grade and eighth grade somewhere in my house. I need to find them. I have a cinquain about Duran Duran in there.

2) Write poetry?
Absofreakinglutely. I love poetry.

3) Angsty poetry?
I'm not an angsty person. Most of my poetry is fun. But I've written a few.

4) Favorite genre of writing?
So hard to choose. I love to write poetry. I have five picture book manuscripts completed (3 are poetry collections) and one chapter book manuscript. I hope to try YA one day...

5) Most annoying character you've ever created?
Cam the Ketchup (something I wrote for a Mustard Museum contest!)

6) Best plot you've ever created?
I'm still working on it!

7) Coolest plot twist you've ever created?
I like the sort of plot twist that I submitted for a short story contest recently.

8) How often do you get writer's block?
Occasionally, but thankfully not frequently.

9) Write fan fiction?

10) Do you type or write by hand?
Both. Most of my poetry is by hand. Longer stories are typewritten.

11) Do you save everything you write?
Most of it!

12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
Yes, yes, yes, I do. I go back to ideas, how 'bout you?

13) What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
My rhyming rock 'n roll ABC book and my current WIP chapter book, Rock 'n Roll Princesses Wear Black.
Oh! And my Halloween parody picture book!

14) What's everyone else's favorite story you've written?
So far the Halloween parody picture book. It's very catchy. But I've had more people read that one, too.

15) Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

16) What's your favorite setting for your characters?
I generally do modern day.

17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?
2 - one poetry book I've set aside for a few months and finishing revisions on my chapter book

18) Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Not yet!

19) What are your five favorite words?
ginormous, fantabulous, ridonkulous, spathetic, awesomage
Oh, you mean real ones?

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?
The mom in my chapter book

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?
Everything everywhere.

22) Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Usually not, but I recently dreamed the beginning of an interesting book. I have the general idea written down now in a notebook.

23) Do you favor happy endings?
Yes, but it's not mandatory.

24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Yes, I'm a former teacher!

25) Does music help you write?
No, because I end up singing to it. I do get ideas for poetry sometimes from songs though.

26) Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.
"The bats go flying one by one..."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Polark Picks of 2009

I didn't set a reading goal on the number of books I wanted to read this year, nor will I this year. I just want to read and enjoy it and not worry about counting. Though I am happy that I read more books this year than since I was a teen! The last ten years of being a mom took me away from reading just for myself. Sure I read tons of board books and picture books (and I do loooooove picture books), but I never relaxed and read just for myself. 2009 changed all that. I enjoyed reading the Harry Potter series with my oldest, then went on to the Twilight series, and on and on. I loved reading recommendations from fellow bloggers, and I loved reading blueboarder's or blogger's very own books!

So my total of MG/YA/adult books was just under 20, but that's 18 more than I read in years! :) I also read many, many early chapter books, picture books and books of poetry this year as well.

Here are some of my favorites from this year:
Fave book of the year: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (only book that made me cry while reading and also because the series was done)

Fave book of the Twilight Series: Eclipse (I did enjoy that series! Team Jacob!)

Picture book that made me giggle the most: Guess Again by Mac Barnett, illustrations by Adam Rex (Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex is a close second)

Fave Picture book by a fellow blogger or blueboarder: A New Job for Dilly by Rena Jones

Most inspirational MG- Operation Yes! by Sara Lewis Holmes

Favorite chapter book series: Junie B. Jones (love her sassiness!)

Favorite book with sophomoric humor (which I enjoy very much): Sophomore Undercover by Ben Esch

YA Book that I could not put down: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Fave book of poetry (my son loved it, too!): Dinothesaurus by Douglas Florian

Honorable mentions (books I just plain enjoyed reading): The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Emerald Tablet by PJ Hoover, Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard.

Some of these books I read were won on blog contests, so thank you again! And guess what....I just won another.

A big thank you to Myra McEntire . I won Beautiful Creatures on her blog! I am looking forward to reading it. Myra's debut YA novel, Hourglass, will be out in 2011!

Those are my good reads of the year. What's your favorite?

Do you want a fun challenge? Mother Reader and Lee Wind are presenting the Comment Challenge again this year! I participated last year, and this challenge helped me find new blogs and also got me into the habit of commenting regularly! The challenge begins Friday, January 8 (sign up Friday on Lee's or Mother Reader's blog) and runs to January 28. The challenge is to comment on five blogs daily. There are prizes too! If you forget to sign up on Friday, you can even sign up late and just up your daily average. See details here! This is a great way to communicate and network with new and current friendly bloggers and to get traffic to your own blog!

Speaking of challenges, did anyone else enter Nathan Bradsford's Dear Diary contest? I decided to late yesterday afternoon! Thanks to Sherrie and Anita for reminding me about it! I read both of yours in the comments, too, ladies. Intriguing, well written diary entries!! Alas, I didn't make it to be a finalist, but it was a great writing exercise. The finalists' entries were darn great.

Don't forget to check out Carrie Harris's contest to win a free critique! Her debut YA novel No Pain, No Brain comes out next year!
Also, happy birthday to my baby girl! My puppy, Daisy, just turned one! How long does puppyhood last? She definitely still acts like a crazy pup!


A Tune for Tuesday Tribute on Rock Band

The drummer of one of my favorite bands (and my son's most fave band) died unexpectedly last week. Jimmy Sullivan, known as The Rev, of Avenged Sevenfold died on December 28 of natural causes (autopsy results so far are inconclusive). He was only 28.
The main reason this band appeals to me is because of the manic drumbeats and guitar riffs. The Rev was also a big part of the music writing. I'm saddened that this band will be forever changed by his death. I am glad I was able to see him play live twice in concert.
My ten year old son and I played one of Avenged Sevenfold's hit songs, "Afterlife," on Rockband 2 on the Wii for a tribute (and hey, Rock Band is fun!).
If you ever wondered how you play Rock Band, the kit comes with a microphone, drum set, and guitar. You can choose to just sing, just drum, just guitar, or a mix of any two or three. (I think you can also add a guitar for the bass or rhythm as well.) You can buy other games with different songs, too.
On this video you can see J-Man drumming according to colors. The orange bar tells him when to press on the drum pedal. The words are written across the top for me to sing. If there was a guitar, the screen would be split in two.
Here's J-Man and I playing "Afterlife." Can you tell we are sporting our Avenged Sevenfold tshirts? Also, that isn't a real cat on my couch, it's my daughter's Furreal cat. One or two of my doggies may be seen in the vid though.
(Disclaimer: I have never claimed to be a singer of the professional sort ;)
Go to Sherrie, Donna, or Debra's blog for real talented singers!!

Here is the band's music video of "Afterlife."

RIP Jimmy.