Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dear Diary 2: BLARRRGH!

The very first entry in my diary listed my job aspirations. I didn't write in my diary very regularly. The entries at age eight were few and far between. But I thought I'd share one more entry from the innocent age of eight. Because the majority of the remainder of my entries are mostly about....boys!

Saturday July 21

Mon. July 16 we went horse back riding and my horses name was Pal my moms Bay Mare Dad's Jean Denise's Pepper. The next day I was sick. I threw up 2 times. It was pink. See you later diary.

Apparently I didn't think my diary cared about punctuation or correct grammar...
I clearly remember that day. We were at my grandparent's cabin in northern Wisconsin. I am thinking that either the pink was from Pepto Bismol or lots of candy since we were on vacation. Not that I should sit and ponder about the contents of my puke. I should also note that It was pink was scratched out with pencil. My sister and mom peeked into my new diary and made fun of me for describing the color of my launched lunch. So I got embarrassed and scratched it out. Little did I know then that it would be a topic for a blog post much later!

I read this entry last week as I was perusing my diary. This past week I wrote three paragraphs about vomit in my middle grade book. I did describe the regurgitate. Why? Because I do think a fifth grade would notice such things. It's gross. But slightly intriguing. As I wrote, I also brainstormed many ways to say throw up: vomit, barf, regurgitate, stomach sludge, puke, hurl, blow chunks. Then I googled "other words for puke" and added these (don't you love google?): ralph, shout at your shoes, eject, toss your cookies, spew, launch lunch, upchuck, talk to the carpet, involuntary personal protein spill, un-eat, reverse drinking, and my personal favorite- scream cookies.

Now aren't you glad you stopped here at my blog today? Did I miss any words? Feel free to add more in the comments. Do you think Angela has vomit at the Bookshelf Muse yet?

What disgusting things has your character done lately?

EDITED: I just googled images to go with this to see if there were any funny cartoon throw up pictures to post with this. Warning: don't google vomit in images. I'm gagging. I'll just post the picture of my diary again. You are welcome.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Miscellaneous Monday

1. It's that time of year again. Season finales. Show finales. Lost is done. So is 24. I don't watch either. Which show was I sad about ending? Nip/Tuck.
Nip/Tuck actually ended its seven year run a few months ago, but I finally watched the finale last month. I was disappointed. I was not only disappointed that I would no longer be watching Sean and Christian's drama filled lives, gasping at the crazy plot lines, and hiding my eyes during surgery clips anymore,
but I was disappointed at the final episode. It wasn't wild and over the top enough. This show was all about overexaggerated lifestyles, stories, and whacked out twists. But the last episode was just "eh." I wanted a "HOLY CRAP!" last episode. But even so, Nip/Tuck, you will be missed.
Which season finale did you enjoy or are looking forward to?

2. Speaking of entertainment, check out Dezmond's Hollywood Spy blog for all the brand spanking new news about television and movies! I don't have time to watch the entertainment news shows, or even watch a lot of shows, but I am kept in the loop by Dezmond's posts and hot pics of celebrities!

3. CONTEST NEWS: Sara McClung at Babbling Flow is hosting a Very Vampire Contest! Enter to win SIGNED copies of Twilight or Charlaine Harris books or Anne Rice books and more!! You know you vant to!

4. Have you heard of the new dystopian blog The League of Extraordinary Writers? This blog features YA dystopian debut authors like Beth Revis, Elana Johnson, Jeff Hirsch, Julia Karr, and Angie Smibert. Check it out, here's the link! There's a contest there, too!

5. And of course, CONGRATULATIONS to Elana Johnson! Her YA Novel, Control Issues, was sold to Simon Pulse! Stop by to read about her timeline to story to agent and sale and congratulate her at her blog here! And she's having contests this week to celebrate! WOW!

6. One if my favorite all time author/illustrator pairings is Mac Barnett and Adam Rex. Their picture book, Guess Again, is one of my all time favorite silly books (and it just came out in September). Read here at School Library Journal the crazy story how Mac Barnett started his life as a children's author. He's had five books published in the last year!

You all have yourselves a fantabulous week!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Diary of a With It Kid

Or more specifically: Diary of a tomboy who loved to read, tell jokes, ride bikes, play Barbies, bury dead birds, play sports, and who eventually became boy crazy in junior high. Yeah, that kid.
Most of you blog readers are writers. And you write for children, right? So, where else to capture the voice of youth but a diary. How about my diary? Yes, I'll give you a peek. I'll try to post one a week for a while. Don't worry, it'll get juicier by the time I'm in the throes and woes of junior high...

I received this diary when I was almost eight years old.

Here are my first two entries word for word that I wrote the summer before third grade:

Dear Diary,
I have been thinking of what I am going to be when I grow up. I want to be a vetinarian, pet store lady, model, be on commercials, a TV star or a song writer. or a teacher.

Me and Anne are writing in our Diary's today. And Anne is writing about our last eclipse and what she is going to be when she grew up. Anne let me see her Diary and I got what I was going to be, from her.

It's nice to see that I accomplished a few goals of my childhood. I did become a teacher. I was an extra in two tv shows, and I write song parodies (okay, those are a stretch)!

What did you want to be when you grew up? What does your character want to be when he/she grows up?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Travelin' Teddy Bears

Go, Bears, go!
The second graders at my children's school recently participated in a project called Traveling Bears. This project is similar to Flat Stanley, if you are familiar with that. Each child brought in a teddy bear to send along with family and friends on their adventures. My daughter named her pink teddy bear Cotton Candy. The students then kept track of the states and countries that each stuffed teddy bear visited. Each teddy bear had a notebook in its back pack where the sponsors could write about each adventure. Cotton Candy sent letters or postcards to the school from each stop, too.

We sent Lil Missy's bear with family on their trips from January to April. The lucky bear went on a cruise to Hawaii, California, Arizona, Indiana, and Wisconsin. We took the bear with us to Canada (see pic above of Niagara Falls), Michigan, Ohio and Indiana on spring break as well. The students also made a flat bear to send to places. Lil Missy's flat Cotton Candy visited Spain, Montana, and New York. It's a fabulous project that incorporates so many school subjects like music (there was a Teddy Bear Singalong to kick off the project), geography, world cultures, reading, writing, and more.
Lil Missy just had her Teddy Bear Fair to end this five month school project, and I wanted to share a few of the fun pictures that came from Cotton Candy's adventures.

On the cruise ship in the Pacific Ocean


A few fabulous authors also hosted Cotton Candy. I am a helper in my daughter's classroom and also a mystery reader in her class so I shared the stories of Rena Jones and poetry and illustrations of Douglas Florian with them. They were excited to receive pictures and correspondence from these two authors as well.

Rena took Cotton Candy to many scenic spots in Montana and created a wonderfully creative packet about the trip. She also sent taffy for the students to share!


Douglas was kind enough to paint a bear and send a note from New York for Lil Missy to share with her class. Isn't it beautiful? This polar(k) bear will be framed soon!


THANK YOU so much Douglas and Rena for going above and beyond for my daughter and her class!! Also thank you to my family and friends for letting Cotton Candy tag along with you, too!

I also want to say a big CONGRATULATIONS to my friend, Anita Laydon Miller! Anita recently signed a contract with Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency! Go to her blog and say congrats! I just know the news of your book being sold will be next, Anita!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More Mark McVeigh!

A few weeks ago, Agent Extraordinaire, Mark McVeigh, invited a group of his blog followers to participate in a webinar about the publishing industry. I was one of lucky ones to join in on the fun!
Fun you ask? Absolutely! Mark McVeigh is an agent with The McVeigh Agency. Mark is a former teacher and former editorial director at Simon and Schuster. This man knows his stuff!
During the webinar, I was able to see and chat with Mark and other attending writers while learning about different aspects of the publishing world. Mark presented so much wonderful information about getting an agent or editor and of course, about getting published! I have about five pages of notes that I have already revisited. They will also come in handy when I get back to the agent search. We discussed everything from writing schedules and critique groups to query letters and networking. Of course I was a bit nervous at first, but Mark made everyone feel very comfortable, and we were all able to ask specific questions about agents and publishing.
During our webinar, some of us formed an online critique group which is now called “Mark One Page at a Time!” Sharon Mayhew came up with the clever name as a nod to Mark since he was the one who brought us all together. Mark was discussing the importance of online and face to face critique groups. Some of us were not in online groups yet, so we decided to form one!
This was such a worthwhile experience, and I am certain that each and every one of us came out much more informed and even more inspired. Thank you, Mark, for your generosity and expertise and thank you, ladies, for your wonderful discussions and continued support!
Check out The McVeigh Agency website here and the agency's blog here!

I am thrilled to be a part of a new online critique group as well as continuing with my local one (we had an amazing session last night). Do you have a critique group? If so, what brought you all together?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Miscellaneous Monday

1. I hope all of you wonderful moms had a great weekend. Mine was close to perfect. My daughter had her First Communion on Saturday followed by lunch and laughter with family at our house, finally watched The Blind Side (excellent movie), and then played Apples to Apples. On Mother's Day we went to church and to a most delicious 12:30 brunch. I even ordered three of my favorite drinks right away when I got there: champagne, chocolate milk, and a Coke. After eating way too much at brunch, I came home and got into my jammies! Except for the very cold temperatures, the weekend was awesome. How did you celebrate?

2. NaPiboWriWee is all done! Check Paula Yoo's site for more details on this 7 Picture Books in 7 Days week. I did complete a rough draft of one non-fiction book and worked on about half of a rhyming PB. I knew I wouldn't complete 7 rough drafts in 7 days, but it did motivate me to do a lot! It was a much needed break from my Middle Grade which I will get back to this week.

3. Thank you to Nicole at One Significant Moment at a Time for the Awesomesauce award. That's....awesome! Also thanks to Wendy at Musings from Down Under for the Sugar Doll award. Sweet!

4. Jonathan Arntson tagged me in this fun FIVE THINGS meme. If you want to do this too, consider yourself tagged!

Where were you five years ago?
1. Nursing and nurturing an eight month old son
2. While chasing after a very rambunctious two year old daughter
3. and worrying how my kindergartener was handling all the attention I had to pay to the other two more demanding children
4. Changing many, many diapers
5. Receiving much love in return

Where would you like to be five years from now?
1. Agented
2. Published author in the genres of PB and MG
3. Attending, cheering and carting my kids to many sports events and activities of my 10 yr old, 12 yr old and (gasp!) 15 year old.
4. Same house and hope it is full of as much hugs and kisses as it is now (see my kids ages in five years).
5. Perhaps teaching grade school either full time or substitute teaching

What is/was on your to do list today?
1. Substitute teach P.E. in the morning (my daughter was very excited, because I will sub for her class for 35 minutes)
2. Laundry catch up since I ignored it all weekend
3. Take library books back (or renew them online)
4. Read your blog
5. Cheer on JD at his t-ball game (if it doesn't rain!)

What five snacks do you enjoy?
1. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
2. Salted cashews
3. Chocolate chip cookies
4. Popcorn at the movies
5. cheese and crackers

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
I'm not sure I'd want to be a billionaire...seriously. I'd love a million dollars...but no more. :) I like my life the way it is. This was the toughest of the questions...
1. Save for my children's colleges and set up accounts for their future children.
2. I'd pay off my house and probably buy one on the lake for my fisherman hubby. I imagine we'd both get new cars (a corvette and truck for him, a big family suv for the kids and I). Help out other family members too in a reasonable way.
3. Go to more SCBWI conferences, specifically the L.A. and NY ones, help pay for some of my blogger buds to go, too (or to a writing retreat).
4. Get front row seats to concerts with VIP passes of course.
5. Donate to charities, specifically ones for children and education.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Holy Acronyms, Awards, and Contests, Batman!


Have you heard all the buzz about WIBIJ?! WIBIJ is "Where in the Blogosphere is Jon?" On various Wednesdays, supernice bloggers Tina, Heather and Jon host a game where you follow the clues to very cool blogs, and if you do it fast enough, or leave the best comment out there, then you win an award! This week's award includes books! You know you love books! The game is crazy fun, and you can definitely find me there on game days! The game starts at 1PM EST time TODAY! If you can't make it then, the game is open for 24 hours! Stop by and try to beat three-time winner Dena or come up with the most clever comment!! The play by plays after the game are amusing, too!

Another ubercool contest in the blogosphere is this!
Candace Granger at The Misadventures of Candyland is having not one, but two contests to celebrate 100 followers! Prizes include books, homemade candle, signed bookmarks, a query critique, a chapter critique and gift card!! Holy wow! Go, now!

Have you visited the website, yet? If you haven't, what's stopping you?'s mission is to help people learn how to build a lifetime reading plan.
This website features interviews from various readers such as Jamie Weiss Chilton, Cynthia Liu, and Bruce Hale. Plus it has lists like 100 Greatest YA Novels and Greatest Zombie Novels. This fab website even has links to where you can donate your books! What else? The creator, fellow writer David Case, went to high school with me (he was in my sister's class!). Check it out!

Anyone else participating in the 7 Picture Books in 7 Days? Well I am! I thought I'd take a break from my MG to write some picture book fast drafts. I know I can't possibly write seven, but I am about 1/3 of the way done with one so far! Check out Paula Yoo's website for details.


Disclaimer: If you aren't big on passing awards around, don't worry about acknowledging mine to you. I just want to give you a shout out!! I am terrible about remembering myself and don't follow the rules half the time!

*Big thank you's to 1 Zany Zoo author, Lori Degman, and some other very nice person that I am blanking on at the moment (so sorry!) for presenting me with the Prolific Award.
I hand this to Elana Johnson for her daily informative posts!Thanks again to Elana for Spreading the Awesome on Monday. Look here for some great book recommendations from Monday.

*I also received the Too Cool for School Award from Candy! (Though I was at school yesterday substitute teaching first graders, so I really am not too cool for school...maybe just slightly cool...). Thanks, Candy!! (see her contest in first part of this post)
I award it to Suzanne Casamento because she always has fun questions on her blog, and she grocery shops at the same place as Jared Leto!

*Thank you to Kelly at Just Write for the Super Commenter Award. Anita, even though you aren't big on awards, I need to hand it to you as well because your comments always make me giggle! And if sarcastic, witty comments aren't cool, then I don't know what is -so you can also have the Too Cool award too!

*Thank you also to Susan Fields for awarding me the Spreading the Sunshine award. Here comes the the terrific trio - Tina, Heather, and Jon- for their awesome WIBIJ game and sunny contributions to the blogging world. (Tina Laurel Lee also had a blog called, "The Practice Room" where writers unplug for an hour then chat about it! It's a great way to make sure you get writing time in a busy day. See this week's schedule here!)

PHEW! This post ended up being much longer than expected...thanks for sticking with me to the end. You still there? Good. Have yourself a wonderful day, you!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spreading the Awesome: Stay Gold, Ponyboy

Today Elana Johnson is hosting "Spreading the Awesome: National Hug an Author Day!" Please go to this post to see a list of the many published authors who are being celebrated today. Then check out Elana's pick, Kathleen Duey.

Today I celebrate a longtime favorite of mine: S. E. Hinton. I recently reread her classic, The Outsiders, with my fifth grade son. He and I have read and explored new books together like the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series. I was excited to share something that I read and enjoyed when I was 11 years old.

Coincidentally the movie, The Outsiders, came out around the time I would have naturally read the book. The movie was released in March 1983 when I was in sixth grade. I started buying the Teen Beat magazines around that time and due to the fact of so many handsome, young men (or babes as I would have called them back then) in this movie, The Outsiders had plenty of coverage in these mags. And on my walls. I may even have to say that this movie caused my boy craziness in junior high. I devoured any magazine about this movie. C. Thomas Howell and Matt Dillon were plastered all over my walls and bedroom door. I watched the movie many times. Two lines from the movie have been quoted by my mom, my sister, and I hundreds of times since then. "Do it for Johnny!" and "He couldn't take it - he's gonna blow!" are still peppered in our conversations today.

But back to the book. The movie may have intensified my interest in reading the book, but the book itself kept me reading it and rereading it all through my teens. I remember bringing the book to my grandparents' cabin and rereading it one summer for the third or fourth time. There I made up a song about the characters of the book, much to the annoyance of my older sister. The song wasn't annoying so much as the fact that I sang it all the time! I also memorized (and can still recite) the first line of the book.

What did I love about this book? It was honest, yet not totally graphic. The characters were likable even though they smoked, stole, rumbled, and cussed. Ponyboy Curtis and Two-Bit Mathews are two of my all time favorite characters from a book. Ponyboy was smart, handsome, but felt picked on like many youngest siblings do. He even loved to read and enjoyed poetry (just like me). Do you remember him reading "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost? Two-Bit was a riot. He was carefree and joked around even before a big rumble. I giggled as I read his flippant comments to others. And of course I cried at another point of the book for another character. My husband, son, and I also recently enjoyed watching the movie together. A totally random fact about the widespread influence of this book/movie is that the lead singer of rock band Buckcherry, Josh Todd, has "Stay Gold" tattooed on his knuckles!

I loved rereading this book so much that I am now rereading That was Then, This is Now by S. E. Hinton, her second book. I even forgot that Ponyboy was a minor character in this book! I plan to read or reread her other books when I'm done with this one.

Here are a few facts about Susan Eloise Hinton that I found on her website.

*S.E. Hinton's first novel, The Outsiders, was published in 1967.

*The pressure from the fame of her first book helped cause a three year writer's block. Her boyfriend (now husband) then encouraged her to write two pages a day. Her next novel, That Was Then, This Is Now came from these writings.

*She has a cameo as a nurse in a scene with Dally (Matt Dillon) in The Outsiders. I remember this from my teen magazines. I was the authority on Outsider fun facts back then.

*Hinton still lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

*Her other books include Tex, Rumblefish, and Taming the Star Runner. Big David, Little David and The Puppy Sister are her books for younger readers. Her latest book, Hawkes Harbor , was released last week!

So, today I hug you, S.E. Hinton, for your honest and inspirational books that stand the test of time. Thank you.