Saturday, November 6, 2010

Power Point Presentations

I am getting a power point presentation ready for an author visit this coming Wednesday. Whew... it's time consuming! All of my pictures are scattered everywhere on my computer, in no particular order. I have not logically labeled any pictures, and some are saved on disks which are buried in the bottom of my storage stool (yes, you read that right!). The moral of this story... be more organized.

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Networking & Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Networking happens in the oddest of places. I was standing in line with my family at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago a few days ago, waiting... waiting... waiting to get in. Since I'm not one to keep quiet (especially when bored), I struck up a conversation with the woman in front of me, only to find out she is the principal at a very cool school in Indianapolis. We got to talking about our jobs, and I received her business card and an invitation to contact her about speaking at her school.

What does this story prove? You just never know. You never know when you will make a connection, or how it will affect you. Which is why you should never completely empty your purse of all items, including business cards (and instead fill it with snacks and peanut butter sandwiches for your trip) because who knows when those business cards will come in handy?!

Anyway, this is a shout out to my new friends, the James' family from Indy. I hope their boys had a super first experience in Chicago, and I hope to come to Key Learning Community sometime soon and share my life as a writer with the children in IPS!

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Taking After Mom

I love books. I always have. As a kid, you could generally find me with a book, either making my own out of cardboard and construction paper, or reading one. I read whenever I have time now. When I taught school, reading and writing were my favorite subjects to teach. And I make a living by reading and writing. Oh, and I also volunteer two days a week at my daughter's school to help with literacy groups. As you can see, I love reading and everything that goes with it.

Which is why it is so much fun to watch my daughter's love of books develop just like mine did. Wherever she is, you can generally find her creating her own book (or reading one). She makes the best books. It's amazing that at six years old, her characters have personalities and she carries the personality traits through her whole story. She comes up with a plot and follows it to the end. And she even adds some humor and extra detail along the way. I can't wait to see how her books grow as she does.

She also just finished reading her first chapter book last Friday. She calls them 'gray books', since they aren't beautiful like picture books (this is what she tells me). Well, she picked up a 'gray book' and started reading it early last week and she loved it. She finished quickly and is ready to start her next one. So much for never wanting to read those gray books like Mom does!

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, September 17, 2010


Lightning is defined in Webster's dictionary as the flash of light produced by a high-tension natural electric discharge into the atmosphere. Well, lightning certainly is 'high-tension'. It causes tension, lots of it, especially when it hits your home in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm.

Finally, after two weeks, everything that was damaged by our lightning strike is back to normal and working properly. Well, almost everything. At least I can work from home again and have use of the Internet. Most importantly, I can finish watching the end of my BlockBuster Plots DVD. I was almost done watching it when the strike happened. Thankfully, I didn't leave the DVD in the player, since the player was ruined in the lightning strike. That wouldn't have done much for the DVD!

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blockbuster Plots

The seasons are changing here in northwest Indiana. Everywhere I look, signs of Autumn appear. The summer flowers are loosing their luster. My Tulip tree is dropping leaves. The pumpkins out in the garden are ready to be picked.

With the changing season is a renewed sense of trying to get my novel completely revised and off to find the right publisher. I keep hearing how MG is hot right now, especially MG novels geared toward boys. Which is a real motivator to put the finishing touches on my story. I finally started watching a highly recommended dvd, BlockBuster Plots, which I think will help take my novel from where it is to where it needs to be.

So far, the dvd is educational and points are clearly explained. Best of all, unlike at a regular conference, when the speaker starts going to fast, I can just push pause or rewind and hear what she has to say over and over again!

Happy writing to all. Thanks for stopping by. And enjoy the cooler weather!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Focus on the Novel

I haven't posted in quite some time. I was working on finishing up a picture book manuscript that needed to go out by May 7th. Which is exactly when it was postmarked. At least I made it.

Now I'm gearing up for our Indiana SCBWI conference this weekend, Focus on the Novel. Stephen Roxburgh, the president and founder of namelos, will be speaking Friday and Saturday. He also worked at Front Street Books and Boyds Mills Press as a publisher. His information will not only be beneficial, but I'm hoping motivational, since I really need a creative boost to get this most recent edit of my novel done. My main character has been stuck in a tumultuous situation for the longest time now...he really wants me to write his way out of it. I just need a little creative boost to get that done.

Lisa Graff, a former editor for FSG Books for Young Readers, will talk on Saturday about writing first chapters for middle grade and young adult novels. That is now her speciality and I'm sure her information will be valuable.

Helen Frost, another award-winning author, will be joining the panel for discussion at the end of the conference. I do believe she is doing critiques too.

This should be a fantastic weekend and I look forward to seeing lots of writing friends that I haven't seen since this past fall (at our last conference). Almost all the members of my critique group are coming as well, which makes it even better. Now, if I can just get there without getting lost....

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cressida Cowell

I was going to title this post How to Train Your Dragon, but in reality, this post is going to be much more about the author of the story, Cressida Cowell.

First of all, let me say, WOW! Dreamworks did a fantastic, no... more like phenomenal job portraying this movie. I say that, but I have never read the book, so I hope I feel the same after I read it. What the movie portrayed to me was the author's imagination.

I didn't know Cressida Cowell wrote this story until I came home and googled her. But I sat the whole time in the theater, transfixed and in awe, thinking what a wonderful imagination the author who wrote this story must have. She had to know her characters inside and out, to give such life and personality to Toothless and Hiccup. I fell in love with these characters and I cannot wait to go to my library tomorrow and pick up Cressida's other stories about them.

And after reading her bio on her website, I think Cressida is pretty cool, too. Spending every summer and time from every spring on a deserted island with no electricity... that is amazing. Listening to the stories her father told of the Vikings and Dragons, and then spinning those into this fabulous book series...that is writing at its best!

Very, very cool, Cressida Cowell.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Managing Time

I have found that managing my time as a writer is no small task. Not only is there the whole writing and editing part of the gig, but I need time to research, hit the library, keep up the blog, plan speaking event programs, apply for grants and scholarships, meet with my critique group, and submit to editors. Oh, and of course, fit in my day job and all the other parts of life.

This isn't a blog of complaints though, rather it's quite the opposite. If I didn't have to do all these things, it would mean I wasn't getting anywhere or succeeding in writing, and that's simply not true. One small step at a time, I am getting somewhere. But as a children's writer, or any writer for that matter, one must be committed entirely or the whole program falls apart!

My time commitments for today include putting the finishing touches on my presentation for this Saturday, March 6, at the Starke County Young Artists Conference. I've been invited back for the third year in a row, and this year I have the opportunity to speak with first and second graders about writing. This isn't only fun for the children, but also for me. I taught elementary school for quite some time and I always love working with kids. I'll bring the camera along and post pictures soon!

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shelter Dogs

This topic isn't necessarily about writing, unless of course I relate it back to the book Marley and Me. But my version would be called Toby and Me. Because my yellow lab, Toby, is just as destructive and wild as Marley, and yet he worms his way into your heart, too.

I'm a 'shelter dog' person. Daisy, a Dalmatian mix has been with us for six years, so she knows the routine. Toby, the yellow lab mix, doesn't quite get it yet. He's only been here for six months. Even though we've already hit obedience training, following commands isn't his strength. His strengths involve chewing toys, sneaking food, and digging up trees. Yes, entire trees. He doesn't go for broken limbs on the ground, he just brings us the whole darn tree. Yet, when I'm as mad as can be at this dog, he looks up at me with those crazy eyes, flops down on his belly, and begs to have his tummy rubbed. He plays with our daughter and runs to meet her when she gets home from school. He loves us. I think I decided to blog about this so I have a place to refer back to, so when I'm mad at the dog, I can remember why we keep him.

Right now I need to go. I hear destructive noises coming from my daughter's room... and it's not her because she's still asleep. Toby.....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Jacket Flap

My first post of the new year... so much for posting those intended 'resolutions' and being a better blogger!

If you haven't heard of Jacket Flap, it's a website that connects authors, illustrators and publishers in the children's writing community. I've been a member since 2006, but thanks to some friendly encouragement from one of my writing group members, I finally updated info on there. So, check me out at Jacket Flap, and you can also link back to this site from there, too.

Thanks for stopping by,