Wednesday, December 29, 2010

100 Books In 100 Days








Writing guru and children's author, Anastasia Suen, teaches a writing workshop in which she says that aspiring authors must read 100 books, in order to learn the ins and outs of writing for children. And although I haven't taken her course yet, I find myself agreeing with her. How can one become a picturebook author, if they don't know the characteristics of a great picture book? And how can one identify great stories, if they haven't read great stories?

So starting on January 1st at 12:01 am, I will be starting a book challenge entitled "100 books in 100 days". And I hope that all of you will join me.

The rules of the challenge are simple: 1. Read 100 picture books or 100 chapters, in 100 days 2. Check my blog weekly to see what books I have read during the challenge. 3.Comment as often as you like. 4. At the end of the challenge, write your name in the "I read 100 books in 100 days" final post, indicating that you have completed the challenge. And as a prize, you be able to display the "I read 100 books in 100 days" button on your own blog page. (100 clip art button above. Technically, it's 100days of school clip art. But I think it'll work out great.)

Who's up for the challenge?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mid Winter's Eve Blog Hop Giveaway Winner

Thanks to all of my new blog friends for stopping by. I'm glad to see that so many of you love Junie B. as much as I do. She has given my class many hours enjoyment. And one day, when my brood is a little older, I know that my boys will love her, too.

And now for the winner. Can I get a drum roll, please?










The winner is.....mmafsmith, a.k.a Maria. Congrats, Maria! I'll be in touch with you soon. I hope you enjoy the book:)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Year's Writing Resolutions: 5 Ways To Keep On Track

As this year draws to an end and a new year quickly approaches, I find myself doing what everyone does at this time of the year-making resolutions. 'I am going to spend more time on writing. I am going to quit talking about sending out my manuscripts, and just do it already. I am going to find a literary agent. And before the year is over, I am going to get a publishing deal.' The end. Period.

Every year is the same. We make resolutions, and we break resolutions. Sure, we mean them when we say them, but it's just words. So how do we make this year's writing resolutions stick, when others have failed? And how do we hold ourselves accountable for our writing goals?

Below are 5 tips to keep you on track, all year long.

1. Make realistic goals. Saying that you are going to write a book that tops the New York Times' Best Seller list, might be a bit lofty for your first manuscript. And while I realize that it's not impossible to do, it's defintitely improbable. So start out small, and gradually increase your goals as your skills improve. Saying things like 'I will write every day for one hour' is achievable, if you're a newby. Or 'This year I am going to send out one manuscript'. Set goals that you think you can achieve. After all, only you know your comfort level, and only you will know if you've achieved your goals or not.

2. Join A Critique Group. If you're looking to improve as a writer, you HAVE to join a critique group. Showing your stories to friends and family, no matter how truthful they are, is not the same thing. Your friends an family are not experts in writing. So even if they tell you that your work is spectacular, you're never really going to know unless you've put your manuscript in the hands of fellow writers. Writers know all the little nuances that make a story great. If you ask one of your family members about your story's arc, they might say something like " Wow! I must've missed the part about the big boat. Let me read it again." That's when you know that you've picked the wrong person to give you criticism. Not to say they won't have anything valuable to add, because they will. They just won't know critical writing elements that you'll need to improve. So join a group. It's the gift that keeps giving.

3. Write your goals down. Something about writing a goal down seems to make it more real. When you look at that little paper with your goal on it, it serves as a visual reminder. And when you're doubting yourself and wanting to quit, that little paper will not let you do it. Believe me, I've tried. So be like Nike, and just do it. You'll be glad that you did.

4. Provide a timeline. A timeline also serves as a visual reminder. But in a way, it's a little more. A timeline keeps us on track. It keeps us on time. And the rule of thumb with timelines is this, you can definitely work faster than the timeline, but never slower. Timelines are a great kick in the pants, when you need a little extra push to get a book proposal or manuscript completed. Just be sure to set realistic timeline goals. Saying 'I will be done with my picturebook manuscript within the month' may be a realistic timeline goal. But saying ' I will be done with my novel in a month' is probably not. Notice I said 'probable', not 'impossible'. Only you know you know your limits.

5. Be prepared to tweak your goals. Some goals are quickly achieved, and if this is the case, you need to be ready to change your goals. Don't stop writing because you already achieved your first goal, and aren't due to start your next chapter until the following month. That's just nonsense. The goal of goal setting is to 'Keep Moving Forward'( Meet the Robinsons quote). So as long as you are doing that, then you are on the right writing track. And don't feel upset if it takes you two months to perfect your picturebook, just because your goal was one. Again, as long as you are writing, then you are achieving the ultimate goal. So keep it up!

What are your writing goals for this year? Do you have some? Please feel free to share.Just be prepared to get a swift kick in the pants if you're not doing the work, because I run a tough ship. And please, feel free to do the same for me:)

Happy Writing & Goal Setting

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Polar Express









One of the greatest Christmas stories of all time, is now online for teachers and parents to enjoy with their children. Click on the ticket to the right, to board the Polar Express. All Aboard!

Lesson Links Below
http://www.teachingheart.net/polar.html
http://www.tangischools.org/21stCCLC/hjh/Polar%20Express/index.htm
http://www.marcias-lesson-links.com/polarexpress.html
http://www.kinderkorner.com/polarexpress.html
http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/features/thepolarexpress/tg/polar.shtml

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Video From The World Quidditch Cup



It used to be the that the highest honor that an author could achieve was having his/her own book published, and maybe, if they they were lucky, winning an award or two. But nowadays, the skies the limit for our budding authors and authoresses. Having your book published is just one of the wonderful possibilities in store for writers today. Because in this century, there's movie deals, action figures, theme parks, bedding sets, pillows, fragrances, board games, etc. The list is endless.

And having said that, I'd like to introduce you to something that I just stumbled upon today. Something that we've only read about in books and dreamt about at night, but never really thought was possible-an intercollegiate Quidditch Cup. Yup, you heard me right. Quidditch is now an actual game that is played at nationally accredited colleges throughout the land. In fact, one of the most prestigous schools in the world, Harvard, is one of the participating colleges.

And that's not even the best part. The best part is that there's an actual rule book posted online. And how-to video, just in case you're not really into reading manuals. Heck, there's even an International Quidditch Association to consult if you want to learn even more.

So check it out. Better yet, start a team. If you do, I will gladly post pics of your team on my blog and tweet about you all the time. Because, honestly, as much as I think this is hysterical. I, also, think that it's quite possibly the coolest thing ever. It makes me miss my long lost college days, and wish that I could back, if only for just one little game of "Muggle Quidditch" and a few drinks of butter beer with friends.

http://sites.google.com/site/savannahquidditchleague/IQARulebook
http://www.slashfilm.com/fourth-annual-quidditch-world-cup-coming-york-city-weekend/
http://www.internationalquidditch.org/

How To Play Quidditch (as explained by ECQ players) from Lauren Milazzo on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Waasup, Friends?









If cloud nine were an actual place and that's where people really went when they were ecstatic, then I'd have to say that I'm its latest resident. Not only was I lucky enough to be a finalist in last month's Storybird challenge; but yesterday, I found out that I won a mansucript review from a published author, courtesy of Tara Lazar and her lovely PiBiIdMo challenge. Thank you, Tara!

So if you've been wondering why it's been eerily silent on my blog lately, those are just a few of the reasons. It's not because I don't love you anymore, because I totally do-fervently, in fact. I've just been keeping busy this month.

In addition to all of those things, I'm smack-dab in the middle of final edits for a few of my pb manuscripts,and I've finally mustered up enough courage to send them out. This is huge!

And just so I don't go completely batty while I'm waiting, I also plan on entering a few more contests along the way, just to keep my mind busy. You know what they say about watched pots and all, they never boil. So I think it's important to keep busy while I wait for acceptance or rejection, don't you?

So my questions to you are these: What are you up to? What do you do while you wait? Well, other than your day job, and parenting. And do you have good news that you'd like to celebrate on this blog? Because I am in a celebrating kind of mood this month. Let's all celebrate together!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Storybird

If you're an aspiring picturebook author, you have to visit this website http://storybird.com/challenges/2010/11/curiosity/. Illustrators upload amazingly colorful artwork, and writers paint the pages with their beautiful, funny, rhyming,and prose words. It's a writers playground! Seriously...I think I may be addicted. Thanksgiving is today, and I can't even begin cleaning my house until I've blogged, tweeted, and FBed about this site.

*Shameless plug to follow. Please Forgive me.* Oh yeah, and there are monthly and weekly competitions, with themes and prizes. This week, my story, What Do Monsters Do, is a weekly semifinalist. My pen/computer name is Writermama2. And in 1 day and 15 hours from now, the public will get to start voting on their favorite stories for this week. If you could check out the link and vote for me, I'd really appreciate it. But, honestly, only do it if you think it's the best story in the competition. I don't want to win because you like me. I want to win because I really and truly earned it. Just don't tell me if you didn't vote for me. My ego is very fragile:)

Thanks in advance!And Happy Blogging & Happy Thansgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop


The Details
The Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop will be a quick 2 day hop. Midwinter's Eve is the longest night of the year, so why not spend it entering some great giveaways? The hop will run from 12:01 AM on December 21st to 11:59 PM on December 22nd.In order to enter, all you have to do to is 1) follow this blog, and 2) leave a comment below.

The Prize
The winner will receive a copy of the book Jingle Bells, Batman Smells (P.S. So Does May.) by Barbara Park.


*Winners must have a US address, and they must forward their address to me within two months of the award notification. Otherwise, they forfeit their prize.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

5 Reasons Hermione Granger Is Awesome



With the release of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 less than a week away, I felt that I needed to create a little more buzz for the book. You know, because the book doesn't have enough already.

So, below, are the reasons why I think Hermione Granger may just be the greatest character EVER! Enjoy! And please go out and support the movie. You know, because it probably won't do that well unless we all go out and support it.

5 Reasons Why Hermione Granger Is Awesome

1. She's REALLY smart, and she adds to the story. I hate to say it, but I'm tired of the female characters in most MG and YA novels. Most of the girls are either dumb, or they pretend they're dumb, which REALLY drives me insane. And if they are smart, they have so many other flaws that it diminishes their character. I love that Hermione does her thing, and doesn't apologize for it. She's not perfect, mind you, but she's pretty darn close.

2. Yes, she loves Ron Weasly, but she doesn't sit around pining after him all the time. Her love is appropriate. She simply waits for Ron to realize that he's an idiot, and that she's the love of his life. You're not going to see Hermione Granger stalk anyone or make any love potions. No. She bides her time, and wins him over the old fashioned way.

3. Hermione is not afraid to get her hands dirty. The thing that I love about Hermione is that she can brew a kick $#@ poly juice potion, yet throw together a rockin' look for a ball. You won't see Hermione Granger going around tying ribbons in her hair that match her robes. No. She knows how to be one of the guys and a lady. Bravo!

4. Hermione is loyal. Most girls would've jumped the 'friend ship' when they realized that their best friend was public enemy #1 of Lord Voldemort. Well, not Hermione. Hermione proves to be even more loyal than Ron, Harry's first real friend. She sticks by Harry's side through everything, thus proving that girls are way better than boys. (Hahaha. Had to throw that in there.)

5. Hermione is intuitive. She always seems to know how the other person is feeling. When Neville learns that Bellatrix is free, she has to explain how he is feeling to her less intuitive friends. And when, Cho Chang is feeling bad about liking Harry after Cedric's death, Hermione has to explain that, too. Hermione is all knowing. She is the heart and the brains of the Harry Potter Series! And that's why she is the perfect character! She stands out in a book that makes other books cower in the corner, ashamed to be sitting on the same shelf! Well, at least that's how they would feel if they had feelings. (Which they totally don't! Right?)

*Some of the facts may be muddled with that of the movie. Having read the books and watched the movies, sometimes facts run together. If something is amiss, feel free to correct me in the comments.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Writer's Day Off

So, today, I'm stuck in the house, writing and blogging. Then, suddenly, an idea hits me like a foul ball to the frontal cortex. This is lame! I want to go outside with my children! I want to take a trip to the library! And, frankly, I don't want to blog, twitter, or edit today! *33 year old throwing a tantrum*

So, today, I'm declaring a writer's day off. And I encourage you all to do the same. We can all pretend we're on an idea scouting adventure. Maybe, that will make us feel a little less guilty abadoning ship.

Who's with me?

* Cue theme music as I storm off with my two children in tow.*

(Ironically, I was also doing laundry like Mr. Jason Mraz was in my theme music. Honestly, that's probably what pushed me over the edge. You guys already know how I feel about laundry. You've seen the poem.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Copyright Law: 5 Things That Every Author Should Know


*Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am not a law student. And, frankly, I could totally be wrong. In truth, that happens a lot. I am a flawed, flawed individual.

Ok, so now that I've warned you about my fallability. And, hopefully, you've accepted this documented truth. Time to delve into the myths and truths about obtaining copyright of your ideas and stories as interpreted by ME, Jessica Stanford, self proclaimed Copyright Expert. NOT!

1. The moment that you write your mansucript, it is protected against plagiarism or reproduction without your consent. TRUTH! In fact, you never even have to contact the US Copyright Office if you don't want to. Or, you could purchase a legal copyright for every single thing you pen. It's totally up to you! It just depends on how you feel about plagiarism.

Personally, I'm a glass half-full kinda' gal, but some of you may be conspiracy theorists. So if you honestly think that you've written the next 'Twilight' and worry that someone might steal your big story, then maybe you should copyright your work legally. Here is the link to do it electronically http://www.copyright.gov/eco/
(Or, is it secretly my personal email disguised as the US electronic copyright site? Muhahaha! You'll never know!)

If you're like me and write stories on a semi-daily basis, you may want to try the poor man's approach instead. I email my stories to my critique buddies and ONLY post stories on password protected sites. That way, I have a time and date stamp to verify my claims. And, then, I only have to worry about a dozen or so people stealing my stories. And, honestly, they all seem great. I'm not really worried at all!

2. Book ideas are copyrighted the moment you dream them up. Wrongo! Big time Myth! They're not even your's once you verbalize them to everyone you meet. Calling 'Copyright' is not like calling 'shotgun', just ask Al Gore, inventor of the internet. Hehehe! (Yes, I went there in my blog about picture books! It was just too tempting to resist.) According to the US Copyright Office, "Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, name, or title." http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl109.html

So my advice: hold on to your ideas until they are actually written. Otherwise, you open yourself up to someone stealing your great ideas! And if you want to write the twentieth book on hibernation, have at it! You have the right. Ideas are not copyrighted. However, that doesn't give you the permission to steal a writing buddy's idea! In fact, that's a major 'party foul'. So don't do it!

3. My copyright is protected forever. In fact, my future generations can live off of the royalties of my highly successful book. Half Myth and Half truth. According to the US Copyright Office " As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. " However, for works that are cowritten, they are protected for seventy years after the last living author dies. So, technically, the next two generations might benefit from your work. Woohoo!http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-duration.html

4. I can totally take someone else's story and just rewrite it in my own way. I can write it better, anyway. They'll never know. Wrong. Maybe? And, wrong, you big jerk! Stealing is stealing! And the law is the law. The end!
http://www.infobarrel.com/Plagiarism_and_Copyright_Infringement:_Thou_Shalt_Not_Steal

5. I can post whatever I want and claim that it's 'fair use'.
Half myth and Half Truth. In order to be fair, you just can't go around using other people's work, unless you have the author's permission. You can, however, use a part of an author's work to crictize, comment on, use to teach, or use in a parody. But be forewarned, using 'fair use' as an excuse for stealing someone's work could get you into trouble, especially if you're profitting from it. So to be safe, unless you are honestly using someone's work, you should just stay away from other people's stuff. And if you're not sure about the terms of 'fair use', please look it up. After all, you wouldn't want someone using your working inappropriately, would you? http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

So in conclusion, know the law. It could very well make you or break your piggybank. Here is great article if you're interested in learning more about your rights as an author. And, of course, check with the US Copyright Office. After all, they are the experts.

Happy Writing, Everyone! And, remember, stealing is NOT cool!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name


When writing a story there are a lot of things to consider: plot, pacing, word count, setting, titles, voice, solutions, etc. The list goes on and on. And if just one of these laundry list of items falls flat, the whole story can suffer because of it.

Today, on the blog, we're going to talk about the power of a character's name. Some may think that naming a story's character/characters is a simple task. But surprisingly, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing a name.

For example, are there other REALLY famous literary characters that already have this name? In my latest picturebook W.I.P, this was a big problem for me. And now, I have to figure out how I'm going name a dog that is found after kids make a wish on a turkey's wishbone, without naming the dog Wishbone.

Is this name too hard for your target audience to pronounce? If your target audience is birth to pre-k children, than Chrysanthemum might not be a great character name for one of your characters. However, if your target audience is early, school aged children, this could be really funny and kind of perfect. In fact, it might just add to the story's theme.

Does your character's name add something to the story? If Fudge from the Judy Blume series were called Bobby, for example, would the story have been as funny? I think not! In fact, the whole storyline behind his name was one of the funniest parts. Imagine a boy kicking his Kindergarten teacher because she won't call him by his nickname, Fudge. Now that's hilarious to both kids and teachers alike!

So what are some ways that we can go about naming our characters? Below is a list of 5 ways that you might try to use.

1. Name your character after his/her character traits. For example, if your character went through a terrible life situation and is struggling with finding a way to deal with her faith and the terrible loss, naming her Faith might be a great idea. Then, you could even name the book Finding Faith so that you're talking about her finding herself and her actual faith.

2. Pay your respects to loved ones by using their names in your stories. In my opinion, this is even better than dedicating a book to them. If one of my manuscripts is ever sold, it's almost certain that one of the characters will be named after one of my children, my parents, grandparents, or an old family name. In my manuscript, The Peanut Butter Prince, the princess is name after my mother and the queen is named after my grandmother. In my manuscript, Let's Go Fishing, the two brothers are named after my two sons. And, in The Twins of Er and Est, the two brothers are named after my dad and dearly, departed Uncle Larry.

3. Name your characters after constellations. J.K Rowling is known to use this strategy from time to time. Brother's Sirius and Regulus are examples.

4. Use a baby name generator. This is actually good for two reasons: 1. It will help you discover the meaning of the name. This can really help you with making your character live up to their character traits. For example, this pb author once toyed with writing a YA novel in which a prophet child was born. In said ms, I gave my child prophet the name Jeremiah simply because it was biblical. Little did I remember at the time, but Jeremiah was actually a prophet. Score! And his name meant 'to rise up'. Double Score! Turns out, I couldn't have picked a more appropriate name. 2. You can see all the different spellings of the name and pick something that is more unique for your character. After all, we all want to be unique, right?

5. Use intitials kind-of like a Mnemonic device, but with a twist. Instead of using it in a way that helps you remember a thing, you use it in a way to spell out a character's traits or interests instead. I, personally, love it when authors do this. For example, if you have a story about a kid who loves bats, maybe could you name him Benjamin Alexander Tripp. Alone the name looks completely normal. But when you just look at the initials, it spells out 'bat'. Trust me. Readers love little hidden things like this. That's why the Da Vinci Code was so successful.

Picking a character name is anything BUT easy! After all, would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? I don't think so! Sorry Shakespeare, but I have to disagree with you on that one!

What are some ways that you have used to pick your characters' names? Is there something that you have tried that is not on this list? Something that might making picking names a little easier? I'd love to hear your feedback!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

And the winner is....



Halloween Eve, I held my first, annual Halloween Book Hop-Hop. And, boy, it fun for me! There was dancing, music, and most importantly, prizes. And, I'd like to think that everyone who participated at least had an interesting time.

The winner of the Halloween picture book contest was Christie Wright from Write Wild. And, this week's winner is Megan Bickel from The Write-At-Home-Mom.

Congrats, Megan! Thanks so much for particpating! You were a great sport! And, there are so few of those left in the world these days.

Please email me your address, and your prize will arrive in four-six weeks:)

Flag Counter

free counters

If you're like me, you're fascinated by other cultures. You read books, cruise the web, and try to learn as much as you can about what makes people around the world tick.

Well,today, I happened upon a really cool tool that feeds into that particular hobby of mine, the flag counter. Not only do I get to display flags from around the world and encourage international camaraderie between picture book authors such as myself, but I also get to see which countries are actually viewing my blog. Awesomeness!

If you share this hobby of mine, here is the link to get your own flag counter
http://www.flagcounter.com/index.html

Happy Blogging, everyone! And, remember, sharing is caring!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Blog Hop-Hop



Halloween Hoppers,
Welcome to my Halloween Book Hop-Hop! You brought the blogs, so now I'm bringing the boogie. Don't forget to take pics! And be sure to scroll through the entire playlist to find out who the book winner is. Technically, I can't make you do this part. I'm just not technological enough to create a way to only release the name after you've watched all the videos. But what's the fun of doing all this if you don't listen to all the songs, right? Right!

*Halloween Joke of the Day: What do you call a monster who likes to dance?

The Boogeyman



This is just a Halloween Classic.I had to include it on my playlist.



It had to be done. This reminds me of childhood.


Pure 80's, my friends. Good times!


I'm not gonna lie. I teared up on this one a little. I love Casper!


I ain't afraid of no ghost!


And this is Thriller! Ooooooowhooo! Thriller Night!


And the winner of The Hallo-Weiner by Dav Pilkey is......Christie from Write Wild.Please email me your address at jessicamstanford@yahoo.com to claim your prize. You should receive your book in 4-6 weeks.

*The contest for the giftcard will end on November 5th. Remember, you must email me a picture of you dancing to Thriller to be entered into the drawing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Book Hop-Hop

Do you love picture books? Do you love Halloween? And most importantly, do you love to shake your groove thang'? If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, then you are going to love my newest 'Halloween Book Hop-Hop' blog hop.


What is a Halloween Book Hop-Hop?

It's only the coolest thing ever. It's a dance off and a book contest all in one. So join me on Sunday, October 31st at 10:30 pm. I am going to give away the picture book, The Hallo-Weiner, by Dav Pilkey. And we're all going to dance along with Michael Jackson's Thriller video dressed as our favorite monster/zombie. Fun, right?

Well, that's not even the best part. After the blog hop is over, anyone who sends me a photo or video of them participating in the hop(dancing in costume) will have their names entered into a drawing for a 10$ gift card to Books A Million. Not to mention, I will post all pics and video on the blog, provided that they're not too racy. So not only are you entered in the drawing for the 10$ Books A Million card(dancers only), entered into the drawing for the free book, but your blog is also getting exposure.

So how do I join?

It's simple. Just copy the linky code at the bottom of the post(or hop) and paste it into your html for one entry into the contest(+1). If you don't have a blog and still want to participate, you could Twitter(+1) or Facebook(+1) about the contest, and provide a link back to the post in the comments section. And if you do all three: blog, twitter, and facebook about the contest, you will receive three tickets in the drawing for the free book. The hop entries close on October 30th, so copy the linky ASAP.
*The only way to enter the gift card contest is to send me pics or video via my email jessicamstanford@yahoo.com by November 5th, 12pm EST.For any questions, post them in the comments section or email me.

*FYI, this is my first attempt at doing a blog hop, so bear with me as we go on this new journey together.




Monday, October 25, 2010

You may not know this about me..... A Crusader's Challenge


Disclaimer: Non of what you are about to read is true in any way at all, well except for the best selling pb author part. I wholeheartedly believe that part. The rest is just my silly attempt at winning a crusader's challenge issued on another blog. So if you're interested in read my silly, totally untrue story, proceed with caution. I do use some non PG words. Check out Rach Writes and the following link if you're interested in participating. http://rachaelharrie.blogspot.com/2010/10/second-crusader-challenge.html
*******************************************************************
You may not know this about me, but in an effort to get all the skeletons out my closet before I become a famous, best selling children's author, I feel I need to let the cat out of the bag. I don't want to be like one of those flash-in-the-pants politicians that bursts onto the scene, and then gets depantsed with some big scandal. So I'm just going to dish the dirt now, on my own terms.

I...am...an...umbrella...aficionado and artist. There. I said it. Out aloud.

I am the crazy lady that collects discarded umbrellas and turns them into works of arts.

I turn trash into treasure!

Call me crazy if you will, but something about umbrellas speaks to me. Perhaps, it's the fact that they protect you when life comes pouring down around your head. Perhaps, it's because I was breast fed and an umbrella is the shape of an enormous boob. I don't know!

All I know is that they speak to me. They inspire me.

I don't want to brag or anything, but I think that I probably have the biggest collection of umbrella sculptures on the East coast, maybe in the entire United States.

Just last week, I did a show entitled A Downpour Of Art under my pseudonym Grinhelda Kartoffelpuffer. I'm thinking of just changing it to The Artist Formally Know As Kartoffelpuffer when my work starts to really take off, and just have a potato pancake symbol represent my name. But that's still a ways off. I'll get back to you later on that.

I just wanted to take the time now to reveal the many sides & faces of Jessica Stanford. I am not only an artist of words, but of umbrellas as well.

Anywho. I hope that you can understand that an artist is an artist. Whether it's words, umbrellas, or poems a true artist creates with anything.

Dog Breath: The Horrible Trouble With Hally Tosis



Every once in a blue moon, a book comes along and knocks your sock off. You read it over and over again. You laugh until you cry. And, ocassionally, you even pee a little. Which in my opinion, is a good sign that a book is a keeper.

Well in the case of Dog Breath: The Horrible Trouble with Hally Tosis by Dav Pilkey, author of the award winning Captain Underpants series, I'm a little embarassed to admit that I practically peed my pants. Not only does this book have great pictures and a funny storyline, but it's just clever. And as a teacher and mama, I appreciate that.

In Dog Breath, the Tosis' Family dog has the worst breath in town, perhaps the entire world. Hally's breath curls wallpaper, makes skunks run for cover, and even makes the Mona Lisa plug her nose. So the parents decide that Hally Tosis must go, but the children are not quite ready to give up their beloved pet. And in an attempt to keep Hally, they try a number of equally funny things to tame Hally's bad breath, even going as far as watching a movie that's supposed to take your breath away. In the end though, it's a band of burgulars that inadvertantly help determine Hally's fate.

If you like books that make you laugh til' your sides hurt, has clever puns and phrases, and turns reluctant readers on to reading, then this book is for you.


I give it a high five.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Creating An Online Presence

In this day and age-a time when everyone is obsessed with the next big technological thing-practically everyone spends some time online doing something. My seventy-five year old, great aunt spends time farming on Facebook. My three and five year old sons play educational games on PBS Kids. And, I have started a Facebook page, Twitter page, and this blog, of course, just to keep up with the online Joneses.

"And why do I need to do all that?" you ask. Well, the answer is simple. I, like everyone else who forms an online presence, have something to say. And my message is this....I want to be the next top model. Oh wait... no that's not it. I'm wait too short for that. It's this....I want to be the next big picture book author.

And after a year or so of researching the writing bizz-give or take a few days-I have come to realize a few things about becoming successful in the writing industry. While I don't necessarily NEED an online presence to become a successful picturebook author, it's definitely a recommendation. After all, if I can command the attention of thousands of people online on a daily basis(I wish. Seriously. Please follow. LOL), then chances are I can sell a book or two. Right? Well, that's the logic anyway!

Ok. So now that we've all decided that having an online presence is esential, what next?

Well, now you need to get down to the nitty gritty and decide which platform is best for you. You need to discover which platform/platforms suit your personal style best. Because, honestly, nothing's worse than creating a site, blog, or page in which you can't work and that you're terrible at. I mean technology is forever, people. If you mess up, it'll be documented somewhere on the world wide web forever. No pressure or anything.

So here is a list of options for you to consider using as an online presence: Twitter, Facebook,any number of writing sites, and any number of blogging sites. My preference for the blog, of course, is blog spot. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Let's start out by talking about Twitter. That seems to be all the rage now. And frankly, I'm just not getting it....yet.

Twitter's advantages, to me, are this: 1. You can get your message out there and not bore the reader with tedious details. 2. You learn a lot in quick spurts. You can join big time authors groups and find out what's going on with industry insiders (Love this aspect) 3. It's a little more formal than texting, and a lot like a real conversation. You don't have to be perfect with your writing, and most of the words are spelled correctly. 4. You can decorate your Twitter page with cool backgrounds.If you love the personal touch, you'll like this feature.

Twitter's Disadvantages: 1. I hate having to limit my words. I'm a writer. I love words. 2. Some people abuse the word limitation and send multiple tweets to get their message out there. People, if you're doing this than Twitter's not your platform. Get a new one. Please:) There's nothing worse than reading 15 tweets from the same person, in a row. I think we should have a 5-8 tweet minimum. 3. Sometimes I have to scroll on forever to get to through all the tweets in a day. Probably the reason I loathe multiple tweets in a row. 4. If you don't tweet for a few days, no one misses you. This could be a pro or a con, depending on your perspective. If you don't have a lot of time to work on your online presence, this is great. If you need to feel the love, it's not fun NOT being missed.5. Not as user friendly-IMO.(Sidenote:So far, tweeting is not my favorite online platform. I have learned a lot and will continue to use it, though. I can definitely see its advantages in the long term.)


Facebook's Advantages: 1. You're getting your message out there. 2. It's way more layed back. It just feels more comfortable for the people who have little time, and want to tell you what's going on. 3. You can post pictures and captions. 4. Very user friendly-IMO.

Facebooks Disadvantages:1. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Facebook. 2.You can't add really cool backgrounds. Not cool if you like the personal touch.3. Again, word limitation springs to mind. While it's not as bad as Twitter, it does still put a cramp on your writing style.

Blog Advantages: 1. You're getting the word out. 2. If there is a word limitation, I haven't reached it yet. 3. Lots of cool features: backgrounds, polls, pictures, multiple pages, etc. 4. Most are pretty user friendly. I personally love blogspot, because it is so user friendly. A lot of my friends use Wordpress, and I've heard bad things. For one, you can't post countdown clocks on Wordpress. And as you guys have seen, I love countdown clocks. I will use them often. Countdowns til' book releases. Countdowns til' movies. And countdowns til' the last day of school. They serve as great reminders, and give hope that there's an end in sight.

Blog Disadvantages: 1.It takes A LOT of work to keep your blog updated. The word count is high, so people expect more. It's mucho pressure. 2. You're constanly having to look at other people's blogs to find out how to make your's better. Did I mention that it's a lot of pressure?


And Lastly, Writing Group Advantages: 1. These are a must. One, they get your name out there. 2. You will find great resources on these sites. 3. You will learn to rely on these people to critique your work and help you grow as a writer. 4. You could meet someone who helps you get published. 5. It's just the smart thing to do.(Sidenote: I personally love Writer's Digest and Writeoncon, but I've heard that Redroom is good too. Technically, I'm a member. But honestly, I don't visit. I just don't have the time.)

Writing Group Disadvantages: 1. Not all writers are created equal in these groups. What I mean by this is that some have more experience than others. So in truth, you're going to want to look at their credentials before you just go and buy into their critiques. After all, they could be new to this, like me. I always say things like ' But this is just my opinion. I'm new to all this, so take my opinion with a grain of salt' when I give a critique to someone who doesn't know my experience level. But not everyone does this. Just keep that in mind when you're listening to these people. Don't go changing up your entire story because Joe Schmoe says you should. After all, Joe Schmoe's not an expert!

So to sum everything up, whether you use Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot, or any number of other online sites, do something. Done correctly, building an online presence could help you get published, help you sell books, and help create the buzz that you want to.

More importantly, write great stories. Because in the end, that's all the matters.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

LAUNDRY


When you're a writer, even the most mundane tasks become a chance to practice your craft.

Leave it til’ tomorrow
Aroma of stinky socks fill the air
Underwear drawers are empty
Never ending pile of clothes
Detergent oozes out of the bottle
Really?Am I the only one who knows how to operate this machine?
Y do these clothes mock me?


*Am I the only one who does this? Are there support groups for this? Seriously. I need help!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book and Treat: Make Halloween A Hoot With Storybook Costumes

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. The weather cools. Comfy sweaters are back in fashion. It's socially acceptable to drink hot cocoa with marshmallows everyday, especially if it's a REALLY cold. And Halloween is right around the corner.

Now some of you, especially the moms who follow the blog, may be saying, "Ugh! All that candy! I just can't handle my kids hopped up on all that sugar."

And in that regard, I agree with you. Halloween definitely provides a few, minor battles in regards to candy consumption.

But have you considered this advantage of the holiday? Halloween is actually a really great time to get your kids excited about reading again.

"Say what?" you ask. "Halloween is going to get my kids to read?"

You heard me right. Halloween is a great time to get your kids reading again. Not only are all the books about witches, goblins, monsters, and ghosts back in rotation at all the stores and libraries again. But you can also turn the first two weeks of October into a read-a-thon in which your child chooses a storybook costume to wear at the end of the month. So not only are they getting different types of books to read, but they're also getting to choose a cool prize at the end. A prize that you were probably going to give them anyway because of the holiday, and without having read all those wonderful, mind enriching, vocabulary building books.

And if you want to make the read-a-thon even more exciting and creative, you and your child/children could take it a step further and make the storybook costume together using household items like make-up, yarn, boxes, spray paint, and duct tape. It's a perfect activity for teaching to your child/children to use their imagination. Not to mention, you could throw in some math skills like measurment, just for good measure( hahahahah...get it?), if they are a little older in age.

Costume making was a yearly tradition in my household when we were younger-mainly because we didn't have the money for costumes-but I still treasure that tradition to this day. It was one of my happiest childhood memories, and I intend to continue it with my children when they are old enough to fully partcipate.

Below are some store bought and homemade, storybook character costume ideas. Please add comments if you decide to try an idea. Better yet, send in pics to jessicamstanford@yahoo.com. I'd love to post pics of the kiddos, if you feel comfortable having your little guy or gal posted on the blog.



Book-I Love You Dear Dragon (Any Dragon series)
Age Group-Toddlers and Kindergarten
http://www.buycostumes.com/browse/Fairytale-Storybook/Kids-Costumes/_/N-1z141psZ3l/results1.aspx


Book-Alice In Wonderland
Age group-teens and preteens
http://www.buycostumes.com/browse/Fairytale-Storybook/Kids-Costumes/_/N-1z141psZ3l/results1.aspx



Book-Little Red Riding Hood
Age Group-toddlers to teens
http://www.buycostumes.com/browse/Fairytale-Storybook/Kids-Costumes/_/N-1z141psZ3l/results1.aspx


Great article from Scholastic on making your own costume.
http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=1492

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Countdown To PiBoIdMo


Countdown Clock by Zoodu.com


Not sure what PiBoIdMo is? Check out Tara Lazar's blog, and sign up. This is our picture book SuperBowl, ya'll (I swear I'm educated. I just live in the South.)! I hope to see you there!

http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/piboidmo-2010-is-coming/

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Breaking Through The Wall: 5 Ideas On How To Overcome Writer's Block For PB Authors

Fortunately for me, I am a never ending well of picture book ideas. I've never experienced writer's block. I don't think I'll ever experience writer's block. The ideas are percolating in my brain constantly. So much so, in fact, I have to carry a journal with me every where I go, just so I don't forget a great idea.

Having said that, I think there's a big reason that I'm a never ending well of ideas, and the reason is simple-I'm completely surrounded by kids 24 hours a day. Kids at home. Kids at school. Kids at the store. Kids at the park. Kids! Kids! Kids!You get the point.

So the question is this, what do you do if you're NOT constantly surrounded by kids and you're a picture book author? How do you break through that wall and get ideas flowing? Below are my 5 suggestions.

1. Volunteer or substitute teach at a school. If you can afford to do this, the ideas will hit you from all sides. Once, I was talking to a kid about his overflowing desk and listening to the tale of how someone took his homework( NOT, he just lost it); a minuter later, I have the idea of a prankster desk fairy who steals children's homework outlined in my mind. The children believe that that they're being pranked by a fairy, and they set out to prove it to their doubting teacher. Funny, right? But if I hadn't had that simple, yet totally mundane experience, I wouldn't have had that idea.

Not to mention(fyi-my favorite phrase), volunteering in a school is a great way to get feedback from your future readers. I test out stories all the time with my kids. And the funny thing is this, sometimes they actually give me ideas that I have never considered. Once, I was reading a story from a father's perspective and one of my 2nd graders said, " You know, if you change it to mother instead of father, you would have a perfect rhyme with the word other." I know. Genius, right? It amazes me to this day that I hadn't thought of it, yet that 7 year old did.

2. Volunteer for story time at the public library, or local bookstore. Those places are always on the hunt for readers for story time. And maybe after you read a book of their choosing, they'll allow you to read one of your stories. It's worth a shot! Not to mention, (told you it was my favorite phrase) you'll be honing your presentation skills. Some day you're going to want to get paid to do author's visits. This is your chance to see what works and what doesn't, in a low pressure environment.

3.Read children's books, not just books on writing. This seems like a no brainer, right? But sometimes, I wonder if people really do this. Sometimes, I think that people try to cheat their way through writing a picturebook. They just don't get how important it is to do the research. And as a result, their stories seem tired and outdated.

My suggestion, pick timeless and current, bestselling books. Also, pick books with a strong child's voice, even if it's not a picture book. I, personally, love the Junie B. Jones series. Barbara Parks is brilliant! She channels her inner 5 and 6 year old better than anyone I've read. I, also, love the Fudge series by Judy Blume. Fudge, like Junie B, is hilarious. When he goes through his money/miser phase, I laughed til' I peed(figure of speech, I'll never tell if I really peed). And when I became a parent and read it again, I enjoyed seeing how his parents reacted to his crazy phases. Every good children's writer owes it to themselves to read these books. They WILL make you a better writer, or at least appreciate good writing.

4. Kid watch.(Sorry men, I hate to discriminate, but this probably isn't your best research strategy. This research strategy is best for females, preferrably ones that resemble grandma.)And be sure to 'kid watch' in a non scary, non stalkerish kind of way. Taking out a notebook and staring at a child, will freak the soccer moms out.In fact, they may call the cops. This strategy is only useful if you happen to find yourself sitting on the subway or a bus one day, and a child is sitting beside you. In this situation, it's totally normal to glance over at the child to see what he or she is doing. Is he or she reading a book? If yes, what kind of book? If no, what are they doing? Are they pretending to be a monster, or playing with a certain toy? If you take a quick peek, in a non threatening way, it won't wake the sleeping bear that is their mother. But if that mother happens to make eye contact with you and look wary, for-the-love-of-Pete, smile at her. Maybe, even talk to her. If you don't, she could pounce on you at any moment. Be forewarned.

5. Watch Cartoons and kid shows. They're funny. The kids love them. And they'll tell you anything that you want to to know about what's in right now. It's a perfect way to research kids and what they like. My favorite shows span from Spongebob to the Wizards of Waverly Place. And today, I spent the whole morning watching How To Train Your Dragon-twice. I mean what's not to love about dragons? They're like fire breathing, oversized dogs. Who wouldn't want to live in a viking village with a dragon pet? I'm just sayin'. Brilliant!

So that's it, five strategies on how to break through the wall of writer' block and get those ideas percolating. Feel free to chime in if you have another strategy that might help others, too. Together, we can change the world of picturebooks!

Happy Writing!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Celebrating My 50th Follower



Holla! Holla! I finally have a 50th followa'. Yay! And, in honor of this awesome milestone in my blogging/ writer career, I'm going to celebrate all weekend long.

'How?' you ask. Well for starters, I'm going to give a great, big, virtual hog hug to all of my followers.


Then, I'm going to give away a free picture book, just to prove how awesome they really are.

And the winner is...Dangerous With A Pen. Please email me your home address, and I will send you an amazing picturebook. You should receive the book within 2-4 weeks.

And lastly, I'm going to do my happy dance, while lighting fireworks.



Followers/Friends, I hope you enjoyed the hog hug, video, and flashtacular fireworks; and imagined a pasty, pre-middle aged school teacher dancing in between Will and Carlton. I tried to figure out how to edit myself into the video because I thought it'd be funnier, but my technology skills are limited. This was the best I could do. Sorry:( Maybe, I can figure it all out before the 100th follower joins the blog.

Thanks, Everyone! Happy Blogging:)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tag! You're It!

One of the really great things about blogging within the literary community, is that everyone once in awhile you get to be involved in something totally silly and random, and it takes your right back to your childhood. Or as I like to call it, the good ole' days. The days when things were fun and silly, and I didn't have to clean up after anyone but myself. AWWWWWWWW(sigh), the good ole' days!

Anywho. This week we get to play a friendly game of tag on our blogs. So if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged. You're it!

1.) If you could have a superpower, what would you have? Why? That's a no brainer for me, I'd choose to have the power of invisibility. If you're super strong and you can't see me, I beat you. If you can fly but you can't see me, I beat you. And if you have x-ray but you can't see me, that power's useless. Not to mention, invisibility is just awesome. I could send in my manuscripts, and then eavesdrop as the lit agents and pubs read them. How awesome would that be?

2.) Who is your style icon? Me. Honestly, I don't even think much about what I wear before I wear it. As long as it's comfortable and looks somewhat professional,I wear it to work. And as for the rest of the hours of the day, I'm in my pajamas. The moment I walk in the door, I throw those pjs on. Pajamas are like a great big hug for your entire body. And don't even get me started on comfy slippers.


3.) What is your favorite quote? My new favorite quote is from the new Wallstreet movie. " If you stop lying about me, I'll stop telling the truth about you." In the words of pretty much anyone from that 70's show, "Burn!"





4.) What is the best compliment you've ever received? One of my students just made me a poster that says "School Rocks and So does Mrs. Stanford!" It's huge, too. I have it hanging on my classroom door. All the other teachers are so jealous of my awesome poster.

5.) What playlist/cd is on your iPod/cd player right now? I have varied taste. You will find songs from The Sound of Music, John Denver, Judy Garland, Flo-rida, Rianna, The Tings Tings, and Sia. I love any song that has great lyrics.

6.) Are you a night owl or a morning person?

Night Owl. Nuff said.

7.) Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Dogs, ofcourse, man's/woman's best friend.

8.) What is the meaning behind your blog name?

It's pretty self explanatory. I'm a girl who's unpublished. I thought it seemed edgier, though, to add the comma like in 'Girl, Interrupted'.

So, that's it! Those are the eight questions you'll use if you so choose to participate in this incredibly random little tag!

Until next time, write on!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


In the words of world renowned singing sensation, Christina Aguilera,“Oh my God, you guys, I seriously do not have a speech prepared whatsoever. I'm shaking right now.”

Seriously, that's how I felt when I received my two 'lovely blog awards' this past week. Not only did I not expect them, but I didn't even realize that I could receive such an honor from my peers. So thanks, Kangaroobee and Allison Stevens:)I promise to post my 'lovely blog award' on the shiny mantel that is my blog and treasure it always.

And as an added bonus, I get to take my 'lovely blog award' and pass it on to other blogs that I feel are lovely. Yay!

So if I could get a drumroll please(tadadadadadadadadadadada). Here are the names of 15 blogs that I think are lovely, some are relatively new and some old pros.


1.A Newby's Guide To Publishing http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/
2.Dooley Noted http://swdooley.blogspot.com/
3.http://10blockwalk.blogspot.com/
4.http://www.storyqueenscastle.blogspot.com/
5.http://www.ishtamercurio.blogspot.com/
6.http://www.nikischoenfeldt.blogspot.com/
7.http://sharppendullsword.blogspot.com/
8.http://seeingdreamingwriting.blogspot.com/2010/09/writers-platform-building-crusade.html
9.http://mamainwonderland.blogspot.com/
10.http://karenamandahooper.blogspot.com/
11.http://jstanton-chandler.blogspot.com/
12.http://jestkeptsecret.blogspot.com/
13.http://rachaelharrie.blogspot.com
14.http://megankbickel.blogspot.com/
15.http://christiewrightwild.blogspot.com

And in addition to those lovely blogs, here are the lovely bloggers who thought that I was lovely. Much Love, ladies:)

http://kangaroobee.wordpress.com/
http://alisonstevens.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Are You A Diamond? I Will Be One Day!


One of the toughest things about writing is the brutal sting of rejection. I'd love to say that when you submit your first story to publishers and literary agents that you won't experience the sting of rejection, but let's face it, I'd be lying. The world can be a cruel place. Rising to the top takes time. We all have to pay our dues. Nothing in life worth having comes easily. The internet is filled with quotes about rejection and success like these.

But, maybe, we need to take a moment to reflect upon the life-cycle of a diamond. First, it starts its life off as the dead remains of trees and plants. Yuck! I don't want to wear that on my finger. Then, after millions of years of hard pressure, it becomes coal-very useful, indeed. Finally, if it's lucky, it receives just the right amount pressure and turns into a priceless, yet flawed diamond. This is a rare and beautiful phenomenon of nature.

We, the apsiring writers of the world, are a lot like pieces coal, unfortunately. First, we start off with thoughts of writing. They are not mature, yet-just little inklings of what is to come in our future if we take the time to develop. We are dead the plants.Yuck! Then, we write and receive feedback. It hurts. A LOT. Sometimes we give up under the pressure. We stop growing and maturing as writers. We are coal-very useful for teaching others to write, but not reaching our fullest potential. So sad:(

But sometimes, we continue on with our writing journey despite the odds-not content with just being lumps of coal. Coal is useful, but we WANT to be diamonds. We NEED to be a diamonds. Diamonds are all we think about. So, we endure all the pressure of the writing world, and come out it as great writers because of our ability to receive criticism and grow from it. We have reached the pinnacle of our life-cycle. We are authors. We ARE AUTHORS!

So, I guess my question to you is this, are you content with being coal? Or, do you want to be diamond? Because you have to want it bad( yes, I know it's technically badly, but work with me).Will you give up because someone tells you that you're not good enough? Or, will you tell them thanks for the feedback( Yes, you must), then try to mold yourself into the writer you want to be?

I think the late Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." So don't let those people make you feel inferior. Who are they anyway? They are just stepping stones to guide you across the ocean toward success. And, although they seem evil now, they ARE actually trying to help you along the way.(Yes, I choose to believe that the REALLY mean ones are too).

Not to mention, their opinion isn't everything. They may HATE your writing, but someone else may LOVE it. Think of them as only one opinion is a sea of opinions. They are just another Average JOE, just like you. They put their pants on one-leg-at-a-time, just like you. They use the bathroom, too, just like you. And, yes, they have their own insecurities about their writing and life, just like. We all do.

The only BIG difference between 'them' and 'you' is this-they didn't give up when they felt the sting of rejection. So you can't either! Not if you want to be a diamond.

Monday, October 4, 2010

For The Fun Of It

Warning: This poem has not been edited for grammatical errors or meter. It was written for the sheer fun of it. Enjoy:)

My Mom's A Nut
by: Jessica Stanford

My mother tried to warn me
to stay away from thee.
"Your eyes will cross, or you'll go blind
from watching that t.v!"

I didn't heed the warning.
I thought it was absurd.
And now my eyes are criss crossing
just like a cuckoo bird.

Next time, I swear I'll listen
to my dear mom's advice.
I'll clean my room and do my chores-
won't have to ask me twice.

Unless, she tells me no t.v.
It makes your eyesight bad.
On second thought, my mom's a nut.
I'll listen to my dad.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Syllable Contest-Calling All Poets

As a wannabe writer of rhyming picture books, I have come to realize that syllable count and stress are just as important as word choice. Sometimes they even limit your ability to choose the right words to write.

So in the spirit of having fun and growing in our craft, this month I will hold a syllable writing contest. The rules are simple. Write a description about yourself using ONLY fourteen syllables. The winner will get the esteemed honor of being my FIRST interviewee on this blog(LOL). The contest ends on October 31, 2010.

And to lead by example, here is what I would write.

14 Syllables Describing Jessica Stanford

weekend blogger
shot-gun caller
mother
wife
and teacher

FREE Picturebook Editing Contest

Attention all picture book writers, Dear Editor is having a contest RIGHT NOW in which you can win multiple, free edits of your picture book manuscripts. So check out the details from the Dear Editor site http://dear-editor.com/. This is Epic.

Why? you ask. Because Deborah Halverson has been an editor for over fifteen years. And next June, her book, Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, will be published. That makes Halverson a double threat in the writing bizz-writer and editor. And I don't know about you guys, but I'll take the help from a seasoned pro any day of the week.

So hurry up, if you're interested in entering. The contest ends on October 10th.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Calling All Followers

Spread the word. Help me reach 50 followers, and I'll post and embarassing photo as me dressed as Thing 1. Help me reach 100 followers, and I'll learn all the moves to Michael Jackson's Thriller video and recreate the epic video as my first experiment in vlogging. It'll be very low budget, but highly entertaining. So spread the word.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Latest WIP-The Twins of Er and Est

Earlier this week, I eluded to the fact that I've been writing up a storm lately. Well, one of the stories that I am currently working on is very near and dear to my heart. The story is called the The Twins of Er and Est. And the reasons that it is near and dear to me are many: 1. The two main characters of the story, Barry and Larry, are the actual names of my dad and Uncle Larry. 2. My Uncle Larry passed away two years ago-very young and so sad. And 3. Because I'm always looking for books that I can use in the classroom to teach certain skills. And, ofcourse, this book will illustrate the uses of the suffixes "er" and "est".

In many ways, this is your typical twins book.

In the beginning of the story, Barry and Larry are introduced as twins. And, ofcourse, they hate being the same. Been there. Done that. Yawn.

In the middle, the twins do find their differences. Again. Been there. Done that. Yawn.

The major difference with my twin book and other twin books, is that it's not just an opportunity to teach twins that they're special-And, honestly, I think they are. This book is special because it's also an opportunity for teachers to have a book that constantly uses "er" and "est".

And speaking as a teacher in the primary grades, I love using picture books to reinforce lessons. It's like killing multiple, imaginary birds with one stone. Not only am I teaching "er" and "est", but I'm also demonstrating fluency and modeling comprehension. And what can be better than that?

In short, this mansucript is a teacher's dream.(maybe tooting a little too much) It's fun. It's educational. And you get a lot of bang for your buck. And let's face it, teachers and parents don't have a lot of extra bucks just lying around these days.

So my question to you is this, do you just write what comes to you? Or, do you think about things like tying your stories into certain academic standards? Because believe me, that's where the sales are. Teachers and parents DO want entertaining books, but they also want their children to learn in the process. So get on the education express, people. It's a fun ride!(This message is supported by this aspiring writer mama/teacher.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Preschool Video Montage In Honor Of Fall







Mid-Life Write This


In 1965, psychoanalyst and social scientist, Elliot Jaques, coined the popular phrase "mid-life crisis" which medterms.com describes as," A period of personal emotional turmoil and coping challenges that some people encounter when they reach middle age, accompanied by a desire for change in their lives, brought on by fears and anxieties about growing older."

Well, today, I'd like to introduce a new medical term that is especially relevant to writers who start writing during mid-life. I call this form of mental illness "mid-life write this".

People who suffer from 'mid-life write this' are people who did not go to college to pursue a writing career, but realized during mid-life, that writing was their ultimate calling.These individuals are the worst of the mentally ill, because they have chosen to willfully submit themselves to constant critique, wake up in the middle of the night to jot down story ideas and character descriptions, stop people in the middle of conversations and say things like 'that'd be a good idea for a book' or 'you'd make an interesting character for my latest mansucript', and flat-out drive their spouses crazy because they're always writing.

Be advised.These people should not be approached while they are writing. That would be the equivalent of poking a bear while they are enjoying a beehive full of golden honey.

And if you happen to stumble upon one of these people talking about their latest manuscript,run for your life. Otherwise, they will show you multiple drafts of their latest PB and ask for your feedback, try to rope you into following their blog, and attempt to get you to follow them on twitter.

It's best to walk away from these individuals while you still can. They're already too far gone for your help. And, treatment would be futile. Save yourself.

The Rach Writes Inaugural Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade

Are you new to writing and blogging, and want to be a part of something big and bold? Head on over to Rachel Harrie's blog and join the inaugural writers' platform. It's a great opportunity to meet people that think and dream like you. And maybe, just maybe,you'll increase your own following at the same time. What have you got to lose?
http://rachaelharrie.blogspot.com/2010/09/rach-writes-inaugural-writers-platform.html

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My New Favorite Quote About Writing

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. ~Mark Twain

For those of you who have wondering where I have been lately, this quote really sums it up. For the past two months, I've been in hot pursuit of those elusive, lightning words. And while I really enjoy blogging about my writing journey, actual writing is my number one priority. And I'm proud to say,that I've been knee deep in ink and paper lately.

I really hope that I haven't lost too many of you during my little hiatus from the blog, because I have a lot of interesting topics in the works. So, stay tuned for more Super Science Saturdays and informative writing topics. I promise that there will be something here for everyone. And you wouldn't want to miss it, would you?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Super Science Saturday#3

Hello, Fellow Kitchen Chemists and Mad Scientists,

Today, I'm going to do something different for Super Science Saturday. Normally, I post a video of a super cool science experiment, but today I'm going to post some video clips from a really great show Sid the Science kid.

If you're a kid, teacher, or parent you are going to love this show. Not only does it teach Science in a really entertaining way, but the singing and dancing cracks me up. I love that we get to stand up and shake our grove 'thangs' every few minutes. It's great exercise. And for those of you who know me, you know how much I love to shake my 'groove thang'. I almost don't mind sitting and watching the boob tube with the kiddos anymore, especially since I know that they're learning and exercising.






This clip illustrates the rump shaking part. If I were to pick one of the kids that I was most like, I'd have to say that I'm like Gabriella. What do you think?



And last but not least, this show promotes loving your mommy. How can I not 'give love' to a show that talks about 'mommy love'? Again, I find myself feeling bad for the dads of the world, but not too bad. Sid's dad is in the show, he just doesn't get his own song. So it's not a total blow off for the male figure. And besides, the mom song is only a few seconds.
Enjoy, moms!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tip Tuesday and Waaaasup Wednesday Combined


Since I ranted yesterday, today I will combine Tip Tuesday and Waaaasup Wednesday. Here goes.

Tip# 2
Don't eat yellow snow!Hehehehehe


And,Waaasup, followers! Here's the scoop. Right now, I'm working on two stories at once: Owl, Be Home By Morning and Lily's Pad. You've already heard about Owl, Be Home by Morning, so I'll tell you the premise of Lily's Pad.

In Lily's Pad, Lily the frog, gets lost trying to chase a whizzing dragonfly. After she loses the dragonfly, she suddenly realizes that she doesn't know where she is. After a brief second of panic, she remembers a tip that her mother told her, "Follow the lillies til' you find ten, and you'll find your way back home again". Long story short, Lily will follow the lily pattern of numbers, until she reaches her pad/home.

So what do you think of Lily's Pad? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

PB's Get No Love


I love a good chapter book just as much as anyone else, but why is it that aspiring picture book authors just don't get the "love" when it comes writing websites? I mean I totally get that chapter book authors write like 40,000-90,000 more words than a PB author-but man, PB writers write, entire stories, beginning to end, with less than 1,000 words. And sometimes, they even do it in rhyme. Now that is real talent!

Not that I'm saying that writers of other age groups aren't talented. To be honest, I love writing of any kind. One day, I'd like to write for other age groups, too. I'm just saying that I'm tired of the MG, YA, and A authors acting like their stuff is more important to society. Get over yourselves already! I mean if weren't for PB authors, those people would have never discovered the joys of reading to begin with. Am I right? Or Am I right?

So If I solicit feedback on a writer's website, please critique it. Don't snub me because I write for small children. And,don't snub me because I'm new to all this. Help a sista out! We all need help! It's the right thing to do:)

And in return, I promise to read your multiple query letter posts, over and over again, even though I'd rather pour honey all over myself and run through a bear's den. Sorry-it had to be sad.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Super Soap Smackdown Part Deux

When it comes to writing, no one really talks about the genius of soap opera writers. These people create new and fresh stories on a daily basis, yet no one would even recognize them on the street. Legions of fans watch their shows every day, yet no one even knows their names. Sure, they have their own yearly awards. And sure, ocassionally, a person gives them a shot out on the soap's personal website or in the Soap Opera Digest. But it's not like people go to Super Soap Weekend to see the writers. And it's not like they have their own fan clubs or merchandise.

In this scene in particular, the writers have really gone above and beyond the call of duty. There's love and fighting and legal jargon-the makings of any good novel-and I don't even know the names of the people wrote this scene. To me, that's a travesty. And I, for one, intend to do something about it.

So from now on, when I see a truly fantastic catfight or dramatic scene, I will post it on the blog. Not only that, I will try to find out the names of the writers of that episode or scene. It's time for these geniuses to be acknowledged. They deserve their day in the "blogosphere" sun.

FYI-the writer of this scene was probably Richard Culliton-head writer at AMC in the early 2000's.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Super Science Saturday

It's obvious when watching this video, that these boys are having a blast. With a few, common household items, they are able to inflate a balloon. It has all the fun of magic, yet all the predictability of science. Not to mention, there's the possibility of the balloon popping, looming in the distance. And what little boy doesn't like a good explosion?

So how does this experiment work? Well, it's simple. When the baking soda and vinegar combine, a chemical reaction creates a gas called carbon dioxide-the same gas that is expelled from our lungs when we breathe. So in a way, this is the same way that any human being would blow up a balloon. It's just a little more creative.

It's a super way to introduce gases to your students. Because gases are invisible to the naked eye, the balloon is a great way to SHOW the gas. It's not as cool as lighting your own farts, but your butt will thank you for opting to go in another direction.

So enjoy, fellow Mad Scientists and Kitchen Chemists. And,remember,Science is awesome! Lighting your own farts is not!



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waaaasup Wednesday

Waaaasup, followers! Thanks for stopping by. Since you're here, let me tell you what I'm currently working on.

WIPS (works in progress)
My main three writing projects are as follows: The Bedbug Beat, Allie the Numbertarian Alligator(working title), and Let's Go Fishin'. All three stories are picturebook(PB) manuscripts(MS) for children, primarily 8 and under. Two out of the three stories is written in rhyme, which is not for the feint of heart. It's actually a big pain in the rump. But when inspiration comes, you have to accept it on its terms. It's a gift from the Writing Gods and must be cherished.


Where I am in the flowchart of getting my work published?
For those of you who don't know, there's an unofficial flowchart of sorts when it comes to getting published. Here are the steps according to me:1.write 2.edit(a lot) 3. story is reviewed by peers("beta"ed) 4. Some more edits 5. Maybe even hire an editor, only if you're just getting started. Most writers, literary agents, and editors recommend just taking classes to learn your craft. It's definitely cheaper, and you'll learn to do it yourself. 6. Send out query or cover letters with your manuscript 7. Rejections or letters of acceptance arrive in the mail months and months later 8. Book deal(maybe, but probably not) 9. published(maybe, but probably not) 10. book signings.etc.(again, maybe, but don't hold your breath. This is only for the creme de la creme)

Right now, I'm in step 3. Each of these stories is being "beta"ed(a.k.a read by a group of peers, usually writers or editors of the same genre and age group). All three have had positive reviews, so far. Right now, I'm just working out the kinks.

So stay tuned, I hope to be sending these babies out soon. Together we can find out what sticks and what hits the fan. As the stories progress down the flowchart, you'll be the first to know. So stop by often, to check it out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Breaking News-Unicorns are REAL

Finally, scientific proof that unicorns really do exist. Check out the video of this REAL-no joke-unicorn.This could be how the legend of unicorns was actually started in storytelling. This is huge!