Saturday, November 5, 2011

When I grow up, perhaps I’ll be
the president of our country.
Or maybe, I won’t lead at all.
I’ll be a cashier at the mall.

When I grow up, I’d like to write
about a princess and a knight.
And when the princess goes astray,
My knight will come and save the day.

When I grow up, I think I’ll dance
in theatres all over France.
And when my dancing days are done,
I’ll stroll off towards the setting sun.

When I grow up, I’ll stay in school
for mama didn’t raise no fool.
I’ll be a doctor or a vet,
and help the patients that I’ve met.

When I grow up, I’ll do great things
and relish what the future brings.
Whatever I grow up to be,
I know that I’ll be proud of me.



Sunday, October 2, 2011

Happy Hedgehog Day

Earlier today, I did a little blog post about brainstorming. But what I didn't tell you in that post, is that I'm also in the beginning stages of working on a little story that I kind-of love.

It all started a few months ago, when I was reading a very interesting blog post about hedgehogs. Long story short. Apparently, we Americans, have had it all wrong when it comes to weather predicting animals. In ancient Rome, the hedgehog was actually the reigning super weather predictor. And when immigrants settled in the Americas, they replaced these spiney, little meteorologists with the most hedgehog-looking creature that they could find in America, the local groundhog.

So all these years, we've been consulting the wrong animal for weather advice.

Well, to be honest, I thought that this historical fact was hilarious, and too great to pass up. So lately, I've been working on a little story involving the two, groundhogs and hedgehogs. And in the end, a very rough draft of 'Happy Hedgehog Day' was born.

'Happy Hedgehog Day' is a funny picturebook manuscript about a groundhog that's afraid of her own shadow(quite literally), and crotchity old hedgehog who comes to the rescue. So stay tuned for details about that:)

And in the meantime, check out the article for yourself. You may just find the article amusing, too.
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/blog-post/2011/02/groundhog_day_2011_is_punxsuta.html




Saturday, October 1, 2011

What's New In Writerland?

I think this song pretty much sums it up. Feel free to imagine me singing this song whilst I brainstorm new picturebook ideas.




But in actuality, I'm probably listening to this song whilst I brainstorm.



I'd like to think of myself as a hip mom and writer. And the fact that I just said 'hip', just goes to show you how unhip I actually am;)

You're probably picturing the lady in mom jeans who still wants to be cool, so she listens to all the latest bands and keeps up on all the trends. And if you are......you'd be right-o.



Sunday, September 18, 2011

Waiting and Heartache

This week, I finally did it. I finally sent out my story 'The Barnyard Exercise'.After much debate and advice my from awesome critique group and writers on Writeoncon, I finally deemed it ready for the eyes of literary agents throughout the word-well, mostly New York, anyway.

'And how's that going?' you ask.

Well, not so good.

The day after I submitted my story, I got a bite. Yippee! Hooray! I'm on my way! A literary agent liked my query, so I sent in my 150 word manuscript to the agent with all the hope that a heart could hope.

And.... he didn't like it. Wah! Wah! Wah! Heartache!

He did have some very positive things to say about the manuscript, however. So I'm not going to consider it a complete wash.

So now what?

Well, I wait and hope some more. Maybe others will like my little ms. After all, 'Carrie' received like 30 rejections before someone decided to publish that work of genius. And 'Gone with the Wind', received 38 rejections. And that is a classic, my friends.

Not that I'm saying 'Barnyard Exercise' is the same league as either of those books. That would be laughable.

But am I saying, that one rejection isn't going to cause me to cower beneath the covers, or shake beneath the sheets. I will hold onto hope until the very last rejection comes back. And even then, I will search for even the smallest hint of advice, and use it to make my story better. Because my little story is cute and original, I tell ya. And I believe it could be successful.

So my questions to you guys and gals are these: Have you ever had an experience like this? Did your story get picked up eventually, or did you give up? What advice do you have for other writers ont this particular subject?
=



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things

So today, I was huddled in my computer room, sending out query-after-query, when my four year old happened into the room.

"Whatcha doing, mommy?" he asks, as he removes his saliva soaked thumb from his mouth.

"Well, buddy," I start to answer, as if he'll know what I'm talking about. "Mommy is sending out her story today. You see, if mommy ever wants to see her story become a book, I have to send it to people who can make that happen."

Suddenly, Josh shrieks. "No, mom, I wanna hear your story every day! If you send it out, I will never get to hear it!"

To which I reply, "It's okay, buddy. I have a copy. And when it gets published, I promise that you'll be the first person to get a signed copy."

Josh looks at me with a raised brow. " What's that?" he asks, innocently.

To which I respond with a hug, "Nevermind, I guess you have to be five to appreciate that!" and chuckle.

Then, of course, I retell my picturebook, from memory.

And Josh, says all the words with me:)

God, I love my kids!



Sunday, September 4, 2011

Add A Little Extra

Want to add a little something extra to your blog?

Try adding a custom signature. Follow the link, and give it a try.

http://shabbyblogsblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/tutorial-how-to-add-custom-signature-to.html




Hotbed Of Out-Of-Control Behavior

Today my household is a hotbed of out-of-control behavior. Little boys are zooming through the house, like tasmian devils on a sugar highs. Little boys are are jumping from couch-to-couch, like mischievous monkeys. And little boys are eating a buffet of semi-sugary treats and drinks that would cause a full-grown adult to go into a sugar coma.

'Why in the world am I allowing this anarchy to continue?' you ask.

Research.

Today is all about perusing the internet for the agents, and finding the perfect super-group of agents to send my story to.

For the past year and half, I have worked on my craft. I have read books, articles, and blogs. I have participated in online critique groups and attended online conferences. I have even submitted one picturebook story to about 3 agents...total.

But today, is all about up-ing my game. I've talked the big talk, and now I'll walk the big walk. And in order to do that, I need to take it to the next level.

So what is the next level?

The next level, is researching pb agents until my eyes bleed, apparently. It's looking at submission guidelines-so long and so hard-that I walk away with away with a small group of feint black dots swirling around in front of my eyes, and a migraine that would bring a horse to his knees.

But, surprisingly, I'm enjoying it. The kids are playing semi-nicely. I haven't had to intercede....yet, anyway. And I'm appreciating the VERY lengthy guidelines and agents descriptions.

Because,hey, I don't want to wast my time and money either.


So, I'll continue researching until my eyes bleed. And I'll allow the anarchy to continue in my household-at least, until it seems like my children have had way too many sugary treats, and I simply must intercede with an apple or some grapes.

And I won't feel the least bit guilty. Because, hey, I am living my dream. And a good mother shows her children balance. And a good mother plays with her children and still shoots for the stars. And a good mother can do it all.

Right?

Ok. So maybe I'm feeling a little bit guilty about trying to do it all. But a good mother always worries, right?

RIGHT?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Song of the City

Warning: This poem was written for the sheer fun of it. I have not checked it for meter or syllable count. Nor have I have lost any sleep over it-mostly because I wrote it an hour ago.

Sometimes you just have to write what's in your heart, without any intention of it being published traditionally. And on this day, in particular, I was just thinking about the background noise of the world, and how its like lullaby of sorts.

The Song of the City
As I lay in bed, with my eyes shut tight,
The glow of the street lamps light up the night.
With a zip and a zat, they click on like that.
And I hear the song of the city.

As the planes fly by, like a flash in the sky,
The sounds of their engines soar upon high.
With a woosh and a creek, tiny flaps start to squeak.
And I hear the song of the city.

As the cabs speed past, with their fares in tow.
They race through the night in the streets below.
With a honk and a beep, as I try to sleep.
And I hear the song of the city.

As the train chugs on, like a sad soft song,
With a haunting refrain, that I must sing along.
With a choo and a choo, I feel like a snooze,
As I hear the song of the city.

As my eyes flip flap, like the wings of a dove.
And the stars blink high, in the sky above.
With a ZZZZZZ like a roar, I begin to snore.
And I add to the song of the city.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Writing In Rhyme Can Be Such A Rough Climb



Think you have what it takes to write in rhyme, just because you know a few rhyming words and a have a cute idea for a story? Think again!

Writing in rhyme is tough. Not only do you have to tell a story with perfect meter-Huh?-but you also have to progress the story and have a unique twist. Which in case no one told you, isn't easy.

About a year ago and a half ago, I started writing in rhyme. And although I hate to admit it, I thought rhyming would be a breeze. After all, how hard could it be? Dr. Seuss made it look so darned easy, with so few words.

But little did I know, just how hard it would be. And when I submitted my first story to one of my critique groups-fully expecting to get rave reviews-what I found instead, was that I was greeted by a bunch of meter maids, who politely hit me with their buckets, then ran me over with their (figurative) livestock.

OUCH! Painful!

And I don't want that for you guys. I don't want you to be assaulted by a bunch of meter maids (or men). I want you to know what you're doing.

So today, I've posted a lovely little video-courtesy of wikihow-detailing how to write in rhyme, or at least scan your rhymes. And I hope that it will help you, like it helped me.

Good luck, fellow rhymers!

Rhyming Resources
http://www.wikihow.com/Scan-a-Poem
http://www.underdown.org/mf-rhyme-and-meter.htm
http://www.underdown.org/mf-rhyming-picture-books.htm
http://www.rhymezone.com
http://www.smartwriters.com/content/view/351/
http://writeoncon.com/2010/08/meter-meter-sleep-depleter-by-author-tiffany-strelitz/

*This post was inspired by a very clever meter man. And if you're reading this, you now who you are:)


They look so friendly, don't they?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What's New With Me?


This summer was rough. In the late spring, I received a few rejections-worded very nicely, not too tough to swallow-and I was feeling really bummed about writing in general.

And while I know I said that I would let rejections roll off of my back and learn from them in a poem posted on this very blog, I didn't at first. I let them simmer and stew. And soon, my bummed feelings turned into full blown, bury your head in the sand-itis.

Seriously, I was like an ostrich. I burried my head under my pillow and refused to write.Ideas would come to me, and I would ignore them. The imaginary characters that tried to whisper to me, had found that I was holding my ears and yelling 'Lalalalalalalala' at the top of my lungs, like a stubborn kid who doesn't want to listen to his mother.

It was really quite sad. Imagine a 34 year old acting like that.

But then Fall arrived-or at least the beginning of the school year in Florida-and I was feeling hopeful again. I simply couldn't ignore my friends anymore.

After all, they hadn't abandoned me. I had abandoned them.

So slowly, I took my fingers off of my ear lobes and started listening again. And what I heard, was a funny, rhyming picture book story about barnyard animals who like to excercise each morning, before the farmer wakes up.

Picture dogs jogging by with sneakers on. Imagine cows doing yoga by the plow. Visualize ducks playing hockey. If you can do that, you'll have an idea of what 'Barnyard Exercise' is all about.

So that's what I've been up to, bloggers: burying my head in the figurative sand, recovering from rejection, learning from rejection (hopefully), and writing a funny story about barnyard animals.My only prayer is that someone will see the story, and be just as happy with it as I am.

So here I am, crossing my fingers and throwing my intentions into the universe.

I'll let you know if the universe throws anything back:)

Technical Difficulties

Right now, I'm having technical difficulties with the blog. I can see your comments, but I can't comment. So for those of you who are commenting, I am seeing your comments. And when the problem is fixed-hopefully, soon-I will go back and add my comments.

So please keep commenting, friends. I am reading them:)

Monday, August 1, 2011

'The Help' Storybook Contest

Are you an aspiring picture book author? Have you written an original story with a positive message? If you answered yes to both of those questions, be sure to check out the following link for a chance to have your book illustrated and published online.

http://www.takepart.com/thehelp

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Coolest Book Game In All Of Book Game History

Today as I was reading a new book, I stumbled upon one of the funniest sentences that I'd ever read. Not only was it funny because of the words themselves, but knowing the context added to that, at least for me.

And that got me to thinking, wouldn't it be fun to post silly book quotes every week and have people guess the names of the books that they came from?

And then I thought, that would be an awesome game for my blog.

So that's exactly what I'm going to do. And at the end of the month, the person with the most book points will win a 10$ gift card to Barnes and Noble. And in the event of a tie, I will put names in a hat and have one of my children draw one out. (Fancy, I know. We're high tech around here)

So if you're interested in playing, below is the 1st quote.

"Sometimes I think that if I had to choose between an ear of corn or making love to a woman, I'd choose the ear of corn."

The title of the book and next week's quote will be announced on Wenesday.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Song to Honor My Mama Followers



Happy Mother's Day, Mothers!

Mother's Day Mice

















Sometimes being the youngest child (or mouse) can be really hard, especially when you have two older siblings who know exactly what to do for Mother's Day.

When youngest mouse sets off to find the perfect gift for Mother Mouse, he learns that a gift from the heart can mean so much more.

In this tale, Youngest Mouse wishes to do the impossible-take some honeysuckle from the cottage in the woods. But with cat on guard, it may prove too difficult for a little mouse to do.

Will Youngest Mouse be able to find his mother a special Mother's day gift, or will he have to share a gift with his brothers?

To find out the answer to this and more, read Mother's Day Mice, by Eve Bunting and Jan Brett-a perfect story for Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

NaPiBoWriWee

Love Picture Books? Wanna flex your writing muscles and have a blast, maybe even win a prize or two?

Follow the link and enter Paula Yoo's NaPiBoWriWee, which is short for National Picture Book Writing Week-a delightful picture book version of NaNoWriMo.


http://paulayoo.com/napi/?p=11#more-11

Although I'm not personally entering this year due to being sick, I wanted to make sure that you all knew about this wonderful opportunity to network with other writers.

Good Luck & Happy Writing!



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spoonfuls of Stories Competition










If you're a picture book author and are interested in seeing your work reach children throughout the world, the Cheerios' Spoonfuls of Stories competition might be right for you. Click on the link below for more details.

http://www.spoonfulsofstoriescontest.com/

Saturday, April 9, 2011

1 More Query Left



Want to read advice on how to make your query and cover letters better? Over at Writeoncon, the lovely Mrs. Fischer of The Bradford Literary Agency is accepting 50 query and cover letters, LIVE. And when the magic number is reached, she will give all kinds of feedback.

The way see it, even if you don't make the cut, you'll still get some really valuable insight from an industry insider. So get over there, people! MOVE IT. MOVE IT. MOVE IT.

As for me, I am number 49. How awesome is that? I feel like a character from a Pittacus Lore novel. So please insert ominous, robotic voice as you say my name...I Am Number 49. Because that's how I say it.

Mom Tip of The Week: Saving The Environment, One Fork At A Time


If you make your kids a waffle sandwich (two waffles with syrup or honey in the center), you don't have to wash a fork. I'm just sayin'. I'd like to think that I'm environmentally conscious rather than lazy about doing the dishes. I mean, I am using less water and chemicals, people. It's definitely something to consider.Think of it as saving the environment, one fork at a time. I know I do.

Celebrate National Library Week










Love the libary? Wanna tweet about it and win a 50$ gift certificate to Amazon? Click on the link listed below for the details.

Also, don't forget that I'm holding the 'Dumb Bunny Hop-Hop', in which I'm giving away the book 'Junie B. Jones is a Dumb Bunny'. Details are listed in an earlier post. And so far, no one has joined. So, mathematically speaking, that only adds to your odds of winning. I don't wanna go all teacher on you or anything and preach to you about the rules of probability, but you do realize that that increases your odds of winning, right? And friends, the book is super cute. Even if you're not into kidlit, you're bound to have a child, niece, or nephew who most certainly is into it. So hop on over to March 27th's blog post and click 'Click here to enter', and maybe win a book for your favorite kiddo.

http://atyourlibrary.org/share-your-library-story-17-syllables-and-140-characters


My Twaiku for the Contest
Fictional Haven
Imagination Station
Intellectual mecca

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's new with me?

Well, to start, I promised to keep to a writing schedule, and I very nearly broke the promise on the very first week. To be honest, I really wanted to go to bed right now. Tomorrow I have 5 LONG meetings in a row. And today, I had to do a lot of paperwork to prepare for those meetings. Add a sick kiddo to that mix, and that pretty much describes my week. TERRIBLE! But I strive to be a gal who keeps her word, so here I am telling you about what's new with me.

So what is up?

Firstly, I am still on the hunt for an agent. So this weekend-barring meetings and childhood illnesses-I will start to sub my two rhyming picture book manuscripts to various agents. Originally, I had submitted the stories to one agent, exclusively. My call, not hers. But unforunately, the time for that exclusivity has run out, and I haven't had an offer yet. So honestly, I'm a little bummed.

And then there's the other terrible thing this week, the diet. Or as I like to call it so I don't feel completely crazy, healthy eating. For some reason, that makes it feel more acceptable to me to call it that. Because when I think of diets, I think of the crazy fads: turnips, only yogurt, no carbs, only proteins, etc. But in the end, healthy eating feels the same to me. I'm still depriving myself of the things I truly want to eat: Mike and Ikes, Swedish fish, bread, non diet soda, and pasta. ( Yes. I am an adult. I promise.) And I've been exchanging them for Yogurt. Bluck! And Lean Cuisines. Double Bluck! And just for fun, I've thrown in some Zumba dancing, just in case the diet doesn't torture me enough.

But there is a silver lining to this long and strenuous week, people.....The Vampire Diaries. After several weeks of no new episodes, Elana's vampire birth mother will be sailing in to town tomorrow night.

I know, right? Awesome.

And after that, it'll be the weekend. And we all know what happens on the weekend, dont we?.....Writing.

So even though this week has been long and I really didn't want to keep up the writing schedule, I think I can muddle through. Because in the end, I get to relax on the weekend, write, and rewatch The Vampire Diaries. Not to mention, I can splurge on those days. So Mama's got a date with Mike and Ike this weekend, peeps. Or perhaps it'll be Ben and Jerry. Either way it's double the pleasure, double the fun. And Mr. Stanford isn't the least bit jealous.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bloggers Block-Do you have it?

Everyone talks about writers block. But seldom do they mention a lesser known block that plagues writers and bloggers around the world-bloggers block.

Well, today I read a really great blog post by Jody Hedlund about 'Perserving Through Blogging'. And two tips that I'm thinking about trying are, setting a schedule to blog and sticking to it, and writing in advance. I've tried these things in the past, but I wasn't able to keep up with the schedule. So I think I'm going to start with baby steps.

So here's the new schedule, folks.

What's Up Wednesdays-(What I'm up to personally and professionally with writing)
Saturdays & Sundays-(Writing or Teaching Tips/articles/videos Or Book reviews)

jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/2011/04/5-ways-to-persevere-through-blogging.html

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dumb Bunny Hop-Hop


In honor of one of my favorite holidays and one of my favorite books, I am holding a 'Dumb Bunny Hop-Hop'. So hop on over and link up. You may just win one of the funniest Junie B. Jones books ever. And just so you don't trip up when it comes to the rules, here they are:

1. Write about the competition on your blog. (1 entry point)
2. Tweet about the hop. Make sure I have your link. (1 entry point)
3. Comment on this post, telling me the name of your favorite Junie B. book.(1 point)
4. Email me a picture of you doing the bunny hop. (10 entry points) Your pic will be posted if you do this. (just for fun/totally optional)

The person with the most points will win! In the event of a tie, I will put the names in a hat and have one of my children pull a name out.

Contest Ends at midnight on Easter Eve. The winner will be announced on Easter.

Friday, March 18, 2011

5 Things An Author Can Learn From A Pirate


Today my three year old was running around the house, pretending to be a pirate, and I found myself thinking, 'Do I really want my son pretending to be a pirate?' I mean, historically speaking, pirates are NOT known for their good behavior. In fact, they're known throughout the world as thieves. YIKES!

But then the rational me stepped forward-a.k.a the person I was before I became a mommy-and I started thinking about all the fun that I had pretending to be a pirate as a child. And then I thought, ' Chilax, Mom! There has to be something redeemable about pirates or the world wouldn't be so fascinated by them. I mean authors write about them all the time. Filmakers reenact their lives. And children dress up like them for Halloween.

So I chilled for a sec. and thought, what are the redeemable qualities of a pirate? I mean everyone has at least one good trait, right? And when I was done, it surprised me that I was able to think of quite a few redeemable qualities in a pirate. To be honest, I actually started to think, 'Man, maybe I need to be a pirate! Heck, all writers could learn a thing or two from pirates.

So I decided to pass on my new found knowledge to ye, me friends and fellow pirates. ARGH!

5 Things An Author Can Learn From A Pirate


1. If you want to get the booty, you have to work-off your patooty. Being an author is hard work. So if you joined this profession thinking that all of your ideas are great and that it's going to be SOOOOO easy to get published, you'd probably better rethink your career plans. Authors are some of the hardest working people out there. They write into the wee hours of the night, rewrite until their eyes cross, and network until they amass an army of supporters. And that's not the kind of thing that happens overnight. It takes time. A lot of time. So if you want to get the booty-a.k.a the publishing contract-then be prepared to work your butt off. Because writing is not for the faint of heart. And often times, you'll have to work two jobs at once.

2. It's all about the hook! A good hook captures your attention and draws you in immediately. Without one, readers and agents will not keep reading past the first few pages. So be bold with your beginning! If you have a good hook, you'll surely sell your book.(Ok. Possibly sell your book. But that didn't sound as cool.)

3. X marks the spot. Editing is key when it comes to quality writing. Rome was not built in a day, people. It took a lot of time and planning. And good writing is a lot like creating a great civilization. So if you want your book to see the shelf and be known as the book among books, you must edit. Otherwise, thank the Romans for creating the sewer system, because that's exactly where your book may be headed. Believe me. I know from experience.


4. You can't be a good captain without a loyal crew.
It takes a lot of work to run a tight ship. And the key to any successful endeavor is teamwork. Agents, publishers, editors, family, and friends are all a part of your team/crew, so thank them. Because without their support, your ship may run aground. Without them, you may not finish your book. And without them, you may not even be inspired to write at all.

5. Sometimes 'walking the plank' is the only answer. Everything you write is not going to be brilliant. And sometimes you may need to make a character, sentence, or story 'walk the plank'. Sometimes a member of your crew may even need to 'walk the plank'. And that's ok! In the words of the Gambler, Kenny Rodgers, "You've got to know when to fold 'em. Know when to hold 'em. Know when to walk away. And know when to run." And if anyone's had a successful career, it's that man. So if I were you, I'd heed his advice.


Happy Blogging, Fellow Pirates!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Snow Day

Snow Day
by Jessica Stanford

I didn’t go school today,
for I was feeling sick.
My tummy ached and lurched about.
I couldn’t eat a lick.

I sneezed and wheezed an awful lot.
My Mum rang up the doc.
He quickly came and looked at me.
His face was filled with shock.

“Your boy is ill-so gravely ill-
I think his time is through.
I’ll try my best-my very best-
But that’s all I can do.”

“The signs are here-so very clear-
I think you’d better sit.
I fear your boy is fading fast.
I can not help a bit.”

“Too bad he’s not out with his friends,
enjoying this snow day.”
“What’s that?” I ask. “ What did you say?
We don’t have school today?”

Then, I jumped up. “I’m healed!” I yelled.
My sheets fell to the floor.
I threw my snow suit on, and then
I raced right out the door.

Saturday, March 12, 2011














My good pal and writing critique buddy over at 'The Write At Home Mom', Megan Bickle, had a Picture Book Blogfest this past week. And while I'm a few days late, I'd still like to get in on the action. Because as an aspiring picture book author, myself, there is nothing that I love more than a good picture book.

Picture books are my passion! I just love the way that I feel when I'm reading or writing one. A great picture book is like a time machine to the past. And just like a good song on the radio, reading a childhood favorite has a way of bringing you right back to all the hopefulness and sheer joy that you felt as a child reading them. And who doesn't want to feel that kind of hope and exhiliration in their adulthood?


So here goes. My favorite picturebook-today, anyway-is The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Suess. In my opinion, this book is the book that started it all. The Cat In The Hat was the first book that really made children love to read. Before The Cat In The Hat, the best that a child could look forward to reading was a book that said things like 'See Jane run. See Dick run. See Spot run after Dick and Jane.' BORING! And that is why I love The Cat In The Hat.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Got Voice?

Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." And I couldn't agree more. But what Mr. Twain failed to say-at least out loud-is that what makes the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug is your voice. And that without one, you'd be like a sailboat without wind-capable of sailing, but simply drifting about slowly in the vast ocean of slushpiles.


For awhile now, I'd forgotten that about writing. You see, lately, I've been so worried about what others would think about my comma placements and my descriptions, that I'd actually forgotten how to write like ME. In a way, I had writer's laryngitis. My words were there, but they were garbled. And they didn't really represent the passion and zest that I had when I actually spoke. And believe me peeps, I'm a pistol.

Part of the reason I'd lost my voice was because I wanted so badly to follow a magic formula (it doesn't exist) and get my works published. And the other reason was because I was so afraid of how far to take my opinions and jokes. I mean 'Could I really say what I wanted?' I am a teacher, after all. And at the end of the day, that's the job that pays the bills, not my passion for the written word. Fear can be a paralyzing thing, people.

But in the end, I had to realize that if I didn't learn to use my voice, that no one would ever truly LOVE my writing. Sure. They might like it. Heck, they may even dig it. But they'd never really love my writing the way that I love Kathryn Stockett's. Now, that girl has voice. She has big time voice.

So it got me thinking 'How can I make my writing voice stand out? And what can I do to strengthen my 'voice' muscles?' And below is what I came up with.

1. Write like no one's watching. If you write a story thinking that 'everybody and their grandma' is going to be critiquing your writing,you'll never write a story with great voice. One of the things that stifles a writer's voice the most is the worry of failure. And if you give up that worry and write for yourself, you're giving yourself permission to write like no one's watching.

Last week, I wrote a story with the intent of it never seeing the light of day. And frankly, it was the most liberating experience that I've ever had. I was able to throw caution to the wind and let all my emotions hang out, so to speak. And as a result, I churned out one of the best stories that I'd ever written. Well, at least, as far as my voice was concerned, anyway.

2. Do your research. If you're writing a story about an African American woman during the time of integration, then by golly, you'd better do your research. Again, I refer to Kathryn Stockett. After reading her book The Help, I would've guessed that she was an elderly, southern African American. Imagine my surprise to find that she was a middle aged, caucasian. Now, in her particular case-from what I've read, anyway-Stockett herself was raised (by help standards) by an African American woman, a decade after the events transpiring in her book. So, in a way, she was doing the ultimate research for her book as she grew up. But even being raised by someone who had lived during that time period wouldn't have yieled a story as awesome as The Help. I mean I was raised by a WW2 veteran, and I couldn't write a story about that time period to save my life.

So until Kathryn Stocket tells me that she didn't do any research on that book, I'm going to assume that she researched until her eyes bled. Because man, that girl wrote The Help as if she lived during that time period. And I bought it. Hook. Line. And sinker.

3. Become your character. The person you are today is not the person you were yesterday. Every day holds a new experience and feeling. So what was it like when you were a child? How did you feel when your father walked out on your mother? Channel one of your former selves, and you'll be able to harness the voice of today's character. Everyone has been scorned by a lover, or has watched someone being scorned. Everyone knows what it's like on that first day of school, with a ball of nerves churning in the pit of your stomach like a volcano nearing eruption. Use that knowledge to create your character's voice. Become a medium, and channel them.

4. Read until your eyes bleed. Or at least until you need a pair of reading glasses because you've read so much that your eyes are strained. Learn from the masters. Heck, copy them if you have to. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. At least, that's what I've heard. So fake it til' you make it. (But obviously, only during a writing exercise. You obviously don't want to steal another writer's thang'. That, my friends, is a big no-no.)

So in conclusion( my teacher speak), if you don't have voice, you will never reach the highest level of your writing. And in the end, I think that's something that all writers strive for.

So what do you do to strengthen your voice muscles? Is there a writing excercise that you've discovered in a book, class, or critique group that has really helped you out? Is there something that you thought of on your own? Do share. Please. I'd love to hear your ideas.

* Kathryn Stocket bio link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathryn_Stockett
http://boofsbookshelf.com/2010/06/11/interview-kathryn-stockett-author-of-the-help/

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr Suess!

In honor of 'Read Across America' and the beloved Theodore Geisel a.k.a Dr. Suess, I am going to post some of my favorite Dr. Suess quotes today. Feel free to post your own favorite quotes in the comments.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An Elephant's faithful-one hundred percent”

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go.”

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fox In Socks

100 Books In 100 Days Update

As I'm sure most of you have noticed, I've long since given up on doing a book review a day during my '100 Books In 100 Days Challenge'. But what you haven't seen-well, unless you've secretly placed a bug/camera in my home-is that I'm still pluggin' along with the challenge. Every day I read a book, as stipulated in the challenge. And often times, I find myself reading more than the required book a day.

So stay tuned for the '100 Books In 100 days' tab. In it, I will list the 100 books that I've read, along with a book rating.

'Is My Idea Good?' By CBI Clubhouse

Ramp Up Your Tension By CBI Clubhouse

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Read Across America Activity #5

Playing dress-up isn't just for girls, and it isn't just an activity for the home. Try having a dress-up week at school to go along with your week's worth of book selections. Below is my schedule for 'Read Across America'

Monday-Read The Cat In The Hat and have Silly Hat Day

Tuesday-Read Fox In Socks and have Silly Sock Day

Wednesday-Read Green Eggs and Ham and have a Green Day

Thursday-Read There's A Wocket in My Pocket and have Wacky Outfit Day

Friday- Read The Sleep Book and have Pajama Day

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Read Across America Activity # 4

Create a who.

A who?

A who.

Wait. What do we do?

Create a who!

One of the things that is becoming increasingly important in education these days is cross curricular teaching. Simply put. You need to cram as much as you can into one activity to maximize a child's learning potential.

'Why?' you ask. Well, because a teacher's/child's day is getting shorter and shorter due to state mandated EXTRA stuff. And as a result, the days of teaching one subject at a time are gone. Instead, we are replacing them with activities that incorporate a lot of subjects at once a.k.a cross curricular teaching.

A great activity for cross curricular instruction during 'Read Across America Week' is creating a who. Below are the instructions for the activity, and a list of subjects/skills that you are practicing.

1. Read a Dr Suess book featuring a who OR have your students read a story independently or with a buddy. (comprehension, vocab, phonics,and fluency)

2. Create a who or whos on Suessvile. (art)

3. Cut it/them out and glue them to one or more writing papers.(art)

4. Write a story that goes along with your whos OR retell the story that you read in your own words. ( writing lesson or comprehension lesson, depending on writing or retelling)


www.seussville.com

Read Across America Activity # 3



Head over to the 'Read Across America' site on Suessville, and download your free activity booklet.

http://www.seussville.com/Educators/educatorReadAcrossAmerica.php

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Read Across America Activity #2

Have a weekly read-a-thon in which your students graph their progress with little Cat In The Hat 'Hats'. This activity will double has a Math and Reading Activity, and push your kids to read as much as possible.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Activities For Read Across America














With Read Across America quickly approaching, I'd thought I'd share an activity a day that you can use in your own classroom or household (I haven't forgotten about you homeschoolers). So here's activity #1: Have an entire day or week of dressing up as characters from Dr. Suess' most beloved books. This will REALLY kick off your reading celebration, and get everyone in the mood to read.

At my school, the kindergarteners all make their own iron-on Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts and wear blue hair. It's a really cool tradition. The teachers buy the iron ons and hair, and the parents donate the red shirts. Which reminds me, I need to buy my own little one's red shirt. Guess who's the last 'who' to buy their kiddo's shirt? Yup. Me. Mrs. Responsible.

Above is a picture of myself and former intern, Ms. Jessie, posing in front of our bulletin board/reading graph. I'll talk more about the graph tomorrow. And, hopefully, I'll get down to my little kiddos Kindergarten classroom to take pics for you guys to see my little Thing 1 or Thing 2. SQUEE! I love Read Across America!

Want To Inspire Your Child To Become President...I Do

As a parent, teacher, and writer I believe that my children can be anything that they want to be when they grow up. Heck, I can be anything I want to be when I grow up, for that matter. But how do we inspire a nation of children to believe that they can become more, especially in a time when all they want to be is a rapper or an actor?

Well, by reading to them, ofcourse. And below are some books that are aimed at inspiring our children to apply for the top job in our country,the US Presidency.

















When It comes to picture storybooks that inspire children to want to become president, my top pick goes to 'Grace For President' by Kelly Dipucchio. This book is at the top of my list for so many reasons: 1. The story starts out with a little girl realizing that we have never had a woman president in our country, so she sets out to become class president of her school. And at first, the boys laugh at Grace. But by the end the story, no one doubts that Grace can become president when she grows up. I practically tear up every time I get to the end of the book, and Grace is grown-up and being sworn in as president. My students actually think that it's quite funny. 2. This book is also awesome because it teaches children about electoral votes. And believe me, kids don't get that concept easily. But after reading Grace For President, that concept always seems to click. 3. This book shows that hard work will help you achieve your goals. And any book that inspires to children to want to work is ok by me.



'Duck For President' by Doreen Cronin comes it at a close number two on my list of top president themed books, but for entirely different reasons: 1. This book is just funny. In this story, Duck is fed up with many things, so he runs for one office after another. And the HILARIOUS thing about it all is that he's not even really qualified to do any of the offices that he's running for, but he just keeps climbing up the political ladder. Sound familiar to anyone? In the end, however, Duck realizes that being back at the farm is where he should be. So he ends his political career and goes back to being a duck. 2. 'Duck For President' is also a good story because it shows students that they really need to work hard if they want to acquire the top spot. And, again, any book that inspires kids to work hard is fine by me.



Rounding out the list of top three books that inspire small children to want to become president is 'My Teacher For President' by Kay Winters. And it's probably not going to come as a surprise as to why I like this book so much......uhmmmm...I'm a teacher. For years, I've ranted about how putting a highly effective teacher in the top position would totally solve our country's problems. And, apparently, Kay Winters also thought the same thing. Her book is adorable. Throughout the entire book, she lists the qualities that a president needs to possess in order to do a great job in office, and lists the qualities that most(not all) teachers already possess: kindness, being able to stop a fight, etc. All in all, this teacher gives 'My Teacher For President' an A++.

What is your favorite presidential themed book? Is it one of these books? I'd love to hear your comments.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Creating Life Long Readers

For some kids, reading is worse than doing chores or homework. And asking them to get out a book becomes a daily fight, a battle of the wills. 'Do I have to?' they whine. 'But I already read a book today!' Or my all-time favorite, 'But I've already met my AR goal, why do I have to read another one?'

For me-a writer and a teacher-it pains me to hear such things. Reading has been a hobby/obsession of mine since I learned how to blend letters into words, and I've got the library fines and borrowed/kept books to prove it. The library was like a second home to me. Stories have always fascinated me. Tales have always thrilled me. And I just love to READ! I simply CAN NOT imagine NOT wanting to read. So when I hear kids whining about reading, it's like telling me that you don't want to breathe, or drink, or eat. Simply put, it's unnatural.

So it got me wondering, what happened to these kids early on that made them so disinterested in reading? And how can we-the writers, parents, and teachers-encourage our children to become lifelong readers?

Below is a list of things that we can do to create an interest/spark in young readers. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments.

1. Read a book to your child every day. To me, this is a given. If you want your child to be a reader, then you should read to them daily. And not just for the sake of becoming a good reader, it's also a really great way to reconnect with our kids at the end of a busy day. A lot of snuggling and a bit of reading, can mean a WHOLE lot to your child. So just do it:)

2. Take your child to the library for books, readings, performances, author visits, etc. Your local library is a mecca of all things entertainment nowadays. Gone are the days of just books and quiet zones. Today's libraries are bustling with activities and awesomeness. So enjoy it! After all, your tax dollars helped paid for it. And sometimes hearing a book read and acted out by a pro can go a long way in the eyes of a child. So it's win-win for both parent and child.

3. Buy books as presents. Sure. Your kid wants the new wii game more than he/she wants to read a book. But in the end, what's going to provide your child with the necessary skills in life, reading or playing wii? Well, unless you said that your child is going to be a video game developer/creator, books are the way to go. Sure, they might whine a bit. But in the end, they'll read their books and be happy. And most of the time, we as parents, can afford to buy a little bit of both. So that's the way to go.

4. Read in front of your child. Every single time I get out a book, my sons try to get behind me and make out some of the words in my book. And often times, they'll run to their own bookshelves and grab some of their books for me to read aloud. While this annoys me sometimes because I'm totally reading my own book, I put my book down. Because at that moment, my kids are excited about reading. And even though I may be in the juiciest part of a new novel and dying to finish it, my kids are more important. So it's worth it! Not to mention, that one minute of being a role model might ALMOST make-up for the bad example that I set when I tripped and accidentally said a 'bad word'. Their words, not mine.

5. Turn off the t.v and dedicate some time to reading.
Saying that I LOVE television may just be the understatement of the century. In fact, I probably watch a little more than I should, if I'm being totally honest. But every night, we have the t.v off during certain hours. And honestly, my kids don't even miss it. They're just happy about reading the newest book from the library or cuddling with mommy. And twenty or thirty minutes a day is plenty of time to read a few books with your children. It doesn't even have to be every single day.

6. Find books that are right on their reading and interest levels, and then check them out with a frequency. If you're checking out books for your child that are of absolutely no interest to them or are too difficult for them to read, then you're setting your child up to hate reading. And reading will become a form of torture. So think about what your child likes when checking out books. Involve him/her in the checking out process. Let them look around the shelves themselves. If you do this, your child will be picking something that they are more likely to read. If you don't, your child may never even crack the cover open. Well, unless you force them, that is. And then, that kind of defeats the purpose of trying so hard to get them to WANT to read.

7. Enjoy reading. Have reading themed parties. Go to Reading Festivals. This is super fun for kids and moms. For Halloween, throw a book themed Halloween Bash. At the beginning of the school year, throw a Harry Potter themed back to school party. A friend of a friend did that last year, and it looked AWESOME. When my boys are old enough, we're totally doing that. The kids wore Hogwarts uniform/costumes, learned how to make potions and cast spells, watched the movies, and ate Hogwarts themed desserts. It was a huge success!


8. Create a reading zone. Set up a comfy chair and book shelf somewhere in your child's room. Use the space often. Make the space fun. With a few fun decorations, reading can become something that your kids will relish, not something that they loathe.

Do you know of any tried and tested reading tips? I'd love to hear them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Poem For Those On A Budget

Roses are red.
White is our door.
This poem's your gift
because I am poor.

* My husband really enjoyed his homemade card and poem.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Four Eyes






When I was just a little girl
my mama said to me,
that eating carrots every day
would help my eyes to see.

I chomped and slurped my vegetables,
and gave up eating sweets.
Instead of eating candy bars,
I gobbled healthy treats.

And all the while I hated it,
but somehow I got through.
I listened to my mom’s advice
and swallowed all that goo.

But then one day as I looked up,
I couldn’t see the class.
My teacher handed me a note-
a dreaded nurse’s pass.

She made me read a tiny sign
with blotches and ink drops.
I guess I didn’t score that well
because she called my Pops.

He took me to the eye doctor,
who said a dreaded word.
“Your daughter can not see at all.
Her vision is so blurred.

If you report to our front desk
they’ll give you what she needs,
a purple pair of reading specs
to wear each time she reads.”

And that’s the day I learned the truth
about my mother’s lies.
I know she thought that it was best,
but still I got four eyes.

So when your parents say “Eat up!”
and list the reasons why.
Remember, kids, it’s just a scam,
and eat your apple pie.


*This poem is based on true events.

And 22 years later, I'm still mad!

* And to all the kids who might be reading this,
spinach does not make you have muscles like Popeye.
That is a lie too!

Hommage To A Sunbather


There was a young gal who loved fun.
So she moved to the land known for sun.
She surfed and she swam,
And she baked like a ham.
Now she looks like a fresh toasted bun.

My New Obsession

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ironic Limerick















There was a young lass who loved words;
And the way they took flight, just like birds.
She read and she read
Til’ a book smacked her dead.
Then the mourners came calling in herds.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rejection Stings

“Rejection stings a bit,” they say.
But I don’t even care.
I’ll go on writing for myself
pretending they’re not there.

I’ll read their marks and grow and change;
And thank them all the while.
Won’t even feel rejection’s sting
cause’ I’ve got too much style.

“Rejection smarts a mite” they say.
But I won’t even mind.
I’ll keep on writing every day,
And leave their words behind.

I’ll learn my craft and make my mark.
My time is drawing near.
And when I’m at my book signing,
I’ll grin from ear-to-ear.

*If you're feeling a little saucy, you could change the ending to:
And when my book is out at last,
"Cha-ching" is all I'll hear.
* I have an even saucier ending on file, but you'll have to email me for that one. It's not PG at all.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How To Write A Picture Book That Shines, CBI Clubhouse



Want to write a picture book and don't know the basics? Check out this video from the folks over at CBI Clubhouse. It clearly defines the basics of PB's in a 4 minute long video.

Enjoy & Happy Writing!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

What Am I Reading?

Ever wonder what other writers are reading when they're not writing? If you answered yes, then you're not alone. Every time I pick up a book and read the back cover, I think ' I wonder what (fill in the name of your fav author) is reading? They are freaking awesome!' SQUEEE!

So that got me thinking. Does anyone ever wonder what I'm reading? Maybe they're curious about what I read when I'm not writing.

And then I thought, 'Probably not. I'm just not that cool.'

Well, this internal debate went on for quite some time, as you can imagine. And in the end, I decided that I'm just gonna tell ya'. And not only am I gonna tell you what I'm reading now, but I'm also gonna tell you every time I start a new book. Because that's just interesting, people.

So here goes. The book that I am currently reading is Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White. So If you've already read the book, feel free to let us know what you thought of it. And if you haven't read the book, please let us know if the trailer persuaded you to read it.

Thanks! And Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Live Chat On Writeoncon

Interested in the latest information on cover letters and queries, be sure to tune into Writeoncon's latest monthly chat(Thanks, ladies!). It takes place Monday, January 24th, 5pm EST. And the guest hosts for the evening will be the lovely ladies of Pippin Properties: Holly McGhee, Elena Mechlin, and Joan Slattery.

The link to the online chat is http://writeoncon.com/. Be sure to click on the tab that says live events and chat.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How To Make A Book Trailer



If you want to be a successful writer in today's market, you have to be a little bit savy when it comes to self promotion. And one of the things that seems to be big right now is making book trailers.

Why? you ask. Well, they're simple create. They're cheap to make. And if they're of really good quality, they could help sell your book.

So what is a book trailer anyway?


A book trailer is a lot like the previews that you see at the movies. The only difference that I can see is that movie previews are a lot more expensive to make, and you don't actually see a book trailer during a movie. In a nutshell, a book trailer is like a commercial for your book.

So where do you see book trailers?

Book trailers can be viewed at a lot of different places: your blog, your website, your agent's blog or website, youtube, and pretty much anywhere you want to post it on the internet.

Do I really need to make a book trailer?

Well, that depends. If you're Jane Yolen or Eric Carle, then probably not.(Jane Yolen still makes them) But if you're new to this industry, I'm going to say yes.

There are a lot of books out on the market these days. And when it comes to unknown authors and known authors, who would you pick? I know who I would pick.

Buying a book is kind of like going to your favorite restaurant. If you had a choice between a dish that is absolutely delicious and one that you've never had, you're going to order the one that is delicious. Well, books are the same. And most people are a lot like me. Money is tight these days, and we don't want to throw it away on the unknown. So If I have a choice between Nicholas Sparks and some newbie, I'm going to pick Nicholas Sparks. He churns out book after book, and they're amazing.

So do new authors even have a shot?

Absolutely. If I didn't believe that, then I wouldn't even be writing this post today. I'm an aspiring author.

The trick to being successful in anything, though, is all about two things: knowledge and talent. The knowledge part I can help you with. The talent part is something that we all have to work on ourselves.

Have you ever bought a book based on a book trailer?

Yes. I've seen at least two book trailers that I thought looked awesome, and have purchased the book as a result.

I've also purchased books based on people's blogs or webpages. If I read a person's blog and I think 'They are freakin' hilarious', then I'll definitely take a chance on their book. But that's just me.

Have you ever made a book trailer?

Yes. It was terrible. But yes, I've made one.

What is the best way to learn to make a video trailer?

Well, watching this first youtube video couldn't hurt. And then I'd suggest watching a lot of video trailers. That's the only way you'll really be able to see what looks good and what doesn't.

I have posted a really cute picture book video trailer below. Let me know what you think of it. I'd also love to hear anything you have to say about making a video trailer. Or you could tell everyone where we could find your video trailer. If you are an author, I would love to post your video trailer on my site-provided that it's pg. It doesn't have to be a picture book video trailer either.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Submitting To Publishers by CBI Clubhouse



In addition to all the wonderful tips from CBI Clubhouse, I would like to add a few.

Do
1. Do look for the literary agent or publisher's specific guidelines. Do not just go by the basics listed on this video. They may not apply to that particular literary agent or publisher's specific guidelines.
2. Do look for sample query or cover letters, before you draft your own.
3. Do submit via email (if it's an option). It will save you paper, money, and time.

Do Not
1. Do not write 'Dear Editor or Dear Agent' on your query or cover letter. It is frowned upon. Todays agents want to know that you've researched their houses and know their names. (I'm guilty of this one. Not on purpose, of course. I merely forgot to change the master letter that I created, and sent it out. I knew who I was writing. I'd done my homework, etc. But once I hit send, it was too late. I nearly died when I'd read the sent email. So my advice, have someone else look at your letters before you send them. That extra effort could make all the difference.)
2. Do not reply to a rejection letter, call, or email. If an agent or house rejects you, take it like a man or woman. Replying will only make you look desperate and crazy. And it WILL ruin your chances of working with that person in the future.
3. Do not try to make your query or cover letter SUPER fancy to get attention. This will not work, and people will laugh. In fact, I just listened to a really funny audio query online the other day. The guy just kept saying " I am the Batman." And while I laughed til' I nearly peed-which did get my attention-it did not earn positive attention. In the end, I just kind of felt bad for the guy. He went out on a figurative limb, only to fall off and break his 'writing' neck. So don't be like him.
4. Do not send your query or cover letters via the blackberry. They will know, people. And they will blog about it. And tweet about it. So just don't do it. It makes you look as if you don't care about your writing career.

Let me know what you think about the tips. Do I need to add some? What has worked for you? Any advice?

Writing Picture Books CBI Clubhouse

Books #11, 12, &13



























Books 11, 12, and 13 are all written by one of the greatest-if not the greatest-biography picture book authors of our time, David Adler. Mr. Adler weaves a tale from childhood to adulthood beautifully, and makes sure to portray historical facts in a way that is not frightening to children.

For some children, the story of Martin Luther King Jr. is scary. In fact, I've received questions like, " Why did that man kill Mr. King?" and "Why don't those people like us, Mrs. Stanford?" But the way that Mr. Adler tells the story of Dr. King's life focuses more on the peaceful side of the civil rights movement, rather than his assassination and the violence. Children seem to connect with Adler's biographies. And because of Mr. Adler, elementary teachers are able to explain to younger children the basics of the civil rights movement and other historical events.

I give all three books high fives. Because without books like these, my job would a whole lot more difficult. So thanks, Mr. Adler!

I Have A Dream



While I spend my day at home, relaxing and writing, I am mindful of why that is possible. Although I am not African American, I am still thankful for Dr. King and his work to make our country great. Because of him, my son, who is Guatemalan, is able to go to schools with children of all races. Because of him, the idea of adopting a child outside of one's own race is not taboo. And because of him, my child will have many more chances in his life. So for that, I am grateful.

So today, I honor Dr. King by posting one of his epic speeches, and by reviewing a great picturebook biography about his life. I hope you all will take the time to watch the video and read the review that follows.

Because.......

“History informs us of past mistakes from which we can learn without repeating them. It also inspires us and gives confidence and hope bred of victories already won.”
William Hastie

Sunday, January 16, 2011

You Must Read This Article About The Nerd Cycle

For months, I've been complaining about the creeping weight-gain that is slowly accumulating on my thighs and butt, as I focus more and more on my writing career. I've tweeted things like, "We shoud create a deskercise video. I want to create a treadmill that has a monitor and keyboard. " And "I want to buy a bike that has a monitor on it, so I can write and not fall of in the process."

Well, apparently I'm not the only weight-conscious, geek out there. Because, Martin, a reader of 'Life Hacker', is in the process of designing his very own 'Nerd Cycle' as we speak. And so to Martin, I tip my hat. The second that he markets that baby on late night television, I'll promptly be dialing the 1-800 number that I see on the screen.

Here is a link to the article, in case you're interested, too. Let's all let Martin know how important this bike is to the writers across the world.
http://lifehacker.com/376204/nerdcycle-mounted-monitor-exercise-bike

Book #10 I Love You Because You're You










I Love You Because You're You, by Liza Baker, is just that-a book about loving your child no matter what. Its rhymes are simple-if there is such a thing as simple with rhyme and meter. Its words will melt your heart. And your child will walk away from this story KNOWING that you will love them no matter-even when they're cranky, and yell and scream and shout.

If you want to read a book that REALLY shows the love that parents feel for their children, this is it. In the words of Liza Baker, "I Love you any way you feel, no matter what you do. I Love you any way you are. I love you because you're you!"

And in the words of Jessica Stanford, "I love this book. It is a gem. And I would read it all again. " See, I told you that simple rhymes were hard. Haha. Well, I guess near rhymes are hard, too.

Book # 9 The Going To Bed Book










In a sea of bedtime books (he-he), The Going To Bed Book, by Sandra Boytnon, stands out as one to learn from. It's simple rhyming text and unusual bed-time routine, make this book a hit with both children and parents alike. And the twist of rocking to sleep (in a boat), is just plain brilliant.

I give this book a double high five. Because not only will I read it again and again with my children, but I'll also reference this book as one to use when learning about what makes a great picturebook.




Book # 8 Over The Moon

















Over The Moon, by Karen Katz, is a beautifully illustrated and written story about international adoption. As an adoptive parent, myself, I really felt the words of this book ringing true in my heart. Because as my husband, Brian, and I embarked on our own journey, we too wondered how we would explain our son's wonderful story to him one day. And luckily, we were able to read this beautiful book by Karen Katz.

I give Over The Moon, by Karen Katz, a high five. It is beautiful and brilliant; and it stands out as exceptional, in a field of only so-so adoption books. This book will be a staple in our house for quite some time.

Book # 7 Class Picture Day

















Class Picture Day, by Andrea Buckless, is the hilarious, yet simple story of a girl who is tricked into sticking her tongue out during a class photo. When she gets her class photo back and sees that she is the only one sticking out her tongue, she feels silly. So the whole story, she is trying to get rid of the photo. But it always seems to find its way back to her. In the end, though, she finds a simple and funny solution to her problem. I don't want to spoil it for you, but it's really cute.

I give Class Picture Day a thumbs up for having a really cool ending. Andrea Buckless channels her inner child brilliantly in this story.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Waaaasup Followers

For those of you who don't know me, I am a complete and total scatterbrain. One would think that an educator would be impeccably organized and remember things at all times, but one would be wrong. I'm actually more of a go-with-the-flow type of gal. And as such, I've totally neglected to keep you guys posted on what's going on with me.

So in nutshell-even though it's not Wednesday-I'm going to do my 'Waaaaasup Wednesday' on Thursday. Especially, since I haven't done a Waaaasup Wednesday in ages.

So here's waaaasup:1. I'm still working my day job.And I probably will until the end of time. Or at least until I win the lottery. Seriously, my job as an educator is way too fun to quit. Even if I sold a best seller and made millions, I'd probably still volunteer or something in a school. It's great market research! 2. I finally sent a story out to literary agents. Wasn't sure that I was ever gonna' do that. 3. I received my first rejection the very next day. Boo hoo! But it was actually pretty cool. At least, I can say that I'm a writer now. And the rejection wasn't even that bad. I was basically rejected because they don't accept debut picture book authors. They even suggested that I contact them if I decide to write for an older crowd. So I wasn't actually too sad about that rejection. It's not like they said, "You stink! Please do humanity a favor and stop writing!" 4. I'm on twitter now, so I'd love to hear from you in very short sentences. I love their instant message of " Not clever enough. You'll have to do better than that." I think that it's even helped me to be more succint in my writing. And in pb's, that's huge. 5. Right now, I'm in the middle of doing a 100 picture books in 100 weeks challenge. And as you've probably noticed, I'm lagging a bit on the reviews part. Rest assured, though, that the reading is going off as planned. So stay stuned for more book reviews. And hopefully, I'll catch up during this 3 day weekend. Feel free to join in. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Anywho. That's what I'm up to. So now enough about me. I want to know what you are up to? What are you reading or writing? Any big writing news with you? Any big life news? I'm all ears.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Book # 6 Hiccups For Elephant





Hiccups For Elephant, by James Preller, is a cute really book about an elephant who has hiccups. One-by-one, elephant wakes up different animals in the jungle with his hiccuping. And, one-by one, they try to help him cure them. In the end, though, the cliche' of elephants being afraid of mice ends up being the solution to the problem.

This book is a great book for early and struggling readers. It's predictable text and easy vocabulary make it a favorite in my household of little readers. Not to mention, my little ones think that it's hilarious that the BIG elephant is scared of the tiny mouse.

Overall, I give this book a thumbs up. My kids and I will definitely be reading this book again.

Book # 5 David Goes To School












Before I wrote my review on David Goes To School by author David Shannon, I found myself reading it one more time, just to give it another chance. In all honesty, this book is not one of my favorites-even though plenty of really great writers have highly recommended it. 1. I hate that the teacher is painted as the villain in the story. (Well, duh! I'm a teacher) 2. I didn't think that there was anything really special about the writing in the book. In regards to description, it was pretty matter-of-fact, and it didn't really SHOW me anything. In fact, it looks like something that one of my students could write.

And that's when it hit me like a foul ball. That's it! It does look like something one of my students could write. Therefore, if I use this in my classroom, the students might feel a little less intimidated by writing.(Cue angels playing harps) David Goes to School is actually the perfect model of the kind of writing that is acceptable in my grade-level.

So even though this book is not my favorite, I am giving it a thumbs up. Because 1. Even a mean teacher like myself, can see the educational benefits of using this picture book in my class. This story is perfect to model the basics of writing! And then, we can add to that foundation. 2. The colorful and humorous illustrations would draw children into the story. They are pretty funny! 3. The teacher does-sort of-redeem herself at the end of the story by giving David a star for cleaning up. So, obviously, David isn't trying to TOTALLY vilify educators.

So if you're looking for an easy reader for young children or struggling readers, this book is a great choice. And if you're looking for a book to teach the basics of writing, this is also a great choice. Because even though it's not the most descriptive book on the planet, it's definitely worth another read.

Book # 4 The Paper Bag Princess

















When I think of hilarious, easy reads for children, one of my favorite books that springs to mind is Robert Munsch's, The Paper Bag Princess. In this unique fairytale, Princess Elizabeth is set to marry a handsome prince named Ronald. But before their happily-ever-after can take place, Prince Ronald is kidnapped by a fierce dragon, and is set to become dragon chow.

"So what does this unique princess do?" you ask. She sets off in a paperbag dress- as all of her beautiful clothes are ruined-to save the day. And after she outwits the daft dragon, she goes to her beloved prince, Ronald.

The hilarious twist is what happens next. Ronald-who is unlike the dreamy princes in most fairytales-tells Princess Elizabeth that she will have to come back to save him when she is dressed like a REAL princess. To which she replies " Ronald! Your hair is nice. You look like a prince. But you are a BUM." And the story ends with a twist on fairytale endings. "They didn't get married after all."

This book makes the mom and closeted feminist in me cheer (more below). For centuries, women have been told that they must rely on men to take care of them. But this fairytale book has the female main character being the hero. And it also sends the very subtle message that 'if your prince is a bum', then don't get married. For that reason alone, I give this book a high five. And, surprisingly, my three year old son gives it a high five, too. He likes the daft dragon and feisty princess. He doesn't really care about the societal impact. It's one of his favorite bedtime books.






*I must clarify the feminist comment. I simply mean that I like stories that portray females as strong, independent main characters. Most fairy tales do not, and the damsel in distress bit is getting old. Not that I don't like the usual fairytales-because I do. I just applaud books that show a different side to the typical fairytale.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book # 3 The Hippo-Not-Amus


















When Little Hippo decides that he's bored with a life of sitting in the water and munching on brown grass, he makes up his mind to become something else altogether. With great repetition and silly attempts at becoming different creatures, this young Hippo-gir-ele-potamus makes even the most reluctant readers want to turn the pages of this book.

I knew that this book was something special, when I saw one of my most relucant readers dive into it, head first. And one week later, she still hasn't come up for air. She even asked if I would read it to the class because she loved it so much. And 6 months ago, this child would have never asked me to read a book aloud.

I give The Hippo-Not-Amus, by Tony and Jan Payne, a high-five. And thank Tony and Jan Payne, for my making my job as a reading teacher a little easier.

Friday, January 7, 2011

How The Waiting Game Is Like The Dating Game

In 1965, ABC aired a new television show, The Dating Game, in which a bachelor asks contestants questions, in the hopes that they might make a love connection by the end of the show. Well, submitting is a lot like The Dating Game. A desperate author (bachelor/bachelorette) submits his or her manuscript (questions) to some litery agents & publishers (contestants). And then-based on his/her answers (ms)-there may be a love connection(deal) made.

Right now, I am in the throws of a slightly different version of the game, The Waiting Game. All the same rules apply as in The Dating Game, of course. But rather than making an instant match, I must wait...And wait....And wait some more. You get the picture.

So it got me thinking. What am I going to do while I am waiting to hear my story's fate?

Below are 3 things that writing experts around the world do, when they are waiting to find out if their current projects are going to be accepted or rejected.

1. Keep Writing. Just like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. If you want to become the best author that you can be, you're going to have to excercise your writing muscles. Great writers aren't just born, to spite what some authors have said interviews. I've never seen a child come out of the womb writing. It is a learned skill. And it takes years and years of practice to be great at it. So if you want to be a great author one day, you need to keep writing.

Now that's not to say that your first story can't become an over-night success. Because you hear of that happening all the time. I'm simply saying that at some point in the successful writer's life, they attended writing classes(even in early childhood), read books, had an active imagination, and made up stories.

Not to mention, writing more stories will keep your mind occupied, and give you something to submit later on.

2. Attend a writing class or conference.This will be helpful for two reasons: 1. It will help you improve your writing skills 2. You will make connections with people who are also interested in writing. And honestly, there's a lot of value in that.

Sometimes even great writers don't get noticed because they haven't made the right connections. Sometimes it's just a matter of getting that one lucky break from someone in the business. And going to these kinds of events, can help get you that break.


3. Blog, Tweet, FB, and join some type of social media for writers. This is another way to practice your writing skills, and make connections with people like you. I know that I've made some lifelong friends since I started blogging and tweeting. And who's to say that they might not mention my name, once they get their own publishing deals in the works.

Stranger things have happened. Why J.K Rowling, herself, may not have gotten her big break, if it hadn't been for a secretary who fell in love with her first story. And the rest-as they say-is publishing history.