Monday, February 27, 2012

The End

A sample of some of my source material for my MIP — Memoir in Progress.

I hope to type The End on my vomit draft of my memoir this week. Those two words don't mean I'm finished.

After reading Marion Roach Smith's The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life, I set a goal to write five pages, five days a week. My new focus gave me a fresh hour to write. Most days, I managed to write my pages, make notes on where I should begin the next day and comment on a few blogs before Enzo woke up. I completed five pages every day but one.

I did a lot of the legwork for the memoir several years ago. I received several "send its" at a conference and a request for the full book proposal and chapters. Nothing happened, but my proposal helped me during this draft phase.

I wrote most of the vomit draft fresh. I scrapped more than 125 pages of already written, critiqued material in the process. I deleted a couple of chapters. I added new ones. I saved 21 pages.

By mid-week, I hope to type The End and move on to goal No. 3 for the year — read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I've explained the why here in No. 7.

Once I finish the Harry Potter series, I'll revise the vomit draft. It's going to be fun to fact check my own work. I inserted notes as I typed to remind me to check a source for specific details.

What sources you might ask? Well, my late husband communicated primarily with an auditory scanning system, so I had to write down each letter as he spelled out his words. This old post explains how we communicated one letter at a time.

I have a box of notebooks with many of our conversations, my journal, his journal, newspaper articles and my newspaper columns on the topic of those four years after his stroke and before his death. Had I stopped to check these sources during my vomit draft, well, I might still be writing the first chapter.

As I enter the editing phase, it makes me wonder if I can begin a new project or whether I should just focus on my revisions. Do you write and revise at the same time or focus on just one manuscript?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Perfect Picture Books: Someday

Cover image via

Today, I've chosen Someday for Perfect Picture Book Fridays.

Written by Alison McGhee
Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, February 2007

Suitable for: Ages 4 and up

Theme/Topic: Family, Growing Up

Opening: One day I counted your fingers and kissed each one.
One day the first snowflakes fell, and I held you up and watched them melt on your baby skin.

Brief Synopsis: A mother shares her love for her daughter and her hopes for the milestones to take place someday. From the book jacket: "A mother's love leads to a mother's dream — every mother's dream — for her child to live life to its fullest."

Link to Resources: Parents can talk to their children about life milestones. Perhaps focusing on milestones at home, community, church or school. Parents might also let their children think about milestones in their parents' lives — high school, college, marriage, etc. For older children, you could talk about the support network of parents, family, teachers and in the community needed to accomplish goals. I wasn't able to find a specific lesson plan for this book. I found a lesson plan on Community — Goal Setting for children to set personal and academic goals.

Dads can take their children to Peter H. Reynolds website to send a Mother's Day eCard based on the book.

Peter H. Reynolds has a page on his website about Someday. I could get lost on his site for hours.

Writers might find the online store on Alison McGhee's site interesting. She writes Haiku for You to benefit charities or you can order a signed copy of her books. She also offers manuscript critique services for full-length novels, but I thought the Haiku for You is a unique item. She blogs here.

Why I chose this book: I'm a sucker for this story and the illustrations. It reminds me of those early wiggle days of my son's life and makes me look ahead to the events to come. Hence, this sentence in a School Library Journal review "However, its greeting-card quality will appeal more to new mothers and gift-givers than to children." I think that's fair, but I want my son to love this book like I do. So, I'll keep reading it until he says, "Mama stop it."

To find more picture books and resources, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog and look for the Perfect Picture Books page.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Writer Unboxed newsletter

I've written about my love of Writer Unboxed in this Thankful Thursday post.

Today, I wanted to mention a new feature — a newsletter. WU promises fresh content from a variety of writers and industry sources like Donald Maass, Chuck Sambuchino, Victoria Mixon, Erika Liodice, Vaughn Roycroft, Jan O'Hara and others.

The newsletter begins in March. This post has all the details and the sign up box.

If you don't know about Writer Unboxed, you should check it out. It's one of the few daily blogs I follow. It offers a variety of monthly contributors on craft, research, the writing life and PR to name a few topics. Authors and website Founders & Mamas Kathleen Bolton and Therese Walsh created a real go-to for writers.

Some recent posts include:

The Facebook group is a wonderful community of writers. Writers at all levels ask questions and share information. I learn a lot from the WU blog posts, the comments and the interaction among the Facebook group. Now, I'm looking forward to the newsletter.

I don't know how the WU folks keep up with everything they do for the writing community, but I am grateful they do. Their efforts are appreciated by many.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I've over at Clarbojahn's Blog today

Another Tuesday and another interruption from me.

I'm not here today. I'm over at Clarbojahn's Blog talking about social media and keeping up with it all or not — as seems to be my case over the past weekend. So, you can read my guest post with a dash of "my how ironic" or "hey, I might try that."

If you are behind like me this week, please make a note to visit Clarike's blog. She always has great books for Perfect Picture Book Friday, interviews and reviews. I know I'm preaching to the choir as many of you already follow Clar. 

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Knock Knock

Photo by Tracy S. Williams

Who's there?


Behind Who?

Look behind you, because I'm way behind on everything. 

Where did the weekend go? Hubby was away last week for work. Some of our weekend involved kiddo reminding his Da Da what he missed like elbows in the nose and a little body wiggling all over the place.

I revised my February 12 x 12 in 2012 picture book manuscript and shared it at our local SCWBI critique group meeting. All three in the picture book group are doing the 12x challenge. These meetings give me an opportunity to get feedback on my work, to catch errors (some are pointed out to me and others are found when I read my work to an audience) and to learn from the critique of other writer's work. I always get a mini-lesson from the critique sessions. 

Sunday morning vanished in the kitchen as I made a dessert/breakfast pizza concoction for church. The mother's group provided refreshments between services. Ever realize way too late that you should have set your alarm for an hour earlier? Live and learn.

I felt busy this weekend, but I didn't make it through my To Do list or the Perfect Picture Book Fridays' linky list. Today is Presidents' Day in the U.S., of course, this means Hubby is home, so my day might be different. 

We'll see if I can catch up on some things or stay behind. 

Either way, I'll be blogging on Tuesday over at Clarbojahn's Blog

What happened in your world over the weekend or are you just looking forward to this new, bright and shiny week ahead?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Fridays: We All Went on Safari

Today, I've chosen We all Went on Safari:  A Counting Journey through Tanzania for Perfect Picture Book Fridays.

We All Went on Safari:  A Counting Journey Through Tanzania
Written by Laurie Krebs
Illustrated by Julia Cairns
Barefoot Books, 2003

Suitable for: Ages 5 and up

Theme/Topic: Safari, Animals, Counting-out rhymes

Opening: We all went on safari,
When the day had just begun
We spied a lonely leopard.
Arusha counted one.

Brief Synopsis: The book's summary: Arusha, Mosi, Tumpe and their friends embark on an exciting counting adventure through the grasslands of Tanzania, discovering all different kinds of African animals as they count from one to ten.

Link to Resources: The book includes a two-page spread on the animals of Tanzania, a page on the Maasai people, a page on Swahili names, a page on counting in Swahili and a fact page about Tanzania along with a map. On Laurie Krebs' website, she shares what she does on author visits. She shares pictures of the animals mentioned in the story and the children learn Swahili greetings. This lesson plan On Safari in Kenya from Homeschool Creations shows a cool 3-D scene, which could be made to represent this book.

Why I chose this book: It's a book we've checked out of the library multiple times. A sign I need to purchase my own copy. While sources say the age range is five and up, Enzo enjoys the illustrations and the rhythmic language. On the back flap of the dust cover, the author's bio says, "After a visit to Africa, Laurie wrote the original version of We All Went on Safari, as a way of introducing the world of Tanzania to her students and grandchildren." She does a wonderful job. It's entertaining and educational.

To find more picture books and resources, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog and look for the Perfect Picture Books page.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Beverly Diehl

While I get a bit squeamish about romance (see my Valentine's post), I'm grateful writer Beverly Diehl at Writing in the Flow is not. She writes erotica and romance.

I may be a little "oh my" when thinking about reading erotic romance, but I'm never that way about reading Beverly's blog.

When I read 10 Questions answered by Erotic Author Roni Loren, I was shocked to read No. 5 and the link to what happened to erotic romance author Judy Mays. Here's another post by Beverly on The Outing of Author Judy Mays. Parents were upset an erotic romance author was in their children's classroom. Think about the books you read — do you believe the author "lived" the fiction he or she wrote? If readers don't apply that logic to Stephen King, etc., why would they do this to an erotic romance writer?

Some posts I have enjoyed:

She explains her blog's name in Why Writing in the Flow? She shares her writing path and writing credits on her about me page. 

I like Beverly's blog, because it makes me think about writing issues and about life as a woman, wife and mother in new ways. Plus, Beverly is super nice. I've emailed her before with Blogger questions and she's helped me. Thanks to her I have those fancy follow buttons and am participating in the Blogging A to Z Challenge in April.

Now, I'm going to write about a talking tumbleweed. Please don't judge me like people do erotic romance writers, just let me talk to the tumbleweed. I promise I'm okay.

I also wanted to thank Susanne Drazic at Putting Words Down on Paper for giving me The Versatile Blogger Award. She's a 2011 NaNoWriMo winner and will participate in the A to Z Challenge in April. Thanks bunches Susanne for the award.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day: The Doctor's Lady Contest

'His fingers closed around hers with the softness of a caress. And when his thumb brushed against the pulse in her wrist, her heart tumbled into a dizzying spin.'

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Today, I'm participating in Catherine Johnson's Valentine's contest. This quote is from The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund. She shares wonderful writing tips on her blog. Here's a link to her articles on writing.

Catherine's contest is to find a photo that fits the quote.

I'm a bit squeamish about romance, so this is as steamy as I get. What's happening behind the flowers? I'll never tell.

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day with your loved ones.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Story Contest: A star-crossed starter and dessert

Here's my entry into Susanna Leonard Hill's children's Valentine's story contest: 

A star-crossed starter and dessert 
Classmates Belgian and Dijon
“Make a Valentine,” Belgian and Dijon groaned.

Mrs. Chef insisted her students get on board. “Write anything,” she said. “Just try.”

So, Belgian grabbed a bright, yellow paper and wrote to Dijon: 
Be mine in a brine!

“Here’s one,” Dijon said scrawling on a green heart:
You make my cake!

Belgian scribbled on a white heart:
You always have to be first,
When others are full of thirst.

Dijon’s face turned red, “Here!” she said throwing a pink heart at Belgian:
You always go last,
Which helped me in my cast.

Belgian’s face turned red now. Dijon tried to be nice.  So, he wrote on a red heart:
Oh you are smelly
You hurt my belly
You are so spicy

“I’m not spicy,” Dijon shouted. Determined to end this. On a brown heart with red glitter, she wrote:
Oh you are smelly
You hurt my belly
You are so sweet

“What does that mean?” Belgian asked.

“It means you’ve got to say you’ll be my Valentine or we won't get to play,” Dijon said.

“Okay,” Belgian said. “Race you outside.”

“You can’t win,” Dijon said. “I’m always first.”

The End

What Belgian really wanted to write!
What Dijon really wanted to write!
If you've made it this far, you might be wondering about me or this story. The rules require writing a children's story — poetry or prose — maximum of 200 words "about unlikely Valentines." Stories began posting to this link on Feb. 11. There's still time to enter — if you post by today (Feb. 13) at 5 p.m. EST.

The inspiration. Bonus, Hubby let me keep the candy bar. Sweet.
I love both chocolate and mustard (you can read about it in my About Me page) and decided they should love one another in his and her own way. 

I'll be back for a little bit of Romance on Tuesday. I'm not sure I can top combining chocolate and mustard, but I'll have some help from a special doctor's lady. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Fridays: Sheep in a Jeep

Today, I've chosen Sheep in a Jeep for Perfect Picture Book Fridays.

Sheep in a Jeep 
Written by Nancy Shaw
Illustrated by Margot Apple
Houghton Mifflin, 1986

Suitable for: Ages 1 and up

Theme/Topic: Animals, Sheep, Rhyming

Opening: Beep! Beep!
Sheep in a jeep
on a hill that's steep.

Brief Synopsis: A review line from the Boston Globe on the author's website sums it up best: "A rollicking, simple story that never loses its bounce."

Link to Resources: The board book version of the book includes a "Make your very own soft and fluffy sheep!" on the last page. The author Nancy Shaw has a page of activities to go with her books. The Safety activity goes with this book. She has seven sheep books listed on her website. A to Z Teacher Stuff has a Sheep in a Jeep Lesson plan.

Why I chose this book: Enzo's book benefactor Betty Williams gave him this as a Christmas gift. He has received books directly from Mrs. Williams  and indirectly through his cousin Rosa, who is Mrs. Williams' granddaughter. This is a board book, so it makes it sturdy in toddler's hands. The rhyming language is easy and fun.

To find more picture books and resources, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog and look for the Perfect Picture Books page.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Supportive network

A pair of zebras resting in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.
I loved watching zebra run, walk and rest while on safari in Africa years ago — seems like a lifetime ago and in many ways it was. When zebras rest, they often do so like in the photo above. My first safari guide mentioned this pose and said zebras do this to look out for predators. Two sets of eyes can take in the 360-degree view.

When I see a zebra, I think of the zebras I saw in Tanzania and Kenya — friends looking out for each other. I consider my bloggy friends — especially writers in this way. Many have helped me by sharing information or saying, "Hey you have a huge typo!" I appreciate finding myself among such a supportive network of writers.

This week was no different.

I was pleased with the feedback I received from my guest post at Julie Hedlund's Write Up My Life blog for the 12x12 in 2012 pre-published participants. I look forward to all the Tuesday posts in the series.

Plus, I received several awards this week. So instead of sharing one specific resource on this Thankful Thursday, I'll share something about the writers, who shared their awards with me.
Thanks to you all for adding a little pizzaz to my week. Have a wonderful Thursday!

An award from Kelly Korenek, Beth Stillborn, Catherine Johnson

An Award from Kelly Korenek, Diane The Patient Dreamer, Catherine Johnson
An award from Christy Farmer

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'm over at Write Up My Life today

It's Tuesday.

Please forgive my interruption in your day.

I typically don't post on Tuesdays, but wanted to point out that I'm not really here. Instead, I'm over at Julie Hedlund's Write Up My Life blog.

She's hosting pre-published children's writers on Tuesdays as part of the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge.

I share a little about my writing process — rules or no rules? To find out, please stop by Julie's.

Monday, February 6, 2012

How do you blog?

Photo by Tracy S. Williams
I read a lot of blogs. I'm a reader, stalker and groupie.

As I wrote in a guest post for The Word Shark Karen S. Elliott — "I get around. Some people might say a lot." Just like those boats, I see a lot of blogs that look the same, but they are different.

Some are on real websites and others are on formats like Blogger or WordPress.

Last week, I  noticed Roni Loren, who uses Blogger, decided to move her Fiction Groupie blog to her website. She has a huge following — by my standards. Then, I noticed another writer C. Hope Clark is leaving Blogger too. These ladies are part of the reason, I always remind myself "it's okay to have a address." When I read their reasons for leaving — especially about the ability to maintain control over one's own content — I got the itch to create a real website again.

I own my domain name. I have website notes scattered here and there. I have ideas from other writer's websites. I have a list of Wordpress Themes. I have a list of web designers.

I don't have a published book yet.

With my new writing schedule and goal for a completed draft of my memoir before April, I can't build a website anytime soon. So, I hope to satisfy that website building itch with a conversation here.

  • Can you tell me do you have a website or blog (Blogger or WordPress)? 
  • Are you a DIYer — Do it yourself — or did you hire someone to do it for you?
  • Anything you wish you had known before you jumped into the blog/website process?
  • Or anything else you want to tell me. I'm listening.

I'll be a guest blogger at Julie Hedlund's Write Up My Life site on Tuesday. She's hosting unpublished children's writers as part of the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge. I'll post a reminder here, if you are interested.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Fridays: Alphabet

I promise this is my final A to Z reference for the week. I'll bombard you with letters during the A to Z Challenge in April. As I wrote this post, there were 446 participants. Sign up continues.

Today, I've chosen Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet for Perfect Picture Book Fridays.

Alphabet A Paula Wiseman Book
Written and Illustrated by Matthew Van Fleet
Edited and Art Directed by Skip Skwarek
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008

Suitable for:  Ages 2 and up

Theme/Topic:  Alphabet, ABCs

Opening: The title page welcomes you with a cast of animals spelling out Alphabet with their bodies, beaks and tails.

The first page includes: Scaly green Alligators, Bristly yellow Bees, Scratcy pink Cougar tongues, Blue Dragonflies ... shimmery.

Brief Synopsis: From the back cover — An amazing ABC safari for Preschoolers! In Matthew Van Fleet's incredible new multiconcept book, over 100 creatures and plants from A to Z hilariously demonstrate action words, synonyms, opposites, and more. Young explorers are challenged to spot four plants or animals that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Twenty three textures plus foils, flags, pull tabs, and even a scratch-and-sniff scent add to the interactive surprises on every page."

Link to Resources: has some free alphabet posters. The iTunes store has some free apps to download for your iPhone or iPad to practice writing or tracing the alphabet. The Super Teacher Worksheets site has several free alphabet worksheets.

I've cut off some of the two-page spread, but wanted you to see inside. Isn't the artwork a delight?

Why I chose this book: I'm on my A to Z kick this week. The illustrations are beautiful. The textures added to the animals are perfect. The flaps and pulls are in the right place. The book also includes a large ABC poster with 26 pop-ups! Stimulation overload for mom and kiddo. Enzo received this book for his first birthday. I promptly put it away, because he wanted to destroy it. I'm sticking to the age limit on this one. He will see it again on his second birthday.

To find more picture books and resources, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog and look for the Perfect Picture Books page.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Picture This!

I found children's author Rob Sanders' blog in November during the Picture Book Idea Month Challenge. Both his blog Picture This! and website are filled with wonderful resources, fun illustrations and information.

Since I have A to Z on the brain this week, I wanted to highlight his recent series the Picture Book Writer's Glossary. He shares definitions to various writing terms. Many of the entries have links to previous posts he's written.

His blog makes me feel like I've won the picture book information lottery. 

On his website, Rob Sanders Children's Author, welcomes visitors to his site as "A home away from home for writers, teachers, and kids. Come back often, the door is always open." I would encourage this. 

Rob says, "I'm a writer who teaches and a teacher who writes." His blog posts are always informative and helpful. His first picture book Cowboy Christmas is scheduled to be released by Golden Books-Random House in the fall. 

If you click on the "Hey Kids" icon, you can find downloadable writing activities — a couple with a cowboy theme just like his book — and cowboy recipes. 

Teachers can find a page on "Tips for helping kids find their writing voice!"Parents can find a sheet of writing tips sheet. His writing pledge is for kids, but honestly it wouldn't hurt for me to recite it every day. 

Rob also offers critique services too.

While his sites are focused on picture books, I believe they offer any genre writer a great example of how to offer unique information to a both readers and fellow writers. If you study author websites, add Rob's site to your homework list. 

Don't get too distracted by the skunk's cuteness. Kelley mentioned in her award post about a pitch contest. You may want to hop over to Forever Rewrighting to read the details of what agent Tricia Lawrence will read in the contest. It's open from Feb. 13-17. Lawrence is a new agent and is well established in YA/MG. 

Happy Groundhog Day!