Sunday, February 27, 2005

A lot of writers blogging on LiveJournal have been putting up lists of "10 Things I've Done That Most People Haven't." I've been a bit alarmed reading their lists, because their lives sound much more interesting than mine! In brainstorming about what I might have to put on such a list, I noticed that most of the things coming to mind had to do with forms of transportation. So, without further ado, here are 10 Things I've Ridden On/In That Most People Haven't:
  1. A camel

  2. An elephant

  3. The Judge Roy Scream roller coaster 23 times in a row

  4. A train on a boat

  5. A bus on a boat

  6. The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile (you knew that was coming)

  7. A hovercraft

  8. A parade float (note: wearing a long-sleeved leotard & long pants outside in Texas in July is less than ideal, even if you do get to play a kazoo)

  9. Two ocean liners (the Queen Elizabeth 2 & the France, both at age six)

  10. An Oscar nominee's limousine on Oscar night (unbeknownst to the nominee, who was busy attending the ceremony!)
Runner-up was riding in a gondola ride over fireworks. I also rode to school on the back of a motorcycle fairly often at age 6 or 7...not quite up to today's safety standards! I have ridden many other forms of transportation, but I have not yet ridden in a helicopter, blimp, or hot air balloon, and I haven't ridden in a tank, though I've been inside of an old one. I also haven't ridden a Zamboni, but two of my characters do!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I really didn't need to see this new TV promo. It sounds way too much like the novel I've had semi-underway for the past, um, 5 years. Two guys and a girl, lack of ambition, food on sticks in ridiculous uniforms at the food court... I can't decide whether to hope the show fizzles & dies before I finish my book, or whether its fizzling & dying would only foreshadow the eventual fizzling & dying of my own story. I was going to say that at least my story doesn't have any precocious young kids in it, but then I remembered that it does! (Maybe not precocious, but at least young.) Argh.

Of course, I know there is nothing new under the sun (least of all that phrase!). I was at the library reading picture books tonight, and just happened to read not one, but two, stories about parents who eventually learn to love playing in the mud, as their children do (The Piggy in the Puddle by Charlotte Pomerantz and Mrs. Potter's Pig by Phyllis Root). That also happens to be the approximate plot of my rhyming story Holly McPolly McDolly McBean, published in Half-Price Books' Say Good Night to Illiteracy anthology in 2001. Though my story is about grass, not mud, and doesn't have any pigs in it... (Or any other animals, though I actually pictured Holly as a rabbit, since I had a rabbit named Holly!) Still, I had hoped to have this food-on-a-stick novel finished and submitted years ago (even had an invitation to submit it in 2002), so it drives me crazy to see this show coming out now, while my novel is still far from done. As it is, I've been toying with changing the whole tone of the novel before I continue writing.

Earlier today I decided to change the format of my journal archives from weekly to monthly, and to put them in reverse chronological order instead of chronological (not a standard Blogger option). Simple, right? For some reason it took hours to get all the formatting right. I'm starting to think I could use an update of the basic HTML skills I learned in 1995! I created my writing site with Netscape Composer the first time, but ever since I've kept it updated just by editing the HTML, and I don't think I've even learned any new HTML since HTML 1.0. I'm surprised it still works at all anymore! Today I had to tweak Javascript and it would have been nice if I'd had a halfway decent idea of what I was doing. But it oddly seems easier to me to just edit the HTML than to have to learn a web design program.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Lack of focus: I keep thinking of the Rolling Stones song "Shattered," but with the word "Scattered" instead. Describing myself. Scattered, scattered...shadoobie. I feel soooo scattered lately and am having trouble focusing on one writing project. I have bits and pieces of many, many projects floating around in my head, yet haven't sat down lately to work on any of them. (Being sick on & off for a month hasn't helped.) My goal for the rest of the month is to get some contest entries prepared and sent in, but haven't even managed to concentrate on that. (Completely unrelated, but in a similar fashion, I always found myself thinking of the Cure song "Fascination Street" while filling out "pagination sheets" in my tech writing job--note the rhyme. I could no more stop that song from getting into my head than I could stop from yawning when someone mentions it. How about you...are you yawning now?)

I've had so much distress floating around my head this week that I thought about writing a list called 50 Reasons to Give Up on Writing. Over the weekend, I've probably had close to that many different thoughts, some related to the market or writing in general (most recently, reading bad reviews that led me to believe my own would be worse), and some related to me and my quirks, leading me to think, "In that case, I might as well just give up." But then, I can't really give up because I have a few insistent reasons to go on--namely: Lydia, Lainie, Dan, Whitney, Miranda, and friends--characters whose stories I feel compelled to tell, even if no one else cares to hear them. Sounds silly but it's true. I will be really unhappy with myself if I never get all these stories out of my head and onto paper. I have to think they're in my head for a reason!

Today I read a midgrade novel called While You Were Out by J. Irvin Kuns. I hadn't heard of it before; it just caught my eye in the library. I thought it was pretty good. Though I really need to be reading picture books in preparation for the picture book workshop I'm going to in 2 weeks!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

This morning I went to an SCBWI meeting to hear author/illustrator Janie Bynum talk about book promotion. It was a bit daunting to hear how much authors have to sell themselves. I don't think I'd be nearly as nervous about actually doing a school visit or book signing as I would about having to get visits lined up in the first place!

I finished a new short story last month, but it's already been rejected and I'm not sure there's anywhere else to send it! I meant to stop spending time on short stories, anyway, but it just spilled out. I guess I should be glad none of my other manuscripts has come back recently. I submitted one manuscript in January that I've since decided wasn't quite ready to submit, so I'm feeling a bit uneasy about that. At least I think it was probably 80 or 90% ready...and if the editor doesn't like what I sent, I don't think she'd like an improved version, either.

Interesting grammar tidbit: While writing the paragraph above, I wondered whether to say "none of my other manuscripts HAS come back" or "none of my other manuscripts HAVE come back." I did a little research online and, although a couple of sites said emphatically that "none" must take the singular "has," I also came across this article about that very issue. According to this, the rule is that there is no rule! A Merriam Webster usage guide apparently even says it depends on what the author thinks it should be! In this case I figured it was safer to go with "has," anyway, since "none has" is more widely accepted among people who are likely to nitpick such things. Sorry to bore those who find grammar tedious--but in my former job as a technical writer & editor, I saw fierce battles waged over grammar and usage issues! Somewhere I have a fun book called Mrs. Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins, which debunks a lot of supposed grammar "rules." I'd also recommend Woe is I and The Deluxe Transitive Vampire as amusing grammar-related reads.