Friday, March 20, 2009

Very hungry heads up

Have you seen today's Very Hungry Caterpillar-themed Google logo for the first day of spring? So cute!

(You can see all their 2009 holiday logos here, including one for Dr. Seuss's birthday earlier this month.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Books, cake, & pi

Last month I was fortunate enough to win a copy of Judy Blundell's National Book Award-winning YA novel, What I Saw and How I Lied, from the Young Adult (& Kids) Books Central Blog. I received it this week and started reading it yesterday...and ended up staying up until 4 am today to finish it! Once I got about halfway through, I never found a place I could put it down. :) The author has a knack for building suspense, and the postwar setting was vivid. It was a very interesting read, though the protagonist deals with so much in this book, I think she must age about 20 years, emotionally, instead of just "coming of age" a little!

I did manage to pull myself out of bed a few hours later to go to the monthly Austin SCBWI meeting and hear Lila Guzman talk about increasing the marketability of your books. She had lots of interesting ideas for tying your books into school curriculum or finding relevant groups to market them to. (And made me realize I need to see if the gum recipes I allude to in one of my manuscripts are actually possible! I do have a make-your-own-bubblegum kit, but haven't tried it out yet.)

After that, it was off to a loud, crazy playplace to take my older two kids to a birthday party (at least I had my comptuer and WiFi there until my battery ran down...), where I had a bit of green-frosted chocolate cake, and soon we'll be having chocolate cream pie (storebought--I've been too busy to cook one!) in a Pi dish in honor of Pi Day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Writing on the brain

One of the worst things about moving is that my life has to revolve around our move (and daily survival with 3 kids) for the next 12 weeks. And life after that will probably revolve around the other side of the move--unpacking, settling into a new place, developing new routines, etc.--for another few weeks. Which means, unfortunately, writing time falls by the wayside.

But I 've found there's still some time to think about writing. I often find myself stuck in a (stopped) car for a while, or riding in a car I'm not driving, with time to read a little or make notes, and I also find myself stuck under a toddler a lot, which is where most of my computing time comes from (and most of it one-handed, too, with my laptop on the little table next to my couch, which makes it hard to type but too easy to play a lot of online games!).

Anyway, I recently thought of a new book idea...or, more accurately, an idea for a theme I'd like to explore in a book. It didn't really come with a plot or characters attached. Meanwhile, I have some characters and starting points of books in search of a plot, so I thought this idea could work with one of those back burner projects. It kind of fits with two of them. Then I started thinking about ALL the book ideas I have on the back burner and how long it would take me to get them done...and it's really daunting! I started thinking, I need to draft a book a month for a year to get most of my ideas out! I actually find that an intriguing idea, and might even consider it if I had the time, because I tend to write fast when I'm in heavy writing mode, but now is not the time.

I've also been thinking I don't know the main character of my latest YA project well enough. I spent some time brainstorming about her the other day, and when I was in the car yesterday, I browsed a magazine trying to find a photo I thought might look like her. I didn't find one, but did find one that looked a lot like her best friend, and also decided my main character probably has green eyes, which surprised me. So, those are the kinds of things I'm pondering in the minutes between things, so I won't fall out of writing!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Manuscripts and me on the move

I've haven't been quiet because it's been slow here, but because it's been very, very busy! As much as we adore Austin and had no intentions of ever moving away again...we couldn't turn down the excellent job opportunity that came up for my husband. Soon, he'll become the head of reference and adult services for the Arlington Public Library--a place he's worked before and loved--so we're moving to my hometown of Arlington, TX, after being away for 16 years. At least it's only a three-hour drive away, so I plan to be back to Austin often!

With a major move impending that we're not even slightly ready for, it's easy for writing to fall by the wayside. And indeed, I haven't written anything in quite a while. But I did manage to get it together enough to send an applicaton for the SCBWI Work-In-Progress grant today, and also to send an entry to the Writers' League of Texas Manuscript Contest a few days ago. I sent the same basic synopsis and excerpt of my middle grade novel to both. The requirements for both were similar, though the grant application requires more background information than the contest form, and the manuscript contest has a $50 fee. I decided that, other than a little money and time, I had nothing to lose by entering. Now, if I could only finish my taxes, I could turn all my attention to our move!

In older news, in the past week or two I finally read Joni Sensel's middle grade book Reality Leak, which has been one of my son's favorites for a couple of years but which he had misplaced until recently...and also read Ruth McNally Barshaw's latest book, Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School, which is especially relevant to my kids right now when we're moving soon. Both books were lots of fun, and highly recommended for middle grade readers! I also went to the Coraline movie in 3D, which I liked pretty well. I was neither as creeped out as I feared nor as blown away by the 3D as I hoped. (Not that the 3D wasn't great, but I've just become jaded because 4 of the last 5 movies I've seen in the theater were in 3D! The others were Meet the Robinsons, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Bolt.)

And I can't believe I never mentioned our great Austin SCBWI meeting last month, with author/illustrator Mark G. Mitchell speaking about school vists. Donna Bratton posted a nice recap of the event, and even a photo of some of us at lunch afterwards. (I'm on the left between Brian Yansky and Greg Leitich Smith. Hidden behind Greg is Debbie Gonzales, then Frances Hill and Shana Burg are at the end of the table, with Brian Anderson between Shana and Cynthia Leitich Smith, who is hidden behind Jennifer Ziegler. At the near end are author Julie Lake's husband, and the back of Carmen Oliver. Unfortunately, Donna herself was behind the lens, so she's not in the pic!) Cynthia Leitich Smith also posted about this event in her Feb. 27 Cynsations post.