Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ready to Retire

I read in the newspaper something about how today is an extra day. "What would you do with an extra hour in your life?" "What would you do with an extra 24 hours?" Somewhere following these questions was a list of 24 things to do with this "extra" day we have.

I don't see how it's an extra day though. I mean, yeah it's one more than last year, but do you really count the days in every year? I don't. And today isn't any different than yesterday. I still have to go to work. I still have assignments to do, and two hours of driving. I've got deadlines to meet and bills to pay. But maybe I'm looking at this all wrong?

Ha. That's a rhetorical question. I don't believe in right and wrong like I used to. I just don't see what others are getting out of February 29th. I still only have 7 days in my week.

I've been thinking, though, about what I would do with a little extra time. I'd hike more (or I suppose I'd snowshoe more). And I'd write more. Not just books I'm working on, but in general. I'd love to have more time to just think and jot. With more time I would moodle--I'd get to know myself a little better by spending some time with myself.

Since I don't have any extra time after work and school, critique groups and conference preparation, writing and blogging, I've decided I'm ready to retire and travel the country in an RV (or maybe a Westfalia) like an old lady ready to finally experience life.

Write on!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mary Had a Little Lamp

I just got a brand new library card the other week---yay of library cards!!!
So, of course I had to rummage through the picture books and find some to take home with me--especially since my card has NO LIMIT on the amount of books I can borrow. Have you ever heard of such a thing? No limit?? I'm quite delighted about it.
And even more delighted about this wonderful book I found called Mary Had a Little Lamp.

I"ve never really been one for old nursery rhymes, but this one certainly caught my eye. And I fell in love with it right off because it's so clever.

The best thing about this book isn't the cute/weird illustrations that are so funny.
It's not even the creative little twist on the nursery rhyme, which is so SO clever.
I've never seen a picture book do what this one does--NEVER. Because what picture book has a major disappointment that makes you hate the whole book on the second to last page only to become the BEST book ever on the very last page which has you laughing and smiling your face off?

This book is brilliant. BRILLIANT, I tell you.

Write On!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Writes

You have the right to remain silent,
but you also have the right to write,
the right to speak--if only in quiet words

So, I started my Tuesday Notes a while ago.
I decided to make a schedule for myself.
This way I blog consistently.
What an idea! :)

Here's my pending schedule so far:
Monday Reviews (in which I write a review about a book I read recently)
Tuesday Notes (in which I share notes from Carol's class or another class or a workshop or a conference or a critique group session...)
Wednesday Writes (in which I write something--from my own brain and imagination--and leave it in its raw, unrevised form for all to read)
Thursday Sings (in which I share "lyrics as poetry" in the form of a song and why I think the lyrics=poetry)
Friday Fibs--or Figs? (in which I make stuff up, or talk about food, or don't post if'n I don't want to because I can't think of anything)

Write on!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Carol's Class: Take Notes

I've already blogged about WIFYR.
But, since registration is open and people are signing up, I thought I'd let you all know that The Great Carol Lynch Williams will teach an advance section for the morning session this year. Two people are already enrolled in her class, and those spots are gonna go fast--so, if you've had any hesitations about registering I'd say put them aside, fork over the money, and get writing and revising so you can be a super awesome--published!--writer. If you're a serious writer then sign up for Carols class. And be sure to take notes! :)

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers

Write on!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review: The Books of Elsewhere

I'm not much of a book reviewer...but I thought it might help me to analyze why I like some books. Maybe I can figure out how to be a better writer this way. I'm a fan of reading books--especially for learning how to write, but mostly for enjoying life and words--so now let's see if I really do learn anything from it.

I started a series called The Books of Elsewhere by Jaqueline West. I did this only because the editor of said books came to a workshop I attended and we were asked to read it before the conference so we could see how the process of editing the book went.
I fell in love with the first book. This is why:
-clever and fun premise
-great characters: Olive is wonderful, but I'm particularly fond of the cats--most particularly Harvey.
-easy to read, and by that I mean it wasn't wordy and didn't have too many ly words...also, it seemed to flow rather well and I just kept turning the pages.
I got lucky and won the ARC of the second book which I also loved mostly for the same reasons.

Overall I have two major frustrations:
1. All the cats were boys...this is okay except one of them was calico--almost ALL calicos are female with the exception of some weird-gened males, but it's very rare.
2. The end of the second book was a total cliff-hanger and the third book isn't out yet!!!

Now I'm just waiting for the next one to come out (this July!).
oh, and check out this website--it's so clever and fun!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Registration is Now OPEN!!!

Okay I've mentioned WIFYR--Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers-- briefly a couple times.

Now that registration is open you have a chance to get a slot and see how great it is for yourself.
Last year I attended both the morning and afternoon sessions. If you sign up for the morning sessions then you get the awesome opportunity of brilliant feedback and workshopping from a published author. Last year I signed up for Kathleen Duey's class, and I was scared. She didn't write the same genre I do, and I'd never read any of her books (although I looked her up and did a bit of research). She turned out to be one of the best writing mentors I've ever had the chance to work with. AND the other students in my class were also wonderful, talented, and pretty good at cooking :)

This year I'm assisting Greg Leitich-Smith, who from my research doesn't write my genre. I've never read any of his books (although that's going to change shortly), and not going to lie--I'm a little scared. I had the chance to choose which author I wanted to be assistant for and I chose Greg for a couple reasons.
1. I wanted to be part of an advanced class.
2. I wanted to meet and get to know an author I've never met before (in this case, never even heard of before)
3. I looked at his mini resume (just the thing that lists his education) and thought WOW a children's writer who has multiple degrees in engineering AND a degree in law--he's got to be a genius and I can learn from him
4. His book titles sounded funny--that means he's got a sense of humor :)

A really cool thing I learned as I scrolled through my list of options is that Greg's wife, Cynthia Leitich-Smith , will also be doing workshopping/mentoring at the conference. I just think it's awesome that they can both be awesome writers and work together on books and conferences and whatever else.

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I have a dream

I'm sure you're all familiar with the "I have a dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr. How powerful it was. How it made history, changed people, and will probably never be forgotten. Maybe you're also aware that this month is "black history month." I haven't done a lot to catch up on black history, but I did watch The Help with a friend the other night.

I'm not going to review the movie exactly, because I'm not sure how to review a movie...but I will say that it was powerful. It hurt my heart deep. I cried all the way through the whole thing because even though this was a piece of fiction it was steeped with more truth than most people ever think about. Not only did it show the horrific mistreatments on black people from white people, it showed how vile and disgusting people of all types can be--even to friends or family. The main focus of the movie is on "the help" or the black women who worked as maids/cooks/nannies to the white folks, but the side stories--of the white woman who has lost 3 babies and is hated by all the people whoa are supposed to be "friends," and the woman who works all day for little pay only to go home to an abusive husband--are just as heart-wrenching and tear-jerking as all the other injustices.

At the end of the film I decided that I hate "The Help", but I only hate it because it was so good, and because it was full of so much truth. If only I could write something like that. Something strong and emotionally heart-wrenching, something to inspire people to make a change. If I could write something that good, I'd consider myself a huge success.

I have a lot of dreams. To write and publish an amazing story is one. A big one. To live in a world where people are not judged on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character is a dream that I hope is being fulfilled more and more at present. But, it seems that no matter what difference we have or don't have, something in us humans pushes a gap, creates a difference and begs a separation. Maybe it's a lie we told or a lie we heard. Maybe it's a misunderstanding, a miscommunication. More often than not, my bet is it is a LACK of understanding and a LACK of communication. I'm proud of anyone who breaks the silence and speaks up about the hard things, the lies, the injustices rather than simply enduring through them. I hope skin color is not as much of an issue now as it was fifty years ago (even though it may still be relevant) I also have a dream that one day I'll live in a world where people are not judged on who they love, but on the content of their character.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

LTUE is this week

Just thought I'd let you all know that LTUE is actually this week. I hadn't been keeping track because I won't be going, but if you are in Utah County and have a chance to stop by UVU for a while, it will be worth your time (particularly if you're a student because then it's FREE). For non-students it's only $30, which is not much at all and you get some really good options as far as presentations and workshops go.

Sci fi/fantasy people get in gear and attend Life, The Universe, and Everything.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Writing Conference: LDStoryMakers

I've written before about writing confernences and how I think they're super important in a lot of different ways. I just want to tell you about one coming up in May called the LDStoryMakers writing conference. I went to this conference last year, and as a birthday gift I paid for a slot for my mom as well. We both did the "bootcamp" portion on Thursday where we brought a portion of our manuscript and workshopped in different groups led by a published author. Then for Friday and Saturday we picked classes that sounded useful or fun and we ate some good food (included in the conference package!). We made other writer friends, chatted with agents and editor, and won a few books during the drawing.

Overall, the conference was a great experience, and worth every dollar. So, of course, I'm going back again this year. And, like last year, as a little birthday celebration, I bought a slot for my mom to come along. I've been to conferences by myself, but it's really nice to go with someone--particularly wonderful to go with my mom because she's so excited about all of it. I really love my mom :)

If you're interested in becoming a published writer, my suggestion is to go to writing conferences. Not only do you learn new (or old) ways to improve your craft, you also get the opportunity to meet published authors, make friends with other writers (who you can then form critique groups with--hint hint), and make connections with agents and editors. Start with LDStorymakers (and if you're not LDS or not writing LDS material, don't sweat it because this conference has become so big that it isn't just for LDS writers or those who write LDS stuff--there are lots of national-market writers and there are editors and agents from the national market who present). So, check it out. And if you don't have the funds for a 3 day event, then just go for two days or even one day.

P.S. if you register for this conference then you might be interested in this awesome contest to win a reserved seat next to an agent/editor for dinner :) take a look

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Carol's Class: Writing Conferences

One huge and very important thing I learned from Carol is to go to writing conferences.

There are all kinds of conferences. Here's a list of a different varieties with examples from a very limited few that I've attended.

Dirt Cheap Conferences
The first writing conference I ever went to was actually geared more toward sci fi/fantasy called LTUE (Life The Universe and Everything) held at BYU. Gail Carson Levine gave a presentation. She was awesome, and I learned a lot of cool stuff during the classes at that conference. I went to that one 3 years in a row. This year it will be held at UVU. It's free to students and only cost $30 for everyone else. People, this is dirt cheap for a writing conference. And there are usually some pretty cool authors there.

The first conference I went to geared more toward Children's writers was held at UVU and I skipped some classes so I could attend. It was great. I won prizes and got a free water bottle and got to talk to published authors. It was cheap. And it was local. I paid $30. I don't think they're doing it anymore, but I have heard about this other thing that happens(ed) sometimes called For the Love of Reading The key to finding these is to pay attention to colleges...and it really helps to know a published author who contributes to these (if not puts them together) *cough*carol*cough*.

Invitation-Only Conferences
Last year I attended a two-day private, by-invitation-only conference. A real-life editor from Dial read some of my manuscript and talked with me about it for 15 minutes. There were a few authors who gave workshops and then we split up into groups of participants and had critique sessions. There was also some pastries and fruit to snack on in the mornings which was awesome. I paid $200 for this conference. It was worth every dollar. Oh, and Carol was part of putting this together.

This year I've been invited to another invite-only conference. A real-life agent will read some of my manuscript and give feedback. There will be some workshops/presentations by the agent and some published authors and we will probably have a group critique again (I think that's what it was). Again, Carol is part of putting this together. It really pays to know, be friends with, and have your writing enjoyed by Carol Lynch Williams. Cost for this is $100.

I haven't been invited to this one, and you'll see why if you look at the criteria (published author, mfa, and something else), but here's another example of the private conferences. This one is called Writefest and is held in Texas by Greg and Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Also, a lot of authors will do writing retreats. Basically they're for getting away from home and work and whatever other everyday things get in the way of writing so you can writewritewrite. Maybe people do workshoping at these things too...I've never actuallydone one, but I've heard of them.

BIG-ish Conferences
If you want to go to some GIANT conferences you'll have to go to D.C. or something because that's where they are. If you want to go to a big conference (and maybe I just mean pricey) then I can think of two.

LDStorymakers I went to with my mom last year for her birthday. I'm going to blog more about this one probably. So, I'll just say that this is a good one, and although there are a lot of Mormon writers who attend, this conference isn't really only for those who are LDS. It's pretty much a national level conference.

Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers is the best conference I've been to. But, if you go to this one you MUST go to the morning sessions and to the workshops with an author because otherwise it's just not the same kind of magic. They're on Facebook too (like everyone else).

I'll figure out some more...sometime. As I learn about them. And then I'll share :)

Write on!