Sunday, January 31, 2010

The End of a Great Pity Party

Well, now that the SCBWI NY conference is officially over, it's time for our pity party to come to an end.

I had a great time. You know what they say...misery loves company. And I enjoyed whining with all of you. Really.

I was going to give out individual awards, but I'm too depressed about missing the conference to think them up award them. So you've all earned the coveted Pity Party Participant Award instead. I hope you can find a good use for it. I hear it's great as a bookend.

And if you join us next time, you'll have a complete set (because, as depressing as it may sound, I will most likely not be at the next conference either, so I'll be hosting another pity party then).

Until next time, nobodies!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Our Pity Pary is in Full Swing!

What have we missed?


The writers'/illustrators' intensives, of course.

Not that I would actually go to it if I was at the conference (mostly because of the extra $$$ it would cost), but still...

On a happy but completely unrelated note, I am very very very very close to finishing a working first draft of my WIP. Like, I-should-be-done-this-weekend very very close. Wahoo!

Okay, back to hanging out at the pity party...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hey, Jealousy

Yes, I see you. Hiding back there in the corner of my mind.

Well, stop it. Quit lurking and go away.

Yes, I know that Writer A just got a new book contract. And I know that Writer B just got his/her editorial letter. And you don't need to remind me that Writer C just shared his/her book cover with the world.

I'm trying not to think about it, so stop reminding me.

Now, shoo. I'm trying to be productive. But you are eating away at my confidence, and I don't like it. Yeah, I know my book has been out on submission for awhile without much to show for it. But I don't need you whispering in my ear about that book deal you just heard about from that publisher I had high hopes from, though the deal was for another book and not mine.

I'm certain that some editor somewhere is gonna LOVE my book. So there.

Don't smile at me like that. It's unnerving.

Yes, I'm talking to you, Jealousy. I don't need you here, so go.


(Good riddance. I never did like that guy.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's Time For Another PITY PARTY!

In about a week, all the somebodies in the kidlit world will be basking in glow of all the really big somebodies at the 2010 SCBWI National Winter Conference in New York.

Sadly, I am STILL a nobody.

Therefore, it's time for another pity party. (FYI, you can see our first pity party here, which I only hosted on my LJ blog. This time I'm hosting here as well.) Please come join me, all you lovely nobodies! This week we will be sitting on our couches at home, eating bon bons while we allow small sighs (and even a few tears) to escape as we think about all the fun we are missing.

And, of course, at my pity parties I like all of us to know exactly what we are missing. So, here's all the links I could find, so we can weep and wail together.

The Official 2010 SCBWI Winter Conference Website: the official place we can check in to see what the somebodies have planned.
The SCBWI Official Blog: here we can get up-to-the-minute info on everything we are missing.
Twitter Search: in case you want to follow the somebodies tweeting about the fine time they are having while we are left at home.
The Conference Schedule: so we can know at any given hour what the somebodies are learning without us.
The Faculty: all the really big somebodies

I hope you'll all show up to my pity party. There WILL be awards, you know! If you don't believe me, check out our first official Pity Party awards. (Sure, they are useless, nobody awards, but they are OUR useless, nobody awards.)

Those were good times. Good times.

Anyway, check in anytime this week and leave a comment about what you are particularly upset about missing. As for me, gee. I would really really really like to be there to hear Libba Bray and Jane Yolen speak (Jane Yolen, if you must know, is a late addition and isn't on the schedule, but you'll hear all about it if you check out SCBWI's blog). That and I'd like to see New York at least once before I die. So I'm totally whining about the fact that the conference is in NY. *pouts*

Enjoy the pity party, everyone!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Update on Magic Under Glass

This just in:

Bloomsbury is rejacketing Jackie's cover of her book.

They issued this remark on their website:

"Bloomsbury is ceasing to supply copies of the US edition of Magic Under Glass. The jacket design has caused offense and we apologize for our mistake. Copies of the book with a new jacket design will be available shortly."

That was fast.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Magic Under Glass Controversy

Most of you have probably already heard the controversy over Bloomsbury's whitewashing of the cover of Justine Larbalestier's book, Liar. And most of you have probably heard that Bloomsbury has done it again with Jaclyn Dolamore's book, Magic Under Glass.

I just had a few thoughts about this.

My first thought was, "What the heck?" I guess I've always been a little clueless about racial issues. I think I've just assumed that everyone was equal, and treated others as such. I don't remember ever thinking that someone of a different race was inferior in any way to me. So, seriously? This is still a problem? How sad.

The next thought is the real reason I'm posting this. I've seen others reply to this controversy by swearing to boycott Bloomsbury AND Jackie's book.

All I can say is, please don't. This isn't Jackie's fault, and you'll only hurt her. That seems counterproductive, since she's the victim here. So, instead, go out and buy the book. Then write a scathing letter to Bloomsbury. Or sign a petition. Or blog about the unfairness of it all. But please don't boycott Jackie's book. Jackie deserves our support, not our censure.

I don't know Jackie personally, but I can imagine how difficult this must be for her. Here's my public show of support for her and her book.

Go buy it. Seriously.

(Okay, off my soapbox.)

(I would also like to add that I am not judging Bloomsbury in any way here. I don't know what went on behind closed doors, nor do I really understand all that goes into choosing covers for books. While I don't agree with racism in any form, I'm willing to give the publisher the benefit of the doubt. I just wanted to make that clear. I mostly wanted to make it known that I really empathize with Jackie and want to make sure she's not the one getting the short end of the stick here, so to speak.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What's Next For Me

Late last night, while sitting down for my nightly writing session, I suddenly realized how close I am to finishing this draft. Sure, it's a whole pile of craptastic words, but they are MY craptastic words, every single one of them. I had originally planned on finishing the draft at the end of October (and we don't need a math wizard to figure out how far behind my original deadline I am), so I'm glad to finally see the end.

Well, the end of this round, anyway. I've already started compiling a list of things I need to fix in this manuscript. But right now I just want to get to THE END so I can send the craptastic file off to my agent (so he can point out the craptasticness to me) and I can get to work on a totally new project and let this one sit for awhile.

And what is this new project, you ask?

Beats me.

I've been thinking about reviving my YA ghost mystery, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to do it justice yet. I've also thought about revisiting my steampunk sci-fi fantasy adventure I wrote last year, and taking out the steampunk...and the sci-fi...and the fantasy...okay, and the adventure, too. In other words, I'd pretty much just keep the characters. I'm not sure if I'm ready for that project either.

So I might start something completely different.

Maybe I'll go with that idea I wrote in my Writing for Lazy People series. You know, the one where Mr. Toad eats some magic beans and becomes the Tooth Fairy's assistant.

Yeah. That'll work.

So, how do you decide what to write next?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bananas and Tube Socks

I wanted to make this post sound more exotic than it really is. So I opted for the intriguing title, "Bananas and Tube Socks." Made you look, didn't it?

I actually have nothing important to share. I have no news on the manuscript front, at least. And unless you care to know my husband has a business trip coming up soon and is heading out with his work buddies and leaving me home with the kids, I have nothing to report on the home front, either.

In other words, my life is just about as exciting as bananas and tube socks.

But I got to thinking that sometimes I prefer bananas and tube socks to, say, mangoes and pantyhose. Sometimes I long for the excitement that mangoes and pantyhoes bring (which, I might add, has been a particular problem of mine lately, at least on the manuscript front), but then I remember that bananas and tube socks do provide me with a full belly and warm toes.

And aren't warm toes and a fully belly all we really need?

So, I hope that when the rest of you find yourselves wondering where the mangoes and pantyhose are, just don't forget that you still have bananas and tube socks. And be grateful for the company while you wait for the mangoes and pantyhose to arrive.

I know I am. Well, I'm trying to, at least.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Do We Need Another Post on Plotting vs. Pantsing?

Why, yes. Yes we do.

Late last night and the night before (9:30pm-11:30pm MST both nights)(okay, so that's not really just felt like it) I spend my writing sessions straightening out the kinks in my WIP. It was giving me a headache and seriously ruining my chances of a good hair day (see this post on my LJ blog for more details).

Anyway, as you'll all recall, I am very much a pantser. However, in an attempt to try something--ANYTHING!--to help get my WIP back on course, I sat down and outlined what I've already written.

And, you know what? It really really really really helped. There might just be something to this plotting thing.

But I did realize that I absolutely cannot write an outline FIRST. First I must do some exploring. I usually write the opening scene, so I can get a feel for who the MC is and where the story takes place, then I hop around the manuscript, writing scenes that fit with the very vague plot I've thought up before I sit down to write.

And that usually leaves me with a huge rat's nest of scenes that don't really fit together or make any sense. And it usually happens when I'm only about half-way through the story. I have a serious problem with muddled middles.

So, from now on, this is where the plotting will come in for me. Once I've explored to my heart's content, I can sit down and outline all the scenes I have finished. Then I can piece them together, much like a puzzle, and figure out what is missing and what needs to change to fit the rest of the story. Then I can finish the rest of the first draft.

I know, it doesn't make sense. But it works....for me.

Happy plotting/pantsing/whatever, people!

Friday, January 1, 2010

How To Be More Creative (or If You Snooze, You Lose, So Use Your Muse)

Since it's the beginning of a new month, a new year, and a new decade, I'm sure there are lots of you out there thinking about the future. You're probably making new plans to better yourself somehow, so I'm here to help.

But what could I possibly impart to you that will help you with all your new plans? Not much, I confess. But lately I've been bumping up my creativity levels, so I thought I could share with you some pointers on how you, too, can be more creative (or find your muse, if that's what you like to call it).

1. Learn to Let Go

I don't know about the rest of you, but I like being in control of things. That's what we adults do best. But being creative requires a bit of flexibility. So learn to let go a little. And don't expect perfection, either. Being creative and being perfect aren't very good companions. At least, not when you first pair them together. So, let go and enjoy the process.

2. Experiment

Creativity comes in many forms. It could be sculpting or painting, drawing or etching glass. It could be sewing or crocheting, knitting or doing needlepoint. It could be writing poetry or novels, essays or love letters. It could be playing an instrument or singing, dancing or songwriting. It could be magic tricks, or basket weaving, or landscaping the garden. Experiment until you find what works for you.

3. Start Young, Stay Young

Young children are masters at creativity. They attack their creations with reckless abandon. And it's been said that those who are creative when young tend to be creative when they are older. So it's a good idea to start when you're young. (It's a less painful place to start, anyway.)

But that doesn't really help those who aren't still children, does it? So for the rest of you, find your inner child and learn how to feel young again. Find a way to stay young when you're being creative, and you'll have a whole lot more fun that if you try to be a stuffy adult.

5. Try, Try Again

Creativity doesn't come easily, especially to those who haven't exercised it in a while. So don't give up if you can't think of something to paint, or aren't sure which type of basket you are going to learn to weave, or you're staring at an empty page instead of the poem you intended to write. Creativity takes practice, so keep trying. Eventually you'll thank yourself. And you'll have a finished product you can be proud of, too.

6. Have Fun

If you aren't having fun, then what's the point?

May your year be filled with lots of creativity, and may your muse visit you soon! Happy New Year, everyone!