Friday, June 25, 2010

Hey Thanks, City

So...remember how I mentioned that the city holds its Town Days at the park next door? little kids are outside, right now, selling water and popsicles in our driveway as the crowds walk past. Yes, it was my idea, but they are doing all the work. (Don't worry, they get all the money, too. Well, except they do have to pay for the supplies, which are less than $10 and they've already made about half that...and they just set up shop.)

Ah, it's good to live in a country where capitalism is alive and well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's All Fodder...

It's now officially summer at my house (not because the calendar says so, but because the warm weather is FINALLY here), and I am hoping to get a whole bunch of writing done. I have less time to write during the school year, since that pesky little thing called homeschooling four kids takes up so much of my time (not to mention entertaining Child #5, Sweet Pea, who is still a toddler). So I wanted to give the six or seven people who actually read this blog a heads up: I might not be checking in as often until September. I want to really focus and crank out a whole bunch of craptastic writing while I've got the relative free time.

Anyway, speaking of summer, I do like this time of year because I actually see my neighbors outside, communing with nature and smiling at everyone else in a friendly "hey, you look familiar" sort of way. It seems like I haven't seen my neighbors since last October. Though that could be because I was a wimp and stayed indoors pretty much the whole fall, winter and spring. (In my defense, it snowed early and stayed cold and wet later than usual.)

But I also love summer because it's the time for carnivals and fireworks, and both just happen to be scheduled to appear next door to my house. Our side yard shares a fence with a park the city uses for its Town Days. And this is the week scheduled for the festivities, so right now a dozen trucks are driving past my house, loaded with carnival rides in all shapes and sizes. Kids are loitering outside my house, too, because they can get a decent view of the action without getting in trouble for "going" to the park.

I swear, there couldn't be better fodder for a book than what is right outside my window right now.

Friday, June 11, 2010

More MG Awesomeness

I am delighted by all the attention the little group blog idea of mine is getting! Of course, it's not all my doing, so I can't take full credit for the awesomeness, but I am so happy it's doing as well as it is.

And today, LJ friend (and real-live friend, too) [info]denisejaden is celebrating with us. HOORAY! And she's giving away 9 MG ARCS in honor of us. She picked them up at BEA, and wanted to share the wealth. Thank you, Denise!

The ARCs she's giving away are:

THE STEPS ACROSS THE WATER by Adam Gopnik (available Sept. 14, 2010)
CLARA LEE AND THE APPLE PIE DREAM by Jenny Han (available Jan. 4, 2011)
THE CANDYMAKERS by Wendy Mass (available Oct. 5, 2010)
HERO by NYT bestselling Mike Lupica (available Nov. 9, 2010)
THE MAGNIFICENT 12: THE CALL by Michael Grant (available Aug. 24, 2010)
MURDER AFLOAT by Jane Leslie Conly (available Oct. 5, 2010)
TUMTUM & NUTMEG: THE ROSE COTTAGE TALES by Emily Bearn (available Oct. 5, 2010)
PRESIDENT OF THE WHOLE FIFTH GRADE by Sherri Winston (available Oct. 5, 2010)
SCHOOL OF FEAR: CLASS IS NOT DISMISSED (available Sept. 14, 2010)

Check out her blog for cover images (some aren't available online anywhere else) and info on how to enter. Here's a link:

And don't forget, the 9-book giveaway at From the Mixed-Up Files is still running. Here's a link to enter:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Balancing Act (or "How To Write and Promote and Still Have a Life")

It feels like forever since I checked in here (What? It's only been a few days? Weird.) because of all the whirlwind activity on another certain blog I am a part of *cough* *cough* fromthemixedupfilesgoseetheawesomenessnow *cough*.

But I have to admit that I haven't been very sociable in person lately. My husband thinks I've left him to pursue a relationship with my computer, my kids have wondered why they must eat hot dogs AGAIN for dinner, and my neighbors think I must have some strange sun disease or lice or something.

And I hate to admit it, but my dear little WIP is languishing in a file somewhere, crying pitiably because of the lack of attention it's getting as well.

It looks like I need to give myself the Balancing Act Pep-talk again.

I figured you might want to listen in, too. Feel free to insert your own name/info where applicable:

Now, listen up, you! I know it's not easy finding time to write, promote your book/blog/website/whatever, spend time with family, and shower, but there needs to be a balance here. You don't HAVE to check your email 57 times each day. You also don't HAVE to chuck your laptop into the nearest canal. FIND A BALANCE, for crying out loud!

But you can do this! You are a smart and capable person. It just takes a little know-how, a little willpower, and a whole lot of buttered popcorn. Now get to it, you!

Wasn't that inspirational?! It usually does the trick for me.

What's that? You need a little more information? Well, I guess you did miss the very first pep-talk I gave myself, where I explained the know-how and the willpower part. (The buttered popcorn part is completely self-explanatory, imo.)

Well, here you go.


There are just a few simple steps you need to help you with your balancing act.

1. Pay attention.

I don't know about you, but I tend to run on autopilot a lot. That means I can waste an entire day on my computer and not realize I've done so. But being aware of how you spend your time is the first step to getting your life back in balance. If I pay attention to what I'm doing and how long I've been doing it, I get a feel for where I'm out of balance and what changes I need to make. More of this, less of that. Sometimes I do an official mental inventory, but usually for me it's informal impressions. You might be more list-oriented than I am, so logging one day on paper might be a good strategy for you.

2. Simply make the decision.

Being aware of how your time is spent is helpful, but it's a passive thing. Action is required for change. You know, Balancing ACT. No where have I said Balancing State of Being. Luckily, the next step simply requires you to make the decision to find that balance again. If you've been paying attention, you should have a pretty good idea what changes you need to make, so this step is pretty easy. Most people recommend you write it out. You can if you want, but that's up to you. The point here is to simply make the decision.

3. Follow through.

This is where I tend to slip up the most. Following through is really hard. Twice today, for example, I decided to turn off my computer and stop wasting time checking for comments on the blog, or messages from blog members, or an email from my agent about my manuscript submission. But did I? I'm still here, aren't I?

So you need to be on the ball. Once you decide to turn off the computer, for example, do it. Before you change your mind. But you also need a plan of what you will do instead. If not, for example, soon you'll find yourself sitting back down and flipping on the switch again (I'm guilty of that one a lot). Part of that "make the decision" step was to decide what to cut out and what to replace it with, in order to get your life back in balance.


It's a known fact that the more willpower you have, the more successful you'll be. (Okay. That's not true. I totally made that up. Sounds good, though, doesn't it?!) In all honestly, we already covered WILLPOWER in step 3 above. I just wanted to remind you that you have to follow through if you ever plan on finding that balance. Sorry. I wish it weren't so, but it is.

Now, where's that bag of buttered popcorn? I swear it was around here somewhere...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

It's BIG, It's AWESOME, and It's LIVE! (And There's FREE BOOKS, Too!)

(I would like to preface this with, yes, I'm posting this a little earlier than I promised. My husband, who never waits until his birthday or Christmas to open his presents, will be so proud that I'm jumping the gun a bit here. I guess he's rubbing off on me.)

(Okay, truth be told, I forgot to set the time zone on our site, and so the entry posted at midnight all by itself...on Greenwich [UTC] time. Oy. But we're rolling with it.)

I know I've been talking about a MG (for those of you not familiar with kidlit-speak, MG stands for middle-grade) group blog forever. But it's here! It's finally here!

So, without further ado, get thee hence to the most awesome site on the net today. Yeah, I am biased, and proud of it!

*cue fanfare*

And because we are so awesome , in our first post (penned by moi) we are giving away NINE middle-grade books. Yes! NINE!

But, wait! There's more!

Those NINE books are all SIGNED COPIES! (See, I told you we were awesome.) So, really, you need to go there. Now.

In fact, here's the link to the post.

Be off, fair blog readers! (That means "go check it out", for those who don't frequent the Shakespearean festivals.)

(Sigh. I'm deliriously happy right now.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Something BIG is Coming!


...remember a few months back when I said I was going to start a group blog about middle-grade books? And remember how I was flooded with requests to join?


...guess what is launching on Monday, June 7th?

Yes, in THREE DAYS, the world will be introduced to something BIG. So check back here on Monday for all the official information.

(I bet you thought I'd spill all the good stuff, like the site url. I promise I will...on Monday.)

(Yes, I am evil. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!)