31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Three Silly Chicks

Three Silly Chicks (aka Julia Durango, Andrea Beaty and Carolyn Crimi) are all about going for the laugh. They read, write, and review funny books on their blog and on occasion they’ve been known to drag authors and illustrators of funny books into the coop for some interviews.

A couple of my favorite interviews are In the Coop With Tammi Sauer and In the Coop with Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman!

Great blog for busting stress and getting that laugh just when you need it the most.

Sunday, December 13, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |2 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Laura Salas (for real this time)

(Yesterday I goofed and had the wrong title with the wrong post. Apologies to both Don and Laura.)
I think every poet needs to be reading this blog by Laura Salas. Why? Because Laura not only talks the talk, she walks the walk. Somehow, in-between raising a family and doing a tremendous amount of work-for-hire projects and teaching both on and offline, she is crafting the life of a working poet. And she shares that journey with her readers, the good, the bad, and the ugly. She also shares a tremendous amount of original (and wonderful) poetry.A couple of my favorite posts include her recent original villanelle Wounded and this original poem, Recipe for a Poetry Book, A Poem for Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Laura encourages everyone to get into the poetry habit with her weekly (every Thursday) photo poetry prompt for 15 Words or Less Poems.

Tell Laura I said hello when you stop by.

Saturday, December 12, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: , |2 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Don Tate

Today I’d like to highlight the blog by artist/writer Don Tate. Don’s blog is about the process of creating art, both for the books he illustrates (his own and those written by others), the art he does for his day job at the newspaper, and his recent journey into the world of writing for children. When I read Don’s blog I always get the sense that this is what it is really like to be a working creative person in the world of children’s publishing today.

A couple of my favorite posts are This Isn’t as Easy as it Looks where he talks about an art project that didn’t go as well as he had hoped (complete with illustrations) and Wearing My Writer’s Cap in which he shares about the long, long journey to publication his first picture book which will published next fall by Lee and Low. If you want to know how long, you’ll have to read the post for yourself.

Tell Don I said hello when you stop by.

Friday, December 11, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |2 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Becky Levine

This blog is for writers (or anyone) who love to read about the writing process and how writers do what they do. At Moving Forward on the Writing Path Becky Levine talks about everything from strengthening your characters to adding more conflict to your plot and more. When I’m struggling with a WIP I like reading about other writings who are trying to figure things out at the same time.

A couple of my favorite posts are Triangles-More Angles and Sharp Edges (what an easy way to increase the tension in a scene) and Making Connections, Deepening Story.

Thursday, December 10, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |3 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Elizabeth Koehler- Pentacoff

Today’s entry in 31 Blogs (you might not know) is great for teachers, writers, librarians and kids! It’s Reading, Writing and Elizabeth, the blog home of author Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff. Liz searches the web for writing contests for kids (and adults.) She also posts interesting writing prompts that are terrific for writers of all ages (and great for the classroom) so check them out in the sidebar.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: , |2 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Sarah

This one is for the writers out there. Sarah works in New York as a publishing assistant. I love looking at things from her side of the desk. A couple of my favorite posts are Unlikable Villains (in which she reminds us of the importance of keeping our villains villainous and The Secret Lives of Titles because I love anything that talks about coming up with the right title. If you’re a short story lover you’re in for an extra treat because every so often she publishes short that readers have sent in on her blog.

Give her a wave from me when you peek in her window.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |8 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Wes Hargis and Ted Dawson

Maybe the rest of you already know about this blog, Three Men in a Tub, but it was news to me. It’s the sketchblog of Wes Hargis and Ted Dawson and is filled with stories about comics and comic books, art and artists and, not surprisingly, sketches of original art.

A couple of my favorite posts How To Draw With Tom Gammill are Elephant in a Tree (which could also be called My Life as a Tattoo.)

Them them I said hello when you stop by.

Monday, December 7, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |2 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Debbie Gonzales

Austin author and educator Debbie Gonzales wears a lot of hats, and she wears them well. Her blog is a delightful mix of writing observations, tips, book discussions, and help for teachers. And then there’s Simple Saturdays. Every Saturday she posts simple activities to be enjoyed by all family members. (On Fridays she posts the supplies you need for Saturday’s simple activity.)

A few of my favorite posts are Sports Novels: The Voice of the Gamer and the Simple Saturday activity Autumn Leaf Potion

Tell Debbie I said hello when you stop by.

Sunday, December 6, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |2 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – A Sweet Read & Jama Rattigan

This blog had me at chocolate. I mean really, a blog that combines children’s books with baking for kids? Yummy! This Florida teacher came up with a winning combination for blogging – she takes her favorite books from children’s literature and then gives you recipes to go with the books. If the book doesn’t have an obvious food connection, she makes up Recipes to Read by. The moral of her story is that food and books go together.

A couple of my favorite posts are Chocolate Obsession which is, as you can imagine, all about chocolate and You Don’t Want to Steal My Dog where she has a delicious looking recipe for “pup cakes” that look like dogs.

Pair this delectable blog up with who rolls out amazing feasts of words and food (yes, I am giving you two for one today just because I can) and you will have food/book connections for just about any occasion. Jama’s recent post on Thanksgiving with Arlo Guthrie at Alice’s Restaurant made me hungry for words and music and her Friday Feast: A Taste of Tuscany will appeal to foodies as well as writers and poets.

Tell them both I said hello when you stop by.

Saturday, December 5, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |16 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Brian Floca

Todays suggestion for 31 Blogs (you might not know) in 31 Days is Author/Illustrator Brian Floca. In support of his latest book, MOONSHOT, Brian has a lovely series of posts about the space program and the anniversary of Apollo 11. A couple of my favorite posts are Radio Days and Countdown Apollo 12

Tell Brian I said hello when you stop by.

Friday, December 4, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |0 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Anne Bustard

Anne Bustard’s blog, Anneographies, highlights picture book biographies tied to the subject’s birthday. Isn’t that a brilliant idea for a blog? Of course the first thing I did was go to my birthday to see if there was a picture book on one of my birthday twins, Ernest Hemingway or Robin Williams, but alas, July21st was blank. But many other days of the year were filled with some great picture book biography choices like July 16th, my son’s birthday. (He just happens to share it with Ida B. Wells-Barnett) and August 27th, my daughter’s birthday (coincidentally, it is also the birthday of former president Lyndon Baines Johnson.)This is a great blog for teachers to bookmark for when they need ideas for those pesky bulletin boards.

Tell Anne I said hello when you stop by.

Thursday, December 3, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |8 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Elaine Marie Alphin

Today’s visit is to the blog home of the award winning author Elaine Marie Alphin. Elaine’s books include, Ghost Soldier, Counterfeit Son, and The Perfect Shot. Elaine’s posts might be sporadic but every one of them is rich in the details of her writing life. A couple of my favorite posts are Father’s Day Stories which goes right to the root of her storytelling past and Inviting Readers to Read about the importance of creating doors through which we writers can invite readers to begin their journey.

Tell Elaine hello from me when you stop by.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |0 Comments

31 Blogs You Might Not Know – Teri Sloat

I stole this idea from Greg Pincus who, back in April of this year, gave us 30 Poets in 30 Days for National Poetry Month. Every day, for 30 days, he highlighted a different poet and by the end of the month I had a great many new poets to follow. What a great idea!

When I was trying to think of what kind of gift I could give my blog readers the holiday season I thought I could introduce them to some blog they might not know about but that I think are worth checking out. So I introduce the first (for me) of 31 Blogs (You Might Not Know) in 31 Days. Every day in December I will post a little teaser about a blog that perhaps isn’t as well known as some of the other blogs we tend to frequent. There will be writers and poets and maybe an illustrator or two. I hope you enjoy the journey.

Many of you are already familiar with author/illustrator Teri Sloat’s beautiful picture books (I’m a Duck, There Was an Old Man Who Painted the Sky, and many more) and her exquisite art. What you might not know is that she is a brand-new blogger.

Her blog, Painting the Sky is all about her creative journey. A couple of my favorite posts are Julie and Julia and the Invisibile Audience where she talks about the lessons she took away from the movie Julie and Julia and Walking Through a Story where she talks about her love of creation stories.

Say hello from me when you stop by.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |13 Comments

how would you clean up this computer mess?

Okay, I admit that do not have the best organizational system on my computer. I start off okay, in theory, but then I get sidetracked by years of poor computer habits and I start to feel overwhelmed and I have no idea where to start. So I’m throwing it out there to the Universe to help me get some ideas on how to attack this mess. Warning, some of this will make you organized folks groan in pain. But I hope you’ll read it anyway and tell me how YOU handle this organizational situations.

Here’s what I have:

1. Way too many folders. I have a really bad habit of storing current things I’m working on, need to do, interesting things I find, all on my desktop. Then when the desktop starts to look cluttered I drag everything into a folder called desktop October or desktop June or whatever. It seemed like a good idea about 4 computers ago but then of course what I end up with is a giant mess each with a different month. Right now they go across several years. And inside each of these folders there may or may not be more folders with more obscure names. And when the desktop gets full of each of these monthly folders I drag them into the junk drawer where the file names get longer and longer because everything is so many folders deep. I don’t even know how to begin to sort through them all.

Current plan: Dump everything in one big folder and just start going through piece by piece.

Other suggestions?

2. Photos, gobs and gobs of photos. When I download pictures from my camera, which could be none for a month and then could be a bunch several times a day if I am shooting the garden or an event, I just dump them into a folder on my desktop where they eventually get dragged into the monthly folders and/or the junk drawer. And then of course I start editing them and messing with them and I have those copies in there. I’ve tried Picassa because I like it for a quick fix of a photo but for some reason I can’t navigate the structure as easily as I would like. And I can’t easily just navigate to a file and open a single photo. But the latest version has face recognition so I was thinking of using that to help sort in some ways, at least to find all the pics of my grandson. I also think I need some massive photo gallery browse type of program but I’m not sure what to use. The browse/gallery in Fireworks doesn’t seem to do it for me. Feels clunky.

Current plan: Dump all the photos into one big folder and just start going through them one by one. How to organize them? By date doesn’t seem to work for everything. Great for the garden but not so much for odd pictures here and there. Seems like a topical filing system would be best. One for family, friends, my garden, garden inspiration, etc?

Other suggestions?

3. PDFs and Doc files all over the place. At one time I had the bright idea to just drag all the doc files and text files and PDF files into their own folders and then just slowly start working my way through them, looking at them all to decide if I should keep them, file them, or toss them. I’m not sure if this is good idea to revisit or not. (Note, this does not include my writing which is very well organized in a folder of its own.)

Current plan: Create a folder for each file type, doc, pdf, txt, Excel. Sort through them one by one.

Other suggestions?

4. Idea folders. Places where I keep ideas to write about or blog about or things to buy or places to go. But there are so many of them and all over the place that of course I can’t find them when I want to. I wonder how other people keep track of these sorts of things?

Current plan: Create a top level set of folders called,  to do, to blog, to buy, to read, to write. Add items to these folders as I find them. Also need to set up matching tags (and use them religiously) in both Google reader and Delicious as well as in the physical file cabinet so I will always know where to put these things.

Other suggestions?

5. Copies of webpages that had good info I wanted to remember. Tons and tons of saved webpages. Now I know I should use either Delicious or Evernote or just bookmark them in Firefox with tags. So do I revisit each of them and start from scratch? Probably. And probably Evernote so that I can keep a copy of it in case the web page disappears. The pain of going back to each of those. Is there ever a reason when keeping a copy of the webpage on my computer is the best choice?

Current plan: As I find these web pages on my computer I’ll revisit the actual page and either Evernote it or tag it in Delicious. Not sure which would be best.

Other suggestions?

I know this isn’t going to happen very fast. It takes time to go through each piece of data on the computer but I think it’s the only way I’m going to be able to get a handle on it, just like taking all the files out of the physical file cabinet and going through them paper by paper. I need to set up some top level folders that mimic my physical folders. And then I just need to apply myself to it a little bit each day.

I’d love to hear how the rest of the world organizes their computer filing system. Please share. And I’m wide open to any suggestions on how I should attack my own electronic mess.

Sunday, October 11, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |12 Comments

Thankful Thursday

Well I got up this morning thinking it was Wednesday, all set to post my Of Dogs and Writing Post, and then I realized it was Thursday. I lost a day this week.

But I have much to be thankful for:

  1. A strong and loving marriage
  2. Good friends
  3. Relatively good heath
  4. Cassie
  5. A home of my own
  6. A job I love

For you writers and illustrators and musicans out there, all you creative types, I’d love for you to go check out

‘s post today on how we stay connected to the true purpose of what we do. Warning, it will make you think.

Thursday, October 8, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |0 Comments

Austin trip – the inside story

Yesterday I shared the few pictures I got on my trip to Austin. Today I want to share the inside story.

The decision to go to Austin for the one day VCFA conference was a sudden one made in the burst of confidence that I was riding after a conversation with an editor who had said all sorts of great things about me. Still flying high I quickly signed up and paid the registration before I could change my mind. It took about a week for me to start to freak out.

Sure, I "knew" some of these people online, some of them for many years. But was I really going to get on a plane and fly to a place where I had no backup, no one I would be assured to walk around with, no one to pull me out from behind the potted plant when I wanted to hide? On top of that I am taking an online course which requires 10 pages of writing per week and I hadn’t finished my work for the week. I haven’t been able to succesfully write away from home since my kids were little. (They’re 27 and 30 now, so it’s been a while.) And of course there were the various choruses of doubt, what if they didn’t like me? What if we had nothing to talk about? What if I stuck my foot in my mouth?

I am an introvert who can fake the extrovert when I’m in the public but who needs a lot of quiet alone time to recharge my energy. I am a doubting Thomas when it comes to believing in myself and my gifts and my right to write. I am a person who has let a lot of life slip on by because I was too afraid to go out and live it. But I want to be different. I want to but sometimes I just don’t know how.

When I got off the plane in Austin the first thing I saw in the terminal was a Schlotzsky’s deli. Back when I lived in New Orleans I ate at Schlotzsky’s a couple of times a week because it was the cheapest place to eat next to where I was taking some night classes. So when I saw that Schlotzsky’s sign I was instantly transported back to New Orleans. I tell you, I went weak in the knees and felt like my trip was over right then and there. (For those who don’t know, no, I did not live there during Katrina but it was a traumatic time for me for other reasons.) Honestly I had to find a chair and sit down before I fell down because instead of coming in one at a time, memories washed over me like giant waves and I was drowning in things I didn’t want to remember.

But I shook it off. Reminded myself I was not in New Orleans, I was in Texas. And Texas welcomed me with open arms.

I was so glad I went early to have time to visit with friends, Don Tate, Mary Sullivan, Liz Scanlon, Peni Griffin – the four of you set the bar high for the rest of the trip. There were no awkward moments. There were no long stretches of silence when no one knew what to say. There was just wonderful conversation and sharing and laughter that flled up holes in me that I didn’t even know I had.

By the time I got to the conference I was feeling like someone had released a super power that I never knew I had. From the first hug from old friend Cynthia Leitich Smith to the last hug from new friend Donna Bowman Bratton, it was a near perfect trip.

There were some odd moments, like when I came out of the bathroom and looked around and everyone had someone to talk to and for a minute, I felt myself falter. And then the foot in the mouth time when I not once, but twice, mistook one person for someone else. An important person that I should have known. And the scariest part of all was when Kathi Appelt was talking about a verse novel that didn’t quite work for her and I kept thinking, Please don’t let it be my book. Please. Please. Please. And thankfully, it wasn’t Hugging the Rock.

But those moments were few and far between. To meet friends in person that I have built various relationships with online was such a gift. It changes things once you have that face-to-face time. It changes things for the better. I never once stopped to ask myself what I was doing here or why these people might want to converse with me. I just did it and in the doing it I realized that we each brought something special to the table that once shared, was made even more special. With each conversation I felt my confidence grow.

What I found most fascinating and perhaps frustrating is that I was able to relax and be myself in this place so far from home and yet I find it so hard to do the same thing in my own arena. I’m not quite sure how to work on that but I need to figure it out.

What did I learn? I learned that I could, again, write away from home. And not just crummy pages but good pages that earned good feedback. I learned that my years in the business had taught me much and I was able to share some of that knowledge with others. I learned that most of the other writers there felt just as lost and unsure of themselve as I did.  Most importantly I learned to look at myself differently, as an equal, as a person of value. I learned to let go of a lot of negative voices that were fighting in my head telling me the opposite of what I could see for myself.

None of this matters to anyone reading this blog as much as it matters to me. That’s okay. You can read or pass on by.

I know the inside story and that’s all that matters to me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: , |19 Comments

Austin trip in people pictures

I am home from Austin where I had a fabulous time. I will update more with words later as it takes some time to distill it all and I have a stack of reading to do for class tonight. But I can give you the short version, in pictures, first. Okay, the super short version without pictures is that I had a fabulous time and learned so much about myself in the process.

The day before I left I made a quick run down to Hicklebees to see David Lubar. David was charming the kids one by one but my favorite was the red-haired boy who came away clutching his book to his chest who said, “I can’t believe I got an actual David Lubar autograph in my own book.” He was going up to everyone in the store telling them about it.

From VCFA Day in Austin

Then it was off to Austin at o-dark-thirty in the morning. I got there Thursday afternoon and Thursday night I went to dinner with author/illustrator Don Tate and illustrator Mary Sullivan. Mary illustrated my picture book, Oliver’s Must-do List. We had a great time chat about all things under the sun on the lovely patio of a restaurant I can’t remember the name of. I wanted to set up a dinner like this for every week! A perfect start to the trip. The only bummer was the bakery that Don and Mary were raving about was closed by the time we were done and now I will never know what a black and white cookie is. Sigh.

From VCFA Day in Austin

The rain held off until I was back in my hotel room but then the thunder and lighting started up. It has been a long time since I lived in a place that had lighting storms like these. I couldn’t get the patio door to open to get a good picture but I was mesmerized. This was one of the small strikes. Most were two or three verticals at once.

From VCFA Day in Austin

In the morning


picked me up and we headed off to Austin for breakfast. We started talking and didn’t stop until it was time for Liz to pass me over for the next stage of my trip. Part of the joy of meeting people you’ve known online for a while is that you know if it is someone you are going to click with, feel comfortable with and then when you meet, it brings a new dimension to the visit.

From VCFA Day in Austin

Liz took me over to BookPeople so I could meet up with my longtime friend Peni Griffin who drove up from San Antonio to see me. Peni and I poked around BookPeople for a while before driving over to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center. We hiked around, looking at plants and birds, on a perfect weather day, the sun staying behind the clouds until we were ready to leave.

From VCFA Day in Austin

After that it was off to the reception for the conference where I finally got to meet in person another long time friend, Cynthia Leitich Smith. We forgot to snap a picture but I did get one with her equally charming husband Greg.

From VCFA Day in Austin
From VCFA Day in Austin

I got to meet LJ buddy

who refused to take no for an answer.

From VCFA Day in Austin

and another LJ buddy whom I didn’t get enough time to chat with.

From VCFA Day in Austin

After all that visiting and hiking, this shrinking violet was exhausted. Alas I had had no sleep the night before because of the cement bed, evidently a hallmark of this particular chain. So I asked for extra pillows and created a new version of the pillow top mattress.

From VCFA Day in Austin

Uma Krishnaswami is another long time online friend that I was so happy to get to meet. I have her beautiful voice imprinted in my brain now which plays back in my head as I read her words on the screen.

From VCFA Day in Austin

Uma introduced me to her critique partner and poet friend Stephanie Farrow. We chatted about poetry and so much more. It was hard to believe we had only just met.

From VCFA Day in Austin

Donna Bowman Bratton was another friend met on this trip that felt like an old friend from far away.

From VCFA Day in Austin

After the conference a group of us went to dinner at a nearby restaurant. This was our end of the table. Stephanie, Me, Donna, Emma Virjan, and Erin Edwards. We ate and drank. Talked and laughed. Filled up our wells for all sorts of writing.

From VCFA Day in Austin

I had high hopes of Cassie pining away for me while I was gone. This was the image I kept in my mind.

From VCFA Day in Austin

Alas, when I got home, she ignored me, as though she hadn’t even noticed I’d been gone.

There are other pictures circulating out there somewhere that I hope people will send to me. This was a terrific trip, a learning experience on so many levels. I’m so very glad I went. I will post the more introspective version of the trip tomorrow.

Monday, October 5, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: , |28 Comments

September Carnival of Children's Literature

Welcome to the September Carnival of Children’s Literature.  We have a little bit of something for everyone this fine carnival day. No need to rush. Take your time and if you don’t manage to see it all in one day, you can come back again and again.

Terry Doherty at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub shares an interview: Inspiration from Mom – A Conversation with Dawn Morris

Deborah Freedman celebrates Robert McCloskey’s birthday. Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk 

The Author Spotlight is on Laurel Snyder.Sherrie Petersen says, Laurel Snyder is a slush pile success story. Find out why she thinks genres are like dancing, imitation is a conversation and why Batman books might be in her reading pile!

James The Old Coot talks about reading all the John Newbery Medal winners the other day.

Aiych shares The Amazing Scrubbies

Dinotrux Makes Prehistoric Impact in Preschooler World comes to us via Roberta Gibson at  Wrapped in Foil ·

Mary Ann Scheuer says,I really enjoyed this coming of age story, and think it will appeal to boys. Lots of humor, bonding, growing up. Read more about When the Whistle Blows – a compelling coming-of-age story for boys (ages 10 & up

Take a look at Winnie-the-Pooh Books Inspired by Milne and Shepard courtesy of Rebecca Reads

Haley Drucker at Magic and Myth takes a look at City of Ember: Book vs. Movie

Brian at Book Dads says Two Minute Drill’s story emphasizes the importance of reading, and that learning in itself can be a source of real enjoyment. Lupica also deftly slips in references to two YA books, My Brother Sam is Dead and Hoot, with the suggestion that they might be of interest to boys of this same age as well.

Review of The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness from Becky of Becky’s Book Reviews

Jennifer at Jean Little Library shares some Strange and Wonderful Visions

Andi investigates Human Body Detectives

Z-Dad celebrates the re-release of The Hiccupotamus with a look at some behind the scenes stories about its creation

Becky reviews Mortimer’s First Garden

Carol Rasco shares  WEDNESDAY WINDOW: The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963

My Parents are Divorced, My Elbows Have Nicknames, and Other Facts About Me  via Brian at Book Dads.

Patrena Lynn Roach offers up Ebony The Egg Eater

Yes, Virginia, there was YA when you were a teenager explains Wendy at Six Boxes of Books.

Jennifer Bogart reviews Pharaohs and Foot Solders: One Hundred Ancient Egyptian Jobs by Kristin Butcher

From Brian at Book Dads Half For You: the father bird in this Persian folktale teaches his son about the world and the virtue of cooperative economics.

Janelle at Brimful Curiosities reviews Legacy by Cayla Kluver. Janelle says, Teen author from Wisconsin re-releases her debut book through the AmazonEncore publishing program.

Tarie Into the Wardrobe presents a Book Review and Author Interview: Chenxi and the Foreigner by Sally Rippin

Yum! Yum! Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup whips up an end-of-summer picture book picnic!

Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill  with Melissa Wiley
Elizabeth O. Dulemba kicked off her month with a bang. Here’s her wrap up of the Decatur Book Festival ’09
and from there it was off to the SOAP, SOAP, SOAP RELEASE PARTY and BLOG TOUR!!

Teens 13-18 can win a $1,000 scholarship just for creating a book trailer. Check out this great opportunity via Susan Taylor Brown

The unshushable Betsy Bird has a bit part in the video No Butts About It, We Love to Read!  “No Butts about it, we love to read!” is something between a book trailer and a public service announcement that Ayun Halliday (author of ALWAYS LOTS OF HEINIES AT THE ZOO) and I (Erica Perl, author of CHICKEN BUTT!) made while we were doing a seat-of-our-pants book tour together this spring. Bottom line (heh) was that we wanted to promote reading – of our books, sure, BUT also of all books. A lot of friends pitched in to help us make it, including NYC and DC public school students, fellow author pals, and even my 97-year-old Great Uncle!

Jon Bard Children’s from Writing Web Journal talks about How to Write a Children’s Book Based on Your Personal Struggles

Colleen Mondor of Chasing Ray takes on the world of vampires in What a Girl Wants #6: Loving a bloodsucker 

Ken Robert looks back at Goodnight Moon – Memories of a Reading Collaboration

Jen Robinson shares about Popularity in Blogging and Book Awards

Kimberly at Lectitans does a bit of Weekend Wonderings 

To-Be-Read Piles – Small, Large, and Extra Large!  courtesy of Greg Pincus and The Happy Accident

Exercising the Imagination Muscle

Wendy Piersall gives some great resources to use the Harry Potter books in the classroom / homeschool curriculum.

Susan Stephenson, the Book Chook, says  Pirates love books too! She shares how to Party Like a Pirate

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2009  was tons of fun for Elizabeth Duemba

The honesty and raw emotions of this 14 year old’s poem ripped my heart and then mended it whole. He shared it with me so I could share it with you, says Lee Wind. A Teen’s Poem that you absolutely MUST read!

Anastasia Suen says the book Punctuation Celebration is a must have book for the elementary school classroom!

Bonnie Blogs Green shares the story of Five Covers, One Book, You Pick

An Author Scolding Teachers for Reading Books Aloud?  from Sarah Mulhern at The Reading Zone

Hall Monitor offers a troubling story about getting rid of library books.

I haven’t seen a host for next month’s carnival yet but if there is one, please let me know and update the page.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |9 Comments

Girl versus computer

Let me preface this story by reminding folks that I don’t do change well at all.

My new computer finally arrived on Tuesday. The one I had to order because I killed my last new computer (less than a year old) by dumping a Coke in it.

Last computer was red. I LOVED it. Loved the red. It looked perfect in my office. It made me smile when I saw it. Once I finally transferred everything over to it I could imagine the stories me and Big Red were going to write together. But now Big Red is dead. Well if not dead at least seriously injured to the point that I will never fully trust that he won’t fall apart on me again. So Big Red is now being repaired so hubby can have it as his "on his lap in the evenings in front of the tv" computer. Which means he will now have a red computer. I needed a new computer.

I forgot that I was a 50 year old woman and started acting like I was in high school again. I could not order another red computer could I? I had to have my own color. I needed to have a different one.

I didn’t want pink.
I didn’t want blue.
I didn’t want black.

The only other color was green.

And I thought my office is a garden office and filled with greens and yellows (and once, the perfect red computer) and so I could have a green computer. Green is the color of money. The color of growing things. The color of something new.

Hubby said are you sure you want that green because it’s not a normal green?

And I said yes. I said I loved green. Look at all the green in my office.

And hubby said, really, I think you should think about it because I don’t think it’s going to look like you think it’s going to look like.

(You can see where this is going, right?)

So I ordered the green computer.

And it came Tuesday.

And I fell apart over the stupid color because it looks like a radioactive computer with its florescent apple green shell. I do not like it Sam I am.

But I can’t send it back just for the color (and pay the 15% restocking fee and wait another month for them to build me a new one.) No, really, I can’t. (Because I checked and they don’t even offer this configuration anymore.) And no, they don’t make skins yet for this model since it’s a brand-new model and a different size. (Besides the skins are just giant stickers and would totally change the outside texture which is another issue for me because right now it has this nice spongey like cover on it.)

Yes I am grateful for a new computer. Really I am. I’m lucky to have it and I know that but sometimes I just astound myself with my ability to make the wrong choices about things that are going to end up bugging me. (We won’t even go into the goof that I made on the resolution of the laptop which means I now need a new monitor.) And yes, I’ll get used to it and will go on to write wonderful things with the radioactive little beast but right now I feel like an utter moron for even caring about something so stupid as what color the computer is.

On the plus side, the green is only on the back and I don’t see it when I’m typing. And on the other plus side I’ve figured out how to block it so that I don’t see it flashing Kryptonite warnings at me when I walk into my office. Still, I’ll know the green is there.

There is no moral to this story.

Well maybe one, don’t park your Coke too close to your laptop. Okay, and another one, not all shades of green are created equal. And then a third one, husbands are sometimes right.

And this week, mine gets a gold medal in putting up with me as I work my way through all this mess.

Thursday, September 17, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |27 Comments

Seven on Sunday?

Okay, I missed 5 on Friday and 6 on Saturday so here are 7 for Sunday while there is still a little bit of Sunday left.

1. I don’t understand how it is that the more I cut back in my life the busier I get. It might be because I have difficulty with the word no. Might. This is not likely to change.

2. Next week I hope to have something fun to announce. No, nothing around a sale but a really fun promotional event that will be open to kids 13-18 around one of my books. So if you have a kid in that age range, stay tuned.

3. I have a lot of work-for-hire stuff going on right now which is good, because money is nice, but I do wonder at how it is always feast or famine.

4. Saturday the electrician came out and installed new lights on the outside of the house and two chandeliers inside the house and there was much rejoicing. Some pictures are here if you haven’t already seen them on Facebook. I love it when you finally get something done and it looks as nice as you hoped it would.

5. Of course being as it is this house, nothing with #4 went easily and there are still "tweaks" that need fixing like the fact that the outside lights slant against the house because of the siding and the kitchen chandelier that isn’t really centered over the table (my goof.)

6. For several years I have been trying to figure out how to turn the living room into a dining room but I just couldn’t figure out what to do with the area where the dining table is now. Right after the chandelier was hung over the dining room I got the bright idea that what we needed to do was make it an alcove of floor to ceiling bookshelves for hubby’s cookbooks (he has hundreds of them) with a few casual chairs in front of it. Sigh. Later. After we get the tile replaced with wood floor. Maybe.

7. Flyboy’s dad is really fighting for a story of his own which is a little bit bizarre for me to think about writing an adult novel from a different POV using these same characters. But I promise to finish Flyboy first.

Sunday, September 13, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |4 Comments

Thankful Thursday

There has been a recurring chorus from a few special friends in my life of late. They tell me things and I refuse to believe them and then they tell them to me again and I push them away and they keep telling me these things until I’m ready to cry because I don’t see the person they see and eventually I start to feel like maybe they might be telling me the truth which just blasts all my old preconceptions about myself right out of the water.

I am so grateful to have friends like these in my life.

Thank you.

Thursday, September 10, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |8 Comments

Five on Friday – The naming edition

I woke up when Cassie woke up this morning but it wasn’t my turn to get out of bed. So I closed my eyes and started thinking about names. I have a lot of things that need names right now. So those of you that are good at naming things, please leave me lots of suggestions in the comments. 🙂  Thanks.

1. My new netbook needs a name. I’ve never named my computers before but I want to start. The netbook is blue and is my after hours and traveling buddy. He likes steak and potatoes and chocolate. He’s very impulsive and never stops to read directions before he puts something together.

2. My new laptop (won’t be here until next week) needs a name too. It’s an apple green workhorse that will be my main computer for everything. She’s a dedicated over-achiever always willing to work late for no extra pay. She’s a bit on the shy side and goes barefoot all the time.

3. I was even thinking about giving my office a name. I guess now that I’m spending more time in here (6 hours a day so far) I think we ought to move to a first name basis. It’s got a cozy, garden cottage sort of feel to it and I smile every time I walk in there.

4. Plant Kid’s story needs a name. I’m not stopping the work on Flyboy but Plant Kid is there, tugging at the edge of my mind and the hardest thing for me to tell him is that I have no title for him. I can’t start a book without a title. No, really I can’t. It’s a story about a kid who doesn’t have much of a family so he makes his own. Oh, and it’s about plants. And about how some things you want to fix can’t ever be fixed and sometimes that’s a good thing.

5. This blog needs a name. No, I’m not leaving Livejournal but I want to buy a domain name, set up a shell of a website, and then put the blog front and center. From there I can add things that will build around the focus of this blog which will still be about me but hopefully more bits about inspiration, persistence, and motivation for writers.

The floor is open. 😉

Friday, September 4, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |15 Comments

Thankful Thursday

I’m thankful for little things today. After last week’s Coke spilled on the keyboard fiasco I had to go back to using the old HP laptop with the fan that never shuts up. I’m very thankful I had it to fall back on while I wait for my new computer to arrive. (Yes, they can clean and probably keep the old laptop running but I will not trust that it won’t burn something out after the episode so hubby is taking my old one and I’m getting a new one.)

But laptops are still heavy to haul around, especially when traveling, and I get nervous taking all my data away from home so I also bought a littlle netbook. I’m thankful for it today and I know I will grow more thankful for it over time.

From LJ

It’s a Samsung NC10-14GB 10.2 inch and weighs in at mere 2.8 pounds with a 6 cell battery. The goal is to leave the main laptop in the office at the end of the workday and use the netbook at night on the couch when I’m blogging and emailing and stuff. 

And speaking of offices, now that I am spending more time in mine there was some tweaking to be done there. I am thankful for my new shelves that are finally up. (I bought the materials 9 months ago. Sigh.)

From LJ

The top shelf is just what I wanted for plants and bits of inspiration and some of my writing and reading figurines. The shelf below hides a room air conditioner and is long enough for four big baskets. And if you’re nosy like me and you want to look closer at what’s on the shelf, you can see a bigger pic here.

And most of all today I am thankful for people like Bobbi Miller who help me recognize that I am on the right path with my blog and let me know. Bobbi made a comment in this post of mine that took me to her website where I found this page with some words about me.

"Reading her LiveJournal is like taking a class in inspiration, persistence, and motivation, even as we follow the adventures of a dog named Cassie."

I read that yesterday, just when I really needed to hear it. I’ve been going through some thoughts about blogs, well about my blog in specific, still trying to figure out where I fit into the kidlitosphere. The balancing act is hard for all of us. Not enough time to read, respond or even post as much as we might like. At my level (as in "not famous") one never really knows if blogging is reaching people so I am really thankful to hear when it does.

Thursday, September 3, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |10 Comments

Writing Again at Last

Okay, I missed a couple of days here on the blog and I owe some people some responses to comments but I have a good excuse. I made major progress with Flyboy. Sunday night I actually sent out 60 pages to my first readers. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve done that with fiction. A good feeling, that’s for sure.

So I am waving as I pass through. I’ll be back tomorrow with a juicy post about dogs and writing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |7 Comments

Where do you read this blog? Other blogs?

Taking an informal survey here, mostly because I am contemplating some changes in my own blog reading habits, like moving everything, even my Livejournal stuff, into Google Reader.

So help me out here….where do you read this blog of mine or other blogs?

Here on LiveJournal?
On Facebook?
Google Reader?
Jacket Flap?
Other blog reader? (Please let me know which one.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |55 Comments

Thankful Thursday – A room with a view

I thought I would try a themed Thankful Thursday today….one around my office. (Been in here for over 3 hours so far today.)

I am thankful for this wonderful job I have, playing and working with words, a job that allows me to work from home in a beautiful office filled with books and paper and all the touchy feely things I love best.

I am thankful for the new roof we put on. A stone coated steel roof. My office has a high beam ceiling and the old shingles were just piled on top of that. No insulation. In the summer the room was an oven and in the winter you could feel the columns of cold air drifting down. But since they put the new roof on it is pleasant. The AC is running on the house but even then I used to sweat in the office. Not now.

I am thankful for all the fun pieces of old office furniture and accessories I have been able to gather here to give it warmth…the old oak teacher’s desk, the antique library table, the ancient file cabinet that matches the desk. The old botanical prints that are waiting for me to hang them on the wall. The old oak recipe box that holds my plotting index cards and all the little knick knack dust catchers that make me smile.

I am thankful for the ergonomic setup that helps me hurt less – (though today something is funky and my neck hurts) the chair that adjusts a gazillion different ways. The roller mouse keyboard that is no strain on my arm and should. The keyboard tray that lets me use a negative tile which reduces the strain on my wrists.

But I think today I am most thankful for the view outside my window. From the computer desk I can’t quite see the bird bath or the bubbling rock (which means there is another water feature in our future) but I can see the birds swooping down as they race the length of the yard and come in for a landing. I can see them up in the Japanese Maple tree flitting from branch to branch, looking for bugs. I see the mourning doves, three of them, who have decided under the young Ironwoods is a nice place to take a nap and a fourth one wandering the path like an old man in search of his lost glasses. There’s a cabbage white butterfly that’s hovering over the monkey flower just at the edge of my view and an orange skipper resting on the coffee berry. The carpenter bees are working the tall yarrow at the back fence and the hummingbird is darting from the fuchsias to the twinberry and back again.

Life is good.

Thursday, August 13, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |6 Comments

Tuesday Ten?

Let’s see if I can come up with ten things about Tuesday.

1. I worked in my office for about 5 hours today. By that I mean in my actual chair, in my actual office, plugged into the nice keyboard and monitor. For FIVE hours. This is huge.

2. #1 felt really, really good.

3. I wonder how long it will take to make #1 a habit?

4. I also wonder why it is that I put things off for so long, things that feel like they are going to be so hard and then, well, I do them and it is okay.

5. Based on #4 I might be adjusting to Firefox more quickly than I thought and I haven’t even checked out the add-ins yet.

6. Right now I am more than a little in love with the spellcheck that shows up everywhere without me having to click things.

7. I think I am equally in love with the fact that I can add tags to bookmarks.

8. I bought something for Plant Kid on Ebay today. I didn’t plan to but I saw it and I could picture it in his room and I bought it.

9. And now I wonder what Plant Kid would put in the box.

10. I also wonder if Flyboy is going to get jealous that I didn’t buy him something.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |9 Comments

Monday Mania – Or How Life is Making Me Crazy

After many long months (okay, since last October) I have finally moved onto my new computer. I am not a person who does change well so this has not been a lot of fun. But I do have most everything on the new computer. I just can’t find it all.

The new laptop keyboard stinks. I’ll get used to most of it but the noisy spacebar, not thinking I’ll get used to that or the really slippery trackpad. If nothing else this should motivate me to be more in my office plugging into the regular keyboard, right? 🙂  I have given up my beloved Paint Shop Pro for Fireworks but I’m not quite feeling the love for Fireworks when it comes to organizing my photos. I need to find a Fireworks expert to ask a couple of questions. Anyone?

I was able to move all my Outlook emails over to the new computer no problem. I got my rules and my calendar items and my contacts. What I didn’t get were all my reminders and I have no idea how to get them. I suppose I will be hand typing them all over again. There’s a lot of little dinking to do with everything that comes with switching computers and I just don’t have the time to do it until next week. I have a week full of deadlines but each one I cross off my list is making my life a little bit more clear for priorities.

I ordered new curtains for the kitchen but they aren’t quite right so they need to be sent back. However in one of those rare clean up as I go modes I managed to throw away the receipt. Sigh. Rugs arrived but the blue is too light and makes the kitchen look like a new baby’s room rather than the French Country look I was going for.

I won a beautiful huge rooster on Ebay and it arrived in four pieces. Yes, there is insurance but now there is the hassle of filing a claim and the fact that it was pretty unique and I haven’t seen another one like it ever.

There is still paint in the driveway from when the roof was put on. Less of it but it is still there. Tomorrow we get some new windows put in. Hope they don’t need to use spray paint for anything.

But Sunday was my husband’s birthday and we went to the beach with Cassie and watched her romp and play with the other dogs and then had a lovely dinner at Ma Maison where Cassie was able to sit with us on the patio while we ate a yummy meal.

Life is nothing if not a series of transitions. I just need to learn how to slide in and out of them a little more quickly.

Monday, August 10, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |6 Comments

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful that have the opportunity to do the work I love.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Thursday, August 6, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |3 Comments

VCFA in the Lone Star State

Okay, I may not be heading to SCBWI but I am, in October, going to the VCFA event in the Lone Star State.

Anyone else going?

I am registered and now entering the “how do I decide which hotel to stay at” phase. This phase is soon to be followed by the “ohmygosh how am I going to get from point A to point B and everywhere else phase” which is also known as the typical (for me) transportation panic phase. Other phases soon to follow will include the “what if I have forgotten how to do the chit chat in person networking phase,” the “everyone will be younger or skinnier or more talented than I am phase” and then of course the “is it too late to change my mind and cancel phase.” Oh, and let’s not forget the “I have nothing to wear phase” which I’m sure I will pass through several times.

I kid you not.

Yes, I am an introverted wimp but I am really going to try and break out at least a little bit.

I think I am going to go a day early on the chance that I can have some time to meet some local friends. So if you live in the area, please let me know because otherwise I will go early and then sit in my hotel room playing the stupid bubble game on my phone until the battery dies.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: , , |4 Comments