Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sometimes I see a raccoon visiting the birdbath on our deck. He or she appears unafraid of my reading light.
Sometimes I see deer licking seed from the bird feeder. They are visible only on winter nights when everything else is covered with snow.
Sometimes I figure out what ails my current revision plan.
My protagonist needs a specific reason to dislike/fear/hate my antagonist. My original idea was too wishy-washy. My new idea was too similar to a billion other YAs. I know what needs to be done, but I don’t yet know how.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I didn't sign up for a paid critique or the first page panel. I chose not to read at open mike. Perhaps I should have.
I loved seeing old friends and meeting new people. I enjoyed hearing Paula Morrow and Barbara Seuling read inspirational excerpts from their favorite books. Matt Faulkner's art is amazing. Kate Sullivan's talk was full of useful information. I will follow her suggestions to plot tension vs. page number and to list the reason for every scene.
But, I left early - right after breakfast this morning. My younger son (Jeremy) turned 15 today and I was eager to hear from both boys about the parade, football game and dance.
Here are a few words of wisdom from the conference.
"Heart can't be taught, but it can be caught." -- Paula Morrow
"The one thing you have to put in a children's book is hope." -- Barbara Seuling
"Don't I have the right to tell an American story?" -- Matt Faulkner
"... Another amazing service provided by your librarian. I like librarians. I'm married to one." -- Bob Morrow
"The hard part is saying why I didn't like this part." -- Kate Sullivan
Friday, September 26, 2008
Sam said, "This author needs a critique group, people who will say, 'You're better than this. Now go sit in the corner.'"
Sam has never accompanied me to a critique group meeting, but somehow he gleaned what goes on there. In The World's Greatest Critique Group, we bring out the best in each other by pointing out what needs improvement and recognizing strong points.
Perhaps having an excellent critique group is like being on a winning team.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
My younger son wore a tuxedo to school today. They are taking pictures of the choir this morning. Don't worry, he brought normal clothes for the rest of the day.
One of the things I like about football is no one expects the boys to keep their uniforms clean. This is SO not true of band and choir.
The tempo of my revisions seems to be stuck on largo, but I'm hoping to accelerate to andante or allegro once my head clears.
The Through the Tollbooth Blog has some valuable information about character and plotting on the September 22 and 23, 2008 posts.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Hit the Road
by Caroline B. Cooney
Delacorte Press, 2006
This book is my life – except that it’s funny.
Teenage drivers, assisted living, the importance of cell phones, well-meaning adult children and the resentment of their aging parents, memory/vision/hearing loss, powdering noses, rain hats and first crushes. I suspect people who aren’t dealing with these issues will also find Hit the Road hilarious.
I had some quibbles with the plot. The protagonist’s boyfriend solves the problem for her, and this is another novel where the antagonist spills his guts in an unlikely confession at the end. That aside, I recommend it.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
My mom is 92 today. She was born on 9/16/1916.
What else was happening in 1916?
World War I (1914-1918) was about half over.
The Mexican Revolution was in progress.
Claude Monet painted Water Lilies.
Pygmalion was published by Bernard Shaw.
The light switch was invented by W.J. Newton and M. Goldberg.
J.R.R. Tolkien married Edith Bratt.
In women’s fashions, hemlines raised to allow a flash of ankle.
Lots of interesting people were born in 1916. Among them are: Jackie Gleason, Dinah Shore, Gregory Peck, Beverly Cleary, Olivia de Havilland, Roald Dahl, François Mitterrand, Walter Cronkite, Kirk Douglas, and Betty Grable.
Monday, September 15, 2008
On Sunday, we had an early birthday celebration for my mom. Her birthday is tomorrow. I made salmon (her favorite) and rice. I had green beans and salad fixings from the farmer's market, and I baked a chocolate cake.
It never rains in southern California, so Mom hasn't had to go out in wet weather for decades. She called and left a message saying she didn't want to come. But when I arrived, she had face powder and lipstick on and was changing her blouse. I got her into the elevator where another visitor complained incessantly about having to drive in the rain, despite my shushing pantomime from behind my mom's wheelchair. My husband drove the car right up under the awning, and Mom didn't feel a single drop. (What a guy!)
Note added at 11:20 AM
This morning when I visited my mom she said, "I went someplace for dinner last night."
I told her it was at my house.
"You're the one with the two big boys?" she asked.
Memories come and memories go, but this time the important part stuck.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The Piggy in the Puddle
illustrations by James Marshall
Aladdin Paperbacks (Simon and Schuster), 1974
This book is still in print, and it was a Reading Rainbow selection. When my sons were small, The Piggy in the Puddle was a family favorite. Beyond that, it is a fine example of combining rhyme and near rhyme, using meter to enhance the story, employing the page turn effectively and getting a young listener to interact with the book.
Why am I blogging about a 34-year old picture book? It poured rain though last night's football game, and my older son plays nose guard and defensive tackle. His gym bag resembles a swamp. Perhaps I am overly sentimental, or maybe I'm a typical mom, but I was happy to see this giant young man, who is racing toward adulthood, have so much fun playing in the mud.
Friday, September 12, 2008
This morning I helped serve breakfast to 50 varsity football players at a local diner. My job was putting two slices of bacon on each plate. The plates already held two large pancakes (5" in diameter), hash browns and scrambled eggs with sausage. Those boys can eat.
This evening at the game, I need to bring a fruit platter for the Varsity Parents Potluck, and thirty 20-ounce bottles of Gatorade for the players to drink after the game. I also need to bring home one or two dozen pairs of band uniform pants to wash. Unfortunately, the band room is not near entrance to the locker room. I suspect football players can quench their thirsts more rapidly than band members can change their clothes. After I dispense the drinks, I'll pick up the pants.
This weekend is nothing compared to homecoming weekend (September 26-27). What stroke of insanity possessed me to register for an SCBWI-MI conference the same weekend as a parade, a football game and a semi-formal dance? My husband can get our sons to the dance. He's way better at tying ties and taking pictures than I am. The main problem is getting the Sousaphone to the beginning of the parade route without using my roomy station wagon.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Me: What part do you sing?
Son: Yeah, I've got this tuba thing going.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
My WIP is at finishing school. I mailed it to three friends and fellow writers for comments. Since then, I’ve done almost no writing. There were several Life Issues that needed my attention, but most chores can be beaten into submission eventually.
I have been toying with the idea for another YA novel, but when I mentioned the concept at a critique group, it was thought to hold little interest for teens. I’m now wondering whether the problem is with the novel's premise or my ability to describe it. Meanwhile, the characters aren’t talking to me. Clearly the idea needs both brainstorming and cogitation.
For the past several years, my writing goals have included submitting an article to ChemMatters Magazine, but I never got around to doing the research, let alone writing anything. Eventually my husband wrote the article. It is both interesting and of value to high school chemistry students. I started working on it today. This week, I hope to finish editing and query the magazine.
Maybe next week, I’ll get an idea for another YA manuscript…
Monday, September 8, 2008
When I visit my mom, I always climb the stairs to her 5th floor apartment. But somehow the Mount Everest Math seemed wonky to me. Today, I finally got around to redoing the calculations.
Sparing you the details of the math, I climb 33.25 feet to visit my mom. Mount Everest is 29,029 feet above sea level or 873 trips up the stairs. Assuming I visit her every day, it will take me about 2 years and 5 months to reach the top of Mount Everest.
But wait! Most climbers, taking the southeastern ascent, fly into Lukla (9,400 feet) then hike up to Base Camp (17,700 feet). The climb from Base Camp to the summit only requires 340 trips. I’m way past that. I’ll have made the climb from Lukla by next February.
How many people have carried laundry up and down Mount Everest?
Photo from Getty Images
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Then I looked over his geometry homework. The book explained that mathematicians do not draw using perspective. What? All these years of drawing cones, cubes and prisms and I never realized I wasn't using perspective! Well, my shapes are drawn in perspective, if the vanishing point is infinity.
Me: Don't you think infinity is blue?
Husband: Only during the day.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
My younger son starts his day with choir and finishes with marching band. Doesn't it seem pleasant to begin and end the day with a song? My older son has math-based physics first and AP calculus last, and I suspect he will also find that entertaining. I used to like the sort of classes where you could simply calculate the answer and move on, without undue discussion.