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1. The death of a friend


Bridget Zinn, a dear friend of mine and one of the best people to have ever walked the earth, died today. In honor of her, I post the following poem by W. H. Auden, with apologies to the author's memory for changing the "he" to "she" and the "I" to "our." Whenever I eat chocolate or cupcakes, go on a dreamy flaneur-walk, or see a pair of awesome red boots, Bridget I will think of you. Meanwhile, we grieve.


Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message She Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotten gloves.

She was our North, our South, our East and West,
Our working week and our Sunday rest,
Our noon, our midnight, our talk, our song;
We thought that love would last forever: We were wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

 


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2. What's been up

Since I last posted eons ago, I have come up with a handy new reason not to blog. It's called graduate school. That's right, I've joined the masses pursuing their MFAC. Since it is conveniently within a five-hour drive, I chose Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota as my alma mater-to-be. Even though it's a tremendous amount of reading and work, I keep pinching myself, wondering why I didn't do this a lot sooner.

Why am I crazy-happy to be pursuing my degree? What wouldn't you give to sit under the tutelage of such famed writers as Gary Schmidt (yes THE Gary Schmidt)? The lovely Anne Ursu? The talented Marsha Qualey? Kelly Easton? Jackie Briggs Martin? Mary Logue? Liza Ketchum? Phyllis Root? Not to mention such guest speakers as Gene Yang, Deborah Wiles, Elizabeth Partridge, Swati Avasti. And the list goes on. Much to my glee and eager-to-pinch fingers.

This summer I was also named to the board of the Friends of the CCBC. If you have never heard of the CCBC, it is also known as the Cooperative Children's Book Center and is run by the amazing Kathleen Horning. Check out the CCBC at:  www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/. Serving on the Friends' board has so far proven a wonderful experience. Yes. It. Has. For instance, I got to have dinner with Susan Patron and hear her say "scrotum." In public. Can it get better than that?

I think not. And now you know why I have been lured away from blogging.

Many of you have mourned my recent failure to post photos of kidlit luminaries' shoes. I hang my head in shame. But never fear! A new batch will be winging its way to this site in the near future.

Meanwhile, here is a sneak preview of the lovely Bridget Zinn, for whom my shoe gallery is named, in some hot red boots. Hot. Red. Boots.



Viva les bottes! And stay tuned for more!


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3. SHOE GALLERY


Whoa--it's been way too long since I posted. However, I have some awesome new shoes to post about today, so here we go.

First, I attended the Wisconsin SCBWI Spring Luncheon a couple weekends ago, and snapped several tres interesting pairs of footwear. Our speaker,

the lovely Mollie O'Neill of Katherine Tegan Books, a HarperCollins imprint, wore some fab black sandals.



As always, Thelma Godin (far left) and Emily Finke (far right)



did a bang-up job hosting the lunch. Thelma, ever the fashion diva, wore fantastic gator-green vintage pumps.


For more shoes, go to my updated shoe gallery.

This past weekend, three of my buds (Judy Bryan, Pam Beres & Jamie Swenson) & I traveled vast distances to attend the Iowa SCBWI conference.  My camera was on the fritz, so Judy very kindly took photos of several pairs of shoes for me. Thanks, Miss Judy. The first pair was worn by Allyn Johnston, editor extraordinaire of Beach Lane Books. It must be noted that she wore these with flair.



Author/illustrator Marla Frazee had the most awesome shoes on--they played off spats. So creative.


Finally, I had a great time chatting with (l to r) agent Ammi-Joan Paquette, HC editor Laura Arnold and author Lisa Graff at the wine-and-cheese reception while Judy snapped their shoes.



I'm exhausted, so this will be it for now. But stay tuned for breaking news on my brand-new WIP. I'm afraid I'll be bidding adieu to my wonderful werewolves--at least for a while.


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4. Rejection


Rejection. It's such a huge part of being a writer. You wouldn't think so, since writing is basically a solitary activity. But, aside from acting and perhaps door-to-door or insurance sales, it's got to be one of the most ego-destroying things you can do in life.

This week, I was rejected twice, both times first thing in the a.m. That's the time of day I, not being a morning person, am at my most vulnerable. So, even though I managed to get back on the horse both times, it felt particularly crushing.

Today I ask myself: Why do you put yourself through this again and again? You pour yourself into the characters on the page, into the revision, into the writing itself, so you know beyond any doubt that you are going to take it personally when the work is rejected, no matter how kindly that rejection is couched. So what makes you sit down at your computer every day and keep at it? What makes you lie in bed at night and listen to what the characters are telling you, then get up the next morning and do it all over again?

Unfortunately--or maybe fortunately--the answer to that one is another question: What else would I do? At my core, I'm a writer. That's settled. No going back. Signed, sealed and delivered.

Not even rejection can change that fact.

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5. Madison Vampire Coven reading


One thing I definitely don't do enough of is attend readings by local authors. I intend to remedy this situation, and took my first step tonight by attending a reading by the Madison Vampire Coven, aka (l to r) Alex Bledsoe, Fred Schepertz and Jordan Castillo Price.



They all, of course, write genre fiction, but share a tongue-in-cheek approach. Jordan writes gay-friendly novels and stories. You can check out her PsyCop series at www.psycop.com/. Fred's first novel is called "Vampire Cabbie." Go to www.myspace.com/vampirecabbie for a closer look. Alex has published several novels, the latest of which will be released by Tor on November 10 and is called "Burn Me Deadly." Watch trailers of all his books at www.alexbledsoe.com/. And read these fabulous Madison authors--it's the perfect season for it!



The group's mascot for the reading.

And oh yes--Fred is quite the "shoeman" (ok, you can groan; I am). No really, I am adding his lovely zoot-suit pair to the shoe gallery. But here they are in all their shoely glory:

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6. Top 10 Things I Learned at the SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Retreat


This must be the year of the conference for me. SCBWI-NYC, WISCON, ALA and now (drumroll, please!) the SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Retreat.

Let me say up front that, while I am completely prejudiced in favor of the Wisc. SCBWI chapter, this was one of the best events I've ever gone to. With editorial faculty like:
 


(L to R) Abigail Samoun of Tricycle Press, Krista Marino of Delacorte, Lauren Hodge of Little Brown



and  Karen Kohn of Carus



 PLUS the so-side-splitting Lisa Yee (and her traveling companion Peeps), the chicken chick herself, Tammi Sauer,



and the smart-and-sassy Marsha Qualey, how could it be anything but brilliant?



And, of course, with the Dynamo Divas themselves--Miss Pam Beres (left) and Miss Judy Bryan--at the helm, you know you're in for a wild ride (one with plenty of wine and chocolate).

Other people far more coherent than I have posted about the actual contents of the retreat elsewhere, so I will go my own way and post the top 10 things I learned. A-hem:

10. Tammi Sauer does not walk around in that chicken hat. Can you believe it? That was a complete surprise to me. I mean, who wouldn't walk about in that lovely headgear as much as humanly possible? It's so, well, chick.



9. Lisa Yee's Peeps needs a pair of stilettos. Badly. Note how Lisa has to cover Peeps' bare little piggies with a hand (below). I plan to rectify this sad stiletto gap ASAP.



8. Feed a Peep some Wisconsin cheese (or make her wear it on her head, as above), and she will make every attempt to remain here in the Dairy State. And, if caught, she'll lie about it and insist that the ARA of the Wisconsin chapter tried to kidnap her. For shame, Peeps. You know Judy Bryan would NEVER do that. Right?

7. It is very easy to spot a writer who just experienced a positive critique from an editor or published writer. They bob along about 3 feet above the floor with an angelic grin plastered on their face. And then they drink a boatload of wine. (And yes, Thelma, I'm talkin' about you.)

6. Never take just one of Roxanne's homemade gingersnaps from the bag on the snack table. They will be long gone when your body starts screaming for more. It's worse than heroin withdrawal. I mean it.

5. Editors have a life outside of publishing. "WHAT?" you screech. It's true. For example, Abigail Samoun keeps bees. Yup. It's a fact.

4. It's important to follow M.J. Diem around as soon as she arrives because that big cardboard box clutched to her chest contains CHOCOLATE! And not just any chocs. This year, she made chocolate-covered caramel-crisps sprinkled with flavored salt. On second thought, it's probably an even better idea to lie in wait in the parking lot until M.J. arrives and just make off with the box yourself. More for you. (Her photo's below for easy skulking and identification.)



3. Writers name the oddest things. Such as belts. Belts named Sheldon (see below).



Why, Lisl, why?

2. Even if an editor says in her Friday-night talk that she is tired of werewolves, it doesn't mean she won't love YOUR werewolf book. She might even tell you to put the swears back in. Hee, hee, hee....

1. Writers have a real thing about shoes. You'd think it would be gloves, wouldn't you? But no. And they really, really like the person with the camera to take photos of their shoes. Lots of photos.

So, in honor of our shoe fetish, I offer the latest addition to the Bridget Zinn Honorary (note the name change) Cool Retreat Shoes Gallery. Enjoy! These shoes represent some of the strangest, funniest and greatest people I know.

And now--on to stuffing the swears back into my werewolf novel!

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7. ALA


How beautiful it is to go to a convention to be surrounded by a whole bunch of lovely folks who love books and the people who write them! How much more beautiful is it to go to said convention and meet a ton of one's favorite authors, some fab editors and even an agent or two--PLUS get free books and ARCs?

There is just no way to go wrong at the ALA convention.

Miss Judy and I zoomed off in her silver van very early on Saturday morning, had the usual difficulty finding the correct entrance to the event's parking, and eventually paid our 25 buckaroos and entered the ALA exhibit floor. I'm telling those who did not make it: You are missing a gigantic treat to yourself. Next time it's anywhere near you--GO!

We spent an awful lot of time standing in line to have books signed by lovely author-types (and illustrator-types, too). Somehow, this didn't bother me (care to weigh in, Judy?), even though waiting in line is not my favorite thing to do. Even waiting 2 hours for Neil Gaiman's autograph was no big whoop.

Did I mention how lovely these author-types are? Just take a look at my ALA gallery to see all the kind folks who let us snap their photos, both with and without us in them. Among the most approachable writers: Libba Bray (you crazy redhead, you!), Holly Black, Mo Willems (who mentioned hanging around Madison with "Kevin," ie, Kevin Henkes), Ingrid Law, Melina Marchetta (she loves my first name & named her new character "Georgie," short for "Georgia"), Mo Willems, Tammi Sauer (who is really, really crazy--good crazy, not scary crazy), Patricia Wrede, David Levithan and John Green. Even Mr. Gaiman, who had a HUGELY long line, took time to talk while scrawling a lovely headstone with "Georgia" written on it inside my copy of "The Graveyard Book."

Ah. Life is good. So good. Even from the POV of a headstone.

Lest you all be torn asunder by heated jealousy, I will not mention the fabulous, longed-for ARCs scored by yours truly. Suffice it to say I feel very, very sorry for you who did not attend.

Very sorry.

I was particularly pleased to see my dear friend Kashmira Sheth receive the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature honor for her lyrical, touching novel, "Keeping Corner." She was diligent throughout several book signings. So was the laudable and equally dear Ann Bausum, author of "Denied, Detained, Deported." That girl writes with such an eye for the truth and humanity--she is amazing. Congrats to you both!!

Undoubtedly, seeing Neil Gaiman receive the Newbery Medal was thrilling. He's so funny and yet tender--loved his story about his son and how Neil finally impressed him by holding his own with Stephen Colbert on the Colbert report (to see him in action, go here: www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/221843/march-16-2009/neil-gaiman. Keep your eye on youtube for his Newbery speech.

Okay, despite the risk of jealousy, I just have to list a few of my top scores: Geektastic pocket protector, "Pieces of Georgia" postcard (author: Jen Bryant), Going Bovine, Geektastic, Sucks to be Me, Liar and Forest Born. And many, many more. Squee!

This post has gone on much too long, but I hope you enjoyed it. And remember to check out my ALA gallery of stars!




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8. Writer's Block: Half a Glass

Do you consider yourself an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist?


View other answers

I am an optimistic pessimist. I can't avoid complaining, but I'm always hoping life will be what I want.

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9. Bridget Zinn Auction!!

I'll bet you're itching to donate to an extra-good cause. Like helping someone with stage 4 colon cancer pay for her treatment? If you are a good-hearted person, love to read, love writers and are in a position to help, please visit the Bridget Zinn auction site to bid on a great variety of way cool services and stuff! Bridget is a great person, fab writer and friend. Plus, she's a redhead. How can you resist that combo?

If you would rather give Bridget a gift of cash, please contact me here and I'll tell you how to do that. Meanwhile, visit Bridget's own web site/blog at www.bridgetzinn.com.

And check out the Bridget Zinn auction at www.bridgetzinnauction.wordpress.com.


 

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10. WisCon 33

Hey, all of you feminist sci-fi/fantasy writers/readers out there. I hope you're planning to attend WisCon 33 in Madison, Wisconsin over Memorial Day weekend. I know I am. Why attend? Well, you'll meet many others of like mind, who read like fiends and actually think about intriguing subjects such as politics, religion, feminism, the environment, ethics...Along with plenty of chat about books, books, writing, and more books! How can you pass up an opportunity like that?

But wait! That's not all! You have the chance to meet me (you're just champing at the bit to do that, aren't you?). Along with Wisconsin authors Deb Jacobs and Patricia Cumbie, I'll be taking part in a a WIP reading on Friday from 2:30-4. We will also host a book drawing and share some chocolate with attendees. On Saturday, the wonderful Sarah Prineas joins us twice as a co-panelist. The first panel on the "Unspunky Teen Protagonist" goes from 10-11:30, and the second, on breaking into the YA market, goes from 2:30-4. Hope to see you there.

To sign up for a mere $45 (can you believe that?), head on over to www.wiscon.info. You won't be sorry if you come. But you might be if you don't.

Here's my favorite book by Deb:




Here's Patricia's book:



Here's Sarah's first book:


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11. Additions to the shoe gallery are here!

On April 25, the Wisconsin chapter of SCBWI held its annual luncheon. Our speaker this year was Sarah Levin, an editor at Viking. She was a truthful yet reassuring speaker, allowing that yes, editors are having to justify more than ever their acquisitions but that the children's market remains relatively recession-proof. Whew! I've heard this message before, but it's always nice to get more reassurance.

As always, the Wisconsin writers were out in force, sporting interesting footwear. I'm sorry to disappoint some of those whose shoes I photographed. Some of the photos were just too blurry to be viewed in the gallery. I hang my head in shame. Next time, I'll wear my glasses before I snap the photos. Meanwhile, enjoy these blurry-but-viewable photos of the lunch and shoes.

For those of you wondering what the heck is going on with my WIP, it's under revision. I got some great comments from an encouraging (and humorous!) agent and it's been exciting to see what changes have resulted. Think the WIP'll be tighter, faster-paced and just all-round better. So thanks to the agent in question!

Also, for those of you who aren't on Facebook, here is my atavar, courtesy of Matt Wahoske, who also named me International Pudding Cup Ambassador. What can I say? I do like pudding. But make no mistake; my hair is red, not black.

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12. Secondary werewolf characters

Okay, you out there in literary land, you may think your characters are hard to control. But you've got nothing on mine. I spent today working on a section that one of my primary secondary characters completely took over. He just shifted to wolf, uncurled those claws and dug them into the scene. Dragged it off to a gravesite to worry it a bit, then off to a grocery story to score some raw meat, then to a park to disgust my protag with it. He had this plan all worked out in his wolfy little head, and my gosh, the scenes worked. That is completely scary. I mean, if I was writing about some little kid or a beagle or a giraffe, that'd be different. But you just don't know where a werewolf's going to drag you.

I'm telling you, it's going to be somewhere unpleasant. Or possibly scary. Occasionally maybe romantic. MAYbe. You just don't--won't--know.

Until it's just too late.

For those of you not on Facebook (what are you waiting for?) but needing an update to the saga of Bridget Zinn, awesome writer and newlywed, that's the news! She is now married to the only man for her, Barrett Dowell. They got married in hospital before Bridget was whisked off to an operation which successfully removed a tumor from her colon. Way to go, Bridget! She and Barrett plan 2 more weddings (they don't do anything by halves, these two). If you would like to donate to Bridget's medical fund, please post here and I will contact you with information on how to do that.



I would like to urge those of you who care to check out Bell X1's wonderful new album, just released here in the U.S. It's called "Blue Lights of the Runway." Visit the band and take a listen at www.bellx1.com/. Like all the other Irish indy bands I listen to, Bell X1 members write great lyrics. There's something in the air over there. Yet another reason to spend as much time as possible in Ireland. Also, the island has no wolves, wer or otherwise.

And now, carry on with what you were doing... I will continue to beat werewolves into submission, making the world safe for you and your beagles and giraffes and little kids.

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13. TOTALLY CHUFFED!

Ooh, it so pays to take a chance. I contacted a local media person I know for a certain young author and she's going to be interviewed on TV! Isn't that great? Once things are more final, I will reveal her name and where/when you can catch her LIVE. I'm hugging myself with glee.

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14. Novel Revision with Simon & Schuster Editor Alexandra Penfold & author Laura Schaefer

Spent the weekend rethinking one of my finished manuscripts at a novel revision workshop with the above-mentioned team. Laura's book is "The Teashop Girls," and you should definitely check it out. I mean, it's set in Madison, Wisconsin, the center of the known universe. You knew that, right? Alex was her editor, plus wears completely awesome shoes. AND buys Michael's frozen custard in 4 different flavors for the group. What more could you want in an editor?

Alex & Laura

Revision, revision, revision... Just when you think you've finished a manuscript, you learn something new about the bad habits you have as a writer and must go back and correct the lot of them. But really, it was fun to hear Alex & Laura comment on first pages of our manuscripts. It gave us the outsider's (I'm talking editor's, agent's, readers') perspective. So easy to get all coiled up in what you THINK you're communicating that you can't see what you did! So I'm grateful and planning a full-scale overhaul of my poor old manuscript.

 Alex sorting first pages while the rest of us wait with bated breath.

 Some of the rest of us...

 ...the rest of the rest of us.

Actually, I don't think revising it'll take that long. I mean, now I know what I'm doing. Don't laugh at me. Please.

Also learned a lot about marketing. It was very interesting to hear what Laura had done and continues to do in tandem with what S&S did for her book. I'm sure having Alex as editor was a huge spur in marketing it, because not only does she wear cowboy boots, she was a marketing major and started life at S&S in marketing. Didn't I say she was the editor to get?

Okay, I began the Bridget Zinn Memorial Cool Retreat Shoes Gallery in the fall (see my scrapbook) and had some good fun with that. I could NOT resist continuing the beast at this event. Some of you may be wondering about my criteria for picking cool shoes. It's pretty loose. They do not have to be ultra-chic (ha! we're talking Wisconsin, people!), in pristine shape or cause teeth-gnashing envy. Since I am the sole judge and jury of what goes into the gallery, I just go by my gut reaction to the shoes I see wandering the floors of the event. Wine helps. Unusual and colorful are two things that do catch my eye. Please visit my "Novel Shoes" gallery to get a gander at what passed for cool this time. A very colorful lot, I must say!

I will also upload some photos in the "Novel" gallery so you can see some of the people who attended (and they can see what they looked like to my lens). Please don't be offended if you attended and your photo didn't make it into the gallery. I snapped shots of everyone, but my sadly aging eyes gravely misjudged the focus of some of them. And I know you don't want to appear in public all blurry and goofy looking. If you do, let me know and I'm happy to post.

For a detailed and informative look at the workshop, please visit Judy Bryan's blog at judybryan.livejournal.com/. She's got a good head on her, that girl, so you'll get a version that's not all concerned with shoes and boots. Enjoy!

 Judy's the cutie in the black sweater. The other cutie (besides Alex & Laura) is Pam Beres, the Wisconsin SCBWI Regional Advisor. Thanks to all the cuties for their hard work!


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15. In Tribute


The past year has been the hardest of my life. My mother died on June 16, 2008, and Saturday my father died early in the morning. Both died due to cancer. I'd like to post this tribute to them:

Honor and love to you, Mom and Dad, for who you were and how you lived your lives. Thank you for everything you've done for me, everything you gave me, and most of all, for believing in me. I'll always love you.


Photo by R. Beaverson

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16. New York, New York


Just back from my first national SCBWI conference, which involved being in New York for the very first time. It was a wonderful conference, filled with humor and support from writers, illustrators, editors and agents. It was fantastic to feel part of a really large, really supportive group of creative types. I will definitely go again.

.

Here's a photo of some members of my critique group in a pub in NYC: (L to R) fab illustrator/writer Michael Kress-Russick, whose first book comes out this fall (more about this closer to the release date), Wisc. Assistant Regional Advisor and also fab writer Judy Bryan, and me. Thanks to Pam Beres, Wisc. Regional Advisor and equally fab writer, for supplying this photo. Wouldn't you know it? I forgot my camera.



Here we are, this time joined by the aforementioned Pam Beres, eating pizza at Two Boots in Grand Central Station. I recommend the Tony Clifton pizza there. Thanks to our waiter for snapping the photo and bringing the Stella Artois.



The gang in Grand Central, this photo courtesy of a passing photographer type. I include this one to prove we did not spend all our time eating.

Highlights (for me anyway) included:

Jarrett Krosoczka, whose hilarious film included luminaries such as Tomie de Paola, Mo Willems, Jane Yolen... You get the idea. Who knew those folks could act, too? Jarrett has kindly posted the film on his very funny blog: thejjkblog.blogspot.com/.

Also funny and wonderful was Jay Asher and his tale of 12 years in the wilderness before landing a book contract. He was inspiring and touching. Visit his Disco Mermaids blog (ever seen a mermaid with a goatee?): www.discomermaids.blogspot.com/. He inspired us all to write and submit jokes to Lin Oliver during the conference.

And okay, Bruce Hale, why do you get to write, tell hilarious stories AND sing jazz and scat? Loved the pork pie hat, too. Have fun with Bruce: www.brucehale.com/.

And Jack Gantos made a new fan--me! Loved the voyage he took us on through the beloved books we've all read. Wonderful. Check out cool Jack stuff at: www.jackgantos.com/.

Of premier note, though, were inspiring and wonderful speeches by famed editor Richard Jackson (about the lucky authors he's still steering although he's mostly retired) and beloved author Richard Peck (speaking on the master's DVD SCBWI is distributing).

Met a few agents, felt relief at their this-economy-is-not-the-end-of-the-universe consolation, and found out what Putnam, Bloomsbury and Atheneum editorial directors want. Michelle Nagler, you are one cool chick! Friend me, please, if you run across this post. Love your attitude and the physical beauty of Bloomsbury's books.

And thanks to the SCBWI staff for working their buns off to make this conference so great! As Arnold has said: I'll be back.

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17. It's been ages...

Okay, so I'm a lousy blogger. It's hard to get used to posting on a regular basis, but I'll keep trying!

For the interested among you, here's the latest on my protagonist, Fil. Her life just keeps getting more and more complicated. I've been a work horse lately, and have about a quarter of the second novel finished. My goal is to keep up this pace in the new year, after having taken a breather break over the holidays. The first Fil novel is waiting patiently on an agent's desk. My fingers, etc. are crossed.

Meanwhile, I've been continuing my behaviorist experiment, ie, will Writer-Me salivate to write when I hear the music I've "assigned" to my book? It worked wonderfully well with the first Fil novel; I listened to The Frames nonstop and it had the surprising effect of inciting me to write. (Check them out at
www.theframes.ie.) Right now, I am listening to the fantabulous Emmett Tinley (www.emmett-tinley.com) while writing the second Fil novel. His deliciously wintry songs, with their incredible lyrics, put me snugly in Fil's mind every time I hear them. Perfect for me; more perfect for the novel, which takes place in winter in northern Wisconsin and Canada. Emmett, if you're out there reading this blog, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you and ask you some questions about your creative process. Maybe do an interview here?



You can get a double dose of Music I Like by watching Emmett's Other Voices concert (he's accompanied by Glen Hansard of The Frames) on the RTE Television site at
www.rte.ie/tv/othervoices/20070523otherv.html. It's a great concert at a church in Dingle, Ireland. While you're at it, browse for additional Other Voices concerts.

Last night, some of my crit group members went to a reading by debut children's writer Laura Schaeffer, author of The Tea Shop Girls (Paula Wiseman Books). The book is unique, full of funky old tea ads, recipes and facts about tea. Read an interview with Laura at
bookwormbooklovers.blogspot.com/2008/12/monday-muse-interview-with-laura.html. Also, Laura and her editor, Alexandra Penfold of Simon & Schuster, are doing a novel revision workshop for the SCBWI-Wisconsin chapter at the end of February www.scbwi-wi.com/upcoming_events.html. Congrats, Laura!

Time to brag on the amazing Kashmira Sheth and her latest PB, Monsoon Afternoon (Peachtree). It just got named a Smithsonian Notable Book for 2008, and it deserves it. Congratulations, Kashmira! Can't wait for the next one.

For lovers of Louise Rennison's hilarious YAs, check out a new blog: The Tart's Wardrobe
bridgetzinn.com/tart/. It's a "YA literary salon." Best of all, you can read their interview with yours truly, all about who's hotter: vampires or werewolves.

You can guess which way I voted.


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18. Werewolves

One of my first posts was about finishing the current WIP. Well, ta-da! It's done. Has been done for about a month, actually. The best feeling in the world (and no, I do NOT write "The End" on the last page, mostly because that is false hope--it's not done until it appears in print, and even that is just the beginning). So it's out to readers and an agent, and has an editor waiting for it, too. Every digit I possess is crossed, because I really love my protag, Fil. She's fat and snarky and smart and funny. What more could you want from a potential werewolf? The book's got a great working title that involves the word "werewolves;" look for it in about 18 months at a bookstore near you (see how optimistic I am? that's Fil talking!).

In fact, Fil's voice is so strong, just two days after metaphorically scrawling "The End" on "Werewolves," she very kindly gave me the first three pages of book #3. Now I've got two chapters finished, and Fil's having a wild time already. The working title on this one is a really fabulous one that Michael Kress-Russick, writer and illustrator extraordinaire, came up with but I will not yet share publicly. But a big fat thanks to Michael for being SO clever! And thanks for the cover design, too, mate! It's fab.

Meanwhile, check out my first book, "The Hidden Arrow of Maether." It's out of print, sadly, but you can still pick it up on Amazon and ebay and your local library. Or, if you want a signed copy, you can always contact me. I have a limited number left. Just be aware (unlike some reviewers) that this is a mid-grade fantasy NOT a YA. In other words, it's aimed at 9-year-olds, not 17-year-olds. But you'll enjoy it; I promise.

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19. Bridget Zinn Memorial Cool Retreat Shoes Gallery


For those disappointed by how difficult it is to find my shoe gallery, here's the link: http://pics.livejournal.com/greenlinnet1/gallery/0000eywb
Sorry about that!

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20. SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Retreat


We had a blast at the fall retreat this year! Uber-kudos to Pam Beres, Judy Bryan and Peggy Tromblay for their Herculean efforts, which paid off handsomely for the rest of us. You three are the best!

Holly Black: You totally rock, girl! Despite less-than-luxurious surroundings, you gave an interesting and pertinent talk, one that'll have me thinking for a while. Also: love the hair!

Linda Sue Park: You also rock! I found the opinion you gave on first-person present had me reconsidering why my latest YA project, Werewolves Aren't Fat, is in first-person present. I love your thoughts on structure.

And Henry Cole: The funniest and most charming illustrator--we loved you! I wish I'd been a student in your second grade class--and not just because it would make me a whole lot younger than I am.

This retreat was missing the illustrious Bridget Zinn and her Happy World. In honor of her, I am posting the Bridget Zinn Memorial Cool Retreat Shoes Gallery in my galleries. Have a look!

         

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21. Cybils 2008


If you want your favorite book-of-the-year to garner some attention, why not nominate it for a Cybil? You have until October 15 to submit it  for the third annual Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards. Over 100 kidlit bloggers will vote on their favorites. There are 9 categories--Easy Readers, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Novels, Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books, Non-Fiction Picture Books, Poetry, Young Adult Novels--and nominated titles have to have been published between Jan 1 and Oct 15, 2008. To nominate titles, visit the Cybils blog (http://www.cybils.com/). Bloggers, unite! And vote for me next year (I'm being VERY positive about my current project getting published!).

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22. the delights of writing paranormal

Okay. I've been working my rear off revising my soon-to-be-finished (God, please!) paranormal romance novel. I've written several others but never experienced the delight I have with this one. What is it? I've been wondering and wondering about why this one's so different. Conclusion? It's my genre, and the voice takes me whenever I sit down to write. Before, my books have been middle-grade (or YA wannabes); this one is definitely YA. And the paranormal aspect is very absorbing (a lot like writing fantasy but not quite as world-buildingly tough!).

Of course, working night and day (mostly night) on it in October gives a luscious little frisson to the work, too. And blasting music like The Frames and Emmett Tinley through my big, old-timey headphones is also a new and wonderful experience. I like noise when I write--and lots of it, especially in loud family restaurants that contain arcades--but never music before this book. Especially music with lyrics. But now... Somehow, it adds depth and feeling to the writing. And there's this kind of prep thing going on, too, that means I don't have to spend 20 minutes or more warming up to get in my character's head. The music's on and I'm there, inside Fil. Nothing else exists.

Perfection. Ah.

I'd like to give kudos to Judy B
judybryan.livejournal.com/ for a great article she wrote in one of the local magazines I edit. Visit her page for the link to her article on Haunted Wisconsin. It's fabulous!

More kudos to the totally amazing Ann Bausum, author of Muckrakers. She won the SCBWI's Golden Kite Award this summer for this book, and absolutely deserves the recognition. She makes nonfiction lyrical, and her own integrity, morality and intelligence shine in all her work. Read it!


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23. measurement in fantasy


I recently exchanged emails with a first-time fantasy writer who felt frustrated by the need to communicate size without resorting to our world's measurements (feet, meters, etc.). Most cultures have some kind of standardized way of measuring so there's a general idea of how big, long, far something is. I always invent some kind of measurement that's relatively easy to relate to. For instance, I've used the width of the hand, which is about four inches and is used in this world to measure horses already, so it's easy to understand. Other ideas: shoulders' breadth; sword's length or width; stride (of horse, man, woman); mast height. Choosing something that's appropriate to the type of world you have created will deepen your world building. For example, you might describe a flying creature's wingspan as a sword's length. You could also have a character mistake the creature for something that is nearly the same size (bat, hawk, eagle, gull, etc.).

Obviously, you need to think a lot deeper than I've done in this brief explanation. But my friend thought this might be helpful to others and get the creative juices flowing.

Hey out there: How do you build your worlds?


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24. life vs. art

Sometimes life is a crazy attention hog. Just when I think my novel will be finished within a week at most, life steps in, waving her arms like a madwoman for my attention. This time, my daughter's health was the arm-waving emergency. And then...a month slips by and the novel STILL isn't done.

It's those last two or three chapters--I just can't put my hands on the keyboard to write them until my mind has written and rewritten them a hundred times. And then something goes click, and the words just pour out.

I'm hoping when it rains, it will indeed pour! More later... Read the rest of this post

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25. on the brink

I'm right (write?) on the brink of finishing the 5th novel I've written. Only two chapters to go (of course I've said this to my writing buds several times already in the last 2 or 3 months, so who really knows?), and then it's off to a hopefully receptive agent. It's been a while since my first book came out, so I'm hungry to see this one hit print. It's the first YA novel I've written, and the first horror/romance/humor novel. Very fun--I've felt so much freedom writing this latest one. Really, the best experience writing I've had in years.

It's funny how some other creative art can pump up the one you practice, isn't it? This novel sprouted from my discovery of The Frames' music (www.theframes.ie). Not that there's a direct "ripped from the lyrics" kind of connection, but the feel of the music and the emotions certainly fueled the creativity and control I felt in writing this one. My Frames playlist has been looped on my iPod for months.

What about you other writers? What flames your creative lives?

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