Monday, May 31, 2010

Masterpiece Monday: Memorial Day Books

Thank you to all who serve or have served our great country! We love you and are ever grateful!

Books about soldiers, wartime, and their families:

The Wall

Memorial Day Surprise

Turn Homeward HannaLee

Rosie the Riveter

Johnny Tremain

World War II for Kids

Yankee Doodle Boy

The American Revolution

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Salud Sunday: Salutes the Troops!

Here is an MG book on my to read list. From what I HAVE read so far it looks like a good read. Take a peek for yourself with the links below. Thanks to all our troops and to those who have served our country! We will never forget!

Operation Yes link....Isn't the bracelet Wowza awesome?

Operation Yes on Amazon

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday on Holiday

Okay I lied. Saturday is NOT on said holiday. I tried desperately to derail this post but have failed. Secrets have a way of finding their way to the public right?

Me: Saturday I really think you shouldn't share what we discussed. Has no one taught you the importance of top-secret finesse?
Saturday: It might be cool?
Me: How? How!
Saturday: Really it's just a matter of time, a matter of relativity. They could relate to something else, or not.
Me: But...
Saturday: No. No more. I'll call out the PR  people. If it gets out of hand, if anyone busts our chops... we will distract them with ice cream and pixie dust. They will be so occupied they won't remember any of it. I assure you. Your secret's safe wit me. Ha!

So here it is: the ultimate memo

Things We Have Done In the Name of Research: Finding Our Inner Kid.

1. Food fights @ the dinner table
2. Played in the sprinklers-squirted the hose at others-brought out the water balloons--used them like an army brat tossing live grenades.
3. Walked on tip-toes past sleeping hubby love. Used sharpie on DH (okay not yet but planning it).
4. Sung at top of lungs to Fiddler on the Roof in front of toddler who laughed hysterically then tried to imitate us.
5. Dipped french fries in milk shakes and laughed with milk shake mustaches.
6. Sung Little Mermaid songs in shower, yes at top of lungs!

In my world...did I might be cool...if I...

1. Got a haircut from Edward Scissorhands.
2. Could have a "fairest of them all" mirror smack on my bathroom wall.
3. Could play the part of Sleeping Beauty just once. What does one have to do to get some sleep around here?
4. Could just once play the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters.
5. Could share ownership of Mr. Magoriums Wonder Emporium.
6. Could meet Dustfinger from Inkheart.
7. Could borrow Little Red's riding hood for excursions to grandmothers house
8. Could sit stop the lap of the Abe Lincoln Monument--but this is naturally out of the question.
9. Could Lift Excalibur from the stone.
10. Could vacation in Suessville/land.
11. Could fly atop a sparrow like Thumbelina.
12. Could have my very own secret garden--old antique key and all.
13. Could fly with Pan. Wait....I do that already.

"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men." ~Willy Wonka

So what are your picks? Add to the list(s). 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Woeful Workshop Wednesday: Imagination

"Some stories are true that never happened."  ~Elie Weisel

Read the characters you love, especially the ones you have a crush on. Read the characters you hate and despise, it will make you a better writer if you can understand them. Play in far off worlds and make magic in others, if not, you might as well pretend.

The Possible's slow fuse is lit
By the Imagination.
~Emily Dickinson

Bloomability. It's there. Use it. Develop it. Don't let it sit in the corner and purr! 

"My alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz.  It's the letter I use to spell yuzz-a-ma-tuzz.  You'll be sort of surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond 'Z' and start poking around! " ~Dr. Seuss

Who ever said that poking about was dangerous was VERY wrong! In my gingerbread book, it is the best guide for the imagination. Let it tickle your senses until you cannot breathe, just when you are about to suffocate from imagination, begin to write. Fill a page. Continue.  Epiphany will follow. Ah ha! You are a writer. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Masterpiece Monday:Reading Pictures

"Be careful going in search of adventure--it's ridiculously easy to find." --William Least Heat-Moon

There are always unlikely characters pining for adventure in books or wishing they were something else. Sometimes even the simplest books with no words at all can become the best kind of adventure!

Check out these:

The Red Book
The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Salud Sunday

ST, thief of You.....what has she done? Figure it out all over again right HERE.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Humpty Dumpty and Saturday Take Five For Cake

Baking a cake. What kind? Who cares! It's CAKE! Pay attention!

Faith precedes the miracle...

Mother: "Ok we need....and 3 eggs."
Saturday: "Okay mommy, I will HATCH the eggs!"

Mother says secretly to self: LMBO...It was too cute. Obviously he meant "crack." I love that kid!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fanatic Friday

Bloomability Thursday got skipped along like a rock on the water. I notice there are no ripples because of it. Duly noted. Here is a teaser.

I just entered the Sharks lair...follow me in to find out what book I'm after. Read my 100 word entry here. Don't delay; piranhas await.

Looking into googlewave and googlebuzz. Anyone else place kudos on these? Comment away!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday Swapped for Tools

Know Thy Setting: Location, Location People!

As you all know, today in Neverland it is Tuesday. For reals! Yesterday we took a stab at Wednesday's workshop instead. IT was fun. It was delightful. It made my mind go into overload, but a good kind of overload. I did expend much effort, and then I put all my faculties to rest by 1 AM only to wake this morning around 9 AM thinking, "What are you doing! You can't sleep in. You have children!" Yes, somehow my children allowed me to slumber. Such a foreign word! I think DH must have warned them, threatened even....okay I'm just kidding about the threat. Ha ha. I really don't know, but it was magical. Magical at our house is usually breakfast, accompanied by a BIC (butt in chair syndrome) event  next to the computer. It was not so this morning. Instead I happily sat butt in couch and watched shows from my DVR. Yes, I did. While watching, the screen flashed with a message about a thunderstorm. To my complete and utter surprise they were advising everyone to avoid going outside--"remain indoors". Now you must understand, I am from Florida, lightning storm capital of the world, okay well at least the nation. In Florida we venture out into lightning storms. We run errands in them and half the time without umbrellas or rain boots. I remember my sister and I peeking out the door during a hurricane, a BIG no no if you will. EEK! You get the idea. Now with that put to the side let me just say that it helps to know about these things when writing. It helps to know the local situation and reaction. Moving from FL has really made me more aware of this. Little did I know that here in NC, when there is a snowstorm warning, people rush out to the store to buy milk, bread and eggs. I knew so little! It was hilarious to me because, a snow storm to me is no where near the equivalent of a hurricane when it comes to danger. Little did I know that pollen, little tiny particles of pollen, can physically attack you and your car--you might as well be in a Kill Bill fight scene! IT was insanely funny to me, but knowing these things is IMPORTANT in helping a reader believe they really are where they are in your story. Never forget it. I jest not!

What are some things you learned about the place you moved to or now live that are just surreal and hilarious to you? Let's see how different we look at things. REALLY! You can even use satire. I support the facetious arts. Promise!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tools to Tinker Alone Today

There is a swap today. Workshop today. Tools tomorrow. So many of you may already know about the  wonderful TH. Mafi. Did I mention she is a fantastic (hilarious too) YA author who is hosting a contest on her blog--it blew my mind. So today I am working on it again. It has been fun thus far. So with enjoyment in mind, I'm leaving the tools to tinker themselves today and I'll tackle them tomorrow.

Also check out the new group at Absolute Write : Picture Book Authors/Writers

A Pen In Neverland
Angela Peña Dahle

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Masterpiece Monday

It's decided. This is one of my favorites! Pan all alone--out of his element. Who knew he'd still look so grand from afar?  Anyone else agree? Click on the link below the image to find the artist and links to the art.

If only Masterpiece Monday could cover more ground. I'd be in heaven.  I have forever anyhow right--the beauty of Neverland and never growing up! ;)  Time will tell. Here is a book I can't wait to get my hands on--The Opposite--along with the review from PB Junkies. Enjoy! 

Salud Sunday: One Sentence Post.

Click below. Follow the endless one sentence post:

Writing is not a cliche until it becomes exquisite in its originality among the masses who pontificate it to near death. 

*Tag! You're it! Write a one sentence post and link back to my blog. Then let me know so I can read them all. 

Splendiferously Superb Saturday

Giant mammoth tasks invaded my space today. Two words: take over. Said child, "Saturday" is horribly upset we missed her blurb of hilarious wisdom . Worked on future post and savagely sought artwork and books for Masterpiece Monday while Work In Progress was shoved off to the side. Post still remains dormant and to be sprinkled with pixie dust; it definitely has not landed in Neverland yet. Keep in touch. Believe.

Wait! There you are Saturday...come out now. Anything important to say? We are sorry for putting you aside. Do tell us what you need to say.

"Dad, remember that boy that was bothering me? I solved that problem." How? "Oh, I just told him that when a boy is mean to a girl, it means that he secretly likes her. That's how I know you really like me. He has been nice to me ever since."


Friday, May 14, 2010

Fanatic Friday

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” C.S. Lewis

Isn't this great? I keep telling myself, "Check the market!. Look at other books similar to your own! Compare them. What makes the one that is published stand out?" Yes, all of this is good, but without sincerity, without telling the truth, it is nothing. Yes, I believe this. Truly, I do. Be genuine. Keep it simple. Stick to your roots, the adventure stems from there. Liberate yourself from the idea that you have to be so original, that you are almost like the next guy, but not quite--you have a twist. The best I can explain it is with this dialogue from  Stranger Than Fiction, a movie about a man named Crick, who's life is lent to chaos as he discovers someone else is narrating his life--something only to be found in books. 

Dr. Mittag-Leffler: I'm afraid what you're describing is schizophrenia. 
Harold Crick: No, no. It's not schizophrenia. It's just a voice in my head. I mean, the voice isn't telling me to do anything. It's telling me what I've already done... accurately, and with a better vocabulary. 
Dr. Mittag-Leffler: Mr. Crick, you have a voice speaking to you. 
Harold Crick: No, not TO me. ABOUT me. I'm somehow involved in some sort of story. Like I'm a character in my own life. But the problem is that the voice comes and goes...
 Dr. Mittag-Leffler: Mr. Crick, I hate to sound like a broken record, but that's schizophrenia. 

While noticing something is different about his life, Crick comes to believe that the narration in his head is somehow unique. Dr. Mittag-Leffler points out that it is nothing rare, but only likely to be schizophrenia.  Crick tries  desperately to explain that his case is original, unique. Not only are the voices not talking "TO [him] but ABOUT [him]" and telling [him] what [he has] already done...accurately, and with a better vocabulary." So all along Crick was quite original without knowing it, even without the voice in his head, but only because the author made him so, without knowing it! After all, they do not meet until the end. Do you see my point? 

"There is profundity in simplicity"--Burt Stout

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bloomability Thursday

Onward Towards Bloomability: A Few Tips From the Masters

"There are so many different kinds of writing and so many ways to work that the only rule is this: do what works. Almost everything has been tried and found to succeed for somebody. The methods, even the ideas of successful writers contradict each other in a most heartening way, and the only element I find common to all successful writers is persistence-an overwhelming determination to succeed."
Sophy Burnham

"Write from the soul, not from some notion what you think the marketplace wants. The market is fickle; the soul is eternal."
Jeffrey A. Carver

"One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment."
Hart Crane, American Poet (1899-1932)

"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us."
Franz Kafka

"You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club."
Jack London

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Woeful Workshop Wednesday: Smack in the Strawberry Field

     The weather was perfect today and we found ourselves on an adventure. "To the strawberry fields, I say!" at least that was the thought in my head even if it was not uttered in those exact words. Three pairs of feet walked the rows, finding the red juicy berries as we tossed them into cardboard containers. We picked until we could pick no more! Surprisingly so, my children listened when I ordered them "not to eat one single berry" until they were rinsed. Amazing! This got me thinking. How many of you start a story off with characters that you love--you define them--then somewhere down the line they decide to give you a hard time, they beat you up. You get bruises, nothing physical of course, just mental anguish. You wonder how it happened. When I am in this predicament it occurs to me that an excursion is always the solution, a break for research, a leave of absence (a short one), a mini vacation--so that you can eavesdrop, listening for dialogue that sounds like your character--even if it is only to the Strawberry Fields. Find a magical place and make it yours. Own it. Bring it to life. Let it soothe your troubles and wash away your fears, even if it is only for 37 seconds. If this doesn't work for you at least you will be able to say. "So what! Let's make jam!" It all works out somehow, sooner or later.

"37 seconds to breathe, reflect, enjoy, regenerate, dream.Thirty-seven seconds well used is a lifetime," --Mr Magorium--Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Where is your strawberry field?


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tinker with Tools Tuesday

Ever wanted  your writing experience to feel zen, and calm? Here is a list of programs that just might help. Sometimes the best tool we can have is distraction free writing!

Q10 for PC and Windows
WriterRoom for MAC Users

So far I'm liking the OMMWriter but it is only for MAC users. I hope they modify it for PC/Windows users soon! I can wait, but hopefully it won't be too long a wait. 

Find all the distractions below:

"By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destiation. "
--Christopher Columbus

"At painful times, when composition is impossible and reading is not enough, grammars and dictionaries are excellent for distraction." 
--Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short."
--Adam Hochschild

Hutchinsons Law:
"Any occurrence requiring undivided attention will be accompanied by a compelling distraction."
--Robert Bloch

What is your solution for distraction?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Masterpiece Monday

A day late, but here are some funny  and adored Mother's Day books. Rest assured you can still be a mother without them, but they are still plentiful funny and absolutely clever, a few will even put tears in your eyes!

Five Minutes' Peace

What Moms Can't Do

I Like Noisy Mom Likes Quiet

Are You My Mother

The Runaway Bunny

Love You Forever

Punk Wig

The Kissing Hand

A Boy Had a Mother Who Bought Him a Hat

Bedtime for Mommy

What are some of your favorites?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Salud Sunday

Happy Mothers Day to all. What a beautiful day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Splendiferously Superb Saturday

"A Virginia teacher presented each child in her class with the first half of a well-known proverb, a different adage to each child, asking that they complete the adage at home. The following were among the replies she received. No, Mel Brooks didn't help these kids with their homework."

This one was just too good to pass up! Thanks Saturday!

"The pen is mightier than the . . . pigs."

Very true Saturday. Very True.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Critique: In the Trenches

I received a detailed critique on Peek-A-Boom! I am so exquisitely thrilled that I got one from someone who took the time to really think about what the weak spots of my manuscript (MS) were, its strengths, etc, etc. It is hard to find someone who can do that. I only hope I satisfy the thirst of those I critique for. Naturally, I am horrible at explaining why I like something. Ask me why a MS is absolutely fantastic or horribly vague, and I am at loss for words. In terms of writing, my grammar skills, I feel, are often not where they should be. So you can imagine I feel inadequate to the task. Being a work-in-progress (WIC) I can be thankful for unlimited potential and get a move on with things to improve where I am lacking. Maybe someday I'll get a thimble (equivalent to a kiss in Neverland history) for my efforts and skill as a critic, but for now I am merely a critic-in-progress, in the trenches, walking waist deep in mud, and hoping my galoshes and pen come out clean. Bear with me!

I'm ready. All systems a go. Pen in Hand. Ready to revise. Positive outlook. Pixie dust aside-- I'm taking chances.

Lovingly so,

A Pen In Neverland

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Woeful Workshop Wednesday

Happy Cinco de Mayo! 

To celebrate we are holding a Latina book fiesta at our home! I hope you are all having fun too! 

So for workshop today I am studying tips from the Latina pros of children's literature and picture books. Here are a few:

Pat Mora:

Monica Brown: 
"When I have a complete draft, I ask myself more questions: Have I captured the spirit of my subject in all its brilliance and joy? Will children and their parent's be moved and inspired by this story? Will they have fun reading it?"--Monica Brown 

Pam Munoz Ryan:
 “Sometimes children say to me ‘You’re so lucky’ because when they see me on the day of a school visit, it seems so easy to them. I want them to know that like anything else in life, the harder you work the luckier you get. The more you practice, the better you get. Writing is just the same."

Here is a link to others you can research yourself:

Turn up the music while you take an adventure!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tinker with Tools Tuesday

"He who writes, and makes it pay,
Will live to write another day. "
--A paraphrase of the well-known couplet, “He who fights and runs away / Will live to fight another day."

How's a writer to live?

Write to eat.
Eat to write.
Write to live.

Simple right?

Not so much. Thank goodness my DH has one fantastic job and I get to stay home with the minnow and monkey and write about all the things they love! Did I mention I love most of what they love? Truly I do. 

If this is not your predicament and you find yourself struggling like a stubborn mule,  feel free to vent today. Comment away if all is not well in neverland. I find the best tool before beginning anew again is, taking the time to reflect and breathe right along the lines of "I'm horribly screwed." and "This line could work right?" only don't take forever dwelling on could, should, or would--it is the dark room where negatives are developed.  

Masterpiece Monday

While I am currently waiting for critique responses from some good and trusty pals. I have also joined some online critique groups and will let you know if I get helpful feedback. So while I wait, I'll be editing and revising. In between the craziness, I'll be giggling over and fascinated by this book:

Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer. Illustrated by Marvin Bileck

salivating over this one:

Mud Tacos by Mario Lopez and Marissa Lopez Wong

(clearly I'm hungry, but not for mud)

and finding myself dazzled with hope that I can do anything, with this one:

Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Saturday" is Simply Clever and Sensible

A child named Saturday. Age unknown. Clever and spunky. No need to hold in the laughs. Rip-roaringly funny times will be covered here. Expose. Enter child to the left. No sorry, from the right. She giggles as she tweedles her thumbs and gives a polite smile to the audience.

"Uh! Mom, literacy is not even a real word!"

Fantastic! Quite on the mark. Literacy is actually a fine-tuned, highly distinguished, and  prized specimen of the imagination (but only when growing rampant in an orderly fashion and slightly berserk in others). I agree. Upon examination I concur! Honest! Good job Saturday. Run along now.


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