Thursday, October 30, 2008


Why do witches make for good writers?
They're very good at spelling!

How do you compliment a witch?
Tell her she's charming!

What do you get when you cross a witch and the Easter Bunny?
Someone who wishes you a Hoppy Halloween.

Have a safe one!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Writers' Day...Aahhhh...

Well, I did it again. I had so much fun at Writers' Day that I worked myself into a post-event migraine. It was just too much fun for this writing introvert! After all that social fun, I needed some serious withdrawl time. And yes, in light of my recent migraine posts, I should say that I wore my pink-tinted glasses when I was inside the auditorium (though I couldn't quite figure out what kind of lights they were).

Anyway, the day was terrific! I got to meet up with my critique group buddies from the area (Rebecca, Lynn, Siri and Dawn--so sorry we missed Jean), and I was able to meet some fabulous industry folks (Patrick Collins from Holt, Meredith Mundy Wasinger from Sterling, and Jamie Weiss Chilton from the Andrea Brown Agency). I especially enjoyed being Meredith's "shadow" for the day. No, not as in a creepy, stalking kind of way--it was my duty as one of my region's advisors. She is absolutely delightful and was able to give an in-depth look at Sterling Publishing. I hope to have an Mini-View from Meredith in the near future, so stay tuned.

Another highlight of the day were the "Spotlight Speakers", those authors who are given ten minutes to talk about something related to their path to success. This year's speakers were Caroline Hatton (you might remember her Mini-View from August), Tim Egan (Author/Illustrator), Siri Weber Feeney (one of my critique group buddies), Dan Hanna (another Mini-View interviewee), and Andrew Smith (author).

The true HIGHlight of the day came when Dan Hanna demonstrated how to REALLY launch a book into the world... Way to go, Dan! (yes, that's an actual copy of The Pout-Pout Fish flying through the air--even though the story is not about a flying fish!). What a day!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Writers' Day!

Tomorrow I head off to Thousand Oaks, CA for the Ventura/Santa Barbara SCBWI annual Writers’ Day (my local SCBWI chapter). I love Writers’ Day! It’s a one-day event but we pack it with great speakers, such as editor Meredith Mundy Wasinger (Sterling Publishing), agent Jamie Weiss Chilton (Andrea Brown Literary Agency), and creative director Patrick Collins (Henry Holt). Additionally, we feature a handful of newly published regional authors, our “Spotlight Speakers” who give a ten-minute talk on some aspect of how they became published (wow--what a great way to hear how others maneuvered on the road to publication). And, if that’s not enough, there are manuscript and portfolio critiques, plus a “first pages” panel where anonymous first pages (submitted by attendees) are read to our speakers followed by their reactions and comments.

C’mon, how cool does this day sound??? This is WHY you should join the SCBWI, if you haven’t already. Each regional chapter offers fantastic events, such as the one I described above. It’s a great way to hear real, live editors and other professionals in the children’s lit business, and network with other writers in your area.

I hope to see some of you there! More later...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Search Me!

I was just surfing the web, reading some of my blog faves, when I read about "branding" on Anastasia Suen's blog. I thought this new site that she pointed out, "Search Me", was so cool that I wanted to point it out. What a great way to see how the web defines you! Not only does an assortment of categories come up when you search your name, but when you click on a category, a series of web shots come up, which show where you've been featured. Very cool--I'm so glad Anastasia blogged about "branding" and this new site!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Migraines Are a Pain II: The Writing Life

Okay, here is where I share some observations I’ve made during my life as a writer. Note, there is nothing scientific about this—these are just observations made by little ol’ me ;-).

Conference and retreats: For some reason, the day after I return from a conference or retreat, I get a migraine. I can count on it. Even my husband knows to expect it. And sometimes, at longer events (like the SCBWI summer conference), it will sneak up on me on the last day of the event. One bit of knowledge that has helped me figure out how to “cope” with all the excitement of a conference or retreat came from the Shrinking Violets Promotion site. After reading Mary and Robin’s blog, I realized that I’m an introvert and introverts need—no, make that REQUIRE quiet time. I realized that I couldn’t stay plunged into the hubbub of conference events. Unless I wanted a headache. So, I take a break in the middle of the day. I go to my room and I listen to soothing music.
I also have found that I MUST be disciplined and get to bed at a reasonable time. No staying up past midnight chatting with my writer friends any more. I’m in my room by 9:30 at the latest. Lights out by 10:00. I also use earplugs and sometimes an eye mask, to insure that I get a good night's rest.

What do you do when attending conferences and such, to keep your migraines at bay? Anyone care to share?

Book Signings: Last May, I signed books at Book Expo America. On day one, I was in the hall where I signed books for about four hours. The next morning, I woke up with a whopper of a migraine. I attributed it to the stress of the event (driving down, finding the booth, etc.). The following month, I was at the ALA Conference, where I signed books for about three hours at my publisher’s booth. I started getting a headache, and by the time I was heading home on my three-hour drive, it was in full swing (and the prescription meds I take for migraines makes me sleepy, so I can’t take them and drive).
There was no weather, hormonal or dietary event to have caused these migraines. On my drive home, I called my husband. He said, “You know, I was talking to someone a couple of days ago about migraines, and they said that fluorescent lights can trigger them. I’ve never seen a convention center that didn’t have fluorescent lights. Maybe that's the cause?”

Wow. I'd never heard of that. So I did a Google search and read that there are special glasses to prevent migraines. Amazing. But to good to be true, the skeptic in me said. So, I asked my eye doctor about it. He explained that fluorescent lights can trigger migraines in two ways; either the micro-flashes from a single light source (like in your office) or from the lack of light rays from multiple lights (like in a convention hall, classroom or store). Specifically, it’s the red light rays. Apparently, cheaper lights, like those used in a convention center, lack the red rays (Note: There are more expensive ones available, but they cost a lot more). He pointed to his office and said, “This is why my office walls are pink. I want to cast enough red light into the room to avoid triggering migraines in my staff and patients.” Hmm. And I thought he just loved pink! He continued, “If the lack of red light rays is the trigger, all you have to do is paint your walls pink, or wear pink-tinted glasses.” Well, that's all I had to hear. I ordered a pair of pink-tinted glasses right there on the spot.
In the month of August, I had four book signings scheduled. I went into each store armed with my pink glasses. And guess what happened? Or shall I say, “Didn’t happen?” That’s right. I never got a migraine. I’m still being cautiously optimistic, at least until I try them out in a large venur, but I think they work. Now, when I walk into a fluorescently-lit room that I know I’ll be in for more than an hour or so, I pull out my pink-tinted glasses. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll continue to work for me.

Has anyone else found this to be effective?

Sorry if I’ve rambled, but I really do hope this might be of interest and possibly help other writers. I’ll say it again; I’m no expert, just a writer who wants to pass the word about possible migraine solutions.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Migraines Are a Pain

It recently occurred to me that I haven’t made any “Healthy Writer” posts for quite some time, so I thought I’d talk about a subject that’s near and not-very-dear to my heart. Migraines.

A few months back I saw, on a writer’s discussion board, a thread about migraines and I was stunned to see how many writers are cursed with them. Yes, I said cursed. I'm normally a "glass half full" kind of girl, but when it comes to migraines, I just can't see any upside to them at all. So, I thought that I'd share some of my own experiences here and hopefully, some of you will share, and maybe together we can help others. First question: Are you plagued with migraines? If the answer is yes, then you have my sincere sympathy.

Now, I’m not going to try to explain what a migraine is medically because well, I’m not sure the medical profession knows the truth behind migraines (but if you want to read up on them, you can read this Wikipedia article or go here). I won’t profess to be an expert on them, despite their frequent visits for the past eight years of my life. What I will share though, is what has worked for me, and what hasn’t. So here we go...

For those of you who don't get them, you might wonder, what is a migraine? Well, remember high school woodshop? You know those steel vises anchored onto the worktables? Well, imagine putting your head into one of those, lining up your temples just even with the vice and then asking someone to crank the vice down as hard as they can. That’s a migraine. It is NOT a headache. It is not under the victim’s control. It is not something one can just “push through.” It is debilitating pain that causes vision problems, painful light and sound sensitivity, nausea, dizziness and a throbbing pain in your head that personally makes me glad that I don’t own any guns. I am not exaggerating. It is THAT bad.

What triggers a migraine? I first started getting them a year after a car accident, when I was hit by a drunk driver (please folks, don’t EVER drive even after having a couple of beers). This unfortunate life-altering event also happened to coincide with peri-menopause (Oh, lucky me! I got a two-fer). Through the years though, I’ve realized that I have a variety of triggers for my migraines (I find the word “trigger” so fitting, as some migraines do feel like someone has shot me in the head). Okay, so here is a list of my triggers:

Hormone imbalance (you know what that means ;-)
Certain foods at certain times (very dark chocolate, alcohol)
Barometric pressure drops (as in, storm fronts moving through—a biggie in the fall and spring)
Fluorescent lights (this is a new discovery for me)
Sleep deprivation

What are yours?

Now, the last three things tie into my writing life and can be quite problematic for me. Fluorescent lights (like those in convention halls or in classrooms or in meeting rooms at hotels) can certainly offset a migraine (and what a drag it is to be hit with a migraine at a conference, or worse, during a school visit!). Sleep deprivation can also occur at conferences, writing retreats or other writing-related events. And stress. For Pete’s sakes, just planning for and getting to an event can be stressful for some of us!

Have you noticed any writing-related things that trigger migraines for you?

My post is getting a bit long now, so I’m going to stop here (but not because I don't care). Later this week, I’m going to share with you some of the things I’ve found that have worked for me to control my migraines (See? There's a little hope).

I hope some of you will join in and share your experiences by leaving a comment.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

One More Marketing Book!

I almost forgot to mention one of my favorite marketing books!

How to Promote Your Children's Book: A Survival Guide for Published Authors by Evelyn Gallardo.

This one is a great reference for newly (and not so newly) published writers who are interested in doing school visits, signings, and other forms of PR.