Friday, August 28, 2009

Check Out These URLs

This week, two URLs came to me from my SCBWI Listserve that are well-worth looking into.

The first one was shared by Barbara Beitz. It's a great site called Beyond Little House that's dedicated to the Little House books written by Laura Engalls Wilder. For fans of this classic series, this is a must-see. I adore these books, even though I never knew of them as a child. It wasn't until I took a children's literature class in college that I discovered them. So, check it out. You'll get all goose-bumpy and sentimental and leave feeling good inside.

The other URL was shared by Alexis O'Neill. This is is a must-read article for yet-to-be published writers regarding The Seven Biggest Myths of Publishing. I nodded my head through the whole article--"Uh-huh. Yep, been there, done that. Oh, how true!" Thanks to Anastasia Suen and Alexis for spreading the word about this one.

One last one I've been meaning to share comes from the website of Cynthia Leitich Smith. Cynthia has a section called, Kit Lit, where her cats have reviewed cat-themed picture books (for reals!). This is so clever and fun to read, especially if you're a cat lover.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just Catching Grasshoppers...

This story really is writing-related. I promise.

Years ago, on my first ever backpacking trip, my husband and I did a summer hike in Kings Canyon National Park, in the Sierras. We were green as the meadows (experience-wise). Not one lick of overnight backpacking experience. But off we went, ready for adventure. Well, our first night out, all of our food was stolen by a very dexterous raccoon (he managed to untie the straps on our backpacks). The real miracle was that a bear didn't get to it first, as we didn't even hang our food (I said we were green) and we were in the heart of black bear country.

So there we were, the big adventurers, with no food. My husband gave out a big sigh and said, "Well, we'll just have to catch some grasshoppers." I was taken back. "I am NOT going to eat grasshoppers!" I declared. I had my limits. After he stopped laughing, he explained that he needed grasshoppers as bait to catch trout. Oh. Heh, heh. Yeah, bait. Good idea. (can you see why I married this man?)

So there we were, in the middle of a meadow, lunging around attempting to catch the feisty little critters. And they're quick! After what seemed like hours (probably more like minutes), we caught plenty enough for my husband to catch a nice dinner's worth of trout. Okay, that was a stretch. I didn't catch any. My husband had all the success. I just wasn't quick enough. But I still got to eat that night (again, see why I married this guy?).

Okay, how does this relate to writing, you might wonder? Well, I've discovered during my brief experience with Vermont College, that researching is a lot like catching grasshoppers. VC has a fabulous library, the Gary Library, which gives students access to multiple research possibilities. But sorting through all that's out there is a lot like catching grasshoppers. At least for me. I find myself spending hours of time and energy sifting through information, getting close, almost there, that grasshopper is j-u-s-t within my r-e-a-c-h, only to let it get away because the data isn't quite what I needed. Sigh...onto the next big juicy victim. At the end of my time, I might only have one, two or even no bits of information to add to my project, but it's what I have to do in order to survive. Kinda like catching grasshoppers that summer afternoon so many years ago.

So, for those who do research with academic papers, articles or non-fiction work (like this picture book project I committed to then realized I probably have six months of research to do before I can even begin to write), happy researching!

And remember, sometimes all it takes is one grasshopper to eat well.

Monday, August 17, 2009

VC Update...Survived My First Packet!

Phew! I've been busy, but I wanted to say that I've survived my first "packet." What is a packet, you might ask? Well, as part of the VC MFA requirements, during the semester, under the guidance of an advisor, students complete a certain amount of required work each month and turn it into his/her advisor for review/feedback. This monthly submission of work is referred to as a "packet" (because it's all submitted to the advisor at once).

For the Picture Book Semester (what I'm enrolled in this semester), once a month I turn in an annotated bibliography (min. of 25 books), a critical essay, 2-4 manuscripts (at least one has to be new, others can be revised mss), and a letter to my advisor discussing my progress. Amazingly, my advisor gives me thorough feedback within a day or two. Then it's time to begin the whole process again...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Website Face Lift!

I'm so proud to announce that my website has recently undergone a major face lift. Pleeease come on over for a visit!

Illustrator and website designer Kathryn Hunley deserves the credit. Didn't she do a fabulous job??? I couldn't be happier with it!

New Sylvan Dell E-Books!

Sylvan Dell, my wonderful publisher of Blackberry Banquet, has launched its "new, improved next generation ebooks" on their site. Company publicist Sara Dobie has all the details on her blog. Check it out!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

SCBWI Conference

The SCBWI summer conference is coming up on Aug. 7-10. I love this event as it has so much to offer writers and illustrators; craft workshops, editorial advice, industry news, cameraderie, and fun! I've learned so much about writing from this event. I highly recommend it to people who are new to children's writing. And everyone else, for that matter!

But this year, unfortunately, I won't be able to attend (for a variety of reasons). However, I thought I would mention here a couple of past posts I've done on the the SCBWI Conference tips and travel safety for women. If you've never attended the conference, or are feeling a little uncertain about traveling alone to get there, have a look; and enjoy!