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The thing about writing…

Okay, so, three things:

#1  The business of writing is hard work. Hours, days, years of market research, writing, critiquing, being critiqued, revising, rewriting. Over and over again.  After much hard work, a writer sends off the polished manuscript…and then waits. And begins the hard work of writing something new. And waits some more. And after a few minutes, or a few years, hears back. If it’s good news, a period ranging from months to forever plus two days is the accepted norm before fruits-of-labor can be enjoyed. If it’s not good news…well, writers endure rejection after rejection, licking their wounds, sucking it up, learning, working harder still, to perfect their craft.

#2  Writers love to write. Yes, of course they do! No sane person would continue down such a difficult path without a genuine passion for writing. But the goal is to personally connect with others through the writing. To make people laugh, cry, smile, think, question, appreciate, feel inspired. It’s a heart-wrenching, kick-in-the-gut feeling to think this might not happen, despite all the hard work touched on in #1.

#3 Writers are a creative, persistent, brave, resilient bunch. Have you enjoyed a great book lately? Tweet about it, get online and write a nice review, send the author a note. Chances are, he or she endured years of hard work and scores of rejections to be able to write that great book. And high fives fist bumps with explosions to all the writers out there staying the course, working toward sharing their own great books with the world.

I haven’t blogged much recently…working on my YA novel…but I added some new photos here: Distractions

And another distraction… if you haven’t seen the hilarious Sesame Street version of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe, here you go:


School is out. Kids are home. I’m hunkering down to write. I’m querying agents with my MG novel and writing a YA novel. And some verse. And outlining another MG. I have a few PBs just waiting for the right agent’s/editor’s eyes. And then there’s my other YA-in-progress…12,000 words in, I decided to let it simmer…it has dystopian elements, but I want those to be secondary to the story. Dystopians that grab me by the short hairs &  jolt me right out of the story with an onslaught of new lingo and world building description are a pet peeve. I don’t want to fall into that trap, so I’m taking a step back and rethinking. In the meantime, my current (contemporary, edgy) YA idea came to me…my characters now have (kick-a$$) names and are off and running with me.

Yay, summer!


Ten great gifts to give for less than $35

Mother’s Day is coming. Soonish, people! Have you shopped, clicked & shipped? I have 10 awesome finds to share, all under $35, for those of us on a tight budget. Most of these storefronts offer a variety of gift worthy items…I just picked my personal favorites. Click on each to open in a new window. Here we go:

1. Wine Cork Trivet — $12.98   Cute, simple, useful. Check, check, check. Pair it with a nice bottle of wine to start Mom’s cork collection.

2. Floral Measuring Cups — $29.95    These are so adorable, they definitely don’t belong stored in the drawer with the plastic measuring cups.

3. Large Dahlia style earrings — $27 (sale price)   Love! Check out the site for other unique items made from sustainable materials.

4. My Mom interview journal — $9.95     Great journal for Mom…and one to be passed down and cherished.

5. LED book light — $12.99     A must-have for all of us moms who read while others sleep. Purple too, yay!

6. Journals handmade from vintage books — $14 (free shipping in the U.S.)     Looking for a unique writing journal? Bingo.

7. Amethyst prayer bead bracelet –$25     Beautiful! Many other pretty things here, but I’m partial to purple:)

8. Internet password organizer — $9.95     Okay, this is a little boring. But practical. And it will make Mom’s life easier. I seriously need this…I have about thirty different password combinations scribbled on little bits of paper in my desk drawer. Shameful.

9. Lemon Verbena Bath Salts — $28     Let Mom enjoy soaking in a tub with these lovely bath salts. $1 of every $5 you spend on this site is donated to the charity of your choice!

10. Book Lover’s Journal — $10.19 (as of this post)     A place to record books she’s read, wants to read, borrowed, lent, or given. Awesome gift for your book lovin’ Momma!

I would love anything on this list. Maybe your mom would too.  Happy Shopping!

A Moment of Valentine Mushiness

My kids are awesome. Yours too, right? My son is in kindergarten and I was at his class party today when he did something pretty amazing. Imagine twenty 5-or-6-year-olds on a massive sugar high, music playing, wrappers flying, lots of mess and noise…you get the picture. And in one corner, a girl crying.When we were about to leave, my son noticed this friend crying. He gave her a big hug and asked what was wrong. She had received a stuffed animal in the gift exchange that didn’t make her heart pitter-patter like the one she gave away did. He pulled out the teddy bear he had received (and had already named) and offered it to her. The tears stopped immediately. More hugging. As we walked out of the school he told me he would miss his bear, “Red”, but wanted his friend to be happy and have a good Valentine’s Day. Mission accomplished.

Just one of those snapshot moments of a little, everyday kind of thing that made a big difference to someone. He might not remember it for long, but I will. A proud mom moment. He’s got a big heart and a bottomless bucket of *good*, *kind*, & *amazing* to spread around. Score one for the planet.

Mushy-mommy post done:) Happy Valentine’s Day!

What is genre?

You’ve just read a novel with a 17 year-old heroine, characters that transform into coyotes, and a dreamy, forbidden love interest for the leading lady.

What genre is it? Young Adult? No.  Romance? Yes  Paranormal? Yes >> It’s a paranormal romance, written for a young adult audience.

Definition of GENRE (from Merriam-Webster)


\ˈzhän-rə, ˈzhäⁿ-; ˈzhäⁿr; ˈjän-rə\


: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content

It’s common to see Young Adult listed as a genre, but YA is actually a category describing a book’s target audience.

Young Adult (YA), Middle-Grade (MG), Picture Book (PB) = Categories used to describe target audience

The key to understanding what genre means is remembering that books in the same genre have a common thread in setting or plot. In book stores and libraries, books for teens and younger are sometimes grouped only by target audience/age range, but think of it this way: if that YA novel was written for adults, in what section of the book store would it be found? That’s the genre.

Romance, Sci-fi, Mystery, Fantasy, Horror, Dystopian, Western, Realistic, Christian, Historical, Humorous = examples of genre

There are also many sub-genres within genres (for example, “steampunk” and “cyberpunk”are two of the sub-genres of sci-fi).

Books with intersecting genres and/or more descriptive sub-genres are common:  Paranormal Romance, Historical Fantasy, Christian Sci-fi, Contemporary Realistic, Steampunk, Western Romance…

Examples of MG/YA books in popular genres/sub-genres:

MG Contemporary Realistic: The Lemonade Wars by Jacqueline Davies, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

MG Fantasy: Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

YA Contemporary Realistic: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney, Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

YA Dystopian: Matched trilogy by Ally Condie, XVI by Julia Karr, Divergent by Veronica Roth

YA Paranormal Romance: Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, The Hollow trilogy by Jessica Verday

YA Steampunk: The Clockwork Giant by Brooke Johnson

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at this great YouTube video of books dancing after the shop is closed up for the night: The Joy of Books

Happy reading/writing, book lovers!

6 Click-Worthy Links

The kids don’t have school this week–and there is much to do around here before Thanksgiving–so in keeping with the every-moment-counts theme, here are six great links that are well worth the time spent there:

 1) My heart goes out to this author and her family. $5 can help support her in her battle against Stage IV cancer…and each $5 donation is a raffle ticket for some fantastic prizes. A total win-win for the holiday season:  Sandi Rog fundraiser

2) & 3) These inspirational posts will help you dial down the stress and keep your writing and family life relaxing, productive, and fun over the holidays: Nancy J Nicholson’s Power of 3   and  Rachelle Gardner’s Holiday Writing Plan

4) Love this post on the Guide to Literary Agents blog:  Your Job is to Write, Not Worry

5) For writers working on their social networking platform, great post by Kristin Lamb: Beware the Social Media Snuggie

6) Last but not least, if you haven’t seen it yet, for the love of everything with a caramel center, go watch the Hunger Games Trailer! (And it goes without saying, if you haven’t read all 3 books yet, hurry and do so before the movie premiers in March!)  Hunger Games Trailer


Timing is everything

A few weeks ago, while driving the kids to school, we saw something pretty amazing. Probably a once in a lifetime sighting: an all white deer.  (I tweeted about it, and a Twitter friend suggested it was my patronus. Love that!)

It was a buck, and a large one, for this area of Texas. I stepped on the brakes, not believing what I was seeing. The kids were asking me, “Is it real?” Of course I didn’t have my camera, and I couldn’t stop for long because we were on a main road, but I’m so glad we were there at just the right moment.

The deer was crossing a small drive that loops around the soccer fields my son practices at. And a little further down that drive, not more than 20 feet from the buck, was a man out on a morning walk. Which would have been really incredible for that man…had he not been walking the other direction, his back to the deer. He was so close to an incredible encounter. Missed it by seconds. If he had set out on his walk a minute earlier, or stopped to tie his shoe, the deer would have crossed right in front of him instead of right behind him.


Timing is everything, isn’t it? We can meet Mister or Misses Right, but if one of us isn’t ready, for whatever reason, it won’t work. We can find a posting for a fantastic job–seemingly written with our specific skill set and career path in mind–only to find the position has *just* been filled. Those of us who write might put the finishing touches on a manuscript we’ve labored long and hard over, finally ready to send it to that editor who had shown interest previously…and find out that editor has *just* retired.






But sometimes it happens the other way, too.

Sometimes we are in the right place, at the right time, with the right person (agent/editor), and the right manuscript. Writers have to believe in that. In the karma of timing…that it will come around…it will be our time one of these days, if we just keep at it.

Because talent, perseverance, and hard work are absolutely essential.

But still, timing is everything, isn’t it?




Keep at it! Your time will come.


E-this, E-that, E-everything.  And I know you’re just dying to read yet another blog post on the changes to the publishing industry and book sales with the surge in e-readers. I actually think technology is nifty. I get my daily news from the Internet. I’ve become semi-addicted to tweeting.  And I love posting random thoughts or tips or inspirational whatsits on my blog–and reading the same on others’.

Technology is (mostly) great.
Except when I think about future generations of kids who might never walk into a big library and get that overwhelmed-in-a-good-way, heart-racing, fluttery feeling of being surrounded by thousands and thousands of books and wondering how they will possibly read them all in one lifetime, and in which section they should begin. I stumbled upon some of the most delightful books that way when I was a kid…just getting lost in the library, reading jacket flap copy of book after book until I found the ones I couldn’t put down.

We own a lot of books too…old, favorite, hand me downs, and shiny new hardcovers we couldn’t resist. If I had to guess, I’d say that between myself, hubby, & three kids, we probably own somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 books. I ran across this article a couple of days ago: 15 Signs You’ll Raise a Genius. Here’s # 5:

A child who is raised in a home containing at least 500 books is 36 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 19 percent more likely to graduate from college than an otherwise similar child raised in a home containing few or no books.

Of course studies like this are very arbitrary, and there are any number of lists out there telling parents what to do, or not do. But #5 really got me thinking about how this will translate for kids who are raised in houses without books, not because of socioeconomic factors, but because the family’s reading material comes from electronic sources only. There’s something so wonderful about holding a book and turning the pages. Not just richly illustrated picture books either. All books. Great authors (and illustrators) are artists of the highest calling, in my opinion. E-readers can be a wonderful tool to distribute their work to scads more people than might have seen it otherwise. But…here’s the thing:

The book, in its tangible form, is what turns the words into a work of art that I can hold in my hands, pass down to my children, and truly appreciate.

chemistry,emoticons,emotions,experiments,faces,geniuses,glasses,science,scientists,smiley,smiley faces,smileys,smilies,smily,smily faces,test tubes,tubesSo, getting back to that article…am I raising three geniuses in my house of 800 books? Who knows?

But I’m definitely raising three book lovers!

Have a great weekend!

Guitars & Paddywhacks

Love this guitar…one of several giant, hand painted guitars on display in ABIA. Very cool. Not sure if they are still there…this picture was taken several months ago.

So that takes care of the guitar reference. What about the paddywhacks? What the heck is a paddywhack? You know….“knick, knack, paddywhack, give the dog a bone” ? According to


  1. BRIT., DIALECTAL a rage; temper
  2. INFORMAL a beating or spanking

So, um, that makes me think twice about that cute little kiddie song.

I’m taking a few paddywhacks myself, trying to finish my revisions and keep my thoughts from wandering to my WIP.

BTW, extra points if you got the Guitars & Cadillacs reference. Dwight’s CDs have their own shelf in my collection (yes, I still play CDs…resident teenager took over my ipod a while back and knew how to use it better than I did within 5 nanoseconds).

I hope your week is filled with great music and no paddywhacks. 🙂

Children’s Magazine Market

I love this picture. I took it at my cousin’s house in Iowa while we were on vacation a couple of years ago. Really hoping to go back for another visit soon. *Sigh*

I’m working on revisions for my middle grade novel, kicking around two new picture book ideas, and simmering my young adult novel in progress on the back burner, so this will be short & sweet. For those of you needing a short reprieve from the picture book or novel you’re working on, or just waiting (and waiting…and waiting…) to hear back on a submission or query, don’t forget about the magazine market. Writing short pieces for magazines will help keep your writing sharp, and acceptances from the better known magazines will help you establish yourself as a professional writer, put a little cash in your wallet, and put your writing in front of thousands—in some cases, tens of thousands—of kids! It’s hard to break in to the good magazines, but the wait is generally much shorter than with book submissions, and you’re more likely to get some personalized feedback if your writing is *close* but just not quite there yet.


Follow each magazine’s submission guidelines exactly.

Include a brief, professional cover letter.

Double space your manuscript


Send without having your critique group, or writing partner(s) read and give you feedback…another set of eyes is essential (and not your spouse’s. or your mother’s. or your kid’s. or your student’s.).

Worry about not having an editor’s name to address your submission to…if they ask you to submit to “Manuscript Coordinator”, do so. And rest assured your submission will be directed to the appropriate editor.

Worry about not having any publishing credits. If you are a member of SCBWI, state that in your cover letter. If you have had acceptances with credible publishers, list them. If not, just don’t draw attention to it by saying, “This is my first submission…”, “I don’t have any publishing credits yet…” , etc.

Call to follow up on your submission.

Give up! If you were given specific feedback, use it to strengthen your piece and send it out to another magazine.

Two of my favorite magazine groups are Highlights (and now there is also Highlights High Five magazine, for the younger crowd) and the Cricket family of magazines (which includes Babybug, Ladybug, Spider, Cricket, Cicada, and many more).

Find the Cricket group HERE. There is a list and description of each of their magazines, with a clickable link to specific submission guidelines.

Find the Highlights contributor guidelines HERE.

And Jan Fields’ site for children’s magazine writers is a fantastic resource. It includes an alphabetical listing of children’s magazines, and direct links to each:

Good luck!