Friday, December 31, 2010

Hard Drive Fail

December has been hard on my technology gadgets. Earlier this month I lost my cell phone in a snowbank.
This morning I woke up and turned on my computer which would not really turn on all that well. I tried to restart it and it wouldn't turn back on. When I try to start it the grey screen comes up but not with the apple logo, with a blinking file folder with a question mark on it.
When I Googled this problem the reports I find say hard drive failure.
I'm trying not to freak out too much. I did save all my writing because I remember that episode of Sex and the City when Carrie Bradshaw's computer crashes and she is like the only person in the universe who doesn't have a back up. If i hadn't saved all my writing I would probably be crying right now.

Anyway readers and blogs I follow just know I am not being a bad blogger but it may be a week or so before I figure something out and get back on the internet.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Iowa, you make me smile

I have a week off so I am spending my holiday in Iowa with my mom.
Yesterday mom and I drove to the city I grew up in to visit some friends and relatives.
Did you know that Iowa has a writing rest stop?
Check out the giant pen. I currently live near the land of Paul Bunyan and when a person travels north in Minnesota there are statues of Paul Bunyan's wife, ox, and fishing bobber. I'm pretty sure this is Paul Bunyan's Pen. He probably dropped it on his way back from an Iowa Writers Workshop or something.
Inside the rest stop there are little tiles with the names of writers and the genre they write in.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Charlie Brown's Christmas tree

My mom is amazing. I hear this all the time from anyone who meets her. She is basically the kindest, most generous person ever. Her kind heart isn't limited to people and animals but also to plants. Specifically, Christmas trees.

Which is why every year we would trek out to the Christmas tree farm and end up bringing home a tree that looked like it was preparing for its role as Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.
I begged my mom for a tree that didn't have a bare spot or the one with the most healthy looking branches.

My mom would then break out the Catholic Guilt on me. She would tell me about how if we didn't take that tree then the tree would have to spend Christmas alone, in the cold, with no decorations or presents.

Now that we are all grown and out of the house my mom is committed to finding the best Christmas tree possible. I think she feels like if we have come home to spend Christmas with her then the tree needs to be the best tree. But I'm pretty sure part of her still feels a little bad for all the Charlie Brown trees out there.

This is why I have an artificial tree. I find Christmas trees to be more enjoyable when I don't have to worry about the tree's feelings or needles or pine sap. I miss the real tree smell but I make up for it with bubble lights.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Movies list

I love Christmas and one of the things I love is Christmas movies. I have to admit that it is getting hard to fit in all my favorites in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So here is a list of my Christmas movie viewing list.

Miracle on 34th Street
It's a Wonderful Life- I love this movie. I usually tear up at the beginning but the water works really get going at the end.
Elf- hilarious.
The Muppet Christmas Carol- I'm pretty sure Gonzo is the best Charles Dickens ever.
A Christmas Story- I love this movie.
Emmet Otter's Jugbad Christmas- this is a Jim Henson thing. Cute otters. Sweet story. I love it.
Prancer- This is my mom's favorite. Kid finds reindeer and helps reunite Prancer with Santa.
The Sound of Music- I don't really know what this movie has to do with Christmas. It is often shown on Christmas Eve. My Grandma loved this movie, her copy was labeled "Respite"
White Christmas- One of my favorites. I save this one for Christmas Day.

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Good News

Lat week was super busy. In between all my holiday sewing, winter driving adventures, the annual Wardrobe department Jammie Breakfast and CPR training I didn't get a chance to blog.

CPR training finished up early. (Don't worry the instructor was great and I feel well trained) When I went home for my break I checked my email and found that I one of my stories was accepted for the May 2011 issue of Stories for Children Magazine.

This is my second story with this magazine. My previous story was published in Sept. 2009.

I have to say that working with this magazine has been an enjoyable experience. The editors are committed to getting the best stories possible and with both stories I've sent I've had the chance to revise based on suggestions or questions from the editors. I really like the revision I did for my most recent submission.

That's my good news. I'll be sure to post a link to the story in May when the story comes out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And then the giant snowstorm ate my cell phone

I don't know if you've heard but it snowed here in Minnesota. A lot.
It snowed so much that someone created a facebook event for it and people posted their pics of cars buried in snow.
I was just thinking about the bright spot of the snow event which was that I had to go to work yesterday but I knew the Rio wouldn't make it home. I mean there are snow drifts that are taller than the Rio. Hell, there are snow drifts that are taller than a Hummer H3 out there. By the time the matinee got done they had suspended bus service. They had also pulled plows off the roads in Hennepin county. So I got a ride back to my neighborhood with a coworker and took the train in this morning. My car stayed in a parking garage downtown last night. I drove my car home tonight and made the mistake of driving down the alley. Oh what an awful terrible mistake it was. The snow in between the ruts was too tall for my car so my car ended up on top of a pile of snow with my tires just spinning in the snow.
After digging away the mountain of snow under my car I was able to back out of the alley.
Only after all of this happened did I realize I couldn't find my new cell phone. I got it a little over a week ago. A Samsung Restore. I wanted something with a qwerty keypad so I would stop swearing at people who texted me and then ignoring them. The last time I saw it was before I went to go see if there was a neighbor who could help me push my car. I've searched my car and the alley and my house. I'm pretty sure my phone is buried in a snow pile in the alley and I have reactivated the Samsung M300 for now.
My Phone
The only bright spot of the fact that my phone is probably buried in the snow is that I was this close to just switching to AT&T and getting an iPhone. I'm pretty sure if I had lost an iPhone in the snow I'd be balling my eyes out digging through the snow even now at 1 am in the sub zero temps. Maybe I'll visit the sprint store tomorrow and tell them of my sad story and they will take pity on me. I will just tell them the Snowpocalypse ate my new phone.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Glee sewing nerd moment

Besides writing one of my other talents is sewing.
I use this talent during the holiday season to make flannel pj pants for my sisters.
This is what they want. One year I didn't make the pants because I was busy and I was upset about the migraine my sister gave me the year before when she sent me a whole box of Bath and Body Works products. I may have also been moving that year.
My sisters staged an intervention. They would not accept the lovely, useful, gift cards I had given them to places I knew they shopped. No. They wanted those pants.
One year my little sister agreed that she wanted an Ikea gift card so she could get a new coffee table. I got her the gift card as we agreed would be OK the following year all she wanted was the pj pants.
I usually pick out Christmas prints.
This is the print I picked out for my little sister. Super cute right. (Don't worry. I don't think my sister knows I have a blog so it is OK for me to talk about her present)
Apparently I'm not the only person who thought so. Last night when I was watching the Christmas episode of Glee Brittney was wearing a nightgown out of this same fabric.
I love Glee and when I see their costumes I imagine that it must be a fun place to work. My job is fun (I work in theater) but I'm sure working at Glee would be more fun. When I saw Brittney with the pink plaid and snowflake nightgown it made me super happy.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Holiday Favorites- Books

The other day I posted about my tradition of reading holiday books during the holidays. I thought I would share a list of some of my favorites.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore- In first grade I memorized this poem and recited it to anyone who would listen. I still read this book every year.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss- I know there is a TV special and a movie but I love the book. I love that he makes his own Santa costume.

Little House on the Prairie, Chapter 19 by Laura Ingalls Wilder- This is the chapter when Laura and Mary get a tin cup, a penny, a stick of candy and a cake made with white sugar.

The House Without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock- read this in elementary school and loved it. Addie Mills loves Christmas, her dad doesn't because it reminds him of Addie's dead mom.

On Christmas Eve by Ann M. Martin- I won this book at a local SCBWI event. A sweet middle grade book that is about the magic of Christmas.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens- I've worked backstage at the theater's annual production of this show for many years. Even though I know the story by heart I like to visit the original.

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris- Not a kids book. This is a collection of holiday writing by David Sedaris. Includes the Santaland Diaries about his time as an elf at Macy's. Also a hilarious take on the traditional holiday letter.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Holiday reading list- Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

One of my holiday traditions is to read a holiday book every year.
Since I work in theater I'm surrounded by the holidays from mid November to New Year's Eve. I'm usually stitching like the wind making pajama pants for my sisters, niece and select friends. My holiday book is my own little tradition.
I was super excited about this year's holiday book. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.
Rachel Cohn is one of my favorite authors and I love the collaborations she does with David Levithan.
The book takes place in New York City during the Christmas holidays. Dash finds a red moleskin notebook in a bookstore with clues and dares. Lily and Dash trade the notebook back and forth during the holidays.
I loved the character of Lily. If there is a person who is more geeked about the whole Christmas thing than I am it is Lily. She is known in her caroling group at "third verse Lily". This year Lily's family is away and she is upset. Her brother starts this adventure for her by giving her the idea for the notebook and helping with the first clues. Lily breaks out of her shell and follows the clues and dares left for her by Dash.
Dash is smart, wordy, and enjoys his alone time. He actually told each of his divorced parents that he was spending the holidays at the other parents house so he could be alone. He seems more cynical of the holidays but accepts Lily's dares and clues as well.
The book is a love story and reminded me a little of the play She Loves Me or the movie You've Got Mail. The idea of falling in love with a person through words and wondering if that person will meet up to expectations. I love the way the words are exchanged through a red moleskin notebook.
I enjoyed this book and think it is a great read for any time of the year. The notebook, the adventures the characters go on and the love story can be enjoyed all year round.

What about you. What are you currently reading? Do you have any books or movies that are part of your holiday traditions?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Powderhorn Love

The last week the neighborhood I live in has been in the news. Basically some teenagers attacked a woman in the park by my house. They were in the process of attacking two girls in a garage just down the alley from where I live. The kids were apprehended.

I have to say I am amazed by my neighborhood. I am blessed and lucky to live where I live.
First of all let me say that my neighborhood is a great place to live. The park by my house hosts all these great events throughout the year like The May Day Parade and the Art Fair . People enjoy the park on a daily basis. People fish in the lake, walk on paths, have outdoor theater performances. In the winter there is ice skating and people cross country ski and snow shoe in the park. In the winter I skate in the park at least once a week. I actually can't wait until skating opens up for the season.
There are fireworks in the park for the 4th of July. Not big sparkley Downtown fireworks but fireworks over the lake with neighbors and friends.
There is an Art Sled Rally in the winter where people slide down the hill home made sleds that look like Speeders from Star Wars.
A group of neighborhood photographers have been running a 365 neighborhood photo project for two years. Check it out here.
I am proud of my neighborhood. In response to these attacks neighbors have organized a peace vigil in the park tonight. It's BYOFire Pit (if you have one) or Hot Beverage to share.
The mother who was attacked wrote a letter encouraging compassion and love for the kids who did this.
Another neighbor wrote an essay for MPR
I bought a condo in the Powderhorn neighborhood six years ago. Some days I wish I'd waited when I see how cheap real estate is now. But then I walk a half a block to the park and I am reminded again why I love where I live.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I'm a Winner

I won. I won. I won.
I wrote 50,000 words in November.
I owe a huge thank you to my writing group. Without them I would have given up last week.

Now to keep the momentum up.
Also time to start my holiday crafting. It's not even December and I have two pairs of PJ pants cut out so I'm way ahead of the game.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving memories and important life lessons

One of the most memorable Thanksgivings was a trip to New York City for Thanksgiving. My parents and sibs were there and my aunt and uncle and their three kids were there. Despite my parents both being from upstate New York we lived in the midwest and this was the first time we'd ever been to New York City.
We did the whole Thanksgiving in New York thing. We saw Miss Saigon, ate Thanksgiving dinner at Tavern on the Green, went to the Empire State Building and marveled at the Black Friday line outside of FAO Schwarz.
It was this Thanksgiving where I learned an important life lesson.
When my mom knocked at the door of my hotel room it was still dark but she was ready to go and get a good spot for the parade.
When we got to our spot on the parade route it was drizzling so we bought $2 umbrellas, an hour later it was raining and the umbrellas were $4 so we actually saved money by being up that early.
My stepdad and sister showed up later, you know closer to when the parade actually starts.
My brother never showed up. Keep in mind this was before the days of cell phones and texting.
When we got to the hotel there was a message from my brother- he had been invited to watch the parade from the warm, dry, hotel room of my uncle and his family. We had been invited too but by the time the call came we missed it.
The important lesson in this is that sometimes the early bird doesn't get the worm. Sometimes the late riser gets continental breakfast at the Radisson or Marriot.
But we were in the front row for the parade. I'm pretty sure Kenny Rodgers and 98 degrees or NSYNC or whatever boy band it was that year wouldn't have looked as awesome from the warm hotel room.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Thankful List

Due to work and an impending storm of the century of the week I'm celebrating Turkey day with friends in the Cities. I'm not sure that I'll have enough time to list all the things I'm thankful for at dinner so I'll do it here.

I'm Thankful for

My family- Mom, John, Dad, Kim, James, Tina, Chloe and all my cousins, aunts and uncles.

Friends- I have friends who have been in my life for a long time. Love reconnecting with old friends and the new friends who have come into my life

My job and the awesome friends I have there. My job is a fun job and at the end of the day I still have energy and inspiration t0 write.

My home- I may be underwater on my condo(who isn't) but I am not in over my head and for that I'm thankful.

My health-fitness, running, biking, my friends at the gym.

My writing- I continue to work on my middle grade novel and a picture book manuscript inspired by the Leader Dogs my mom trains. I had story published in Chicken Soup for the Runner's Soul this year.

The cats- My big cat for always greeting me at the door and wanting attention and my little cat for letting me pet her but only on her terms

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NaNo update

I'm behind on my word count. Really behind.I've thought about giving up on this NaNo almost every day this week. Basically my neck hurt for a couple days and I wasn't sure if the NaNo was worth the neck pain.
But I've kept going and I'm hoping that the epic border battle between the Vikings and the Packers will inspire some words. I'm not sure they will all be good words.
My NaNo takes place at a drama camp and while it may seem that football and drama camp would be unrelated I think they are a lot closer than one may think. Being a Vikings fan is full of drama. First there is the whole Brett Favre element. Retired, not retired, injured but playing. Then Randy Moss comes back only to leave again because well he's still Randy Moss. Was there actually some sort of magical Sampson like power in Jared Allen's mullet? Last year lead the league in sacks, this year he is 25th. Then there is the question of Brad Childress. Will he continue to "coach" or will he be fired? Now I'm wondering if I should have written my NaNo novel about a football team and the disappointing end to the last season and their rocky season following the loss.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

OK I love Harry Potter.
I first met Harry Potter when I moved to the Twin Cities eleven years ago. I was working in a place known as the Fur Salon. I basically brushed and styled Elmos's fur in between Sesame Street Live tours. Someone recommended the books to me and I read the first three. When the fourth book came out I bought it and read it on the plane on the way home from a trip to California.
I was just out of college but I never quit reading YA. I would just keep the cover of my YA novel hidden by something more serious. See I was an "advanced reader" so I hung out with the smart kids. The smart kids made fun of my reading choices. Like why was I reading The Lord of the Rings the summer before ninth grade, they all read it in sixth grade and were reading War and Peace or something.
I remember boarding the plane while reading Goblet of Fire and seeing other grown ups reading the book. Not just grown ups like me who could still pass for teenagers (seriously the flight attendant asked if we were old enough to sit in the emergency exit row) but fifty year old college professor types reading kids books. In public. It made me do a little happy dance. Yay I can read kids books in public now. My friend's mom even wanted to borrow my books because her book club was reading them. I leant them to her but that is another story.
It was around this time that I started dreaming about being a writer. OK really I wanted to be a writer before that but I had to major in something in college so I picked theater. Since I loved MG and YA fiction that is what I wanted to write. But I was scared of failing so I started with poetry.
Needless to say I'm a Harry Potter fan.
Last night November 19 came early and I got to go to a special screening of the Harry Potter 7 part 1. OK first off I was really excited. I started my happy excited dance at around 3. I left to get in line earlier than our planned meeting time because what else was I going to do with my day besides obsess about seeing Harry Potter. I got a good spot in line and one of the people in our group had a kid with them who did the bolt-past-everyone-and-save-us-seven-seats thing as soon as they let us in.
The movie is awesome. I know everyone will see it on Friday so I won't say anything else until then.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I live in MinneSnowta

Today it one of those days that is made for NaNo. I'm sure that NaNoers across the midwest are going to have hefty word counts after today. I'm working today but I made sure to get a little extra word count yesterday before the storm of the century of the week showed up.

The snow meant that despite my denial I actually had to find my winter accessories. Since I put this off until the last minutes before leaving for work it meant I couldn't find my kitty cat ear flap hat. Which meant I had to wear what I like to call my kewpie doll earflap hat. It looks like this
The thing I forgot about this hat is that it makes people smile and talk to me. There is something about wearing a pink and purple pointy hat that makes people smile on a grey, snowy day like today.

Happy writing and if you aren't lucky enough to be living in a winter wonderland look at the top picture, pour yourself some hot cocoa and work on your NaNo word count.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


November isn't just for novels anymore. It's also for moustaches. During November or Movember participants grow a moustache to raise awareness and money for men's health.

I can't grow a moustache but I've been playing with a lot of fake moustaches at work this month. I'm working wardrobe on a play called The 39 Steps based on the Alfred Hitchcock film. There are so many moustaches and mutton chops, wigs and hats in this play it is hilarious.

Yesterday the review for the play came out. I don't usually read reviews for plays. But everyone made sure the wardrobe crew read the review in the Star Tribune because there is a shout out to the wardrobe crew. Awesome. Yep that's me and three other amazing ladies back there adding and subtracting clothes, hats and facial hair in a matter of seconds.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Getting caught up on NaNo and blogs

Sunday I did something I've never done during NaNo before. I went to sleep behind on my word count. I tried to write after getting home from work but my cats were demanding attention. I realized I wasn't going to get anything done with a kitty on the keyboard so I gave up for the night with 800 words to go.
Yesterday I managed to get caught up on my NaNo novel word count. I've never been behind in NaNo before but lately I've done some writing after work before I go to bed. Sunday night I just didn't have any more words in me so I went to bed vowing to catch up on my day off. I did.

I also caught up on blogs I follow.
It seems that November might be blog contest month in addition to being NaNoWriMo.
1. Jessica Bell at The Alliterative Allomorph is giving away prizes for reaching 400 followers. If she gets to 500 followers she'll double the prize.

2. Jennie at Garden Full of Lily has prizes for reaching 100 followers. Go follow her and tell her a secret for extra points.

3. Tamara Hart Heiner at Chasing Dreams is having a Blog tour the celebrate the release of her book, Perilous.

Good luck to all the NaNoers out there. Now I have to go work on my word count for today.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Thing I miss during NaNo

Day three of NaNoWriMo.
First of all, wow I forgot how hard this was going to be. I took last year off so I haven't done NaNo since 2008. I am getting back into NaNo shape and carrying my notebook around for when I am away from my computer. But so far this month's novel is fun with a fun cast of characters.

But it is day three and I feel like it is important for me to talk about what I miss most during NaNo. See normally I am a voracious reader. Whenever I set off to do NaNo I don't get to read nearly as much as I usually do because I'm writing. But I miss reading. Already three days into NaNo and I feel like I've broken up with the library. But then I remember that it is just temporary and that once I get farther along in the process I may be able to read a little bit.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween traditions

OMG. Halloween is almost here. I love Halloween. My mom and her childhood best friend exchange Halloween cards, every year, without fail. It isn't Halloween until Hoo's card comes in the mail. I have a tradition of working on Halloween so I'll probably just be a ninja this year.

Last year I worked at CostumeRentals and that was fun. I got to dress up every day that I worked. My favorite day was Vegas day. I was the three of hearts.

I just read Neil Gaiman's blog saying we should start a tradition of giving away a scary book on Halloween. I might totally need to do this.

One of my writer friends hasn't read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This despite the fact that she reads the Newberry winner every year some how this one just slipped her radar. So I will give a copy of The Graveyard Book to my writer's group.

What about you? What are your favorite scary books?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Everything I need to know I learned from TV

As with most TV shows I don’t always see them right away. I work at night so I’m not home when TV is on. I finally watched the first season of Glee.
I knew that I would love Glee. I love music and my mom raised us on a healthy diet of musicals. Plus I work in theater. The idea that people just spontaneously break out in song is part is part of my job. I can’t carry a tune, I can’t sing on key, so I was never in a Glee club. I did run spot lights for some of my college’s show choir show.
You may think “Oh Carrie it can’t be that bad” but let me tell you that I have family members who couldn't find parts for me in children’s choir shows when I was a kid. My first backstage gig was when I was 12, assembling a clubhouse on stage while the rest of the kids sang. It is probably how I ended up backstage.

I was watching Glee and thinking it may be the most perfect thing to come out of my TV in years. I love the music. I love the costumes. I love all the Journey songs.

Glee got me thinking about villains. Sue Sylvester is the Glee club’s rival. She is constantly putting roadblocks in the Glee Club’s way on their road to the regional competition.

But she isn’t only a villain bent on bringing down the Glee Club. She is a complex character. She is an award winning cheerleading coach. She has interests. She likes Madonna and Olivia Newton John. (I named my home made cabbage patch kid Olivia Newton John) She has a sister who she takes care of. She has feelings. Her feeling can get hurt.

I think what makes Sue's character so fun is that she is a three dimensional character and we see that in the show.

It got me thinking about my own WIP. Is my own villain three dimensional. Do they have things they want outside of making life hard for my MC?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wii Fit for writers

Last year I got a Wii Fit Plus for Christmas.
I wanted a way to stay in shape during those winter months when I wasn't biking to work.

The thing about the Wii fit is that it is brutally honest. For example the Wii tells me every time I do a body test that I'm overweight in its disapproving computer voice.

If I miss a day the Wii lets me know that too. Sometimes it's nice about it and sometimes in order to get back at me for missing a day the Wii will make my Wii Fit age 57.

The Wii loves my cat. Whenever I weigh him it tells me he should have a treat or have me brush him or have me play with him. As a result my cat hangs out by the Wii Fit when it is out hoping for a treat or some play time. The Wii tells me I should lay off on the afternoon snacks.

I admit I don't use the Wii Fit every day because I go to the gym too. I am also walking outside around the lake by my house every day that the sun is out because we don't have many of those left before winter returns to Minnesota.

Yesterday as the Wii fit was saying it hadn't seen me in 2 days it made me think What if I had this for my writing? Wouldn't it be great if I could bring up a word document and have it chide me for missing a day of writing. When I don't do My Routine on the Wii it also keeps track of that. Ideally my Wii Fit for Writers would also keep track of days missed on specific WIPs. "Carrie, you haven't worked on Jack Takes the Lead in 2 days. Try to come back every day, even for five minutes, for the best results."

The Wii Fit also has rewards for doing well. All exercise time is logged into a fit credits bank which changes color and eventually turns gold. There is happy celebratory music when credits go into the fit bank. Maybe the Writer Fit could have a happy music every time a writer churns out a certain number of words.

Maybe this guilt/reward based motivation wouldn't work for everyone but I think it would be pretty great.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Here's a little song about adverbs one of my facebook friends posted. I know we avoid adverbs when we can but I still think it is cute.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Viva la Siesta

I just found a contest that I would be awesome at. Spain is holding a siesta contest in honor of the siesta.
See apparently in Spain the siesta way of life is threatened by busy modern life. La Association Nacional de Amigos de la Siesta organized a competition to save the siesta.
I was born in the wrong country. I love to siesta. I know there are people who are morning people and people who are night owls. I feel like I'm a little bit of both. I like to wake up and start my day. I stay up late because I work at night. Enter the siesta. The siesta gives me the ability to do both.
I remember in high school when I first heard about the siesta. I was pretty sure America was missing something by not adopting this way of life. I was still mourning the loss of my Kindergarten nap time and I was in high school.

I read a writing book that talked about the Creative Nap. Sometimes I try to take a creative siesta in which I promise I will think about a story I'm working on and hopefully come up with a solution. Sometimes this works. Other times I wake up later with no solution but feeling very rested.

I don't do well when I work through my nap. I get tired and cranky like a toddler. I've tried to sleep later in the morning but that only works in the winter when we only have four hours of light in Minnesota.

So even though I can't fly to Spain and compete officially in the Siesta Olympics I'm there in spirit. Viva la Siesta!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Business cards

Yesterday I went to my friend's house to watch the Vikings play a little Monday Night football. The Vikes really didn't start playing until the second half of the game which started about an hour late anyway due to lightning.
But my friend Heidi's mom is also a writer so we got to talk about writing during the rain delay and the first half of the game. The subject of business cards came up and my friend showed us her cards which she got from Vista Print and it got me thinking about business cards for myself.
I work in the arts so I've noticed a lot more of my friends have business cards for freelance purposes. My friend Sara for example has a business card which states her mad skills with the glue gun. Another friend has a business card that states her awesome personal organizing skills.
So I went to Vista Print dreaming of awesome business cards. But then I was struck with indecision. What do I call myself in the Job title section? I toyed with writer but what about my sewing skills? What about all the babysitting I do? Do I say I'm a Carrie of All Trades? All of the sudden getting 250 business cards saying I was a "Writer" seemed so permanent. Of course there is the option of leaving the title blank but that seems so boring.

What about you? Do you have business cards? What skills to they advertise?

Monday, October 11, 2010

To NaNo or not to NaNo

Fall is in the air. The leaves are changing color. The Twins have once again been swept by the Yankees dashing my hopes of a World Series and leaving me with the all to familiar phrase "We'll get 'em next year".
The NaNoWriMo participant badges have been showing up on blogs everywhere.
I am faced with that age old question- To NaNo or not to NaNo.
See in November 2007 I was kinda sorta thinking about maybe being a writer. I mean I wrote in my journal all the time but I had never written an actual novel so I wrote a novel.
I confess I didn't do anything with it. I didn't revise my novel (although now that I've seen teen novels about angels on the shelves I kinda wish I had). But I did realize that being a writer was something I really really wanted to do.
The next year, 2008 I did NaNo again. I wrote something that I never even read again but I wrote. I also took a class, The ABCs of Writing for Children. I wrote a story inspired by my cat running out of my condo when I got home from work every night and me chasing him through the halls, usually still wearing my bike helmet and brightly colored clothes from my bike ride home. My story from class got published in Stories for Children Magazine in Sept 2009.
Last year was 2009 and the idea for my novel did not come to me on November like good little NaNo ideas. She came to me in June. So I decided to try this whole write a novel slowly thing. I'm currently nearing the end of draft 2 but I can't decide if I should do NaNo again. I don't want to abandon my WIP but I think that great creative things happen during NaNo. And I miss NaNo.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Eye opener

One session of the MN SCBWI conference was something called "First Pages". For this session people anonymously submit the first page of their story and then the editors pointed out what was good or what needed work.

I think it is awesome that there were brave people who submitted their work. In the handful of selections that were read there were at least two that started with the first day of school. Which got me thinking about how many books and stories start with the first day of school. If there were two in the eight examples that were read to the group then mathematically how many do editors receive in a day.

My current WIP starts on the first day of school. Which got me thinking about trying to change my opening chapter. It also got me thinking about the opening chapter of other books. For example Harry Potter could have opened with the first day of school at Hogwarts. Instead Harry Potter starts with the chapter "The Boy Who Lived". He lived. He cheated death. He's going to be famous in his own world and he's being dropped off with his muggle relatives. It is way more attention grabbing than "It was the first day of school at Hogwarts."

So now I'm revising my current work with this in mind. I'm changing the opening I've had and worked with and revised for a year. It is kind of exciting and I hope it works out well.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

MN SCBWI and Iowa Puppy Days

On Saturday I had the pleasure of going to the Minnesota SCBWI conference. Jay Asher was one of the presenters. He talked about his journey to publications which was really great to hear because it took him 12 years to get published. So even though I some days I think I should just forget about this whole writing thing and use my free time to wait tables this presentation made me realize that the road to a published book can be long but I should stick with it.

Susan Marie Swanson, who wrote The House in the Nightwas the other presenter. She talked about how writers can use metaphors to encourage themselves. She showed examples of poetry from kids she taught. It was inspiring to see how these kids expressed themselves. Her presentation was beautiful, poetic and inspiring.

After the conference I got in my car and drove to Iowa to watch my mom and the Leader Dog she is training participate in Puppy Days. The puppy raisers and dogs did a series of drills. There were even dogs in costumes. I got to meet people and hear stories of people who raise the dogs as well as people who use the dogs. It is a lot to think about as a continue working on my picture book manuscript about a guide dog.

At the end of the presentation I got to hold one of the new puppies that will be trained by the prisoners.

Friday, October 01, 2010


OMG. It's my favorite month. Rocktober.
I really just like saying Rocktober and trying to make the entire month \m/Rock\m/ is why I love Rocktober.

I have met my writing challenge of the day. The cover letter.

No. It's not for a book but for a job. The next position up at my current job. But apparently reading blogs about query letters hasn't helped me learn to write a cover letter cause I'm stuck.

The other day I gave advice via facebook to my cousin who was trying to write some ads for his business. I told him "just tell the story". So I guess that is what I need to do in my cover letter. I just need to tell the very short story of why I am the most awesome person for the job. A lot of the cover letter examples have little bullet points highlighting awesomeness. I could do that.

Happy Rocktober!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banned Book week

September 25- October 2 is ALA Banned Books Week. The week is about the freedom to read what we want to read. Yes, even if what we want to read is Twilight by Stephanie Meyer which was one of the top ten challenged books in 2009.
Looking through the list of Frequently Challenged books I feel like I've read a lot of them.
One of my favorite challenged books has been on my mind lately. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year.
I love this book for many reasons. Scout and Jem are raised by their father with the help of Calpernia, the maid. My mother and her brother were raised by their mother after their father died. Seeing Scout grow up with the perspective of only one parent (a parent who was respected in the community) gives me some idea of what growing up with one parent must have been like for my mother.
I was in ninth grade honors English when I first read this book. It was the first book we read that year. I would have gladly repeated ninth grade English just to read this book again.
I've been thinking about this book lately because I was working backstage on The Scottboro Boys during its run at the Guthrie. The play is about the nine African-American teenage boys who were riding a boxcar and were pulled off the train and accused of rape. Despite a lack of evidence including one of the accusers changing her testimony in a later trial the verdict kept coming back guilty.
I heard an interview with John Kander saying how this trial was always in the news when he was growing up.
It made me think about Harper Lee and how this trial would have been a part of her childhood especially growing up in Alabama with a father who was a lawyer.
Reading the book I can see the influence of this trial in her story as well. In To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch is defending Tom Robinson, an African American who is falsely accused of rape by Mayella Ewell. Atticus takes his duty of defending Tom seriously. He points to the lack of evidence, that Mayella was never taken to a doctor. He even shows that Tom Robinson could not have bruised Mayella's face where she was bruised. The kids, Jem, Scout and Dill are sure that Atticus has won but then the verdict comes back guilty.
So to celebrate Banned Books week I'm reading my favorite, To Kill a Mockingbird again.

What about you? What are your favorite challenged books? How are you celebrating banned books week?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Books to Movies- Percy Jackson- The Lightning Thief

A couple weeks ago I started reading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. A couple people recommended them to me and when my friend, Montana, saw I was reading the first book in the Percy Jackson series she loaned me rest of the series.

For some reason I added the movie The Lightning Thief to my Netflix. This was a mistake. I was talking with a child actor at work who told me the movie wasn't true to the book. He said it was Annabeth's hair color. In the book she is blonde in the movie brunette.
After watching the film it is so much more than that. I came to the conclusion that this film is a poor adaptation of the book. There are scenes in the film that never happen in book. Characters/plot points are left out of the film. Then there is the fact that the kids in the film are like 16 or 17 while the kids in the first book are 12.

I talked with the kid actor at work who admitted that the first time he watched the movie he walked out. I think this is probably a true reaction. Kids are tough customers. If they read a book and then go see a film based on that book I think they expect that it will follow the same action of the book.

I'm going to finish reading the Percy Jackson series but I recommend that if people like these books they avoid the movie version.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Censorship sucks

I’m a writer.

But before I was ever a writer I was a reader.

When I was in high school I took a journalism class. Then I joined the newspaper. See I wanted to be a writer even back then.

The first thing Miss Christensen taught us before we wrote a single word was The First Amendment. She made us know and love our right to free speech. She taught us to protect our right to free speech and expression. We had to sign a pledge to protect the First Amendment when we joined the paper. Even though my paper I signed my pledge on is long gone I still take my pledge to defend the First Amendment very seriously.

Needless to say book banning makes me angry and upset. To me banning books is a violation of the First Amendment.

I don’t think anyone has a right to tell me what I can and can’t read.

I believe in the power of books. The books we read help us navigate our way through childhood and adolescence and even adulthood.

When I was a kid the characters in books helped me realize I wasn’t the only kid who had divorced parents. I wasn’t the only kid confused about religion and wondering where God was.

So yesterday when I read Laurie Halse Anderson’s blog about a guy, Wesley Scroggins trying to get her book, Speak taken out of the school library in Republic, MO I was upset.

The Scroggins piece claims that parents and taxpayers need to be aware of what kids are reading and learning. I have to say I pay taxes and I don't have kids but I would still want kids to be allowed to read this book or any other book that is written with children and teens in mind. If I was a parent I would want my kids to have access to a book like Speak or any other book that has been challenged.

Scroggins also has a problem with the school's sex education program saying that children are learning about reproduction in the forth grade and sex in eighth grade. I distinctly remembered getting on a bus and going to the Catholic School Central to learn about reproduction in forth grade.

I have to admit I haven't read this book. I read Anderson's book Wintergirls recently and this book was on my list of books I would get to but now I am reading it. I was planning on reading To Kill a Mockingbird during Banned Book Week but now I am reading Speak instead.

I will post more of my thoughts on this book later. But for right now I think it is a good book. I am still early on in the book and the character, Melinda is depressed and withdrawn and her only escape in high school is art. Even though I wasn't this girl in high school I knew girls who were like her. Girls who were depressed. My sister was depressed and withdrawn during her teen years. I wish a book like this had been around when we were in high school.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This year is a super lucky fall for me. For the first time my schedule works out and I'm going to be able to go to the Minnesota SCBWI conference.

I'm really excited because I've never been to one of these. I usually go to the Loft Conference in the spring.

I even submitted my picture book manuscript for a manuscript review. This is way out of character for me. I blame the fact that I made this decision in the morning. Morning is not my time. I can't be held responsible for decisions I make before 10 a.m.
I'm actually kinda shy. But since the class I was going to take got cancelled and since I really want this manuscript to be awesome when I send it out I submitted it for review.

In other news I finally joined the new era of movie rentals and signed up for Netflix. Why? What finally convinced me? My mom. She told me "You can stream Netflix on you Wii. I don't know why you're not doing that." I tried to explain to her about my loyalty to my neighborhood video store but just hearing my mom talk about streaming movies was too much. I couldn't let my mom be more tech savvy than me. If my mom can stream netflix then so can I.
The thing is this has been kinda great. I'm catching up on movies I missed because they come to my mailbox or to my Wii or computer. It is genius.

Do you have any fall writing events lined up? Classes, conferences? Any movie recommendations for this Netflix newbie?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

I never thought I'd...

That is the subject of Real Simple's annual essay contest.

My non-writing friends alert me whenever a magazine they read of having a writing contest.

Usually I don't do anything with it because I find out two weeks before it is due or the previous winning entries are too intimidating.

But this year I'm entering.
I've spent the summer working on my entry. I took a class on writing essays.
But two weeks until the story is due and I was still stuck. I didn't feel like my story was compelling.
So I wrote in my journal. And I did other exercises in my journal trying to figure out what was really important in my story. The exercise I used I learned about in my essay class.

I wrote the things my essay is about on the surface and feelings associated with each of the things until I landed on a feeling I didn't know was there before and it turns out that is what the essay is really about.

I've kept a journal for years. Probably longer than I realize really. They are instrumental in my writing.
What about you? Do you journal? How does it help your writing?

Monday, September 06, 2010

If you can read this...

I've been slacking on the whole blogging thing. I blame the State Fair and the kitten invaders.
It is super hard to write or blog or anything when a kitten may run across the keyboard at any moment.
Unlike my 20 pound cat these little kittens move fast. If my cat was going to walk across the keyboard I would know it but I can not anticipate the movements of a kitten.
The kitten house guests have gone home now so I feel safe using my computer again.

I'm bummed about the ending of summer but plan to go to the State Fair one last time.

Recently I've been trying to run again. I haven't run much since I get in my car accident last fall because well running is hard on my neck. But running helps me do everything else in my life better.
I spent most of the spring in a little bit of a funk and I thought it was just the fact that there was a lot of change in the lives of my family. But now that I'm trying to run again I feel like maybe part of the reason I was bummed was because I wasn't running. Running gives me endorphins. I'm sort of an endorphin junkie and running is the most efficient way for me to get my endorphins.

Running also helps me in my writing. Since I'm not fast and I'm not going to win any races I just run for myself. If I was running in 5Ks I would want a shirt that says "If you can read this you're going to be last." But it builds my confidence because for me running feels like an accomplishment. Right now running two miles feels like a big deal. That surge in confidence carries over into my writing. If I can run then surely I can write.
Running helps me deal with rejection in my writing as well. The fact that I'm not going to win any races doesn't stop me from running because I run for me. (I do hope to win races when I'm older. Like when I'm 80 I may win my age group because there won't be that many people in m age group running) When I get a rejection I remember that I write for me. That like running I get so much out of writing that can't be measured. I remember that the finish line is always there even if it takes me twice as long to get there as the fast people.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I went to my writing group on Monday night and we talked about the Hunger Games and how excited we were to read Mockingjay. At the time I was still reading Catching Fire so I wasn't sure if I was going to rush right out and get Mockingjay the second the bookstore opened. I claimed I would be able to be wait and maybe clean my house first.
Instead I finished Catching Fire on Monday night, staying up past my bedtime to finish it even and ended up biking to the bookstore on Tuesday morning to pick up a copy.

I haven't had as much time to read it as I would like because it is the most wonderful time of the year. The Minnesota State Fair opened yesterday and as usual I was there on opening day. I go several times every year and it truly is the Great Minnesota Get Together.
Opening Day highlights included a trip down the Giant Slide, Chocolate Covered Bacon, cloggers with a goose costume and a marching band playing Thriller in the parade. They stopped and did the Thriller dance with their instruments and most of them had some degree of Zombie make up.

My cats are kitten sitting. I'm not sure how I thought this would go but I told my friend that her new kittens could stay here while she was out of town for a week. The minute my cats saw the carrier they hid. They know that nothing good comes from the cat carrier. I may have actually broken my cat's heart with these kittens. He is sitting under the bed feeling sad and unloved. My other cat is scared of the kittens. She is scared of most things, but kittens, really?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hunger Games-1, To Do List-0

Yesterday I had goals and a to do list a mile long. I was going to work out. I was going to an appointment in the suburbs. I was going to go grocery shopping. I was going to clean my house and I was going to write.
I did some of these things but I have to admit I did not have my heart in my to do list yesterday.
Normally I'm pretty focused on the Monday To Do list because it sets the tone for the entire week. With a matinee this Wednesday I would usually be super focused.
Instead I was reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
It is the book club selection at League of Extraordinary Writers and the third book in the series comes out this month so I figured it was a good time to see what it was all about.

I have to admit that it took until the end of part one for the book to really grab me in such a way that I would forsake my to do list but when I got into it I really couldn't put it down.
Seriously I had trouble falling asleep on Sunday night because I was thinking about the book and wondering what was going to happen next but I had to stop reading because I was too tired to remember to turn the page and keep my eyes open.

I submitted my manuscript to be considered for the class Advanced Picture Book Workshop and now I just have to wait until September 3 to hear anything. I'm nervous I won't get in but I guess if I don't get in I will know that my story isn't really ready yet.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thursday was writing group day which means it is time to revise.

I have this picture book manuscript that I've been working on for a while and I'm thinking of taking a class at the Loft called Advanced Picture Book Workshop. But I'm a little nervous about it. I have to submit my story before the class to even get into the class. It is a little nerve racking because what if I don't get in to the class?

Plus the class is called Advanced Picture Book Workshop. The emphasis seems to be on the workshop part. I'm just not really sure if I can handle so much workshopping but I guess it will make me a better writer and will hopefully make my story the best it can be before I submit it.

In other news I'm reading The Hunger Games right now. I was reading about the training and I felt a little like I was training for something yesterday at my Gladiator class at the gym. Fortunately when I go to Gladiator class I don't have to fight to the death but it is still a fun class. We also do not have to wear the costumes. I did put a lot of people in the Gladiator costume for Halloween last year.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

I've been talking with some friends about my childhood unicorn story. Mostly in that "OMG you wrote a story about unicorns too" sort of way.
We have even discussed having Unicorn Story Hour in which we all sit around and read our unicorn stories but then it turns out Steph got rid of her unicorn story during college when her mom took her to the attic and showed her a box of stuff she had been saving and asked her to take what she wanted.
I have been critiquing eight-year-old-Carrie's story. After reading through the story a couple times I discovered a major flaw in the piece. The big question I have for my eight year old self is if the unicorn is so powerful (she travels to a new planet and defeats a troll army) why doesn't she just stop her forest from being cut down in the first place?

In other news I'm going to be an Aunt again. I had this idea that I should make a quilt for the baby but then realized that while I can sew I don't want to apply that skill to quilting because I do not need another way to have unfinished projects. A trip to the art fair by my house has made me the proud temporary owner of baby quilt made by my friend Amy. It is so super cute and I hope the baby loves it as much as my sister and I loved our quilts.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Summer reading

I recently bought a book at Half Price Books.
I bought it despite knowing that I have a good stack of books to read and the I didn't need to add any more books to the "To be Read Pile".
The book was Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume edited by Jennifer O'Connell. It is a collection of essays by YA and Chic Lit authors about their experiences with Judy Blume books.
Since my childhood summers were all about reading Judy Blume books a book about Judy Blume books seemed like the perfect summer read.
I have to recommend this book to any Judy Blume fan. Readers who grew up reading her books can relate to the essays in the book. The lessons learned from characters are sort of universal and touched a lot of kids lives. The book included essays written by Meg Cabot and Megan McCafferty.
There are a couple essays about the book Forever by Judy Blume. When I was reading them I was stuck with how people reacted to this book. They often kept it hidden or it was passed around groups of friends in secret.
I think I read every Judy Blume book I could get my hands on from the time I was in third grade through high school. I read Forever sometime in my middle school years but I don't remember being worried my mom would discover me reading it. I didn't leave it at school or hide it under my mattress. I remember reading it out in the open like I would have any book. Although I probably did blush at the sex parts I don't remember thinking I shouldn't be reading that book.
My mom became more conservative when she got remarried but she still didn't freak out about what I read except the time I tried to get a subscription to Cosmo. She even defended me when her friends from church thought I was being rebellious by dying my hair. She said it was just hair. She didn't censor my music either.
She figured if a book came from the YA section of the library that it was OK for me to read. I think she thought if I was reading there were a lot of other things I wasn't doing. Maybe she knew that books had a lot of the answers I needed when I was growing up.
I remember when I wanted to read some of her Danielle Steele books she helped me pick the ones she thought I would like the best.
A few years ago my sister who is uber religious was talking about a certain book and how she didn't think that parents at her church should let kids read the book. My sister claimed the book would teach kids witchcraft. My mom jumped to the defense of the book, not that she had ever read it. She said it was more important for kids to read and if the book could get that many kids excited about reading she didn't think it was bad for them.
Whenever I think about growing up one of the things I feel lucky about is that my mom never censored my reading or music. I probably didn't think I had a cool mom growing up but now that I'm a grown up I'm glad I had a mom who was cool enough to let me read what I wanted to read.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Space Traveling Unicorns

I've done NaNoWriMo a couple times and written a novel at a slower pace. I don't like to tell people what my story is about right away because I want to protect the story. When you say you're writing a novel the next question is "What's it about?" My answer "Unicorns." (Note- my stories aren't really about unicorns I just say it to let people know that I'm really not talking about my project yet). If I need a little variety I'll say Vampire Unicorns or Zombie Unicorns.

This weekend I went home and picked up a "book" I wrote and illustrated in second grade. The cover was pink floral wall paper and the story was printed on construction paper written in my second grade printing font. My mom found it when she was moving and has been telling me about it ever since. She has been talking about how I was a writer even back then.

I remember making books in Miss Johnson's second grade class. Miss Johnson read to us every day and introduced us to the world of chapter books. She assigned me to read Dear Mr. Henshaw and I will be forever grateful for that because the book helped feel not so alone during my parents divorce. But she also had us make some books. I was really proud of the illustrations in my book about Easter but I couldn't find that book.

When I opened the wall paper cover and read the story I laughed so hard I cried. It was about a unicorn. But not just any unicorn. A space traveling, environmentalist unicorn with magic powers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Like camp for writers

Today was day two of my writing class.
I'm trying to change things up and try something different so I took a week long class at The Loft on Writing the Short Personal Essay.

Here are things I learned so far.

1. The Short Personal Essay is not what I thought it was. I thought it was the entry I'm working on for the Real Simple Essay contest. Turns out it is more "literary" than that. We are reading essays from a book and using them as examples. They are reflective, lyrical and sometimes poetic. We talk about form and structure.

2. To be observant. Yesterday we went out on our own and observed a person we saw and wrote about them. Today we walked around the neighborhood on our own and observed a sound, a found object and a symbol of the past/future.

3. I have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time.

4. I am finding it easy to share my work in class. I'm normally pretty shy so maybe the last couple years of sharing work in class and critique groups has made me more comfortable sharing my work in class.

I have to admit that I felt a little like Harriet the Spy yesterday when we went out to observe people we saw walking on the street. It was fun and I think even if I never write a personal essay that I may use some of these exercises next time I'm facing writers block.

The form is short. The book we are using sets the limit at 2000 word. In picture books the limit on word count means every word is important and has to really mean something. I feel like that is true in the Short Personal Essay so maybe there is more in common between the two than I think.

Monday, July 19, 2010

More Vacation Adventures

Tomorrow I start a week long writing class at The Loft. Since usually there is a matinee or tech week that gets in the way of me taking a week long class I decided to take this class during my two weeks off.
OK really I wanted to take a class at Madeline Island School of the Arts but there weren't enough participants. I did go to Madeline Island last week to visit a friend who is working there this summer and to check out the school so I can make plans to go there next year. I biked, swam in Lake Superior, used a paddle board and swam some more and spent some time with my friends and making new friends at Tom's Burned Down.

I didn't get much writing done. A little in my journal remembering family vacations. My mom and stepdad would always take us for a week at a resort in Wisconsin. We would leave our house early in the morning and drive forever. Towards the end of the drive we would be passing resort after resort and I wondered why my parents had picked the resort that was farthest from our house. Couldn't they have picked something closer?

I have been to Madeline Island before. During these family vacations to Wisconsin we usually went on a trip to Bayfield or Madeline Island. Once we even went to Thunder Bay. I don't actually remember anything involving a big boat trip because my mom gave me medicine to prevent motion sickness. Being in a car on a ferry boat was like a double whammy. So when I visit places I visited as a child it is like seeing it for the first time.

I stayed with my friends who run boat tours of the islands at Adventure Vacations. The wind was too strong and the tours that did go out were to full for an extra person. I did consider walking to the marina and taking a sailboat tour but the waves were too much for me so I stuck to land and calmer waters in Big Bay.

My friend Jen says that despite how much there is to do on the island she still hears people saying they are bored. After spending a couple days on the island I would recommend coming to the island prepared. Bring a swim suit for sure. Maybe bring a bike over or rent a bike or moped from Motion to Go. My friend's store sells boogie boards, swim suits and pool floats. They also rent paddle boards which is a fun way to get out on the water if it isn't too wavy. I spent more time falling off the board until I gave up on the whole standing thing and decided to kneel on the board.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vacation adventures

I have been in full on vacation mode.
My mom came to visit for the first two days of my vacation.
On Sunday we used the new Minneapolis bike share program, NiceRide. I've been wanting to rent a lime green bike since they showed up around the city a month ago. We biked to the Lyndale Farmers Market and ate at The Magic Bus Cafe because The Grateful Dog is my favorite summer food. My mother is shocked at my meat eating habits. After all I bike a lot and I eat vegetables, how can I possibly want to eat meat. I didn't really point out to her that this meat consumption is like a once a week thing but whatevs.

On Monday we rented pedal boats at Lake Calhoun. Wow. Pedal boats are much harder than I remember from the last time I was on a pedal boat when I was a kid. While we were struggling to move our cumbersome water craft through the lake we decided we wanted to get a closer look at some lily pads. There were a pair of ducks by the lily pads and one was stuck and the other one kept quacking and trying to help her duck friend. While my Mom and I were trying to pedal over to save the duck (an idea that would have taken at least five minutes and might have gotten us stuck in the lily pads) a guy in a kayak swooped in and saved the duck. Which made my mom want to rent kayaks today. We ate lunch at The Tin Fish.

So today back to Lake Calhoun to rent kayaks. After renting the kayaks I'm never renting pedal boats again. Also at $11 an hour what a great way to use use a kayak without actually owning a kayak. Not that it wouldn't be fun to own a kayak but I live in a condo and don't have the storage space for a kayak and at $150 for the season renting a storage spot by the lake makes the $11/hour to rent a kayak pretty reasonable. Being on the lake, out in the water was great and I think I need to spend more time doing this.

Vacation adventures continue tomorrow. I'm bringing some notebooks and pens and maybe I'll write. Or maybe I'll just swim, bike, kayak and whatever.

Next week I'm taking a writing class at The Loft. All week. All day long. Some people might not think of this as vacation but since many of my childhood and teen summers included a week long creative writing class at College for Kids I think this is like my grown up version of that.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I love my new bookcase

I have been resisting the urge to buy a new bookshelf for quite a while. I believed that since I read mostly books from the library that I wasn't acquiring new books but that is wrong. It turns out I have been buying new books- like the two bargain book shopping adventures.

This weekend the call of the Ikea summer sale was strong. I found myself getting in my car and driving to that wonderful temple of organization. I zipped through the showroom like a pro who has been to Ikea numerous times.

I love Ikea. Everything is organized and just being in Ikea makes me feel like I can be organized. Somehow no matter how many Ikea items I buy it still seems like my house doesn't look like the showrooms.

I found the bookcase section and decided on the BILLY
BILLY/ NYCKELBYBookcase with glass-doorWidth: 31 1/2 " Depth: 11 " Height: 41 3/4 "  Width: 80 cm Depth: 28 cm Height: 106 cm

I brought Billy home and was able to assemble the bookshelf in about thirty minutes. Yay. The desk I bought a couple years ago came with an eighty page instruction manual and took three days to assemble.

Billy is amazing. The books which were previously on my childhood bookshelf easily fit on one shelf. All the books I had stacked in front of the books on my other bookcase and on makeshift "bookcases" a.k.a nightstands, end tables, and under the bed fit on the second shelf.

OMG there is still a third shelf. I love Billy. Clearly I was just fooling myself to think that I didn't need more bookcases. I'm also glad my bookcase came with a name name. It makes it easier to talk about how much I love my bookcase.

I haven't figured out what to do with my childhood bookcase which is now sitting empty and sad. I called my mom to make sure there was no family heirloom type importance but this bookcase has housed my books since I was reading The Monster at the End of This Book. There is a ring on the top shelf in the shape of a Sea Breeze bottle from my teen years. I might have a hard time letting go even though I love Billy.

Monday, July 05, 2010

I'm Back

I'm back from my little facebook/blogging vacation.

At first I thought that not checking my facebook a couple(OK more like five) times a day was going to be hard but it turns out it wasn't that bad. It was actually freeing. My house is a little cleaner but that could be from my new dish want and my revision is a little farther along.

The biggest thing I noticed was that I wrote(or cleaned) at times I would normally be on facebook. I wrote in the morning, when I had a spare half hour, before shows, between shows. Now normally I would think nothing of checking my facebook between shows and catching up on status updates but the idea of sitting and writing would feel somehow wrong. But it wasn't so wrong. Turned out I had to keep an eye on the clock but it was good.

I have gotten to the place in my facebook life where I don't update my status often. But the first day of my week off all I could think of was status updates. But without the status updates I put all those witty little thoughts in my journal.

One unexpected side effect of not facebooking was the amount I read. Now I'm not saying the books that I was reading were really hard but I read three books in the last week. Trixie Belden and the Mystery in Arizona, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Prom Dates from Hell. I'm a reader so I usually read about a book a week but I was excited to find that not reading status updates freed me up to read more books.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

technology fast

I was going to write a post about my experiences teaching a craft at a theater camp but I'm going to save that for next week.

Instead due to the state of my house (it's a mess) and the state of my revision (not done) I am writing about the fact that I'm going to take a tech fast. See If I write about it on my blog I'll actually do it.

So starting tomorrow (cause I've already checked my facebook page today) I'm only going to check my email for a week. No facebook, no blogging for a week.

Hopefully I will use the time I usually spend on facebook to do things like revise my novel and clean my house.

I can already feel my productivity rising and my house is beginning to look cleaner. I'm planning to use my time between shows today for writing. I'll keep a list of all the things I accomplish during my week off from facebook/blogging.

Have a good week.

Monday, June 21, 2010

writing practice

I bought myself a writing book a couple weeks ago and I have a feeling that it is going to become my new go to book when I need a little jump start on my writing.

The book is An Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg.
This book has writing prompts and exercises to help you think about memory and writing.
Normally I write children's stories but I'm trying to stretch myself in other areas.
I love reading memoirs but whenever I think of writing my own memoir I immediately brush aside the idea because 1) I've never written for Spin or been a contributor on NPR. 2) I am not famous and I'm not connected with anyone famous.

I occasionally title my memoirs.

I wrote a story for Chicken Soup for the Runner's Soul that is being released this summer. When I read magazines with personal essays in them it occurs to me that I could do that. So I use my journal for this practice of memoir type writing.

This book has helped my writing practice. I look forward to working on the writing exercises. Writing about a memory of swimming or the end of something. The exercises usually say to write for ten minutes but I seem to lose track of time and I realize I've written for twenty minutes.

I've even been finding time to write on the weekends. I usually consider myself too busy to write on the weekends and I don't even try it but maybe it is because the book gives me permission to write for ten minutes. It doesn't ask for a word or page count. Just ten minutes. Surely I can devote ten minutes on a Saturday to writing about my beloved childhood pet.

If this book isn't on your writer bookshelf I recommend it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Writing on Madeline Island

A few years ago the term was the Quarter life crisis was coined. It was something that people in their 20's experienced as they transitioned out of college and into the real world.
I have decided that I need to coin the phrase Three Quarter Life crisis for the phase my father is in his life. I miss the midlife crisis days when I came home one day to find he had purchased a BMW convertible and then a week later he bought a 45 foot sail boat. I really miss the boat.
Recently my father went to Mexico where he married a 27 year old he met in Cabo. *My parents have been divorced forever so this is OK*
This would be OK if it meant that my vacation to Alaska with my Dad didn't get cancelled. Bummer.
But rather than be bummed and feel out of control of my own summer plans I decided that this would be the perfect chance for me to take a writing retreat. My mom thinks it would be the perfect time for me to take an adventure vacation, but I don't think "hotel in the woods" is what the adventure website means when they say "camping".
So I've been researching writing retreats for the last week. I live in MN so Split Rock was where I started looking but alas the weeks I have off they are full. I looked elsewhere. I even thought about the Iowa Summer Writers Festival but that is in Iowa and I'm from Iowa so Iowa City is not a vacation.

Finally I discovered Madeline Island School of the Arts and this is where I want to go. The website didn't answer enough of my questions so I called today and found out, much to my sadness that the classes I want to take are probably going to be cancelled due to lack of enrollment.

 Sandstrom Farm
It is the first year the classes have run and they aren't really listed in a lot of places that writers would see. I'm super bummed because this sounds way cooler than spending a week in Iowa City, even though I have happy memories of Iowa City. I'm not really sure how I found them. Maybe I saw an ad or something. They did not pop up on the multiple Google searches I did looking for a summer writing retreat.

The man who answered the phone was so nice about answering my questions and taking my name and number in case the class does run. He encouraged me to tell my friends about the class and I said I would facebook, blog, email and tell everyone I could. He told me he finds the telephone useful for getting the word out.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Re Vision

Yesterday was critique group day. I belong to two critique groups. One contains people who are writing middle grade or YA novels. The other group is mostly picture books. I attend both of them because it keeps me motivated. It isn’t that I don’t think my novel group could give feedback on my picture book manuscript or that my picture book group couldn’t say what they think of a chapter in my novel. But each group seems best at what it does.

The picture book group is sort of fluid and as people keep taking classes more people get invited to the group but the group manages to stay to about 4-6 people each week. So every time I go it seems like there is at least one new person there.

Usually it is a person who I haven’t taken a class with so we don’t have an established trust factor going on with regards to critiquing stories.

This week I brought a rewrite of a picture book that I’ve been working on. As I’ve mentioned before I’m trying to tell the story from the dog’s point of view in this story. The revision felt like a stretch creatively and I tried to tell more of the dog’s story. The version I brought was very rough and I know it needs more dialog, more show, less tell.

After my last critique group I was ready to do one of two things.

1) Give up on the story and hide it in a folder with my inexperienced stories from when I first started writing.

2) Submit the story to a kids magazine just to see if it could get published and not have to keep revising it.

But I didn’t. See I have a dream of this story being a picture book. Last time we met the ladies in my group had rewritten their stories so that some were unrecognizable from what they were before. They stretched themselves creatively by trying different forms. If they could do that surely I could look at my story with new eyes.

What do you do after critique groups? Do you go home and revise like crazy? Do you let the manuscript sit for a day and think about what it has done before diving in to revisions?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Rainy Days are productive days

Since Minnesota looks like this in the winter.

It means that summer must be enjoyed to its fullest extent. Which means on days when it looks like this I have a hard time sitting inside working away on my novel.

There are two solutions. Write at the coffee shop at one of the nice outside tables or use walks and such for sunshine fix/writing breaks.
This is a much better solution than my previous summers where I have dedicated my days to long bike rides and runs and then when it is time to sit down and write I am ready for my nap.

But yesterday was perfect. It was raining. Not one of those June just passing through thunderstorms. This was perfect all day rain. Which meant I could stay inside and work away without feeling guilt that I was squandering one of the perfect 100 days of summer.
When I came home from the gym I started working. I wrote in my journal. I worked for a while. I got laundry done. I got dishes done. I went to the bank. I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a book about writing. I revised some more. I wrote in my journal again because my life has been really journal worthy lately.
I had no idea there were so many hours in a day and how much I could accomplish when the sun was not calling me to play outside.

Friday, June 04, 2010

the end of a productive week

Today turned out to be a totally surprising day.
I was ready to spring into action as super nanny at the last minute for a coworker even though it meant not working on any of my writing projects today.
As I was putting on my back pack to go out the door to babysit I got a phone call saying the meeting was cancelled. Woo hoo.
Since I had already worked out and gone for a walk to enjoy the sunshine I took the freeing up of my afternoon to get some writing done. So I feel like this week has been productive.

So when I was reading my Nancy Drew books my boss noticed decided to lend me her entire Trixie Belden collection. So I decided to read these and I have to say that so far they are a lot of fun.
I am currently reading Trixie Belden and the Mysterious Visitor .

The thing that is great about these books, and Nancy Drew too, is that the characters are always looking for and finding mysteries which lead them into all sorts of adventures. The chapters always seem to end with suspense. I mean how can a reader possibly put the book down when Trixie is hiding in the hay loft of an old barn and has just been discovered by trailer thieves.

Reading through these books has been good for my writing as well. Even though my MC is not solving any mysteries I have been trying to revise my novel and am really trying to end my chapters with an exciting or mysterious finish that make people want to read the next chapter.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Holiday fun

I admit that I had fun on Memorial Day. Maybe even too much fun. The best thing about holiday Mondays is that everyone else has the day off too so it is more fun than my regular Mondays off. I threw out my Monday To Do List and decided to celebrate that this was the first paid holiday I've had in nearly 10 years.
I rode my bike to meet up with some friends at Fort Snelling State Park. So seriously if you live in the Twin Cities and you haven't been there you should totally go. It is so beautiful and not nearly as busy on Picnic Island as its neighbor Minnehaha Park.
There is a little lake to swim in and the Minnesota River to fish in.
I biked there and it was a lovely bike ride there. While there I played bocce ball, kickball, ate cook out food, played more kickball and swam.
I saw some wildlife.
Then I had to bike home. Back up the giant hill that leads down to picnic island. I was so tired at the end of my day that I struggled to stay awake until 9 pm. I did a little writing yesterday and am feeling back in the swing of writing today.

I did get a little surprise yesterday. Earlier this spring during the great show shuffle of 2010 I thought I was going to have 3 months off work so I applied for a part time position working with childhood literacy. I interviewed a month ago and really didn't think anything would come of it because they didn't have any part time positions left and because they didn't have any positions left in the city. So I was surprised to get called for an interview.

This part time job sounds like a ton of work but at the same time I am hoping that working to help kids read will help me be a better writer.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Carrie Diaries

I have a confession to make. Somehow with all the commercials and hype about SATC2 I found out about The Carrie Diaries and when I saw it cheap at Target I couldn't resist putting it in my little red shopping cart.

What can I say. I grew up with the name Carrie in a world full of Jennifers and Lisas. It wasn't until I was in 6th grade that I really encountered someone with my same name. Also there are a gazillion versions of the name so while I knew Kerrys and Karis and Careys I didn't know a lot of Carries growing up. So naturally watching Carrie Bradshaw and her friends and their adventures in NYC was fun for me.

The Carrie Diaries tells the story of Carrie Bradshaw's life before moving to NYC. It is a look at her senior year of high school. During the book we meet Carrie's family and high school friends. We see her first steps into dating. She is dating someone who seems to be spending a lot of time with her best friend while on the other hand there is the nice guy from Brown who is interested in her but whose affections she can't seem to return.

I have to admit that this was not the best $13.50 I've ever spent. The problem with the prequel to Carrie's life is that I feel like I already know how it is going to turn out. This is probably why I made it through half of a Gossip Girl book as well. About halfway through the book I wasn't sure I actually had the motivation to keep turning the pages.

The other thing I didn't like about the book was that it seemed like Carrie and her high school friends smoke a lot. OK so I know this is realistic and that teenagers smoke and that teenagers in the 80's were probably more likely to smoke because of things like Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man. For some reason I have no problem with drinking in books but smoking in books bugs me.

I thought the portrayal of High School Carrie was good. There were things in the book that were universal to high school like dealing with the Queen Bee and figuring out where you want to go in life. Carrie doesn't have that nostalgic best-time-of-her-life view of high school. She has a dream of bigger and better things for herself.

I don't work in a book store so I don't know but I think this book is probably being purchased by fans of Sex and the City. But maybe the book will give Carrie a new generation of fans who follow her through high school and her adventures in NYC.

If you are a fan of the show/book my recommendation is to round up the Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte in your life and split the cost of this book. Then you will have a light summer read to share without the guilty feeling that you wasted your money on it.