Wednesday, April 28, 2010

connecting at conferences

This weekend I'm going to the Children's and Young Adult Literature Conference at the Loft Literary Center and I'm very excited.
When I attended a couple years ago I was just admitting to myself that writing was something I really wanted to do.
I had tried my hand at writing before and took some classes at the Loft and got a couple rejection letters and retreated back to my journals. Then I found running and something shifted in my self-esteem and ability to handle rejection. So it was back to the Loft.

I was remembering my conference experience from a couple years ago. I went to a break out session about revision. During the session we split up into small groups based on where we were sitting. This is how I ended up in a group with a woman who didn't like the subject of my manuscript. I ended up asking her to please give me feedback based on the story not the subject. At the end of the session I felt awful. I had to remind myself that no everyone will like my story.

At the time I didn't really know a lot of people in the writing community because I hadn't taken classes in a while. But at the end of the conference something wonderful happened. I ran into one of the ladies from the Book Club Cycle class who also happens to live one block away. I was so happy to find a familiar face. That familiar face led me to my picture book critique group and to my first published story.

I know a lot of people go to conferences to connect and network. I am always amazed that someone who I already knew, who I saw once a week, whose house I can get to via backyards ended up being the person who led me to a published story.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I always had a lot of respect for my friends who are parents but after this week of being super nanny for one of my coworker's 3 kids all I can say is whoa.
Yesterday I showed up for a short little 2 hour shift and I said "If this is how I tired I feel after 2 weeks of babysitting I can't imagine how parents feel."
I felt like I could probably sleep until Wednesday. I didn't, but I did sleep for 10 hours last night.

When offered the Date Night shift on Monday I said I needed a recovery day (or maybe week). Also Date Night happens to be the same day as my writing group meeting but I was too tired to remember that until a couple hours later.

Now what am I going to do with all my babysitting money? Probably spend it during the used book shopping adventure today.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I've spent the entire week babysitting.
I admit I'm a little drained from it.
I admit that I ate ice cream with the kids last night and I didn't think about my fitness competition at the Y. I think chasing kids on bikes made me feel like I earned a little ice cream.
The thing I'm good at is bedtime. My motivation is the fact that once kids go to bed I get to write for a while. So really all the little tricks don't usually work on me. Although one of the kids did sneak a gameboy to bed.

Here is one of the conversations from yesterday.
S: One of my slippers is lost. I need to go downstairs and find it.
Me: That slipper has been missing for a week. I think it will wait another day.

One more night of babysitting this week and it is movie night. Movie night is way more fun than a school night.

Today I was listening to MPR and they were talking about boys and reading. Listen here.
It was a really good discussion and I thought their advice for writers for young people was really good.

I'm happy to say I have been keeping up with my goals for my writing. I have been writing every day and have gone back and done some work on some stories I have in progress. The Loft Children's writing festival is next week end and I'm really looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I love the new ballpark

On the list of things I love baseball ranks pretty high up there. I spent my childhood playing softball and one of the highlights of my summers was always going to my grandparent’s house where I would watch baseball with my grandpa for two weeks.

Growing up in Iowa meant that I didn’t grow up supporting a Major League team. Some of my friends liked the Cubs, some liked the Cardinals, my mom and her family like the Yankees. When I moved to Minnesota I went to my first Twins game and I was hooked.

I'm kind of a baseball nerd. I keep a baseball reading list and I like to go to as many games as I can in a season. Sometimes I don't talk about my love of baseball because since my family still bleeds pinstripes it can be hard to hear them trash talk my beloved team with the kind of confidence that people who root for a dynasty can.

I was super excited about my first outdoor game at Target Field, the Twins new outdoor ballpark. I have been babysitting all week so today was the first day I could go. I decided that this would be the perfect way to end a week of babysitting and take advantage of my free Saturday.

I didn’t get to go opening day because the stars were aligned against me and even though I had friends who won the ticket lottery for opening day, buying tickets for opening day did not happen.

I love the new ballpark so much.

When I got there I parked my bike at the bike parking area,which had Twins logos on the bike racks. Yay go Twins.

I got there early so I could check out the place and walk around for a while. It is perfect for that because you can see the field and watch batting practice while you are walking around

I rarely think that people have cooler jobs than mine but today as I saw how excited everyone working at Target Field was I have to admit I was a little jealous.

Watching baseball outside was a treat for the senses in a way that the Dome never was. It was bright and sunny. I know it sounds cheesy but there was not a cloud in the sky and the field looked like the most beautiful shade of real green grass green instead of fake astroturf never seen sun, washed out green.

My seat was near one of the places that sells Murray’s Steak Sandwiches, one of the new foods in the ballpark so every so often the wind would blow right and you would smell grilled steak and think about how awesome being outside really is.

Today Twins catcher Joe Mauer was given the silver bat for being the most awesome hitter of 2009 and also his 2009 AL MVP plaque. His dad threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches.

There was a homer by Thome earlier in the game so I got to see the home run fireworks in action. (There were no home run fireworks at the Dome). We won a close game against the Royals thanks to a homer by Orlando Hudson to put us in the lead.

Of course now that I’ve been I want to go back as often as possible. Maybe I should have bought season tickets.

Friday, April 16, 2010

About eight years ago I bought a pair of roller skates. Not roller blades but actual roller skates with four wheels that sit more side by side. They were the Sketchers 4 wheelers and while I loved the idea of them I found their lack of ankle support something I couldn't make work for me.

So I sold them on ebay about five years ago.
Yesterday I regretted this decision.
One of the kids I'm babysitting this week finally got the hang of the whole how to ride a bike thing so yesterday she and her brother tried to ride their bikes to Canada. OK maybe not Canada but they still rode pretty far while I tried to keep up on foot. Which made me wish I still had those 4 wheelers.
Plus what would be cooler than a roller skating babysitter?

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Starting Monday I have a 5 week break from work.
For people who work 9-5, 50 weeks a year this would probably be cause for a little freak out but it is pretty common in my line of work to have some time off between shows.
I am going to spend some of my time off babysitting and probably visiting my family but my big goal is to try to set a more reliable writing schedule.

I admit that my writing schedule has been a bit erratic lately. I blame this on the sewing project I took on which ended up being more hours in a shorter amount of time than expected.
So here are my goals.

1. Write everyday. (Um yeah. Not sure how I stopped writing everyday but there it is)

2. Bring a revised story to my critique group.

3. Work on novel revision. (I'm going to try to revise at least 3-5 pages a day.)

4. Work on finding a home for one of my finished stories. (Submit at least one story during my break.)

5. Set a writing schedule that I can stick to when I go back to work. (This means that I need to not put off my writing until 4 p.m when I'm usually getting ready for work.)

So there they are. My writing goals for the next 5 weeks. I will still be babysitting so the fact that I will be have to leave my house at a certain time everyday will hopefully motivate me to get my writing done early in the day.

I have other personal fun goals like going to a Twins game and I'm working on fitness goals for a fitness competition at my gym.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

What I'm reading- Impossible

There is a box of books in the wardrobe room full of books. When people finish a good book sometimes they add to it. They add not so great books too. Sometimes actors will leave books in the wardrobe library when they finish a show. The wardrobe library used to be a small little thing with maybe five books and one of them was a Nicholas Sparks book but now it is an overflowing box plus a grocery bag full of books. This is how I came across Impossible by Nancy Werlin.

This book was published in 2008. I picked it up and looked at it when it first showed up in the wardrobe library but it wasn’t until I saw it in the YA section at the real library that it caught my attention.

This book is inspired by the Simon and Garfunkel song “Scarborough Fair” and it mixes fantasy and ancient curses in a contemporary setting.

In the book Lucy Scarborough is haunted by her birth mother who randomly shows up in her life usually singing the song Scarborough Fair. Her mother, Miranda, suffers from mental illness and spends most of her life living in shelters and disappearing for long periods of time.

Lucy is practical and down to earth but finding Miranda’s diary leads her to believe that she may be part of an ancient curse. When Lucy becomes pregnant she worries she will end up like her mom.

But Lucy has things her mom didn’t have. She has loving foster parents and friends who support her. Together they work on how to solve the riddles in the curse (magical seamless shirt, plowing an acre of land with a goat’s horn) before Lucy has her baby.

The suspense of wondering if they will solve the puzzle and break the curse is what kept the pages turning in this book for me. I have been staying up late and reading any chance I had just to find out what was going to happen.

This book has an element of fantasy with the Scarborough Fair song and a version of the song called the Elfin Knight. The characters are so practical as they try to solve these riddles, using the internet to research the origins of the song and ebay to purchase a goat horn. I think the practicality of the characters makes the magical elements work for this book. I really recommend this book and will be returning it to the wardrobe room for someone else to read.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A bittersweet Peep Day

The winners for the Pioneer Press Peep Diorama contest were announced today and I have to say I was highly disappointed. Not only did MacPeep not win anything it didn't even get mentioned in the article about the contest.
When I first saw the winner, The Peepling Brother's Circus I knew there was no crystal peep in my future but I held out hope for a tote bag or at least some prize peeps, because nothing tastes better than Peeps you won by hot gluing other Peeps to cardboard.
In seeing some of the second and thrid place winners and honorable mentions I am somewhat disappointed by the loss. Don't these people know how hard we worked on our diorama? We didn't just go out and stick a toy car and some Peeps in a pothole. No, we made a cardboard version of the Guthrie Theater and recreated scenes from a Shakespeare play.
At least 8 hours of work went into this project plus 2 hours of giggling and not to mention the campaigning to get people to vote for the diorama.
To ease my sorrow at the loss I ate Peeps, not Peeps I won but Peeps given to me by my sister after hearing about my disappointing loss.
To make myself feel better about losing to a diorama about Tiger Woods I checked out the Washington Post's Peep Show and tried to gain inspiration for next year's contest while explaining to my brother how much cooler people in DC were and also trying to explain all the pop culture references that he didn't understand like the diorama for the JK Wedding Dance.
But now I have a whole year to plan for next year. I may even purchase Peeps from other holidays even though that goes against my belief that Peeps should just stay with their own holiday and not try to get in on the other holidays.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Tech fast

I am on a sort of forced technology fast right now due to the fact that my internet is being lame. Apparently my signal strength is really weak s someone from the ISP will be coming out next week to hopefully fix it. Until that time I am connecting at home when I can or going to my friendly neighborhood coffee shop. Before my internet decided to be stupid I spent the weekend in Alabama where my sister lives/works and where there is no WiFi.
The biggest change for me has been the fact that I have only checked my facebook once a day for the last week. When my internet gets back up I think I should make a habit of the once a day FB check instead of the whenever I'm bored or hit a block in my writing FB check.
The funny thing is that in the past I have come to the coffee shop as a way to stay off the internet. Since I live alone and don't have kids silence is something I have an abundance of so sometimes I go to the coffee shop for the chaos. The fact that all the people in the coffee shop could look over my shoulder and see the fact that I was on FB motivated me to actually spend the time writing.