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!