Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Picture my ride

I love biking and the long summer evenings are some of my favorite for biking. Here are some pictures from a recent bike ride. (They are kinda blurry because I don't have a fancy camera or a tripod for my not fancy camera)

Minneapolis skyline

Midtown building

A boat on the shore and reflections on Powderhorn Lake

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer time and the writing is easy

Summer has finally arrived in Minnesota.
There were times I was pretty sure it wasn't going to get but it's finally here.

The summer sun seems to have brought motivation with it. I've been working on my rewrite hoping to get through this revision by the end of August.

The call of the summer sun has made me sit in my seat and get my writing done so I can get outside and play instead of being stuck at my desk all day.

Do you work better in the summer? Or is summer vacation time?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Revising Tips

I'm revising.

This week I had a really awesome day. I had a moment of inspiration about a chapter that was totally awesome. Then I had this other chapter. This chapter that wouldn't behave. I struggled with how I should incorporate some of the suggestions from the people who gave me feedback.

But the chapter didn't want to work well with others.

So I just let the chapter sit in the corner and think about what it had done or was doing or whatever. Then I came back to it and now I'm really excited about some of the changes.

So when the thing you're revising isn't behaving make it sit in the corner and think.

Do you have any revising tips?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What I Learn at Summer Camp

For the last 5 years I've taught at a craft class at a theater camp for kids.
The director always tells me how much the kids like me and how much they learn from me but every year I'm like "I learn so much from them."

Here's some important things I learned from my campers.

1. I am not made to be a full time teacher- Before I started teaching camp I was toying with the idea of going back to school to be a teacher. After my first summer, ok after my first week, I realized that while I love teaching kids to decorate hats, fans and scarves I'm not cut out to teach math, science, reading and social studies every day.

2. Patience- OK I'm pretty patient. If you work retail you totally want me in your check out line cause I'm never in a hurry. But I've learned to be patient with people who don't listen or who don't do what I explain or who don't listen (yeah, I said that twice).

3. Be encouraging and involve everyone- Everyone can be creative even the kid who seems like he's at camp because his parents don't want to pay for a babysitter but they really don't want him to burn down the house either.

4. Go with the flow- I have a plan but each class is different and some kids take the whole time to finish their craft and still want more time to work on it and others take no time at all. If I have time I answer questions they have about the theater or costumes. Mostly they want to tell me about all the shows they've seen or that they were in their school's production of High School Musical.

5. Use My Voice- Not the writing kind of voice but the voice that gets people's attention. The first day I taught camp I was nervous. When kids get bored they don't hide it very well. What if the kids didn't like me? What if the craft didn't work? By the end of the summer I was definitely more confident.

I know that what I've learned from my campers will be super valuable for things like school visits when I have a book published someday.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tweet Tweet

What are the FIVE Twitter handles/people you think everyone should follow?

@neilhimself Um yeah, Neil Gaiman. He's one of my faves. Also if you haven't read anything by him you should. I usually find myself crying at the end of his books and I can't explain it except that I'm so sad the book is over.

@halseanderson Everyone probably knows who Laurie Halse Anderson is and if you write for young adults she was probably one of the first people you followed. Me too.

@grammargirl I need to be better at grammar

Publishers- I follow a lot of book publishers so I'm not going to list them individually just that you should follow them especially in the genre you want to be published in.

Agents- I follow a few agents. Reading their tweets can be great info for what to do and what not to do when submitting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Other fun stuff

I'm teaching camp this week so I'm a little busy. Also working on my revision. So I leave you with other fun stuff.

My coworkers like to make quilts. So far they've made quilts for the shows 1776, Little House on the Prairie, Master Butchers Singing Club (I made a chinchilla quilt square for this one) and numerous babies.

I decided to make a Harry Potter quilt. Here's my sorting hat square.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wardrobe Love

Did you watch the Tony Awards last night?
Did you see Mark Rylance win? Yeah. That was awesome.
My heart broke a little every time The Scottsboro Boys didn't win. Seriously it is a wonderful, challenging, emotional show.
Since most of the people I was really pulling for to win a Tony last night didn't win this was one of my favorite moments. She gets all weepy about her dresser going away. I might have gotten weepy about an actor crying about her dresser.

Oh yeah and this was AWESOME

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Breakin the rules- Possession Blog hop

Possession by Elana Johnson comes out today! Did you got a copy? Mine was delivered to my Kindle.

To celebrate there is a bloghop- tell about a time you broke the rules.

When I was little I was obsessed with the Boogie Man. See I wasn't sure if he was really all that scary. If his name was any indication it seemed like he might be a good dancer and I wanted to see if my suspicions were correct.

One day in an effort to make sure the Boogie Man would pay a visit I broke every rule I could. I was around 4 or 5 at the time. I stood at the top of the slide and said every swear word I knew. I went to the bathroom outside. I changed my clothes and made a mess of my room. I threw rocks out of the rock bed in the back yard.
My mom was so mad at me that day. She brought me in the house and sent me to my room.

As she was bringing me to my room telling me about the trouble I was in I looked at her and asked, "Do you think the Boogie Man will come?"

Senior Skip Day

As a teenager I didn't break too many rules. I followed the letter of the law. For example I was at school even if I wasn't in gym class. I was also good at covering my rule breaking. It wasn't skipping gym if I was going to a debate tournament or working on the school newspaper.

But Senior Skip Day was different. I only had one more month to be a high school student. After that it was college and then adulthood. I woke up that morning and asked my mom to call me in sick for senior skip day. See I knew that none of the other Seniors would be in class that day. If I did go to school I'd be the only person in a lot of my classes. So I skipped. I didn't go to the county park and party which was the cool thing to do on Senior Skip Day. I just didn't go to school.

The next day in Mr. Burr's Latin class he was passing back a pop quiz he'd given the day before on Senior Skip Day. There was only one Latin class and it was mixed level so there were Seniors but there were also students from other grades. When the seniors who'd skipped the day before asked about making up the quiz he said there was no make up quiz. I was pretty upset about this because at this point I was getting an A in Latin and missing a quiz wasn't going to help that. I begged to take the quiz. I explained that I wasn't even at the park with all the other seniors. That I simply hadn't been at school that day.

Mr. Burr said, "Well Carrie, I'm afraid you've shot yourself in the academic foot."

That line pretty much stuck with me. Not that I wouldn't break the rules again just that if I did I'd know I might be shooting myself in the academic foot.

Monday, June 06, 2011

My response to critics of YA

This is my response to the Wall Street Journal article here.

My first moment of finding a character like me in a book came long before the YA years. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary in second grade to be exact.

My second grade teacher assigned this book to me when our class was reading Beverly Cleary. I didn’t want to read this book because 1. It had a boy on the cover. 2. I wanted to read a Ramona book.

But on the pages of this book I found what I needed. Leigh Botts and I had a lot of the same problem. Divorce. Wondering when we’d see Dad, being mad when Dad forgot to send the child support check. Reading about Leigh gave me the roadmap I needed to navigate my own parent’s divorce.

Other books would provide valuable tools for dealing with my parent’s divorce like the Divorce Express by Paula Danzinger.

In my Catholic grade school class of 25 kids I can pretty safely tell you that none of the other kids had parents who were getting divorced. Books helped me immensely. I'm not sure what my life would have been without those books.

Even if my teen years seem to lack the “darkness” that the WSJ article talks about it doesn’t mean I didn’t encounter these things. I’m one of the people Laurie Halse Anderson talks about in her post. I was the kid who encountered these kids.

The books I read gave me the tools to be a good friend because I knew kids who were dealing with bigger things than I was in my school, church and even in my own family.

I have to thank my mom for not censoring my reading. My mom used her parenting powers to make sure I wasn’t reading Cosmo before I was in college and that I didn’t get to see The Bodyguard until I was seventeen. She let me know which Danielle Steele novels I was allowed to read. But as far as the teen section in the library goes she trusted that what I was reading was safe and that if I encountered something I wasn’t ready for I wouldn’t read the book.

My mom wasn’t good with the tough subjects and she spent her teen years at boarding school so maybe it was easier to hope I’d find the answers in books. I think my mom knew that the books I was reading were fiction. I think she figured it was better to have me reading about some of these things than out there experiencing them first hand.

I think she'd seen me take good ideas from books- trying to start a babysitting club or starting a school newspaper with my friends in fifth grade so we could be like Elizabeth Wakefield or being kind to spiders. But I think she knew I wasn't going to start smoking or raid the liquor cabinet because I'd read about it in a book.

See the thing is things like smoking, drinking, drugs, cutting or eating disorders don't always turn out so great for the characters in teen fiction. The characters have to journey back from those dark places. Most kids don't finish a book about these subjects and think they should try that for themselves. Reading about it is enough. But reading about it can give insight when they have a friend or family member go through something similar.

I think reading and writing gave me my voice. I read and wrote a lot. I was pretty confident in my voice by the time I entered my teen years. I spent my high school years on the debate team and school newspaper. I was no stranger to using my voice for something I believed in.

I saw friends and even family members deal with tough issues straight out of teen fiction. I spent a lot of time wondering What kept me safe? What made set me apart? Why them and not me? A few years ago I realized the answer was my voice. Sometimes #YASaves by giving kids the voice to keep themselves safe in the world in the first place.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Summer Deals

I got an email the other day telling me about the summer ebook deals Kindle has available.

I'm a voracious reader. Seriously it can be a little difficult for my wallet keep up with all the books I want to read even when they are cheaper on a Kindle than they would be in hardback. I like buying books because I want to support writers and the book industry in general but I love finding deals too.

Here are some of the great deals in teen and children's ebooks. Currently most of these books are $.99 to $2.99. Several of them were books I'd hear good things about like Shine and Swim the Fly.

If you don't have a Kindle you can still enjoy these deals on an iPhone, ipod touch, iPad, blackberry, Android and computer.

*I am an amazon associate. The links below are affiliate links.

Kindle Deals

Friday, June 03, 2011

Excuses, excuses

Paper Hangover askes what are FIVE excuses YOU have to be ready to give up in order to be a better writer?

1. Waiting for the ideal life to write. Back when I was young I thought I would get married and whoever I married would have the means to support me in the lifestyle which I would like to become accustomed to. This lifestyle included staying home and writing all day. Um yeah that hasn't happened. Don't wait for the kids to be in school, total silence in the house, noise in the house, the winning lottery ticket.

2. I can't afford to write. Classes, MFA programs, a MacBook- these can be expensive. But you don't need these in order to write. Go to the store. Buy a pack of pens for $3 buy the 50 cent composition books. Write.

3. I don't like rejection. Join the club. Write. Don't submit anything until you are sure what you've written is pure awesome.

4. I'm shy. Lots of writers are a little introverted. If you only write in your journal this is OK if you want other people to read your stuff get out of your shell and talk to people, interact with people. Read your work out loud to people. Sing karaoke. Talk to strangers. Join a public speaking club. Take an improv class.

5 I'm afraid of failure. By the time I made it to my early-twenties I felt pretty successful. I was a good student in high school and college, I graduated college, I landed the job I wanted working with Muppets. I wrote some stories. I got rejected. I stopped writing for publication but I didn't quit writing. I returned to my dream of writing a little older and a little more familiar with the art of failure. It's like Bob Dylan said. "There's no success like failure."

My friend Quiana inspired me to drop my excuses. She is the type of person who tackles life head on. I never saw her make an excuse for anything. Seriously it's like she doesn't have a definition for the word "can't" in her vocabulary. She has accomplished so much including a Master's Degree, numerous running events, a triathlon, parenthood. She creates community wherever she goes. When I saw the way she lived I knew I had to stop making excuses and meet life head on.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Summer reading

June is finally here.
When I was a kid summer was my time to read. Every year I read as many books as I could for the library's summer reading program.

Here is a list of books I can't wait to read this summer
Possession by Elana Johnson- This is pre-ordered on my Kindle
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma also pre-ordered
The Red Glove by Holly Black
Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando
The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller

I'm also re-reading Harry Potter in anticipation of the final movie and am reading books I've won from blog giveaways and books from the clearance section of the Half Price Books that is on the way home from my chiropractor's office.

What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?