Wednesday, November 30, 2011

RTW- Best Book of November

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered.

This week's question

What's the best book you read in November?

November was a good month for reading for me. 

My favorite book this month was Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu


I just loved this story of friendship and growing up.  The writing is wonderful. Hazel is a brave and true friend and I love that about this book.  

I read this book on the first snowy afternoon in Minnesota and even though the snow didn't stick around I think this book is the perfect winter read.  You may even take back some of the bad things you've said about snow in the past and see snow for all the magical possibilities it holds.  

This book is the December Pick for NPR's Backseat Book Club so you should probably read it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Adjectives Rock

I heard this on the radio yesterday.  It needed to be shared

Getting into a revision groove and working on a fun picture book idea.  When I get stuck with one I switch to the other.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quilt Progress

For all my friends doing NaNoWriMo- You can do it!  You're almost there.

I made some progress on my quilt.  I finished the last square and got the top and bottom borders finished.
Hogwarts Crest

Hufflepuff Badger Don't Care

Top and Bottom borders

Now I just have my side panels to figure out so I'm feeling a little more confident that this may actually get finished in time for Christmas.  

In writing news I revisited a PB idea that I've had in my head for a while and I really like how that is getting started.

I read Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu this week and loved it.  It was an amazing book.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Should You Be Writing Right Now?

Last week I worked at a high school helping with costumes for Midsummer Night's Dream.  The theater and music area is nestled in the same hallway and I walked by this sign several times a day. Practice Chart
You can find this sign at the Odd Quartet

I was so inspired by this sign about practicing that I decided to make my own version for writing.  Enjoy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Fives- Writing Necessities

Paper Hangover asks the question What are the FIVE things you need to write with, other than pen, paper, and a computer.

1. The Loft- I'm so lucky to live in Minneapolis where the Loft has been a part of my writing journey.  I've taken a number of classes there, attended conferences and met my writing groups through this place.  The atmosphere is just great for writing.

2. Tea- I don't drink coffee so tea is my caffeinated beverage of choice.

3. Note cards- I really like to use these to write notes about my WIP as inspiration strikes.

4. iPod Touch- I like being able to tweet/facebook without leaving my wip.  I've also used to notepad to write down ideas when inspiration strikes.

5. Kindle- I use my Kindle to read drafts of my wip.  I can read my wip anywhere without needing to lug around a stack of paper or my laptop.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

RTW- School Daze

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered.

In high school, teens are made to read the classics - Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Bronte, Dickens - but there are a lot of books out there never taught in schools. So if you had the power to change school curriculums, which books would you be sure high school students were required to read?

My pick would be 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  I'm sure lots of school are using this as part of curriculums.  It is a compelling book and has the power to make people think about how they treat each other.

I also really liked Matched by Allie Condie and I could see it being used in schools.  The idea of choice and having access to the written word and music.  The use of poetry in the book also seems like it would work well in a classroom.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Minnesota Monday- Readings

On Sunday I attended a reading at The Loft.

The series is called the Second Story Reading Series and it pairs a new MG or YA author with an established author.  Each reads from their works and then they answer a some questions from the audience.  The idea is that a reader will come to hear one author and then be introduced to a new author.

This time the authors were Anne Ursu and Kelly Barnhill.

Kelly read from her book The Mostly True Story of Jack
Product Details

I haven't read this book and I made the mistake of not buying it on my way in.  The first chapter totally had me on the edge of my seat.  The MC, Jack, has to spend his summer in Iowa.  I'm from Iowa so when  she started talking about Jack spending his summer in Iowa I kicked myself for not buying it on the way in.  The beginning of this book has that sort of scary suspense that makes me want to keep reading.

Anne Ursu read from her latest book Breadcrumbs

Product Details

About a year ago Anne critiqued my PB manuscript at a Minnesota SCBWI conference.  She was super helpful and her advice really helped once I applied it to my story.  I haven't had a chance to read this book yet either but I purchased it on my way in. She read from the first chapter and then a chapter where Jack meets the Ice Queen.  I can't wait to read it.

This was a wonderful event.  My only mistake was not buying both the books on the way in.  I haven't been able to go to a lot of SCBWI events lately because of my work schedule but readings like this have been really great to help me feel more connected to writing.  

As I was watching these wonderful authors speak I began thinking about the public speaking aspect of being an author.  I think because standing standing up in front of people and talking is one of my big fears.  Many of us spend time building a platform, tweeting, blogging and collecting followers but how do you add the public speaking piece in?  Do you take theater and improv classes?  Sing karaoke without liquid courage?  Join a local Toastmasters group?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


I've never been into audiobooks.  I've tried to listen to them in the past but usually my need to sing in my car (the acoustics in the car are amazing) wins.  All that time running, on the stationary bike or elliptical?  Yep, music.
But this week I'm stitching in a costume shop.  It's not really a chatty space nor is it a dance break space.  I thought I was going to be locked away by myself labeling Christmas Carol but instead I'm sewing in the room on actual costumes.  So I downloaded some audiobooks.

How have I not been listening to audiobooks more often?  Also do you count audiobooks on your reading list on Goodreads?  What about books you're re-reading?

Here's what I listened to so far this week.

Matched by Ally Condie- How have I not read this book sooner?  I thought this story was more than just a YA dystopian novel.  I thought it was a beautiful story about the need to create things and the importance of writing and words.  I thought it was amazing and now I can't wait to read Crossed.

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell- I found myself totally wrapped up in the suspenseful parts of this story.  I'd been wanting to read this book since I saw another blogger talk about it.  It deals with lots of things I love.  Theater, following a dream.  There is also the added suspense of a mystery when the main character is given a place to stay in NYC by a mob lawyer.
Strings Attached

You know what I love?  When my coworkers read the YA books I love.  One of my coworkers just read The Hunger Games.  She loved them.  It usually takes them a while to read them, you know like when they hit Twilight or Hunger Games popularity.  But I always get that cool kid feeling like "Oh yeah I read that ages ago."  I wonder if I'll be lending them all my copy of the Matched trilogy in a couple years.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Day Walking diary

1. I work in the evenings.  I'm a night walker.
2. I usually work 4-5 hours at a time.  If it is a two show day I work and have a 1-2 hour break in between these shifts.

This week I'm working during the day in the costume shop.  Here is a diary of my day walking adventures.

O' dark thirty- alarm goes off. Press snooze.  Repeat 4 times.  

Dawn- finally wake up.  Go to gym for only 30 minutes since I slept through the other 30.

8:30- arrive at work.  Start labeling project.

9:00-  Move from labeling project to sewing actual costume.  Unprepared for this because a.) not really awake and b) thought I was going to label all day.

9- 12- Sewing. Sitting by window. Sun is so bright in my eyes I consider going to my car to get sunglasses.

Also start listening to Matched by Ally Condie on iPod.  OMG this book is amazing.  Why didn't I read it sooner.

Spend rest of morning making skirt and listening to audiobook.

12:30 Lunch.  Cook lunch and eat lunch.  OMG how do people make and eat lunch in 30 minutes?  Decide to research GF bread if I ever do this again.  But a) don't like bread and b) GF bread is expensive and c) don't really like bread.

3:00 finish skirt.  Woot.  Start working on bodice.

4:00 OMG sitting for so long.  Body= sore.  Need to go home and play dance video games.

5:00 leave.  It is dark

6:30- home after chiro appt.  Make dinner.  I am awesome at making tacos. Eat dinner then go to sleep by 9.

12:00 a.m.  woken up by cats because this is the time I usually go to bed so this is the time they also usually get food.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

HP Quilt- Platform 9 3/4

Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 3/4.  

I continue to chug along making progress on my quilt. One more square and then borders and putting the whole thing together.

I realized there were two squares I never posted.

Invisibility Cloak

In case you've missed squares or you just want to see them again here is the list.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Fives- Inspiration

Paper Hangover asks the question The FIVE authors who inspire you, writing or otherwise.

1. Judy Blume- I've always been a Judy Blume fan.  I love her ability to write about real characters with real problems.

2. Beverly Cleary- I read the Ramona books when I was growing up and loved them.  The book that was really influential for me was Dear Mr. Henshaw.  I read this book when my parents were getting divorced and it made me feel like I wasn't alone.  That someone else had made it through the problem I was facing.

3. J. K. Rowling- I love the Harry Potter books and what these books have done for children's literature.  When I need a little inspiration I watch her Harvard commencement speech.

4. Laurie Halse Anderson- Her books are influential and amazing.  

5. Rachel Cohn- I'd just gotten out of college when I first saw Gingerbread in the bookstore.  The striped tights and awesome boots seemed to call to me and even though I was no longer a YA I bought the book. This book made me love YA and made me want to write YA.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

RTW- Put me in coach

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question.

This week's question
What kind of writing coach do you need? When you have to coach friends, what kind of coach are you

I need a coach like my friend Maddog.  Coach Maddog was the coach of the kickball team I played on a a few years ago.  
Here's the thing about kickball.  I thought it would be easy.  I thought I'd go to games, hang out with my friends, maybe kick the ball a few times.  Kickball was hard.  You see there's a rule about how many girls have to be on the field to make up a team.
Maddog was organized with lists of who would play and what position.  And she made me play.  A lot. 
Some things about coach Maddog
She doesn't put up with whiners.  You signed up, you're playing.  Shut up and get out there.
She wants to win. 
She cheered us on.  
She's tough but fun. 

I need a writing coach like Maddog.  Someone who doesn't put up with whiners and someone who wants a win.

Sometimes I turn to the advice of Yogi Berra.  I'm too young to remember Yogi as a coach but my grandparents had these busts of Yogi and Casey Stengal at their house.  I was sort of obsessed with Yogi.  I'd dress him up and make him part of my games.

You better write.  Right now.

I love Yogi's sayings. I love his book What Time is it? You Mean Now?  It is an advice book set up alphabet style.  It's all about hard work and dedication.  Not being a whiner and being grateful for what you have.  

My current favorite coach is Ron Gardenhire, the coach of the Minnesota Twins.  
Gardy is no nonsense.  He gets along with his players.  He gets us to the playoffs, well except for this year but that's OK we'll get em next year.  

I also love my writing group.  I feel like these girls are encouraging and we all push each other by working and setting goals.  I love the encouragement I get from these girls