Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blogging challenge and why I blog

I just signed up to the A-Z Blogging Challenge. It sounds like fun and I think I'm up for the challenge.

Recently I've heard or read people talking about finding balance as a writer with things like blogs, twitter and facebook.

Here is the thing about blogging for me. Blogging makes me feel more accountable to my writing. I blog. I follow other blogs. I read about writers and their journey. I follow the progress of fellow writers. I cheer when they get work published or find an agent or have a really good writing day. I try to share words of encouragement.

But now that I have a blog with followers, thank you followers, I feel even more accountable to my writing. See I can't talk on here about writing and then spend my days playing Just Dance 2. I have to write.

Also as I make more bloggie friends I feel like I have more people cheering me on hoping for my success just like I'm cheering and hoping for theirs. So I keep working on my WIP and setting goals and meeting them.

So that is how I find balance and how blogging is helping me stick with my writing.

Has the blog community helped you as a writer?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday- Childhood reads

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

This week's topic: What books were you obsessed with as a kid?

The earliest books I remember reading on my own were Spiderman comic books. I loved Spiderman. I also loved The Monster at the End of This Book and Are You My Mother?

As I mentioned in last week's RTW post I loved Ramona Quimby. I read all the Ramona books and pretty much anything by Beverly Cleary that I could get my hands on. The first Beverly Cleary book I read was not Ramona. My 2nd grade teacher directed me to Dear Mr. Henshaw first because all the other girls in the class were reading the Ramona books and all the boys were reading about Henry. Dear Mr. Henshaw was the perfect book for me to read because the kid in the book is dealing with his parents getting a divorce and I was going through that as well.

By the time I got to fourth or fifth grade I was obsessed with The Baby-sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin. I read these books and was always ready and waiting for the newest one to hit the shelves. In sixth grade my friends and I tried to start our own Baby-sitting club. We made signs and held meetings and took the Red Cross baby-sitting class.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Make an Awesome Diorama

It's that time of year again. Time to break out the inspiration, glue gun, and sugar coated marshmallow candy to make a Peep diorama.
Since last year's post about MacPeep is still one of my most visited posts I figure I'm providing a resource to all those students out there who need to make dioramas for school. This year's diorama isn't based on a book or play because sometimes real life is actually better than fiction. This year's diorama is based on Princess Kay or the Milky Way. Princess K is the royalty of the Minnesota State Fair. There is a different Princess every day and each day that Princess gets her head carved in a huge block of butter.

Step 1
Pick a subject you are passionate about and something that makes a good scene. I Love the State Fair. Find and decorate a box large enough for your artistic vision. Decorate it with things like "seed art", photos of the fair and a milkshake booth.

Step 2 Make costumes and Props. One of the big things at the fair is goofy hats so I made some of my faves including a Little Farm Hands hat and some Oink Booth hats. I also had to make a food on a stick, mini donuts and buckets of cookies. Beg friends to raid their kid's toys in search of things like wagons.

State Fair Foods
Step 3
Put costumes and props on Peeps.

Step 4. Make sure the diorama shows a scene. For me it is Princess Peep.

Princess Peep and the Butter Princesses

Step 5. Arrange and glue Peeps into the scene. Take a step back and admire your hard work.

Step 6. Post photos and campaign for people to vote for the awesome diorama online at the Pioneer Press.

If State Fairs aren't your thing be sure to check out my friend and fellow Peep artist Sara. Her diorama is based on a short story by Harlan Ellison called "Repent Harlequin" said the Ticktockman. The story involves jelly beans. It was begging for a Peep diorama.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I decided this morning to sign up for a Twitter account.

I have a facebook account and a blog but I've held out on signing up for Twitter. Why?

I think of blogs, facebook, twitter accounts as being like pets. They require attention. Unlike pets who need food, exercise, and grooming these internet places need posts, updates, tweets, comments. Up until now I just haven't been ready for another internet site to visit but it seems like another good way to connect with and support other writers.

Maybe signing up for a Twitter account isn't quite as big a decision as getting a puppy but think of all the people who create orphan blogs, twitter accounts, facebook pages just because they think they should and then never go back to visit them.

Hopefully I will be able to maintain balance of working on my WIP while connecting on Twitter.

I think if I think of my WIP as the big cat in this picture and all other things as kitten invaders I'll be able to find balance.

Are you on Twitter? How do you maintain balance while still connecting with others on blogs, twitter, facebook?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday- These are the people in your neighborhood

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where we post a weekly writing- or reading-related question.

This week's question is: Which book character would you like most as a next door neighbor?

I want Ramona Quimby as my neighbor. Growing up I was totally into the Ramona books. I recently watched the movie Ramona and Beezus and was reminded how much fun Klickitat Street is. There's Ramona and Beezus and Howie and Willa Jean and Henry and his dog. This is a street I'd want to live on.

I would also like to live in the same building as Cornelia S. Englehart and her neighbor Virginia Somerset. From the book Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters. I would love to spend my days listening to Virginia talk about her world traveling adventures. Also I would totally volunteer to walk her dog, Mr. Kinyatta.

Monday, March 21, 2011


I have no post planned for today. I am currently revising my wip and making costumes for my Peep diorama.

Today I will leave you with the most awesome thing someone sent me this week
from escapetochengdu's photostream.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

These boots are made for Workshopping

I'm lucky to live in Minneapolis which is home to The Loft Literary Center. As a result I've been able to take writing classes and attend conferences over the last few years.
Many of the classes I've taken have a workshop element. Meaning that one hour of each class is dedicated to workshopping. Usually students sign up for a week to share their work and the other students comment on that work. The instructors usually set out guidelines so these can be helpful.
My "day job" happens to be in the exciting world of costumes. I even went to college and spent semesters studying the psychology of how people dress.

Which is why when it is my turn to workshop I plan my outfit around my awesome boots. Seriously what is more awesome than red cowboy boots? Maybe knock off Frye boots. I also have a pair of glittery Doc Martens which make me feel pretty invincible too but sadly they are not as invincible to Minnesota winters.

When I'm wearing these boots on workshop days I feel pretty awesome. Like hey, my classmates might not like parts of what I've written but I have the most awesome footwear in the room. I do take workshop suggestions seriously but the boots help me feel more confident.
Do you have a special outfit for workshop day or awesome shoes for giving presentations? Do you have an awesome necklace you wear only when you write or maybe a sweet thinking cap like the one below?

Monday, March 14, 2011

side effect of the Kindle

Here is what life was like before I got a Kindle.

Random person: What are you reading?
Me: (Insert YA or middle grade title here)
Person: Oh. I've never heard of that one.
Me: It's from the YA section. I read mostly YA.
Person: Is it good?
Me: Yes
This is sometimes followed by a conversation about why I read YA. My hopes of becoming a published author and to write YA or middle grade novels.

Here is what happens since I have a Kindle.
Random Person: Is that a Kindle?
Me: Yes.
Person: Do you like it?
Me: Yes I love it.
Person: How does it work?
Then I show them all the awesome things the Kindle does.

Most people don't ask what book I'm reading anymore. They just see the device. For some reason showing off my Kindle is much more fun than telling people about my reading habits.

Friday, March 11, 2011

List of awesome things

1. Heather at Pen, Paper, Lots of Coffee awarded me the One Lovely Blog award. Thank you Heather. You rock.

2. A children's magazine is interested in a story I wrote.

3. My revisions on my WIP are going well. Progress is good.

4. Skype with my new baby nephew. He doesn't say a lot yet but he's cute.

5. The very long list of small things I was able to accomplish because I actually had the energy to accomplish them. Not being fatigued all the time is sort of life changing.

6. It's Friday and I have a weekend. Well kinda. I have to work four hours tomorrow but afterwards Girls Night.

7. Fun blogfests, new blog friends and followers. Thanks guys.

8. Hoping my weekend will include Brie Curds.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday- I would have given anything to be like...

Road Trip Wednesday is a"Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs.
This week's prompt is in honor of Kirsten Hubbard's book Like Mandarin.
In the book the main character, Grace Carpenter, would give anything to be like Mandarin Ramey.
I would have given anything to be like...
My Aunt Ursula. Ursula is my dad's youngest sister. Ursula is awesome. Ursula came to visit us when she was sixteen on her summer road trip. She got to travel the county by herself visiting relatives by herself. How cool is that? She had the feathered hair and blue eye shadow that all the teenagers in the movies had. Feathered hair was cool. Blue eye shadow was cool. My hair would not feather like hers with all the hairspray in the world. I'm pretty sure she was the coolest person I had ever met.
She lived in Texas. She had a cool name.
She could talk back to my dad and get away with it.
In addition to the feathered hair and eye shadow she also had her own horse.
I spent three weeks by her side. We went to the movies. We watched MTV. There were still music videos on MTV. I listened to her stories about her horse and her dogs. She came on vacation with us. She helped us build the biggest sand castle in the resort sand box. She invited all the kids who were staying at the resort that week to help with the sand castle.
Instead of swimming like my siblings and I she covered herself in tanning oil and spent her days sunning herself on a blow up air raft. I wanted to tan too but I loved swimming more.

This was the last vacation we would take as a whole family. My parents got divorced after this vacation. Being around Ursula helped me forget that my parents were fighting all the time. She was like a shield during this stressful time at the end of my parent's marriage.

Eventually my parents got divorced. A couple years later my stepsister Gail would enter my life. She was cool in my eyes for a lot of the same reasons that Urs was cool. Feathered hair, horse, awesome music, make up and cool clothes. I wanted to be like her too.

Who would you give anything to be like?

Monday, March 07, 2011

Book Recommendation- Plain Kate

Plain Kate by Erin Bow was recommended to me by one of the ladies in my writing group. I purchased it on my Kindle but now I wish I had a real live paper copy because I would lend it to everyone. Seriously.
Plain Kate is a carver in her village and times are hard. There is sleeping death creeping down the river and people are suspicious of witches and quick to accuse people of witchcraft.
Kate's father dies leaving her completely alone. She survives on her own talents in the village for awhile before leaving her village after making an exchange with a magician.
Kate is accompanied on her journey by a talking cat named Taggle. Since I have a cat who meows in syllables, for example "meow, meow, meow, meow" sounds like "Where have you been", I can completely appreciate a book with a talking cat companion.
The writing in this book is beautiful and the story telling is amazing. Throughout the book I found myself sad for Kate's loneliness, amazed by Kate's world, scared for Kate and hopeful for Kate.
I made the mistake of finishing this book while on the elliptical at the gym. I don't recommend this because I found myself trying not to cry at the end of the book. I recommend that readers finish this book at home with a box of tissues and a kitty that reminds you of Taggle by your side.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Gone but not Forgotten Blogfest

Happy Friday Readers
Erinn, Holly, Alicia, Quita and Pam are hosting a the Gone but not Forgotten blogfest and it was too good not to play along.
So here are my top five TV shows that are no longer making new episodes.

1. Veronica Mars. I am currently rewatching Veronica Mars thanks to the magic of Netflix instant streaming. This show was sassy and sweet and probably one of the smartest shows on at its time. Veronica Mars works for her dad Keith Mars, former sheriff and private investigator. She solves mysteries for kids at school all while trying to solve bigger mysteries of who killed her best friend, where her mom disappeared to and who caused a bus crash killing her class mates.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer- this is another show that I relive through the magic of Netflix. I loved this show.

3. My So-Called Life- This to soon cancelled show of my teen years was my favorite. I could totally relate to Angela. I loved how real the show and the characters in the show were. I re-watched this in the last few years because they had the episodes on during a TV writers strike. But now talking about the show again I've added it to my netflix queue.

4. The X-Files. Sunday nights in college were X-Files night. My friends and I would gather around a TV usually in one of the dorm common areas or the campus coffee shop and watch this show. Conspiracy, aliens and David Duchovny. Yes.

5. Heroes- Some of the first books I ever read were Spiderman comics so I have a special place in my heart for comic books. This show with its collection of super heroes and its comic book tie in was just the kind of show I like. I was way disappointed when I didn't see it on NBC's line up this season.

So those are my favorite Gone but not Forgotten TV Shows. What are your faves?

While you're hopping around this blogfest be sure to check out Erinn's Life is Awesome contest. She's one of the awesome hosts of this blogfest and she's giving away some pretty awesome prizes.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Muppets and Coffee

I finished a book the other day and since then I have had one thing on my mind.
The Purple One.
That's right Prince.

There was a line in the book that suggested that The Purple One lived in New York. Now I have to say that His Purpleness may have a residence in New York- Google didn't help me prove or disprove this. But most people from Minneapolis will tell you that a certain Purple musician is from Minneapolis or the exciting suburb of Chanhassen.
Since my college roommate used to live down the street from a purple house with a gate featuring a peace sign and a heart I feel a small connection to His Purpleness.
I think The Purple One lives in Vegas now.
But since I have Prince on the brain I decided to share one of my favorite Prince songs with you. (Keep in mind that this is one of like 15 favorites)
Yes, "Prince lives there" was one of the things in the pros list when I graduated from college and moved to this frozen, snow filled tundra.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

writing and fitness

The temps are over 30 for a couple days which has me thinking about summer.
Today I signed up for the YWCA Women's Triathlon. That's right I'm going to swim, bike and run. On the same day.
I've been participating in a fitness competition at my gym this month. So far despite not eating cookies and eating more vegetables for the last couple weeks I haven't lost an ounce. Part of my goal of doing the fitness competition was to get in shape for the tri cause I run faster when I weigh less.
Since I've been thinking of ways to eat more broccoli and burn more calories I've been thinking about treadmill desks. An article in the Jan/Feb 2011 SCBWI bulletin got me thinking about treadmill desks.
I don't have room for a treadmill desk in my house so I've been researching other options.
Here's what I've found.
A bicycle computer desk using a bike, an indoor trainer and an ironing board. Check it out here.
One of my coworkers invented her own version using her little stair stepper and propping a table up on two chairs with her computer on top of it.
A recent study came out showing that putting a small pedal machine under the desks of office worker helped them burn 500 extra calories a day.
Although it might not burn as many calories as a treadmill, bike or stepper through the day I've decided to sit on a stability ball while I work and take walking breaks.

How do you stay in shape while you write?