Monday, October 31, 2011

Minnesota Monday- Blogs I love

Happy Halloween.

Happy NaNoWriMo Eve.

As I read all the #snowloween posts on Twitter this weekend all I can say is that I'm really happy it wasn't Minnesota.

Here are some Minnesota bloggers I think are a treat to follow.

Barbara Watson- she just started an ABC's of Middle Grade series on Thursdays.

Hannah at The Palindrome Effect - She's doing NaNo.  Friend her and cheer her on.

Mary at Play Off the Page

Sarah at Falen Formulates Fiction

Emily- An actor, knitter, quilter, blogger and wonderful person.

Jenn's Photo Project- One day Jenn and I were talking and I said "you should start a blog" and she did.  She's doing awesome at her 365 photo blog.

The Marketing Mama- She writes about parenting, allergies and marketing.

Elise's Kitchen- Writer's need to eat and Elise has so many wonderful recipes.  She's also an amazing photographer, click on her 365 tab or just salivate over her food photos in her posts.

I went to a Halloween party last night and am looking forward to passing out candy tonight and maybe watching Coraline.

When I watch Coraline I am reminded of a little door in the guest room of my grandparent's house.  It was just the size of the little door Coraline crawls through in the movie.  At Grandma's house there was a bed in front of the little door which proved to be an obstacle because 1) it was heavy and 2) when parents hear furniture being moved they tend to wonder what is going on.

I spent a lot of time contemplating what was behind the door.  Every year I got stronger and could move the bed a little more.  Every year I would open it a little farther to try to get a peek at what was behind there.  Sometimes I couldn't get it closed and I would dream about an army of trolls or munchkins coming through the door in the middle of the night.

One year when I was a teenager I finally did open the door only to discover that it was the attic over the garage (as opposed to the real attic) and that it was full of luggage.  Not nearly as exciting as what I imagined.

I'm glad the movie Coraline could remind me of the little door and all the scary things I believed lived behind it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How to make a costume

Halloween is tomorrow and this year I made my own costume.
I wanted something that was 1) cheap and 2) easy.  After looking on the internet I decided it would be pretty cheap and easy for me to make my own R2D2 costume.  Here's how I did it.

2 pieces of large poster board
Duck Tape
bike light
cheap plastic helmet or bowl
spray paint

First off I started by drawing R2's markings on the poster board. Then I colored in the markings.

I added some accents to the body with duct tape

Next I spray painted the helmet and once it was dry added markings with blue duct tape.  I also added one of my bike lights.  This one blinks so I most likely won't turn it on since I don't actually want to blind my friends.  I also used black, red and silver tape for accents on the helmet.  I used a cheap plastic "police" helmet and turned it backwards.

My next step was to take a second piece of poster board and attach it to the first one so it formed a tube.  This picture doesn't show them but I added shoulder straps with elastic.

So far the costume is doing it's job in that it was 1) cheap and 2) easy.  It is also funny which I was hoping it would be too.  

If you didn't get your Halloween celebration on this weekend and you are still scrambling for a costume I think this could easily be adapted for other robots. 

I did consider being Maru the Cat for Halloween but didn't know if everyone would know who Maru was. But it did inspire the R2 idea.
pic from Craft:

Here's a video of Maru the cat

If you are still stumped for a costume check out this story featuring a crow costume made out of garbage bags, a baseball cap and duct tape.  

What are you going to be for Halloween 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Fives- Fantasy Worlds

Paper Hangover asks the question What five (book or movie) worlds would you love to live in.

1. Hogwarts- OK seriously who doesn't hope for an acceptance letter every time they see an owl?

2. Oz- My parents used to let me stay up late and watch this movie when it was on TV.  Everytime I heard tornado sirens I was full of excitement at the possibility that our house could be picked up and carried away in a twister to a magical land. I read the books as soon as I could check them out.  I also enjoyed Wicked by Gregory Maguire and the musical Wicked.  So yeah, Oz.

3. The Shire- I could totally hang out with hobbits.  Minneapolis is full of little stucco Tudor style houses. The short houses and arched doorways make me think of the Shire.  I've often dreamed of buying a "hobbit house".

The Shire

An example of a Minneapolis "hobbit house"

4. Kiki Strike's New York- OK so Kiki Strike is like this totally kick-butt chick and with her troop of delinquent girl scouts they fight crime in the city. Ananka Fishbein looks out her apartment window and sees a little blonde girl sneaking into a tunnel.  She does what any level headed 12 year old would do.  She follows and finds a maze of tunnels under NYC.  I love the idea of underground cities.

5. Speaking of underground cities I also loved the London Below of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.  How much did I love it?  So much that I cried at the end of the book because I was sad the adventure was over.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

HP quilt- The Deathly Hallows

Here's the nest square

I love reading all the NaNo posts.  I will not be doing NaNo this year because I have a quilt to finish in time for Christmas.  I am currently working on a draft of my wip and don't want to abandon it for NaNo.  Good luck to all the NaNo-ers out there.  You rock!.  You can do it!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

RTW- Best book in October

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 weeks question What was the best book you read in October?

I thought this was going to be an easy question but then I remembered that I read some good books in October.

But my favorite read of this month was The Duff by Kody Keplinger

This book was an amazing, fun read.  Seriously, I picked this book up and I couldn't put it down.  I loved the main character Bianca.  She was confident, strong and sarcastic.  I loved Bianca's voice.  I loved everything about this book.

I also read The Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

I love this book that is set on Coney Island.  

Also Brooklyn Burning by Steve Brezenoff

A wonderful book.  Also reading this book for #fridayreads and sharing on twitter can help homeless youth.  Check out the details here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Minnesota Monday- Football

I'm revising and that is a little like football.  Well, it's a little like this season of Vikings football.
In draft 4 (see, just like football)  of my novel I got some feedback about a character that needed to be cut.  She didn't stand out.  She was confusing because there was nothing that really set her apart from some of the other characters in the book.  She also seems to drop out of the book after a while not really making it to the 4th quarter.  After thinking long and hard I decided to cut her.
This is not unlike the decision Leslie Frazier had to make to put Donovan McNabb on the bench

and start rookie quarterback Christian Ponder.  Against arch rivals, defending Super Bowl champs, the Green Bay Packers.  Border. Battle. O.M.G. Drama. (This is the kind of drama novels are made of people)

In football the point of the game is to move the ball and score points.  As writers our characters and scenes  need to move the story forward.  If a character or scene isn't doing that it's time to let it go.

I'm sure Coach Frazier didn't want to put McNabb on the bench.  We spent a lot of money on him and had high hopes.  Writers feel the same way about our characters. We spend a lot of time on them, even the little guys and we don't want to cut them but sometimes we have to to make our novels better.

Turns out my character needed to be cut.  I cut my character and now my story is flowing better, other characters are beginning to shine and I have room to develop other characters.  I'm excited to write again.

The Vikings didn't win against Green Bay yesterday but they put up a good fight and played well.  I look forward to seeing Ponder play more this season.  I'm excited about football again.

The Vikings may not have won yesterday but here is a list of the people who won in my Rocktober giveaway.

1. Linnaea(Amber)- Coraline
2. Matthew McNish  - The Graveyard Book
3 Tracie T-$10 Starbucks gift card

How is writing like football for you?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Fives- Through the Ages

This week Paper Hangover asks the question What are the five best ages of your life and why?

1. Age 5.  My favorite color was red.  I loved kindergarten.  My favorite thing was learning the alphabet.  For every letter our homework was to cut out pictures from magazines that started with that letter and make a collage.  I went to parochial school but kindergarteners didn't have to wear uniforms.

2. Age 9.  Age 8 was tough.  Nothing could be worse than 8.  My parents got divorced.  My third grade teacher put me in remedial reading, not because I couldn't read but because I was so shy that reading out loud was a problem for me.  My best school friend moved away.  Fourth grade was way better.  I loved my teacher.  I was back in the awesome reading group.  I was on the swim team.  I could walk on stilts. I wanted to be an artist or a teacher.

3. Age 11.  My mom got remarried at we moved.  I started 6th grade in a new school.  That was OK cause everyone else was new on the first day of 6th grade too.  My hobbies were roller skating, swimming and hanging out with friends.  My friends and I started our own babysitter's club.  I listened to New Kids on the Block and planned my future with Joe McIntyre.   I wrote in my first journal in Language Arts class.

4. Age 14.  I was a freshman in high school.   I loved everything about high school.  Pep rallies, dances, football games.  Skipping gym class. I was on the debate team.  I joined the newspaper staff.  I had a job babysitting at the church during choir practice.  I wanted to grow up and work at Sassy magazine.

5. Age 24/25.  I lived in Minneapolis.  I'd recently quit a boring, low paying day job to be a waitress because, well, I made more money being a waitress and I had more free time.  Also my friends were also servers and it was more fun than my other job.  I'd been through a rough relationship and break up but I was on the other side of that.  I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I met someone who reminded me that I loved writing and who planted the idea that I should write for kids.  Her words made sense to me and I've remembered them ever since.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

HP Quilt- Hedwig

Work on the quilt continues

Below is a documentary about my progress the last couple days.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

RTW #101- Reason to Write

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 weeks question:
What's your numero-uno reason for writing?

Writing is like a best friend.  Writing has been with me since my childhood.  When things are good, I write.  When things are bad, I write.  I write because I love it.    

What are your reasons for writing?

Also I'm doing a giveaway.  Check it out here

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rocktober giveaway

October is my favorite month.  I love Halloween.  I love pumpkin flavored things.

I also love this idea.  All Hallow's Read.  Check out the video to see what it's about.

So to celebrate All Hallow's Read I'm doing a giveaway.  I want to make sure that you get your book around Halloween so I'll pick a winner this weekend.

Up for grabs is
1. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline By Neil Gaiman

This is a paperback copy I just found at my neighborhood book sale.  It's in great condition.

2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book I passed this copy to my writing group for All Hallow's Read last year.  It made it's way back to me.  It's a paperback and there is a slight bend in the cover.

* The idea behind All Hallow's Read is to give a scary book.  It doesn't have to be a Neil Gaiman book but that is what I have.

3. $10 Starbucks Gift Card-
I know this isn't a book but October is also Disability Awareness Month and Starbucks had gift cards with Braille.  My mom is a puppy raiser for Leader Dogs for the Blind and I wrote a picture book manuscript about a guide dog.  I submitted my manuscript this month to a publisher and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  Celebrating and hoping = coffee gift card.  

If you don't win don't worry.  Just look at these cute puppy pictures of past and current puppies-in-training.


Future Leader Dog, Molly

If you find those puppies as irresistible as I do you can help sponsor a Guide Dog puppy at Dog's Eye View.

To enter the giveaway leave a comment and tell me which prize you'd like to win.  Tell me your favorite scary book.  I'll pick a winner on Saturday, 10/22.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Minnesota Monday- Music

Once upon a time there was a thirteen year old girl who lived in a library in Iowa.  In the library she found a Replacements CD.  The Replacements are from Minnesota.  The girl grew up and moved to Minnesota.

OK I didn't move to Minnesota because of the Replacements but the music scene in Minneapolis was an important factor.

Writers love music.  It inspires us.  It fuels our writing.

I love listening to local music.  I love hearing the names of streets and places I'm familiar with in song

A lot of my writing is fueled by music I hear on 89.3 The Current,  Minnesota Public Radio's music channel.  They are huge supporters of local music.
I still love The Replacements but I've been introduced to so many other local artists that I love.  Prince, Bob Dylan(He's from Minnesota so he totally counts), The Hold Steady, Jeremy Messersmith, Paper Tiger, Toki Wright, Mark Mallman, Dan Wilson
Currently I'm listening to local hip hop artist Dessa's latest, Castor, The Twin.

Free Life

What music inspires your writing?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Paying it Forward and Friday Fives

Here are the blogs you should follow.

Sarah- Glissades and Gabble

Alicia- Slice of the Blog Pie

Molly Greene- Worth Becoming

Check out the list of participants here or here

 Paper Hangover asks the question- What are you five favorite childhood books.

1. The Monster at the End of This Book

2. Are You My Mother?

3. Little House on the Prairie

4. Nancy Drew

5. The Babysitter's Club

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mixing it up

I'm not doing a Theater Thursday post today.

That's because tomorrow I'm participating in the Pay it Forward Blogfest hosted by Matthew and Alex.

What do you do?

1. Sign up.
2. Talk about 3 blogs you follow and why other people should follow them.
3.  Check out the other blogs on the list.

So go sign up because they are almost at 200 participants and come back tomorrow to see my three choices.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

RTW- #100, The Journey

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.
What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic Jams and detours? Where are you going next?

My journey feels like the turtle of the turtle and the hare story.  
I've written and some part of me has wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember.  Once I graduated college I was working away at being an adult and felt the pull to write again.  
I wrote.  I got rejected.  I gave up.  
During this time good things happened for me writing-wise.  I won honorable mention in a local poetry competition.  
But somehow I didn't think I was a good writer.  I thought I needed the perfect day job that would allow me to work during the day then come home and write.  I didn't get that job but I learned to love the job I had and realize why it was the perfect job for me as a writer.  But for a while I was disappointed and I didn't write.
But the whole writing thing wouldn't leave me alone.  
I was running one day and I heard the lyrics to a song on my iPod and I knew that I needed to pursue my dream of being a writer no matter what.
I came back to the page.  This time I was more serious.  This time I wasn't willing to quit.

My pace has been slow and steady.  Partially due to a car accident and then a health issue consuming a year of my life.  But now that things are better my progress is faster which is good.

I hope to someday be a published author.  That would be amazing.  If I never become published, I'll still write.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Minnesota Monday- Paul and Babe

I'm not sure if you know this but Minnesota is one of the states that claim to be home to Paul Bunyan.

I knew of Paul Bunyan from my childhood visits to The Enchanted Forest Waterpark in The Adirondaks so I was happy to find that Minnesota also has some Paul Bunyan stories
Paul BunyanPaul Bunyan Statue, Lake Bemidji, MN
Above is Adirondack Paul and Bemidji Paul and Babe.

In Minnesota, Paul Bunyan is responsible with creating the 10,000 lakes with his footprints.

Today I went to a new coffee shop in my neighborhood named Blue Ox Coffee Company and the tea was so amazing and the atmosphere so nice that I will definitely be back for writing.
I drink tea so how a coffee shop does tea is important to me.  The Blue Ox isn't messing around when it comes to tea.  This was the most amazing cup of tea ever.  So good in fact that I decided I needed to write about Paul and Babe just so I could talk about this place.

The shop has a few Paul and Babe things including a book of Paul Bunyan tales.
Paul Bunyan and His Great Blue Ox Retold by Wallace Wadsworth
One of my favorite books about Paul Bunyan is Paul Bunyan's Sweetheart by Marybeth Lorbiecki.  There's also a statue of Lucette in Hackensack, MN

Paul Bunyan's Sweetheart

What's your favorite Paul Bunyan story?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Friday, October 07, 2011

Friday Fives- Inspiration

Paper Hangover asks the question What are the five ways you find writing inspirations?

1. An Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg.  I love this book full of prompts for writing memoirs.  Writing for 10 minutes about ice cream, sounds or my hopes and dreams really gets me in a place to write.

2. Books.  I love reading.  I dream of the day I'll someday be holding my own book in my hands.  Reading books inspires me to want to write them.

3. Work.  I love working in theater.  Being around people pursuing their dreams of being on stage inspires me to write.

4. Walking.  I'm blessed to live near a beautiful park in a wonderful neighborhood.  Some of my best ideas come to me while I'm taking a walk.  When I'm stuck on a story I go for a walk while I figure it out.

5. Vacations.  I don't take nearly enough vacations but whenever I get a chance to get away I always feel refreshed and recharged and inspired to write.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Theater Thursday- Dressing the Part

Do you watch Glee?  As I was watching the I am Unicorn episode I noticed that when the kids were auditioning for West Side Story they were each dressed in a costume for their part.  Rachel wasn't wearing her typical skirt and knee highs, she was dressed in a Maria dress and Blaine was dressed in a Tony outfit with the cuffed jeans and polo shirt.  They totally look the part.

So,  here's a secret.  I know actors who do this.  OK, maybe not to this extent but I know people who wear the perfect 40's style dress if they are auditioning for a show set in the 40's. They do this to make them stick out in the director's mind.  They want the director to be able to see them in that part.

As writers when we submit our work we are auditioning for the role of "published author" so it is important to look our best.

1.  Submit your best work. Write, revise, repeat until it is the best.  If you get a stack of rejections repeat the revise step.

2. Follow the rules.  Stick with the guidelines posted by the agent or publisher.  Actors have to follow rules for auditions.  They have to audition on a certain day and they have to prepare audition pieces that fit the show they are auditioning for.  Someone not following the rules probably isn't going to get the part.  Same with writing.

3. Have an awesome query or cover letter.  In your query or cover letter show that you are familiar with the editor, publisher, or agent you are contacting.

4. If you are contacting by email make sure your email is professional.  Make sure your email address, font, and signature are all professional.  If you send something from your email account, an editor or agent might have a hard time remembering you.  Be aware of your signatures.  Bible verses, jokes, inspiring quotes are great for friends and relatives but not necessarily professional unless those are the kinds of publishers you are submitting to.

What other tips do you have for getting the landing the coveted role of "published author"?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

RTW- Supporting stars

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 weeks questions

What supporting character from a YA book would you most like to see star in their own novel?

I know we learned a little about some of his adventures in the Harry Potter books but I'd still love to see more of Albus Dumbledore's adventures.  

Ethan from the Dreaming Anastasia series by Joy Preble.  OK so Ethan is part of this Brotherhood that has was supposed to protect Anastasia.  He's like 100 years old.  He has blue eyes and he isn't cold like Edward.  I want to know more about his adventures protecting Anastasia all these years.  

Monday, October 03, 2011

Minnesota Monday- Julia Gillian

The other day while riding my bike on the Greenway I saw a little group of preschoolers working in their community garden space and I was immediately reminded of the Julia Gillian series by Alison McGhee.

This is a great series for middle grade readers.  Julia is in fourth grade when the series starts and in sixth grade in the most recent book.

Julia is a wonderful character.  She keeps a list of things she is skilled at and she tries to add to that list.  She is a dog person.  She is independent.  Overall she is a believable character and her problems seem relatable.

The books are set in the Uptown area of Minneapolis.  In the book she visits places like Bryant Hardware (I pay more attention to the window display since reading these books). She goes to dinner with her family at Quang Restaurant.  She even sees preschoolers taking care of a community garden on her walks with her dog, Bigfoot.  She remembers a time when she was a preschooler taking care the community garden.  It is no surprise that seeing these kids working in their community garden made me think of the Julia Gillian books.  I would not have been surprised see Julia and Bigfoot at the dog park when I pedaled past.  

The drawings in this book are really fun also.  One of my favorites is of Julia in her Minnesota Twins jersey.

Check these books out.  You won't be disappointed.

Have you been reminded of a book because of a location?


Sunday, October 02, 2011

HP Quilt- Whomping Willow

The Whomping Willow, complete with a car and tiny quilted versions of Harry and Ron.