Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Goals

2013 starts tomorrow and it's easy to look back at 2012 measure success or failure based on resolutions made last year.

For me I didn't achieve the big goal, Have a book published, but thanks to some goal setting I accomplished a lot in 2012. At the end of the year I feel like I have a quite a bit to show for my year in writing.

1. Manuscripts. Thanks to the 12x12 in '12 I've completed 12 picture book drafts this year. Some are winners and some aren't but I have to say I'm proud all of them and proud of how I've grown as a writer because of this challenge. If you are looking for a way to challenge yourself and take the next step in your writing consider signing up.

2. Daily writing practice. OK when you're writing and you want to be published and you get stuck in a project sometimes it can be hard to remember your daily writing practice. This year I had a busy year at work but I remembered a time when I wrote daily and in returning to my daily writing practice I was able to rediscover the joy of writing.

3. New WIPs. I've been writing and revising the same project for the last three years. I know, I'm slow. I finished a big revision with major changes earlier this year. I'm not sure the future of this work but I finally allowed myself to work on a couple new ideas. Working on these new ideas has been fun and by slowly working on them I feel like I have a good start on both of them. I'm not sure if the future of the WIP I'd been working on for a so long but it feels good to make progress on some new ideas.

So, while I didn't achieve the big goal of publishing a book I feel like I've defiantly laid some good writing groundwork. I've learned that smaller goals and challenges are a wonderful way to make goals happen. Write daily, small goals, little milestones.

For 2013 I hope to continue along this writing journey. I hope to continue to lay the groundwork towards publication with things like monthly picture book drafts, daily writing practice, and continued work on my WIPs.

What are your goals for 2013?

Wishing you all the best in the new year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

RTW- How many books do I read in a year?

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 Topic is: About how many books do you read in a year? Do you want to read more? Or, less?

Years ago I started keeping track of the number of books I read in a year, mostly because other people wanted to know how many books I read in a year. What I really wanted was an answer to this questions. 

The answer is 52 books a year. That's a book a week. Of course there are books that take less than a week and books that take longer. Some years I've read more, last year I read 60 books and I thought that I could do that again but this year it looks like I'm on schedule to read 50. 

Although I miss the days of keeping a list of these books all in the back of my journal I really love Goodreads as a way to keep track of what I'm reading and connect with friends about what I'm reading. 

How many books do you read in a year? Do you like sites like Goodreads to keep track of what you are reading?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

RTW- Revising, or am I doing this right?

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 Topic is: For many, December is a post-NaNoWriMo revision haze! How do you approach editing/revising? Any tips or tricks or resources you can share?

I didn't win NaNoWriMo this year but I got a good start and I wrote more than I might have written if I hadn't been doing NaNo so thanks to all of you who encouraged me to participate.

My revision process goes a little like this.

1. Finish a readable draft. Send draft to readers. If readers are writer types let readers know what I'm looking for.

2. Re-read draft while readers are re-reading. Write out questions for readers and critique partners.

3. Get feedback from as many readers as possible. Let face it, lots of people might volunteer to read your stuff but not everyone will finish and give feedback. Even if someone only makes it to chapter 4 I want to know that. I usually give a window of time like this- hey I'm going to start working on the next draft so if you have feedback give it now.

4. I like to use this book in my process. Great workbook for creating complex characters.
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook: Hands-On Help for Making Your Novel Stand Out and Succeed

5. Digest feedback. I try to pay attention to things that come up from more than one person and really try to think about that and address those things. The reading/feedback/digesting feedback time is my time away from that project. I usually work on other things during that time.

6. Start new round of revisions.

Repeat as needed.

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's official, I'm signed up for NaNoWriMo

It's official. I just signed up for NaNoWriMo. I've started adding buddies and now I'm blogging about it so it's really happening.

Even though I've participated and crossed the 50,000 word finish line three previous years I'm a little nervous this year.

But as wise people pointed out, what do I have to lose and making progress is better than making none and the best advice- This could be the year you fall in love with your NaNo novel.

I really, really, really want this one to work out. So I've been plotting. I'm writing ideas for scenes on notecards and some other ideas about character arc and things like that in a notebook.

Even though it is still just an idea I'm walking through Writing the Breakout Novel so I can keep these things in mind as I write.

Good things have happened for me in NaNos past even though I haven't loved the finished products.
My first NaNo I really fell in love with writing again and realized I could write a novel sized thing. I also realized that writing a novel sometimes leads to a picture book idea.

I'm hoping that this is really the year that I love my "finished" product.

Also thank you for the encouraging from RTW a couple weeks ago on this subject.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Million Yesterdays

This is a non-writing related post. But it is something close to my heart.

Yesterday I cried for three hours.

In Minnesota we have a terrible marriage amendment on the ballot.

I’ve gotten involved with the campaign. It’s easy for me to talk about something I believe in. I’m spending time on the phones for those of my friends who are unable to do so because I want to be able to protect them from experiencing more discrimination in their lives.  Small discrimination from people on the other end of a phone and big discriminations from a state amendment that limits their freedom.

I spoke with a grandmother who had two LGBT grandchildren and who was voting Yes. I encouraged her to talk to her granddaughter and see how she feels about this amendment. The grandmother became angry and refused to talk to her grandchild. It broke my heart to think of a parent or grandparent having the power to protect the rights of their child or grandchild and not protecting those rights. The impact of how hurtful this amendment is hit me so hard that I cried at the office and I am not an overly emotional person. Not an openly crying in front of strangers type person.

Yesterday was the worst day of the campaign for me. But I would rather take a million yesterdays than to have people I care about wake up in a world of hate.

This amendment breaks my heart because if it passes it has the potential to hurt people that I care about. It’s not only my LGBT friends that this hurts. This hurts their families, parents, loved ones. It hurts every person, gay or straight, who has made a phone call, hosted a house party, donated money, or gotten involved to make sure this amendment doesn’t pass.

Calling people I’m surprised at how many people are concerned about changing the “definition” of marriage. As if each and every marriage isn’t different and unique and special. Your marriage and the challenges you face are probably different from your neighbor's marriage. Each couple I know is unique. They each face their own joys and challenges in life but they face them together and with the support of friends and family. LGBT people are no different in this respect.

Voting No doesn’t change the law. Voting No doesn’t change the definition of marriage.  Voting No doesn’t take away religious freedom.

I love Minnesota and it’s hard to think that Minnesota could do something that could make me not love it, but to be honest if this amendment passes I won’t love my state and that thought terrifies me. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

RTW- To NaNo or not to NaNo, That is the Question

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 Topic is: Are you doing NaNoWriMo, or have you ever? Does having a deadline inspire you?

I've participated in NaNoWriMo three times and I love the energy of having a deadline. I love writing with other writers, connecting with other writers. I love that there are write-ins at area coffee shops. 

The thing I don't love is my finished NaNo projects. Yes, I've won NaNo three times but I've never been able to do anything with these convoluted collections of 50,000 words. The pressure of writing 1677 words a day makes me do crazy things. Like inserting song lyrics into my novel. The craziness of NaNo once had me writing a science fiction middle  grade novel even though I have no idea how to write a story that takes place of a space ship because I don't watch a lot of TV that takes place on spaceships.

I'm a slow writer

All that considered I'm still on the fence for this November. I love the energy and the deadline but I so far haven't loved my finished product. 

Anyone else NaNoing? Convincing arguments for either side?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Writing book recommendation

Have you ever had an experience where you read a book or listen to an album and you know that you won't be the same person you were before you listened to or read it?

I feel that way about this book. I'm pretty sure after reading and re-reading this book I won't be the same writer I was before I found it.

I found this book earlier this summer and I've basically been reading it ever since. Sometimes I skip around picking an essay with a title that stirs my interest. Other times I read the shortest essay because that is what I have time for.

The best thing about this book is the excitement Bradbury has for writing. He doesn't spend much time talking about writers block and rejection. He talks about telling stories and how exciting writing is.

It might be hard to find but if you see it at a used bookstore or garage sale or whatever buy a copy.

Zen in the Art of Writing

I've read this book twice since I got it earlier this summer and I'll probably read it again.  Since reading this book I've been more excited to write. I ask myself "Am I approaching the page with as much excitement as Bradbury did?"

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Loving Fall

I normally do Road Trip Wednesday on Wednesdays but I am an currently too much in love with fall to talk about anything else. So here's a list of things I love about fall

1. Pumpkin flavored thing. These have no place in August but I've spent the last two days on a search for something pumpkin flavored for my gluten free taste buds.

2. How have I forgotten that fall was so beautiful? Has it always been this pretty or is this fall just especially pretty?

3. Boots. Not snow boots but cowboy boots and frye boots that are really perfectly suited for the fall. Not winter when they get all icky and salty.

4. Sweaters and sweatshirts.

5. Temps in the 50s 60s and low 70s.

6. Last trips of the season to my favorite outdoor eating places like Tin Fish and Sea Salt.

7. Writing. Writing was my port in this busy sea of summer that was the summer of 2012. Excited to see what things I'll write this fall.

8. Theater. We are in full swing with a festival of plays at work. I'm excited for this new season. New stories to tell, new friends to make and old friends to catch up with.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

RTW- Best book of September

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 Topic is: What was the best book you read in September?
The Princesses of Iowa

The best book I read this month was The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes.

Even though I have lived in Minnesota for 13 years I grew up in Iowa. I went to high school in Iowa, I went to college in Iowa.
Reading this book was a little like visiting home for me and I seriously had to keep myself from getting in my car and taking a road trip to Iowa.

I felt like some of the characters in the book could have been people I knew. 

It was more than just Iowa me who liked this book Writer me like this book too. The main character, Paige, ends up in a creative writing class. Watching Paige find her voice and become a writer is something writers can relate to.

What was your favorite book of September?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Writing Dreams

Last month this post on Nova Ren Suma's blog got me thinking about one my particular dreams as a writer.

It took me a while to think about but then I realized a specific thing that is part of my writing dream.

My college has an alumni magazine. It contains the typical updates on lives of alumni- jobs, marriages, births, awards, deaths.

In the front of the alumni magazine is a section called "Pusha Da Pen" where books written by alumni are highlighted. A particular part of my writing dream is opening the Courier and seeing a book I've written highlighted in the pages of the alumni magazine.

Fortunately the alumni magazine arrives in my mailbox every quarter so I get to be reminded to this part of my dream every three months.

Have you read the post on Nova Ren Suma's blog? When you dream about writing what is a specific thing you dream about doing or seeing?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

RTW- Writing in the digital age

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.

What word processing program do you use to write you manuscript, and can you share one handy trick you've learned in that program that has helped you while you write?

I've been a Mac owner for the last five years so I use Word for Mac. 
Currently my favorite thing is the "find" feature. Of course I keep adding to the list of things I need to find- I just added the word felt to my list of things to search and find.

My dad, a lifelong PC user who became an Apple product user a couple years ago when he bought an iPhone, gave me his iPad when he upgraded. This has been a great tool for writing on the go. On the iPad I use Pages, which I'm still learning, but I love that I can open my Word documents in Pages on the iPad. So far I've been successful in using the iPad as a writing tool instead of a thing to watch Netflix on.

The Kindle- Did you know your Kindle has an email address? It does. When it's time to read a draft I usually send it to my Kindle. I make notes in a notebook as I read through but this really allows me to read it on the go and keep returning to the draft through the revision process because I can take it anywhere to read it. I know there are people who print out each draft but I find this way much more efficient, for me. 

What program do you use to write in? Any tips? 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ferris Wheel Wishes

Every year I visit the Minnesota State Fair. Who am I kidding I visit several times. But part of my tradition always includes a ride on the ferris wheel. 

Since I haven't been in school in a while my annual ferris wheel ride takes the place of my back to school restart. While I'm suspended high above the hustle and bustle of the fair I usually think about the end of summer and the beginning of fall. I think about goals I have for the fall. While I'm floating above the fair I usually make wishes as well.

Do you have an end of summer, beginning of fall restart? New school supplies, classes or recommitment to writing. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RTW- Love of the Game

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 Topic is: In honor of the end of the Olympics, share your favorite sports book!

The Olympic Ceremonies have come to a close, but there are some amazing sports books out there to keep the competitive spirit alive---at least until the next Olympics in 2014! List one or more of your favorites.

I just started reading Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally and I'm pretty sure it is going to be the perfect book to get me ready for football season. Skol Vikings!
Catching Jordan

But while I love football my favorite sport is baseball. It reminds me of growing up and spending time with my grandpa and playing catch in the yard. I was raised a Yankees fan but I live in Minneapolis and became a Twins fan ten years ago watching players like Brad Radke, Corey Koskie, David Ortiz (you're welcome Boston)  and  Torii Hunter become AL Central Division Champions. 

Being from Iowa my favorite baseball book is Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella. This is the book that the film Field of Dreams is based on. It's about baseball, fathers, sons, faith and forgiveness.  

Shoeless Joe

What is your favorite sports book?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Creative Practice

A couple years ago I read a Mo Willems story about how adults should draw more.

My writing partner started a Draw Something game with me because she says it is good creative practice because 1. You draw things, sometimes multiple things. 2. you get to pick what you want to draw but you can only choose from three things. 3. You get to see your friends drawing and see what techniques work and learn new tricks.

And I was like well Mo Willems says people should draw more.

I never really stopped drawing. As a matter of fact when my friends kids were younger and I did more babysitting one of my favorite things to do was draw. When the kids were two and three they thought it was pretty cool that I could draw a fire truck, dinosaur, or Grumpy Bear.

So my new Creative Practice thing is Draw Something. I try to get all my creative type friends to play because it is good to draw or doodle.

I've noticed that since I've started playing I've become better at drawing or sketching out ideas for people. My drawing has improved- OK so I'm really just drawing on the iPod/iPad screen with my finger but still I've come a long way from the stick figures of a few months ago.

I've become more courageous in my creativity. One of my co-workers often asks input from other people about my drawings. Not because they are awful but because this friend isn't the best at pop culture stuff which I totally rock at. So not only is the person guessing my drawing seeing it but a few other co-workers might see it too. Somehow the fact that several people might see my creative endeavors on the iPad has made me feel bolder in other parts of my creative life.

Are there any games or things you've found to help your creative/writing life?

Monday, August 06, 2012

Creating change

Last week my Facebook feed was full of news of people taking sides on an issue. Many people posted of de-friendings and anger over this issue.

People felt like they had to take a side because clearly not taking a side and posting what side you are on is like supporting the other side.

I confess I tried to sum up my feelings in a status update or a blog post. But then I remembered that as a writer I have the power to create. I knew the status update would likely lead to one of those energy sucking Facebook discussions/debates.

Instead I turned my energy to my own writing. Instead of posting my side on the issue I remembered how important it was to me when I was a kid to see families like mine represented(my parents were divorced) in the stories I read and I revised a story to include a GLBT family.  

As writers we have the power to create a world as we'd like it to be in the stories we tell. We get to ask the what if questions. We can create stories that celebrate diversity, peace, justice. We get to write the story where the geeky girl gets the guy or the skinny orphan with glasses defeats the bad guy.

Words, books and stories are read and passed and shared. I feel like writers and artists have the ability to create real change. Not just by posting a status update or blog post that gets shared by everyone but by creating stories and art that changes people.

I'm not sure if the story I revised last week will go out into the world and be read by other people and maybe lead to a more accepting world but at the end of the day I feel I made positive progress as a writer and I spent my energy writing.

How do you create a better world in your writing? Diverse characters? Justice? Ice Cream with no calories?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

RTW- Best book of July

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 Topic is: What was the best book you read in July?
This is so easy. I finally read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus

I love the world that is created in this book. This book appealed to the night owl in me with the midnight dinners and a circus that performs only at night. 

Books with a theatrical element always work well for me because they are set in a world I relate to very well working in theater. I was hooked in the first chapter and then when a character walked by dressers and stagehands(my people) on their way backstage I knew that I was going to love this book.

July has been so busy. I've been working on Roman Holiday which is a big show with lots of people in it. I've been writing, working on a draft of my wip and a PB idea for the 12X12in12 Challenge and an personal essay.

What was your favorite book of July? What projects did you tackle in July?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

RTW- reincarnation

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. 

If you could be reincarnated as any fictional character, which would it be?

I would love to be incarnated as Katsa from Graceling.

She's strong, she's loyal, she's a survivor. She has adventures working with the council helping to people. Plus there's Po, sigh.
Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)

Which character would you be?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RTW-Where do you go?

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 Topic:
When you need creative inspiration, where do you go?

I am lucky to live next to a wonderful park with a small lake. When I'm stuck or need some inspiration the first thing I do is take a walk around the park. There are some beautiful views that can either help me forget that I'm in the middle of the city or that can remind me of the wonderful city I live in. 

Minnehaha Falls is another place I like to go for inspiration. It it a quick bike ride from my house but watching the falls and taking a walk by the creek can be inspiring.

The Loft Literary Center- Close to my house, close to work. There is a wonderful energy in this space. It is home to many classes and writers group. I always feel like a writer when I spend time writing here.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Where I've been

I know I've been a little absent on the blogs the last couple weeks. Here's where I've been.

I love this show soooo much. Newspaper reporter Joe Bradley dreams of being a song writer but is experiencing a little writers block until he spends the day with Princess Ann so clearly there is a little writing tie in for me. Besides that the music is all Cole Porter which I love.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

RTW- Writing retreat

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 the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

If you could go on a writing retreat anywhere, where would you go & who would you bring?

I've wanted to go on a writing retreat to the Madeline Island School of the Arts but the last couple summers have been way to busy to accommodate this. 

My perfect writing retreat would be situated near a lake or some other body of water. When I needed a break from writing I'd probably want a paddleboard or kayak and maybe a bicycle.

I am not good at roughing it so a some sort of resort type place would be awesome. I would consider roughing it in an airstream trailer somewhere but that airstream has got to be pimped with all the amenities. 

I'd definitely bring the gals from my writing group because they were super supportive and awesome. Really anyone who  wants to sit and write for a week or a weekend or whatever. 

What about you? Where is your perfect writing retreat?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

RTW- Best book of May

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 the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

What was the best book you read in May?

This is an easy answer. INSURGENT by Veronica Roth. The sequel to DIVERGENT. 
Loved this exciting book and of course now I can't wait until the next book comes out. 

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

RTW- Conferences

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 the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

I love attending the Loft's Children's and Young Adult Literature Conference. I take classes at the Loft and my writing group meets at the Loft so this space is very familiar to me. This year's conference was wonderful with a keynote speech by Justin Chanda about picture books. I also attended at session on revision taught by Megan Atwood which was probably the most fun I'd had thinking about revision. 

My other must attend conference is WriteOnCon. This is a free conference held online. There are forums and you can post your writing and get/give feedback. There are chats and presentations. It is amazing. Plus it's free. No conference fee, no travel costs, no paying a babysitter to watch your kids. You can even donate to the conference which is a super awesome thing to do.

My dream conference is to attend a SCBWI conference in either NY in the winter or LA in the summer. My biggest obstacle is work.  See it isn't easy to get a lot of time off from work in this business we call show.  I'm hoping that the stars and schedules will align this year and that the NY conference will work for me this year. I want to go there early and see some shows on Broadway before the conference. To that end I want to get the most out of the conference possible so I have been working on revising my MG novel like crazy.

What is your dream conference?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Putting the pieces together

Revising is a lot like working on a puzzle. You fill in the pieces that you know, like the edges but then you've got this whole middle to deal with.  Sometimes you struggle to find the right piece and then you go for a bit working on a section and all the pieces seem to fit together. 

With writing you don't have the benefit of having a picture of what the finished product will look like which is kinda like the puzzle below where the picture didn't exactly match the one on the box. 

Lately for me the pieces seem to be falling into place. Writing/revising wise I feel like I'm on one of those streaks where the pieces are starting to fit together nicely.  I'm really excited about this place right now.

Puzzle- using Instagram app

Where are you in your project? Just putting the edge pieces in, working your way through the middle, inviting everyone to come look at the finished puzzle?

Monday, May 07, 2012

Don't Rain On Our Parade

Yesterday was supposed to be the much anticipated May Day Parade in my neighborhood. The parade is put on by Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater. It is a wonderful sight to see all the puppets and the parade tells a story. Each section has a different element to the story. The story is always something hopeful.

Sadly it was rescheduled for next weekend due to a rainy weekend including crazy storms overnight. Standing water isn't the best thing for this festival. I won't be able to attend next week because of work.

With my day suddenly free I had two options- celebrate the fact that I could leave my neighborhood by leaving my neighborhood or celebrate the suddenly free day by writing. (It is nearly impossible to leave the neighborhood during the parade because so many people come to the parade.) There were plays and author events galore yesterday but I chose to stay home and write and I'm glad I did because this happened on my street.

A May Day Don't Rain On Our Parade

Dragon bike

Smell the Flowers


Pedal Dive Bar- I love this thing
Needless to say the day felt magical even though the official parade was cancelled. I worked on my revision and I now have a picture book idea for my May 12x12in 12.

What magical things have you seen because you decided to stay and write?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z- Zara

Need (Need, #1) Z- Zara. The mc in the Need series is Zara. This series is set in main and involves pixies, but not the cute Tinkerbell type kind. Zara is a fairly cool character and these are pretty cool books. I read these books during the height of the whole Twilight thing so it seemed sort of fresh to me to be reading about pixies and weretigers instead.

Do you have a favorite YA Paranormal subject?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Y- Yoda

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda Y- Yoda. Who doesn't love Yoda? He gives wonderful advice, he trains Jedi knights. In this book an origami version of Yoda gives advice to a group of middle school kids and the kids try to determine if the force is really at work.
I recently gave these books to my friend's 8 year old and he loved them because not only do you get to read a book about Yoda (awesome right) the book has instructions to make your own Yoda.

Who is your favorite Star Wars character?

Friday, April 27, 2012

X- Luxe

The Luxe (Luxe, #1) X- is for Luxe. OK yeah I'm totally cheating but I haven't read a lot of books that start with X but this has an X in it. The Luxe is set in Manhattan in 1899. In this book Elizabeth Holland has to chose between money and love. I love reading about this time period and all that was expected of young women back then.

Do you like historical fiction?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W- Will

Will Grayson, Will Grayson W- Will Grayson, Will Grayson. There are two Wills in this book both named Will Grayson. The book is told in alternating voices of the two Will Graysons. I think my favorite character in this book is Tiny Cooper. The first Will has been friends with Tiny forever and the second Will meets Tiny during the book.

Have you ever met someone who has the same name as you?

(I almost had to pay my name twin's bill at the doctor but fortunately my name twin and I have different middle initials.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V- Virginia

The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things V- Virginia Shreves. The main character in the book The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. I love this book and this character. Virginia feels like she doesn't fit into her family. They are all thin and successful and she has learned to live by the "Fat Girl Code of Conduct". I love the humor in this book and howVirginia grows as a person and learns to accept herself.

What trait about yourself have you learned to accept over the years?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U- Brenda Ueland

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit U- Brenda Ueland. A few years ago a coworker gave me a book, If You Want to Write. To be honest, at the time I wasn't sure I wanted another book about writing but I took it anyway.  I read it and was really surprised. This book has wonderful advice about writing. It encourages writers to write, to get past ego and self consciousness and the ideas of success and just write. This book was written in the 1930's but a lot of the advice still holds true today and it is interesting to see that some of the same things that we writers struggle with today (rejection slips, money, housework) are things that writers have always struggled with.

What is your favorite book about writing?

Monday, April 23, 2012

T- Trixie Belden

The Secret Of The Mansion (Trixie Belden #1) T- Trixie Belden. Trixie is another teen sleuth. After seeing me read some Nancy Drew books a friend of mine loaned me this series and I loved them. They are full of mystery and suspense as Trixie and her friends solve mysteries. Trixie and her neighbor, Honey, solve a the mysteries but they are often aided by their brothers.  In at least one of these books Trixie tries to solve a mystery that isn't even there.

The person who loaned me the books had gone to great lengths to get the complete collection (ebay, estate sales, garage sales). Have you gone to great lengths to make sure you had a complete set of books from a series?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S- Snape

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7) S- Snape. I love Severus Snape from the Harry Potter books. Whenever I need a good cry or to just believe in the goodness of people I watch Snape's final scene in the Harry Potter movies or read the scene in the books. He is such a complex character but he is also motivated by love, friendship, and loyalty.  I think he is truly one of the bravest characters in the books.

Do you have a favorite bad guy character who turned out to surprise you?

Friday, April 20, 2012

R- Ramona

Ramona Forever  R- Ramona Quimby. I loved, loved, loved the Ramona books when I was a kid. Even though I was the big sister I could totally relate to some of the things that happen to Ramona throughout the books.  I would read some of the crazy things that happened to her, like cracking an egg on her forehead and I would actually be surprised that I hadn't done something like that. I could also totally relate to Ramona's imagination.

Do embarrassing and funny things happen to you that make you think of Ramona or other book characters?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q- Queens

Beauty Queens Q is for Beauty Queens. In this book a plane of beauty pageant contestants lands on an island in a plane crash.  I think this book is one of the funnies books I've read. There are a number of diverse characters in this book as the contestants represent many different regions.  There is the contestant who pretends to have a valley girl accent until it's discovered that she's not the dumb valley girl.  There is a transgendered character who is competing in the pageant as well. On the island, without the pressure to be who society thinks they should be, the girls in this book are allowed to be who they want to be.

If you were a contestant in a pageant what would your talent be?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P- Puck Connolly

The Scorpio Races P is for Puck Connolly. Puck is one of the main characters in the Scorpio Races.  This book is told in alternating voices of Puck and Sean Kendrick. They are both riding in the Scorpio Races. An annual race on their island involving water horses.  This story is amazing and the writing in beautiful. Puck's loyalty to her island and her brothers was one of my favorite parts of the story. Her desire to stay on the island she grew up on and keep her brothers near her is what causes her to sign up. She's the first girl to sign up for the races so she faces opposition there.  She also faces the challenge of riding her own horse and not one of the water horses. This book made me want to move to Thisbee and ride horses which is unlike me because I'm a city girl and the closest I usually come to horses is my annual visit to the horse barns at the Minnesota State Fair.

Are there books that have you dreaming of doing things you normally wouldn't do?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O- Overlander

Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles, #1) O is for Gregor the Overlander. Chances are you've all read and loved The Hunger Games. This is a series of books aimed at slightly younger readers.  Gregor is 11 and falls trough a grate in the laundry room and ends up in the Underland. The Underland is full of bugs, bats, rats and humans and Gregor has to fight to fulfill a prophecy.
This book is really great and full of adventure.  I recently gave a copy of this book to a kid I babysit for, we read the first chapter together and then he was hooked.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N - Nancy Drew

The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, #1) N is for Nancy Drew. Nancy is the daughter of a lawyer who ends up solving a lot cases on her own or with the help of her friends Bess, George and Ned Nickerson.  She's smart and perceptive. I still love these books and sometimes summon my inner Nancy Drew when I have to solve The Mystery of the Missing (insert costume piece here). These books can also teach a lot about suspense as Nancy is always caught in a suspenseful situation.

Did you read Nancy Drew books when you were growing up? Do you like mystery novels?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M- Maggie Quinn

Prom Dates from Hell (Maggie Quinn: Girl Vs. Evil #1) M- Maggie Quinn. Maggie is full of awesome.  She is a teen sleuth fighting demons at prom, succubi sororities, and mysterious creatures creatures on spring break. If you like shows like Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer then Maggie might be the perfect sleuth for you.

What was the scariest thing at your Prom?

Friday, April 13, 2012


Lola and the Boy Next Door L- Lola. Lola is an aspiring costume designer.  For this reason she reminds me of so many people I know in real life.  One day she is dressed as a strawberry, this is totally like my friend Barb who will be dressed as a leaf one day with an orange skirt layered over a brown skirt and other fall colors.  She is also making a Marie Antoinette dress during the book so I can totally picture these scenes. I can't wait until Lola comes to design costumes at the theater where I work. We are going to have so much fun. Oh, wait.
Anyway Lola has to chose between the boy who is her first love and the boy who is her true love.

Is there a book character you can imagine knowing in real life?

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Plain Kate K- Kate. Plain Kate. When her father dies Kate is all alone.  Her village is looking for any evidence of witchcraft and they become suspicious of her.  She leaves in the middle of the night and trades with a magician for something she needs. A her companion is a talking cat named Taggle.  Kate is independent and brave. The biggest recommendation I can give for this book is that it made me cry. On the elliptical. At the gym. In front of people. So yeah, it's amazing.

Do you like books that make you cry?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J- Julia Gillian

Julia Gillian (and The Art Of Knowing) J- Julia Gillian. Julia Gillian is a wonderful middle-grade series.  Julia is quirky and fun. She keeps a list of things she's skilled at and she works on adding to this list.  She makes paper mache masks. She is a dog person. Her life and concerns as she goes from 4th grader to 6th grader are very real. Julia's life and adventures take place in the Uptown area of Minneapolis and there are wonderful details about the neighborhood in these books.

What are you skilled at? Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I- Izzy

Tortilla Sun I - Izzy is the main character in Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes. She spends a summer living with her Nana in New Mexico.  While she is there she finds a baseball, new friends and family. She learns about her father who died when she was a baby and she learns about love. I love baseball so I also love books where baseball comes into play.

Do you have a favorite book with a baseball tie-in?

Monday, April 09, 2012

H- Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, # 1) H- Harry Potter. I couldn't do n H post without talking about the boy who lived. Harry is a brave and steps up to the challenge of fighting Voldemort with the help of his friends and his school. Not only did he inspire a generation of readers who grew up with him these books also inspired many writers who want to write wonderful, magical stories for children.

What is your favorite thing about Harry?  Did these books inspire or encourage you to write?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

G- Grace

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1) G is for Grace Brisbane. Grace is one of the main characters in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series.  I was hesitant to read these books at first but when I started really liked them. Grace is independent, caring, strong and smart.

Have you read this series?  Who is your favorite character in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series?

Friday, April 06, 2012

F- Frodo

 F- is for Frodo.  Frodo Baggins is the brave little hobbit who becomes an unlikely hero and saves Middle Earth.  Although Hobbits are not known for traveling and having adventures Frodo sets out to destroy a ring that has been left to him by his uncle, Bilbo Baggins.  Frodo is brave and he carries the burden of the ring mostly on himself.  He is a brave, sweet character.

Who is your favorite character from the Lord of the Rings books?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

E- Eloise

Eloise  E- Eloise.  I love these stories about Eloise. Eloise is six and lives in the Plaza Hotel.  I love her adventures and how she is always smarter than the adults around her.  I think one of my favorites was when she outsmarts her math tutor.  Eloise is a city girl and lives in the Plaza Hotel which is, lets face it, cool.

End of the Rainbow opened on Broadway on Monday night and celebrated opening night at the Plaza. I had the pleasure of working on this show in Minneapolis and encourage people to see it on Broadway. An amazing show with a wonderful cast.

Have you been to NYC? What is your favorite thing to do in New York?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

D- Dumbledore

 D- Dumbledore. There is so much to love about Dumbledore. He sees the good in people. He trusts people. He allows his students the space to learn, grow and make mistakes.  Sometimes he makes mistakes himself. He gives wonderful advice. He's an amazing wizard. I love that despite the fact that he is a very powerful wizard he doesn't swoop in and fix things.

What is your favorite thing about Dumbledore?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

C- Charlotte

Charlotte's Web C is for Charlotte- "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."
I loved Charlotte's way with words.  She spins a few words and changes the life of her friend.  Don't we all as writers hope to be like Charlotte?

What kind of friend are you? What kind of writer are you?

Monday, April 02, 2012

B- Beezus Quimby

Beezus and Ramona (Ramona, #1) B is for Beezus. I grew up reading the Ramona books and while I totally related to Ramona and her imagination and some of the funny things that happened to her like the time she cracked an egg on her head at school. But I'm also the big sister which meant that I could also relate to Beezus as she dealt with little sister Ramona.

Are you the oldest, youngest or middlest in your family? Which Quimby did you relate to?

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A to Z- Anne Shirley

Anne of Green Gables - anne-of-green-gables photo

Happy A to Z Challenge. I'm going to highlight characters and books during the month with the hope of keeping my post short and sweet.

Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables books is full of imagination which helps her escape the sometimes harsh world of being an orphan.  She goes to live on a farm with the Cuthberts, a brother and and sister who were expecting a boy from the orphanage to help with the farm.

Anne speaks her mind which get her in trouble sometimes. With her red hair and freckles she was also a target for teasing.  She is full of imagination, spirit and ideals about how the world should be.

Did you read the Anne of Green Gables books? What was your favorite thing about Anne?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RTW- Best Book of March

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 Topic:
What was the best book you read in March? 

Anna and the French KissMy favorite book of March was Anna and the French Kiss by  Stephanie Perkins.  

I loved this book. Whenever I read a YA contemporary it feels like visiting with an old friend. I love dystopia and fantasy but I love books like this.  

I like that Anna goes to France rather reluctantly and then really finds herself there.  Not only that but the writing made me want to go to Paris. 

I started reading Lola and the Boy Next Door the other day and I can tell I'm going to love it as much or even more than Anna and the French Kiss.