Monday, April 20, 2015

Come Visit Me Over Yonder?

I did a post today on Across the Board (the group blog I belong to) that is my favorite kind of blog post. I got to be creative and then take pics of it. Short and sweet, it features book covers and clothes, and can be found here. Happy Monday all!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Five

I have not done one of these in awhile, so here we go!

1. I have resolved to start walking 2-3 times a week. I need to get active someway, and walking seems like a great way to start. Plus, I can take the kidlet along, so there you go. 

(This is the library. I personally really dislike that sculpture...)

2. I got a library card! Yes, I do have a library card to my hometown library, but this library card is for the neighboring library one town over. Which has a conference room that I'd like to reserve for a SCBWI critique group meeting that I'm tentatively planning on trying to host. #wishmeluck #i'venevertriedtodosomethinglikethisbefore (umm...are hashtags that long even allowed IRL?)

3. I hate endings. I'm rewriting the ending to my YA dystopian, and it is kicking my butt. I think I finally figured out the twist needed to get myself going on it, once and for all. But I've been avoiding and wrestling it so long, that I've gotten in the habit of avoiding and wrestling it. Does that even make sense?

4. I got a rejection on a short story that's been a bit of a bummer. It's one of those where you really felt like it would've been a great fit. Plus, I really liked this short story-- there were several references to Benjamin Franklin, and I am a fan of that man. But I enjoyed writing it and it came pretty easily to me, so that's a win right there. #lookonthebrightside

5. And lastly, I'm almost done  reading FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson. It's the second book in his The Reckoners series (the first being STEELHEART) and WHOA! Are these books good!! They feature superheroes called Epics, except they're not good superheroes. Receiving powers has made bad. Like kill you without a morsel of regret bad. Read them, you won't be disappointed. 

So that's it for me! What have you all got going on this Friday? 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Blogging Struggles

I have blogged for almost two years. And I'm going through a bit of a slump. Content-wise, or the urge to post, I'm doing okay with. I still post at least once a week and I still enjoy putting posts together. It's the following that I've been struggling with. 

Can I confess something to you all?

I've been avoiding my Blogger feed. It gives me anxiety. I start to scroll through it and see all the posts I should be commenting on, and my mind starts thinking on how long that's gonna take, and I hit the exit button and run the other way. I feel terrible! 

Blogging and blog following is about building relationships with people. And I feel horrible when I know I'm missing posts from ppl that I've followed regularly for awhile. I could be missing important stuff and that's not cool.  It's also not cool to expect people to come visit me when I'm slowly growing more sporadic at visiting back. (geez, I feel like a shmuck even admitting that) 

I could list all the excuses: Time, gone, poof, evaporated like cotton candy in a warm mouth. Full-time job. One kidlet. A house that does not clean itself. Limited time in which to write at night.

Except many of you all have that too, and more, and yet here you are, still faithfully interacting online. All I can say is I'm sorry. I'm going to try and get better! I've thought about taking a break, but I don't feel like I'm quite there yet, so I'm gonna struggle on. If you're one of those who haven't seen me hanging out at your place quite as often as usual, my sincere apologies. 

Though I will say if your blog has a follow by email feature, plz let me know in the comments! I find it much easier (and less anxiety inducing) to click on a link in an email to read a post. And seeing it in my inbox reminds me that I need to go visit. You will totally be doing me a favor by letting me know. 

Okay, so here's to everyone having a fantastic Friday tomorrow, and then an even more fantastic weekend!    

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Author Stop: Vijaya Bodach

Add to Goodreads

I'm super happy to welcome the super sweet Vijaya Bodach to the blog today! Doesn't this cover just make you smile?

1. You write children's non-fiction, picture books, and fiction for young adults(and perhaps mg as well?). Do you identify more with one than the other, or do you consider yourself a jack of all trades?

I wish I were a jack. That’s the ultimate goal, to be good enough to tackle anything I set my heart to, and in a way, each project teaches me something about writing. But I am most comfortable with nonfiction – it comes easily to me. The story is already there; it seems just a matter of deciding what to shine the light on, what to focus on, what elements to bring together. Fiction is a whole new can of worms, but it’s where I am trying to chew on a problem and trying to make sense of something, usually something about human nature. But what an incredible journey it is – because it is about self-discovery as well.

2. While writing Ten Easter Eggs, did you observe bunnies for research (or eggs...?)?

Not bunnies. But I have observed many fertilized eggs hatch and I used to have a pet chicken, so I drew upon my memories and of course, books and the Internet.

3. What is a fav Easter treat you like to find in your basket?

Books and chocolate – preferably Belgian. Living in Belgium spoiled me forever.

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring picture book writers?

Of course! Read lots of them to children. Only the best. Then, type up in manuscript format to see what they look like, how they flow. You’ll be quite surprised what’s actually in the text, how spare and poetic they can be.

5. What is a fav line(s) from Ten Easter Eggs?

Two chicks open downy wings.
It brings back such sweet memories of holding my chick. I was its mother.

Thanks for having me Leandra! Wishing you and all your readers a very happy Easter!!!

* * * 

Great advice, Vijaya! And I like your Easter basket pics. Speaking of treats, everyone who comments will be entered into the giveaway for a $5 Amazon gift card. Please just remember to follow Vijaya at one or more of her social media sites.{Winner will be announced via comments on 4/8} 

Vijaya Bodach is the author of many books for both children and adults. She lives in South Carolina with her family.

Amazon | B&N

Watch each Easter egg hatch as you count down from 10!

Ten eggs.
All is quiet. Not a peep.

Nine eggs.
One chick hatches. "Cheep, cheep, cheep."

In this sweet story, clever die-cuts, touchable plastic pieces, and fuzzy flocking all come together in a rhyming adventure all about Easter traditions. Follow and count along as ten quiet Easter eggs become ten colorful chicks ready to celebrate the holiday! A fun, engaging novelty story just right for the littlest of readers.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Goin' Huntin'...(aka 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt)

Some of you might be like me when it comes to YASH-- you've heard a lot about it, but really have no clue what it was. I visited the official site last night and read over how it works. And now I understand! There are teams made up of authors. You read their blog posts, find the numbers in them, add them up, and submit the grand sum to a Rafflecopter for the chance to win oodles of books! That's the short version-- for the longer (and more comprehensible) version, visit this How to Hunt post on the YA Scavenger Hunt website. 

Because my buddy and CP, Kimberly G. Giarratano, is participating this year, I am unabashedly Team Purple! (though I see lots of great books on other teams by ppl I know-- so go Team Everyone!) To view her YASH post, go here. And is anyone else thinking YASH is fun to say...? (But I freely admit to being a dork, so maybe it's just me.) 

For those of you who will be on the hunt this year, good luck! May you win oodles of books!  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Kidlet's 3rd Birthday Party

So you all have heard me talk about being excited for the kidlet's birthday, mention buying his present, and now, finally, it's the birthday post! First, let me say, one day I will have a get together at my house that is smooth sailing. I will have the house clean for hours before everyone shows up, the food is done, and I graciously stand at the door welcoming everyone.

Reality: I'm frantically picking up stuff off the carpet b/c I ran out of time to vacuum (thankfully my husband got the living room done); I went to put the jalapeno corn muffins in the oven-- and realized I'd forgotten to preheat it; I jumped in the shower about five minutes before the first guest arrived. Oh, not to mention that the first birthday cake was a disaster and I had to make a second one. *wonk-wonk*

But in the end, it all came together, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, especially the kidlet. His two best buddies were there: Raylee, and his cousin, Carson.

As you can see, the theme was robots. And these are the toppings for the white chicken chili I made. 

Every robot needs Cog Juice to run on!

Cream cheese dill pickle appetizers, in neat dishes that reminded me of gears. 

I made the robots out of construction paper, stick glue, and bamboo skewers. When the party was over I couldn't bring myself to throw them away, so they're now propped against the back glass of the kidlet's fish tank. I'm sure the cichilds are fearing robot domination at any moment.

Huffing and puffing! He ended up having to get a boost up from Mama to get his candle out.

Posing in front of the loot. Normally, he doesn't have scabs on his face. When I was out of town the weekend before at the writing conference, his grandpa took him fishing. And kinda forgot the sunscreen... He blistered up. =( But it's all better now!

Eating cake with Ray-Ray.

The book you see in the pictures is Power Down, Little Robot by Anna Staniszewski. And it is such a cute read! I love all the robot references in it: Mom Unit, error messages, brushing cogs. It's a fun book that takes the much done avoiding bedtime routine and puts a fresh spin on it. I highly recommend it. Plus, there's a Goodreads giveaway going on for it right now! {Ending 4/1/15}

So, let's talk: Does anyone remember any of the themes from their own birthdays growing up? (I might have had several horse cakes...) Or what are the birthday themes your kidlets are asking for?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Second IN SCBWI Writing Conference

Last weekend I attended the IN SCBWI conference, Universal Truth: Finding Common Ground in Diverse Characters. It was a great! The conference opened Fri night w/a talk from the keynote speaker, Sudipta Bardhan- Quallen. She was hilarious as well as inspiring.

These are several of her picture books that I would like to read.

I sat up near the front, and was mortified when I had to stand up for acknowledgement as a volunteer. I wasn't expecting that! Afterward I went back to my room and talked to the hubby and kidlet on the phone, and then got some writing in before bed. The next day, guess what?! I got my toast.

After breakfast was a full day of classes. The highlights on Sat (for me) was Sudipta's and Rachel Orr's talk. 

It was nice to see behind the curtain on an author/agent relationship. Rachel Orr also gave a great presentation called Developing Your Secondary Characters. I was thrilled when she used two excerpts from one of my favorite middle grade books, Three Times Lucky. Then the next class I enjoyed the most was Skila Brown's How To Read Like a Writer. She is a fantastic speaker! Engaging and funny and thought-provoking.

She also spoke at the end of the day about diversity (and she's provided the handout here), and it was once again so good. Some people are just so easy to listen to-- she's one of them! 

Then Saturday night instead of staying in and writing, I had a night out on the town with my husband, who came up to keep me company. We went to nearby Bloomington, home of college kids galore (Bloomington is where IU is located). I swear half of them looked like they weren't old enough to have graduated high school, let alone be attending college. We ate, got ice cream, bought the kidlet's bday present, and saw a movie. It was nice!

Sunday I got up and chatted with Shannon Alexander at breakfast (who took pity on me sitting alone and invited me over), attended the last class of the day and then it was time to go home. So another successful conference!

This was The Turtle in the Lobby. He had feedings on Sun at 11:30 a.m. I am sorry I missed it.

And thanks to Sam Taylor, who provided me with the pictures of Sudipta and Rachel Orr!

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