Thursday, October 28, 2010

IF - Racing


My first IF post, a quick sketch a week behind. Or just in time for the new topic tomorrow. :)

I still need to clean this little witch up and paint her. Notice I drew the broom through the bottom of the dress! Oh well.

Let's hope she wins the race in spite of my oversight. There's bound to be lots of candy at the finish!

I'll try to post a pic when she's done.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The False Start


I'm waffling between two different openings for my middle grade. I have been for some time. Of course my choice influences the rest of the pages...

Then I saw a link cautioning Beware the False Beginning.

Brian, a YA author, says, "Always be a little suspicious of your beginning. Not necessarily the first line or two which might be perfect, but the first ten pages where your story is trying to get started. You want to jump into your real story as quickly as you can. You want to start your story as close to the heart of the story as possible."

I have to run warm up laps. I have to spend some time with my characters to understand their wants and goals. That's the backstory, and it's usually in the first ten to twenty pages of the first draft.

I've heard it said that once Richard Peck reaches the end of his draft, he throws out the first chapter without even reading it. Then he writes a new one. The first chapter is the last in disguise, or something like that. It's a promise to the reader.

So what's the heart of the story? I need to start there, at the moment before everything changes. Then weave the backstory throughout.

Easier said than done.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Five

1. My in-laws are visiting from Minneapolis. Therefore, my kids are deliriously up long past bedtime.
2. Homemade cinnamon rolls are ready to go in the morning. (Please rise.)
3. The men are video-gaming. (Ear plugs would be nice.)
4. There will be good eating and football and happy making shopping and perhaps a nap.
5. Holy cow, Rangers!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oh. My. Jif.

I'm drooling.

How come I've never thought to make these at home? With a microwave. How easy is that?


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Ingredients

  • 1 (11.5 ounce) package milk chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Directions

  1. Trim 12 paper muffin cup liners to half of their height.
  2. Place 1/2 chocolate chips in a microwave safe container. Microwave for 2 minutes, stirring after each minute. Spoon melted chocolate into muffin cups, filling halfway. With a spoon, draw the chocolate up the sides of the cups until evenly coated. Cool in the refrigerator until firm.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together peanut butter, confectioners' sugar and salt. divide into the chocolate cups. Melt the remaining chocolate, and spoon over peanut butter. Spread chocolate to edges of cups.



Thanks, Allrecipes.com!
Must pick up muffin liners...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday Five

Only it's Saturday, so I added a sixth.

1. My family camped in the backyard last night.
2. I did not. (It was cold, people. Even my dog was shivering.)
3. Getting over strep throat is no fun.
4. I have the makings for homemade caramel corn.
5. My oldest looks cute in his new glasses. If only we'd known he needed them before buying his costume... He would have made a great Harry Potter.
6. My husband ran another marathon. And managed to keep all his toenails this time. (Stuff runners don't tell you.) He's the tall handsome one. ;)

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

On Selflessness


I am amazed by the Chilean miners' selflessness.


They'd been stuck below the earth since August 5th, and here they were fighting over who'd be the last one out.

"When he told the miners through video conference that they would have to choose their order of rescue, there was no shortage of volunteers to go last, [Minister of Health Jaime] Manalich said."

"Mr. Minister, that's fine but I want to go last please." And then another guy said, "No, my friend, I said that I was going to be the last one up." "No, no, really -- I want to go last, please," another guy started saying.

Their preference for one another makes me blink back tears.



If I'd lived in hazardous conditions underground, away from my family, away from sunlight, for 69 days, I'd be hard pressed to show restraint and deference. I'd want to crawl all over anyone and anything in my way to hug my kiddos and spouse waiting at the top.

Which makes me wonder how this translates to other areas of my life. Like writing.
Writers, for the most part, work alone. We might belong to critique groups and have blogger friends online. But, sometimes, things can get hairy.

What if I'm the last man standing. That might be a hard pill to swallow, watching all my friends have writerly success while I'm plugging away, wondering if what I'm typing has any value. Some days, I'm okay with the thought. Others, it bothers me a twinge. I'm being human and honest. My crit group has talked openly about this, so this is nothing new to them.

They know I'm their biggest cheerleader. And who knows? My sole purpose might be to help spur one of them to publication. Who am I to say publication is what God has in store for me? (Is. 55:8)

The world has enough troubles. It doesn't need would be writers stepping on each other's toes, trying to get a leg up in this industry. It is what it is. A business. For profit.

My crit mates? They're REAL PEOPLE. People matter. Heaven forbid I hurt one of them in my effort to climb some proverbial ladder. I'm betting they feel the same.

Don't get me wrong. I love books. I can talk about them for hours. But at the end of the day, people are more important than books. Than any of my books - the ones taking up room on my hard drive. (The irony is writers write books to connect with people. See The Forest for the Trees, pg. 37.)

Writing isn't a race.

I'm only competing with myself. Trying to improve my craft. If I'm privileged to help someone else arrive first, great.

Lord willing, I'll see them at the surface.

Phillipians 2:4

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.





Friday, October 8, 2010

For the Love of Picture Books

Even though The New York Times states picture books are languishing, they are alive and well here!

My second grader is starting Harry Potter, but he still reads picture books.


And I love it when my older boys read to their little brother and sister.

It melts my heart seeing them all together peacefully, no one jabbing their sibling in the ribs.

(Little man is laughing because his book slipped through the jacket to the floor. Somehow, we have a duplicate copy, which works out splendidly for nap time.)


So if you feel your big kid is too old for picture books, find a younger kid for them to read to. And if you can't find any youngsters, feel free to borrow mine.

Reading out loud is not only great practice for your older student but an immense help to the little listeners developing their vocabulary and language skills.

Have a happy Friday! They only come around once a week...



Monday, October 4, 2010

Sandra Boynton


A look at her home, her studio, and who knew she was friends with Meryl Streep?

Friday, October 1, 2010

I really, really

really really really really really really really really really really
really really really really really really really really really really
really really really really really really really really really really
really really really really really really really really really really
really really really really really really really really really really
really really really really really really really really really really
really really really really really really really really really really
really really really really really really really really really really
really really really really really really really really really really
really really really really really really really really really really
want to go to Big Sur.

*someday*