Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Writing Al Fresco

The weather is beautiful.   I have moved the office outside and rolled up my sleeves. I am working on getting rid of my wicked farmers tan and my writers mission statement.

I want my readers, middle grade and adult, 
to realize there is a giant Venn diagram 
where we all intersect on at least one point. 

The arms might need some tan in a can.

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's been a while . . .

. . . so let me repost the rules for falling behind on a blog:

The first rule about being behind on your blog is don't talk about being behind on your blog.

The second rule about being behind on your blog is don't talk about being behind on your blog.

The third rule about being behind on your blog is post a picture of a cat and get over it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Notes From the Nightstand

My Goodreads "currently reading" folder is over flowing and so is my nightstand.  Think of this as more of an insight into the life of a rabid reader than a book review post.

Candy Bomger:  The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Michael O. Tunnell
I got this for my 9 year old son.  I figured this was a good read to put some humanity into the World War II airplanes and tanks he loves so much.  Didn't want to hit him over the head with a brick about the topic because he is only nine after all.  But it's important to realize that war is not glorious.

Kat, Incorrigible (The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, #1) by Stephanie Burgess
I am reading this aloud with my 7 year old daughter and loving every minute of it.  I love Kat the same way I love Alan Bradbury's Flavia De Luce character.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 
This is one of the few grown up books to cross my nightstand but I would recommend it to any advanced middle school readers.  Especially girls.  Totally appropriate, lush visual details yet wonderful pacing. Morgenstern's background as a visual artist really shows in the composition of her text. 

A King's Ransom (The 39 Clues:  Cahills vs. Vespers, #2) by Jude Watson
As a reader I have paled on this series but as a writer I feel compelled to continue with the project and enjoy watching the authors pass the plot.

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor
Found this recommendation on Ms. Yingling Reads (Marvelous Middle Grade Monday)
Beautiful pacing!  I need to read more of O'Connor and learn.  I am also going to pass this on to my son for a quick read. 

Beyond the Deep Woods (Edge Chronicles, Book 1) by Paul Stewart
Part of my never ending search for books my son will enjoy. 

The Hidden Gallery (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, #2) by Maryrose Wood
Reading this book aloud to both of my children.  I enjoy the Victorian sentence structure and tangents.  They like acting like they have been raised by wolves.  Not a good independent reader but wonderfully fun read aloud.  

Lament:  The Faerie Queen's Deception (Books of Faerie, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
My first e-book!  Unfortunately, I think my slow progress in the book is due to the format, not Stiefvater's craft.

What's on your nightstand?

Friday, March 9, 2012

R2DKubb Update

The Star Wars Kubb set is coming along!

I started obsessing over the details and then remembered that this is a chunk of wood destined to be hit repeatedly with other chunks of wood.

The others will go faster now that the paint has had time to dry.  Winter projects are hard on my impetuous self because paint takes longer to set up when it is cold.

Once the kubbs are done I can start on the Death Star king.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Morning Read

Thanks to my friend Nichole, I am catching up on my blog reads.  She showed me an easier to use blog reader.  Now there is less cussing and more reading.  

I can skim blogs at the table with the kids and husband in the morning instead of being an antisocial grump chained to the desktop computer.  The added perks of being a Middle Grade writer is that work makes for good table talk.  

Special thanks to Shannon O'Donnell and her Book Dreaming blog for two great quotes. 

I like myself better when I am writing regularly
-Willie Nelson

Imagination is more important than knowledge.  
Knowledge is limited.  
Imagination encircles the world.  
-Albert Einstein

These jewels are going on my word walk.  A 90 lb bag of Portland cement is sitting in my garage.  It is the very heavy carrot on a stick.  When I've met my writing goals for today, I get to make mud pies.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Open for suggestions.

I like to putter in the garage while I am "writing."  No one but the cat notices that I'm talking to myself, testing out dialogues and transitions.  Simple repetitive tasks keep my hands busy while the brain wanders.  

Painting kubbs fits the bill perfectly.  Plus, if I paint them I don't have to spend as much time sanding.  

Sanding isn't good for thinking.  Too much dust tracking into the house.  Sneezing in one's respirator is unfortunate and gross.  Then there was that one time my mind wandered and I ran over my thumb with the orbital sander.  

Painting is much safer for thinking.  When I'm ready to hit the keyboard again, all I have to do is plop the brush in a can of water.  

Any ideas for these ten naked little kubbs?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jurassic Fail

I am never teaching dinosaurs in Science Time again.  Never ever.

Giant reptiles make kids way too excited after the end of a busy preschool day.

If a lesson plan starts to wane, I can usually save it with silly rhymes, extemporized once upon a time stories, or spur of the moment play acting.  Not this time.

I gave up on the content ten minutes into the class and just focused on the arts and crafts aspect.  The kids had fun.  That's what really matters.

Don't think that I'm discouraged.  This class was such a flop that I am still laughing three weeks later.

I am very grateful for Science Time.  It gives me the chance to take risks and see immediate results.  Science Time is the opposite of writing.  Writers take an intellectual risk, nurture it and wait years to see the results.  Preschool Science classes are the ying to the writer's yang.

Science Time also provides just enough income that I don't feel guilty, selfish or penniless while pursuing this whole idea of a writing career.

Thank you to my ever patient partner in science, Peggy Cheadle, and Danielle Hawkins at Lake Wylie Lutheran Preschool for getting us started.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday Special

Sunday is the longest day!  No power tools until noon.  Sigh.

The coffee starts flowing at 7 a.m.  The ideas start going at 8 a.m.  

Yesterday the weather was extra nice and the coffee was extra strong.  I made cafe con leche.  We are in the middle of a total backyard redo so I took my coffee outside to do some planning.

The wood pile no longer looked happy and rustic with 2/3 of the logs gone.  The cafe con leche said I needed to build a proper, slightly whimsical wood crib and I needed to build it now!  

 Luckily, last weeks treasures from the Home Depot cull bin were more or less all the same length.  So the design of this project was dictated by the materials.  I didn't have to use the chop saw until 11 a.m.

Yes, I broke the rule but not before I heard two leaf blowers and an edger running in the neighborhood.  

The kids had fun paintingt and the color (from the recycling center, of course) really makes the structure melt into the background.

The roof used up a lot of those pesky scraps that are too good to throw away but too short to be useful.  My garage is just a bit cleaner after this project.

The wood crib is near the tree with the bottle opener, so it seems only fitting to shingle it with the empty Guinnes and Crispin cans.  Anyone want to come over and help me make some shingles?  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Spring is in the Air

Fish Bone Wind Chime
I am bragging about Art Web again.

Lisa has been busy with exciting kiln openings.  Here in the Carolinas the weather has been unseasonably warm.  This fish wind chime lets me know that Lisa is already thinking through Spring to Summer and windsurfing.

You can find more of Lisa's creations on her Etsy page:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dictionary Pages

Owl, 7x10, by Catherine Gurri
Art Web has been busy.  

Catherine found an old dictionary that I saved from a library purge my freshmen year in college.  Let's just say that year was a long time ago.  The dictionary binding had given up the ghost so Catherine is giving the pages new life with these 7x10 charcoal and conte sketches.  

I love the eyes on this owl. 

This is truly art with good karma.  Beyond the repurposed pages, the water based polyurethane she used came from the local recycling center.  The boards are from the cull bin at Home Depot.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Back To School

Hurray!  After two days of mystery ick, my son is back in school.

Yes, I'm happy he is feeling better and no longer a pasty gray shell of a child.

But I am also excited because now I can get some work done.

He is not a demanding kid when he is sick.  I could blog, work on Science Time and even do our taxes while he lazed at my feet with his orange tabby daemon.  But I could not get anything done on "C is for Centurion."

Each time I opened the manuscript or pulled up the file, dearest darling son would creep up and read over my shoulder.

"Mom!  You can't write that!  It's boring!"
"Mom!  No one will buy this book."
"Mom!  You're going to make kids cry!"

Unnerved by a third grader.  That's me!