Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Challenge? ReviMo, you betcha!

January is ReviMo!!!

So friendly writer folks, it looks like I am gearing up for another writing Challenge, as if November crazy write-extravaganza wasn't enough. :-)
When I heard about my super industrious writer buddy, Meg Miller's January challenge encouraging writers to revise, Revise, REVISE those PB manuscripts for a fulll week in January, I knew it was just the thing to get me back in the proverbial saddle. And I don't know about the rest of you, but I have A LOT of manuscripts just itching to be revised! (Hanging out of draws and off tables, clogging up my hard-drive, and sometimes, even haunting me in my dreams.)
And with November's challenges in our tail lights, and in a couple days the holidays behind us, it will be the perfect time to dive in and get back to creative work. 
Personally, I am quite excited! *cracking knuckles and getting ready to work*

So, hop on over to Meg's blog, register for the challenge, and get ready for great pep talks, prizes, and fun. Sign up at:

ReviMo - Revise More Picture Books Week ---- January 12-18, 2014

She's got some great prizes cooked up, including:
*A picture book critique from the Simone Kaplan
*A Making Picture Book Magic Class with Susanna Leonard Hill
*Basic Rate Your Story Year Membership for 2014
*The Picture Book Academy's Grammar Groove Course with Miranda Paul
*A chance to submit to Hummingbird Literary
 *A critique from Miranda Paul  (PB or first two chapters [up to 15 pages] of MG or YA)
*Critique of a query letter from Miranda Paul
*Nonfiction PB critique from Kristen McGill Fulton
*A picture book critique from Margo Dill, Editor 911 (1000 word max.)
*A picture book critique from Alayne Kay Christian (prose only)
*Beth Stilborn's Flubs 2 Fixes Copy Editing Service for 1 or 2 Picture Book Manuscripts and a One-Page Query Letter. (MS should be submission ready. Beth's service is primarily final-step copy edit prior to submission)
*Copy of Linda Ashman's Nuts & Bolts of Picture Book Writing (PDF or EPub Version)
*Signed book and swag from Ame Dyckman

Woohoo, I want all these prizes! But, I will remind myself the virtues of sharing. ;-)
Can't wait!!! 
It will be just the thing to start the new year off right! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

SkADaMo Sketching-- Crabby crabs

Today I'm posting a sketch! Woo hoo!!!

Soooooo, I'm presenting Mr. Crabby Crab!

There is a little story behind my friend the crab.

 I was at the beach recently, while visiting with my mother. It was a gorgeous day, hot sun, warm water, soft sand. We swam in the ocean for a while, splashing in the waves, then plopped down on the towels for a much needed rest. Suddenly, there was a tap tap tap on my mom's stomach. We look down and see this crab practically underneath her. Needless to say, we jumped up quite a bit shocked.
But then we settled down and just...watched. He was amazing. So calm and centered, with an absolute stillness, and yet when he needed to move he did it swiftly. The thing is crabs never move straight forward, if you've ever watched one, they do this cooky little side to side movement. Which definitely got me thinking. 

Our first visitor, who was getting a little touchy feely with mi madre. He might have been a bit fresh, but he made a strong impression.

Our second visitor, who came just after the other skedattled. This one was super fast. He shot on to our towel so quick, he almost shot right up into my lap. Then hung out for a while making his presence known.

 With these crabby crabs showing up in such exuberantly friendly ways, we couldn't help but think that just maybe there was a message in this somewhere.

Which means, of course I had to look it up. :-)

Here is what I found on

Crab symbolism was very strong and extremely interesting. Crabs mean protection for the paths we embark on, moon energy, and they are the guardians of the watery world. Crabs cast off their shells so cycling and rebirth is a strong theme with them.
I was also extremely struck by this little ditty...
    As an animal totem, the crab's ambulation (what a great word!) is noteworthy. Never taking a direct (forward, or head-on) route, the crab makes its way on land with a sideways tap-dance.
This is a reminder that not all paths are direct and not all ways will be forthcoming in their meaning. 
   When you are moving in a certain direction, and you feel a bit misguided, call upon the travel-savvy crab. She will guide you in an unorthodox way - taking lesser known paths of least resistance and bring you to clarity....
        In other words, when we relax and move in the waves of wellbeing - moving in the natural flow of things, we have no need for defense. All of our needs are met, and we are divinely cared for.

And another great quote that resonated there. "...the crab is content to move with the natural cadence of the moon, the water, the land, and the perfect rhythm of nature."

How very zen, I must say. And honestly, it fits so well with what I have been feeling recently. Some people's lives follow a straight and narrow path, where they are constantly driven to place one foot directly in front of the other, moving forward through life. My life seems so, so different. It feels like a constant one step forward, three steps back kind of dance, and more often than not it is a dance that seems to take me side ways in indirect fashions, rather than directly where I "think" I should go. I'm learning to become more open to the messages, just like I am beginning to become more open in my way of thinking about life goals and advancement.

As a writer, artist, and creative, I guess I haven't choosen the easiest path for myself. But I wouldn't change it for the world. And even if I move with a side to side swagger, I know I'll get to where I am meant to be in the end. In the meantime I'll enjoy the journey, (and the drawing) while I keep a look out for signs, and crabs. :-)

Message received!

Friday, November 8, 2013

SkADaMo...It's sketching time!!!


So if November wasn't packed enough, I just heard about another awesome creative opportunity. Linda Silvestri runs SkADaMo, Sketch a day Month, and I have to say I like her style. This was one challenge I couldn't pass up!

You work towards making a sketch a day for the month of November, but the way they run it feels like a no stress situation. The modus operandi is just create, trying to make as many drawings as you can. Hoping to stimulate the senses and get participants on the right track to keep it up after the contest is over.

As well, hardly any of you know, I am a recovering sketchaholic, just kidding. Seriously though, I was an art teacher for a number of years and have been attempting to add illustration to my picture book writing skills. I was a sketching fiend, but somehow got away from it over the last year. I have been thinking about getting it back, annnnnnd what could be a more perfect excuse.

So, I guess I'll dust off my pencils, pens, and other exciting art making materials and see what happens. I am admittedly rusty, which is never an easy place to be, but I think this could be really fun. Especially if i let myself go, be a novice, and enjoy the artsy love!

Productive November!

Hello my lovelies!

This November is really humming along! AND, I am so proud of myself. I've been participating in both NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo. Which if you've never tried them before are two incredible writing experiences that take place the whole month of November.

NaNoWriMo (click here to check it out) is National Novel Writing Month where people pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

PiBoIdMo (click here to visit) is Picture Book Idea Month where people pledge to think up 30 picture book ideas in 30 days.

Both are incredibly challenging, but super exciting, and I'm glad to be a part of them! It's getting me to come up with some intriguing, slightly wacky, endearing PB ideas and getting me to finally write that non-fiction book that has been swimming around my head. So while I have no clue what tomorrow, let alone the rest of the month will bring, I know that this has stepped up my motivation. Go ME!

Sometimes it comes easily, and other times it is a bit like pulling teeth, with me searching all around me for inspiration.

It's Day 8, and I'm about 13 picture book ideas in and about 8,000 words into my nonfiction book. Plugging along and having fun doing it!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Do It Anyway

Today I am dubbing "Do It Anyway" Day!

Why? You ask.
Because, life can getcha down, things can seem overwhelming, but so so often we need to step up and (say it with me now) DO IT ANYWAY!

As a matter of fact. So often, it seems that things I dreaded, were in actuality, the things I loved the most once I gave them a chance. We can't be afraid to take steps forward. Even, and especially, when they are frightening.

In honor of now dubbed special day, I will share two special, inspirational inspirationals. :-) One serious, and one not so much. But both with a ggrrreat message.

Mother Teresa's poem, Anyway, is a great reminder for me. It reminds me to not shirk away from duty, to not run from adversity, and not fear change, and to plain old not hide from life and the possibility of joy in whatever form it may be.
(I got this poem from the Prayer Foundation. It is attributed to Mother Teresa and was written on the wall of her home in Calcutta, India. I heard it was inspired by Kent Keith's The Paradoxical Commandments.)

Do It Anyway
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
~Mother Teresa

And if you aren't inspired enough...I will leave you with this little motivational ditty.

What could be better than the Fraggles (of Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock)? Not much! And when you pair them with Ben Folds Five and an spirited video with meaningful, fun lyrics. Well, let's just say you get a party and a half.

Ben Folds Five "DO IT ANYWAY" f. Fraggle Rock [Official Video]

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Studying Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul

Today marks the begin of my study group for Ann Whitford Paul's "Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication." I am super excited!

A FB buddy of mine suggested that we go through the book together. Of course I said yes! Then we opened it up to some of our Facebook writing groups, and within less then a week we had close to 50 people joining in!!!

I'm amazed, but I guess I shouldn't be, by how many wonderful, dedicated (did I mention friendly) writers there are out there, who are just aching to improve their craft. It makes me feel good. And, not only that, but now I have a group of people to work this book with!

So, I'll be posting over the next weeks. Sharing the process and what I learn. Hope you get something out of it too!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stories swirling in my mind!

The one who says it cannot be done should never interrupt the one who is doing it.
-- The Roman Rule

I've been thinking about this quote. It feels appropriate for the Writing Life. 

Writing is hard. Let me say it again. WRITING IS HARD. 

It would be so easy to quit during times, like now, when I'm exhausted, not feeling well, brain fried, blocked, and simply lost. 
And, if putting pen to page wasn't something that I needed to do, well, I guess I probably would have quit a long time ago. But how could I, how can I do that when the words swirl inside my head, talking to me at night in my dreams, and creep into my mind caressing my thoughts when I'm awake. 

Writing is something I need to do, and it makes me feel good. I love those moments when I get lost in a story, both writing and reading them. It just feels good to be connected to something bigger. I'm in love with words, stories, characters, plots. Oh my, that's what I like. 

Times like this, I just need to open myself up to the world around me. Let the inspiration sink in, and refuel. Go out, and live life. I'll keep filling my cup and the rest will come.

Let's begin

I love reading blogs about writing journeys. But, for some reason, I've always been hesitant to put my own journey out there. Funny, that for a person who gets by on my stories, writing about myself could be so daunting. Maybe they won't like what I have to say. Maybe no one will understand me. . . Maybe, it's not about that. When people put their journeys out there, others can be a part of it. We are a community. I'm a part of it. One way or another. So, here I am. I'll share what I've learned. If it helps someone, if someone can relate, cool beans. :-)