Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cruel Summer

I do really love summer, but WOW does it get busy and go fast!

I have had some great things happen in these last few weeks of summer:

1. Hugged a Dinger and a Honker at the same time. (see picture if you are unfamiliar with these characters!)

2. Realized my irrational optimism is genetic when my dad lost his prescription glasses in a wave and my mom and I searched the ocean floor like crazy people. We found a grocery bag, a pair of underwear, 4 pairs of sunglasses, a stingray barb, and eventually... his glasses.

3. Had a red postman butterfly lay a tiny orange egg on my head at the butterfly museum. I'm pretty sure this was a message of love from my grandparents.

4. Have a pumpkin growing from last year's jack o'lantern seeds.

5. Received a magazine acceptance from Stinkwaves for the January 2015 issue!

6. Took the bus into the city all by my big girl self to attend the Children's Book Writing Intensive class at Gotham Writers' Workshop.

7. Won Vesper Stamper's Cruel Summer Contest with my poem Allergic to Fun. The poem was inspired by her NJSCBWI conference winning illustration of a goth child at the beach under her black lace umbrella.

Why not celebrate Labor Day Weekend with an ode to the dangers of summer? Hope you have a great rest of summer.

Allergic to Fun

By Lauri Meyers

Annabelle hated the summer.
Maintaining her cool was a chore-
In a velveteen gown,
With a serious frown
Vacationing down at the shore.

Mom nagged her beneath the umbrella:
"Oh, Annabelle, go have some fun!"
"I better lie low,
'Cause wouldn't you know?
I break out in hives from the sun."

Her sister was sculpting a fortress.
She shoveled the sand from a ditch.
"Come help with this pail?" 
"I'm afraid I must bail.
Your sandcastle's making me itch."

"A-Goo-ba-ba-Goo?" Her bro babbled.
He toddled and sprinkled her knees.
"Be careful li'l man
With that watering can-
The saltwater's making me sneeze!"

The heat was becoming excessive,
And sweat saturated her hair.
She looked to the sea.
How cool it must be...
No way was she going out there.

A triangle poked through the water.
"A shark would be brilliantly bleak."
She left her sweet shade,
Not even afraid,
And walked to the shore for a peek.

She watched the gray fin as it glided.
Excitement arose like a flame.
A dolphin then breeched,
And Annabelle screeched.
"Those beautiful things are so lame."

She stuck out her tongue at the dolphin
And wished it was something to dread.
She turned without pause,
Not looking, and was
Surprised by a wave on her head!

Her family came for assistance. 
She shook and was feeling undone.
"She's having an attack!"
"Try rubbing her back!"
"She's deathly allergic to fun!"

Annabelle's skin was so clammy,
Her mother soon started to fret,
But was shocked to see
The girl grinning with glee:
"It feels really good to be wet!"

Annabelle ran to the ocean.
She'd learned about keeping her cool.
But after a dive,
She noticed a hive-
And sneezed out a salty Achoo!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop

I was tagged to the Writing Process Blog Hop by Telaina Muir who shared her writing process last Monday. Thank you for tagging me, Telaina! 

1. What am I working on right now?
Mainly I'm focused on maintaining my sanity until summer comes to an end and the kids go back to school. Oh, you mean what am I writing?

My three best picture book manuscripts are in the freezer right now after significant revisions in July.
I'm working on a nonfiction biography picture book, but I keep finding new research that is throwing off my story. Ugh, the risks of research!

I have two PBs I want to try as Easy Readers. I have a feeling they may spark in that format, it's just a matter of trying something new.

I'm indulging my dark YA side with a story about a particularly wicked water witch. I was planning to submit this to Spellbound for their Elementals theme, but I just read they are closing. Bummers. 

My back log of critiques-received-not-yet-edited pieces needs to be addressed...but I have a few new ideas which are drawing my attention away. No sense fighting the muse, so I'm starting two new projects this month.

I'm going to a Gotham Writers Workshop Children's Books Intensive in two weeks using a Christmas gift certificate. Christmas in August!

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I'm trying to create a few boy-friendly characters in a pink-saturated market. (Even though my mom keeps saying, "you should write something like Pinkalicious!" Yes, thank you, Mom.)

3. Why do I write what I do?
(a) I'm a concise writer from years of business writing, so the picture book format is comfortable.
(b) My little gremlins tend to inspire age-appropriate stories.
(c) I must be a tad lazy, because once I figured out I could have an amazing intellectual experience and my heart warmed in 500 words, it does seem unnecessary to write more than that.
(d) I suspect my brain is not quite wired correctly giving me a bizarre sense of humor which is best displayed in picture books.

4. How does my writing process work?
I wouldn't mind being stuck
in a creme egg instead of
(image by chidsey via freeimages)
I make a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, both literally and figuratively. Most of my ideas come together like that: My kids do something ridiculous which provides a relatable situation. Someone says a funny thing which gives me a refrain or character. I have a deep adult thought which provides the emotional current. Then I mash them together with a poop joke. Delicious!

My process is 10% writing, 90% revising. It has occurred to me it would be much more efficient to write better first drafts, but ideas just don't come out that way. I spend a lot of time being stuck, which happens when you are dealing with so much jelly and poo
. When I'm stuck I:
(a) Storyboard on the back of a door
(b) Draw plot arcs with a rainbow of colors
(c) Write the action on index cards and move them around
(d) Highlight manuscripts in various ways- dialog of a character, passive verbs, each action to check for build, etc.
(e) Field trip to nature or other appropriate setting.
(f) Stick it in the freezer.
(g) Ship it off to my critique group to help.
(h) Read or reread a writing book until the problem becomes clear.
(h) Play with my kids so my muse can think without all the pressure.

At some point (around revision 14) the story starts to get polished.

I’m tagging Shar Mohr. We are both members of the Yellow Brick Road Critique Group. Check out Shar's Writing Process  on August 18th.  Then hop over to another YBR member Joy Moore's site on August 25th. Thank you both for hopping and for being such helpful critique partners. 
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