Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sunshine Award and 7 Weird Things

I have to admit I've been hoping to get the Sunshine Award because my 4-H nickname was Sunshine. Awww! I know. I'm adorable. 

Imagine my happiness when my lovely friend Leslie Zampetti nominated me!  Leslie and I first "met" in the online critique group "The Yellow Brick Road."  We officially met in person at the NJ SCBWI Conference a couple years ago, with a classic "Squeee! Oh my gosh! Is it really you!" *insert gigantic hug here* Her blog posts pack a double punch with great posts and the blog title "Rear in Gear" to kick you in the pants to sit down and write.

For this award you need to share 10 interesting things about yourself. Now, like Leslie, I find this grueling for everyone, on account of my terribly boring self. And even worse I've shared things before, so I felt obliged to come up with new things. Ugh. I'd rather eat boogers.

1. I don't eat boogers. I may or may not have a kid who does, but I'm not saying because it's not nice to out your children publicly.

2. I once watched monkeys throw poop for 20 minutes. They were literally dumping right into their hands and tossing in one motion. Like a semi-automatic poop gun. My husband scuffed his shoes dragging me away.

3. For story research I've asked 63 strangers what dandelions smell like. This is harder to answer than you may think. I've gotten lemons, salt, candy, dirt, poop, and a lot of "I dunnos." If you know the answer, please comment!

4. The thing I dislike the most about aging is I've started getting dizzy swinging. What the hokie-pokie-turn-yourself-around is the deal with that?  Sidenote: Mom, sorry for making fun of you for getting dizzy when I was little.

5. On the bright side of getting older, I'm only about 30 years away from being able to wear ridiculous hats every day. I should probably start collecting now.

6. I have blamed accidental toots on my children, spiders, and dirty sneakers. But that's not so know you do it too.

7. I like prime numbers. So I'm stopping at 7.

I'm nominating some newer writing friends who have brought SUNSHINE to me this year!
Catherine Constance - Fun and Nonsense 
Lauri Fortino - Frog on a Blog 
Catherine Bailey - the Crooked Book  (check out her goat picture)
Telaina Muir - Imp and the Storyteller
Sarah Maynard - Kid Lit Writer 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Research Risks - The Myth of the Plover

I won an ARC of Animal Partners (written by Scotti Cohn and illustrated by Shennen Bersani) from Arbordale Publishing for my entry in their Poetry Month Contest! I was very excited to be selected out of the number of entries (well, one entry to be exact...).   

The challenge was to write a poem about animal relationships. Researching zebras & ostriches, sea anemones & hermit crabs, and other symbiotic relationships got my juices flowing. Upon finding the crocodile and plover bird's tooth-cleaning relationship, my head filled with bits of lines and rhymes.

"Wait, wait. Let me get this straight.
So, you thought I would let a bird
just fly into my mouth, and
I wouldn't eat it? Dude.
Have you had chicken wings?
They are awesome!
Bwa, ha, ha, ha!"
(by Yan81 via
My draft needed another term for jaws/ mouth/ teeth of crocodiles to complete a rhyme...which led me to the internet...which led me to a crocodile specialist and his discussion called "The Myth of the Plover."

"This guy is a quack!" I yelled to no one in particular, clutching my almost finished poem. 

Alas, further research confirmed there is no evidence of this partnership except for in a doctored photograph and an old story. 

"Son-of-Crocodile-Dundee!" I yelled in a poor Australian accent. 

So the plover and the crocodile weren't really friends, but darn it, I was invested in this relationship or at least in finishing the poem. And thus the ending was born.

Plover's Lunch

By Lauri Meyers

Please open up wide.
I'll flutter inside
To pick out all your scraps.
Forgotten to crunch,
The rest of your lunch
Still stuck in toothy gaps.

A bit of fresh fish
Is really delish
A perfect birdy treat.
A dentist like me
Is helpful you see
To keep incisors neat.

But wait just a sec.
I'll take a raincheck.
Your fishy grin seems cruel.
It's giving me pause-
To eat in your jaws
Would make me quite a fool!

So there you have it-- an important lesson learned on the risks of research!

Have you had any research mishaps?  

Monday, May 5, 2014

5 Reasons NaPiBoWriWee is Easier

I'm in the middle of NaPiBoWriWee so there's no time to talk!!!

Actually I do have a little bit of time because I'm shocked to say National Picture Book Writing Week is getting a little bit easier. In this my third year of NaPi, I cooked for my family twice (so far) and cleaned the house yesterday! (usually we fall into a state of squalor during this week)

NaPiBoWriWee is a challenge to write 7 PBs in 7 days with Paula Yoo and guest posts to inspire you. This year's theme is diversity in kidlit. Even if you can't participate in the challenge stop in and read some of the posts. If they don't grease your writing axle, I don't know what will.

5 Reasons NaPi is easier this year

I have notebooks of ideas from PiBoIdMo and my wanderings throughout the year.

I'm less chicken about research which I've learned even the most fictional picture books still require some digging.

I have a better handle on picture book structure. So these early drafts are like puzzles - get the frame done, sort the colors, and call it a good start.

I don't freak out when my mind goes in a MG direction. I enjoy writing MG and no one cares if a MG short story slips in there with my PB drafts.

Most importantly, I've accepted that I'm a really ugly first draft writer. Of course accepting this means accepting the following months (years) of editing.

Knowing how you write makes you feel a little more comfortable in your skin. 

I better get back to draft 5!
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