Monday, April 30, 2012

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! Liebster Blog Award!

I won two prizes in April!  First, I found an amazing community of writers through Robert LeeBrewer's MNINB Platform Challenge.    Second, I got nominated by Rebecca Barray for the Liebster Blog Award!   

Rebecca was kind enough to share "Lauri has a great voice, and I often laugh out loud when reading her posts."   I usually aim my humor somewhere between "giggle demurely" and "pee your pants," so sounds like I am hitting the target.   Seriously though, I didn't even realize I had developed my voice yet, but maybe it has just been finding its way out.  Maybe that makes three prizes in April.   

Here are the Liebster rules:
1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back. 
2. Nominate five blogs with less than 200 followers.
3.  Let the nominees know by leaving a comment at their sites.
4.  Add the award image to your site.

With no further ado, I would like to nominate five of my favorite blogs for writerly advice for the Liebster:

1.  Sarah NegovetichSarah Nego Writes
2.  David Abrams: The Quivering Pen 
3.  Kat Salazar: Kat Loves Books 
4.  Khara House: Our Lost Jungle  

Now put down the champagne glasses and go check these sites out.  Wait, before you go leave me a comment with other great sites to check out.  

Thank you Rebecca!

May 2012:
 "Your Imagination is the Limit" received two more nominations for the Liebster Award from individuals with great blogs.  Please go check them out!
Jennifer Chow writes an amazing blog where she analyzes Chinese symbols and sayings.  I love this nomination post. 

Paul Ellis is a computer programmer having a midlife writing crisis at It Was a Dark &Stormy Night.  His nomination was great: "Lauri Meyers - Author & Instructor.  Her blog is like a seminar, but in a good way!"  

June 2012: 
Lynn Obermoeller also added a nomination.  Please check out her site:

September 2012:
Jennifer Young added a nomination.  Thanks Jenny! Please check out her site:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Teen Hates Teen Lit Writing Mom

      Sorry teen lit writers.  I know you have imagined how great your life will be when you become a famous author.  You will be receiving praise from educators for understanding all the inner-workings of teenage life.   You will be speaking at a-list events with your teen nodding in agreement with every amazing quip you make.  Your kids will be in heaven hanging with Robert Pattinson (or insert other favorite hottie).   

Flash Fiction
     Too bad your teenager is going to think you suck.  You writing about teen struggle and romance means one of two things:
1. You have been secretly peeking through the window at the goings on in the Kia Soul parked in your driveway and are using her as your writing inspiration.  Not cool.
2. You were once a flirty teen in a short skirt having secret crushes and experiencing a growing list of first times, and you are your own writing inspiration.  Ewww.

     Here is a glimpse into your future by way of my 100 word flash fiction submission over on E. B. Pike's Writerlious Blog (btw, you had to use the word "Sunshine.")

      Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.  Sunshine in my eyes makes me seriously pissed off.  If this stupid photo shoot wasn't over soon, I was literally going to die.  My cell had been off for like 20 minutes.  A whole generation of gossip will be dead and gone by the time I catch up.  Mom had totally screwed me over by getting all famous and stuff with her teen lit book, URGENT KISSES.  The only thing that book made we want to do urgently was throw up.  Making out was pretty much ruined forever.

      The good news is your teen's drama over her similarities with your book's seductive siren will be great fodder for your next book, SLUTTIER THAN MY MOM.   That one is going to be a best seller.

*Note - the author does not mean to suggest all teen lit books are focused on steamy relationships.  Just the great ones.*

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Put on Your Yellow Rubber Gloves, the Dirty Girls are Back

I had a request for another post about the Dirty Girls in my life who serve as a constant source of writing inspiration.  

I am a very hands-on Mom.  I like to march in parades wearing a traffic cone on my head.  I teach the children to share the sprinkler with mommy.   I excel at hide and go seek: you only have to count to ten.  

I am not a hawk-circling-my-children kind of mom.   I am a bit looser than that.  Well, way looser, like those gray sweat pants you wear all the time but wouldn't be caught dead in publicly.   My parenting style is to let kids be kids.   As such, it probably goes as no surprise things frequently get messy at my house. 

children's books, Lauri Meyers
Image: DartVader via
My friend dropped by with a present the other day.  Let me rephrase- my neat friend popped in unannounced the other day.  My friend who has a loving, committed relationship with her vacuum cleaner.   My yellow-gloves-to-do-the-dishes friend.  

As I accepted the lovely present, I had to force a smile because I kept thinking "please, don't look over my shoulder at the leaning tower of dirty dishes...I was going to put them in the dishwasher, but I still haven't emptied it because we were outside having lunch...then we had to make a special oven for mudpies, and I lost track of time..."

I saw her look behind me.  No!!  I turned to see she was looking at the girls - or what may have been the girls, but the evidence was inconclusive.  Two beings covered with a layer of chocolate on cheeks, a slathering of mud on hands, and maybe just a touch of glitter in their hair.  I smiled.  I made no apologies!  I didn't even try to wipe them off.  They are beautiful, amazing girls.  Even sweeter when coated in chocolate. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

You Yeller-Bellied Chicken, Tell People Already

Confession time.  I have only told three people I am becoming a writer: my mom, my aunt, and my husband.    I want to be a writer.  I am studying and practicing.  I am committed. 

"So why ain't you told no one yet, you yeller-bellied chicken?" you ask.

by LOLren via Flickr
(deep breath)  I don't want to publicly be a "writer" who doesn't turn into an "author."

I have always operated on a "need to know basis".    My husband does not.   By the time he leaves the grocery store, the cashier knows he is from Buffalo, loves chicken wings, but gave them up for lent.  Seriously?  You don't even know this lady.  She could be a, well, I don't know what she could be.  But not everyone needs to know you like chicken wings.

So building my social media platform this month (MNINB Platform Challenge) is an exciting and terrifying experience.  There is a Lauri Meyers (SAHM/Financial Manager) on Facebook and LinkedIn who has yet to meet the Lauri Meyers (Writer) living down the street on Twitter and Blogger.  To complete the challenge I have to arrange a play date for them- which makes me feel about as comfortable as changing my clothes in the locker room. 

Besides being publicly naked, here are the Top 3 Responses I Fear:
1.  "Would you like me to read something you wrote?"  Thanks but no thanks.  There is no need to be in a situation where we both have to lie to each other about my writing abilities and your editing qualifications.  
2. "That will be a nice break from the challenge of corporate work."  Yeah, because the process of writing, editing, and publishing while two wild children run around is a walk in the park.
3.  "That is great that you can make something out of being a stay at home mom."  Oh no you didn't.

Top 3 Things I Will Probably Hear if I Stop Being Chicken:
1.  "I am excited for you!  I remember you writing all the time in school." (Classmates)
2. "You were always too creative to be buried in all those spreadsheets.  Let me know if I can help you network." (Colleagues)
3. "You are going to kick that book's A$%!" (My BFF has a way with words)

That does it.  By the end of this month's challenge, this yeller-bellied gal is going to be a writer.  Publicly.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Strength Training for the Wimpy Character

In the magical world in my mind my characters are quirky, charming, and adorable.  You just want to make them some pancakes.  I imagine smelling their syrup-scented hair, and I am in love.

Alas, when I read them described in my own words, I see they look a little bit like this:
Children's Books

Oh dear.  Have I been under the illusion an illustrator would swoop in and bring my characters to life?  Even if the pictures are fantastic, kids won't care what happens in the story if they don't care who it happens to (as the old adage goes).

I have only just met my character too.   Perhaps I need to get to know her a little better by creating a character biography or sketch.  So I asked myself a list of questions: How old is she? Where is she from? On an important day what color socks does she wear? What is her favorite song? What is her biggest fear?  Why would she earn a yellow ribbon in second grade?  What does she do in her spare time?  Does she prefer baseball or basketball and why?  What would she name a pet worm?

The initial questions aren't as important as the discussion and the thought process.  Once I got going, I couldn't stop!   Each answer made me think of another question.  (Does she have a sibling? - Yes.  A big brother perhaps.  She really looks up to him.  Why isn't he around more?.....)  After only 20 minutes of character sketching I had two pages of notes and plethora of new questions to imagine answers to. Most of the answers will never leave my notebook, but I am really getting to know my character.   Plus, the process spun off a few new themes I would like to explore in a series.

It is so nice to meet you new character!  I can't wait to see what a beautiful young lady you grow up to be.

Check out these places to find more questions to build your character biography.

Do you have a favorite question you include in your character sketch?  Please share it in the comments.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Best Rejection Letter Ever

My manuscript is not good enough.  Woo hoo!  I got my first rejection letter!  Why am I excited?  @ProNagger said it best: "Congratulations!  It means you are in the game."

Plus, the result isn't exactly a surprise.  Since I submitted the MS, I have been studying and practicing.  I have learned enough to know the work wasn't my best.  I still don't know how to write my best, but I am happy knowing I am moving from Uninformed Pessimism to Informed Pessimism.  

What am I talking about?  The Transition Curve of course.

I remember drawing this many times for (fellow) yuppies back in my previous life in Corporate America.  It looks like this:
Children's Books

Everyone starts in "Uninformed Optimism."  You are doing something new, and the challenge is exciting.  You are going to be the best accountant/librarian/juggler ever!

Then some gray clouds start to move in.   You realize the job is going to be difficult.  You don't know what you need to do to be successful.   I now realize my blog post about climbing out of a rut was part of the trip through "Uninformed Pessimism."

You screw up enough that you finally begin to compile a long list of the things you don't know.   In "Informed Pessimism" you still don't know what you are doing, but you are becoming more aware of your missing skills and knowledge.  There is comfort in knowing what you don't know.  (Yay, me!)

The brave and tough are able to gain the needed skills and move into "Informed Optimism."  You start to deliver on deadlines and expectations.  Success breeds more optimism.  You can do this.  In fact you do it every day.  

Oh the flames at the bottom right?  That's the crash and burn section.  I think it goes without saying you should not to crash and burn.  Just keep swimming.

I still have a lot of rejection to look forward to.  I am only on the first rung of Charlotte Dillon's rejection ladder: the photocopied stock rejection letter.  

But if watching Barbie and the Three Musketeers 37 times has taught me anything, it is that you can do anything you set your mind to as long as you keep trying.   

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bad Grammar in Children's Books

End Sentence with Preposition, Writing TipsI feel terrible asking, but can a writer use bad grammar in a children's book?   They are just kids, right?  A child won't notice a slight rule violation.  Sure, they might struggle in school after reading my book.  I suppose they could flunk out of community college due to the language abuses witnessed at an early age.   I can't be held responsible if they one day write in their shop window:  "Theirs a bathroom around back.  Its green."   Shudder.

I don’t want to commit a heinous offense.  I merely want to write a preposition and then end the sentence.   Gasp!  

I want to write a sentence a child would say:   
There isn't anyone to play with.

I just can't bring myself to write:
There isn't anyone with whom to play.  (my character is not a snobby English lassie)

I have considered these escape routes:
He wanted to play with a friend.  (not quite right context)
He was tired of playing with himself.  (too obscene)

After weeks of worry, I stumbled on Grammar Girl's blog post Ending a Sentence With a Preposition.  She writes, "I know many of you were taught that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition, but it’s a myth."   Now that's what I'm talking about!  I can finally cheer up.  Now I can write on.    

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Mooshka-A Quilt Story" Book Review

                I got my prize copy of Mooshka - A Quilt Story last week (thank you Peachtree Publishers)!   I felt I had to pay it forward by reviewing the book.   
Mooshka, a Quilt Story [Book], Children's Books, Peachtree Publishers

                First, don't let the title fool you.  I admit to being a nerdy, crafty kind of gal, but my mind expects "A Quilt Story" to be told at the Golden Girls' kitchen table by Rose Nylund.   Even in St Olaf, how interesting could a quilt be?   Luckily, the story isn't (just) a quilt story.   It is a coming of age story; a little girl becoming a big sister.   For the sake of this review, let's rename it Mooshka- A Quilt Story #NewBaby#Blankie#BigSister.

                On to the story:    

                Karla's quilt, given the term of endearment "Mooshka," was crafted by her grandmother using scraps of tablecloths, curtains, and clothes called schnitz.   As her grandmother quilted she told Karla an oral history of family adventures based on each piece of schnitz.   At night Mooshka retells the stories to Karla when she can't sleep.  Life is good until the arrival of a baby sister sharing Karla's room.  Ugh.  Then Mooshka stops talking. Double ugh.  The situation comes to a head when the baby has the nerve to cry one night.  Karla makes a bold move sharing her Mooshka and a story about her own piece of schnitz with her baby sister. 

                The drama when Mooshka stops talking after so many happy stories seems to leave many readers shaken.  I couldn't help feeling grandmother had passed away before the new baby came, perhaps drawing on my own emotions.  At a young age Karla has to take on the big responsibility of owning her family's stories and sharing them with her little sister.  Maybe she is also sharing a piece of her grandmother with Hannah, too.   

                Ahh, the story reminds me of when my sister and I shared a room growing up.  As the story goes in my family, my sister carried me by my head to my mom saying "shut this baby up."  Now that's a piece of schnitz.    

                To see the family pictures and schnitz which inspired the author, visit Julie Paschkis' blog.   

Monday, April 2, 2012

Climbing Out of a Rut

I wore myself out editing in March and in bad slow-motion camera work I crashed head first into a nasty writing rut.  I stopped writing everyday, which had been the source for my creativity.  I also got (don't tell my husband I am admitting to this) grumpy.   Funny how not doing something you enjoy can make you feel unhappy.
Children's Books, Writing Tips
Courtesy of Caroline's Crayons
The first step to getting out of a rut?  Google "getting out of a rut," of course.  Which brought me to Lifehack Blog for 12 Useful Ways to Get Out of a Rut.  I was too melancholy to process 12 tips, so I used these 4 to claw my way out of my writing rut:

1. Work on the small tasks.  Maybe now is the time to work on the one line pitch for the manuscript.  Update your twitter picture.  Buy some new envelopes.  You may not be finishing the manuscript, though these little steps are at least moving you in the right direction.

2. Upgrade yourself.  Read the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market.  Read the blogs in your feed.  Attend a webinar or conference.   Join a Linked In group for writers.  Inspiration can be hiding anywhere.

3. Remember why you are doing this.  Oh yeah, writing feels great!  It's balancing the endorphin-producing creativity and the life-zapping editing / querying which is tricky.  You want to introduce yourself as a writer one day and that means some hard work.

4. Find some competition.  Set a goal for an upcoming competition.  Work on a writing prompt.  Pretend you are battling with Jacky Davis for the next great book!

Thank you to My Name is Not Bob's April Platform Challenge, I got the push I needed to write.  I was able to get my fix just by writing down my bio and goals.  Now that I remember the euphoric feeling writing creates, I am back to writing every day.   We all get in a rut once in a while, but there's no need to punish yourself by not writing!

**The lovely drawing above is by Caroline at Caroline's Crayons

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