Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pencil Appreciation Day

One of my teacher friends wrote and said today is Pencil Appreciation Day.

I smiled.

Ever since I was a first grade student, I had to have a very sharp pencil lead. Nothing less would do. That was one strange bit of behavior, even I noticed as a first grader.

I even got in trouble for going to the sharpener. The teacher thought it wasteful use of a pencil.


Today, I still have to have a sharp lead to write. I don't care if I'm ready and sitting down to work, if my pencil is not tack-sharp, I get up and sharpen the thing.

It's my tool. My tools have to be top-notch working order. Especially the pencil.

My hat's off to Pencil Appreciation Day. But, I won't hug my pencil. I'll use it, wisely. Like write.

Until next time . . .

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another C.B.I Interview: Author and Critic Betsy Hearne

I sure like my Children’s Book Insider “In Their Own Words” booklet. I’d like to share another favorite, this time with Betsy Hearne, who interviewed with CBI back in January 2000.

What stood out most to me is when CBI asked, “Do you have suggestions for books beginning authors should study?”

Betsy replied, giving a few picks. Then she said this, “Although writing ultimately represents faith in expression, one of the most important things writers can do is listen to silence.”

At that last bit of advice, I scratched my head. Listen to silence? Never heard of that before. I hoped I would get what she meant.

A few days later, I worked outside doing chores that took some thought. I hauled leaves and pine needles for the compost bin. Fixed my fallen down scarecrow near pea patch. I hauled wood to the porch from woodpile. I was so energized I chopped kindling.

Towards the end of the kindling job, my eyes wandered to my tiny tulip garden only two feet away. Even though it rained lightly off and on, I tackled the grass coming up around my tulip stems and this is when I didn’t have to think. I hummed. I took my time. I thought of only the grass and weeds. I worked the ground with joy for the promised tulips to come. Then thought of dirt, and soon I entered a safe place I cannot describe. All I know is it happens when I dig up the dirt in my flower beds. I had forgotten this.

Suddenly, about twenty minutes into the job, without conscious decision, I began thinking of story ideas that never crossed my mind before. When I was almost done with deweeding, it hit me. This is what Betsy meant: listen to silence.

Smart woman!

Go to CBI’s Web page and learn more about this wonderful children's organization.

Until next time . . .

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sent Off My Package To Attend The Oregon SCBWI Conference

I checked the Web site on Sunday, March 15th, and sure enough the conference Web site moderator posted the registration form as promised. I filled out the form with care, read over my manuscript pages one more time, and stuffed the envelope.

The registration instructions say that someone will be sending me an email to confirm they received my packet. When I mailed it off, I paid a little more for tracking just for my own peace of mind.

Oh, and as soon as the motel accommodations were posted days before, I reserved the room. My job is over and now I wait until May 15th when I look forward to attending the SCBWI Oregon Spring Conference.

Until next time . . .

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Horn Book

I've received my first two issues of Horn Book and truly enjoy them. I'm gobbling up the articles by authors and the reviews on books. I appreciate this little magazine and wonder why I didn't subscribe before now.

I tried to spread out my time with this second issue over a few readings, but, no. I couldn't put this one down. I enjoyed the snippets of several versions of "The Three Little Pigs" books. Ingenuous writers indeed. Great article, also!

After I finished the whole magazine in one sitting, I sensed the excitement and desire to do a retelling of my favorite tale. Hmmm, maybe "Little Red Riding Hood?" I'll do my research and find out if I can do my own unique take on that little girl's story.

To surf the Horn Book site and see the many wonderful offers to get your own subscription online or by mail, click HERE.

Until next time . . .

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Step in the Write Direction: The 2009 SCBWI Oregon Spring Conference

The 2009 brochure and information with facility lineup are available here. The registrations will be posted on the site on Sunday, March 15 at noon. The conference is Friday & Saturday, May 15 & 16.

Since we have so little time to get that registration in if you want to land a spot for an editorial critique, I’ve got my envelope, synopsis (for the editor I’m choosing), and the manuscript pages ready. Before the 15th, I’ll go over the pages that I printed off the site, and choose my editors in order of preference, along with a few others after those choices. A few days before registration is available, I’ll print out my pages and have my package ready.

The reason I haven’t printed out my pages? I want to read them one more time (you know how it is with us writers, “just one more time”) in case I find mistakes.

I’m planning to attend all day Saturday, and possibly one class on Friday. We can drive up early Friday morning and I could catch the afternoon session. I’m excited! The only problem? I won’t know a soul there. I’ve talked on the phone with Robin Koontz, but otherwise, I’m new to this region of writers. Come May 1st, I’ll be picking out my comfy clothes to wear and packing my bags, ready to meet and greet fellow writers and make new acquaintances. And best of all? I plan to learn more about the craft of writing for children.

Until next time . . . Keep writing away or reading about writing nearly every day.