Living with a children's author isn't as easy as it looks!

Archive for the ‘critique group’ Category

Inspirational Quote of the Week

Making changes is something writers have to do – whether they like it or not.

Mom is one of those writers who does NOT like it. But she does it. Sometimes, she gets a story scored by Rate Your Story, sometimes, her online critique group suggests the changes, and sometimes, she gets a flat out rejection and knows changes have to be made.

She reads and rereads her story. She asks questions like, “Will illustrations enhance the story?” and “Is the sequence of the plot events logical?” and “Do the obstacles increase through the story to a critical level that seems hopeless?” and “Are you licking your tail bandage?” Changes are made based on the answers to those questions. Mostly the answers are,  “Yes. Yes. No. And Who? Me?.”

Obstacles have been an issue for Mom. She is aware of it and is working on doing better. Licking my tail bandage has been an issue for me. I am aware of it, and when my bandage is off, I will stop – not right away, but as soon as I taste what’s left of my post-surgery tail.

What just happened…?

Story changes and bandage changes are not the only changes around here. Next week, we will move to a new apartment. Mom and I have visited the new place,

brought some of our things there,

got some new things delivered,

and we have played there a lot.

Our illustrations are just iPhone photos,

the sequence of the moving steps seems logical,

and we are sure there will be no obstacles, and nothing critical or hopeless.

I’m hopeful I’ll spend a lot of time right here…

Thanks, Socrates. We are focused on “building the new.” New story improvements, new tail sizes, and a new home.

Finished

I was tortured last week. First Mom lured me into the bathroom.

Oooh. A trail of chicken. Yes, please.

Oooh. A trail of chicken! Yes, please.

Then she tricked me into the tub and gave me a bath!

bath3There was splashing and shivering…

bath2

…water pouring, crazy amounts of soap suds, 5 entire minutes of standing still covered in sweet smelling conditioner…

conditioner…and 3 giant towels.

bath-towelI tried numerous times to shake the bath off of me, but only succeeded in sharing a little of the bath with Mom. And the walls. And the floor. And the vanity. And the door.

dog-shaking-cartoonOne thing I know for sure is that it was my LAST. BATH. EVER. I could tell because the shampoo bottle is empty.

shampoo

No more shampoo = No more baths

That’s what it means… Right…?

Mom finished her most recent story. She wrote it and wrote it, revised it like crazy, sent it to her critique group, and then revised it like crazy all over again. Now it’s finished. I’m pretty sure it’s her LAST. STORY. EVER.

endThat’s what it means… Right…?

Wait. What?

computerAarrrgh. She’s starting a BRAND NEW story!

*gulp* Does that mean…..

bath-closeup

Oh no!

 

Busy Working Hard

Mom and I have been working hard.

img_3764

Mom is working hard on two new stories, as usual.

typing

What’s so difficult about this?

She writes a little bit of each one each day. When she gets to the end of them, she will put them away for a while and then revise the heck out of them to make them tight with no extra words. She will make sure they open with action and end with a twist. She will try to show and not tell. She will move the characters from place to place and keep the action coming so they aren’t talking heads.

computer kid (2)

Then she will send her favorite one of them to her critique group friends to see what else she needs to work on.

I have been working hard too –  at the library…

img_3765…and at the veteran’s home.

fullsizerenderI have dressed up, listened to stories, sat on laps,

lap

and given kisses. If you don’t think that’s hard work, think again. Sometimes I can barely stay awake on the ride home.

sleeping-in-the-carBesides my therapy work, I have begged for coffee. And it paid off.

img_3779I begged for a pancake on my 10th birthday. And got one of my very own.

img_3731I even fought the dreaded soccer net. Again. And won (with some help from Mom).

img_3776It’s a good thing I am a ball of energy…

img_3818

 

sleep

sleepy-flag-dog

 

Inspirational Quote of the Week

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.

John F. Kennedy

I always try my very best. Well, maybe not my very best, but I always try hard. Well, maybe not hard, but I always try. Well, maybe not always, but sometimes. So, yeah – Once in a while, I try a little bit.

I try not to get caught in the soccer net.

Close enough...unless...

Close enough…unless…

 

NO!

NO!

I try to figure out how my bed works…

bedfail

Nailed it.

And the chair at the library…

Backwards? No. This seems right...

Backwards? No. This seems right…

I try to stay where Mom can see me so I won’t get lost.weeds

And I try to play gently with my toys and not accidentally rip their heads off.

Mom tries her best waaaay more than I do. She has to! That’s what writers do. She writes, revises, submits, mind writes, edits, gets ideas, rewrites, reads, critiques, does author visits

computer kid (2)…drinks coffee, takes me to the park,

swing

cuddles with me, teaches me, goes shopping, talks on the phone, throws my baseball, has lunch with her friends…. Wait. What? I think I got off the topic there for a minute….

???

Huh???

Anyway, The point is – she tries, just like she’s supposed to. She also hopes for the best and prepares for Book2 and/or Ebook2.

quote

Now I’m going to try and get a few treats out of my Petzi Treat Cam

petzi

Hello in there….

 

 

 

 

Five Word Friday

five

Today’s 5 words are about A-Little-At-A-Time.

8. List – Mom is making a list of the things she will submit this month. She is determined to get 10 stories on the list, and then she will decide where to send them. So far the list has NINE titles! Day by day – story by story – a little at a time – almost there.

woman-making-list

17. WetFeet – I don’t like getting my feet wet. When Mom takes me out to check my pee-mail she says the word, “Why am I standing in the wet grass and you are not?” and “I am NOT the one out here to go potty.”

gutter walker

and “Get off the balance beam, Marylou.”

gutter walker 2

Eventually, I inch into the wet grass, little by little, and take care of business. I’m not happy about it.

26. Walking – Getting from the garage to the house can be slow-going. I stop to sniff. I smell the flowers.

smelling flowers

I check the bricks. I hit the pavement.

pavement2

I stare at the air. Eventually, we arrive. Mom says the word, “Why do I take you anywhere?”

84. One – Last week, Mom got her first ever #1 from Rate Your Story. On a scale of 1-10, #1 is the best! Mom has received the occasional #2 rating, but usually, her work is a #4. We’re excited that she clawed her way to a #1 – little by little.

#15. Begging – Every day, I work on Mom… From here…

begging right

And here…

begging left

And even here…

begging LRCan you tell I am begging for ice cream? I think it’s pretty clear. She mixed up a batch of my special yogurt/peanut butter/applesauce/MilkBone frozen treats. And apparently, I can only eat one a day. GAH!

ice cream treatThey’re so yummy, it’s tough to eat them a little at a time. I lick and lick…

icecream1

…and lick.

icecream3And then I lose my mind and gobble the whole thing down. The ice cream headache is worth it!

Yum. Ouch...

Yum. Ouch…

Inspirational Quote of the Week

Conditions are never just right. People who delay action till all factors are favorable do nothing.
~William Feather~

Writers know that they have to write whether they feel like it or not. Well, maybe not write – but they need to do writer-adjacent activities, no matter what.

Classroom visit

Classroom visit

Mom knows this, so when conditions are not favorable, she reads picture books or writing blogs, lists ideas, researches agents or publishers, submits stories or poems, critiques work in her writing group, or fixes up a story she wrote a long time ago.

napper

Ho-hum…

There are plenty of actions she can take. And she does… But somehow, when that part of her day is finished, she turns her sights to me. Sometimes this is a plus. We ride in the car,

cardress

hit the park,

park bench

walk around the neighborhood, or play with toys.

toys

But sometimes, she says the word, “Want to learn?” *cue scary music here*

The newest trick Mom is trying to teach me is called Shell Game. We use bathroom cups instead of shells and a Cheerio instead of a pea.

Smart!

Smarter!!

Duh…

And the only gambling involved is the fact that I may or may not lose my mind and just eat the cups.

cup eater

I would like to delay this learning (and ALL learning) till factors are favorable, but Mom says, “All factors will NEVER be favorable – for either one of us.” and “Now is as good a time as any – for both of us.” and “GAH! What are those jackasses in your head telling you???”

Huh??

Huh??

Inspirational Quote of the Week

2016

This is where it all begins. Everything starts here, today.
-David Nicholls-

2016 is a bright new year filled with hope and promise. After I recovered from all the celebrations…

all asleep

…I prepped myself for my first steps into the 365 days ahead of me.

blanket baby

First some beauty sleep…

Actually 366 days, since it’s a leap year. Leaping is something I love to do. I’m such a tiny girl, leaping makes me feel big and powerful.

Mom is starting off the year right with a story revision that she’s been doing for a few weeks, now. Her writing group gave her tons of good suggestions for ways to make her story better.

lightbulb

She took things out, added things in, and moved things around. She used more words to show action, fewer words to make a punchier ending, and new words to say things in a more precise and fun way.

When Mom sent her story back to Rate Your Story, they gave it a score of 2…

RYS2

…AND gave her a couple more ideas for fixing it. A 2 is a big improvement from the 5 the story had the first time it was judged.

RYS scores

I’m pretty sure Mom would have done some leaping of her own, if she could. But that’s what she has me for, after all…

 

Resolutions

225602-Colorful-Happy-New-Year-QuoteIt’s the time of year when everyhuman thinks about resolutions. They want to climb higher, do better, get healthier, and be happier. They swear they’re going to eat right, get organized, be creative, and break all their bad habits.

I’m here to say, resolutions can be fun. I resolve to:

Knock over the garbage pail.

trash

Steal food from the table.
 cocoa
Nip the mailman.
Pull my head out of my leash.
Get into the cabinet where my food is.

in the cabinet

Push through the baby gate.

gate

Sleep on top of the bedspread when Mom isn’t home.

bedspread

Eat a shoe.

Drink from the toilet.

And bite my winter coat AND BOOTS.

boot

 

new_year_quotes_02

Mom’s resolutions are a little more modest. She will:

Read 200 picture books again (and drink 200 chai lattes).

IMG_6302

Submit 10 stories to publishers, agents, RYS, or her online writing group.

Write 10 brand new stories.

typing2

I got this…

And meditate 4 times a week (she’ll need it).

CALM

 

Stuckness

“Do you ever get writer’s block?”

block

People ask Mom that question a lot. Writer’s block means a writer is stuck and can’t write.

Mom doesn’t get writer’s block. When one of her stories gets stuck, she works on a different story, just so she can keep writing. Or she goes to the bookstore and reads a bunch of books.

book pile

Or she helps a writing group friend fix up one of their stories. Or she writes a poem. Or she fixes one of her own stories. When it’s writing time, it’s writing time. No stuckness allowed.

time

Tick. Tick. Tick. Is it almost time to play?

Sometimes, though, writing time just doesn’t come. At this time of year, there’s lots to do, so writing time can get lost in the busy-ness of shopping, wrapping, lunch with friends, photo shoots, and decorating. She’s not stuck, she’s living her life. That’s where stories come from, after all. And busy-ness doesn’t last forever.

sneaky under the tree

I’ve been kind of busy, too…

Sometimes, I get stuck. Whenever I pass by the soccer field near my house, I can’t resist sticking my tiny head through the net. I do it every time we get close enough. I know Mom will get me out. Eventually.

net

Put down the camera and unstick me!

When Mom wants to make the bed each morning, I stay stuck right in the middle. I know Mom will chase me out.

naughty on the bed

When I work at the library for Read to a Pet Night, I am stuck on my Park-It Mat waiting for somebody to read me a story.

parkit

I know Mom will give me treats for being a good girl.

cookie please

I don’t let the stuckness bother me. Stuckness happens, but it doesn’t last forever. Somebody always comes.

reading

Work in Progress

Around my neighborhood, there are a few works in progress. This vine is definitely a work in progress – trying to grow something. Mom says, “Maybe pumpkins.” I hope not. *shiver* Either way, the flowers are there, but it looks like it needs another year (or ten) before anything will pop out to scare the daylights out of me.

IMG_0146

This pile of …. I don’t know what – is another work in progress. Sometimes it seems like road salt, but sometimes, it looks like mulch. I guess it’ll make up its mind eventually.

IMG_0150

When Mom was a teacher, she used to stamp her kids’ first drafts with a rubber stamp that read, “Under Construction.”

under construction

The kids thought it was fun. Plus that stamp told them to work on revising and proofreading their stories for a little while longer so they would be ready to hang on the bulletin board.

This month, Mom is studying in Susanna Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic class.

pb magic

Her new story is a work in progress and is under construction in a big way. Every morning, Susanna teaches Mom what to do next in order to have a finished story by the end of the month. Mom does each step and then posts it to their Facebook page so her classmates can see it and talk about it with her. She thinks it’s fun to have a work in progress that moves closer to completion every day.

Something else is a work in progress at our house. A whole box of orange snowball cakes.

IMG_0152

Mom is trying hard to eat them all herself. I offered to help, but she said, “No thanks.” and “Dogs can’t eat chocolate.”

IMG_0156

and “Your behavior is DEFINITELY under construction.”

IMG_0155