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

Archive for the ‘picture book writing’ Category

Strategy

Even though my brain is very tiny, and I am not a great problem solver, I am able to devise a strategy for survival when necessary. Surviving was the name of the game when I lived on the street by myself for three years before I was rescued.

Me at the high-kill shelter with my puppies.

Mom is surviving as a writer. Even though she hasn’t had a story published in a while, she plugs away – writing, revising, editing, and submitting. And reading, researching, critiquing, and creating. That’s her strategy.

My strategy changes from time to time. I like to stay proactive and flexible.

Often, I hide – under cars…

behind the bleachers…

and half under the bed…

Nobody will ever find me here.

I watch – the ceiling

through the window…

and out the door…I’ve also had success with my strategy of staring with…

and without the head tilt…

I’m known for keeping my distance…

Keep reading. I’ll just listen from over here behind the chair…

stealth…

and straight-up stubbornness.

Mom should step up her strategy game. Apparently, plugging away isn’t proactive and flexible enough!

I’m fine. I swear. It’s not too cold for a street nap. #staystubborn

 

 

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Inspirational Quote of the Week

Worst and Best fascinate me. Sometimes just when I think I’m being the Best Girl, I discover to my shock and surprise that I am not.

Best Girl helping with laundry

Best Girl looking at Mom

Best Girl not taking a street nap in the dumpster slime

Best Girl getting her exercise

People say all writers have an inner critic telling them their work stinks, they’re wasting their time, nothing they do is  good enough, and they’re straight-up frauds. I don’t have one of those critics in my head. Neither does Mom. I think I learned it from her! When she reads over one of her stories, she’s all, “SO CUTE!” and “I love this thing.” and “Quit staring at me when I’m eating.”

I’m not staring at you. You’re staring at me.

Mom relies on her critique group and RYS and agents and editors to tell her she may not be quite the best. Sometimes, they say nothing. #’nuffsaid. Sometimes they say, “Not what we’re looking for.” or “Fix this. Change that. What about this?”

I rely on Mom to tell me I may not be quite the best.

“Stay away from the edge.”

“Heel!”

“Get off the bed.”

 

Five Word Friday

Last week, Mom had an opportunity to submit a story to an editor Above the Slushpile. That means her work wouldn’t be buried under everybody else’s as much as usual. It’s nice to have a story rise up there and be seen, but even then, it has to shine on its own.

Paws crossed that this one is shiny!

Today’s five words come from that story…

11. Boy – Lots of times, when I am working at the VA, the old soldiers say to Mom, “Look at this guy.” and “What’s his name?” They actually think I’m a boy! I need to always wear a sundress with 3 layers of ruffles to make sure they realize that I’m a girl.

16. Cake – I love cake. Sometimes, I have to fight with Mom to get her to share. If the cake is chocolate, the deal is off,

Bummer!

but sometimes, I’m allowed to jump in

and grab some whipped cream.

Oh yeah!

86. Book – Mom reads picture books like crazy – piles and piles of them – usually 200 a year. It’s a good way to make her writing better, to see what’s out there, and to pass the time while she tries to write and sell the elusive Book #2.

91. Nibble – I think nibbling is for amateurs. I don’t nibble. I gobble. After Mom writes a story, she hides it from herself for a while to let it rest. Then she nibbles at it – adding things, taking things away, and changing things around. Picture books need to make room for the illustrations to help tell the story. More nibbling. Or gobbling.

M-m-m-m… Tiny pancake. Nom. Nom. Nom.

65. Messy – First drafts can be messy. They’re supposed to be messy. Messy and stupid and even embarrassing, sometimes. If I get messy, Mom sticks me in the bathtub and scrubs me clean and puts conditioner on me and dries me with towels. #itshorrific

Inspirational Quote of the Week

We are not what we think, or what we say, or how we feel. We are what we do.

~Gordon Livingston~

Nailed it, Livingston! What we do matters – waaaay more than all that other stuff.

So when Mom sits down and writes something new or fixes something old or submits something she likes or works with her critique group named LindaVijiJenConnieandOtherJen, she is a straight-up writer.

Me being a straight-up writer.

Sometimes, she sits on the balcony and reads her Kindle.

Sometimes, we go to the park.

Sometimes, she teaches me tricks.

Sit up.

Find the cookie.

Not really a trick, but I just really want to come inside.

Sometimes, we play.

Sometimes, we work as a therapy team.

Did somebody say eggs? And ham?! Yes, please…

Sometimes, we shop.

Sometimes, she leaves me alone like a dog, and reads books at the bookstore which I’m pretty sure is a hop, skip, and a jump from stealing.

Is she a writer then? Well, not a straight-up writer, but still a writer. She says, “I’m getting ideas” and “I need to keep it fresh” and “Staying current is important” and “I’m mind-writing” and “Let’s get moving, weirdo. We’re burning daylight, here!”

*sigh*

 

 

Inspirational Quote of the Week

 

I’m glad our quote this week isn’t, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Mom has been teaching me a new trick for a few days now. I’d hate to think she’s just banging her head against the wall with it.

Wait. What?

She wants me to learn to stand on a little bench so when we visit the VA, my wheelchair friends will be able to reach me better. (Also, Mom won’t have to pick me up 859 times because apparently I am a fat, overgrown meatloaf, and I’m breaking her back.)

So I study.

Just like I studied my IQ treat hider.

And I practice.

Just like I practiced bowling.

And I’m learning.

Just like I learned to fly a plane.*

*Not an actual plane. And I’m not actually flying.

Next week, Mom will also be learning. She will be attending a webinar called The Heart of Picture Books where she will learn a new trick.

She will learn to have more heart in her writing. #olddognewtrickforsure Stories with heart are more likely to connect with readers and agents and editors. Heart is good in stories. Also in real life. Heart is good everywhere.

Learning is good everywhere, too. Even old dogs can learn new tricks.

 

Five Word Friday

 

Today, I picked out 5 words from one of Mom’s old stories that she’s working on again. She’s making it new. And better. And shorter. And better…

6. Pets – Mom has always had pets – even before me. (What a shocker that life didn’t begin with me, #amiright ) She grew up with a Myna bird that talked, a couple of other birds off and on, tropical fish, baby turtles, and of course doggies always.

Sandy

Smoki

92. Basement – Mom got a score back from a story she had rated. She said her score was “in the basement” which is confusing because our house doesn’t have a basement – unless you count where Mom parks the car. It’s just as well. I am already afraid of the parking garage, the fire extinguisher, the elevator, the trash room, and the hallway. I do NOT need a basement to worry about on top of all that.

Yikes! A mirror dog on the ceiling! I’m pretty sure he’s trying to kill me….

14. Grass – When I am not taking a street nap or a sidewalk nap,

I will sometimes lie in the grass for a change of pace.

That said, if the grass is damp for any reason – rain, dew, sprinklers – I will not step in it. Mom says, “Come on, weirdo.” and “I don’t like it either.” and “You can’t walk the tightrope forever.” But yes I can…

#curbwalker

27. Crab – When she was a 3rd grade teacher, Mom had hermit crabs, fiddler crabs, newts, goldfish, mealworms, a turtle, sea monkeys. hamsters, tadpoles, butterflies, frogs, ants, and a parakeet in her classroom at one time or another. Once when I was sleepy, Mom called me the name of Crabby, so in a way, she STILL has a crab.

#sideeye

8. Sweat – Whenever Mom is working on a new story or waiting to hear about something she submitted, she says she is “sweating it out.” I don’t think she knows from sweating while she’s typing and talking to herself in the nice cool house. I know sweating better than she does. I do it through my paws and my mouth. I do it when I’m hot and I do it when I’m nervous. And sometimes, I do it for no reason at all….

 

Inspirational Quote of the Week

“Ever tried and failed? No matter. Try again and fail better.”

~Samuel Beckett~

Of course, Mom wants me to say I try and fail all the time. But that’s not true. I don’t really try at all. I’m usually phoning it in. So when I fail, that’s the reason.

And when I fail better, it’s random luck.

Mom on the other hand tries. Lately, she’s been working on old and new stories and submitting them to Rate Your Story

Could be better (1), but could be worse (10).

and to her critique group named LindaVijiJenConnieandOtherJen. When they write to her about her work, they always say what’s not clear, what to cut, what to tighten, what to add, and what to change. Then Mom is able to fail better. But only until she succeeds.

Meanwhile she has small successes along the way like seeing her new stories get more focused on their themes. And she gets to see her old stories go off in new directions.

My progress goes in many different directions. I’ve recently changed my street nap technique when the street burned my butt. #fail

I moved to the sidewalk. Mom said, “This isn’t much better.” and “Still embarrassing.” and “Why can’t you be normal?”

When she takes me out to eat, I’ve stopped hiding under her chair, tripping the waitress, and sitting in the water bowl. #fail

Now I just beg for food because sharing is caring. And Mom shares!


At the park, I still hide under the bench, but sometimes, I come partway out to catch some sunshine and say hi to some park people.

Mom said, “What are you afraid of?” and “Want to play?” and “I feel like I’m being watched.”