Thursday, October 28, 2010



Haunt blogs, find friends and critique buddies. It’s a great way to find blogs to follow and get more followers. And a chance to WIN PRIZES!

From 10/28-11/1 come haunt my blog.

Leave a comment:

1) Tell us about your blog.

2) If you’re a writer, what genre(s) do you write?

3) Are you looking for a critique partner(s)?

4) Did you advertise the Halloween Haunting? (*See below.)

Then haunt at least 3 other the blogs of at least three other commenters.

*If you advertise my HALLOWEEN HAUNTING on Twitter, Facebook, and/or your blog, you’ll be eligible to win one of THREE signed BOOKS:

Tantalized by Cythia Leitich Smith

Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Travel Team by Mike Lupica

You may tell me which book you'd like to win in the comments section too.

It's open to US and international residents.

Happy Haunting!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Blogfest, Comment, and Haunting

Brenda Drake is hosting:

The Never-ending Scene Blogfest

(or cliffhanger--whatever)

October 25-26

My entry is on my second blog, Earnest Writer's Excerpts.

Here's how it works. On your blog site, write a new scene or post a scene from your current project that is no more than 500 words, which has a rocking cliffhanger (pun intended). It can be any genre. Just leave us hanging, craving more, and cursing your name for making us want to turn a page that isn't there.

This is the prize:

1st Place: A 10 page manuscript critique AND a synopsis critique OR $50 towards manuscript edits,which average about $500.

Two runner ups will get: Either a 10 page manuscript OR a synopsis critique OR $25 towards manuscript edits, which average about $500.

From C.A. Marshall! Check out CA Marshall's Website.

In other news, I won Comment! of! the! Week! on Nathan Bransford’s blog. He rejected The Mist Chasers, but maybe he’ll remember me when I submit Naked Eye. Right now it’s up to 20k, so it won’t be any time soon.

Lastly, It’s almost time for my HALLOWEEN HAUNTING.

From 10/28-11/1 come haunt my blog. Leave a comment:

1) Tell us about your blog.

2) If you’re a writer, what genre(s) do you write?

3) Are you looking for a critique partner(s)?

4) Did you advertise the Halloween Haunting? (See below.)

Then haunt at least 3 other blogs. If you advertise my HALLOWEEN HAUNTING on Twitter, Facebook, and/or your blog, you’ll be eligible to win one of THREE signed BOOKS:

Tantalized by Cythia Leitich Smith

Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Travel Team by Mike Lupica


And here are the other The Never-ending Scene Blogfest participants:

1. Gabriela Lessa

2. LS Murphy

3. C Scott Morris

4. Gabrielle

5. Donna Hole

6. Tessa Conte

7. KM @ One Page At A Time

8. Writers Block NZ

9. Tina Lynn

10. J.C. Martin @ Fighter Writer

11. Stephanie Haefner

12. Gale Martin

13. Misty Waters

14. Rachel Morgan Writes

15. Francine Howarth

16. Jamie Manning

17. Mara Nash

18. Jennie Bailey

19. J.W. Parente @ In My Write Mind

20. Sabrina Wolford

21. Marieke

22. Theresa Milstein

23. Denise L' Aussie

24. Christopher S. Ledbetter

25. Dawn Embers

26. S.M. @Writes My Life

27. Rachael Harrie

28. Erin Kane Spock

29. NRWick

30. Mary Jo Campbell

31. Dominic de Mattos

32. Jodi Henry@ Turning the Page

33. erica and christy

34. words ' n' whimsy

35. Elizabeth Arroyo

36. Jessie Harrell

How was your weekend?

37. Jennifer Hoffine

38. Cheree Smith

39. Janet B Taylor

40. Sangu Mandanna

41. Nikki McCormack

42. Gale Martin (use this link, pls.)

43. Raquel Byrnes,

44. Michael Di Gesu

45. Shallee

46. Summer Ross

47. Roland D. Yeomans

48. Rebel in Remission

49. J E Fritz

50. Shelley Watters

51. Wendy Tyler Ryan

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lenny's World

Lenny's World

"Some people care too much, I think it's called love." ...Winnie the Pooh

Lenny loves to write:

First post - March 31, 2010

Number of posts as of 10/20/10 - 31

Number of followers as of 10/20/10 - 127

Impact on the blogging community – HUGE!

And today is his birthday:


Visit Lenny today and wish him a happy birthday .

*** Update 8:47 pm *** Thanks to all the posts about Lenny, he's now up to 156 followers - 29 more than he had this morning. That's a great birthday present!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Another Chapter

“Crazy I know, places I go

Make me feel so tired

I can see how people look down

I'm on the outside”*

Remember when I mentioned on Facebook I had an interview for the Building Sub job? And then I didn’t get it? Many of you wrote comments that something better would come along. At the time, the assistant principal said there would be ETS positions opening up and she hoped I’d still be around in the fall.

At the time I wondered if that was a hint. I knew the Social Studies teacher was pregnant. For the next month, I checked the job postings.

And I was “still around in the fall” (lucky me), so when the job posted, I submitted my application and sent my resume and cover letter separately to the assistant principal. One day, when I came in to sub P.E. (looking my best in yoga pants and sneakers), the assistant principal said I’d be called for an interview.

The Thursday before Columbus Day, I had an interview. It was for an Extended Term Sub Social Studies Position for the teacher going out on maternity leave. In the room were three parents, two teachers, and a principal for an ETS, which I didn’t expect. I thought I did well. In addition, when asked if I’d brought a portfolio with me, I handed mine over. I noticed the applicant before me didn’t have one, but I don’t know if the man after me did. I didn’t really know my competition or if the administration had someone in mind beforehand and the interview was just a formality.

When I finished, the principal said they’d decide quickly and there’d be some overlap between the ETS and the teacher.

I waited.

No call Friday, but I wasn’t expecting an answer that soon.

Then it was Columbus Day weekend.

Tuesday, no call.

By Wednesday, I was





That evening, I came home from my daughter’s ballet and found I’d missed a call from the assistant principal at the school. Nothing to get my hopes up about. When I’d had the Building Sub phone interview, the assistant principal was kind enough to call and tell me I didn’t get the job.

Then I opened my computer. The assistant principal sent me an e-mail advising me to call. Now I couldn’t help but hope. I tried the number, but I got a general message because it must’ve been the main number.

An hour later, the phone rang.

I got the job.

Could I start the next day?


After hanging up, I had to cancel four daily sub jobs I’d already taken.

The day before I got the job, I had published a post about bloggers who disappear. I don’t plan to do that. But I’m going to be busier. I’ll have lessons to plan, work to grade, discipline issues to recover from, parents to contact, report cards to send, conferences to attend.

The house still has to be cleaned. Laundry still needs to be done. Children still need help with their homework. Meals still need to be prepared.

And I had promised myself to write 1k per day on Naked Eye for the month of October. I’m at around 18k words. I don’t want to abandon this project. But I can’t do it all and I have to maintain a level of cleanliness. And sanity.

So I’m embarking on a whole new journey, albeit temporary. The teacher said she plans to return around the end of February, beginning of March.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I haven’t been writing about subbing lately. I didn’t feel the passion and humor about posts as I did during the last school year. But mostly it was because I’d actually started interviewing, and didn’t want some administrator to stumble upon the blog and think I was putting down any school or teacher or student. While I think the posts have always been about me, and what I got out of any situation, I might not get to explain that to someone who decided not to interview me or hire me because of the blog.

Now I’m at one place every weekday, with students and teachers I knew previously, and some of the parents whom I also know outside this particular school.

I’m still a substitute teacher, albeit one with a long-term assignment. There are already posts I’ve written in my head, but I can’t share. (It’s kinda killin’ me.) But I won’t mention the new job much, except how it’s probably going to impact my domestic and writing lives.

My hope is that if I keep writing about writing, I hope it will push me to actually write.

I’ll probably post less and visit you less often than I’d like. But if you comment here, I’ll still be sure to visit.

And I’m still hosting a Blog Haunting from 10/28-11/1. We’ll haunt blogs, find friends and critique buddies. There will be a couple of giveaways too!

For the next few months, I’ll be frazzled.

But I’ll still be here.

“It's that little souvenir of a colourful year

Which makes me smile inside

So I cynically, cynically say, the world is that way

Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise

Here's where the story ends”

*- Gavurin, David; Wheeler, Harriet. Song “Here’s Where the Story Ends” The Sundays.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kate DiCamillo, Role Model?

I took a couple of pictures, which came out weird. I’m sure she’ll
appreciate me using one from the Candlewick site instead.

One of my critique group members, Edith Cohn bought tickets for us to see a screening of “Because of Winn Dixie” at the Somerville Theatre. Then I won four tickets from The Official Kate DiCamillo Page on Facebook. The librarian at my children’s school had an extra. So my whole family, including in laws, got to see Kate DiCamillo read the beginning of Because of Winn Dixie and do a Q&A, and view the movie. Woo hoo!

I have to explain my admiration for Kate DiCamillo.

We read Because of Winn Dixie in my fifth-grade reading group, and the students loved the book. Reading it gave me a greater understanding of voice. This summer, my daughter and I listened to the audio book on the way back from New York. Near the end, I had to drive through Connecticut with teary eyes.

My son enjoyed it when I read A Tale of Despereaux aloud. Kate DiCamillo defining a word (perfidy) in the text motivated me to define important words at the beginnings of chapters in my manuscript Muriel and the Misfits. The manuscript didn’t go anywhere and it was probably a bad idea. But still, the author had inspired me to try something different.

I saw an autographed copy of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane at Porter Square Books and picked it up since I liked her other two books. This book blew me away. I wasn’t expecting it. It touched me in a way that few books touched me. I cried. Twice. It’s on my top ten list of favorite books. Maybe top five. Read it. Now. Go!

Kate DiCamillo admits to receiving nearly 400 rejection letters for her short stories (and piercing each one with darts). But her first novel Because of Winn Dixie was quickly accepted. And it won a Newbury Honor. Her first book. Impressive, no?

Edith snagged us seats in the third row, right in the center. I held onto five seats for my family on the side. While waiting, I was amazed that even though the event took place in Somerville, Cambridge was representin’. I spotted three girls from my daughter’s class, the librarian from my kids’ school and one from my old school, a child and dad from my former babysitting coop, and a girl from my son’s class with her parents. The last one didn’t surprise me since the mom is an editor at Candlewick Press , the publisher of Kate DiCamillo’s books.

When it was time for Ms. DiCamillo’s Q&A, it was obvious she had been a teacher. The woman seemed as comfortable on stage as she would be in her living room. She took questions from the audience (But not my daughter, even though she had her hand raised the ENTIRE time. Her question was, “Are you going to write another book about dogs?”), and answered with wit, humor, and honesty.

And what adoring fans. Authors of children’s books have The. Best. Readers. Watching them confirmed why I write children’s books.

When asked by a child which book was her favorite of the ones she’d written, she called on the kid’s mom to choose a favorite among her children. Kate DiCamillo then explained that each book was like a child, special in its own way, so she couldn’t have a favorite.

She admitted she doesn’t know how to write a book without an animal in it. I could relate because all my manuscripts have fantasy element to them. Anytime I try to go real world, I become bored and abandon the piece.

Her advice to children and adults who want to be authors was to write a little everyday and read all the time. (check, check.)

Ms. DiCamillo said she’d been complimented on her writing in college, so she bought turtlenecks and called herself a writer without actually writing. By age 30, she realized that wasn’t going to get her published. Although she didn’t say it during the Q&A, she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days per week. In ten years, she has about eleven books published, from novels to picture books to early readers. She’s one prolific chick!

A parent asked about The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, “It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. Did you write it for children or adults?”

Kate DiCamillo asserted the book wrote itself. She was given a creepy rabbit doll from a friend, who said it was named Edward. She had a dream about the rabbit at the bottom of the ocean, and wondered how it got there. As she wrote the book, she felt like she was just the messenger. It was a gift.

Then she was asked what she was writing at the moment. Her response; “When I’m in a good place, I think it’s a funny, long book. When I’m in a bad place, I think it’s a funny, long, and stupid book.”


Kate DiCamillo:

10-year published author of 11 books

1 Newbury Award

1 Newbury Honor

and a National Book Award finalist

has doubts?

I remembered her answer to an earlier question, “Which book was the easiest to write?” Her answer was Because of Winn Dixie because there were no expectations from her publisher or readers. She could write without worry.

We writers are a neurotic bunch, and that probably doesn’t change when writing a new manuscript, no matter how many came before and how successful they were or weren’t.

After being introduced and called a role model, Kate DiCamillo said she didn’t want to be own it because it was too much pressure and she’s made too many mistakes. But she would accept being a role model for trying really hard.

Sorry, Kate DiCamillo. As a writer, you’re a role model to me.

Have you read any of Kate DiCamillo’s books?

Let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Break or Break Up?

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach

Have you noticed the disappearing bloggers phenomenon?

They start off all eager, posting and commenting and following. Then (the writers especially) start complaining about how much time blogging takes. There’s often a post to strategize how to best utilize their time. For some, school gets in the way. Then there are those who take off for a couple of months or the summer or to work on a WIP.

And never come back.

I’ve noticed this with writers. They begin writing, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. The writers complete a rough draft and think, That wasn’t so bad. Then they join a writing group or take a workshop or find a critique buddy. They submit pages. They’re told their manuscripts aren’t as awesomesauce as they thought.

They back off.

Do they take the feedback (after some time spent in a fetal position under a table) and work to make their manuscript better?

Some stop writing.

And that’s a shame because it takes more than a first attempt at a rough draft for most mere mortals to become published. Others take a deep breath and work on it some more. Many, many times. They query. Most receive many, many rejections.

Some more stop writing after that.

Then there are the other ones who write something else. Writing is a process. Each word we put down makes us better. Each word we take away makes us better. We write by measuring words. There is so much to take into account with every word we put down on paper, let alone every sentence. Every page. Every chapter.

It takes a lot to stomach the life of a writer. The business is designed to shout; “NO!”

But we have to keep at it.

Back to the bloggers. I wonder where they go. Have they stopped writing? Have they given up on making connections? Forgoing platform? Or has life gotten in the way?

To me, blogging and writing go hand-in-hand. It’s a balance. We blog to learn; lean. Blogging has provided information and opportunities I never would’ve obtained otherwise. But we can blog instead of writing. If we started blogging because we write and then stop writing, something is wrong. It’s time to reprioritize.

It happened to me. I was posting nearly everyday and it was zapping my writing energy. When I slowed to three days a week, I began editing my WIP in earnest. Now I’ve been putting energy into writing something new and blogging a little less.

If writers stop blogging because they’ve given up on writing, then they’ve lost the support system that can keep them going.

Then there are those who land the agent or the contract. They blog. But they don’t comment on other blogs. They don’t even comment on the comments they receive. I’m sure they’re busy and with hoards of people reaching out to them, they don’t have the need to reach out. To me, they’re losing the part that’s special about blogging. It’s all become about platform instead of a relationship for some writers.

Elana Johnson seems to be able to do it all. She doesn’t post or comment everyday, but she makes an effort to be in touch by either responding to comments on her blog or leaving thoughtful comments on other blogs. She has an agent and a book (Possession) coming out next year. And Elana is writing another book. She is part of the Query Tracker Blog Team and The League of Extraordinary Writers. and is a cofounder of Write On Con . How does she keep up? Who knows? Maybe she has ten nannies and an intern named Fred who writes her comments. (I have no evidence of this, but you never know.)

Blogging hasn’t been around all that long. Will it go the way of My Space? What will happen with Twitter? Facebook? Or will blogging continue to be strong, continuing to displace the more traditional forms of book promotion?

Personally, I miss bloggers when they disappear. I’ll realize I haven’t heard from a person in awhile. And I’ll find their blog, disappointed when the last post was months ago. If they’re writers, I wonder if they’ve taken a break from writing or left to immerse themselves in writing. If they disappear from the blogosphere, they don’t have to answer to anyone. If so, will they return to writing?

Not everyone can do it for the long haul. Not everyone is meant to.

If you are still in it, send me an e-mail. Leave a comment.

I’m still here.

P.S. Next month is NaNoWriMo. Boy is it gonna be quiet ‘round the blogosphere.

Have you taken some time off from blogging?

If so, why? What made you return?