Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Grading Season

I've caught the first essays of the autumn! They are tricksy little beasts, and shall keep me busy. In the meantime, here is an interesting video on how Angry Birds actually went to space. I love how creativity and science overlap! Also, space! I love space...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Books I'm reading

I just finished this book:

And I enjoyed it. It was more exciting than I expected, and creepy, and I loved the photos. So did my two-year-old--he flipped through it for a good fifteen minutes today.

Now I'm on another peculiar book, one that I've already mentioned I'm excited about:

And I'm loving this one, too! It is also creepy, with black feathers on the first page of each chapter, and my four-year-old listened to the whole prologue without any pictures, and he keeps asking about the "shiny gear bird." I think he wants one for a pet. Oh! And the details so far--twigs for hair, black-eyed creatures that see too much, candy-coated names for sinister faerie politicians--it's so much fun! In fact, I want to go back to reading now, if you don't mind. Have a happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The joy of cats

I am typing every other word between "loving" nips and licks from the Siamese cat on my lap.

I think she is planning to kill me. Or eat my keyboard. Or both.

At least she's purring and kneading her claws into my leg. And she's soft? Maybe that's why we have cats?

I actually love our cats. Even Scout. Especially when she lets me (ow!) type.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Gah! It seems like December's a while from now, but did you realize it's already September? I think it just registered for me. And you know what this means...we'd better find a good baby name. Besides You.

Naming characters is hard. Naming children? Completely terrifying, and for the first year I always think "They don't fit the name--what did I DO to their life?!" and then I finally get used to everything and it's okay.

Anyway. Yikes. And boy names? I am interested in boy names. Just in case you collect any in the near future...

p.s. I looked for naming videos, but got bored, so here is a video of an elephant painting instead!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Peculiar

I want this book. See, back when I was submitting Swindle Witch, I met a nice person named on the Absolute Write forums who turned out to be the fantastically talented and hilarious Stefan Bachman. I think you should go look at his blog because it makes me laugh. And next week, his book is coming out! It has amazing art! Creepy dark faeries! Clockwork birds?! I wants it. Oh! And earrings shaped like that creepy bird. Which may change once I read it. We'll see!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Acquired Taste

I've been thinking about acquired tastes that I have...well, acquired. Confession: I'm not super adventurous with food, although I'd like to be. So. I love black licorice (liquorice is a prettier way to spell it, though!). Olives taste good to me. And root beer--if it's good root beer, it's bad for my teeth, because I will drink too much.

I've heard that goat cheese, oysters, anchovies, alcohol, and coffee are also acquired tastes. Can you think of more? Do you remember actually 'acquiring' a taste? I seem to remember this one camping trip where all we had was a big tub of licorice, and I thought the black ones looked better, and I loved loved loved sugar, so maybe that's an origin...

I shall have to do more research!

Some of these are good (A&W!). Some are...not so good. Oh! And the image is from, who say root beer is the "safest soft drink for teeth," which may or may not be a good thing...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I make mistakes all the time. I'm assuming other people mess up on occasion, too, but it's harder to tell. I stay at home with a four-year-old and two-year-old all day, except when I work, and then I'm in a classroom in front of twenty-eight young adults. And I've found with both groups it's better to fess up and fix problems rather than hiding them--because they're smart, blast it, and they'll notice what I do.

So when I tell my four-year-old, "Ooops. I messed up. Mommy shouldn't have used a mean voice when she talked to you after you accidentally spilled your cereal," or when I tell my students "I really should be nicer about journals at the beginning of the semester--I'll write them on the board so you know what's coming up" (as I will need to say next time), I'm not only apologizing. I'm (hopefully) showing them that it's okay to be wrong, that it's better to fix a problem than pretend it doesn't exist, and that open communication is important.

I'll be perfect tomorrow, I promise! Or tonight, maybe, after I fall to sleep...

This is the face I would make while falling to sleep. If I had a camera right above me. And if I were even close to this cute.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Middle Grade

I'm in the middle of a middle grade novel. It's my third novel, but the first one I've written that I intended to be for an under-13 audience. I'd been rereading a lot of Roald Dahl and Jerry Spinelli and E.B. White when I started writing, so I decided to try it.

Wow. Middle grade authors are amazing.

Books like Savvy and Holes make everything seem so effortless--the accessible language, the colorful characters, the story, the magic. But it is NOT effortless. I am here to tell you, in the midst of my second draft, that writing MG is hard, hard work and I have more respect than ever before for authors who can write those wonderful, quirky books that get kids reading. I'm afraid I'm overwriting (I'm prone to that), and it's tricky trying to balance details with character and plot while keeping everything clear. Good news is, I'm only on my second draft (or first draft, if I choose to count my last effort as a zero draft), and so I've got plenty of time to revise! Plus there's fun stuff to work with. Pill bugs, books inside the medicine cabinet, a talk-show radio host versus a girl named Opal. We'll see how it all comes together!

But if anyone has tips on writing or editing middle grade novels in particular, I'm sure I could use them!