Friday, February 21, 2014

Celebrating the Small Things: Some Middle-Grade Links, a Book & a Blog Hop

Since a head cold-turned-sinus infection got the best of me, it's been a laying-low kind of week. Here are a few links which caught my attention, so I'll pass them onto you.

Middle grade author Claudia Mills shares her page-a-day method with proven results at Smack Dab in the Middle;

It's the last day of Middle Grade Week at indie author Susan Kaye Quinn's website. Today she's talking about marketing to those tough-to-reach middle-grade readers as an self-published author;

And Author Chris Eboch talks about how to avoid comparing your creative path to other writers at Project Mayhem.

With plenty of couch time, I also finished ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell. I was curious and excited to read this one since it got so much buzz and raves, and I DID enjoy it, but not as much as I'd hoped. It's one of those 'quiet' novels, which is not a bad thing for me because I happen to love those types of books, but the ending seemed a little hurried and didn't ring quite true to me.

I also signed on to participate in Tara Tyler's 'Celebrate the Small Things' Hop to give shout-outs to anyone deserving of love and praise (WHO DOESN'T NEED THAT?) for even the smallest of accomplishments. Want to join me? Click on the badge in the right sidebar.

What am I doing today? Editing, in between periodic checks on the sump pump in the basement. Eighteen inches of rapidly-melting snow is never a good thing for a 100-year-old basement!
                            Enjoy YOUR weekend!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How Beekeeping and Writer's Block are Related

    'There are times when you are empty and times when you are full...
You can fill yourself up with stuff: books of poetry, novels, movies, new kinds of food, travel, relationships, art, gardening, TV, school, music...basically, experiences. 
And while you are doing that, your life will fill you up with all that you can't control.'
                - Kim Addonizio and Doranne Laux, on Writer's Block, from The Poet's Companion.

      From among piles of files and notes from past writing conferences, I mined this great quote today. It reminded me to call to the community education office about a beekeeping class. I've wanted to learn about beekeeping forever. Who knows, there might be a story there.
     Have you tried anything new lately?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Relentless Winter, Restless Writer

   When I turned the calendar page from January, with its sub-zero double-digit lows and a handful of school cancellations, I hoped February would help me forget The Month That Didn't End. But it's just not going to happen. School was cancelled two days ago (more snow) and I think the green nubs of sedum and crocuses, which have poked through the ground in Februarys past, sense what's been going down topside during this last month and will be laying low for the foreseeable future. There's more snow on the way tomorrow and the thermometer will stay below 20 for the next week at least.
    I shouldn't complain. The nasty weather has given me the legitimate excuse to stay inside and write. I've been putting together materials for an introductory 3-week community education class on writing for children (which, alas, was also cancelled the other night because of the weather!). I'm also working on two scholarship applications for weeklong intensive writing workshops. And then there's the manuscript, always the manuscript.
      Reading-wise, I have a handful of books on my nightstand. My book club is reading Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan, and I'm loving it so far. The setting, 1970s London during the Cold War, is the backdrop for a British intelligence agency's new recruit as she is assigned to infiltrate the literary society of an author whose work the agency hopes will help steer the political discussion of the times.    To complicate the matter, she falls in love with him.
     There's also the new Newbery and Honor books — Ulysses and Flora, by Kate DiCamillo, One Came Home, by Amy Timberlake, and Doll Bones, by Holly Black — that I'm looking forward to reading (especially excited to read One Came Home by a fellow Illinoisan - yay, Amy!)
     What have you been working on and reading?

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