Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hammonasset Beach State Park

I love this tangerine sky and the way sunlight lit up the crest of the waves.
I'm writing this post in the spirit of Linda Lou Who, which is what my Aunt Esther used to call me.  Bless her soul.  Now that the sun is setting on 2013, it's time to reflect on the year.  Despite the Christmas morning (1:12 a.m.) rejection, I'm going to focus on all the good things that the year has brought:

1. I got a far better handle on the art of the picture book by developing a method to create a typed dummy to see page turns.  It also helped to read it aloud to a teddy bear that Walt bought for the dog (on the right hand side of this website, click on "asylum"). 

2. I found a good way to get moving when I'm stuck trying to work out a first paragraph.

3. I am much better at multi-tasking because I got a lot of practice this year.

4. It was quite a productive year.

5. I expanded my editorial contacts and my network of writer friends by attending the 21st Century Nonfiction Conference and other SCBWI events.

6. It was a stellar year for some of my writing friends who won contests, went to acquisitions and landed contracts!

7. I used social networking all year long to get the word out about climate change.  Every single time I read some crap being passed off as fact, I plastered it all over Facebook and Twitter.

8. I took Climate Literacy Navigating Climate Change, a class offered by the University of British Columbia, and did well enough to land a spot as a teacher's assistant for the course.

9. I wrote a clever little manuscript with a number of activities.  I had no intention of writing any activities at all, but they evolved with so little effort and added to the fun that I simply had to include them.

10. I went to the American Association of School Libraries conference in Hartford and had a great time.

While standing in the bitter cold and harsh wind, we watched the sun set at Hammonasset Beach State Park.  I was wearing thin gloves, so it took a long time for my fingertips to thaw out.  It was worth it though.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The view from the Prudential Tower, Boston
I spent the year cranking out some good stuff.  Time and again, I cast the line out into the lake where the fish nibbled enough for me to know they were interested.  Much to my dismay, they failed to hang onto the hook.  So, for the time being, I'm fishing from a new dock.

Polar Bear art aptly titled, "The Discarded."
Lately, I've been thinking about how to be objective about my work.  Writers deceive themselves.  They think everything they write is great.  Everybody has work that is worthy of publication.  It could be the biggest chunk of crap or it could be beautifully written.
Traffic wasn't clear enough to venture home.

I just wrote something that I'm enthusiastic about, but I'm trying to take off the rosy colored glasses and see it from a distance in hopes of learning the truth.  I'm trying to view it from a critiquer's eyes, from an editor's eyes, from the eyes of anyone, but my own lying eyes.  I've packed it in a drawer and formatted it into a book with page turns.  I've worn myself out trying to punch holes in it, in hopes of sparing it from the firing squad of rejection.  I've been asking myself questions like these:

Planes landing at Logan Airport

Is it age appropriate?  I think so.
Is it suitable for illustrations?  Certainly
Is it marketable?  1,000 times yes!
Am I deceiving myself?
On November 19th, we were in Boston to see our daughter off to Italy.  Enroute to the Prudential tower, we stopped in a sheltered doorway to get our bearings.  It turned out to be the home of HMH.  Deep sigh.  I hope we can get out to visit her in Italy because I would absolutely love that.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bolton Lake
In the past few weeks, I've surged forward on a small, but challenging piece of writing.  It has been SO much fun to put together that I've lost track of time, staying up past midnight a couple of nights.

My approach was different than it has been in the past.  Instead of writing the picture book then fitting it into the format, I designed it with the layout in mind.  Huge difference.  I definitely think this is the way to go.

It also helped immensely to be able to see what it would look like.  That old cut and paste the manuscript process was not for me--too inefficient and slow.  I started by making a little booklet and writing the story in it.  Then I had more revisions.  The thought of making more booklets and writing the whole thing again and again was not at all appealing.  I'm really pleased that I finally devised a way to make a typed book of my manuscript relatively quickly.  It helped me see the page turns and it also gave me a better perspective as far as age level, wordiness, balance, and where it fell flat. 
These photographs represent my "reflection collection."  All were taken at Bolton Lake.