Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things I learned and we have a Winner!

Starting with our winner of the drawing for the Alvor giveaway. Today was the final day. Thanks to all who entered the contest. You all rock! Now go get Alvor and get ready for our next contest.

And the winner of a signed copy of Alvor goes to......

Shawna Lewis

Now for the weekend notes of interest. I learned a valuable lesson on Thanksgiving. Burnt potatoes smell a lot like cigarette smoke. Seriously. Don't ever leave potatoes on the stove for three hours (not that we meant to). The house is still recovering. My son's friends thinks he started smoking.

I bought some cinnamon scented pinecones tonight and my oldest boy begged me for some to put in his room. We already tried Febreeze but I think we'd have to use a whole can for it to work.

I spent some quality time at Costco today and yesterday. Idaho is a great place to live. Nice people here.

Some of my most interesting visitors today....

A boy came up to me- looked about ten years old. He said," I'm reading your book. I'm on pg. 250 or so."

I asked him how he liked it so far.

"It's really really good."

His mom and dad told me that they have been asking him why he doesn't just read the last 20 pages and be done with it. He said he didn't want to waste it. He's saving it for a certain time.

I know how that feels, not wanting a book to be over. I just finished reading Catching Fire and felt the same way. Now that it's over I don't know what to read.

Another boy, probably ten too walked by my table. He was looking at the floor and not paying any attention as he walked by. When he walked past my table his head popped up and he looked at me and smiled and said "Hi" while he waved. Then walked off still smiling.

Thanks to all the people of different ages who told me you read my book and loved it. You're the best!

But the one that really surprised me was yesterday. A big guy was standing behind my sign so I couldn't really see him. He was there for a few minutes while people came and went from my table. When everyone was gone, he came around so that he was on the same side of the table as me.

He said, "I want you to put 'Don't let anyone steal your dream.' and then from this name." He pointed to Adarae's name on the back of the book.

I signed it for him, giving Adarae new dialogue for the first time since I finished writing the second book of Alvor. And as he walked away I fought the tears. Don't let anyone steal your dream. That's what I need to remember. It's what I've been working so hard to keep. I spend hours teaching kids to find their dreams and live them while I struggle myself to hold onto my own. Everywhere I turn, another strike hits my dreams and I wonder if things will ever turn out in the end.

But I will fight for my dreams and not let anyone steal them. After all, it was Adarae's advice.

Monday, November 23, 2009

On the Horizon

It's the last week to enter the Alvor give-away contest. After this, you're going to have to go to the store or online and actually buy your own copy. I know, you've waited so long to win, but like the lottery, not everyone gets to win. Which is probably why I don't play the lottery.

And, coming soon.... a contest that I'm excited about. We're going to have the Have You Read Alvor? Contest. We're going to start this in December. Up for grabs will be a new title book- I'll give you that info later. The contest requires your favorite sentence of Alvor and what page it's found. Easy. Well, easy if you've read the book.

So, after you've finished with the turkey, grab my book and get reading. It's going to be fun.

Just a little reminder for those of you who have entered the contest already-- you must be a follower to qualify as an entry. Make sure you really are!

Coming up on the horizon, I'm excited for 2010. The writing stuff is cool cool cool. February 11-13 I've been invited to be on the author panel at BYU for the LTUE conference (Life the Universe and Everything). Can't wait for that one. It's going to be so fun.

More schools to visit. YAY! If I haven't been to your school, your kid's school or your favorite school, drop me a line.

Then there's the writers conferences. April 23-24 is the LDStorymakers Writers Conference in Provo. Agents and Editors and Authors, oh my. It's going to be a blast.

April 30-May 2 is a Novel Retreat for SCBWI in Idaho. Three days of taking a novel to revision bootcamp. It sounds painfully fun.

Instead of shopping like a crazy-lady this Friday and Saturday, I'll be signing books at Costco. Friday I'll be at the Boise Costco from 11-4 and Saturday I'll be at the Nampa Costco from 11-4. Come visit me in your pj's or whatever you shop in on Black Friday.

And, if you need to get into the holiday spirit, come to the Boise Festival of Trees this Wednesday at 7:00. I promise you'll have a good time watching the Boise Cloggers.

I'm excited to see family and turkey this week. Planning on making a couple cherry blueberry pies too. I'll be posting again before the big turkey day, so I'll save my food enthusiasm for then.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Third Grade Fan Mail

Yesterday I had a big manilla envelope in my mailbox. Inside were 36 hand made thank you cards from the third graders at Ponderosa Elementary School.

Very fun.
I read every single card to my five year old twins who thought that the artwork was brilliant.
I agreed.

This one with the stop sign I had to stare at for a while. Pretty profound. At least I know that Jordan understood the most important message I was trying to share- Failure is not trying.

Never give up.

Among the comments of these kids....

Hailey said, "I think you should go to different schools. They would probably like it too."

"Thank you for coming and showing us all those pictures of you and your grades." Noel

"Thank you for teaching our class a very good lesson." Ethan

"I thought your grades helped you become a writer. Is that true or false?" Ryan

For those of you who haven't seen the school presentation, I show the kids my 5th grade, 9th grade and 10th grade report cards. And Ryan, I know a lot of what I learned in school is what brought me to where I am today. So, True.

"I thank you for coming. I like how you inspired us to read and write, and learning how to keep our grades up." Kiar

"My favorite part is when we mde up a story. You are very nice. Now I want to read Alvor." Grey

"I really liked your dog. I will follow my dreams, just like you followed yours." Kaitlyn

"p.s. I liked your book." Braedon

"How many kids do you have and how old are they? How often do you teach dancing? I would be embarrassed too if I left my folders and stuff in the car." Austin

This one made me laugh. Five kids, 13,8,5,5 & 2. I teach dance twice a week. And, my first presentation, I left my folder in the car after losing my keys in my bag before I left. Long story, but I did get my folder back. I ran as fast as I could to my car in between presentations.

"The best part was the pictures. I hope I see you again." Tariah

"I was very interested in your grades." Paetyn

"I really really like the part when you showed us your grades!!!" Paige

Note--If you want to make friends with kids, just pull out some of your old report cards. And-- the worse the grades, the more they like seeing them.

"I love hulahooping." Kassidee

Just thought I'd stick that one in there ;)

"Thanks for coming and calling me blue shirt and blonde hair." Alia

"It's cool how you were bad at Biology and then you taught Biology. You really inspired me to write a book even though I want to be a singer." Mallory/ the one with the crazy hair

"If I fail at the first job, I will try again." Triston

"You inspired me never to give up and to follow my dreams." Gavin

"If I ever write a book, you would be the main character of the whole story." Garrett p.s. You rock

"You are a wonderful author and you have fantastic imaginations." your friend Makayla

I didn't write something from everyone, but as you can see, these kids are awesome. - And funny, smart, observant and very forgiving. Just so you know, judging by the hundreds of kids I've met lately, our future is in excellent hands.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And the Rains came down and the Floods came up

It might not be raining outside where you live. Maybe it's snowing, or freezing, or you live somewhere nice like Arizona and it's a beautiful balmy day in the 70's.

Here it's overcast and cold.

And the Rains came up and the Floods came down- it's a song about your house being built on a strong foundation or a weak foundation and depending on which, it's either going to stand or slide away.

Try not to think of the mudslides in California.

Sometimes a lot of rain comes and there's not much anyone can do about it.

Even though there's no precipitation outside, the temperature of how things are going all around me looks like rain and floods. Jobs lost, income decreased, disappointments, sickness... and the list goes on. I think you probably have a list of your own with more specific things in mind.

If you're having one of those years, here's something that's helped me. It seems small, and it doesn't fix your problems, but it does help.

Someone lightly punched me on the arm and said, "It's going to work out."

It was a light punch, but enough of a tap to make me look up and really want to know if it was true.

Then, on a different day with different people, another light punch on the arm to someone, "Things are going to pick up."

Sometimes, even when you're doing all you can, the rains are going to come, the floods are coming up. It might look like your house is going to wash away, but keep standing for as long as you can. Maybe you can only take it one minute at a time, but it might be enough to weather the storm.

And then keep working on it. One of these days, things are going to work out and the sun is going to shine on your once water soaked house.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A word or two about NaNoWriMo

Make that 50,000 words.
Two years ago I got the bright idea to write a novel. It just happened to be October 29. Six months later, the 90,000 word novel was completed, only to be pared down another 10,000 words. After spending endless hours editing Alvor, and after the contract was signed and the manuscript delivered- I needed a break.

It was late October again. I was sick of the story, but I still loved writing.

What to do?

Hmm. Brilliant idea. Write another story that has nothing to do with Alvor. How exciting! I got right on the train and went to town pounding out another story. Then the questions trickled in....

Are you doing the NaNoWriMo?

The nano-what? Really, I had no clue what NaNoWriMo was. Maybe Chinese or something.

Write 50,000 words of a novel in November. "If you believe you're writing a novel, we believe you're writing a novel." Oh.
That's a lot of words.

In one month.

I never commited to the NaNoMo. I never met anyone else who was either, but I did keep writing. By the end of December, I finished my short book. Not a 80,000 word novel, but a shorter story. Not a short story, though- I'd call it a novel in embryo.

Once I had the writing bug out of my system, I started thinking about Alvor again and wrote the second book in the series.

And now it's November again. I pulled out last year's thrown-together book and now I'm falling in love all over again. It's not NaNo. No, you have to be working on a completely new piece for it to be officially NaNoWriMo- but I'm finally getting back into the story I started and finding out how much I LOVE IT.

If you don't write, let me just tell you, there's nothing like writing something you're in love with. It also shows that you haven't spent enough time editing it or you would be loathing it instead. All guilty feelings aside- I'm still not a NaNoer. I never won the NaNo by getting 50,000 words in one month, and the weirdest part.... I don't even care. Nope. Not at all.

I guess that's because I like writing at my own speed. I especially love writing something I'm excited about. And besides, isn't an author a writer every month?

Who knows, maybe next year I'll be signing the NaNoWriMo song. You never know. I'm betting by then this piece will be 80,000 words long and I'll be looking for a new story again.
In the meantime- all you NaNoWriMoers- go go go! And what are you wasting time reading my blog for when you're supposed to be writing a novel??? Ha ha...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

In Their Words

Who knew that being a writer meant becoming a people-watcher. Well, for me it did. And there are so many kinds of things I notice. Polls that I take in my head.

Here are some of the things I've noticed:

"You look too young to be an author." They're also the ones who don't buy my book. They're usually people in their mid-fifties. My only guess is that they don't know or care who Stephanie Meyer is. Confession- she's my age. She's actually one year younger. I wonder how many people tell her she's too young to be an author.

Yesterday, a lady asked a man, "Do your boys like books?" He answered. "Yeah, we don't read at all. We wait for the movie to come out." I was so shocked at the conversation that I wrote it down, word for word. I don't think they thought I was paying any attention to them as they walked by. Who knew there were grown ups out there who equated watching movies to reading books? It's like he thought that reading simply gave you the same entertainment value as watching a movie and watching a movie took so much less effort that it wasn't worth reading. What kind of a world would we have if everyone felt that way? Scary.

On the other end of the spectrum, I meet adults and kids who want to be writers. All of them share an enthusiasm that is kind of contageous. It's hard not to love what you do when you're around other people who love it too. And, here's my observation about it- the older they are, the more excited about writing a book they are. Interesting. It's almost like the more work they have done and the more they have learned how very difficult the whole process is, the more they have jumped in with both feet and are loving it.

And, last but not least, here's a tribute to the kids who wrote their thoughts on a thank you card. These are in their own words..... "Thanks for coming to our class and for being awesome. I'm planning on reading your book." Wow. I didn't know I was awesome, but thanks.

"Thank you fo coming ta our skool! Yo book looks kind a wicked... I like it." I'm hoping this guy meant to sound cool. Otherwise, he's his english teacher's worst nightmare.

"Thank you for coming and talking about dreams and ways to achieve them. It was really fun."

"Thanks for coming to our class and I am going to use your advice to make a good story next time I have to."

"Thank you for coming to Riverglen! I learned that reading can help succeed my dreams."

"Thank you sooo much. Your book cover & the parts you read of your book were great."

Aren't these kids great! And I thought I'd be nervous to talk to a bunch of kids. Not even. It is so much fun.

At least I know there is a whole new generation of people who are learning that reading has value and that it will take them places. That's a very powerful thought.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Taking on the Schools

It finally happened. I went to my first school author visits today.


It was great! The third graders at Ponderosa were awesome. Always raising their hands eager to answer the questions and give their ideas.

At Riverglen Jr. High I got to have some fun with the seventh and ninth graders. Great kids- and good sports. They let me pick on them and we had fun.

And the results are in:

Cereal was the most common thing eaten for breakfast- usually consumed in five minutes with the exception of the boy who spent 20 minutes eating his Chex. He says he's a slow eater.

Veterinarian was the most common answer for what kids wanted to be when they grew up. Professional sports was second.

Talents- gymnastics and writing was the top two answers. To follow was football, soccer and my personal favorite- being nice to people.

More third graders are willing to admit their talents than ninth graders by far.

At least half of the ninth graders didn't know what they wanted to be when they grew up where as nearly all of the third graders did. I liked this. To me it proved that they were growing up and learning more about the world. It's hard to commit to a profession when you're only just figuring out what each career really means.

Old report cards get the attention of students and teachers. And some looks. I felt like I was a kid again when I got some of those looks.

From the teachers- they all said the same kind of thing. They wished there were more author visits in the schools because it's exactly what the kids need. And, bless her heart, the third grade teacher insisted that I inspired her, too.

So there you have it.

It's a good thing I didn't actually cry when I told the ninth graders that everyone alive has talent and that there is a lot in them that is just waiting to be discovered. I came close. Good thing I had the powerpoint to distract them and give me a second to pull it together.

Man, I love those kids.

I almost forgot! Go to Barnes & Noble in Boise --Tuesday, November 3, 7:00 PM and on. It's going to be a fun signing and I have some cool stuff to give away.