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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Stretches for people who write too much

Five thousand words per day: good for the soul, baaaad for the body. Back, neck, and shoulders...ouch!

So my awesome massage therapist gave me a sheet of stretches to do while making a mad dash toward the work-in-progress finish line:



Keep stretching and writing, folks! I'll be back Monday for another 5K. Come one, come all! Let's cross the finish line together.

We're having a Seattle Kidlit Drink Night on Sunday! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar/food (yum). Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards.

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase). Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Silent Night (or, On Wednesday, we rest)

Sarahbear tagged me for this fun music meme (I warn you, we have a ridiculously large and varied music collection):

1. Put Your iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc on shuffle
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS.
4. Put the artist after a dash following the song name.
5. Put any comments in brackets.
6. Tag some lucky people to spread the disease.


How would you describe yourself?
Early Autumn, Woody Herman

How do you feel today?
Beethoven Piano Sonata #14 in C-Sharp Minor, Opus 27/2...

What is your life’s purpose?
Tarantula, This Mortal Coil (hmm, interesting)

What is your motto?
It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got That Swing), Swing Kids Soundtrack

What do you think about very often?
Accentuate the Positive, Johnny Mercer (ha!)

What is your life story?
Northern Line, Old 97's

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Sous Le Ciel de Paris, Edith Piaf (tr.: Under the Paris Sky - what do you know, I do!)

What will you dance to at your wedding?
Satellite, Single Gun Theory

What will they play at your funeral?
Breath of Life, Erasure (they just might)

What is your hobby/interest?
Ou va la jeune hindoue, Leo Delibes, Lakme (tr.: Where is the young Hindu woman going?)

If you could do anything right now, what would it be?
Bird, Dead Can Dance

What do you want most of all?
I'm On My Way, Proclaimers

What is your greatest fear?
Got to Give It Up, Marvin Gaye

What is your darkest secret?
World in Motion, New Order

What is your favorite thing in the world?
Suite Bergamesque, Debussy (actually, I like Clair de Lune much better)

If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?
Harm of Will, Bjork

What is your theme song?
Fragile, Depeche Mode

The next time you hear this song (aside from now, that is), you must dance.
Got my Mind Set On You, George Harrison (Great...does the Weird Al variation count?)

What will you post this as?
Silent Night, Nat King Cole

Tag...oh, gosh. I've already hit so many people up...so feel free to run with it, if you want to. Hope you enjoyed the musical quirks herein presented.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Writer's Block, You are dead to me now.

Too long have I whined and dined with you, when all you leave me with is a broken spirit and empty pages.

My friends all tell me I should have dumped you long ago - five minutes, five paragraphs, five pages at a time. And yet you persisted. Wooed me with promises of productivity...later, that is. Breathed those words of unworthiness into my ear: you couldn't, you can't, you won't.

I am here to say: yes, I could. Yes, I can. Yes, I will.

And yes, I have - kicked you to the curb, with thousands of words at a time. With my trusty timer, trusty cherry caramels, and even trustier friends, I will leave you once and for all and move on to a greener pasture, where the words may be terrible at first glance, but they are the promise of hope and something better.

We can't be lovers. We can't even be friends. I don't need you anymore, baby. So I will leave you with one final Hi-YAH...

...to say that I hit my Golden Coffee Cup goal and kept right on going.

Hi-YES.

(Today's goal: another 5K...are you in?)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Anyone in for Maniacal Monday?

I realized my math was waaaay off - since when is Thanksgiving the last week of November? Anyways, that means I have three fewer writing days...ouch.

So my goal for today will be another 5,000 words, and - if I can take it to the next level - add an extra thousand. Eeek! Anyone in for a day of mutual whip-cracking?


If you didn't see the weekend post, here's the big news: we're having a Seattle Kidlit Drink Night! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar. Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards.

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Seattle’s Own Kidlit Drink Night: Celebrating our November Goals


Did you do Molly Blaisdell’s Golden Coffee Cup Challenge? NANOWRIMO? Did you make any kind of writing and/or illustrating goal in November?

If you hit the jackpot…if you plodded along…even if you didn’t take a single step…come to celebrate and hang out with your peers at our own Kidlit Drink Night! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar. Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards.

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase).

Questions? Leave a comment and I'll do my best. Hope to see you!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Poetry Friday: Changing Light (an original poem)

Welcome to Poetry Friday, everyone! This is my first time hosting, so please forgive me if I'm a little poem crazy. There's a linky widget below.

Today's poem is one I wrote when first dating my husband and painted it into a canvas for him. At the time, he rented a house with a view of Lake Union in the middle of downtown Seattle, so we would watch the boats and sunsets and sip our glasses of Shiraz. Sigh. We just celebrated our 9th anniversary.

Changing Light

I can relate us to the changing light.
Because it is summer.
Because this is something new.
Your waking wistful
Morning murmur
Converges with the first light
Of many things.
The light is young.
My murmur, mixed
With water and wine,
Is a twilight set in streaks of
Pink and Plum.
What I cannot relate is
The fleetingness of light,
Or the calmness of this sea.
The night has yet to come.

Copyright Holly Cupala, all rights reserved.

Post your poetry link here!

[Update: darn, Mr. Linky crashed my blog...better tech next time...sorry!]

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wild Writing Abandon, Part III: One More 5K Day

So we have Jolie, Vivian, Kim(!), Jaime (finishing 3 paintings), and me.

The countdown has begun...(well, for me, it begins at about 10 or so).

Check back for comments, encouragement, and to see if we really are crazy enough to do this One. More. Time.

[Update: final word count, 5551. Hoo-waaah!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jolie is Better than Bum Glue

Ok, so there's this phenomenon, something like mental adaptation, and I'm sure some of you psychology people know the official term, but it's something like:

Oh, yeah, I've done this before, and seriously, I know nothing bad is going to happen to me if I don't write 5,000 words, and I'm going to eat that stinkin' cherry caramel anyways, and there's not a darned thing you can do to stop me.

So when Jolie announced her 5K intentions yesterday, the challenge was on. I could not let myself slide.

I would let Jolie crack the whip. Wherplash.

And I promise, Jolie is even better than bum glue. I couldn't let her down. I couldn't let myself down. I couldn't stop for too many rewards, because she was going to kick my glue-free bum!

And she did. Final word count: 5208. Whew. At this pace, I might even have a readable draft by then end of the year, and that would be a miracle.

So folks, if you're looking for someone to crack the whip with you, try a bloggy friend. A facebook friend will do. In fact, I'd love to engage in mutual crackage here tomorrow - leave a comment if you want to join in for a whipping.

As if that's not enough, Jackie Parker of Interactive Reader brought this nefarious thing to my attention. Write or die, people. Write or die.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Twilight: The Lost Script


Wondering what the dialogue will be like for the upcoming Twilight movie? Well, wonder no further. Martha Brockenbrough, readergirlz media specialist and MSN Cinemama columnist,
has imagined it for us, based on the movie's publicity shots, in her singularly hilarious style.

Thanks to the lovely CuppaJolie for the link!

Cracking the whip with cherry caramels

Here we are at Day 18 of the crazed November writing/illstrating goals. I don't know about you, but I'm waaaay behind on my outrageous Golden Coffee Cup goal.

So in a wild bid toward completion, I had my most productive day ever yesterday: 5,000 words (pant, pant). Not sure I can maintain this, but my plan is to do it again today so that I can be fully caught up (did I mention I hate first drafts??). Here's my strategy:

The egg-timer: This is a new/old strategy - when I think about writing 5,000 words, it makes me think of choking first and then fleeing in self-preservation. If I set the timer for 15 minutes with a goal of 300 words, I usually hit 400 or more. Four of those in an hour and I've got 1500+ words to work with.

Rewards: Apparently, I like them. Yesterday's rewards:
1K: one cherry caramel + blog comment
2K: open my purchase from the CocoaStomp Shoppe (monster cards!) + blog comment
3K: open the mysterious package from Hyperion/Jump at the Sun (The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez - oooh!) - + blog comment
4K: try out Vista's moviemaker and see if it's as crappy as XP's (jury is still out) + blog comment
5K: pre-post a blog (yay!) + blog comments ad infinitum

Whatever can I use to light the fire today? More cherry caramels? Only time will tell - in fifteen minute segments, starting...now.

Another idea that has captured my imagination and fueled the fire of my goal-reaching is an upcoming party to celebrate the Golden Coffee Cup, NANOWRIMO, and any other writing or illustration goals made and/or accomplished during the month of November, kind of like kidlit drink night except more like NANO-Cup-O-Cake-A-Drink-Lit Night on November 30th.

Stay tuned for details!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Notes from the Underground

Kjersten Anna Hayes of Collage Clippings has a really cool shop on Etsy.

Oooh, ooh, I just checked, and Jaime Temairik's CocoaStomp Shop is now open!

At Seize the Day, Golden Coffee Cuppers are Boldly Going where no one has gone before and getting some holy snappin' high fives in the process.

Over at Book Dads, they're giving away a beautiful copy of The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia, by Laura Miller.

MotherReader has compiled a list of people participating in the Comment Challenge. Check it out to discover a goldmine of interesting kidlit folks and beyond.

Here at Brimstone Soup, we're celebrating Molly Blaisdell's and Swati Avashti's Letters of Merit for the SCBWI Work-In-Progress Grants. Huzzah!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Creed word cloud

This is a Wordle word cloud for my current work-in-progress, CREED:



Wow. That's pretty cool!

Comment Challenge: Seven days of new discoveries

Lee Wind is urging me to post my list, so here goes:

* Personal challenge: to comment on at least one new blog per day.

11/12/08
readergirlz, http://blog.myspace.com/readergirlz
*Just One More Book, http://www.justonemorebook.com
*Sara Zarr, www.sarazarr.com
Savvy One, http://rohansrealm.blogspot.com
Finding Wonderland, http://writingya.blogspot.com
Shelf Elf, http://shelfelf.wordpress.com

11/11/08
Boys, Books, Buzz, http://yawriters.blogspot.com/
*Lauren Baratz-Logsted, http://blog.myspace.com/laurenbaratzlogsted
Seize the Day, http://mollyblaisdell.blogspot.com
Children’s Book Insider, http://www.writeforkids.com/blog
MotherReader, http://www.motherreader.com
*Wizards Wireless, http://www.wizardswireless.blogspot.com/
Shannon Hale, http://oinks.squeetus.com/

11/10/08
Seize the Day, http://mollyblaisdell.blogspot.com
*Natural/Artificial, http://naturalartificial.blogspot.com/
CuppaJolie, http://cuppajolie.blogspot.com
* Laurie Thompson, http://lauriethompson.com/blog
Justina Chen Headley, http://justinachenheadley.blogspot.com
Mom on Bike, http://momonbikemob.blogspot.com
Chompoblog, http://www.chompoblog.com
Lee Wind, http://www.leewind.org
Mitali’s Fire Escape, http://www.mitaliblog.com
Janet Lee Carey, http://dreamwalks.blogspot.com
Miss Erin, http://misserinmarie.blogspot.com

11/9/08
Sunday is my Shabbat, so I make up for it other days! ;)

11/8/08
*Collage Clips, http://kjerstenannahayes.blogspot.com/
Little Willow, http://slayground.livejournal.com
*Just Me, http://justsherry.blogspot.com/
Welcome to the Oakenwyld, http://rj-anderson.livejournal.com/
Mitali’s Fire Escape, http://www.mitaliblog.com
On Pointe, http://lorieanngrover.blogspot.com

11/7/08
*Write for a Reader, http://writeforareader.edublogs.org/
Savvy One, http://rohansrealm.blogspot.com
*Under the Covers, http://underthecoversblog.blogspot.com/
readergirlz, http://readergirlz.blogspot.com
*The Steampunk Home, http://thesteampunkhome.blogspot.com/
Justina Chen Headley, http://justinachenheadley.blogspot.com
* Hip Writer Mama, http://hipwritermama.blogspot.com
YA Fresh, http://yafresh.blogspot.com
Alice’s CWIM blog, http://cwim.blogspot.com/

11/6/08
Seize the Day, http://mollyblaisdell.blogspot.com
CuppaJolie, http://cuppajolie.blogspot.com
MotherReader, http://www.motherreader.com
Lee Wind, http://www.leewind.org
readergirlz (2), http://blog.myspace.com/readergirlz
*Mom on Bike, http://momonbikemob.blogspot.com
*Shelf Elf, http://shelfelf.wordpress.com
On Pointe, http://lorieanngrover.blogspot.com
*Cuilanne, http://thehollyandtheivy.blogspot.com/
Wagging Tales, http://waggingtales.wordpress.com
Suzanne Young, http://suzanne-young.blogspot.com
Miss Erin, http://misserinmarie.blogspot.com
*Sarah’s Random Musings, http://sarahbear9789.blogspot.com/

I've found lots of new and exciting people to connect with so far. How about you? Any recommendations?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hoping your light will shine

Molly wrote about me today for Day 10 of the Golden Coffee Cup. I am speechless and encouraged by her words. Just a few moments ago, I was praying for just such a word to help me take the first step. Molly, you help me to be brave, too.

Friday, November 07, 2008

SCBWI NY Conference: Why you should go!


An illustrator friend, Dana, just called to ask me to help talk her down from the fence - should she go to the 2009 SCBWI NY Conference or not?

I'll state right up front: my opinion on this is biased, because I can proudly claim to be an SCBWI success story. They gave me a Work-In-Progress Grant, for which I am eternally grateful (I love you, Steve, Lin, Judy, and everybody!). I met my completely awesome agent there this last year - absolutely random, luck of the draw - at the Writer's Intensive event, who turned around and sold my book to his (and my) top pick. SCBWI has been exceedingly good to me in so many other ways, and every conference to which I have gone (two in LA and two in NYC) have more than paid for themselves in connections, opportunity, and ideas.

My first conference (not local) was Los Angeles in 2004. That year, my best friend’s sister had died suddenly. We’d known each other since high school. Then, a few months before the conference, my husband and I lost our daughter, Ezri, at birth. Everything I’d been writing before that suddenly seemed meaningless. It crossed my mind to write about my experience, but then I didn’t want to exploit their lives. Then Justina Chen Headley, who you all know as a readergirlz diva and author but I am incredibly lucky to know as a friend, took me out to lunch at a conference and asked, very kindly, "Are you going to write about Ezri?" I’ll say this a million times - it was like she opened a door and gave me permission. Then we went to Libba Bray’s session on "How to shut off your brain and get to the heart of your writing, " and suddenly

WHOMP.

The entire idea was right there in my lap. I started writing notes as fast as I could, and you know the rest. This last time at the LA conference, it was as much about things coming full circle - running into people who knew my story and sharing the happy ending - as it was about the conference itself (Bonus: I came home with a WHOMP idea for a third book!).

Ok, so this is getting long. But I'm thinking, there are two reasons to blow your wad and go to NYC:

#1: If your work isn't ready to sell yet, go to get the lay of the land. Network, find out what's hot, what people are interested in, what you need to do to go back the next time and totally wow the editors/agents/art directors. Get inspired with ideas! Get to know your peers! This is golden.

#2: When your work is so ready, you could kick it out the door. Hopefully you will have already done a lot of #1, and you will have a reasonably accurate assessment of your work as well as a huge dose of belief in yourself.

In either scenario, bring a posse to talk you up (thanks, Chris, Molly, Jolie, Sara, Cathy, Kim, Laurie, Martha, Justina, Kevan, and more than I can count!). Introduce each other. Brag about each other. One of the most valuable things you can have is someone else to say, "This is my friend, Dana, who is the most unbelievably talented illustrator. You should check out her portfolio!" Be ready to talk up your friends and even strangers - one of the super-serendipitous things that happened in LA was that I met Swati Avashti (in the elevator, with me saying, "Oh! Could you help me with my sari for the party??"), who told me the pitch of her novel and I said, "Hey, that sounds like something Rosemary Stimola would like - you should send it to her!", and Rosemary just sold her novel in a two-book auction (woohoo, Swati!).

My agent says I seem to have an astonishing share of serendipity. Maybe, but I think there's plenty to share. So go register already! (PS, he's going to be speaking on the agent panel. I'm so proud!!)

No, No, No!

Molly is so naughty. She invited me to Thanksgiving. NO!

Ok, maybe.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Comment Challenge

Oh, man! Just when I was going to take a blog vacation, something came up that cannot go un-blogged. (Though I'm mostly quoting another blog...does that count??)

Super-bloggers Lee Wind and Pam Coughlan have cooked up the most wonderful idea for encircling all of us kidlit bloggers into one big, snuggly hug. From MotherReader:

What if I told you that for the cost of a few extra minutes a day, you can boost your blog readership, foster a feeling of connection, and make someone’s day? I’m talking about commenting. (Wow, with all the boosting, connecting, and making someone’s day, it’s like Viagra for blogs.)

At the KidLit Bloggers Conference, my-new-best-friend Lee Wind and I came up with an idea to get the community moving and grooving with a Comment Challenge. We held off to give you time to participate in the Cybils, to obsess about the election, and to Blog the Vote. But now it’s time to join us in The Comment Challenge.

Read the rest here.

I know I sure would love some blog-huggin' while I tackle the scary goal I have set for myself in the Golden Coffee Cup. I'll hug you back!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Getting Serious about the Golden Coffee Cup

Nanu, nanu, friends. The time has come to nail my goal to the wall:

25,000 words on CREED or a first draft, whichever comes first.

Molly Blaisdell is cracking the whip, a slightly less painful lash than that master of novel masochism, Chris Baty of NANOWRIMO, and for me, slightly more serious. This is no game. I have a deadline, people. NO PLANS for Thanksgiving. Don't invite me, because I will say NO. (Don't tempt me, because NO is not something I do easily or well.)

The other half of the Golden Coffee Cup is taking a vacation...a blog vacation. I am grateful to Sara Zarr, who, at the kidlit conference, gave everyone permission to take one. If I win a cup of coffee, I will raise my steamy mug to you, Sara.

Except for hosting Poetry Friday on the 21st and the occasional readergirlz tidbit or Golden Coffee Cup update, I'll see you all in December with a hundred pages in hand. Wish me luck!

Write long and progress.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Autumn in New York

Autumn in New York
Why does it seem so inviting?
Autumn in New York
It spells the thrill of first-knighting

Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds
In canyons of steel
Theyre making me feel...I'm home.

A couple of weeks ago, I packed my shoulder bag with a change of clothes and a notebook and hopped a plane to NYC for a slew of firsts: first time meeting my editor...first time navigating the trains by myself...first time visiting my agency...first time...eating a popover the size of my head:


I stayed with my cousin, Karin, who took me to Popover Cafe. Here we are, enjoying the ambiance:


We did a lot of reminiscing about camping trips gone awry, seeing E.T. for the first time together (there's a story there...a blackmail story, to be sure), and cuddled up in her big chair to enjoy an epi of Gossip Girl. My first time...and it felt so naughty. The beauty. The wealth. The clothes. The...whoah. It's not My So-Called Life, is it.

Then I woke up to the most gorgeous view from her apartment:


Then she kept me from getting completely lost on the B train on the way to HarperCollins, where I got to meet with my (insert 5,000 stupendous adjectives) editor.

I had all of these worries - would she like me in person? Would the conversation be awkward? Would I be a complete idiot and spill o.j. all over myself at breakfast? But as soon as she said "Hello," I realized I didn't have anything to worry about - in some ways, we are exactly on the same page. I came away feeling excited, inspired, and very very lucky.

Then it was off to see my agent in his native environment, the hallowed halls of McIntosh & Otis, where I stood in awe of the many classics taken in hand by his predecessors and felt a bit staggered and humbled by his own impressive wall of books. In fact, here we are in front of it (courtesy of his lovely and talented assitant, Abigail):


We talked about details, serendipity, and a third book idea (he likes it! woohoo!).

Both of them sent me home with books - my editor, an ARC of the forthcoming Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter, by R.J. Anderson (which I read all the way home and loved), and my agent, the picture book Wabi Sabi, by Mark Reibstein and illustrated by Ed Young, and his own essay in Bob Dylan and Philosophy. For the remarkable story of the Wabi Sabi illustrations, see editor Alvina's posts on Blue Rose Girls. I was incredibly touched to receive them.

So, now that I'm home, it's back to work - except maybe today, as I anxiously await election results and hope for serendipity to strike again...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Blog the Vote: Why Bother?


I, along with most of the people reading this, have had the priviledge of being born into a life of relative prosperity, security, and freedom. I've fought for causes, but never survival. An earthquake in Pakistan or a tsunami in Southeast Asia affects me less than my computer crashing as I typed this sentence.

So why bother voting? What's the worst that could happen if I don't?

My great grandmothers would slap me silly for even asking, since they didn't have the right. So would civil rights fighters. Apartheid victims. My friend's grandmother, who survived the holocaust. People around the world who dare to dream about what you and I take for granted every day.

We have a responsibility to research and form our convictions. Vote our consciences. Not let government happen while we look the other way. I have only to remember my friend's grandmother to remind me of that.

Here's a terrific video, found by Little Willow, on taking our daughters to the polls. Mine is three. I agree: it isn't too early to start teaching her to value freedom. And in fifteen years when she has the right to vote, I hope she won't take it for granted. I hope I never do.



For more people blogging the vote in thoughtful, passionate, non-partisan ways, see the compilation at Chasing Ray, put together by the incomparable Colleen Mondor, Lee Wind, and Gregory K. Thanks to aquafortis for the awesome graphic!