Friday, November 30, 2007

NaNo: DAY 30

51,230 words!

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p.s. Same time next year?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Checking Grade Level

FYI: For those of you trying to figure out how to determine which grade level you're writing on, what you have to do is click on spell check...when the box opens up, click on "Options" and be sure to check "Show Readibility Statistics." After you complete the spell check, the final box will pop up and you'll see at the bottom: Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NaNo: DAY 28

This good news is this:
50000 / 50000 (100%)

The bad news I'm not ready to share yet. No, it has nothing to do with Novel #2 (which is under consideration) and nobody died. I'm just not ready to blog about it yet.

Two more days, NaNoers!!! GO, GO, GO-O-O-O!!!


Yeah, poor OPHELIA LAUGHS was bent out of shape because her blog reads at a junior high level.

My blog, on the other hand:

cash advance

So, Holly. Feel better, lol?

Which actually, it makes sense. When I check the readability statistics on my ms(s), it consistently holds at a fourth grade level.

Before/After: 4th grade

Say the Word: 4th grade

My unfinished (adult) paranormal: 4th grade

Wait, wait, wait! My ADULT PARANORMAL reads on a 4th grade level?

Only Angelo (WNIP...which means "work NOT in progress" lol) topped out at the upper end of 5th grade. The one story I deliberately tried to write at a lower level.

Which makes we wonder "what" I'd have to write if I wanted it to read on, say, a 12th grade level. Or even 9th? A college textbook? My doctorate thesis for M.I.T.?

OK, so now I am verrry curious: Anyone want to share their own statistics? What grade level do you write at?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2k7 Release: CHESS RUMBLE by G. Neri

A BIG welcome to Marcus, the main character in the new MG graphic novel (yes!!) CHESS RUMBLE by fellow 2k7er G. NERI:

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School Library Journal: (And is this a fabulous review or what???) `In my 'hood, battles is fought every day,' quips Marcus, an angry middle schooler on the brink of big trouble. His words, rife with frustration, tumble across page after page in free-flowing verse as he paints a picture of his quickly fading innocence. In the short time since his sister's death, memories of eating ice cream and giggling have been replaced by the bleak reality of a persistent bully, fist fights, and an absent dad. After begrudgingly meeting CM, Chess Master, the school's `bad dude' chess club adviser, an extended `battle' metaphor unfolds, concluding as Marcus takes responsibility for his own actions and moves his fighting off the street and onto the chessboard. . . . Chess Rumble works, and works well. Neri expertly captures Marcus's voice and delicately teases out his alternating vulnerability and rage. The cadence and emotion of the verse are masterfully echoed through Watson's expressive acrylic illustrations. Blacks, whites, and grays echo the concrete world of Marcus's urban home and, even more so, his despairing mood. Scattered chess pieces evoke the crescendo of the boy's temper. The closing scene tenderly catches tough-guy Marcus in a smile as he pounds fists with CM before sitting down to do battle, a stark contrast to his opening image, one dominated entirely by his fist. This book will become a standby pick for reluctant readers, who will be pulled in before they know it by the story's quick pace and the authenticity of Marcus's voice and experience.

Congratulations, G! xox This one is definitely on My List!

Edited to add: I just found out from G's blog that CHESS RUMBLE has been named a School Library Journal Pick of the Day! Woo-hoo! Go, go, go! :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Congratulations! You Just Won Yourself a Full-Body Cast!

According to my horoscope, I am going to fall in love with someone today--yeah, TODAY--and I shouldn't try to "deny my attraction."

Um, don't think so. Moving on...

Ever manage to almost kill yourself 3 different way in less than 15 seconds? It's surprsingly easy.

1. Nature calls at 4:45 a.m. Correction: Nature screams in your ear and beats you over the head with a flaming branch. So you roll over to jump out of bed--and realize you are already ON the edge of the bed. The floor comes at you fast. Luckily you break your fall by hanging yourself on your computer cord.

2. Rush into the bathroom without turning on the light because A. that wastes a second, and B. you don't want to BLIND yourself, right? Promptly step on down the hand-held Poker game your spouse lovingly (insidiously?) left on the floor. Yes, it'll move like a skateboard under your foot. You'll get to the toilet faster--minus a few lumbar discs.

3. Sit down (in the dark) and realize (too late) someone left the toilet seat up. Not only is this a much farther drop than you anticipated (ah, think of the possibilities: cracked tailbone, more slipped discs, fractured skull) but your a$$ is now FULLY SUBMERGED in a bowl of ice water and your knees roughly in the vicinity of your ears.

Now I wonder, am I worth more dead than alive??? Why do I suddenly feel like Doris Day in Midnight Lace?

Well, on the bright side, I am off today and plan to wrap up this NaNo business over the next couple of days.

............If I survive!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Re: Richie Partington

By now a lot of you have already heard--

"High profile local librarian fired over opposition to book banning by principal:

"A day after informing the District Superintendent that he saw no reason to meet with the principal who had banned a highly-regarded children's book -- until the principal had actually read the book that he had banned -- Sebastopol librarian and author Richie Partington was fired from his position as Library Consultant to the Bellevue Union School District in Santa Rosa, California." (from Richie's MySpace page)

The book banned by the principal (how much power does he have?) is The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick, a multi-award winning MG novel and one of YALSA's 100 Best of The Best Books for the 21st Century.

The principal apparently objected to the reference to "gangs" in this novel. Partington's objection, I believe, is that the principal never even read the book, that he "banned" the book on that basis alone, with no intention of reading it.

So where is the discussion???

Richie's credentials are amazing. He has spent YEARS promoting reading and literacy with his book reviews, youth seminars, teaching, and committe work (including a three-year term on ALA's Best Books for Young Adults committee and the upcoming Caldecott Awards). Of course he also holds a special place in my heart-- because he gave Before/After its very first review.

Richie is urging his supporters to write to his local newspaper, The Press Democrat, to voice their opinions and hopefully bring this situation to light.


Friday, November 23, 2007

NaNo: Day 23

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
42,773 / 50,000

Wow. I feel 100% better. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Visitor

Warning: do not keep bird food on the floor.

Beth found a mole in the bag. Not only did she "find" it in the bag--she sat and watched it for 10 minutes while it scurried back and forth between the bag and the DVD speaker, neatly and unconcernedly depositing the bird seed for future consumption. Back and forth, back and forth. Hubby picked the speaker up and shook it. There had to be a pound of birdseed in there.

The speaker went out with the garbage. The mole is now...somewhere.

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One of these days I will break down and vaccuum.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's Official

Novel #2 has Officially Been Submitted.


Drinks are on me!

Monday, November 19, 2007

NEWS, and a Monday Memory

Revisions (#2) are finished! My agent is a genius. I had so much fun with this. Keep your fingers crossed we can start submitting this baby soon. Maybe I can get back to my NaNo monster now?

Yesterday was Family Day at the nursing home. Again, there were Very Few Families to be seen. Do these people NOT have families, or do the families simply never show up for these things. An enormously depressing thought.

Picture a room jammed full of seniors in wheelchairs; an elderly "deejay" playing polkas and big band music on his keyboard; aides passing around cider and, well, some kind of fluffy-doughed treats with meat in the middle (never did figure out what it was, but I ate it, of course); and one lively lady pushing her walker around in cicles, shuffling her feet in time to the music. She does that at all these parties. She's the only one.

Grandma and BFF Miss R. wisecracked, as usual, while Miss R. kicked her legs up and down from her perch on her rollater. I noticed half-hearted clapping in time to the music. A few smiles here and there. Nodding heads. Gnarled fingers tapping the tables. The occasional snore from the few residents who slept through the whole thing. The activities dude raced from wheelchair to wheelchair in an attempt to get the (mostly unimpressed) residents involved.

In our corner, we were pretty lively--I spiced the "party" up even more by snapping candid pictures with my cell phone and then passing it around. Hysterical! Grandma has what I call a Gumby face--she can stretch it into the funniest expressions imaginable. Miss R. is a wild woman! Trust me, these two feisty old broads RULE that nursing home.

This is not a "Monday Memory," exactly. But that room yesterday was filled with other people's memories. Every tune they played held a special meaning for someone. Music they danced to in the past with their long-dead, sorely missed spouses. Songs they sang to their children as they tucked them into bed.

And I know what many of them thought as they sat, trapped in their wheelchairs, sipping apple cider, eyes vacant and lonely above the timid, shaky smiles.

They thought: Where is my family? Why I am sitting here all alone?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Story of a Girl: NBA Finalist!

Fellow 2k7er SARA ZARR, National Book Award finalist (YAY!) shares her fabulous experience at the National Books Awards ceremony.

Many, many congratulations to you, Sara, and to STORY OF A GIRL! xox

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A Little Tip...

A. Smart thing to do with a marked-up ms from your agent/editor:

1. stack pages neatly
2. punch holes
3. place in heavy-duty 3-ringed binder

This makes it very convient to lug around. You don't lose pages, you can mark them easily, and fold back certain ones to make your place or help you remember a section you need to work on. I did this the first time. It worked wonderfully!

B. Stupid thing to do with a marked-up ms from your agent or editor:

1. schlep all 400+ pages around in the original mailing envelope because for some reason you're too lazy this time to do number A.
2. get them mixed up, of course
3. be sure to let the whole shebang fall out of the envelope outside in the pouring rain, your agent's felt-tip-pen scribble notes dissolve into a green blur, and you're stuck with 400+ soggy-out-of-order-totally-unreadable-pages. Oh, and bump your head in your frantic scramble under the car to retrieve the pages.


Friday, November 16, 2007

NaNo: Day 16

No words to post. I got my revisions from my agent. I'm buckling down with these and hopefully will have them finished by Monday.


Too Funny!

OK, we've been working hard--how about a few giggles from agent Rachel Vater's blog?

Blasted by "Not Acting My Age" Blogger

I stumbled across a Very Unkind Review by a blogger named Paul Goldschmidt who called Before/After "An incredibly dreary and down read, recommended for masochists only" and described Martha as "a heroine who has nothing but anger and bad luck and never ever manages to grow" in this "depressing and unnecessary" novel.

After receiving so many positive letters from kids (and adults) who tell me how much they loved the book--including the mother of one young girl who wrote to thank me for answering her daughter's email, and added that she believed God had brought my book into their reaction to this review is simply, "Meh."

Carry on, Paul. Sorry you thought it sucked.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NaNo: Day 13

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
34,938 / 50,000

Review from Becky's Books

A review from another blogger/reviewer who, yes, really gets Before/After: Becky's Book Reviews (Note: she meant "mother's abusive boyfriend," not "mother's abusive mother"). She is also on LJ as BECKYBOOKS.

Thank you, Becky!!! xox

Monday, November 12, 2007

It Even Happens to Stars

"PEOPLE reports that Jolie's leather slacks split during her red carpet walk. Pitt placed his hand strategically on her pants to shield them from the paparazzi. It wasn't the only carpet mishap. Jolie also stepped in gum and it stuck to her Christian Louboutin heels."

1. How do you split leather? Rather, how can somebody that thin manage to split anything?

2. Bubblegum on the freaking Red Carpet? Man, somebody's head is sooo gonna roll! Bummer about the shoes.

3. I came out of a public bathroom in a Very Ritzy Restaurant once with my black velvet skirt tucked into my pantyhose. A fellow (male) patron was kind enough to point it out. Thank God the paparazzi missed that little mishap. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NaNo: Day 10

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
26,843 / 50,000

Well, I don't hear the Fat Lady singing YET! :)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday 5

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
23,019 / 50,000

Scenes after scene, none of them leading anywhere. I don't remember ever being this disorganized unless, ya know, I'm in the kitchen trying to cook or something.

2. More revisions on the way from my agent (Pam, are you ready for another trip to Deliverance country???). I should be getting 3/4 of the ms tomorrow, mostly tightening it up a bit and--big drawn-out siiiigh!--fixing more typos. I do have a serious problem with that and I wonder if there's a technical name for it. Aside from "stupid" that is. Heh.

This, of course, means I may have to drop out of NaNo.

3. Tomorrow, a trip to Kent State and the SCBWI brunch. What to wear, what to wear.

4. Hair cut and delightfully rinsed with a darker shade for fall.

5. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sister Mary!! xoxoxo --who, BTW, read Shawna and loves her. But of course, she's my sister. She's supposed to love everything about me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

NaNo: Day 8

Well, $500 later I have HEAT again. Yay!

And I didn't hit the halfway point, but I came pretty close:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
21,003 / 50,000

Keep writing!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Just Out -- The Band: FINDING LOVE by D.L. Garfinkle

New Release! THE BAND: Finding Love by Debra Garfinkle:

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Book description: They have a hit song. Now it's time for a road tour...The latest book in the edgy teen series that comes with a free song download!

It's summer break and Amber Road is touring. Fans love them, and their music is strong, but their emotions are fragile.

Tracie is worried. She's finally able to let go of her ex-boyfriend Carter and be happy for him and Sienna. Will she ever find love for herself?

Mark is confused. The band has a shot at the big time. So why is his girlfriend Lily, Amber Road's lead singer, acting so secretive and mysterious? Is she cheating on him?

Sienna is thrilled. At last Carter is her boyfriend and she's performing better than ever. But can she handle making the band and a new relationship work?

Tracie, Mark, and Sienna know that Amber Road has a real chance to score a record deal-as long as their love lives don't trip them up...again.

A HUGE CONGRATS to Debby (and yeah, girl, that cover is awesome)!! xox

NaNo: Day 7

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15,127 / 50,000

I'm attending an SCBWI publication brunch on Saturday and I reeeeeeally do need to prepare for that. So my goal is to hit the halfway mark by tomorrow night. Then I can take a breather.

Something tells me this is more of a "pipe dream" than a "goal." :o

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

Yikes! (Little Writers in the Big Woods: POSTSCRIPT)

Oh, I don't know HOW I forgot to post this picture in my camp saga.

Have I mentioned that Pamela has a very disturbing affinity for creepy-crawlies?

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NaNo: DAY 5

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
13,091 / 50,000

Monday Memory: I remember being normal.

Then I started to write.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

NaNo: DAY 4

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11,170 / 50,000

I am having entirely Too Much Fun with a Very Evil Character. :)