I thought my fellow freelancers would enjoy the backstory — and that, perhaps, blog readers might like to see the published piece.
Friday, December 24, 2010
I thought my fellow freelancers would enjoy the backstory — and that, perhaps, blog readers might like to see the published piece.
Friday, December 03, 2010
|A Girl Writing. c. 1520. Netherlandish.|
So, my plan is to publicly declare my end-of-year writing goals. If these are in my planner and on my blog, I can't miss. (Of course it doesn't hurt that a couple of the goals are also stated in a signed-by-me contract.)
- Weekdays: From 8:30 a.m. (ish) to 6:00 p.m. (ish), I will work on researching and writing the six-title nonfiction picture book series I'm contracted to complete in January.
- Evenings and weekends, whenever I can: I will make clear, measurable progress on my two pet (read: not under contract) WIPs, a picture book and a YA novel. By the end of the month, I will complete a full draft of my picture book and a revised, detailed outline of my novel.
- December 5, 12, and 19 (all Sundays): I will share drafts of my pet picture book with workshop group colleagues.
- December 6 (a Monday): I will wrap up official online discussions for the writing-biz class I've been teaching.
- December 7, 14, and 21 (all Tuesdays): I will finish writing feedback on my workshop colleagues' picture book manuscripts.
- December 13 and 20 (both Mondays): I will turn in the first two of the six nonfiction picture book manuscripts mentioned up top.
P.S. For added accountability, I've also shared my intentions over at Cuppa Jolie. Anyone else want to state your goals for December's we-will-write-it cause?
Monday, November 15, 2010
Now, I don't need a holiday-type day to love writing or to do my writing. You probably don't either. But it's fun that it exists, and I like (a) that the founder got it recognized in the first place and (b) that he focuses on getting kids fired up about writing by providing ideas/encouragement for classroom exercises and school-wide events.
ILW has been celebrated for the past nine years. I think I've been aware of it since the beginning, but I'm almost sure the day/any hype passed outside my notice last year. I used to loosely track the day, so I just wondered to myself, "Why did I stop?"
One second of thought later, and I'm sure it's because there used to be so much less writing-related
Ah, well, a topic for another blog.
Meanwhile, and back to the point:
Happy I Love to Write Day. May you write long (passages) and prosper!
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I haven't decided which banned to read in celebration of my intellectual freedom, but I'll definitely pick something tomorrow evening — 'cause that's when I plan to start reading it!
Meanwhile, I thought I'd share a roundup of the most interesting BBW-inspired links I've come across.
- Nifty interactive map showing locations of documented challenges. Click on the pins for exact location information and links to challenge letters. Yowza.
- ALA lists of the 100 most frequently challenged books of the decade: 1990–1999 and 2000–2010.
- ALA's description of the difference between a banning and a challenge.
- Article at the DePauw University site stressing the continued importance of BBW.
- TIME article on banned books from 1938.
- Q&A with ALA about how books get banned.
- List of books you might not expect to see banned. (Two dictionaries made this list, people!)
- Opinion piece on, hey!, not banning books.
- Opinion piece that misses the mark (in my opinion) by calling age-appropriate book selection by professionals a form of book banning. (But, clearly, the writer also wants to keep books out of her child's school library based on what she doesn't want HER child to read.)
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Meanwhile, I'm spending ALL of today and tomorrow (even if the guidelines get here, which they won't until Friday) looking ahead to potential new business. On my list of things to send out: a simple "Hello, I am here" email to two regular clients; an updated publications list with samples to a developer asking for same; a nonfiction proposal to a publisher I've worked with in the past; a reply to a foreign publisher asking me what I do; and a writer-in-residence application for next year.
If I still have extra time, I'll implement some sorely-needed updates to my author site and editorial services site. Those poor dears need to be ushered into 2010.
Exciting days in the life of a writer-for-hire!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I had planned to take this course. After canceling, I looked into the instructor's other classes. Her workshops get RAVES. But the class times just weren't right for me.
So guess what. I've decided to work through the program on my own. Starting . . . before now . . . here is the plan.
- I'll study one book chapter each week. (Did that on Sunday.)
- I'll write daily morning pages — that's 3 pages of longhand stream-of-consciousness writing, first thing every day. (So far, so good.)
- And I'll take myself on a weekly artist date — that's a solo activity of my choosing meant to feed my creative side. (I've got something BIG brewing to kick things off.)
Wanna follow along . . . or cheer me on . . . or tell me about your own AW experience? Leave a comment here at the blog to let me know you're out there!
Meanwhile, I've got some work to do so I can justify slipping away for my date tomorrow night.
Monday, September 13, 2010
relationships, diversity, and interactions that can be found in the world around them. Introduce your students to the groups, places, and people around them. And let’s be social!"
|GO TO SCHOOL|
Concepts are correlated to state standards, and the vocabulary is appropriate for readers in Grades 2–3, as well as younger children experiencing the books as read-alouds. Illustrator Chris Davidson's fun, cheerful artwork will appeal to kids throughout the interest-level range.
Each 32-page book includes a TOC, glossary, and index, and the series was fully vetted by content consultants.
|JOIN A TEAM|
|MEET YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD|
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I've blogged more regularly this year, but "more regularly" doesn't exactly make for a truly active blog in this case. Sigh.
On my to-do list for next week: Decide what I'm doing with the blog! Honestly, I know why I've had trouble reconnecting with it. But it really is time for me to figure out what I want the blog to be from here on out. I think it needs a bit of a thematic makeover. Not sure what that will mean, though.
While cogitating, I'm going to do the least I can do for the health of my little blog, and that is to schedule two posts per week. If I add it to my work calendar, I will do it. 'Cause I do not like to disappoint the boss.
Monday, August 23, 2010
First up, starting September 21 in Seattle, is the NEW-to-EFA 12-week The Artist's Way Class based on Julia Cameron's bestselling book on creativity, The Artist's Way. This is an excellent opportunity to work through Cameron's program (and more!) in a fun and supportive group setting. The class meets Tuesday evenings through December 7 at Present Sense.
Next, we have a trio of online classes (by far our most popular format!) to suit a number of professional-development needs:
- Proofreading — starting September 23. Taught by our popular copyediting instructor, this 5-week online course is a great intro to proofreading for anyone wishing to explore the topic or expand their editorial skills.
- How to Get Freelance Writing Work — starting October 13. If you want to write great pitches, make more effective business calls, and sell higher-paying stories, this 5-week online class is for you!
- Navigating the Children's Writing Biz — starting October 29. This NEW 4-week online class demystifies the business side of children's publishing. Lessons cover the market, must-have resources, submissions processes, and networking.
- Substantive Editing I — November 6. This one-day clinic is held at EFA Headquarters in Manhattan focuses on editing for clarity. The instructor uses a mix of lecture, in-class exercises, and group discussion.
- Substantive Editing II — November 13. Picking up where the first clinic leaves off, this workshop — also held at EFA Headquarters — delves deeper into the art of substantive editing. The clinic stands alone, and you don't need to have taken SE I to register. (Note that there is a 20 percent discount for those taking both clinics.)
- Introduction to Indexing — December 4. This NEW half-day workshop in Richmond, Virginia (a new location for the education program!), gives freelancers an overview of indexing as an editorial discipline and helps them think about adding indexing to their list of services.
For full course descriptions and to use EFA's secure online registration system, visit the catalog page today. And do feel free to help spread the word!
Friday, August 06, 2010
|Han Solo, are you there?|
Whoa there, kids, hang on a second. I should clarify: I knew that was ambitious.
I'll be wrapping up a book I started yesterday by the end of TOday. (Knock on wood.) (No, wait, that implies it might not happen. Must make it so.) And then guess what?
Four more books by next Friday the 13th.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
See, I took on this large rush-job project only recently, and instead of trying to negotiate more reasonable deadlines, I accepted the client's timeline terms. That's despite still needing to meet a different client's deadline first. (Which I did, thankyouverymuch.)
Funny thing is, I think I could have gotten a little scheduling leeway. I've worked with this client many times. And my editor actually said, in a legal-evidence-quality email, that we could talk about spacing out dates if I wanted to.
But — does this sound strange? — I really didn't want to. (I. Know!)
It's the freelancer's dilemma:
If I'd stretched out this work and actually taken that extra time (which, to try to be clear, wasn't really extra time at all), I'd be bumping in to, or possibly jeopardizing, deadlines for a project set to start a bit later. If I want this particular project I'm working on . . . and, obvs, I do 'cause I'm working on it . . . my own schedule demands that I finish the work in time to do the next thing.
And this is where I'll leave you, my bloggy friends. Saturday night break time is over. I need 200 more words before bedtime, and I'll be hanged if I'm not going to write them.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
(Besides, I totally missed the party Sunday while taking a lovely day to be outside, read a book, talk to family. And never mind the fact that — with all the months of birthday coverage I'd already seen — quite frankly I'd started tuning out whenever I saw something new.)
Mockingbird is one of those rare books that garners near universal acknowledgment as a masterpiece. For me, just seeing the book cover or hearing the title makes me immediately call up a feeling of reverence for this powerful story featuring timeless themes, a you-are-there setting, and distinctly drawn characters.
I really don't remember when I read it for the first time. Was it on my own, or for school? That I don't recall surprises me, as I do remember exactly "when" for so many of my other all-time favorite books, including those read first in childhood. I do know I was a youngster of the teen-type. I also know I reread it in college, for work in the early 1990s, and then again for fun probably five years ago. Or so. (Naturally, I've also seen its equally brilliant film adaptation numerous times.) I know I loved it from the start, but I don't think I truly sat in awe of it until I was older.
Obviously, Mockingbird deserves this year-long celebration. For giving us all such a lasting gift, Harper Lee — its fascinatingly private author — deserves all the accolades we can throw her way. And I have enjoyed seeing myriad journalists, scholars, celebrity authors, and celebrity-celebrities (oh: Oprah, too) reflect on their experiences with/feelings about/analyses of the book.
But what I want to know is, How do today's young people feel when they read it? (And many do read it.) How does it play with a contemporary audience who didn't read it in the context of "current" life in the 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s? Does the book speak to today's kids? Do they love it too?
I found this amazing book trailer created by a junior high student. Take a peek.
This gave me chills. (Well done, Max Weinstein of Paideia School in Atlanta!) It made me want to dive back into the book, to recapture that wider-eyed, all-senses-firing feeling I get when I'm completely lost in a story.
While replaying the trailer, all I can think about is how happy I am to see a tangible reminder that kids today not only are connecting with this great work, but they are, in fact READING books of all types and LOVING IT. I know, this was a school project, but still. That creative kid was moved and inspired by reading.
Those of us working in publishing and education — and, of course, countless tuned-in parents — know we're growing legions of eager young readers, but news of the world so seldom focuses on them. Much time is spent lamenting the problem of getting children to read at all. Not that it isn't a serious problem we must address; I just think the occasional good news is nice, too. So I decided to take a few minutes to reflect on those who are reading. To celebrate what they're reading and how THEY'RE affected by our beloved To Kill a Mockingbird, other classics, and all the great new literature they get to enjoy.
You know they have opinions (and one could argue those are the most important ones). And you know the books are shaping their lives — from now to when they, too, can play Remember When about their own all-time favorites.
Today, I celebrate . . . THE READER! Join me?
Monday, July 05, 2010
Anyhoo, I finally got some actual sleep between 4:30 and Later, and my hard slumber produced one of those crazy-real full-blown-storyline dreams I adore:
See, in my dreams, I was hosting a glamorous pool shindig — a launch party for my as-yet-to-be-sold WIP, which will be my first YA novel distributed in the TRADE MARKET. Yes, Universe, I'm shouting to YOU. Seemed like fun with beautiful food, live music, and 70s-chic attire. Guests included friends, family, and . . . Chevy Chase. (Delirious much, Lisa?)
What fun it was to wake up remembering the vision and knowing there was some truth to it.
I will finish and publish this novel. And a celebration will follow. I doubt the party will look exactly like the one in my dream. But that is not the point.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I'll wait till Monday. Of course.
But I'm still feeling good about all those puzzle pieces snapping together. And I thought I'd better blog it so I can find proof in the next extended moment of writerly frustration (in which nothing goes right and my writing seems like drivel) that I do, in fact, love my work.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I was waaaaayyy over the dots theme. And I think this fresher look will do for now.
Still thinking about merging my author site with the blog under one URL. No decision yet, though.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
It's been a busy spring of chasing new freelance projects as a few previously scheduled ones fell through. Hate when that happens, but it is part of the biz. I constantly remind myself that I'm no different from the businesses and independent contractors I use (or don't use, or decide I won't use, or stop using). It's easy, when you're lucky enough to generally have steady, reliable work, to take a break from hunting for new clients and thinking up new ways to use your skills. But this has been a good reminder for me that keeping in touch with the regulars and introducing myself to the futures is essential. 'Cause I'm all about keeping the work coming IN.
I wrapped up my PNWA gig as a Spring 2010 Writer in Residence. I got to run a Grade 6 writing workshop at a Seattle-area elementary school. What a treat to work with students. (Not to mention my target audience.) They were sweet, smart, and so insightful.
There's been lots of hearth-and-home stuff to deal with, too, including tending to my honey of an office assistant (see sidebar for pic), who's had a very rough several months of dealing with serious back problems. I worked very late last night, and I can't even tell you how happy I was to have her "on the job" with me, just like old times — she felt good enough to supervise, so yay for that step forward.
What else is new? Well, I am thrilled to say that I'm hard at work on a YA manuscript. It's historical fiction: my favorite thing to write. I've actually been doing the research for a very long time, off and on (and mostly off). So far I've created a thorough outline and gotten unbelievably satisfying peer feedback on it — the kind that tweaks your own vision for the story in such a way that you really wake up and smell the game-changing coffee. Love when that happens. I've written a significant chunk and set the attainable goal of finishing a decent first draft by year's end. I plan to start blogging my progress, people!
And that brings me to what's going on today: In just a few hours I'll be on the horn (and Web) moderating a fun teleconference for the Editorial Freelancers Association. The topic is "Social Media Strategies for Freelancers," and my wonderful guests are writer/social media strategist Greg Pincus of The Happy Accident and freelancing expert Jake Poinier of Dear Dr. Freelance.
Friday, April 16, 2010
It's Poetry Friday in the KidLitosphere,* and today I thought I'd contribute a haiku of the sort that haiku aficionados might categorize as "pseudo" — or, you know, not really-really a real haiku. All for the Friday fun of it!
fingertips on keys —
tapping, tapping, tapping now
racing toward the sun
*Many thanks to Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Today — April 15 — is the day to participate. All you have to do is "drop" a YA book in a spot where kids tend to gather. (In past years I've dropped at a coffee shop and a library.) Pick a book you love, or a book you wrote (loving that one is, of course, a given). Think of it as your gift to a young reader, your gift to literacy. And be sure to print and insert the special TBD bookplate so anyone finding your surprise knows about the event — and that the book is his/hers to keep and enjoy.
Later today I'm dropping a few copies of my own books at Echo Lake Elementary School in Shoreline, WA. I'm Writer in Residence in the Grade 6 classrooms this spring, and I know there are lots of readers at the school who would LOVE to come across a little surprise. Plus, the school starts its Spring Break this weekend, so surely kids are looking for something to do! (Right?)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Funny thing is, I only know this because I saw that the books had been added to Amazon. That means they have ISBNs and everything. Oh, and final-final titles, too, all under the series name Let's Be Social:
- Make Friends
- Family Gatherings
- Go to School
- Go Worship
- Join a Team
- Meet Your Neighborhood
More later, of course!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The following scenario — or something like it — played out when I was around 8 or 9, or 10:
Eating at McDonald's was kind of a big deal. We'd go there (rarely!) either for a quick lunch or spontaneous treat. Often, my visits happened while alone with one or the other parent — with my mom on my way back to school after, say, a dental appointment, or with my dad while riding shotgun during his weekend errands. For lunch, I'd order a hamburger with everything but onion, fries, and a small drink. Probably orange soda, sometimes milk. If on a treat stop, I'd score some ice cream or a careful-it's-HOT cherry pie (although I'm not sure they warned as such in the 1970s). Never a shake. Milkshakes gave me the heebie-jeebies back then. I didn't like it when the straw clogged or, when you were almost finished, the dregs became so watery.
But then the Shamrock Shake came onto the scene. It was green and endorsed by leprechauns; I was repulsed yet so very intrigued. Friends who'd had one couldn't describe its flavor to me, but man, did they love it, and apparently they could have as many as they wanted.
Every Shamrock Shake season for a few years in a row, I begged my dad (never my mom) to let me try this thing. Clearly, the incessant radio and TV spots had done their jobs, and I had to have it. Just one shake, for life experience's sake, and I promised never to ask again.
Dad's answer was always no. He said I wouldn't like it. That he had no interest in having to finish it for me — or in throwing it away uneaten. And no way was McDonald's going to sucker him into paying extra for what amounted to a regular shake doctored with green dye offered for a limited time only.
Meanwhile, I was sure he was wrong, frustrated that I had no say, and unable to belieeeeeeve the unfairness of it all.
Well, sometime around year three of my campaign, the two of us were hitting up the drive-thru. We were having such a nice time that, as we slowly rolled ahead in line, I risked stating my case again, but without the begging. I said that it wasn't possible for him to judge whether I'd like it. For one thing, he'd never had one himself, so he technically had no valid opinion. For two things, neither of us even knew what flavor to expect. And what if it turned out to be my favorite treat ever?
He listened to me, shaking his head just a little. And when we stopped at the intercom, he ordered a chocolate cone for himself and then paused to shoot me a wink. To my surprise and with a smile in his voice, he requested the world-famous Shamrock Shake "for my daughter, who's worn me down — and it had better be good."
Sweet victory for me!
As we pulled away from the receiving window, I took two sips of that prized green liquid. One to learn that, whatever the flavor was, it tasted truly awful, and another to confirm that swallowing even a tiny bit more of the stuff made me want to vomit.
Dad noted my reaction, stopped the car, and tasted the shake. Blechh!! (Artificial and undrinkable!) He circled back to buy me a vanilla cone and stuffed the shake into a garbage can. (Wasteful! And previously unthinkable!)
Of course the two of us laughed and laughed. This experience would be our secret for at least the length of the car ride home.
I was just a youngster, but that day — within maybe a 30-minute span — I experienced a slew of very real emotions. Just think: I was indignant about my right to try the shake and find out what I thought, incredulous that Dad thought he knew best about this, and impressed that he'd accurately predicted the situation's outcome. I was also touched that he'd bought me a consolation treat and happy that it had turned into something so fun and funny.
A child character can feel all those things, too, with equal force and in the space of a short story, passage, or even scene. It's sometimes easy as adults who write for kids to get stuck thinking too hard about what young characters and young readers can, or mostly can't, handle. But when we take a moment to step back and consider the children we know and the children we were, we can let go of some of the fear of writing "too old" and get back to telling the story, revealing the character as the action happens. The main objective has to be creating a believable situation. And even though young people are still developing and will get wiser with age and experience, I like to remind myself that they absolutely feel and react to — often with stunning sophistication — real, deep, specific emotions.
For me, staying connected to strong memories from childhood, especially those bound to such distinct emotions, is a huge help when I'm trying to write authentic-sounding kid characters. I grab bits and pieces from the youth I remember every single time I write a new story. And I assume it's only a matter of time before I'll have reason call up those Shamrock Shake emotions to help me convey a character's feelings . . . or a personality trait . . . or one of her relationships. That one memorable incident could even inform the characteristics and actions of several characters in multiple stories.
After all, most of what we write comes from our lives and is rarely crafted out of whole cloth.
What about you — how do you sneak your life into your writing?
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Here's the description from EFA's Spring 2010 course catalog:
Saturday, March 20, from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Ave, Level 4 - PACCAR Room 6
Is your creative spark threatening to go out? Is your freelance business slow? A blog can help you revive them both. Blogging is a free, fun way to get your name out there to a potential audience of millions, and in this 4-hour class you’ll learn everything you need to know to start your own blog in 5 minutes or less. First we’ll look at the “big picture” of blogging, including how it fits into the context of other social networking media like Facebook and Twitter. Then we’ll proceed to the nuts and bolts of how to set one up, how to promote it, and yes — even how to make a little money from it. Laptops are welcome but not required.
Instructor Rebecca Agiewich is the author of BreakupBabe: A Novel (Ballantine Books, 2006), which sprang from her dating blog “Breakup Babe” and was a finalist for the 2007 Lulu Blooker prize — a literary prize for books based on blogs. She is also a writing coach, freelance editor, and journalist, whose travel writing can be found in places like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Alaska Airlines Magazine. You can find out more about Rebecca at RebeccaAgiewich.com.
Advance registration is required. The fee for EFA members is $99, and it's $124 for nonmembers. Feel free to pass along this notice — and let me know if you have any questions.
Hope to see you there. I'll be the one with the cookies!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
A reminder that Thursday, January 28, is the deadline for you to act regarding the Google Books Settlement. The court needs to have your individual position on the record TOMORROW (a 1/28 postmark works) so it can be represented in the February 18 fairness hearing on the whole deal.
Your options are to (1) opt in and make a claim, possibly getting some money; (2) opt out of the settlement (of course that means no settlement money) in an effort to preserve your rights; or (3) do nothing, which will result in your receiving no settlement money and implicitly giving Google irrevocable rights to use your works in certain ways.
I hope you find this resources roundup helpful:
- Official settlement page.
- Recent webcast/workshop on the settlement, featuring a moderated panel representing various entities and viewpoints.
- Authors Guild resources page.
- National Writers Union FAQs on the issue.
- Statement opposing the settlement from Richard Wright's estate.
- Support for the settlement from the families of John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie.
- Open Book Alliance's third-party analysis of the settlement. (OBA is calling for the settlement to be scrapped.)
- U.S. Copyright Office opposition to the settlement, as presented to Congress.
- Ursula K. Le Guin's call to exempt the United States from the settlement.
- Informative article in New York Review of Books.
This is a complicated issue, and I know people that are opting in, opting out (my choice), formally objecting, and doing nothing.
What are you doing? Care to share?
Tomorrow may be your last chance to act on your opinion.
Friday, January 22, 2010
I recommend cruising to Natalie's January 19 post and following her embedded links to get a good sense of the issue and recent happenings.