Wednesday, December 31, 2014

WHAT A YEAR IT'S BEEN!

Every new year, I set writing goals. Usually they sound something like this:

FINISH NEW NOVEL
or
WRITE 10 NEW PICTURE BOOKS
or
REVISE CURRENT WIP

But January 1, 2014 I decided to shake things up. And by that, I mean, step outside of my comfort zone.

I've belonged to a wonderful critique group for the past 7 years. And I have several critique partners with whom I occasionally swap manuscripts. I feel comfortable and safe with them. But a year ago, in order to put into practice my 2014 goal, I started doing NEW little things. Things like joining Twitter, entering online contests, joining writer's groups on Facebook, and taking online writing classes.

I can't even begin to tell you the amazing year I've had. My writing has grown more this year than the previous 10 years combined. I've interacted with agents, editors, received feedback on my work, learned better mechanics of writing, and have made about a bajillion new friends (the best part.)

Moral of the story: expand your circle, spread your wings, take the leap. Don't be afraid to try new things and push your writing along. Who knows what 2015 will bring!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

THREE BIRD SUMMER by Sara St. Antione

Adam always spends his summer up north at his grandmother's lakefront cabin with his large family. But this summer is different. Since his parents have recently divorced, there's no dad and no noisy cousins--just Adam, his stressed-out mom, and his stubborn grandmother who may or may not be "losing it".

THREE BIRD SUMMER is a surprisingly sweet nature-themed read, with a hint of mystery to keep things going. Readers will be just as sad to see the story end as Adam is to watch his summer draw to a close.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Blog Hop: WHY I WROTE MY PITCHWARS NOVEL

Some of the mentees this year are doing a blog hop, telling why we wrote our manuscript that was chosen for PitchWars. Well, the short answer for why I write any novel, is because the characters won't leave me alone until I get their story down on paper (and by that time, I've fallen in love with them and won't let them go.)

I am so beyond thrilled that my contemporary verse novel for middle-grade, POCKET FULL OF POPPIES, was chosen by Joy McCoullough-Carranza for PitchWars this year! It has been such an amazing few months of learning, revising, and making wonderful new writing friends.

My PitchWars novel is a story about a girl who tries to hide her worsening Tourette syndrome. Really, it is about so much more than that, but I'm trying to give you the short version here, folks.

It is probably important for me to mention that I was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome three months after I started the first draft of POCKET FULL OF POPPIES. I've had symptoms since childhood, but was never diagnosed nor did I understand that the things I was doing/feeling/thinking could be attributed to a disorder.

The more open I became about my diagnosis, the more I discovered what a misunderstood thing TS is and my desire to write a story where readers could emotionally walk in Tourette syndrome's shoes grew until I could contain it no more.

I wrote it because it was therapeutic for me.
I wrote it so others could understand.
I wrote it because I couldn't not write it.

And now . . . check out the rest of these amazing Pitch Warriors in the Blog Hop
and learn why they wrote their PitchWars novels.



Tracie Martin: WILD IS THE WIND






































Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Itsy Bitsy Book Review: SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY by Karen Harrington

"You've never met anyone like me. Unless, of course, you've met someone who survived her mother trying to drown her and now lives with an alcoholic father."

SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY is the story of Sarah, a twelve-year-old girl with regular twelve-year-old emotions, who worries she will end up being crazy, like her estranged mother. And even though she lives with her father, he's not exactly there for Sarah. 


Raw, honest, and perfectly age-appropriate, readers will sympathize and grow, right along with Sarah Nelson, even if they've never had a mother who tried to drown them or never lived with an alcoholic father. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

HOORAY FOR PITCHWARS!

So, this announcement is a wee bit overdue, but I am so thrilled to be Joy McCullough Carranza's alternate pick for PitchWars 2014!

I entered my Contemporary MG verse novel, POCKET FULL OF POPPIES, and Joy has been such a great cheerleader, friend, and teacher. We've been working together for a month and I can tell you--she is quite lovely. A playwright, a mother of two, a wife, a home-schooler, a MG/YA fiction writer, a freelance writer/editor, a seamstress, a chocolate lover, a sweetheart, a PitchWars mentor for the 2nd year in a row, a member of Project Middle Grade Mayhem, and my latest discovery--

my fairy godmother. (I'm serious.)

She is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc. and has some wonderific examples of queries that worked on her blog. Many amazing things have/do/will come from this amazing person. And I feel like I've won the lottery.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PITCHWARS MENTEE BIO

Hello everyone! I thought it might be fun to jump on board and create my unofficial mentee bio for the very official #PitchWars contest. If you don't know what that is, check it out HERE.

What I read:

MG, MG, MG. Sometimes I'll read a YA if a friend suggests it.
I love historical fiction, re-tellings, fairy tale settings, and contemporary.
I'm not into high fantasy, but enjoy well done magical realism and some urban fantasy.
A recent favorite of mine is ROMEO BLUE by Phoebe Stone.

What I write:

Poetry for children
Picture books, both rhyming and non rhyming
Middle-grade novels (My #Pitchwars entry is a Contemporary, although my current WIP is Historical Fiction)

What I do in my spare (what's that?) time:

Sew. Mostly little girl clothes (especially dresses!) and quilts.
Twirl Baton. I teach weekly lessons to giggly girls who provide inspiration for some of my stories.
Play Guitar. I'm beginner-ish, but playing calms me.

What other randomness you should know about me :

I enjoy trying out funky recipes for dinner.
I've been obsessed with the color purple since childhood.
I am extremely organized, in both real life and my writing process.
I love, love, LOVE anything from the 50's-60's era--seriously, the cars, the music, the fashion, the history.
If I could travel back in time, I would.
I like to laugh. A lot. And I think I'm funny. So do my hubby and mom. Not sure about my kids.
I love rocking chairs, flowers, and brownies.

Why you should pick me:

This is an exact line from my childhood diary: "I don't want to grow up. I want to stay 11 or 12 forever!"
This proved to be true both mentally and physically, as I write stories for middle graders and am not quite 5 feet tall. Yet.

I'm a hard worker. I once climbed inside a commercial pizza oven and scrubbed it clean from the inside out.

And if that doesn't convince you:

I make very delicious baked desserts from scratch, which I love to share. For example . . . caramel covered pear cake, perfect pumpkin pie, delicious danish pastries, and a knock-your-socks-off secret family recipe cheesecake. (Just sayin'.)

You can check out other mentee bio's HERE. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Itsy Bitsy Book Review: SPINNING THROUGH THE UNIVERSE by Helen Frost

"When Maria came to my house, crying,
Her lip was bleeding and her
Arm was black and blue."

SPINNING THROUGH THE UNIVERSE, a novel in poems from Room 214, doesn't shy away from tough topics such as abuse, lost pets, fitting in, and death of a loved one. The author approaches each poem with grace and power, sure to move its readers.

The informative section at the end of the book, which may be especially appealing to teachers, showcases and discusses many poetry forms in depth.

Frost's many middle-grade voices are so natural, so strong, a reader might very well mistake this beautiful story for non-fiction.