Wednesday, December 24, 2008
With the kids home for the week and a major revision in place, I will be letting the blog go dark for a little while. I hope to be back to posting in a week or so. But in the meantime, I wish all my blog buddies and blog readers a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year!
PS - I had 39 comments on this post which I could not import over because I screwed something up. But I read every single one of them and truly appreciated each and every sentiment. Thank you so very much for all your wonderful warm wishes!
Friday, December 19, 2008
Writing Mood Music
So I do like to play music sometimes while I am writing. Not always, just when I feel a situation calls for it. What I call my mood music. When I am outlining, or brainstorming, world building, etc. - I like having Sarah McLachlan playing on my ipod. When I have some emotional angsty stuff, I reach for Tori Amos. And when I am really sleepy and need to wake myself up, I put on country western music cause I hates the stuff and it will actually make me mad. I'd rather eat raw liver than listen to continuous country music.
Speaking of being mad, I love blasting music most especially when I am writing scenes filled with fighting and violence. Which, by the way, there is a lot of in my books. In fact all 3 of my manuscripts have quite alot of violence in them. I don't know what that says about my personality, but there it is. I am a violent person.
Below is the music I like to blast when working on a battle or fight sequence. It is almost an anthem of mine. And yes I loved their first single too.
Anybody else have a musical anthem they'd like to share?
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 19
Anyone can tell you that the Rockefeller Center area on any given weekend is usually extremely crowded, but in December it is a mob scene. There was no getting anywhere near the Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas windows and people were packed in like sardines around the tree. Meanwhile just trying to get into the American Girl store is like trying to see the Pope. After waiting on a block long line to get into the madhouse of a ridiculously overpriced store that clearly shows no signs of understanding what the word recession means, we stumbled out dazed and exhausted. As badly as the girls wanted to take a cab home, there were no cabs to be had. We struggled like salmon during spawning season against the tide of wall to wall tourists and finally wriggled our way to the nearest train station.
The D train was as crowded as if it was rush hour. It reminded me of those Japanese commuter trains where the train conductors come up and push people onto the train. My Mom dives on to the train in true New York fashion, dragging Oldest behind her while me and my Dad with Angus and Youngest barely squeeze on. I can hear my Dad complaining that my Mom would rather ditch us than miss the train. He may be right. She can be very one track minded. That's a train pun. he he.
I can hear Angus moaning and groaning about the press of people around her but at least she and my Dad are by a pole. Oldest keeps asking me anxiously if their American Girl presents are ok while I'm holding Youngest's hand while also carrying a very large American Girl Store shopping bag and extending my other arm out as far as I can to hold on to something, anything!, even while being held up by 8 different strangers around me.
I ask Youngest if she is ok and the next thing I hear is:
"All I can see is butts, Mommy. Butts, butts, butts! But it's ok, cause I'm holding my bweath!"
Over the eruption of laughter, I reach over and slap a hand over Angus's mouth before she can say the inappropriateness that her gleaming mischievous eyes are brimming over with. Luckily we get off at the next stop before my kids say anything more alarming.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
AuthorsNow! is a collaboration of debut children’s book authors and illustrators who are the fresh and emerging voices in children’s and young adult literature today. Created with the parent, teacher, librarian and bookseller in mind, AuthorsNow! is a one-stop-shop to learn about all of our authors and illustrators. Here you’ll be able to …
- get up-to-date descriptions of forthcoming books
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We’ll also be serving up a fresh cup of content on a regular basis related to children’s literature and what’s happening in the field today.
Our authors range from picture book authors to teen novelists, fiction and nonfiction alike, and all are published by major trade publishers in the United States.
New talent is in town! Learn about what’s hitting the shelves in children’s and teen literature today from our debut authors and illustrators. Not only will you find information about our books, but we’ll also point you to other popular groups, web sites, blogs, and communities who love children’s books as much as we do! So grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair as we discuss what’s happening with AuthorsNow!…
Friday, December 12, 2008
Japanese Ice Cream Treat Sensation
I love ice cream. I believe it is the best invention in the entire world. I personally don't understand vanilla eaters. Vanilla is good but chocolate is so much better! And what about cookies and cream? Fudge ripple? Mint chocolate chip? Ice cream is heaven on a cone. I can't get enough of it. I adore all these different ice cream flavors! They make me happy... except maybe the Japanese version of our Baskin Robbins 31 flavors. Below is a selection of fabulous Japanese ice cream:
At the top, the second ice cream top showing, we start with the very innocuous ramen flavored ice cream. Noodle ice cream flavor. That's fine. I can deal. The one next to it has a picture of a stalk of wheat so I thought it might be bread ice cream. Nope it is malt beer ice cream. I wonder if there is any alcohol content in it?
Aw come on, you say! What's with the weak stuff? Alright, I hear you. You are way more adventurous. Let's start with the first ice cream on the second row with the green top - good old wasabi ice cream. Horseradish ice cream. Perhaps you are supposed to eat it with your sushi instead of after? Well go ahead and blow out your nasal cavities with it. When you are done, why don't you skip over to the last ice cream on the second row with the yellow top that looks like a horse's head. No! You gasp. What new vileness can this be? Don't say it Ello, it can't be... Oh yes, I will Wilbur! It's HORSEMEAT ICE CREAM!!! After a nice day at the racetrack, come and have a cold, smooth cone of horsemeat! It will make you neigh with delight!
And if horsemeat is not your thing, go ahead and pick up the flavor right below it. You know, the one with the figure of a boy with a turban. Yes I know there is a boy on the cover. No it is not testicle ice cream. I don't think they make that. At least not yet. How about Indian curry ice cream. For those of you who seek some spice with their dessert. Because sweet should also be spicy. Really spicy. Curry spicy that is. Someone somewhere out there was playing around in the kitchen and decided that milk, sugar, cream would be a perfect base for chicken curry. And that person is just so very special.
Wait a minute, you say. What about ice cream for the seafood lovers here? Say no more, say no more. The first ice cream on the bottom row is fish egg ice cream. Hey you can call it caviar ice cream if you want, if it makes you feel posh. Oh salty treats of fishy goodness! Let those little fishy egg sacs burst in your mouth and mix that oily fishy goodness with the milk, sugar, and creamy goodness of the ice cream.
What say you? None of these are hitting your sweet spot? Speak up! I can't hear you with the vomit gurgling in your mouth! Oh you need something more special? Ok, I've got it for you. Here you go:
Octopus ice cream. Cause nothing says summer time like a nice refreshing scoop of octopus ice cream with perfect sucker encrusted tentacles for your crunching pleasure. And if you are really lucky, one of the suckers will still be in working order and stick to your tongue while you try to eat it. How awesome would that be? Enjoy!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
EXCEPT, I am fairly technically savvy at times and inept at others. This is one of my inept times. I can't find anything to help me figure out how the heck I can keep all my blog features here and transfer them to the new blog. And I tried a redirect on the other blog and had some problems and now I'm afraid to redirect on this one cause ineptness has taken over my brain functions. SO I am putting out an SOS for help please.
So to all my technically brilliant buddies - please help me figure out how to do what I want to do and not screw up. I'll come up with amusing prizes if it all works out right! I might even let Da Man post one of his embarrassing expose stories about me that he has been DYING to spill and which I have rejected on pain of waxing his tenders.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I, in turn, have learned so much from all of them. Many are returning adult students, some who've been out of school for more than twenty years, who have more drive, more determination and more passion for their education than their younger classmates. Some are attending college at the same time as their children. Others are raising little ones at home and juggling babysitting to make it to class. They struggle through full time jobs, raising children, paying mortgages and other hardships but come to class every night ready to continue their educational odyssey. They challenge me, argue with me and push me to give them the best educational experience I can. Every class has been a dynamic exchange of knowledge and experience. Every class I leave tired but stimulated and feeling so lucky to have had such an involved group of students.
My admiration for my students is limitless. They remind me that it is never too late to go after whatever it is you truly want. Never too hard to achieve your dreams. Never too proud to go back and start again.
They remind me of why it is I teach.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Hi again! This is Oldest. Today I have a very special treat! At least it was for me! My Mom bought me the most awesome book called Savvy by Ingrid Law. Me and my best friend read it and loved it and then my Mom said we could interview Ms. Law by email and that was so exciting! So first we will provide our reviews. Mom said to call my best friend Hiccup for this post cause she thinks it is funny. This is funny but we don’t approve. Mom said too bad because this is her blog.
Hi this is Hiccup and I absolutely adore books and I love to read! Let me tell you about this wonderful book that Ms. Ello gave me to read! The book is called by Savvy by Ingrid Law. Mibs Beaumont is a 12 year old girl who is about to get a savvy but before that day, her Poppa gets into a terrible accident and goes to Salina hospital, so her mother and her oldest brother, Rocket, goes to Salina Hospital but Mibs, Samson, her younger brother who is seven years old, Fish, her second oldest brother, Bobbi and Will who are the preacher's grandchildren all want to go to Salina so they ride on a bus that goes to Salina but it starts to go away from Salina, not near Salina! Will Mibs ever see her Poppa again?! I loved this book!!! I think that it was extremely exciting!!! I was smiling whenever I was reading this book!
Oldest – You forgot to tell them what a savvy is Hiccup! And Mibs real name is
Hiccup – So cool. I want a savvy where I can fly.
Oldest – Me too. I want a savvy where I can fly and be invisible.
Hiccup – Invisible while flying?
Oldest – Well, yeah. But also be invisible even when not flying.
Hiccup – That’s 2 savvies. You can only pick one. And I already picked flying.
(We interrupt this post for a 10 minute argument on why you can or cannot have more than 1 savvy and how it may or may not be cheating.)
Oldest – Anyway, we got to write a letter to Ms. Law and she answered our questions!!! So here is our interview!
Hi Ms. Law! Thanks so much for letting us do an author interview with you. We are really excited and we have lots of questions! My Mom bought me your book Savvy and Hiccup and I both read it and loved it! Your book absolutely rocks! I think it is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. It was exciting, funny, and fun.
Hiccup: I loved this book!!! I think that it was extremely exciting!!! I was smiling whenever I was reading Savvy! It was the first book I ever read like this. I'd recommend this book to all my friends.
Oldest and Hiccup: We love your book and hope you write more books about Mibs.
Ms. Law: Hi Oldest! Hi Hiccup! Thank you so much for your wonderful, thoughtful questions. It's great to know how much you both enjoyed reading Savvy.
Oldest: Our first question of course is how did you get the idea for savvies?
Ms. Law: Savvies are about fifteen percent magic, twenty-five percent super powers, and sixty percent “fish-story” talents. I like to think of the story in Savvy as a modern tall tale.
Hiccup: How long did it take you to write Savvy?
Ms. Law: I wrote Savvy between January and May of 2007. After getting a publishing contract shortly after, I then worked on revising the book for my editor for another few months. So, altogether, it took about eight or nine months.
Hiccup: What is your favorite part of the book?
Ms. Law: I love the end . . . and the beginning . . . and everything in between! It’s hard to decide on a favorite part, but I do like the scene in the pool and the scene in the diner with Ozzie as well.
Hiccup: My favorite part is when Samson bit the great Ozzie's leg. I can still hear him scream. I couldn't ever do that because I'd be too scared. But it's really funny though. It is nice to hear bad guys have punishments.
Oldest: That’s my favorite part too! When I read that part I could almost heard a little girl scream in my mind.
Oldest: Would you want a savvy and if you could have a savvy what would it be?
Ms. Law: I like to answer this question in three parts. First is my dream savvy, which would be to fly or to breathe under water. Second is my silly savvy, which is that I knock things over and spill things a lot—I’m really very clumsy. And third is my real, everyday savvy, which is that I smile a lot.
Hiccup: Flying is cool.
Oldest: So is being invisible. And see she picked 3 savvies so I can pick 2 too!
Hiccup: What inspired you to write your book?
Ms. Law: I wanted to write a story about magical children that never used the word ‘magic’ and one that was set in out-of-the-way places in the United States—no big cities or fancy towns. I wanted to show that extraordinary things can happen anywhere.
Oldest: How does the story relate to you?
Ms. Law: In the book, Mibs needs to learn which voices in her life are important to listen to and which are not. Sometimes it’s easy to let the voices of criticism and doubt get fixed in your head. But it’s important, especially when writing, to listen to and trust your own voice.
Oldest: I really liked the part when Mibs talked to Miss Mermaid. That part was really meaningful to me. How did you come up with the characters? Especially Mibs. Is she like anyone you know?
Ms. Law: Mibs isn’t based on anyone I know. But as I wrote her story, she became more and more real to me. Sometimes characters come to life on their own.
Oldest: Mibs is one of my favorite characters. Her and her brothers are so cool! I cannot wait to read more about Mibs and her family!
Hiccup: I like Mibs because she's serious and adventurous too.
Oldest: How did you come up with Grandpa Bomba's savvy and the idea that they live in Kansaska-Nebransas? And do people realize they live in a new area? How would people find them on a map?
Ms. Law: Grandpa Bomba’s savvy is one with the most “tall-tale” feel to it. Even his own family knows he’s exaggerating when he claims to have created the entire state of
Hiccup: What is your favorite kind of character?
Ms. Law: I love characters with a lot of heart and characters who are still trying to figure themselves out.
Hiccup: What are your favorite books?
Ms. Law: There have been many books that have been my favorites over the years. The most recent is A Crooked Kind of Perfect, by Linda Urban. One of the earliest was Charmed Life, by Diana Wynne Jones.
Oldest: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Ms. Law: No. But I have always had stories in my head. I guess you could say that I’ve never outgrown make-believe and that writing stories is just another way of pretending.
Oldest and Hiccup: When will your next book be out and will it be about Mibs and her family?
Ms. Law: I don’t know the publication date of my next book yet because I still have to finish it! Hopefully, it will come out at the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. The next book follows a new main character, telling the story of Mibs’s cousin, Ledger Kale, as he tries to figure out his own life after turning thirteen. This story takes place nine years after Savvy, but don’t worry! Even though Mibs’s journey is over, there will still be a few familiar characters along the way.
Oldest: Oh no! We won’t get to read about Mibs anymore!
Hiccup: But we will still get to read about savvies at least.
Oldest: Yeah, that’s good.
Ms. Law: Thanks for being such great fans. Take care and happy reading!
Oldest and Hiccup: Thank you Ms. Law!!! We think your book rock n rolls! Thanks for writing such a great book.
So that concludes our interview with Ms. Law. We hope you enjoyed it. We highly recommend that you run out and buy Savvy by Ms. Law right away. It is an awesome book!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Thanks for all the great comments...
To top it all off, I got really sick yesterday after a bad case of food poisoning and over self-medicating (the self medicating has been trying to find a painkiller that actually relieves pain and which I'm not allergic to) and I was one horribly sick pig. It's the second time I've poisoned myself in a month. Actually, if I hadn't taken the medicine myself I might be thinking that there is something to my Mom's idea of never letting your husband get a huge life insurance policy on you...
Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone as usual for stopping by and forgive me as I wallow in my own misery and not make my usual rounds. I do have a great author interview post scheduled for later this week in which Oldest and her best friend both read a book they loved and got to interview the author, so please stay tuned for Oldest's post later this week.
Until then, this little poisoned piggy is signing out for a wee bit.
Monday, December 1, 2008
National Day of Listening Story
Life was pretty hard for my parents when they moved to the states. They were poor graduate students studying at Georgia Tech University until graduating and moving to New York City, where they were poor post-graduates desperately looking for a job. My mom had a mechanical engineering degree but it was useless for her, being a woman in a male-dominated industry. My dad studied business, but it was not quite his calling either. They both suffered at various businesses, many which were disastrous failures. I remember those lean years as times when I would walk into the kitchen, a hungry little girl, and find absolutely nothing to eat. I relied on the free breakfasts and lunches of my public school to feed me during the day. For sometimes, dinner could be hit or miss. I went to bed hungry too many nights to remember.
But in my early teens, my parents were doing a little better. Enough so that we could, on occasion, go on a short family vacation in our car. My Dad loves to drive and we would drive all over the northeast region. On one such family vacation, we drove south, past Washington, DC (which we visited often) and headed south into Virginia. We had been driving all day and all of us were tired. I must have been 13 and my sister was 5. My father saw a large motel sign with the vacancy sign lit brightly. We pulled in and watched my Dad go in to rent a room. He came back a few minutes later, started the car and drove away.
"No vacancy," he said.
"But the sign..." my mom started.
My Dad just shook his head. A few miles later we saw another motel with the word Vacancy clearly lit. Once more my Dad came out, his face tight in anger as we drove away. This happened many more times that night. It was very late and we had been driving well past dinner and bedtime. My sister had fallen asleep whining of hunger and my parents were very quiet. Finally we found another motel, much smaller and a little tucked away from the main highway. My Dad got wearily out of the car and walked over one last time to the motel office. He was gone alot longer this time and when he reappeared, he drove the car down to the farthest corner of the motel, although it was clear the motel was quite empty.
We all got out of the car, me carrying my sleeping sister, and entered the small room. It was ugly but clean and we were all so relieved to be out of the car. My Mom started making some noodles for our very delayed dinner on our little portable stove top as my Dad laid down on the bed. They argued for awhile over whether or not to continue our trip further south. My Mom wanted to go home and my Dad refused. We were heading for Savannah, Georgia and then to Atlanta to meet friends. He was not going to let racist rednecks spoil his family vacation.
"Dad," I asked. "Please, can we just go home? I don't like it here."
"We're just passing through," he replied.
"But they hate us!"
"They hate what they don't know or understand," he said tiredly. "We are too different."
"I hate them too!" I yelled. I was tired and angry. "I want to go home!" And while there was plenty of racism in NYC, at least the fact that there were so many other minorities around you kept you from feeling alone and insecure. Here in this very white area, I felt we were terribly exposed. But I never forgot what he told me that day.
"If you let hate and fear rule your life, you will never enjoy living," he said. "This is not even that bad. We've seen worse hatred (yes unfortunately this is true - but I'll save it for another post) and we will probably see more. But no matter what, be proud of who you are and stand up for yourself. We have to teach these people about who we are and then maybe in the future when you grow up, you will never have to see this type of ignorance again."
He gave me a hug and said, "Despite what you feel right now, never forget that this is a great country."
So now we come back to the present day, and as we sat in the living room, after the huge American meal, with a few token Korean dishes for my Mom's sake, my Dad brought up this old incident to contrast it to our world now, where we have for the first time ever, a black President-elect. Something he never thought could happen, but which gives him great hope for the future.
"Isn't this a great country?" he said.
Yes, it most definitely is.