Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blog Love

From Alexia @ Alexia's Books and Such I received the Blogger Buddie Award .

Apparently, the only rule is to share it with a few blogging buddies. Easy enough. I hereby pass this award to the following buddies:

Robyn Campbell
Jennie Englund
Karen Harrington
Carolyn V.
Mary Aalgaard

From Carolina @ Carol's Prints I received the Quillfeather Award.

The awesome Wendy Morrell created this award (I LOVE her blog!). Here are Wendy’s requirements: Before you take him home, you have to tell me how you like your eggs cooked. Feel free to hand over the award to other Cool Chicks if you wish, but please advise those recipients to keep his hutch clean and tidy at all times. Oh, and make sure he has plenty of grain and water. And love....

Okay, Wendy... I like my eggs best when they are fried, over easy, on a toasted bread sandwich with mayo. Yum! In a pinch, over easy with buttered toast will do.
And I do solemnly swear to love my egg-laying rooster (ha ha ha) and to clean and tidy his hutch regularly. Amen.

I pass this to the following awesomely-cool, rooster-loving chicks:

Elana Johnson
Stephanie @ Hatshepsut
Mandy @ Edge of Seventeen
Karen Amanda Hooper
Liz @ Cleverly Inked

From Noelle @ A Life Rewritten, Amber Lough and Kimberly Franklin I received the From Me to You Award. For this award and the next I must share 7 things about myself (see below) & share with 7 other bloggers.

I'm passing this award to 7 new, loyal-commenting followers. I appreciate your regular visits and faithful comments. Thank you!

Shelley @ Stories in the Ordinary
Jackee @ Winded Words
Susan Fields
Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist
Christi @ A Torch in the Tempest
Jen @ Unedited
Susan @ Christian Writer/Reader Connection

From Stephanie @ Hatshepsut I received the Stylish Blogger Award
For this award, I must name 5 fun-tastic things about me:

1. I'm a freak about even and odd numbers (I hate odd #'s), so much so that I got married on a Sunday, just to make sure it was an even numbered day!

2. I chose my sister-in-law's husband for her on e-harmony. And I was soooooo right! :-)

3. I think picture books should be used to teach all subjects at all grade levels!!

4. In college I worked as a waitress. Customers (old guys) love to tell blonde jokes. I'm blonde. No biggie, right? Usually. But one time a gentleman told me a blonde joke and I didn't get it!! Seriously. I didn't get it. That was the most embarrassing moment of my life.

5. I was a majorette and twirled the fire baton in high school.

Here are five of the coolest, most stylin' blogs out there:

Marybeth @ Desperately Searching for my Inner Mary Poppins (#1 blog on my "cool-ometer")
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Juju @ Tales of Whimsy
Ali Cross
Tamika @ The Write Worship

Thanks to all those who honored me with awards. I hope you will all visit the blogs I've chosen to honor today - they rock!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Where Does the Time Go?

My oldest baby is thirteen today, and I can't believe it. I know it's cliche, but they grow up so fast.

* I've seen him go from a reluctant reader to a 7th grader, who reads at a 12th grade level.

* I've watched him develop from a struggling writer to Montana's 2nd place winner in the
this year's Patriot's Pen VFW Writing Contest.

* He is a loving big brother, a proud student, a determined ball player, and my pride and joy.

Happy 13th Birthday, Wyatt!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Secrets Revealed

Photo source: (

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~ William Safire

There you have it. I have provided the wisdom you seek, and you now know the secrets of a perfect novel.

Wouldn't it be nice if that was all it took?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Be a Carpenter's Apprentice

"Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window."
~ William Faulkner

When I first came across this quote, I immediately thought of Valerie @ Something to Write About. Each month this year, Valerie plans to explore a different genre - she's done Travel lit. and Romance so far. The thing that I find most cool about this is that Valerie is fully immersing herself in each genre - reading and reviewing books, author interviews, and informative and insightful posts. This month has been a kick because Valerie isn't a real romance fan, yet she's swimming in romance right now. So fun!

How often do most of us take the time to read things outside our comfort zones? Most of us blog about stresses in our lives due to a lack of time already - let alone sacrifice what precious little time we do have to read something we may not even like.

The greatest opportunities to learn lie outside of our comfort zones. Valerie is wise. She will end this year with a hope chest full of new knowledge waiting to be put to use. She is the carpenter's apprentice, but she is choosing to study many masters.

I challenge each of us to follow Valerie's example and to choose one genre to read for a month this year - any genre, any month.

I choose Steampunk because it baffles me. I'm sure to learn a truckload of surprising stuff. Anyone have any good book suggestions for me? I don't think I know any Steampunk titles.

Which genre will choose?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Who Wants to be a Winner?!

!!! The Official Results of My 200 Followers Awesome Giveaway Contest !!!

First, I want to thank all of you for making this contest such a success, especially the Queen herself - ELANA JOHNSON! Without her generous donation of a query critique (something we ALL drool over) I know this contest would not have been as grand. Thank you, Elana - I am your humble servant.

Now, without further ado, has spoken and the winners are... (my husband was a witness to protect my integrity)


#82 = Carolyn V.

She will receive a query critique from Elana and a free copy of Elana's eBook from me. Yay!!


#34 = Falen

She will receive a $20.00 gift card from Amazon.


Thank you for being such great followers and for making me smile, every single day. I love you guys!

Winners: Please send me your email addresses, either in an email or in a post, so I can get you your prizes!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

~ Gerard Manley Hopkins

Today, I feel thankful for multiplicity in the world - thankful that there is room for all our differences. Today, I choose to praise Him.

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Clock is Ticking...


My contest ends Monday, February 22nd. Get those entries in, people. Why? Because we're not just talking ANY prize - we're talking about THE Elana Johnson, Queen of the query letter. We're talking $20.00 toward our favorite thing...books.

Time flies when we're having fun, and the clock is ticking.
Do you hear it? Tick...tick...tick...tick...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Word Olympics

The next, up and coming



What? Is there a problem?

Ah, I can fix that!

Anyone who thinks writing is NOT

a spectator sport,


and check out Frankie's VLOG!

Is there a problem?
Didn't think so.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Playdough and Mountains

Time to a writer is like playdough in the hands of a toddler.

~ Barry Lane

As writers, we have the power to manipulate time - to choose where and when to begin, what or how much to leave out, to skip as far forward or as far backward as we like. According to Barry Lane, "Time is a stretch of mountains and we can choose where to dwell."

If we want to write about something that happened that evening at dinner, we don't have to start at breakfast and work our way forward until we get to dinner - we can simply begin with dinner. Once there, Barry tells us, we can spend pages writing about something that may only have lasted minutes. Or if we choose, we can spend a sentence or two skipping large sections of time in order to get closer to the story.
Writing is different from living. In real life, we can't rearrange reality and expect to get away with it, but as writers we have more freedom. When we write we need not do it the same way that we live, one moment at a time. We can jump right to the time that interests us most.
Do you feel that? That's the power and the freedom to create. YOU are the artist.

Do you ever play with time, shaping and molding it to fit your manuscript?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sharing Blog Love - Part 2

Carolyn V. from Checkerboard Squares awarded me the Creative Writing Award. To accept this award, I'm required to name 10 things that make me happy and to pass it along.

1. my kids
3. coffee
4. gooey, bready food
5. where I live
6. the color yellow
7. a clean house
8. books
9. my blog buddies
10. summer vacation

I pass the love to:

Tamika @ The Write Worship - It isn't easy to find an award this lady doesn't have, and we all know she deserves every award we can find to give her!

Tere Kirkland
@ The Lesser key - I'm still bumming that I didn't win her fun and creative Mardis Gras contest! Ha ha.

Jonathon Arnston @ Doing Odd Things - I think we can all agree that when it comes to creativity and making others happy, Jon is a master.

Sharon Mayhew @ Random Thoughts - She was my first "real" commenter on this blog, and I will love her forever for that. It's because of Sharon that I first believed someone might actually like reading what I have to write.

Julie @ Silver Lining - I'm still recovering from her delicious post about Chinese New Year, and be sure to check out her WIPe out post.


I received the Over the Top Award from Kelly Lyman @ Kelly's Compositions. Thanks, Kelly!

Your cell phone: finally
Your hair: blonde.
Your mother: emotional.
Your father: Intimidating.
Your favorite food: seafood.
Your dream last night: horror.
Your favorite drink: coffee.
Your dream goal: published.
What room are you in: classroom.
Your hobby: scrapbooking.
Your fear: dentists.
Where do you see yourself in six years: published?
Where were you last night: church.
Something you aren't: early.
Muffins: cheese.
Wish list item: eReader.
Where did you grow up: everywhere.
Last thing you did: teach.
What are you wearing: lanyard.
Your TV: inconvenient.
Your pets: cats.
Friends: perfect.
Your life: insane.
Your mood: tired.
Missing someone: sister.
Vehicle: minivan.
Something you aren't wearing: hat.
Your favorite store: Amazon.
Your favorite color: yellow.
When was last time you laughed: Today.
Last time you cried: recently?
Your best friend: christian.
One place you go to over and over: school.
Facebook: boring.
Favorite place to eat: OliveGarden.

I pass the love to:

Robyn Campbell @ Putting Pen to Paper - For her over the top coolness and her frequent contest posts! You are a wonderful person, Robyn.

Carrie Harris - I love this girl's sense of humor, and Lord knows her zombies are over the top!

Kristen Torres-Toro @ Write in the Way - There are only wonderful posts to be found and an abundance of kindness and selflessness.

Tracy @ A Blissful Life - This girl cracks me up (and she is an incredibly faithful commenter)!

Angie Kate @ Always Write - Did you see her Frasier YouTube post last week? Hilarious!


Jemi Frasier from Just Jemi honored me with the Blogger Purrfection Award - so cute! Thank you Jemi - you are purrfection!

I pass the love to:

Susan Quinn @ Ink Spells - I'm addicted to her posts and her documents on middle grade and picture books.

Stacey @ Stacey's Respite - I love the peaceful feeling I get from her blog each time I visit. It really is a respite.

Kristi faith @ RAW **Random Acts of Writing** - Kristi's blog is sweet and wonderful - blogging purrfection!

Natalie Murphy @ The Sound of Rain - I've been wanting to award Natalie forever, and I can finally give her an award that she doesn't already have. Yay!

Steph @ Stephanie Damore - Because her blog is every bit as adorable as this award! Check out her Mr. Potato Head post on characterization, her Valentine funnies and her recent riddle posts.

Enjoy the links! I hope you all find some new favorites.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Into the Wide Blue Yonder

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist. ~ Isaac Asimov

With the incredible contests taking place at Shelli and Elana's blogs, as well as the giveaway here at my own blog, I've been thinking a lot about how we all foam at the mouth for a chance to win an agent critique of our manuscript or query letter (What? You don't foam at the mouth? Well, maybe that's just me.).

Why is it so exciting, this possibility of a professional critique? Because that is what we're working toward. We write and we revise and we revise some more for the opportunity to send our work out there, into the wide blue yonder, hoping against hope that it will be wanted. Every opportunity to improve the odds is a magnetic pull, irresistible and powerful.

I wish us all the best of luck - in these contests, but more importantly in our end-of-journey success!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Contest Combo Extraordinaire!

Elana Johnson
and Shelli @ Market My Words are teaming up for the ULTIMATE CONTEST!

Shelli is giving away a potpourri of

Daily Prizes

Friday's Followers Prizes
Scavenger Hunt Grand Prizes.

See her
blog for more details.

Elana is giving away:

+ 5 Query Critiques by five top literary agents
+ 5 free copies of her eBook, each with a free query critique from Elana
+ 5 writing tools prize packages

See her blog for more details.

You must be followers of BOTH blogs in order to qualify for any of the prizes. So what are you waiting for? GO ENTER!

Friday, February 12, 2010

200 Followers Contest!

To celebrate reaching 200 followers, a number I never dreamed would appear by my follower button, I decided I needed something as big and as special as all of you! Thanks to a member of blogging royalty, I think I've done it.


Elana Johnson, author of From the Query to the Call, has generously agreed to donate a query critique to the Grand Prize winner. I will add to that a free copy of her eBook. That caught your full attention, didn't it? I was lucky enough to receive a critique of my own query letter from Elana - you won't be disappointed! Her comments were invaluable.


But... one prize is not enough. After all, I have 2 hundred followers! Therefore, there must be another prize.


A $20.00 gift card from Amazon

1. Be a follower
2. Leave a comment for this post

That's it. Easy-peasy! Contest deadline will be Monday, February 22nd, @ 6:00 PM Montana time.

My thanks to all of you.
You bring me joy each and every day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Teen Read-Alouds

"If birth is the right time of life to start reading aloud, when is the right time of day? Whenever possible and as often as possible." ~ Mem Fox

Most of you already know I teach high school English. Two things I strongly believe are missing from today's high school curricula are character education and teacher read-alouds. When kids are in elementary school, we know they need to be taught and reminded of how to treat others. We know they love being read to and that it's good for them at that age. At what point do those things cease being important?

From my high school classroom perspective, I know without doubt that my students still need and can benefit from both lessons. We all remember how difficult some of the social structures in high school can be - the lines are clearly drawn, territories painfully obvious. Character education should be a critical part of daily learning for teens.

But what about reading? We all know what reading does for kids. I know from first-hand experience how much all teens love to be read to, but especially teen boys. Surprised? It is the best way I know of to get non-reader boys to fall in love (or back in love) with books. At the beginning of this school year, I read aloud two chapters of The Lightning Thief in my lower-level, at-risk class. The students in this class are all below-grade-level readers who claim they HATE reading. Since then, my son's collection of Percy Jackson books has made its way through almost every student, all boys. Mem Fox says that, "Most people, if asked the best time to read aloud to adolescent boys, would probably say never! But they would be wrong."

Better Than Life
by Daniel Pennac is a book about reading aloud to older children. Mem Fox highly recommends the book and describes it like this:

Its focus is adolescents, mainly boys, who've been turned off reading altogether. In an elegant and moving manner, Pennac explains how he switches his students back into loving books and reading. What's his secret? Reading aloud.

How do you feel about reading aloud to older children?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sharing Some Blog Love

I've been honored with a couple of awards recently, and it's time to share the love.

Wendy @
W.M. Morrell's Musings From Down Under honored me with the Sugar Doll Award. Isn't it pretty? The award requires me to share 10 things nobody knows about me and to pass it on. For my list of 10 things (done for honest scrap) click here.

I pass this award to a few blogs I believe deserve a truckload more followers than they currently have. I dare you (yes, Frankie and Shannon, I said DARE - I know you can't resist a good dare) all to visit these blogs and click that follower button. You'll love them as much as I do:

Jennie Englund - This award was made for her. She is as "Sugar Doll" as they come. Her smile alone is worth visiting, but her posts are always a joy. Check out her post from Tuesday about her hubby. It is beautiful.

Michelle @ Beautiful Chaos - Her posts are always sincere and interesting. Plus, she has an awesome peacock header!

Play Off the Page - Mary's quotes of the day are one of the highlights of her blog. She is insightful, encouraging, funny, and unpredictable. What more could you hope to find in a good blog?

Winged Writer - You never know what you will find on any given day, and it's always a pleasant surprise. I love the heart and the insight and the artwork to be found on her blog.

Woolgatherings - We all know and love Terresa of The Chocolate Chip Waffle. Jen's writing has the beauty, depth, and liquid-like fluency of Terresa's. I am always deeply moved and effected by the writing to be found here.


Nisa @ Wordplay, Swordplay: The Magic of Writing honored me with the Prolific Blogger Award. The origins and story behind this award can be found here.

Here are the rules:
1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.
3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to the original post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

I pass this award to:

Karen @ Scobberlotch - You have to spend some time at this blog in order to fully appreciate its uniqueness. Karen's Wordless Wednesday's are beautiful and sentimental - I love them. Check out her post about nature vs. nurture in our writing. Fabulous!

Elana @ Elana Johnson, Author - Elana is the reigning queen of query letters and quirkiness! I see her smiling Avatar almost every time I post a comment somewhere - she's everywhere, supporting and encouraging us all.

Author, Jody Hedlund - If it has to do with the journey from MS to agent to book, Jody knows about it and blogs about it. This blog is an absolute Treasure Island of info.

Terresa @ The Chocolate Chip Waffle - I'm certain you all know about this blog. If you don't, where on earth have you been? Ha ha. To any agents who may be reading this... scoop up this woman before someone else does!

Jenn Johansson - I've been addicted to the posts on her blog since my first visit. You will be too. She recently had a great Part 1 and Part 2 set of posts about things learned from Miss Snark.

It's never easy to select only a few for the sharing of awards. I love all of you!

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Paragraphs are Frankensteins

Sometimes, I reach a place in my writing process and forget the magic behind why I started. I think we all do at various stages of completion. When I hit my Ugh! wall, I can almost always turn to Barry Lane or Stephen King for help and renewed inspiration. Today, I need a little
Stephen King fix. The following passage comes from On Writing:

Words have weight... Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe. Imagine, if you like, Frankenstein's monster on its slab. Here comes lightning, not from the sky but from a humble paragraph of English words. Maybe it's the first really good paragraph you ever wrote, something so fragile and yet full of possibility that you are frightened. You feel as Victor Frankenstein must have when the dead conglomeration of sewn-together spare parts suddenly opened its watery yellow eyes. Oh my God, it's breathing, you realize. Maybe it's even thinking. What in hell's name do I do next?

According to the brilliant Mr. King, we keep going. Duh! He says we are builders, building one paragraph at a time, and that we can build whole mansions if we like. I want to build a gorgeous mansion. Building requires skill, though, and skills require practice - lots and lots of practice.

At its most basic we are only discussing a learned skill, but do we not agree that sometimes the most basic skills can create things far beyond our expectations? We are talking about tools and carpentry, about words and style...but as we move along, you'd do well to remember that we are also talking about magic.

* sigh* Magic. We can make magic.

Do your paragraphs ever feel like Frankensteins?

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Great Series

My oldest son (almost 13) and I love this series. We pre-order every new book and wait anxiously for them to arrive. Then he gets to read them first, while I try to be a nice mom and patiently wait my turn. Not always easy.

Here is the book description found at Goodreads:

He had always wanted to be a warrior. The Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways, made him nervous. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now fifteen year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. What he doesn't realize yet is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied . . . .
If you are looking for a new fantasy series or a good series of boy books (good for girls too, though) The Ranger's Apprentice series is wonderful!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

An Ice-Axe

photo source (

A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our souls.
~Franz Kafka

This quote is too beautiful not to share. What is begging to be shared in your life today?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Runaway Tree

You all know by now how much I enjoy writing lessons by Barry Lane. I've realized I'm not alone in this - you seem to enjoy them as much as I do. So, here's one of my favorite Barry Lane lessons, taken from After The End:

Clip art from (

"If I were to tell you that the maple tree outside there on the playground just said to itself, 'I'm sick of being a tree. I think I want to be a person now,' and if I told you that maple tree got up and is now sprinting down Interstate 89, what would you say?"

We would all say No Way! Not possible. Right? Barry Lane agrees that the initial response would be that trees don't run. So...

"OK, OK. But what if I said, 'The maple tree decided it didn't want to be a tree anymore and is running down Route 89 and there is a little boy named Seth chasing after it and a blue Chevy Cavalier wagon. And it just stepped on my 1979 Toyota Liftback, crushing the box of Twix candy bars I was saving to bring to class tomorrow.' What if I were to say, 'There is a cat up in the tree, and the fire department is chasing after it, and that cat is howling like a wolf on the highest branch, and the principal, Mrs. Stewart, has lassoed it with an orange extension cord and tied it to the bumper of bus number ten.' If I could tell you enough details, so that you begin to imagine something exact and real about this runaway tree, you might, you just might, go to the window and look. That's What writers do. They make you go to the window and look."

According to Barry Lane, we should think of the details of our writing as walls, not as wallpaper. Details are not decoration. They are part of a story's bones. They are the best tools a writer has to bring writing into focus and find deeper meaning. He says they should not be ends in themselves but should serve to bring to light the writer's larger vision.

How do you view the function of details?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Moth Thoughts

What things there are to write, if one could only write them! My mind is full of gleaming thought; gay moods and mysterious, moth-like meditations hover in my imagination, fanning their painted wings. But always the rarest, those streaked with azure and the deepest crimson, flutter away beyond my reach.
~Logan Pearsall

This quote describes where I currently am in the writing process. I know exactly what I want to do with my story, I'm just not finding the words to do it yet. I've been invited to re-submit, so I need to get it done, but it just won't come. I'm also struggling to find quality focus time when work and children and sweet hubby need some time with me too.

We've all been here at one time or another. We all share the frustration. But I love the way this quote makes me feel about it.

Photo source (
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