Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Four Favorites: Ages 0 - 3

I've been digging through my 1001 Children's Books and thinking about the books that I loved the most and have stuck with me.  My criteria mainly seem to be, which books do I see in the store and want desperately to purchase so that I can share them with Maddie?

The Little Engine That Could  by Watty Piper -- Does anyone not remember this story when they are faced with what seems like an insurmountable job?  "I think I can, I think I can..."  " I thought I could! I thought I could!"  Probably one of the most valuable lessons a child can learn.  And do you recall that The Little Engine is female?  Powerful words for a little girl to hear.

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey -- I love the illustrations in this book.  They are so realistic and beautiful.  I have very distinct memories of having this book read to me in school.  The ducks are now a statue in Boston Public Garden.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown -- This book was one of Maddie's Christmas presents this year.  I was on a mission, determined that she have this one.  There is something so soothing about this book.  The illustrations have so much detail to them... the shadows getting longer, the cat and mouse scampering around.  Maddie finds so many details to point out and talk about.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle -- Love, love , love this book!  The bright colors, the holes we can touch, the pages that lengthen with the story... In fact I love all the Eric Carle books (The Grouchy Ladybug was another Maddie present this year!).  They all look like works of art and tell fun stories that little ones can memorize to "read along."

What are your favorite stories for this age group?  They are mostly picture books out there, but there are some stunning ones.

I took a peek through the 3 - 5 category... that's going to be a hard one to narrow down!  So much good stuff right around the bend....

Thursday, January 20, 2011


In my efforts to get this writing thing off the ground, I've been exploring my options quite a bit.  I was planning to take some classes on Professional Editing and Technical Writing at Bellevue College.  I was poking around on the website a bit, and found the requirements for a Certificate in Technical Communications.  The classes I wanted were listed, plus a couple extra.  Hey, I thought, why not go the whole hog and get the Certificate?  Can't hurt, right?  I figure it will improve my chances down the road.  Employers love it when you can wave a piece of paper in their face.
Turns out they have a free meeting in March called "Technical Communication Programs Information Session."  So I went ahead and signed up for it.  Time to get this show on the ROAD.  And as soon as my tax refund comes in I'm going to start working my way down the list.  I also figure I can start poking around even if I haven't completed the full certificate yet.  From what I can tell, they appear to be one day a week, evening courses.
You guys!! I can make this work!! Do you know how excited I am right now??  I wish I could start tomorrow! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011


After reading this review written by author Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles) I really started thinking about how most of my favorite stories involve the magical intruding upon the mundane.  I love the idea of turning the corner in my everday life and encountering something completely unexpected.  Those stories draw me in better than anything else.
I always had a harder time getting into straight fantasy and stories set completely in their own invented world.  There are always exceptions, of course, (ahem, Lord of the Rings, ahem), but those generally don't delight me in quite the same way.  Take author Jim Butcher, for example.  While the Codex Alera books were interesting and well-written they didn't excite me in the same way that the Dresden Files did.  I love the idea that the local P.I. down the street is actually a wizard!
You just know I have to mention Harry Potter, right?  The possibility that any 11-year-old living in our world could out of the blue receive an owl with an acceptance letter from Hogwarts... (hmmm, Elias is turning 11 this year, must think on this!)  I couldn't help but grin whenever the worlds crossed.  Platform 9 3/4.  Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, sandwiched right there in between two homes who never knew it was there.  Diagon Alley.
The best part of reading the review though, was the realization that juxtaposition is exactly what I am writing. 
I had simply never thought of it in those terms before.  You always hear to write what you know, and this is what I know.  An iPhone in heaven?  Ahhhhh....  It wasn't what I had set out to write, I hadn't actively thought "How can I blend two worlds?"  It just naturally happened.  It also explains why my previous attempts at fiction set in pure fantasy and fiction set entirely in our world never quite worked.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Website, Redux

I've been working on trying to update my website and provide some more information and description (rather than just a list of links and such).   Here is the new version.

I'd love to hear comments and suggestions, but please be gentle!!  I also know that website design is not one of my talents and it's far too monochrome and bland, but I don't really know what to do with it.  It clearly needs some photos and artwork, but I'm not sure where to go with that either.  If anyone is a whiz at website design and has some ideas, let me know! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011


A couple days ago I mentioned that I was reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.  After plowing through two chapters I was feeling thoroughly chastized!  I had already edited the first four chapters of My Thankless Job, and last night I started over back at the beginning.

Yikes.  I hadn't even realized it, but the first two pages are nothing but narrative summary.  Time to tear that baby apart!  I attacked, viciously, with a highlighter (by the way and completely off topic, have you seen these?  They rock!) and red pen.  I completed five pages before my brain started to hurt and called it a night.  I found a new place to start (right as she's arriving at work), chopped the dickens out of a bunch of explanatory stuff (Stephen King would be proud of me for "killing my darlings" as he puts it in On Writing), most of which had been thoroughly explained via action, and rearranging paragraphs all over the place.  Whew!  A good night's work, but I'm going to have to find a way to get more than five pages done at a time or I'm still going to be working on this five years from now, and I'd really prefer not to get all caught up in that endless cycle of editing. 

The other thing I'm noticing is my tendency to explain a character's personality rather than letting it shine through, so I highlighted a whole bunch of that stuff and wrote out some quick sketches to add it into the conversation the characters are having.  It's hard to keep Cathy (my main character) fom trying to explain everything!

Writers --  what are your quirks that you find yourself constantly having to edit out?

Thursday, January 6, 2011


As I mentioned yesterday, last night's book for book club was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  A lively discussion ensued around kidlit in general, which I took great delight in, being a total kidlit junkie (check out my favorite book list in my profile if you don't believe me).
It really got me thinking about the books I enjoyed growing up and still enjoy now.  I read the Chronicles of Narnia and Wrinkle in Time series countless times.  I adored Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary.  Charlotte's Web made me (me!) cry over a spider.
One of the awesome things about being a parent is having the opportunity to share the books that I loved so much with the kids and get introduced to the new ones (Spiderwick Chronicles and Percy Jackson anybody??).
My friend Nikki bought me a copy of 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.  Essentially a to-do list for me!  Even the little beginner books we have for Maddie have meaning to me: Goodnight Moon, the lovely Eric Carle books, Madeline (of course!).  I still get choked up reading The Lorax
After the discussion last night I have a sneaking suspicion a lot more children's literature is going to find its way on to our reading list. 

And I'm kind of okay with that.

So 'fess up.  Are you a closet kidlit junkie?  What are your favorites?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Books I'm Reading

I'm notorious for having several books going at the same time.  These are my current selections--

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott  This has been excellent so far.  A look at what it means to be a writer, and the day-to-day process.  She makes me laugh out loud all the time, and sometimes have shifty eyes as I identify with some of her neuroses.

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Eckstut & Sterry  Very informative how-to guide.  I'm not very far in it so I don't have a fully-formed opinion yet.  This book was a gift from my lovely co-worker Alona!  What can I say, the girl knows me!

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King  Just picked this one up last night (hurrah for Barnes & Noble gift cards!).  Hopefully this one will come in handy as I plow through the novel!


Welcome to my blog!
More will be coming soon, tonight I'm off to book club for a discussion of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" followed by a viewing of "Deathly Hallows."  This makes for a very happy A'mee!  I'll be paying for it tomorrow, no question, but it will be worth it.