Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's Up Wednesday




First 
I want to apologize for visiting so few blogs last week. I was caught in meetings and thought I could squeeze it all in. I failed. I can't wait to check out all the bloggy goodness this week!

What's Up Wednesday
 is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, that helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Join by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

What I'm Reading
I finished In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus. She created a fascinating world that I truly loved. It was right up my alley. I do have some residual guilt because Henri, the MC, believes it is wrong to kill insects and his evil nemesis is a bug killer. My bug-girl-book MC is an insect collector (like myself) who is a bit more comfortable with killing the occasional bug for science. C'est la vie. Or, c'est la mort, in this case. RIP bugs I have killed!

On a family camping trip I was able to read Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen and re-read (it has been 25 years at least) Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume. I feel like Sarah D is kind of the modern embodiment of the great Judy Blume, so I loved reading them back-to-back. I loved both books. What a treat. 

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen will take all summer I think. It's dense but oh-so-good. Now I'm learning about Europeans "discovering" America. You can imagine how that goes, right? I knew the American Thanksgiving story was a pile o' crap, but I didn't realize all that happened before. Fascinating!

Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson is still the family read-aloud. The competition for Arriman's marriage proposal is on... and it's not going very well. We're ALL loving it.


What I'm Writing
I have a post today at The Kindness Project about gratitude and forgiveness. Check it out. 

I will have a couple of slow weeks on the Ready. Set. Write! front. My two favorite little people are home from school and having LOTS of mom time before they start camp and I return to work. 

My handy-dandy excel sheet has exceeded my nerdiest expectations. 
I am using it to view my percent-completion on all three summer writing projects. 

Tenure packet (32% complete) YAAAAAY!
Thirst (12% complete)
Stung (0% complete)

That's up from last week's
Tenure packet (20%) 
Thirst (12%)
Stung (0%)

I feel good about it!

What Inspires Me Right Now
Our camping trip to Vermont this weekend was beyond beautiful. Loved being out in nature with the kids. 

And Now It's Your Turn!
What's up with you?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's Up Wednesday



What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, that helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Join by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

What I'm Reading

I'm well into In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus. I love Henri, the boy who speaks to insects, and his adventures. There's a mystery a-brewing... and I can't wait to see how she resolves it. 

I'm also still plugging away at Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. He makes such an effort to support his points that the writing is dense (not in a bad way, in a way that's absolutely appropriate for a historian arguing about misinformation in history). I can tell I'll be pouring over this one for several weeks. 

I finished The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty over the weekend. Damn, what a fantastic book. I have loved everything I've read by Ms. Moriarty (and her sister's book What Alice Forgot was one of my favorites last year). I love the characters, her skill at writing from multiple POVs, and the way she adds layers to a story that make it leap from the page. 

Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson is our current family read-aloud. I read so much and I'm often trying to incorporate MG books that I personally want to read into the family read-aloud for my 5 and 7 year olds. It is always surprising to me what does and doesn't click with the kids. In some cases it can simply be that the book (while I enjoy it or even love it as a personal read) just doesn't capture the boys' imaginations. Not so with this one. I started reading it Monday night to general grumbling as they did not like the last book I tried to read aloud. But after just a few pages both boys were enthralled. YAY!  


What I'm Writing
I created a chart to help me organize the work I'm doing this summer. I have a to-do list/schedule where I keep track of all the things I need to do-- divided up into sections on teaching, research, writing, art, and family... but sometimes it gets so long that it is overwhelming. 

Because I'm working on three projects for Ready. Set. Write! I wanted to:
     -balance the time I'm spending on different things
     -divide the work into manageable chunks
     -be able to visualize what I'm accomplishing  

With all of this in mind I made up this handy excel sheet that breaks down the work I'm planning into several steps. I can also count each cell and estimate my completion rate (so, for example, I'm 20% finished with the tenure packet, 12% on one re-write, and 0% on the other). 
A big part of organization is planning for me, because it helps me transform my ideas (often unrealistic) into a solid game plan. Like any game plan, it's all subject to change. :0)
That being said, this really helps me get things done without feeling like enormous projects are looming over me (which I find crippling). 

What Inspires Me Right Now
So many things. Friends who are resilient and amazing. Family that keeps me laughing and enjoying life. Being outside. And of course reading, working, and creating. 
 
And Now It's Your Turn!
What's up with you?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ready. Set. Write! on a What's Up Wednesday

It's all happening!

Check out Jaime Morrow's post for the full scoop on Ready. Set. Write. The other hostesses include Erin L. FunkAlison MillerKaty Upperman, and Elodie Nowodazkij

Please join in! It will be so awesome!



What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, that helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Join by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

What I'm Reading
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. It's all about the history that's not included in history text books in America. Fascinating! I'm just diving into stories on Helen Keller and Woodrow Wilson. All I can say is: you would be surprised. 

The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty. I love everything she writes so much. This is no exception! I also adore seeing characters from her other books making an appearance, like the unstoppable Bindy Mackenzie.

In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus. A writer after my own heart-- Angus combines her love of insects with art and writing. Um. Were we separated at birth? Will the cosmos explode if we ever meet in real life? Probably. I am loving this book about a boy named Henri who speaks to insects!

What I'm Writing
My goals for Ready. Set. Write! are as follows.
1. Write my tenure packet, 75 pages of unrivaled fun (that's partially sarcasm, partially fear talking).
2. Go through 1-2 rounds of editing and polishing on my YA manuscript THIRST.
3. Completely re-write my MG STUNG. I mean trash it and start over. It was my first full length book and it has serious, serious problems that I believe cannot be addressed simply by editing. Looking forward to hacking it into something interesting!

I'm going to work on these all at the same time, because I think the creative writing will be a good balance for the intense tenure packet.
   
What Inspires Me Right Now
Umm, honestly it's Ready. Set. Write! I am thrilled to connect in a new way with the writing community! I love the concept and am so happy to join in! I'm also enamored with the idea of balancing my work load with creative writing. I have found it's the best possible thing for my mental health. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

TAG: A Moment in Time

TAG! A moment in time…

The lovely Katy Upperman  tagged me for a WiP post that's super fun. 
Do visit Katy's blog and read her excerpt-- it's dreamy and evocative. She was tagged by Juliana Haygert, whose post is here-- it's suspenseful and intriguing.
Here's how it works!
Search for the words “moment,” “forever,” or “time,” in your work-in-progress, pick your favorite excerpt, post on your blog, and tag others!
Well, I found pretty quickly that I use the word moment a lot... whereas forever only appears ONE time in my 78,000 word WiP. Crazy, no? I opted for a passage including the word time. 
It's from my latest manuscript... a steampunk set in the Netherlands.

Ambrosius van der Spiegel could patiently cut and form components to fashion wondrous objects from springs, dials, and geared circles of all dimensions. He had come to the palace as a baby, just after his mother’s death, and had always worked at his father’s side. The Dutch created the first clockwork creatures, and over many years mastered them, forming a guild to share their secrets. Ambrosius and his father became more than masters: they shaped magic by breathing life into metal. But by this time Ambrosius was in many respects forgotten, as things from earlier eras often are. For nearly seventy-five years he had dreamed, designed, and built, all the while holding fast to his precise schedule, which one might say ran like… well, clockwork.


I'll tag Ghenet, Meredith,  Jaime, and Maryanne!

Any takers?


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Winner!

So happy to announce that the winner of the random drawing for Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink and Confederates Don't Wear Couture is...



(wait for it)


Jaime!

YAY for contests! I will hit you up on twitter Jaime-- thanks to everyone who participated-- I hope you check these delightful books out!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Kindess and Contests


First, head on over to The Kindess Project to read my post on Being Kind to Yourself: The Gentleman's Version. 


Second, help me by voting for my clockwork bug in the Uncommon Goods iphone cover design challenge. 


Check out my design here.

Take a gander at all of the designs and throw a vote my way if you like clockwork bugs.

No pressure if that's not your thing. But peruse their site-- there are a lot a really neat designs there (my top choices are the boy with the fox, the underwater swimmer, the vintage phones, and my own (it would be, right)?)

Finally, you have until midnight on Friday June 7th to enter my contest to win two books by the talented Stephanie Kate Strohm. Visit Wednesday's post to sign up.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Uncommon Goods iPhone Contest

I am really THRILLED to be selected as one of the 16 artists/semifinalists in the Uncommon Goods iphone cover design contest.

Check out my design here.

This is how the contest works:
1. Sixteen designs were chosen. Uncommon goods will allow voting on these designs for 6 days at their website. As an aside, you can vote for lots of other things, too-- they frequently put design ideas before the public to gauge their reactions. Check it out. 

2. At the end of that time, the five top-voted designs will be put before their panel of professional judges.

3. The judges will then pick their top choice, which will be made into an iphone cover. Cool, huh?

All the runner's up will also get feedback and advice from the judging panel (which is SUPER SUPER awesome and cool in its own right).

So, take a gander at the designs and throw a vote my way if you like my clockwork bugs.

No pressure if that's not your thing. But peruse their site-- there are a lot a really neat designs there (my top choices are the boy with the fox, the underwater swimmer, the vintage phones, and my own (it would be, right)?)

Also, you have until Friday June 7th to enter my contest to win two books by the talented Stephanie Kate Strohm. Visit yesterday's post to sign up.




Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: Plus a giveaway!



What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, that helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Join by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

What I'm Reading
Splurge alert! I just ordered The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, Confederate's Don't Wear Couture by Stephanie Kate Strohm (see the giveaway below!) and Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen.

What I'm Writing
Revisions are done and submitted. Hooray! Next up: a last pass on two research articles and the first stab at my tenure packet. Fun!
   
What Inspires Me Right Now
What doesn't inspire me right now should be the question. My husband is remodeling two bathrooms and the kitchen. My boys are SO fun and funny. It's warm again and I'm reading great books. What's not to like?


On the topic of awesome books-- I was thrilled to read Pilgrim's Don't Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm last year. You can read my review here. I loved the subject (spunky, strong heroine who loves history has a summer job at a living history museum: mystery and romance ensue), not to mention this book is expertly crafted. I mean it. 

I was delighted to see that Stephanie Kate's second book Confederate's Don't Wear Couture is debuting this week. 

In honor of the release I asked Stephanie Kate a few questions about her process. Check out her answers below.
I'm also giving away this duo of books. 

One lucky winner will receive both Pilgrim's Don't Wear Pink and Confederate's Don't Wear Couture


  • All you need to do is leave a comment below on this post, and I will pick one winner randomly on Friday June 7th. 
  • Want an extra entry? Tweet a link to the contest and let me know about it!
Now, for the interview with Stephanie

Question: You weave history so deftly into Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink! It never comes across as a history lesson, but instead just an interesting layer to the story. How does your love of history play into your writing?

SKS: My love of history plays a huge role in my writing - history made me the writer I am.  I was a history major in college, and it was through writing all those papers that I learned how to research and structure my writing.  Before writing Pilgrims, the longest thing I'd written was my senior history thesis!  Plus, the whole idea for the Libby books was born out of my love of history, and my desire to pass that on to the next generation of girls.  


Question: What’s your go-to source to research clothing styles from different eras?

SKS: Different eras need different resources - most of my research for Pilgrims was from Colonial Williamsburg's website, but for Civil War fashion research, you cannot beat Godey's Lady's Book.  Godey's Lady's was a mid-nineteenth century women's magazine that published lots of fashion plates, and luckily for us, most of it has been digitized!  I love being able to look at fashion in the same way a woman from the 1860s would have.  Almost all of Libby's dresses in Confederates Don't Wear Couture are exact descriptions of dresses I found in Godey's fashion plates.  


Question: I imagine the research for your work is super fun—did you get to try out a hoop skirt for this book?

SKS: It wasn't specifically for this book, but back when I was working as an actor, I wore lots of corsets and hoop skirts and petticoats.  But sadly, I've never worn a set of hoops that are as wide as they would have been back in the 1860s - someday, hopefully!  A girl can dream.  I will say this, though - it is mind-bogglingly difficult to sit down in a hoop skirt.  I really struggled!


Question: I haven’t read Confederates Don’t Wear Couture yet, but from the blurb I know civil war reenactments are a part of the story line—have you participated in one? If so, what was that like?

SKS: Although I have never been in a Civil War Reenactment, I went to visit a few while researching this book.  Lots of tourists in modern dress come to watch them, so you have this very strange juxtaposition of 2013 and 1860 all jumbled up in one place!  I was also struck by how slow the pace of battle felt.  Unsurprisingly, my favorite parts were shopping on Sutler's Row - that's where different merchants sell historically accurate goods and accessories - and checking out everyone's outfits!


Question:  What do you see happening for Libby next? Is a third book planned?

SKS: There is a third book in the works!  I think it's time for Libby to explore the great frontier!


Thanks to Stephanie for the interview.  Don't forget to enter by commenting below.

***Contest is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!*****


**Late-breaking news: I just found out one of my drawing is a semifinalist in the Uncommon Goods iphone design contest. Pop over to their site and vote for the cover you like best (mine's the clockwork damselfly. No pressure.)


Tell me: what's your favorite era in history? What's your favorite historical novel?