blogging the day away

July 7, 2008

All right, don’t get too excited, but this is my second blog entry in 5 or 6 days. Unreal, right? Man, I feel like all I’ve been doing with my life is writing blogs! Two in one week? It’s definitely time for a vacation or something.

    Could this be the Soul’s year?

What a game it was! What a finish! The Philadelphia Soul are hosting the division championship game for the first time ever. It should be quite the scene at the Center on Saturday. Whaddya mean you’ve never heard of the AFL? It’s football in the spring and summer. What more could you ask?

    The Tipping Point

Now, you people know by now how late I am to so many different things. Could be cultural, could be historical, political, whatever. Could also be literary. I’m finally reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Mr. Gladwell already blew my mind when I read Blink, which was a great book, and he has done it again with The Tipping Point. It’s all about how little things can make a major difference and how things like ideas and behaviors can spread just like a virus would. Like an epidemic. And why.

    Other current events

… but only the ones that center on ME. I am preparing for another round of submissions for Lilly Dances, my sort-of-picture-book-but-not-quite project. It’s more of a very short book with pictures. Actually, it has no pictures right now (I’m no artist), but it would be way better with pictures. Like a picture book would. Like a really long picture book.

but not quite.

The kids are doing fine on their summer break from school. I’m doing fine also, but I CAN tell you how many weeks until the school buses start rolling again.

seven.

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decisions

November 22, 2007

Just when I’ve convinced myself that no publisher or agent will be interested in a collection of personal essays and memoirs from some unknown writer, and I decide to break up the collection and try to sell it in other ways, I just can’t let go. I’ve been considering writing for Associated Content and also looking into paid blogging. I know you’re thinking that I don’t even update my own blog often enough as it is, but being paid and under some deadline might be just the kick I need. The problem I have? Rights. I just don’t want to give up any rights to my work to a non-traditional publisher. I just don’t feel like I can trust them. I really love most of the stuff I’ve put up on my website and, although I realize much of it would need to be edited and rewritten to be truly publishable, I’m willing to do that. I’d just hate for those essays to be in the hands of some internet content producer and unavailable to use in my book. It may be time to take a fresh look at them all, including many I haven’t released yet, bundle them all up and ship them off to the real world. Nothing to lose, right? I just want it to be right. I want to make the best decision.

And I want to sign on with someone who will publish Young Adult Novel also.

See, there’s just no satisfying me, is there?

AND, happy Thanksgiving.

AND, I ordered Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle from Amazon because I couldn’t find it elsewhere and I also needed a few more dollars on my order to qualify for free shipping. What did I order initially? Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas in SURROUND SOUND! Whoo, Baby, I can’t wait for that package to arrive.

blank page

August 16, 2007

It’s been so long since I’ve posted an update that this morning I just clicked on the “New Post” button without anything in mind to write about. Let’s see where this takes us, shall we? Good. Buckle up.

I love my local library and I’m really looking forward to the opening of a brand-new branch which will be about the same distance from my house but in the opposite direction of the one I’ve been going to. I’ll still go to the old one, but I’m hoping that the new branch will have a better selection of YA and Middle-grade stuff for me to read. They have these inter-library loans, so I can get anything I want by going to the same branch that I’ve been going to (I like the people, and they know me) and asking for them to grab what I want from the other locations. Evil plot, I know.

I’ve purchased a few books that are not available in my whole library system (mostly new releases) and now I’m torn between keeping them for my personal library and donating them and making them available to the whole county. I’m leaning toward donation, as I think it will help those authors expand their audience and I like the idea of being part of that, but you know that will result in me buying those books all over again so I have personal copies also. Maybe that would be a good use of my first royalty payment. See how I just assume there will be a first royalty payment? Positive thinking, yo.

Speaking of writing books (we were, weren’t we?), Scrivener has lived up to my expectations. I’ll be buying a license. It is so cool to have the whole thing right there and so organized. I just wish I knew how to pronounce “Scrivener”. Does it have a long I sound or a short I sound? The first E makes it seem like the I is long, but the guy who named it is British and sometimes they throw in extra vowels. I think there may be an abundance of vowels in the UK and they just want to get rid of them. I don’t know about you, but when I speak with someone and they tell me all about how great something is and then they pronounce the name of the thing WRONG, it makes me question everything they said about it. How can you love something so much and not know how to say its name? Are you a nut? Well, maybe I’m a nut, because I love Scrivener and I don’t know how to say its name. Heck, I haven’t even paid for it yet. I hope that after I pay for it, they will send out the top-secret email with a pronunciation guide, but rarely do these types of things actually happen.

I was cleaning out the pictures from my cell phone and found one of a hideously decorated life-sized donkey that was sitting in the back room of a pizza place we went to during the Beach Torture Event. The pic isn’t worth posting, but trust me when I say that the thing looked like it was designed by an angry, blind mental patient. I don’t know how they can expect people to eat and enjoy their pizza while sitting in the same room with that thing. Then again, this pizza restaurant is located right on the boardwalk and it’s likely that most everyone who eats there is already in shock, wondering where all their money went. Most likely, their money went toward the 75 games of Skeeball they had to play in order to win their kid a plastic whistle. Skeeball, by the way, was probably also designed by an angry, blind mental patient.

whew. I told you to buckle up, didn’t I?

I have a five-dollar coupon for Borders and so I’m planning on going there and using it soon. I hate for those things to go to waste and they know it. I’m looking for Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle, Rules by Cynthia Lord and maybe Queen of Cool, by Cecil Castellucci which has just been released in paperback, so why not? These are all titles that are not available in our library. Yet. Wait until I get finished reading them and/or receive my first royalty check.

My own middle grade novel, which is tentatively titled Middle Grade Novel in an obvious nod to Daniel Pinkwater’s Young Adult Novel and also my own lack of imagination in titling, is coming together. It is amazing how the more work I do on it, the more work there is to do. Even worse, the more work I do on this first book, the more ideas I have for a second. I really need to focus on the first one, however, since actually finishing a book is a goal so many “writers” don’t achieve. I will. Maybe it will be great, and maybe no one will ever see it. Either way, it will be complete.

and the second book will be sooo cool!

Maybe one of them will get me an agent. And hopefully, that agent is not an angry, blind mental patient who is out to get me because of my blog.

cafe writing

July 31, 2007

Here I am, writing in a cafe. I’ve never done this before, since I thought there would be way too many distractions for me to try to write in public, but it’s working out pretty well. My short story Sharpest Knife in the Block is finished and submitted. I think it turned out pretty well. It’s a little dark in mood, but I like it. Today was the deadline, so it had to get done, although I’m sure I’ll still be changing parts of it weeks from now. The cafe I’m sitting in isn’t the type of cafe you are probably picturing in your mind. There is an indoor ice skating rink here. There is a pizza stand. There is the restaurant where I had breakfast and there is a coffee stand which will provide me with all of the Starbucks Caramel Lattes I can drink. There is not a lot of activity in here, even with all of those attractions, since the main attraction around here is located just through the doors at the end of the room. There is a beach out there. And the ocean. That’s where all of the people are.

I am not a big fan of the beach and the ocean, so I am sitting in this “cafe” banging on my iBook, drinking overpriced beverages and thinking about stories. Ahhh. This is the life.

of course I can

July 13, 2007

I’ve been slowly catching up with John and Hank Green’s video blog Brotherhood 2.0, which, for me, is an excellent form of procrastination and one episode I really enjoyed was the one where John gets a phone call from the Printz Award people. It just looked like so much FUN to get an award for all your hard work!

So, I’ve decided that I need a Printz Award also. By the way, they are NOT easy to get and I know that I’ll probably have to go it alone, since you people have not been all that helpful in my quest to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Thanks for nothing. Not winning the Peace Prize may well make me violent.

The hardest part about winning an award for all your hard work is probably the actual completion of the work that is to be recognized with the award. Taking congratulatory phone calls is fun and easy. I think I’m a natural at that. I can show up at awards dinners, shake hands and be gracious. I’m not a natural at that, but can fake it pretty well. Going around and saying things like, “Don’t you know who I am?” and berating any librarian who refuses to salute me will also be fun and easy. Now, in order to win a prestigious national book award, I’ll have to complete my book and also make it really good. Those are my main challenges.

especially with 5 months of the Green brothers’ video blogs to watch.

Oh, one more thing. I went to Teavana yesterday to stock up on loose tea and one of the samples they had available was an iced tea with some sort of plum flavor. It tasted like juice to me (it was sweetened) and when I asked the counter person what kind of tea it was made with, she showed me two flavors. It was a blend. Then she told me I’d have to buy at least the minimum amount of each, so in order to make iced tea that tastes like plum juice, I’d have to spend over $12.00 for the tea leaves. I may have lost my mind when it comes to buying tea from a gourmet tea store, but that is way beyond my level of craziness. I did, however buy some other teas, so when I have a chance to try them I’ll let you know how they are. One of them was the Raspberry Black, which I already told you is very good.

Here I go again

June 25, 2007

Today, my friends, work will begin in earnest on my untitled middle-grade/young-adult novel. Eight chapters have already been roughed out. When I say, “Roughed out,” I mean that they are written, but this is the first draft and they will most likely change quite a bit in the future. I will know whether it is middle-grade or young-adult when I get a bit further into it. This dedicated effort will mean I will be spending less time with Sarah (Vowell), Ira (Glass) and Click and Clack (the Tappet brothers), but I will be spending some quality time with Brandi (Carlile). Hopefully, somewhere in midst of this work an July essay for the site will appear.

Maybe it will be an excerpt, but I doubt it.

deserve?

May 31, 2007

This really got me cranked up when I read it. Cynthia Leitich Smith has a website loaded with resources and advice for writers. So in the course of my exhaustive (minutes at a time!) research into the writing life and the publishing industry, I came across her site and read through much of what she has to say. A lot of it sounded like good advice and I was really glad that she collected all of that information and made it available to writers like me. Then I read,

You must read. You must read like you breathe, only more proactively. You must read so much that when anyone mentions a children’s or YA book, you are familiar with it or at least its author and/or editor, or you are jotting the title down to check it out. You must be better read than your independent bookseller and your public librarian (if you live in an amazing book city like Austin where this last goal is impossible, you must nevertheless still TRY). When someone announces the, say, Newbery winners, you should have read so much that there are no real surprises to you. You must study the books you read, the good ones and the bad, and be able to clearly articulate what does and doesn’t work and why. And if you think that you have no time or money to do this, get a different goal because you don’t deserve to make it. Libraries are a godsend.

I have a problem with that kind of thinking. Isn’t that like saying that I should have a P.H.D in food science or I don’t deserve to make a really good cheeseburger? Of course I don’t agree with that. Yes, it is good to know what you’re getting into when you write a particular kind of book. Yes, it is good to educate yourself about the market and what has been written and what has been successful and what hasn’t. I don’t think, however, that a thorough understanding of the whole market is absolutely necessary for a writer to create a great story. Cynthia Leitich Smith’s opinion that there are those who “deserve” success and those who don’t based on how much they have been involved in the Children’s and Young Adult book scene is really self-serving and exclusionary.

This is not me being defensive, either. The kind of involvement and research she claims is necessary is exactly what I like (and need) to do. That’s my personality. I don’t think it applies to everyone, though. There are many musicians who have created music that has changed people’s lives despite the musician being unable to read a note of music. Then there are other musicians who spend their whole lives studying and learning music history and theory. Everyone must find his or her own path.

It is possible that I’m just being nit-picky about the way C.L.S. has expressed her opinion, but I trust that a writer as accomplished and successful as she has chosen her words carefully and says what she means. I just don’t agree with that small part of it.

Kind of a busy weekend here so far. We had a couple of baseball games (kids) to go to, we started prepping the pool for the season and we are still in the process of painting the porch. I haven’t had much writing time in a few days, but I have had a little reading time, so I guess that counts. I’m reading How to Write and Sell Your First Novel by Oscar Collier and Frances Spatz Leighton and I’m really enjoying it. It contains a lot of stuff I’ve read elsewhere, but I still like reading it. Whenever I do something for the first time, I tend to do a lot of research beforehand. That’s what this is.

At the beginning of June, I head out to Chicago for a little R&R with a few old friends. I’m really looking forward to it. That reminds me that I have to get the new essay up before I leave.

dipping into the well

May 22, 2007

Yesterday, I went to the Post Office. I thought I could make a decent, little blog entry out of the story, so I opened up a new Word doc and started writing it all out. Once I hit 700 words, I decided that it was a bit long for my blog and thus was born next month’s JPChambers.com essay. The essay itself will not have the same boring opening that this blog entry has. :0)
It was a pretty satisfying morning overall, but I’m still beating myself up for delaying work on the book. Instead of writing, I went to the library yesterday and grabbed a copy of M.T. Anderson’s The Game of Sunken Places to read for research into the genre. Also, I’m still working my way through the audiobook version of Sarah Vowell’s Assasination Vacation. I only listen to it while I exercise (about 45 minutes at a time) so I guess I’m actually woking out my way through it.

bad joke, but I like it.

All right, here are your quickies:

Chelsea won the FA Cup. Nice job. Maybe next year, the Champion’s League? Maybe?

I bought some coffee made by Papa Nicholas. Cinnamon hazelnut flavor. It’s ok. In my experience, cinnamon hazelnut coffee always sounds better than it is. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from buying it.

I found a great deal on iTunes for all you John Mayer fans. They have an ep called “The Village Sessions” on which you get Mayer playing 6 acoustic versions of his songs and also an 18 minute video documenting the creation of “In Repair”. Price? $4.99. I’d probably have paid twice that.

Flotsam and Jetsam

March 12, 2007

I guess it’s about time I sit down and write something. I haven’t written anything significant in almost a month, except for a few pages of a script that popped into my head last week. That may never even see the light of day, although ScriptFrenzy does begin in June. Maybe I’ll save it for that. So, what have I been doing, you ask? Well, I’ve been keeping in contact with a few friends on Skype, which is always cool and I’ve been distracted by the construction of our new deck. Also, I’ve sent out a few articles to magazines so I’ll know in about 6 months if they’ve been accepted. The publishing industry is crazy with timelines. Also, I’ve been indulging in my love of overpriced beverages. Lately, and for the foreseeable future, it is tea. Cast iron teapot, scoopfuls of tea leaves with additions like lemon-grass, orange peel or specs of vanilla bean. Great, great stuff. What’s so overpriced about making tea at home? The tea, of course. Check out my new favorite tea store, Teavana, and see what I mean.

Sorry for the number of links I’ve included in this entry, but I wanted you to be able to understand what I was talking about. That’s a rarity now, isn’t it?

:0)