Thursday, April 30, 2009

Last one . . . I just don't want it to end

Okay, this is the last narcissistic birthday post, I swear . . . but I realized that I haven't posted pictures of the wicked table decor at my goth tea party, and the world needs to see this:

And this:

And this:

Thank you to all my unbelievable friends.  I am the luckiest girl (notice I said "girl") in the whole world.  

Now I'm off to New York for a weekend with my husband.  And I am NOT going to walk around NYC wearing a face mask.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From Goth to Garden party

So yeah, today was the BIG day.  The anticipation was much worse than the actual turning of the clock, and I've just decided that all those lofty goals that I set to reach by the time I was forty? I'm just going to bump them ahead to fifty--because, after all, forty is the new thirty and fifty is the new forty . . . . yada yada yada.  I just have to keep my fingers crossed that the Alzheimer's doesn't kick in before I land a book deal or make it to Greece or read The Brothers Karamazov . . .

Anyway, thanks Katie and friends for the wicked goth 40th party (please, please see yesterday's post for pictures).  I felt like I was inside the creepy little world of my wacked-out picture book.  And, I'm even inspired to add a few more headless, stripped naked barbies to the illustrations.  So it was with regret this morning that I said goodbye to my inner Stevie Nix--

had yummy birthday cake with my family

and said a happy hello to "Garden Party Ladies who Lunch."

Here I am with my gorgeous mom who will be turning seventy in October.  Yes, I said
 SEVENTY.  And, she would kill me for saying
 that to the cyber-world, but she doesn't read our blog.  And, it's my birthday, so I have immunity.  

And, just in case you were wondering what I looked like in third grade . . . .

Now it's off to New York on Thursday.  Happy Birthday to me!!!!


Monday, April 27, 2009


Today is a milestone over at Plot This. SF has hit the BIG ONE!!!!!!!!!!! And to begin the celebration (which is lasting a full week) I am having a tea party for her this morning at my house.

For this special event, we (her writing group) are recreating her picture book, TEA PARTY.

It's a Burton-esque masterpiece for a budding little goth girl.

Many pics and commentary will arrive shortly. This is the table. Notice the melted candles, stuffed squirrel, cobwebs and bugs! Not to mention the eleven dead roses hanging upside down from the chandelier. She is gonna freak!

HAPPY BIG ONE SF!!!!!!!!! I love ya!
This is me with black goth dripping from my eyes. Gotta go get ready! More pics to come!!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Climb

Maybe it was watching the Hannah Montana movie with my daughter, or maybe it was winning almost two contests in one day, but whatever the reason, I am feeling oh so sappy. And in my sappiness, I downloaded the soundtrack to the unexpectedly delightful HM movie.

Let me preface this by saying that I see a LOT of movies. Heck, SF and I even write them. But it is a rare occasion when my daughters drag me to one and I love it more than they do. That is, until last weekend.

Now, the reason for this post is a song called The Climb that Miley sings in the movie. I was listening to the lyrics in my car the day after I won the big one, and almost started crying thinking of all of my writer friends on this journey. I was so freaking flattered that sheer strangers took the time to comment on like five blogs about either my logline or my first page, that I thought, “Why have I never taken the time to do this for other writers?” But the truth is that I just never knew how much it meant before. And so I apologize. And to SF as well, because she placed in the Writer’s Digest contest last year and I didn’t make a sufficient fuss about it then, so I will now. WOO HOO! You go SF! I am proud of you!!!!

I give you The Climb:

~It's all about the climb, Y'all.

Squeeeee!!!!!!!! Here I go!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Whoa!  I hate to follow Katie's post, but I guess I have to.  What a day, huh??

So . . . I'm revising.  Again.  My picture book has been through the wringer for a couple of years, now.  It's been subjected to three SCBWI critiques, editor interest and revisions (followed by rejection), and countless reads by super-writer friends (some of you are out there--thanks!).   I'm once again getting to the polishing stages and working on the sketches for the illustrations. I've gotten some great illustration advice as well as some revision advice about the pacing of the writing earlier this week, and I am overwhelmed but excited to get to work.

Here's my corner of the studio that is dedicated to this part of my work.  

I have printed up a tiny copy of my dummy onto index cards so that I can storyboard the entire book and look at it as a whole (it's to the right on the white magnetic board).  It is amazing how revealing it is to look at the project all at once like this.  I already see some problems with action and page turns.

Plus, I'm basically going to have to redo almost all of these sketches to fit with the new direction of the book.  Yikes!   Did I say that I am overwhelmed???   

Uh, and did I mention that my youngest daughter finishes school in two short weeks?  I really want to get the bulk of this finished so that I can be at the tweaking stage when Julia is home with Mommy. My plan is for her to color my computer printed black and white sketches while I work--I just have to keep her away from the originals.   She can sit quietly at my feet and color. This will work right??

So, it's back to the drawing board.  After tomorrow's field trip of course . . . and cardboard box racecar day Friday . . . and Double Decker Arts Festival this weekend . . . Yahhh!!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

I WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is me (not really) this morning because I forgot to tell you that in addition to the first pages contest, I also entered a logline contest on Query Tracker.

And I WON!!!!

Holy Mackeral I am flipping out! I think I might need to go run or something, lest my brain explodes! I didn't think I'd win, so I didn't even mention it on here. Holy Moly, what a morning!

Thank you Query Tracker and Joanna Volpe! I am over the moon!!!!


UPDATE: I just received an honorable mention in the Miss Snark contest!!!! What an incredible day! whew!

The Contest -- AKA the Outing of the "Typo Queen"

So, last week I got an email from the divine sistas, Lila, who encouraged me to enter the Miss Snark First Pages Contest. Now, I am not a contest gal myself, but I thought it sounded fun, and Lila said it was more than fun and they had learned a lot.

So, after tormenting them with one hundred email questions, I sent in my little ol' page for all the world to read, and Holy Moly! Suddenly, people were pointing out typos of all things! YIKES!

What professional writer sends an entry in with typos?! Surely not me!

Yes, dangit. I did. And plenty of people noticed them, including the "Secret Agent!" BUT, the peeps loved it anyway, and thank goodness for copy editors. Whew!

So without further ado... Here is my first page.

The winners will be announced Monday. (My fingers are crossed.) But what a GREAT experience! Y'all should totally do it! And seriously, this contest was one of those things that made me proud to be a member of this little writing community online. Everyone is so talented and all of the comments have been insightful, considerate, and extremely helpful. Thank you Authoress! I had a wonderful time! And thanks Lila!

P.S. I bet I have a dang typo in this very blog entry. Ya see any? Because I need to be alerted. I might need to take a proofreading or grammar class or something.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Night Gallery

I don't know if any of you out there remember Rod Serling's Night Gallery.  It was a TV show that ran from 1969-1971 after the Twilight Zone had finished its run--it was sort of the horror show version of the Twilight Zone.  At the beginning of each show, Mr. Serling would walk through a gallery of paintings.  He would stop in front of one and tell the horrific, twisted story captured by the artist's oil paint.  Then he would say "Welcome to the Night Gallery" as the freakiest music ever composed played.

I'm not really sure how old I was when I watched this show with my dad and my brother who is 5 1/2 years older than I am.  Since I was born in 1969, I was either a baby with an amazing memory or I watched reruns of the show.  What I do know is that whatever age I was, it bordered on child abuse for my dad to put me in front of the TV while that show was playing. What I also know is that I will never, ever, ever forget "The Doll."

"Our painting is called The Doll and this one you'd best not play with."
I don't remember the details of this episode.  I tried to watch it on instant download (paid my $1.99 and everything), but the first few seconds freaked me out so badly that I had to turn it off.  What I remember is that the story had something to do with a British soldier, voo-doo, and a doll who kills, bites and maims.  There was a little girl in the episode who loved this doll even though it killed all of her other dolls (and her family and dog, I think).  The final scene showed someone throwing the little demon into the fireplace and her skullish grin as she laughed and burned.  Here she is . . .

(Yahhh.  I can't even look at her.  I'm typing with one hand and covering her with the other)

So . . . after our family night of wholesome television viewing, my brother turned to me and said, "Sarah, I wonder if any of YOUR dolls have teeth??"  We both fell over each other running up the stairs to inspect all of my dolls, and we found one.  She was a beautiful china doll with black hair wearing antique lace and silk slippers.  She had red painted lips and tiny, straight teeth.  My brother and I both started screaming, so my mother told us we were being ridiculous and took the doll away.

About a week later, I was lying in bed almost asleep when I heard a voice.  I could barely hear it but it got louder and louder.  I felt a weight on my chest as my heart was pounding.  The voice was saying "I've eaten your mommy.  I've eaten your daddy.  Now I'm going to eat you . . ." over and over again.  I slowly opened one eye--and staring me in the face was THE DOLL.  The china doll with teeth.  The one my mother had taken away.  I screamed louder than any human being has ever screamed to this day.  I screamed myself hoarse.  I screamed so loudly, I set off the motion detector on our alarm system.  My mother came upstairs and found my brother under my bed laughing.

This happened to me several times throughout my childhood.  My mother would always take the doll and hide her.  My brother would always find her.  Sometimes it would take him years to find her in some tucked away closet, but he would always find her, place her on my chest after I had fallen asleep, and he would began to chant and psychologically torment me.

The last time I saw the doll was about ten years ago.  I was searching for something at the top of my mother's closet, and as I was shoving boxes around, something plummeted from the top of the closet and came crashing onto the floor.  It was the doll.  And, as she crashed onto the floor, her head broke off and rolled onto my foot.  I kid you not.

I will never go in that closet again.

Sooooo . . . . you can imagine how I felt yesterday when my daughter Sallie came home from her school library with this
Needless to say, I took it from her, threw it in our outside freezer, and told her not to open the door until Daddy got home and could take care of it.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Character Therapist.

The other day we had a comment from a new follower who is moving to Oxford! And after several emails, I just HAD to tell you about her. Her name is Jeannie Campbell and she is a licensed Marriage and Family counselor who offers therapy for your CHARACTERS!!!

How cool is that? SO if you have some big issue in your book or something that you are curious about from a therapist's standpoint, she's your girl!

* this is from her website:


I'm offering my therapeutic assessment services...FREE!

No, not for YOU, but for your FICTIONAL CHARACTERS!

If you have questions about your character's mental/emotional/behavioral states or feasibility of plot threads, you can email me a thumbnail sketch of your character or what he/she is dealing with at I'll post my assessment on my blog unless asked to respond privately.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Are Y'all HUNGRY??

I am totally stealing this topic from the ADORABLE Stephanie Perkins. And if we have all of the same readers, then all will be bored...

Hopefully not.

But like Perk, I recently read THE HUNGER GAMES and love, love, loved it! And just like my delicious Twilight, there is a love triangle where two boys are in love with ONE girl. mmm... I love that.

Therefore, Perk has pointed out the need to pick sides. Which boy do you want Katniss to fall for? Gale or Peeta? (Henceforth referred to as Team Gale and Team Peeta.) I think I might be a Peeta girl. And Stephanie swears she's a Gale girl... Aaahhh the rivalries have begun. I can't wait for book two!

Who do Y'all like?

P.S. Don't worry SF, it's not sappy like Twilight. It's like Survivor with kids - who have to kill each other. LOL. Oh my goodness, there's no way to make it sound good, but it is! I promise.

P.P.S. I cannot let this weekend go by without wishing you all a Happy Easter! Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

And the next day . . . John Green

As if meeting (ahem) Judy Blume wasn't enough, I had the pleasure of talking with the delightful John Green and hearing him speak.  The first time I saw John Green was here in Oxford, three days after Looking for Alaska hit the shelves.  He was one of the authors participating in the Oxford Conference for the Book.  I loved his newbie enthusiasm and his witty remarks--especially as he held his own and stood out as brilliant and funny on a panel with Richard Peck.  And if you've ever heard Richard Peck capture and audience, you know what a brain feat that is!

In his speech, John Green talked about how important stories are in creating genuine empathy with others.  He asked, "how do we come to believe that other people are as human as we are?"  His answer--story.  It is story that enables us to feel what it might be like to be someone else. 

John also revealed his belief that books are a co-creation between the writer and the reader, and he admitted that his books feel unfinished until he starts getting emails from readers.  He also apologized to all of the librarians in the audience who were missing out on some great fan letters.  John often gets letters from readers praising their librarians for pressing his book into their hands.

Finally, John talked about the need to hear the voice of the "truly other."  He stressed the importance of kids inhabiting worlds they do not know and do a better job of imagining the other with complexity.  People we will never know are also human--they have birthdays, babies, cook food . . .

John peppered his speech with hilarious stories and anecdotes that I just can't do justice to here.  I can only say, if John Green is speaking or signing books anywhere near where you are . . go.  Go. Go.


Monday, April 6, 2009


If you are around my age, "Judy Blume" is a name you know as well as "Miss Piggy" and "Bob Barker" and "Molly Ringwald" and "Michael Jordon" and "Mork from Ork" . . . I read everything Ms. Blume wrote when I was young (even some of her naughty adult stuff that I smuggled into my book bag).  My third grade teacher Mrs. Carter always encouraged and (in fact) pushed me to become a writer, but it wasn't until I read Judy Blume's books that I actually thought that I could write.  Her books were about real people--the kind of people whom I actually knew.  Her work was funny, smart, accessible and controversial.  I couldn't get enough.

Fast forward about thirty years . . . 

When I found out that Judy Blume would be in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to receive the 2009 Southern Mississippi Medallion at their annual children's book festival, I just couldn't miss seeing her.

She is a beautiful woman and a beautiful speaker.  She began her speech by admitting that she loved her library copy of Madeline  so much that she hid it in the back of her toy drawer so that she wouldn't have to return it.  She had related so completely to brave little Madeline and the lovely world created by Ludwig Bemelmans.  Ms. Blume spoke about her stand against censorship and her desire to write books that she wished had been around when she was young. She spoke endearingly about her mother and the rest of her supportive, wonderful family--even tearing up a few times.  She spoke about how parents and children can communicate through literature, and how literature creates a safe place to have those discussions.  And, as in all great speeches, Ms. Blume finished her talk by returning to the beginning saying that she constantly strived  to get rid of the critics and censors and "go deep inside to that place where [she] can be a brave and strong as Madeline."

Needless to say, she got a standing ovation.  And, lots of teary listeners.

After her speech, I was able to stand in line for a few hours and have my books signed. When I finally made it into the room where JUDY BLUME was sitting, I was so nervous that I took about ten pictures that looked like this:

Then, I put down my purse and steadied my camera with both of my hands and was able to get one picture like this:

And, here we are:

Plus, I haven't even told you about all the other amazing, authors at the conference:   Louise Bordon, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ashley Bryan, Yuyi Morales, Arthur Yorinks, and John Green. Surely, some magic, genius fairy dust has landed on me.  Right?



Friday, April 3, 2009

Feelin' Funky

Look SF! While you were gone, I was in a temporary funk. I couldn't blog. I was kinda down. Someone stole all of my bedding (read below). And it rained a lot.

But Friday, as I was funking out by myself in my driveway, who dropped by to cheer me up?

Why, my new baby Max, of course :-)

And what better way to defunk than to bottlefeed and nurture an infant squirrel! Lord help me...

P.S. The reality of raising a squirrel has set in (after midnight and 4 am feeding) and I am now looking for adoptive parents. Anyone? Anyone? Come on SF! You know Copper needs a friend!!

But is this photo great, or what? Awww.. Okay - NOW I need to give this sucker away!

I've been robbed!

Look. The scene of the crime. Someone stole ALL of my bedding from my beloved laundromat!!!!!

I have a bizarre love of washing my comforter and blankets in the big industrial machines at the laundromat. And yes, I leave and go do errands while they are delightfully spinning.

Well, yesterday I returned to find them delightfully GONE!

So now I have to go buy all new bedding (which is secretly fun, but also crappy 'cuz of the economy).

The good news is that I am rip roaring through my revisions. Did you hear that? RIP ROARING THROUGH! Finally!!!
The book which was originally said to be "wicked cool," is now BAD A$$ to the MAX! Hopefully you'll read it one day.

Other than that, I am eating chocolate and sour cherry candy at the moment and enjoying the warmer days... Oh! And missing SF. She has been so busy with Judy Blume and John Green that I haven't even talked to her yet.

I guess that's it. My blogging sucks lately. Sorry Peeps.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Blog Block

The title says it all. I have blog block. The good news is that unlike "writer's block," blog block isn't as long lasting or as frustrating. In fact, the worst blog block might do is make some of our devoted followers get bored with us and quit reading (which would be oh so sad 'cuz we love y'all).

I am not sure why I can't think of what to blog about, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I have had a soccer game, practice, or tournament every day for the last month. And they are never at the same time which means my poor Kate is frequently either too late or too early. And then there's dance - which involves at least four hours a week of practice and traveling to competitions on random weekends. Of course there was the book conference, another speaking engagement, Spring Break, and a zillion other things.

And in the tiny spaces when I was alone, I revised. - which is finally coming together (knock on wood).

So, my Dears, I am sorry for this temporary break in our normally witty banter. I am simply suffering from the dreaded Blog Block. I hope to be back on track next week.



P.S. According to Google Images this photo is a "frustrated person." He's a mighty cute frustrated person though, isn't he?

Our Motto

Our Motto