Monday, November 24, 2014

Picture Book Idea Month

Picture book writer Tara Lazar runs Picture Book Idea Month every November. This year, I've read fantastic posts from picture book writers, illustrators, and agents. Reading through the posts is like taking a free class. I'd recommend it for anyone interested in writing picture books. 

Last year, I came up with twice the required 30 picture book ideas. I was SO excited to write some of those ideas during 2014, but then I put the notebook in a safe place and forgot about it. Four to six months later, I went looking for my idea notebook, but I still haven't found it. I remember some of the ideas, though, and have worked on a few of them.

PiBoIdMo is kitten approved!

This year I've approached it differently. Instead of using one of my many ordinary notebooks, I decorated a spiral bound book of notecards. I like writing poems on notecards, and I wanted the notebook to be something small and easy to recognize. Instead of trying to amass as many ideas as possible, I'm trying to visualize and flesh out some (not all) of the ideas as they come. I've even written a few manuscripts.

Parakeets prefer picture books!

I sent the best one off for critique today. :o)

Hope your week is filled with friends, family, favorite foods, and all the right words!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Treats from a Tree

So, I have a poem in the November issue of Highlights High Five, and they actually pronounced my name correctly on the audio version. :o) I'd say this never happens, but hey, it just did.

If you'd like to hear it, you can click through to the Highlights website. My poem is Treats from a Tree, page 16. Or you can check out Alex Paterson's delightful illustrations (including the one with my poem) on his website.

Once again, I'm thrilled to see the finished product. If you're interested in writing for children's magazines, I can't over recommend submitting to Highlights. They offer the best pay, and they will make you look great. But by far, the best part is working with fantastic editors.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Winners and Another Happy Thing

First, I love that everyone who entered told me how they found my blog. Thank you!

Second, while everyone entered the drawing for ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, Krista Van Dolzer was the only person who wanted the magazine, and Mariah Ellis was the one one interested in a critique. So they automatically won those giveaways.

Determining the third winner took a bit more work on my part, but we have one.

Katherine wins the book (and buttons)!

Thanks so much to everyone for the happy wishes and entries! Mariah and Katherine, please email me at myrnabobfoster at yahoo dot com. Krista, I'll be over your way next week for a high school soccer game. Hopefully, we can swap illustrated brain children then. :o) If not, I'll mail it to you.

Third, on a completely unrelated note, I finished my first draft of the first book in a middle grade space opera series. I wrote this draft in the notebook underneath the chest in the picture. There's nothing quite like finishing a first draft. It still needs lots of work, but I totally love it (which means I'd probably better work on a different project before I revise it).

Happy Wednesday! Mwah! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Five Year Anniversary of Night Writer

I wrote my first blog post on October 10, 2009. That little post had two commenters: Stephanie Perkins and the mysterious Q. I thought it was fun that some of our avatar photos in the comments are actually the ones we used back then.

Steph was one of the reasons I started blogging. I interacted with Steph through her blog for quite while before started my own. I still love Steph and her writing, so I'm giving away a signed copy of her latest novel, ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, (and the three buttons in the pic) as part of my anniversary celebration. Steph's lyrical writing, the intense longing, awkward situations, hard decisions, and authentic voices make for an amazing read. Plan on not being able to put it down once you start.

Isla was so easy for me to relate to. I read blogs for a long time before starting my own because, as Isla states, "social networking has always felt like a popularity contest to me. A public record of my own inadequacies."

But after I jumped into it, I made the most amazing friends. All of my regular critique partners are people I encountered through blogging. I've met up with Krista, Jackee, and Q, but Amy and Adam live farther away. Adam lives much, MUCH farther away (Thailand). If the only benefit I ever received from blogging was the influence these five people have had on my life and writing, it would be worth it.

I could tell great stories about any of my CPs, but I'm going to single out Q for a moment because, like Steph, she commented on that first blog post. This time of year, last year, we (along with another friend) were engaged in a writing challenge where we reported to each other on a daily basis. It was awesome. We both finished first drafts. In March, we attended a writing workshop that Mette Ivie Harrison hosted at Sundance as part of Writing for Charity. The workshop included a critique and private conversation with Joe Monti, Executive Editor of Saga Press. That was kind of incredible. Joe Monti's questions and comments were intelligent and insightful, and I believe that anyone would be fortunate to have him for an editor. However, the best part of the experience was hanging out with Q, talking about writing and books all day. Discussing ideas in person is a completely different experience than a novel critique.

Although I often critique writing for others, I don't usually give away critiques on the blog. In fact, it's probably been three or four years since the last time. But if you've written something (poetry, PB, MG, or YA) for children or teens that you'd like me to critique, put a brief description in the comments. I'll pick the description that most appeals to me. I've written everything listed in parenthesis. I've sold several poems to Highlights High Five and lots of newspaper articles (mostly on assignment).

In fact, I have a poem coming out their November issue. If you'd like a copy (it's a preschool magazine), put that in your comment.

I'll choose winners of the Highlights High Five magazine and ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER randomly. You may enter all three giveaways if you'd like. Because of the nature of this post, I'll give a bonus entry to anyone who comments about how they found my blog. Comments must be posted before midnight (PDT) on October 20th. Also, I'm sorry, but this one isn't open internationally.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Starting a New Project

We took the kiddos to see "Guardians of the Galaxy" last night, and all of us loved it (though, that beginning was just rude). Quill reminded me of one of my favorite nephews, a nephew who was in trouble* with his parents a lot when he was growing up.

And today, the main character for the MG space opera that I outlined last spring started talking. Probably not a coincidence.

I outlined the first two books in the series last spring. I've just been waiting for the character's personality to show up. So, I'm going to see where this takes me. I've never written a middle grade novel before.

I'm excited about this project, though.

*I just realized that most (but not all) of the nieces and nephews who voluntarily hang out with me have had interesting stretches with their parents. I'm not going to analyze that one. 

Monday, June 23, 2014


Mary, you've won a pre-order for A. L. Sonnichsen's RED BUTTERFLY! Congratulations! Please contact me with mailing information.

The book's release date is February 3, 2015.

Happy Monday!

Monday, June 16, 2014

"My Writing Process" Blog Tour

Krista Van Dolzer tagged me last week in her post, so I'm going to answer some questions about my writing process.

What am I working on?

I'm splitting a YA fantasy in two and adding two more POV characters. There are three main characters, and I think that giving each of them a voice will eliminate inconsistencies.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I haven't read any other ghost stories with sea serpents. Have you?

Why do I write what I do?

I write different things for different reasons. I'm still revising THE BINDER'S WEB because I want to understand the characters and find out what happens. Basically, I'm in love with the world and the characters. If I could visit, I totally would. But I'd want to schedule that visit before or after the events I'm writing about take place.

How does your writing process work?

I have to have a character and an idea before I start, and I always think I know how it will end. Ha! The story always comes out differently than I think it will. Characters come and go, and everybody evolves as I revise. In other words, my first draft is an unsightly thing that bears little resemblance to the finished product. I don't usually let anyone see my work until the third draft.

And maybe I shouldn't admit this in public, but I use gimmicks to get through tough drafts. The first draft of a novel I ever finished, I put up a post-it note every 1,000 words to show how far I'd gone. I wish I'd taken a picture those post-its when I finished. For the draft I'm working on right now, I used Excel to print out a bunch of plain (painfully boring) calendars. For every hour I spend working on TBW*, I get to put a Sandra Boynton sticker on my calendar*. I love Sandra Boynton.

This tour has been going around for long enough that a lot of people have already been there, done that. If you haven't been tagged, and would like to participate, let me know in the comments. Thanks!

* Just writing doesn't count because I write nonfiction almost every day for work.
**Laini Taylor has a sticker calendar. Only, if I remember right, she has to write 1,000 words to get a sticker. Anyway, I found the idea on her blog.