Almost two weeks?!

I’m shocked that it has been almost two weeks since my last posting. Shocked, but not surprised. My fingers have been tingling like crazy. Do you get that? That, oh-my-gosh-I-haven’t-been-writing feeling. So there it is. The admission. I haven’t been writing, when I was most charged up to do so. We have been on a long coastal journey which I will tell you more about in paragraph three, but it includes 1400 miles, a job interview, and matzah.

I have been drawing and revisioning my Roar, dummy…AGAIN.  Actually I got a great brainstorm while on my recent journey. Another secondary character, a mouse, who watches the action unfolding. I’m excited to finish this up and get it to my agent. Secret agent man has given me permission to put aside the Ballet project for a while.  He says that it is best not to put too much work into a non-fiction work lest it be changed by the publisher who is interested in the proposal and first chapter. Instead, Secret agent man has advised me to get to work on the novel that the editor at the conference wants to see. That is all good with me. The characters have been calling to me as I re-read Bird by Bird this week and I am eager to see what they have to say.

The journey started on Friday 18th when we drove from Maine to Pennsylvania to visit with my parents. We admired their forsythia bushes and awoke to lovely birdsong. On Saturday we had Passover Seder #1. It was very casual as we really made it our own, inviting comments and linking the traditional with current events and issues of the day. I love including everyone in the Seder, especially kids. I & E were great and had a lot of wise things to say. Passover Seder #2 was at my cousins’ home. Thanks Robin and Bob! A much bigger and more traditional event, it was great to see the whole fam damily.

Monday we drove to St. Mary’s county where Chris had an interview. Things went well and we are awaiting an offer from the company. Assuming this all goes well we will move from our wonderful home in Maine to a new adventure south of D.C. (Anne Marie are you out there?) I grew up in Northwest DC and I’m looking forward to being closer to my parents, cousins, sister and one of my brothers. It will be tough to leave our home that Chris built for us and our community of 14 years. However, we are planning on renting out our current home for a couple of years until things are clearer. The best thing about blogging is that I know that I will still be connected with all of my writer friends when and if we move. LiveJournal and writing are portable.

But wait, there’s more!

A Poetry Class Plug, The Conference, and Friends

A Plug:
On May 3rd I will be teaching an all day workshop on Writing Poetry for Children through the University of Southern Maine’s Continuing education program. Check out more information about the class here. If you have any questions for me about the class I’m happy to answer them through comments. I hope to see some of you Mainers who I met at the conference!

The Conference:

Conferences are a celebration of the essence that community. This weekend, our New England SCBWI community celebrated in a big way. Five hundred fifty people on Saturday and almost 300 on Sunday, came together to learn and “Stretch their wings.” As a conference coordinator I am flying high.

When Saturday came I was braced to put out fires all day long. What would go wrong and would I be able to handle it? I worried. It turns out that I shouldn’t have worried. As Sally Reilly reminded me, all the work that you did in the 10 months leading up to the conference pays off. She was right. So many wonderful attendees stopped to tell me how much they enjoyed the conference. From workshops, to friendships, to speakers people have been so positive. It is great to read everyone’s blog this morning and hear how much fun and learning went on.

The conference is a group effort and I give huge kudos to Francine Puckly, and Janet Arden, my co-directors. The speakers, Kevin Hawkes and Laurie Halse Anderson were lovely. Down to earth and well prepared. The workshop presenters gave it their all and the volunteers kept the whole thing running behind the scene. The staff at the hotel, were fabulous as always.

I’m especially proud of the Illustrator Academy and the poster showcase. These events brought the talents and craft of illustrators, and the illustrators themselves, out of the studio and into the light.

Thanks goes to Dick Blick Art Supplies and Picture Book portfolio directory for the amazing prizes. Also, thank you to

 Laura Jacques for organizing the showcase. You will be seeing her art on the 2009 conference materials!

Brian Lies, Susan Sherman, Lita Judge and Victoria Jameison were the amazing faculty for the Illustrator Academy. I learned so much from their critiques and presentations. Mostly, I learned that as Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Drawing after drawing, after sketch, after color study, after research for reference all combine to make great illustration. Revision is not an option it is a necessity just as in writing. No one gets it right the first time. Those who I most admire, authors and illustrators, dig in deep and accept the challenge of hard work. Everyday.

In personal conference news. My critique editor requested the full manuscript of my novel.  I feel that I should whisper that instead of shouting it from the cyber-rooftop. Do not mistake this announcement as a solicitation of congratulations. Instead it is the of the acknowledgment of the challenge ahead. A happy challenge and an important step on my journey but I’ll need your support. This is the novel I started during JoNoWriMo.
Thanks Jo! 

Speaking of support, thank you for your kind words on the passing of my dog Sam. I notice today the lack of noise in the house. No click, click of doggy nails on the wood floor, or jingling of collar as he scratches beneath his chin. I miss him and these flashes of memory will certainly stop me in my tracks from time to time. I gave myself permission not to write yesterday and to feel the grief fully. Don’t think me callus, but I’m also noticing the lack of black fur in my house and the extra time I have to enjoy the morning. Today, I am writing and working and moving forward.

Write On!

Good-bye Sam the Dog

This is not the entry I had planned for today. I’ll write about the conference and other good news tomorrow. Know that while this is a sad entry, there is much joy in my life. As we ride the roller coaster of life we never really know or control what is around the next bend.

It is with deep sadness and regret that I tell you, we had to put our dog Sam to sleep today.

Sam was probably 10 or 11 years old, and his dark blue black fur was almost completely gray at his muzzle and on his belly. Over the last six months he had grown thin loosing 30 pounds. Where once he was meaty and muscley, today he was only skin and bones. In the last 24 hours he lost control of his bowels entirely and I knew it was time. I will miss his loyalty, company, and protection.

We brought Sam home from the Edgecomb shelter in September of 1998. Already two or three years old, Sam had his share of issues. He ran off, he got into garbage, he tried to sleep on the couch at night, he was the worst mooch at the dinner table and he stole food from the counters when you turned your back on him. But Sammy loved to swim and fetch and get a good belly rub. Scratch him on his bum just above the tail, around the ears or under his front legs, and he’d be your buddy forever.

He loved cold weather, so our home in Maine was perfect for him. He’d explore the snowy landscape as I cross- country skiied nearby. This always made me think of an abstract painting that I hope to create someday– “Black dog in the snow.” It will be a black smudge on an otherwise white canvas. “Snow doggy!” I’d yell, and he’d leap through the snow, bounding over drifts. I threw snowballs that he caught and munched. He rolled over on his back and wiggled side to side taking a snow bath. Then he’d jump up and look where he’d been. It seemed that these were his doggy snow angels. 

Sam had a super sniffer. He could snif out mice, garbage and food anywhere. If something tempted Sammy’s nose, whether it was under snow, in the ground, buried in the woodpile, or in the rafters, he’d root, dig, and climb to get it. 

Sam inspired my art and writing. In “Watch that tail Sammy,” I wrote about his whacking, smacking tail that swung right at toddler eye level. Sam was great with our boys and other children who could get past the fact that he was an 80 pound big, black dog. I’ll never forget the image of Sam lying under the basinet guarding I. when we brought him home from the hospital nine years ago. 

Sam had a special relationship with my father. Whenever Dad visited, Sam stuck close to him. Sam nuzzled Dad, putting his nose on my father’s lap and pushing his hand to the top of that doggy head. My father in turn scratched and pat Sam around the scruff of the neck and around his ears. The two old men seemed to appreciate an afternoon nap in the sun and each other. 

Good-bye Sam.  

Sonnet Worksheet

I’m trying to upload this sonnet worksheet I made for anyone who wants to give it a go. This might make the iambic pentameter a little easier to deal with. You should be able to click on it and get a bigger version but not exactly full letter size. You can get the idea and then copy it on your own or put your email in the comments and I’ll email you a PDF of it.

Sonnet Contest

Garrison Keillor is having a sonnet contest. The winner gets a sleep number bed and a dozen roses.  “A bed of roses…” if you will. A sonnet is a 14 line poem where each line is in iambic pentameter and it often (not always) uses the rhyme scheme: a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. I’m not going to go much further on this for fear of stepping on the toes or our resident poetry form expert

 I’m sure she has posts that you can find that give lovely examples of sonnets and the exceptions to the rule. In fact, if you are interested in the ways you can stretch your poetic wings, don’t miss her two part workshop on Saturday the 12th at the NESCBWI conference. Until then, try your hand at the sonnet and enter before you go to Nashua!

Speaking of Nashua. We are at seven days and a wake-up. Spring must be here.

Conference count down

Well, I’ve managed to miss a LJ birthday for 

 and a get out the vote celebration for 

. I also missed the release celebration for Love and other Uses for Duct Tape by aforementioned 

. Why? Because we are down to the Nitty Gritty.

NO! Not the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
The little stuff that has to happen before the NESCBWI annual spring conference. The special meals, the registration confirmations, the closet for the doorprizes, the people who want refunds (they can’t come now because their husband’s cousin’s sister is having a baby that day), the number of screens, and whiteboards, and mics, and folders and… you get it. I think I have another 30 emails each time I turn away from my computer. 

So Happy Birthday to Kelly. Carrie, my grover says “I heart Cawwie” too. (I’ll bring him to the conference so he can tell you himself.)

Luckily, the snow has stopped. (Shhh, don’t say it outloud, it’s bound to start again.) My husband is home. My dog, while not cured is at least not pooping on the floor. My sons are practicing for the May Day celebration at school. (Maypole anyone?) And baseball season has started. Must have, my son has started carrying around his  baseball mit, and my husband tries to surf back and forth to baseball while I’m trying to get a good look at Jason Taylor on Dancing With the Stars. (The man is fine. Grover thinks so too.)

Nine more days and a wake up.