Mama Camp in Pictures

You may have noticed (or not) that posts are less regular here at Creative Chaos. That’s because my full time job as Director of Mama Camp (read: parenting) has kicked into full gear. There have been many field trips.

Trips to Hadlock Field to watch the Portland Seadogs.
Number two son kayaking at Sewell Pond.
Number one son climbing the “jumping tree” at Sewell Pond for the first time.
Window shopping in Newburyport with cousins.
Jumping frigid waves at Plum Island.

And lots of time at the best library on Earth, Curtis Memorial Library where we are busy with fun crafts:

Paper bag owls.

the coolest Teen Zone ever:

CML Teen Zone with awesome graphic novel/manga collection and great audio books.

wonderful lifesized animal sculptures (there’s also a whale, a unicorn, and a friendly boar):

Number two son and paper maché giraffe.

and the best of all… Fabulous librarians who care about books and kids:

The best Youth Services librarians ev-er!

You can imagine with all this action that there has been little time to blog, or to write for that matter. Here’s what I’ve been trying to fit in between Mama Camp and sleeping.

  • Rowing (Link for video. I’m in three seat. The camera moves to starboard around 4:44)
  • Running (Sadly I haven’t been biking but I need to change my rear tube.)
  • A work-for-hire editing project that has been an awesome experience.
  • Subbing to agents for the first time in three years. Nothing yet. (BEA, ALA, and 4th of July are now over. I’m on pins and needles.)
  • Working on NESCBWI Illustrator Day. Save the date: September 29th, 2012.

Happily, sleep away camp is a couple weeks away and I’m eager for the break. I’ll take that time to go to the VCFA Alumni Mini Rez and a writing retreat. I’m psyched to see everyone. Cross your fingers that I’ll have good news to share by the time I get there.

Happy summer.

Five on Friday: Early Spring

1. Today I’m excited to attend the Maine Poetry Out Loud finals. Over 8,000 high school students representing schools from all over Maine started competing many months ago, and now there are only ten. The winner, the runner up and Cumberland County finalists will be invited to participate in the Brunswick, Poem in Your Pocket afternoon event at The Little Dog Café on Tuesday, April 24th.

2. El Niño? La Niña? Global warming? Whatever it was, I was thrilled to don my short-shorts and tshirt to enjoy the 80 degree weather in Maine this week. Look!

Daffodils in March! Crazy, but I’m not complaining.

3. Beautiful weather = Anna outside training. I got in two longer bike rides this week and a long walk with a friend at Pinelands. Today, I’m in the pool again doing laps. Nevertheless, I’m feeling good about the upcoming UNE Nor’Easter. At first, I thought I’d just do it as an early training exercise, but now I feel as if I might beat some of my previous times. We’ll see.

4. Despite the beautiful weather, and my training, this week has been extremely productive. Every day I’ve been forcing myself inside to chip away at the revision of my WIP. I’m thrilled to report that the end is near. (26 pages away) I’ll be sending it to first readers next week– meeting my self-imposed April 1 deadline. My momentum is slowed only by my own fears.  Will my generous first readers get half way through and decide that my writing sucks? That the story is trite? The characters two dimensional? I can only hope that they have (as one of them told me this week) “a sharp pencil and a soft heart.”

5. So with all that productivity something has to slip, right? My kitchen is a total mess and we’ve eaten out about three times in the last seven days. The messy kitchen is actually out of character for me. Even if the rest of the house is a pit, my kitchen is usually clean. I just haven’t been able to rise to the challenge. I’m trying to give myself a pass on the guilt. It will get done. I have food in the freezer. Yesterday at Pinelands, I got fresh veggies. Salmon with zucchini and brussel sprouts are on the menu tonight. What’s for dinner in your house?

Have a good weekend! On Member Monday– Looking forward to the NESCBWI spring conference. An interview with Joyce Johnson, conference co-director

Five on Friday: Flurry and Snowe

1. This week has been weird political whirlwind that included the Maine Democratic Caucus, Republican Senator Snowe’s retirement announcement, a flurry of speculation regarding new candidates and a March 1st snow storm. I had collected a bunch of signatures for Chellie Pingree’s 1st District Congress seat and was then happy to learn that I should be prepared for another set of papers any time now. I’m crossing my fingers that she decides to run. At this writing, she has not confirmed or announced either way. Also pleased to say that the Blunt amendment was blocked.

2. I wish I could say that the snow day let me get a bunch of work done on my WIP. Sadly, no. Instead I caught up on my volunteer efforts for the Junior High Music Boosters, did laundry and watched a movie with my kiddos.

3. I am training in earnest again. My first tri of the season is in about 7 or so weeks. The Nor’Easter a backwards triathlon. I’ve started the multisport class at the Y and had a blast getting my butt kicked by our drill master instructor, Jen on Monday. If I don’t finish this blog soon I’m going to be late for the Friday class. Eek!

4. My second “Book Review Brigade” class (hosted by Maine Writers and Publishers) is tomorrow. I stayed up late working on four different book reviews for the class (adult fiction) and didn’t get to post my kidlit Book Review Wednesday. I apologize and will double up next Wednesday.

5. Two months officially down on this deployment and about 10 months to go. There are good days and bad days. The worst days have me screaming like a banshee. The best days  include small intimate moments with my children. Day by day, folks. Day by day.

Five on Friday

1. I just finished marking up and responding to six-one page letters from my pre-college English class. Two more will arrive over the weekend via snail mail. I marked up each one in Word then wrote a one page letter back to each of them. My head is pounding from the exercise. I can't even imagine what it is like to get 40 pages from an MFA candidate. God bless my VCFA professors. I can't believe how lucky I was to have each one of you.
2. This is the end of week one. Sixty three weeks to go. I'm so tired already. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, send me a private message.)
3. Rowed twice this week. No running, no biking, no swimming. Must figure this out. I need it to clear my head. Two new swimsuits arrived in the mail today though. Here's a picture of the suit for our "Angry Kitties" all girl (and allies) Triathlon group.

4. I had a pretty good week of writing. Not perfect but about three out of five days. One day was especially productive and lovely where all the ideas flowed easily. I'll try and make up for it this weekend.
5. Exciting things going on this weekend if you are an illustrator. First, Hazel Mitchel is meeting foks at the MOFGA Common Ground Fair in Unity Maine for a meet-up/sketch crawl. You can message her on Twitter @TheWackyBrit. The Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo is going on this weekend info here. And the Maine Illustrators' Collective meeting is Sunday the 25th. More info here.

Five on Friday

1. I am sitting on my screen porch enjoying the third day of sunshine after two weeks of gray, foggy, cold. The cold came back last night, just as son #2 and I took our places on the bleachers to watch son #1 play baseball. "Where’d the blanket go, Mom?" "I took it out of the car when the sun came back yesterday." I should have known better. At least I got two hours of intensive snuggling from son #2.
2. In the dog walking field: many ticks, volunteer asparagus, two dead frogs in large standing puddles, one muddy yellow lab.
3. Got in a nice run Wednesday afternoon when it was about 75 degrees. Lucy dog kept up nicely and was thrilled when I let her cool off in the cemetery pond. (I don’t think the residents minded, do you?) Can’t wait to start training regularly again.
4. Walked the Portland, ME "Freedom Trail," yesterday with 13 fifth, and sixth graders. The trail features important sites and people involved with helping fugitive slaves escape to Canada on the underground railroad. Two weeks left of teaching. I’m ready for summer.
5. Final and fifth packet deadline this Tuesday. Must complete novel revisions. Not getting far. Please send productive vibes.

Five on Friday

1. Deadlines approacheth. I’m working on a difficult revision of a picture book with civil rights information. Questions such as how to be developmentally appropriate, not be preachy, and show not tell are swirling around my computer today. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been writing for children these always seem to be the crucial questions.  Also working on my picture book presentation for the VCFA July residency.

2. My second triathlon is on Sunday morning. The experience of the first has taken away some of my pre-race jitters so I’m mostly excited. I’ve decided that triathlons are sort of like child birth. You forget the pain after you enjoy the emotional high of the finish line.

3. Good news on the job front! I’ll be teaching an integrated 5/6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies class at The Friends School of Portland coming September. The four morning a week schedule should be perfect for completing my VCFA critical thesis. (You can remind me I said this when I’m pulling out my hair in November.) LL Bean has also hired me to a retail sales job at their camping department. Stop by if you’re in Maine this summer and I’ll show you some tents!

4. My son was part of a Civil War reenactment this week. I have to say, it was a little uncomfortable watching our children in this romanticized version of war especially when we are in a war right now. We need to ask our children to contemplate the effectiveness and cost of battle to reach political ends. By teaching war do we beget more war or preclude it? What is worth fighting for?

5. Again, with the Civil War… I always felt that my understanding of this atrocious loss of life was always distilled to the lowest common denominator. "The good north was fighting to free the slaves from the bad south." As I’ve gotten older and done some study of my own, I find that the facts are much more nuanced than that. Why do we persist in teaching this distilled version?

PS: if you see me on facebook this weekend, tell me to get back to work.

Summing Up

It’s been quite a long time since my last post. Much has been going on and since it is too long to explain I’ll just sum up. (Did you get the Princess Bride allusion there?)

Jobs: I’ve applied to a writing specialist job at Bates and a teaching position at the Friends School of Portland. I’ve been interviewed at the Friends School so it seems that is more likely to come through. Contacting the Bates folks today to follow up. I also applied to LL Bean’s for retail sales position at the Bike, Boat and Ski shop. I was psyched when they called to offer me the job. I went in to fill out all my paper work, watch their harassment video (not how to, but how not to), and get cleared by their health department. Turns out that the job I was offered was a "level 5" position which requires lifting a 50 lb. box to the height of 76 inches. I did 40 safely, but needed spotting on 45 and help on 50. So bad news…no Bike, Boat and Ski job. Good news…they called yesterday and offered me a position in camping. Discount, here I come. Summer weekends, good-bye.

Triathlon: I’ve been training like crazy and after watching the Polar Tri last Saturday, I’m really excited about the celebration that my first race will be. The race is coming up soon, next Saturday, May 22nd, there is still time to donate to the cause. All money goes to help with YMCA scholarships for camp and membership. The "Mighty Mama’s" (our team) is so close to our $200 goal. Please help.
And because I’m a crazy girl, I’ve already signed up for my next Tri with the Bath Y. (Not a fundraiser) so I’ll get a chance to do all three sections and be timed for both transitions.

VCFA/Writing: I’ve been chugging away churning out picture book manuscripts this semester and have at least 2 or 3 that I feel are submission quality. One is with an editor now and I’m hoping to hear something soon. I need to revise my novel and start subbing to agents but things have been so busy that I’ve had to put that on hold.

Book Review Wednesday: Um… I’m really sorry. I just haven’t kept up and there’s really no excuse except, well, all the other stuff I’ve been doing.

Illustration: The Great Goose Auction is over and I’m trying to find out what happened with my two painted eggs. More on that later. My Fufu And Fresh Strawberries illustrations are awaiting an input of funding to The Telling Room in Portland. They are hoping for grant money to make the design and publication possible. Right now, I’m working on illustrations for my picture book Roar which I will show at the Illustrator’s Academy this Sunday. I’m also working on my poster for the showcase and trying to get my portfolio together too. I’ve been happy doing the whole portfolio thing on line so it’s kind of a pain to get all the images together, printed out and assembled in the book. So on that note, here are some images to take a look at. Enjoy.

Five on Sunday

1. Today was the most beautiful day. It must have been close to 80 degrees. We went to a lovely church service with fabulous music: bell ringers, choirs, a brass quartet and organ. The sermon was thoughtful and thought provoking. Chris made a lovely dinner and we ate on the screen porch. Between al fresco dining and the first Red Sox game…Spring is officially here.

2. Does anyone know how to get your puppy to actually go to the door or tell you when they need to out? We thought we had the potty training down but there seems to be some regression.

3. More deadlines coming up quickly. To do this week:

  • VCFA forum assignment
  • VCFA revisions
  • Complete VCFA paper
  • New sketches for Roar! dummy and work on Jacob Jones revisions for agent packet.

4. Reading: The Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick fabulous prose. Lyrical and riveting.

5. Weekly training totals 3/29-4/4:
Running- 7.25 miles
Swimming-1000 yards
Biking- 47.35 miles

Weeks until the Tri for the Casco Bay Y- 7
If you’d like to donate to my "Mighty Mama’s" triathlon team please donate online!