Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Lied.

But you knew that. I am actually a terrible liar. I could only do this, because it's online and you can't see my face. Even if I am telling a mistruth to kid someone, I have to say right away, "I'm kidding!" I'd be no good at poker.
Here are my six lies from yesterday's post and my one truth.

Lie #1. The summer before my senior year of college, I was a roller derby girl for the Windy City Rollers until I broke my wrist.
When I was in junior high, I went to the roller rink a lot with my friends. It's not like riding a bike though. I have skated with my own kids, and I'm a hazard to them if I hold their hand! I seriously practice in the beginner's section.

Lie #2. I have a small cameo in a Motley Crue video.
Sadly this is a lie, because I'd love to be in a Crue video! I do have a small cameo in this Brides of Destruction video though (I'm at 1:56 and 3:35). They do have a Crue connection, because Nikki Sixx, the bassist for Motley Crue, was the original bassist of Brides of Destruction. And in other Sixx news, Nikki has a new nightly radio show called Sixx Sense on select rock stations across the U.S.

Lie #3. I was prom queen in high school, and my boyfriend at the time was prom king.
I was not prom queen, but my sister was! Switch the word from prom to homecoming in that sentence, and it would be true.

Lie #4. My minor in college was mathematics, but I have forgotten half of what I learned.
My minor was sociology. I wish my minor was english, but for some reason I had taken a lot of sociology classes, so I just took more to minor in it. My major was elementary education, so this minor doesn't make too much sense!

Lie #5. I write articles for the National Enquirer under a pen name.
No, but I was published in Us Weekly once (in the reader mail comments section when they had it!). The topic was Matthew McConaughey.

Lie #6. My favorite meal on St. Patrick's Day is corned beef and cabbage.
My favorite meal on St. Patty's Day is a reuben, no saurkraut. But my husband usually makes corned beef and cabbage on that day, and I am forced to choke down a bite of cabbage since I make my kids try it.

Here's the whole truth and nothin' but the truth:

I attended the University of Illinois on scholarship for three of my four years there.
My freshman year I won a couple of small scholarships to help pay tuition at the U of I, but my sophomore - senior year I had an Illinois General Assembly Legislative scholarship that paid my full tuition. My parents were pretty darn happy about that. My p's paid for my room and board, and I paid for my spending money by working in the summers and saving it. I had to maintain a B average to keep my scholarship, and I managed to do that and go out 3-4 nights a week! Ahhhh, college days...

The only one who guessed that was Jonathan! So now I feel extra bad that I dissed cabbage yet again!
Thanks for playing along!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Yesterday was all monkey business; today I'm getting serious. Because I seriously need help.
I will be speaking (and/or skyping) with two agents soon (thanks to you and Shelli!), and I have started a list of topics I want to talk about and questions I want to ask. I really want to make sure my list is thorough, so I don't end up with five minutes left talking about the weather or about the last concert I went to (well, actually I like talking about concerts to anyone who will listen to me, but I should be using this time more wisely...). Could you please help me brainstorm?
1. What question(s) would you ask?
2. What topic about publishing or querying would you want to know about more?
Thank you for your help with this.

Here are some appropriate tunes for Tuesday by some band you've probably never heard of.
Help! (How'd Ringo get stuck with the umbrella?)

With A Little Help From My Friends

I've added onto today's post, because I've been generously awarded two awards in the last twenty four hours!
Rena Jones, author of A New Job for Dilly and Lemur Troops and Critter Groups, awarded me with the Creative Writer Blogger Award. Thank you, Rena!Photobucket
Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link them.
2. Add the award to your blog.
3. Tell six outrageous lies about yourself and one truth.
4. Nominate six creative liars ... I mean, writers and link them.
5. Let your nominees know they've been nominated.

Here are my five lies and one truth. Guess which one is the truth!

1. The summer before my senior year of college, I was a roller derby girl for the Windy City Rollers until I broke my wrist.

2. I attended the University of Illinois on scholarship for three of my four years there.

3. I have a small cameo in a Motley Crue video.

4. I was prom queen in high school, and my boyfriend at the time was prom king.

5. My minor in college was mathematics, but I have forgotten half of what I learned.

6. I write articles for the National Enquirer under a pen name.

7. My favorite meal on St. Patrick's Day is corned beef and cabbage.

I give this award to these creative people: Jonathan, Heather, Tina, (who all three so creatively created WIBIJ), Anita and Murph (because I want to hear what funny lies they come up with), and Ray at Big Plain V (because I'd like him to post more).

C. Lee McKenzie, author of Sliding on the Edge, also awarded me The Sunshine Award! Thanks so much, Lee! I award it to anyone that reads this, because you took the time in your busy life to read my blog today. Thank you!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gettin' Funny Part One

Many of you know that my husband and I are taking a class titled, "Get Funny," from our community college (speaking of, does anyone else watch the TV show, "Community," with Joel McHale and Chevy Chase? Yes, it's funny.).

On the first day, we were the only two students in the online class. There is a discussion online area where students were to introduce themselves. Mine was pretty straightforward as I figured I'd tell my instructor basics about myself. Though I did add that the cute guy in class was my husband who thinks he is funny.
Without reading my intro, my husband wrote that he joined the class, because his wife told him he wasn't funny or popular enough, and he wanted to improve his use of bathroom humor at the dinner table. The instructor replied that she'd help him increase his Poopularity.
Over the weekend three more students joined and introduced themselves, one told my husband and I to get a room.
I knew this class would be a hoot...

Our lessons include readings, quizzes, discussions in the online discussion area, and assignments. Before we started the class, my husband and I took a pretest. He scored 58%, I scored 83%.
Apparently, we need this class even more than we thought.

Lesson One chronicled the history of comedy. The instructor hypothesized about caveman humor, discussed silent movie comedies and the comedic writings of Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and Oscar Wilde.

Lesson Two covered "It's funny, because it's true!" comedy. Seinfeld and Steven Wright are examples of this type of hilarity.
One of our assignments in our second lesson is to have an observation notebook to make accurate, detailed observations in everyday situations: use macro/micro observations - magnify the object or situation, or study the minute parts of it.

These observation notes can easily be used for inspiration to write scenes and stories. They are little gems of ordinary happenings that are familiar to readers. When you are cognisant of your observations, you start to see so much more, and that unlocks your imagination. I intend to save and continuously add to this observation notebook for future manuscripts.

Here is the last sentence in our reading for the second lesson:
"If you listen to what people say, and you really hear. or you watch what people do and really see. or you use your senses, process what they tell you and make careful notes, then you're halfway to becoming that really cool kind of person every group adores: the 'funny one.' "

Here's some Steven Wright if you have time for a giggle.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Agent Blog and New Award!

I'll make this post short and sweet.
The McVeigh Agency is offering a free 15 minute skype or phone chat to anyone who enlists ten followers to their blog. Unbelievable, isn't it?! Unbelievably awesome!

Am I being greedy due to my windfall yesterday to ask you to follow due to my urging? Then you can tell ten friends and so on and so on. Seriously, go follow in the name of the smiling gal on the right, then have ten friends follow for you! We can all get our fifteen minutes with Mark McVeigh! Please let me know if you did follow so I can keep track and email. I'll edit this if it gets to ten so others can follow for other people and get their fab fifteen. THANK YOU!!!!!
EDITED: Hurray! Hurray! Yippee-yi-yay! Mark has commented on his blog that I have already earned my fifteen minutes, so THANK YOU for following his new blog! No need to mention my name if you follow him, go ahead and post his link on your blog to get people to follow for you so you can get a call too. First, head to Sherrie's blog and follow in her name or someone else in need of the ten! Thanks again for your help.
You are all like this guy- AAWWWWESOME!

Also, a big thank you to Sharon Mayhew for this information. I followed the McVeigh blog in her name after reading her helpful blog! Not only did she give me the heads up on this, but she also gave me a super-dee-duper award, The Sweet Friend Award! Here are things that make me happy! Thanks again, Sharon!
Can we brainstorm what we would ask an agent if we were fortunate enough to talk with him or her? What would you talk about?
All this talk of following in the name of totally reminds me of this Rage Against the Machine song...except we are following in the name of instead of killing, thank goodness... (This song is on Guitar Hero 2, btw).

Have a wonderful, fantastic weekend, everyone!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Three Things for Thursday: Critter is going to...

1. California! And I'm going with! (Okay, I wish). MG Higgins will be hosting the next leg of Critter's voyage. Thanks to everyone for your comments and offering to take him next. Please keep following Critter on his adventures. MG Higgins will be having a contest at some point to move him along again, so you have some more chances to be buddies with him! Thanks, MG! I know Critter will be well taken care of.

2. Thank you to the Wild About Writing authors at Wild About Nature blog. I won Kimberly Hutmacher's book, Paws, Claws, Hands and Feet, at their latest contest. Thank you, ladies! Wild About Nature features different nonfiction children's books about nature each week. Check it out!

3. I start a new online class today at the community college. The class is called "Get Funny." Now, don't laugh. (Actually, do laugh. That's the whole point of the class...)

Here's the summary of the class: "Humor enhances everything you do, no matter whether you're looking to deliver better presentations, increase your marketability as a writer, deliver more hits to a Web site, or simply become friendlier and more outgoing. Whether you're naturally funny or want to be, this hilarious course will help you sharpen your wit."

I enrolled in the class, because I want to be friendlier.
Alright people, I obviously took it to help with my writing. My husband is taking it along with me for fun. We are going to see who gets the better grade to prove who is funnier. We are competitive like that. It'll be a hoot and a holler I am sure.
Can a class really make you funnier? Let me know if my next month of blog posts make you chuckle more or less...or at all!
I'll close with a favorite kid friendly joke:
Why don't lobsters share?
Because they're shellfish!

But I won't be shellfish, I'll let you all know any great tips I learn on how to strengthen writing with humor! Does anyone else have a good joke to share?

Edited to be four things on a Thursday because I am so darn excited... I just won a critique on my query letter or a chapter plus a 30 minute phone call with Marietta Zacker from Nancy Gallt Literary Agency! And it's all because of Shelli at Market My Words! She has had daily prizes and a grand prize so go check out her very informative blog, there's still chances to win! I'm so excited and nervous and delighted! Thanks, Shelli!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Adventures with Critter CONTEST!

Critter had quite an eventful weekend here in Illinois. He experienced a good ole Midwestern snowstorm (he kept warm in a snuggie). Then he enjoyed watching the Olympics opening ceremony (Go USA!). On Saturday Critter watched me scurry my seven year old out to the emergency room to get stitches (she's fine, five stitches on the chin). Then Sunday he dove into his Valentine's bag of goodies. His favorite was the Reese's peanut butter heart. Mmmmm.

We even headed to the big city of Chicago to The Field Museum for some culture. Except his forgetful host family left him at home.
When we came home, we hugged Critter and said how sorry we were. After hearing about the dinosaurs,
giant spiders,
and mummies, he forgave us and said he was glad to have a restful day to watch his soaps instead. After our discussion about The Young and The Restless, we took him on a sledding adventure!

Critter has had much fun with the Polarks, but he's ready for his next destination. Would you like to host Critter next? Critter has already traveled blogland to North Carolina, Texas, South Korea, and Massachusetts! Where will he end up next?!

If you would like to take Critter next, you also need to agree to do the following:

1. Post pictures of Critter's shenanigans on your blog. Christy at Christy's Creative Space started Critter on his adventures, so it would be wonderful if you linked to her, too.

2. Host a contest on your blog for Critter's next destination and be willing to pay postage to send him to the next exciting place.

So, who's game? If you are, state that you would like to take Critter next in the comments and what adventures you will take him on. This contest closes on Thursday morning at 8am central time. I will announce the winner that same day!

And speaking of contests, don't forget to check out Elana Johnson's fabulous contest with critiques and her book as prizes! Shelli at Market My Words is cohosting this contest with amazing prizes of her own including books, critiques, marketing package! She has daily prizes too. Holy wow!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Poetry Friday

So I was at Starbucks last night for my writing critique group. Only two of the four ladies from our group could make it, so we decided to have a writing night. I've had a bit of a writer's block this week probably due to my anxiety about querying (see post below), so I thought it worked out well that I could force myself to sit and write. I haven't subbed to any magazines for a few months, so I wanted to work on some short stories and/or poetry.
I love parodies (also see post below). I have already written a Halloween picture book with parodies of nursery rhymes and songs. I decided to write a few Valentine's Day parodies for Poetry Friday today. As I was writing, this lovely song drifted over the speakers. I'm not really a sap or romantic, but I do think this is a beautiful song. The heart shaped light bulb went on over my head, and I decided to choose these lyrics for Poetry Friday today.

Here are the lyrics to "Love" by the talented John Lennon

Love is real, real is love,
Love is feeling, feeling love,
Love is wanting to be loved.
Love is touch, touch is love,
Love is reaching, reaching love,
Love is asking to be loved.
Love is you,
You and me,
Love is knowing,
We can be.
Love is free, free is love,
Love is living, living love,
Love is needing to be loved.

(Lyrics property of artist and label.)

Hear the song and watch the (PG13) video HERE.

Enjoy Valentine's Day with your loved ones. Mine will involve going to a birthday party with my daughter at a ceramics place then to my son's basketball game. Not very romantic, but I will certainly be with my Valentines.
Lee Wind is hosting the Poetry Roundup today! Go check out some more awesome poetry!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Won't You Be My Agent?

Can you guess what I've been doing this week? Yep, I submitted to agents for the very first time, though to only a handful. It made me nervous. It even made me sweat. It's still making me anxious. So I needed to do something fun to blow off some steam. Here it is.
It's a good thing I'm looking for a literary agent and not a talent agent...

Here's even a super short blooper! Watch the background.

Any suggestions for me on how to not lose my mind while I wait for replies? :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Poetry Friday

Ahhhh, February. Love is in the air, and chocolate is in my stomach. Gotta love it. What are your favorite gifts to give (or receive) on Valentine's Day? Mine are chocolate covered cherries and chocolate covered marshmallows shaped like a heart. I also love the homemade cards from the kids and my husband.
Chocolate covered marshmallows remind me of an amusing story in college. My two roomies were off to take a run like they usually did, and they asked, "Do you want to come with, Kel?" knowing full well that I wouldn't. I remember once responding while laying on my stomach on my bed with a chocolate covered marshmallow Easter egg dripping out of my mouth (that I bought myself), "Nope, because I'm a fat (expletive) pig." Then I think I napped. (One of my nicknames in college was Sleepy.)
I know, you had to be there. But we had to repeat my response often for the rest of college, and we always burst into a fit of giggles. In that year of the marshmallow treat, I was actually in the best shape of my life, because our sorority house was on the outskirts of campus, so I had to walk a long way to my classes. Those girls still think of me when they see chocolate covered marshmallow treats (and they both still run half and full marathons!). I obviously don't (but I do walk/run on the treadmill now!).

Speaking of treats, my poem "Sweet Things" is in this month's Stories for Children magazine.
Read it HERE, ya sweet thing!

This week's Poetry Friday is hosted at Great Kid Books. Stop by for more poetry links.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rockin' with Critter and Grammy Awards Wrap Up

Critter is in DA HOUSE!
Critter is a traveling work of art by illustrator/artist Ian Sands. Christy from Christy's Creative Space started Critter's trek in blogland. He's been to North Carolina, Texas, South Korea, Massachusetts, and now he's here with me in Illinois! Of course I had to take him out on the town when he arrived.
Saturday night I took him to see my favorite local band, The Awful Truth. They were playing at a benefit for a burn camp called I Am Me. Critter schmoozed with the music lovers and took advantage of some photo ops (I swear that was the only time I had that dumb look on my face all night. I was singing along with the band or chatting with my rock posse, Ginny and Beth, the rest of the night). My husband wondered how I earned those beads, and it was because I made a donation to the charity (really!). Critter, my posse, and I rocked to some of our old time faves like "Under Pressure" and "Dancin' With Myself" plus new tunes like "Shake It."
For their second set, The Awful Truth came out dressed like Van Halen - wigs, spandex and all! They played a full set of VH tunes. My faves were "Panama" and "Hot for Teacher." Critter's fave was "And the Cradle will Rock" (he thought they were singing "and the Critter will rock").
Here's Critter crowd surfing.
And here's Critter getting a close up view of the band and hangin' by the speakers...


Rock on.

Grammy Wrap Up

Of course I watched the Grammy's on Sunday. But even a music lover like myself could not sit through it for four hours straight. I watched and fast forwarded through the first three hours on Sunday, then rewatched parts of it with my children Monday night and finished the rest of it when they went to bed. My kids recognized a lot of musicians and enjoyed seeing them perform. I am raising them to appreciate the art of music and the art of headbanging...

Here's my Grammy's Wrap Up. See the list of winners here. I am not going to list them all, who do I look like, Martha Quinn?

1. I liked the Elton John/Lady Gaga collaboration. Except Elton forgot to wash his face before performing...
2. Excellent! I did not even know that Stephen Colbert was hosting!
Here's a few funny quotes from Mr. Colbert
"I did not even know they were dating," regarding Elton and Lady Gaga.
"I ran into the Jonas Brothers backstage, or I ran into one three times. I don't know."
"You may be the coolest people in the world. But your industry was saved by a 48 year old Scottish cat lady in sensible shoes." (Susan Boyle)
3. My kids could not decide who they wanted to win "Song of the Year." They liked Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga. Beyonce won with "Single Ladies." She always has a cool performance, and she didn't disappoint tonight.
4. Pink is so not shy about her body. What did they dip her in (and I wonder who was splashed below)? What an amazing, beautiful, graceful performance! Highlight of the night! My 7 year old daughter did wonder if they wrapped her in toilet paper though...
5. Norah Jones looks awesome, love her dress! And there's Ringo looking cool for an old chap.
6. "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon (who were a little drunk) won Record of the Year, which was one of my Nine of '09! See I actually do know my stuff...
7. SLASH! Now there's a rocker!
8.Justin Bieber looks like an eight year old next to Ke$ha. (who is 6'1", I looked it up after seeing her on stage).
9. Green Day wins Best Rock Album for "21st Century Breakdown." I have an old CD of theirs called Dookie.
10. Chris O'Donnell in all black. That conservative boy looks cute all rocked out.
11. Like the Taylor Swift/Stevie Nicks combination, though Taylor was a bit off key. My kids sang along to "You Belong With Me," so I enjoyed that!
12. The 3D tribute to MJ was cool, but would have rather seen old footage of him instead.
13. His poor kids, how hard this must have been for them to speak. The boy did well, but the poor girl seemed confused and nervous.
14. Bon Jovi played an oldie but goodie "Living on a Prayer" (I like to sing it on Rock Band), not my favorite band but a band that has stayed popular for twenty years!
15. The In Memoriam inexcusably left out The Rev, the drummer of Avenged Sevenfold, a platinum selling band, but had some other obscure performers mentioned...
16. Taylor Swift is one accomplished 20 year old.

Did you watch? What was your favorite part of the awards show?

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Work Area and a Book Launch!

Anita Laydon Miller declared today to be "Post a Photo of Your Work Area Day," and I do what Anita tells me so here it is! If you watched my vlog last week, you saw me in action in my work area, the family room couch. There's my laptop, my thesaurus, my rhyming dictionary, my refreshing beverage, my notebook and my pup, Daisy. When I'm writing, she likes to curl up next to me with my other dog, the Goof. I'm slightly embarrassed to showcase my beat up furniture. Last year my hubby told me we needed new coffee table set, I told him that ours just looks weathered and has character. Now that I look at this picture, I realize that ten years of beat downs from my three kids have taken its toll...he was right! Do you see my Coca Cola glass? I got this at Steak n Shake with a $15 purchase last week. I'm way more excited than I should be. I have said, "I love my new glass!" ten times in the last two days.
Another reason I was excited this weekend was that I was able to go to an author launch party!
Here is Tina P. Schwartz with her newest book, Writing and Publishing, by Scarecrow Press.

When I started attending local SCBWI meetings four years ago, Tina was co-director of our chapter. I have to say I was a bit nervous at first at meetings, as I was so new and naive about the writing business. She was always so supportive and friendly. I ended up taking an online writing course with her (which she still offers), and she walked me through many different aspects of writing for children. In this class, I completed my first picture book rough draft and wrote a short story that ended up in Stories for Children magazine last year (among other assignments).

Writing and Publishing: The Ultimate Teen Guide is Tina's third book (her other titles: Organ Transplants: A Survival Guide for the Whole Family and Motocross Freestyle). Here is Tina and the illustrator, Conrad Locander, also known as Professor Whimsy at our chapter meetings, before Tina was interviewed by a radio station.
I enjoyed being able to congratulate Tina on her big day, and I also got to visit with Lori Degman, who won the Cheerios New Author contest last year. Her rhyming picture book, 1 Zany Zoo, will be in Cheerios boxes in March and the hardcover will be released in July!
Congrats to Tina, Conrad, and Lori!