Category Archives: Woeful Workshop Wednesday

A Guru or Two Up My Sleeve

“Creating and analyzing are two different processes. Don’t try to do them both at the same time or you’ll hurt yourself.”– I couldn’t tell you who said this. I’m still searching for them. 



Today I’m reading Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul. I’ll be cutting and pasting and doing all kinds of creative activities that are suggested in the book, activities that are all geared towards making me my own best critic, one that will give me a handle on my (picture book) writing. 


Next I’ll be reading The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction which is written by James Alexander Thom. I chose this one for obvious reasons. Yup! I have a historical YA fiction on the back burner and it needs to come off. So if you haven’t read these two books. I’ve heard great things about them from writing buddies and blogging friends alike! So far I’m satisfied with the reading and I’m enjoying that I’m in charge of my own lesson plans and course of study. 


So I can’t take leave off my holiday yet, but I wanted to update you on my progress. After all it is Woeful Workshop Wednesday today. 


P.S.- If you are looking for a new adventure, check out the new links I posted on the Write! tab above! 


Carpe Diem! Carpe PM! But please pick one or the other. Trying to accomplish both will leave you exhausted! 


Who’s your guru and why such a big crush on them? Hee hee!

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Leave Nothing But Tracks: Social Media Suicide

Beware of Sasquatch…

As a writer/reader I find that there are certain passages that leave a mark on me, in my writing, or in another’s writing. It could be a mark for the better, one that helps define my writing style or one that helps me to break out of my shell–even if moving onward toward success is something I’d like to do on my terms–but being a writer makes that almost impossible with all the elements of social media available at my fingertips. So, unlike the mysterious, unseen, Sasquatch, I feel I have to believe that I’m following the motto, “leave nothing but tracks!” Because let’s face it, if you don’t put yourself out there, you might as well be invisible, and for an aspiring author….well, that is practically career suicide. Anyone else feel the same?

The beautiful thing about blogging and the blogosphere is that there is support to be found in it. So don’t shy away from all of it. Take a peek and dive into it, just remember to set your priorities straight first–moderation is key! 

Below is a song that sums up my feelings about the whole balance between, “promote the book/author with social media” versus “make your writing the best out there” versus “use all the mediums/innovations for your book in order to reach a huge audience.” There are so many innovations cropping up in the writing world…and I feel this song grasps the attitude of focus that it all requires and yet is a reminder to keep things real and fun! It also sums up the world of “aspiring” for me. What do you think?

As you listen keep in mind that where it says “music/song/lyrics” in the song, you need to be thinking “writing/words/book/novel, etc” in order for me to get the point across. Where it says ” music for the television”  be thinking “e-book/nookbook for the kindle/nook, etc”.  “record label, would be “publishing world” You get the idea, I hope. In no way am I bashing anyone or their efforts here–just saying it’s a tough world, but that one can make it out there and hit success, but only if they are willing to “leave nothing but tracks.”

Any opinions? Don’t be a Sasquatch…let’s leave tracks all within moderation of course. I want to hear all about your hard work! Project Mayhem has something to say about it. Here is the link.  

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Much Ado About Nothing

Nothing….

such a lonely, horrible word, that is unless you make do about it. With a respiratory infection looming around I was bound to get it too. To think all the garlic, onions and vitamin C I’ve been eating could ward it off. Nope!

So while I have been (mostly) stuck at home with it, I’ve also been pretty busy. I perfected my pumpkin empanada recipe (I had to make a few changes to it) that I want to include in one of my books! At least by my standards, I even managed to make them LOOK delicious. So the workshop for today was getting acquainted with perfection, recipe perfection. Which is quite important if it might possibly go in a book.

Here they are: “scrumdidlyumptios” is what my DH calls them.

This got me thinking about books that have recipes in them. OR books that explore food but don’t necessarily have recipes in them. Books like this one:
Thunder Cake is so easy to make, and quite delicious. My children definitely enjoyed making it with me, but mostly they just licked the batter. Tomatoes and all! Here is the recipe for it.
Here are some more along with some recipes or activities related to the kidlit–so that you always have something to do about nothing. 
Walter the Baker by Eric Carle
 Here are some pretzel recipes along with a bit of pretzel history.
Have some fun with Carle and his books here
or just play with some Play-Doh here.
There is always much ado about popcorn with:
Learn about de Paola and his books here.
Or make a popcorn cake with this recipe and read the fun poem/song while you munch away. 
Explore an overload of popcorn madness, find the encyclopedia popcornia, find more great popcorn reads, and ask Poppy anything you like with this website.
Read Wende and Harry Devlin’s  Cranberry Thanksgiving for some a berry fun secret recipe. 
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World is just as fun but so is Enemy Pie. I couldn’t find the Enemy Pie recipe but here is one with Granny Smith apples so that you can make An Apple Pie for Dinner.
There are so many good ones! Too many to list! 
Like:
 What can you do with a Paletta by, Carmen Taffola 
Here, here, and aqui are are a few things you can do with Paletta! 


Or: 

This book contains 2 recipes! Here is a link to a multicultural bakery Los Bagels where you can find recipes and a bit of the history of the bagel and the bakery itself.


So when there is much ado about nothing…I challenge you to try to find something to do. Writing or not, much ado about something is better than nothing.  You get the point.

What are some of your favorite kidlit book/recipe combo favorites?


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Woeful Workshop Wednesday:Lost in Laundry

***this a repost from the date 10/06/2010  so disregard the date above on the post as it is not accurate for this posting. I had to delete the old posting. 

Apparently, it is Mad Hatter Day. IF you haven’t read my interview with Hattter yet please do so here. You may find yourself lost in thought with such clever pensiveness on Hatter’s part. I’m celebrating with some herbal tea (my poor sore throat needs it anyhow) and maybe I’ll watch Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland. Maybe I’ll swing by Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast to get in the mood and find a few more great reads for the week. Or you can join me in my visit here for a Mad Blog Hop and a Mad Hatter prize at the end of it! Okay, the prize IS taken already, but here is a beloved riddle from the book and the unexpected answer to it! Moving on…

Before I sign off, this workshop wouldn’t be over without sharing what I have written for the


First Crusader Challenge–Writers’ Platform-Building CrusadeClick the link to find out all about it!

It has been quite fun! Anyhow, here is what my wild imagination came up with:

Lost in Laundry
by Angela Peña Dahle (with help from other literary characters and permission from their creators where required)
    
 I sat down to write the other day and all I could think about was my mile high pile of laundry scattered all over the bedroom floor. What was underneath it? Is it possible it is even clean anymore? An adventure was waiting underneath that laundy. I knew it. My kids knew it. Thankfully, my husband didn’t know about it…you get the idea.
      
The first thing I did was grab my super squeaky dish gloves. For all I knew there were rotten banana peels underneath, maybe a booger or two. Unlikely? Maybe. Probable? Yes. Then it occurred to me that my children (who were already attacking the pile) were the ideal critters for this job so I tossed my gloves on the counter, made myself a smoothie, and pulled up a chair to oversee Project Laundry. Oops! I mean Adventure Laundry. So while my kids were yanking at shirts and tossing pants and socks into the air I began to hear voices (no I’m not crazy). I really did.
      “This is a muy muy big pile dudes!”
      “Why all the whispering dude?”
      “I thought we were having a siesta.” said another.
      “No. I cannot sleep.”
      “Is it the sleep maskito dude? They never work for me.” whispered another.
      “This noise is too big for my ears.”
      “What noise?”
      “What! You don’t hear it?”
      “Que Loco, Skippito! What are you talking about?”
      “Don’t you hear it? It sounds like an elephant stomping around!”
And faster than you can say children, chores and chocolate, we were all digging into the laundry for Skippyjon Jones. Skippito wasn’t Lost in Spice, or even on Mars! He was lost in our laundry! We had a pretty good idea where the rest of our missing books were now. Thank heavens! 
      
The search was on. Unfortunately for us, the more we dug into laundry the less and less we found books…until, we heard another voice:
      “A game of Quidditch should be easy work.”
Unlike our laundry adventure, Quidditch was sounding pretty good to me right about then. Instead, into the pile we jumped and before we knew it we were hearing all kinds of voices:
     “I meant what I said and, I said what I meant.”     Was he talking about Skippito’s elephant?

“I wish Pooh were here. It’s so much more friendly with two.” 
      “You know, Spoon—I wonder if you realize just how lucky you are. Your friends will never know the joy of diving headfirst into a bowl of ice cream. They’ll never know what it feels like to clink against the side of a cereal bowl. They’ll never be able to twirl around in a mug, or relax in a hot cup of tea.”

I bet Spoon would never ever dive into laundry the way we were though. Of that I was sure.
      “But I don’t want to go among mad people.”
      “Oh, you can’t help that. We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
      Even my kids and I had gone mad–with laundry. And voices. This guy knew what he was talking about! We searched that pile until we had a grand total of 32 books.We sat on the floor with chocolate and read our beloved books. We read all but one. I wondered if we’d ever find that reckless cat.
      “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”
      Oops! Ah! There’s number 33! He might be reckless, but he sure was right. Today HAD been fun!
    And surprisingly somehow the laundry got done!
Disclaimer: This story includes characters created and owned by Judy Byron Schachner and various publishers including but not limited to Dutton Children’s Books. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. The “voices ” that are heard by the main characters in this story are quotes from works of literature and I take no credit for writing those portions of this fictional piece. The dialogue between Skippito and his Chimichango’s is purely fictional and made up by me based on what I felt he would say if he were actually under our laundry. Permission to use the character of Skippyjon Jones in this story was granted by the author.

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Think For Yourself: Banned Books

Where do I begin with such a touchy subject? Let me just say that you, the reader,  have the freedom to choose what you read. We all have the freedom to adopt what we read as our own opinion(s) or to let it go by the wayside and even kick it to the curb. You are in control of what enters your mind. Free agency at its’ best gives you the capability to pollute or adorn your mind with what you deem worthy of your attention, whether it be in your opinion, wonderful or horrible. The mind is a wonderful thing. So choose wisely and don’t let it go to waste.

In my opinion, books should never be banned. I also believe that it is up to parents to teach their children right from wrong so that if they do happen to come across something that differs from the values they were taught, the child will know the difference and the fictional will not so easily become fact. They will be able to form opinions for themselves, to think of the consequences of the characters in the books and draw conclusions for themselves when relating it to their life.

I must also say that as parents it is a tough decision to make. It can be difficult to choose what we read to our children, to help them choose what to read when they are too young to choose for themselves what is appropriate for their age and understanding. I think it is safe to say that most parents naturally wonder  from time to time, “will my child understand this topic or will it confuse them,” I know I do. So in a nutshell here is my opinion on the subject:

It’s pretty simple. Think for yourself. Let others think for themselves. Don’t be a robot. Teach your children to think for themselves so that they are able to choose appropriate books for themselves. 
With that said I’ll be studying banned books for this workshop. Here are some links to help you out:
Here is a list of some of my favorite banned or challenged books (in no particular order):
Where the Wild Things Are
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Bridge to Terabithia
A Wrinkle In Time
From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankeiler
The Outsiders
James and the Giant Peach
Go Ask Alice
Charlotte’s Web
How to Eat Fried Worms
The Lorax
Grimms Complete work of Fairy Tales
The Witches
Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl
The Story of Babar
Twilight
The Indian in the Cupboard
Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Little Women
The Old Man and the Sea
The Wind in the Willows
There are many more. Too many to list and I have only listed those that fall under kidlit: PB, MG, YA. Or they are books I read while in  high school. I have only scratched the surface. 
What are some of your favorite banned or challenged books? What is your opinion on the subject? 

**Please remember to keep your comments clean and be respectful of those who post their opinions here. 

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Best in Cover Letters: On a Treasure Hunt

Here. This looks quite delicious eh? In case you are confused by that first line, I’ll bring you up to date–we are offering herbal tea this morning for your drinking pleasure, but alas we have not one picture to show you what kind, so get your imagination up and running will ya!  Well now, take one more sip, because it will be your last for quite a while. Grab the best map you can find because the hunt for cover letter perfection is on! Keep reading and don’t spill your tea–herbal only please (yes, I’m in control of the tea here, this is my blog after all).

This lovely lady introduced me to this amazing book which mentions the basics of the cover letter and SO, SO, much more I never knew. I am beginning to fall in love with it, if I may say so. There are many others just as good. Here is where they would be listed: directly under the Must Reads i.e. MAPS list

Now while this next link will not mention any actual cover letter advice, the concept is the same.When in self doubt, act like the child here.  Seriously, something is bound to emerge out of all the similar chaos and deep anxiety of writing said cover letter.  Hence the “no” attitude will become a “yes, you can.

warning: you will be both satisfied and exasperated by the end of it all, the whole journey will tire you. Take note of the mother in this cartoon for a good idea of what it might be like.

Here is a brief description of what they are all about.

And here is something you thought you knew, but didn’t. Okay maybe you did, but read it anyway!

**this is me giving you a big shove as you walk the plank to…**

Literary Rambles is a favorite source of mine for information on what to include in these hopefully super savvy (shall I say canny?) little letters. Here are a few snippets:

“Agent Jamie Weiss Chilton (Andrea Brown Literary) said not to stress over your cover letters. Every submission she receives, she sets the cover letter aside and reads the first pages. If she loves the writing then she’ll read the cover…”

Steven Chudney:

“The ideal cover letter should be pretty brief (no more than one page, and not in six point typeface!) and tell me a little about the project being submitted–just enough to whet my appetite. A brief and relevant bio about the writer is …”

Tracy Adams:

“The ideal cover letter shows that the writer has done research on my agency, and perhaps even mentions specific authors we represent.”
Agent Marietta Zacker:
 
“It is difficult for me to ask to see a manuscript or get excited about what I am about to read when the query or cover letter has no soul or personality. I understand that everyone is trying to be respectful and professional and I certainly appreciate that, but if I had to choose, I would prefer to know who you are rather than the word count or to what book your manuscript can most be compared.”


**this is your face full of silly confusion after the ordeal**
 
Oh, and when all else fails and you are pulling tooth and nail for more cover letter perfection: 
 
Pray, 
 
Call your mother, and
 
Ask around like a lunatic consumed with the quest for the answer to the perfect riddle until you find a credible answer. Make Mad Hatter proud to share tea with you post quest!

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Workshop Caught in a Bling Moment

Remember this?

It was and is the holy grail of pagers according to the residents/doctors of Seattle Grace Hospital from the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. Yes, it is the very same one.  In any event a surgery is given to another resident, the owner of the pager can override it and step in to do the surgery instead of the resident already scheduled for it. Way cool eh? Yeah I think so. The sparkle pager.Yup that one. It got me thinking. If only there were something similar to it in the publishing world. But no, that wouldn’t be fair would it now. So I’ve considered these two options for my own phone or something similar:

Wouldn’t it be perfect to have a cell phone just for phone calls from that super bad agent you are waiting to hear from or that publisher you so want to work with to get your book published? Well I’m done thinking!  I’m going to cover my phone with bling, give it some character and dress it up for the occasion, should it come. This isn’t wishful thinking. No I’m making it happen. I’m devoted. See my bling!

Invested=Devoted.


What are some funky ways you have shown devotion to the craft of writing or towards getting published? Yeah those little things that may seem fetish, but that you consider normal. Yeah those. While you ponder all that, I’ll be doing critique today for workshop. 

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Woeful Workshop Wednesday: Expert Addiction

Below is something silly I wrote about research, knowing it all, and what happens to your eyes after all of it…

And if you can’t figure it out, Googly Eyes is an author. Strange One and Stranger Two are Informants/Sources of research and the like, and Saturday–some mystery kid that goes by the name of Saturday who claims to be a know-it-all– well, she/he was simply  thrown in for good measure. 🙂

This sounds much better if you give us all  foreign accents:

Googly Eyes: Who goes there?

Stranger One: “Who?”

Stranger Two: “Lady Knows A Lot.”

Saturday (our anonymous mystery kid of the week: “Knows a lot about what?” Can’t be having competition on my corner of the block!”

Googly Eyes: “Says who?”

Saturday: “Says I!”

Googly Eyes: “Oh stuff it! Expertness is excellence in a royal robe–the stuff authors need oodles of.”

Saturday: Oh, jibbity ibbity! Pirates and Plato! Socrates is laughing now. Nonsense. Anybody can look it up in a book  nowadays. What else do we have dictionaries and reference books for? Googling?

Googly Eyes: “Oh that’s just to pass the time and procrastinate.” We authors have oodles of that too–time, all of it relative. Ask Einstein. Another expert!

Saturday: “Oh cuttlefish!” Spit it out already. We’re all waiting for another fabulous list of yours–lots of time and all!”

Googly Eyes: Oh all right, since you won’t be Googling it. Fancy a list? Okay, really only just number one, for now.”

Numero Uno!

Just kidding….there’s more than one item here:

Oodles of medical mania. Take a number. Get in line. No really, she’s kind!

Body Language…75% of what we say. Yup! Something like that.

Archtype

Coroner Stories: Real Crime Science

A Human Face

FBI for Writers

Measuring Money of the Past

Experts Desk. They are Everywhere!

Pop back later for numero nueve!

Or…beat me to numero nueve, by adding to the list with your comments.

Does too much Googling lead to googly eyes? Let’s find out.

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Woeful Workshop Wednesday: Hats and Madness

20 Questions and a Teacup

I have something delicious for you today. I was strolling about Neverland (naturally so) and came upon a wicked-cool hat. As soon as I picked it up, I found another. You can only imagine this made me feel a bit like Hansel and Gretel–I assure you, looking for crumbs is NOT fun. At fist I thought, “Which of the lost boys and girls would litter in Neverland?” but then it occurred to me that maybe someone was reenacting a scene from Caps for Sale–very probable you know in these parts of Neverland (Oh why did Wendy have to read it to everyone? It started a campaign you know). Being dreadfully wrong on both accounts, I came across a tall fellow, a colorful suit, and two crazed eyes. “Must be Hook” I thought. Wrong again. He didn’t seem his usual self. In fact he looked quite glum. When I ventured towards him to investigate he didn’t budge, nope, nothing quirky sprung from this man of tricks, this clever loon of Wonderland. Finally he turned.

Me: “Well, I’ll be! ”
Hatter: “Yes, is it so strange I’m in town? Maybe I’m just a bit lost you see, but come to think of it…”
Me: *still jumping up and down with excitement* “So glad you’re here. How about twenty?”
Hatter: “Twenty what you insufferable woman?”
Me:  “Questions.” (I actually thought about sniffling (for dramatic effect of course and to draw him in), but thought better of it).
Hatter: Ah yes, another Alice. Different world. Same Alice.”
Me: “No, no, no!”
Hatter: Yes, only Alice would venture to do the impossible, but 20, thats a record now. Alice was set at six. She has thought of upping the stakes in rabbits favor.You know he’s terrible for time. Can’t be wasting any of it! Such a clock. By now his eyes were glowing and I took this as a sign to begin.
Me: “Speaking of impossible things Hatter, what brings you here?”
Hatter: “The hats of course. It seems they’ve sprung a doozy on me and why wouldn’t they, they must be growing tired of their old man. Half the time I wonder what is up this noggin of mine”
Me: “Old?”
Hatter: “Yes, can’t you see I’m running out of tricks. But I’ll always have the teacup.”
Me: “The teacup?”
Hatter: “Yes, the bane of my existence, TEA, and a clump of sugar!”
Me:  “Very well then. Carry on.”

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?

I see now, you’re reeking havoc and mayhem in Neverland and dashing it with clever Hatter’s quirks. I totally understand. Has Alice kicked you out? Very clever indeed. Is she enjoying the separation? Yes? I’m so sorry for your loss but please…eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow Hatter returns. I’m sure you just left your dashing hat behind in Wonderland Recovering your muchness is close at hand.

Moral of the story: Don’t argue with a mad man, your creation or not. Don’t lose your hat in a foreign world. Don’t lose yourself or your teacup, you might need them to make you feel whole. Don’t kid around with yourself or your writing. Talent is forever. Wit is golden. Never ask twenty questions when a few will do. No matter the twenty questions, we who write, “We’re all mad here”. Focus on the important things, the rest comes later, even if it is just tea and a lump of sugar.

What are your important things, i.e. your tea and lump of sugar?

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Woeful Wednesday: Workshop is a Wonder

Yes, I’m in the workshop. Yes, I don’t know where to begin. No, I don’t have a short list of things to do. It is long, ever so long. Today is a day where I wish I had a double to do all my stunts. Wish me luck!

Queries galore
Ponder the meaning of life….ha ha. I already have the answer I fear.
Write until my fingers fall off and my brain turns to JELL-O syrup.
Clean house…okay maybe not.
One Critique, coming up. Wait…where did my critique group run off to?
Contest, what contest? Oh! Whew such fleeting things, like butterflies wings…just a bit of nervousness there.
Wipe messy, sticky faces up from PB & Honey sandwiches. What? I already did that? Ah yes. Gracias!
Fifteen Minutes of exercise, ONLY fifteen today.
Make gourmet lunch and dinner. Wait I don’t know that word. Gourmet? Chef! Where are you?! Oh yes, that would be me!
Teach children importance of fine literature and absolutely rip-roaringly funny and quirky picture books and all about the pen being mightier than the sword and such. Ouch! Told ya!
Seek lost muse…has she run off again. Really! I must say, as flighty as Mary Poppins. Traitor!
Eeeny Meeny Miney or Mo….Which book to edit? I don’t know! Begin another I suppose?
Seek out agents. Refrain from picking nose. Really let’s not pick our nose, not even in the name of research please. LOL. Ha ha. I had to tease you. Speechless are you? Feeling like a mime in a rut? Clearly,  I’m having too much fun with this list.

Ah the life of a writer! That’s how I roll. How about you? What is your day bound for? Any leaps? Any Luck?

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