Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bulgogi, Drumming, Camp Pride Korea and ILA

Camp Pride Korea is this week. Both younger girls are attending, with me along as E's one-on-one aide. Camp is located near Woodfield. If we catch all the lights (which rarely ever happens) the drive North takes 45 minutes.

Anyhow, as exhausted as the girls are getting up at 6:30 in the morning each day, they're having a great time at camp. I suspect that one of the reasons they like it so much is that it's the one time of the year they can enter a classroom and not feel like a minority. (It's also the one time of the year I have trouble finding my girls in a crowd.)

Each 9-3 day brings lessons on Korean history, culture, arts, music, games, language and more. Campers eat on the premises, and all food is traditional. If E had the choice, she'd spend the entire day eating. She especially loves bulgogi, a traditional Korean dish that features thinly sliced beef marinated in soy sauce, sesame seed oil, green onions and sugar.

The week ends tomorrow with a performance by all 150+ kids. Both E and S will perform the Korean national anthem with their classroom, and S will join her classmates in a demonstration of Korean drumming. Other groups will perform fan dances and give tae kwon do demonstrations.

What little I've written this week of KM has been in the form of notes to attend to next week after I've had time to recuperate. The rest of my interrupted time has gone toward preparations for J's and my September ILA presentation about launching and running a teen writers' workshop at your library. We've a lot of holes left to fill before we have everything we need for our Powerpoint, but we're getting there.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Teen Writers' Workshop, Jack Prelutsky's Poetry Wheel, and Amusing the Muse, Part II

The Summer Poetry Series continues today at Teen Writers' Workshop. For an ice breaker (and to jump-start our muses), J and I plan to kick off activities with Jack Prelutsky's Poetry Wheel featured here in the July/August issue of Family Fun Magazine. Surf on over and take a spin. Your muse will thank you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Amusing the Muse with Dr. Horrible

Hats off to Joss Whedon who has outdone himself with his latest project, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, a 43-minute musical in three acts.

For reviews, news, a trailer, and instructions on how to download the episodes from I-Tunes, surf on over to the official Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog website, and the official Dr. Horrible myspace (and be ready to amuse your muse.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Craziness, Butt in Chair Time, and Why it's Time to Ressurect the Summer Writing Experiment

Between E's twice weekly Easter Seals runs, on-going doctors' visits, and S's various camps and friend outings, the summer has become crazy enough that I can't depend on stealing away to a quiet corner of the house for serious butt in chair time during the day anymore. And since my muse is worthless after 9 p.m., it's time to resurrect the Summer Writing Experiment. More later when I have time to breathe.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Amusing the Muse at the Renaissance Faire

A trip to the Bristol Renaissance Faire is a sure way to amuse the muse. Here we are on opening day waiting for Dirk & Guido, the Swordsmen, to appear.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Writer's Retreat Round-Up

One of my sisters flew into town this week. As a result, I've been spending more time out of the house than in. In terms of writers, this means less butt in chair time, and even less time to post. Quick impressions re the Words in the Woods retreat:

1. Camp Cantrall is a kick-butt location to hold a retreat. Nestled in the woods Northwest of Springfield, Illinois, the facility is far enough from the hustle and hum of the city that hundreds of stars were visible in the night sky, and the only way to find a reliable cell phone signal was to hike into the field outside the retreat center.

2. A small sampling of lessons learned during the weekend:

* SCBWIers are a very talented group of writers and critiquers.
* Honor the process. A fair portion of the published writers in attendance studied the craft for years before winning their first contract.
* Remain stalwart and true to your characters, story and style.
* One story. Three readers. Three different opinions. Happens a lot in the industry. How this translates for the aspiring writer: don't give up. If your piece comes back "rejected" and you honestly believe it's "ready" for publication, send it out again. Someone will buy it or see enough spark in your writing to ask for revisions.
* A request for revisions isn't a rejection. It's a very good thing. It means you have hooked an editor long enough to interest him/her in your story.
* Each editor brings his or his own baggage to a piece of work, which in turn will affect his/her opinion of the piece.
* One editor's opinion is one editor's opinion.
* Never leave home (or sit butt in chair) without patience and peseverance tucked into your writer's toolbelt.
* Don't expect your first draft to win you a contract. This rarely ever happens. Only in the subsequent drafts will your true story be discovered, and even then your story may not be ready for submission.
* Don't burn bridges by sending your story to editors before it's ready.
* Don't give your story to the choir (family and friends) before mailing it to editors. Find people you trust--readers who know the craft, the genre and the industry--to give you an honest opinion.
* The process from interest on an editor's part to revisions to contract to publication is often years-long.
* When an editor asks for revisions, do them, but don't expect to be paid. No money changes hand until after the revisions are accepted, the editor wins approval from the Powers that Be and a contract is signed.
* Find a critique group and keep it close. Your writing buddies will be the ones to pick you up and dust you off when you and/or your characters take a tumble.

More later after our schedule settles down.