Posts Tagged ‘pacific northwest’

The Writer Next Door

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I haven’t done any author events in awhile, but I’m excited about the event that’s coming up next weekend, an evening of readings, panels and book sales called “The Writer Next Door.”


ballard writers poster 2013-1

What I love about this event is that it’s local, put on by a talented and industrious group called Ballard Writers Collective. This is our fourth annual pre-Christmas event, and what makes this one special is that guests will be able to purchase a $15 book sampler, giving them the opportunity to go home with two or three books at a great bargain price.

In addition to the sampler, the evening features readings by a dozen Collective members, myself included. I’m particularly excited to be reading from an essay I wrote about my brother with autism, Mark Rimland, who illustrated my 1998 picture book THE SECRET NIGHT WORLD OF CATS.


Guests who want to learn more about the writing and publishing process are sure to enjoy the Ask-an-Author Panel, and hopefully everyone will have love the gift basket raffle, the delicious wine and goodies, the book sales by Secret Garden Books, and the chance to interact with the authors who live right in their own neighborhood. And best of all, admission is free!

So if you’re in the Ballard area next Friday, November 1st, come on down to the Sunset Hill Community Club at 7 pm and meet the writers next door.

Rubbing shoulders with a giant

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve done a lot of book events in the past year. There are a number of different reasons I choose to do an event. Sometimes it’s because the event gives me an opportunity to spend time in a wonderful place, as was the case when I did a signing with Amber Kizer last February at Moonraker Books on beautiful Whidbey Island.

with author Amber Kizer at Moonraker Books in Langley

Sometimes a particular event gives me a chance to hang out with fellow writers, like the readings and signings I’ve done with Elevensies pals Megan Bostic, Carole Estby Dagg, Kiki Hamilton, and Kendare Blake, among others.

with Kendare Blake, Kiki Hamilton, Megan Bostic, and Kathy McCullough at Third Place Books Lake Forest Park

Sometimes I’ll do an event just to support a bookstore that I love, like Secret Garden Books in Ballard, where I held my launch party.

Me checking out books in the YA section of Secret Garden Bookshop in Ballard

But this Saturday, I’ll be participating in an event for all those reasons, and more. Young Adult Book Day at Finally Found Books in Black Diamond will not only give me a chance to support an indie bookstore but also to explore a cool little town I haven’t spent much time in. On top of that, I’ll get to hang out with fellow authors Kendare Blake, Joni Sensel, and Jennifer Shaw Wolfe. But the icing on the proverbial cake is that I’ll get to meet bestselling children’s author Peg Kehret!

I’ve long admired Peg Kehret from afar. I love it that she’s a supporter of animal rescue – which I am, as well – and often includes animals in her books. While I admire her Middle Grade mystery/adventure stories, I was blown away by her autobiographical book “Small Steps,” about her childhood experience with polio. In some way, I’ve always felt a kinship with her because of my early experience with cancer.

And this Saturday, I’ll get to meet her! If you’re in Western Washington, you can meet her, too. She, along with a number of other YA authors, myself included, will be at Finally Found Books in Black Diamond from 11-2. If you have a chance, I hope you’ll consider coming. It’s not often that you get to rub shoulders with a giant of children’s literature.

“The Essential Wound” and other delights

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

I promised you a recap of “Weekend on the Water,” the fabulous 3-day retreat sponsored by SCBWI WWA, so here’s the scoop:

We arrived at the beautiful Resort at Port Ludow on Friday afternoon and had a bit of time to wander the gorgeous grounds and check into our rooms before our first session with our fearless leaders, editor Jordan Brown of Walden Pond Press and Balzar and Bray, and Anne Ursu, the bestselling author of BREADCRUMBS. They talked in general about revision, emphasizing the importance of character and of getting to the end of a first draft before you begin to revise.

But it was in their second session on Saturday that they really got to the meaty stuff. Anne shared author Frannie Billingsley‘s genius thoughts about the “essential wound,” the idea that your main character has been wounded in her formative years and that the consequences of this wound – the character’s controlling beliefs – are what creates your story. Anne gave us some great questions to think about, such as “What single belief rules your character’s life?” and “What primary emotion has sprung from that belief?”

These ideas were huge “aha”s for me. I was finally able to identify how Joan, the character of my current WIP had been wounded and how the shame she carries from that wound drives her behavior in the novel. As I go back and revise, I know that this understanding will help me shape and focus my book.

The retreat wasn’t all work, though. We had great meals, a KidLit Drink night complete with a bonfire and s’mores, and morning walks to work out the sitting-all-day kinks. There was plenty of free time for writing, peer critiques, and connecting with friends.

Attending the retreat was a financial stretch for me, but I’m really glad I decided to take the plunge. “The wound” was worth the price of admission.

And I’m off…to Weekend on the Water!

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

I have the wonderful opportunity this weekend to attend SCBWI Western Washington’s Weekend on the Water Retreat.

This annual Fall retreat is held at the Inn at Port Ludlow on the Olympic Peninsula, which I hear is gorgeous. The theme this year is novel revision, something close to my heart, as I’m currently in the middle of revising my Work in Progress. With the guidance of editor Jordan Brown and bestselling author Anne Ursu, I’m hoping to hone my revision skills so I can whip this puppy into shape to send off to my agent!

It should be a wonderful weekend of learning, critiquing and being critiqued, networking with other writers, and enjoying beautiful Northwest scenery. I have to give a shout-out to my husband, because without his generous offer to cover half my tuition, I never would have been able to attend. Thank you, Steven!

Have a great weekend. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back!


Yakking in Yakima: WLMA Conference

Monday, October 15th, 2012

I said I was going to pull back on this blog, but I didn’t mean for it to grind to a dead halt. I know it’s been many weeks since I’ve posted, but that’s because I’ve been busy revising my WIP and setting up events to promote the release of the paperback edition of FLYAWAY later this month. I did want to pop in for a few minutes, though, to tell you about the wonderful time I had this weekend at the Washington Library Media Association (WLMA or “Wilma”) Conference in Yakima.

Deb Lund, myself, and Janet Lee Carey at WLMA. (Not pictured: Jennifer Shaw Wolf.)

I was lucky enough to be part of a panel on school author visits with my esteemed colleagues Jennifer Shaw Wolf, Deb Lund, and Janet Lee Carey. We intended our presentation, which was titled “Show, Tell, and Do: The Future of Author Visits” to be a dialogue with our audience of school librarians, and it was. After we each introduced ourselves and our books, we led the attendees in a discussion of every aspect of school visits, from how to find visiting authors to asking for what you want in a visit to alternatives such as Skype and multi-author visits. We had a blast presenting, and our audience was enthusiastic and engaged.

My husband came with me to the conference, and the next day, we took the scenic route home through the Yakima Canyon, where we saw a herd of big-horn sheep grazing by the Yakima river.

Look closely at the river bank: big-horn sheep!

All in all, it was a lovely experience. Now I hope that some of those librarians will contact me about doing school visits!