Sunday, May 31, 2009

JOP: Race

Thank you, Corey, for posting this week's topic for me! 

10:42 pm



The shot went off

three seconds ago

and here you are


at the starting line


for what?

No one will

push you

drag you

pull you along.


The other runners are now

half a track


but there is still time

if you


I know you can do it.

I’ve seen

those legs

of yours

in action.

If only you would



10:46 pm (4 minutes)

There's still time for you to try your "play time" JOP. The judging won't happen until tomorrow evening.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

JOP Madness (and last chance for the first JOP Awards)

Here is your last chance to win the first ever monthly JOP Award! Here are the rules:

  • Write for five minutes on the given topic. When five minutes are up, stop writing, even if you are in the middle of a sentence.
  • Do NOT go back to edit once time is up.
  • Post the results here as a comment.
  • Enter as many times as you like!
At the end of the month, my two girls will help me choose the best JOP Madness entry and the winner will receive a JOP Award--a virtual ribbon, which is good for publicity and bragging rights, but is mainly just for fun. The real reward is the challenge itself because it is a fun way to stretch your writing muscles. 

This week's topic: play time

Of course I will play along too. Just leave me a topic!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Busy, busy

Apparently all my blog readers have been as busy as I have been the past several days (weeks? months?). But that is about to change for me, because tomorrow is THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!!

I am going to write and submit like crazy this summer! My main focus for June will be to finish the first draft of SHARRA'S WAR and get several picture books out to editors and agents. I will also try to get more magazine pieces out. 

I got a head start this evening by querying an agent.

Of course, I will be doing plenty of LIVING this summer too. Where else will my inspiration for new ideas come from? Camping, hiking, swimming, drinking iced sun tea and lemonade, and plenty of summer reading are just a few things that will fill my summer days.

Friday, May 22, 2009

JOP Madness (and contest reminder)

This has been a week of madness for me! So, why not add a little more madness to it? The topic for this week is: endings. End of the line, end of the school year, split ends, etc. Go crazy!

Remember, there's a new monthly JOP contest. But you can't win if you don't write! 

The rules: write for 5 minutes on the week's topic. It's totally fine to roll the idea around in your head for a while first! Start the timer (or watch the clock) when you actually begin writing and stop after five minutes, even if you're in the middle of a stanza or paragraph. Don't go back to edit once the five minutes is up. Of course, there's no way for me to know if you really follow the rules, so this is all based on the honor system.

Have fun!

If someone wants to leave me a topic, please do! I can't say when I will get to it because my folks are visiting this weekend, but I will do my best.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Odds N Ends

Here are some tid-bits from my life over the past few days:

* I bought Kristy Dempsey's book, ME WITH YOU. Found it on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. I was thrilled! It truly is a beautiful book, both the words and the pictures. If you have any reason for buying a picture book, this one is a must have!

* I discovered it is way easier to type with my nails cut short.

* I worked on SHARRA'S WAR last night, for the first time in several days. If all goes as planned, the first draft will be completed by the end of June.

* Less than two weeks of school left! That means I should have more time for writing. I may have to suck it up and get up before my kids a couple days a week so that they don't feel neglected.

*We have some school event each night this week. Tonight was 7-8th grade honors night. Tuesday is band recognition night. Wednesday is 6th grade recognition. Thursday is the 8th grade farewell party. Friday is the musical. 

* I didn't get around to doing JOP Madness this week, and I may not get to Tuesday tips either. Please bear with me!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Author Interview: Kristy Dempsey

Kristy Dempsey is a good friend and a brilliant poet/writer. Her debut picture book, ME WITH YOU, releases on May 14, 2009. I am thrilled that she agreed to be my first guinea pig...I mean interviewee here on Rebecca's Writing Journey. Now, on to the interview!

Thank you for agreeing to be my first interviewee! You must be terribly excited about the release of your first picture book, ME WITH YOU. How do you feel?

 A mix of relief and unfettered excitement? :) I think I feel relief because in this business nothing seems certain. I have a friend whose book got cancelled AFTER the illustrations were already finished. So much depends on the chain stores and whether or not they like the book, as well as the health and politics of your publishing house.

But I am absolutely thrilled that the book is getting out there and has a chance to find an audience. We had the first sighting of ME WITH YOU (published by Philomel/Penguin Putnam) actually in a bookstore on May 3, 2009 and when I received the picture I started crying! I live in Brazil, so I won't be able to walk into a bookstore and find my book until July when I'm in the US for a visit.

How long have you been writing for children?

Since 2003, though I didn't kick things into high gear until I attended the Highlights Foundation Conference at Chautauqua in 2005.

ME WITH YOU is a delightfully sweet rhyming story. What inspired you to write it?

ME WITH YOU actually grew out of a phone conversation with my husband. He was in the US and I was in Brazil, and he asked me what I'd been up to. I told him I'd been writing and he joked that I never wrote anything for him! Our conversation made me think of a book I loved called I LIKE YOU by Sandol Stoddard Warburg, originally published in 1965. I LIKE YOU is a celebration of friendship and I thought I'd like to write something that celebrated relationships in that same way. So ME WITH YOU is what came out and it was originally intended as a tribute to my relationship with my husband, with each of the scenes serving as a metaphor for aspects of our relationship. Of course, it ended up being illustrated (by Christopher Denise; wonderfully, I might add) to celebrate the grandparent/grandchild relationship. But it just goes to show you that if you get the emotion of a manuscript right, it becomes a universal story. It doesn't just apply to the original circumstance you had in mind.

How do you generally get your ideas?

Word play. Usually a word will come to mind. Take "boot" for example. My mind starts thinking of all the words it rhymes with. And even if I don't end up writing a rhyming story, those words can serve to give me a framework for a story.

Also, my kids come up with the funniest phrases. If I'm paying attention, they give me insight into what is funny to my target age group.

What is your writing process? Do you plan ahead or let the story lead you? Is it different for poems than it is for stories?

In poems and in stories, I am a terrible planner. I'd love to say that I outline my stories. I usually have a beginning. And I *might* have an end in mind. But I'm just as likely to have no idea. I go where the story leads. Which is why I'm a terrible (so far) novelist. I get about 10,000 words in and then have no idea what happens next.

Do you prefer rhyme/verse over prose?

I like both, and write in both, but I LOVE word play, so rhyme is one of my go-to devices. Even when I'm writing in free verse or prose, rhyme (as well as assonance and alliteration) sneaks its way in.

Your book releases in less than two weeks! Will you be doing a book tour?

I arrive in the United States in July for a six month stay, so yes, we have lots of events planned, especially pre-Grandparents Day in September. My first event will be during the American Library Association Conference in Chicago, IL on July 11th, a 25th anniversary celebration of The Magic Tree Bookstore in Oak Park, IL. I'll read and sign ME WITH YOU and other authors will be reading and signing as well. It will likely be one big party!

After that, I have 9 more events already scheduled, with more in the works, and you can be kept up to date by visiting

Tell us about your other forthcoming books.

MINI-RACER is a short picture book in rhyme that will be out from Bloomsbury in Winter 2010. It was inspired by my very active children whose engines roar 90 mph all day long.

I'll have another book out from Philomel that I am currently calling DANCING but will likely receive a new name. It's a story about the events in one little girl's life surrounding the performance of the first African-American principal ballerina, set in the 1950's.

And then there is SURFER CHICK, a romp in rhyme about one little chick's trials and triumphs in learning to surf. To be honest, this book is in a little bit of a limbo and demonstrates what can happen these days in publishing. I'll leave names out of it, but it's currently under contract to one house, a publishing house that has been through a bit of upheaval in recent years. It was likely moving to another house when that publishing house also went through a bit of upheaval. SO it's not been cancelled or pulled, but I'm not too sure exactly what's going to happen to it. I believe wholeheartedly in the story, so I think we'll figure it out soon enough.

What project(s) are you working on now?

Oh my. This is a loaded question.

I'm about 10,000 words into a novel that I love and really believe in. And I'm almost to the point where I'm stuck. Again. We'll see what happens.

Other than that I have a myriad of picture books and poetry collections that I'm working on daily.

And other than THAT, I am focused on being a good wife, a good mother, and marketing ME WITH YOU!

Thanks again for the opportunity to interview you. Do you have any advice for aspiring children's authors?

It sounds cliché, because everyone says it, but READ! If you want to write well for children, read read read lots of books for children. And if you run out of ideas, leaf through publisher's catalogues or Publisher's Weekly's list of forthcoming books. I don't know why it is, but reading titles and summaries of other books being published gets my creative juices flowing like nothing else!

For more information, visit Kristy's website: Kristy Dempsey or her blog. You can also check out (and/or buy!) ME WITH YOU here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

JOP Madness: Bandit (and a new contest!)

Corey left me two topics, so I got to pick which one I would go for. So, here goes!

Start time: 9:49 pm.


I saw him creeping in the gloom
wearing all black
and sneaking, sneaking
creeping toward my room.

What did he have planned? I wondered.
lit up by the lightning,
his grinning, grinning,
He cackled as it thundered.

I waited, curled up, under covers
trembling a bit

End time: 9:54.

Time's up! I didn't get to the part where the little bandit steals something. This one deserves more time for sure.

And a couple of tidbits:

Sometimes I feel like I'd never get any writing done if it weren't for these JOP challenges. I have been so busy being a mom! But I do have a treat for you coming up tomorrow afternoon--an interview with debut children's author, Kristy Dempsey. So, be sure to stop by and check that out!

Also, I am going to begin a monthly JOP contest. At the end of each month, I'll gather together all the JOP comments and pick the best one (my daughters will aid in the judging to assure fairness). The prize? A soon-to-be-much-coveted JOP Award (basically, a virtual ribbon for your to proudly display on your own blog). Corny? Possibly! But it should be a lot of fun.

If I'm not around as much over the next three weeks, don't panic. The last few weeks of school are MADNESS!

Oh, and check out my "shameless plug" over at Purple Clover's blog. This is one of my contest prizes (remember me mentioning blog contest winnings?). Oh, don't forget to check out the other winners too.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

JOP Madness

How about something to honor our mothers this week? Your five-minute topic: Mom (come on, how easy is that?) Spend five minutes writing something about your mother, or mothers in general, or yourself as a mother--anything to do with mothers--and post it as a comment.

Play along and leave a topic for me! I'm ready for a challenge (maybe).

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tuesday Tip #21: A Great Writing Blog

Okay, I know I'm late for my Tuesday Tip. I've been busy! Went to the zoo today with my son's second-grade class. Then I came home, cooked dinner, and started cutting out fabric for costumes for my daughters, who will be starring in the musical Mulan at their school in three weeks! When have I had time to think of Tuesday Tips?

But here's one for you: Check out this awesome blog. Nicola Morgan has an abundance of vital info (and humor) for any aspiring writer.

Just don't fall so in love with her blog that you forget about me.

One more thing:

Here's a reason for you to come back. This weekend I will be posting an interview with children's author/poet Kristy Dempsey. Don't miss it!

Monday, May 04, 2009

JOP Madness: Kerfuffle

This took me about ten minutes if you count the five I spent staring at the screen wondering, "What do I write about???"


He started it

She hit me first!

I tapped you lightly,
you hurt me worst.
It's all because
he called me names.

Well, she didn't want
to play my games!

But I don't like
those games you play.
Just knights and dragons
all through the day.

But I don't like
your silly dolls.
I'd rather build up
castle walls.

Dolls can live
in castles too,
as princesses.

I guess that's true.
And knights can come
and save their life.

And take one home to be his wife!

Ugh. Don't say that
or I won't play.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

JOP Madness

I thought it would be fun to post a picture for this week's topic.  I hope you find this photo of my two poodles inspiring!

For any newbies out there: A JOP is a five-minute free-writing exercise. No going back to edit. Post your results in the comments if you want to share.

I know I'm behind, but someone post a topic for me too!