Monday, May 2, 2016

Music to Make Write To

So I haven't posted music I listen to while writing in forever.  Honestly, it's because I wasn't writing for a long time.  The last binge writing fest I had, there was no music since I was at my kid's Tae Kwon Do testing.  But I do still listen.  

My tastes have changed a bit.  Right now I'm cycling through worship music and reggaeton.  Kind of a 7-10 split there, but I found this worship mix that calms me, and I miss the music I had living in Colombia last year.  Anyhow, here are a couple videos to showcase what's been on my playlists.  

Housefires: Rise

Nicky Jam: Travesuras

Disfrutan (enjoy)!


Friday, April 29, 2016

Advice (I'm not asking for it. Nor am I giving it. I'm just talking about it. Maybe I should have called it Talking About Advice, but that was too long).

So here's a topic that's been on my mind, advice. When do you take it, and when do you not take it? When I started this whole road to getting published thing half an eon ago, I knew nothing.  My friend sent me to and Nathan Bransford's site, then away I went.  

I knew to follow Nathan's advice, he was an agent.  But what he represented was not quite what I was doing, so I never knew 100%.  When I went to querytracker or read other blogs, none of the advice seemed to fit me as a children's book writer.  It all went against what I wanted to do.  At first I didn't know if it was me, or them.  I pretty much soaked up the majority opinion, until one day, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I attended an SCBWI regional conference.  

During a page reading, one of the local chapter leaders read my page, which I had just written the day I submitted it, and then she gave some advice.  The pages were anonymous but apparently because I'm 8, and the grins and giddiness I was vibing out to the room, an editor figured it out.  She walked up to me.  "The Space School page was yours right?"

I was half about to freak out.  I'm super awkward, btw.  "Yes."

"I just wanted to say that what she said about not giving an age for your character was dead wrong.  Those details are key." 

"Oh good, thanks for telling me.  I wanted to make a protagonist that was the same age as the reader."

Well, I think you should definitely play with the idea of (in other words, do that) making your character older, but just don't forget to tell me his age."

"Oh, okay thanks."  

"Yeah, no problem, also your page was really good, it was one of the best, really funny."  Almost lost it again

"You like me?"  I didn't really say that, but my eyes probably totally said that.  

Anyway, ever since that day, I never know when to listen to someone or just do my own thing.  But right now, my WIP is a redraft of that same book.  It's kind of kick-ass now that I've grown up a bit and had time to realize that it sucked and I'm not Mary Pope Osborne.  I'm writing like me, and not trying to make the next Magic Treehouse book, which didn't fit my idea anyway.  

Honestly, I think where I'm at now is a result of finding all my mistakes, but I guess my question would be, could I have made this process shorter for myself?  Who could I have listened to?  Who do you listen to?  Comment below.  


Monday, April 25, 2016

Got My First Rejection For My New Manuscript!!

This week I've been querying, and of course, that comes with the instant joy of rejection.  I'll be honest though, there were several things that struck me as unusual about this rejection.  First of all, she had reviewed it within three days of submission.  Kudos to her, that's pretty quick.  However, there were some other unusual things within the text.  Behold:

Dear Chris, <normal
Thank you so much for thinking of me for <Manuscript Title Redacted>, which I was happy to see.  <unusual Unfortunately, I'm afraid it's not a good fit for me, so I must pass. <normal  I'm so sorry. <unusual
Wishing you all the best,
Agentface <normal

So here's what strikes me.  I've been rejected a couple times before.  No one mentions they are happy to see something.  Agent time is precious, and it seems like a frivolous sentence.  It could be the form she uses, but it's not something I'm used to seeing.  It also could indicates that she read the MS, which is cool.  A lot of agents don't take the time, so anything indicative of that is positive.  The more agent eyes in front of your work, the better, rejection or no.

Also saying, "I'm so sorry" seems out of place.  It's almost as though they thought about it, and were not 100% on their decision.  Normally "I'm going to pass" suffices and agent is done.  So it made me curious. 

Both of these things could just be nothing.  The agent might use those statements for everyone.  I fully intend to query something else entirely in a week to find out.  However, I'm choosing to read the positive tea leaves on this one and keep plugging away at querying this project with maybe a bit more focused approach in terms of agent preferences.

How about you guys?  Which agent/publisher responses caught your eye? 


Friday, April 22, 2016

When to Settle for Not the Pulitzer Type Dreams You've Always Had

I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'm a control freak when it comes to my writing.  I want everything to be perfect.  I imagine the absolute best my work can be, the amount of sales or awards it will rake in, the amount of other projects and creative freedom I will have from my nonexistent agent and fictitious editors.  It's almost debilitating because I cannot "settle" or see my little idea babies as non-glorious.

An example:  This weekend I hammered out 800 words of a nonfiction that I intended to send to Highlights.  Then, I show it to my wife.  She tells me that it would make a great book.  A book is a way bigger positive for me than a magazine article (which, would still be amazing).  Is it better to query it first?  How long?  Should I just send it to the magazine?  But then, I sell the rights away and can never publish it.  It's enough to make me want to watch 3 straight hours of House of Cards until it all goes away.  

  So for me, I pose this question to everyone out there:  How do you know when to let go of a certain idea for your projects?  How do you know if this is a better epub than publisher book?  Because, for me, it feels like once I let one project be a certain way, I cannot take it back.  And, what if that was the one that could have gotten an agent or publisher?

Does anyone have this experience or am I just a weird?      

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Author Talk at Kansas University

So I went to an author talk this week at KU.  I'm plowing back into writing this week, I've written a nonfiction picture book MS and queried it this week, just to get back out there.  Life has been more or less settled enough for me to get back out there for awhile, I just haven't put in the work.  

I haven't been to see an author speak in ages, so it was good to get some ideas and ask some questions.  The first Author featured was Andrea Warren.  She writes historical creative nonfiction, which is pretty far from where I operate.  I was able to glean some things she does to get kids interested in the historical stories she focuses on that could be useful in the future.  Overall a good speech.

The second author was Stephen T. Johnson.  He is an artist first, but has a book I've used for teaching before, ALPHABET CITY.  It's a picture book that shows each letter hidden in different parts of everyday city life.  Again, not what I do, but it was good to talk with him, especially because we are from the same town.  Since they let you write how you have him make out the signature, I had him make it out like so, "I hereby leave all my worldly possessions to Chris.  Also, best wishes and stuff.  -Stephen"  He added, (For a Price!) in there, so I don't think it would hold in court, but still pretty great.  Second only to my Jon Scieszka autograph that says, "Stay Stinky."  

How about you people (Alex)?  Any awesome author encounters?   

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Days 15 and 16 of #CBDrawaday Challenge

I'm trying new stuff, it's pretty fun! I'm using Micron pens I got at Michael's for $10.  What do you guys like to draw with?  

Day 15:  Draw a Watch

Day 16:  Draw an Apple

Monday, January 25, 2016

More Illustrations from the #CBDraweveryday Challenge

Hi!  I feel like the constant practice of drawing everyday is making a lot of difference.  I make a lot of mistakes, but I'm learning to do things better and faster. 

Day 12: Draw a Tulip

Day 13: Draw an Owl