Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Voodoo Dolls and Pimped out Carts

So remember I mentioned in my Freak Out! post that I went to East Bay Open Studios as one of the 12 artists to participate in the FABULOUS weekend event at the beginning of June? Since today is the last day of June, I thought it only appropriate to show some pics so you could get an idea of the experience. Remember how I also mentioned in my Freak Out! post that some other things went wrong? Well, I think its only appropriate that I save the more embarrassing moments for July. Yep, That could mean tomorrow!!

So, without furthur ado, dun dun dun...
My tour guide, Sunny, will now take you on this lovely experience.

Now Sunny, this is still MY blog. So be nice.

iPhones are so not dumb. Just sayin.

Remember I made you and I can just as easily unmake you, delete you, whatever, if you don't quit complaining! Besides, I made you BEFORE i started working with characters on paper.

These are too adorable! And the artist herself is terrific. I traded with her and in exchange received two of these lovely Monsters with Heart. Each come with their very own story, no two alike. In fact, the one in the top left corner (the bride named Diamond) I was lucky enough to snag! Yay me!

Um, you don't have TWO rights. So to correct Sunny, the Monster BBQ is on HER left YOUR right, which I'm sure you can already tell. but anway. All I can say is amazing! Photos don't do these justice! And they were just among some of the many, many on display. I'm so jealous. These guys have so much talent. I'm just in awe in their very presence.

It's true. Homeless Don made $150 that weekend. Then three days later he was back on Non-Homeless Don's house trying to squeeze $5 out of him.

Scaredy Cat!!!! Whatever. I'll takeover the tour on this one then. Two blocks down there was another art event going on (although were more awesome) and as I was walking back, this car in the above picture just parked in front of someone's house. If you can see clear enough, there are like Voodoo dolls and heads fixed to the sides and top of the car. SO CRAZY! People driving by were stopping in the middle of the road and getting out to take pictures. Those walking past would stop in their tracks to stare and gawk. The lady who lived in the house that the car parked in front of came out and I talked with her. She said she's never seen the car before. I told her it sure is getting a lot of attention and if I were her, today would be the day to have a garage sale.

Well, maybe next time we'll have to work on having a tour guide who's not so scared of every little thing, eh?

Or has such anger issues.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Freak Out!!

Do you ever find yourself in a freak out moment? Like something that is normally a simple, common sense situation but it catches you off guard and for that moment you turn into a babbling idiot or an instant airhead who couldn't find their way out of a paperbag? And worse, you have a witness? And even worse, you drink too much coffee and decide to BLOG ABOUT IT? sigh. You just guessed that's me, huh? Before I lose the nerve and delete this, I will quickly tell you my freak out moment that happened at on June 5th at precisely 10:32am. And no, I don't remember this date because I have a good memory. Read on.

I was driving to East Bay Open Studios as one of the artists in the event that weekend and my brother was going with me that day. The drive takes about an hour and a half. So, I’m driving. And...i'm still driving, and singing to the radio, la la la (brother covers ears), whatever. La la la LA LA LA!


Brother: That's a cop, Rose.

Me: Omg, omg, what do I do?

Brother: (yawn) Pull over, Rose.

Me: (puts blinker on) Oh look! He's moving to the other lane! He was probably just trying to go around me! (turns blinker off)

Brother: Rose, you're in the far left lane. He was parked on the side of the freeway.

Me: Oh no! He's behind me again! (turns blinker back on)

Brother: Start getting over, Rose.

Me: But I haven’t had a ticket in like, 9 years!!

Brother: Rose, you still have to pull over.

(Notice the overusage of my name here? What IS the point of that?)

Me: Do you think I can outrun him?

Brother: Um…you’re driving a Prius.

Me: I was kidding!

Brother: How can you even speed in this thing?

Me: You know, there’s a recall on the gas pedal. It’s supposed to stick.

I pull over to the shoulder and the officer comes around the passenger side. He looks like the Doogie Howser of all cops. My nerves have gotten the best of me and I’m all shaky and twitchy and nervous. Great, he’s probably going to search my car for illegal substances.

He asks me “Do you know how fast you were going?” I have to stop and think for a moment. I know I was going with the flow of traffic. But I was obviously going over the speed limit or else he wouldn’t have pulled me over. And honestly, I wasn’t paying attention (totally my fault, I know!) So I think, okay..speed limit is 65 so I make a guess and say, “66?” But when I say it, it comes out all stutter-like so it actually sounds like "sssssiiixxxxxttttttyyysixxx?" and yes I don't just say it but I ask it in the form of a question which really shows I have no idea and i'm making an obvious guess.

The officer snort-laughs and pulls out his radar gun thingy and shows me the speed I was going. Seriously, they can do that? I told you it’s been a long time since I’ve had a ticket for anything because back then—they didn’t show you! He showed me my speed and I almost laughed. I didn’t know my little gas saving Prius COULD go that fast. My response was “Wow.”

Office Doogie turned out to be not so bad. He lowered my speed on the ticket so I could get the minimum fine and do online traffic school. Really, online? That’s way cool. I think he realized I wasn't on drugs but I was a bit mentally unstable. In the end, lets just say I sold enough art that weekend to pay for my ticket and traffic school, and then some. (we won’t count how many times I got lost and unnecesarrily had to pay toll. That’s another post!)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Journey of an Author Part 4 (and Final!)

What I wasn’t expecting is that the editor, besides taking on my book, was taking on all the images that I drew with my book. They were simple and funny and of course were exactly the characters as I imagined them. And the fact that they were buying my book in the complete package was absolutely amazing. Not only was I getting an editor, but also a designer. The same designer who had done all the covers for the series, THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS.

Of course I was excited but also nervous. I was about to go through the editing process for the first time, but somehow I’d be doing that with illustrations too? I had NO idea how this would work out (the stages of the process for both the book and illustrations is a whole other blog post!)

So here comes the next part you’re going to love. WAITING. Lots of it. You get to wait for the contract in the mail. You get to wait to be introduced to your editor. For the first phone call to speak with your editor. For me, I waited to be introducted to my designer. And actually speak with her. And mostly, I waiting for the editing and revising process to begin.

You would think that’s something you jump right into. Nope. I think it took about two months. In Writers Land…this is a long time. So while I waited, I figured I would draw. It wouldn’t hurt to practice drawing my book characters. Maybe I could get them to look even better. While my originals were done in ink, I started experimenting with pastels. And charcoal. Man, did I love charcoal. And I wasn’t so much drawing my book characters anymore, but just characters in general. I was having a blast. To me, each character had a story. It was the opposite of writing to me. I was bringing my characters to life in a different form.

A friend suggested to me I should apply to a gallery show. The selected artists would be required to, in their chosen medium, create 25 art pieces (8x8 which is very small) within one month. Then it would be displayed for a month and a half, and for sale to the public. I was very hesitant. I’m so not an artist. I’m an author! But, I was so curious to see what would happen. So I applied and gave them my sample. I kind of just closed my eyes and hoped for the best but didn’t expect much as to not be disappointed.

About a week or so later I got “The Call” saying I was one of the artists selected for the gallery’s show. I was stunned. Really. I mean, if I got into this gallery, could I get into more? This was the beginning of me being an "artist" so to speak. For the rest of last year, I was in three art galleries, participated in dozens of art shows and events, traveled out of town, got invited to do open studios and other art shows. It was very fast paced and it moved me into a whole direction I had never thought about. People seemed to really like my art and often (really often) compared it to the style of Tim Burton. In four months I made over 110 drawings of all sizes and shapes and I had (still do) a boutique that sells my stuff.

Then came the time to do my revisions and copyedits and illustrations and everything with my book. I showed my designer a few new images I drew of character for my book but both her and my editor agreed they wanted the originals, as they looked more "graphic" and less cartoony and just right for the age group we were targeting. True. And I guess my new style of drawings were a bit goth as well. I had to stand back and take a look at everything with an unbiased view. I did love my original characters that were kept with me from the very beginning, although throughout the book process I would sometimes find myself slipping into a cartoonish style. oops!

By the end of the year I stopped doing art events and concentrated only on my book since I had more deadlines coming up. Afterall, my book was my first priority. The first few months into this year I finished with the illustrations of the book (the final stage since the copyedits come first) and it was amazing to see the whole process through, beginning to end. To watch it take shape, go through title changes (remember how it started out as Bathroom Blog? It ended up becoming Gossip from the Girls Room, A Blogtastic! novel). And my illustration of my MC even ended up on the front cover! Afterall those deadlines, I was invited to participate in an Alice in Wonderland themed artshow which was timed perfectly for the premiere of the Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie. Of course I couldn't say no to that! I whipped up some new art pieces and dressed in costume and was there for opening night. Our art was up for a month and I sold over half of my pieces which was great! I also did a HUGE open studios in the east bay in June of this year.

Between the art and the writing, I had no social life. AT ALL. With a husband and three young boys, I still don't know how I managed. Actually, I do. If it weren't for my husband watching the boys I wouldn't have had time to complete much of anything. So after my art shows were over and all my deadlines were complete, I took a deep breathe. I was done and it felt good to relax. I enjoyed every minute of it. Then I got a wonderful email from my agent...


My editor wanted to buy the next Blogtastic! book making it a series! Which is exactly what I wanted!! I couldn't believe it. I had the outlines written for the next couple of books, so we already had the titledfigured out for #2 and the announcement was made quickly on PM. So THAT is what I'm working on now. Rumors from the Boys Room, A Blogtastic! Novel. Which will be out Spring 2012. I have until the end of August to write it. I have longer to do the illustrations though. I've missed my characters and I'm having a blast.

Recently, I just got word from my agent (yes, MORE good news) that we received an offer in Spain for my first book. It will be translated and published there in April 2011. Yay!

So I have to say, in this last year my life has been pretty fabulous. More than fabulous. It's been a dream come true. And then some. And the fact that my dream led to another hidden dream that I was unaware of at the time (art) is pretty awesome. You never know where the path you're on will take you.

I'm always thinking this good luck will run out but then I have to remind myself it's not luck. It's hardwork. And it's finally paying off. And i'm not saying that to sound snobby in any way, but when you thinkabout it , most writers struggle to get to a certain point in their career, is it really good luck that gets us there? For most of us, it's not. For most of us, it's the fact that we didn't give up. That we believed in ourselves and our writing and we pushed ourselves through the hardest times. And when we finally get to that point that is most rewarding for us (agent or publishing) we should look on that at smile, and not think of it as luck. Because if it was luck, anyone could do it. And if it was luck, we wouldn't struggle so hard and have so much rejection.

And really, without the struggle and rejection, would we really appreciate the reward so much in the end if we hadn't worked so hard for it?

My motto is: It's not a matter of IF it happens. It's a matter of WHEN. Don't give up and always believe in yourself and with that, you will acheive your dreams.

And with each rejection, allow yourself ONE day of self pity and wallowing and pouting and crying. But ONLY ONE day.
BTW, I passed by Business Law class with a B+ :)

Journey of an Author Part 3

So, two weeks later I get the email from Rosemary that I was waiting for. She asks for my permission to start sending off to editors. My response? YES! And then I think, wait…does this mean I’m represented? I talked to one of her clients and asked a few questions and receieved some helpful advice. The best thing to do in any situation you're unsure of is to ask. The reason I didn’t ask right away is because I was afraid to sound dumb. But being a newbie, I suppose agents and editors expect a certain amount of “dumbness” from us in the beginning.

Rosemary and I exchanged a few emails and before I knew it, she said the contract was in the mail. This is when I did my happy dance! But then my husband stopped me. He said to wait until we actually got the contract. I told Mr. Negative that agents don’t “pretend” this kind of stuff. But, we waited for the contract and when it came in the mail, he didn’t hold me back from doing my happy, HAPPY dance.

So when writers say they get THE CALL, it’s not always the case, as I learned. Terrific news comes in the forms of emails too! My fantastic online critique group held a cyber toast for me, so as we synchronized our times and after glitches on our IM’s, we were finally all in one chatroom and with wine glass in hand, toasted to the good news and the good news to come for the rest of the group since everyone is well on their way.

In the days to follow, I had no idea what to do with myself. Besides waiting to hear back from my agent now (and I couldn’t say that word enough), should I start writing other things? Should I hold off because anything I write needs to be sent through my agent first? I couldn’t decide and I didn’t want to bug my agent too much so I just waited. And anyone who’s a writer know how hard waiting is!

About two weeks into waiting I get an email from Ro with our first response from an editor. From a pretty big (and amazing) publisher. Their answer was no. They weren’t interested. At least I was able to read their comments to see why. It all pretty much came down to my story being “too innocent.” Hmmmm. Okay. I can deal with that. One rejection isn’t bad. I reminded myself of all the rejections I overcame from the past. What’s a couple more hurdles, right?

About another week later we received our second response from another pretty amazing editor. Another pass. Their reason. My story “wasn’t innocent enough.” A complete opposite reaction from the first editor. Now I understood what was going on. Selling to editors was very much the same as querying agents. It is very subjective. Very. And as soon as I realized this I thought, “oh no, I’m going to be stuck in another 6 year rut.”

What I failed to think about was the amazing agent I had just signed with. I wasn’t alone anymore. And sure, I’ve heard of some authors who took a year of editor rejections before they found “the one,” but if that’s what it took, then that’s what I would do. And even as a writer you have to learn a certain amount of patience (although I think we never really learn to be patient we just learn to preoccupy ourselves ), I was ready to wait for whatever amount of time it took because I had made it to the next level and I was one step closer to my dream. And since I was twelve I only had one dream.

To see my name on a book I wrote in the bookstore.

The money never mattered to me. Of course it’s nice and I would love to someday make a career out of writing, but even as a kid I thought I would do it for free if it meant I could have my very own book published. It’s something I have a passion for, something I love, and fullfilling that would be the biggest reward ever. Now that I’m older, all the extra perks are icing on the cake.

About eight weeks from the beginning of the waiting period, my agent sent me an email stating we had a third response-from Delacorte, a division of Random House. My heart nearly stopped. They are HUGE. Then she said they made an offer. Right there I almost nearly had a heart attack. I was able to read the comments from the editor, and for the first time-- read what the details of the contract. A little confusing at first—but that’s when you ask questions! All that was left was the thumbs up from me.

Then, they gave me more news I wasn’t expecting.

To be continued…

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Journey of an Author Part 2

So yesterday I blogged about querying and rejections for six years. Today I’m posting about how one idea changed everything for me, and how inspiration can hit in the strangest places….

So April of last year I was sitting in Starbucks with my thick textbook studying for my Business Law exam because I wanted to promote at work. Okay, I didn’t WANT to, but I felt like I had to if I wanted my career to go anywhere. Next to me I had my notebook and pen in case inspiration struck, which it likely did at unlikely times.

And of course this was one of those unlikely times.

And the weirdest part is where I got my inspiration from.

Wait for it….

The Bathroom!

I put two and two together (my notebook + the bathroom) and came up with a story idea of a girl who listens to gossip in the girls room, then jots it down with funny doodles in her notebook. Hmmmm. Story sounds kind of familiar though, right? A diary/notebook and doodles. Kind of like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Well, so much for that idea. Back to reading Business Law.


Writers don’t give up. They take an idea and twist it into something new, right? Because everything has already been written about before. There are no “new” ideas. So I pushed my Business Law book to the side once more and thought a little harder. I love the concept of a notebook with doodle type drawings. But no diary. Just a notebook. And gossip. Lots of gossip. Girls always go to the girls room in groups. And they talk. Plenty of opportunites for gossip there. So….why would this girl carry around a notebook if it wasn’t her diary?

Got it! Lets take the diary concept one step further and make it a blog. Kids are big into electronics and texting and computers, so why not blogging? But then I had to ask myself, why would she carry the notebook? Simple. Because she can’t necessarily blog whenever she wants to at school. And what 12yr old girl is going to remember all that fabulous juicy gossip by the end of a school day. Of course, by writing it down! And no kid can resist writing in their notebook without doodling and mentioning other total dramatic and life changing things.

So there you go. I had my concept. And I called my book BATHROOM BLOG. I start writing (yes, handwriting and drawing) everything in my notebook. I spent several hours at the coffee shop and by the time I got home I was still so amped up about this story I want to share it with anyone who would listen. In all the stories I had ever written, I had never felt this excited. CONFESSION: I never laughed so much writing a story either. I wasn’t sure if I was just acting crazy, or if my story was really funny.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. It was like I couldn’t write quickly enough. This was actually the first time I ever handwrote a story. Or had drawings to go with it. The drawings were more of a punchline to the actual story itself. As soon as I was done, I typed it up, scanned half the pictures in (because I really didn’t think anyone would care to see the images. They were only there to give them an idea of where I was going with this).


That’s how long it took me to write and draw this story out. I lived and breathed this story. I sent a query to the agent at the top of my list: Rosemary Stimola. She responded in less than a half hour asking for the first 15 pages. YAY! I sent them. It seemed just as quickly as I sent them off, she emailed back asking if there was more. I emailed the rest, up to the point of the images I had already scanned. She was going out of town for a few weeks, told me to get the rest of the images together then email her the full when she got back.

Those two weeks could not go back quick enough. In fact, they were the longest two weeks of my life.

To Be Continued…

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Journey of an Author Part 1

I've always been one of those writers who love reading authors blogs--epecially when they share their stories about making it. Or tell about their journey along the way. It inspired me and I usually put these authors on a higher pedestal, because they did something I always dreamed of--they were a published author. The more I read their blogs, the more I realized "hey, they are regular people too!" and funny thing is, that inspired me even more. Because I had an even better shot of making my dream come true, because just like them, I was a regular person. And just like them, I was starting off in the same place they once had. And just like them, their dream was my dream. I just hadn't reached mine. Yet.

So for the first time, I am telling my story online with the hopes of encouraging or inspiring or even relating to other writers out there. Having only been agented for a year, everything is still very fresh for me and I want to share my experience and Journey of an Author...


That's how long it took me. From the time I completed my very first book to the time I signed with my agent. (I had a habit of not completing projects I started, so completing my first was a HUGE accomplishment).

Did I ever think my work was brilliant and the agents were wrong for rejecting me? Yes. Did I ever cry and pout and feel sorry for myself? Of course. Did I ever feel like giving up? Absolutely.

So what happened in those six years that kept me wanting to come up with ideas for new stories, write and rewrite, and query so much that the keypad had been permanently etched into my fingertips?


I refused to give up.

Someone told me my work wasn't strong enough? Fine. I'd make it stronger.

The voice isn't there? I'll write until it's there.

The plot isn't believeable? I'll twist it around until it is.

I received more rejections than you'd probably care to know. But if I had to go back and do it all over again, would I? I absolutely would. Why would I? It made me stronger. I can take critiques. I have tough skin. In the beginning I would cry if someone didn't like my work. So imagine if I had an editor back then and they suggested revisions and even sent copyedits my way. I would've been a mess trying to handle such a thing!

I've also found an online critique group since then, and I cannot stress enough the importance of having a critique group. In those six years, I've had time to do research on agents, publishers, and make such wonderful friends. But best of all? I became a better writer. And of course with time (and practice) everyone becomes a better writer, but how great is it to say that my debut novel will be that much better than it would've been six years ago? And of course when I look at my writing from that long ago, I can honestly say, "um, yeah. I DO understand what those agents were telling me."

And then it was last April that my dream would come true. And then some.

To Be Continued...

Not Good News. Great News!

Good News: I got a fabulous news from my agent!

Bad News:  I don't think I can actually share the news yet.

But, I just wanted to share the good news even though I can't exactly say what the goods news is. Just that there IS good news. so...Yay!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

From the Mixed-Up Files

If you haven't already been to the site From the Mixed-Up Files...what are you waiting for? Book giveaways, interviews, tons of information...and it's all about middle grade books and authors. There's something here for everyone.

Mission Statement
From the Mixed-Up Files is the group blog of middle-grade authors celebrating books for middle-grade readers. For anyone with a passion for children’s literature—teachers, librarians, parents, kids, writers, industry professionals— we offer regularly updated book lists organized by unique categories, author interviews, market news, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a children's book from writing to publishing to promoting.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Contest Anyone?

So...this is what I'm thinking. I haven't had this blog for very long and since I have my new website up and running (Yay!) I'm thinking of doing a contest to help promote my blog/site. I have a couple ideas in mind, but if anyone has an idea of their own, I'd love to hear! Just leave a comment and I promise to read. I'm thinking I'll announce this Friday.

BTW, check out my new up and running site at I still have a lot more to add, but I'm having fun with it for now.

In the next day or so I will also be posting about the event at EAST BAY OPEN STUDIOS complete with pics (you don't wanna miss!) and a post about my experience talking to my son's 6th grade class (66 kids!)about how to become an author/illustrator. Yeah, I was sooo nervous since I had never talked in front of a group before, PLUS I had lost my voice the day before at the art event and I was given a microphone. Confession: I've never, ever talked in a microphone before. Karaoke excluded.  So I was sweating bullets just thinking about how well I was going to do with my whisper amplified in front of a crowd of kids who may or may not be bored with what I was prepared to say.

So in the meantime, lemme know if have any ideas for a contest to help promote my blog/site!