Friday, September 19, 2014

My Writing Update

My writing life is slow but steady. When I came home from the summer SCBWI conference, I realized I needed to do a lot more work on my new book. I decided to put off my original plan of submitting it before Will is born, and will take more time on it to make it the best it can be before I submit it. I attended a writers workshop last weekend that gave me some more inspiration, and I've been doing some in-depth revisions.

I've become good friends with a fellow mom and writer. Her youngest son is Westly's age, so we get them together for play dates and she and I talk about writing. We've also been meeting at Starbucks on the weekends to bounce ideas off each other. It's been so refreshing to make a friend who not only is a mom like me, but also is a writer. And she's serious about it like me in that she carves our time to write, is attending writer's workshops, and makes writing a priority.

Also an author friend of mine, who has written many middle-grade and YA books and has taught many workshops including one at the SCBWI conference, has offered to be my 'Beta-reader'. A Beta-reader is someone who reads your entire manuscript as if it were a book, and gives general feedback about the plot, etc. They don't make edits, but rather suggestions. This author offered to read my new book, which is a huge God-send, as I've been really needing some professional feedback. I'm looking forward to her help.

Plans for Sherlock Academy are still in development with the publisher who wants to take it over. They're in the middle of drawing up contracts, and are still hoping for a Christmas release. We'll see!

I feel the urgency to write as much as I can before baby Will comes in November. It's a good deadline to have in mind!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Redoing the Manor

We've been making some changed to our house for our growing family. One thing we've always loved about our house is there are lots of options. We rearranged and repurposed a few of our rooms.

First change was turning the front dining room/play room into our family/TV room. It's turned out to be quite the cozy living space.

Then we turned the back family room into our dining room/homeschool space

Lastly we turned the guest room/office into Westly's new room with a 'big boy' bed. Baby Will is going to move into Westly's old room, which is still set up as a nursery.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Homeschool Preschool

Now that Michael is back to school, Westly has been doing preschool--at home! We've decided for now that we'll keep him home, especially this year as there are only a few more months of just "he and me" time before Baby Will comes. I've planned out preschool lessons/activities for the whole school year, ranging from art projects, baking/cooking lessons, workbook exercises, and extra fun activities. We're both enjoying it a lot!

Bead stringing: great for fine motor skills 

Westly loves to bake! Here we made banana bread

W is for Westly: learning the letters in his name with the sweet fun of Fruit Loops

Westly drew this 'monster'

Lady Bug Counting: again Fruit Loops make everything more fun

Every Tuesday morning we go to our local library for story time. This week was National Teddy Bear day, so Westly got to bring Reggy Bear along for the fun.

Westly is a gamer. He would much rather play board, card, and athletic games than play with toys.

Here's our little preschool corner in our dining room. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

SCBWI Conference 2014

Last weekend I attended the annual SCBWI Conference in LA. This was my second year. All three days were jam-packed with great keynotes and workshops by authors, editors, and agents who are top in the children's literature market right now. I learned a lot about my writing craft and the industry, and had some great "ah-ha!" moments about my current story I'm writing. I also had a manuscript critique by an agent from Andrea Brown Literary Agency, which proved most helpful. To top it all off, I got to meet THE Judy Blume!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Big Summer Vacay

 Every summer we take a vacation with the Shaw clan up to Lake Tahoe for a week. It's always a great time of family, fun, and rest. Here are a few highlights:

We loved hanging out lake-side

Westly learned to throw a frisbee

We lived it up in our hotel room

On the way home we stopped for two nights in San Jose and spent a day at Happy Hollow, a zoo and amusement park geared for little guys like Westly

Westly was hesitant to try the Frog Hopper ride, but after Daddy took him on it once, he decided he was brave enough to go a second time by himself

His favorite was the Endangered Animals Carousel. He rode it three times: crocodile, dragon, then dinosaur

We made it home happy but tuckered out

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I'm the Lucky One

Yesterday, July 7, 2014 (7-7-14) marked our 7th wedding anniversary. There's got be something lucky in that, right? Well, I am the luckiest girl ever because I got to marry Michael Shaw. I've gotten to spend the last 7 years building a wonderful life with him. In those 7 years we've traveled the world, pursued our dreams, expanded our family, and loved each other through storms and rainbows. 
Here's to the rest of our lives together! 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Lucky Break

Luck strikes when you least expect it, and perhaps that's what makes it so wonderful.

Last year I finished my Sherlock Academy series. It's done fairly well on a local scale, and I've learned so much about writing, publishing, and being an author the last seven years of creating Sherlock Academy. I've always wanted it to be more, but also resigned that it is what it is. Occasionally when I've had extra time I've sent the first book out to publishers in hopes of it getting picked up and developed commercially in a way I never could on my own. I didn't get any bites.

Until recently....

A few years ago we met an author who self-published his middle-grade book. We immediately became friends with Adam Sidwell, sharing the same passions for writing and kids. We admired his charisma and success with self-publishing. This year Adam started his own publishing company, and sent out an advertisement for writers to submit their work. I submitted Sherlock Academy, figuring I had nothing to lose.

Adam called me up with great news: he and his publishing team loved Sherlock Academy, thought it had commercial value, and offered a plan for publication, which includes selling my book at Costco and Barnes and Noble.

You can imagine how thrilled I am! I'm excited to have professionals take over the business end of publishing/selling Sherlock Academy, and of course I'm excited about Sherlock Academy reaching more readers through large sales at Costco, etc. Most of all, it's wonderful to have others see the value of my work and want to invest in it.

And I'm thinking there's more than luck involved here...