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...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Reliving a Nightmare

When Westly was 6 months old, he had intussusception: a condition most common in kids 3months--2 years old, where the intestines telescope and get stuck. An enema is used to straighten out the intestines. In rare cases the enema doesn't work and the problem has to correct via surgery. Luckily the enema worked with West. That was one of the scariest days of our lives.

Intussusception is supposedly a fluke thing that rarely happens more than once. But earlier this month, it happened again to Westly. Again the enema worked. This time we're going to do a scan and some tests to see if there is another reason this happened again, or if indeed it's just a fluke thing.

There is nothing worse than seeing your child in pain, having to watch him endure horrible procedures, and being helpless to stop it. The best you can do is be strong and comforting, and shower him with love. 
West did enjoy his stay in the hospital because he got to eat Popsicles, play on the iPad, and enjoy the play room. We've talked with him about what happened and everything he had to go through, and have covered him with prayer.
Most of all we pray this is the end of this nightmare. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

...And Puppy Dog Tails

I love surprises, and this was one big surprise! Michael and I went out for a special breakfast date and opened the envelope with our baby's gender. I felt like I was carrying a girl, but we both really wanted another boy. When we opened the envelope and saw BOY!!! inside, we both gasped with surprise and excitement. I even cried. 

Westly is very excited to have a brother, and we're excited to have another cuddly Doodle-Boy!

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Favorite Things Right Now

Every few months I like to pull an Oprah and list my current fave things:

Michael Shaw
Maxi skirts
SCBWI website
My backyard
Maternity exercise DVD
Hazelnut frapps
Westly saying "Today I'm Mommy's boy"
Baby's thumps
Daylight Savings
Westly saying "I'm Daddy's boy"
Princess Kate
No dinner plans
Hamburger at Far Western Tavern
Forever 21 gift card
Katy Perry's "Roar"
Armchair (a Thrift store treasure)
Front living room in the afternoon
God's grace
Coupon matching
Maybeline Gold Confetti nail polish
Weather app
My magic carpet story
This time of year

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ahhh, Summer

It's summer vacation! Even though I am not teaching full-time anymore, I still appreciate summer vacation, mainly because Michael gets to be home. When Michael's on vacation, I get a little vacation too. I can sleep in, I can go run errands or go write during nap time, I have an extra pair of hands to help around the house, I have my best friend around all the time, our fellow teacher friends are also available to hang out, we do fun outings, and we have our big family trip to Tahoe.

This summer especially I will relish vacation because I'm pregnant and how I feel changes from day to day. It will also be the last vacation with just the three of us, for our fourth little Shaw will be joining us in November (just in time for the holiday vacation).

Here's to Summer!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Up for Sale

My registration fees for the SCBWI summer conference are paid for. Now I just need to come up with some extra cash to pay for the hotel. Luckily I found a fellow conference attendee to share a room with and split the cost. Last year I sold my wedding dress to pay for the hotel. So this year I wandered around my house and garage looking for extra things I can sell to pay my way. Here are a few things up:

Pub Table: cherry/espresso stain, good condition, seats 2-6, has leaf. $85 OBO
Antique Radio/Turntable cabinet: cherry wood, Magnavox brand, from the 1950s, has storage. $100 OBO
Children's Art Lessons: 5 summer lessons, 3rd-6th grade, private one-on-one, watercolors, oils pastels, drawing, etc. $100

For pictures of furniture, go to Craigslist

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Crap Shoot

As you know, I've registered for the SCBWI LA Summer conference this year. I paid a little extra to receive a critique on my work. I had to send in the first 10 pages of my current manuscript (my magic carpet story). My work will be assigned to either an author or an editor who will critique it. At the conference I'll sit down and discuss the critique with that author/editor. I asked an author friend of mine for any pointers about submitting work, and her first reply was "It's a crap shoot--depends on who you get."

Now that I think about it, this whole writing/publishing industry is one big crap shoot. Sure, talent and perseverance, and tenacity play a big role in becoming a published author, but really it's about finding that lucky break. It's about meeting the right people at the right time, or having the right story at the right time. You'd think this would deter a lot of us aspiring authors, and maybe it should. But it doesn't. We hold out hope for that lucky win. That sets us apart.

And if we hold out long enough, we might just get lucky.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Preschool at Home

Westly turned 3 in April, and just within the last month of that happening, he's turned from a toddler to a preschooler. I really want to take advantage of the next few months before Baby #2 comes along to do preschool with Westly at home. He loves to learn and soaks up everything I teach him. He is working on writing a W for his name right now, and doing very well. We'll continue to add letters until he can write his name. He also loves to paint, color, use scissors, do Play-Dough, count, and practice his alphabet. I couldn't ask for a more enthusiastic student!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

First Draft Down...How Many to Go?

I didn't get much writing done in April due to my First Trimester slump. But now that my energy is back, I'm able to get back to my writing routine. Last weekend I finished a first draft of my Flying Carpet story. It feels good to have a first draft done, though of course it needs lots of work and I still need to go back and figure out some story lines. I'll be dedicating most of my time to readying the first 10 pages to submit to an editor for critique at this summer's SCBWI conference in LA. I'm planning on attending again, and getting some feedback on my story.

Friday, May 16, 2014

May's Outdoor Adventure

We've been having crazy heat waves this month. So Westly and I took advantage of it and hit Avila Beach a few weeks back. This counts as our outdoor adventure this month for our 2014 Resolution! It was made extra fun by our friends joining us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Second Trimester

I realize it's been a month since I posted. I tribute my lack of motivation to do so to First Trimester slump. But now that I'm past the morning sickness and fatigue, I've got more ambition for life again!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Roses are red, violets are blue
We're thrilled to announce Baby #2! Coming November!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Little Doodle Boy

Yesterday (April 6) Westly turned 3! We really partied it up with a friends party on Friday and a family party on Saturday. The theme was his fave: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!

I am so blessed by this unique little boy. He is very helpful, always helping me do things around the house, and he's always the only kid helping to clean up in Sunday school at church.

He's always been very attached to me, which now has made him always ready for cuddles, lots of hugs, and prompts him to tell me "I love you, Mommy!" daily even before I say it to him.

He has a great sense of humor and the best giggle ever. He loves to be tickled, loves to play chase, and thinks Daddy is so funny.

He is very athletic and has been shooting hoops and kicking a soccer ball since he could walk. He is super smart and memorizes things in a flash. He loves to point out letters in the alphabet and count. He's a whiz at puzzles and is great at problem solving. It's exciting to see these skills God has given him.

He loves his family and friends. He loves going over to Nana and Papa's house to spend time with them. He loves his cousins and is always asking to see them. He enjoys having friends over to play.

Most importantly he is himself. He is very opinionated and sure of himself. I love that he's a perfect mix of Michael and me. I love that he has my eyes and Michael's hands. I love to hear what he thinks about the world.

He is the smartest, tenderest, sweetest, feistiest, handsomest little boy ever. I love that he is mine.

Happy Birthday, Westly Cavanaugh!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Annual Author Dinner

Every year the San Luis Obispo Reading Association hosts a night with local childrens authors. It's always a great time of inspiration, networking, and eating. This year was no different.

My hubby the evening's MC

All the authors

Me and my cousin whose husband was a featured author