Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Writer's Wednesday: What words should be censored in children's literature?

I love agent/editor panels at conferences. They offer the opportunity for authors to experience the flavor of agents' personalities.   The same questions are usually asked, and, if the session is mediated properly, it doesn't have to be entirely tedious. 

Oklahoma Writers' Federation, Inc. had a fabulous group of agents this year who served on the panel. Louise Fury, Stephen Fraser, Jessica Sinsheimer, and Emmanuelle Morgan are all impressive and should be checked out if you're looking for both pleasant and hard-working agents.

In response to a certain question, I've heard many responses over the years.
  • It depends on the publisher.
  • It's fine if it fits the character.
  • It's fine if it serves a purpose other than shock value.

The following question and answer may not be verbatim, but it's how I remember it.

And I like it this way.

Are four-letter words unacceptable in children's literature?

Stephen Fraser's reply:
Only one. HATE.

Click here for an interview with Stephen Fraser as well as a photo of his spiffy, trademark bow tie. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Favorite: Memorial Day Welcome Home

Memorial Day weekend is here. People across America celebrate their three day weekend in many different ways. Hot dogs on the grill. Boating at the lake. Decorating graves of loved ones. Memorial Day's original purpose was to remember those who died in the service of our country.

This Friday Favorite is my thanksgiving that Major Paul Krattiger gets to spend Memorial Day with his wife and daughters. Like every other military family, each member of their family has sacrificed. Although they're human, I've never heard them complain.  They have something many people lack these days: honor.  Paul and Alison are some of the best human beings I know. (You know those friends who make you want to be a better person?) They love their life together--even when it's apart.
I swiped this pic from Alison's Facebook page. It was called "Let's finish this!"

I met Alison while we attended OU and have been blessed with our friendship ever since. Although we don't see each other often, she's one of those people to whom I've always felt connected. And Paul? They make the perfect pair. It wouldn't surprise me if everyone feels as Garrett and I do about them.

When we lived in NJ, Paul and Alison were at West Point and delivered their first born within a week of our arrival. They were the first non-hospital people to meet Max.We were so lucky to have such great friends nearby. We shared Easter dinner with them. We traveled to Philadelphia when I was pregnant with Max (and not much of a good traveler, but they didn't complain). They attended my surprise baby shower at Lady Mendl's tea room.  

We're pretty sure this moment is the reason Max prefers older women.
Max receives his "first" kiss

They've moved a couple of other places since West Point. They were blessed with another beautiful daughter.  Paul was deployed.  And now he is home.

This weekend, please remember all the men and women who died in service to our country.

For now, please join me in celebrating a homecoming.

The Krattiger family reunited

Doesn't this pic say it all?

May they live happily ever after!

The moments above were captured by Photography by Kim Paine. Click here to see even more. Caution: I fight tears each time I do. If you're in the Colorado Springs area, you should hire her!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Pinterest Chicken

Making meals saps my creative juices.

I know. It's probably one of those weird traits no one else possesses.

Still, we need to eat well. So, hubby and I started a meal menu that we can recycle every six weeks or so. In case you also find meal planning stressful, I'll share recipes AND suggestions for the entire meal on my Tasty Tuesday entries. I don't cook anything that's difficult, so these recipes are perfect for kids at home, graduates, and any other non-cookers. goes. 

On Pinterest this recipe was called "Man-Pleasing Chicken" on's blog. I refuse to call it that for many reasons, but the simplest is because it pleases me, too. 

Around here, we call it Pinterest Chicken. It's so delicious that when I made it--again--the other night I forgot to take a picture. Frankly, mine is not much to look at, but once that beautiful taste sensation hits your taste buds, you won't care that it was bland in appearance. If you garnish it with rosemary, which I usually forget, it's rather attractive.

Pinterest Chicken

Chicken (the recipe calls for thighs, but I prefer about four skinless, boneless breasts)
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Dijon Mustard
1 T. Rice Wine Vinegar

Place chicken in baking dish. Mix other ingredients and pour over chicken.

Bake at 450 degrees for 40 minutes.

If you aren't starving and would like to impress someone, garnish with rosemary. (Garnish always impresses me.)

Complete Meal Suggestion

You know those bags of snow peas you can buy at the grocery store and steam in the bag? Get those. Drizzle the sauce from the baked chicken over steamed brown rice.  We usually nosh on baby carrots before the meal because my preschooler likes them and I feel that it rounds out the color palette.

I know. Rounding out the color palette is probably another weird trait no one else possesses.

Serve this meal with pride. Few will guess its ease.

Num num num.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mommy Monday: Baby Powder and Sand Boxes

On the first Friday play group of the summer, the kids played in the sand and danced in the rain.  I learned lots of mommy things. 

My favorite?

Sprinkle baby powder on sand-covered skin, rub a little, and the sand falls right off!

Oh, I'm thinking this is going to make me very, very happy.  No more tiny pieces of irritation on my floors trailing from the backdoor through my house.  Well, at least not as much.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Favorite: Lake Art

Lake season is here! Get out the wasp spray, flip-flops, and life jackets in preparation for days of blissful relaxation. I'm looking forward to lingering on the deck with friends and family while holding an icy beverage. Let this be a warning to those of you who get frustrated and misbehave when trying to launch and load your boat. We're watching--and laughing.
Having a place at the lake allows one to experiment with yard art that might have some neighborhood associations showing up at your home with torches and pitchforks.  On the contrary, lake neighbors brag on the objets d'art as if a pink flamingo wearing a lei is the funniest, most original concept since the The Big Bang Theory. 

Last weekend we took a walk and checked out the neighbor's places. My uncle took some pics. One of the neighbors, a former college professor, is especially skilled at creating lake masterpieces from driftwood. They make me smile every time I see them.

"They should start biting any time now."

The artist is a fisherman. My guess? These are fish he wish he'd caught when he gathered driftwood instead.

What's not to love, right?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Magic Monday: Lucky Charm

  I completed Lucky Charm, my second young adult novel a year and a half ago.  And I couldn't stop tweaking it. Granted, that whole morning sickness and giving birth thing was time consuming, but I wouldn't let go of the manuscript.

Until now.

The cosmos spoke to me.

My novel has two key images--rose rocks and shamrocks.

Yesterday, my family helped my grandmother clean out her garage. Not knowing a thing about my novel, she gave me this:

Afterward, we went to the lake. My son and I were walking along when he said, "Mom! I have to show you something." He claimed he'd seen a roly-poly and pointed at the ground.  Right beside his imaginary crustacean was this:

Okay, Universe. I'm listening.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Favorite: Just Smile and Wave

Armadillos jump when they're scared--and hit the oncoming car as a result. 

What do I do? Smile and wave.

 I'm not tough. I've never been very big.  If I can infuriate someone with a smile, I win.  

Warning:  A couple of times this philosophy backfired in a big way.
1.  After a basketball game, one of the opposing team members decided she didn't like a certain cheerleader ( in the stands talking to a player (the friend who gave me this tile). She talked smack.  At first, I acted like I didn't know she was talking to me. Then I did the "who me?" and just smiled and waved.  It's a good thing I have athletic friends.  That girl pounced fast, but she never touched me because it was like I had body guards who scrambled to intercept her.  Go team! 
2. The day before I got married, I pulled up to the edge of parking lot as a girl in a green sports car almost collided with me.  Then she had the audacity to flip me off. Shocked, I smiled and waved. She backed up her car and leaped out.  She beat on my window and used all of the cuss words she knew.  Again, I smiled and waved. Instead of smiling in return, she jumped on my car and called me a "stupid, white trash b****." I fluttered my eyelashes and pointed to me (sitting calmly in my car as my mother nervously jotted down the psycho's license plate) and shook my head before pointing to her ON THE HOOD OF MY CAR BEATING ON MY WINDSHIELD.

Hey, if life is a parade, I'm not going to watch it pass by. I'm climbing on top of the biggest float.

Just smile and wave, ya'll.

What's your coping mechanism?

Monday, May 7, 2012

OWFI 2012

This weekend was my big birthday party. Other people know it as the annual conference for Oklahoma Writers' Federation, Inc.  


Writers are such a friendly bunch most conferences are enjoyable. However, this year was special. Most of the speakers were (sing this next word) outstanding. Not only did I pitch stellar agents I've been cyber stalking for well over a year (Louise Fury and Jessica Sinsheimer), but also the sessions were great.  My friend Lela Davidson infotained us about social media. She's kind of a guru. I'll post some of what I learned over the next few weeks.

For now, please check out my friend Lisa's blog for an excellent summation of the weekend.
Who is that, you ask? That's me with my checks and certificates--and wearing the Inklings celebratory tiara.  I was especially thrilled with my first place win of my young adult short story. It's my next book idea!

Our entire table did well. You may remember me writing about Dee Dee Chumley's Beyond the Farthest Star. Don't take my word for it being a great won Best Juvenile Book of 2011.  The fact that I missed her win and Lela win Best Nonfiction Book of 2011 for Blacklisted by the PTA because I took a badly timed bathroom break need not be mentioned again.

If you've not attended OWFI, mark it on your calendar. It's always the first weekend of May. See you there!