George R.R. Martin Helps Me With My Housework

20160129_154819If you’re familiar with this blog, or with me at all, you probably know that doing housework does not make my list of top two million things to do. There are SO many other interesting ways to spend time.  I count among them…

  • Filling out those 15 forms prior to a doctor’s visit because they’ve just “updated their system”
  • Arguing with my husband
  • Having a mammogram

At least all of the above offer something new and different with each experience. Unlike housework, which is the same old same old BORING experience every time.

For this reason, I love the B-52s. They wrote an amazing song called Housework (what else?) that has spoken to me since I first heard it in college.  Check out these lyrics:

Don’t need a man to treat me mean

I need a man to help me clean

Someone who’s heaven sent

Someone to help pay rent

Someone to share dreams and wishes

Someone to help me do the dishes.

(Thankfully, a few years post-college, I married a man who could iron his own shirts. But that still leaves a lot of housework to do though… ugg. )

Anyway, after years of singing this to myself as I dusted and dish washed, I’ve finally discovered something that is helping me get through the tedium of housework!  And it’s something that five years ago I would have never thought I’d enjoy:

listening to audiobooks.

(Yeah, I know a ton of you have probably beat me to this realization, but it was a big deal to me because I always swore I needed to actually READ a book to enjoy it.)

Luckily, I found this wasn’t always true when a friend introduced me to the audio versions of Harry Potter narrated by Jim Dale. So excellent.

This discovery, along with winning an iPod nano, revolutionized my housework experience.   I could walk around my house with the ipod in my pocket, earbuds in my ears,  and be entertained while doing mind-numbing work!

Soon I asked for a yearlong membership to Audible for my birthday. (This is the best deal out there, because you get to download 12 books for $120 no matter what the price tag per individual book is.) After that I started cleaning house while burning through the books. But when I went through six of my twelve books in the first two months I realized something had to change.

I needed to use my credits to purchase books that took a longer time to read. Tomes that would stretch out for days and days of doing laundry.

Hello Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.

Ten dollars for 33 hours and 50 minutes of listening pleasure for Book One alone. That’s only about 30 cents an hour! I’m totally worth that.

Of course the Game of Thrones books are sometimes so brutal that they’re hard to listen to. If you want to see someone cringing while cleaning a lint filter come on over.

Is my house sparkling clean now? No! But has the time I’ve put into attempting to reach that goal been more entertaining? You bet.

I encourage you to try this! When listening to books instead of reading them, it’s important to pick books with great narrators. One of my favorites so far is Jesse Eisenberg, who reads Holly Black’s Curse Worker series. You can listen to a sample here. I always check out the narrator before downloading a title.

If Audible isn’t for you, see what your library has to offer. Many libraries offer free audiobook downloads. Audible just works best for me, for several reasons.

I love that I can meet great characters and explore new worlds while accomplishing the necessary evils of housework.

Well, I’ve gotta go. A pile of dishes is calling my name.

Come on George, we have work to do.

***

Pssst: Wanna hear the whole song by the B-52s? You can listen to it here:

Spooky Picks for Nerdy Chicks

If you know me, you might know that I am the kind of person who doesn’t like to be scared. I have never seen a horror movie in my life, and I have no plans to change that! I’ve never read a Stephen King novel, and I don’t plan to change that either. I just don’t do scary. Unless…. well, unless the scary something is created by a fellow Nerdy Chick. Then I push myself to read things I might not otherwise read. Out of solidarity, you know.

A recent wave of Spooky Nerdy Chick News (giveaways, deals, new book news, film premiers…) inspired me to share some Spooky Reads (and more) from some fabulous Nerdy Chick authors. I’ve read or am reading all of these books! So I suggest that the next time you want to sit on the edge of your seat, you pick up one of them. And make sure you read to the end, because you’ll have a chance to see a film that is perfect for Halloween right here on the blog.

Young Adult:

fractrFracture by Megan Miranda! Fracture is suspenseful with just the right amount of creepiness. Here’s a brief intro to the novel: “By the time Delaney Maxwell was pulled from a Maine lake’s icy waters by her best friend, Decker Phillips, her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead.” You can visit Megan’s website to learn more and to read the first two chapters! Also, don’t miss a chance to win a free ARC of Megan’s newest title, The Safest Lies. Click HERE to enter.

ripperRipper by Amy Carol Reeves! I blurbed this book as, “Thrilling, chilling, and beautifully written.” Here’s more about it: Set in London in 1888, Ripper follow’s Arabella Sharp’s eerie account of volunteering at Whitechapel Hospital, helping women and children. “Within days, female patients begin turning up brutally murdered at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Even more horrifying, Abbie starts having strange visions that lead her straight to the Ripper’s next massacres.” Click HERE to read more about Ripper and its sequels.

Middle Grade:

jumbiesThe Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste! I just finished reading this story set in Trinidad and featuring Jumbies, mythical creatures that dwell on that island! And it features a super-brave heroine! Here’s a blurb: Corinne La Mer knows that jumbies aren’t real; they’re just creatures parents make up to frighten their children. But on All Hallows’ Eve, Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden woods. Those shining yellow eyes that follow her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they? 

cabinetCabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet: I’m currently reading this page-turner, which is available for a limited time in ebook form (Kindle and Nook among others) for $1.99! It’s about twelve-year-old Maya who is miserable when she has to move from California to Paris. Not speaking French at a school full of snobby French girls is bad enough, but Maya believes there is something sinister going on in her new city. A purple-eyed man follows Maya and her younger brother, James. Statues seem to have Maya’s face. And an eerie cabinet filled with mysterious colored bottles calls to her. 

Picture Books:

Hampire_jacketHampire by Sudipta Bardhan Quallen! When Hampire creeps around the barnyard at night with red oozing from his fangs he terrifies the other animals, especially Duck. Check out this picture book with not only a kid-pleasing twist, but also the best illustrations of terrified barnyard animals every created. And if you have a little pirate running around your house this Halloween (and even if you don’t), you’ll want to check out Sudipta’s Pirate Princess too!

monstore The Monstore by Tara Lazar! What kid doesn’t dream of having his own monster? The Monstore is the place to go to get one. The only problem is…. certain rule and restrictions apply. So getting his own monster doesn’t work out the way exactly like Zack plans….  Check out this book and Tara’s brand spanking new just-released-this-week book Little Red Gliding Hood!

vampirina_ballerinaVampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace! Vampirina wants to take ballet lessons, but what’s a little vampire to do when she can’t step into sunlight or see herself in the dance studio mirrors? Check out this book as well Vampirina Hosts a Sleepover. Vampirina fans will be happy to know that Ann Marie just announced that a third Vampirina book is in the works!

MORE SPOOKY NEWS:

Nerdy Chick Jocelyn Rish is made of steel. She’s not afraid of facing scary subjects in books or on film. HH&H_poster_Jocelyn has recently joined the MTV news staff (Congrats Jocelyn!) and has written these two articles about these spectacularly spooky subjects: Goosebumps and Zombies! And, High Heels and Hoodoo, the short film she produced with her brother is premiering today! Today is the first time the film is available for the public to watch online. Click HERE for details about the creation of this film and to watch it for free! I saw this  film for the first time at the Beaufort Film Festival and it is clever, entertaining, and spooky! What’s not to like about a graveyard and hoodoo film on Halloween?

Here’s a brief synopsis of the film: A greedy party girl is so determined to get what she wants that she employs the dangerous magic of a Gullah root doctor.

Can’t wait to see this amazing film? Go ahead, you can start watching right now! It’s a full story in about seven minutes, so treat yourself to a movie premier this Halloween!

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Kristine Asselin: Stretch Your Writing Muscles

IMG_8233-2-2 (1)“What do you write?”

It’s often the first question people ask when you meet them at a writer’s conference. I find that most people can boil their answer down into one or two categories.

I always struggle to keep my answer concise, because I write in more than one category. YA, MG, Nonfiction, and the occasional picture book. Being flexible in my writing style has been a key reason for some of the success I’ve had.

One piece of advice I always give new writers is to try to write in more than one category. Stretching yourself and having flexibility is often the difference between being a writer and being a published author.

When I started writing seriously about ten years ago, I was all about picture books. My daughter was small and it seemed manageable. Write a novel? No flipping way could I ever do THAT. Are you kidding?

But then I wrote a short story loosely based on my own experience as a teen. I had a longer story that demanded to be told. Hazzah! It was like a bright light suddenly illuminated my writing!

I became a YA writer.

Selling my YA novel turned into marathon. I never gave up on it, but in between querying and revising and writing a new novel, I submitted a writing sample to an educational publisher and got my first work-for-hire contract for a nonfiction book.

That first contract gave me my first experience working with an editor and meeting writing deadlines. Having those first few books under my belt made me more marketable to my agent.

Writing and researching nonfiction topics under a tight deadline gave me a different skill set. It made me work faster. It made me stress less about each and every word choice.

I hear a lot of people throw around this cliché piece of writing advice: Write what you know.

Final CoverBut I think you need to have a broader scope—IF you want to have a long career in writing. Trends come and go. You need to be open to writing what you don’t know. I didn’t know much about women in World War One, but I just finished a 15K nonfiction book for grades 6-8 about that topic. If I’d stayed true to “write what you know,” I would have been too nervous to take the project.

I didn’t know much about hockey. But my debut novel centers on a girl who plays hockey on a boys’ hockey team to the chagrin of her parents, who’d rather her focus on the family restaurant. Finding a friend to help with hockey knowledge, and doing a lot of research helped me make the voice authentic.

Here are a couple of writing exercises:

  1. Try writing a scene in a different genre—if you write contemporary, try writing something historical.
  2. Try writing something for a different age group—if you write YA, try writing a picture book.
  3. Try writing in a genre you’ve never tried.
  4. Try rewriting a scene in your current MS from different POV.

Trying even one of these writing exercises will make you a stronger writer, and who knows, you might find out that you’re really good at something you’ve never considered.

I’ve been doing a workout DVD lately, and the instructor likes to say, “it doesn’t get easier, you just get better.”

Challenging yourself to write in different categories and genres will make you better.

About Kristine

Kristine Carlson Asselin lives in Massachusetts and writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. Her debut YA novel ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT (Bloomsbury Spark) came out in April 2015. She is also the author of fifteen children’s books for the elementary school library market. Kris volunteers with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, and loves Harry Potter, Doctor Who, classic rock from the 70’s and 80’s, and anything with a time travel theme.

She is a proud member of SCBWI-New England, a contributor to the Sporty Girl Books blog, and a host for the weekly twitter chat #MGLitChat. Kris does query package critiques under the alter-ego @QueryGodMother and loves doing school visits for kids all over New England. Follow Kristine on twitter @KristineAsselin and learn more at http://www.kristineasselin.com.

Buy Any Way You Slice It here:

Kindle

Nook

Kobo

Sad but True Ode to William Carlos Williams

Hello Nerdy Chicks! It has been a while since I posted … and I will eventually post about the past few months… because I’m sure many of you have been there and can relate. But for now, I hope you’ll enjoy this photo post. A poem I left for my husband. And yes, I know I’d be better off eating plums, but this is the honest truth. Because it isn’t a happy moment around here when someone consumes the last diet coke. (True confession: My husband didn’t get it… never studied William Carlos Williams! Do you?) Hope the rest of your weekend is great!

20150708_173153To read William Carlos Williams’ infinitely better original poem, click HERE.  Whatever you went to the icebox for today, I hope it was there waiting for you!

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Pssst. Registration is still going on for Kidlit Summer School. And we just released the new banner check it out by clicking HERE.

Kidlit Summer School 2015 – Open for Registration!

Are you looking for a way to keep writing through the dog days of summer?

Do you want to be inspired by some of the best writers in children’s literature?

Do you hope to create compelling plots?

badgeThen YOU should join a fun and fabulous community of people here at Summer School who are as passionate about kidlit as you are!

What is Summer School?

Not long after authors Kami Kinard and Sudipta Bardhan- Quallen started blogging together at kami and snerdychicksrule.com they decided they wanted to create a blog-centric event that focused on craft. They spent a long time brainstorming (a favorite activity of both) and came up with #KidlitSummerSchool. Kami and Sudipta both enjoy writing, and teaching writing, so their idea was to create a program that offers in-depth writing advice on a particular topic each summer, hosted at their sister site, nerdychickswrite.com. The 2014 focus was on character development. The 2015 focus will be on plotting in children’s literature.

Daily blog posts by authors and writing professionals will offer inspiration and help you hone your craft. Our “faculty” includes award-winning PB, MG and YA authors!

Kidlit Summer School is for anyone one who loves to write children’s literature, from accomplished writers, to those just starting out.

Register for Kidlit Summer School 2015: The Plot Thickens

Last year was a very successful kick-off, but it was a lot of work — too much for two people to continue by themselves! So we are very happy to announce we have a whole team working on Summer School this year. This “Board of Education” is going to make this year even better than last year!

The Board of Education:

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Co-Founder of Kidlit Summer School


Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
 is an award-winning children’s book author whose books include Duck Duck Moose (a CBC Children’s Choice Award Finalist), Tyrannosaurus Wrecks (a Junior Library Guild Selection), Orangutangled, and Chicks Run Wild. She in the founder of Kidlit Writing School and frequently speaks about the craft of writing at schools and conferences all around the world. You can learn more about her and her books on her website www.sudipta.com or at her blog www.NerdyChicksRule.com where she blogs with Kami.

Head Shots from Carpe Diem 008

Co-Founder of Kidlit Summer School

Kami Kinard is the author of The Boy Problem (Scholastic, 2014) and The Boy Project (Scholastic, 2012). Her poetry, stories, articles, and essays have appeared in numerous periodicals for children and adults. A former public educator, Kami remains dedicated to teaching and often leads writing workshops at conferences and in schools. You can visit her at  www.kamikinard.com or at www.NerdyChicksRule.com where she blogs with Sudipta.

BOOKS RULE photo (1)Marcie Colleen is a former classroom teacher turned picture book author. Her forthcoming picture books include The Adventure of the Penguinaut (Scholastic) and Love, Triangle (Balzer+Bray / HarperCollins). She is a frequent presenter at conferences for SCBWI, as well as a faculty member of Kidlit Writing School. Visit her on the web at www.thisismarciecolleen.com.

DawnDawn Young has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA. After leaving the corporate world to raise her children, Dawn’s creative spirit called her to a career in writing. Dawn also assists Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen with her KidLit Picture Book A-Z courses, and tutors math. You can visit Dawn’s blog at http://pbookcrazy.com/

leeza 2015Leeza Hernandez is a picture book illustrator-author who spends her creative time noodling around with story ideas and printmaking in her studio. She is Regional Advisor for New Jersey SCBWI and her latest illustrated book and third in the Homework series Eat Your U.S. History Homework (Charlesbridge) releases in October. Visit her on the web at leezaworks.com

#NJSCBWI15: A Conference in Pictures

This past weekend, the Nerdy Chicks met up in Princeton, NJ for the 2015 New Jersey SCBWI Conference, and it was wonderful from start to finish. Here are some of the moments we captured:

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Kicking off with lunch in Princeton with Tara Lazar, Kelly Calabrese, Marcie Colleen, and Tammi Sauer.

This was not at the conference itself, but we did stop traffic to take a photo of this mailbox.

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The conference itself was too much fun to do much more than live in the moment. But here are some more memories:

Kami and Sudipta

Kami and Sudipta

Sudipta, Marcie, and Kelly

Sudipta, Marcie, and Kelly

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Tammi Sauer’s fab workshop

Kami, Marie, and NJ RA Leeza

Kami, Marie, and NJ RA Leeza

Marcie and Sudipta's workshop

Marcie and Sudipta’s workshop

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sudipta marcie blake photo

John Cusick's Keynote

John Cusick’s Keynote

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Tara Lazar doing…we don’t know what

Post-conference tapas

Post-conference tapas

If you want to learn how to write children’s literature and hang out with some truly wonderful people, we can’t recommend this conference enough. Hope to see you next year!

 

 

 

SCBWI Springmingle 2015: Top Five Reasons You Should Go to Conferences

The Nerdy Chicks are members of The Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and one of the benefits of being in this organization is getting to attend great conferences on craft. Last weekend I attended Springmingle, a conference hosted by the Southern Breeze chapter of SCBWI. It is the first time I’ve been to this particular event, and it was fabulous! I think conferences are an important aspect in the life of any professional. Why? Here are my top five reasons you should consider going to conferences, whatever your profession:

20150314_2152391. Rejuvenation.  Getting away from your obligations at home and finding time to focus on your career brings new energy to your work! I left this conference with tons of ideas I never would have come up with had I spent the weekend alone in my office. Here I am with my pal Robyn Hood Black.

2015-03-15 21.33.402. Expert Advice. A great conference has great speakers and this one had a wonderful panel of experts. Tips from these fabulous faculty members follow.

20150314_0908543. Inspiration. Having people who excel in their careers share their stories is inspiring. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more inspirational speaker than author Meg Medina, pictured left, whose marketing talk has me rethinking my forward path.

2015-03-17 08.36.314. Connections. Making new friends among your colleagues is a consistent conference perk. Sometimes you make a connection with an industry professional that leads to a career advancement, but this should not be your sole purpose in attending an event. Usually the benefit of going to conferences is going to have a less direct impact, but a positive one nonetheless! I was thrilled to meet my Facebook freind Jen Swanson, pictured with me here, in person.

CAGfwexWgAARWAF5. FUN! Nothing is more energizing than having a chance to hang out with your tribe. These people choose to do what you do. They love what you love. In my case, this means they spend their days with words, books, and the creative spirit. And hey, when you get a bunch of creative spirits together, you’re bound to have a blast. We had fun Saturday night with a literary trivia game hosted by The Middle Grade Mafia. Members Kim Zachman and Lela Bridgers are pictured here with agent Karen Grencik. 

Some bits of conference wisdom:

Thank you Southern Breeze for including me in your tribe, and helping me celebrate the launch of The Boy Problem!

Thank you Southern Breeze for including me in your tribe, and helping me celebrate the launch of The Boy Problem!

Author Meg Medina reminded us not to edit ourselves too early, to focus on craft before marketing, and that the “most touching place you can travel is inside of you.”

Editor Neal Porter says he asks “WHERE’S THE STORY?” of all PB manuscripts.

Art Director Giuseppe Castellano said that illustrators should keep sending post cards featuring their art, but not to expect a response because he gets so many. Still, he never knows when one will really move him. He was, by the way, the most gregarious industry professional I’ve ever seen at a conference.

Agent Karen Grencik advised everyone to, “Practice your skill and get your work out there.”

Editor Elise Howard highlighted the differences between big publishing houses and small ones. She said she’d love to find a funny novel to fall in love with.

Art director Giuseppe Castellano, pictured here with poet Robyn Hood Black, hung out with attendees, answering questions and chatting well after the scheduled events ended!

Art director Giuseppe Castellano, pictured here with poet Robyn Hood Black, hung out with attendees, answering questions and chatting well after the scheduled events ended!

I always think it is valuable to know what these professionals do NOT want to see as well. So don’t send…

Karen Grencik a mass email query.

Giuseppe Castellano an email with a claim such as, “Your search for the perfect illustrator is over!”

Elise Howard a note telling her what moral or lesson your story holds. Also, spell her name right.

Neal Porter an email addressed to Mrs. Neal Porter! The panel agreed that incorrect spellings of names like these reveals that you don’t pay attention to detail, and are therefore not someone they would want to work with.

Springmingle was a great event with a fabulous faculty and put together by a host of talented volunteers from the Southern Breeze chapter of SCBWI. Another perk of the conference was that it was held in the Decatur Library and their wonderful staff could not have been more helpful and professional. If any of you are considering going to conferences, I advise you to take the plunge!