Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Getting in the Mood

Before I start a new project or dive into a revision, I need tangible inspiration to wrap or rewrap my head around the characters and the world I'm painting. 

Playlists are a HUGE inroad for me to connect with the emotional landscape of a story. Since I'm a visual girl, I also need some talismans and touchstones to sink into the tale.  

Here are some of the pieces charging my battery for my current WIP, a Rapunzel retell from the prince's POV.

A floor plan of her tower.

A Rapunzel ornament from the Disney version.

A ring my Rapunzel might wear.

I'm currently obsessed with making character diaries with both visuals and character write ups. Here's a collage for one of my supporting characters. Thank you Santino Fontana (The Prince in the recent Broadway production of Cinderella and the voice of Hans in Frozen) for inspiring this particular character with your talent and roguish good looks.

What are some of the things y'all do to get into the "zone" of your projects?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

View From the First Grade Trenches

So what happened to August?

I swear it was just the first day of school mid-month 
and now it's September.

Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" is playing in my noggin.

This year I switched from over a decade of teaching fifth grade to braving an army of six-year-old first graders.

Best decision I've ever made. Talk about a fabulous audience for my funny voices when I read books!

I could go on and on about how adorable they are, but I've always been one for visuals. Here is a sample of our beginning of the year "David project" (as in David Shannon's 
David Goes to School picture book).


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Yes, Chef!

I am not a foodie, unless a custom order at In and Out burger qualifies. Food networks aren't usual fare on the Rose airwaves, but I do admit if a cooking show happens to be on, I'm inexplicably drawn to the artistry of the process.

Recent events have allowed me a glimpse into the foodie world and now I TOTALLY get it. 

I have entered the realm of:

Last night my world was forever changed when I ate at Gordon Ramsay's Steak House at the Paris in Las Vegas. 

Want a bite?

Start with the Ferris Wheel of meat and choose your cut. 
Yes, it's real meat. 

Fun fact: Our waiter said they keep the cuts on display for about two days until they start to go brown. The wheel hangs out in the fridge between showings for all of you freaking out about potential weird meat odor during the presentation.

Segue way to the salad. Bacon wheels and green goddess dressing - sigh.

See the breads up there? Every one of them is a different gourmet treat like bacon roll, mushroom roll, cheese bread, lemon focaccia. Even the butter was otherworldly delish. 

And now for Gordon Ramsay's signature dish - Beef Wellington. I'm not a rare steak person, but this was so melt-in-your-mouth crazy good, I went for it.

They really went overboard with the veggies - NOT - so sides were called for. Citrus glazed asparagus and life-changing, ginger-garlic glazed shiitake mushrooms and leeks. 
The mushrooms are MANDATORY - it's a quality of life issue. 

Food coma - YES. Ecstasy - YES.

I would sell my soul for a return trip into the land of 
Hell's Kitchen.

Any life-changing dining experiences out there? 
Gordon Ramsay fans?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Comic Con Afterglow

Another fabulous Comic Con in the rear view mirror. 

Security was tight.

Merchandise tempting. 
(Yeah, I bought it.)

Cosplay did not disappoint.

New t-shirt: 

Biggest geek out moment:
Sighting of Clark Gregg, Agent Phil Coulson of SHIELD.

Fantastic Panels. 
My favorite was the 50th anniversary of LOST IN SPACE. 

Yes, that's Judy Robinson, Pilot Don, Penny Robinson, and Will Robinson.

My daughter hit the jackpot. She waited for a zillion hours in line to see the STAR WARS, FORCE AWAKENS panel. Not only did Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford show up, but director J.J. Abrams treated the audience to donuts AND walked them to a second venue where everyone got a lightsaber and free concert of Star Wars music played by the San Diego Symphony. 

Yes, I'm jealous.

Fun fact: There are super cool venues and activities around Comic Con beside the convention itself. 


Nerd HQ, the brain child of Zachary Levi. A venue with gaming, food, community, merchandise and panels featuring
the likes of William Shatner, Nathan Fillion, and Joss Whedon. You do purchase tickets to the panels, but the proceeds go to the charity OPERATION SMILE.

W00tstock, an annual variety show created by and featuring Wil Wheaton, Adam Savage (Mythbusters), and Paul and
Storm (Comedy Music Team). It was four hours of music, riffs on TED talks, comedy and all around hilarity held in an amazing classic theatre, The Balboa. 
Paul and Storm sang a gut busting parody of Game of Thrones to the tune of American Pie. 
Here's the chorus - try it out.

Over at Petco Park - Home of the San Diego Padres baseball team - was CONIVAL sponsored by Nerdist. Free panels - gaming - food - fun.

Everyone can catch Comic Con fever 
even without an official badge.

Next week I'll share tidbits from this year's lit. panels.

Let's get down to it - if you were going to cosplay, who would you be? There's only one choice for me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Con Man is Coming

I'm off to Comic Con 2015. I'll have lots to share when I return, but there's something I'm busting to tell you about before I leave.

This is a web series starting in September brought to you by Firefly peeps, Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion.

It's loosely (or not so loosely) based on actors who starred in a science fiction show that was cancelled after a single season but has gone on to become a cult classic.

Hmm? Can you say Firefly?

The story is about the aftermath of cancellation and the  adventures in appearing at conventions like let's say, 
Comic Con.

It was successfully funded by an Indie Go Go campaign and I'm telling you, if you want to belly laugh and roll on the floor - go to the CON MAN Indie Go Go page and watch ALL the videos. 

If I don't come back from Comic Con with a Con Man t-shirt, then I have not done my job.

Is there a web series out there that you are dying to share?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Two Thumbs Up for a Mini Writing Retreat

I just returned from an informal, three day writing mini-retreat that energized me and set the water in my creative well 

What made it so successful?

Grab members of your writing tribe that you click with and trust. Layout a timetable for discussion, critique, craft, and most of all WRITING. We began our retreat by sharing where we were with current works in progress and what we hoped to achieve before heading back to real life.

We gave ourselves permission to banish the everyday "have to" list that intrudes on writing time. We also picked a locale that didn't crook a finger to lure us out of the writing cave.

Yes, I'll share...

We each brought a favorite tool or inspiration. My contribution was the video: 
His brilliant insights and generosity of spirit were gold.

AUTHOR JULIE MUSIL shared a wonderful CHARACTER WORKSHEET that Author Jody Hedlund makes available on her blog.

AUTHOR LISA GAIL GREEN introduced us to a rousing brainstorming exercise to find a shiny new title for a work in progress. We poured a river of words and phrases associated with the manuscript onto a piece of dry erase paper (yes it comes in poster sized paper) and then traced links between ideas to discover a title that reflected the spirit of the story. I learned this technique in a poetry workshop years ago and never thought to apply it to a title search. It really works!
 WARNING: Many word associations may lead to uncontrolled fits of laughter. 

Book a "suite" instead of separate rooms so you have space to write and share the cost. Choose an area that isn't in high demand, like the desert in summer, to take advantage of seasonal discounts. Use booking services for more possible discounts. Snag a venue with a kitchenette and bring food or do a grocery store run to save on eating out.

It never hurts to pick a place with some nice views.

Any plans for a writing getaway this summer?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Get Thee to a Theatre

It's summer and that means outdoor theater season. There's something magical about experiencing a play or musical beneath the stars.

I have to thank my son, Cameron, for finally dragging my carcass to a local treasure, the
a repertory theatre company founded by Will Geer, Grandpa on the Waltons, in the 1950's as a creative home for Blacklisted actors of the time. The company is still going strong performing a myriad of classics as well as reaching out to schools using the richness of Shakespeare and other excellent plays to create a lifelong love of theatre in today's students. 

Here are some pix of Cameron as Dill in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD to give you a glimpse of this truly enchanted theatre space nestled into a hillside in Topanga Canyon, California. 

Wearing my writer hat, I always learn so much from the concise storytelling required for the stage, and experiencing theatre outdoors adds yet another dimension of wonder. 

Other fantastic outdoor theatre experiences I've enjoyed here in California:
Solvang Theatre Festival - Central Coast of CA
Moonlight Theatre - Vista CA, north of San Diego
California Shakespeare Theatre - San Francisco Bay Area

Find a company of players in your area waiting to tell their tales on a stage and get thee to a theatre.

Any favorite outdoor summer theatre suggestions in your neck of the woods?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tidbits from Comic Con

I am shamefully late with these golden nuggets from the Comic Con 2014 panels. Here are a few inspirations and tidbits that have stuck with me since last summer. 

Tidbits from – FAIRY TALE REMIX Panel  
Shannon Hale, Cornelia Funke, Marissa Meyer, Danielle Paige, Tony DiTerlizzi, Ben Tripp

Shannon Hale

  • Everything is a metaphor.
  • If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want your children to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales. – Albert Einstein
  • Writers are the reporters of magic.
  • Interesting questions to ask when adapting a fairy tale:
Why are the characters there?
Why do the characters do what they do in the story?
What do the characters do when they are not "live" in the story?

Here's a blog post from Tor with more details on the

Tidbits from Marc Guggenheim Panel 
(Writer of the ARROW TV Series and a billion other things)
  • Setbacks precede a big step forward.
  • Learn to write wherever and whenever you find snippets of time.
  • Switching genres builds writing muscles.
  • Develop a voice – not a specialty – writers are hired for their voice. 

Tidbits from the WHAT’S HOT IN YA Panel
Nathan Bransford, Scott Westerfield, Tahereh Mafi, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Kresley Cole, Tessa Grafton, Natalie Parker, C.J. Redwine, Brendan Reichs

  • A first draft is idea oriented.
  • The story you want to tell will be the story people want to read.
  • No one sees the next big thing coming.
  • Trilogy? That means four books?
  • The YA market is a giant canvas.
  • If you wrote a book and it is out there, you are a writer.
  • Writers are a tribe.
  • Voice is what readers consistently expect from you as a writer.
  • Critique relationships are important. 


This is a program that sets up a “speed dating” scenario between writers and illustrators. Super concept. It’s not just to connect comic/graphic artists to writers. Indie authors have also used this organization to find cover artists. For more information check out their website.

Comic Con 2015 or Bust!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Summer of Conferences - Part 2 Comic Con

Any resemblance I may display to Sheldon Cooper on 
BIG BANG THEORY is purely coincidental. 

Comic Con, how do I love thee?
Let me count the ways...

Meeting Eddie McClintock from the show 
Super funny and sweet person. Love the show. 

Best t-shirt EVER!

Hilarious live radio comedy show. Grab their podcasts immediately! Will Wheaton was the guest performer. Extra Bonus - Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs were in the audience. I had a chance to channel my fangirl self and meet them. Both charming and gracious. Isn't it cool when people you admire turn out to be wonderful!

New backpack.

Old friend. 

Daughter becoming Viking.

Panels - Panels - Panels

The wild wit of Shannon Hale moderating a Fairy Tale Remix panel that included Cornelia Funke and Marissa Meyer.

Simon and Schuster Panel that made me commit my entire year's income to buying books. 
(I just happened to win an entire gift bag of middle grade releases - HARDCOVERS - Whoo Hoo)

YA Panel that made me commit next year's income to more books. Yes, that is Margaret Stohl and Scott Westerfeld. Kami Garcia and Tahereh Mafi among other wonderful authors are down the line.

All right everyone - channel you inner BIG BANG THEORY - and beeline it to Comic Con next July. Even if you don't get "official" passes, there are tons of offsite venues, performances, and fun.

I'll be waiting...

And to quote Dr. Sheldon Cooper, 
"I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested."

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Summer of Conferences - Part 1 ALA

Just when you thought I'd never post again - 

-fooled you!

I definitely lived out of a suitcase this summer, 
but it was well worth it.

JUNE: American Library Association Conference in Las Vegas. 

I was a first timer at this conference and only did the exhibit floor for the bargain price of $35. It was amazing. I left with a tub full of ARC's, hard bound and paperback books, and literary posters for my school's library
All free!

The real gem of ALA, besides the freebies, is the chance to celebrate accomplishments with friends.

I had the honor of whooping it up with the wonderful Martina Boone over the upcoming release of her novel COMPULSION. 

This novel is going to make you remember why you love disappearing into a story.

I had the thrill of jumping up and down and clapping when I saw Sarah Skilton's books BRUISED and HIGH AND DRY on the Abrams/Amulet Shelf. If you haven't read Sarah's books, it's time to treat yourself.

Hooray for Jessica Love who was there signing her new release PUSH GIRL. It was such a rush seeing the long line waiting to meet her. 

I indulged my inner fangirl, okay it's not so inner, over Laini Taylor, Matt DeLa Pena, and Neal Shusterman who added pizazz to the exhibit floor.

Did I mention it was in Las Vegas? Here are Lisa Gail Green, Katharyn Sinelli, and I hitting The Hard Rock Cafe. The Mon Ami Gabi Steakhouse in the Paris Casino and Sprinkles Cupcakes also yummed up the weekend.  Someone - (Lisa) even managed to win some impressive jackpots on video poker. 

Next up: JULY - Comic Con

Any ALA stories out there to share?