Friday, April 30, 2010

Time for WOW - Friday!

It's that time of the week for WOW, the word of the week!

The word for the week is (drum roll please) . . . .


I love the word ridiculous because it's such a strange word. The spelling is strange, the pronunciation is strange, everything about the word is . . . strange.

Which is probably a good thing because the definition is:

Ridiculous - Deserving or inspiring ridicule; absurd,preposterous, or silly.

So basically I think the word ridiculous is . . . ridiculous!

Sorry, it's been a long and ridiculous week.

Okay, I'll stop now . . . have a good weekend!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How Mrs. Larson's class taught me to love 6th grade . . .

I have a confession to make . . . I hated 6th grade!

Okay, maybe hate is a strong word. Strongly disliked is probably more like it.

It was a time of transitions and changes for me. Gone were the little kid stuff I enjoyed for so long - Barbie's, etc. and in came other things like boys and frenemies.

Yes, I had a frenemy . . . there I said it!

I had my first major knock-down fight with my best friend at the time (with a faint scar on my left arm to prove it), and my first boyfriend (for approximately 24 hours).

I was becoming more and more self-conscious about how I looked, thanks to a few kids in my class who had no problem expressing their opinion about me. So I spent a lot of time in the one place I felt safe . . . our school library working on my bookworm ways.

When my oldest son went through 6th grade, he didn't have the easiest of times either so I was able to sympathize and help him through it. But even though I really liked his 6th grade teacher (Mrs. Larson) and thought she did a great job with him, my deep-seeded feelings about 6th grade hadn't changed.

Until this year.

This is my second year working with a special-needs child at our school. A job that I have loved and enjoyed. But when we started the school year last August I had to wonder . . . was I going to feel the same about the grade that had caused me such problems?

I can tell you in all honesty . . . absolutely not!

This year has been an eye-opener, and not just because my own daughter is experiencing it herself. I have had the opportunity to spend time with some really great kids and a teacher (the same Mrs. Larson) who is nothing short of amazing in her dedication to the kids.

She gave me the opportunity to read to the kids a little bit from my Young Adult novel that I'm waiting to hear about from an editor. The wait has been long and frustrating at times, but the more I read to them, the more the kids would hoot and holler when Mrs. Larson told them I was going to read. It has been such a soul lifter, one that makes the long wait worth it.

And has convinced me that this is my calling.

But now that we're about 5 weeks away from finishing the year, I'm starting to wish the kids in our class didn't have to leave to move onto Junior High next year . . . and that I didn't have to move on with them.

But I will always be grateful to Mrs. Larson and all the kids in her class for giving me a year to remember. And for making my own 6th grade year a far distant memory.

Thanks guys! Love, Mrs. Aikins :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

There's only so many hours in a day . . .

I did not get any writing done today. Does that bother me?? Heck ya!

There are few things in my life that give me complete and unmitigated joy:

1. Spending a relaxing day with my husband and three kids.
2. Sitting on a dock overlooking my favorite place in the world, Black Oak Lake.
3. Being so focused on a particular character that I NEED to work on his or her story.

Well, thankfully I got to spend Sunday doing the first one (although it's been a VERY long time since our last outing). I haven't been to Black Oak Lake in nearly 2 years, and it's been a couple of months since I've done #3.

It's been WAY too long since I've done #3!!

There's something about being so completely lost in someone else's world that feels, I don't know, comforting to me. It's not my life . . . and I can make it go any way I choose. It's the escape factor aspect of it. There's no husband, no kids, no pets, no attachments.

I've had a lot of personal stuff, and necessary editorial stuff, that has kept me from getting it out. I have a character right now, I have some seven chapters under my belt (not to mention a couple months of research invested in her), but yet everyday life seems to be getting in the way of my writing her story.

And I'm starting to miss her . . . desperately.

The good news is, things seem to be working themselves out and maybe, just maybe, I'll be back on track by the first of May. May Day . . . six months until my 40th birthday.

I think it's a sign . . . we'll see. :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

WOW - Friday!!

It's time for this week's WOW - word of the week. Yes, I am still following the words at our elementary school, and I kid you not, the next word is . . .

OBSTRUCT - definition: To block or fill with obstacles. To impede or interfere with.

Hmm . . . an interesting choice of word indeed.

I have numerous things that obstruct getting my writing work done. I don't have a formal office in my house, so there are LOTS of things to distract me . . . a sink full of dishes, vacuuming that needs to be done, my dog who barks at every blasted thing that moves in front of my door or window. So I do my work outside of my house to avoid these obstructions.

When I first started writing, there were other more subtle things that would obstruct me,

Like not taking an English class all through college . . .
And not doing my research on book publishers or magazines that caused me to get many, MANY rejection notices . . .
And not understanding the differences between writing a picture book and writing a short story.

However the great thing about time and hard work, you learn how to overcome being obstructed.

Whatever that may be . . .

So good luck on overcoming your obstruction and HAPPY FRIDAY! :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's LA time!!

Well, almost . . . .

As you can see I'm back . . . again. But this time I'm making sure it STICKS!

Today was the start of registration for THE biggest conference of children authors and illustrators. Every summer, the first weekend of August to be exact, The Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has their national conference in Century City. Professionals from all over the world descend on Los Angeles to hopefully start or grow their writing careers.

And I will be there.

I'm actually feeling like quite the veteran at this. In 2004 I made the conscious decision to focus as much energy and time - that wasn't devoted to my three kids - to making my dream of becoming a Children book writer a reality.

That year I went to my first LA conference, and it was . . . overwhelming!

I have been to LA every year since then - except for 2008 when I was at my Grandpa's 90th birthday - and no two years have been the same . . . .

Like 2004 when I felt like a COMPLETE fish out of water, but I got to experience the wisdom of Richard Peck and how he painstakingly researches his amazing books.

And 2005 when I met a woman who educated me to the world of Autism spectrum disorders.

In 2006 I got to meet and had author Rosemary Wells sign a Max and Ruby book for my youngest child . . . she's STILL one of my favorite picture book authors!

2007 was a BLAST!! I met more people that year including a teacher from San Diego who got up and did the entire Rapper's Delight with the DJ during the Saturday night Gala.

But last year was the most memorable because one of my YA novels was critiqued, and the manuscript requested, by an editor . . . a major, MAJOR first for me.

So what will happen this year? That's a good question . . . and one I can't wait to find out the answer to. :)