Colonel Shifty’s Haiku Made Easy – Query Critique or Poem Giveaway

Okay, so I actually used to do this when I worked in a restaurant. On my close-out envelope, I’d write a few 5- and 7-syllable options and ask a coworker to choose and voila, a ready-made haiku. Indulge me?

1st Lines
sweet peppers pungent
giraffes wear lipstick
television light
traveling rat spa
little mermaid fin

2nd Lines
winter elephant in bloom
LEGO music Clair de Lune
ice cream melts antagonist
Wichita parades at noon
lavender shoe fetishist

3rd Lines
ickle ockle blue
scented miracle
Areola’s smile
superstar panda
jealous macaroon

Post your haiku in the comments! One entry per person, but feel free to create as many as you like. And feel free to switch things up a bit (substitute words or lines of your own or whatever). Winning haiku will be chosen by Colonel Shifty on Thursday, August 29th at 1:36 pm Pacific time. (Colonel Shifty is actually a gopher, so I will help him by drawing a name out of a hat or using some kind of number generator thingie.) The prize…the prize…um. (Can you tell I’m winging this whole thing?) I’ll critique your query letter. If you don’t have a query letter, or don’t want me to critique it, I will write you a poem. A personalized poem! By me! Yay!

SCBWI Summer Conference 2013

Because I’m probably the last person to blog about the conference, this’ll be a quick-n-dirty version. For the keynotes and workshops, I took varying amounts of notes, but for each one I tried to find a take-away message – something I could refer to or apply directly to my writing. Here’s a quick compilation of my take-away messages. I tried to remember which take-aways are direct quotes & gave them the necessary punctuation; I apologize for any mistakes. In 40 handwritten pages of notes and reflections, mistakes are inevitable.

Laurie Halse Anderson: “Defend, protect, and celebrate childhood.”

Jon Scieszka: “Don’t put kids to sleep – wake ’em up!”

Veronica Rossi: Get to work on the log lines – they can help you figure out if your book is high-concept or not. (I only got to stay for half of Veronica’s talk.)

Steve Malk: Get your priorities straight, and be honest. Find a career model to follow.

Panel on YA Worldbuilding with Veronica Rossi, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Tahereh Mafi, & Ransom Riggs: How the world is, is important. How your character views the world and how the world & character interact – VERY important.

Mac Barnett: “Do bold, experimental things.”

Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler: When cowriting a novel, decide message & tone, level of humor vs. seriousness.

Matt de la Pena: “Put your head down, don’t worry about where you fit in, & work your ass off.”

Melissa Manlove: “When you want something you can’t have, it marks you in some way.”

Carolyn Mackler: Get your priorities straight. It’s okay to go slow with the writing & focus on these years when the kids are young.

Ginger Clark: do another polish on your manuscript before sending it out. The ending is probably not good enough.

David Wiesner: There are different ways to approach an idea. Don’t force what doesn’t work.

Kirby Larsen: Research combined with poetry can help you grow an appropriate vocabulary for your character.

Lin Oliver & Henry Winkler: Write the kind of humor that makes you laugh.

Jarrett Krosoczka: Try new things and see what works.

Overall, the conference was inspiring and informative. Plus I got to stay some of the nights with my BFF D-Chan, who lives nearby. She let me try on all of her wigs, which was super-fun. We went to some awesome restaurants, including Fab Hot Dogs, which I’d been looking forward to for MONTHS. And we had ramen at this place that has probably ruined me for all future ramen forever. So now I need to go back!

THANK YOU to the SCBWI California North/Central region for making my trip possible with a grant!

Off to Los Angeles

Okay, so now the time travel aspect of this post is even MORE confusing, because I forgot to post it. But I can’t have my gorgeous artwork NOT go up. Besides, my brain is still exploding (mostly in a good way) from all the inspiration and information I soaked up at the LA conference.

Below is what I meant to post last Friday, and forgot….

Well, I’m writing this in advance & scheduling it to post because RIGHT NOW (I mean, in the future, sorta) I am at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA!

This is the first time I’ve been away from Maverick overnight. (I know, sad, isn’t it?) He’ll be fine, in the capable hands of Homes and Gran. I wonder how I’m holding up (that’s me, in the past, writing about the future except I’m writing this right NOW. Is this how writers feel when they write time travel books? I could never do this, whether in the past, present, or future).

Anyway. I made Z and Maverick each a book about me being gone. They’re in such capable hands that I don’t want them to forget all about me. I did a book for Z last time I went to LA, but she’s older now so she gets a new one. (You can click the image to enlarge it; otherwise it’s too faint to read.)

I Love You Mav 2013 Excerpt I Love You Z 2013 Excerpt

Next week, a general report on my experience as a first-time international SCBWI conference attendee.

And, of course, a report on the awesome restaurants DChan takes me to.

The Arms of the Ocean

A beautiful thing happened this week. I finished typing in my handwritten revisions for Draft 3 of my surfing novel!!!!!!

Really, this is a small thing, and probably doesn’t deserve six exclamation points. Because I’d already made these revisions by hand on a printed-out copy, all I had to do was type them into the Scrivener document. So maybe it’s not that big of a deal.

But when I was having a crisis of confidence THE ENTIRE TIME I WAS TYPING, thinking THIS IS TERRIBLE with every keystroke, then, it starts to seem a bit bigger.

And when I was (not so) merrily type-type-typing away, I came to a note that said, “Need scene for such and such,” and I HADN’T WRITTEN THE SCENE. It’s a bit of a smack in the face to have to halt all the (easy?) typing work and actually create something from scratch. Even harder when, as I’m writing it, I’m thinking OH WAILY WAILY THIS IS TERRIBLE with every word.

So maybe it’s still awful (actually there’s no “maybe” about that), but now I can print the [expletive] thing out again and revise it once more.

That’s progress, my friends.

Also, how totally perfect is it that right after I finished typing, I had to pick up Z at school, and when I started the car, “Never Let Me Go,” by Florence + the Machine was playing – and the lyrics are:

In the arms of the ocean so sweet and so cold

And all this devotion I never knew went on

And the crashes are heaven for a sinner released

But the arms of the ocean delivered me

…which is absolutely awesome and goes with the surfing book SO WELL. It was unbelievably cool.

So big thing or little thing, typing up those changes feels big, and it’s gotten me excited again about a book I’ve been struggling with from the very beginning.


First I saw this. And freaked out.


Then I guessed it was an exoskeleton, & freaked out more.

Then I decided to vacuum the whole house (@Izandra thought the best solution was to move and burn the house down…I seriously considered that option first). And when I got ready to vacuum, I saw an extra leg behind the curtain loop. (Please note: that is a vase, not a cup.)DSCN7720

JMH_0647 spider

copyright Homes

I feel only a little bit bad being happy that Homes was here, sick in bed, and I could accidentally-on-purpose wake him up to remove the spider. He took a picture of it outside in its new habitat. (For the record, “the backyard” does not count as “way the hell away from our house EEEEEEE!” as per my instructions. However, the arachnid is no longer residing in our living room and I will have to be content with that.)