Showing posts from 2013

Avalin in the Cave

My brilliant brother, Christopher T. Bishop , made this stunning image for my middle grade novel,  The One the Empress Hunts.   Thank you, Christopher. I am speechless.

Sirens Conference 2013

This month I attended Sirens , a conference devoted entirely to women and fantasy literature. Sirens takes place about five hours outside of Seattle, so Darian , Lola, and I drove down together. We stopped for lunch and laughs on our way. Darian, Burt, and Lola When we first arrived to the gorgeous (ha!) setting of the Columbia River, I was certain we were in a magical place.  And indeed we were! We were soon surrounded by smart, feisty, fascinating women, and among them many well-respected and celebrated authors. More than a few times, I found myself thinking "I want to be just like her when I grow up".  The small size of the conference made it feel intimate and personal compared to the other, larger writing conferences I experienced this year. Many thanks to all the folks who worked so hard to make Sirens happen. Here are a few of my personal highlights: Thursday Keynote ~ by Alaya Dawn Johnson , author of The Summer Prince -Spoke about h

Illustrator Extraordinaire

My brother just moved to LA and recently set up his professional website. Chris is interested in job opportunities as a Story Artist, Concept Artist, and Character Animator.  He is a gifted artist, and yes, I realize I'm biased, so here is proof: And here's a link to his website: Christopher T. Bishop If you're very clever, and search his site carefully, you might find a sample of what he's working on for me these days. More on that soon. In the meantime, I'm off to the Sirens Conference tomorrow. Woo hoo!

Summer Update

Hello there! Summer has flown by and I’m enjoying the slow change of seasons here in Seattle. September is likely my favorite month because of things like this: and this: and this: It’s been divine to spend more time writing this time of year. I don’t miss fretting about the start of school, but of course I do miss my students, co-workers, and the bustle and energy of teaching life. Still, I’m taking better care of myself than I have in a very long time, and finding that I really do have something to write about every day. I’m well into my new WIP and am still following leads on behalf of TOTEH. Here are some other exciting happenings over the past month: Writing Retreat- Took a lovely mini-break with Darian and Lola to their parents’ house in Mill Creek. It was just the right amount of writing and relaxation. And I dyed my hair blue. (Because that’s what’s supposed to happen at slumber parties.) Critique Group- Met with my ladies of the pen again a

PNWA Conference Recap

This past weekend I attended the PNWA Conference. I was extremely nervous about the conference going in because A) I was going alone B) I would be pitching to agents and editors C) I was a finalist (!) in the middle grade literary contest Each of these facts turned out to be delightful opportunities. Because I was alone, I met several lovely, brilliant people and had conversations about everything from writing, to publishing, to parenting and work. I shared some of my greatest hopes and fears with total strangers, and it was incredibly liberating. In particular, I spent a lot of time with a very kind mystery writer from Japan, Charles Kowalski. (Can’t wait til he hits it big and I get to say “I knew him when”! Go Charles!) Because I pitched to agents and editors, I learned to think about my work in a different way and I practiced the fine art of “boiling it down”. In the end, I pitched to five industry professionals, (not including one very kind agent who I practiced w

"The time has come," the Walrus said...

For the past eight years I have worked as a Language Arts and Drama teacher at a small, public school for the arts in South Seattle. The school’s community is highly diverse and deeply impoverished. It is, as they say, a “high needs” school. My work at this school has been both incredibly challenging and rewarding. I’ve had students drop out, succumb to drugs, give up, go to jail, a few have even died. I’ve also seen students graduate, gain confidence, grow up, go to college, find their callings, and fall in love with learning. I’ve had students inspire me beyond what I thought possible. In short, my experience as a teacher has been intense. During this time, my life as a writer has also taken wing. I’ve snatched hours on the weekends to type feverishly in a coffee shop, and I’ve spent my summers frantically pursuing my "other" love. Since having my own children, this has become increasingly difficult, and like so many mother-artists, I’ve developed some amo

Recaps and News

The SCBWI WWA conference was the first true writing conference I have ever attended. I don't know what to say except that it far exceeded my expectations. I think I imagined there would be a few lonely, disgruntled, awkward writers feverishly gathered around an "industry pro" trying to sweet talk them into some kind of contract. Instead, I joined hundreds of authors and illustrators, from every walk of life, and felt a sense of true community and support from all sides. I met novices and pros, young folks and old, agents and publishers, artists and scientists. And in every conversation I felt a kind of kinship. We knew the same dreams and fears. We spoke the same language of love. I don't know how the organizers of this event did it. I am sometimes quick to judge people, especially when I feel small and unimportant myself. I sometimes withdraw if I feel I've been forgotten. And yet, I left the conference with deep respect for the people and presenters there and


So much going on lately, I can hardly believe it! I sat back the other day and realized I have never had this much writing-related activity in my life before. And I love it. Here's a quick break down: SCBWI WWA Conference : April 19-21 This event is fast approaching. Should be exciting to learn more about the craft of writing for children and the community of kid lit people in this area! John Crowley Writing Workshop:  May 12 Signed up for this one day writing workshop through Clarion West. It is taught by one of my favorite fantasy writers of all time. What an awesome way to spend Mother's Day! PNWA Conference : July 24-28 Signed up for this large conference this summer. It sounds like it may be a bit of a writing "meat market", but I'm not afraid of such things... yet. I think I'll probably get very nervous when this event gets closer. There are lots of interesting workshops available, and the obligatory pitch-fest. We'll see. I will definitely

Mothering and Writing and Teaching

This is not going to be a whiny post. We don't need any more of those in the world. I have already contributed my fair share of them. This is going to be a an honest post about a major issue in my life. I've already spoken to so many of you about it, so why not just type it up already? Teaching and mothering and writing are sometimes beautifully interwoven and connected. The ideas and dreams of one endeavor inspire progress and creativity in another. It would be unfair to say that I never notice this symbiosis. I'm truly grateful for it. But then... each passion can also drain and deplete another. Each commitment can be a great and endless source of guilt. At least for me. So how do I make sense of giving myself to all three passions? How do I find balance? I don't. I try not to over-analyze. (But I do anyway.) I spend my time where I can, when I can. And do the best job I'm able. But every now and then I feel that shiver of fear that I'm "doing

Spring Plans

Today is one of those glorious days that inspires the moving of furniture, the skipping of feet, and the dreaming of big, bold, sun-soaked dreams.  I spent the morning frolicking with my son in the new Spring and rearranging a little used and often abused corner of our kitchen. And now, the children are napping, and I am seated in a coffee shop window, sipping chai and preparing to dive back into my new novel. I should be grading and planning and doing all sorts of teacherly work, and I do have some guilt about that, but mostly I am just feeling grateful for this weather and my fortune. There is still no major news on the publishing or agent front, but I remain hopeful about a couple exciting leads. Fingers crossed. In other news, I recently signed up for the SCBWI WWA conference in April, met with a kind and kindred spirit (thank you Kelly!) who shared her writing-world knowledge with me, and batted around the idea of starting a new critique group with my longtime writing

Banner Week

It was a great week. I was able to find writing time five days in a row! No, wait, maybe you didn't see that : FIVE DAYS IN A ROW. (This is not something my other commitments make possible all that often.) It was better than Christmas. With chocolate. And bourbon. My new project is based on an idea that has been brewing for almost twenty years... odd, but true. Now I am finding it hard to do things like drive because I'm so fired up. In the meantime, I also submitted a few chapters of The One the Empress Hunts to the PNWA literary contest, received a couple of hopeful emails from potential agents (knocking on wood ***), and bought tickets for New York City in April. Small victories, deep breath.

Schrefer, Potlatch, Foolscap, Pearl

Lots happening! First, the wonderful Eliot Schrefer visited Seattle and gave a presentation at the school where I teach. It was awesome. My kids are now fascinated with bonobos, more knowledgable about the Congo, and more inspired to write and read. All good things. Eliot was also kind enough to sit with me for a while and discuss the writerly life. The good, the troubling, and how it all clicks into place, or doesn't. It isn't often that I get to have an extended conversation with another writer, one-on-one. My soul was refueled. Eliot's book, Endangered , was a finalist for the National Book Award for YA. If you haven't read it, do. It is smart, important, and exciting. Then yesterday I ventured to my first convention! Technically, it was two cons in one: Potlatch  &  Foolscap . Both are smallish fantasy/sci-fi fan gatherings in Redmond and this year the two groups decided to share a weekend. I could only attend a tiny portion, because I'm a mom of sm

The Great Critique

Last night I attended the SCBWIWWA "Great Critique". This is a free event designed to get writers together in a small group. Bonus: each group is facilitated by a published professional. Essentially, seven strangers sit in a circle and take turns sharing five pages of their work.You read your own work aloud (EEP!) and then listen and take notes while the folks in your group offer criticism, including your facilitator. You guys, I am still standing! In fact, it was a great experience. I was terrified going in, but the folks in my group were both smart and kind. I genuinely enjoyed each piece that was shared and felt like the criticism offered to each writer was helpful and appropriate. I got the sense that others were satisfied as well. The best part was that I was truly able to see The One the Empress Hunts with fresh eyes. There are some important changes I need to make, but overall it holds together well. It engages folks. The question, of course, is whether it will