Friday, February 29, 2008

Strengths of the Small

I often focus on the weaknesses of my children, however tonight, before I tootle off to bed I want to do one last post. You see Jennifer Fox wrote a book for parents about playing to kids strengths. And the good folks over at PBN are helping her promote it by asking us bloggers to think about our kid's strengths.

Jennifer breaks it down into activity strengths, relationship strengths and learning strengths. I think that all kids have some strengths in each area, but I have 3 kids, 3 types of strength and 20 minutes to finish, so one per sounds good.

Belly Boo has never-ending energy. Her favorite way to talk to you, eat her dinner, or watch tv involves hopping from one end of the couch to the other and then leaping to the armchair. And then back. She likes all the "girly" sports activities: dance, gymnastics, yoga - we are working her into horseback riding and her father still has dreams of Mia Ham-dom.

Googy is a charmer with a capital C. It is difficult to punish/stay angry with him, because boy does he know what buttons to push. His teachers all fall in love with him. He is clever and talkative and a little manipulative ("...but Mom, I'm Just a Little Boy"). This should work well for him in the world.

Chi Chi is only 18 months, so she is learning at a pace muy rapido. We are currently spending some time in Costa Rica and I think that Spanish is just sinking right in there. We are also taking some Chinese lessons and while practicing with the older kids, you hear her on the other side of the room, repeating right along. She still hasn't decided to do much talking, but she is getting everything.

That is my brood. They all have strengths. They all have weak moments. It is good to articulate and congratulate the strengths. Thanks guys, for reminding me of these things.

Still Haiku Friday?

Still Haiku Friday?
I need to test this widget.
Sorry to bore you.

haiku friday - blog juice

Haiku Friday Blog research all day. Is this a hobby or a job? Blog juice tastes yummy.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

How to find an illustrator - or 400 words to love

For those of you who write or read children's picture books - I think we can all agree that the word PICTURE is pivotal in that statement. Creating or finding good art can make or break a book. Good picture books have nice pictures and a good story. Great picture books have wonderful pictures and a good story. Phenomenal picture books form a synergistic whole from which you can't think of one without the other.

As a fledgling writer, I like to think I have written a good story. I have had it cleaned up by a copy editor. The concept, while not unique is fresh again and will hopefully be embraced by many parents. In the end, it is less than 400 words. That is 400 words that have my blood, sweat and tears in them. A good illustrator can take this and bring it to life.

So how does one go about finding an illustrator?

For me, I searched several on-line portfolios. There are many of these available. Some popular ones are, Picture book, the I-spot and Children's Illustrator. I looked through these. I bookmarked my favorites, ones that I thought could do justice to the project. Many of them have personal blogs. I lurked looked at some of those to get a feel for the artists. Some of the ones that I liked had agents as their contacts. I figured that they were out of my league, as there was one more person to pay. I did contact one agent and the pricing range she gave me almost made me stop right there. But I persisted. I also queried another great lady with many, many, many books. She politely implied that her schedule was booked for the next 6-9 months and that she was sure I didn't want to wait that long. What a polite way to say no to my ridiculously low offer.

Then I found him. I found my artist at Portfolios, but he has his own website as well. He had a little experience (one book out that was done with his University). He had a background in graphic design, probably that would be helpful. He was fairly new, so maybe I could get a deal.

I contacted Mike via email with some sketchy details, a very low offer that made me comfortable. He responded with some interest. I showed him the project. He liked it. He countered. I countered. We signed a contract. He started work.

That is how I found my illustrator. Good luck if you are looking as well.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - It's what's for dinner

She Blogs Hard for the Money

I have been doing a lot of research. At least that is what I call it, although my husband is slightly skeptical. And I must admit that this was fun and sucked up a half an hour (go to the instyle link, but I found this time-consuming fun activity here, so I am giving a little linky love). Maybe someday if you are nice I will share my results.

Anyway, back to the serious research. First the soul searching. Tough questions ahead: 1)What kind of blog do I want to have? 2)What should the topics be and how can I tie them all together? 3)What audience am I trying to reach? 4) Who else will play with me? 5)Now how do I do all that?

So these are some of the answers I have started to evolve. I won't say that I determined or decided or settled any firm, formal, final answer. The one thing that I do know for sure is that I want this to evolve over time to fit my needs and hopefully entertain and inform others.

Answers for the time being: 1-3)The first and foremost reason for this blog is to promote my business (Monkey Barrel Press) and my upcoming book. While I enjoy blogging, this is NOT the primary thrust of the business, so it can be something of a hobby as well (this means photos for the Grandparents will be okay, bet they are relieved).

As this is a children's book, I would imagine that the people that might actually buy it someday would be parents, teachers, aunts and uncles (etc.), librarians and people who want to support me. The other people that might be interested would be people that are writing a children's book or are attempting to self-publish. Perhaps a few people that are starting their own small-businesses. And perhaps some people that are interested in marketing techniques. And of course, there could be people that are interested in the mechanics and techniques of blogging.

That defines a pretty diverse audience, now what topics can I supply that might interest those readers: 1)Mom-blog: anecdotes about my family, things we do, and if I am feeling especially ambitious (channel Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, and Mr Rogers) I can include: crafts, science projects, cooking projects (notice that I did not say recipes), and outings. 2)The self-publishing journey, what tasks have I done (and those I still have to do) and what helped me accomplish them to get the book onto the shelves this coming September (2008). 3)The same information about starting a small business in California. 4)Educational entries related to the topic of the book. This book highlights several famous historical women. Perhaps I could continue to write mini-bite size biographies that might interest a younger set. 5)Once the book is out, marketing information. Where I will be, what I am doing. Maybe share some results. Results are always the hardest information to find when following a business journey. Maybe I will share some? 6)Blog topics as I learn them, etiquette, links, registries, keywords - all of these things could be a goldmine of entries. 7)Fun stuff, weekly memes, photo contests, poetry stuff, etc.

Now for the research. Who will play with me and how do I get them to come over? Well first of all I think that I have to be careful about pushing the book too much (especially this early in the game). I mean I don't want to be thought of as the local Avon lady (not that there is anything wrong with that).

Now I have been off finding blogs to follow, friends to make. It is a little strange and feels like on-line dating (not that there is anything wrong with that). But you get to have a feel for a person by reading their blog. Writing style, topics covered, and just generally what is happening in their lives. If you enjoy their blog, perhaps they are the type of person that would be interested in what you have to say. But there is always that question, will you get along? The only way to know for sure is to see. So hopefully by next week I will have some new friends. Wish me luck on this.

Now how do I do this? That is for the future. It will be a learning process. I have some experience under my belt with my other blog. However I never made serious efforts to publicize or monetize or do more than enjoy the writing practice, try to make blogfriends with similar interests and information, and most of all practice.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Slow Reveal

As I am somewhat new to blogging, I am sure that I will make many mistakes as I master this new format of communication, self-promotion and entertainment. There is one thing I now from real life, that I don't want to follow me into my virtual life.

Let's think back to dating. I think that blogging can be compared to dating. In dating you meet a new person, go someplace together and try to get them to like you (or perhaps the real definition is you see if you like each other, but let's go with the first definition because that is always how it felt to me). In blogging you try to get people to "meet you" by going someplace (your blog) and hope that they like you (i.e. subscribe to your feed, return as visitors, tell their friends how great you are, add you to their blog roll and basically keep the party going. And the more people you do this with, the better. So I think that you can see the similarities to dating.

I was never good at dating. I always wanted the new person to know everything about me (and visa versa) immediately. I wanted to click or not right away.

The similarity here is that I want to write everything right now. So that if someone starts reading they will feel like they knew me all their life, that I live next door, that I am their new best friend. But I don't think it works that way.

So like in dating, I will practice a little restraint and try to learn the slow reveal. Wish me luck.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Are you going to tell him Pluto is not a planet?

Book Update - Files transferred to the printer

So the files have transferred to the printer. The book is actually really moving forward to reality. I will keep you posted!

And Onto Dear Husband

DH was sad to be passed over on the last post, but truly he deserves a post all his own. My husband, whom we shall have to think of a codename for, is many things.
He is: intelligent, handsome and proud.
He is also: Intelligent, Handsome and Proud.
If you know what I mean.
But for now we will focus on the best things about him.
He is also (in no particular order):
  • Kind, funny, obstinate, charming, and supportive.
  • He is a Filipino, born in raised in Los Banos.
  • His dad was a professor at UP in Los Banos.
  • He has a degree in physics from the Philippines and Electrical Engineering from San Jose State in California.
  • He is more religious than I am, or maybe more spiritual is a better way to put it.
  • He is persistent. We met at work and he pursued me (gently) for a few years when I gave every indication that I had no interest. Little did I know....
  • He can be romantic.
  • He has given me the most thoughtful gifts over the years, where there is an implied theme to the choices he has made.
  • He is naturally athletic and coordinated.
  • He looks very young (at 37 can pass for early 20's).
  • He can act very young.
  • He is a great dad.
  • He is playful.
He is my Love.
And I hope he likes this.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Introduction to the Supporting Cast

So now that everyone knows that I am the top banana (yea right), let me introduce my supporting cast.

Anyway, on with the show:

My husband - We'll deal with him later.

Isabella, Bells, Bellie-Boo:

My oldest daughter is a girly, girl. She just turned six and has lost her first baby tooth. She loves pink, barbie, princesses and dancing. Her father is trying to push her into soccer type activities, but she is not having it. We have drawn the line at cheerleading, however I think she will have a dancers body and she likes it - so ballet and this year one additional dance class to be decided. She is a rule follower. She likes to know what is expected and then likes to monitor everyone elses behavior. Maybe she will grow up to be a teacher. Her father is pushing Doctor. For now she tells me she wants to be three things: A chemist, a model and a mom. Pretty good aspirations in my opinion, and she is balanced with mind, body and soul.

Gus, Googs, Googie:

My son is in the middle, but being the only boy will probably alleviate any middle-child syndrome. At least I hope so. He turned three this past September and I never thought that boys could be so....well boys so early. He is in love with spiderman, buzz light-year and power rangers. He talks about bad guys and shooting bad guys and so on. He runs up to things (walls, trees, tires) and kicks them for no apparent reason. He is a little more loose on the rules and not a good eater. He is terminally funny and charms all his teachers and even me. When he knows he is not in my good graces or suspects I am about to request something he doesn't want to do, he reminds me in his smallest voice, "...but I'm just a little boy."

Sera, Sars, Cha Cha:

My baby, my love is 18 months old and still thinks that she is an extra appendage of mine. She clings. She is just learning to talk, she has been able to communicate quite fine without it for some time. Still, this is when things start to get fun. She tries hard to keep up with the other two and doesn't back down from a fight. She loves nothing more than taking off all her clothes (diaper included if she can get it done) and dancing. I hope this is not a career direction.

There are other extras to meet later, but these are the main players.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Introduction to the Top Banana

That's Me! ..... The top banana.......Ah, the power.

Okay, not Really.

Merely a lady who thought it would be a good idea to start her own business so that she could finally be the top banana. After years of using my left brain on science stuff in Silicon Valley and harboring my secret love of books and reading I decided to give the right side a try. This challenge was aided by entering the arena of Mom-hood. Reading to my kids is one of my favorite activities. Especially the good books. Nothing against Disney, but how many ways can we re-package the princesses. So this blog will focus on the stuff to do with writing, starting a company and family life. The good times, the funny times, and the less-fun times. Maybe if I am really committed, there will be some good stuff to entertain and educate the little ones. History and science, art and music. That is if I am ambitious enough to share some Martha Stewart moments.

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