NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMoToday is the start of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. I have to say, I am very intimidated. The goal is to write an entire first draft of a novel in 30 days (Nov. 1 – 30). That is approximately 50,000 words.

So – I’m officially procrastinating – writing this blog post.

I have the idea of the book in my head. Has something to do with a teenager that “selectively mutes” due to a trifecta of conflicts in her life. Then, through friendships she discovers her voice again.

We’ll see how it evolves. I’ll keep you posted – the next time I feel like procrastinating :-).

Until then, it is time to put some words down. I’m sure I’ll be back soon.

~ Gretchen

Writing Calendar

The Blank Page

Hey there writers. Ever have a blank page crisis? Whether you are focusing on fiction or non-fiction, sometimes our minds just go blank. It happens to everyone. But getting over that rather large bump in the road is an absolute must if we want to keep the writing juices flowing.

I’ll admit, sometimes I’m exhausted from writing one piece and I just need a break from my self-imposed pressure to keep pumping out the articles, blog posts, books. But we are writers and somewhere deep down, we love to write and tell stories. So, overcoming the ‘blank’ must happen, sooner preferably, than later.

Writing Solutions

Here are a few ways I get my writing mojo reactivated:

1. I review my “Ideas” log. I have a list on my computer of ideas that have interested me in the past but I haven’t done anything with them yet. I’ll review the list to see if any are now itching to get written.

2. I’ll flip through photos of places I’ve been that I have strong feelings about. The feelings do not have to be happy ones – in fact sometimes the scary or ugly memories are the best ones for getting that idea spark.

3. Reading in the genre you are thinking your next project will fall into is a great way to get more ideas crawling up from the depths. Also, I find that reading a book that is at a different level than what I write for, helps me see story ideas. Such as reading a picture book for a middle grade idea or an adult mystery for a YA novel idea.

What if your issue du jour is not what to write but how to get started or keep going? I put together a tip sheet for how to get around writer’s block. Check it out – it’s free!

Here’s to a great day of writing effortlessly!

~ Gretchen

Enter to Win My Book

Hi Friends,
Want to win my latest book that is perfect for the 7 – 9 year old in your life?
It is full of adventure, geography and history.
Enter for a chance to win “The Jade Serpent.”
Simply click on this link to be entered into the drawing! AMAZON Giveaway!
Happy Reading Everyone!

Adventures in Publishing

Hi All,

Due to the hurricanes that have been ravishing the US (and beyond), I didn’t receive my copies of “The Jade Serpent” until a few days ago.  When they finally arrived I found that the spine was blank. Oh No!

After investigation I discovered I needed 3 more pages in my book for it to have the title and my name on the spine. So I have been reformatting with old photos of me in Guatemala and added a map of the world showing where Koen and Titanus have been adventuring.  All this to tell you that, if you have been trying to purchase my book on Amazon – it has said the print version is unavailable. (Still available on Kindle).  If all goes well, it should be available again starting tomorrow – Sunday, 10/1.

Lesson learned…always buy a physical proof before launching.  Oh, and with the added pages, Createspace forced me to up the price to $6.20. Sorry.

Thanks for your patience as I continue to learn this process.  And please -write a review on Amazon!  It really helps!  Thanks!

The Jade Serpent…Published!

Hi Friends!

I am so excited to let you know that I have just published the second book in The Treasure Chest Mysteries: “The Jade Serpent.”

You can find it on Amazon in print and Kindle formats.

I’d like to ask your help in spreading the word to all your friends who might be interested (or know someone who might be interested) in a fun adventure story for approximately a 3rd grader (7-9 yrs old).

ALSO If you purchase one on Amazon – I’d be oh so grateful if you would write a review as that is how books get noticed and ‘suggested’ on Amazon.

Thank you so much for your support!  I hope you enjoy.    Gretchen

Outsmarting looters, crawling into dark, dripping caves, and escaping spear-throwing villagers is
only
half the battle when ‘afraid-of-heights’ Koen is forced to jump off a giant temple,
climb to the top of the tallest tree in the rain forest, and swing for his life – like Tarzan – through the jungle.

Putting his trust in: a medicine man, a monkey and a mouse… No Problem.
Koen and Titanus are off on another adventure.
But it’s a race against time.
Can they find the stolen treasure before the thieves get their dirty hands on it and it is lost forever?

Writing, Teaching and Traveling

Hello Friends,

The time has just flown by since I last sat down to take stock of life and share it with you.  Since February, my last post, life has been full of good stuff.  I finally finished my second book in the Treasure Chest Mysteries titled “The Jade Serpent.”  I will be announcing when you can pre-order through Amazon soon.  Working on finishing the illustrations now.  Very excited.  It has been such a different process to write a second book in a series; full of constraints, but overall they have been fun challenges to work with.

As to the rest of life, the last half of the school year at Sacramento Country Day School was packed with history.  For the American Revolution unit the students researched the key players, learned about women spies, explored how and why the revolution happened and then, after writing papers, they performed a musical, in A Capella, that spanned the American Revolution.  It was great.  We then learned about the Constitution and Bill of Rights, before heading into the Civil War.  For this final unit the students’ main project was to research and debate in groups. They went above and beyond and I was so impressed with their debating skills.  Also, throughout the year, the kids did 10 Minute Minis.  This was their opportunity to teach the class anything (upon approval) that they were interested in, to the class.  We had the gammot: card tricks, history of dogs, turtles, elephants and video games, rugby, lacrosse and baseball strategies, how to shake and make ice-cream, create clouds in bottles, and decorate your locker, step-by-step origami, and how to speak a little Japanese… and many more.  It was amazing what we learned in ten minutes.

Learning how to attack in Rugby
Creating a cloud in a bottle. (Classroom was set up for our North vs. South debates)
History of dogs – with a live specimen
Lacrosse strategies

Earlier this summer I was given the great opportunity (from my school) to participate in the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History‘s Seminar on the American Revolution in New York City.  It was a week of amazing learning.  New York City in 1789, became the first US capital under our new Constitution and therefore it was packed full of history that we explored. We walked between 7 – 13 miles each day uncovering its revolutionary history.  Some of the places we visited were:
~ Trinity Church founded in 1696. Alexander Hamilton is buried there
~ Federal Hall – where George Washington was inaugurated,  and it was the home of Congress
~ Wall Street – named so because it used to have a wall that ran east/west across the island to protect the tip from First Nation peoples
~ Bowling Green – where the Dutch would chop off the heads of dissidents and use them as bowling balls for entertainment, and where the statue of King George the Third used to be.  Also the iron surrounding the little park is the original fence, minus the little crowns that used to be on the poles – they were cut off when the Americans toppled the statue of King George.

Flying into NYC. In this photo you can imagine where the “wall” was that protected the tip from the Native Americans.
The plaque on Wall Street explaining the “wall.”
The stone block that used to be in Federal Hall that George Washington stood on when he was inaugurated as our First President.
Map of the Battle of Brooklyn – a very decisive battle in the American Revolution.
We walked from Brooklyn to Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge – just a gorgeous bridge, day and views.
Alexander Hamilton’s grave at Trinity Church
Inside Trinity Church
Me having a beer with my new teacher friends in Chelsea.

We also spent our evenings exploring: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Little Italy, Alexander Hamilton’s Grange…

Arriving by ferry to Ellis Island.
Visiting the Statue of Liberty.
Mighty Girl!
Alexander Hamilton’s Grange – this used to be 9 miles outside of town in the country – now the area is called Harlem.
Inside Hamilton’s Grange – this is the room and desk that he wrote the Federalist papers. Gave me chills, it was inspiring to be there. But… is it wrong that I kept picturing Lin Manuel Miranda sitting there? 🙂

At the end of the week I took the train up to Connecticut to spend the weekend with my sister and her family.  A great seven days on the East coast.

Since returning to Sacramento I have been teaching two creative writing classes at Sacramento State University for 4th – 10th graders.  It has been really fun to help them step outside the usual, observe their surroundings and find the stories waiting to be expressed.  Such creative minds.

I’ve also been working on my house a bit here and there.  Last weekend I tore out the old carpet in my living room and refinished the hardwood floor beneath.  I’ve now repainted, put up crown molding and moved back in.  Still working on the wall paintings, but getting close to being satisfied.

This week I am home to focus on my writing.  As I have been wrapping up “The Jade Serpent,” I have outlined a nonfiction book about my time in Myanmar full of photos of that beautiful country.  After those are off to the presses, the next big writing project is to continue developing a fiction story for young adults that I started a few years ago.  It is centered around a stolen antiquity, moves between centuries and across continents… an adventure mystery: mysture? adventery?

I have also decided that the next Treasure Chest Mystery will take place in Vietnam – one of my most favorite countries I have visited.

So lots to keep my mind engaged.

Next year I am teaching fifth grade again.  I will be coaching one volleyball team (instead of 3 like last year!) and tutoring a 6th and an 8th grader as my extracurriculars.  I’m excited also, to be piloting a year-long service learning program for my school with my fifth graders.  The focus is on hunger but I’ll be tying in issues around water as well.  My school also has a “sister school” in Rulindo, Rwanda and I am hoping to tie in the local service with the global learning.  Should be a fun year.

These cubist paintings were created by my students last year – arent’ they awesome? I love them altogether.

On that bright note, have a great August!

~ Gretchen