Interview with Author Brian Farrey

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian FarreyWhile it probably seems like I’m a blogging no-show, I’ve actually been blogging quite a bit, just over at two other bookish sites I’m a part of: The Winged Pen and From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors. Today, in fact, I celebrated the amazing Brian Farrey’s release of The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse at Mixed-Up Files with an interview and a giveaway of the book, so be sure to check it out!
In fact, this has been a great month for book birthdays. Not only did we get a new Kate diCamillo this month (Raymie Nightingale), but a few amazing debuts came out including Brooks Benjamin’s My Seventh Grade Life in Tights. And of course, don’t miss my interview with local author and friend Mark Holtzen about his wonderful new picture book, A Ticket to the Pennant.

I could promise all types of things in terms of more regular posts, but jeez, I’ve got some reading to do with all these great releases, not to mention writing of my own to do.

Happy Spring!

The Winged Pen – A New Blogging Adventure!

FOWP_logoI am so pleased to announce that my amazing critique partners and I have started a blog all about books called The Winged Pen. Take twenty-four writers of children’s and young adult books, add an obsessive love of reading and dedication to living the creative life, and you have The Winged Pen. I hope you’ll go over and check it out, get to know some amazing emerging voices, and load up your to-be-read pile with some amazing book recommendations!

What’s Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday
What’s Up Wednesday
My writing buddy Sara Eastler introduced me to a fun little blog series called What’s Up Wednesday and since I’m trying to blog more these days, I decided to play along. And since my readers seem to enjoy my book recommendations, you’ll be happy to notice that this means I’ll be recommending a book every Wednesday.

What I’m Reading

I just finished Helene Wecker’s beautiful The Golem and the Jinni and I really can’t stop thinking about it. This gorgeous story about two mythical creatures–a golem and a jinni, of course–who are both trapped in 1899 New York City explores fate, free will, spirituality and mythology all in an evocative setting and through the eyes of two very interesting narrators. It reminds me of a cross between Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Carlos Ruis Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind.

What I’m Writing

As things continue to come together for my 2013 NaNoWriMo project, Finding Gib, I’m also mid-way through drafting a new middle-grade project called Search for the Sampo. Set in Finland, it tells the story of two expat children who discover an ancient book and with it, a plot to use a long-forgotten and powerful tool to take over the world. This story gives me my first opportunity to write about magic and considering my long-term love affair with fantasy, this alone is reason enough to celebrate. But I also have to say that I love writing in the dual-point-of-view of the two sibling main characters and am really enjoying the project so far. That makes sense because I still love drafting so much more than dreaded revision.

What Works for Me

I’m juggling a lot right now: polishing last year’s manuscript, querying it, contesting, and drafting the new novel. And I have to admit, that works for me. Querying is an agonizing process, full of waiting and uncertainty, and keeping myself almost manically busy distracts me from the fact that I have manuscripts out there as. I. type. this. post. Just typing that made my heart flutter a bit. So yeah, I’m querying. It’s cool. *shoves sweaty palms in pockets and pretends to be calm and relaxed*

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Just returned from a lovely week in Hvar, Croatia, a small island in the Adriatic along the Dalmatian Coast. Watch this space for tips on traveling to Hvar with your children as part of my Traveling with Children series. It’s a gorgeous place to visit, especially at the tail end of the season when things are quiet, but the sea is still warm enough to snorkel and sail.

I also guest-blogged over at Book Country, introducing my five-line outline method for pants-ing your way through NaNoWriMo.

Check out Jaime and Erin‘s blogs for more What’s Up Wednesday fun.

The Writing Process Blog Tour

I find it funny that my first post after a three month blogging hiatus concerns my writing process. For all you know, I haven’t written since my last post way back on April 15. But I can assure you that much writing has occurred this summer. In fact, I’ve experienced some writerly firsts this summer. I attended my first writers’ conference–the Yale Writers’ Conference. The amazing Terra Elan McVoy taught an exhilarating Children’s & YA session over the five days and I made some great friends.

That alone would have made the summer a success from a writing perspective, but then in July I was lucky enough to attend the Midwest Writers Workshop. My time at Yale felt like a writer’s retreat. This felt like a writer’s baptism by fire. Over three days, we learned about the publishing industry, market trends, how to pitch to an agent, how to create suspense in our writing, and so much more. Another energetic YA session, this time taught by Daniel Jose Older, kicked off the conference. And by the end of the weekend, I had another first–my first request for pages from an agent!

Amid all that excitement, I met even more great writer-friends and one of them, Kathy Palm, invited me to join the Writing Process Blog Tour. At first I felt hesitant–what does someone at the very beginning of her fiction writing career have to share that others might want to read? Then I realized that while my fiction career is in its infancy, I’ve been meeting various writing deadlines for a couple of decades now. So what the heck. Here goes!

What am I currently working on?

I am working on a middle-grade adventure story–think The Giver meets Hatchet–called The Outlands that I started as part of NaNoWriMo in November 2013.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

There are so many great things going on in middle grade right now. But what I’m missing as I read is a good old fashioned survival story like My Side of the Mountain. I am very interested in medicinal uses for native plants, so that definitely comes into play on Elias’s journey.

Why do I write what I write?

Two reasons: my children, Gabriel & Lily. They fall into the middle grade age range right now. Not only does that mean that I’m previewing a lot of middle grade for them, but also that I hear the thoughts and dialog of middle grade children all day long. That has been really helpful as I fleshed out Elias and his friends.

How does my writing process work?

I used to get by just franticly scribbling things down as a deadline loomed. Now that I’m a full-time mother and a full-time writer, I have to be a lot more disciplined. I try to write every morning, Monday through Friday, while the children are in school and if I’m really in a groove, or I miss a morning session, I write in the evenings after they’re in bed as well. This summer has been a huge challenge because we’ve been traveling all summer. Making time to write was often impossible, but luckily I’m in revision right now, which is a little easier to do in fits and starts than generating new content, which I prefer to do in longer uninterrupted blocks so I can really get into the flow.

And now…I’d like to introduce some of my writing friends who I’ve invited to play along:

I met Jilly Gagnon at Yale Writers’ Conference this summer. She’s smart, hilarious, and writes both YA and adult humor. Check out her blog, It’s (not) Just Another Writer’s Blog.

When Sara Toole Miller and I first met, she was still Sara Toole. Little did I know that my fellow DePauw alum and I would reconnect years later to share the joys and woes of the writing life. Her blog is a great resource for writers!

If I had to describe Gail Werner in two words, it would be: writing twin! When we met at the Midwest Writer’s Workshop, magic happened. We just couldn’t stop talking (I know that surprises those of you who know us in real life). Check out her blog and also her amazing photography!

The Liebster Blog Award

Liebster Blog Award Thanks so much to Sara Toole Miller for nominating Terminal Verbosity for a Liebster Award! Her blog, which is all about the writer’s life, is a constant source of inspiration to me in my writing journey!

The Liebster Blog Award is given to blogs that have less than 200 followers and deserve more recognition and encouragement.There are some guidelines that have to be followed while giving or receiving the Award.

The rules for receiving the award:

  1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
  2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
  4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favorite bloggers and keep it going!

So here are five blogs that I love, and therefore nominate for the Liebster Blog Award:

Thanks again, Sara, and happy blogging everyone!

Distopian Dream Girl

NaNoWriMoOctober was a quiet month at Terminal Verbosity. Not only was I busy indulging my francophile tendencies with an amazing trip to Provence, but I was also busy planning my second novel and first National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) effort. Yes, that means that November will be kind of quiet around here as I have publicly promised to pen 50,000 words in the next 30 days.

If you want to follow my adventures, or are participating in NaNoWriMo yourself and want to be a buddy, look for TerminalVerbosity, or look me up by title: Distopian Dream Girl. Just to tantalize you a bit further, I’ll give you the first line of the novel as it stands on Day 1:

“Kiitos, kiitos, kiitos,” she mumbled under her breath. At least they had a word for thank you in Finland.

The Three Minute Update!

It’s been an embarrassingly long time since I blogged (5 days, seriously?!!?!), it’s time for me to go to bed, and I don’t even want to think about all the posts I need to stock-pile this week to keep you entertained while I’m on vacation next week!

So I’ll be quick and start tomorrow (which, due to the holiday, is Monday merely masquerading as Tuesday) with a clean bloggy slate.

I spent the evening Thursday venturing down to Denver for Obama’s speech. No, I didn’t get to attend the actual speech, but I did get to hang out at the Rocky Mountain Blogger’s Bash, which was the next best thing. Several wonderful ladies have already covered this (Crazy Bloggin’ Canuck, Crunchy Domestic Goddess, and A Mama’s Blog all have good coverage 😉 ), so I won’t say more except that I really wish the lovely gentleman from My Left Nutmeg would have consented to give me his hat (even if it did come from a haberdashery), and, although I still HEART Obama and was teary through his speech, what was up with mentioning the ridiculous oxymoron of “clean coal.” Come on!

OK, so where have I been since (because I think I’m at the 2:59 mark)…Friday, I met a new friend and talked about chickens, lacto-fermentation, gardening, the local color here in Lyons, and lots of other fun stuff. Got home just in time to put the kids down for their naps before going to Ute Trail for their 50% off plant sale. I won’t share too many details other than the fact that I had to drive home on the shoulder of the road with my blinkers on and that Matt spent the rest of the weekend digging holes for the many plants I purchased.

That brings us to today. We planted more plants, took another trip to Ute Trail, planted AGAIN, did some food preservation, and now I seriously, seriously, need to go to bed. Whew!

It’s about time!

After a series of rather ridiculous attack ads questioning Barack Obama’s credentials and patriotism, and even going so far as to compare him to the vapid Paris Hilton (although I could almost kiss her for her response to McCain’s ad, I’m happy to see Barack Obama striking back with some hard-hitting ads of his own. What do you think, Joan, is this enough to end the “slump” so many in the blogosphere have been talking about recently?

The following is worth a watch, especially if you’re tired of politicians who are completely out of touch with the struggles of mainstream America:

E is for Excellent!

excellentawardblog.jpgMy pal–and devoted reader–over at Woman with a Hatchet has bestowed an award upon ChezArtz and it is time for me to pass it on. Blogging is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently as I expanded from  just ChezArtz to Toys, Naturally and GreenArtz, then to BlogHer and now, I’m happy to announce that you’ll see me blogging as a Contributing Editor at Attachment Parenting International’s new blog, API Speaks.

But enough about me. The reason I started blogging (besides an overabundance of things to say) was because I was inspired by some of the blogs around me. Although some of these folks are by far too popular to participate in this type of award, I thought I’d give you a glimpse (beyond my blogroll) into which blogs are on my Google Reader and which ones get a visit from ChezArtz nearly every day.

They are:

  • The Crunchy Domestic Goddess – Not only is she the maven of all things related to birth and breastfeeding, she has also recently expanded into one of my favorite topics–green living. Oh, and she takes gorgeous photos.
  • Fermentarium – As someone who, when I had more time, enjoyed a bit of home brew, I can attest to the knowledge (and abilities) of the man behind the brew…
  • The Itinerant Pedant – If you’re looking for political commentary that is fearless, brash, sometimes obscenity-punctuated, and always hilarious, this blog is for you.
  • Write to Done – Although my husband turned me on to this particular blogger through his other blog, Zen Habits, Write to Done is the one that I read for tips on freelance writing, blogging, and the writing process in general.
  • Elements in Time: Creating Edible Landscape – Not only did this blog turn me on to the Growing Challenge, which I’ve been participating in over on GreenArtz, but I met lots of cool bloggers (including the one who bestowed this award upon me) through this great blog on all things related to edible gardening.
  • CUSS & Other Rants – This blogger’s body image posts on BlogHer, combined with her fantastically wry sense of humor, make her one of my blogging heroes.

Thanks again, Hatchet, for the award, and thank you to all my readers. This blog has gained an amazing amount of traction in the past three months, and I hope that by the time its two-year anniversary rolls around this summer, that traction will have turned into a large and dedicated readership interested in the same things I am: gentle parenting, protecting the environment, gardening, eating locally, challenging social norms, progressive politics, grass-roots organizing, living simply, and more!

Don’t let the computer rule (ruin?) your life!

I’m in internet junkie. I’m an email junkie. My name is Julie Artz and I am an addict. Seriously. I get that prickly uncomfortable feeling when I know there are emails in my Inbox that I haven’t read or responded to. I ignore everything around me when I’m absorbed in whatever I’m doing on the computer to the point of missing that my daughter has unrolled all the toilet paper, my son has removed all of his clothes from the closet and has disassembled all his pant hangers, or the dog has peed on the floor because I didn’t realize he needed to go out. And I didn’t even mention all the times that I’ve completely ignored Matt while he was talking to me because I was looking at the computer screen. This is serious.

Part of the problem is that between work & volunteer commitments, I have been hopelessly buried in work for the past four months. Even working every night of the weeks and weeks of business trips my husband has been on in 2008 has not really helped me catch up. But part of it is just plain old addiction to the Macbook. And I’m afraid my blogging aspirations are just making it worse, not better. You watch, I’ll stay up another hour so I can post my Wordless Wednesday picture (already selected) toward the front of the list so I can get more visitors tomorrow. It’s an illness, I know!

So this weekend, after Matt got home from his trip and we decompressed a bit, we spent some time talking about what could make our lives feel a bit more in control. Obviously getting caught up from his trip (filing taxes, getting groceries, doing laundry) helped, but more long-term change is needed. So we’ve committed to shutting our computers at 8pm as often as we can (obviously not tonight because we knocked off a bit early today to play outside and now we’re playing catch-up) and to not checking email until 8am in the morning.

That doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Let me tell you, it is. First off, my desk is right next to my bed, so I’ve been known to crawl out of bed and go straight to the computer in the morning to check email. The problem is that I get sucked in and then the kids are hungry, Matt’s showered and dressed and taking the dog out and…I’m emailing. Matt does the same thing. If he beats me downstairs, he’ll sit down for a quick check before breakfast and then we’re late getting the kids to preschool, late getting started working, late, late, late.

I’m tired of feeling like I’m late to everything. I’ve been consistently 10 minutes late for, well, the last two years. So if closing my computer for 12 hours a day will help break my addiction and help me focus on the things that really matter like taking care of my family and INTERACTING with them instead of the computer, well, it’s worth a try.

I think WW can wait until Wednesday, don’t you?