Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kidlit Critterpalooza!

 For over a year now, CRITTER, the creation of artist Ian Sands, has been travelling the world, meeting many talented writers and authors and exploring where they live. At each stop he learns more and more about KIDLIT and the importance of literacy and creativity. This journey was the brainchild of Christy Evers, who got her hands on Critter after an interactive art project of Ian’s, where 500 Critters were hidden all over her city for people to find.

Critter has visited PJ Hoover (and the Texas Sweethearts!) in Texas, Beth Revis in North Carolina, Christina Farley in Korea, New England with Nandini Bajpai, Illinois with Kelly Polark, MG Higgins in California, Rena Jones in Montana, Cynthia Leitich Smith in Texas, Bish Denham in the Virgin Islands, Jacqui Robbins in Michigan, Tina Ferraro in California, Cynthia Chapman Willis in New Jersey, Jill S. Alexander in Texas, Ellen Oh in Virginia and finally, Alberta Canada with Angela Ackerman.

Critter has been to college, rock concerts, national landmarks, a palace, attended his first SCBWI conference, walked among giant redwoods, and met the world famous artist, Robert Bateman. Now that his journey is coming to a close, it’s CRITTER’S hope that you will help him celebrate over at The Bookshelf Muse. His new hosts, together with old hosts, have teamed up to create the Kidlit-inspired event, Critterpalooza! and you’re invited!

There are many AMAZING prizes to be won, all in the spirit of helping Critter celebrate the wonderful creativity & support within out KIDLIT community, and to also raise awareness for his charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

If you would like to donate a few dollars to Critter’s charity, just click on the I Love St. Jude button. Children’s lives are saved every day thanks to the support of people like you!

Check out Critter's Adventures here:Ian:



Texas Sweethearts:







Cynthia LS:


Cythia CW:






The Bookshelf Muse:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Are You a Fan of Critter?

Yes!  You too can join the throngs of screaming, crazed, needing-autographs fans of Critter. Click here to be a Critter's Fan.

This cute fellow created by Ian Sands has been all over the world and will be auctioned off soon to help kids.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Adventure Continues...

Yesterday on Beth Revis’ Across the World Tour, my waterfall adventure was featured here. I’m so excited to have been a ‘stop’ on her blog’s two week tour. If you haven’t checked it out, you still have time to hunt for the clues and enter her amazing contest.

But like I said yesterday in my comment section, my adventure didn’t stop after escaping the guys from the waterfall. As you can imagine after hiking all day, we were exhausted on our trek back home.

My feet were blistered. I was desperate for a shower. And starved for food.
 When you’re in that kind of shape, you’ll do pretty much anything. Like jump in front of a moving jeep to hitch a ride down the mountain. The driver kindly drove us to the banana plantation where he was headed. It wasn’t the whole way, but close enough.

It was a bumpy trip and it got even bumpier when the earthquake hit.

No joke!

Okay, so it wasn’t a major earthquake, just enough to shake you around. When I got home, believe me, I was relieved! A couple of things had been knocked over and a wall had a large splintered crack down the middle, but overall, everything was safe.

The earthquake had broken some of the water pipes in Bukit Sentul so we had muddy water (yeah, didn’t get my nice hot shower) for the next day. And the electricity was out, too.

But you know, even though I didn’t get my hot shower and had to use bottled water to get cleaned up. And even though there was no electricity, it was okay.

We all were safe. And that whole experience made me even more grateful for clean water and lights.

That night we ended up heading to the outdoor cafĂ© for food. Man, I was so sore and that nasi goreng tasted so delicious! The sun was fading, but the restaurant, used to the loss of electricity, had plenty of candles. From our table, I watched the city of Jakarta light up in the valley below. The mountain we had hiked up to was behind me, silhouetted in the sun’s final rays.

And that’s when I realized how blessed I was to be safe, surrounded by my friends, and to have everything that I needed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Across the World Book Tour for Across the Universe

Across the Universe is a sci fi coming out from Penguin/Razorbill on January 11, 2011. Author Beth Revis describes it as "a murder mystery set in space," but it also has romance, adventure, and dystopian elements. In the book, a girl boards an interstellar spaceship in a journey across the universe to find a new planet.

To celebrate the book's upcoming release, Beth's gathered together writers and readers from across the blogosphere to share their stories of adventures they've had across the world. Check out her site the first two weeks of November to read about adventures from the Wild West to Indonesia (this is where my adventure takes place!), from Europe to Africa.

And as you're going across the world with all these adventures, be sure to pick up the clues. On Beth's webpage is a secret link--LOOK for it, and you'll SEE it. But it's password protected! To find the password, you'll need to go on the adventures with us, pick up the letters, and re-arrange them into the secret phrase.

What do you get for playing? On the password protected page there's tons of secret information about the book--hidden Easter Eggs, the surprising origins of one of the characters, and the unexpected inspiration behind the space ship. But, more than that--there's also a chance for prizes! Only accessible from the password protected page is a form to enter a drawing--the winner will get a signed and doodled ARC of Across the Universe, pin-buttons featuring the book, star-related swag--and a secret something else!

All you have to do is follow us across the blogosphere, pick up the letters, and unscramble the password! Your clue for today is...


Monday, November 1, 2010

You Must Check This Out!

Beth Revis' Across the Universe Book Tour starts today! Head over to her blog for this awesome adventure. The directions on how it works are here and this is where the adventure begins.

And So It Begins

November 1st is a big day for those who have signed up for NaNo Writers Month. What is NaNo? It’s where many writers sign up on the NaNo website committing to write at least 50,000 words of a book in a fast draft form. Impressive isn’t it?

For the last two years I’ve unofficially joined in and I’ve dished out a stack of words in doing so. Even with November being one of my busiest months, I’ve always been able to write more just feeding off of the excitement and motivation of other writers out there pounding away at their keyboards.

And I was planning on doing it all over again by starting my next book set in Indonesia.

But I’m not going to. Instead I’m tackling a major revision of my latest book set in Korea. I knew my book’s opening chapters could be stronger so I emailed my critique buddy the whole book and said, “HELP! What is wrong with this baby of mine?”

That’s the amazing thing about great critique partners. They see the problems you just can’t see when you’re too close to a project. And they tell you what’s wrong instead of sending you a happy gram back with smiles and “I love it!” (Well, they might say “I love it!” but with lots of other insights too!)

When I got her email with her comments, I got so excited. She was right! She had some great ideas on how to fix my problems, too. So I’ve been brainstorming, making lists on the problems and how I’m going to solve those. It’s a great feeling.

So this month, I’m hacking out a pretty intensive revision. It won’t be a major rewrite but many of the chapters will be getting whole new looks and the first few chapters will be seeing lots of cuts and rewrites. Exciting isn’t it?

My goal? Get this baby finished by December 1st!

Bring on the chocolate!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Disney's Food and Wine Festival

Can I just say delish? Fabulous? Divine?

Last weekend hubby and I went on a date (!!!!!!!) to Epcot's Food and Wine Festival. And let me tell you was so fun. We took about 3 hours to walk around the lake, stopping at different countries along the way.

Our first stop was Argentina where we ate Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree. I think that was my favorite.

Then we headed to Mexico for a Tamal de Pollo. Yum...

South Korea was there for the first time! They had kimchi slaw!

Oh and then there was Italy. I just love Italian food and I wasn't disappointed. We ordered baked cheese ravioli and Cannolo Al Cioccolato and ate it on the steps overlooking the lagoon while listening to Sister Hazel. How cool is that?

At Australia, we ate the Grilled Lamp Chop with Roasted Potato Salad and Red Wine Reduction. I have to say that the lamb wasn't as good as when we ate in Australia, but I would still recommend it.

Then to complete the night we had the dessert trio of Strawberry Angel Verrine, Pear Streusel Pudding Cake, Dark Chocolate Sensation, and Rose Imperial.

The festival runs until Nov. 14th so there's still time to head over for some good food!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Disney Tip #1

Since I live right around the corner from the happiest place on earth, I thought I'd add in some Disney tips on my blog. I've been to Disney, oh about 20 million times (okay, so I work there too seasonally).

Yeah, I'm addicted. I'm a fan. I'm a Disney girl.

One turnoff for many people is the crowds. If that's the case for you, then this time of the year is the time to go. September through early November and then again in January until spring break time, the crowds are substantially less. And not only will you find the crowds have thinned, thus making the lines shorter, but the weather is perfect in the fall. Not too hot, not too cold. No humidity.

Now if you must go in the summer or you love Disney at Christmas (who wouldn't?), but those crowds still get to you, then hit the coffee pot and get there early.

We usually get there as soon as the park opens (BTW, it's cooler in the mornings!) to do all the rides we can, watch a show and then catch lunch before we head back home. I'm always amazed at the streams of people who enter the park between 10:30 and noon. I suppose I shouldn't blame them. They're on vacation, have slept in, eaten a yummy Disney breakfast and meandered to the park.

So think Disney in the autumn and you if can't swing that, get to the parks early to hit all the rides you've been dying to ride.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The End

I finally finished Mockingjay. Took me long enough and it was no fault of how good the book was. Purely me being busy. But it got me thinking about endings.

One of the things that pushed me to keep reading Mockingjay was I needed to know the answers.

Does Katniss survive? Who does she end with- Peeta or Gale?

For me:
  • A good book propels the reader to the end
  • An end must be satisfying
  • An end should answer most of the reader's questions
  • An end could reveal a surprise twist
  • An end should complete the a character's emotional journey
How about you? What do you need in a good ending? And while we are chatting about endings, check out J.A. Palermo's blog post over at the Paper Wait on leading readers to turn the page.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guest Blog Post

Kirsten is doing an awesome blog series called "Around the World". For yesterday's post she asked me to share about my experiences overseas and how they affect my writing. Head over to her awesome blog, Romantic Meets the World, and check it out!

The picture above is me on the tiny island of Samosir that's located in Sumatra the middle of Lake Toba, one of the biggest lakes in the world.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Satellite Beach

The other weekend we decided to get out and head over to Satellite Beach. It's close to Cocoa Beach, but quieter and not so touristy. We joined up with some friends and stayed at a condo that overlooked the ocean. Talk about the perfect writing place!

The waves were pretty big and on the first day the ripe tide was strong because of a tropical storm out off the coast. But the second day we were there, the ocean was calm enough for the boys to get out and learn how to boogie board.

They loved it! Plus we found buckets of shells that were being dragged into the tide. (See the picture of Luke and his girl friend digging for shells. Aren't they adorable?)

From Orlando its one of the closest beaches if you are looking for something quieter and cleaner. From downtown Orlando, give yourself about an hour and fifteen minutes to get there.

Personally I like the Gulf Coast better, but the waves can't be beat on the Atlantic.

And if you're there, check out Da Kine's Insane Burrito. Yum yum. They have HUGE burritos that are sure to fill you up after playing in the surf all day.

I'm hoping to have posts of great vacation and getaway spots in Florida on my blog. So if you're heading to Florida, hopefully you'll find some good ideas here of where to go!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

WOW! I'm Blogging!

Okay so I'm about to have a heart attack because I've opened blogger and I'm here typing away. Man, it feels good. It's been soooooooo long since I've blogged. I feel as if I've been lost in some big dark hole and just now resurfacing and I'm here to say:

"Hello bloggers! Remember me?"

I'm dying to get back into things and go and visit all of your lovely blogs. I'm so out of the loop. What's been going on? It's amazing how out of it I feel after being away for the last month.

Yes, I've been busy and I really needed the time to get my life in order. I'm not saying things are perfect (HA!) but I'm ready to embark back into the world of blogging again.

I will say that living back in the States is so different and I'm feeling incredibly spoiled. Everytime I turn on my washing machine or dishwasher I feel like doing a little jig. (Okay, so I really do a jig, but only when no one is looking.)

I think I've eaten too many Twizzlers though. (I know, I didn't think that was possible, but evidently my consumption has been a LITTLE overboard).

So sending you all a wave across the Internet!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Congrats Debbie Ohi!

Yesterday the MIGs and I got an exciting email from Debbie Ridpath Ohi (fellow critique partner in crime). She's over at the SCBWI LA conference (yeah, I'm sooooo jealous!) and sending us the latest gossip via her iPad.

But the big news is she won one of the two Runner Up / Honor Award winners for the SCBWI's Illustrator Showcase!!! And get this, she also won the Mentorship Award Program. To win two awards is rare she's been told.

Read more about it here.

I'm so proud of you Debbie! You totally deserve this!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Writing Space

So my biggest issue I'm dealing with right now is finding time to write. I don't have a writing area set up yet, but I do have a room all to myself for my writing. I'm so excited about it! I need to think of a name for the room besides office. Office sounds so bla. Something like Wardrobe or Writers Cove. Still working on ideas!

I also need to set up a time to write and once I start teaching (YES! I got a teaching job- yippee! I'll be teaching 2nd grade), then I'll have to figure out if early mornings or late nights will work best for my new schedule. I find having a consistent schedule and a home base to write in really helps me keep focused. Often I write in other places, but a home base is a must.

I love Laura Manivong's writing space. She's got color and fun all put together.

Things I NEED in my writing space:
1. Desk and comfy chair.
2. Lots of table space for all my crazy webs and charts and cool words that I like.
3. Twizzlers (yes, this is a must)
4. A window -wish it was a view of this:

5. Figurine of Jane Austen because she's my heroine.
6. Email so I can frantically chat with my critique buds when I'm stuck.
7. Headphones (but only when I'm fast drafting, can't do it during edits)
8. Water and coffee

How about you? Where do you write? What are musts that you must have when you write? Do you have a special name for your writing place?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hello Florida!

Hello my blogging buddies! It feels like forever since I've blogged. Between the move and Internet problems I've had trouble finding time to blog.

I'm now living in sunny Florida and I love it here! Who can't love swaying palm trees, bright sunny days and swimming pools? And it's hot. I LOVE hot.

Our family went out for a hike at the park near our new house. We saw turtles, deer, birds, GIANT spiders (eek!), and a tortoise that could outrun me. So much fun. Except we didn't see any gators.

The boys call it Old Florida because we mentioned it to them that this is what Florida used to look like before all the people and houses.

There is something magical about strolling down sandy paths with Spanish moss dangling from above and the sea breeze kicking up around you. If you haven't hiked in 'Old Florida' yet, you really need to do it. But keep an eye out for those spiders and thunderstorms. You don't want to mess with those!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

MiG Writers' Contest- Don't Miss Out!

My critique buddies (The MiGs) are having a rocking awesome contest over at our new and improved blog. Come on over and post a one sentence summary of your WIP.

What do you win? A critique of the first ten pages of your novel. By all six of us! Yeah, pretty cool, huh. These guys are smart and brilliant and helpful so if you're looking for extra feedback, this is a perfect opportunity.

The contest runs until this Saturday (July 10th) so hurry and post.

And win!

(The cartoon was done by the talented Debbie Ridpath Ohi- she's the cute one in the bottom middle)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Goodbye Korea- With Love

Dearest Korea,

I'm flying out today. And leaving you. I'm not sure if I'll be back, but I have a feeling I just might. You have given me so much these last 8 years living in your lands. And I'm grateful--no, more than that. I'm changed and I know I'll never be the same.

I've been thinking a lot about these 8 years. 

The Snapshots
  • Chusok Moon
  • Jagged Peaks
  • Mud flats
  • Tiled roofs
  • Rice paper lanterns
  • Colorful palaces
  • Rice patties

The Moments
  • Hearing my child's first cries
  • Writing my first book
  • Standing on the DMZ line
  • My first belt test
  • My students' smiles

The Memories
  • Teaching at an amazing international school
  • Letting my boys grow up in an international setting
  • Watching World Cup Game in the throngs of thousands in downtown Seoul
  • Holidays with friends
  • Hiking to the top of Soeraksan
  • Building friends for life
  • Winning my first writing award
  • Hanging out in the backyard of F
  • Growing as a teacher in ways I never thought I would
Through all these experiences, you have shown me the heart of your people. I hope I can take away from all of this the same zest for life, the work ethnic, and the willingness to help others that I've learned here.

Annyonghi kaysayo.

With love,
Chin-ah (Christina)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What a Rush!

I've been doing some research over the past few months on the Korean Horn Bow for my latest WIP.
But I really wanted to get a clearer sense of how the bow worked and felt. So I dragged my family to downtown Seoul, Gwanghwamun to the Pavilion of Yellow Storks (Hwanghakjeong).

It's the most famous archery pavilion in Seoul and in this part of Korea.

There they gave us a lesson about the Korean horn bow.

Most bows can shoot an arrow between 50-100 meters, but the Korean Horn Bow can shoot as far as 145 meters.

The reason for this is its made up of 8 different materials all glued together by the croaker fish glue. No chemicals are put inside of this bow either. The outside of the bow is made up of a water buffalo horn, which creates the power within the bow.

It takes a master craftsman 1 year to make 50-100 bows, depending on their speed. This is a picture of an archer stringing his bow, which is very difficult. After the wood has been stretched, it must be put under heat.

The archer keeps his horn bow in a silk pouch called the kundae. After the archer takes the bow out, she ties the kundae around her waist where it holds five arrows.

We also got to see a demonstration of a group of people shooting their bows so far away that I could hardly see the target! And they were hitting the targets. Amazing.

I also got to try out the bow. The Master also gave my hubby and I a lesson.

You begin with, "Please forgive my archery". Then the Master says, "I wish you success".

To shoot this bow, you:
1. Use a thumb ring to draw back the string.
2. Raise the bow obligatory to the target
3. Focus your heart (this is a critical part of the culture)
4. Chest is wide open
5. Hands in line
6. Draw back the string past the shoulder
7. Aim slightly upwards
8. Allow the heart to guide the arm
9. And let go!

Wow. What a rush!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

96 Boxes

They're all gone. All 96 boxes! Now that doesn't seem like much I suppose when you think it's everything we're bringing back to the States. And realize that hubby and I came to Korea with only 4 suitcases and no kids. So, we have accumulated.

A couple of you asked some questions in the comments of my last post, so I thought I'd answer them here.

Choosing a Shipper
If you have more than a few boxes to take back with you, then instead of mailing them, you use a shipper. We contacted three different companies. They each came to our house and gave us an estimate. Then we choose the company that we liked the best. We ended up not taking the cheapest one but the company with the best recommendations and service within our price range. That ended up being Transpact (they have the tiger emblem as you can see on all of the boxes).

Getting Ready
Then we take a number of days to get ready for them because each box is quite expensive. In shipping, you don't pay for weight but size. So we had a HUGE moving sale, and gave and threw out loads and loads and LOADS of stuff. The tricky part here in Korea is that nearly everything that you throw out must be recycled. Like food (yucky food bucket!), paper, plastics, and metals. If it doesn't fit one of those categories you have to PAY to throw it away because you have to use a certain expensive garbage bag. It's a lot of work, but it really makes you not want to throw stuff away.

Moving Day
On moving day, the movers come and you tell them what stays and what goes. They box it all up nice and pretty and put it in a crate.

You can see in this picture that they use a lift to take boxes in or out of a house and load them into a truck. Pretty cool, huh?

That crate (see the picture- we actually have three crates) is trucked to the port and put on the boat. It floats its way to us and then gets on another truck. The interesting part is the most expensive part of the trip is the trucks, not the boat fees.

Anne- If you're doing a really big move, it's so nice to have them come and pack it all up and do everything for you but it is expensive. So I guess you have to pay for luxury. But I don't know how else we would get the stuff back to the States otherwise.

So there you have it. A little lesson on Moving Across Continents!

Oh and Nora- yes, I hope to be teaching. We'll see if I get a job! If I don't, I'll for once have a clean house and heaps of time to write. Wow. That would be a dream, wouldn't it?

The most important advice I have to give is be ready for them to come and then have fun with it. Take lots of pictures and order in yummy food.

Or you can be ninjas like my boys and be the protector of the shipment in case any bad guys come.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's Really Happening

The movers are here! Like in my house right now! After being up late last night doing last minute organizing of what will stay, what's going in suitcases and what's being shipped, now I get to sit here and relax. (Well, kind of)

I can't believe it's all happening. These last few weeks have been so busy with all the goodbye parties, us getting ready for the movers, packing up classrooms, and doing last minute shopping. It's all gone by in a whirl.

It's interesting how each of us are taking the move. Doug is stressed, I'm here blogging about the event, Caleb won't look at the truck and Luke is bouncy around thinking this is just so much FUN. I wonder how we'll deal with the transition in the next few months.

There's so much on my heart and mind about leaving, but I can't think about that right now. Soon, I think I'll write down some of my thoughts.

In the mean time, don't you like these pictures? Cool truck too!

They'll take this truck and put all our our boxes on a container and then they'll be shipped across the Pacific and the Panama Canal to Miami. Then by another truck, they'll take it up to Orlando. It should arrive at our house in a couple of months.

And isn't it cool how they build a box to fit the furniture?

The Winners!

For my moving contest, I have two winners!!!!!!!!

Mary Anne Scott for Pack A

Casey McCormick for Pack B

Congratulations girls!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Moving Contest

Yikes! Only 7 more days until we leave Korea. So much to do. Chaos reigns at my house. Tomorrow is the last day of school. And did I just say we're moving in 7 days?

Yeah. We are. I'm only slightly freaking out. Okay, that's a lie. I'm totally freaking. And crying. And excited to see my family (slight pause for a little jig).

In the midst of getting rid of a LOT of stuff, I'm also giving away a bunch of my books. But I thought you, my dear, wonderful, exceptional bloggers (should I call you DWEBs?), would like some of my MG and YA books.

So I'm giving away two big packs of books. Oh the fun! Nothing new, but totally great reads. And like my reading tastes, a very ecletic bunch.

I don't have much time so this contest is going to be a quickie. AND I'm only giving these stacks to my dear, wonderful, fabulous bloggers. (The DWEBs- yes, I drank too much coffee today) 

So I do hope you'll help me move and enter the contest.

PACK A- Holes, A Jigsaw Jones Myster, Cinderellis and the Glass Hill, Frindle, The School Story, Ralph S. Mouse

PACK B- The Elements of Style, Pure Dead Trouble, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Twilight, The Host

Hurry! Because contest ends Sunday, June 14th NOON (that's like the middle of the night for me).