Successful Day

What a day.  I have spent nearly 8 hours dedicated to illustrating and formatting “The Jade Serpent.”  It feels so good to be so close.

Koen, the seven year old protagonist in the story, is the artist. I simply place his drawings in the book.  Here is one of his latest:

A Couple Weeks in August

Last week I concluded the two creative writing classes I was teaching at Sacramento State University this summer.  It was really fun to witness the individuality and imaginations of my students.  During the class we went outside and played with bubbles and chalk, creating worlds within worlds, I threw in non-sequiturs and had them write from a variety of perspectives.  Their protagonists were made to be antagonists and ultimately they learned to build suspense and critique each other’s work.  Then they courageously stood up and presented their final story to the class.  It was fantastic to see their minds at work.

Now I am on vacation for two weeks, relaxing up in beautiful Oregon visiting friends and family.  Then a few days on a gorgeous river in the mountains at a little cabin hiking and illustrating.  “The Jade Serpent” is about to fly free in the world.  I can’t wait to share Koen’s next adventure with you all.

Happy Boy! Reminded me of Koen from “The Treasure Chest Mysteries.”

Happy writing.

~ Gretchen

Soooo Close!

The Jade Serpent is nearly ready for pre-orders!  I am so excited.  Finishing the final illustrations.  Stay tuned!

And…coming up: “My Year in Myanmar” – working title, but can’t wait to share my incredible experiences with loads of photos to boot.

Happy writing!  Gretchen

SCBWI Inspiration

Hi All,  I hope Spring has sprung in your neck of the woods.  It is lovely here in Sacramento, CA.  I’ve been out gardening and enjoying the lovely weather on hikes around the area. I’ve also been making some changes to The Jade Serpent. My protagonist is now a young writer.  He is documenting his adventures with his co-conspirator through his retelling of their escapades in writing.  I really like the idea of a young writer.  Maybe I’ll have him sketch along the way too!

Last Saturday I went to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Spring conference (#SCBWISPSP17).  It was my first writer conference and it was packed full of great advice.  I had the chance to speak with Kate Sullivan of Delacorte Press (an imprint of Random House) and learn more about what an editor does.  I also went to two talks by Beth Phelan with the Bent Agency and Peter Knapp with Park Literary – both agents.  Everyone offered such great advice and were so nice.  I left not only excited to write, but also determined to submit The Jade Serpent to an agent this spring – yikes!

So of course I came straight home and started reworking the opening, and changed up parts of my protagonist.  So now Koen is a young writer (and illustrator perhaps).  His adventures with Titanus McDuff, the Keeper of the Treasure Chest are still forefront.  But I like the added dimension of his character.  Not only is he afraid of heights, he loves to write.  Here is a doodle I did thinking of Koen awhile back.

Happy Spring to you all!

~Gretchen

Draft Five

For some reason writing has taken a back seat in my life this year.  I teach an after-school writing class and I love creating new ways to engage my class in creative writing.  But when I get home I do not write much.  I go in spurts.  I spend six hours writing on a Saturday and then do not touch my work for weeks.  I’m not sure what my problem is.  Although there hasn’t been consistent writing, I am on draft five of The Jade Serpent.  Through SCBWI, I joined a critique carousel, only to come down with the flu right before and was unable to attend.  I am excited to be going to the SCBWI conference on April 1st and thus am determined to have the book fully edited and flushed out by then so that I can show it to agents if possible.

So my goal by April 1:

  1. Rework one more time
  2. Go through AutoCrit editing software one more time
  3. Complete 5 illustrations

I think it is doable.

How’s your writing coming along?

Gretchen

Back to Writing

Sorry for the silence. The start of a new school year, teaching in a new school and coaching three volleyball teams kept me very busy! But I am happy to say that I have written another draft of the Jade Serpent and now I am editing. So fun to be back at it.

More to come soon!

~ Gretchen

Adventures in Writing

Hi!  Lots has changed over the last month.  I’ve moved states, bought a house, started a new job, started coaching 3 volleyball teams, started teaching a youth creative writing class and…found a little sister – 2 months old/2 lbs – for my Oscar (cat) who lost his brother one month ago. PHEW!

So, needless to say, I have not been attending to my own writing.  My goal, once volleyball season is over, is to truly dive into editing book 2: The Jade Serpent.  Just writing this blog post is a start.  Teaching the kiddos in my creative writing class has brought my mind back to my own work as well.  So, my thoughts are churning and I am getting excited to get back to my book.

I hope you are happily writing.  I’d say don’t let life get in the way of your writing, but who am I to talk!

Have a great September!

Gretchen

Writing…Curriculum

This summer has not exactly gone as planned.  I thought I would have moved to Sacramento by July 1, settled in and be writing and editing The Jade Serpent all summer.  But it didn’t turn out that way.  Due to the whims of the universe, I have had to stay in Oregon for the summer.  Now, this has not been a hardship by any means.  I have had a wonderful place to stay and have been busy with family and friends.  The only negative is that it hasn’t been my choice or my schedule.  Poor me, I know.  But I am used to organizing myself and my time, so that has been a bit of a challenge mentally.

The last two weeks I have been developing my curriculum for the upcoming school year.  I have not taught 5th grade before, and my new school does not have a pre-created curriculum, so I have had the wonderful opportunity to shape and mold what I will be teaching.  I have the year outline done and the first week of lesson plans.  Now I am working on the second week – when we really start to get into the meat and start rolling.

I will only be teaching the humanities – thank goodness.  So our wonderful 44 kiddos will be split in two and each day they will switch back and forth across the hall.

I’ll also be coaching volleyball (5/6th grade) and teaching an after school class called Adventures in Writing – both of which I am very excited about.

So suffice to say, The Jade Serpent has been smoldering in the shadows.  I am now moving down to Sacramento at the end of next week – finally!  Just in time to start school the following week.  Once settled, writing will become a priority for me again – in the evenings 🙂  I can’t wait.

So, by the end of September I am hopeful to have an update on progress towards completing the editing.  Wish me luck!

Revamping to Make New

Hi All!

Summer is just gorgeous here in Oregon.  So gorgeous in fact that I am finding so many things to do that I have not been focusing on writing as much as I had planned.  But I have taken a few odd hours here and there to revisit some of my “old” stories.   Now that it has been a few years, I am reading them with new eyes and finding that I like, for the most part, their nuts, bolts and flow.  So I have started to revamp to make them fresh, with more twists, and more highs and lows.  I am also researching illustrators – as a couple of them are definitely picture books, via the website FIVERR, where I am finding some amazing artists.

But no worries – The Jade Serpent is still happening.  Apparently I need(ed) to work on something fresh for a bit.  I’ll return to fleshing out the parts that have me hung up once I have a couple other stories out on the market.

But as we move into July, I am determined to carve out a daily routine of writing.  And can you believe I am going to start by taking off on an adventure?  For eleven days I am going to be exploring two beautiful parts of Oregon, one in the mountains and the other at the edge of the Pacific ocean.  And to top it off, I will be with my mom and three cats! Ha! No, I’m not crazy.  I expect it will be full of hilarity more than anything.

First stop: Sisters, Oregon for the 4th of July (US Independence Day) weekend.  We will be hiking in the glorious Deschutes National Forest and wandering the adorable town of Sisters.

I’m expecting the winding rivers and tall trees to breathe creative, new story ideas into my head.  Deschutes National Forest

Then we head over to the coast for a a few days for long walks along the endless beach.  I’m thinking eleven days of fabulous hiking, writing, painting and relaxing.

surftidesbeach

I can’t wait!

So, with determination as my companion, I will be writing to you next with when, where and how my next book(s?) will be heading out into the public.

Happy end-of-June to you all!

~ Gretchen