Friday, February 26, 2010

No Animals (or Teachers) Were Hurt During the Making of this Workshop. Ha!

So, the day finally came! I gave my workshops today! It went really well and no one threw rotten heads of lettuce or old shoes at me, so that was a success in and of itself!

I met some wonderful teachers, who really added to the workshop with great questions and a little humor of their own! I think if you can take even one thing new back from a workshop or presentation, one thing that gives you a little light bulb moment, it was worth it! Hopefully, I gave these wonderful folks one little tidbit they didn't know before. If not, at least they got the day off, right?

I want to thank EVERYONE who gave me advice and virtual cheerleading! Public speaking can be a scary thing, so it really helped! You guys gave some great tips! Next time will be so much easier (and organized)!

Now I'm off to dreamy town with teddy...

xoxo -- Hilary

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

WRITERS: EEK! My First Speaking Engagement! What's Your Advice???

So...I have my first official speaking engagement this Friday! I'm speaking at the Celebrating Language Arts Institute Day here in the Chicago area. There will be *gulp* 600 teachers in attendance, from all over the globe! At least there's no pressure! Yeah, right!

I'm working on my Powerpoint presentation (never thought I'd say that) and it's going very well! I'm speaking to teachers who write and want to learn more about becoming published! There are a lot of teachers who write (many of them published several times over!) so I'm hoping I'll have more than 2 people in my workshop, and of those more than 2 people, I hope they aren't going to my workshop because all the one's they wanted were full! Ha! Elana Johnson, prolific blogger and fellow writer, gave me some great advice last night (and sparked the idea to do the Powerpoint, which I didn't think I'd have time to do), so thanks Elana for your virtual handholding!!

So now I'm reaching out to YOU! Any advice on giving a good presentation? It certainly doesn't have to be about writing, it could be about anything. What do you do to keep your audience engaged or organize your thoughts?
Though rusty, I'm not too worried about speaking in front of a group. Anyone who knows me from way back when can tell you I was a total drama nerd! Well, now I'm a total writing nerd! Yay for that!!!!

So, any good advice for me, other than duck when I see a tomato coming?

xoxo -- Hilary

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Official! Sequel to Nightshade City--BILLYCAN, coming October 2011!

How can I possibly sleep tonight?

My waiting to hear has ended! It's official! BILLYCAN: Book II of Nightshade City, will release fall of 2011, one year after my first baby debuts (yes, I'm referring to Nightshade City as a baby)! I'm so excited! My publisher, Holiday House, has just been fantastic! I can't believe me and my rats landed at such a prestigious children's publisher, who opened its doors in 1935! Yes, 1935! Can you believe that? Now that's something!

Thanks again to Marietta Zacker, Nancy Gallt, Julie Amper and all the folks at Holiday House! As promised, the rats WILL be sending chocolates! Don't worry, they didn't make them! ;)

xoxo -- Hilary

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Writers who Blog: Are you Prolific or Pathetic?

So there seems to be a lot of talk floating around lately concerning blog etiquette, leaving comments, followers, etc, etc. For whatever reason, it's become a hot topic.

As far as being prolific or pathetic, I fall somewhere in the middle...I think. I follow a lot of blogs because I love learning about the unique world of writers and illustrators that has become such an integral part of my life. For those who follow me, I always follow back, and not just because it's considered "proper blog etiquette", but because I'm truly interested in what others in my field (you guys) have to say! Some days I read and comment on a heap of posts, other days I'm swamped with everything that doesn't have to do with writing and I can't comment...hate those days! Most of us have full time jobs and and/or children, which is another full time job in and of itself, so life does get in the way of our blogging. I try to post at least twice a week, but sometimes if I can squeeze in just one Friday post, I'm really impressed with myself! Ha, ha! I absolutely value everything you have to say (unless of course it's really mean!) and I think everyone can blog about something and find readership. 

Bogging is not just a great social networking or marketing tool, it's a great outlet for writers (or anyone) to meet and connect with others, specifically those who don't think your my fascination with rats and hobgoblins is weird! :)

Of note on the blog topic:
Brian Wallace, the founder of NowSourcing, Inc, (which is a really cool site if you're into social networking) just wrote a great post on ten reasons why people are not commenting on your blog, which is both funny and insightful. So check it out!  I wish I could be as prolific as Brian!

So what are you--prolific or pathetic? Are you a blog fanatic or do you cringe under your desk when someone asks why you haven't posted anything but a picture of your cat in 23 weeks?

xoxo -- Hilary

Friday, February 12, 2010

WRITERS: What was your Light Bulb Moment? Toot Your Horn Friday!

It's time once again for Toot you Horn Friday! Today's Topic: Your Light Bulb Moment!

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received? It can be something solely concerning the writing itself, something inspirational to keep pushing onward and upward, or something that changed everything about you as a writer. It can be from a famous author, a critique partner, your Grandma Milly--it doesn't matter! What was YOUR "light bulb moment" and how did it help you become a better writer?

My light bulb moment: Realizing less is far more--not letting too many adjectives and dialog tags and info dumps blur my writing. The moment I realized that everything changed for me!

So hit me! What was your light bulb moment??

xoxo -- Hilary

Friday, February 5, 2010

WRITERS: How Do YOU Cope with Waiting? Toot Your Horn Friday!

Waiting, waiting, waiting! It feels like life is one big line at Starbucks, everyone grumbling under their breath, fiddling with their cell phones, and waiting patiently for their Mocha-Chi-Skinny-Venti-Lattes.  As writers, that line seems even longer! Whether you're waiting on agents to read your hottest query revision, waiting for a publisher to read your latest and greatest manuscript, or waiting for your book to debut--WE ALL MUST WAIT and WAIT and WAIT! YUCK!

I'm waiting right now on a couple things, hoping and praying for awesome news! So, my Toot Your Horn Friday question...How do YOU cope with the waiting? Do you bite your nails down to mealy, jagged nubs, refresh your poor weary inbox for the 900th time, or perhaps sink your angst in the bottom of a key lime pie? I may have done that last one myself recently... ;)

So let's have it! How have you dealt with the endless waiting we writers must endure?
Hit me!

xoxo -- Hilary

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesday! Excerpt from BILLYCAN: Book Two of Nightshade City

So, I've finished Part I of Nightshade City's sequel, BILLYCAN. It's being read right now and I'm waiting not so patiently for feedback! In an effort to keep myself off the ledge, I've posted a short excerpt from Part I, of course with no spoilers! In this excerpt, my wicked rat Billycan is mad hungry for a little'll get the idea!

Happy Reading & Writing!

xoxo -- Hilary

Billycan looked out past the front gates of the manor. The moon had all but disappeared behind the thick fog, which had swiftly blown into the swamp, as though heralding in bad tidings. Other than the wind whispering through the cypress, the swamp was still. The calm was welcoming. The horde slept in back, their snores and sputtering too far away to hear. The temporary feeling of solitude was quite agreeable.

Ears perking, Billycan watched anxiously as the light from the fire pit, kept lit through the night, bounced with tall shadows. There it appeared--the boar. Billycan observed from the parlor window as the mud caked razorback scraped its great back against the bark of the ancient willow. The thing had been wondering for days now, lost from its clan. It had torn up large mats of earth from the swamp's floor, looking for roots, mushrooms, and insects, whatever it could consume. Feeding on both beast and vegetation, boars greedily devoured anything and everything which they measured digestible. The black boar was now perilously close to the horde. It would only be a matter of time before it sniffed them out through its muck encrusted snout, plucking them off the ground and crushing them with its decaying teeth. The sooner it was killed, the better.

Billycan had commanded the horde to dig a hole, big enough for the razorback to fall into, but small enough where it could not turn about or clamber its way to freedom, leaving the mighty beast powerless. Once confined in the pit, it would be an easy slaughter, one that Billycan was looking forward to. Size was of no consequence to the white rat. A few lethal gashes to the jugular and the hog would be dead.

Billycan jumped up from the sill. The boar had found the hole. Now inspecting the pit, it walked along its edge. "Go on then, go on." he said. "Fall pig, fall!"

The razorback teetered, just on the brink of falling in. It had spotted a fleshy root growing out from the wall. It stuck its massive head in the hole. Kneeling down on its front legs, it stretched for the root. "That's it, that's it," coaxed Billycan. "Just one more inch, boar, one tiny inch and that juicy root will be yours and you will be mine!"

The boar finally neared close enough to the root. It pulled delicately at it with the tips of its teeth. The root loosened from the wall and fell towards the boar. "No!" yelled Billycan, banging on the window with his fist. The hog grabbed a firm hold on the root and tugged it out with ease, returning quickly to safe ground. Billycan cursed the air, letting out a baleful shriek. His stomach had been grumbling and growling for days. He needed meat. His entire body ached for it.

Hearing Billycan's wrath, Montague came rushing into the parlor. Billycan kicked the window, putting a crack in it, as he glared out into the swamp.

"Sir, are you all right?" asked Montague from below.

Still seething, Billycan remained silent. He slowly turned to Montague, his eyes churning odd shades of cherry and crimson.

"Sir," said Montague again, "are you all right?"

"They'll eat anything, won't they?" asked Billycan dryly.

"Who sir?"

"The boars, the boars, they'll eat anything, yes?"

"Yes, sir, they'll eat anything in site, grass, beasts and everything in between."

Billycan tapped on his lips with a claw, thinking. "Has the horde had any deaths lately?"

"Well," said Montague, a bit discomfited by the inquiry, "one of the old ones, Argus, he didn't wake up about two days past, died in his sleep."

Billycan's sneer widened into a grin. "Where is the body now?"