Saturday, December 19, 2009


<------- Even the birds are snowed in!

The DC area doesn't get a lot of snow. We might get a few inches here and there a year if we're lucky. It's usually enough to cancel school for a day, since no one in DC seems to know how to navigate snowy roads. We usually get enough to make a snowman or go sledding or have a snowball fight, but then it melts away and we're back to the gray dreariness of winter in the mid-Atlantic.

Every once in awhile, though, we'll get a real snowfall. The kind that tucks you inside your house with hot cocoa or has snow boots, gloves, hats, and scarves jumbled on the mat by the door, dripping with the remnants of hours of outdoor play.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that "every once in awhile" blew into DC (well, a lot of the east coast, really) on Friday night and didn't let up until about midnight Sunday morning.

I really love the way the world looks covered by snow. Everything is so fresh and clean and perfectly smooth on the surface. Even the ugly, man-made things like power lines and telephone poles don't seem to mar the beauty of the landscape as much when they're covered with snow. I love the gingerbread feeling of the houses when their roofs are iced with snow, and icicles dangle from their gutters and porch awnings. Even the roads disappear beneath a blanket of snow, and the contrast between lawns and asphalt is lost in that pure whiteness
almost as if God is saying, "THIS is how I created things."

I do love all that, but the really magical thing about it is how quiet it makes everything. DC suburbs are generally LOUD. Even at night, there are cars whizzing by, planes and helicopters flying overhead, and occasional sirens disrupting the normal noisiness. When everything is coated in two feet of snow, though, the world becomes deathly still, and I can imagine how the night must sound to characters in my stories--characters who live in times free of sirens and motors and televisions blathering on about how you can't possibly live without the new slicer/chopper/blender/do-your-homework-for-you thingamabob. (Okay to be fair, it wasn't the snow that eliminated that last one but the "off" button on the remote.) Anyhow, as I stood outside listening to the sound of silence, I got inside my characters' heads for awhile and envisioned their world--a world that is both simpler and more complicated than mine.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

SCBWI Retreat

Warning: This post may be slightly incoherent, as I just returned from my very first activity with my regional chapter of SCBWI--a weekend retreat in Lewes, Delaware. I didn't sleep a lot. But really, sleep is overrated. Right?

I mean, who goes to a retreat to rest? The purpose of this retreat was mostly just to have a time and place where nothing was expected of you except writing. Armed with my laptop, a spiral, and an arsenal of #2 pencils, I hopped in a car with two people I didn't previously know and rode over the Chesapeake to the Delaware coast. I fluttered from project to project, but I did manage to get a good chunk of Kissing Glass: Chapter Five revised to where I almost like it again. I also did some badwriting (you know, when you just force yourself to plow on, even if you have to write junk like "Then she went home.") on Gingerbread and finished nearly a whole chapter.

Even though I didn't get an enormous amount of actual writing accomplished, I'm still incredibly glad I went. The best part for me was getting to meet people. I really enjoyed getting to know a snapshot of them and talking with them, as I'd never before met anyone in the region. I'm already looking forward to the next regional event. Hopefully I'll see some familiar faces. :)

Things I Learned (or at least had reaffirmed) on My First SCBWI Retreat:

1. I don't like the cold. (Actually, I already knew this, but this weekend reaffirmed said knowledge.)

2. There are a lot of people in the area who are in the same boat (or at least a similar boat) in terms of where we are in our writing careers.

3. Some gnome names are more memorable than others.

4. I'm not the only one who has ADD when it comes to bouncing between projects.

5. People will write just about anything into their story for chocolate.

6. No one else in my region of SCBWI pronounces it "SKIB-wee." Oh well.

7. When you're facebook-ing everyone on the left side of the room, nothing much happens in your story.

8. Ophelia joined the group Maidens Who Don't Float.

9. If you finish page doesn't really count if you started on page 51.