Monday, May 26, 2014

I'm Just Here for the Cake.

By the entire team at
Pen and Ink:
Hilde Garcia, Sue Berger, Kris Kahrs,
David Krol- our tech guy, and
Sam and Victoria Krol,
our junior correspondents.

This weekend marked Pen and Ink’s first face-to-face meeting since
the SCBWI Summer Conference of 2013.

Back Story
We had a bet. Lupe once told me he would never find true love. I  told him he was full of beans. And I bet him $5 he would. And that I be at the wedding with cookies.   Saturday morning, May 24th,  Lupe paid up with cold hard cash. And I handed over the cookies- surprisingly, after a nine hour road trip and a midnight meeting of the Pen and Ink Females and a bottle of wine,
there were still quite a few left.


 The wedding took place at Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz

5:45pmish    Angel walks down the aisle. Lupe is enraptured. I am leaking tears left and right. Against all odds, he was happy. Against a crazy schedule, my family and Sue, Kris (and Sandro), my extended family members, were there to watch it too.



5-10pmish      Drinking, dancing, drinking, eating, dancing, laughing… the most fun wedding and I have been to many. The key? Family and friends and  warmth everywhere in that room.  

The Gang's all dressed up!




Victoria, our Junior Inker, conducted interviews with guests between dances: 
“You know what’s funny, my Uncle Lupe used to call me baby, because I was the youngest.  And so then, I would call him baby too.  And now that I am all grown up and I tried calling him baby, he said, “Aren’t we a little old for that?”  We laughed. 
Daniel Dancing

“I worked with Lupe for several years. I am happy for Lupe and Angel because I have known him for a very long time and I wanted him to find a perfect person.  He did.

Joy and her family
I met Lupe at CSUN when were doing Film together and I am happy for Lupe
and Angel because they are perfect for each other. 
I am happy for Lupe and Angel because they are happy with each other.

I'm Lupe's nephew and I am very happy for Uncle Lupe and Tia Angel. 
Christopher, Lupe's nephew and biggest fan
Lupe’s wedding was an example that nothing in life is ever over.
You never know where life will take you.

So this week, instead of writing advice, we are going to share with you life advice, which will always fuel your writing. 
Live.  Love.  Laugh
Sometimes, people meet by magic and that’s the way it has to be.
CONVERSATION at 12am the night of the wedding in room 134: 

SUE- What advice do you have for Lupe?

       KRIS- Have a wedding every year.

SUE- What is bad advice you can give them? 
KRIS- Didn’t I just do that?  Remember to invite me.
 SUE- Top two things from the wedding. 
KRIS- Being together with everyone-
that was fun that was the best part, it doesn’t matter the occasion. 

     DAVE- Hey I gave the gift of rap, nuff said.
 TORI- I danced until my feet burned.
SUE- What was your favorite
thing about wedding, Victoria?

TORI- Lupe and Angel. Nuff said.

SUE- Sam, any advice for the happy couple.
SAM- Kiss the bride, a lot.
DANIEL- What’s the key to a happy wedding and marriage?

DAVE- Say yes dear, a lot.

Happy Wedding Lupe and Angel.  

May your life be blessed with health, happiness and Hilde’s cookies.



Monday, May 19, 2014

Dispatch #22: Driving Mr. NASCAR

by Lupe Fernandez

The red fire suit is hot in the Stockton sun at the racetrack. The white helmet has scratches and dents. I cradle it under my arm, playing at being a pro race car driver.

At Rusty Wallace Race Car Experience, me and my bachelor party wait at under a tent at the Stockton 99 Raceway for other drivers to finish their laps. The short half mile track smells of fuel and rumbles with engines.

Before suiting up, we listened to our instructor brief us on how to drive on the oval track. He tells us which taped marks to follow, which orange cones to watch for, how to put on the steering wheel and most important, how to listen to our spotter yelling in our ear phones.

It's a briefing. A real briefing. Under a tent out of the sun, sitting on folding chairs. A cool breezes rattles the metal canopy and shakes the fences in the background. The breeze cool my face. It's only play time but I imagine it's important.

Me and my party have our gear, our uniforms, our wits and our mutual glances of "Are you sure about this?"

For my bachelor party, I wanted to engage in some adrenaline surging activity. Gaping at scantily clad ladies is not my petal to the metal. A comedian who's name I forget said watching a stripper is like going to a restaurant and paying them to look at the food. While I'm sure such ladies are working their way through college, I'd rather do something more viscerally exciting.

I am the last driver of the day. My fellow drivers have all run their laps and recited their glorious and not so glorious moments.

I climb through the driver window and slide my butt onto a hard seat. I slid my head into a brace as the pit tech straps into a five-point safety harness.

The cockpit smells of grease and sweat. There's a lot of clinking and clanking and I love it. The race tech jams my helmet over my head. My sunglasses sit on my lap. I hope the guy puts them on for me; I'm nearsighted. I shove flat audio ear pads under the helmet and place them over my ears.

The car feels flimsy with its fiberglass shell and barren cockpit with red roll bars. When the race tech flips the ignition and the car rumbles with power, I realize I'm behind the wheel of a powerful machine. I cruise up to the track. I can barely move my head, limiting  my field of view to whatever I can see above the vibrating hood. I can't see or feel the brake pedal.

"Brake! Brake! Brake!" I hear yells from outside the car.

 I almost run down one of the race tech.

My spotter speaks to me through my ear phones and I'm ready.  Green light.

Vrrooomm....I do my laps, watching for orange cones that mark where I "mash the gas" and where I "mash the brake." I drive too slow.

"Gas. Gas. Gas," says my spotter coaches me to drive faster.

I think I'm going to collide into the wall. If I wreck the car, I'm liable for damages. After the eleventh lap, I'm getting used to control the car, hitting my marks, accelerating and braking at the cones when I see the checkered flag.

The ride is over.
I cruise off the track and putter to the other parked cars. The race tech unstraps me and removes my helmet. I climb out of the car, pull off the black stocking hat - keeps the helmet interior clean - and pose for a picture.

I unzip my fire suit - I like saying fire suit - and turn in my uniform and helmet to the nice lady by the trailer.

I'm no longer playing race car driver.

In the future, I'd like to play astronaut and submarine captain and lion tamer.

For some of these, I'll purchase pretend time. Others, I'll write and pretend on the page.

That's what I do.

And now a word from The Management:

Our Foreign Correspondent aka Red Zip would like to thank Troy, Johnie, Larry, Carl, Andrew, Aaron and some NASCAR wheels. Troy, his best man, generously arranged this event.

If you don't believe a word Red Zip has written, watch these videos and you be the judge. 

Prep to Drive

Driving 12 Laps

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

First Lines from Crystal Kite Finalists

by Susan J. Berger
Congratulations to all the Crystal Kite Finalists.
The Crystal Kite is a rather odd award in that there are no Categories. Therefore a picture book may be competing against a young adult novel.  From the SCBWI Website: The Annual Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given award to recognize great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world.
This post covers the finalists in California and Hawaii and the West.  I was surprised to find that many of these books were available both in hardback and in Kindle form. I will be covering all the districts in future first line posts.

California, Hawaii

Fill the page.
They tell my story.
I promise every word is true.
Some Days you just need pie.
The creeping realization that this was a pie day began at breakfast for Gregory Korenstein Jasperton As he made his way toward food, he could hear conversation in the dining room, and while his brain told him that meant it was a day to go straight to the breakfast drawer in the kitchen, his nose smelled bacon. The nose won.
The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus
 (This one's on my Must Read list.)
Chapter one
Things (that seemed to have nothing to do with me, but did, and) that changed my life:
My destiny was decided in a second hand bookstore the day before I was born when my mother, Isabella found a book of proms. She’d been searching for a name for me, something that would set my life’s direction. She was a free spirit and poet herself, having sold a few poems to Hallmark that got made into cards. The saleslady suggested Juliet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,  but my mother said absolutely not; did she want me to end up a star crossed lover who dies too young, for heaven’s sake?
Destiny, Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

Russia, 1910
On the eve my beloved Ryczar was born, under a bright full moon, the north wind whistled and howled. Like a forest spirit gone mad with merriment, it ripped through the Woronzova Kennel and sprawling grounds of Count Vorontsov’s grand country estate. All night long, icy flakes of windswept snow drummed against the stable windows until the last pup was born at dawn.
Lara's Gift by Annemarie O'Brien

Winner California Hawaii Division

Whenever the wind lifted off the river, and sent the trees to dancing, I itched to fly a kite.
I’d race to the great Niagara, plumes of mist rising from plunging waters, wind licking at my face.
 A boy like me knew, just knew which day would be perfect for flying kites.
The Kite That Bridged Two Nations by Alexis O'Neil, Illustrated by Terry Widener
I bought The Kite That Bridged Two Nations at the 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference and loved it.

West (Washington, Northern Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota)

June 3, 1947
“I know you will make us proud, Tariq” Master Ahmed calls to me as I step onto the dusty sidewalk outside the school gates.
                I lift my palm to my face, fingertips to my forehead, bow, “Khuda hafiz.”
                “And may He guard you as well,” Master Ahmed replies. “Give my best to your parents.”
A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury
I was unable to find the first page of Bedtime in The Meadow. Here is the Goodreads Description:
It's time for the animals in the meadow to find their way back home to sleep. Butterfly rests on a cattail, dragonflies settle on leaves, and bees gather in their hive. Families of foxes, ducks, and rabbits cuddle close for slumber. The soft padded covers, rounded corners and sturdy board pages make this title a perfect fit for preschoolers!
Bedtime In The Meadow by Stephanie Shaw
1 A year the devil designed.
Portland Oregon –October 16, 1918
I stepped inside the railroad car, and three dozen pairs of eyes peered my way. Gauze masks concealed the passengers’ mouths and noses. The train smelled of my own mask’s cotton, boiling onions, and a whiff of something clammy and sour I took to be fear.
                Keep moving, I told myself.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Inside the museum of truly old things, past the food court, the woolly mammoths, and the wheel exhibit, the last Dinosaur Tooth Fairy polishes her collection of fangs.
(I love this line! I must have this book!)
The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy by Martha Brockenbrough, Illustrated by Israel Sanchez




Winner West Division

Does a feather remember it was once a bird?
Does a book remember it was once a word?
Once Upon A Memory by Nina Laden, Illustrated by Renata Liwska
Any favorites? Did you find any Must reads? Write on!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mother’s Day Blues

by Hilde Garcia

“Mommy, can I read you my story? It’s finished. It took me two weeks.”

“Sure, read away.” I always enjoy the words that my daughter weaves together. I listen while I drive choosing that over any music that could be playing on the radio.

“Ok." Victoria reads aloud.  
Disaster at School,
 by Victoria Anne Krol.
It was Monday and winter break had just ended. Percy, Annabeth and Grover were walking back to school. They got to school and started the day normally, but after lunch, Shawn, a kid that was late, cam in just in time for gym class. Shawn was mean and he started picking on Annabeth, Percy and Grover, when the teacher announced that they would be practicing obstacle courses.

Then the teacher asked them to get into 2 separate lines. No one disobeyed either. The teacher explained that they would be racing each other in pairs. Shawn was annoying Annabeth before they started, so I charged him with my sword pen, but he defended himself. I had no idea where he had gotten his sword! The all of a sudden, he disarmed me, then Annabeth mouthed at me, ‘he’s a monster’ and I understood. The monster was about to strike Annabeth when Grover, the satyr kicked it in the bottom with his hoof.

He went sprawling forward and then Annabeth stabbed the monster and it exploded into monster dust. Of course, nobody noticed because the mist-a-magical veil blindfolded them from what happened.”

“Wow,” I say.
Wow indeed. It’s fabulous. Well crafted, a great beginning, captures my interest. I already want to know what will happen next, so she’s hooked me. I feel like I might be an easy audience, a bit biased, but her story stands on its own merit, truly.

Did I mention she’s only in the third grade?

And she wrote her bio too: 
I, Victoria Anne Krol, live in California and am super interested in Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. I am very creative and I have a lot of friends.

She writes.

I write.

Maybe we will be a team. She’s asked me, but sometimes I feel that I am not worthy of her and her incredible imagination, which has been untainted by life. I cherish that and protect it for her- electronics are so limited in this house- I swear you’d think we had gone back in time.
On Saturday night, we visited the Iliad Book Store in North Hollywood, CA and closed the place down with a large purchase and children who were reluctant to leave. A breath of fresh air the owner told me. My kids had two friends with them who were also enraptured by the bookstore and it gives me hope that not all has been lost of the electronic generation.

This Mother’s Day, I will be writing with my sweetheart and maybe we will craft our first story together.

Mother’s Day blues for me? Not anymore. It was for a time when I had lost my own mom, but now I have Victoria, and she and I share our love of books and words. My son and his daddy too are bibliophiles and love to write, which surprised my son to find out earlier this year that he could be a published author.

For fun, here are some mother-daughter writing teams.


Laura Ingalls Wilder was encouraged to write by her daughter Rose Wilder Lane who was a reporter and writer.

Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark have been co-authoring best selling mysteries for over 20 years.

Patricia and Traci Lambrecht, who write under the pen name P. J. Tracy, released Monkeewrench and their next title is Milk Run.

Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer co-authored Between the Lines, a YA book about what happens when happily ever after…isn’t.

Kristina McMorris and her mom, Linda Yoshida, wrote Flaherty’s Crossing.

Phyllis Christine Cast and her daughter Kristin Cast created The House of Night Series.

Blanche Day Manos and Barbara Burgess wrote Grave Shift, a mother-daughter sleuth team.

D. C. Cowan, a mother-daughter team who share the same first and middle initials, have created The Legend of the Black Roses, out on 12/31.

Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees, and Ann Kidd Taylor who writes for Skirt have co-authored, Traveling with Pomegranates.

And because I have a son, not to leave him out, we have Sandra Blakeslee co-writing with her son Matt, The Body has a Mind of Its Own.

So you never know which one of my twins will team up with me.

Who knows, it could be both of them!