Tonight I had a fabulous work + social dinner with the supremely talented illustrator, Katy Betz, in Sarasota. My mom & son came along for the fun too :) Katy and I met way back when at an SCBWI Los Angeles conference and have become great friends since! Here's a snapshot from tonight's creative collaboration.... And be sure to check out Katy's gorgeous portfolio

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AuthorJodi Kendall

My son and I are on spring break at my parent's place in south Florida! Although it's a work week for me, we're finding time to go boating, hit the beach & pool, and play ball in the backyard. My two year-old's hair has gone curly in the humidity, so adorable! It's been such a blessing to spend time with my parents and my sister/her family during our stay. Enjoy your week & I hope to have some writing news to share soon :) 

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AuthorJodi Kendall

Although we've never actually met in person, Olya and I have known one another for quite some time (please tell me you have blogger friend out there in the Interwebs? it's so fun!). She and her gorgeous family recently relocated to San Francisco, where they seem to have the most magical adventures every day.  For today's Stokke Adventures guest post, Olya gives the scoop on strolling her city with her Stokke Crusi, husband, and five children...

YOU GUYS. I got an ARC (Advanced Review Copy) of the riveting MG debut, SPIRIT'S KEY, by Edith Cohn, a gal who was once part of our NYC Write Nite group, but now lives in California. This book is such a fun adventure! Here's the premise:

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Spirit's Key is a mystery with a bit of magic for fans of Savvy and Because of Winn Dixie.

By now, twelve-year-old Spirit Holden should have inherited the family gift: the ability to see the future. But when she holds a house key in her hand like her dad does to read its owner’s destiny, she can’t see anything. Maybe it’s because she can’t get over the loss of her beloved dog, Sky, who died mysteriously. Sky was Spirit’s loyal companion, one of the wild dogs that the local islanders believe possess devil spirits. As more dogs start dying and people become sick, too, everyone blames the dogs–except for Spirit. Then Sky’s ghost appears. His help may be the key to unlocking her new power and finding the cause of the mysterious illness before it’s too late.

SPIRIT'S KEY hits shelves in September, 2014. Make sure you add it to your Goodreads and send Edith some love on Twitter too! You know I love debuts :) 

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AuthorJodi Kendall
Categorieslife, writing

My son's Montessori school brought the benefits of playing with playdough to my attention this week, so yesterday we made a homemade batch of it with JELL-O. It was surprisingly fun and easy to do – Totally messy too, as I let my two-year old be an active participant in mixing together the ingredients. So there was flour everywhere, but that's okay. Hence the diaper. My son loved playing with the playdough and since it's made from all food-based ingredients, no harm if a little ends up in his mouth. Store in an air-tight container and put in fridge, and a heads-up from my elementary school teacher friend, keep an eye on it for mold growth. A batch should be good for a couple of weeks and then toss out. 

A simple playdough activity can improve a child’s attention span, sense of order, independence, creativity, sensory refinement, and coordination. In a classroom, playdough will often provide for social interaction.
— Deb Chitwood, Living Montessori Now
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AuthorJodi Kendall
Categorieslife, family

I'm still writing every other Friday on the YA Muses blog. My most recent posts are about writing a "melty romance", fandom over debuts, and the 2014 YA that I'm dying to read... Here's a screenshot of all the latest. Link over to read.

 

{Related: how I became a YA Muse}

We've been reading Hank Finds Inspiration at home (my son picked it out on his birthday – he's really into taxi cabs), and today we were really in need of inspiration. Wednesday mornings are usually relaxing mommy + son time in my household, but as soon as we got up & ready, I knew we were both excited to hit the streets. I decided we'd take an inspiration day to the American Museum of Natural History, which isn't far from our apartment, and would allow us both the space to stretch our legs and stimulation to learn some new things (Remember when I wrote about why inspiration days are so important for writers?). We've been museum members for two years, so all the permanent exhibits aren't new to us, but I could still go every week, I love it so much. Plus, museums are even more fun now that Townes expresses his excitement and interest so vocally... He, of course, loves the dinosaurs ("rawr rawr rawr!") and pretty much all the creatures with big teeth. I took some notes + photos for a project I'm working on... We'll see how it plays out on the page ;)

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AuthorJodi Kendall
Categoriesfamily, life

At the end of each year – for the last two years, at least – I posted writerly recaps. It takes forever to write them + collect clips + gather my thoughts, but it's good to assess goals and successes and failures, and see where I still need to grow and what I have yet to accomplish that might be interesting. It's a chance to say hey, I haven't done this yet, or work with this client, and maybe this would be fun and different? Or you know what, that project totally sucked and ultimately wasn't worth my time and energy, and I don't plan on taking on those kinds of assignments anymore. It's also a time when I evaluate in an honest way where my writing skills need to develop, and what I need to learn about craft to up my game.

Anyone who knows me – or reads my blog, YA Muses posts, Twitter page, Instagram, met me at SCBWI, or pretty much has ever heard of me! – knows that I'm trying to break into the children's book industry in the traditional way (i.e. not self-publishing.) It's a tough business and I have lots to learn. The last five years especially have brought some amazing professional experiences, yes, and I'm incredibly grateful for them – I'm a better writer than I used to be, and I know that with hard work, I'll continue to strengthen my skills with each passing year – but still, writing books is a dream of mine, and it's on my heart every single day...

I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.
— Sylvia Plath
typing away at one of my favorite NYC writing spots – Aroma Espresso Bar

typing away at one of my favorite NYC writing spots – Aroma Espresso Bar

I have high hopes for 2014. In the last two months, I've had some secret meetings and signed a hush-hush contract. And just last week, a door has been opened for something.... BIG. If I can pull it off. The ball's in my court to make it happen. This is when I used to get creatively paralyzed and I'd stall on a project for months. Sometimes it's scary to hope for a dream to be fulfilled.... It's opening yourself up for disappointment, and in my writing life, I've experienced this too many times to count (oh the nights of ugly crying! hot baths! red wine! sweeping vows that I'll never write again!). Rejection is inevitable, but it still hurts when it happens, even now, a decade into this writing-game.

Some days you don’t believe anything of value can emerge from heart, pen, or lips. Still, you press on.
— Mitali Perkins ‏

But this post is dedicated to putting yourself out there, keeping focused on the task, and slogging through the emotional muck and fear and self-doubt towards those big dreams. I know that with hard work, I can make it happen. YOU can make it happen. Let's make this our year.  xo

Have you heard this bit by Ira Glass? I adore him, and he's so creatively wise. It's an oldie but a goodie..... If you can spare a few minutes, it's worth a listen!

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AuthorJodi Kendall