Saturday, July 25, 2009


We take a short intermission from your thrilling conference adventure to bring you another Saturday (Fine, Early Sunday AM) evening dub.

You didn't think I'd forget did you?

It is Saturday and that means it's time for a dubbing. But first, here's a second shameless photo op of my puppy (if I can still call him that), Linus.

Anyone sensing a theme here? No, not cute golden retrievers. Water. Specifically underwater.

Which brings me to today's dubbee, Corey Schwartz, all the way from the right side of the map,
also know as the right coast, or New Jersey. Corey is an excellent writer, all-star mom, wife, professional bloggarista (Thing One and Thing Two), and scuba diver who travels to exotic places like the Cayman Islands to explore underwater worlds.

Corey wanted to be dubbed as the Scuba Goddess, but that was already taken after Jaime T's bathtub expedition she led last month where she opened her golden egg underwater and heard the mermaids sing the next clue to the Tri Wizard Cup. Sorry where was I?

Yes, as the Scuba Goddess was taken by Cocoa Stomp, we've tried here at, I, uh, think I killed my muse, to come up with the next best dub.

So, without further ado, with all late-night seriousness and white-wine induced logic, without shame or regret, wholly lacking taste or discretion, in all official nerdiness and due process, and with the authority invested in me by the former grammatically-challenged Governor of Alaska,


A Fish Called Wanda.

Just kidding, just seeing if you've all hung with me so far,




Live long and avoid fish nets.

"Baby it's betta', down where it's wetta', take it from me..."
- Sebastian the Crab

Country mouse visits the nuclear reactor Part One

Home. Where Amy, Linus and I live. When my wonderful nieces visit, they call the Legislature building the fairy castle. Especially because in the evenings (at least in the winter) it is covered with white Christmas lights. This is part of Victoria's inner harbor.

About a week ago I got back from an amazing week-long journey. My brain has been so completely full and my body so tired, that I haven't yet had the courage to write about it yet. What an adventure.

My destination was the 10th anniversary Northwest Children's Book Conference at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. I've attended twice before and both times made a huge impact on me as a writer. Linda Zuckerman is the conference director and for ten years she has conducted this incredible labor of love. The talent of the faculty, both as professionals in the children's book industry and as teachers, is par with any writing conference out there.

As I've mentioned before, the other incredible aspect of this conference is that you get to "live" for five days with the faculty, sharing meals with them, attending presentations, critique groups, and joining them for stunning walks around the beautiful campus. As well as pajama parties and pillow fights. David Gifaldi has a wicked right hand feathered wollop, I know that from experience. Well, maybe I made that last bit up, but they sure SHOULD have pj parties and pillow fights. Who wouldn't want Ann Whitford Paul to tuck them in and read them a lullaby to fall asleep too?

But, I'm getting way ahead of myself. Because the proper telling of my adventure starts right here in Victoria, British Columbia.

I hate to pack. I'm allergic to it. I despise it. Abhor. Am prejudiced against it. Scared of it.

I'm also a worrier. Nice to meet you. Before trips like this I spend many sleepless nights worrying over everything, especially packing. My other issue is that I'm a dilly-dallier, according to Amy. She also just informed me I fiddle-fart around. Guilty.

Not Amy. When she gets a "hair up her @$$," she gets things done. Like, NOW. A dirty kitchen can take me weeks to clean, Amy knocks it out in minutes. Like a tornado.

So, when Amy saw me floundering in my packing-induced depression, she stepped in and, lickety-split, had me packed and organized. Packing. Done. She even had my entire journey planned out to the minute and handed me my detailed itinerary, with days to spare. I didn't know what to do with myself.

This is important because I was trying something different. Normally, when I head down to
Portland I drive. But because Amy had to work and had to worry about Linus too, I was attempting this trip sans car. And not being the most independent fellow in the world, was admittedly nervous and excited.

The first stage of my journey, Amy and Linus dropped me off at Victoria's inner harbor, at the Coho Ferry, also known as the Black Ball Ferry

Me being a big boy. Ready for adventure and wearing my trademarked gap tooth smile.

The Coho ferry crosses the Strait of Juan de Fuca, takes about an hour and a half. It is quite a trip since to the North is Vancouver Island with its stunning mountains. To the South, the Olympic Peninsula crowned by the magnificent Olympic Mountains and the jagged, snow-tipped Hurricane Ridge. West, if you kept going a long ways is the Pacific Ocean. East, the San Juan Islands and Whidbey Island, dwarfed by
Mount Baker and the Cascade Mountains behind. There's usually some kind of mysterious fog, making the Olympic Mountains look like a floating fairy kingdom.

You know you're in Victoria when you see these little water taxis.

And when you see these float planes.

They're called that because they're planes. That float.

And a fishing boat, salmon I think, heading past the jetty toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the United States, Washington, Port Townsend, Tacoma, and eventually Portland and Reed College.

My dad picked me up on the other side and drove me to my old home, about an hour away in homey Port Townsend for the night. After stuffing me with an incredible beef dinner, and getting a quick visit with my sister and brother-in-law, beautiful, sweet nieces, and my youngest smiley nephew, I tried to sleep knowing I was just getting started.

Stay tuned for the rest of my trip, including what the heck I'm talking about a nuclear reactor for, another two modes of transportation, and a bunch more stuff that will get other kid's book writers and illustrators all hot and bothered.

G-night. Or good morning when you'll likely be reading this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ultimate Tuesday and other biz

Now that I have my blog back in my firm, manly, non-sensitive hands (After my wife Amy's hijacking), it's time to catch up with a little business. Up next I have a bunch of stuff to share about my amazing conference complete with photos. So much, I'll probably steal a page out of Natalie's book at Between Fact and Fiction and do a series of posts.

First of all I wanted to let people know that I'm going to be in Ballard with my dad for the Ultimate Tuesday at Secret Garden Books on the 28th of July. Really excited about this, so any of you Seattle blogosphere pals, I'd love to meet you in person if you get a chance. Also my dad did a pretty cool post about me, that I'm finally now getting around to gratefully sharing. To the right is a drawing he did of me hard at work, or possibly blogging. Notice the mac.

I also had the opportunity to do an interview with Amy Baskin at her awesome kid lit and writer blog, Euphoria. I came within a whisker of meeting Amy in person while I was in Portland, but unfortunately we just couldn't make it happen. Did talk to her on the phone and it's funny when cyberspace personas become real people with voices and faces.

My cyber pal, Angie Ledbetter rewarded me with some blog bling at her hilarious, cool blog, Gumbo Writer. She's from Baton Rouge and if she doesn't make you laugh within two posts, I'll buy you a coffee. And a sense of humor. I'll be doing the official Kreativ Blogger ceremony some day (famous last words) where I nominate my own seven blogs.

Thank you so much Angie. I love your last name. It sounds like you should be a blues guitarist or something. Do you play?

Last thing, check out Holly's alter ego, The Extraordinary Whipped Jones. She also has a new, great SRS revision tip from Janet Lee Carey.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my version of the country mouse visiting the big city. Complete with gang fights, writer brawls, and critique groups. Okay two of those are lies.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

News Flash: Blog Hijacked

Someone call the blog fuzz, I’ve hijacked blog personality BJW’s dashboard.

Sigh. Here I sit having just come off another grueling, now infamous, two days, two nights, twelve hour shift set with a feeling that can only be compared to a red wine hangover, minus the fun evening that caused it.

With Benjamin now officially out of the country (at the time of this original writing a week ago) and since he’s so freely featured photos of me at 7 am on the way to work , I’ve decided it’s time for my own debut on the blogosphere, to let you all in on a couple top secret secrets that are soon to not be secrets about beloved Ben. You know, the kinds of secrets privy only to wives.

Disclaimer: Don’t expect the same writing caliber as Ben. Ben is funny when he writes, and, as I always tease him, more funny on paper than he is in person. I, on the other hand, am a goof in person and prone to puns. I’m more accustomed to writing dry, technical, boring papers like I did in nursing school, using fluffy academic words like phenomenological and hegemony and talking about airy fairy things like relational narratives from my Self and Others class.

Though, being an ER nurse, I do have plenty of gross stories that, let’s just say, you wouldn’t want to hear at dinnertime.

So, without further ado, and since it’s easier to ask forgiveness than request permission, consider this post the equivalent of the date where the guy’s mom pulls out naked baby pictures.

Top secret number one, the sad blunt truth: Ben cannot cook. Boiling water is a struggle. Microwaving? Doable. At best. At worst, overwhelmingly confused by which containers are microwave safe. Precise orders a must when anything needs to go from the freezer (God forbid) to the oven for dinner. Timers, bells, whistles and alarms must be set unless you enjoy blackened casserole, grind-your-teeth-to-pegs pizza, or dry-as-a-mud-puddle-in-the-desert enchiladas.

But he tries. Sincerely.

Our first official date, Ben tried to impress with a homemade breakfast one early, Saturday morning in Port Townsend whilst he was house-sitting. Ben went very early to Safeway and bought an entire grocery shelf, enough for ten breakfasts. (Strange, I’ve never known Ben to go overboard.) Crossaints, bear claws, cereal, granola, orange juice and champagne for mimosas, strawberries, bananas, melons, grapes, donuts, milk, cream and whipping cream ( because he heard on special occasions I actually eat my cereal with cream...don’t tell my mother, she didn’t know why she was always out of cream for coffee). But the main attraction, besides, ahem, our attraction for each other, was to be freshly made ham, cheese, bell peppers and mushroom omelletes. Uno problemo: Ben had never cooked an omelette in his life.

As I watched him fumble through preparations, set the frying pan smoking, barely whisking the eggs, unevenly chopping vegetables, and proceeding to place them raw in the omelette, it occurred to me that just maybe, he was in over his head.

So I took over.

And haven’t stopped.

A saving grace, Ben does make a mean mashed potato, heaps and mounds and mountains of mashed potatoes. In fact, when Ben makes mashed potatoes we eat them for a week, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Top secret number two: Strange sleep habit. Warm milk, cozy pajamas, folding down the sheets, turning out the lights, just writing it makes me sleepy. Works for me. Not Ben

For the more needy and sleep deprived, chill pills and tranquilizers do the trick. Gravol (Dramamine in the US), Benadryl, Immovane, Ativan, and serax (this is not a prescription, see a doctor). Not Ben.

Ben’s regimented nightcap: full glass of water (he’s paranoid of muscle cramps) and, especially, a movie. Unable to drift into the land of peaceful dreams, rolling waves on sandy beaches and finished novels, Ben instead, takes comfort in the serenity of blasting guns, slashing swords, perilous dangers, thunderous aircraft, and the great acting skill of none other than Harrison Ford. For some reason, Harrison Ford movies top the list of Ben’s most beloved Zonkers. I have personally watched the first ten minutes, in silence, of Clear and Present Danger more times than I have digits. And Dr. Richard Kimble in the Fugitive is as good as a mobile above his crib. I guess there’s just something about the chiseled chin of HF that coaxes Ben into sweet slumber. ( Other soothers, Thirteen Days, about the Cuban missile crisis, Master and Commander, and The Fog Of War, a documentary about the Cold War)

Thank goodness he has the decency to wear ear phones.

Top unsecret number one: Ben would do anything for the people he loves. Ben has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. His quirky ways, though on certain days drive me CRAZY, most of the time make me laugh. And laughing is the best way to get through life.

Thanks Benjamin for being you. I love you.

Signed, The Blog Bandit, aka The Impossible Whipped Lash, aka Amy Irene Watson

Ben recorded this for me in case I got lonely when he was gone.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Well it is Saturday, and you know what that means.

Okay, you caught me. I am a filthy liar. It is actually Sunday at 12:24 AM. BUT, it's still Saturday in Hawaii, SO, on with the show.

I have travelled on nearly every form of transportation to bring you this week's dubbing. This is a special dubbee, because I have known her the longest of anyone I know on the blogosphere. This supremely talented, gorgeous lady, lives in my favorite small town in Washington. She's married, sorry guys, and has a beautiful family. To top it all off she also has an incredibly cute dog. See-----------}

This wonderfully encouraging writer--excuse me--novelist, is incredibly generous to other writers and illustrators. She is also passionate about children's books. Did I mention that she was the SCBWI WWA Regional co-advisor who was well known for organizing conferences known for how organized they were? Yep, organizing organized conferences. This year she's organizing (you know it will be well organized organization too) the SCBWI WWA writing retreat. AND with her partner in crime and secret messages, Holly Cupala, has provided the incredible Summer Revision Smackdown, as you probably know.

Who is this stylish writer I speak of? None other than the great bloggerista, Jolie Stekly, aka CUPPA JOLIE. Now dubbing Jolie has been especially difficult as she already has such a classy nom-de-plume as Cuppa Jolie. So I figured we'd better continue to rob Cuppa Jolie of pictures for inspiration...

Let's start in Missoula, Montana. Origin of writers Jolie Stekly and Norman Maclean.
How about a quote Norm.

"We always assumed that these three words were spoken directly to the four of us in our family and had no reference to the world outside, which my brother and I soon discovered was full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the farther one gets from Missoula, Montana."
- N. Maclean from A River Runs Through It

Jolie's fashion sense and skill continued to develop as she grew up and people started to take notice.

Yes this heart-breaker and budding talent began to find her voice. The sky was the limit for her writing and her hair.

And one day she moved to a sleepy town surrounded by water, mountains, and hippies.

And she got a puppy.

And a caffeine addiction.

Any-who, Jolie is a talented bloggist, novelist, and any other good ist you can come up with.

So after much thought and late-night deliberation I came up with some final dub candidates. Would it be the Stiletto Wielding Scribe or the Chic Writer Chick?


It is time. With all sleep-deprived neurosis and proper tradition, I Muse-Killer, do by the powers invested in Freddie Mac, solemnly and with great admiration,

Do Dub Thee...

Cuppa Jolie. It's just too good. It fits you perfectly. Congratulations you are who you have always been. A wonderful person. And a caffeine addict. Now, live long and apostrophate.