Ramblings

SCBWI & “What Happened To Your Book Today”

by Aubre Andrus on February 27, 2014

I am lucky enough to say that I just returned from the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrator’s Conference in New York City. It was an amazing reminder of why I write – I write for kids.

If you’re a children’s writer who’s feeling uninspired lately or a children’s writer who’s feeling beat down by one-star Amazon reviews or if you’re just wondering why anyone would dedicate their career to writing for kids, this poem is for you. It’s written by Kate Messner, a children’s book author – and TED talker – who absolutely stole the show on the last day of the conference with a talk on the power of failure. Here’s a poem she wrote a few years ago and shared with us called “What Happened To Your Book Today.”

Somewhere, a child laughed
on that page where you made a joke.
Somewhere, she wiped away a tear,
Just when you thought she might. 

Somewhere, your book was passed
from one hand to another in a hallway
busy with clanging lockers,
with whispered words,
“You have got to read this.”
And a scribbled note:
O.M.G. SO good.
Give it back when ur done. 

Read the rest of Kate Messner’s “What Happened To Your Book Today.”

At the end of Kate’s hour-long talk, there had been tears in the audience many times over. She got a standing ovation from YA writers, middle grade writers, picture book writers, non-fiction writers, poets, and illustrators alike. I think I found my people.

 

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We Got Married and There Was a Flash Mob.

by Aubre Andrus on November 12, 2013

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We got married in August in a barn in Wisconsin. It was a perfect day — the weather, the dress, the groom, the ceremony, the Winnie the Pooh readings, the cocktail hour, the friends and family, the barn, the music, the food, the drinks, the first dance. Everything. And then there was a surprise flash mob. And it got even better.

It’s always been my dream to be in a flash mob, but having a flash mob thrown FOR you is a hundred times better. Just watch it right now and maybe you’ll have an inkling as to how I felt. First it was a few members of the wedding party, then it was the whole wedding party, then it was my college friends, my cousins, my high school friends, my friend’s parents, and finally MY parents. There were probably 50 to 60 people who joined in on this dance.

How do you organize a flash mob? My bridesmaid Jody choreographed the whole thing — big, easy movements! — then recorded herself on Vimeo performing the dance and breaking it down for the guests. The secret link was then distributed to the wedding party who were each in charge of passing it along to respective friends and family members in hopes of reaching all 200 guests. Then some bridesmaids and groomsmen reached out to our DJ through some super sleuthing and gave him a heads up. Our wedding party had no idea how many people would jump in once the music started. They were hoping for 20.

The flash mob was the perfect example of what really matters on your wedding day — celebrating love with friends and family. That was the biggest display of love I’ve ever seen in person and I bawled my eyes out — and laughed — throughout the whole thing. It was such a special night.

Here are more wedding pictures from our photographer’s blog if you’d like to see them.

Aubre Andrus is a freelance writer in Chicago who specializes in copywriting, blogging, reporting, and social media consulting. View her website and portfolio at www.aubreandrus.com or find her on Twitter @aubreandrus.

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Half Marathon #3: Complete!

by Aubre Andrus on August 1, 2013

Half Marathon Mash upI’m starting to get nervous. I’ve done a half marathon in Ohio, a half marathon in Wisconsin, and now a half marathon in Illinois. Do I keep the trend going? Am I going to make this a thing now? Dare I say it — do one in every state? I don’t know about that, although I would love to do one of those Disney World half marathons because it’s over my birthday weekend and the medals are really sweet. And it would be easy to do other races around the Midwest within driving distance. Well, I’m not committing to anything just yet! What was extra fun about this race was that:

1) It was huge — 30,000 runners!
2) There was a band at almost every mile marker since it was one of the Rock’n’Roll Half Marathons.
3) We got to run through downtown Chicago.
4) Most importantly — my fiancé ran it with me! It was his first big race with the exception of last summer’s Tough Mudder.

It was really nice training with a partner for once. We live in Chicago now so it was the first time I trained in a city environment. Basically that means I threw my timed runs out the window. I didn’t even wear my watch. Stopping at red lights and dodging cars adds a lot of time to each run. But I got really good at starting and stopping, which is usually hard for me. In the past, if I stopped once to drink or stretch then started running again, it would be that much harder for me to get going. Now I feel like I’m a pro.

Marathon 2

I was a little nervous about this race considering the fact that I had just spent two weeks in Europe eating pizza and pasta and drinking wine. I returned from my Italian getaway on Monday night, flew to St. Louis the next morning, then got back to Chicago on Wednesday. Meanwhile the race deadline of SUNDAY was looming down on me. I had run 11 miles before I left, three miles in Italy and then went on two hikes as well. Then I ran three miles in St. Louis. That was as much preparing as I could do. I snuck in one more five miler on Thursday and then I needed to give my body a break.

Luckily, the morning of the race wasn’t too hot — that was one benefit of starting at 6:30 AM! Eek. And thankfully, there were a lot of great people cheering us on during the race. Friends of ours lived right on mile four and snapped a pic of us. Around mile six, there were some hilarious signs including “If you haven’t sh*t your pants yet, you’ve already won.” Miles eight through 10 were a bit boring — we were on Michigan Avenue but way south and there were no bands and barely any water. But somewhere around mile 11 we turned back north and I got a glimpse of beautiful Lake Michigan and the skyline which energized me.

When we ran under McCormick Place, it was dark but the lights were flashing and the DJ music was blasting like we were at a rave. We were getting so close! My friend Meg and her boyfriend cheered us on just before the finish line by yelling, “WINTER IS COMING!” and then we did it. 13.1. Finally. The end of the race party was pretty awesome. Mini Jamba Juice smoothies, freezing cold towels, food trucks, a live band in Grant Park, and of course a free beer. What is it with beers at the end of races? I love it. Unfortunately the medal does not double as bottle opener like my last one, but I’ll still take it.

Aubre Andrus is a freelance writer in Chicago who specializes in copywriting, blogging, reporting, and social media consulting. View her website and portfolio at www.aubreandrus.com or find her on Twitter @aubreandrus.

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A Peek Inside My Office

by Aubre Andrus on January 30, 2013

Desk

My goal for January was to finish my office. When we moved into our new condo in October, I immediately painted three of the green walls light grey and the final wall with chalkboard paint. And there it sat for a few months. But I finally got around to finishing the decorating including building my own bookshelf.

Pictures

 

Most of the art hanging on the walls is from Etsy and Society 6. You can find the direct links on my office Pinterest board. The photographs are from my own travels. If you like the camera images you can print them here for free. The hanging terrariums in my window are from West Elm and CB2. The air plants are from Sprout Home here in Chicago.

 

Plants

The chalkboard wall took about three coats of paint but it was well worth it. My desk faces this wall and it’s great for writing to-do lists and for the week’s deadlines. To really clean off the chalk, you have to use a damp sponge — not just an eraser. And can I mention how hard it is to find an chalkboard eraser in a world of dry erase boards?

photo 5

I was eying the CB2 3.14 bookcase but at $500 (and it’s not even really wood!) I had to pass. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had this thought. I found a bunch of tutorials online — including this one at Apartment Therapy – detailing how to build one yourself for about $80. Seven pieces of wood, a pint of paint and primer, and a couple afternoons later, my bookshelf was finished.

Bookshelf 2Bookshelf 1bookshelf

 

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I’m One Tough Mudder! (And So Can You!)

by Aubre Andrus on September 10, 2012

Tough Mudder is a 10 to 12 mile military-style obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces that’s held in various places around the world. And I voluntarily signed up for it. Well, in reality, I was bullied into signing up for Tough Mudder Wisconsin months ago by my good friend, the military veteran who did a tour of Iraq and who’s already competed one Tough Mudder. I had already committed to a half marathon, so I thought, Screw it! I’ll be in shape by then. What have I got to lose? Nothing. It turns, out I was actually right.

While the website is totally intimidating, and it’s true that you have sign a death waiver, the event is seriously fun. That’s right. I said it. F-U-N. I was on a team with six people (Odin’s Raven for the win!) and they are what made the event memorable. It’s all about helping each other get to the end. You’re not going to climb over a 10 foot wall on your own, right? That’s what your teammates are for. To put a firm hand on your ass and push you over. And if they can’t do it, a stranger from another team will. In fact, two of my own teammates were strangers — friends of friends I met that day. By the end, I felt like we were close buddies.

The event is not timed, and participants are encouraged (multiple times!) to skip any obstacles that they don’t want to do. It’s simple to walk around any obstacle (there’s about 25 of them) on the course. I’m insanely claustrophobic so I skipped the obstacle where you had to crawl through slender plastic tubes filled with muddy water and rocks, called The Boa Constrictor. (Looking back, I should have just done it, but whatever.) I’m also not that great at holding my breath underwater, but I forced myself to jump off the 15-foot high wall into water, take on the Underwater Tunnels (floating barrels that you had to swim under), and Arctic Enema (the flipping freezing cold ice bath with a nice wall in the middle that you also had to swim under). I even ran smiling through the Electroshock Therapy — the final obstacle where live wires with 10,000 volts dangle from a 15-foot long wooden archway just a few muddy steps from the finish line. I only got shocked once and I stayed on my feet. (Tip: SPRINT fast with high knees. That mud is slippery, but you don’t want to army crawl slowly through this obstacle like many people do. You will get shocked more often, and it will be worse.)

You can walk the whole time and no one will judge you — it just might take you a long time. Our course was a little over 11 miles (a half marathon is 13.1). We ran the majority of the time, were all fairly athletic, and it took us 3.5 hours. I believe the starting and stopping is harder on your body, so I preferred to jog the whole time and stay flexible. My muscles were cramping up by the end.

The only obstacle that sucked was the Electric Eel. We had to army crawl through the mud with live wires dangling inches above our head. I got zapped three times. I screamed the first two times — I got shocked on my foot and was NOT expecting it — but it’s not as bad as it sounds. I think.

On that note, sign up for Tough Mudder today! You’ll love it.

P.S. The event isn’t cheap, but it benefits the Wounded Warrior Project.

Aubre Andrus is a freelance writer in Chicago who specializes in copywriting, blogging, reporting, and social media consulting. View her website and portfolio at www.aubreandrus.com or find her on Twitter @aubreandrus.

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Half Marathon #2: Complete!

by Aubre Andrus on August 20, 2012

The Madison Mini Marathon was my second half marathon, and it was way better than my first race in Columbus, Ohio. Exhibit A: The medal is shaped like a beer and doubles as a bottle opener. Exhibit B: The race ended at the Memorial Union Terrace, and in addition to the typical water, banana, and granola bar, we were handed a beer, Cheetos, Oreos, and Sassy Cow Chocolate Milk. Exhibit C: I got to high five Bucky at the start line and all the sausages from Miller Park at the finish line. And my friend Meg was nice enough to bring me fresh flowers from the Farmer’s Market!

Aubre Andrus is a freelance writer in Chicago who specializes in copywriting, blogging, reporting, and social media consulting. View her website and portfolio at www.aubreandrus.com or find her on Twitter @aubreandrus.

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