Thursday, December 24, 2009

Finding focus

I don't know about you, but as much as I appreciate festive foods, family visits, goodwill toward all, holiday carols, and a stocking full of fun, I dread this time of the year. It's not because I'm a Grinch or a Scrooge either. My desire to stay focused as a writer has much more to do with it.

The best way for me to deal with the holiday slump is to continue meeting for critiques with other willing and able writers. A deadline is a deadline and I will lose sleep to meet it. If I'm not able to find that quiet space in my head to write new material then I go to revising, which often gives me new ideas about what's happening in a story. And last, if revising isn't the ticket, I read, read, read (even if it's only in ten minute snatches). It's a great time to research whatever novel you're involved in or the one on the back burner of your brain. If you can't concentrate on the reading either, go for online agent research or just keeping up on your favorite blog. Scale back on your expectations a bit and you'll be able to spread yourself further. But more than anything else, don't lose hope or give up, the New Year is nearly here and I'm ready for it!

Does your writing take a big punch to the gut at this time of the year? How do you stay on track with your projects?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Take the Contest or Leave It?

I've recently entered a writing contest for the first time, written a short story but then didn't submit it to another contest (for various reasons), and have been thinking about the value of those excitement-making but perhaps unsubstantiated pursuits called WRITING CONTESTS.

As timely as ever, Nathan Bransford approaches this topic and has some good advice.

For me, I've decided to use writing contests as a way to motivate myself to work on specific topics, themes, or even formats. Why not? But like Bransford suggests, read the fine print.

How about you? Have you ever entered a writing contest? Any winners? Why did you do it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sex and Teen Literature

Sex in teen literature has been getting a lot of buzz lately. This great article by Mindy Rhiger points out the enormous range in sex inclusive books for adolescents these days and emphasizes that it's not all "fantasy and smut" as claimed by one mom in NBC correspondent Janet Shamlian's article. Rhiger also brings up an equally important point of interest: parental involvement. If parents care enough to find out what their kids are reading, then they create an opportunity to discuss the delicate issues brought up in the reading material.

I'm going to suggest that parents should be parallel reading with their kids, or even better, get to know the teen lit market and read ahead of their teens. Then the parents are in a position to influence what lands on their kids' literary plate and discuss it with them as well. I know parents are busy, but it's a matter of priorities and commitment, isn't it? Books are a perfect way of talking about the issues that matter most in life. Besides, reading current teen literature will make your life richer as well.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NaNo Freakout

Alright all of you NaNoWriMore than you ever thought you could in a I'm not talking to those of you who have already won. Is anyone still typing? Oh, wait, we haven't even hit the half way mark yet. Well, that's okay, don't give up yet, even if you are a little or a lot behind. This is about personal goals.

I am a little behind, and it's all my own fault. I had time today. It's the truth. But the unfortunate thing about having time is that it will occasionally be frittered away. I did get some other things done, but I think ADHD got to me. Let's talk about the LACK in my story. I was lacking today. A lack of focus, a lack of desire, a lack of inspiration. Yep, it happens. So I used my best tactic. I did other things than write NaNoWriMo until now I'm almost out of time. So excuse me, I've got to go and write 300 more words in fifteen minutes.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bone crushing, back smashing, keyboard melting fun

Just back from the Western Washington SCBWI Fall retreat. Whew. Intensive is right, but with the stellar editors Cheryl Klein and Ruta Rimas headlining, we were well taken care of. Also, many thanks to the the amazing women who organized the weekend: Jolie, Laurie, Kim, & Joni. Hope I didn't miss anyone.

Now back at the keyboard, in my cold office, I'm scrambling to catch up in NaNoWriMo, but it's no big deal. I'm high on all the awesome information absorbed over the weekend. Cheryl and Ruta went over writing basics, then went deeper to really examine what makes an excellent novel. We studied the relationships between and components of PLOT, CHARACTER, and VOICE and how we as writers can use different techniques to make our stories successful.

Big compliments to Cheryl for her repeated encouragement to NOT listen if someone dictates HOW to write, because it is an intensely personal process, and to Ruta for challenging us to experiment with different writing techniques and structures until we find what works best for our story.

And now, back to NaNo.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Teens want more books!

Well, this just in: though sales in adult books are projected to fall, juvenile and teen book sales are rising, even in these tough economic times.

 Not only that, but teens seem to feel that the bookstores they shop at don't have a large enough selection and not enough comfy places to sit!

Read more here:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Writing: Addiction, Discipline, or Balance?

Yesterday, wonder agent and master blogger Nathan Bransford asked, "When does writing become unhealthy?"

This is such a great question which can and should be used in many other circumstances (when does social media/email/drinking coffee become unhealthy?). But sticking to the writing, do any of you have a problem with balancing your life because of too much writing? For me it's a constant battle to get enough time to write. His question may apply most to workaholics, sociopaths, and people with addictive behavior issues. I am not one of those people, though I may have had tendencies in all three categories at one time or another.

Part of me still believes that you have to choose between your creative genius attaining success (which somehow ruins your relationships) and the mediocre creative life with modest or no recognition because you strive to balance your personal life. The rational me disagrees, because there are too many factors that go into success, and ruining your relationships doesn't exactly guarantee getting a book deal, unless your book is about how you ruined your relationship so you could get a book deal, THEN you might have some real takers.

Ultimately, logic applies. If you are getting ill from lack of sleep because you are writing: you're writing too much. If your relationships are suffering because of your writing, you need to make some choices (spouses and children are responsibilities, not electives). If the dog isn't getting enough exercise because of your writing: get out of the chair and do some character brainstorming while you take the dog for a walk! If the kids are complaining that you only spend time with keyboard, then turn off the computer for an hour and help them with homework, read them a book, or play a game.

Writing is an amazing part of my life, but it does not rule my life. I'm here for the whole experience, not just the deranged artist bit. Whether I end up a successful author or not is secondary to achieving a happy and satisfying life. What about you?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where the Wild Things Aren't? How successful is the movie?

So after major promo all summer long, the movie adaptation of one of everyone's favorite picture books, Where The Wild Things Are, is finally out. And now, let the opinion battles rage. I haven't seen it yet, but the two following reviews are at major odds with each other. Certainly, indicative of humanity's spectrum of taste.

I used to believe that it was absurd to make movie adaptations at all. They never got it right; I was always disappointed, and the book was inevitably better. Really, how can you fit 800 pages of high concept fantasy into two hours of cinema? But I would go to the movie anyway as a means of satisfying my visual lust for the story and let the rest fall by the wayside. The Harry Potter movies and The Golden Compass are great examples of this.

In the case of WTWTA, how can you stretch ten sentences into a movie at all? One might argue this is the more difficult challenge, but I would disagree. WTWTA is a picture book, but don't make the mistake of believing it is superficial cotton candy. It's a picture book that is as bittersweet-salty-sour-spicy and heart-wrenching as life comes. It is exactly that accuracy of Maurice Sendak's seminal work of genius, that I am very excited to see Spike Jonze and David Egger's movie adaptation of WTWA.

It was only recently, that I started viewing movie renditions of books in a new light. I'd been stubbornly holding on to the idea that a movie should portray a book as accurately as possible. I see now that it's a big mistake to do so in a literal sense. Movies and books are simply two completely different forms of media. It's like comparing a photograph of a tree to a painting of one. Movies should be an interpretation of the original story. Obviously, this leaves a lot of room for creative success and disaster.

Though generally a practical realist and prepared to be disappointed, I am at heart an optimist. I believe this movie was done with tender care and love and therefore, I hope for the best. Let the work speak for itself.

What do you think? Have you seen the movie yet? What are some of your favorite movie adaptations? Most awful?

Movie Review - Where the Wild Things Are - Some of His Best Friends Are Beasts -

Movie Review - Where The Wild Things Are - Among Sendak's Fierce Creatures, Dismay Also Lurks : NPR

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Creating Language

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love language. Not just English, but any and all language. People like to imagine language (especially their language) is static, unmoving, and dependable. So dependable you can put it down in a book called a dictionary and it WILL NEVER CHANGE. I love it that this is so WRONG.

Language doesn't stop or even slow down; it's constantly evolving. We're closing in on 7000 spoken languages in the world today, and that's just the documented ones. What I really love, though, are the microcosms of language. Dialects are fun, but we really get into the nitty gritty when we reach slang; new words with old meaning and old words with new meaning. Words that make it to slang dictionaries are certainly the ones that had the best publicity (like movies, songs, or books), but there are so many more words created every day that don't make it past their birthplace.

My favorite language-creation situations are: 1) Family speak; which also applies to tight-knit groups of teens, ska (Sometimes Known As) gangs (NOT ska gangs, which could be cool) 2) Cross-cultural language creation; arises from being immersed in another language and struggling your way to understanding and 3) Mis-hearing what was said and either intentionally or unintentionally creating something intelligible though not necessarily understandable; aka acrylogia, Dogberryism (from Much Ado About Nothing), and malapropism (who could forget Mrs. Malaprop from The Rivals?)

I have to admit, in order to maintain a sense of humor with my kids, I intentionally create new word formations and phrases from what they said unintelligibly and say it back to them. The seven year old yells, "He's pulling my hair!" and it becomes, "What? Peas & pudding on the stairs?" It stops me from over-reacting and keeps them laughing.

The author/musician Frank Portman has done something wonderful with his character Andromeda Klein (from the eponymous novel) who mishears what people say all the time. What she first hears is often a stroke of brilliance compared to what she eventually deciphers into the mundane (packing up Sylvester Mouse was really picking up some extra hours). A great device that renders the situation comical and the character endearing.

Language creation (words, expressions, metaphors, analogies, etc) is one of the thrills of writing. Heck, it's one of the thrills of living as far as I can tell. Let's keep our ears open and find some more fun. Oh, by the way, there's a great website dedicated to misheard lyrics and a few other permutations @

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back on the horse

Hey, school is back in session, which is immediately gratifying for me because it means more time to write. As I've said before, summer writing is tough, but I'm determined enough to get in whatever I can. I bring my notebook to the kids' swim lessons and use those 30 minutes as a high pressure deadline for plot or character background brainstorming. I always get something good out of those sessions. Waking up earlier than everybody else in the house, and often staying up later than everyone else is a standard, but particularly useful in summer depending on how long you can burn the candle at both ends.

Now that the kids are off to school it's time to slip into my routine again. Ah, the bliss. As far as reading is concerned, I'm currently devouring King Dork by Frank Portman, of Mr. T Experience fame. I'm pleased to say that I saw them play in Switzerland in the basement of the collective restaurant Hirscheneck where I worked in the late '90's. They were awesome & very sweet guys. He's making an appearance at Secret Garden Books this coming Monday:

Next on the reading list is Suzanne Collins'sHunger Games sequel, Catching Fire. Should be fun. Okay, back to work!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What I've been reading

Summer has been a little harsh on the writing schedule. It gets like that when you have kids. Not that I haven't been writing, but certainly not as much as I do when they're in class. Anyway, one thing that hasn't gotten away from me is reading and I feel like reading is always accomplishing something as long as it's a good book.

A couple weeks ago I read Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson and it was great. Amazing and intense historical fiction from the POV of a young slave girl. I look forward to reading more of her material.

I also took on some Orson Scott Card and read Ender's Game and the parallel novel Ender's Shadow, both of which I immensely enjoyed as did my husband. I usually foist my favorite reads upon him and/or my ten-year-old with great success. My son, though, was not inclined to read Ender's Shadow as he was afraid it might contain some gory violence as did the first novel. He is acutely aware of his limits and rightly so. The novels were stunning for their character development but definitely on the sophiticated end of the spectrum when it comes to categorizing them as YA novels. Advanced but young readers wilfind it satisfying, though I would recommend parents read them first or alongside for the great opportunity to discuss so many issues with your kid.

Currently, I am reading Wringer by Jerry Spinelli, and Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson
both very enjoyable, though wildly different from each other. Check out the links to learn more.

That's the upshot about summer. I may have the kids more and less time to hide in my office pounding on the keyboard, but it's a lot easier to get some good reading done than to lug the laptop to the park or beach. Not to mention that it's still getting something accomplished (even if it's not the laundry).

Monday, June 29, 2009

When inpsiration strikes

So a few nights ago, after a long day with two kids, many errands, cooking and probably a few loads of laundry, I got in bed, turned out the lights, kissed my man, and said goodnight. That's it, right? For him, yeah. He was snoozin' in no time. Me? My eyes were wide open, my mind was still wide awake and not in the mood for shutting down. This was 1:30am. I'm a morning person and this does NOT happen that often, but when it happens, I have to grab the bull by the horns.
It was time to write, and being summer, the office was warm enough to do it. Give me this scene in December, and I'm reaching for the novel and booklight, so I don't freeze my bum off by exiting Duvetland. Wuss, yes, I know. That's what happens when you move from the 'Kick your ass' weather zone to the sissyfied weather zone (where I currently reside and love it, love it, love it-- I can drive an hour to the mountains if I miss the mosquitos or snow).
What I'm trying to say is, strike when the iron is hot. Get out of bed, and get writing. Especially if you have kids and a day job. Every minute counts and every word counts, so get it down, and sleep hard. Believe me, after writing through a tough chapter (even with three kid interruptions--guess I wasn't the only one that couldn't sleep) I was ready to sleep at four in the morning...all the way to eight.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Critique group guidelines

If you're a writer, being a member of a critique group is indispensable. Critique groups range from formal to casual and it's best to join or create one that suits your personality. In fact, to maintain the tone and success of a critique group, it's not a bad idea to have a few rules. What follows are a few suggestions.

You may want to have a confidentiality agreement for all members. Note: this may seem a bit paranoid, but some people swear by it. It is merely a measure to discourage plagiarism and keep people honest. Take it or leave it.

It's not a bad idea to ensure that members of your group are at similar levels of skill and commitment. One way of doing this is by having membership requirements, whether that's obligatory membership to a recognized writer's association or the completion of writing classes beyond high school. You may want to limit the number of members in the group. Other things that may fall into this category are: minimum attendance, output, and feedback at meetings.

You may want to have manuscript requirements. Examples include genre restriction, numbering of pages, minimum or maximum number of pages submitted, requiring manuscripts to have been proofread for basic spelling and grammar errors before submission. Some of these suggestions may sound a bit uptight but are all ways to get writers accustomed to doing what must be done for submitting a manuscript to an agent or editor anyway. It is just one of the ways critique groups can shape you into a better writer.

Other rules that often go into a critique group involve the critique process itself. Consider submitting by email in advance to give others a chance to review material before giving comments in person. Do you want only one person to present material or everyone? I have found that 3-4 people can reasonably present new material (read ahead of time by the others) and get feedback within a 2 hour meeting if there isn't too much chit-chat or snacking. Add half an hour to an hour if you meet at a pub. Do you want to read submissions out loud? This may be helpful for difficult passages. Make sure members write comments on the manuscripts they've printed out and critiqued. Don't interrupt the person giving comments. Wait your turn, and, if you're the author, be careful not to be argumentative or too defensive of your baby. You'll hear this many times, but if you hear a specific criticism more than twice, PAY ATTENTION!

Above all, as a member of a critique group, remember that criticism should be given with the goal of helping the writer improve the telling of the story. Do so with a generous spirit. As an author, remember not to take criticism personally. You should be able to take harsh criticism as well. If you are easily discouraged and want to quit writing, you probably should. This path is not for the faint of heart.

Friday, May 22, 2009

10 Hints for successfully being in a Critique Group

I'm not sure what made me pick critique groups as a topic today, but there you go. It's a topic that will never go away (for creative types, that is) and there's always more to learn about them. I won't get all pedantic on you, though. I'll just mention a few things that have made critique situations work for me.

Hint 1.Join a critique group. It's good experience. We all need experience. Even if it's not the best match right away. Why? Because you need the experiences of: having your material read and receiving criticism and reading other people's material and giving criticism. Think of it as a class with a test every time you meet, not a popularity contest.

Hint 2. Leave your ego at the door. Humility not hubris. Remember your goal of making your story the best that it can be. Be open to what people are saying, not defensive (this is difficult).

Hint 3. Don't hog the floor time. Be gracious and fair. Succinct. Concise. Got it?

Hint 4. Do your homework. Give your fellow writers (and their manuscripts) the respect they deserve. Don't leave reading until the last minute with half-hearted comments. This is also a difficult one. We all have busy lives but it is possible to make time. How committed are you to your dream? This is serious. Give it your all because you expect your peers to.

Hint 5. Mind your manners. That's right. I shouldn't have to say it, but sometimes people get whipped into a frenzy and forget. Be nice. Golden Rule and all that.

Hint 6. Show up. Yep, I know. Another obvious one, but apparently it's needed. If you are part of a critique group and you have a scheduled meeting, but nothing to show or share, go anyway. Give your feedback, be committed to the success of the group. If you absolutely can't make it, it's understandable, but don't expect everyone to change their schedules to suit yours. Doesn't hurt to ask, though.

Hint 7. Neutral territory or rotating hosting is recommended. Fairly self-explanatory, but I'll spell it out. Always meeting at one person's home may have the psychological effect of 'critique group ownership' real and/or perceived. It gets tricky once that sets in.

Hint 8. Don't let your group turn into a social gathering. I know this sounds uptight, so don't take it too literally. Be professional, do your business first, then pleasure, that's all. I know people that lament the fact that they're in a group with great people, but nothing gets accomplished. Remember why you are in a group and if you don't know why, then figure it out fast.

Hint 9. Remember that the people in the group don't have to be your friends or confidants. It's okay to maintain a professional distance. In fact, it's a really good idea, at least until you are well established in the group.

Hint 10. Leave the group when it's the right time. This is a hard one to see sometimes. I'm not saying that you will always have to leave a group, but it's very difficult to have a group of creative types together over long periods of time with out personal dynamics getting in the way. Don't have unrealistic expectations. Also, needs, minds, and goals change. Listen to your intuition and get on with it. Yes, you'll find (or create) a group (or partnership) that works better for you.

Well, that pretty much covers some of the more pressing issues about critique groups. Next time I'll put out some great ideas for critique group rules. Enjoy the weekend wherever you are.

Monday, May 18, 2009

WWA SCBWI Writer's Conference 2009

Wow! That was a great weekend of amazing speakers. Every year of going to the SCBWI conference gets better.Just wrap your head around the idea that it's more about networking than pitching your goods to an agent or editor. Meeting other writers is great fun and reassuring. I met real beginners and had an opportunity to encourage them to keep going, I met published authors and got to ask them questions about their career path and how they get/got things accomplished. Always an interesting answer.

It's always humbling to hear the success stories of local author panel and what they have to say about their backgrounds; how they achieved their dreams. Motivating too. This year I was particularly pleased with the selection of agents. Nathan Bransford is not only a stellar agent, but he's humble and generous, straightforward and efficient. If I could be so lucky.... Also Steven Malk from Writer's House gave a great talk on how writers should have a career strategy. It was very welcome information.

Ellen Hopkins, Patrick Jennings, and Lisa Papademetriou were three of the authors I was lucky enough to see speak. Ellen is a ballsy woman with the guts to closely examine the most difficult of subjects in teens' lives: meth addiction, incest, rape, suicide and more. Not exactly uplifting, but exactly what teens want. Honesty. Patrick Jennings gave a talk on school visits and demonstrated how he captures the attention of hundreds of elementary school kids at a time: subversive manipulation. Of course! Much the same techniques of another one of my favorite authors, Jon Scieszka (keynote speaker). Lisa Papademetriou was really a hoot. She's an unrepentent fantasy geek and spoke on world building. Very entertaining.

There are always a few fun games to play during the weekend and this time I participated in the haiku contest and got an honorable mention with a haiku about Michael Stearns (agent at Firebrand!!) after seeing his talk about plotting on Saturday:
Thirteen points of plot
for Michael Stearns to cover
good thing he talks fast

And that's all for now!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

the importance of field trips

So you're in a slump. Writer's block, whatever you call it. You're tired of researching online and still looking for something to inspire you, something to help you make it through that difficult scene. Or maybe you just need a fresh look at your character's personality or biography. Take a field trip. Go somewhere your character would go. Find a place that will put you in the mood. Maybe it's just a walk in your neighborhood. Maybe it's a specific park or geographical detail or shop. But go. Open your mind and heart and cool things will happen, I promise you. It's a bit of magic in the creative process, whether you are a writer, photographer, sculptor, or even a lab rat, getting out of your normal surroundings for a little field trip of the mind can work wonders. Don't make it a mental vacation. Don't check out. This is work, but of the most adventurous and exciting kind. Be open to serendipity, opportunity, and chance. Be spontaneous. Do things you wouldn't normally do. Go places you might not normally do... all withing the realm of common sense of course. And come back to your work fresh!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

freedom of speech for queer YA books

Just a heads up this time about transgressions by the West Bend Common Council. Check it out:

We need to fight to keep our right to read and write books that express ideas and beliefs contrary to the 'moral majority' (favorite oxymoron).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Difficult scene

Ahh, don't you writers love the difficult scene? The one that stops you in your tracks because you're not sure where the heck it's going? Well, here are some of my favorite ways to put that dilemma aside for the moment and still be productive.
#1. REVISE! there are always revisions to do.
#2. RESEARCH: learn more about something in your novel. details are delicious, but remember not to go overboard, know more than you tell.
#3. CHARACTER PROFILES: go online and complete any number of personality profiles for one of your characters. Do an astrology chart.
#4. AVOID: I know this sounds like the wrong advice to give, but sometimes it's helpful to write the scenes that come after your problem scene.
#5. When you've procrastinated your pants off, had too many pots of tea and snacks, then maybe you just need to force your hand and write a lot of brainstorm drivel until something worthwhile comes out of your pen.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mid-week, just business

Had my critique group last night. It's always a joy. I really do love hearing what fellow respected writers have to say about what I'm dishing up. Good and bad. Good is good, of course, but I have to say, I really do need to hear what didn't work. It's very helpful to know when I went overboard or was too vague. What hit the nail on the head, what was a little bit off. I feel like my group is my safety net of writing. I really trust them. Not that they are the last word on my manuscript, but their voices are worthy guides in the wilderness and isolation of writing. Without my group I'd be writing circles inside my head and plaguing myself a lot more with useless banter instead of shouting, "GO, GO, GO!" Thanks, guys.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Dust of 100 Dogs

Hey, I just finished A.S. King's The Dust of 100 Dogs. Wow, what a fun ride. A great novel about revenge, reincarnation, and rectification. Sort of. I would be just as correct in saying it's about history, pirates, and dog behaviour. It's also about true love, class warfare, and, civil rights. Ahh, the complexities of a well written book. So good on so many levels, one to read many times. It's like a hologram you can tilt at angles in the light to see a different image every time. I recommend it to all audiences 13 and above of adventurous tastes. It is officially a YA novel, but the appeal will certainly be much wider than that.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Talent Killers! Watch out for agents

Yow! Thanks to Colleen Lindsay for today's great link:

An intense discussion about the role that agents play and one thrice published author with a very big chip on her shoulder. I think I should become a buddhist in preparation for becoming published. Take the good with the bad and just keep going folks. And hey, Nathan Brnasford seems like a really good guy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oh yeah!

Hey, get out there and support Teen Lit Day. Download a bookplate at and after pasting it into a book, drop it off at your local children's hospital. Rock The Drop!

books, of course

What I've been reading: I'm going to make another plug for The Hunger Games because it lingers in my brain; always a good sign. It makes you wonder how long you would survive if you were thrown into an arena with 23 other teens to kill off.

I just started The Stand, which, well, it's captivating, but I'm beginning to wish I had the edited version in my hands. I think it needed the editing. So I started another book: The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S.King (nice name!). 23 pages on and I'm liking it. Unique, not shy about implied or direct violence OR well-placed profanity. I'd be fine with my teen reading it. It was suggested by the YA Edge blog and I'll check in soon to see how the discussion is coming along.

Other than than that, there are several books waiting for my precious attention and they will just have to be patient. On to revisions!

Monday, April 13, 2009


So today has not been the most productive. I love revisions, but sometimes the darn things get the best of me. I look at the screen and get all frazzled at the possibilities. So then comes tomorrow where I will print out the manuscript parts in question and analyze them a little more. What is necessary for the story, extraneous. How and when should this information be presented? Balance wordiness with literary style. Focus, focus, focus. Then things start to feel the way they should. Look at where you want to be and take the steps necessary to get there. Like Bill Murray said. Baby steps. Just go already!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cooking is to eating as Writing is to Reading

Oh dear, it's been a long day of food preparation and a long evening of food consumption. Well, nobody's going to bed unhappy, so that makes me smile. I enjoy cooking and writing for myself, but it gives me immense pleasure to know when I've prepared (either in the kitchen or at my desk) a delectable item for consumption (by eating or reading). Writing and cooking both get better with practice and the more you do it, the more you see (or taste) where you've made mistakes, and know where to adjust the next time you offer up your wares.
And in the news:
Time to take on a big boy. is unranking any books outside the conservative hetero norm. Sign the petition:

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Good news, no broken ankle. Even better news, no sleep. Okay, very little. I had just started a friend recommended novel (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins of Gregor the Overlander fame) over lunch, fifty pages into it, and knew I wanted more, but the rest of the day was still before me and plenty to keep me busy. I had to wait until midnight to get in bed with the promising hardcover. Believe me, I did NOT get any sleep until about 5:30 am because I didn't want to put it down. It was very captivating. Fun speedy mind candy read and pretty tight writing as well. Stephen King in his EW review does point out that some things happen quite conveniently, but I'm willing to forgive the transgressions because the story is so strong. Yes, suspend some disbelief for the big prize. Anyway, big recommendation, and it would make a great PG-13 movie in the hands of a skilled director.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Inspiration & muddleheadedness

Okay, I'm supposed to be rewriting the first three chapters of Nerissa's Awakening but I'm having trouble with it. Instead, I've been researching author websites. It's a nifty semi-procrastination technique. Just enough info collection to rationalize my time...sort of. Well, I've had enough of that, so now I'm going to go for a jog. With good music and a neurotic dog. She's nice, don't get me wrong, but I gotta be on the lookout for squirrels or I'm in peril of breaking an ankle if the canine decides to hunt.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

rowdy boys & good theater

Well, Charles Dickens really knew what he was talking about when he said that it was the best of times and the worst of times. And the Seattle Children's Theater really knew what they were doing when they performed and adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities. Who can forget Madame LaFarge? It was fantastic and fourth graders were duly impressed by the stage guillotine and even better accompanying sound effects. The only thing more entertaining during my time as a parent volunteer driver and chaperone for the field trip was having three insane 10 yr. olds in the back seat, wearing sunglasses and yelling, "Rumplestiltskin!" out the windows. Besides that, I'm getting much closer to the real first page of my first novel, Nerissa's Awakening. Of course, it's probably the fiftieth version, but I am not daunted. It's kind of exciting, actually, and that only confirms my suspicions that I am a glutton for punishment. Born to be a writer, I guess.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Inspired by Holly Cupala

I'm just back from the local chapter meeting of SCBWI here in Seattle and I have to say that Holly Cupala inspired me. She's gorgeous, she's bubbly, and she makes getting an agent look like a breeze. But I am not fooled. She has put a lot of work into getting to where she's gotten. She has paid dues. What I am grateful for, is that she is generous with her experiences and willing to cheer the rest of us on. We all need voices telling us we CAN do it. I feel that it is also a duty of mine: to encourage writers to keep writing. It can be a cruel world for artistic types and we have to stick up for each other. So three cheers for Holly and all the writers out there. As Winston Churchill said, "Never, never, never give up." Now get writing.

Agent Fail

Wow, I'm finally getting around to doing the blog thing because of the Agent Fail phenomena. I certainly don't blame any of the bitter writers out there complaining about the collective misbehavior of agents. WAIT! Yes, I do.
1) Any writer spilling their venomous guts unchecked in a diatribe against agents should check in with reality. Nobody is forcing them to write. They should be doing it because it is their passion first. Because they need to. Because their life would be empty without it.
2) I am sure there are disorganized, disrespectful, and unscrupulous agents. But I choose to believe that number is small. Believe in the good of people and you will have a better attitude, which we all need. What comes around goes around.
3)Research shows that complaining too much about a problem is actually bad for you. Get over it, already!
Use it all to make your own writing better. Go ahead rip me up, I'll come back stronger (after a few whimpers).