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).