Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Is It Almost Midnight?

Is it almost midnight,
when the bells will chime?
Can it be the new year?
Is it really time?

Yes, it's almost midnight of the old year and time for the new year to ring in! How fast the months of 2011 have flown. It's now the 11th hour and time for the annual stock taking.

Time for the reckoning of our writing!

How did I use the many precious hours of the past year for my writing? Will I carve out ample time and regulate myself to write next year? Looking back I did put in time at my desk formulating new story ideas, characters and plot and molded some into new manuscripts as well as working on some WIP. I started the year off with a SCBWI writing conference in Miami which I left charged and ready to go and started a new manuscript that week.

During the year I kept at it but occasionally lost steam, as we do from time to time, but then I got back to the computer and started again. And I love the process once seated and let the mind work and the fingers tap away. I am excited about an old WIP that I just started to work on again so the new year will start out well. I just need to keep the furnace burning all year - I have the fuel but need to keep the fire lit!

What are your hints for the next year?

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Guidelines for Writers

If you’re with family for the holidays, you might not be doing too much writing. But you could be watching, thinking, even taking a few notes.

Family gatherings are great fodder for writing material. Keep your ears perked and your pen handily hidden for those priceless, snarky comments from your stiff Aunt Betty about teenage Lindsay’s Christmas outfit. Notice eight-year-old Joey’s ability to find and sort his pile of presents in three seconds flat, even though he can’t find his books in his backpack.

But beware -- we writers are prone to ulterior motives. We want a story.

No matter how tempting, don’t mention to Aunt Betty that Lindsay recently pierced her navel. The holidays are a time for graciousness after all. You could invite your old friend Mike, who hasn’t found cartilage he wouldn’t put a ring through. He might, by chance, be seated next to Aunt Betty. By chance…but keep your pen handy…

Enjoy the holidays everyone!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Getting in the Spirit

Confession – Thanks to Gale’s wonderful post, I have completely reassigned my mental energy to Christmas. So when faced with the task of writing a meaningful blog post I wondered…how many of you are actually, um, reading this? It’s the second night of Hannukah. And 4 days before Christmas. Winter breaks have begun. And baked goods have become the biggest portion of my food pyramid.

But, I'll try...

One of the things I love about the holidays is the stories. Okay, mostly in movie form, but some of my favorites are based on books and short stories. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess. A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd. There’s nothing like being snuggled under a blanket, holding a mug of something warm (or a glass of something that will warm you!) and watching a great movie (or reading a book!) by the glow of a Christmas tree to get me in the mood for the holidays.

What are some of your favorite books or movies that get you in the holiday spirit?

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Monday, December 19, 2011

You Talking to Me?

Question: When writing in first person, who does your main character talk to?

When I began writing, I always considered my audience. My first novel was middle grade, so my main character spoke to a middle grade reader. As I wrote it, I pictured him speaking directly to the reader -- to every reader who picked up that book. He would tell that story to anyone willing to listen.

But now, as I revise a YA, I'm giving very careful thought as to whom my main character will confide his deepest personal thoughts and feelings.

MY WIP is written in past tense, which gives me more options than my first novel -- written in present tense -- did. So who does this boy talk to? And how does this choice color the way he tells his story?

Does he talk to a girl he is currently in love with, sitting on a dock, watching boats sail in and out? Or is he a little tipsy and telling the story of senior year to his freshman roommate? Or, is he talking to the reader, and if so, how far away is he from the timeline of the story? Each choice changes the way the story is told, unbeknownst to the reader.

I'm not ready to reveal the choice I made. After all, I'm still revising. I may change it again. And again. And again. But I do know one thing for certain. My main character deserves to tell his story to someone who will really listen.

So I ask all you first person writers -- who does your main character talk to?

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

'Tis the Season - LOL or LOS?

Last week I didn't LOL - even once. Instead of being a Lady Of Laughter, I was an LOS - Lady Of Stress. I had finished a round of requested revisions on my current picture book, and was beating myself up for not starting something new. My idea bank was empty and every time I tried to make a deposit, my mind wandered to the family gift list, getting the house in order for three sets of Christmas staying-over guests, menu planning, wrapping, decorating, baking, etc. etc.

LOL? No, m'am.

Then one morning when I woke with yet another tension headache, I decided enough is enough! I gave myself a stern lecture: stop stewing about writing. Reassign your mental energy to Christmas.

This year my December WIP will be the Christmas cards. So be it.

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to everyone!

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

No Longer Dreaming

For many years, I have dreamed of having a published book. I dreamed of the author bio, and I dreamed of the dedication. I dreamed of my author website, and I dreamed of my author visits.

But, for many years, I told myself that these dreams had to be put aside. Otherwise, I would never actually get a book published.

But now, that first book is just months away, and many of the things I used to just dream about have become real items on my writer's to do list.

Months ago, I wrote my author bio and dedication. Now it is a pleasure to see both in the incredible F&G's my editor recently shared with me (and my 5-year-old truck enthusiast loves having a book dedicated to him!).

A few weeks ago, I printed up a business card with my book cover on it, and it feels awesome to have a business card with my book cover on it. But...

the website I listed on the business card was a mere place holder page. Nothing like the site I had envisioned in my mind.

So, I have been hard at work designing that website (still very much a work in progress- but I couldn't write this blog post without sharing what I've done so far!). And on that site, I get to describe those school visits I have imagined doing for so long.

It is very exciting to work on these things, but stressful too at times. I hope everything comes out right. And I hope I manage to balance my time correctly, so I still get to keep writing and, hopefully sometime soon, get to celebrate a book #2.

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Constant Reminder

I took away an important suggestion from the latest critique of my manuscript. I must let my reader get closer to my protagonist; to feel what she is thinking, to know what she wants, and to be continually reminded of it.

A seasonal analogy presents itself in the old song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Each day the recipient gets a gift from his true love, along with a "partridge in a pear tree." Imagine the song without this quirky refrain to tie it together. Flat. Boring. A series of things, and not much fun to sing.

As the story moves forward, I've got to see that my heroine's hopes and dreams are like the refrain of that song; barely noticeable, but never absent.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Haiku for You

New York City has turned to haiku to warn its citizens of traffic hazards. So in support of looking both ways before crossing the street or hitting send, I offer up my haiku for writers anywhere along the submission process:

Submission sent out
Check email ten times per hour
Computer crashes

Add your submission comments--in haiku, of course!

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