Friday, December 28, 2012

You're the Pilot

As the New Year turns with all its new possibilities and unknowns, we often resolve to do many avenues of our lives...and especially in our writing.  As Sharon mentioned here at the blog a few weeks ago here, we writers do resolve (every year!) to be more diligent and creative. And as the New Year approaches we think back upon the last months and consider what we could have done differently and consider challenges to come as the time flies.

                  "The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you're the pilot!"
                                                          Micheal Altshuler

We are the pilots. To help set our courses for the coming year we can set our instruments on go with the help of many sages.

              "Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one"
                                                        Brad Paisley

            "Every man should be born again on the first day of January, Start with a fresh page."
                                                        Henry Ward Beecher

           "We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves.
             The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."
                                                       Edith Lovejoy Pierce

           "What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year."
                                                     Vern McLeellan

           "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other."
                                                     Abraham Lincoln 

For us writers as we plot our courses for the coming year this great advise is energizing and inspirational for creative work in the coming months, but lets spice the flying time with a little fun too.

                                     "Each age has deemed the new born year
                                       the fittest time for festal cheer!"
                                                  Sir Walter Scott

You're the Pilot!

Happy Writing! Happy Resolutions!  Happy New Year!        

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Friday, December 21, 2012

My News!! And a Giveaway!!

Okay, so, I wasn't going to post this quite yet since I'm sure everyone is busy with the holidays but  I can’t hold it in any longer…

I HAVE A BOOK DEAL!!!!!!   Balzer + Bray is publishing my debut YA, The Promise of Amazing, in 2014!!!  Champagne for everyone!!!

I’m still pinching myself.

In honor of this and in the spirit of Christmas, I’m having a GIVEAWAY!!!   

In the comments section, tell me which writers have influenced you and why and I’ll randomly select someone to win a $25.00 Amazon gift card!  Okay, my turn:

One of the writers who has influenced me is fellow Jerseyan, Judy Blume.  Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was the first book I remember falling in love with. I lived in that book. It was also the first book I read over and over again.  What struck me most about that book was the way it made me feel.  I was going through some of the same things that Margaret was going through…trying to figure out where I fit in, who my friends were, getting a bra, (worrying about having something to fill out said bra!), and going to my first boy/girl parties.  These were thrilling, yet sometimes, scary events!  Reading about someone going through those same things made me feel that all the emotions, the highs and lows, that I was experiencing were…normal.

This is what I aspire to do in my own work -  to create characters and stories which grab you by the collar and pull you into their world.  To laugh, cry and maybe even recognize yourself there.

So how about you, Paper Waiters?   Which writer has influenced you?  Any comments left before midnight on December 24th will be eligible for the giveaway!!  (Just make sure to include an e-mail address so I can contact you!)

Oh, and I apologize for the overuse of exclamation points...but I just can't HELP IT!!!!!!

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Caldecott Is Coming . . . Soon, Soon

One of my favorite blogs is Calling Caldecott. It's co-written by Robin Smith (a second grade teacher and reviewer for Kirkus and Horn Book) and Lolly Robinson (who teaches children's lit. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is designer/production manager for Horn Book.)

November was Picture Book Month at the Horn Book and two exceptional articles in that section of the blog are "Over and Over," an emotional tribute to Charlotte Zolotow written by her daughter, Crescent Dragonwagon; and Patricia Gauch's article "The Picture Book as an Act of Mischief."

Moving on to the reviews of possible Caldecott Medal candidates, here are a few of the books they've featured:

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Resolving to Write

With the New Year just around the corner, resolutions for 2013 come to mind.

I resolve to write one picture book manuscript each month. How will I keep that resolution, you may ask?

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Chain of Changes

Recently I read a very inspiring blog post. It challenged me to rename three characters where I had settled for bland, generic names. The new names I came up with were much more interesting. (At least, I hope they are. :o) )

But, what really surprised me was how involved a revision this seemingly simple change entailed. I mean, it should be a simple matter of cut and paste, right? \

But it was far from that. Nothing simple about it.

The change of names reverberated through my manuscript. (Just as Ann Whitford Paul had suggested they would!) After re-naming my characters, I discovered the birth order of my young protagonists and how that fit into their motivation within the story.

And, once I gave my characters more interesting names, my last stanza no longer worked. I think that subconsciously, that last stanza had always bothered me a bit. But with the new names, somehow I could no longer pretend to myself that my original attempt at an ending worked. It needed revising. And that revising was challenging but fun to do.

Yes, those new character names really did set in motion a chain of changes. Good ones, I hope!

Has a relatively minor revision ever sparked a chain of changes in your writing? How did your chain of changes turn out?

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012


When hurricane Sandy hit, she felled several large oaks on our property, a major "revision" job, if you want to compare it writing. Luckily, the storm left the house still standing. Subsequently we took down two more immense oaks threatening the the house. Oddly, from within the house it is impossible to see where the missing trees once stood. I know a writer who is valiantly revising a very good story. He calls me when, like the hurricane, he chops whole sections. He has chopped out thickets of writing that don't move the plot along. But the main character and the plot are still standing, and the story is moving forward to what should be an excellent conclusion.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Writing Funny

I like to inject a fair amount of humor into my work. I don't write a lot of slapstick or ROTFLMAO stuff, but I hope my readers are giggling frequently. Lately, due to some personal circumstances, I've had a hard time writing at all, let alone writing funny.

I needed a way to combat my writing inertia and get me and my characters out of their gloom. So I invented a writing exercise. At least, I don't know of anyone else who has done this before. Oh, except maybe Second City and other improvisational acting troops.

So here's what I do when the funny is missing.

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