Friday, June 28, 2013

Happy Fourth -Independence Day !

Happy Independence Day to the Paperwaiters and all our children's writers. I'm thinking of the incredible gifts that are ours as writers here on July Fourth when we celebrate liberty and freedom. As writers we celebrate freedom of speech especially, and thus to bring the best literature to children too.

We forget sometimes how we got here...and the Fourth helps to remind us

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."                                                   
                           First Amendment- Bill of Rights

If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter."
                         George Washington

"Where the press is free and everyman able to read, all is safe."
                         Thomas Jefferson

Happy Fourth and Happy Writing!

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Monday, June 24, 2013

A Polished Pan, a Painful Illness and Writing

I roasted some chicken, then finished it off in the broiler.  The drippings burned and cemented themselves to my pan.  (Should have used tin foil…) I scrubbed hard, and a few of these lava-like rocks came off, but not enough for the pan to be used again.  I soaked it overnight.  Still, too much refused to budge.  I plopped more soap in and soaked it again.  More scouring only turned the Brillo pad’s pink soap into gray sludge, and gave me 'scrubber’s elbow.'  I wondered if it was time to trash it.

Something said ‘Try again – one more time.’  One more overnight soak, another hefty dose of aerobic elbow grease, and… it came clean.  Not only clean, but polished.  

Aaah, my writing lesson of the week – that’s how I should approach the manuscript I was thinking of abandoning.  Give it a little more brain-soak time, and a serious revision scour, again and then again.   That's how my process works.   For my current picture book project, that means considering a new creative non-fiction element.  Sometimes the process feels like I'm floating in gray sludge and those bits that don't work won't come out of my manuscript.  Then a piece of it comes up polished and ooh, that feels good!   

Two famous writers who, per Ariel's wish, did 'complain' about the writing process: 

"Easy reading is damn hard writing."  Nathaniel Hawthorne  

George Orwell's perspective is my favorite:

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Thursday, June 20, 2013


Dearest Paper Waiters,

This is a moment I’ve been dreaming about since, well, forever.   And the fact that I get to share it with you means so much to me.  Some of you have been with me since the beginning of my writing journey – at least the “official” writing journey.  I remember walking into Penny Pollock’s picture book class and feeling instantly at home, like “I’ve found my people”.   The creativity and the support in that room made me believe that I could follow this crazy dream of being an author.

The road hasn’t been easy for any of us, has it?  Ups and downs, almost theres, near misses and those wonderful moments we could bring out the champagne.  You were there for my first good rejection, nurtured me when I said I thought I wanted to write a novel and patiently supported me when tears of frustration would leak out during meetings.  There are no guarantees in this business except one: writer buds make the fiercest of friends.

So thanks for ‘getting me’ Paper Waiters! 

Oh, yes, I was revealing a cover wasn’t I?

Revealing this here, on The Paper Wait, feels especially sweet!! 

Here it is… yes, you have to jump to see it!!

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Why Famous Writers Should Complain About Writing

Anne Lamott says ”Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”  Writers, if you don’t feel that way—if you happen to find writing effortless and easy—do the rest of us a favor and lie.

J.K. Rowling apparently wrote the complete story arc for the Harry Potter series on a long train ride, and then wrote most of Sorcerer’s Stone in cafes while her new baby was napping. Napping??? People, I was barely groomed the first year of my child’s life, let alone able to churn out a groundbreaking, genre-busting bestseller. It’s true that Rowling was on welfare at the time, her manuscript was rejected repeatedly before going on to revolutionize the industry, and from what I’ve read, all that success couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. But still. Jo, couldn’t you have worked up some writing block story to make the rest of us feel a little better?

By way of contrast, I give you Michael Chabon's story of writing The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

POV Problem


Is 1st person point of view a good choice for a picture book? It was for Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Yes, it's written in 1st person POV, but he is named. Who can forget Alexander?
Can you think of a picture book in 1st person where the narrator isn't named? As of this minute, I can't.

This week something dawned on me. It took a while!

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Advice Requested: Google+

So I read this article and after reading it I decided to give Google+ a try. So I'm on Google+now and it's nice to have a profile that comes up when you search on me on Google. Though I have yet to figure out how to set up my Google Authorship (which sounds like it could be a really nice opportunity).

It took me a while but I discovered the communities and they're pretty cool. I joined several that meet my interests and it has been fun to check them out. Though I haven't been brave enough to post anything yet.

And Hangouts on Air sounds pretty cool too.  But I still don't think I quite understand it yet. (Yes-- I'm excited but overwhelmed. :o) )

So what do you think of Google+?  Have you tried it out? Are you thinking about trying it out? Or do you refuse to even consider adding one more social network to your busy life? (That's how I felt before I read this article!)

If you have tried it out please share any insights and advice? Is it worth the time? How can I use it best?

Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide!

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Can I?

This is definitely a "post and run" post. This week I don't have a minute to spare.

Just reporting that I am constructing a new novel. I have made the decision not to begin the first chapter until I have the whole plot worked out. So my document presently is a collection of dialogue and character notes and possible cliff hangers.

I'm not sure I can do this. One of my characters is an Afro American  girl. Can I get close enough to her to write about her? They say you should write what you know.  Am I qualified?

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Commitment and the GASP

Commitment to writing is a sticky issue for me. The old mantra “find a fixed time every day or several days a week to write” has not worked for me, but I believe that it is necessary to success and it’s something I am aiming for now that I'm back to working on my novel. Key to the idea of 'commitment' is participating in this writing group, to which I am new (this is my first blog post!). I live farther away than the other active members—about a 50-minute drive north each way—so that commitment is particularly challenging and yet sweeter because I do it.

Still, when I realized that one of the June meetings coincided with my annual pilgrimage to the Scholastic warehouse sale, I said, I’m sorry, I can’t make it that night.

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