Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Getting Myself Out There

Did you ever see the movie Limitless?  One of my favorite lines is right toward the beginning of the film where we see a truly disheveled Bradley Cooper walking through the streets.  His character is narrating the scene and says:  My excuse for looking like this?  I'm a writer.

I really did LOL with that one.  Mostly because I can relate.

One of the aspects of having an author platform is being...well...visible.  

After years of keeping my writing cards close to my chest and spending my working days looking fairly disheveled, becoming visible has been one of the more challenging things to do.

So I'm taking baby steps.

And I'm sharing those baby steps with you Paper Waiters!

Here is my Intro Interview on the OneFour KidLit blog, where I talk about my sometimes arduous path to being published. 

And here is my first ever YouTube video, made with assistance from my ten year old!!  The OneFours have a YouTube channel, and each month we'll be covering a different topic. April's topic is INSPIRATION.   In my video I talk about some of what inspired me to write THE PROMISE OF AMAZING.  If you have a chance, take a look!


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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In Favor of Editors

My book club chose our latest novel because: (1) the author is an acquaintance of one of our members and (2) the Amazon rating is 4.5 stars, based on about 150 reviews.

While the book was fast-paced and the character development was wonderful, the plot had a few gaping holes, which really bothered us.  Several unanswered questions and less-than-believable twists in the plot left me wondering, “Who published this?”

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stoking the Creative Fire

Years ago I had the opportunity to hear Anne Lamott speak.  A friend in my critique group happened to have an extra ticket for her lecture and I JUMPED at the chance to listen to one of my favorite authors discuss the writing process. I don’t quite remember the venue, suffice to say a large, old, theater/auditorium somewhere in mid-town Manhattan, and I’d be hard pressed to come up with an exact quote, but I remember nervously handing Ms. Lamott my copy of Bird by Bird, and squeaking out something that was supposed to sound like thank you as I scuttled away.  I do remember laughing a lot as she talked about her process.   And I do remember leaving inspired to dive into my own writing.

One of the writing tricks/tools that Ms. Lamott spoke about that day was The Observation Deck – A Tool Kit for Writers by Naomi Epel.    I may have ordered it that night when I got home, but I think if Anne had said that it was important to eat artichokes and hop on one leg for ten minutes before sitting down to write, I probably would have done that too.  (So glad she didn’t recommend that, btw.)

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Role of Character

I despise a story with weak characters. No matter how many car races or love-stories the author throws in, a novel is boring unless it centers around vivid, interesting characters who are changing and growing in unexpected ways to respond to their situations--or sometimes resisting change and growth, like Scarlett O'Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND. I loved Katniss Everdeen in HUNGER GAMES for defying the Capitol to protect her sister. Though mostly I hated Bella Swan in TWILIGHT for being so passive and whiny, at least she had the guts to love a vampire.

Young adult literature is so particularly compelling partly because kids by their very nature are always changing and growing and on cusp of such critically important changes. They are constantly being forced to make choices about their own characters. As GraceAnne diCandido, my literature instructor at Rutgers used to put it, the central question of a young adult novel is "Who am I and what am I going to do about it?"

How do you create your own unforgettable characters? Or is there a character in recent literature that you find especially compelling?

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Interview with a Senior Editor


This month, as a follow up to my March 14th post, "Making the Case for Magazines - Again," Joelle DuJardin, Senior Editor at Highlights, agreed to answer some questions.

1. How long have you been at Highlights?
I've been at Highlights for nearly 9 years, which, now that I think about it, is as long as the lifetime I seemed to spend at my K-8 elementary school. These Highlights years have flown by a lot more quickly - and have fortunately been filled with a lot less angst!

2. What changes have you seen in the magazine world?
In a tough marketplace, with so many exciting products competing for kids' time and attention, I think most kids' magazines are trying to clarify their vision and make their content more dynamic, which can ultimately be a good thing. As always, the best way for a writer to know the market is to read the actual magazines and get a feel for what they're trying to do. At Highlights, we're always trying to keep our brand fresh and engage readers in new ways, so in recent years we've become more open to considering new story formats and ideas as long as our mission isn't compromised.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weaving a Sense of Place

Sharon Wildey Calle

After a week's vacation in the "Land of Enchantment" (New Mexico), I have come home inspired and ready to write.

My only challenge... How do I recreate the diverse and magical spirit of this environment as a setting for a story?

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Productive Waiting?

Every once in a while, I get to thinking about our blog's name, "The Paper Wait" and how very appropriate it is in this business we're in.

As a writer, sometimes it feels like I'm always waiting...

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Thursday, April 4, 2013


In earlier literary eras writers could write and write, philosophize, describe, emotionalize, moralize. Not so in today's market, one driven by instant gratification.

There are a lot of  hungry fish in today's literary pond, and there is plenty of "food" for them. Today's author must hook the reader and keep him hooked. Keep him turning the pages. The reader can all too easily put the book down and pick up an a computer game or flip on the TV. Or take a nap.

As in the sport of fishing, a slack line catches nothing. The writer must keep the line taut, which means eliminating words or phrases that slacken the line.

Some "line slackening" words are: Soon, suddenly, seemed, quite, very that, which, slowly, however, but, as well as infinitives, participles, he or she thought, dreamed, made his way, looked, and of course, the dreaded passive tense. It's hard work to weed these words and phrases out of our prose or poetry. We think and use these words all the time.

The reader doesn't care. The reader wants action, and plenty of it. Keep that reader hooked.

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